Posts Tagged ‘gold coast arts centre


Nathan Sibthorpe Talks Short+Sweet 2013

Nathan Sidthorpe

This week Meredith caught up with Nathan Sibthorpe, this year’s Short+Sweet Festival Manager.

She found out what he’s been up to recently, and what you can expect at Short+Sweet 2013.


I saw your work with Delicacy, which was fantastic if not a little macabre; will you be bringing the same ferocity from your direction to the direction and management of the festival?

I had the pleasure of assistant directing DELICACY under the vision of Lucas Stibbard. DELICACY was a unique sort of play – the kind that makes your stomach turn yet leaves you hungry at the end. Although I don’t believe any vital organs are going to be severed, I know that there are a few plays in Short+Sweet that might give you those slightly uneasy feelings – but in only the best of ways! Of course in a strand of up to eleven short plays, I reckon there should be enough to satisfy anyone’s appetite. Kind of like theatrical tapas!


I know you’re managing both the Gold Coast and the Brisbane circuits. I can’t wait to see what you do in Kelvin Grove’s The Loft, but do you think it’ll be tough juggling the workload?

So Short+Sweet this year is made up of four strands, each featuring a selection of ten-minute plays by local artists. Two strands will be performed on the Gold Coast, and then two in Brisbane. All up there are about 35 short plays to keep the festival going. It’s a tough juggle at times, but all of the artists are fiercely independent, and their passion holds everything together! They’re very good at supporting the festival that supports them.


You claim to be the Geek-In Residence, what gives you such a title?

Ha! In actual fact, it’s the Australia Council for the Arts that gives me that title! Well, them in combination with Queensland Theatre Company. My role at QTC started off as a funded position from the Australia Council, as part of their Geek-in-Residence program. I was recognised as a theatre-maker who actively experiments with digital technologies in live performance. I’m also the Twitter guy, the video guy, and the “which iPad app could help me solve this task?” guy.


Can I get any gossip about what to expect at Short+Sweet 2013?

Well, I don’t want to give away too much…. But look out for sexy handcuff pranks, intricate shadow puppets, dangerous spontaneity, feminine hygiene in 19th century England, people finding love, people losing love, people inventing what love could be … Body bags, wrecking balls, serial killers, symbolic balloons, a mime, a pig, a runaway bride, the evil undead… Secrets will be declared, someone will be humiliated, fights will break out, cake will be spilled, someone will die, the world will end, and dancing will happen. In ten minutes or less.


I’ve seen a few articles now saying this year’s is going to be refreshing, is that just hype or can we expect something different?

I think the festival is really growing. This year the standard of work has been really exciting. We’ve got more artists, more plays, and some of the shows are really going to push beyond expectations. It’s particularly exciting to have people like Catarina Hebbard directing, not long after she directed a MainStage show at QPAC for Queensland Theatre Company…. And then Sven Swenson, an award-winning playwright contributing to the pool of scripts. It’s also worth noting that this year is my first year managing the festival – that’s something different for sure! I know I’m finding it refreshing!


Have you been dealing with the selection process directly? If so, what speaks to you as a worthy script and performance for the show?

I have been very closely involved with the selection process this year, which has been an absolute privilege. I’m really interested in scripts that can promise theatricality, that know how and why they are a piece of theatre. I also want these plays to surprise us, to show us something we haven’t seen before, or to make us feel as though we’ve been a part of something bigger. Diversity is also a key factor of this festival – to make sure that each play has a different flavour, something unique to offer. You might hate one that everyone else loves and then fall in love with one that nobody else understands.


I saw some of the shows at last year’s Short+Sweet festival in The Loft, would you borrow a leaf from last year’s book or try to make this your own creation?

I think this year will have a bit of a different feel to last year. As well as there being more plays, there are also bigger concepts and challenging forms. One play relies on skilful shadow puppetry; another tells a story using only one word at a time. The script selections were incredibly competitive this year, so I’m confident that we’ve got some very exciting stories to tell. I’ll also say that we’re often going to have a hell of a mess to clean up after the performances!


Last year’s winners were well deserved, but what’s in it for this year’s yet to be known victors of Short+Sweet 2013? What sort of prizes or accreditations can they expect and do you think it’ll launch some of the more independent or younger competitors? As much as it is a festival it is most certainly a competition too, we mustn’t forget that.


Additional prizes are not yet announced for this year, but every award comes with an original sculptural trophy hand-made by an emerging artist from the Brisbane Institute of Art. There’s also something to be said about the value of the accreditation! After I won the Best Director award in 2011, my CV suddenly started working in my favour. And you might remember Dead Puppet Society got their first big break after winning the Short+Sweet Award in 2009!


