Posts Tagged ‘butoh

22
Aug
17

an artist’s statement

 

artist’s statement 2017

 

everything is delicately interconnected…

 

 

 

 

 

You might remember that I went back to school this year.

 

In March I started a Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) at USC, but at The J, Noosa, since there are no performing arts facilities on campus at Sippy Downs. We won’t discuss that today.

 

 

The assessment for this week, to create an Artist’s Book within which we share our Artist’s Statement, would have to be one of our most challenging tasks yet. I just danced nearly naked in Japan, started weekly physical training sessions with Zen Zen Zo, started running again, and chose a monologue that breaks my heart to deliver, but this Artist’s Statement! To actually pause and recognise what it is we do, the way we create our work, and why…

 

My contemporary creative practice continues to evolve. As performer, director and producer, I’m enjoying exploring new forms and content of a different kind, a darker kind, which I’ve stayed away from in the past, or have been advised to stay away from. (Can you imagine being told today not to go near mental health issues, domestic violence and ideation?). I’m less concerned now about what others consider to be too dark or dangerous or disruptive. The shadow aspects of human nature reveal a more interesting version of the truth, which we crave. The ancient stories hold the lessons we don’t see in reality television, social media memes or smash hit musical comedies.

 

 

My practice is undertaken in a commercially viable context, admittedly teetering at times between what might easily be sold and the stories demanding to be told. Inspired by some of our most innovative dance artists and directors, including Frantic Assembly, Nicholas Hytner, Katie Mitchell, Marianne Elliot, Margi Brown Ash and Natalie Weir among other giants, my work is immediate, intimate and highly evocative, inviting the audience to engage on a sensory, and emotional and intellectual level to work out their place in the world in a new and unique way. Drawing from contemporary dance, butoh, original compositions by the likes of Max Richter, Philip Glass and Leah Barclay, and ritualistic storytelling and performance elements after deep research into the Ramayana, Buddhism and the myths and stories of the cantidoras, I bring the performers and audience together to experience the life of the “other”, hidden within. I offer actors and audiences the opportunity to get out of their own way to experience the less-shared moments, to see in themselves what’s possible and deplorable; the pallid skin and quiet nakedness of terminal illness, the dismantling of a relationship, the subversion of sexual preference or pleasure, the long-term impact of self-loathing…

 

The investigation of both content and form occurs collaboratively, organically, on the floor from a place of emptiness, a place in time and space in which anything is possible because we welcome it.

 

The performers already have the answer; their first instinct is closest to the truth. As director, I entrust the performers with the transformational task of telling the story, scaffolding their discoveries within an open intuitive process, and shaping a sensory experience for actors and audiences fusing visual, auditory and physical elements to heighten our awareness of the world. The process is fluid and flexible, and informed by our personal and broader views of our part in the story and our place in the world.

 

Small great things are the result of collaborative creative thinking, boldly dreaming and fearlessly doing.

 

 

The golden eclipse week has offered the ideal context in which to consider my artistic practice and the way I wish to continue to develop my approach to collaboratively creating performing arts pieces that have lasting impact on actors and audiences.

 

If the experience is not sensory, insightful and transformational, why have we made the work? And for whom?

 

I continue to reframe my world, to look with new eyes on the ordinary, to listen to old stories for new meaning and uncover the hidden aspects of human nature, to add a voice to the darkness. I’m humble enough to keep learning and bold enough to take a leap. By making this Artist’s Statement public I’m committing to my evolution and my continued efforts to make the long-term goal worthwhile. My practice should continue to contribute to the transformation of artists and audiences on multiple levels, or what am I doing?

 

 

Informed by my training, my teaching practice, my performance experience and personal experiences of live performance, and by the work and differing philosophies of a vast network of industry professionals and creative friends, as well as being aware of my privilege, my practice focuses on the immediacy and urgency of the storytelling. In a world that is increasingly complex and demanding of our attention, I hope my artistic practice offers actors and audiences a thread.

 

Artist: Kirsty Whitlock

 

Artist: Lynn Skordal

 

XS Entertainment is a catalyst for creative change with a history of daring and disruption, and as performer, director and producer, I’m a conduit, able to be completely emptied – as Akaji Maro describes, a butoh “skin bag” – ready to channel and configure the ensemble’s ideas during the devising process, or come to the table overflowing with ideas and ways into the work using sound, light, visual art, literature, movement, and our connection with the darkness that otherwise remains undiscovered.

