Posts Tagged ‘Helen Howard

05
Sep
19

COCK or How to Manipulate Media Coverage In Your Efforts to Secure Rave Reviews or I’m Just a Girl Standing in Front of a Box Office Trying to Buy a Ticket to Your Show

 

COCK

Bosco Productions

Metro Arts

August 21 – 31 2019

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

Somebody didn’t want me to see this show. Let’s pretend that we don’t know who that was.

This happens sometimes, following an unfavourable review; xs is left off an upcoming list and Box Office is directed to refuse us entry. But companies should be careful of what I like to call The Maleficent Effect, which is to say that not everyone would stand for being treated with such disrespect and still show up to see the production for what it is. Luckily for this Irish lot, COCK is brilliant and quite beautiful, in the most honest and transparent way, with not a single European pillow in sight. Even so, let’s take a moment to appreciate that the risk of being turned away at the door after a 90-minute drive in peak hour traffic, after a session with teens who still haven’t learned their lines a week out from assessment, is nothing; it’s more amusing than anything else, and not nearly as insulting or threatening as a spate of online trolling, name calling and death threats. So…Bosco…namaste. 

 

while the producers of any show may argue that as it’s their party, they can invite whoever they want, the principle of extending invitations across the board to established newspapers and reviewing outlets is a sound one. Trying to exclude particular reviewers is not – if for no other reason that it makes that individual critic seem more important than they are and hints at, if not outright censorship, than at least an over-developed desire to manipulate coverage and ensure good reviews all round.

You can never second-guess what a critic’s response will be.

The real issue here is the insidious, creeping desire on the part of producers and their PR agencies to control all press coverage by feature writers and critics.

 

You can never second-guess what a critic’s response will be

 

I’d like to suggest a new category for the Matilda Awards

Most Awkward Box Office / Foyer Conversation

 

Box Office Girls: stare up at me in what appears to be abject horror, or it could just be me pre-empting a Hilary Spurling scenario (Box Office Girls too young to know who Hilary Spurling is).

Me: Hi, I’m Xanthe and I know you’ve probably been told not to give me comps. So I’ll buy a ticket.

Box Office Girls:

Me: This must be the first theatre ticket I’ve had to buy in ten years!

Box Office Girls:

Me: Happy to support!

Box Office Girls:

 

You can imagine.

 

Fiona Apple’s Shadow Boxer pre-show, as I take my seat, seems appropriate. I know the play; I love Mike Bartlett’s properly real life writing, with its overlaps, interjects, repetitions, stutters and silences. I love that, as Writer, he has the audacity to demand of the companies brave enough to take on his play, a bare stage sans sets and props.

 

Queensland’s most under-utilised director, Helen Howard, has relished the challenges of a possibly highly stylised and potentially dated piece…or is it? After all, we are still insisting that relationships be bound by certain constraints, aren’t we? Howard has shaped this show from a contemporary place of power and compassion for these characters with whom we connect, and from whom we disconnect at the same time. It’s a voyeuristic lens that holds us in the gaze of the actors as we watch events unfold. Direct address is skilfully incorporated. Judge me. Don’t judge me. There is rarely physical contact between the actors; like a dance in a dream, their actions – undressing, touching, etc – are described but never carried out in the sense of showing us explicit stage business. This leaves scope for the imagination, creating a delicate, sensual intimacy that will make this production an example at the next round table re the results of best practice, as we continue to evolve the ways we work with actors, particularly student actors, on intimate/physical/emotional scenes. It’s a way into intimacy that’s been explored more extensively to date in the dance realm. A surreal, smoothly choreographed opening sequence at once feels beautifully fluid, and irregular and angular, leaving us distanced from the action, and yet completely committed, uncertain of where we are and what we’re in for.

 

The people we meet here are real and flawed, and either panicked or paralysed by tiny daily insecurities, as well as their – our – bigger fear of actually living life.

 

Derek Draper (M) and Julian Curtis (John) drive this narrative; a love triangle that’s more complicated than most, introducing the unexpected, and turning the stereotypical homosexual relationship on its head. When push comes to shove, M invites in his father – F – for moral support (Patrick Farrelly). When John meets a woman – W (Ashlee Lollback) – he questions his place…his worth…in his 7-year de-facto relationship with M.

