Posts Tagged ‘Brisbane

27
Apr
15

Brisbane

 

Brisbane

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

April 11 – May 2 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

I am absolutely sure – 100% sure – that it (the break down in the development of new Australian works) cannot be solved by just trying to pick winners. I don’t think that that is a viable strategy for horse racing let alone for playwriting. You need some deeper philosophical, political, social and artistic sense of what drama is if you’re going to encourage and develop Australian drama into its next diverse and myriad-formed existence.

Julian Meyrick

 


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Drama is like the minute hand of the clock.

Julian Meyrick

 

 

I’ve been thinking about who you are, reading this blog, with pieces that are sometimes so sporadically posted I wonder that you come back at all, and I wonder what you’re seeing in between visiting here. And what does it matter, and what should become of it… I’ve been thinking about not writing but I have to, even when the process of writing something about a show sometimes takes longer than the run of a show. I love the process. I love considering what might be worth mentioning and what might be better left unsaid. I love living through the productions and reliving that journey after the curtain comes down. I love the theatre, the people involved, and this place, where I can share my experience with you, whoever you are, whatever it is you’re here for. I’m not sure what else to do with it – perhaps you have some ideas – and I keep deferring developing this site, and further study and a second blog purely for writing because I’m not sure what to do with all of THAT, what shape everything needs to take, or what any of it will do for me, or for you, but I keep coming back here, as you do, to keep some sort of quiet conversation going, perhaps just so it doesn’t stop.

 

 

{What happens when you have authority speaking about what happens in the theatre?}

We must have a cultural memory.

Alison Croggon

 

 

Over a week ago I saw Matthew Ryan’s Brisbane. Since opening night, I’ve been thinking about how we teach our children about war. It was always the part of studying ancient and modern history that I couldn’t understand. I still don’t understand it. I try to convey the respect and gratitude I feel for those who went to war to protect our right to live in a country of freedom and privilege. I have mixed feelings about teaching the pride part. I’m not even sure how I feel about my grandfather’s role in the war. This week I joined the family at his funeral, which included a full soldier’s farewell, and then I joined the local community at a traditional ANZAC Day commemorative service, sans Welcome to Country and frustratingly prayer fuelled. Okay. I know. We’re still a nation commanded by God. I should get over it. But WAR. LEARNED HATRED. FORCED, RELENTLESS, USELESS KILLING. WTF?

 

Over 30 000 Australian servicemen were taken prisoner in the Second World War. Two-thirds of those taken prisoner were captured by the Japanese during their advance through south-east Asia within the first weeks of 1942. While those who became prisoners of the Germans had a strong chance of returning home at the end of the war, 36 per cent of prisoners of the Japanese died in captivity.

 

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My grandfather, Merv Henry Grulke, was a Sparrow Force guerilla soldier and a (POW) Changi survivor. He was three years off receiving his telegram from the queen when he died last week, just six months after my grandma left us. It’s a well-deserved rest for someone who, like so many, endured years of physical and mental anguish during and after the Second World War. During, after any war…

 

Brisbane, 1942: a big country town jumping at shadows, never knowing if that buzz in the air is a cicada or a squadron of merciless Japanese Zeroes. World War II took the city’s innocence, and that of 14-year-old Danny Fisher.


Danny’s dashing pilot brother has been killed in the Bombing of Darwin. As Danny’s devastated family unravels, the teen finds a surrogate sibling in Andy, one of the Americans stationed in Brisbane. The American pilot takes Danny under his wing, and as the tension begins to rise between the Yank and Aussie servicemen, Danny hatches a reckless revenge plan against those who took his brother.

 

Until I was four years old I lived in an old Queenslander just like fourteen-year-old Danny’s. (And then again during uni days, with actors, actually in Brisbane, but that’s another story). I don’t know if my memories of that first house in Emerald are from being there, or from the photos and stories stashed away in albums and minds since. I think I remember the smell of the dust, and spider webs and shadows and cricket balls and suitcases and appliances, and piles of things that didn’t belong anywhere else.

 

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Designer, Stephen Curtis has perfectly realised the freedom, the playful sense of growing up in an old Queenslander, recreating the immense space of the high ceilinged house and its nether regions beneath. The same space becomes the famous, much loved Brisbane dance hall, Cloudland, and later across the river, the Trocadero. Lit bewitchingly by David Walters, the house itself is full of potential and/or missed opportunity, an undercurrent of the play, and underneath exists a magical space where anything is possible. No missed opportunities here, the set is in synch with every aspect of the story. There are not too many main stage productions that get it THIS right.

 

There is a good side to not being crushed by culture… there’s a tremendous freedom in Australian performance and a huge intelligence, and a kind of disrespect that’s really healthy.

 

The air is thick and wet and the sun burns your skin like it hates your guts. January’s got it in for everyone. It has a temper that builds and builds, until it’s had enough of you and dumps a mountain of water and electricity on your head to end it quick. Then it starts over again. The smell of the dirt road mixes with the pong of dead fruit that falls from the trees. Houses sit on stilts, breathing the cool air beneath them. Street after street. Streets that make up suburbs. Suburbs that make up Brisbane…

 

I’m sure the haters will say, “Oh, C’MON!” but for me this is magnificent, evocative, poetic writing. I love it. I love the feeeeel of it, the energy of it, the cheeky pointers and the gentle, quiet gaps, which Matthew Ryan is confident to leave for director, designer, actors and audiences to fill. I loved Kelly (currently enjoying a national tour), and Brisbane now puts Ryan in a unique position as a writer in this country, sharing our cultural and historical stories in a way we haven’t yet heard. We’ve read something like it – there are similar insightful voices on the page – but his is a theatrical narrative voice that’s refreshing and magically real on stage (and it’s so suited to Australian film; I hope we see something on screen soon). It’s a more personal, more poignant, more cleverly critical style, supporting our fondest memories and challenging notions of what’s already been recorded. The balance of light and dark is just about perfect, and except for the thank-god-bless-us-and-bathe-us-in-light moment at the end, it strikes all the right chords. (Oh dear, but that major chord! That golden light through what might as well be stained glass windows! An eye roll moment indeed!).

