Posts Tagged ‘loco maricon amor

18
Nov
12

Steven Mitchell Wright: Children of War

Children of War

On Friday night at La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove, an epic theatrical event took place.

 

The Danger Ensemble’s production – La Boite’s final indie installment of the year – Children of War opened.

 

We asked Director, Steven Mitchell Wright, a few things about theatre, life and art…

The world is no longer safe from art

 

Can you tell us about your new production, the epic mythical mash-up, Children of War

The work is a part of a larger play cycle that Chris Beckey and I have been collaborating on since late 2009, We have been drawing on different sections of The Illiad and The Orestia across 3 different projects, In God We Trust, i war and Children of War. This particular section of the story investigates the lesser known characters on both sides of the Trojan War. To say that seems almost a blaspheme, that is to say that, that is certainly where we started, but the life of the work has developed it’s own voice, Chris Beckey has shaped the work in a way that sits in a timeless space, the innate history and passion embedded in the myth collides headlong with the brevity and energy of today.  
 
The work is huge, it’s completely unashamedly epic. It has to be. In a lot of ways it is a departure from the kind of work people expect of me as a director and expect of us as a company but we never promised anything, we allow works to find their own voice and that voice dictates the form and style of the work.

What inspires you to imagine such stories and variations on stories? 
 
As a company, we pursue relevance and excitement, I think the fundamental question of why? why this story? why now? why these actors? why this space? why bother? It’s those questions that drive the variation on the stories we explore, it’s about aggressively pursuing the now and the why.
 
Your dreams must be in vivid colour! What’s your process and approach as a director once you’ve seen the possibilities of an idea? Can you describe your directing style?
My directing style is probably best described as a combination of giving the actors and creatives a lot of freedom to discover their voice and reasons for doing the work and then a demanding exactitude for detail and clarity of choice after that exploration has completed. On the floor I am, quite extreme, I find myself going from very quiet and internal to extremely animated. When the energy in the room is working I often find myself pacing or swaying.
 
Children of War
Do you bring the actors or the creative team in first? 
 
Actors, I always begin with actors in the space. Whenever possible. It goes back to that pursuit of relevance. I think the voice of the work has to be found through the actors before it is shared with anyone else. I look for the heart of a work through the actors choices and instinct.

You are up to some more incredible things next year, which we are not allowed to talk about yet! What can you tell us about, in terms of upcoming projects/ambitions/ideas?
 
Ha! I can’t say a lot about next year, except to expect two new works from us. Both very different to each other and again different from what we have produced this year. In writing this, I realise just how different the works are, one is very much about reality and real-real life and the other explores more fantastical and escapist ideas.
Do you think it’s a responsibility of the artists to experiment in form, content and delivery? Do you think this is happening enough (in Brisbane, in Australia), and what is it that helps to grow audiences (in Brisbane, in Australia)?
 
I think it’s a responsibility of artists to continue to build our culture, to broaden our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in, I also think it’s our responsibility to respect audiences enough to challenge them somewhat. To assume that an audience is not ready for experimentation is simply patronising. I think all work is in a way an experiment, there is a hypothesis entering and sometimes a conclusion drawn at the end of it all. I don’t believe all artists need to be overtly experimental, they need to service their work and they need to speak to an audience.
 
How do you wind down after a show (each night and at close of season)?
 
Often very briefly, this year has been insane and by the end of the season we are usually already in rehearsals for something else. I’m actually fairly terrible at taking down time but I’ve been working on it, I’ve been spending more time with friends, music and vodka. I struggle to wind down because I find the energy of a work has a roll on effect for me, I am motivated by it and it drives me into the next thing. I am aware that this isn’t sustainable long term though, so I’m aiming to catch up on cinema, television, books, music and lovers over Christmas.
Children of War
 
What are you reading?
 
The Bible, actually…
 
What’s on your playlist a) in the rehearsal room b) in the car c) in the kitchen at home?
 
Godspeed! You Black Emperor is a staple to my life. Children of War has forced me to listen to a lot more Ke$ha and T-swizzle (Taylor Swift) than ever before.
 
For my enjoyment I’ve been listen to Fleetwood Mac (I got kind of obsessed with them during Loco Maricon Amor), Mirah (recently introduced to me), Amanda Palmer’s Theater is Evil album (which is a nice departure from her other stuff, has a depeche mode kinda vibe) and The XX’s new album (which I don’t love, it feels like a sequel to the previous album…)
Children of War
 
Who would you most like to work with one day and why?
I would love to collaborate with a lot of musicians, A Silver Mt Zion and The Faint spring to mind – I’d love to make a musical with them. I’d love to collaborate with The Blondes on a show. I would LOVE to work with Pamela Rabe and Paul Capsis. Jan Fabre. Michel Gondry. Lars Von Trier. The list could go on.