 

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14
Aug
17

Richard Grantham & ZEN ZEN ZO Present DUSK

RESTRUNG 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & ZEN ZEN ZO

 

Saturday August 19 2017 at 3:45pm & 9pm 

 

Hit pause on your fast-paced hectic life, and take a moment to slow down, breath, and be present at DUSK

 

Restrung 2017 delivers an all-star line-up of more than 50 international, national and local artists to explore the spaces between genres – classical, electronica, folk, jazz, rock, pop, minimalism and more.

 

The three-day program includes The Viola Cloning Project and Zen Zen Zo’s DUSK, and Collusion and Queensland Ballet Academy’s Muscle Memory: Reflex.

 

Third in the series of Restrung festivals, the program offers a joyous explosion of strings-driven music, dance, theatre and art that challenges musical and artistic boundaries: a roller coaster ride through the arcane, the forbidden and the gorgeous.

 

 

 

DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

 

DUSK is a moving meditation, a danced haiku, an opportunity to inhabit the “space between” (day/night; sound/silence; movement/stillness; life/death)

 

a regenerative space of unfolding potential…

 

Performer, Travis Weiner talks about

DUSK, ZEN ZEN ZO & RICHARD GRANTHAM –

 

There are 2 aspects of the show itself I can tell you about.

 

I’ve performed in all of Lynne’s shows since I started with the company in 2014 and this is probably the simplest but the most physically and mentally demanding choreography I can remember. That’s partly because some of it is just hard work and partly because Richard’s original composition can’t be broken into beats of 8. When we dance to his music, which is also in parts just him jamming, we have no musical beat to keep us in sync with each other. So almost the entire show is us kinaesthetically responding to each other. It’s an exciting challenge.

 

From a creative perspective it’s more complicated to explain what’s unique about this show. We were talking about this yesterday and we all see Richard as this god-like maestro summoning us as otherworldly spirits. I would say he deserves such a role. He is a very talented musician, and I wouldn’t say so lightly. The music he is able to create with literally one instrument and a bunch of pedals at his feet is mind blowing. It’s like he takes the concept of a one man band and turns it into a one man orchestra.

 

Our challenge was to create a movement score that kept Richard in focus for the majority of the piece. After watching Richard create his music I don’t think we would be able to steal too much limelight if we tried. His performance is simply fascinating.

 

Working with Zen Zen Zo is always a challenging experience because of the nature and standard of the work, but also very rewarding. Anyone who has trained with the company knows how exhausting an experience it can be. When it comes to a show the bar is set even higher and understandably so. Sometimes we look at each other and go, “can we actually do this for that long?” And then we do. I would say to anyone it is worth coming to see Richard play, even if he was on stage alone. But also to anyone who missed Zen Zen Zo’s sold-out In the Company of Shadows season last year, here is a second chance to see the performers from that show take to the stage again.

 

 

In the Company of Shadows from info@zenzenzo.com on Vimeo.

 

Bring a wine or a green tea and enjoy an afternoon or evening of mindfulness in the presence of these extraordinary artists.

 

DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.

 

 

THU 17–SAT 19 AUGUST 2017

Two-Show Festival Pass (full)$110*

Two-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$100*

Three-Show Festival Pass (full)$150*

Three-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$135*

*An additional fee applies to each booking transaction. Single tickets $3 / Multiple tickets $6.

 

 

Composer: Richard Grantham


Directors/Choreographers: Lynne Bradley & Jamie Kendall


Lighting Design: Simon Woods


Design Consultant: Rachel Konyi


Costumes: Bill Haycock & Kaylee Gannaway


Performers: Richard Grantham with Jamie Kendall, Gina Tay Limpus, Aurora Liddle-Christie & Travis Weiner

 

 

 

18
Jul
17

ONE DAY MORE to support Sunshine Coast and Brisbane artists dance (nearly) naked in Japan

 

In case you have been hiding under a rock, or unaware of our campaign, or ignoring all cries for help across our social media platforms, let me fill you in:

IN JUST 10 DAYS WE ARE DANCING (NEARLY) NAKED IN JAPAN

 

I’M EXCITED AND A LITTLE BIT SCARED

 

 

We are 10 students from the Master of Professional Practice in Performing Arts (MPP), an innovative postgraduate course offered for the first time in 2017 by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), created by Zen Zen Zo’s Dr Lynne Bradley.

