Posts Tagged ‘matilda awards


oops! …I did it again!


oops! …I did it again! I wrote something that somebody didn’t like but this time I wrote it without checking my facts and I’ve been corrected! (Once I wore a red catsuit too, it was velour and not pretty like Britney’s PVC. In fact, I wore it on a number of occasions and there were always a number of women who visibly recoiled every time they saw me coming in that outfit but I’M NOT APOLOGISING FOR THAT).







You might not have noticed that occasionally somebody comments on this blog. And you would be right to let it pass you by, I know; you’re busy. However, this one is too important and it would be remiss of me to not mention it.


In my last post I told you that La Boite Theatre Co was MIA from the Matilda Awards and that simply isn’t true. AD David Berthold couldn’t be there – we knew that – and so, making an appearance instead, was GM Rhys Holden and a few other staff members. I’m sorry I missed seeing you there, guys!


I take full responsibility for misleading you, if you too were under the impression that La Boite was not represented at #matildas13 supporting industry friends and colleagues. Sometimes, perception is reality, but this time my perception was WRONG. BLOGGER FAIL.


My sincere apologies to La Boite and also, HAPPY DANCE! Because #mtcCock


SEE YOU THERE! (Yes! Make sure I see you there!).




2013 Matilda Award Winners


Last night at QUT Gardens Theatre, the Brisbane theatre industry  gathered to celebrate the work of the city’s creatives (sans La Boite – OR SO I THOUGHT – #perceptionisreality). Almost everybody else seemed to be there and if you were not, if you felt the need instead to stay at home in your pyjamas, you might be feeling a bit silly today because you probably realise now you missed a really good night!


The Matilda Awards are bigger and better than ever.


Michelle Xen and the Neon Wild


I haven’t been attending for 25 years, just for the last few, so I can only say that at least over the last three years the evening has been a delightful one. It’s lots of fun, and it’s an ideal opportunity outside of opening nights to mix with the best in the local biz.


Special guests, James Stewart and the Hon Ian Walker (who got in the best line of the night!) were joined on stage by hosts, Ivan and Juniper AKA Dash Kruck and Emily Burton, who scooped the pool at The Matildas in 2012 for Benjamin Schostakowski’s quirky show A Tribute of Sorts, which we’ll see next at QTC’s Bille Brown Studio in May. BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DEVASTATING DISAPPOINTMENT!






I believe I missed dinner with the committee in the city after the awards (sorry folks, I’ll look forward to seeing you next at our first meeting for 2014), but being a school night after a massive weekend, in order to appear just as bright and energetic today, we had to shuffle off home to the Sunshine Coast #xsneverstops






Congratulations to all Matilda Award nominees and winners, and thank you to the committee for your work!


Best Mainstage Production:
1001 Nights, Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Music Festival and Brisbane City Council in association with Zen Zen Zo
End of the Rainbow, Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC
*Tequila Mockingbird, shake + stir and QPAC
Venus in Fur, Queensland Theatre Company


Best New Australian Work:
*1001 Nights, 
Michael Futcher and Helen Howard (adapters)
Katherine Lyall-Watson
Tequila Mockingbird, 
Nelle Lee
This is Capital City, 
Sandra Carluccio


Best Independent Production:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble
A Tender Thing, Full Circle Theatre
*Motherland, Metro Arts and Ellen Belloo
This Is Capital City, Sandra Carluccio and La Boite Indie with the support of QPAC


Best Male Actor in a Leading Role:
Bryan Probets, Tequila Mockingbird
*Dan Crestani, 1001 Nights
Michael Croome, A Tender Thing
Todd Macdonald, Venus in Fur


Best Female Actor in a Leading Role:
Barbara Lowing, The China Incident
Christen O’Leary, End of the Rainbow
*Libby Munro, Venus in Fur
Margi Brown Ash, The Wizard of Oz


Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role:
Anthony Standish, End of the Rainbow
*Hayden Spencer, End of the Rainbow
Ross Balbuziente, Tequila Mockingbird
Zac Kelty, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role:
Barbara Lowing, Tequila Mockingbird
Johancee Theron, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
*Louise Brehmer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Tina Torabi, 1001 Nights


Best Director:
Andrea Moor, Venus In Fur
David Bell, End of the Rainbow
*Michael Futcher, 1001 Nights
Rob Pensalfini, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Best Design (Set and costumes):
*Angel Kosch, costume design, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Bill Haycock, set design, 1001 Nights
Freddie Komp, set design, A Tender Thing
Simone Romaniuk, set design, The Pitch and The China Incident