An exciting extra incentive has only been introduced in recent years – that the overall winner of Short+Sweet QLD will win a coveted spot in the Sydney Short+Sweet Festival in 2014! (SRT’s So Where Is It? won this coveted spot in 2012 – Ed).


It’s getting close to the show now, less than a month away. Would you do it all again if they asked you back next year?

For sure!


Thanks so much for chatting, Nathan. I look forward to seeing the show in August. 

Thanks Meredith, look forward to seeing you at the festival!

Short+Sweet 2013 dates will be running as follows. Make sure to get your ticket.



The Arts Centre, Gold Coast


Tues 30 Jul, 7pm
Wed 31 Jul, 7pm
Thurs 1 Aug, 7pm
Fri 2 Aug, 7pm


Sat 3 Aug, 7pm
Sat 3 Aug, 7pm



The Loft, Kelvin Grove


Tues 20 Aug, 7pm
Thurs 22 Aug, 7pm
Sat 24 Aug, 7pm


Wed 21 Aug, 7pm
Fri 23 Aug, 7pm
Sat 24 Aug, 3pm


Sun 25 Aug, 3pm
Sun 25 Aug, 7pm


Chasing the Whale

Chasing the Whale


Chasing the Whale

Soapbox Theatre Productions

The Space, The Arts Centre Gold Coast

1st – 10th November 2012


Reviewed by Lisa Gallagher


Chasing the Whale by Matthew Ryan (originally titled The Dance of Jeremiah) made its premiere in 2005 with Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre Company, bagging several awards including 2005 winner of Queensland Theatre Company’s 2000 George Landen Dann Award and was heavily nominated all round for the 2005 Matilda Awards after its La Boite Season.

This thought provoking comedy is brought to you by Soapbox Theatre Productions¸ who are the first production company to stage the revised version of the play.  Soapbox Theatre Productions are the current Artists in Residence at the Gold Coast Arts Centre.   Soap Box has produced works such as Tame It! (Swinging Safari and Cremorne Theatre – 2High Festival), Twelfth Night (Griffith University Drama Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Royal Pines Resort), O Woe Is Me (Brisbane Powerhouse – 2High Festival), Sophie Is… (Griffith University Drama Theatre) and The Taming of the Shrew (Griffith University Drama Theatre and The Zoo – The Anywhere Theatre Festival). 2011 saw Soapbox stage the highly successful The Taming of The Shrew and Cosi by Louis Nowra at the Arts Centre Gold Coast as part of the Fill this Space Program, while also securing a partnership with Artslink Queensland in touring Sophie Is….

Chasing the Whale is directed by Jessica Westhead, the current Artistic Director for Soapbox Theatre Productions.  Jessica has directed several productions such as The Taming of The Shrew (2011), Sophie Is… (2009), O Woe Is Me! (2007) and Production Coordinator for Twelfth Night (2006) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2006).  In Chasing the Whale, Jessica has made a sense of reality; the audience can relate to the characters, invoking a response of recognition, seeing a little of each character and their situations in themselves. A good comedy needs the actors to be in tune, with a sense of timing that has to come from either a very natural place or be very craftily directed. Both of these elements are evident Chasing the Whale.

Chasing the Whale is a play that many people could relate to.  Jerry Daniels is losing it, falling apart.  When Jerry’s boss and mentor meets a tragic end, he suddenly finds himself competing for the top job.  Jerry’s life has been pretty charmed up until this point.  He is blissfully unaware of what he has sacrificed to live in his perfect world.  Unmatched in the advertising world, Jerry is used to winning and begins his campaign for the top job.  Is Jerry working too hard, has it all become too much?  What else could explain the strange things that are happening?  Office desks begin to chase him, umbrellas are raining from the sky, and a self help tape becomes a little too personal when it begins to talk to him!  Haunted by his own Ad campaigns, Jerry’s life begins to unravel; can he keep it all together?

Stephen Hirst as Jerry Daniels is superb at portraying a high-flying ad exec who lives to create the next big illusion that will convince people that they need ‘it’.  He is able to embody that person who is sought after and copied in his professional life, but his personal life is in peril.  Hirst was a pleasure to watch, the seamless transition of his character showing his range to great effect.