 

The dance continues at intervals throughout the show, neatly devised transitions separating and marking for posterity each key moment; the tenderness of the storytelling and the heightened awareness of the actors evident in every pause. There is so much said, and left unsaid, in these silences. 

 

Draper is strong in this role; he finds the right mix of strength and vulnerability; M stands up for what he wants and ultimately, despite even more deeply doubting his power, he doesn’t back down. It’s enough to make us shrink in our seats during one of the most uncomfortable endings ever written. But more so, it’s John’s ineptitude that continues to make us cringe, even after the lights come up. Everyone knows someone this frozen by fear. The beauty of Bartlett’s protagonist is in this paralysis; the agony of being incapable of making a decision, squirming in the process; pushed to the edge and unable to decide whether or not to jump.

 

W challenges John on every level and gently exerts her most elegant use of force to urge him closer and closer to a decision that will suit them both. As John admits, it’s not as much about gender or sex as it is about the way he feels with her, the careful, kind way she speaks to him, treats him. Lollback is a beautiful, natural performer, at ease in her body and generous in her offers, employing a warm, firm vocal tone, and a sweet and comforting smile that reminds me of Naomi Price in Sweet Charity.

 

 

While we might judge John’s behaviour harshly, most of us can probably relate to his inability to communicate under pressure. The paralysis of indecision is no small thing so the dinner party scene, so fraught, becomes intense and fascinating and funny, and absolutely awful in the best theatrical sense, leaving us despairing, properly lamenting, John’s stubborn resistance to the power that we all feel quite desperately by now, is his to claim. There are exasperated sighs in the audience. And inexplicably, it could be said,  largely because it’s Curtis in this role making M completely hopeless and also, completely adorable, John keeps our sympathy, despite his reluctance to commit one way or the other, to one lover or the other, and the question arises: why should he be made to choose? Bartlett doesn’t go deeper here; he doesn’t suggest that John remain single for example, but we can imagine what John’s single life might look like. Instead…well, it’s that awful, uncomfortable ending, confirming once again, in case we are ever in any doubt, that we’re all needing as much validation as the next guy. Well, no. Some much more so than others it seems. 

 

29
May
16

The Tragedy of King Richard III

 

The Tragedy of King Richard III

La Boite Theatre Company

La Boite Roundhouse

May 21 – June 11 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.

– Napoleon Bonaparte

After a questionable start to the 2016 season, La Boite triumphs with The Tragedy of King Richard III – affectionately referred to here as Dick3 – the most intriguing, challenging and satisfying theatrical event of the year so far. An exhumation, a thorough examination by brilliant minds, Queensland Premier Drama Award winners, Marcel Dorney and Daniel Evans, this production not only brings together two of the country’s best writers, but gathers together on stage and off, a truly formidable team of creatives.

Undoubtedly our most fearless director, Evans is able to find compassion in raging fury and irreverent fun in serious ethical and political discourse, creating a new form of theatre; a new style of conversation that challenges and rewards deeply, actors and audiences.

This is the sort of show we expect to see come to us direct from an acclaimed season overseas, and perhaps premiere at Brisbane Festival (September brings Snow Whitethis Shakespeare, and a whole lot more to the table). It’s the sort of show that makes us question everything we thought we knew about theatre and history, and the way we continue to look at the world. It’s a show that turns you inside out, slams you upside down and spits on you, laughing, before reaching out to help you get to your feet again, asking with genuine concern, “Do you want a Milo?”

It’s lucky/exciting/apt for Queensland that our top two companies are starting to make a habit now of giving wings to slightly more unconventional ideas and the support to help them take flight. This one soars and I won’t be at all surprised if, just as La Boite’s Edward Gant did, Dick3 attracts the attention of some of the nation’s other major players. In fact, I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t.

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Dick3 is one of the most designed productions we’ve seen in this space (Designer Kieran Swann, Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright, Composer Guy Webster), utilising the very air that exists between light and rain, and the cold, wet ground, surrounding the raised floor with a black catwalk containing hidden trap doors storing a stash of props and wardrobe pieces inside each space, and having performers take hold of lights for good reason, rather than as a token effort to involve them in the meta layers of the storytelling. 