 

The text highlights the national state of mind at the time, which reflected our notions of “mateship”, machismo, fearful and unforgiving parenting, and our attitudes towards war, women and foreigners.

 

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A comical “cringe” moment in the play (as in, “We probs shouldn’t be laughing at this”) serves to challenge our current notions too, and it reminds me of that terrible episode of Popeye, you know, The Sailor Man, which never aired but had been included in a DVD box set, which I innocently put on for Poppy one day. In Brisbane, the kids of the neighbourhood play at shooting down the Japanese, as kids were wont to do at the time. In the black & white classic series, Popeye defeats the entire Japanese army, referring to the enemy as “slant-eyed, buck-toothed, yellow-skinned Japansies”. By making light of the ugly truth about human nature it’s even more disturbing to recognise it! Still! Art is a mirror. Or a hammer… Yes. You’ve got to be carefully taught.

 

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There musn’t be one single discourse.

 

 

These characters are so familiar yet we are able to stay safely, emotionally, distant from them. It’s the comedy and the abstractness of the storytelling, switching between real events and what Danny sees is his world that challenges us to consider another point of view. It’s magic realism at play, and it’s not to say we don’t care about them – far from it – we feel deeply for Danny (Dash Kruck), who loses his older brother, Frank (Conrad Coleby perfectly double cast as the American ex-pilot, Andy), and for Frank’s father (Hayden Spencer at his most brutal best), who essentially loses both sons when Frank dies. As for the broken mother, Annie (Veronica Neave), we recognise her deeply personal grief and the embodiment of the women of the era; their ability to pick up the pieces, step into traditionally male roles and “get on with it” while their men either crumble around them or don’t return home. It’s not entirely surprising that it’s she who finally finishes a mini reno on Frank’s room. We see similar resilience in the “big sister”, Rose (Lucy Goleby, luminescent in this role).

 

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Kruck has been gifted the role of a lifetime in this production. Because Ryan has made the most of his knowledge of Kruck’s physicality and natural vocal cadence during the rehearsal process, the character, as it’s written, is a perfect fit. Under Iain Sinclair’s bold direction, Kruck clearly relishes the opportunity to stretch his wings. He is perfectly matched by the fierce and very funny Harriet Dyer as the best friend, the “cripple”, Patty. I adore Patty, in a way that I would never dare to in real life because I’d be terrified of her! Of course there have always been women learning on their own to be THAT strong (and THAT feared! Ha!). Kruck and Dyer and Goleby develop close connections that are highly entertaining and deeply moving. The moments of sexual awakening are hilarious and the unrequited love, treated so sensitively and tenderly, is actually heartbreaking.

 

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Our history has such dark moments but there is good, gorgeous, wicked humour here too; the comedy is intelligently written and unashamedly playfully delivered. So much of it comes from the familiar colloquialisms and the childish behaviour of the school bullies and the country’s politicians. We enjoy razor sharp parodies of the leaders at the time, like grotesque tongue-in-cheek comic strips brought to life. This comical theatrical style, thrown casually in amongst the rest, won’t please everybody but it’s a deliberate device; it highlights the propaganda of war and lightens the heavy mood. Matthew Backer, Daniel Murphy and Hugh Parker play these multiple roles (to the hilt!), alerting us to the similarities between the bullies in government and in the street.

 

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Nothing is lost on the opening night audience. The first reference to Cloudland is a sentence completed in an anticipatory whisper by the audience before the actor can do so and there is an awesome moment of collective pride, the nodding and smiling of people in The Playhouse as they remember… It’s a magical moment – the magic of live theatre – and it’s not lost on those who weren’t there to see the real thing. We get it.

 

The mere presence of new Australian work is no guarantee of cultural health; it has to be Australian work that matters.

 

Dramaturg, Louise Gough, has obviously had a hand in making this work one that matters. It’s one thing to be making and staging new Australian work; it’s another thing entirely to be contributing to the canon of work that informs our history. These stories have come from the truth told by so many. We must keep hearing these stories, seeing them, sharing them. We must try to learn from them. History repeats itself because we don’t learn from it! I hope this is a version of our history you’ll get to experience before it finishes here. I’ll experience it again this week with our students, and I look forward to hearing (reading, marking…) their take on it.

 

What is not being said, what is not being written down, what is not recorded, what is not even noticed?

 

Slouch hats off to QTC’s World Premiere production of Matthew Ryan’s Brisbane; it’s set to become a true blue Australian classic. You must see it.