We have received an exclusive invitation to join Japan’s highly acclaimed butoh dance company, Dairakudakan, for 10 days in July-August during an intensive summer camp in Hakuba, Japan. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australian artists to train and perform with butoh Master, Akaji Maro and an ensemble of 40 dancers.

We’d LOVE you to help if you can, to cover the cost of our travel and training.

We need your support to train and perform with Japan’s best butoh artists.

 

 

Renowned for their visually exotic, highly physical and confronting work about contemporary issues in an apocalyptic world, Dairakudakan dancers and Master butoh performer and director, Akaji Maro, will work with us over 9 days of intensive performance training before we join company members on stage in a culminating performance, choreographed and directed by Maro.

 

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gives us access to contemporary Japanese training and performing that has evolved from a highly respected ancient art form, rarely seen or taught in Australia.

 

 

Your contribution will go towards the ensemble’s travel and training costs, helping to give 10 talented performing artists access to a unique international training and performance opportunity, and the chance to establish and nurture valuable relationships between Australian and Japanese performing artists so that future collaborative work can be considered.

 

Upon returning from this trip, at our own cost, members of the MPP Dairakudakan ensemble will continue training with Australia’s leading physical theatre company, Zen Zen Zo, and work collaboratively to create opportunities to share our knowledge and experience of butoh, Japan’s exquisite performance art, with Australian artists and audiences.

 

WE HAVE ONE DAY MORE OF OUR AUSTRALIAN CULTURAL FUND CAMPAIGN

 

19
Jun
15

Michelle Lamarca does Zen Zen Zo

 

 

 

You’ll remember Michelle Lamarca from her very saucy portrayal of Anita in West Side Story at Noosa Arts Theatre. She also won the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival’s Adjudicator’s Award last year.

 

 

Michelle REALLY wanted to do some “warrior training” with Brisbane Physical Theatre company, Zen Zen Zo. She travelled through peak hour traffic and FIRE to get to her first class…

 

 

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michellelamarca_wss1

 

I found out about Zen Zen Zo through email conversations with Margi Brown Ash, who had kindly given me the 2014 Adjudicator’s Award at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival! (Of course I’d hit her up for some advice on where to train in Brisbane).

 

As a performer I have always hit on the same problem and that is not feeling connected to my body on stage. Sometimes I feel uncoordinated, distant and most likely the one to make mistakes or get myself injured. I hadn’t heard of Zen Zen Zo but I had heard of the Japanese acting method of Suzuki through a performer friend and was interested to learn about this system too! Zen Zen Zo training is a combination of Suzuki Method, Viewpoints, Butoh and Composition.

 

zenzenzo_vikram_lizzieballinger

 

I contacted the company ASAP and it turns out the “limited” beginners classes are on my day off too – win! and at a reasonable time, so I can get the car from my partner when she finishes work and then hit the road to Brissy from Noosa.

 

My instructions were to bring water and a pair of socks. I carefully programmed my GPS, packed my dinner and was ready for my adventure. Not being aware of Brisbane peak hour traffic I arrived late in the city and pretty much got myself lost in the one way streets. And I mean lost! I missed the class. I felt defeated, upset and extremely pissed off. I emailed Lynne Bradley that night (the company director) apologising that I won’t be able to get to Brisbane in time and unfortunately will not be doing the classes. It wasn’t meant to be and I put the experience down to just that.. an experience. And maybe I should consider moving closer to the city.

 

Lynne replied the next day with a lovely email. She was impressed with my dedication to drive all that way and invited me to attend the advanced classes, which didn’t start until 7:30. This would give me plenty of time to arrive on time even if I did get lost! Advanced classes!!! On one condition: I don’t miss any classes and come with an open mind and socks.

 

I thought to myself I will swim through floods to get to these classes!

 

zenzenzo_zeitgeist
The following Monday I was prepared! My partner printed me a map with pictures and was by the phone with Google Maps to guide me. All was going to plan when suddenly I hit a traffic jam near the airport. I’m sure the cars ahead heard my swearing. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me! There was a grassfire dangerously coming across the road that I had to drive across. I had never seen a fire so big and followed the other cars through some of the flames! I laughed to myself.

 

I had actually driven through flames to get to these classes!

