Posts Tagged ‘David Williamson



12
Jun
13

Join Robyn Archer on an epic musical journey at the Noosa Long Weekend Festival

Robyn Archer stars in the Queensland premiere of her cabaret show

Que-Reste-t’il?

 

 

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This will be wonderful! I can’t wait to see this show with my mum – we are long-term Robyn Archer admirers – and THEN we’ll also go to afternoon tea with Robyn on Wednesday (I’ll tweet it!). Her show is an epic journey through two centuries of French song, including works from Aristide Bruant through to Jacques Brel, Brigitte Bardot and Michael Morley. WOW!

 

Sung and spoken by Robyn Archer, musical direction and piano by Michael Morley and accordion George Butrumlic.

 

Que-Reste-t’il?

 

Monday 17 June 7pm at The J

 

 

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

 

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! THERE’S THE LOVELY AFTERNOON TEA!

 

 

Robyn Archer. Image by Heide Smith

Join Robyn Archer (and Mum and I!), for afternoon tea and a chat about Festivals in Australia, a topic Robyn is able to wax lyrical about, with a long list of Festival Director credits to her name.

 

Robyn Archer’s career took this turn accidentally, with an invitation while she was performing her show Le Chat Noir in Canberra to direct the festival, hosted by the national capital. She directed 1993, 1994 and 1995 editions and this began a remarkable string of Artistic Director positions at The Adelaide Festival of Arts (1998 and 2000), the Melbourne International Arts Festival (2002-2004).

 

She created Ten Days on the Island, an international arts festival for Tasmania, spent two years as Artistic Director of the European Capital of Culture, and advised on the start-up of Luminato in Toronto.

 

Helix Tree

Helix Tree by Bruce Ramus. Image by Angela Wylie.

In 2007 Archer created The Light In Winter for Federation Square in Melbourne, and in July 2009 was appointed Creative Director of the Centenary of Canberra 2013. She is in frequent demand as a speaker and public advocate of the arts all over the world.

 

 

 

 

In Conversation With Robyn Archer

Wednesday 19 June at RACV Resort

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

HAPPINESS BY DAVID WILLIAMSON

 

ERICA LOVELL

Erica Lovell, appearing in David Williamson’s Happiness

Directed by Sandra Bates and featuring Adriano Cappelletta, Glenn Hazeldine, Peter Kowitz, Mark Lee, Erica Lovell & Anne Tenney of Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre, David Williamson’s Happiness will give you something to think about!

 

Roland Makepeace (Mark Lee) knows what makes people happy. Why wouldn’t he? He’s an eminent professor of psychology who has devoted his life to scientifically investigating human well-being. But his theories are sorely tested when his wife Hanna (Anne Tenney) meets an old suitor Sam (Peter Kowitz) and his daughter Zelda (Erica Lovell) threatens to go right off the rails.

 

A sharply observed comedy, just as we have come to expect from David, suggests that theory can sometimes fall well short of reality. And finding happiness is easier said than done.

 

Rather than previewing the play in Noosa during the Long Weekend as has happened in the past, Ensemble Theatre have already given it a run in their home town (to mixed reviews!). I’m looking forward to seeing it myself!

 

Tuesday 18  and Wednesday 19 June 7:30pm at The J Theatre

 

Wednesday 19 June 2pm at The J Theatre

 

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

NOW HEAR THIS

A Radio National Storytelling Show

 

If you’re not at Happiness on Tuesday night, check out the fabulous story telling session at Noosa Arts Theatre, hosted by Richard Fidler and Melanie Tait, and featuring some very brave people sharing their stories to the theme “The First Time”. It’s like being around a campfire, only there’s a few more people listening.

 

Tuesday 18 June 6pm at Noosa Arts Theatre

 

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

22
Nov
12

Caravan

Noosa Arts Theatre

 

Caravan

Noosa Arts Theatre

21st November – 1st December 2012

 

Directed by Jane Rivers

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Two weeks, three couples and one caravan…

 

what could possibly go wrong?

 

What a lovely, funny Aussie romp!

 

We know the couples. We recognise them instantly. They’re our best friends; the people we know and love and the people we love to hate. We recognise the qualities that come to the surface when the pressure is on.

