Posts Tagged ‘La Ronde

09
Jun
18

Wheel of Fortune

 

Wheel of Fortune

Metro Arts & Tam Presents

Metro Arts Lumen Room

June 1 – 9 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

 

LOCAL, NAUGHTY AND FUN.

Tim Hill, Director

 

Highly anticipated, Troy Armstrong’s Wheel of Fortune, directed by Tim Hill, promises the real and scandalous, weirdly erotic, ugly, obscene, beautiful, strange and sometimes disturbingly lustful adventures of several individuals during the heat and humidity of a Brisbane summer, and at times it delivers. It could be heralded as the new La Ronde if it had that seminal play’s wit, eroticism and intrigue. This production, and all of its potential, will have been embraced by those who support our local talent without question and by those who know little of the original text. Penned in 1897 by Arthur Schnitzler, it was immediately banned due to its controversial content, addressing the spread of venereal disease through all levels of society at a time when those in positions of privilege and power believed themselves to be above infection, responsibility and reproach. The stories are updated and localised, and despite feeling a little outdated at times, at the core is the connection between characters; think one degree of separation and the mysteries of the multiverses.

 

 

 

Wheel of Fortune’s form is beautifully supported by its cinematic component, placing the intertwining tales squarely in Brisbane. Optic Archive’s AV contribution here is integral; we see locations and characters on screen before any live action takes place below it. The transitions are well rehearsed with timing almost perfect. The show must have been a nightmare to tech! Interestingly, the preferred option to address the more delicate aspects of the script appears to be a big-screen, super-soft-porn approach, with the steamiest action taking place above the stage. A post-crossfit shower scene is actually about as steamy as it gets, but perhaps there is more in other scenes for some, and it’s likely that the actors have embraced racier moments with more gusto as the season continued. In spite of Richard Jordan’s involvement – I’ve really loved his writing in the past – it all feels a little overwritten and obvious (the other writers are Jacki Mison & Krystal Sweedman). Most scenes lack nuance, pointing to each hot topic and then pointing again in case we missed it. There’s a distinct lack of electricity in the air, and very little bare flesh, even when a scene begs for it. No, I don’t want to see gratuitous nudity for the sake of it (we’ve had to address that before, haven’t we?), but I won’t object to the beauty and sensuality of bodies on stage should the material and a sensitive director, respectful lighting, and the acting chops of the cast support its inclusion for good reason. 

 

 

So. Schnitzler’s soldier is made a marine (we can tell, because Richard Lund wears blue jeans, white shirt and dog tags, and speaks with what he claims/explains is a Tennessee accent), the prostitute becomes public servant (Meg Bowden), the parlour maid an au pair (Jacqui McClaren), and the young gentleman a schoolboy (Brendan Lorenzo). His biology teacher is the original young wife (Jacqui Story), and her husband the lawyer (Ron Kelly). His mistress, Schnitzler’s Little Miss, is referred to as the socialite: AKA Social Media Influencer/Collaborator (Ruby Clark). Clark is cute and funny as she casually climaxes at the dinner table and just as casually seduces another woman in the following scene, but like Story, the new wife, in both the gym and at home, she’s dressed in the most unflattering and ordinary sexy lingerie we’ve seen on stage in a long time. Having weaned our Sunshine Coast and Brisbane audiences off modest attire for the stage a decade ago (thank you, Honey Birdette), I wasn’t the only one on opening night wishing we could go away claiming to have been a little more voyeur than viewer, however; of course there were others who were completely happy with every aspect of the production, including the everyday briefs and bras on display. And yes, of course there are times when the most ordinary can be made extraordinary and no, this was not one of those times.

 

 

 

In the most naturalistic and welcome performances of the night, the poet is made portrait photographer (Elise Grieg) and the actress stays an actress (Veronica Neave), to be caught out by the end with the count cum politician (Stephen Hirst). Grieg and Neave demonstrate with ease exactly the style and sensibilities we wish could be so natural for every other performer on the intimate Lumen Room stage.

 

 

 

 

My experience of this production can be considered fairly biased but unfortunately for those involved, it’s not in their favour, because one of our first sold-out shows on the Sunshine Coast was an adaptation of La Ronde, re-staged in a surf shop in Mooloolaba after its Noosa season (long before Anywhere Festival arrived on the scene) and followed by original works, Erotique (Noosa Long Weekend Festival, Sydney Fringe Festival) and Diabolique (Noosa Long Weekend Festival). The beauty of all three productions was that the director didn’t shy away from the really dark, disturbing aspects of human nature, successfully balancing these moments with wry wit, black comedy and unnerving silences, and added Leah Barclay’s incredible original musical compositions to evoke mood, which was necessarily nightmarish or desperately sad at times.