 

And it was well worth it! Zen Zen Zo’s The Actor’s Dojo is held at the Judith Wright Centre. I arrived with plenty of time to find a park and enough time to introduce myself to the other classmates who were warming up ready for their session.

 

 

I love acting classes of any sort! I love the people, the conversations, the clothing…

 

 

Artists need to be around fellow artists to feel normal, inspired and to have a sense of belonging.

 

 

The advanced classmates were very friendly and supportive, reassuring me that I would be fine and to just enjoy it. Lynne introduced me to the class and explained my situation and I felt a warm welcome from everyone. Some students have been studying for 11 years and were kind enough to share some tips with me. Most of it went over my head!

 

zen_training_lynnebradley

 

We started the class by taking off our shoes and socks to warm up around the space, stretching and moving. It felt quite normal to me and I started to feel safer. We paired up in a line and started what seemed like a dance with stomping. I tried to keep up with the other classmates.

 

I consider myself to be not too bad with fitness but after about 90 seconds I was completely covered in sweat and knackered! With the music and intensity I started to lose myself in the movements. I felt like a warrior. The energy around me was electric and I felt very inspired! And aware! Aware of my body and the space around me! BINGO!

 

Anyone interested in physical theatre or improving themselves has to give this training a go!

 

Coming from a martial arts background I noticed similarities to how the core is used and how important breathing is, and the centre of gravity. Like karate, I felt healthier and empowered! I noticed too that different exercises had different energies too. next we moved onto “viewpoints” Lynne asked anyone who wanted to get up to find a space on the floor , I didn’t hesitate (I drove through flames! I may as well give it my all!). I ran to a corner and stayed still not really knowing what I was doing. Then suddenly we had to change/move! Fast! So I ran to the other corner, again…still. A student ran full speed up to me face to face, staring me in the eyes! It should have been intimating but I decided not to think. But to just be.

 

The class spoke about tempo, spacial awareness and response.

 

It was explained to me that if you can train to look inwards at yourself but from an audience point of view (I forget the cool Japanese word for this), you can utilise your space to be more appealing and create a great performance.

 

I can see why artists love to practice at Zen Zen Zo. There was talk about shapes, stillness, energy.

 

A lot of it went over my head and a lot I felt I resonated with. every student was involved and passionate it was infectious! yes my mind was totally blown there is so much to learn in Zen Zen Zo! In only one lesson I felt confident as a performer and felt I haven’t even scratched the surface with what the body can do. An hour and a half went quickly and we all finished the class sitting in a circle talking about what we had learnt. I thanked Lynne and my classmates and drove home looking forward to the next lesson.

 

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13
Aug
12

Chris Beckey: on behalf of Salvador Dali

 Steven Mitchell Wright and The Danger Ensemble’s Loco Maricon Amor opens on Friday night.

Chris Beckey took some time out to tell us about it and about life as an artist.

“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.” – Salvador Dalí

 

Chris Beckey Loco Maricon Amor

 

Chris, you’re a multi-tasking, interdisciplinary master; what exactly are your roles in this show?! Which came first?

Thank you, Xanthe, although I’m not sure I am actually interdisciplinary. But I’ll take flattery where I can get it.

 

I was initially approached to act as dramaturg and literary advisor on the project, much in the same way as I had with The Hamlet Apocalypse. I’d spoken to Steven Mitchell Wright, Artistic Director of The Danger Ensemble and director of Loco Maricon Amor, about my interest in working with him as an actor. So, some time later, he asked me if I’d play Salvador Dali. Of course it’s not as simple as ‘playing’ Dali. So I guess the best way to answer your first question would be to say that I’m working on the project as dramaturg, literary advisor, a deviser and performer. As regards this final role, more specifically I’m the actor speaking on behalf of Salvador Dali.

 

What drew you to The Danger Ensemble? Can you tell us about the company and the way you work with them?

Steven and I have known each other for about 15 years and we first worked together in 2003. So my connection to The Danger Ensemble is through Steven; he’s the artistic heart and brain of the company. I love working with him. And I like to think we’ve developed, and continue to evolve, a really healthy working relationship. We balance, challenge and complement each other. Katherine Quigley is the company’s rather brilliant and generous General Manager and Executive Producer. The amount of work Kath puts into the company is staggering. Somehow, over the years, I’ve managed to develop an appreciation for both the artistic and production processes involved in getting a project off the ground. I guess I kind of act as a sounding board for both Steven and Katherine. And of course, I get to make my own contributions as an artist on various projects. My relationship with the company, with both Steven and Kath, is incredibly precious to me and was one of the big reasons I returned to Brisbane this year.