What strengths have this current group of performers brought to the production? 
 
The actors are amazing. They are actually just incredible. I am not going to say much more. Come see it.
Children of War
 
Do you seek out specific feedback from those whose opinion matters to you? Throughout the process? How does that help or hinder the process?
 
It depends on the process, sometimes, with this project I did. Sometimes, I don’t feel ready for people to see the work until we are in the theatre and with all the elements in place. Often when devising and presenting from a devised space without a scripting process, I don’t bring people in.. when working with a script I feel more comfortable bring people in to give feedback. It’s about energy, it’s also about where the actors are at. 
With what will Children of War leave us? Are there lessons for us?
 
I don’t believe in telling anyone what they SHOULD leave a work with, I know what I see and find in the work, and I know how I’ve shaped the work and I know what the heart of the work is at – I don’t really believe that my role within theatre is to teach the audience anything. There is a lot in the work and I suspect different people will find different things. If people are engaged, if people are moved then I have done my job.
 
An incredible opportunity exists for performers, writers, directors and teachers to take part in an upcoming workshop with The Danger Ensemble’s Artistic Associate and the writer of Children of War, Chris Beckey, who will lead participants in consideration and exploration of topics relating to his work as a writer with The Danger Ensemble and Vanguard Youth Theatre. Be quick and book or miss out!
COST: $50 (Full) $20 (Concession) or $10 for patrons who have already purchased a ticket for Children of War (14 Nov – 1 Dec)
LOCATION: Theatre Rehearsal Room, Judith Wright Centre Level 3 
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, 27th November from 4pm – 6pm
23
Aug
12

Loco Maricon Amor


Loco Maricon Amor

Loco Maricon Amor

Metro Arts & The Danger Ensemble

Sue Benner Theatre

17th August – 1st September 2012

Let me go. Let me go. Let me go. Let me GO. Let me GO.

LET ME GO. LET ME GO. LETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGO. LET ME GO.

 

process. exploration. repetition. inspiration. revelation.

 

“I’m an actor. I am Death speaking.”

This show should be your drug of choice this month. See it as often as you can before September 1st. Seriously. You cannot OD on it. Go and go again.

The first point of exhilaration and confrontation is a stark white set, flooded with bright white light (and later, the spectacular states of Tecnicolor a la Ben Hughes); it’s like nothing you’ve seen before in the Sue Benner space and it’s brilliantly conceived by Xani Kennedy. Then, in the same moment of perception, within that space, the strange, surreal setting created by black lace and leather clad actors seated or standing in their various poses, wearing ladies’ shoes, regardless of gender, and waiting. Against a blank canvas. Waiting for…something. For life to start. For a brush to be raised. For a story to be told and for the time to come when it is their turn to step up and play their part in the telling of it.  The atmosphere is arresting; like the perversity of The Rocky Horror Picture Show…if it were to happen in a Frida Kahloesque Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s perfect!

 

 

I’m immediately struck by this picture and then by the extraordinary vocal work that happens next. It’s out-of-this-world strong. And aggressive. And seductive, all at the same time. These figures suddenly sing at us, as if possessed by a creature of the night, some poor soul who has been left behind in the Manhattan apartment of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (incidentally, the show enjoyed a three week return run in NYC, at The Secret Theatre in July this year. When and where, I wonder, will we see it here? Oscar Theatre Company, I’m lookin’ at YOU!). The vocal work is extraordinary not only because of its quality and consistency throughout the show but also, because the director and the company members have worked themselves on their vocal arrangements and delivery, rather than inviting an outside MD and perhaps a Vocal Coach to work with them. This is self-sufficient theatre making at its most successful and The Danger Ensemble’s model is one that we are beginning to see more and more signs of. Thank goodness for that. It’s the ensemble philosophy that goes something like, “Just get the thing done and go on creating.” (I love also, the notion of the person closest to the broom does the sweeping but more on that in another post). It’s what we all need to do more of, leaving no time to lament the changes that a change in government has brought about or wonder whether or not we are making “good” art or “bad” art or the “right” kind of art. It was Brian Lucas, currently working on the return of his original work, Performance Anxiety, who reminded me that it is imperative to just get it done.

