Posts Tagged ‘media


Bare Witness

Bare Witness


Bare Witness

La Mama Theatre/fortyfivedownstairs

Toured by Performing Lines

QTC The GreenHouse

Bille Brown Studio

9th – 13th October 2012


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


This review comes rather late. I saw one of the few Brisbane shows after re-arranging my life to see this production, let it haunt me for several weeks and then remembered that the tour continues and that I should still post something, especially for those readers interstate. I’m not happy with what’s here – I haven’t actually managed to get more than a few thoughts together – but nevertheless, here is something.

I was blown away by Bare Witness, a riveting 75-minute performance, by highly accomplished, passionate performers and a director who challenges everything we thought we knew about working in the theatre. It’s a new brand of theatre and it’s the first thing to have made me catch my breath in a long time. Achieving precisely what Catharsis wants to when it grows up, in terms of bringing various art forms together live on stage, this is an incredible work, inspired by the lives of the photojournalists living and working in war zones all over the world.

This production premiered in Melbourne in 2010.

When we enter the space, the first thing I notice, strangely, is a toolkit placed beside a cello (and lights. There is a light wall to my left and fluorescent cylinders and a chaotic mess of leads placed variously throughout the space. The actors cleverly manoeuvre these to become laptops and use them to light their subjects). I realise very early in the piece that the tools are tiny, shiny instruments of torture and the cello a body…another body. Another voice. Snap! Clap! An image is captured. The voice, the context, gone; lost in the dust.

What’s it worth? A picture tells a thousand words and might be worth thousands of dollars. Who are these people and why do they do what they do? Probably the first play about combat photojournalists, the snappers’ stories are all similar, and similarly bewildering. Writer, Mari Lourey, has deftly wound together several stories that shock and remind us how lucky we are. And how brave (or foolish) and incredibly dedicated the snappers are.

Without bringing on board a choreographer, the director and her close-knit, impressively fit company of actors, have devised highly physical theatre – it’s not dance, as the actors are quick to point out after the show – it’s theatre that comes instinctually from improvisation. The rehearsal process involved many hours of improvisation before any thorough text work was undertaken. I do hope the high schools are sending their students (and teachers) to see this work…

Bare Witness

I feel like I often talk about process here. Perhaps I think about it more often than write about it. Process fascinates me. The journey as much as the destination and all that stuff. The collaborative nature of the work and how it all comes together. Fascinating. In this case, the re-staging of the project received money for four weeks of creative development, however, Director, Nadja Kostich, managed to stretch it over seven weeks. She says the extra time was necessary to boost fitness levels; it worked like bootcamp with bonus improvisation exercises and movement rather than any sort of specific choreography. The actors said, of the pros of re-staging and re-developing the work, “We can fix bits.” (Ray Chong Nee) and of Kostich, “Nadja…she’s got the most amazing energy.” (Daniela Farinacci).

Improvisation helped the actors explore their feelings around the challenging content and themes of the piece; issues that we don’t, under normal, happy, safe, sheltered circumstances, need to face up to. “Through the repetition you find the meaning.” (Adam McConvell).

Bare Witness

With the writer, Mari Lourey, in the room the first to throw out the book, the actors enjoyed time and space to collaboratively explore subtext and come at the story from their own starting point. Two workshops shaped the story. Kostich, brought in books and imagery, which “informed the subconscious mind” (Daniela Farinacci), stimulating the actors’ imagination as well as their conversations. It shows. There is rich contextual detail at work here. We feel as if these actors have really been there to experience the full horror of a war zone. I feel like turning it off (you know I don’t watch the news) but of course I’m trapped there, unable to escape, as a rookie snapper, in the act of remembering, plummets through her award-winning photos numbered 011 through 01. I’m terrified and amused – there are lovely light, wry moments, and hilarious drunken moments, as well as terrific sexual energy and light-hearted banter between characters – but overall, this putting-your-life-on-the-line-for-some-picture stuff still terrifies me.

