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22
Jul
13

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.

 

GOLD COAST

The Arts Centre, Gold Coast

 

STRAND ONE – MAINSTAGE
Tues 30 Jul, 7pm
Wed 31 Jul, 7pm
Thurs 1 Aug, 7pm
Fri 2 Aug, 7pm

 

STRAND TWO – WILDCARDS
Sat 3 Aug, 7pm
Sat 3 Aug, 7pm

 

BRISBANE

The Loft, Kelvin Grove

 

STRAND THREE – MAINSTAGE
Tues 20 Aug, 7pm
Thurs 22 Aug, 7pm
Sat 24 Aug, 7pm

 

STRAND FOUR – MAINSTAGE
Wed 21 Aug, 7pm
Fri 23 Aug, 7pm
Sat 24 Aug, 3pm

 

GALA FINAL
Sun 25 Aug, 3pm
Sun 25 Aug, 7pm

22
Jul
13

Little Orphan TrAshley

 

Little Orphan TrAshley

Brisbane Powerhouse

17 – 20 July 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

Direct from a sell-out season at Sydney Opera House, the writers who brought you the smash hit Fat Swan (Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott) team up with acclaimed director Craig Ilott (Smoke & Mirrors) to give you this uproarious new spectacle with an all-star cast.

 

Ashley stars as little orphan Fannie, a ten-year old with a terrible secret… one she can’t even share with her inmates at the Sutherland Shire Girl’s Orphanage, let alone the bad-tempered showbiz has-been who runs the place: the drunken Miss Trannigan (Rhonda Burchmore). The truth is: Fannie is not yet all woman. But, to get her gender reassignment surgery, she’ll have to find her true birth parents to get their permission.

 

Luckily for Fannie, she meets acclaimed photographer/multimillionaire Daddy Warhorse (Gary Sweet) who promises to sponsor her! But can she survive a rigorous set of blind auditions, a very ‘arty’ photoshoot and an appearance on evil controversial talk-back radio personality Ellen Jones’ show before she finds her parents?

 

To make her wish come true, Fannie may need more than just her trusty ex-sniffer dog Bullshit (Rhys Bobridge).

 

Well, you might have LOVED this show. I’m happy for you #winning

 

Let me know in the comments section below what it was you loved (as opposed to telling me what you think I should already know about my lack of knowledge, experience, tact, etc, etc when it comes to reviewing theatre).

 

I really wanted to love this production. I’ve missed previous TrAshley shows but I was looking forward to seeing this one. I had a ball live tweeting the show (I’ll add those Instagram pics later), but I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I’m surprised that something so unpolished has had some of the rave reviews it’s had. There is such a wealth of talent involved in this production but sadly, very little of it manages to cut through the crass humour and faltering pace. It could be that the brand of humour is just not my cup of tea, but even so, I expected a higher standard across all departments, regardless of personal preference when it comes to comedy.

 

Do you know what this show was? (An industry peep who shall remain nameless said it was a train wreck!). For me, it was one of those really bad parties (you know the ones, you’ve been to them too), when someone who is not the most popular person in the building invites everyone around after work on a Friday night and you go with some colleagues and a couple of add-ons because there was nothing else planned, but there’s no footy on, and they haven’t tidied the house, or planned any party games, or offered the first drink, and they’ve shopped at Coles on the way home with a budget of $32 for chips, cheese and crackers for 30 people (can you even GET chips, cheese and crackers for 30 people for under $32?). While this scenario would make a decent play, the feeling during the show that I was AT THAT AWFUL AWKWARD PARTY did nothing to convince me that I was experiencing the same show I’ve heard others go wild about!

 

Of course I was there with my social media hat on, having been invited to a lovely little pre-show soiree by the fast-moving folk in digital marketing at Brisbane Powerhouse. My feedback to them was not really for them (other than that they put on a lovely little soiree), but for the performers; if they’re going to announce before the show that they’d like us to turn ON our mobile phones and tweet the night away, they need to pause for a moment longer in those wonderful camp poses so we can get great, clear shots to post! It’s a great idea, and opens up the discussion on the merits (and annoyance to other patrons) of Tweet Seats at performances, particularly at performances of this nature. Social media loves the shock value. The Brisbane Powerhouse team are way ahead on so many counts, but I hope they have some better quality fodder to throw at us next time. Or a whole lot more champagne.

 

It goes without saying that if something sells out at the Sydney Opera House you’re gonna’ wanna’ bring it to your venue, but I fail to see what’s so appealing about Little Orphan TrAshley. It failed on so many levels for me, and I don’t think it’s useful to anybody to say otherwise. If I did, it would be a case of supporting and condoning the mediocre in a country that is renowned for its cabaret. Yes we are, indeed! So how does a show like this get let loose on the unsuspecting public? I DON’T KNOW. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW. IT FASCINATES ME. It’s different to just not being blown away by a great show (case in point: Mrs Warren’s Profession & The Maids. No, I haven’t written about them yet). So. Oh dear. Here we go. Here’s the break down:

 