Because this is certainly not Shakespeare. This is very un-Shakespeare – next level Shakespeare – and it comes with the confident “fuck you” of a generation of genuinely passionate theatre makers who strive for a little more than mediocrity (unlike the next), brilliantly combining box office appeal with original experimental storytelling, questioning far more than they end up divulging and forcing us to reconsider the known “facts” of the history of the world and, in this case, one of the most infamous of Shakespeare’s historical characters. 

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I’m gazing into blue space when Naomi Price appears in front of me, in a Kate Middleton inspired ensemble, with a hand held mic, which she raises to her mouth after pronouncing very loudly and clearly and properly and powerfully and Shakespearingly, “NOW…”  She firmly, politely tells us to turn our mobile phones to Off not Silent and asks that those who insist on leaving their phones on Silent, raise their gadget in the air and admit it. She asks those who didn’t decide – neither switching to Silent or admitting doing so – WHY? There is laughter and we are immediately relaxed and somewhat thrown by this direct address…

Price proceeds to stride around the catwalk and paint a picture that is so vivid, so real, we feel as if we’re in the carpark in Leicester in 2012, standing, shivering, wondering what’s come before us, and looking down upon the reviled bones of King Richard III.

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There is the smell of burning rubber, steam rising, mist swirling, rain falling, blood pooling, blue pouring and splashing and emptying across the stage, the concrete that becomes marble before our eyes, the sponge hump, the gnarled hands, the buckets, the handhelds, the dagger, the sword, the paper crown, the tarp, the blank pages of the book – it could be Harry Potter, an empowering choice for a child actor (he’ll take what he can) – and there is us. Always us, purveyors and interpreters and interlopers; I actually feel unwelcome at times, as if I’m at the wrong dinner party. And this is deliberate, because ultimately, who cares about so much of the history we’re told is true? Is it? If it is, what of it? If we’re sitting there, attempting to intellectualise or justify or reframe in a postmodern context anything that comes from the annuls, it’s shot down in flames and we’re offered an alternate view that suddenly seems more reasonable than our originally held belief. 

Always surprising, this show is the one extra Tequila shot at the end of the night that sees us agreeing with someone we’d presumed would never even make the guest list. Dick3 is an equaliser, a game changer. If the national culture leaned more towards arts than football, this is the match of the season, and could just as easily be seen in a stadium. Imagine that!

richard10

 

It’s difficult to understand the reluctance to more reasonably support arts and culture. More Australians go to art galleries each year than go to the AFL and NRL combined. The creative industries employ more people than agriculture, construction or even mining, and indeed contribute as much as 75% of the economic benefit of the mining sector…

Let’s talk about STEAM rather than STEM. Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics should all be key parts of our education curriculum. Decades of research shows that artistic engagement nourishes all learning, so if we want an innovative, imaginative and well-rounded nation, let’s have one…

People have a right to arts and culture.

 

David Berthold, AD Brisbane Festival

 

richard3

Price is so powerful in this space, with the vocals and stage presence to knock you flat. She sets the scene and establishes the connection with the audience, which the performers maintain throughout. We connect with each of them. We’re part of this story, part of history. Amy Ingram is a seductive, deliciously wicked delight, and Helen Howard an articulate, elegant, fearsome creature, just as she should be. In Howard’s hands, the act of lifting a chainmail sleeve from a bucket of blood and putting it on, blood dripping down her flesh and soaking into the fabric of her dress, becomes a fine art, pure (horrifying, mesmerising) seduction. Pacharo Mzembe is a prince, giving everything in this performance, which, having now seen so much of NT Live, appears to have come directly from the West End, such is his mastery of voice and movement, particularly in the thrilling fight sequences choreographed by Nigel Poulton (Assistant Fight Director Justin Palazzo-Orr). These are Poulton’s best bloody, sweaty routines to date, executed with ferocious intent by Mzembe and MacDonald. Todd MacDonald commands the space, his return to the stage a triumph in itself. When he’s not fighting or plotting or spilling blood he’s bringing to life a previously unknown version of William Shakespeare – a very funny one – and allowing himself to be directed by the actors who sit, watching critically, in the corners.

richard_atticusrobb

But it’s 14-year old Atticus Robb, in his professional stage debut, who stuns us with a performance that is mature beyond his years, bringing passion and ambition, sincerity and vulnerability to multiple roles, including that of The Actor, Atticus. His is thrilling natural talent, most evident in a Richard III rockstar monologue that steals the show. This kid’s got it.

richard4

The Tragedy of King Richard III is bold and brilliant, death-of-theatre-defying stuff, giving the Australian theatrical landscape permission to change again, to carry on evolving, despite its current challenges.