 

Caravan

 

We see the Glamper, Monica (Sharon Grimley), who complains about no hot water and poor caravan conditions. Grimley’s sneer is priceless and her drunk acting is up there with the best we’ve seen on the Sunshine Coast. (It’s all about the equilibrium, kids! When we want to show “drunk” we do our best not to appear drunk!). Then there’s The Wet Blanket, Penny (Jenni McCaul), who suffers through years of horrendous holidays and then spoils the perfect trip with the truth, and the Too-Young-Girlfried, Gwendolyn (Anna McMahon), who has recently returned from a three year stint in an ashram in India. Of course their men have diametrically opposing agendas, which makes for a few additional mishaps. Frank Wilkie milks the physical comedy and earns his laughs. Brett Klease takes us over that edge and into hysterics with his facial and sexual antics, and Steve Mitchell, the English gadabout, amuses and frustrates everybody with the Too-Young-Girlfriend. They all want to enjoy the holiday but when past indiscretions begin to pour down with the rain, existing together in the damp, cramped quarters of the caravan becomes a challenge even for the best of friends.

 

Donald MacDonald’s script is one of two – he rewrote it – and this is the original, with all its action. Well known Sunshine Coast director, Jane Rivers, has put together a fine design (although we get some distracting shadows from the lighting design it’s an easy fix), and a top cast, which Rivers has running at a cracking pace; they’re slick and completely comfortable with each other.

 

This is a fast, funny show and I should tell you that the two week season is almost sold out!

 

Already popular with the Grey Nomads and the Summer Rain set, Caravan is a sure-fire hit! Get to the theatre on Weyba Road early, enjoy a drink with some friends and get ready to laugh out loud at Noosa’s latest offering.

 

Grey Nomads

The Grey Nomads, who were passing through and elected to see the opening night of Donald MacDonald’s Caravan while in Noosa. Image by Andrew Seymour.

Featuring: Frank Wilkie, Jenni McCaul, Brett Klease, Sharon Grimley, Steve Mitchell and Anna McMahon.

Performances:

Evenings: November 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and December 1 at 7:30pm

Matinees: Sunday November 25 at 2pm

Charity Fundraiser for Sunshine Butterflies: November 28 at 7:30pm

Bookings: 07 5449 9343 Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 12pm or online

David and Kristin Williamson

Kristin and David Williamson (Patron of Noosa Arts) at the opening night of Donald MacDonald’s comedy, Caravan. Image by Andrew Seymour.

Caravan Noosa Arts

19
Oct
12

Managing Carmen

Managing Carmen

Managing Carmen

Queensland Theatre Company & Black Swan State Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

13th October – 4th November 2012

  

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

I tell you what. Get your iCal out in front of you, work out when you can go (at least once), get onto the Queensland Theatre Company’s website to book your tickets and then come back to this window to read my review. Otherwise you might miss out on seeing DAVID WILLIAMSON’S BEST PLAY YET.

 

“David Williamson has the ability to pinpoint a societal issue and expose it through his unique satirical lens.”

Wesley Enoch

 

Managing Carmen is outstanding. It’s tighter, funnier, slicker and more satirical than anticipated. The text is peppered with gag lines, perfectly timed; only a master craftsman like Williamson can convincingly achieve this sort of perfect comedy. It’s already on its way to becoming a massive box office success and it’s essential viewing for anyone who loves their footy and/or high fashion. Or who wants to be entertained during a night out at the theatre. Not such a rare thing in Brisbane this year. Aren’t we lucky?!

 

Managing Carmen

David Williamson, in case you’ve been living in a yurt in Turkey since the 70s, is our most prolific playwright, supposedly “retired” in 2005 (Influence would have been his final work!), but in stubborn objection to ill health and with the help of modern medicine, a theme that features prominently in the 2011 work At Any Cost, Williamson has continued to chronicle our country’s social and political history, providing plum roles for Australian actors and consistently offering on a silver platter, script after script to make any director’s mouth water with the rich potential of each dish. Williamson’s list of plays reads like a degustation menu. See below.

With Managing Carmen already under option, I can’t help but wonder who will make the movie that chronicles David Williamson’s extraordinary life and career? But before we get ahead of ourselves let me tell you about the play.

 

Wait. You have booked your tickets now, haven’t you? Okay. Just checking. You know I don’t want you to miss this one.

