Posts Tagged ‘La Ronde
Tags: Acting, Actors, Confidence, Dressing, Erotique, il secondo, Independent Theatre, La Ronde, M1 Function Rooms, Nudity, Performing Arts, Preview, Sunshine Coast, The Sydney Fringe Festival, Tony Kelly, Undressing, White House Celebrations
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…
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!
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.
I don’t know.
It’s a mystery.
Tags: Acting, Actors, Crack Theatre Festival, Directing, Director, Erotique, Fractal Theatre, Independent Theatre, La Ronde, Process, Producer, producing, Rehearsal, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Sydney Fringe Festival, The Secret Love Life of Ophelia, Theatre, Vision
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
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?
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.
Tags: Acting, Actors, Adaptation, Character, Comments, Confidence, Directing, Director, Discussion, Documentary, Ethereal Productions, Independent Theatre, La Ronde, Leah Barclay, Noosa Arts Theatre, Performing Arts, Process, Rehearsal, Sam Coward, Sunshine Coast, Theatre
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.
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.
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:
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?
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.
After a sell-out season in Noosa, the Mooloolaba season of La Ronde is SOLD OUT
Ian Mackellar, General Manager of The Noosa Longweekend, sent this little note to Sam. And was happy for us to share it with you.
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.
Contrary to popular belief, being The Director’s Wife is not an advantage during the production process, in fact; it’s quite the opposite. I have found, several times now, that it is in fact, a distinct disadvantage to be married to the director. It doesn’t make the casting process any easier and if cast, it means a roller-coaster of a ride ensues! Nancy Allen recognised it long before I did! She and Brian de Palma divorced in 1984.
As well as trying to manage – wait, let’s just say find a reasonable balance between – the home, the theatre, the husband, the daughter, the work, the errands, the sanity (the list goes on)…one must also take on the following roles:
Sam: Hey honey, what if everybody is made up like in Rocky Horror?
X: Um. No. It should be beautiful, not grotesque.
Sam: Right. Okay. So everybody will be made up like in Rocky Horror…
(Late night Google Girl)
Sam: HONEY! Can you get off Facebook and find all the adaptations of La Ronde and who did them and when they were done?
X: *opens new tab*
Sam: Baby, do you want coffee?
X: *saves draft and gets up to make coffee*
(Human Answering Machine)
Everybody, every time they call: “Hiiiiii! How are yooou? Goood! Goood! So…is Sam there?”
X: *has already walked to where ever Sam is and handed him the iPhone*
Sure, I know, the director’s focus should be on the show. He has every right to live and breathe it, think and talk about only it, relate everything to it and take notice of how everybody else feels during the process, not to mention plan way ahead in case it takes off and tours the world…but only if he is unmarried. If you are the wife of a director it will drive you MAD.
Or it will drive you to come up with an Oscar winner. Just sayin’.
N.B. I have to include this because it was inspirational in the development of Scene 2. And because sometimes I feel like I’m being flung about, physically and emotionally, just like Ms O’Connor, both on stage and off (though she is much more elegant and beguiling and beautifully, delicately damaged than I and also, I tend to exaggerate for the sake of the story).
I love my husband.
Sometimes he remembers to tell me later, long after the rehearsal or the performance, that he loves what I’m doing. Other times…he is busy reminding somebody else to resist changing anything after Opening Night, or helping to strike the mirrors or, a week ago, twice (this is true), on the iPhone doing a radio interview instead of the usual morning coffee. He didn’t even have a coffee in hand! Now, I know there’s a multi-tasking issue there too…but there’s something a little amiss about this picture from the outset. You should know that Sam doesn’t skip that first coffee of the day for anybody. Suddenly, during this rehearsal period, he’s omitting it from the routine in order to gesticulate and concentrate on what he’s saying live to air before 9:00am! Unbelievable! I feel duped! I have been led to believe, for all these years, that my husband simply cannot function in the morning without coffee. Or sex. Or, preferably, both.
Don’t try to tell me that we are not, each and every one of us, completely and inexplicably, obsessed with our art.
We have at home, a little pre-cursor to every conversation. It’s quite simple and I think you’ll find, if you employ a similar measure in your own happy/unhappy home, it’s a strategy that aims to clarify and appease at the base level of every marriage and/or working relationship. I think, like most obvious solutions, we stumbled across it right before a
shouting match conversation over coffee. I simply enquire as to whether I am being consulted as The Wife, The Cast Member, The Mother or The Social Media Marketing and Publicity Officer. I cannot help but think of Ko-Ko advising The Mikado.
Disclaimer: It was completely unnecessary to post all of these clips. Part 3 is the relevant, albeit slightly obscure reference, pertaining to an advisory role. But are they not delightful? Was this production not pure delight? Have you not enjoyed the little break from living and breathing and reading La Ronde?! Ladies and gentleman that was interval. And now it’s over.
