Posts Tagged ‘creative industries

02
Aug
18

Lysa and the Freeborn Dames

 

Lysa and the Freeborn Dames

La Boite & QUT Creative Industries

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre 

July 21 – August 11 2018

 

Reviewed by Meredith Walker

 

 

Aristophanes’ classic Greek comedy Lysistrata is a comic account of a woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War by withholding sexual privileges from their men as a means of forcing negotiation of peace. As an early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society, it is an apt source for Lysa and the Freeborn Dames, a new work by Claire Christian, which waves the feminist flag through a story of self-discovery, albeit with some stereotypes.

 

Bold and defiant first year university student nineteen-year-old Lysa King (Tania Vukicevic) resents the traditions of her regional home town, most notably its annual rugby match known as the war weekend. Bolstered by viewing the 2017 women’s marches, during a trip home to the typical church/Chinese restaurant/CWA town, after awkward reunion with once girlfriend Peta (Clementine Anderson), she stages a protest to disrupt the event, as mouthpiece of the #metoo movement, angering most of the town, including her friends and her father (Hugh Parker) who is being awarded Man of the Year in one of the weekend’s rituals.

 

 

Rather than rallying the women of the town in solidarity with their international sisters, Lysa alienates almost everyone though her fired-up hostility and wide range of demands for equality as she locks local footy star Grant (Jackson Bannister) hostage in the club’s locker room after he catches her alofting a ‘Pussy Power’ flag over the hallowed footy field. As the show revolves around this decision and its consequences over one night, in one place, staging occurs within the one room of the local footy club, represented simply by a sunken set complete with daggy club-type carpet. And music is likewise used to effect, especially in cementing a concluding sentiment through Cold Chisel’s Flame Trees.

 

 

Its recognisable everyplace type of town ‘somewhere in regional Queensland’, setting increases its accessibility, however, clearly the show’s intent is to engage a younger demographic through showcase of impulsive protest as a privilege of youth, which may alienate traditional mainstage audience members. At times, it verges on caricature, overwhelming potentially poignant moments with over-the-top character portrayals which can make it a frustrating experience, especially when any warning about the potential dangers of single-minded activism seems to be breezed over in its somewhat all’s well ending.

 

 

It is difficult to empathise with Lysa. Even though she has right on her side, her raging militancy is off-putting, especially as we witness her refusal to accept other viewpoints or ‘I don’t care’ perspectives which almost cost her close friendships. And although there are three male characters within the story, their responses to Lysa’s assertions appear as mere mentions, dismissed as being ‘part of the problem’ rather than allowed space for consideration.

 

 

Obviously whether audience members will see passionate defiance or stubborn belligerence in Lysa will depend on their personal experiences and life’s journey stage. Thankfully, there is a Greek chorus of freeborn dames (the all-wonderful Barbara Lowing, Roxanne McDonald, Hsiao-Ling Tang) to mix things up. The trio doesn’t just setup the action, serving as Lysa’s persona oracle, but allows for a reprieve from her lack of relent, providing a powerful presence in their punctuating reminder the feminism is not just for the young. In particular, Lowing’s monologue about legacy and post-middle-age liberation from the repression of service to others conveys a moving honesty that makes the audience applaud mid-show. And the trio’s sardonic commentary also offers much dry humour. Indeed, like its Ancient source material, “Lysa and the Freeborn Dames” is very funny, thanks largely to its vibrant supporting cast – prim and proper(ish) fourth generation Miss Weekender (with sash to prove it), Esme (Tatum Mottin) and brash tell-it-as-it-is gutter-mouth Myra (Samantha Lush), who bring an engaging energy to the at-times physical show, especially in its spirited ‘Wild Ones’ dance scene. Also of note are Morgan Francis as the town’s well-intentioned, plucky young caught-in-the-middle policeman and Hugh Parker’s as Lysa’s everyman, good-bloke father who by his own admission, just doesn’t understand.

 

With provocation at its core, this is far from polite theatre. The show begins with a punch of profanities which continues in some way for most of its duration. The words do become wittier as the show ebbs and flows along, but its message sometimes lacks discernment; in touch on big themes like gender, sexuality, politics and sexual politics, there is a lot going on and while sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.