Without bringing Shakespeare to the stage, Dorney and Evans have brought Shakespeare’s essence and centuries of society’s most deeply held beliefs about ambition and power and connection and the human condition to an audience who thought they’d seen everything. Everything that is, until Dorney and Evans’ astute take on anything at all.

NOW… We’ll see if there are others who can keep up with the exhilarating pace set here.

Production pics by Dylan Evans

 

28
Jul
13

1001 Nights

1001 Nights

QTC & Queensland Music Festival

In Association With Zen Zen Zo

Bille Brown Studio

18 – 28 July 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

stevenrooke_1001nights

Aladdin. Ali Baba. The names are as well-known as the stories behind them. They resonate down through the ages and across vast oceans. They whisper the promise of adventure, exoticism and romance, from their ancient roots among the shifting sands to the bedside of every child.

 

Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre joins traditional Persian musicians Pezhvak, for an evening of riveting storytelling, dance and song based around the Middle-Eastern magic of 1001 Nights. Adapted by Michael Futcher and Helen Howard, resident directors of Zen Zen Zo, this production blends together a storytelling troupe that weaves words to charm and delight.

 

Backed by the authentic sounds of traditional instruments including the oud, the dohol and the kamanche, this energetic and enchanting show embraces Zen Zen Zo’s legendary physicality.

 

isabelleandsteven_1001nights

A simply shared, ingeniously sumptuous production, told in the style of Vikram and the Vampire, and showcasing the talents of Dan Crestini, Gavin Edwards, Steven Rooke, Isabella Tannock and Tina Torabi on stage, as well as the Pezhvak Traditional Music Ensemble, 1001 Nights is a treat for the senses…sans fragrance of the sandalwood mentioned on more than one occasion (I’m sure the budget didn’t stretch that far. Burning sandalwood oil is expensive!).

 

Against a sparse setting of sand and the semblance of a structure to serve as multiple settings, and utilising rich fabrics – brocade of silver and gold – for everything from tablecloth to flowing cloak to tailored coat, and oil drums, some pots and the power of our imaginations, the famous tales of the Arabian nights are shared with passion and the type of physical theatre and vocal mastery that we’ve come to expect from Zen Zen Zo. (Designer Bill Haycock and Lighting Designer Ben Hughes).

 

From the very first strains of Persian traditional music, and as the lights dim, we are already enraptured – snared – and ready to take the journey, to be transported to another time, another place; an exotic land of impossible dreams and intolerable violence in retaliation for offences that would have our contemporary crims out of irons after a short stint of leisure activities including improvisation, or studies of Shakespearean text.

 

Adapted by Michael Futcher and Helen Howard, and directed by Futcher, 1001 Nights suffers only from Zen Zen Zo’s indulgence in too many stories. It’s too long, perhaps by two or three tales. We are restless. We are enthralled, and enraptured, and restless. The stories are intriguing, the performances are A1 and very often the characters featured are, in turn, funny and infuriating. I wonder about what could be omitted; such an incredible wealth of material has already been so cleverly condensed. At times, in between tales, it’s the music that holds up the pace, but it’s so beautiful, we are forgiving of these pauses, when the actors appear to have to wait for the musicians, who momentarily, and quite rightly, claim centre stage for the opening of Act 2. (Musical Direction Phil Slade).

