Posts Tagged ‘motherboard productions

21
Feb
16

심청 Shimchong: Daughter Overboard!

 

심청 <Shimchong>: Daughter Overboard!

Brisbane Powerhouse & Motherboard Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

February 18 – 23 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Most Koreans can recite Shimchong’s tale… Her mother died in childbirth, her father is blind, and she sacrifices herself to the Dragon King – the god under the sea – in order to restore her father’s sight. But what if Shimchong was reborn in Australia, a young woman burning with revolutionary desire? What would drive her to jump into the sea a second time?

In this dark, political, and often hilarious retelling, you’re invited to drink and sing along as contemporary pop music, pansori, and physical theatre combine in an event that is as uniquely Australian as it is Korean.

The development and presentation of 심청 ⟨Shimchong⟩: Daughter Overboard! has been supported through funding by the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Queensland, Korea Foundation and Brisbane Powerhouse. This project was also supported by HotHouse Theatre’s Month in The Country residency program, Queensland Academy of Creative Industries and Queensland Theatre Company.

“Nothing touches a work of art so little as words of criticism: they always result in more or less fortunate misunderstandings. Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space where no word has ever entered , and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beyond our small, transitory life.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

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Meanwhile, as 심청 <Shimchong>: Daughter Overboard! is happening…

Latest update from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre ASRC:

Mum & ‪#‎babyasha‬ still safely at ‪#‎LadyCilento‬ Hospital

AMA president has sternly warned against removal

Queensland Health understand no removal tonight

Thank you to the brave staff at #ladycilento for defying a government to protect a baby

To All the amazing local Brisbane people who stood tall to protect #babyasha

Everyone who sent us hundreds of pizzas (we’ve enough, 100 on the way to homeless shelter and also emergency staff at Lady Cilento).

Vigil will continue 24/7 until Turnbull guarantees #babyasha will not be moved.

Tonight was a landmark night, our nation is changing. It’s heart and conscience has awoken.

In solidarity Kon ASRC CEO

‪#‎letthemstay‬

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The political comes through in the personal.

심청 <Shimchong>: Daughter Overboard! is a magical, mythical, traditional Korean folk tale skewed by a forced political agenda to suit the current Australian climate. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. 

Jeremy Neideck’s new work for Motherboard Productions and Brisbane Powerhouse WTF16 boasts some beautiful moments, cleverly incorporating pansori, physical theatre, puppetry and shadow play, each element adding rich texture to the tradition of theatrical storytelling. Jellyfish lanterns transport us to somewhere deep beneath the surface of the ocean and a length of silk brings to life the Dragon King at the height of his power. When Shimchong plunges into the ocean it’s a shadow puppet we see sinking behind a water wall. (Production Design Josh McIntosh & Lighting Design David Walters). The image, combined with a haunting underscore played live on stage, is affecting and seems to set the tone of the piece… These are poignant moments; the essence of the show – and perhaps the initial, carefully construed approach to it – delicately wrapped up in each. 

But what happened over a lengthy generous creative development period or two? At times the ritualistic components are almost jarring, cut short, losing impact because of the juxtaposition against more conversational scenes, more dramatic scenes (misplaced musical theatre scenes) that feel over written, over zealous and over worked.

The reality is that there isn’t “one nation” that makes up Australia, only competing notions of “nationhood”. There is the cosmopolitan, educated nation of the inner cities and the parochial, anxious communities of the urban fringes and the bush. Asylum seeker rights are easily understood and supported by cosmopolitan Australians. We are well-travelled, we are not suspicious of multiculturalism and we are confident of processing and adjusting to change. At the same time, we rubbish their McMansions while gentrification makes the inner city unaffordable, and we castigate them for their cashed-up lack of generosity while it is in fact their kids mixing with the children of refugees.

– Christos Tsiolkas, The Monthly

With nothing implied but instead, shouted in righteous fashion, we feel beaten with headlines; political rhetoric from which I recoil in real life. Do I need to have it drummed into me at the theatre too? Does somebody think we’re not listening? (Are those who are not listening going to see this show?). Much of the script is superfluous, repeating and repeating upon itself, reiterating what we already know to be the tragic truth about our government’s intolerance for the desperate people seeking refuge in our country. It’s a necessary message, absolutely vital – I believe the future of the country (the future of the world) depends on our compassion – and if something, anything, moves us to action, to sign and share petitions and attend rallies and vigils, to light candles with our children, to make rooms available and to vote for change, then the message has been effectively delivered. But in delivering the message so earnestly, without any subtlety and without offering real reason for empathy (parody and comedy outweigh the human elements here), we lose the inspiration, the motivation. The call to action goes largely unheard because we’ve already tuned out while wondering, when will we hear some more gorgeous pansori? And, why do we need a redundant, distracting, disastrous EKKA scene? 