 

Turning the international lens inward to feminism in rural Australia makes for an interesting theatrical premise, but working toward social change that takes everyone into consideration is complicated and it is probably for this reason that the show seems to lack a single thesis. From this tangle, there arises much opportunity for discussion though, especially for its target school group audiences, which is the show’s real value, for as Lysa tells her father when he questions her changed appearance and claim not to care what people think, “how is anything going to change if people can’t even have a conversation.”

 

One way or another, Lysa and the Freeborn Dames will evoke a response, whether it be in the form of feelings of frustration or fulfilment, and will, as enticed by its “fury fuelled dramedy” descriptor, generate contemplation and conversation.

 

 

04
Aug
17

Blackrock

 

Black Rock

La Boite & QUT Creative Industries

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

July 26 – August 12 2017

 

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

 

 

Cast your memory back to when you were young(er). Was there a secret you kept for someone? A secret that twisted your insides, and opened your eyes? You saw a person you thought was your best friend in a different light. And you told their secret…

Black Rock is a beachside suburb where Jared (Ryan Hodson) welcomes home his friend Ricko (Karl Stuifzand). Ricko is wild and speaks before he thinks. He’s the guy who walks that fine line of having a laugh, and throwing the first punch. There’s a history between Jared and Ricko. They’re mates, till the end of time, yeah? And the boys have each other’s backs. Toby (Tom Cossettini) is turning 18 and his party turns into a welcome back for Ricko. All the kids from Black Rock are there, and you bet the alcohol is flowing!

Tracey Warner was found dead on the beach that night. She had been raped and her skull bashed in. Toby’s sister (Jessica Potts) found her. Rumours were going around that Tracey was a slut. She asked for it. Three boys were questioned, and one of them was Toby. Who killed Tracey Warner?

20 years have passed since Nick Enright’s Blackrock was produced at La Boite. This show presented by the company and QUT Creative Industries AND directed by AD Todd MacDonald is spectacular. It not only introduces amazing performances by the third year acting students from QUT, but also three incredibly talented and established actors, Joss McWilliam, Christen O’Leary and Amy Ingram.

The revolving set, designed by Anthony Spinaze, looks like a mix between a lifesaver tower, a sun-bleached jetty and coastal lookout, giving the audience an intimate insight into a beachside community. It exposes the actors, though being in the round allowed the audience to capture different moments. A subtle touch, a look of guilt…

The entire cast is captivating and vulnerable, and though I know the play I delighted in watching the action unfold. I had forgotten how powerful this work is and how confronting the themes are. Victims today are still silenced, their stories scrutinised, forgotten in the mess of it all… Todd MacDonald did not steer away from the darkness, showing the cracks in relationships, the violence, but also the tenderness and heartache. You melt into the scenes with O’Leary and Ingram as they show raw human emotion without any frills. You believe them completely. McWilliam moves seamlessly from character to character, leaving you in stitches one minute and your stomach burning with rage (on purpose) the next.

There’s no question that it’s the QUT actors who bring this show to the next level with their adventurous physicality and youthful spontaneity on stage.

Yes, there are moments of melodrama but that’s teenagers, right? To see young people at the beginning of their careers giving it their all makes this show a cracker! Karl Stuifzand is a stand out as Ricko. He is both playful and menacing, leaving you on the edge, unsure of what he’ll do next. I look forward to following this young man’s career; he has something electric.      

After the show, I heard mixed reviews and opinions. Why are we watching this work now? It was written in 1995. Nothing has changed and it’s 2017. The power of theatre is to bring light to important issues and demand change. It’s disgusting how relevant the themes explored in this play still are; such as victim shaming and the “boys will be boys” attitude. Isn’t that the point of revisiting these iconic works, and particularly Australian work? We are making and watching this work to educate young people, to start a conversation with both young and old, to teach them (and ourselves) about the importance of self-worth, respecting others and speaking the truth. 

La Boite and QUT Creative Industries have presented a challenging and exciting production, throwing you straight in the deep end. Go and support the third year acting students as they make a tremendously loud and vibrant debut. 

13
Mar
13

Creative Australia

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for! The National Cultural Policy Creative Australia

 

Have you read it yet? What do you think?

 

 

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Creative Australia celebrates Australia’s strong, creative and inclusive culture. It describes the essential role arts and culture play in the life of every Australian, and how creativity is central to Australia’s economic and social success: a creative nation is a productive nation.