Aside: My music theatre and operetta loving siblings and I watched this production over and over for years! It must have been shown on the ABC and my music theatre and operetta loving father must have recorded it on a video tape. That’s right. It was the eighties. It was VHS.
Right. What was I saying? Oh yes. I don’t always feel that I am in the best position to advise the director. I feel conflicted. No, not afflicted, conflicted; there are conflicts. Sometimes I try to be the objective Wife With Nothing to do With the Show. And then as The Director’s Wife who was Cast in the Show and Accepted the Role Against Her Better Judgement, I argue the point that will invariably make or break a scene.
Sometimes we actually agree.
After a questionable start to our scene work (he wanted me to be pathetic. I wanted to win a little bit), Sam has trusted me implicitly in the development of my character and he has, as part of the process, allowed me opportunities to explore possibilities and approaches to my scenes that were not obvious to him at the outset. Of course I share his vision; we all do, after just 8 weeks, rehearsing only in our pairs and fitting rehearsals in around our work, friends, family and other “real life” commitments, as we do when we are not making an income from this theatre thing. We are a close-knit little company now, having collaboratively re-written and re-shaped a good 60% of the original text. And having pulled an all-nighter to film the production for the documentary.
My interpretation has always been swayed by the desire for beauty to have an emotive effect on the audience (I’m a bit old-fashioned and feminine that way), as well as the need to portray my character as someone with stronger and more intriguing qualities than just those of a long-suffering victim (I’m a bit contemporary and feminist that way). Sam has wanted the physical,emotional and intellectual power play within each vignette to achieve the same results, challenging viewers to really feel something, even if they are unsure about what it is they are feeling. Originally, Sam wanted my character to come across as genuinely pathetic and without any power at all, just by the end of the scene with Shane. He wanted to save my “win” for the following scene. I argued the point with the same stubborn resolve I was looking to find for the character…and I hope I’m now getting across a win – of sorts – because my objective throughout has been to get him to love me. And I have to believe that he does.
I think that, almost by accident, we found that in my scene with Sharon, our different approaches amounted to the same thing. My objective would be the same: to get her to love me. But Scene 3 was always intended to be The Beautiful Scene. We were told when cast that having a relationship outside of the theatre was going to prove to be either a complete disaster or the best thing for us. For some reason, this comment infuriated me and I thought at the time, “What a ridiculous thing to say! What does he mean? This is Freudian! This is code! This is excessive use of the exclamation mark! He knows Sharon and I will be fine. He’s actually referring to our marriage and this show will be the end of it after all” (I’m a bit melodramatic that way).
The truth is that my husband, The Director, realised at some point (I don’t remember when, I blocked it out; there were tears) that he had been directing me very differently, communicating with me differently to the way he communicated with the other actors…because I am his wife. He was over-compensating and speaking to me more harshly because, for some reason, I should know better. Or he should set an example. Or something. Of course, being his wife, I should be able to read Sam’s mind. I should have somehow absorbed, perhaps through osmosis, his preferred creative vision and direction for me. Oops. My bad.
Another thing. Very interesting. Because I am The Director’s Wife, Shane was hesitant at first about really working our scene. From his perspective, having never worked with Sam before, he had a really scary scene to do! He was pretty reluctant to viciously and violently overpower me, throw me to the floor and carry out a simulated rape…in front of my husband. Once we had convinced Shane that I was fine with the evil intent and the physical nature of the scene (and that Sam and I had experienced this very issue before, when I was Fantine on a stage in Mt Isa) we came up with a terrifying encounter, which makes it relatively easy for Shane to fearlessly assault me and for me to show real fear, leaving the audience cringing and me shaking. I will save the breakdown of my substitution, inner objects and the moment before for another time, like, for the launch of my posthumously-published memoirs…
So anyway, before we had Leah Barclay‘s stunning original score, this was the inspiration for Scene 3. Simple. Whimsical. Beautiful. I insisted on using it to underscore the scene during rehearsals, until we had the actual piece, written by Ms Barclay in India and sent to us via email, after just one meeting with The Director, during which he described the mood and movement of the scene.
It seems Sam and I approach the work, like marriage and like raising a child, very differently sometimes. Sometimes the fact that we disagree is what works, forcing us to reconsider our perspective and our respective priorities. And sometimes it’s a matter of just knowing when to choose our battles. It’s just marriage, after all.
There are also times when, despite my best intentions, passion and dedication; I’m just an ordinary housewife and mother and The Director’s Wife is just another multi-layered part to play. And there is really very little acting involved.
** I play The Maid both on stage and off.