Posts Tagged ‘Kat Henry

18
Mar
17

Constellations

Constellations

Queensland Theatre

Bille Brown Studio

March 9 – April 9 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Humans are meaning makers.

Sam Strong, Artistic Director QT

 

You may have had to learn the dance routine slowly and in its component parts, but in the end, you had to let go and dance.

Howard Fine

 

The universe doesn’t care about time…

Kat Henry, Director

 

We have all the time we’ve ever, and never had.

Marianne, Constellations

 

Nick Payne’s award winning Constellations is an extraordinary play, and Kat Henry’s world class production for Queensland Theatre and Queensland Museum (and a major coup for the World Science Festival) is nothing short of astonishing, challenging actors and audiences to truly be present, live in the moment, and make the connections between seemingly random occurrences before opportunities (and loved ones) become lost to us.

Essentially, Constellations is a beautiful and complex love story, but it’s also about the choices we make and the infinite possibilities presented across ‘multiverses’.

Historically, physics has explained time chronologically, as in the “arrow of time”, charging forward in a single trajectory, however; an alternative view sees time as something immediate, infinite, without beginning or end, presenting endless opportunities. In A Time Apart, Paul Chan describes the quality, not quantity, of time as “A kind of time charged with promise and significance.” Upon further reading it becomes clear that the two types of time are entangled and while some may regard time as something to be kept, others derive greater satisfaction in its release…

The creative team behind Constellations is a scintillating meeting of minds, bringing the abstract and complexity of quantum mechanics, string theory and relativity, and the challenges of the unlikely relationship between an apiarist and an astro physicist into a reality accessible to all. (Can you lick your elbow? Try it!).

Within a deceptively simple design lies lots of clues: the dots we connect to make meaning from the play, in the same way, if we’re living mindfully, that we’re able to make meaning of our lives. Anthony Spinaze’s design draws on the visual representation of the scientific theories, the hexagonal spaces of bee hives and a smooth, shiny, deep blue undulating surface, beneath which we sense a tumultuous emotional landscape. At any given moment, the actors appear to be standing in space, or on the peak of a mountain, or within any interior indicated in the text. We are anywhere and everywhere all at once. Spinaze’s aesthetic is one of the most inspired, intelligent and effective designs we’ve seen for a long time, and so useful in terms of giving the performers a real-surreal place in which to play. 

Ben Hughes’ lighting is inherent in the design, built into the landscape and shining like streams of starlight from the wings and the rig above. The side lighting is particularly effective as we settle into the rhythm of the play and watch the relationship dance across various universes, and immensely satisfying is the final effect, covering the floor with the constellations of the title. A swirling black hole exists out of sight and yet right under our noses, continuously appearing in segments during the repeated motifs, the impressive choreography of the performers (how are they finding their marks in the dark?!) incrementally leading Roland and Marianne toward their inevitable fate. Guy Webster’s original compositions and a salient soundscape take this production into another realm, sending us at the speed of light between alternate worlds, poignant moments.

Lucas Stibbard and Jessica Tovey are perfectly cast, generously offering beautifully nuanced, incredibly rich material to one another and making every second vividly real, despite the challenges, which are more often found in film, presented by so much repetition in the text. This play could easily be a disaster of monumental proportions, and boring to boot, but Director, Kat Henry, is in possession of directorial superpowers. She employs a couple of them by crafting just enough of each vignette (we see an extraordinary 59 – or is it 60 – scenes in all), giving the actors clear boundaries, literally, within the space, delineated by lines and light, and also enough space between these boundaries and the actors’ bodies in which to allow them room to recreate each part of the story in a fresh, new way. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like it, certainly not on a Brisbane stage. And the blocking! (Because even within these scenes, driven by impulse, there is a certain amount of direction to get them to where they need to go). 

When speaking about working on this play on Broadway, Jake Gyllenhaal observed, “There’s no moment for autopilot. It demands a constant presence,” and while this is true of every acting job, Constellations showcases the incredible skill and highly attuned instinctual natures of these two performers. To put it in a film context again, it’s as if we’re seeing every single take during a shoot, but every single take is being captured for a different film, depending on the choices made by the characters (and by the actors embodying those characters). It’s next level Sliding Doors. Bravo, Kat Henry, for diving in so deeply. We’re able to plunge the depths of human existence with Roland and Marianne, and come up for air at the end of the night in a state of serene acceptance of the tragic circumstances because, as incredibly moving and devastating as this conclusion is, we completely understand the way everything just is…and always was and always will be.