The final movement sequence performed by Todd MacDonald that, in one foul swoop, delivers the entirety of the story and all its evil machinations somehow had the same effect on me as seeing the end of Life is Beautiful. Well, it’s almost the end. You know the scene. It makes me consider the manipulative job of a parent. What are the sorts of images we allow our children to see? What do they see anyway? I’m left stunned in the same way, unable to breathe, tears streaming down my cheeks, wondering who it is who demands the snappers continue their snapping so we may see the “truth” of war. Is it them? Is it the editors? Is it us?

Kostich’s approach is very much to work with a vision that continues to funnel down and refract over time. She gives her company of actors free reign and then stops them to tell them, “THAT! Keep that!” It’s a matter of seeing the big picture and then refining it and refining it in order to get to the crux of the story. The inclusion on stage of Kristen Rule, The Unconventional Cellist, gives the piece yet another layer. The live music evolved the same way as the acting. It’s another language. A shared language. Shared history. Rule’s cello is 130 years old!

If you are anywhere near Ballarat, Mildura or Hobart, and you can catch the end of the tour, you must see this extraordinarily powerful piece of theatre. Bare Witness penetrates the mind and heart, and leaves an indelible impression on the soul.

Writer – Mari Lourey

Director – Nadja Kostich

Performers – Ray Chong Nee, Daniela Farinacci, Eugenia Fragos, Todd MacDonald, Adam McConvell

Designer – Marg Horwell

Musician/Composer – Kristin Rule

Lighting Design – Emma Valente

Video Design – Michael carmody

Production Manager – Natasha James

Stage Manager – Rebecca Etchell

Image – Jeremy Angerson, Rusty Stewart, Tony Yap


Managing Carmen

Managing Carmen

Managing Carmen

Queensland Theatre Company & Black Swan State Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

13th October – 4th November 2012


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


I tell you what. Get your iCal out in front of you, work out when you can go (at least once), get onto the Queensland Theatre Company’s website to book your tickets and then come back to this window to read my review. Otherwise you might miss out on seeing DAVID WILLIAMSON’S BEST PLAY YET.


“David Williamson has the ability to pinpoint a societal issue and expose it through his unique satirical lens.”

Wesley Enoch


Managing Carmen is outstanding. It’s tighter, funnier, slicker and more satirical than anticipated. The text is peppered with gag lines, perfectly timed; only a master craftsman like Williamson can convincingly achieve this sort of perfect comedy. It’s already on its way to becoming a massive box office success and it’s essential viewing for anyone who loves their footy and/or high fashion. Or who wants to be entertained during a night out at the theatre. Not such a rare thing in Brisbane this year. Aren’t we lucky?!


Managing Carmen

David Williamson, in case you’ve been living in a yurt in Turkey since the 70s, is our most prolific playwright, supposedly “retired” in 2005 (Influence would have been his final work!), but in stubborn objection to ill health and with the help of modern medicine, a theme that features prominently in the 2011 work At Any Cost, Williamson has continued to chronicle our country’s social and political history, providing plum roles for Australian actors and consistently offering on a silver platter, script after script to make any director’s mouth water with the rich potential of each dish. Williamson’s list of plays reads like a degustation menu. See below.

With Managing Carmen already under option, I can’t help but wonder who will make the movie that chronicles David Williamson’s extraordinary life and career? But before we get ahead of ourselves let me tell you about the play.


Wait. You have booked your tickets now, haven’t you? Okay. Just checking. You know I don’t want you to miss this one.