 

It’s funny and confusing. My favourite is The Little Hunchback. I listened to the podcast so I knew the story. I knew he wasn’t really dead. It was funny when he danced! The music and the voices are beautiful proper storytelling music and voices. When can we see it again? Poppy Eponine

 

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We were warned that the Genie may be quite frightening, but Poppy wasn’t frightened. She likened the Genie to The Wizard of Oz, with his booming, reverberating voice and wicked face on a stick, held high above the ensemble by one of its members. “It’s a trick, a theatre trick.” When we talked about it she said, “Well, maybe it would have been frightening for a little kid.” Poppy is seven, so by “little” she means a child of three or four.

 

This is a strong, tight-knit ensemble, their collective vocal and physical talent is impressive, and with its stunning design and the addition of – truly magical – live traditional music, you would expect this production to enjoy a longer run. I just love what Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival, James Morrison, has to say in his notes about Futcher securing a run for this production during QMF. Morrison says there was no pitch, no story board; “he simply had Pezhvak play and said the words ‘1001 Nights’…I was instantly hooked and wanted to sit on a rug and hear the stories.”

 

Let’s hope 1001 Nights will be resurrected at some stage as a touring show. It would be a hit with secondary schools, if they ever had time to see it! Or perhaps it could be made available on the corporate circuit. I’m serious! This is the type of themed entertainment that we are being asked each year to create for major fundraising events! Teachers, parents and event managers, keep an ear to the ground, because if 1001 Nights comes around again you’d be foolish to miss it!

 

And if you’re very lucky, with no other plans this afternoon, you just might secure the last remaining tickets to the final performance today at 3pm.

 

AND just because I love it, and I couldn’t see any Pezhvak on YouTube, here’s an homage to the gorgeous (and hilarious) Bollywood moment!

 

22
Feb
13

Holding the Man

 

Holding the Man

 

Well, some of us have waited a long time to see David Berthold’s acclaimed production of Holding the Man. And the Brisbane audiences are loving it, believing in the relationships, crying in the closing moments, struggling to express their emotional response afterwards, and feeling that they understand its themes and delicate issues; that they can relate to the difficulties faced by Tim (Alec Snow) and John (Jerome Meyer) and their families and friends. But there might also be those who walk away cold, completely unaffected by the emotion that is manipulated by production elements thrown generously at a script that centres around a relationship strong enough to stand on its own. Of course, essentially, what’s evident in the writing is that this is Tim’s story, the way he wrote it, and playwright, Tommy Murphy, has beautifully realised and theatricalised the memoir so that we can take an entire life’s journey with Tim and John in just over two hours. Without the additional cast of intriguing characters, and hilarious scenes involving the NIDA students and staff, parents and potential gay partners on the dance floor of a seedy night club, all plucked out of real life, it would make an entirely different play, and we wouldn’t have the context, or the vital characters who support the boys during their 15-year relationship.

 

Holding the Man

On opening night I got the impression that the response was mixed…or undecided. For the first time at The Roundhouse in a long time, the house was divided between those who rose to give a standing ovation and those who stayed seated. I must admit, I didn’t feel like the end of the show was a feel-good, leap-to-your-feet-and-applaud kinda’ moment, despite my appreciation for the work of the creative team (Brian Thomson, Micka Agosta, David Walters, Basil Hogios and Guy Webster) and cast (Snow, Meyer, Jai Higgs, Lauren Jackson, Eugene Gilfedder and Helen Howard). Sometimes you sit and continue to feel and to process without feeling like immediately jumping up and down. In fact, I felt like I experienced a more tender, more honest show on Tuesday night. More worthy in my opinion of a standing ovation, but again, I didn’t feel it was the appropriate reaction because of the sombre mood! I can’t wait to hear what you thought of the show. What interesting discussions our diverse responses inspire! I love that theatre has the power to make us feel so strongly about it!

Here are a few fair points from marketing guru Adam Brunes (he’s hopped on over to EDC so you can be sure you’ll know what they’re up to this year!),
“You should all see this. Here are a few reasons why. 1) It’s one of the most beautifully designed shows I’ve ever seen at La Boite. Ever. 2) You will laugh out loud, and probably look to the brightest light in the lighting rig to hold back tears. 3) Helen Howard and Eugene Gilfedder are at it again, this time sharing a circle jerk, and probably a costume or two. 4) It’s a true love story. 5) Four of six actors are making their professional mainstage debuts, and that alone is worth celebrating.”