 

 

Additional quotes taken from AUDIO | STAGE Episode 2 Alison Croggon / Writing History

30
Sep
14

QTC launches impressive season for 2015

 

Queensland Theatre Company Season Launch 2015

QPAC Playhouse

Monday September 29 2014

 

Four world premieres, a super star Main Stage and a five-show DIVA program lead a front row Season 2015 for the state’s theatre company

 

Queensland Theatre Company has unveiled a stunning Season 2015, the most diverse and ambitious program the company has ever staged, starring an extraordinary lineup of acclaimed actors, writers, directors, musicians and designers.

 

Four world premieres, a mainstage program of eight major works, a DIVA program celebrating women on stage and more, the season features a roll call of music and theatre greats and emerging stars  – Tim Finn, Amanda Muggleton, Noeline Brown and Darren Gilshenen, Carol Burns, Christen O’Leary, Libby Munro, Margi Brown Ash, Tama Matheson and Jason Klarwein, Rob Carlton, Nicki Wendt, Rachael Beck, Robyn Arthur, Dash Kruck, Michael Tuahine, Chenoa Deemal, Naomi Price, Daniel Evans, Hugh Parker, Brian Lucas, Lucas Stibbard, Amy Ingram, Conrad Colby, Lucy Goleby, Melanie Zanetti, Emily Burton, Helen Cassidy, Nicholas Gell, Barbara Lowing and the list goes on.

 

Directors taking the lead this year include the internationally acclaimed Simon Phillips, the prolific Roger Hodgman, Iain Sinclair, as well as QTC’s own Artistic DirectorWesley Enoch, Todd MacDonald, Daniel Evans and current Resident Directors Andrea Moor and Jason Klarwein and more.

 

bostonmarriage_qtcseason2015

 

The year starts with David Mamet’s witty comedy Boston Marriage and ends with the world premiere of an outstanding new musical called Ladies in Black. This stunning adaptation of Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, is brought to life by multi award winner Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies) with original music from superstar singer and musician, Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House).

 

ladiesinblack_qtcseason2015

 

Ladies in Black has been supported by the Newman Government’s Super Star Fund, a Queensland Government program that delivers super star performances exclusive to the state.

 

Arts Minister Ian Walker said Ladies in Black was the latest project to receive Super Star Fund investment. “This is another coup for Queensland which sees the Super Star Fund once more giving Queensland audiences world-class arts productions, as well as unique opportunities for our Queensland artists to learn from the best in their field,” Minister Walker said.

 

Ladies in Black will be nothing short of extraordinary. With Tim Finn creating the music and our own Christen O’Leary as the star, this marks the triumphant return of true musical theatre to Queensland Theatre Company’s stage.

 

“This world premiere will be a uniquely Queensland experience, and we look forward to welcoming audiences from Brisbane, regional areas and interstate for what will be a blockbuster stage event in 2015.”

 

QTC Artistic Director Wesley Enoch said that from the opening night of Boston Marriage on January 24 through to the closing show of Ladies in Black on December 6, the year is a front row offering for all ages.

 

“2015 stands as out most ambitious and wide-ranging in terms of content, actors and delivery. There’s the very funny stage adaptation of the hit TV show Mother & Son; two more world premieres – Brisbane, about the infamous Battle of Brisbane during WWII told through the eyes of a young boy, and Country Song, focusing on Indigenous country and western legend Jimmy Little, with lots of great songs and also three iconic plays: Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Chekhov’s The Seagull and Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days,” he said.

 

“In addition to the mainstage, there is a special celebration of amazingly talented Queensland women in a suite of works called DIVA. For all the family we present the whimsical Argus created by Dead Puppet Society and for older ones Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, a contemporary retelling of the Oedipus story and winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award.”

 

“QTC has been the leader in Queensland theatre for 45 years and in 2015 we are bringing you a huge range of professional productions that show off the best talent from around the country.

 

“Our season draws from our nationally recognised Indigenous Program, our showcasing of local independent theatre companies, partnerships with commercial presenters, plays commissioned from our New Works Program, the return of the musical and of course our very special DIVA program.”

 

“Season 2015 is another tremendous on-stage adventure, we hope you love it.”

 

Launching Season 2015 in the finest of on-stage style is Boston Marriage, the quick-fire turn-of-the-century comedy riddled with the wicked wit of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer behind Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the-Plow, David Mamet. Performed on Broadway in 2002, Boston Marriage stars double Helpmann Award-winning actor Amanda Muggleton under the directorship of Andrea Moor, who delighted audiences and critics alike and won a Matilda Award for 2013’s Venus in Fur.  This three-woman production will also tour to 10 Queensland regional centres in 2015.

 

mother&son_qtcseason2015

 

Fresh from the world premiere season at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre comes Mother & Son, the brand new stage comedy based on the treasured Australian  television classic, with an all-star cast led by Noeline Brown and Darren Gilshenan together with Rob Carlton, Nicki Wendt, Rachael Beck and Robyn Arthur. Written by Geoffery Atherden and directed by Roger Hodgman Mother & Son will be a highlight stage experience.

 

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In April QTC presents the world premiere of Brisbane by Queensland playwright Matthew Ryan.

 

A large scale new work starring an all-Brisbane cast including Conrad Colby, Lucy Goleby, Dash Kruck and Melanie Zanetti, Brisbane tells a significant  story of our Queensland capital, in a year when Australian commemorates a century of service in different theatres of war.

 

 

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July 4 heralds the world premiere of the exciting new Indigenous work Country Song. An award winning script by Reg Cribb, it is based on an original concept by Michael Tuahine. Country Song is set in 1973 with the opening of the Sydney Opera House and revolves around legendary singer Jimmy Little and includes  true life experiences of other Indigenous singers such as Wilma Reading, Auriel Andrew, Bobby McLeod, Vic Simms, Roger Knox and Lionel Rose – this is a true onstage, toe-tapping adventure.

