Posts Tagged ‘Erotique


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


2012 One-Act Play Festival

One-Act Play Festival

The 3 Finalists of the National One-Act Playwriting Competition

Noosa Longweekend & Noosa Arts Theatre

7th – 16th June 2012

Three Angry Brides

by Hugh O’Brien

Directed by Janine Ritchie

A ridiculous premise prepares us for the witty, cheeky chaos that ensues when three about-to-be-married couples are required to complete a “divorce course” before their nuptial day on the coming Saturday; the same day the visiting Reverend Hill has a golf game booked. Clearly, he is hoping they’ll all fail his unorthodox tests so he will get his golf game in.

John Woodlock (Reverend Hill) sets the pace and drives much of the dialogue in this 40-minute comedy. Noosa audiences most recently saw Woodlock as the marriage celebrant in Travelling North. This role, as the Reverend, gives him the opportunity to flesh out that “type” of character (and to flash a bit a lot of leg but I won’t give away the context). In addition, he is able to add a couple of funny traits to delight and amuse (and inspire some to cackle, yes, truly cackle with laughter on opening night!). Playwright, Debra Chalmers (author of the third play in the program), says what motivates her is “that wonderfully addictive sound of a laughing audience.” It’s contagious too, so you might find yourself LOLing almost immediately, when those around you begin to giggle. I’m a big fan of Hugh O’Brien’s work and it’s largely due to this ability, to set up very quickly, usually within the first three or four minutes, his characters and a clear plot so that no one is left wondering who anybody is or what will happen in the end. That’s not to say that the ending is spoilt or that there are no twists or surprises. If you’ve seen any of his award-winning plays in this competition (the winner in 2005 and 2007) or on the festival circuit, you’ll know what I mean.

Woodlock is supported exceptionally well by Nathan Hynes (Lex), who underplays appropriately while everybody else – an extremely young cast it seems – over-acts to the max. Interestingly, Adele Comber (Toraino. That’s Torana, you know, like the car, with an “i” added) notes in her bio that this is typical for her. Unlike Kate Perry (Laurel), at least she admits it. Comber shows us some nuance towards the end of the play and this is the interesting aspect of both the character and the actor. I look forward to seeing more from her. Steve Mitchell (Tom), as her significant other, brings a welcome shot of energy to the ensemble.

Rachel Halverson (Kylie), whom I recently saw in Peta Beattie’s 1912 – Titanic (BYTE Master Class Actors), is an absolute delight to watch. We’ll see her again in September on the Noosa Arts Theatre stage, as Louisa in The Fantasticks. She plays opposite Callum Hamacek (Kade) and there is something very sweet and absolutely terrifying about this young love, as if they are out to sabotage the relationship as a test of truth. In fact, that’s where the plot weaves, the Reverend offering each couple the chance to hurl insults at each other, call the ex up and ask them to dish up the dirt on their partner and finally, to toss into the wheelie bin, anything from childhood that may have played a part in destroying their ability to establish and maintain a responsible, loving, giving, “grown-up” relationship into which children will be welcomed and remain physically and emotionally unharmed. It’s symbolic, of course it is (it’s a PLAY. It’s the THEATRE.) but we get it. Yes! Yikes! Suddenly the context gets heavy and the audience feels they should perhaps consider the state of their own relationship, their own mental and emotional health and that of their children! It’s clever writing and in more experienced hands, this play could move a few to tears after all that jolly laughter.

Jannine Ritchie has directed O’Brien’s work before. If she is to do so again, what I’d love to see her do is to let her actors find a natural connection with each other and work on really listening hard to each other, as if it’s the first time the lines have been uttered. It’s the first time we’ve heard the lines uttered! No pre-empting lines next time! How wonderful to see so many new, fresh faces, from right across the coast, working on the Noosa stage with seasoned performers as their mentors.