 

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

― Andy Warhol

 

Loco Maricon Amor

 

The non-storytelling that follows – the retelling of vague thoughts, memories and passionate feelings – reveals to us the imagined extremes of the torrid relationship between Federica Garcia Lorca (in perfect contrast to the inestimable Caroline Dunphy’s predatory Gala, we see a beautiful, quietly sexual being in Thomas Hutchins) and Salvador Dali (Chris Beckey at his most bemused and confused best. We do love this Dali.). The actors who play these fascinating men create an entire world, purely for the purpose of us understanding their story, in which they exist together, exclusively, outside of convention, tradition and expectation. Their relationship speaks volumes about the collision between Tragedy and Surrealism; a conflict that Director and Designer, Steven Mitchell Wright, has explored in this production to the nth degree.

As a director, Wright says he is “interested in moving away from ‘naturalism’ and ‘realism’ and moving towards a new form of storytelling (or non-storytelling) specific for our culture.” This approach means we are re-entering the realm of experimental theatre, a term that Wright is proud to reclaim. He explains, “Experimental in the sense that the work is an experiment, that there is an hypothesis behind the work, that the success or failure of the experiment is not measured in terms such as good, bad, like or didn’t but…in the experience created by the work, in the reaction each element within the experiment has to each other.” The audience is the final variable. He wants us to react.

And react we do. There are gasps and lots of laughter. A sense of wonderment and intrigue pervades. Our senses (and our sensibilities) are struck upon time and time again. Dunphy gives us her gorgeous, glamorous Gala, in all her formidable glory and Lucy-Ann Langkilde, Polly Sara and Bianca Zouppas confront us with a Greek Chorus that seduces, amuses and terrifies us, much like the lovers we had and had to dispose of just as hurriedly as we’d found them. Each as terrifying as the last and so good – and bad – for the soul!

Peta Ward, as Moon, almost turns this piece on its head, playing beautifully (delightfully, hilariously), in and out and amongst the meta-theatrics, challenging us to reconsider our perceptions of theatre and the nature (and purposes) of storytelling. She’s the delightfully subversive force that, were it a classroom, you would rather be rid of it/her (or at least have her medicated so you can get on with the work!). However, her comical character reveals much of the fun and mischievous intent behind this work and this production could not do without her, nor would it be what it is without the additional element, which I won’t give away, suffice to say that it’s crazy colourful and sensual to the point of almost becoming a gorgeous distraction from the action; enough on its own for actors and audiences to revel in. (But I’ve sworn not to reveal the secret ingredient! Let me know if you work it out!). Props must go to the hardest-working stage manager in town, Candice Diana and her team, for THAT cleanup each night!

Loco Maricon Amor is a long, desperate, passionate embrace, intriguing and difficult to become untwined from. Dali clings for dear life and Lorca allows it, perhaps even enjoys it (at times, its difficult to tell and I think this is the idea. Is he experiencing rapture or slight annoyance and fatigue? Or self doubt or disappointment? I thought of Stephen Schwarz’s Pippin, who is asked at the end of the show by Catherine, “How do you feel?” and having settled down with her, after experiencing everything there is in the world, Pippin replies, “Trapped.”). We are never caught between Lorca and Dali; we remain quite outside of them, always looking into their world rather than becoming immersed in it. We are happy to be the voyeurs, instead of getting any closer to the action (be a bit wary of getting too close; those wearing white or dry clean only garments should stay out of the front row!). In the intimate space, the proximity to the actors, their unfaltering gaze and their commitment to the tale will unnerve you and also, serve to confirm your suspicions that these are some of the most courageous risk-takers and makers of theatre in current contemporary performance circles. Steven Mitchell Wright has a big, bold vision of what theatre is and he ain’t afraid to show it, in the broadest of brushstrokes. This show, in whatever form it may take next, should go everywhere and be seen by everyone. This is how we just get it done and continue to reinforce what art – that vital life force, the life of the party – can be. More of whatever THAT is, please!

Loco maricon Amor Chris Beckey

27
Apr
12

seeking brave vocalists

Image by Morgan Roberts

The Danger Ensemble are seeking two female, trans or drag actors of any age for upcoming !Metro Independents surrealist-tragic-cabaret

Loco Maricon Amor

Major commitments for the work fall between June and August.

This is a profit share production. The company is seeking brave actors with singing experience interested in experimental work and devised-collaborative process to join an exciting team of actors Chris Beckey, Caroline Dunphy, Polly Sara, Peta Ward and Thomas Hutchins.

To express interest please email steven@dangerensemble.com with a CV, headshot or photo.

n.b. technical singing training is not needed but being able to sing is essential.