Posts Tagged ‘Michael Futcher


Animal Farm

Animal Farm

shake & stir

QPAC Cremorne

15th – 25th May 2013


 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.


In a recent Lowy Institute poll, 60 per cent of Australians are now indifferent to democracy while only 39 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds believe democracy is preferable to other forms of government.

This is the return season of shake and stir’s adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I didn’t see the original production so I was determined to get to it this time. Directed by Michael Futcher, and designed by Brisbane’s theatrical Dream Team (Josh McIntosh, Jason Glenwright & Guy Webster), this is a powerful political production, true to the text, nicely adapted by Nick Skubij. Originally published in 1944, Animal Farm tracks events leading up to the Russian Revolution, and explores allegorically, Communism under Stalin.


The only problem I have with this production is its conclusion. Up until the final sixty seconds or so, this is shake and stir at their provocative, political, theatrical best, with the perfect combination of some of Brisbane’s best actors and a deft director’s hand to bring this morality tale into context for new (and returning) audiences. While the story is bookended beautifully by the use of animated shadow imagery (the opening is gruesome and it’s perfect), the final picture doesn’t seem to have a strong enough impact. But when I spoke to others they were surprised that I’d even mentioned it.


A ninety-minute actors’ boot camp, Animal Farm is a must-see for students and teachers of performance and design, but also for anybody who enjoys a good story told exceptionally well. This is theatricality of the best sort, for the purpose of powerful storytelling. Whether we learn a lesson or not, we enjoy the process and when it’s over it’s not; we have masses to talk about and we’re pleased to have made the effort to get out of the house and into the theatre.


Animal Farm

The cast is superb, with the founders and creators of shake and stir at its core (Nelle Lee, Ross Balbuziente and Nick Skubij), and Bryan Probets and Timothy Dashwood completing an impressive, multi-skilled ensemble. The physically and vocally demanding characters are switched on and off masterfully, with the actors’ animal gestures and sounds truly replicating a farmyard’s activity and cacophony, complete with tin pail percussion and lots of mud!


The chilling soundscape and original score, designed by Guy Webster, adds the edge to this production, as does an imposing set, by Josh McIntosh, giving us the dizzying heights of progress and the simple spaces that are home to the workers who make progress possible. The actors utilise ladders, levels, doors, windows, and all sorts of hidden spaces to keep the pace going, when a less imaginative company might fuss with superfluous costume and set changes. In fact, this is the most detailed and economically designed production I’ve seen in place in the Cremorne, and even more impressive than that, is the fact that this same set has fit (and will continue to fit) into different venues across the country! McIntosh is clearly a Lego Master Builder from way back. Jason Glenwright’s cinematic layered lighting design swings between The Wizard of Oz and The Twilight Zone, such is his uncanny sense of exactly what it is we need to see. Is there any other creative team in town so in synch with every aspect of production as well as each other? If there is I’m yet to see the evidence elsewhere in so slick a show.


Animal Farm is exemplary in its theatricality, a perfect storytelling model for teachers and makers of theatre, a chilling reminder for all of us of the dangers of ignorance and apathy when it comes to governance, and another feather in shake and stir’s green cap. Michael Futcher’s keen eye for detail and his easy-going directing style are in evidence in every aspect of the show. Don’t be the one who misses it this time around.


The Brisbane season (until May 25th) kicks off the Queensland leg of a national tour so if you’re located outside of the city (teachers and community theatre peeps I’m looking at YOU), and you see this one coming soon to a theatre near you, GO. I may even go again… IN KAWANA. SEE YOU THERE SUNSHINE COAST!


Mud, Sweat and Tears: shake and stir’s Nick Skubij pigs in part 2

Four legs good, two legs bad.


Animal Farm, one of the most controversial and studied political commentaries returns to Brisbane in a multi-award winning, physical theatre production. Playing for a strictly limited season, George Orwell’s simple yet intensely powerful fairy tale illustrates with stunning clarity and grotesque beauty how greed and power corrupts and with devastating consequences, can change the course of history.