Whether or not you’re a performer, Constellations is a masterclass in staying in the present moment, applying fearless choices and responding courageously, instinctually and intentionally to whatever’s happening in a given moment.

Constellations is astonishing work; it really could change your life.

Special Event
For two evenings only, do not miss the unique opportunity to attend a performance of this critically acclaimed play, accompanied by an onstage conversation between Constellations playwright Nick Payne and World Science Festival co-founder and physicist Brian Greene.  Following the performance, Nick Payne and Brian Greene will delve into our current understanding of the multiverse, the mysteries that remain, and why this theory captivated Payne’s imagination inspiring this theatrical tour de force. This exclusive event is a collaboration between World Science Festival Brisbane and Queensland Theatre. Book online

 

16
May
12

The Alleyway Project

 

The Alleyway Project

The Alleyway Project

Cradle Productions & The Alleyway Collective

Winn Lane

14th -15th May 2012

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

FULL. ON. SHOW.

Theatre that pushes boundaries…

“Are you sure this is it?” asked my concerned fiancé, dropping me off in front of a grimy looking laneway in the bowels of the Valley…”

“Yep!” I grinned as I eyed a chalkboard sign crudely pointing down Winn Lane, where a mishmash of people wandered wide-eyed into the darkness…

Kissing him goodbye, I joined those heading to see The Alleyway Project, a new work presented by Cradle Productions & The Alleyway Collective and directed by Kat Henry for the Anywhere Theatre Festival 2012. With stories of love, loss and chaos from Brisbane playwrights Dan Evans, Eloise Maree, Dan Maloney and Maxine Mellor, The Alleyway Project was set to breathe new life into little ol’ Winn Lane; turning it into an eclectic performance space full of possibility.

Upon arrival I was welcomed into the atmospheric little space by costumed alley-cats encouraging me to help myself to the hanging casks of goon suspended from the rafters and pull up a milk crate and cushion for my comfort. Half a cup of Sav Blanc and a few ‘cat-mask-wearing’ happy-snaps later, a commotion started up behind me and the show began.

Entering from the street came a disheveled barefoot reveler; frantic and slightly unhinged, he ambled through the audience befriending some and using the bemused expression of others to play out his hysteria. Searching for his missing loafers and recounting a hectic tale of his boy’s night out we soon learnt that despite his plucky exterior, something was fatally amiss. Stripping down to reveal a bloodstained shirt and gradually unraveling to a sobbing heap before us, the audience was left silent and captivated by the spectacle.

The intimacy of an actor in the same space as their audience is often as problematic as it is effective. Despite a few visual restrictions, in this case, it is used to great effect. The familiarity created between audience and actor fostered much needed empathy for the highly charged emotional journey to follow and although extreme, made it more easily digestible through an authentic and honest performance by the actor.

The next performer made a quiet yet strong entrance. With a wonderful feel for language, this tale of unrequited love and gritty lust was both beautiful and grotesque. I enjoyed the audience connection created particularly by the first actor, whose settled performance also showed respect for the rhythm and shape of words as a vehicle for sincerity. I felt this was not executed as well by the object of his affections, Ren, who whilst presenting a wonderfully courageous performance, was outweighed in this respect by her counterpart.  That being said, she brought a wonderful physicality to the role and showed a commitment to character that made for a believable and truthful performance. It was in this scene however, that visually much was lost, as a rather large number of audience members were unable to see the focused performance space and were therefore disconnected from the story.

As the lights went down on this story of young love, we were ushered onto the staircase and told to pack in tight. Like kids at a school assembly, we perched shoulder to shoulder, as fittingly, a chattering pack of schoolgirls came into view. With bra straps showing and all the bravado of youth, this scene held nothing from the imagination as vulgarity spewed from their pink-chapsticked lips in the form of bullying, racism, sexual escapades and even abuse. While this scene had quite a few lighter moments in its characterisation, in reflection it was probably the most affecting.  There was a gravity that was not overlooked as it hinted at abuse and the ability of pop culture to become a tool for its distribution. All three actors gave strong performances that made no apologies for the sensitivity of the subject matter. I particularly enjoyed the Queen Bee and her interpretation of what was a challenging role. Although at times I found the interpretation a little one-dimensional, her commitment to character and onstage energy was captivating to watch. All in all, the three embodied these overtly sexual school-aged characters in a way that left me stunned and wondering if this was a true representation of the sexualisation of high schools today?