Sarah Kennedy plays dual roles as Beth and The Girl.  Kennedy’s relationship with Hirst’s Jerry was hard to decipher at first, which adds to the depth and believability of the performance.  Kennedy was fantastic as the girl. The role allowed her to be fun, full of spirit and a little bit kooky.  The comparison between Kennedy’s portrayal of Beth and The Girl is very well done.  One is likeable, funny and sweet, the other bitter, sad and lonely.  Definitely gives one the chance to look at opportunity missed and what could have been.

James Odenbreit plays dual roles of Paul and the Guru on the self help tape. Odenbreit’s sense of timing was great. His energy as the Guru was invigorating; his presence so vibrant that he owned the stage.  So great was his change in demeanour from the guru to the fumbling Paul, I did a double take to check it actually was the same actor playing both roles.

Garth Ledwidge plays both Simon and Tom in the production.  Whilst we do not get to know Tom very well, Ledwidge certainly hits the spot with Simon.  His portrayal of the sneaky colleague who is only out for themselves is fantastic.  Watching him you know he is bad, yet he can be so nice.  Even though you know he is a narcissist, through Ledwidge’s portrayal of Simon, you almost want to like him.

Kim Stewart is terrific as the very literal Darcy!  Stewart demonstrated exceptional comedic timing, often stealing the show when she was on stage.  Stewart’s character was very likeable yet annoying at the same time.  Stewart’s character could have been just an addition to the play, but with Westhead’s direction and Stewart’s portrayal she was very much a central part of the experience.

Some parts of the play are left up to the audience to decipher and draw their own conclusions; this allows each audience member to take away something different, something personal to them.   If you have not been to a performance in The Space at the Gold Coast Art’s Centre, do yourself a favour and see Chasing the Whale.

Tickets still available from the Arts Centre for the final performances:   Thu Nov 8 at 7:30pm, Fri Nov 9 at 7:30pm, Sat Nov 10 at 7:30pm.



Chasing the Whale opens tonight on the Gold Coast!

Chasing the Whale

The Arts Centre Gold Coast with Artists in Residence Soapbox Theatre Productions presents

Chasing The Whale by Matthew Ryan

Directed by Jessica Westhead

Jerry Daniels is falling apart. 
Haunted by his own ad campaigns, Jerry struggles to keep his perfect world together.
But when you lock your life in a briefcase, don’t be surprised the day it wants out. 

Chasing the Whale is a surreal award-winning comedy and theatrical feast from Matt Ryan, the writer of Boy Girl Wall.

Chasing the Whale

Last week, we attended a special preview event for Chasing the Whale at the Arts Centre, with Soapbox Theatre Productions and invited guests.

There are a couple of things I’d like to mention about that evening. The first is that apparently, some of the invited guests didn’t show. Of course there were some who had politely declined the invitation well in advance and apologised for being pre-committed that evening and therefore unable to attend. And there were those who obviously felt bad at the last minute, sent a brief text message or Facebook message to inform somebody putting together a preview night for a major production who had time to check last minute messages, that they would not be in attendance.

I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know, as I always am in these circumstances, that no one was dying.

And there were some who just didn’t show.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. QTC Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch, who certainly has his social media sorted, posted on Facebook a similar thought the very day I was pondering this problem of old fashioned manners gone AWOL. You see, I threw a little party on the weekend and not only did I receive late text messages from friends who had decided not to stop by, I was disappointed days earlier to have not received any response at all from others. Did I follow up with annoying phone calls, sms messages and Facebook messages to chase people up for their RSVP? No. I knew I would have there the friends we were supposed to have there and I was right. It was a lovely night and we raised some money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation to boot. I’ll follow this up in a future post because I notice it happening more and more often in the theatre too but in the meantime, let’s all try harder to actually get to where we say we’ll go and if it’s not possible or you can’t be bothered to stop by after all, let the host know and they’ll know to think twice about inviting you again. I know I have to get better at the early declines because Sam and I are usually triple-booked and sometimes it is simply impossible to be everywhere. But I have to say, we get to most things, even if it’s just to drop in, make an appearance and wish the host well before we’re due to be somewhere else. You will have noticed that last week, we SPLIT UP so we could honour our RSVPs to both La Boite AND ACPA opening nights.

A simple RSVP or an early apology is a show of good manners and genuine respect for the person or company hosting the event. Don’t you think?

The other thing I will say about our evening with Soapbox Theatre Productions is that it was delightful! These kids know how to put on a show, y’all! I hope this season sells out because Matt Ryan has written an awesome script that is so funny and surprising you’ll want to go back and see it a second time WITH FRIENDS! If you’re on the Other Coast, as we are, this is one to make the effort for. Take the trip, stay the night somewhere (or drive home at a ridiculous hour as we often do because there is school or gymnastics or swimming or a coffee date or a champagne breakfast or something the next morning that we are committed to), and enjoy an evening with this dynamo young company and their stellar production of Chasing the Whale.