Revolution has taken place at Manor Farm. The pigs have assumed control and under the principles of Animalism a better life free from human service is promised to all. Guided by a simple set of rules and an unrelenting respect for authority, it is not long until the rules that promised freedom become the chains that bind the animals once again.


Directed by Michael Futcher and realised by shake & stir and a cast of Queensland’s most dynamic actors, Animal Farm promises to be one of the most shocking, relevant and wickedly funny theatre events of 2013.


Nick Skubij

Nick Skubij (Adaptor / Napoleon / Jones) took some time out during shake and stir’s national tour of Animal Farm to tell us about the show, the tour, the company, social media, Shakespeare, Orwell, and the state of arts education in Australia, before the show returns to QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre this week! Animal Farm previews Wednesday and opens Thursday. See you there.


Read Part 1 here


Part 2


Animal Farm is coming to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast as part of a National tour. So is shake & stir reaching regional Australia each year now?

We sure are. With both our in-schools and our mainhouse work. Each year shake & stir perform for over 180 000 people all across the country. In 2011 we hit the road on a three-month national tour of our production Statespeare. We are currently on a similar tour with Animal Farm (36 national venues) and will be heading out again in 2014 with 1984. These tours are a great way for us to get QLD theatre into other states but also to increase the access that people living in regional areas have to high quality live performance. Our in-schools program tours extensively each year through regional QLD, VIC and TAS.  As a Cairns boy who loved to act, sing and dance but didn’t always have the professional opportunities to do so – getting out to the regions and providing these chances for students will always remain high on my priorities for shake & stir. We are also giving regional students across Drama, Dance, Art, Music and Photography an opportunity to interact with professional artists via our freshly launched QLD Youth Shakespeare Festival – but that’s a whole other interview! J


Nelle LeeCan you tell us what happens on Manor Farm and what we might, hopefully, take away from this interpretation of Animal Farm? Should we have read the book first?

Ok… Basically we have a bunch of unhappy, mistreated animals on Manor Farm, who are abused daily by their master/farmer– the dreaded Mr. Jones. One evening, the animals gather in the barn to hear Old Major, the sort-of patriarch of the farm, deliver a speech about how the animals hold the power in themselves to overthrow Jones and run the farm much better – in a way that ensures abundance and equality for all. The animals do so – they successfully expel Jones from the farm and start self-governing. They soon learn that every society needs leadership so the pigs appoint themselves as the key decision makers and decide on a set of unbreakable rules (the seven commandments) that shall define their new way of life. Over time, things start to take a turn and, well, I’ll stop there so as to not give it away for those that haven’t read the book! Our adaptation is very faithful to the book. It is not necessary to have read it before you see the show.


Have there been any changes since the original production?

The production has changed a little bit – we have a new cast member, Tim Dashwood who brings a whole new energy to the piece. It was really important for us to retain as much as possible from the original but still take the invaluable opportunity to revisit moments that could benefit from a bit of tweaking. We also had to redesign some elements to make the show more ‘tourable’ while retaining the spectacle of the original.


Ross Balbuziente

What sort of actors’ preparation or approach has led to the dynamic portrayal of the pigs on Manor Farm?

A big portion of our first week of rehearsal was literally spent work shopping animal movement and watching a lot of youtube clips of pigs, horses, sheep, hens, cows… Initially, we had no limitations on how far we wanted to take the physicality but we did know that we wanted to avoid heading into really obvious ‘animal acting’ territory. We wanted the piece to be very physical but not to alienate the audience. What we found helpful was starting from a literal place and then stripping back until we agreed on the essence of the animals and what was absolutely necessary to get the idea across clearly, quickly and not in a way that distracts from what they are saying (which is where the REAL piggish character comes from). We had the additional challenge in this piece of also having to portray humans – we quickly explored the concept of animalizing the humans and humanizing the animals.


What has it been like to work with Director, Michael Futcher, on this production? He speaks so highly of shake & stir. Is this a long-term relationship based on mutual admiration?