 

theseagull_qtcseason2015

 

In August QTC’s Actors Studio presents The Seagull. QTC Artistic Associate Todd MacDonald and Queensland playwright Daniel Evans will adapt this classic which will be performed by an ensemble of ten acclaimed Brisbane actors: Emily Burton, Helen Cassidy, Nicholas Gell, Amy Ingram, Jason Klarwein, Barbara Lowing, Brian Lucas, Christen O’Leary, Hugh Parker and Lucas Stibbard. This will be a bold contemporary retelling of one of Chekhov’s great plays.

 

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The classic comedy from Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Award-winning American playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon, The Odd Couple reteams the odd couple from 2013’s Design For Living, uber talented duo Jason Klarwein and Tama Matheson – as the housemates from hell for what will be another season highlight, under the direction of Wesley Enoch.

 

Accompanying the Mainstage Season is the DIVA suite of works which  brings together five theatrical goddesses, each taking centre stage in their own tour-de-force performances.

 

 

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Chenoa Deemal tells touching, funny stories of tears and reconciliation in a celebration of Indigenous survival in The 7 Stages of Grieving, a powerful story by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman. Doyenne of the stage Carol Burns is brave Winnie, buried to her waist in Samuel Beckett’s absurd, surreal masterpiece Happy Days. Libby Munro is a deadly Air Force pilot brought back to earth with a bump when she falls pregnant in Grounded. Margi Brown Ash shares her life story in Home, bouncing across several continents as actor, therapist, schoolgirl, soapie starlet, wife and mother. And Naomi Price transforms into pop star Adele in Rumour Has it – a Grammy goddess ready to spill her guts about the man who wronged her.

 

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Season 2015 Ticketing Details:

 

 

Subscriptions on sale from Monday, 29 September at 6pm via queenslandtheatre.com.au

 

 

Phone sales available from 9am Tuesday, 30 September by calling Freecall 1800 355 528 or in person at QTC 78 Montague Road, South Brisbane, 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday.

 

 

 

24
Nov
13

Prehistoric

 

Prehistoric

Elbow Room & Metro Arts The Independents

Metro Arts Basement

20 November – 7 December 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Prehistoric is a story about Brisbane in the 11th year of the Bjelke-Petersen administration – a very different place from the Brisbane of 2013… OR IS IT?

 

In the late 1970s, the relationship of young Australians to culture, society, politics and technology went through changes that were quick, profound and – most importantly – intimately connected.  This era was the turning point in Brisbane – whether or not we realise it – becoming one of the most interesting cultural incubators, not just in Australia, but in the Anglophone world.

Purchase Prehistoric

 

Prehistoric Kathryn Marquet Image by Leesa Connelly

 

You live at the remote edge of a civilisation in economic free-fall, about to destroy itself in a nuclear war.

(Like anyone, you’d rather not think about that.)

You live in one of the most corrupt cities on the planet, under a state government elected by a minority who mostly live elsewhere.

Again, you’d rather be having fun. Maybe making some noise.

Except the government has significantly expanded the powers of the police to stop you.

Also, all the computers are owned by corporations, and all the phones are tied to the wall.

It’s 1979.

Love you, Brisbane.

 

prehistoric_laneway

 

Whether or not you come away thinking the title is apt, this is a play about Queensland that begs immediate viewing by Queenslanders. It’s a look inside the Bjelke-Peterson police state years and yet it’s all too familiar. What happens when police name badges become optional and officers detain a guy after dropping a tissue in Queen Street Mall? No, this is not ancient history, but recent events recorded in Brisbane.

 

Backbone Youth Arts originally developed Prehistoric, firstly via a commissioned draft and then in two successive creative developments in 2012 with Kathryn Marquet, Anthony Standish, Melanie Zanetti and Steve Toulmin. Writer and Director, Marcel Dorney notes, “We weren’t ‘there’ in 1979… So we formed our own band, and played our own music, because we could think of no better tribute.” Dorney asks the tough questions, and without providing all the answers, offers us multiple veiled (and not so) warnings about history repeating.

 

The band of which Dorney speaks comes together, as bands do, when a group of friends (or strangers) have something to say. Their message is loud, and if you can make out the lyrics, which are mostly shouted in an appropriately antiestablishment manner by Anna Straker, it’s pretty powerful. Joining Straker in her punk band are Kathryn Marquet, Anthony Standish and Steve Toulmin. The original music, by Toulmin and Dorney, might be for some the most challenging aspect of this production. But it shouldn’t be. There’s a whole heap of intelligent raging going on beneath the clanging, clashing sounds of amplified instruments and “Fuck yous”. It’s a play with punk and spunk! There are perhaps two songs too many – the show runs a little longer than it needs to (for me, without delving deeper into one particular story or another, ninety minutes would be ideal) – and by the last couple of songs I’m thinking, “Okay, I get it!” The action is well punctuated by the music though – and the climax counts on it – and it’s not to everyone’s taste, but nor was it when punk became popular in Brisbane…or anywhere else.

 

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It’s a time of rebellion, despair and desperation, of “ministerial corruption, the demolition of our heritage architecture, stories of police brutality…” (Metro Arts Programming Manager Kieran Swann), and it’s an era that we’d rather not be reminded of. Unfortunately, many of the play’s issues are, once again, all too familiar. The actors bring their characters to life after they’ve entered the basement space to inform us that they weren’t there to witness events, but they can certainly share a version of what happened, so if when it happens again we can see it coming, and boy, do we see it!