Tim Dashwood, sculpted, taut and terrific in the role, is Brent Lyall, the extraordinarily talented two-time Brownlow Medal winning 23-year old AFL star player and…cross-dresser. His addiction is “sufficiently unusual for him and his manager and the rest of the team to be terrified if the word gets out” (David Williamson, interviewed by Frank Hatherley for Stage Whispers). Dashwood proves in this role that he is equally at home in heels or football boots. I hope he feels he can share at some stage his recent training program, diet and supplement intake. Every husband needs to know. Not necessarily the heel practicing (well, they’ve all had a go at that, haven’t they? Well, haven’t they?!), but definitely the hard-core training to get in peak physical condition. Just saying. Dashwood’s super confident, relaxed, sexy and stylish performance as Brent-as-Carmen (that’s Carmen Getme) is a much better pitch for a role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert than any of those seen on I Will Survive and I won’t be at all surprised if his next offer comes from the producers of a revival (the show closed on Broadway in June). Well, you know Dashwood’s also a singer, right? And he can dance! In heels! On a revolving, glossy, black tiled floor! While it struck me that perhaps his monotone was a bit much at first, I realised almost within the same instant that I HAVE HEARD ELITE SPORTSMAN SPEAK THIS WAY. Also, many, many teenaged boys. We’ll just stop for a moment to acknowledge that this play is for all ages and all sorts. I hope that many, many men and women, of all ages, can bring themselves to turn off the TV, get up off the lounge and get to this show. Williamson writes not just for the “elite” baby-boomer theatregoers but also for everyone now. In fact, I’m in awe of the man’s research skills and application of contemporary Australian language to give us beautifully drawn characters that we feel we already know.

Claire Lovering is Jessica Giordano, the corporate confidence boosting, image-grooming psychologist and eventual love interest (no spoiler there, it’s pretty obvious from the outset and you’re in for a delightful surprise when that deal is sealed with a kiss! A little bit of Luhrmann creeping in there. I almost expected to hear the moon singing! It’s a brave ending and I love it!). Lovering’s finest moment is her penultimate one, but only because we go with her, every step of the way, on her journey to that point.

Anna McGahan Managing Carmen

Anna McGahan, who plays the girlfriend, paid to pose by Lyall’s side for the paps by his ruthless, money-hungry manager, Rohan Swift (John Batchelor), totes pulls off saying “totes” and does so while adopting that odd WAGS cum Orange County Housewife accent that we hear on the red carpet when one of the hotter halves has been asked which designer she is wearing and which often indicates a jet-setting vaporous existence amongst those who have more money than (fashion) sense. Of course I’m over-generalising… Anyway, I love the way McGahan changes sides; the alliance between she and Carmen is completely genuine and their beautifully girly BFF behaviour – most of all their outrageous drunken behaviour – has us in stitches. It’s a very funny play and Wesley Enoch’s deft hand and his fearless, fun approach in directing it is obvious.

John Batchelor is, strangely, halfway to being endearing as Swift; we almost believe that he cares a little bit about his client’s wellbeing…until we see time and time again that he doesn’t! We wonder at first at his groovy moves and frustrated antics and vocals (they come across at first as a little too OTT), but because they’re funny they’re easily forgiven and as the character settles they begin to make sense. I won’t spoil the opening for you. Suffice to say, from the outset, Batchelor is the Basil Fawlty of this farce, skilfully, relentlessly driving the action and flawless Williamson brand of comedy as Enoch sees it.