Tim Dashwood, sculpted, taut and terrific in the role, is Brent Lyall, the extraordinarily talented two-time Brownlow Medal winning 23-year old AFL star player and…cross-dresser. His addiction is “sufficiently unusual for him and his manager and the rest of the team to be terrified if the word gets out” (David Williamson, interviewed by Frank Hatherley for Stage Whispers). Dashwood proves in this role that he is equally at home in heels or football boots. I hope he feels he can share at some stage his recent training program, diet and supplement intake. Every husband needs to know. Not necessarily the heel practicing (well, they’ve all had a go at that, haven’t they? Well, haven’t they?!), but definitely the hard-core training to get in peak physical condition. Just saying. Dashwood’s super confident, relaxed, sexy and stylish performance as Brent-as-Carmen (that’s Carmen Getme) is a much better pitch for a role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert than any of those seen on I Will Survive and I won’t be at all surprised if his next offer comes from the producers of a revival (the show closed on Broadway in June). Well, you know Dashwood’s also a singer, right? And he can dance! In heels! On a revolving, glossy, black tiled floor! While it struck me that perhaps his monotone was a bit much at first, I realised almost within the same instant that I HAVE HEARD ELITE SPORTSMAN SPEAK THIS WAY. Also, many, many teenaged boys. We’ll just stop for a moment to acknowledge that this play is for all ages and all sorts. I hope that many, many men and women, of all ages, can bring themselves to turn off the TV, get up off the lounge and get to this show. Williamson writes not just for the “elite” baby-boomer theatregoers but also for everyone now. In fact, I’m in awe of the man’s research skills and application of contemporary Australian language to give us beautifully drawn characters that we feel we already know.

Claire Lovering is Jessica Giordano, the corporate confidence boosting, image-grooming psychologist and eventual love interest (no spoiler there, it’s pretty obvious from the outset and you’re in for a delightful surprise when that deal is sealed with a kiss! A little bit of Luhrmann creeping in there. I almost expected to hear the moon singing! It’s a brave ending and I love it!). Lovering’s finest moment is her penultimate one, but only because we go with her, every step of the way, on her journey to that point.

Anna McGahan Managing Carmen

Anna McGahan, who plays the girlfriend, paid to pose by Lyall’s side for the paps by his ruthless, money-hungry manager, Rohan Swift (John Batchelor), totes pulls off saying “totes” and does so while adopting that odd WAGS cum Orange County Housewife accent that we hear on the red carpet when one of the hotter halves has been asked which designer she is wearing and which often indicates a jet-setting vaporous existence amongst those who have more money than (fashion) sense. Of course I’m over-generalising… Anyway, I love the way McGahan changes sides; the alliance between she and Carmen is completely genuine and their beautifully girly BFF behaviour – most of all their outrageous drunken behaviour – has us in stitches. It’s a very funny play and Wesley Enoch’s deft hand and his fearless, fun approach in directing it is obvious.

John Batchelor is, strangely, halfway to being endearing as Swift; we almost believe that he cares a little bit about his client’s wellbeing…until we see time and time again that he doesn’t! We wonder at first at his groovy moves and frustrated antics and vocals (they come across at first as a little too OTT), but because they’re funny they’re easily forgiven and as the character settles they begin to make sense. I won’t spoil the opening for you. Suffice to say, from the outset, Batchelor is the Basil Fawlty of this farce, skilfully, relentlessly driving the action and flawless Williamson brand of comedy as Enoch sees it.