The Boy in the Cardboard Box

by Rainee Skinner

Directed by Sue Clapham

There’s an open coffin – actually, it’s a cardboard box, just as Johnny wanted, with pencils and felt pens and feathers and glitter and glue laid out – on the table in the dining room and three friends arrive early to pre-funeral drinks. Awkward. Aunty Jane (Eileen Walder) offers tea but this crowd prefers vodka. And they’re going to need it. Everybody loved Johnny but nobody really knew him…until the friends compare notes.

Stephen Moore plays a wonderfully gay actor friend of Johnny’s. I was waiting for him to burst into song (“Keep it gay, keep it gay, keep it gay!”) but he didn’t. Actually, I think he may have sung a snippet of something else but it was certainly not a refrain from The Producers. As Alan (not just “one of the Alans but the ORIGINAL Alan!”), his language is poetic and appropriately OTT, considering his decadent, self-indulgent Sydney life. He joins Kate (Tania Nash), who was a friend of Johnny’s from the bank and Angela (Gail Evans), who is another actor friend.  Nash gives us some terrific vocal work and Evans has wonderful stage presence so between them we get a great performance.

I know the playwright was worried that this production would turn out to be a big old “word fest” and without more confident actors her fears may have been proved right. It IS a wordy play that might work better if the director and cast were allowed to take the red pen to it (as it happens, this is not allowed but should be a consideration in continuing discussions about the development of the festival. See below INTERVAL – SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT) and it is very static in its direction, however; I’m sure the pace will pick up and lines will be spot on now that the initial opening night jitters have been dealt with.

Skinner’s is the least tightly constructed of the three scripts and the best example of why this festival needs a shake-up. Yes! It’s time!




One night last year, some of us discussed the pros and cons of a couple of changes to the festival (until the wee small hours of the morning) and now we need to see some sort of formal process facilitated. By that I mean we need to tell somebody else so that the ideas can be discussed at a bigger table. So I’m telling you. And you can all talk about it and email the committee and bring about change. Mostly because we’re too busy this year to have the same discussion for so long without doing something about it but also because everyone’s a winner when the playwright, during the rehearsal process, is allowed to make changes to the text.


I know. It’s pretty radical. But imagine if we could assess the playwriting first (keep those results secret) and then allow the director and the actors – with or without the playwright present in the rehearsal room (works for some but not for others. There’s always Skype for a notes session) – and work on the play as a living, breathing, working script in preparation for a paying audience. That way, without impeding the assessment of the writing, the play could be improved as a production. I would suggest that the same reading panel and the same adjudicator see the play on its feet, exactly as it’s written, without changing a thing first. Then, having assessed each play on its merits as a written piece that can be got up on its feet, they hand over to the director, who is then given free reign with the play, just like any director who has acquired the rights to perform any play. If we assume that scenario, the playwright might suggest in the script that a certain piece of music be used. If, according to the director, there is a more suitable piece of music available, why not let them use it? David Williamson stipulated specific pieces of music in Travelling North and in the Noosa Arts Production earlier this year, the director, in consultation with the sound designer, agreed that for his interpretation of the production, the suggested pieces were the best they could use. He could very well have used something entirely different.

I’m not saying the audience even knows or cares how much a play has been re-interpreted. Unless it’s well known – and let’s face it, these are not; it’s the first time we’ve seen any of them – a director can do whatever he or she sees fit to tell the playwright’s story.

What does this mean for the longest-running playwriting competition on the Sunshine Coast? It means that

For The Playwright

  • The playwright will write their play, submit it and have it read and assessed on its merits as a written text
  • The playwright will see their play performed as it is (no changes) in the first instance
  • The playwright will have the option to join the director and the actors in the rehearsal room to continue refining their text, re-writing dialogue as they see fit, if it will help to clarify the story for an audience who has never read or seen the play before
  • The playwright will experience seeing their play pre and post rewrites, which (tell me, writers, if I’m wrong), seems a very valuable part of the writing process

For The Director

  • The director will read the 3 finalists’ scripts and be allocated a play to work on.
  • The director will cast the play and have it “on its feet” for a well-rehearsed reading, which the reading panel and the adjudicator see and assess. (Actors, that means you would really nearly know your lines straight away!)
  • The director will work on the play with the actors and the playwright, if there is a need for change. If there are no changes made, happy days.