 

Prehistoric is a strong ensemble piece, giving voice to each character and ultimately, giving many opportunities for the voices to join together in poignant protest. Characters are nicely drawn and intelligently realised.

 

Dorney has written and directed a vital play; I expect to see an adaptation of Prehistoric on our small screens at some stage, as well as on the main stages. It deserves a broader audience, and despite – or because of – its specific setting and political references, looks set to serve us as a contemporary example of the way good theatre has always recorded a version of historical events, and tested popular opinion and the establishment. A less-explicit (but does that make it less powerful?) adaptation for senior students would be an excellent resource for schools.

 

Whether you were there at the time or not, you should live through Prehistoric.

 

26
Aug
13

Craig McLachlan to do the Time Warp Again!

HOW EXCITEMENT!

 

Last night at the opening night of GREASE at QPAC we knew Frosty was keeping us in the dark for just a few more hours before revealing who would play Frank N Furter in the return season (AGAIN!) of The Rocky Horror Show. He acknowledged Brisbane audiences and media for our support, our warmth and enthusiasm, noting that there is just no better place in Australia to open a show.

 

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Producers Howard Panter and John Frost today announced that the coveted role of Frank N Furter in the new Australian production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show will be played by television and theatre star Craig McLachlan. The much loved iconic musical will open in January 2014 at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane followed by seasons at the Crown Theatre, Perth in February, and the Festival Theatre, Adelaide in March.

 

Fresh from shooting the title role in the second series of ABC TV’s top rating drama series The Doctor Blake Mysteries, McLachlan will again don the fishnet stockings of the character he played to great acclaim previously. Remaining cast members will be announced shortly.

 

“There is no one who can play the character of Frank N Furter like Craig McLachlan,”

 

said John Frost and Howard Panter. “Craig oozes that risqué charm that an actor playing Frank needs, as well as bucket loads of sex appeal. He captivated all of us in the audition room and we instantly knew Craig had to play Frank in our new production of The Rocky Horror Show. Audiences are going to love doing the Time Warp with Craig again.”

 

The Rocky Horror Show is a true classic and one of theatre’s most endearing and outrageously fun shows. It opened at London’s Royal Court Theatre on June 19, 1973, quickly developing a cult following, and was adapted into the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has the longest-running release in film history. This iconic brand holds a unique place in theatre history, a show which has defied the decades and continued to grow in popularity. In 2010 the music of Rocky Horror was showcased in the smash hit TV show Glee, seen by over 20 million people world wide.  Rocky Horroreven has its own postage stamp.

 

Millions of people all over the world have and continue to see  productions of The Rocky Horror Showand sung along to classics like Sweet Transvestite, Dammit Janet, I Can Make You A Man, Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, Over At The Frankenstein Place and of course The Time Warp.

 

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show has not been seen in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide for 15 years. Tickets go on sale on Monday September 2. If you have voyeuristic intentions, you know what to do – buy a ticket for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity before madness takes its toll.

 

Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane

 

Season:                       From 10 January 2014

Price:                            From $59.90*

Bookings:                   qpac.com.au or phone 136 246

 

Save with Groups of 8 or more (07) 3840 7466

VIP, Premium Tickets & Packages visit SHOWBIZ.COM.AU or 1300 4 SHOWS

 

03
Mar
13

Cavalia – a chat with Artistic Director Normand Latourelle

 

 

Cavalia

ABOUT CAVALIA INC. – Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Cavalia Inc. operates two separate touring shows, Cavalia and Odysseo, both of which marry the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels. Cavalia, seen by some 3.5 million people across North America and Europe since its 2003 debut, celebrates the relationship between humans and horses by loosely recounting the evolution of this bond. Odysseo, which premiered in autumn 2011, takes the next step, leading viewers on a journey through some of the breathtaking landscapes horses have helped humans discover around the globe. Follow Cavalia Inc.’s latest developments at www.twitter.com/Cavalia or www.facebook.com/Cavalia.

ARTISTIC DIRECTION – NORMAND LATOURELLE

In his 40-year career in the performing arts, Normand Latourelle has followed a path that has led him through all aspects of the industry, having occupied every position from lighting designer to agent, production manager, director and artistic director. A pioneer of Cirque du Soleil from 1985 to 1990, he has been the driving force behind many impressive and memorable events, such as the sound and light show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and the 350th anniversary celebrations for the founding of Montreal. A visionary in constant quest for innovation, Normand Latourelle is renowned for combining different forms of artistic expression and reinventing the scenic space, with the ultimate goal of taking audiences to new dimensions. Since 2003, Normand Latourelle has been fully dedicated to Cavalia, instilling his talent, passion and imagination into the productions. In 2007, he received the Ordre national du Québec for his achievements.

 

I was lucky to catch up with Cavalia’s Artistic Director, Normand Latourelle, for a chat about his spectacular shows, and his approach to working with horses. This is actually our chat transcribed so sit down with your preferred beverage and enjoy the conversation…

 

XS: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk, Normand. You’re the artistic Director of an incredible new show, opening in Brisbane on Wednesday night. I think it’s safe to say there’s nothing like Cavalia. We’ve certainly not seen anything like it here.

NL: In Europe and the states there’s no other show to compare it. So it’s about time we come to Australia. We’re very pleased to finally bring it to Australia.