In fact, it takes a little while to accept that we’re in the middle of a modern-day farce. As Kate Foy observed during interval, instead of doors opening and closing all over the place, we have an eleven metre revolve, which helps keep the action fast and funny, as the actors fall over furniture to get to their next scene. It sounds clumsy but it’s not; it’s beautifully choreographed. While we’re on it, the set almost steals the show; it’s truly gasp-worthy. Designed by Richard Roberts (assisted by Isobel Hutton), the use of this stunning black floored revolve in this space is a coup for Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC’s Playhouse. I love it and I’d love to see more of it. Lit by Black Swan’s Trent Suidgeest, we feel at home in Lyall’s apartment, Swift’s office, a bar, a nightclub and out in the open by the sea, with the help of projected images of clouds and the sounds of a seascape (Sound Designer Tony Brumpton). The only let down on opening night was that the first visual failed to appear on the television screen in Swift’s office, however, that’s an easy fix. Not so easy, now that the season has begun, would be to ask a favour of Eddie McGuire and have The Footy Show excerpts pre-filmed. This extra effort, rather than playing the audio recorded by the actors over random mismatched footage, would make this production faultless. (Audio Visual Designer Declan McMonagle). Also, I appeared to be overdressed in an old LBD and new, flat Siren Bolly shoes, however, that’s just a note to self. I am yet to work out the dress code for Brisbane opening nights. Clearly, so are others. What do you wear to opening nights? Do you dress thematically? I’d like to know. The Brisbane theatre scene is evolving and it feels like it’s time to give the social photographers something special to shoot!

Managing Carmen is stylish, slickly designed and superbly written, directed and performed. It places the spotlight unforgivingly over our obsession with celebrity and the insane pursuit of sponsorship and monetary gain over recognition and reward for true talent in just about every arena. Challenging our levels of tolerance, understanding and acceptance of difference in an entertaining, energetic farce, Wesley Enoch’s production of David Williamson’s Managing Carmen is a true blue theatrical triumph.

Anna McGahan & Tim Dashwood Managing Carmen

David Williamson – list of plays

The Indecent Exposure of Anthony East (1968)

You’ve Got to Get on Jack (1970)

The Coming of Stork (1970)

The Removalists (1971)

Don’s Party (1971)

Jugglers Three (1972)

What If You Died Tomorrow? (1973)

The Department (1975)

A Handful of Friends (1976)

The Club (1977)

Travelling North (1979)

Celluloid Heroes (1980)

The Perfectionist (1982)

Sons of Cain (1985)

Emerald City (1987)

Top Silk (1989)

Siren (1990)

Money and Friends (1991)

Brilliant Lies (1993)

Sanctuary (1994)

Dead White Males (1995)

Heretic (1996)

Third World Blues (1997, An Adaptation Of Jugglers Three)

After The Ball (1997)

Corporate Vibes (1999)

Face to Face (2000)

The Great Man (2000)

Up for Grabs (2001)

A Conversation (2001)

Charitable Intent (2001)

Soulmates (2002)

Flatfoot (2003)

Birthrights (2003)

Amigos (2004)

Operator (2005)

Influence (2005)

Lotte’s Gift (2007) – also known as Strings Under My Fingers

Scarlett O’Hara at the Crimson Parrot (2008)

Let The Sunshine[4] (2009)

Don Parties On (2011)

At Any Cost? (2011)

Nothing Personal (2011)

When Dad Married Fury (2011)

Managing Carmen (2012)

Managing Carmen moves to Black Swan State Theatre Company’s Heath Ledger Theatre 10th November – 2nd December and, with an entirely different cast, directed by Mark Kilmurry, Ensemble Theatre presents their production of Managing Carmen 6th December – January 25th.

A live simulcast of the world premiere co-production from the Black Swan Theatre Company (Perth) with Queensland Theatre Company will be presented on 30th November in the Cummins Theatre, WA.

David Williamson’s MANAGING CARMEN is a “laugh-out-loud comedy for anyone who likes who likes football or designer dresses and a crackling funny dissection of stereotypes in sport. Brent is a country boy turned footy star: captain of his AFL team, king of product-endorsements, with a model girlfriend and ruthless sports manager. But Brent’s hiding one little thing that could ruin his career and end the advertising money: his passion for cross-dressing….”

Cast includes: John Batchelor, Timothy Dashwood, Claire Lovering, Anna McGahan, and Greg McNeil

Directed by Wesley Enoch

***This live simulcast event is FREE***

Friday, 30 November at 730pm
the Cummins Theatre
31 Bates Street
Merredin, Western Australia



The Nullarbor Nymph

The Nullarbor Nymph

A film by Mathew Wilkinson

Gold Coast Arts Centre

Monday 25th June 2012

Reviewed by Craig Gallagher

My wife and I were fortunate to attend the Queensland premiere of the Australian film The Nullarbor Nymph at the Gold Coast Arts Centre on Monday 25th June.