What’s that? You didn’t know Soapbox Theatre Productions were there, on the Gold Coast?

Soapbox have in the past, been sticklers for the classics with their main stage productions featuring Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew and more recently, Louis Nowra’s Cosi also staged at The Arts Centre Gold Coast.  This year, they’re trying something new.

So who is this Matthew Ryan fellow, and why are Gold Coast audiences being encouraged to chase a whale?

Chasing the Whale (originally titled The Dance of Jeremiah) made its premiere in 2005 with Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre Company starring Hayden Spencer.  Soapbox will be the first production company to stage this revised version of the popular Queensland play that bagged several awards including 2005 winner of Queensland Theatre Company’s 2000 George Landen Dann Award and was heavily nominated all round for the 2005 Matilda Awards after its La Boite Season.

Ryan is certainly the writer in demand; his play The Harbinger (which he also directed) with The Dead Puppets Society enjoyed a highly successful season at La Boite Indie, Boy Girl Wallwhich he co wrote (and directed) has recently wrapped a national tour, while The Queensland Theatre Company staged his latest work, Kellyin September.

So how does this multi talented artist feel about a Gold Coast Company taking on his work?

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity re-writing Chasing the Whale for Soapbox and I can’t wait to see them premiere the new ideas and content” says Ryan.  “I started out performing at Spotlight Theatre, Gold Coast Little Theatre and Javeenbah Theatre. The wonderful Gold Coast audiences and theatre-makers taught me my most valuable lessons about the stage and I can’t wait for them to see this play. This is a story about the pressure to succeed, set in a city on the ocean. Who could understand that better than the GC?”

So who’s in it, you ask?

Stephen Hirst

Sarah Kennedy

Garth Ledwidge

James Odenbreit

Kim Stewart

When is it?

Date: 1-4 and 6-10 November

Time: 7:30pm (Sundays 5:00pm)

Where is it all happening?

Venue: The Space, The Arts Centre Gold Coast

Will we be reviewing it?

Of course! But we’re unable to attend on opening night (Soapbox know because we’ve already told them), so we’re sending Craig and Lisa. Keep an eye out for their review after opening night tomorrow night! Will you be there?

Bookings: 07 5588 4000


Dickens 200th Anniversary: Dickens’ Women

Did you know it was Charles Dickens’ birthday on Tuesday? He would have been 200 years old!

The British Council has an exciting schedule of events in 2012, to celebrate worldwide, Dickens’ 200th anniversary. We are lucky enough to welcome the return of the extraordinary BAFTA®-winning actress, Miriam Margolyes, in her one-woman show, Dickens’ Women.

Andrew Denton is a big fan of Margolyes:

Miriam Margolyes is just a little different to most actors. She has done Dickens … she has been a penguin, a sheepdog and a glow-worm. You may also know her as Professor Sprout from Harry Potter. Her CV is as unlikely as the woman herself.’ 

In Dickens’ Women, Margolyes will bring to life 23 of Charles Dickens’ most affecting female (and male!) characters, including Mrs Micawber from David Copperfield, Miss Havisham in Great Expectations and the grotesque Mrs Gramp in Martin Chuzzlewit. “They are real to me,” she says.

“Dickens’ women were chosen not only because they are some of the most colourful and entertaining characters in his writing, but because they were based on real people in his life; people he fought with and cared for, loved and hated,” explains Miriam. “In this way, the play is as much about the man himself, as it is about the 23 characters. These characters are drawn from his novels & sketches, including his most popular such as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and Nicholas Nickleby. Some characters are famous & iconic, others are lesser-known creations from Dickens’ books, but all offer a unique glimpse into the real-life Charles Dickens.”

For Margolyes, it all comes down to the voice. She once said, “Voices are people,” and recently, when speaking with Sharon Verghis of the Weekend Australian review (February 4th -5th 2012), “Voices betray people perhaps in ways they never imagine.” This reveals a lot about the woman (more vulnerable than one would think, according to Verghis) and about her characters (“the mixture of evil and comedy that is particularly Dickensian.”)

Margolyes’ career began within the BBC Drama Department, in radio roles and voiceovers and quickly spanned TV (Blackadder), film (The Age of Innocence) and theatre (she was Madame Morrible in the original West End production of Wicked).