 

Holding the Man

Agreed… but I can’t review La Boite’s Holding the Man, in fact, I won’t be reviewing La Boite’s main stage shows at all this year. I’d love to, but in my capacity as Learning & Participation Specialist (that’s fancy for education consultant), apparently there’s a conflict of interest. Sorry about that. What I want to do, though, is give you a brief take on each show from a drama teacher’s perspective, and offer up a sort of a Cheat Sheet each time a production opens, in case you didn’t get time to read through the teacher resources. When you do have time, DO read through the Education Notes, which are available online (look, if you get to nothing else, Benjamin Law’s article is ESSENTIAL pre-show reading), and let me know what else you’d like to see addressed in the next document, in preparation for FOOD. You can also get in touch with me via email or phone, to talk about anything you already have planned (or would like support in planning), anything you’re wondering with regard to assessment tasks, or if you have any concerns about a show’s suitability for your students. Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting it all into context and I can help you do that.

 

So on Tuesday night, La Boîte officially launched the Learning & Participation Program, and staged a preview of Tommy Murphy’s adaptation of Timothy Conigraves’ memoir, Holding the Man, just for teachers. It was a decent turn out, with many of the teachers and syllabus specialists in attendance whom I admire and respect, so, you know, no pressure…

 

Artistic Director of La Boite, David Berthold, introduced me and I spoke a little about the main stage program, the professional development opportunities for teachers, the student workshops, and the ambassador program, for which applications have closed TODAY. I do this job outside of the job all the time. When people ask me, “What should we see?” and “What’s good?” I can confidently tell them that La Boîte – our state’s second largest player – is so accessible, enjoyable, and inspires terrific conversations and lasting friendships. I know that’s not just my experience because I talk to so many for whom a trip to La Boite is a regular highlight throughout the year. I’m looking forward to hearing from teachers this year, and seeing some of you again already at the Drama Queensland State Conference next month!

 

From a drama teacher’s perspective there is so much to Holding the Man.

 

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CONTEXTUALISE: How much do you think your students know about the 1980s and the HIV/AIDS climate in Australia? Don’t assume they know anything just because you remember it (after all, it wasn’t that long ago!). Here are some Youtube clips to get you started (although I couldn’t watch the Challenger explode again). Seriously, if time and headspace allows, start with the original memoir by Timothy Conigrave AND Holding the Man and AIDS in Australia by Benjamin Law. Also, remember there are plenty of crossovers for your English students, even if they’re just analysing film clips…

 

 

 

 

 

DISCUSS: You must have time programmed for both free and facilitated discussions.

 

Holding the Man

WRITE: I love letting students write their thoughts and projections about a show after looking at the marketing collateral. Pick up the Avant Card or get on the website and take a look at the images used to promote the show to the public. I also love giving students time to write their FIRST RESPONSE after a show. It’s not a review – they can dissect and critique the show in the responding task – but it’s the immediate reactions, thoughts and feelings after experiencing somebody else’s world.

 

 

If you’d like some more ideas, or you’d like to offer some feedback and ideas for the next lot of Education Notes, email me xanthecoward@gmail.com

 

Images by Al Caeiro

 

06
Aug
12

Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Queensland Theatre Company & Matrix Theatre

Kawana Community Centre

Thursday 2nd August 2012

Reviewed by Poppy & Tayah 

If buccaneers and buried gold

And all the old romance retold

Exactly in the ancient way

Can please, as me they pleased of old,

The wiser youngsters of today

So be it.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island is going everywhere, all over Australia. It’s a famous show. It’s a famous book. Did we read the book? We didn’t read the book. There would be boys who already read the book because it’s a boys book, about pirates. It’s a pirate ADVENTURE! But it’s not just for boys, this show, is it? It’s for mums too. It’s definitely for mums because our mums liked it, didn’t they? And it’s for girls too because we liked it, didn’t we? It was excellent!

The story starts with the story being told. It’s a clever start because you know it’s a story and it’s not real. It seems real but it’s not. It’s a play. And that’s the job. To make it real.

It was a little bit scary because they looked like real pirates. They’re actually actors, wearing costumes especially from the theatre. I liked the costumes. There were lots of coats. Pirates wear big coats. And hats. And boots. But Thom had just boys shoes on because he’s a boy in the show.