There needs to be an alternative to settling people here that reaches beyond welfare and the ghetto. We are an island nation and we are not going to have open borders. That means there should be obligations and responsibilities that asylum seekers will have to take on if they arrive outside the auspices of the UN; that is, those who come here by boat. Might that be working to build infrastructure for five or seven years in remote areas, the way my father paid for his passage here? Is it being settled in rural Australia, to work in hospitals and on farms where there are labour shortages? I don’t know. I am not a politician or a social planner but I think those are precisely the conversations we should be having. In forgoing a humane and economically viable way of dealing with asylum seekers, we have squandered opportunities.

– Christos Tsiokas, The Monthly

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How is it possible to leave the Visy without feeling moved to tears? To not care about the drowning, dying, forgotten people who come seeking safety? The evocative imagery, the voices, the story, the beautiful tragedy, it all becomes lost in “the mess” (an unfortunately accurate term for Executive Producer Dave Sleswick to use on opening night), of making something so ancient “relevant” to a contemporary Australian audience. Like the phase our film industry went through (is still going through), making sure we see in several shots per film, a jar of Vegemite on the kitchen table and a Hills Hoist in the backyard, <Shimchong> is trying too hard to contextualise and get us on side. We already know where we are. We are already on side. (If you’re not don’t tell me, please. I don’t need to know you that about you). The authenticity is in the original story and the heartfelt telling of it, the political in the personal.

Do we need to contextualise so much for contemporary audiences? Or do we need to trust them a little more?

Neideck is an astonishing talent, having worked for many years to acquire perhaps the deepest knowledge of some of the most effective cross-cultural storytelling techniques in this country’s brief theatrical history. Now I want to see that knowledge, those techniques and traditions, applied via a more discerning filter, combined without the chaos. Also worth noting is that Neideck’s choreographic touch is missing from this show, and I personally miss the beauty of his own bewitching dance ability. Imagine if Neideck had played the Dragon King?! The moving, mixing, bilingual ensemble is fluid and fantastic, but imagine… Instead, Neideck is kept busy providing the soundtrack for the show.

A company needs to play to its strengths. No one can be all things to everyone and regardless of what this company may consider to be their strongest areas, from an audience perspective the strengths here include the wealth of cross-cultural creative talent, the boldness in the conceptual stages early in the creative process, the ability to secure support for the development of each project, and in performance terms, the Korean inspired movement, the music, the language…all the ritualistic elements of theatrical storytelling. The chaos has worked better for them in the past, with the long-running, hugely successful 지하 Underground (WTF14). And we were immersed in the rich beauty and classical elegance of the more traditional Korean elements in 대홍수 Deluge (Brisbane Festival 2014). <Shimchong> is somehow the middle ground and clearly, a necessary step in the creative journey that Motherboard Productions is on.  

<Shimchong> needs an un-development phase. It needs…devolving. With less paint, fewer brush strokes and a smaller canvas, 심청 <Shimchong>: Daughter Overboard! might be more engaging and challenging, more deeply and persuasively thought provoking, inspiring us to take action, communicating its vital message in a way that is beautiful, heartfelt and haunting, affecting and truly unforgettable.

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22
Nov
14

Or Forever Hold Your Peace (The Story of Iphigenia)

 

Or Forever Hold Your Peace (The Story of Iphigenia)

La Boite Indie & Motherboard Productions

With the support of QPAC

November 12 – 29 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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Well, I don’t know WHAT that is…the hero shot appears to be a mash up of Athens Fashion Week, Jane Eyre, Lauren Jackson’s Medea for Zen Zen Zo, Face Off and The Lion King. Sure, I get it – a leopard doesn’t change its spots, we wear many masks, we are aligned with many tribes, we run with the pack, we are wild at heart and of our own making, etc. – but I don’t know if it’s the best match for this production, which is in fact the best we’ve seen this year, in the line up for La Boite Indie. YOU CAN VOTE FOR IT HERE.

 

Or Forever Hold Your Peace (The Story of Iphigenia) is a show that has just about everything. It’s a contemporary Greek tragedy, complete with a stripper, a wedding and The Last Supper. Well, no, alright, not really. But nearly!

 

Do you know the story? Sure you do. Agamemnon, pressured to prove his commitment to the Trojan War before sending thousands of men to their deaths, agrees to sacrifice his daughter’s life. But that’s not the worst part! He uses the gorgeous Achilles and a last-minute sham wedding to lure the lovely girl to her untimely death, changes his mind and sees her give herself up after all! It’s not just the ancient war we’re dealing with here. This is a timely statement on the “necessity” of war v the desire for peace, the responsibilities of leadership, and the repercussions of an individual’s actions.