 

What impact do you think The Hamlet Apocalypse had on you and on Brisbane?

Well, I have to say it’s hard for me to discern the impact The Hamlet Apocalypse may have had upon Brisbane. At the time it was performed, as you know, I was living in Wollongong. Since returning to Brisbane in January, for various reasons I haven’t really had, or taken, the opportunity to re-engage with the theatre scene in Brisbane as much as I had hoped. Of course, I’d like to think it did have some impact but I can’t really articulate what that might have been. And maybe that impact, that influence, hasn’t fully emerged yet. That’s not for me to say.

 

As for me personally, it had a huge impact. I rarely cry in theatre. I know the tricks, the mechanics. But I found the collision of worlds and contexts set in motion within the show profoundly moving. I was a mess after each and every run I saw. A critical mess with lots of thoughts and questions, but a mess nonetheless.  I was always blown away by the honesty, the openness and the courage of the actors and Steven’s ability to create an environment where they felt safe to offer those qualities, yet to challenge them to offer more every time. It really was an affirmation for me that these were the people, the kind of artists, with whom I wanted to work. The work itself, the show, always made me value the experiences of my own life and value each moment. I always walked away from the show, whether in rehearsal or in performance, determined to live each moment of my life fully, to savour each and every moment. And I found that to be such a beautiful gift.

 

Describe the company in a word.

Obviously I’m incredibly close to the company and have an insight into the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. I know it’s not very marketing savvy of me, but I’d feel to try and sum that up, and to sum up what it is that the company does, in a single word would end up belittling some aspect of its work and the work of those who make it happen. Sorry.

 

Describe Loco Maricon Amor in a word.

Similar to my answer with The Danger Ensemble, I don’t know if I can sum up Loco Maricon Amor in a word. To me, it’s a beautiful show. It’s complex. It’s challenging. It’s full of heart, full of love in a myriad of forms. It’s heartbreaking. But that’s my experience as someone involved in the creation and performance of the show, a view from the inside. I can’t think of a single word that captures all that without belittling one of its other aspects or biasing the way in which the show might be received. It’s better for our audiences to make their own choices.

(Fair enough, on both counts. – Ed.) 

 

How has surrealist style informed the overall style of the show?

Steven was determined that the show wouldn’t only be a show about surrealism or about artists associated with surrealism as a style and movement, but that surrealist techniques for creation should underpin the show. So throughout creative development and rehearsal we have been using various surrealist techniques and that spirit remains within the show, has had a marked impact on the form of the show.

 

What was your first false memory?

Unlike Dali, I’m not savvy enough to determine which of my memories are true and which are false. And I certainly don’t have any intra-uterine memories . . . as far as I can tell.

My earliest memory, or one of them, is of being about 3 or 4 years of age. It was Easter time. I’d been eating a hard candy Easter egg. I went outside for no particular reason. I have quite a vivid memory of the brown corduroy overalls I was wearing, a visceral memory of the feeling of the Autumn sun on my skin, the taste of candy in my mouth.

Whether that memory is true or false, I can’t tell.

 

What fascinates you about people? About actors? About audiences?

Oh my, how much time do you have? I don’t think you can work in the theatre without a deep fascination with human beings in all of their glory and despair, our light, our dark, our strengths, our weaknesses, our histories, our futures, our complexities, our contradictions, our differences and our similarities. We deal with the raw material of humanity and human experience. We need a passionate interest in all the shades and dimensions of that experience. For me, that fascination stands, regardless of how a particular person comes to the work, whether they are the material on which a work is based, a character, an actor, artist, director, writer, choreographer or as an audience member.

 

Can you tell us about your training? Who and what have influenced your approach to performing and theatre making?

I’ve actually never trained formally, never did an actor training course. Like a lot of actors and performers, I did a fair bit of youth drama activities, such as AMEB Speech and Drama and youth theatre, and I studied drama at the University of Queensland. That was an amazing course but it wasn’t geared to train actors. My first professional job was with Fractal Theatre and I got a lot of on-the-job training from them.  I was so lucky, I learnt so much working with Fractal. And over the years, I’ve attempted to address the gaps in my training through workshops and other experiences, but much of my training has been on-the-job.