For The Actors

  • The actors get to work with the director and the playwright on producing the best possible piece of live theatre for a paying audience
  • The actors get to experience the rehearsal process as it should be: a fun, exciting, challenging time to keep them on their toes and turn out their best possible work

For the Audience (no change except to attend a more entertaining event)

  • The audience will enjoy the three finalists’ plays
  • The audience will vote on their favourite production

What else does it mean?

It means we need more (good) directors.

Here’s the Thing…

by Debra Chalmers

Directed by Jane Rivers

It will be no surprise to see this play win the Nancy Cato Audience Choice Award. It’s fast, funny and it’s the final play of the night. Two sisters wake up after a big night out in Brisbane and find a young man asleep on their lounge. They don’t know how he got there and they can’t wake him so they hide him…before Mum arrives! Mayhem follows and the story goes in a completely different direction to what you might be expecting, certainly the opposite of what I was expecting. I was expecting to hear and perhaps see re-enacted, the possible scenarios from the night before and perhaps never know the truth. Clearly, there’s potential for another play because that’s not at all what we have here. The ending wraps up the loose ends very neatly and, although we’re supposed to wonder about exactly what it was that Caroline (Jodie Bushby) got up to, there is no misinterpreting Bushby’s beautifully candid delivery of the final line. Thank goodness we have her naturalism and good sense on stage. She balances nicely, the hysterics of her sister, Amanda (Jenni McCaul). Nicole (Ebony Hamacek) is the slightly bemused but mostly horrified daughter of Amanda and Constance (Sue Sewell) the – eventually – drunk mother of Amanda and Caroline.

Director, Jane Rivers, has allowed for plenty of fun physical theatre and a good deal of over-acting from the majority of players, particularly in terms of response time and facial expressions, making this, for me, the six year old and a large number of audience members on opening night, the most entertaining play of the evening.

If you’ve never ventured out to see the National One-Act Playwriting Competition finalists at Noosa Arts Theatre or you haven’t yet enjoyed the newly renovated foyer and amenities, this is a great opportunity to do so. There are no really heavy overtones, no deep and meaningful moralistic tales or lessons, just good, clean fun. Sometimes that’s all we need to see.

Of course, if you’re after something a little darker after the one-acts, be sure to book your tickets to see Erotique, also part of the Noosa Longweekend program and showing over 3 nights only, on June 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Strictly adults only, Erotique will get you thinking…and talking…and feeling all sorts of things about sex and our attitudes towards it. Check out Profile mag’s interview with Director, Sam Coward.

And if you’re looking for something fun to throw the kids into, register for my acting workshops on June 16th and 17th (the first one on Saturday is free)! On Sunday, I’ll be working with older kids on audition skills and making first impressions.

Download the Noosa Longweekend program and book online

Hugh O’Brien, Rainee Skinner & Debra Chalmers


Friends Bare all for Coast Theatre

Nathanael Cooper

Sunshine Coast Daily, 10th September 2010

A PURVEYOR of fine food, a peddler of fine events and a theatre company notorious for pushing the envelope as far as it can go.

Photo: Warren Lynam, SCD

It is hardly the first group of people you would think of putting together, but when Tony Kelly from il Secondo, Min Swan from Whitehouse Celebrations and Sam and Xanthe Coward from XS Entertainment came together it was theatre magic.

After a hit season of La Ronde in Noosa and Maroochydore earlier this year, XS Entertainment took the La Ronde concept to a new level and prepared it for the Sydney Fringe Festival.

At the same time, Tony Kelly was having an epiphany of his own.

“I was trying to think of a really good way that we could make use of these function rooms (at the M1 in Maroochydore),” he said.

“I made a call to Min and the first thing that came to mind was Sam and the work he had done with La Ronde.”

The three new amigos got together and discussed the concept of performing La Ronde’s sister show, Erotique, in two special preview performances for the Coast before travelling to Sydney.