Michael is a perfectionist and we love working with him! He brings a meticulous eye for detail and story into the rehearsal room and prior to that, the dramaturgy of the script. He is a very trusting Director and a lot of the time is not interested in dictating movement and blocking but will literally sit back and observe while we all get stuck into working our way through the text on the floor. After absorbing all this, he has an astute way of retaining the good and tossing away the not-so-good. He is very patient with ironing out kinks in the script and suggesting judicious snips and cuts – he shares our vision for short and sharp theatre. We have always very much admired the work that Michael has done in the past and our professional relationship has developed into an ongoing one – Tequila Mockingbird will mark our third production together. We have a fantastic creative dialogue now and we know and respect what each contributes to the mix.


Tim Dashwood

I’m a big fan of your design team; these guys are a force to be reckoned with! What do Josh McIntosh (Designer), Jason Glenwright (Lighting Designer) and Guy Webster (Sound Designer/Composer) bring to Animal Farm?

They are awesome! Each has a very clear aesthetic that works for what we want to artistically achieve and they all work so well together. The beauty of our design team is that they reinvent themselves each time we create a new work – Out Damn Snot! and 1984 are two very different looking and sounding shows! But what is most fantastic about our team is their work ethic. Each will work relentlessly to pull off their designs when it comes to getting the show up and what they achieve in the time they have is extraordinary. We also had the great pleasure of collaborating with the boys from optikal bloc on 1984 and anyone who saw the show will agree that their av work spread over 12 60inch plasma screens was pretty special.


You guys are a tight-knit team and you’ve worked together for a while. Can you tell us about building the company with Ross Balbuziente and Nelle Lee?

We started this adventure seven years ago now and it seems like yesterday. Everyday I go to work with them, whether it is to our office, into the rehearsal room, into a workshop, performance or national tour, it is like going on a new adventure with my two best friends. Corny – yes, but true. Back in 2006 when it all started (fueled by a lot of cheese platters and wine if memory serves me correct) it was the same thing. I think what makes this work is that we understand each other so well and we respect each other. While we don’t always see eye-to-eye on certain things, there is a huge amount of trust that we have for each other’s decisions and artistic ideas. Between Nelle, Ross and myself, all major business decisions are shared equally as are all creative decisions. I guess we are unique in this respect in that we each jointly wear the ‘Artistic Director’ hat but then individually have so many other unspoken roles vital to the sustainability of a commercial company.


Bryan ProbetsBryan Probets and Timothy Dashwood are a couple of Brisbane’s favourite performers. What qualities do they bring to this production? 

We pride ourselves on providing employment for QLD artists and we are thrilled to be working with two of the best in this show. Again, there is a lot of trust in the ensemble, five actors giving it their all for 85 minutes – physically, vocally and emotionally. Bryan and Tim are two very generous and committed performers in every sense of the word. We are also fortunate that the company really enjoys each other’s company – we have had many memorable moments on tour both on and off stage. But of course, what happened on tour stays on tour 😉 Also, it would be remiss of me not to give a big shout out to our crew who are also some of our state’s best – Our Stage/Tour Manager Dan Sinclair, our Technicians Scott Barton and Clark Corby and our Drivers Speedy and Frank – they all bring a wealth of experience and like Boxer – they always work harder!


How does shake & stir cast their shows? Is it invitation only or do you hold general auditions?

Most of the time, our mainhouse shows are cast by invitation. When programming or discussing our future productions, we usually have an actor in mind who we think would be ideal who we chat with very early on to gauge their interest in collaborating. That said, if we get stuck, we hold specific auditions based on recommendations from our Director. Each year, the company holds General Auditions for our annual schools touring program. On offer is a full-time year of work for energetic, enthusiastic actors keen to work with young people. Details about these auditions are announced via agencies and our website and social networks. Auditions are then by invitation only based on the strength and suitability of their application. We have to do this as we get a couple of hundred applications from people all across QLD/NSW.


What are your top tips for aspiring actors? Do they still need to leave Brisbane to train, or to get a foot in the door? What are the advantages of staying?