 

And of course, I’ve done a lot of training in various forms of Japanese theatre, such as Butoh, and with the method of actor training developed by Mr Tadashi Suzuki. I’ve been working with these styles and method for 20 years now and I’m still blown away by the insight they offer on the craft of acting. And not just in a general sense, but each and every time you come to the methods, each time you train.

 

As for my influences in terms of the theatre I create, one of my biggest inspirations is Adrian Kiernander, who was a lecturer and tutor at UQ while I was studying there. His teaching was amazing, the balance he found between critical and theoretical thinking and practical creation and exploration is something to which I still aspire. His teaching is my benchmark, it still has a massive influence on my work as a teacher, actor and creator.

 

I have a huge list of performers and directors and film-makers who have influenced my own work. I guess the big ones are Lindsay Kemp, Steven Berkoff and Kazuo Ohno and film-makers like Peter Greenaway and the late Derek Jarman. I was also entranced in the mid- to late-1990s by the work of a number of performers based in Sydney, many of whom were associated with the Sydney Front; performers like Nigel Kellaway, Meme Thorne, Dean Walsh, Joel Markham and Deborah Pollard.

 

I guess I’d describe these as my core influences, the influences that keep me working, creating, questioning.

 

And even though they’re not theatre artists, my work has been hugely informed by French poststructuralist theory and philosophy. My understanding of the world and my approach to thinking and to inquiry is drawn from writers such as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes. I also take inspiration from the contemporary American philosopher, Alphonso Lingis. Lingis shows us how philosophy and thinking must be lived and must be tested through the living, while our lives, the way we live, should also give rise to deep and critical thinking.

 

What sort of theatre do you strive to make and why?

I’ve always aspired to make theatre that asks questions of and challenges myself as an artist and the world in which I’m situated. Theatre that explores and extends our understanding of what it is to be human at this point in time. But I also hope to celebrate our humanity, in all its ugliness and beauty, its light and its dark. For me, this is where my heart is, this is where my passion lies. I don’t think that all theatre necessarily needs to do this. But this is the kind of work I seek to make. As artists, we have the ability to effect the way that people feel, perceive, think. About themselves. About the world. That’s a privilege and a huge responsibility. If I don’t use that to question and grow, it feels to me like I waste a precious opportunity. Oh, and of course, I always strive to make work that is just plain fabulous.

 

Lorca was a poet and director. Tell us about the sort of theatre he made.

I haven’t actually found much by way of documentation of the kind of theatre Lorca was making. I feel bad for saying this, but I suspect I wouldn’t have liked it. Which is fair enough, I guess. Lorca was working in the 1920s and 1930s, I’m a theatre artist living in 2012. There’s about 80 years of theatre history between us. A lot has changed in that time. But despite all that, his words – his plays, his poems, his essays and lectures – are still incredibly powerful and beautiful and seductive. I’d hazard a guess he was making theatre of his time, maybe even ahead of his time. But theatre is ephemeral, which is something Lorca loved about it as an art form, and so are its conventions and its styles. So for me, Lorca’s value lies in the artifacts he left behind, his words, his thoughts, his feelings, his blood and his passion in print. I think it’s a great tragedy he died so young. When he was murdered he’d been working as a director for about 5 years. He’d written three stunning plays, just amazing pieces of work. I really wonder where his thoughts on theatre and poetry and where his work would have led if Spanish history hadn’t played out the way it did.

 

What makes an artist an outsider?

It’s an interesting question. A complex one, too. You know, there’s a long history of artists being treated as outsiders. In Ancient Greece, Plato wanted poets banished from the city. In the Middle Ages, artists were regarded with a great deal of suspicion. And on and on. Artists never seem to have sat, or have been accommodated, comfortably in social frameworks. Then you look at someone like Jean Genet, who embraced the idea of being an outsider. I suspect Dali was also fond of the idea of being an outsider. Even though he was a member of the Surrealists, he didn’t seem particularly upset when they expelled him from their ranks.

In 2012, are we as artists, and I’m talking primarily theatre artists, outsiders? I’m not sure. I guess it all boils down to how you define what constitutes being inside and how being outside relates to that.

 

What makes an artist free?