The Nullarbor Nymph is a film, albeit produced with some risk, by director Mathew Wilkinson. When I say risk, this was not your typical movie venture, due to limited financial backing and the way in which the plot developed.  Wilkinson’s choice of Nymph is not what immediately comes to mind, when you hear the title of the film, particularly if you have a romanticised notion of the mythical creature. The Nullarbor Nymph was produced with a $25k budget (money raised by Wilkinson by cleaning dunnies and the like) and in the beginning, struggled to find mainstream acceptance.

The story of how The Nullarbor Nymph film came into existence can be attributed to Wilkinson heading to Ceduna S.A. to find himself, and being attracted to the folklore of one of Australia’s outback myths. The origins of the Nullarbor Nymph are explored in this mockumentary, which is based on stories about victims of the Nullarbor Nymph, through the eyes of survivors and locals of Ceduna – whether they believe the myth or not.  The story follows two employees from Water Australia as their work takes them across the Nullarbor; only to be ultimately in the sights of the Nullarbor Nymph, a mythical blonde temptress with an appetite for one thing!

Geneice Brooker The Nullarbor Nymph

Geneice Brooker, the original Nullarbor Nymph. Image by Laurie Scott.


Jessica Sterling The Nullarbor Nymph

Somewhat appropriately, Jessica Sterling, who plays the Nullarbor Nymph, spent a week at the Playboy Mansion, networking with Hugh Hefner and the Hollywood heavyweights. Image by Mathew Wilkinson.

The cinematography is a bit rough and ready at times but keeping in mind the budget constraints when producing the film and the fact that there were never more than 3 production crew on location at any one time, The Nullarbor Nymph displays characteristics of the grindhouse genre. The fine line is walked, but only to ensure the pace, tone and intent of the story are effectively portrayed to keep the audience connected.

Showing both Ceduna and the surrounding outback, The Nullarbor Nymph captures the elements of mystery, myth and at times the desperation for survival, presented to the audience with the quintessential Aussie humour, tongue in cheek and down to earth Australian character;  not too ‘ocker’ or over done.

There are some moments which use suspense and anticipation; and the imagery and humour are essential for keeping the pace and viewer interest, considering the low budget available and little to no special effects used. The film could be viewed as scary in parts by some audience members, and along with some nudity, it’s probably not the most suitable movie for Gran.

As this movie is based on folklore it would not be appropriate to discuss the storyline too much, best to go into the movie with an open mind and be prepared to go on the journey with the Nullarbor Nymph.

The Nullarbor Nymph is sure to be an Australian cult movie, which will be found in DVD collections in time to come.  For the rawness, Australianness and the uniqueness it is a must-see for those who enjoy a good ozploitation film.

Walk in with a sense of humour and walk out with a smile on your dial!

The Nullarbor Nymph


on audiences

Source: The Guardian

Mum and Dad came to see the show last night. That’s right. On Good Friday. There was no bar due to licensing laws. So it was a very quiet audience. I told them after the show that they were a very quiet audience. I joked that they could have done with a drink before the show because, at first, we weren’t even sure they were out there.

Travelling North is not a comedy but we were beginning to get used to quite a few laughs since the preview on Monday night. David Williamson’s writing is witty and the characters are funny because we recognise them (and their flaws). Without being a comedy it can be quite a comical play.