My top tip is that an actor who succeeds in creating a career in the arts is an actor who is capable of creating their own opportunities. Whether you ever actually need to create your own work is irrelevant but having as many skills up your sleeve as possible is the key. You definitely don’t need to leave Brisbane to find work, but you can’t sit around waiting for work to come and find you. I think the best training institutions are the ones that place this idea on par with the actual actor training! Brisbane is great in that it has a flourishing independent theatre scene as well as two fantastic funded companies each programming diverse, exciting work and each with very clear pathways to connect with them. There is huge support available right now for artists wanting to get out there and make theatre – support that ranges from financial or government grant support to venue support for both rehearsal and production.

Tequila Mockingbird

I’m excited about your next adaptation too, Tequila Mockingbird, which opens in August. Can you tell us about it?

Another much loved, iconic story retold for today. It is a show we have sat on since we began the company waiting for the right time. We step away from a straight adaptation and move toward a contemporary retelling, inspired by the legendary novel by Nelle Harper Lee, written by our very own Nelle Lee! It’s going to be gutsy, confronting, honest and will certainly push some boundaries. We welcome back our powerhouse team of regulars and add a couple of new artists to the mix – the fabulous Barbara Lowing and recent USQ graduate Shannon Haegler. The show is in co-production with QPAC and tickets are selling fast. We have challenged our team to reinvent themselves to create another theatre piece that is unmistakably shake & stir but continues to push the company in new directions and challenges the audiences’ expectation of what to expect when coming along to see one of our shows. 




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!



Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Queensland Theatre Company & Matrix Theatre

Kawana Community Centre

Thursday 2nd August 2012

Reviewed by Poppy & Tayah 

If buccaneers and buried gold

And all the old romance retold

Exactly in the ancient way

Can please, as me they pleased of old,

The wiser youngsters of today

So be it.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island is going everywhere, all over Australia. It’s a famous show. It’s a famous book. Did we read the book? We didn’t read the book. There would be boys who already read the book because it’s a boys book, about pirates. It’s a pirate ADVENTURE! But it’s not just for boys, this show, is it? It’s for mums too. It’s definitely for mums because our mums liked it, didn’t they? And it’s for girls too because we liked it, didn’t we? It was excellent!

The story starts with the story being told. It’s a clever start because you know it’s a story and it’s not real. It seems real but it’s not. It’s a play. And that’s the job. To make it real.

It was a little bit scary because they looked like real pirates. They’re actually actors, wearing costumes especially from the theatre. I liked the costumes. There were lots of coats. Pirates wear big coats. And hats. And boots. But Thom had just boys shoes on because he’s a boy in the show.

It was a big surprise to see the skeleton! It scared me out of my skin! I jumped up on mum’s lap and hugged her around the neck!

We could hear the gun shots and the canons. There were real guns. Well, not real real guns but just like the real ones. At the end we found out that that’s a replica. They were nice to take the time to answer kids’ questions. I didn’t have any questions. I just wanted a photo with the actors.

It was excellent!!!!!!!

It was interesting and really exciting. It was so funny. They were really funny.

Tayah’s favourite part was:

at the end when we got photos taken and we got to have a look back stage.

Poppy’s favourite part was:

after the show, when we got to meet the actors and explore back stage. It was all my favourite, I loved all of it but going back stage was my favourite part after the show.

Notes from the Mama:

    • Treasure Island is good old-fashioned fun and fanciful storytelling.
    • QTC’s touring version, by Helen Howard and Michael Futcher, reminds parents and teachers to get the kids away from the screens – big and small – and back into the theatre, where the real excitement is and where the best stories – those that shape our imagination and dare us to dream big – are brought to life on stage in front of our eyes. We believe it. It’s the Tinkerbell factor.
    • This production boasts two generous, energetic and dynamic actors (Joss McWilliam and Thomas Larkin), who portray a multitude of roles between them with an abundance of good humour and a great deal of physical prowess. Ducking in and out from behind the fourth wall and swapping between roles at a rapid pace, these guys give us (Kevin Kline) Pirate King style antics and the kids (and mums) love it!