Creative Australia comes at a time when transformative technological changes touch every aspect of artistic and creative endeavour. The policy builds on the successful government strategies of the past 40 years that have helped develop confidence and innovation in the arts, heritage and in creative industries.

This policy has five overarching goals, developed in close consultation with the community it serves. These goals articulate the future this policy will enable: the centrality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; the diversity of Australia and the right of citizens to shape cultural identity; the central role of the artist; the contribution of culture to national life and the economy; innovation and a digitally enabled creative Australia.

 

GOAL 1

Recognise, respect and celebrate the centrality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures to the uniqueness of Australian identity.

GOAL 2

Ensure that government support reflects the diversity of Australia and that all citizens, wherever they live, whatever their background or circumstances, have a right to shape our cultural identity and its expression.

GOAL 3

Support excellence and the special role of artists and their creative collaborators as the source of original work and ideas, including telling Australian stories.

GOAL 4

Strengthen the capacity of the cultural sector to contribute to national life, community wellbeing and the economy.

GOAL 5

Ensure Australian creativity thrives here and abroad in the digitally enabled 21st century, by supporting innovation, the development of new creative content, knowledge and creative industries.

 
On April 4, GOMA will host a chat with Julianne Schultz, Wesley Enoch, Linda Jaivin and Michael Wesley on art, policy and new horizons.
10
Sep
12

FAST Festival: Here Goes Nothing – CRAVE – Leftovers (from a dream)

FAST Festival

Welcome to our newest theatre reviewer, the multi-talented and intrepid theatre-goer, Emilie Guillemain, who managed to divide her time over the weekend between the Brisbane Writers Festival and FAST Festival. Keep an eye out for more from Emilie during Brisbane Festival and don’t forget to comment if you like her posts or would like to add your POV!

Here Goes Nothing

Griffith University Drama

The Loft, QUT Kelvin Grove

07.09.12 & 09.09.12

Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain

Together we’ll climb into each other’s experiences and slow-dance each other’s secrets. One thing is certain: tonight you won’t be alone. We’ll be together. But you have to surrender part of yourself. Or at the very least – step forward and take my hand. Okay. You ready? Look alive. Let’s do this: here goes nothing.

Channelling the topics of choice, consequence and memory, Here Goes Nothing is a heart-warming play that reflects on the little delicacies of human interaction and connection. Over the course of 80 minutes the audience is faced with tales of love, loss, childhood, confessions and fears.

The show opens with a group of 15 performers dressed in bright and colourful party gear. Cling film is tightly wrapped around their bodies as they huddle together excitedly. As they begin to break free of the Glad Wrap, the audience is immediately addressed.

Who here likes the smell of freshly mown grass?

Who here is afraid of the ocean?

Who here has ever had their heart broken?

The play delves into a series of stories where questions like these are explored. Small and simple pleasures are discussed, along with the more pressing topics of personal fears and heartbreak. While none of the characters are introduced, no names are uttered, the audience learns about them through these series of intimate confessions.

Relying on a simple stage set up (a wall of multi-coloured streamers and 15 chairs) Here Goes Nothing really hones in on the interesting and quirky nature of the characters. The play combines music and dance effortlessly with fruitful dialogue and, as the scenes progress, the audience’s heart strings are tugged repeatedly. We revisit the ways in which we can be touched by love, but all too quickly, learn how it can turn sour.

As an insightful and stunning performance, Here Goes Nothing’s strength lies in its power to connect with the audience through their own experiences. The play explores the sense of touch both physically and emotionally in such a raw and delicate way that members of the audience find themselves laughing, crying, cringing, nodding and shaking their heads.

The final scene is something of true beauty. The characters strip down to their underwear, a soft tune is played as they move between person-to-person and slow dance. With the use of subtle lighting, their shadows create intimate silhouettes on the stage walls. There are gaps in between where some stand alone; the loneliness and distance is apparent in their expression but this doesn’t last as they are soon swept up by a passerby. These series of embraces gently lead into a song and dance number; the characters are alive and passionate. They sing and dance, laugh, scream, and thrash about as their energy electrifies the theatre space. It’s open, it’s real, it’s full of heart – a captivating performance that does nothing short of inspire.