In fact, it takes a little while to accept that we’re in the middle of a modern-day farce. As Kate Foy observed during interval, instead of doors opening and closing all over the place, we have an eleven metre revolve, which helps keep the action fast and funny, as the actors fall over furniture to get to their next scene. It sounds clumsy but it’s not; it’s beautifully choreographed. While we’re on it, the set almost steals the show; it’s truly gasp-worthy. Designed by Richard Roberts (assisted by Isobel Hutton), the use of this stunning black floored revolve in this space is a coup for Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC’s Playhouse. I love it and I’d love to see more of it. Lit by Black Swan’s Trent Suidgeest, we feel at home in Lyall’s apartment, Swift’s office, a bar, a nightclub and out in the open by the sea, with the help of projected images of clouds and the sounds of a seascape (Sound Designer Tony Brumpton). The only let down on opening night was that the first visual failed to appear on the television screen in Swift’s office, however, that’s an easy fix. Not so easy, now that the season has begun, would be to ask a favour of Eddie McGuire and have The Footy Show excerpts pre-filmed. This extra effort, rather than playing the audio recorded by the actors over random mismatched footage, would make this production faultless. (Audio Visual Designer Declan McMonagle). Also, I appeared to be overdressed in an old LBD and new, flat Siren Bolly shoes, however, that’s just a note to self. I am yet to work out the dress code for Brisbane opening nights. Clearly, so are others. What do you wear to opening nights? Do you dress thematically? I’d like to know. The Brisbane theatre scene is evolving and it feels like it’s time to give the social photographers something special to shoot!

Managing Carmen is stylish, slickly designed and superbly written, directed and performed. It places the spotlight unforgivingly over our obsession with celebrity and the insane pursuit of sponsorship and monetary gain over recognition and reward for true talent in just about every arena. Challenging our levels of tolerance, understanding and acceptance of difference in an entertaining, energetic farce, Wesley Enoch’s production of David Williamson’s Managing Carmen is a true blue theatrical triumph.

Anna McGahan & Tim Dashwood Managing Carmen

David Williamson – list of plays

The Indecent Exposure of Anthony East (1968)

You’ve Got to Get on Jack (1970)

The Coming of Stork (1970)

The Removalists (1971)

Don’s Party (1971)

Jugglers Three (1972)

What If You Died Tomorrow? (1973)

The Department (1975)

A Handful of Friends (1976)

The Club (1977)

Travelling North (1979)

Celluloid Heroes (1980)

The Perfectionist (1982)

Sons of Cain (1985)

Emerald City (1987)

Top Silk (1989)

Siren (1990)

Money and Friends (1991)

Brilliant Lies (1993)

Sanctuary (1994)

Dead White Males (1995)

Heretic (1996)

Third World Blues (1997, An Adaptation Of Jugglers Three)

After The Ball (1997)

Corporate Vibes (1999)

Face to Face (2000)

The Great Man (2000)

Up for Grabs (2001)

A Conversation (2001)

Charitable Intent (2001)

Soulmates (2002)

Flatfoot (2003)

Birthrights (2003)

Amigos (2004)

Operator (2005)

Influence (2005)

Lotte’s Gift (2007) – also known as Strings Under My Fingers

Scarlett O’Hara at the Crimson Parrot (2008)

Let The Sunshine[4] (2009)

Don Parties On (2011)

At Any Cost? (2011)

Nothing Personal (2011)

When Dad Married Fury (2011)

Managing Carmen (2012)

Managing Carmen moves to Black Swan State Theatre Company’s Heath Ledger Theatre 10th November – 2nd December and, with an entirely different cast, directed by Mark Kilmurry, Ensemble Theatre presents their production of Managing Carmen 6th December – January 25th.

A live simulcast of the world premiere co-production from the Black Swan Theatre Company (Perth) with Queensland Theatre Company will be presented on 30th November in the Cummins Theatre, WA.

David Williamson’s MANAGING CARMEN is a “laugh-out-loud comedy for anyone who likes who likes football or designer dresses and a crackling funny dissection of stereotypes in sport. Brent is a country boy turned footy star: captain of his AFL team, king of product-endorsements, with a model girlfriend and ruthless sports manager. But Brent’s hiding one little thing that could ruin his career and end the advertising money: his passion for cross-dressing….”

Cast includes: John Batchelor, Timothy Dashwood, Claire Lovering, Anna McGahan, and Greg McNeil

Directed by Wesley Enoch

***This live simulcast event is FREE***

Friday, 30 November at 730pm
the Cummins Theatre
31 Bates Street
Merredin, Western Australia

 

06
Sep
12

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

Gardens Theatre

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

Ensemble Theatre

Gardens Theatre

4th September to 6th September 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

In no way does the small cast mean this is a small show. There are big personalities encapsulated in these small moments, and David Williamson is certainly not stingy with these hilarious moments. He has a flair for binary plots. Binary as in the old saying “opposites attract”. Whether or not it’s true it certainly takes effect in Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica. The play even goes so far to have its characters, Gary and Monica, mock this age old saying in heated conversation.