It’s a challenge but I decided to bring the whole show, you know, not just the smaller version of the show. That was very important to me.

XS: I guess you didn’t want to compromise on the integrity of the show, of your vision.

NL: No, we didn’t.

You know we travel with about fifty-five, fifty-six horses and we have a farm in Canada so, you know, when we feel it’s necessary, we just exchange horses… The director is looking after the horses here.

Fredric_Pignon_Cavalia_Equestrian_Choreographer

XS: Can you tell me about the horses? Your approach to training and working with the horses?

NL: The thing is we’re trying to follow their rhythm and not impose on them our rhythm. We want them to come on stage and be happy so in order to do that we just…we don’t push them. So when they come on stage we want them to feel like it’s their playground, not a place to work, not a place they don’t want to go. And that’s very important you see, because for the first half of the show we have three horses on stage… they improvise with … some kind of improvisation. It’s choreographed, obviously, but if the horse decides to do differently we have to follow them… I would say, compared to the horse world in general, it’s a soft way to train horses in general.

XS: Are your artists already accustomed to working with the horses in this way?

NL: We have three type of artists. The woman that is our musician, so that’s a separate group, and we have the acrobats and the riders. So we, of course when we bring acrobats, we have to add the acrobats become involved with the horses and start to do their own training with the horses to make them understand what the horse is all about. I mean, some of the acrobats who are there for a long time, for a year or a year and a half, also start to become riders so it’s a long process. For the riders, we hired riders who are in very good shape, we also train some riders, and we have some riders who are trained in acrobatics on the horse also, of course. If they don’t do acrobatics we train them to do so. It’s also a long process to make an acrobat become a rider or a rider become an acrobat.

The most important thing is that all of them have to know the horses that are on stage at the same time as them.

Cavalia

XS: So because the performers are following the horses and allowing them to improvise, does that mean the show is continually evolving? Do we never see the same show twice?

NL: That’s totally right. The show varies, from one show to the next the show varies 10 minutes, minus or plus, and most of the time it’s because the horses decide differently and we follow them. And for me it’s not a problem.

This is where we get the best out of them is when they do what they want and sometimes they follow the pattern we offer them but other times they do it the way they want, which is also okay for us. You know, it’s not – compared to a traditional circus – you know, at the end of a number in a traditional circus, the trainer raises his arm and says ta-dah, it’s all about me, I can totally control my horses. In our show it’s about the horses so instead of raising our hand, the artist directs their hand to the horse and praises the horse to be such a partner. It’s a totally different approach.

Cavalia

XS: You’ve completely reversed the traditional notion of  humans controlling animals.

NL: Yeah, definitely. You know, when we – I’m one of the guys who started Cirque du Soleil – and when we started the show, I was very, very proud to explain that, you know, we were able to do a good show, a good circus, without animals, and we were totally against using animals in the show. So when I decided to move to the animal world, first of all I understood very fast working with horses. Horses were domesticated animals. I would never do a show with elephants or lions. But horses are domesticated animals and during their life with humans for the last five thousand years, it’s nothing new and it’s nothing that is going to change tomorrow because even if all the horses become wild tomorrow they will not, they will come back to their stable. The other part which was very important for me is that I decided to do a show with animals and I want the animals to be able to express themselves and also to enjoy what they do, and from the beginning that’s what I’ve been telling the trainer and telling all the artists and creators, co-creators…that was the rule. And that’s what we’ve pretty much achieved. I mean, we make some mistakes sometimes and you know, we don’t yield, I mean it’s a thin line, you know they’re still animals, they don’t think like us and sometime we react some way and they don’t like it.

But the idea is to be very humble and also to be able to understand at first what’s going on with the animal, that’s more important. The same thing we have a lot of art where we ride the horses, because I’m talking a lot about the parts where we don’t ride, where the horses are free on stage…when we have up to eight horses together doing the same thing. You know, I accept that the horse do not have their heads at the same level, where the horses have to be exactly, exactly precise and doing the same thing.

Cavalia is not a competition, it is more about the relationship between humankind and horses. And yes, in the last five thousand years we have ridden horses, and that’s what is also part of the show – we do ride them – but we don’t push them to the point they become top dressage competition horse, just show what they can do. It’s the same thing, we have a horse that jumps bars at one point in the show, you know, we don’t raise the bar as high as the world…even if he could do it, we’re not putting the bars as far as what you can do at the Olympics or any competition. We just think that it’s beautiful to see the horse jump and we just ask him to do reasonably high, to be at the same time impressive but not to hurt himself; not to put in any kind of danger.

Cavalia

XS: So the respect for the horses wins in the end. More so than story? Do we get a story as well or is it more about enjoying the beauty and strength and power of the horses?

NL: Well, it’s a mix of both. We do have a very subtle storyline that come from the discovery of the horse and slowly it built from communication and there are a lot of moment at the beginning of the show where we just share the space and we discover them and they discover us and we become friends, and then we start to climb on them, which they accept, you know, gently to be climbed on. And we feel the pace of the show this way is more that we move through the time. It’s also showed by the multi-media aspect of the show.

We have large-scale images that project, that shows expression of human through the time of what we have seen from horses. One of the first images we project is a man cave and on the wall of the man cave is a drawing of the horse…so we project that image and then we go to our time. The images are very artistic but at the same time, it gives you a feeling of moving through time. It’s not explicit, it’s not a historical, it’s more done like a poem, you know, the way you write a poem. It doesn’t start with “once upon a time”, it more starts with “this happened…”

XS: Since 2003 has Cavalia undergone many changes conceptually?