Best Technical Design (Lighting, multimedia and sound design):
Ben Hughes, lighting design, 1001 Nights
Ben Hughes, lighting design, Mother Courage and Her Children
Guy Webster, sound design, Venus In Fur
Marcel Dorney and Steve Toulmin, music composition and arrangement,Prehistoric
*Phil Slade, musical director, 1001 Nights


Bille Brown Award for the Best Emerging Artist:
Belinda McCormack, designer, 1066: The Bayeux Brought to Life
Johancee Theron, actor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
*Sandra Carluccio, creator, This Is Capital City
Shannon Haegler, actor, Tequila Mockingbird


Best Musical or Cabaret:
Blood Brothers, Harvest Rain and QPAC
Next to Normal, Oscar Theatre Company and QPAC
The Lady of the House of Love, Metro Arts, Queensland Music Festival and Brisbane City Council
*Rumour Has It: 60 Minutes Inside Adele, Judith Wright Centre and the little red company


Gold Matilda Awards went to –









2013 Groundlings – the people’s choice Queensland-made theatre awards


I’m a bit behind the eight ball but I think it’s important to post here, albeit a little late, the winners of The Groundlings, Queensland’s only people’s choice awards for Queensland-made theatre. Thanks to Kate Foy and y’all had the chance to nominate and vote for your favourite productions from last year. Did you nominate? Did you vote? The facts and figures to come out of the wash up are fascinating. Check them out here.


Are there any surprises here for you? Better make sure you get your vote in next time! And next up?


Proudly supported by Arts Queensland
and Brisbane City Council



Monday 10 March
6:30pm for a 7pm start

Gardens Theatre,
George Street, Brisbane City

Hosted by 
Dash Kruck & Emily Burton

Entertainment by
Michelle Xen & the Neon Wild

Special Guest Presenter
James Stewart (Packed to the Rafters)

Michelle Zen and the Neon

We met Michelle Zen and the Neon on The Mystery Bus at Woodford! #woodford2013



2013 Groundling Award Winners –



Outstanding Contribution by an Actor: Nick Skubij

Body of Work includes Animal FarmOut Damn SnotTequila Mockingbird

Outstanding Contribution by an Actress: Barbara Lowing

Body of Work includes The China Incident; Tequila Mockingbird; Motherland

Outstanding Contribution by a Director: Michael Futcher

Tequila Mockingbird

Outstanding Contribution to Set Design: Josh McIntosh

Body of work includes Out Damn Snot; Blood Brothers; Tequila Mockingbird

Outstanding Contribution to Costume Design: Simone Romaniuk

The Wizard of Oz

Outstanding Contribution to Lighting Design: Jason Glenwright

Body of Work includes Oklahoma!Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside AdeleAnimal Farm

Outstanding Contribution to Sound Design or Composition: Dane Alexander

The Wizard of Oz, Motherland

Outstanding Contribution to Multimedia Design: Luke Monsour and Ray Pittman

The Empty City

Outstanding Contribution to Innovative Theatre Practice: Dead Puppet Society


Best New Play in an Inaugural Queensland Season: Tequila Mockingbird by Nelle Lee

shake and stir theatre company

Best Production: Motherland by Katherine Lyall Watson Directed by Caroline Dunphy

Ellen Belloo

Best Musical Theatre Production: Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele Devised and Produced by Adam Brunes and Naomi Price

the little red company

Best Co-Production: The Wizard of Oz (Maxine Mellor principal writer) Directed by Steven Mitchell Wright

the danger ensemble, La Boite Theatre Company, and The Brisbane Festival

Outstanding Contribution to Queensland theatre: shake and stir theatre company

for its contribution to theatre education for young people



Don’t you just love to get a glimpse inside someone else’s head? Here it is, for the first time in four years, the Ed’s Choice –



Bea Pontivec in The China Incident.

In a year notable for some thrilling performances by women, I found it hard to choose but finally it is Ms Lowing’s extraordinary creation of Bea Pontivec that gets my pick. I noted at the time it was “… a tour de force by an artist at the top of her game.” I still think this.

The Gentleman Caller in The Glass Menagerie at La Boite Theatre

Not one of the big roles in this or in other plays during the year but in one of the classic supporting and absolutely pivotal roles in modern drama Mr Curtis gave a “relaxed, pitch-perfect performance,” giving sense and substance to a character often passed over in Williams’ play.