 

 

What I love about Wheel of Fortune is that it’s brought so many of our newer heads and hearts together, without masses of money or the allure of a bigger venue and a broader audience, the very things that can so often see the artistic vision compromised before it’s realised. Here we see accomplished actors and relative newcomers working together in one of the most supportive spaces in the city for new work, and we see the creative team, steered by Armstrong, working collaboratively to offer something new and exciting to a younger demographic, and with a particularly local flavour. The best advice I was ever given in terms of seeing and considering work was to see everything. That way – we hope – a singular opinion has at least a little credibility to it, and the work is supported, whether or not we are all in agreement about its impact.

 

Wheel of Fortune enjoys its final performances at Metro Arts this weekend. You should see it. 

 

Production pics by Deelan Do

24
Aug
10

The Sydney Fringe: In 18 Sleeps!

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

New Musings from The Director

This post dictated by Sam Coward, The Director, as he sits in an antique chair in his mother’s house, in which we too now reside. Two weeks ago, the universe decided we were needed here. So here is where we are.

Amidst a period of utter chaos, unmatched in our existence, XS Entertainment is forging ahead with preparations for The Sydney Fringe Festival (tickets have gone on sale today)! Somehow, we still seem to be on track. How? I don’t know! It’s a mystery!

Cast – check

Flights – check

Accommodation – check

Sets, Props, Costumes – check. Almost. Sort of. Well, not really.

We have faith that the theatre gods will smile upon us and allow us to create the next chapter of La Ronde…

How?

I don’t know.

It’s a mystery.

After two sell-out seasons of La Ronde, it is hard not to be complacent about our capabilities. A quick reality check reminds me of the work required to make each of these creative ventures successful. Maybe I’m being over-confident or maybe I have sublime confidence in my cast and the people around me. My system has worked thus far so why would it not work again?! Having said that, never before has my system had so many external factors impacting upon it!

What doesn’t kill us doesn’t kill us.

Three scenes are in tact and the remaining three are in various stages of development. ie I have to write them. We’re trying some new stuff, some different stuff, whilst trying to re-capture the magic that was La Ronde. It’s always hard bringing in a new recruit and it’s always challenging to work into the show, the physical changes of certain cast members…and into the schedule, sufficient time to satisfy her pregnant cravings!

It is also noteworthy to mention that there has been an air of expectation about the new context. We have previously worked within the perceived conservative boundaries on the Sunshine Coast and now I have to wonder…is it even necessary to alter what worked? Will the fringe audiences be any different? Isn’t each audience different to the next, regardless of the town they’re in? Does that mean we should spice it up for them? Because we have a pre-conceived notion that they must want “more”? There’s an element of if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it but there is also an expectation about the big city and what may be needed in order to make similarly sized waves in a slightly bigger pond. However, the show has never been about shock or gratuity so why would it be about those things now? I think I just answered my own question. Rather than changing anything to suit an unknown audience, perhaps we continue to focus on the vignettes and the talents and generousity of the cast, in order to deliver a spectacular piece of sexy theatre. Tell the stories.

We have airfares to get to Sydney and a roof over our heads once we get there. All we need to do is put on a show, right? Easy.

Do a bad show and we’re remembered for the wrong reasons. Do a mediocre show and we fill our spot in the program. Do a great show and we may well be on our way…

The most important thing at this stage is that I rebuild the team. Whilst the individual rehearsals were great, it was the coming together of the company that brought about the original success of this show. The timing in which we bring everybody together, to bond and learn to trust each other again is crucial. Even fitting in the individual rehearsals, while we attend to the other demands in our lives, has been far more challenging this time. This week and the last have been complete wipe outs. As things settle down here, we will find the ways to work again. The show must go on! BUT, as my wife reminds me daily (she is aptly re-named The Friend for this new version of the show), sometimes there is life to cherish first. Live the life, cherish the moments and the show will somehow survive (and grow and endure) simply because we, and those we care most about, continue to live.

How?

I don’t know.

It’s a mystery.