NL: For audiences who saw Cavalia in 2003 they will recognise maybe thirty percent of it. We have changed about seventy percent of it. There’s two or three reasons. Every time in a show like that, every time you change a horse or you change an artist, you have to adapt the show to their own personality…the other thing is that you know, when I started this show, I knew nothing about horses, it was my first experience in the horse world so I learned about it and that’s the beauty of having a live show, throughout the year I was able to upgrade some parts and bring the technology, it had evolved, and it became a little bit bigger. When we started the show we had only two acrobats flying and now we have five of them.

We just push it and also, I tried to bring the show to a point where we appreciate equally, all of the parts. When I was first in the show, for the first year, there were some parts in the show I was not happy with so I took a year to adapt to a show I liked, then hopefully, the show I see is the show everybody like.

XS: Did you ever think you were going to be working with horses? What did you want to be when you grew up?

NL: Well, when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor, until I had to go to the hospital…and then my ideas changed, I wanted to become a politician…until I was kicked out of school by the director so that also changed my mind…I was so frustrated that I decided to put on some shows….I created my first show, I was about thirteen years old, and I left school at sixteen to become professional and I always did that. I create and produce. I’ve done everything. I’ve done light design, I’ve done sound design, I’ve been a roadie, I drove trucks. There’s nothing here that I haven’t done. Publisher, record producer…Cavalia for me is like, you know, the achievement of all the experience I had, including Cirque du Soleil experience.

It took me ten years from having the idea to having the first show of Cavalia. What you see in Cavalia is the mix of everything I know: lights, sound, music, large-scale images, special effects, of course acrobatics, dance, and of course now, the equestrian world.

Cavalia

XS: Are you already working on the next show? We are looking forward to hearing more about Odysseo…

NL: Odysseo just got started a year ago, I’m still tweaking it, still working on it, so I have no plans for a third one because it’s a long process. You know, its always long because not only I want my show to be so different – I challenge myself – to create things that nobody ever seen before. That’s what the challenge was with Cirque and that is the challenge with Cavalia, you know, make the horses comfortable in another environment. But I didn’t want to make another copy of Cavalia so Oddyseo is like the limit of what can be done on stage, and for the next one I don’t know exactly.

XS: Thank you so much for your time today, and congratulations on the Australian premiere of Cavalia! We’ll see you on Wednesday for opening night!

 

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07
Nov
12

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

 

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Brisbane Cabaret Festival

Stockholm Syndrome 

2nd & 3rd November 2012

  

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

The Adele Effect

                                                                                                                    

“I just wanna make music…” Adele

 

Naomi Price Adele

Look, I didn’t disclose it before but Naomi Price is a friend of mine. And I don’t mind telling you, without any bias at all, that she is one of a kind. The girl is gorgeous, creative, clever and funny; she possesses an incredible voice and a versatility that means we’ll see her forever, Meryl Streep or Madonna style, and she is humble and hard working. Also, she’s met Cate Blanchett and frequently wears fabulous shoes that I covet, so it goes without saying really, that I’m a big fan.

 

Naomi’s new show, Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele is exactly that. It’s sixty superb minutes of alternative pop star, Adele, from the inside out, guts and gags and all.

 

Respectfully donning a fat suit rather than a couple of pairs of Spanx, with trademark red hair on fire – this time it’s flaming, cascading locks by Dextress Hair Face Body – Naomi Price steps out of herself to become Adele before our very eyes…and ears. The voice is pure – no gravelly after-effect of smoker’s vocal damage here – and at the same time, it’s near enough to have us captivated and completely convinced. At times we hear a little vocal fry and the recognisable catches, cries, snags and sobs, as well as THAT LAUGH… but this is not just Adele. This is Naomi Price channelling Adele and it’s much more interesting.

 

Rumour Has It is the upbeat opening number, immediately engaging the full house (everyone is still sober so everyone can get the claps in!), and introducing us to the prowess of musicians, Michael Manikus and Jason McGregor, and the charms and extraordinary vocal versatility of Luke Kennedy, who sings backup, having received charts for the songs only a week before the gig. These guys make a tight outfit and they work seamlessly together to take Adele through her many hits. The next is Rolling in the Deep and it is during this number that we realise we weren’t mistaken; we’ve seen the mannerisms of Adele, her every gesture. And then we hear the speaking voice; it’s the Tottenham accent that baffled America when Adele spoke at the Grammys. The mimicry continues through razor sharp patter, which is co-written by Adam Brunes; it draws from the crowd delighted hoots, whoops and more laughter than I’ve heard from a single audience in a long time. With the additional brilliance of Brunes, known particularly for his marketing savvy at La Boite Theatre Company, the references to Adele’s upbringing, boyfriends and brand new baby boy are backed up by loads of research and the gags are genuinely funny. This is a show that would barely need recontextualising in order to achieve global success.