DIRECTION: Caroline Dunphy for Motherland.

Shaping a new play, one with multiple characters and casting, and a narrative that crosses temporal and spatial planes in a confined space – surely more than enough of a challenge for a director – but Ms Dunphy’s secure grasp of the shape and tone of the text was also superbly translated on to the tiny stage at Metro Arts.

COSTUME DESIGN: Simone Romaniuk for her always beautifully rendered, sensitive designs.

Venus in Fur; The Wizard of Oz.

SET DESIGN: Penny Challen for The Glass Menagerie.

Ms Challen’s bold and definitive design caught the tone of the production superbly.

SOUND DESIGN OR COMPOSITION: Gordon HamiltonThe Glass Menagerie

Thrilling stuff this – “the composition and sound design slices and rearranges fragments of other times’ moods and melodies.”

LIGHTING:  David Walters MotherlandEnd of the Rainbow

One of the most experienced, accomplished, creative and innovative lighting designers working anywhere in the world.

Motherland by Katherine Lyall Watson

Beautifully written and expertly crafted, a gem of a play that weaves the epic and the personal and creates the kinds of roles actors long to play.

Motherland by Katherine Lyall Watson Directed by Caroline Dunphy

“This lovely ‘anti-epic’ – production is enormously accomplished, and the intimate tone at its heart fitted so beautifully into the little black-box of the Sue Benner Theatre at Metro Arts.”

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Adele’s songs are brought to life by Naomi Price ”with heart and soul and terrific technique.” It’s “an extended monologue that feels like a conversation with friends … irreverent, deliciously wicked, funny, mouthy stuff … ”


The independent theatres and their makers, the dreamers and doers who are the lifeblood of our community. Thank you!



Matilda Awards 2012 – Winners Announced!

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Congratulations to the 2012 Matilda Award nominees and winners, announced last night at Gardens Theatre to an audience of 350 theatre makers, by the hostess with the mostess, ADELE aka the extraordinarily talented Naomi Price, who boldly and brassily managed to mention aloud every possible aspect of local industry that would ordinarily be left unsaid, leaving the crowd in stitches!


We also heard from the Minister for the Arts, Ian Walker (“He’s already doing better than the last one ’cause he’s fucking HERE!”), Cr Krista Adams, and the inspirational, incomparable Caroline Kennison about her win over breast cancer, and the women who continue to inspire her. I cannot begin to describe to you the feeling in the room when Caroline was introduced, suffice to say the room filled with love and admiration for this woman. Similarly, when Helen Howard and later, Margi Brown Ash took to the stage to accept their awards, the generous applause and vocal appreciation for these extraordinary women was overwhelming. Of course the guys received no less love, and it was rather special to have the Bille Brown Best Emerging Artist Award added to the mix, with Lizzie Ballinger being the inaugural recipient.



Big props to Rosemary Walker and the Matilda Committee for putting on such a great show – it gets better and better each year – so that we can come together and celebrate our theatrical community in style!

In the past, the Matilda Awards have battled to be taken seriously and, although they are still so obviously Brisbane-centric, it’s also true that a lot of the best work is happening in the city. If it’s not, it needs to be, in order to be seen by the Matilda panel, and arguably, by the more discerning audiences. Regional theatre makers, you know it’s always been so, so if awards and the street cred that comes with them now are important to you, you’d better get your show on the road and into a Brisbane theatre.



Bryan Probets


Simone Romaniuk


Helen Howard

David Walters

Margi Brown Ash





Best Mainstage Production
by Queensland Theatre Company


A Tribute of Sorts

Best New Australian Work
by Benjamin Schostakowski



A Tribute of Sorts

Best Independent Production
by Benjamin Schostakowski


Dash Kruck

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role
in A Tribute of Sorts


Emily Curtin

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role
in A Tribute of Sorts


Bryan Probets

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role
in As You Like It


Louise Brehmer & Luisa Prosser

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role
in Thérèse Raquin


Therese Raquin

Helen Howard

Best Director
for Thérèse Raquin


Simone Romaniuk

Best Design
for Kelly

Lizzie Ballinger

Bille Brown Award: Best Emerging Artist
for Thérèse Raquin


Roxanne McDonald

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Career Achievement Award




shake & stir 1984


shake & stir theatre co.