13
Jul
10

The Sydney Fringe – Suck it and See

Here are the recent shows, which I would normally, however I will not this time, write about:

  • The Nambour Show, now known as The Sunshine Coast Show but really known for never being anything BUT The Nambour Show
  • The Noosa Longweekend
  • Kidz on Broadway
  • Anything Goes
  • Tender

Here’s why…

You may have heard. We are off to Sydney! We have accepted The Sydney Fringe Festival‘s invitation to share with their festival audience in September, a more intimate version of our sell-out show, La Ronde. Re-named and re-configured to better suit the requirements of the festival and its more liberal audience, Erotique will see six dedicated actors and their fearless leader/director fly in and out of the big smoke for just four performances. Of course, it would be nice to duck over to Montreal first but August is flat out here. Maybe next year! As you can see, my head has been full of festivals (how ABOUT that Montreal one)?!

Also, real life has gotten in the way of writing regularly. Sad but true. It seems Ms Virginia Woolf was right (in fact, I have never doubted her); one does indeed require a room of one’s own in order to write. Let’s see how far we get tonight then, shall we?

Husband and Director, Sam Coward, updated his Facebook status today to reflect his currently conflicted state of mind.

Directing is creating…..Producing is destroying!!!!

I’m sure the producers of the world will have their differing views on that. I disagree purely from a financial point of view. If I had the money, I would be able to produce whatever I wanted, using whomever I preferred, wherever I desired. Sam says I could also achieve this by being Queen of my own country. Whatever.

As a director without the capital to make bigger dreams come true, producing is, in a sense, destructive. Changes and compromises can’t be avoided. A smaller, less costly variation of the show must now travel, bump in to a new space, bump out and have pleased (or not) audiences outside of the local area, where we enjoy the support of friends, fans and family. The prospect of taking our baby outside of our warm, sunny, coastal comfort zone is frightening! Overwhelming! But it must be done to serve our souls!

So. Just so you know. We have re-cast the role of The Poet and re-named him The Boy. Unfortunately, we lost Nathan to PAID ACTING WORK. Yes, it’s true. It exists in this state (and just across the border, apparently) and he nailed it! As you might imagine (or not) there was quite a lot of interest in the role. The successful candidate was, serendipitously, available to take on this new challenge now, when he had previously been unable to consider even auditioning for the show. This time, the time was right for Ben Johnson.

We met the other night. Production meeting/dinner party, of course; similar to the last one. N.B. No cameras. Oh, and no voice. That’s right. The universe is obviously trying to tell me something. More on that later. All new key people were present at this event, except for Ms Mary Eggleston, who is currently rehearsing with the re-formed Fractal Theatre, The Secret Love Life of Ophelia. DON’T MISS IT.

There are some major changes. We have cut Scenes 1 and 2 and scenes 9 and 10. We are yet to write the new final scene, Scene 6, which involves The Boy and The Friend (previously known as The Maid). They will cross a boundary in their relationship that has already sparked raucous debate amongst the cast.  Clearly, we all feel very strongly about the place of sex in a relationship between a man and a woman.

N.B. While my husband may agree with Harry’s sentiment, for the record, I’m not agreeing entirely since I happen to have always had Sally-type-just-friends-men. My husband says I’m naive and in a permanent state of denial. He has had quite a lot to say tonight!

Anyway, I hear you ask; why did we not write the final scene already? Well, in continuation of a truly collaborative process, we didn’t try to write anything new without the new cast member’s contributions. You might remember that this is how the entire script was re-interpreted, by the actors and director, as we rehearsed. Currently, that cast member, Ben, is in Melbourne. He doesn’t get back to the Coast for 10 days. We will be in Sydney in about 60 days. Sam, Ben and I will write our scene as we rehearse when he returns. Intense, I know. Exciting, isn’t it?

Then there is the re-write, which also involves Ben-who-is-currently-away and the lovely Kay, whom you will fondly recall, was The Girl. She will remain known as The Girl but she is now The (expectant) Girl. I’m sure she won’t mind me mentioning this because the joyful news helped us to decide to keep her on board and re-write her scenes, rather than write her out of them. The first of her scenes will be beautiful, the second horrific.

We always thought La Ronde would have a long life. We were determined to give it life somehow, somewhere, in some manifestation. Of course we cannot forget that we also have over 100 hours of footage, including the HD footage of the entire show, shot from 3 different angles with which to to play, thereby legitimising the work and giving it some permanency in the market place…er, once we can view it, edit it, produce it and distribute it (and assuming we have determined our market)! Perhaps it is fair to give Newcastle’s Crack Theatre Festival a shout out at this point! They have invited Sam and I to discuss, as part of a panel of artists, the pros and cons of theatre-making on the Sunshine Coast. It is part of the TINA Festival and we are very much looking forward to mixing and sharing perspectives and strategies with other struggling artists!