  • For the really little ones, take some (quiet) snacks and expect them to get a little restless 30-40 mins in (at 55 mins run time, this one’s a bit of a stretch for some under eights. The target audiences are Years 4-7 and Years 8-10).
  • For the older kids/students, read Treasure Island online before you go or BUY OR BORROW THE BOOK. I noticed some secondary school students looking a little underwhelmed (sure, there’s a lot of exposition but there’s also a lot of action!). There were others in the group who were just as excited as the six year olds, to be part of a pirate story for the afternoon! Remember, neither Matrix nor QTC have messed much with the text so the beautiful, rich (old-fashioned) language has been left alone and begs discussion or a revisit if you’re taking a class.
  • There is plenty of scope for follow-up activities, teachers (and parents)! A study of Treasure Island provides such an overwhelming abundance of rich opportunities for further discussion, play and in-depth learning, stemming from its language, history, geography, technology and design, science and arts… let me know if you need an obscure curriculum link!
  • Have you MYO pirate hat with Thomas Larkin? Get the man a Playschool gig!
  • This Treasure Island is not just for the kids. If it’s coming to a theatre near you, take the whole family. Everyone will love it!
  • You might remember the Disney version?! HO-HUM!

Also on tour for Queensland Theatre Company (until the end of August) is Stradbroke Dreamtime, which we saw at Out of the Box.


Vikram and the Vampire

Vikram and the Vampire

Zen Zen Zo

The Old Museum

3rd May – 19th May 2012

Reviewed by Meredith Mclean

There is one thing I must confess before I say anything about Zen Zen Zo’s production of Vickram and The Vampire. I am not a dancer. I’m not even quite sure I can muster an awkward jig in the public eye let alone on stage. At least not since the day I tripped on my own foot and flailed down a flight of stairs amongst many of my peers circa 2008. But I don’t resent those who know how to command a space with movement. Instead I admire them. To be graceful or fierce just by stirring the body is an art and it makes me smile when I see the right people out there doing exactly that.

Vickram and The Vampire is a fantastic concept for physical theatre. It overwhelms the audience with tales of the ancient Hindu myths. King Vickram is proud, but not entirely wise. Try as he may to take the vampire in a tree he is instead faced with terror in the cunning vampire’s tales.

Laughter is to be expected. But so is astonishment. What is presented to us didn’t rise from any frivolous origin or light piece of writing. Vickram and The Vampire is an adaption, and a wonderful one at that, of studies from a different era. What was originally titled The King and The Corpse is a commiseration between East and West (something familiar to Zen Zen Zo), brewing intricate tales reflecting on the eternal conflict with the forces of evil. It was written by Heinrich Zimmer, a man often quoted as bringing eastern art to western culture and a good friend of the iconic Carl Jung.

Upon linking all of this as it is transcribed to Zen Zen Zo’s stage the parallels are by no means accidental. These collaborators aren’t lost amongst the many theatres Brisbane has to offer. Zen Zen Zo is distinct, vivid and in a wonderfully weird way imposing. Their choreography draws from the culture of Asian dance-theatre bringing a strange feeling of being transported across continents without leaving your seat. These guys perform with energy that I feel needs to be described as drastic. There is urgency in their movement that makes me excited to be there. This is physical theatre in a constantly palpable state of cresting and falling like waves, or beating like drums. You mustn’t question the scheme of Vickram and The Vampire. All you can do is take in each movement of each moment.

The ensemble cast who bring this play to life can be a kaleidoscopic, catastrophic wonder. Then there is hush as they use their bodies to create immaculate emotion if there is such a thing. They move like liquid. As water fills a cup these performers fill each intricate space to portray a role on the stage.

The collective force of the ensemble cast falls into line under the direction of Michael Futcher. I am a firm believer; you could even call me a Futcher Fan. I’ve seen his directorial work in The Wishing Well and The Kursk; which I would gladly see either of them again. In both the aforementioned plays and now Vickram and The Vampire, I have consistently seen his understanding of space and light. His extensive credits in directing roles as well as acting roles only reconfirms this for me.