Similarly, I think that depends a lot on how you define freedom. Are we free to create the work we want? Are we and our work bound by the financial relationships into which we enter, whether with governments, patrons and sponsors or co-producers? Are we bound, limited, by the socio-political climate in which we create? Can we say what we want to say, need to say, in the face of these factors? How far are we prepared to bend, to compromise, so that our work is made and seen? Sorry, I’ve answered your question with a plethora of my own. Whether they’re important questions to ask or not, I don’t know. But I guess these are the questions I’m asking of the current climate in regards to our freedom as artists.

 

What will we take from this show?

Obviously, that’s hard to predict from inside the work. Loco Maricon Amor will definitely offer a unique theatrical experience. Stepping out of actor mode for a second, I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. I think at the heart of the work lies a question about what limits us, what holds us back, and a challenge to throw ourselves into life, into our work, our love, our art, with all we have, without fear or hesitation. If anything, I hope audiences take that challenge from the show.

 

What will you walk away with?

Oh, I walk away with the same challenge. I’d never ask something of an audience that I wouldn’t ask of myself. Apart from that, it’s been such a rich experience. As part of this process, we’ve been asking whether it was possible for me to work both as a dramaturg and as a performer on the same process. I’ve learnt heaps in that regard which will obviously have a carry-on effect for future projects. It’s been such a pleasure working with this ensemble of artists. It’s been difficult territory to enter and the courage of each and every person and the support given to each other has created a beautiful environment in which to work. It’s always great to reconnect with those who work regularly with The Danger Ensemble, Peta Ward and Polly Sara in this instance. They’re completely inspiring. I’ve loved having the chance to work with Caroline Dunphy again. We haven’t worked together on a show since 1996. Steven has been trying to get Caroline and I on a stage together for some time now so I’m glad it’s finally happened. More please. And it’s been great working with the younger artists on the show, Thomas Hutchins, Lucy-Ann Langkilde and Bianca Zouppas. I look at their work and wish I’d had their guts when I was their age. I know it’s the kind of thing that always gets said, but I really do hope we all stay in touch beyond the end of this stage of the project.

 

What’s next for you?

Once Loco Maricon Amor opens, we begin in earnest the process of developing a new work, i war, with a work-in-progress showing presented by Queensland Theatre Company and Brisbane Festival as a part of QTC’s Greenroom program and Brisbane Festival’s Under the Radar in September. I’ll also be working on a new draft of the text for Children of War, which is being presented with Vanguard Youth Theatre in November as part of the La Boite Indie season.

 

By all means, don’t go near this question if you prefer but if you’d like to go there, what do you think about the current state of the arts in Queensland and what can we do about it once we’ve broken free from our negative cycle of bitching, blame and reproach?!

I’m not sure I can really comment on this one with any authority. I’ve only been back in Brisbane for a little over six months and I’ve found everyone to be really lovely and supportive so far. And circumstances have restricted my engagement with the industry, so I’m not really sure of what’s been going on in the community. Recently, Brian Lucas quoted Andy Warhol on Facebook, Warhol said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” And I’ve accidentally found myself in that situation. Although, thinking about it, that’s probably a good place to be. Head down, tail up. There’s always going to be conflicts within the arts industry. The work we do as artists isn’t easy, we put a lot of heart into it, we put a lot of our selves on the line. And sometimes we can take criticism or circumstances that compromise our art on the chin, sometimes we can’t, sometimes we shouldn’t. I guess my hope would be that, regardless of that, we create an environment where young artists are able to grow and flourish. As I said before, one of the great things about working on Loco Maricon Amor has been working alongside Bianca, Thomas and Lucy-Ann. I’d hate to think we’re creating an environment where they feel inhibited, where they feel their only option is to move to another city to pursue their careers. I’d have to confess that I’m not one hundred per cent au fait with the cultural policies of the new state government but what I have heard and understood has left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable. We need artists here, we need diversity, we need old voices, we need new voices. And if the government isn’t going to encourage that, the onus falls on us to do so. How do we do that? I’m not sure. Hopefully, time will tell.

Loco Maricon Amor

 

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Andy Warhol

 

Chris Beckey Loco Maricon Amor_2

14
Feb
12

ZEN ZEN ZO Actor Training Week One or Ouch! How Much Will This Hurt?

My friend, Cathy Sheargold, decided to take on some awesome personal challenges this year. No one put her up to it, she’s just that kind of chick. I wonder how amazing we’d all be if we regularly took on similar “impossible challenges”. Not only physical, her latest self-set challenge is a giant mental and spiritual leap as well. Cathy is training with world-renowned physical theatre ensemble, Zen Zen Zo.