You don’t need to be studying a music degree to enjoy this show. Gardens Theatre’s in-house stereos amp the tunes up regardless of whether you recognise them or not. In fact, it’s a bit of a brief music lesson from time to time with the witty banter of this misfit couple.

I find the best kind of romance is the unconventional kind. The kind of love you find in places you weren’t looking, or even better; the kind of love that comes and finds you. Chases you, no matter how many times you stamp your feet and refuse. “NO!” You might yell out. But love comes a-runnin’ anyway. That’s what it’s like between Gary and Monica. Despite everything Gary, as his radio persona Rhinestone Rex, says. No matter what Monica does, they end up in the same lounge room bickering away.

All the credit can’t go to David Williamson though. He may have penned the witty banter between the two but in this production it is Alexandra Fowler and Glenn Hazeldine who bring them to the stage. Glenn Hazeldine has already performed this role, opposite Georgie Parker, in the original Ensemble production in Sydney. The role fits him like the cowboy hat that sits perfectly on his head. Meanwhile, Alexandra Fowler I have already seen bring Williamson’s creations to life in other plays like Let The Sunshine.

My only grievance with this performance is the ending. I suppose a balance between the real and unreal is my biggest gripe. Maybe I’m too cynical but I felt this production could’ve been concluded ten minutes earlier. A particular scene just feels so apt in describing the human condition. When Monica and Gary’s hands almost touch just as the lights drop. Letting us witness the moments, the unfinished ones, that’s what really represents life for me. Something unfinished, unresolved and understated.

Wrapping things up in a perfect package is to me like telling a bedtime story. The prince finds the princess, the dragon is slain and they all live happily in the kingdom. But life, and especially love, is nothing of the sort. Monica’s dragons will still haunt her, or in the long run she will learn to live with them. Rhinestone Rex or truthfully Gary, the tradesman, will never be the ultimate prince, but he will be the man who cares. Their kingdom may not be glamourous but it will be theirs with all its imperfections. That’s how I like to think of it, but the conclusion to this production just doesn’t measure up to this ideal. But like I said, I’m a cynic who’s never quite satisfied.

Just like this review Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica touches upon sad moments and humourous ones. The mockery between Gary and Monica is both punctual and surprising. Delivered perfectly by Hazeldine and Fowler the theatre is filled with laughter from everyone seated. Whether Monica is hitting Rex where it hurts or Rex is counteracting Monica with his cheekiness the serious and the jovial interact wonderfully. They feel well rounded, funny, but real.

Once again Australian theatre has stepped up to meet the demands. I found myself poised on the edge of my seat during the tension filled moments and flung back laughing during the comical. If you believe in love, if you believe in music or if you believe in something a little in between then Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica is the show you can’t miss.

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica continues on to Nambour Civic Centre this Saturday 8th September at 7:30pm and then to venues across Australia. Check the tour schedule for details.

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

 

 

 

18
Jun
12

Kids’ Acting Workshops

The 2012 Noosa Longweekend is well and truly underway!

On Saturday, I took some acting workshops for kids

(and on Sunday, I got to work with some fabulous teen and adult actors).

As you can see, we had heaps of fun laughing, playing, imagining and improvising!

Thank you so much to the Noosa Longweekend’s Photographer, Barry Alsop (Eyes Wide Open Images)

for capturing these wonderful moments during the kids’ acting workshops.

There is so much more still to come!

N.B. David Williamson’s When Dad Married Fury is now SOLD OUT!

Don’t forget Erotique at Noosa Arts Theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

Click on the program below to book online.

 

 

Kids' Acting Workshops at the Noosa Longweekend

17
Jun
12

Let the Sunshine

Let the Sunshine

Let The Sunshine

Gardens Theatre

15th – 16th June 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Since moving to Brisbane I’ve been mostly quiet about my coastie heritage;

Coastie [Coh-stee] noun A person who originates from the Sunshine Coast. Often mistaken for a bogan.

…but I couldn’t help but be a little proud as I laughed at David Williamson’s jabs at the coast. Let The Sunshine is Williamson’s hilarious, satirical play is about two polar opposite couples struggling with their children who have inevitably fallen in love. It’s been described as part Romeo & Juliet, part Meet the Parents. It had me laughing the minute the stage had lit up.