Miriam Margolyes as Madame Morrible in the original West End production of Wicked

“Directors are always saying to me, ‘A bit less, Miriam’.

And with Dickens, you don’t have to do that.”

Miriam Margolyes in conversation with Sharon Verghis

Dickens’ Women was developed by self-confessed “Dickens’ tragic”, Miriam Margolyes and Sonia Fraser for the 1989 Edinburgh Festival. It has since travelled worldwide, including London, Jerusalem, Santa Cruz, New York, Boston, Sydney, and all over India. In 1992, Dickens’ Women was nominated for the prestigious Olivier Award. 2012 will be busy for Miriam Margolyes; she is also appearing in the ABC’s new series Phryne Fisher Murder Mysteries based on the best selling series by Kerry Greenwood and set in the 1920s in Melbourne. Miriam will play Mrs Prudence Stanley, Phryne’s Aunt.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Miriam Margolyes live on stage, only at the QPAC Playhouse and the Gold Coast Arts Centre in March.

What:             Miriam Margolyes in Dickens’ Women in BRISBANE

                           Presented by Andrew McKinnon Fine Entertainment

Venue:           Playhouse, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC)

Date:              March 22 – 24



What:             Miriam Margolyes in Dickens’ Women – GOLD COAST

                           Presented by Andrew McKinnon Fine Entertainment

Venue:           Gold Coast Arts Centre

Date:              March 21



Miriam Margolye – Biography

She is a British award-winning actress who has achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Australia. Winner of the BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award in 1993 for The Age of Innocence, she also received Best Supporting Actress at the 1989 LA Critics Circle Awards for her role in Little Dorrit and a Sony Radio Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her unabridged recording of Oliver Twist. She was the voice of the Matchmaker in Mulan & Fly, and the mother dog in one of Australia’s most successful films Babe.
Major film credits during her long and celebrated career include Yentl, Little Shop of Horrors, I Love You To Death, End of Days, Sunshine,Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, Cold Comfort Farm and Magnolia. She starred in Stephen Hopkins’ The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,Modigliani, Istvan Szabo’s Being Julia and Ladies in Lavender (dir. Charles Dance, with Dames Smith & Dench). Margolyes was Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Most recently, Margolyes appeared in The Dukes, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (with Simon Pegg) and Blind Man’s Bluff.
Most memorable TV credits include Old Flames, Freud, Life and Loves of a She Devil, Blackadder, The Girls of Slender Means, Oliver Twist, The History Man, Vanity Fair and Supply and Demand. Her 2004 BBC TV documentary series Dickens in America was a worldwide success. In May 2010, she starred in the UK TV series, MERLIN.
In 2002, H.M The Queen awarded Miriam the Order of the British Empire for her services to Drama.

In the early years of the twenty-first century, we still sometimes see the world as a ‘Dickensian’ place. On the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, we look at how his example and his creations live on. Dickens was one of the greatest of Victorians, but this seminar is about the Dickens who continues to be our contemporary. What do today’s writers still learn from him? What do readers of fiction expect because of him? What would he write – and what would he write about – if he were alive today? Dickens was a writer who broke the rules of tasteful composition. He revelled in caricature and hyperbole; he rifled the language for absurd idioms and resonant clichés; he loved the grotesque. Are his stylistic freedoms still available to writers today? He was also a satirist who was confident he knew the difference between good and evil. He was always ready to step into his novel to exhort or lecture his readers. Can contemporary novelists draw on the same moral fervour? He wrote novels that seemed to be about what was called ‘the condition of England’; he sometimes seemed to anatomise a whole nation. Do we still hope that novelists will take on such a task? Is it even possible to do so?

– Professor John Mullan

Dickens' Dream (unfinished) by Robert William Buss (1804 - 1875)


xs entertainment gets a shout out

awww, we love a little bit of love so we’re sharing it!

David Breen, actor, saw our re-post on XS Entertainment on Facebook, of an audition notice for one of the plays included in this year’s Short + Sweet Festival, auditioned for the director and landed the role! Here’s his note to us:

Sending a massive shout of thanks to the crew at XS Entertainment. After following up on a post on this page the other day and a successful audition this afternoon I will now be performing at the Short + Sweet Play Festival on the Gold Coast next month. Great work guys, your advice, articles and notices for people in the industry really are invaluable and your work does not go unnoticed! I’ll be recommending everyone here! Thanks again guys and keep up the great work!

Thanks, David and congrats on your “scruffy” role! We can’t wait to see your work during Short + Sweet on the Gold Coast! Have fun preparing for the biggest little play festival in the world!