My parents don’t usually see my shows because they typically book international flights during the week leading up to opening night. I know. I know how it looks. I’m sure it’s not a calculated gesture, it’s just a terrible error, which has, admittedly, happened several times. They once flew out of the country the day before opening night and returned to drive back to the coast from Brisbane International, only just catching the closing night of La Ronde in Mooloolaba (I miss doing a show in a shop! Nathanael Cooper missed it too so that link is his review of Erotique, which you’ll see is happening again NEXT)! This indicates that they don’t always mean to double-book. Or that they finally felt bad enough to make sure they got there.

Their feedback after the show last night? All positive. They enjoyed the lighter moments that came from the daughters’ involvement/interference (Andree, Julia and I). Remember, we didn’t have drinks so any criticism will come up at a later date, I’m sure! Mum’s comment was that the whole thing was “a little too close to the bone.” She was clearly affected. My grandparents in Toowoomba both have their problems at the moment and she and her sister have taken turns to care for them, particularly for my grandpa, for years. As is always the case in a Williamson, the reality of the situation hits home pretty hard if you’ve been there yourself. Of course, every single person in that audience will have had a different response to the story. Each audience is unique, in their reactions and in what they take away from the experience. They’ve all come from right out of their own stories and into the theatre having had a good, bad, great or indifferent day. And they must all go home to their own stories. In between, there is a little bit of magic that we can offer. I love when an audience surrenders to the magic. You can hear it, feel it; that moment when most of them have let go and melted into our world, happily (or even reluctantly) leaving theirs behind for a little while. That’s when, backstage, we look at each other and smile: “Got ’em!” (I’ve noticed, at Noosa Arts Theatre, the FOH volunteers really do look after their audience too. It’s all part of the experience, part of the magic).

Keep an eye out here for Mel White’s review of our production of Travelling North. I haven’t spoken with her. I don’t know what she thought of the show. I guess we’ll see. However, you’re unlikely to see any more arts space in the local rag (I was bemused to see a Bundaberg story in there today, despite them knowing that our boys won third place at the Sydney Short + Sweet Finals) and now that The Weekender is gone, you’re just going to have to get online more often to find out what’s happening at your local theatres. Follow this blog, follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook and check out to keep up with Sunshine Coast theatre. Don’t miss any of the magic!

Due to demand, an extra performance of Travelling North has been scheduled for

Wednesday April 18th.


Rocket Boy Ensemble: Romeo & Juliet opens tonight

Rocket Boy Theatre Ensemble will be making its theatrical debut on the Sunshine Coast tonight at the Buderim Uniting Church Hall.

In an attempt to engage younger audiences with classic theatre delivered in a contemporary setting, the new Coast ensemble will perform Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. “We feel that the main exposure to Shakespeare is in schools and is often used as reading material rather than performance”, said Rocket Boy Director Ms. Carney. “Shakespeare was written to be performed and we wanted to provide an opportunity for young people to see the play performed in a way that they can engage with. The ensemble will be offering a unique experience for Coast theatre goers as the performance has been produced entirely by young performers, many being graduates of The Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence (BYTE).

Rocket Boy will attempt to challenge the traditionally classic approach to theatre on the Coast by bringing a more experimental style to the stage. “I want Sunshine Coast theatre to take more risks,” Ms. Carney said. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for younger performers to stage a production. We have an opinion and a vision and are excited to share it”. The Cast ranges in age from 17-23 and all are passionate about their involvement in the industry.

Rocket Boy believes that the themes of the play are universal, which is why audiences continue to engage in the classic tale of love. “I love theatre that takes traditional techniques and puts a new spin on them”. “The young lovers think love can conquer all and they can overcome what is happening. It’s beautiful, naive but beautiful”, Ms. Carney said.

Opening tonight, the play will run for three nights, through to Sunday February 12.

Watch Rocket Boy Ensemble’s Romeo and Juliet trailer here. Book tix by emailing

Read about the removal from print media, of Queensland Theatre Company’s controversial image to promote their production of Romeo and Juliet.

Listen to Fiona Jolley and Melanie Zanetti’s comments, in conversation with ABC Radio National