The final part of our Alleyway journey came in the form of a scene that I fear may be more common than not in the Valley on a Saturday night. Emerging from the shadows a vomit-soaked couple, interrupted in their moment of passion schlepped slowly into the space. What followed was an amusing conversation about ‘hooking up’, labels, drugs, promises and eczema, providing light-hearted relief to what had been a heavy journey so far. The actors in this scene had a great chemistry that made their interchanges hilariously raw and dreadfully believable. Embodying the stereotypes to a tee, they navigated their way through chunks of vomit and cheesy pickup lines to a place where common ground was found and the nature of a drunken hook up exposed. While often light-hearted, I felt this scene made interesting comment on the casual nature of relationships and sexual encounters within the club scene, presenting without judgment, the gritty underbelly of this side of social culture. It was a fitting and somewhat gross end to what was an exhausting yet enjoyable journey.

Overall, The Alleyway Project is a lot to chew on. The themes presented are shockingly real and hard to swallow in an intimate setting. This however, is also a huge strength of the show and one that I hope audiences do not shy away from. The actors are to be commended for rising to this challenge, as are the writers and director for their courageous choices. The Alleyway Project engagement with the space was also on the whole, highly successful, enlivening the quiet laneway in a manner that enhanced the poignancy of the themes inherent in the material, whilst embodying the true spirit of the Anywhere Theatre Festival.

The Alleyway Project

 

The Alleyway Project

 

07
May
12

theatre anywhere!

Between 10 – 19 May you’ll find new plays in alleys, puppets in bars, cabaret in warehouses, comedy in your home and office and performances you can be a part of online from Texas to London, Hamilton to Toowoomba.

Anywhere Theatre Festival is the brainchild of husband and wife power couple Paul Osuch and Alexandra McTavish. They’re pretty humble about conceptualising, developing and continuing to run the whole thing so when you see them around – anywhere but in a theatre for the ten days between the 10th and the 19th of May – please congratulate them and give them big hugs and a whole heap of love!

N.B. Some shows are already SOLD OUT!

What will you be seeing anywhere but in a theatre???

In the tradition of murder-balladeer Nick Cave, the femme fatales of Babushka invite you into their bloody nightmare to indulge in dark tales of murderous passion, sinister sirens and the infinite beauty of death in the debut season of Where the Wild Roses Grow.
Late night Cabaret at its finest.
DATES: Thu 10th & Sat 12th @ 9:30pm
PLACE: 275 Macarthur Avenue, Hamilton Reach

A family of Gremlins has taken residence in Brisbane. Roxoff, Mofball & Botolf Gromlot are trying to launch their new budget airline and fulfill their dream of flying. Tickets sales are going well, and their maiden voyage is due to take off shortly. There is only one problem….they haven’t built the plane yet.
DATES: Thu 10th to Sat 12th @ 7:00pm & Thu 17th to Sat 19th @ 7:00pm
PLACE: Reverse Garbage, 20 Burke St, Woolloongabba

As a collective the cast and the directors have come up with a collage of 5 scenes exploring life on the brink; public transport, romance, hospital drama and misadventure. 3 Windows will be an excellent opportunity to see Cinematic Theatre for and by Young People at it’s most vivid and vibrant… don’t miss it.
DATES: Fri 11th & Sat 12th @ 7:30pm
PLACE: 37 Manilla St, East Brisbane

Set in the heart of Fortitude Valley, four playwrights turn a dirty alleyway into the legends of nights out – where drunken youth roam free and the pavement becomes a stained and silent tapestry of history.
DATES: Mon 14th & Tues 15th @ 7:00pm ONLY
PLACE: Winn Lane, Fortitude Valley, 4005

 

10 Really Fast Festival Facts

 

1. Brisbane does it first
The 2012 Anywhere Theatre Festival is the only fringe festival in the world for performance anywhere but a theatre.

2. Already the biggest performance festival in Brisbane
The 2012 Anywhere Theatre Festival has over 50 productions and 200 performances already confirmed meaning it has more productions and performances than Brisbane Festival.

3. Attracting interstate and international
The 2012 Anywhere Theatre Festival features 6 companies from the U.K., Two from the U.S., one from New Zealand, Tunisia and France.

4. Brisbane proves it has a depth of untapped talent
Recognised companies such as Queensland Theatre Company and Circa Presents mix with independent and up and coming companies.

5. A theatre festival with performances on Twitter
A mix of international and local performances from streamed international performances to interactive augmented realities.

6. A Brisbane festival from the Sunshine Coast to Perth
Performance locations range from the Sunshine Coast down to the Gold Coast and across to Perth.

7. A two person volunteer team producing the biggest festival in Brisbane 
The festival is organised by a core husband and wife team over evenings and weekends with financial contribution from Arts Queensland.