So. It seems that people outside of our little local region, at least in Sydney, are interested in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

It’s so sad that we are not taking with us, the entire original cast and the show in its original form (and by ‘original form’ I mean our original form, not Schnitzler’s). I’m so grateful to have had such a bold, brave, creative cast and crew to start with. The success of a project is its people, is it not? How lucky we are to have had friends – old and new – drawn to us just like that, at Sam’s invitation to “come play” and, trusting him, join us at work on this little project that does indeed have a life beyond two Sunshine Coast seasons and a hard drive full of footage!

Erotique will be seen at The Sydney Fringe Festival for 4 performances only.

19
Apr
10

Remembering La Ronde

by Carly Partridge

Disclaimer: I have had writer’s block (yes, I know what they say about writer’s block) and insomnia (writer’s block and insomnia? Are you kidding me?!) and a seriously debilitating headache since Sunday (without having had a single drink after the last show – it’s quite unfair) as well as new musical theatre students to teach (with a three year old in tow) SO…I asked the multi-talented members of the cast to write something if they so desired, now that we have come to the bitter-sweet end of this incredible little La Ronde journey.

Except that it’s not the end. It’s just the end of this little bit.

The Actress and The Poet by Kaela Daffara

La Ronde, ah yes I knew it well; for me it started on the introduction night when Sam shared a few of his visions. I came along already excited about the story and left that night with a “must get a part in this or die” attitude. It was already in my blood and I thought of it constantly until the auditions and once again this was like nothing I had experienced before: a workshop audition that was being filmed. The first of many film experiences and I think the fabulous relaxed attitude of Dutchy and his very ameniable nature made him like part of this very new atmosphere of theatre and rehearsals, not to mention being accompanied by his beautiful and talented wife Evita, who made any interviews comfortable by just chatting with a friend.

Rehearsals again, very different from the norm, for me it could have been a play with 3 characters; myself the actress and my beloved and beautiful lovers Nathan the poet and Tim the judge, for these are the only people I saw for the first few weeks, apart from a crazy ‘malelike’ version of myself, maybe a little wilder…let’s call him the director . I think in my first rehearsal, Sam pulled his pants down and walked around in his underwear, and being new to his style of direction , kind of took me off-guard! But how quickly I adapted to this new world and loved every second of it. Closer to the show date, I did find out in fact that there were 7 other actors in our play! (seriously though, we had only met as a group once before we all went our own ways until couple of weeks before opening) and funnily enough when we did all get together it was like we had been like this from the beginning and it was to become a very closeknit “family” from then until the last show in Mooloolaba and I daresay forever, as we all did experience something very very special.

I loved everyone involved, all talented, fabulous human beings. Sharon, Megan, Nathan and Shane, with whom I have worked before and they are all special memories and now to have worked with Xanthe, Mary, Kay, Tim and Steven have just created more happy times for me to remember when I finally get old?!?? As if!!! Also, to work at Noosa Arts again is always a pleasure and Margaret, George, Susan, Nelson, Andrew a great time again. Margaret you’re a whiz, who thought that corset could hold my stomach in for the whole show??!!

The new ones backstage Mel whom I adore, Tom crazy Tom, the stunning Kaela and talented Wayne. Also, a special mention to gorgeous Ben, who helped out at Mooloolaba. Bizarre times on a bizarre show – I don’t think waiting to go onstage will ever be the same again! Leah Barclay whom I only met a few times, wow, what a very talented lady, with these haunting melodies that will stay with me for a long time.

Finally, Sam, thankyou for casting me in this wondrous, exciting and innovative creation. Loved it and love you.

The Judge and The Actress by Kaela Daffara

14
Apr
10

The Mechanics of Undressing – Part 2

By Sharon Grimley

So, to date I have undressed publicly at least 12 times (excluding rehearsals, over the past 2 months).  I still have at least another 2 performances to go before our first season is complete – I say this in hope of a second season materialising – and I, and the Socialite, am surprisingly comfortable disrobing for an audience.  Sure, there is still the frisson of excitement when I remember that my audience don’t expect this, as I remove my peignoir and camisole, but any reservations about appearances have melted away.  I am just doing my job.