At first I was simply going to recommend you see this fantastic example of physical theatre that Zen Zen Zo has to offer. However, May 12th is their Gala Night. Zen Zen Zo is inviting you to not only see Vickram and the Vampire but also share a glass of champagne with the director and cast. Take this chance to learn more about the undertones of the play and what happens behind the scenes. If you miss out on this performance I assure you that you will regret it.


how much do we love pozible?

If you haven’t come across it already, is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. It’s how our friends at Joymas Creative partly funded the premiere of Megan Shorey’s original work, One in Seven. It’s how the Melbourne Cabaret Festival is able to continue (fully funded in under 48 hours)!

There are other crowdfunding ventures but we see a LOT of original work that interests us on Pozible. And it seems that the projects are more quickly and more widely shared across social media, meaning of course, that the artists are able to raise the required funds sooner. (There’s nothing scientific in that statement, it’s just what we’ve noticed.)

Pozible from Pozible on Vimeo.

The latest project we feel is important to support is Zen Zen Zo’s upcoming production Vikram and the Vampire

Adapted from the award-winning production of The King and the Corpse, and based on a series of fantastical Hindu tales, Vikram and the Vampire is a magical night of comedy, horror and dynamic physical theatre which celebrates the art of storytelling and ensemble playing.

The exciting cast includes Sandro Colarelli, Bryan Probets, Lizzie Ballinger, Chris Beckey, Liz Buchanan, Lauren Jackson, Jamie Kendall, Earl Kim and Melissa Budd.

Directed by Michael Futcher. Winner – Best Director – 2011 Matilda Awards


Where is the money going?

Zen Zen Zo are a “not for profit” theatre company. The $3000 raised through Pozible will assist the company in covering production costs, which will greatly enhance the visual appeal of the production. Your money will go directly towards: 

– the hire of a tarkett floor for the safety of the physical performers
– costuming the entire production
– constructing the set 
– transforming the Studio space with a “Burning Ground” installation
– purchasing props for the production

Of course, you can also support the company by booking tickets and helping to spread word about the show! But be quick (opening night is already SOLD OUT)!

If you feel like this production is a cause you’d like to support, head on over to and pledge any amount. While you’re there, take a look at the other projects and you’ll get a magic little glimpse at the sort of work getting up off the ground with the help of communities. I love this notion, of audience members and community having the option to “buy in”, essentially becoming a producer on the project. It’s a bit like Nuala’s Ireland-Ghana Children’s Project or anything else that asks you to “buy in”. If it suits you, support it. If not, do share the love by telling somebody else how easy it is for them to become a proud supporter of new Australian art!

Book online


ZEN ZEN ZO Actor Training Week One or Ouch! How Much Will This Hurt?

My friend, Cathy Sheargold, decided to take on some awesome personal challenges this year. No one put her up to it, she’s just that kind of chick. I wonder how amazing we’d all be if we regularly took on similar “impossible challenges”. Not only physical, her latest self-set challenge is a giant mental and spiritual leap as well. Cathy is training with world-renowned physical theatre ensemble, Zen Zen Zo.

The company’s artistic vision is intimidating enough! The training is based on the Suzuki Method of Actor Training, the Viewpoints and  Butoh dance-theatre.  I’ve heard about the strenuous exercises and mad discipline for years, from many friends and from my sister (the one who ran off with the circus). I’ve seen the shows, by Lynn Bradley and Simon Woods’ and I am in awe of many of the performances. Their production of Cabaret won the Greenroom’s Groundling Award, voted for by the people, this year for Best Musical. I’m excited to see the direction Zen Zen Zo will take this year, with that dynamic duo at the helm, Michael Futcher and Helen Howard. Check out the company showreel. Cathy did. And she was afraid. Very afraid.

When Cathy told me she was about to commit to the series of workshops for adult actors, I asked her to vlog about it. Who could resist hearing about how much it hurts? With any luck, and with our interest and support, Cathy will continue to vlog weekly, her experience at Zen Zen Zo’s physical actor training sessions.

Come back every Tuesday until the end of March to find out what’s happening and exactly how much it hurts. Ouch!

Please leave you comments and questions for Cathy. And get ready to play the game!