QPAC Cremorne 

August 16 – September 1 2012


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




And by Big Brother, of course I mean George Orwell’s and not Network Ten’s. Written in 1948, Orwell’s prophetic horror story of a state’s absolute power over the individual, in the current political climate, feels more relevant than ever.

I missed shake & stir’s production of the multi-Matilda Award winning Animal Farm last year. There have been many times since then that I’ve thought to myself, “Self, you really should have seen Animal Farm last year.” Now, after experiencing their faithful adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 (like Animal Farm, it’s the first theatrical adaptation of the novel in this country), I can honestly say I intend never to miss another main stage show from shake and stir.

This is a relatively young company, as far as main stage experience goes. Education Queensland accredited, they are more often seen in our schools. (Well, in those schools smart enough to book them well in advance). Their current touring show, Statespeare (“studying Shakespeare suckeths”), has been nominated for a coveted Helpmann Award. Not only that, but through their connections with students and teachers along the way, I ‘reckon shake & stir theatre co. receives more feedback via social media than just about any other Brisbane-based theatre company. The larger companies can learn from these young guns, a thing or two about the power of Instagram! I expect to see them on Pinterest next! With their increasing presence across the state and online, and with this powerful production, impressively staged in QPAC’s most intimate space, the Cremorne Theatre, shake & stir have become the company to watch.

Under Michael Futcher’s intelligent and daring direction, this show is flawless. Futcher has missed none of the powerful motifs from the original, horrifying novel, beautifully translating to the stage, the fear of rising power that, at the time, Orwell sought to warn readers about (he feared the lengths that Spanish and Russian communist governments were prepared to go to, in order to gain control of their citizens would catch on in the West). We feel the threat of oppression and absolute control by a totalitarian government that monitors its citizens 24/7. In Oceania, even thoughts can be crimes.

As we enter the theatre under a couple of rather intimidating searchlights and sit down before an immense wall of television screens sporting the eyes of Big Brother, we sense that all is not well. Understatement of the year? Perhaps. There is a distinct air of foreboding. The impressive digital display is built into a brilliant bomb-stricken set, which is full of surprises, revealing secret spaces and allowing easy access to props as well as providing gasp-worthy changes of scene as the plot rushes along and suddenly takes a turn into a well-balanced blissful state. Josh McIntosh has designed the ideal, austere interior, incorporating optikal bloc’s technology. I loved optikal bloc’s input into Anna McGahan’s He’s Seeing Other People Now and this effort too is impressive. The pre-recorded footage would mean little however, without the physicality and the prowess of the actors on stage. Particularly effective are the opening couple of minutes, the disturbing “two minutes of hate”, which had – believe it or not – a stronger impact on stage in 2012 than on screen in the 1984 released film.

As the long-suffering Winston Smith, Bryan Probets is outstanding, delivering his best work when he is silent on stage and his gaunt, pre-filmed face utters his every thought on screen. (It’s fascinating to see an audience struggle, not knowing which face to watch!). It’s a truly cinematic effect and testament to shake & stir’s commitment to establishing authentic connections with their audiences and challenging the forms and styles of traditional theatre making. As Smith takes step after tentative step towards certain doom (taking his lover, Julia, with him), “We watch on in enraptured horror, but…like Winston, manage to hold on to hope.” The hope is fleeting. The interrogation sequences within Room 101 are completely terrifying, the stuff of nightmares, which is of course the point and the conclusion, unhappily, is inevitable. I defy you to keep from squirming and shifting uncomfortably throughout. I guess the overriding hope is that it will never come to this outside of a book or a proscenium arch.

Boasting an enviable collective skill set, this ensemble is superb. Hugh Parker, Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij join Probets in what must be 2012’s most ambitious bit of storytelling (and arguably, the best told). Josh McIntosh (Designer), Jason Glenwright (Lighting Designer), Guy Webster (Composer/Sound Designer), optikal bloc (Media Producers) and Ben Shaw (Stage Manager) complete the formidable creative team that will, I suspect, take home another couple of Matildas this year for their fearless and flawless production of 1984. Bravo!