Here Goes Nothing FAST FESTIVAL

Crave: A Takeaway Show

Opiate Productions, QUT

The Roundhouse

08.09.12

Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain

Our Lloyd’s Prayer

Our Lloyd, who art at the edge of existence

Blessed be thy food

Thy pilgrims come

They will be fed

At Lloyd’s as it is like no other

Give us this day our daily bread

And accept thy cravings

As we accept our cravings are against us

Lead us not into waste

But deliver us from hunger

For Lloyd’s is our deliverance

And the power

And the glory

For ever

And never

Amen.

Are you hungry?

Crave: A Takeaway Show delves into the subjects of hunger, desire and confession. It’s a ride through our deepest cravings and regrets, and the freedom that comes with releasing hidden truths.

Our Lloyd kneels centre stage, surrounded by a pillar of plastic bags. He is ready to serve, ready to quench the thirst and satiate the hunger. The stage is covered in plastic bags, some full of waste, and hanging from the ceiling. Lloyd is accompanied by excitable Jack and Jill, and Ocean – a curious character whose representation still remains a mystery. All 3 appear to be firm “believers” in the power of Lloyd and his ability to cure the suffering that comes with craving. They confess to their desires and in turn, encourage the audience to do the same.

What do you want to forget?

Upon entry into the theatre, audience members are asked to respond on numbered pieces of paper. The paper is then shared among the audience and during the play Lloyd calls out figures at random to confess. There was a break in the performance here where audience participation faltered.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

As the characters’ confessions unfold, they are rewarded with chewing gum from a bubblegum dispenser that rests on Lloyd’s desk.

“Eat, eat into oblivion!”

Crave FAST FestivalThe bubblegum is a fantastic metaphor for how humans choose to satisfy hunger. It’s the incessant chewing that leads us into believing we’re eliminating the craving but by the time we rid ourselves of the gum, it leaves an emptiness and a greater hunger than before. This is brought to the audience’s attention as a cleaner steps onto the scene. He is well pissed off. There is rubbish everywhere but it’s the bubblegum that really grates on him – even after you remove it, it leaves a stain you can’t get rid of.

Crave: A Takeaway Show tackles some meaty issues within the space of 45 minutes. The philosophy of hunger and desire is embedded in the script, however; the rush of the performance hinders character development and results in a gap between the performers and their audience. In addressing the subject of hunger, I believe the audience was left with just that…a desire to discover more about the characters and gain a better understanding of what it really means to “confess”.

Leftovers (From A Dream)

Southbank Institute of Technology

The Loft, QUT Kelvin Grove                                                                                       

08.09.12

Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain

Leftovers (from a dream) FAST Festival

Leftovers (From A Dream) explores the hectic environment between the spaces of dreaming and reality. We’re welcomed into Finn’s story where he is faced with a recurring dream of meeting his father for the first time. They step towards each other, cautious but curious and embrace when Finn is pulled back to reality by his relentless alarm clock and girlfriend, Alba, calling his name.

The play opens with the characters standing with their backs against the wall, a violin and acoustic guitar compliment their breathing. The energy quickly shifts, the dialogue is fast-paced, blended with live music and stylised movement. Sexual undertones are present as the characters briefly touch on the topic of the wet dream, before the scene quickly flicks back to Finn’s recurring dream of meeting his father – a cringe-worthy, yet evidently humorous moment. During the performance the spotlight shifts from Finn to the three other characters – two versions of Alba (real vs dream) and a “Dreamologist”. They share details of dreams they’ve had but as the show progresses, the lines between reality and the dream world begin to blur. Tension between Finn and Alba grows as Alba’s interference in Finn’s desire to meet his father begins to leak into his dreams. The couple attend therapy sessions with the Dreamologist, which provides a touch of humour to the show, as he communicates all of his advice through song.

Due to the fast-paced nature of the play and the dipping in and out of reality, the performance did lose me from time to time. The strength in the performers’ characters and vocality was something that quickly brought me back to focus. I was interested by the idea that dreams are almost seen as a form of escape or at times, an opportunity to chase our desires. But in the end we often become entrapped by them or they take on a different form to what we had initially envisaged.

Finn’s lack of control becomes more apparent as the play progresses, as Alba continues to push and question his desire to meet with his father. She is overcome by jealousy and Finn’s fight to keep her out of his dreams wears thin, building friction between the three as they meet within the dream. The play investigates the themes of fatherhood, control, relationships and the dream vs reality. Leftovers is an interesting look at the power or the lack of, that we have in both worlds.