Rick’s parents are a left wing pair played by Toni Scanlan and Dennis Coard. They go by Toby and Ros; Toby’s specialty being documentaries raging against the southeast Queensland coastlines being ruined by development. Emma’s parents on the other hand are Ron and Natasha. Natasha spends her days in gym pants’ getting facials and Ron is a development manager responsible for half the high rises on the Sunshine Coast. The two couples struggle to maintain a healthy state as “frenemies”.

This arrangement seems permanent until Rick and Emma meet at a birthday gathering gone wrong. It’s a case of opposites attract and the rest goes like clockwork from there. The whole concept is a hilarious send-up of some stereotypes that I have to admit isn’t too far off. What stirred in me the most though were the little jabs at Sunshine Coast I couldn’t deny were absolutely true. Noosa and its six-dollar coffees as well as the Sunshine Coast’s club scene or lack there of it had the crowd snickering. But it was the hilarious comments coming out the parents’ stereotypes that have the audience roaring.

The characters of Emma and Rick our star-crossed lovers as it were come off as a little flat. However I find this is no fault of the actors Ryan Hayward and Hannah Norris who do everything they can to make the characters live through the stage. The two-dimensional nature of their characters fall upon Williamson’s shoulders I feel. They are very carved out concepts. Emma, a young lawyer who thinks she wants to achieve but is more or less making the effort for her parents’ approval. Rick, the thirty something failing musician still running on the fuel of his mother and father’s encouragement. They are both truisms of Williamson’s creation.  The platitudes of their psyches, flaws and feelings are nothing new I have come across. But there is hope because we are forgetting this is a satirical comedy. There just isn’t time to develop some deep meaningful pair of lovers before the punch lines hits us. I did take note though of Hannah Norris’s character arc in her role as Emma and how it changes as the play progresses. In a way, character development has been sacrificed for the greater good.

The greater good in question is fantastic. It is projected across the stage and echoed back by the laughter of the audience. The banter of Natasha and Ron, played by Ally Fowler and Peter Phelps respectively, is witty and mocking of many households on the Coast. I must admit I couldn’t help but see a little bit of my own parents in them and found the whole situation even funnier.

Let the Sunshine

The cast as a collective reflects familiar faces. The baby boomer counterparts of the cast have all made a name for themselves through Australian television and overseas. Ryan Hayward and Hannah Norris, our example of opposites attract, have both extensively contributed to theatre down south and internationally.

Having had an interview with Hannah Norris earlier, there were hints that a social message also underlies the jokes in Let The Sunshine. I had been expecting something very singular and straightforward but found flourishes of individual messages are given to the audience behind the sly face of comedy. This isn’t a show parading feminism but it does take note of women in the working environment. It can’t be called a claim for peace but there are references to the summer of love and what that dream means today. This is no meeting for the Greens going on but there are undertones of urbanization and what it means for the Queensland coastlines. You have been warned. This is a satirical comedy and in being such a concept messages are handed to us through the crack of a joke.

It’s not on everyone’s mind I know but I have to say I sighed over the fluidness of the scene changes. For me I get a little shiver of satisfaction when a play runs well. It is never emphasized enough how much a production loses when you notice the stage hands or see the actors bumbling to find their next position. The smooth cog-like manner of Let The Sunshine is a credit to director Denis Moore. Each actor stepping purposely into the shadow then reappearing through another spotlight to signify a transition of scenes without so much as a hiccup between lines gives me goose bumps to watch. Under Moore’s stage direction it’s a clear a working family unit has grown during the rehearsal of this production.

Let The Sunshine is a charming comedy that beguiles the audience with some hilarious actors as well as some cheeky observations. The visuals and the dialogue leave the audience chuckling in their seats. Many times even clapping mid-scene. I hope you were able to catch it during this brief Brisbane visit.


09
Jun
12

A little chat with Hannah Norris


Award winning Australian playwright David Williamson’s Let the Sunshine is part Romeo and Juliet, part Meet the Parents.

Retired, left-wing radicals Toby and Ros flee scandal in Sydney by escaping to the warmer climes of Noosa. There, they meet Natasha and Ron – a shallow socialite and her brash property developer husband. When their children find love together, the pitter patter of tiny feet brings on the clashing of egos.