It was a big surprise to see the skeleton! It scared me out of my skin! I jumped up on mum’s lap and hugged her around the neck!

We could hear the gun shots and the canons. There were real guns. Well, not real real guns but just like the real ones. At the end we found out that that’s a replica. They were nice to take the time to answer kids’ questions. I didn’t have any questions. I just wanted a photo with the actors.

It was excellent!!!!!!!

It was interesting and really exciting. It was so funny. They were really funny.

Tayah’s favourite part was:

at the end when we got photos taken and we got to have a look back stage.

Poppy’s favourite part was:

after the show, when we got to meet the actors and explore back stage. It was all my favourite, I loved all of it but going back stage was my favourite part after the show.

Notes from the Mama:

    • Treasure Island is good old-fashioned fun and fanciful storytelling.
    • QTC’s touring version, by Helen Howard and Michael Futcher, reminds parents and teachers to get the kids away from the screens – big and small – and back into the theatre, where the real excitement is and where the best stories – those that shape our imagination and dare us to dream big – are brought to life on stage in front of our eyes. We believe it. It’s the Tinkerbell factor.
    • This production boasts two generous, energetic and dynamic actors (Joss McWilliam and Thomas Larkin), who portray a multitude of roles between them with an abundance of good humour and a great deal of physical prowess. Ducking in and out from behind the fourth wall and swapping between roles at a rapid pace, these guys give us (Kevin Kline) Pirate King style antics and the kids (and mums) love it!

  • For the really little ones, take some (quiet) snacks and expect them to get a little restless 30-40 mins in (at 55 mins run time, this one’s a bit of a stretch for some under eights. The target audiences are Years 4-7 and Years 8-10).
  • For the older kids/students, read Treasure Island online before you go or BUY OR BORROW THE BOOK. I noticed some secondary school students looking a little underwhelmed (sure, there’s a lot of exposition but there’s also a lot of action!). There were others in the group who were just as excited as the six year olds, to be part of a pirate story for the afternoon! Remember, neither Matrix nor QTC have messed much with the text so the beautiful, rich (old-fashioned) language has been left alone and begs discussion or a revisit if you’re taking a class.
  • There is plenty of scope for follow-up activities, teachers (and parents)! A study of Treasure Island provides such an overwhelming abundance of rich opportunities for further discussion, play and in-depth learning, stemming from its language, history, geography, technology and design, science and arts… let me know if you need an obscure curriculum link!
  • Have you MYO pirate hat with Thomas Larkin? Get the man a Playschool gig!
  • This Treasure Island is not just for the kids. If it’s coming to a theatre near you, take the whole family. Everyone will love it!
  • You might remember the Disney version?! HO-HUM!

Also on tour for Queensland Theatre Company (until the end of August) is Stradbroke Dreamtime, which we saw at Out of the Box.

07
May
12

Vikram and the Vampire

Vikram and the Vampire

Zen Zen Zo

The Old Museum

3rd May – 19th May 2012

Reviewed by Meredith Mclean

There is one thing I must confess before I say anything about Zen Zen Zo’s production of Vickram and The Vampire. I am not a dancer. I’m not even quite sure I can muster an awkward jig in the public eye let alone on stage. At least not since the day I tripped on my own foot and flailed down a flight of stairs amongst many of my peers circa 2008. But I don’t resent those who know how to command a space with movement. Instead I admire them. To be graceful or fierce just by stirring the body is an art and it makes me smile when I see the right people out there doing exactly that.

Vickram and The Vampire is a fantastic concept for physical theatre. It overwhelms the audience with tales of the ancient Hindu myths. King Vickram is proud, but not entirely wise. Try as he may to take the vampire in a tree he is instead faced with terror in the cunning vampire’s tales.

Laughter is to be expected. But so is astonishment. What is presented to us didn’t rise from any frivolous origin or light piece of writing. Vickram and The Vampire is an adaption, and a wonderful one at that, of studies from a different era. What was originally titled The King and The Corpse is a commiseration between East and West (something familiar to Zen Zen Zo), brewing intricate tales reflecting on the eternal conflict with the forces of evil. It was written by Heinrich Zimmer, a man often quoted as bringing eastern art to western culture and a good friend of the iconic Carl Jung.