However, it struck me over the last few weeks that other people’s reactions to my doing-what-I-am-doing, in the name of theatre, are widely varied.  And this puts me in mind of a memorable question from an authority from my past, Professor Julius Sumner Miller:

“Why is it so?”


What is it about a body?

We all have one.

Most people are equipped with one of two variations on the bits attached to them.

So what makes people fearful of it?  OR more particularly, fearful of seeing someone else’s?

Nipples?

REALLY?


The reactions I have encountered are as follows:

Ignore – “If I don’t mention it, it isn’t happening.” – a response common to conservative friends and parents-in-law

Awe – Being a “woman of a certain age”  …I rather like this one!

Curiosity – “What does she look like?” “Does she look like me?”  “Does she look like I imagined?”  “ Is she going to take it…..oo, yes, I think she’s… oh my god, she’s really going to take it off!”

Fascination – “I expected to be confronted, but found myself mesmerised instead.”

Disgust – OK, I made this one up.  Not to date anyway (or to my knowledge, anyway).

Seeing another person’s body is not something we are culturally equipped for.


At the beach or in television shows or in magazines or in billboard ads (OK, everywhere), we seem to deal with various degrees of undress, but seeing another REAL human naked RIGHT UP CLOSE is something often associated with private and intimate relationships.

Isn’t it right then that, in a play dealing with sexual relationships, some degree of nudity would be appropriate and genuine and integral?

Oohhhh…. it’s the SEXUAL relationships they don’t want put under scrutiny, yes?  And the icky, uncomfortable, basic, not-for-public-consumption feelings they get when they see someone else undress…

Or worse still, that they might never be able to look me in the eye again.

The Maid and The Socialite

After a sell-out season in Noosa, the Mooloolaba season of La Ronde is SOLD OUT


02
Apr
10

A Note from the GM of The Noosa Longweekend

Ian Mackellar, General Manager of The Noosa Longweekend, sent this little note to Sam. And was happy for us to share it with you.

Dear Sam,

I wanted to touch base and congratulate you on La Ronde.

I had the opportunity to be part of the Preview night audience and came away feeling I had been privy to something very “special”. Actually, I came with no expectations and left feeling nourished and replete.

The way in which you have approached the work displayed great sensitivity and panache and I found myself enthralled from beginning to end.

After the performance, I was asked by several people my thoughts and I replied, “I would like to just take it away and sleep on it.” To be honest, I really just preferred to stay within my own space for a little longer and savour what I had experienced, without having to vocalise.

I was really very impressed your treatments to specific vignettes, some of them simply beautiful and other moments; humorous, revealing or simply shocking. An overriding sense of, no matter what had been portrayed, presented and/or revealed, it was done with a sense of dignity and grace, simply and sensitively reflected, whilst maintaining a sense of tastefully handled (no matter the subject matter).

As Director, Sam, you could have chosen a multiple of ways to present La Ronde. For me, it was presented with dignity and grace, humour, pathos and empathy and I applaud you for choosing this road.

Although I found myself immersed in all scenes, two stood out (for me).

The Maid and The Socialite – for me, this was sheer bliss – perhaps it was due to no dialogue (apart from the final line delivered by The Maid).

With the portrayal of these two female characters, I found myself being transported into another world and as I sat and watched, my imagination took me to a wondrous place.

I found it all really quite beautiful (and humorous and coquettish) and the lack of dialogue simply enhanced these moments for me.

The other scene that I found superb was the bedroom scene between The Husband and The Wife. The way in which this was presented and the mastery of your choreographed movements between the two actors was simply the best thing I have seen in a very long time…very clever and intelligently reflected.

I don’t want to pick favourites, as all scenes had something to offer, however; I was absolutely captivated with this bedroom scene 100% of the time.

I believe it has been repeatedly said, “A well chosen cast reflects a successful outcome” (said in a thousand different ways and languages). To this end, the casting was razor sharp. Not a single character was out of place. Casting in the case of La Ronde was quite exceptional and I congratulate every member of the company, for stellar performances under your guidance.

The music was hauntingly beautiful and a masterpiece unto itself.

In closing, may I just say, it was indeed a pleasure to experience La Ronde on so many levels and I salute you and your astute assessments, Sam, in directing and moulding this work into something. You and every person associated with this production should feel justly proud.

I personally wish you and the ensemble every well-deserved success, which may flow from your production of La Ronde.

Congratulations.

Regards,

Ian Mackellar