“La Ronde was a great success in Noosa and Mooloolaba with sellout seasons and preceding our tour to Sydney next week, the obvious thing when this opportunity came up was to not only have a dress rehearsal, but also offer some performances,” Sam said.

“The concept of having live theatre in Maroochydore next to a high-class venue with a high-class event team was great, and something we really wanted to be involved in.”

Erotique’s risqué nature, exploring sex in a unique way through the use of minimal sets and very minimal clothing, aims to take culture on the Coast to a new level.

“After the preview (on Tuesday night) we were able to finish the show at 9.30 and walk down to il Secondo bar, have a coffee, have a wine and talk to people for a couple of hours,” Sam said.

“It’s such a rare thing to be able to do on the Coast. Most nights after dark it basically comes to a standstill.”

If Erotique is as successful as the new partnership hopes, Coast theatre lovers can look forward to more of the same.

“I would like to stretch it as far as we can,” Tony said.

“All three of us are praying that Maroochydore and the Sunshine Coast grab it with both hands and cherish the fact that we are putting our neck on the line to do it here.

“And if they can embrace it we will give it to them as much as they like.

“If it’s a two-shows-a-week thing then all three of us will love that to death.”

Some tickets are available for tomorrow night’s performance and are available by visiting or by calling 54441736.



I know I had promised to share process/progress notes at the outset of this blog and failed to deliver during La Ronde, largely because I felt I was in such a busy, multi-tasking place at the time and I never stopped for very long to reflect upon or to dissect exactly what I was doing. Also, I tend to shy away from the more academic literary styles of writing…as you may have noticed.

Tonight we had notes. It was just Ben and I, working together with Sam on our scene, Scene Six; the final scene of the show.

No pressure, guys, NO PRESSURE.

I had been given notes previously of course, during La Ronde‘s rehearsal process, which I either applied or argued at the time, before getting on with the job. This time, this process seems slightly different. In my life, I’m just as busy (busier), just as multi-tasking (more so), just as exhausted (much more so) and yet, this time around, it feels like I’m more focused and more able to apply immediately – without arguing – the teeny tiny adjustments necessary to make this scene really…smart. And by “smart” I mean “sting”, rather than come across as anything particularly intellectual!

The premise is simple. The motives are honest. The story is short and bitter sweet.

For those of you unfamiliar with

a) the way we work or

b) our product

let me explain something…

We don’t do “acting” *GASP*

I know. I hear ya. It’s a big call. And arguable, sure, depending on your perceived notion of what acting is or isn’t or should be or shouldn’t be. And whilst Sam and I may disagree on the process part, we certainly strive for the same end result. And that is:


Ha! I just wanted to throw in a little Moulin Rouge again. It was time.

We do want all of that, in various guises, on stage at some stage…but not all of the time. What we do want all of the time is truth. And the way we get it is to gradually rehearse the actors out of their pre-conceived notions of story, character and connections or relationships.

The actors end up not “acting” at all.

Ben and I have indeed been feeling our way into this final scene. No pun intended. It is so not that sort of sex scene. We had a script with which to work on Monday, after 2 rehearsals and just 2 weeks out, before we “should” have it all together for the preview performances at the M1 Function Rooms in Maroochydore (stay tuned for those details).

As Director, Sam gave us the basic structure of the scene and did his whole descriptive-analysis-my-turn-in-the-spotlight thing so we were sure to GET IT. His vision, that is. WE GOT IT and we brought our own stuff to it, then we contributed to the shape of the script, did away with the script, wrote a new interpretation of the script to better reflect the mood and motives of the people we felt these characters to be and we worked it to the desired emotional point at the very first rehearsal anyway, because we were really feeling it, because we could relate to it, because we had created it.

Wow, look at that; my little green grammar line didn’t come up there! *win*

Expressed that way, it sounds so simple! Doesn’t it?!?? It is simple…if, as an actor, you can let go of all the stuff you “should” be doing as An Actor and just be the person in the story. And within that story, tell your story. We are privileged to be working with a bold director who believes in madness before method and that in between, anything goes! Lucky for him (and for us) it appears to work.