The Groundling Awards 2011

The Groundlings. These are “the people’s choice awards” of Brisbane theatre (unlike the Matildas, they have never claimed to cover Queensland at large). Personally, while I think the voting system is as fair as it can be (and I hope news of it reaches as wide a voting audience as possible and I hope that the voting audience saw what they claim to have seen), I still have a couple of qualms over the noms process. I can see, however, that the people who knew the noms were open, who saw a bit of theatre throughout 2011 and who bothered to get online and nominate have spoken. N.B. As a theatre critic (as opposed to a normal person) I did not submit any nominations, nor will I be voting (although, perhaps in future, there is a case for noms to be submitted by the companies, then narrowed down by the critics, then voted on by the people). There are certainly some notable oversights. Now, don’t think that I’m being biased and playing favourites, trying to influence the votes by posting the clips below. There are simply some companies recording very well, their trailers and the opening night audience responses. That’s right. The value of those vox pops just went through the roof!

To cast your vote (READY, NORMAL PEOPLE?) and to find out the results (after voting closes on February 10) head on over to

I don’t mind telling you that I’m surprised by some of the nominations. Here they are…

2011 Categories:

Outstanding Contribution by an Actor

Leon Cain (Orphans – QTC)
Bryan Probets (Body of Work including Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness- La Boite; Animal Farm – Shake and Stir; Pygmalion – QTC)
Lucas Stibbard (restaged season of boy girl wall – La Boite)

Outstanding Contribution by an Actress

Melanie Zanetti (Pygmalion – QTC)
Amy Ingram (Rabbit: the good room – Metro Arts)
Nelle Lee (Animal Farm – shake and stir theatre company)

Outstanding Contribution by a Director

Steven Mitchell Wright (The Hamlet Apocalypse for The Danger Ensemble/La Boite Indie)
Tim O’Connor (JC Superstar for Harvest Rain Theatre Company)
Shaun Charles (Water Wars for Umber Productions/La Boite Indie)
Michael Futcher (Animal Farm for Shake and Stir)

Outstanding Contribution to Set Design

Josh McIntosh (Body of work including Animal Farm)
Penelope Challen (Water Wars)
Simone Romaniuk (Fractions)

Outstanding Contribution to Costume Design

Romance Was Born (Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness)
Josh McIntosh (Body of work including Aladdin and Animal Farm)
Stephen Curtis (Pygmalion)

Outstanding Contribution to Lighting Design

David Walters (Body of Work and innovation in Water Wars for sustainable lighting practices)
Jason Glenwright (Body of Work including Ruben GuthrieAnimal Farm)
Ben Hughes (Body of Work including OrphansFractionsThe Hamlet ApocalypseStudio Shorts JUTE)

Outstanding Contribution to Sound Design or Composition

Guy Webster (Body of Work including Water WarsAnimal FarmRuben Guthrie)
Dane Alexander (The Hamlet Apocalypse)

Outstanding Contribution to Multimedia Design

Freddy Komp (Body of work including Water WarsEmpire Burning)
Dead Puppet Society  (The Harbinger)

Outstanding Contribution to Innovative Theatre Practice

Paul Osuch and Anywhere Theatre Festival for creating an imaginative infrastructure for theatre-making
Umber Productions and its contribution to sustainable theatre practice through the production of Water Wars
Steven Mitchell Wright and the Danger Ensemble for pushing performance and theatrical boundaries

Best New Play in an Inaugural Queensland Season

Water Wars by Elaine Acworth – Umber Productions/La Boite Indie/Empire Projects Company
Animal Farm  by George Orwell, adapted  by Nick Skubij (shake and stir theatre company)
Fractions by Marcel Dorney – Queensland Theatre Company

Best Production

The Hamlet Apocalypse – The Danger Ensemble/La Boite Indie
Animal Farm – shake and stir
Water Wars – Umber Productions/La Boite Indie

Best Musical Theatre Production

Cabaret – Zen Zen Zo
Spring Awakening – Oscar Theatre Company
Jesus Christ Superstar – (return season) Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Best Co-Production

Faustus (QTC and Bell Shakespeare)
Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness (La Boite and STC)
No Man’s Land (QTC and STC)

Outstanding Contribution to Queensland theatre

Terry O’Connor and John Brabon (Producers) for the development of the long-running project Shakespeare Under the Stars (Townsville)
Julie Whiting (Founder and Musical Director Blue Fish Theatrical) for leadership in the development of musical theatre training (Brisbane)
Tim O’Connor (Artistic Director) and Harvest Rain Theatre Company for the company’s contribution to the development of a sustainable independent theatre model (Brisbane)



Remember what you saw.

Remember how you felt.

Remember what you said.