  • the premise is tres amusement for a moment and then IT GETS OLD
  • the set actually looks CHEAP. This may well be the intention.
  • the lack of improvisation skills baffles me. A simple encore of the opening number would have saved everybody – performers, crew and audience – the uncomfortable two and a half minutes on opening night of microphone lead or pack probs, or whatever it was that made us all squirm uncomfortably while a techie adjusted something beneath Burchmore’s skirt. That’s right. And yet nobody on stage or off had the initiative/training/experience/forethought/improvisational skills/confidence to call it. EXCEPT THEY ALL HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THOSE SKILLS/QUALITIES. They just stood there looking embarrassed. Oh, and in the middle of all that awkward silence TrAshley acknowledged via his working mic, “Well, this is fucked!” BIG MISTAKE. I’m afraid I lost a lot of respect right there. Even in community theatre THE SHOW MUST GO ON
  • the jokes are bad. Really bad. Like, think of the worst racist, misogynist dad joke you’ve ever heard and multiply that by about 100 you-can’t-laugh-at-that groans, and that is ALMOST how poor the comedy is. I was expecting trashy AND witty. I was genuinely surprised when people laughed.
  • pedophile jokes – and worse, characters that are built upon them – are never funny

 

Bobridge and Burchmore both did their best to save the night, almost succeeding on a number of occasions, but even his chap-clad buttocks, cheeky grin and spot-on moves, and her sass, self-deprecating humour and supersize talent wasn’t enough to win me over. 

 

IS IT JUST ME? It might be. And that’s okay. I know TrAshley has a huge following already, and some of the dedicated fans were obviously glad to have caught this Brisbane season. They weren’t disappointed at all! But I bet anybody in the audience with a good, slick, sophisticated and intelligent cabaret show ready to go will be wondering WHAT THE HELL DO WE NEED TO DO TO GET A SIMILAR TOUR UP?! 

 

If Meow Meow is the Queen of Cabaret in this country (and she must be), why aren’t more artists aspiring to be like her? And by “be like her” I simply mean writing and producing cabaret shows that are slick, sophisticated, intelligent, funny and completely gorgeous. (I’ve seen a few lately that could do with the hype that comes with TrAshley, but deservedly so). Meow Meow’s shows are the best parties in town. Let’s have more of those.

 

03
Sep
12

There’s no time to sleep! It’s September!

la soiree

FAST Festival  |  Brisbane Writer’s Festival  |  Brisbane Festival

That’s right. Spring has sprung and it’s Brisbane’s festival month.

I hope you’ve caught up on some sleep because September just went to ludicrous speed!

During Brisbane Festival’s fabulous opening weekend, I’ll be flitting between the Brisbane Writer’s Festival, La Boite & QUT Creative Industries’ FAST Festival and the Brisbane Festival events. If you want to keep up, follow XS Entertainment on Twitter and Instagram (whilst at ludicrous speed, there will be no #photoaday for me this month!).

Brisbane Festival unveils huge opening weekend line-up

Brisbane Festival (8-29 September) begins this weekend, its biggest, longest celebration.

On Saturday 8 September, free entertainment will start from 4.30pm in the Queen Street Mall and Reddacliff Place with two live music stages, then crossing over to South Bank, at 5pm an Indigenous ceremony will fill the banks of the river with music and atmosphere.

Spectators should then stake out a good viewing spot for the first showing of the new Santos GLNG City of Lights presented by Events Queensland at 7pm – a choreographed music and light spectacular with water features shooting 60m metres in the air from 30 metre towering structures on the river, and lights and lasers from barges and rooftops.

Santos GLNG Lounge at South Bank Cultural Forecourt will be buzzing with atmosphere, food and beverage outlets and unique installations, including the multicultural, multi-coloured Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden and a giant disco ball between the QPAC towers.

Festival goers can stay in the Lounge for further showing of Santos GLNG City of Lights at 8pm and 9pm, or take in some of Brisbane Festival’s fantastic opening night shows.

In The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent, international cabaret sensation La Soirée will amaze, amuse, appal and arouse audiences with burlesque-circus-cabaret shows at 7.15 and 9.30pm, while DJs will take to the stage from 11pm to keep Brisbane partying into the night.

Featuring the stars of the Olivier Award-winning La Clique, La Soirée has brought the house down everywhere from New York to Paris and London to Montreal, selling out every night.

At QPAC, the world premiere of S by internationally acclaimed contemporary circus company Circa will show at 8pm.

In 2010, the Brisbane-based ensemble premiered the global phenomenon Wunderkammer at Brisbane Festival and went on to tour Berlin, London, New York, Paris and Montreal to unanimous rave reviews. This year, S promises to raise the bar even further for the world of contemporary circus.

For those seeking an alternative experience, Brisbane Festival’s program for independent artists will also get started on Saturday 8 September with a cutting edge music night courtesy of Lofly Records and curators Happy Endings outside Metro Arts on Edward Street.

At South Bank Cultural Forecourt, Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre will perform Life In Miniature, a contemporary dance work set in a 1970s caravan driven to Brisbane from Perth, while another reality of Brisbane will be presented at Still Night, an imaginative lecture with a twist by talented artists from the UK and Italy.

In other corners of the city, at the Judith Wright Centre Dancenorth will perform their work Mass, which is inspired by natural disasters in Queensland, and at the Brisbane Powerhouse a ‘Literary Love-In’ will wrap wordsmiths and bookworms in its embrace.

After a huge opening night, Brisbane Festival goers can chill out with a Sunday program featuring daytime jazz and an evening performance by Indigenous icon Archie Roach at The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent, and a matinee featuring the world famous Vienna Boys Choir at QPAC.

Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Noel Staunton said his ambition was to make Brisbane to stay up past its bedtime throughout September.

“This year South Bank will transform into the beating heart of Brisbane Festival with stunning light installations and endless opportunities for families to come early, grown-ups to stay late, and for audiences to see multiple events within one precinct. Don’t miss out,” Mr Staunton said.

Brisbane Festival is an initiative of the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council and runs from 8 to 29 September 2012.

For more information visit www.brisbanefestival.com.au

Tender Napalm