It is, in fact, the same way I coach much younger actors and singers (not so much of the madness methinks, though they – the kids – may beg to differ). It’s certainly not a common approach on the Sunshine Coast, particularly when we’re talking about school students and studio students in the lead up to the local eisteddfod!

Luckily, my recent experiences, outside of the schools, have served to validate the way I do what I do.

The way I see it is that parents are happy to pay fees for lessons outside of school in order to see results outside of the ordinary.

Contrary to popular belief, these are not just parents looking to put their child into a class because they didn’t make the netball or the footy team! In fact, they are my favourite kind of parents because they are like mine and they acknowledge and support their child’s passion for the Performing Arts, driving them to classes and rehearsals and concerts and eisteddfods and exams and…well, you probably know them too.

In schools, regardless of fees paid or the way in which the department is run, I have found that if I employ the same unconventional teaching methods, parents and principals all tend to ask, “Is that really necessary?” even before they see the work. Or indeed, the results that come from working in such an honest way.

Sometimes, when they have seen the work, they can’t help but question the way in which it was developed. And well they should! It’s always a fascinating and very courageous journey! But they don’t always like what they hear. They wonder why, when JUICE is the title in the curriculum, do we stray from it?! “Well, actually, it’s more that we’ve gone off on a tangent, to tell more personal stories and the stories have come from the kids. This is their Juice.” Their ideas, their content, their experiences, their stories. Their truth. Do we censor that? Do we deny what actually happened during their weekend? Do we not tackle the real stuff when it starts to get hard? Do we not allow the real stuff – the hard stuff – to become the lesson? I don’t want to get way off track here (too late!) but self-devised and collaborative drama is really what we’re doing here. And it’s magic. Let the kids play like this too. Don’t stop at “drama games” for 10 minutes to start or finish a class *groan* but build on them! Use them to advance the drama and develop the stories the students want to tell. We are all storytellers; actors, singers, dancers…how liberating and empowering it is to just tell the story in the spirit of truth! I hope I’m preaching to the choir here!

Maybe it’s just me.

Oh, but tears! Tears, for example; tears mean trouble! Trouble for me, that is! For the student, tears often mean the liberation and self-discovery and the realisation that “OH! I never knew I could do that!” And, “Thank you!” that, as a teacher, I can tell you, we love to hear! Tears might be shed over something joyous like this or over something devastating, like, “Oh. I never realised I felt that way.” And, “Ouch! That’s a painful truth!” (i.e. he’s just not that into you!) Somehow these lessons are more easily taught away from the rigour of a traditional classroom setting.

For those on the outside of the drama class at school, tears (or any strong emotion) can be confronting and confusing and frightening and threatening (“Oh! What? She made her cry?!”) For those outside the studio setting however, tears seem to be a little more acceptable; there is an understanding that the student has made a bold choice and has committed to delivering their own interpretation of the song or monologue or scene. AND THAT’S CONFRONTING. For the artist, I mean. So let’s learn to chill out, open up and tell the truth of our stories! Let’s accept that THE PROCESS MAY INVOLVE TEARS. And let’s appreciate those parents who support the interests and ambitions of their children and send them to Performing Arts studios outside of school hours! And look, I don’t really make a habit of making my students cry; of course it’s just an example. What I do, unlike others who baulk at the thought of anything really tricky or emotional or REAL (or those who have also been told by administration that they just can’t field any more enquiries about one class) is to not stop nudging somebody towards their own raw, vulnerable place, which is where the tears might be.

The truth is extremely confronting and we face it in order to deliver it believably to an audience. As my good friend, Todd Schroeder likes to say, “If you can see it, you can sell it!” This is so difficult at first, for the students (including the adults) who have been told that their proclamation style “acting” and pantomime over-the-top-ness is DA BOMB.

THANK YOU Idol, X-Factor, Everybody in the Whole Freakin’ Universe’s Got Talent and every other reality tv talent-seeking competition insisting on increasing ratings and rewarding mediocrity!

Even my 10-12 year olds will invariably hear from me, from the outset, “I don’t believe you!” I say it lovingly, of course. And then I wait, with baited breath, for each to turn up to their second lesson ever…and yes, they always do!