 

Hannah Norris plays Emma in the current touring production.

 

Interviewer: Meredith Mclean

 

Hannah Norris, Actress

Hannah Norris. Image by Julian Dolman.

In some comedic productions I’ve seen, the actors tend to lose genuine emotion in the folly. How did you keep intact the emotions that theatre demands without putting a damper on the light heartedness of the script?

By never losing sight of what the character wants. There are certainly gags and funny lines in Williamson’s script, and we’ve learned through our audiences that there are rhythms and deliveries of these lines that get the best response from the audience. But that technique lies beneath the playing of the scene between the characters. I believe that we mustn’t ask for the laugh or try to be funny for the audience, but commit 100% to what the character wants – consider our needs as important as life and death and with the tone & text of the piece there are times where this will be funny.

I’ve also really tried to make my characters journey arc as big as possible – that where I begin, what Emma is like and where she ends up is as different as it can be within the confines of the script and story. Emma suppresses most of her emotions to start with so by the end when she does reveal her vulnerability, if I’ve really held onto them and pushed them down to start off (in line with the character), there’s more to release once I finally get to that point in the play.

Was this a production that grew organically with each rehearsal or did Denis Moore have a concrete vision already planned for you?

Once there are actors, human beings, playing characters in a scene – if you deny the real interaction that occurs once we start working together with the text then I think you’re denying all truth that can come from it. So the scenes definitely grew organically because we worked together on them. Additionally, our playing space is quite confined and the set doesn’t change for the entirety of the piece, so Denis at times had to clean up our blocking, entrances & exits, but he also helped direct us as to the rhythms of the script and the textures and levels different scenes needed to be played at to help manifest the drama and comedy of the piece.

How does your role put a pulse into the play? 

I don’t enter until 1/3 of the way through the first act. Prior to my entrance, my character has been spoken about by my parents, and some of my traits and recent actions described through their conversation. Ron, my father, says things like, “Me? Interrogate our daughter? That’s like telling a cocker spaniel to go easy on a Rottweiler.” and “That mouth of hers is a lethal weapon.” These kind of clues give the audience an idea of what Emma is like. My aim in performance is to be all that and more when I first step foot on stage – to fulfil their most extreme imaginings of who Emma is.

There is repeated mention of social conscience and satire underlying the play. What is the social message that you, as an actor, want to display for the audience?

Through Emma, I want to highlight that working 80hours a week, ignoring your friends and family, and covering any vulnerabilities with an armour of rudeness and aggression is not a good, healthy or sustainable way to live.

The play in its fullness has more to say about maintaining hope for the world, and I believe also about the importance of family.

Does coming to work each day mean spending a day with friends or was it strictly business amongst the cast?

We get along really well. Tonight is our 62nd performance and we’ve been touring for over 3 months, and we’re all still enjoying performing and each other’s company. But we are all professionals so there is understanding when people just want to spend time alone on our days off, but we also socialise quite a lot, going on day trips and eating and drinking together. I’m having heaps of fun with everybody on stage and off.

Embodying the characters on stage is always like taking on a different mindset. Is there anything you learnt from your characters that you’d like to take on board with your life outside of the production?

For me, it was more the initial challenge of trying to see the world through Emma’s eyes. We are very different people, on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and our lifestyles, ambitions and values are very different. So in rehearsals, and before in general life, I would try and see things from Emma’s point of view. Like if there was a political argument, I’d imagine what she would argue. I started following Mitt Romney and Rupert Murdoch on Twitter. I tried to read annual reports and business documents online (very difficult!) and engage with her world.

I see how I could be like her if I had gone down a different path with different influences, but there’s not much I’ll be integrating into my own life I don’t think.

Will we see any of you in Noosa in real life, for the upcoming Noosa Longweekend, during which David Williamson will premiere another of his new plays?

Unfortunately no, we won’t be making it to Noosa on this trip – got plenty more stops in Queensland though. With 2 months left of shows, we’ve got more audiences all around the country still to think about and go and tell this story to.

Thanks, Hannah! See Hannah in Let the Sunshine at Gardens Point Theatre on June 15th and 16th at 7:30pm