The company’s artistic vision is intimidating enough! The training is based on the Suzuki Method of Actor Training, the Viewpoints and  Butoh dance-theatre.  I’ve heard about the strenuous exercises and mad discipline for years, from many friends and from my sister (the one who ran off with the circus). I’ve seen the shows, by Lynn Bradley and Simon Woods’ and I am in awe of many of the performances. Their production of Cabaret won the Greenroom’s Groundling Award, voted for by the people, this year for Best Musical. I’m excited to see the direction Zen Zen Zo will take this year, with that dynamic duo at the helm, Michael Futcher and Helen Howard. Check out the company showreel. Cathy did. And she was afraid. Very afraid.

When Cathy told me she was about to commit to the series of workshops for adult actors, I asked her to vlog about it. Who could resist hearing about how much it hurts? With any luck, and with our interest and support, Cathy will continue to vlog weekly, her experience at Zen Zen Zo’s physical actor training sessions.

Come back every Tuesday until the end of March to find out what’s happening and exactly how much it hurts. Ouch!

Please leave you comments and questions for Cathy. And get ready to play the game!

01
Jul
11

Deluge

Because I can’t possibly get to everything, I have a little team of reviewers heading off to see all sorts of exciting, interesting productions. They are an enormous help, both to XS and to briztix.com (where you can read Alys Gwillim’s review of Deluge, Josh Matthew’s review of Gaijin and Sharon Grimley’s review of Paul Capsis, among others). Here is Red Moon Rising’s Deluge

Reviewed by Caity Sanderson

I was lucky enough to see this newly developed performance at Metro Arts on Tuesday night.

A deluge can refer to a downpour, a flood. That’s exactly what I felt throughout it- a surge of emotions portrayed beautifully through song and dance. Director, Jeremy Neideck, created a simple but exquisite performance using Korean performers as well as Australians. Together they created a piece so moving, it took my breath away.

The connection and deep relationship both Koreans and Australians have with water was the starting point for the production. This gave the performance a really raw edge to it, and the fact that only two weeks was allowed for rehearsal made it truly remarkable to watch. I loved the way the actors connected with each other, and let us get a glimpse at the emotion behind their faces, behind the blue paint- I wanted to know exactly what they were thinking.

I suppose this is where it was a bit disjointed for me, personally. I would have appreciated a bit more help in understanding the plot. Maybe it didn’t have a particular narrative? Well, at least it made me think! Another thing that let the performance down a bit were the musicians who stood awkwardly to the side of the stage. They took the focus away from the stunning costumes that our actors wore, and left it feeling a little too casual.

On the other hand, the musicians really added another layer to the performance, the raw, clean feeling that Deluge is all about. They were creative with their instruments, and the simplicity of tapping, humming and scratching complemented the actors perfectly. The two singers, one Korean, and the other Australian were the absolute highlight. When they sang together at the climax of the performance, it sent shivers down my spine, and I could tell I wasn’t the only one!

It is a rare occasion that I get so completely engrossed in a performance with no dialogue what so ever. The music, the dance and the pure emotion in their bodies had a great balance; they each gave the performance energy, without overpowering it. This was supported with the props- the bell, the bucket. So simple, so beautiful…

Looking out of the window in the Whitlam Studio, the sleeping city was a stark contrast to the almost hysterical feeling that surrounded Deluge.

The movement was brought together by powerful technique. In some places the timing was off, but that comes with time, I suppose; a fortnight isn’t long to get timing impeccable. I did enjoy the ungainliness of the dances. It reminded me that I wasn’t at a dance concert, but part of an evolving story.

The audience felt part of the story, as we were in such a confined space, and the performers came so close I could hear their breathing! It gave us the chance to see the emotion in their eyes, especially when the performance was hitting its peak. We saw the struggle that is hard to understand otherwise. It grabbed my attention and left me thinking for hours afterwards.

Overall, Deluge was a stunning performance that certainly made me think. I loved the fact that it was so raw, like we were seeing the creative process developing in the director’s mind. The musicians didn’t really seem to be part of the story, however, I loved how our two singers complimented each other’s voices- it was beautiful. They were so different, yet so connected during the final song, which was a brilliant way to end the performance. It left us wanting more, more!

The lighting, the instruments, the actors and the musicians successfully brought together this delightfully thought-provoking piece and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.