8. Theatre Anywhere – even in your house
This year theatre anywhere will be taken to the extreme with performances you can book to come to your home or office! Other performances happening in elevators, parks, city cats (tbc).

9. A Brisbane idea to the world
The purpose is to bring fringe festival to everyone, especially to places with a lack of theatres. We are already discussing how the festival can move to regional centres and other states.

10. International institutions want to know how we do it!
Since the 2011 festival we have been asked to advise on how to do theatre anywhere and have an invitation from the Milan Commissioner of Culture to talk as they prepare for their 2015 Universal Expo.

07
Dec
10

The New Dead: Medea Material

I saw 3 shows on the weekend so I’ll tell you a bit about each one, over two posts. If I tell you a lot about any one of them, I will come across as being completely impossible to please. Wait. Too late?!

The truth is I am more easily pleased than you would think.

If a production delivers all it has promised to deliver, I’m a happy camper (and by “promised” I mean promised by the media too, inclusive of press releases and the early/out-of-town reviews. And by “camper” I mean theatre-goer, except when, once annually, I actually mean “camper”; the Woodford Folk Festival variety). If not, that is if it doesn’t deliver, I have to wonder why not.

For example, the show I saw on Friday night at La Boite – the last show of their Indie season this year – failed to deliver, despite being touted as one of the must see shows of 2010. In Brisbane, at least. And it should be noted that The New Dead: Medea Material came to Brisbane after seasons at NIDA (2009) and the Adelaide Fringe Festival (2010).

Kat Henry, Director and Artistic Director of Stella Electrika, has an impressive body of work behind her and a whole host of exciting projects ahead of her. I had (very) high expectations of her show.

Heiner Muller‘s text is extraordinary. I wanted to hear it more clearly and react to it more extremely. I wanted to be shocked and horrified and, well…SHOCKED. But there was all this stuff that got in the way of me feeling anything much besides a kind of fascination in the result of the creative process.

We know the story. The story is shocking. It was entirely appropriate to tell the story through a combination of electro-rock-pop-or-something, theatre and dance. It felt like there were many tricks tried and many attempts made to shock –  in fact, just about every device known to theatrical mankind was used, though rarely to great effect. The anime porn, for example, flickering across the screen, was a distraction and what’s more, it was completely superfluous. Guy Webster and Kimie Tsukakoshi had already demonstrated their ability to morph into dancers and I was baffled as to why, as opposed to sitting still and posing, locking eyes only, while the anime figures onscreen made a mockery of their passionate gaze, they did not use their bodies in some Matrix-cum-Karma Sutra inspired porn piece! Was that just me?

For Lucinda Shaw, despite her apparent energy, the show seemed to start half way through it, with the commencement of her stand-up routine. Even then, she took a moment to settle into the accent and never seemed to quite settle into the routine. It was a clever device that didn’t quite work because she appeared to be uncomfortable in it. In fact, she appeared to me, to be uncomfortable from the beginning of the show, with her anxious, frustrated scratching and scoffing of corn chips. In class, I refer to this style as “anxious, frustrated acting” (Julia Roberts’ name often comes up at this point) and I challenge actors to find a more organic, interesting state of being. Interestingly, this role was played originally by Emma Dean.

I loved that Kimmie’s role required her to skate (though, for what purpose, across the space to start? To show us that she could skate?) and dance around a pole a bit BUT – and it’s the same point – why include it if it can’t be convincingly used? USE the pole! The routine was lackluster, underestimating (I’m betting) Kimmie’s ability. Regardless, if Jason were the man I thought him to be (no, not Bernie from Powderfinger, though you would be forgiven for thinking so), he would have left the drum kit for dust and fucked her right then and there on the floor. I’m sorry but there it is. Or was…not. SHOCK VALUE.

The device that really worked for me was the video footage (captured by Alex Duffy) during the final moments of the show, it’s an oldie but a goodie; it made the final horror all the more horrifying. Truly chilling, as it ought to be. Now, THAT is the kind of challenging theatre I had been expecting to see – and feel – all night.  That reminds me…watching Guy watching the screen at this point and earlier, watching him watching Kimmie across the space, we saw his best work; he was focused, connected and he was real and vulnerable.

In short, I didn’t feel that the characters were completely developed, nor that they had any real or lasting connection with each other. Having said that, all three actors are clearly multi-talented and did well to wade through all of the excess, all of the tricks…I’ve even thought of Barnum since.

The clever ideas in this production were like red weed, growing and spreading uncontrollably over everything that was good underneath. I wanted to see more of the good, organic stuff. I wanted to see a selection of the devices used to enhance the text, rather than distract from it.




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