Upon linking all of this as it is transcribed to Zen Zen Zo’s stage the parallels are by no means accidental. These collaborators aren’t lost amongst the many theatres Brisbane has to offer. Zen Zen Zo is distinct, vivid and in a wonderfully weird way imposing. Their choreography draws from the culture of Asian dance-theatre bringing a strange feeling of being transported across continents without leaving your seat. These guys perform with energy that I feel needs to be described as drastic. There is urgency in their movement that makes me excited to be there. This is physical theatre in a constantly palpable state of cresting and falling like waves, or beating like drums. You mustn’t question the scheme of Vickram and The Vampire. All you can do is take in each movement of each moment.

The ensemble cast who bring this play to life can be a kaleidoscopic, catastrophic wonder. Then there is hush as they use their bodies to create immaculate emotion if there is such a thing. They move like liquid. As water fills a cup these performers fill each intricate space to portray a role on the stage.

The collective force of the ensemble cast falls into line under the direction of Michael Futcher. I am a firm believer; you could even call me a Futcher Fan. I’ve seen his directorial work in The Wishing Well and The Kursk; which I would gladly see either of them again. In both the aforementioned plays and now Vickram and The Vampire, I have consistently seen his understanding of space and light. His extensive credits in directing roles as well as acting roles only reconfirms this for me.

At first I was simply going to recommend you see this fantastic example of physical theatre that Zen Zen Zo has to offer. However, May 12th is their Gala Night. Zen Zen Zo is inviting you to not only see Vickram and the Vampire but also share a glass of champagne with the director and cast. Take this chance to learn more about the undertones of the play and what happens behind the scenes. If you miss out on this performance I assure you that you will regret it.

14
Mar
12

how much do we love pozible?

If you haven’t come across it already, pozible.com.au is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. It’s how our friends at Joymas Creative partly funded the premiere of Megan Shorey’s original work, One in Seven. It’s how the Melbourne Cabaret Festival is able to continue (fully funded in under 48 hours)!

There are other crowdfunding ventures but we see a LOT of original work that interests us on Pozible. And it seems that the projects are more quickly and more widely shared across social media, meaning of course, that the artists are able to raise the required funds sooner. (There’s nothing scientific in that statement, it’s just what we’ve noticed.)

Pozible from Pozible on Vimeo.

The latest project we feel is important to support is Zen Zen Zo’s upcoming production Vikram and the Vampire

Adapted from the award-winning production of The King and the Corpse, and based on a series of fantastical Hindu tales, Vikram and the Vampire is a magical night of comedy, horror and dynamic physical theatre which celebrates the art of storytelling and ensemble playing.


The exciting cast includes Sandro Colarelli, Bryan Probets, Lizzie Ballinger, Chris Beckey, Liz Buchanan, Lauren Jackson, Jamie Kendall, Earl Kim and Melissa Budd.

Directed by Michael Futcher. Winner – Best Director – 2011 Matilda Awards

 

Where is the money going?
GOOD QUESTION.

Zen Zen Zo are a “not for profit” theatre company. The $3000 raised through Pozible will assist the company in covering production costs, which will greatly enhance the visual appeal of the production. Your money will go directly towards: 


– the hire of a tarkett floor for the safety of the physical performers
– costuming the entire production
– constructing the set 
– transforming the Studio space with a “Burning Ground” installation
– purchasing props for the production

Of course, you can also support the company by booking tickets and helping to spread word about the show! But be quick (opening night is already SOLD OUT)!

If you feel like this production is a cause you’d like to support, head on over to pozible.com.au and pledge any amount. While you’re there, take a look at the other projects and you’ll get a magic little glimpse at the sort of work getting up off the ground with the help of communities. I love this notion, of audience members and community having the option to “buy in”, essentially becoming a producer on the project. It’s a bit like Nuala’s Ireland-Ghana Children’s Project or anything else that asks you to “buy in”. If it suits you, support it. If not, do share the love by telling somebody else how easy it is for them to become a proud supporter of new Australian art!

Book online