Ok. End of rant/schools vs studios comparison/self-appraisal and approval segment.

So. I was going to share the director’s notes with you. Here they are:

  • 4 pages of script and 3 out of 4 pages perfect.
  • projection. You only have, at any time, one word each; make sure they get it.
  • more joy in the memories. Not sure why but “wasabi” works!

The rehearsal ran thus:

  1. lines run
  2. gabble, which is a lines run in fast forward
  3. lines run out of context (this was DIFFICULT for me)!
  4. lines run eyes closed (this was easy for me)!
  5. director’s notes

So, without even moving it this evening, we felt we got to the truth of it again. Well, our truth, which is, after all, all we can offer.

And you can take from it what you will.

Sam said an interesting thing, a great analogy for what we do. Here it is, paraphrased and noted here late, late, late; I will do my best to explain it so you GET IT.

The Preface: Sam used to run nightclubs. The real seedy ones, you know? He would sort out all sorts of trouble, especially after close (and kids, I’m talking about a 5am close, none of this 1:30 curfew and bring up the ugly lights before 3). During a stint at the helm of one particularly notorious club, he would walk home to our apartment at sunrise each morning and then walk with me along the beach to the school at which I was teaching, before walking home again to go to bed by about 9am. True story. He walked a lot.

The Analogy: Sam says a scene is like a nightclub. You have it there, all set up and you can see in your mind, the types of people who are going to rock up each night. You vaguely know what to expect from them because you’ve seen it all before (the bogans, the bikies, the flirtatious fake boobs, the stiletto through the palm of your hand on the stairs)…When they actually rock up, they’re not quite as you imagined them but they fit your scene and you can manipulate their actions to a certain extent (mood, music, lighting, security, etc). Every time a person walks into that club, the scene changes. You manipulate what you can but ultimately, the people make that club what it is.

Sam says it is his job to welcome the actors to the club and help them to feel comfortable in their own skin. Hmmm…Well, now, more than ever, that job description makes perfect sense. Next week, Ben and I will be getting comfortable – literally – in our own (lily white winter) skin.

Keep those ugly lights off, thanks, Sam!


The Sydney Fringe: In 18 Sleeps!

Only 18 sleeps before our Sydney debut?!
Thank goodness I visited The Brazilian Hut yesterday! These latest wardrobe issues are all a matter of impeccable timing. And maintenance. That’s right. The Sydney audiences are going to see a whole lot more than Sunshine Coast audiences did!
Wait. What’s that? We are doing a one night only for them?
Sunshine Coast peeps, you have two opportunities to see us take everything off before we all take off to The Sydney Fringe Festival!
Preview the sensual (and dare I say, a little more disturbing than you thought) Erotique on Friday September 10th or Saturday September 11th at the il secondo & M1 Function Rooms, Maroochydore.
Tony Kelly and Whitehouse Celebrations have joined forces with XS Entertainment to offer the Sunshine Coast locals (and dedicated Brisbane fans and friends) a sophisticated night out, combining a superb location and great food and wine with dark and delicious new theatre…but numbers are strictly limited. You will need to book soon. We will need to give you the details sooner…
I think it has to be said, that out of the entire cast, I expected me to be the least concerned about baring my body on stage. Not so. But you know what? It’s my winter body! I mean, c’mon! A tan would really help me out here. Without giving too much away, can I not be terminal with a TAN?! I’m much more comfortable in my tanned, summer skin…no? Oh. Ok. So, how much more confronting must this approach to the final scene be for Ben, who did not have the luxury of getting up to any mischief during the original La Ronde and is certainly less accustomed than I, to wearing risqué or revealing costumes…not to mention none at all…although this is probably a moot point when it comes to some of the cast parties he…we have attended. A-hem. Also, he has been given a character description devoid of the term, “tanned”! Do feel welcome to comment if you’d like to see a guest post from The Boy, Ben Johnson!
We have certainly raised the stakes.
See for yourself. Soon, real soon

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