 

Naomi Price Adele

Outside of the patter, the songs are not so smile inducing. Well, c’mon, the woman’s written a heap of lyrics about “rubbish relationships” (actually, she says everybody assumes she’s miserable so she’s going to stop singing about failed relationships), and Naomi perfectly captures the heartbreak. Not during Someone Like You, as one might expect, as this is ingeniously re-appropriated late in the show into a tongue in cheek medley, comprised of My Heart Will Go On, Love on Top and Rehab (these are performed over three vamps and patter segments, showcasing Naomi’s potential to tour next, among other personalities, a Celine Dion cabaret cum tribute show), but during Turning Tables and Don’t You Remember. Now that’s a whole lotta’ heartbreak and heavy heartache right there. PURE PAIN. And Naomi nails it; we feel every pinch and scratch and below the belt punch in the guts. Again, the body language and gesture help us to take the journey; with head thrown back and hands out as if to steady herself, we are mesmerised by her Adele. Instead of destroying us completely by continuing down the same sad path, however, Naomi just as suddenly gives us her best Spice Girls impersonation in a Chasing Pavements mash-up. You have to see this number to believe it!

 

During interval the intimate space upstairs at Stockholm Syndrome becomes a hive of activity, as friends and industry types mingle and collectively rave; a sure sign that the Brisbane arts scene is alive and well, and that its community is flourishing and enjoying supporting one another more than ever. Also, that this show is a sure thing. It’s pleasing to note that nobody is faking the rave.

 

We come back from interval to more champagne and more surprises. Luke Kennedy gives us his rendition of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know. Honestly, Kennedy is the whitest black chick since Christina Aguilera and I’d like to see him do his own show next!

 

Following the aforementioned medley, featuring the hilarious Celine Dion impersonation, the perfectly poignant finish is Make You Feel My Love. Naomi induces smiles through tears and leaves everybody wanting more. I’m sure Naomi Price has what other performers wish they could get in a bottle, and what discerning audience members wish was more prevalent on our television screens. She’s a polished performer, bringing a whole lotta’ sass and her own style to the scene.

 

And it’s a tough scene. Cabaret is hard to pull off, y’all! To get the right blend of fun, self-deprecating humour, pathos and pure talent together to convincingly portray (and poke a little fun at) a woman like Adele is testament to The Little Red Company’s ability to break into the country’s cabaret scene with relative ease.

 

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele is set to propel Naomi Price on the meteoric rise to fame we’ve all been expecting, if only she can get it seen outside of Australia. With the contacts she and Brunes have between them, I daresay that day (or lively night) is not far away. Meanwhile, for those of you in Sydney and Melbourne, your chance to spend sixty minutes inside Adele is next!

 

Rumour Has It Slide

 

21
Aug
12

Short+Sweet Brisbane and Gold Coast Gala Final

Short+Sweet

BRISBANE and GOLD COAST 2012

GALA FINAL AWARDS

Best Actor Female
Nominees:

Candice Davie (The Rental Company)

Georgia Cranstoun (Birgitte’s Story Time)

Emily Pollard (The Pond)

Deanna Watt (Genevieve and the Bus Stop)

Carly Rees (Genevieve and the Bus Stop)

Francis Marrington (Half Of Nothing)

Winner: Georgia Cranstoun

*
Best Actor Male
Nominees:
Sam Ryan (The Pond)
Ben Distledorf (The Rental Company)
Jacob Paint (Wilderness)
Wayne Basset (It Came From The Couch+From The Cradle to the Brave)
Winner: Sam Ryan
*
Best Director
Nominees:
Keiran Brice (Wilderness)
Casey Woods (The Rental Company)
Lisa Smith (Genevieve and the Bus Stop)
Noel Sheridan (The Pond)
Joshua Mcann Thompson (On The Shelf)
Winner: Casey Woods (The Rental Company)
*
Best Comedy
Nominations:
Birgitte’s Story Time (The Rental Company)
Genevieve and the Bus Stop
Winner: Birgitte’s Story Time by Georgia Cranstoun+Rio Holland, directed by Georgia Cranstoun+Rio Holland
*
Best Drama
Nominations:
The Pond (Con Nats)
Wilderness (James McLindon)
From The Cradle to the Brave (Angela Ready)
Winner: The Pond by Con Nats, Directed by Noel Sheridan
*
Best Wildcard
Nominees:
Wilderness
It Came From The Couch
Copstitutes
Winner: Wilderness by James McLindon, Directed by Kieran Brice
*
Best New Talent
Nominees:
Brea Robertson (On The Shelf)
David Trapp (Meet Cute)
Matt Crawford (The Rental Company)
Ben Distledorf (The Rental Company)
Winner: Matt Crawford (The Rental Company)
*
Peoples Choice
Nominees:
It Came From The Couch
Genevieve and the Bus Stop (White Rabbit Theatre)
Winner: Genevieve and the Bus Stop (White Rabbit Theatre )
*
Best Independent Theatre Company
Nominees:
De Love la ( It’s All Very Hush Hush)
The Bare Bottomed Tea Fiends (My Bathroom Musical)
White Rabbit Theatre (Genevieve and the Bus Stop)
The Vertebras (The Theraputic Ex)
Winner:
De Love la ( It’s All Very Hush Hush) Allison Manson, Chiara Lagana, Jennifer Goulding
*
The Short+Sweet Award
Nominees:
The Pond (By Con Nats Directed by Noel Sheridan)
It’s All Very Hush Hush (De Love la, Allison Manson, Chiara Lagana, Jennifer Goulding)
The Rental Company (By Mark Cornell Directed by Casey Woods)
Winner: The Rental Company (By Mark Cornell Directed by Casey Woods)
Sean Dennehy Short+Sweet

Sean Dennehy, Queensland Festival Director, Short + Sweet Theatre Festival. Picture: Ric Frearson Source: Quest Newspapers




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