 

Guy and I should have propped up an iPhone and filmed our post-show discussion – it would have served as a fine review – but we didn’t think of it at the time and besides, I know how tired I look this term. I was never going to be ready for my close up, Mr DeMille.

 

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When we walk into The Roundhouse with our plastic cups of cab merlot (keep it classy, Brisvegas), it feels like we’ve entered life’s locker room, as the chorus of casually dressed soldiers warms up, apparently preparing for battle, for life. I can only assume they’ve been doing their drills for some time, since we’ve strolled in at the last second to take our seats. It’s a highly stylised (let’s call it choreographed) opening sequence, which immediately sets a brutal, intense, and slightly unnerving, very intimate tone. At the same time, we get a sense of something bigger than all of us; a force beyond our control. The physical discipline, rigour and collective energy inspires me to sit up straighter, though not to join Bootcamp. It’s only Wednesday but it’s already been a long week. Also, these performers are not afraid of a little eye contact. But you might be. If so, probs don’t sit in the first three rows. This is live theatre remember, at close range. INTENSE. I LOVE IT.

 

An epic soundtrack & soundscape (is there an album? I’d buy the album) by Dane Alexander, and dramatic, cinematic lighting (Daniel Anderson) fill the space and then make it sparse… I love the alternate light and shade on Peter Cossar’s face as he speaks on leadership, and the inspired use of the bank of seats opposite us. Sleswick notes in the program that he wanted to express himself as a director through this piece and this he has done in abundance. Or Forever Hold Your Peace perhaps says more about Sleswick than anyone or anything else. His is a bold world, populated by courageous, dedicated and loyal soldiers, through whom we discover an intelligent and intriguing perspective on our country’s journey and the uses of power…and theatre. Remember, I told you in 2012:

 

Dave Sleswick is a director with guts and vision. Motherboard’s La Voix Humaine will have you thinking and feeling deeply. This is not just new world theatre; it’s a new world order. Motherboard is here to stay.

 

If you caught the previous “version” of this production (also in 2012: QUT’s student company, Vena Cava, directed by Dave Sleswick, does Charles Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0), I hope you haven’t missed this one thinking it’s simply a remount. Because Sleswick has taken Mee’s polarising play and introduced Dramaturg, Morgan Rose to it, then invited all those words to a summer rooftop party with all of his friends and Djuki Mala, and thrown them into the pool with all of the furniture, the pot plants and the sound system, before wringing them out, ripping them up, and stuffing them into the pockets of a pair of cargo pants as he goes on his way through the mud run of life.

 

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He’s cast some excellent performers, including Chris Farrell, who moves like dirty mercury across the stage, and Erica Field, gorgeous in the wise vulnerable role of bridesmaid and bestie. Guy says she looks like Bryce Dallas Howard in The Help and shows me the image to prove it.

 

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Achilles (Rowan Davie) also looks like he’s already famous, though I can’t think of whom he reminds me, and I make a mental note to start watching movies again. Menalaus (Ben Warren), the voice of Mee’s hard-wired, intelligent take on current warfare, holds us still with his compelling storytelling, the retelling of the atrocities, informing every subsequent moment. Tormented, Warren’s eyes are windows to a broken-and-glued-together-again soul. He’s beautifully supported by the chorus (easily the ensemble of the year).

 

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The thrown-together wedding of, er; convenience, gives us a clash of different coloured cloth, plastic picnic wares, bright bouquets on a couple of long trestle tables, and garb that’s almost clownish, garish. We could be between the pages of a Harpers Bazaar Summer Brights edit. Or trapped in a Costumes by the Performers university production of Barnum. (There are times when I do actually like Barnum).

 

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It’s unfortunate that Iphigenia’s final monologue (“I like…”) – feels overwritten and overplayed but others continue to giggle long after I want to holler, in that unbearable audition panel manner, “OK. GOOD. THANK YOU”. If I were not a mother I might feel similarly about Clytemnestra’s wailing, which goes on and on, as indeed it would, as her daughter is slaughtered (in the wings, in a perfect example of the less graphic the violence viewed, the more violent the act), but this performer succeeds in sending chills down my spine, and making me hate, even more than before, her husband, Iphigenia’s father, Agememnon. The parallels are clear throughout and I can’t imagine a current political leader even considering going to such lengths to prove his loyalty to the people.

 

“…there’s another chorus at work in Iphigenia in Aulis, and that’s the one in our educated heads, reminding us how the story will end. Iphigenia will be sacrificed. Agamemnon and his army will go off to a ten-year war in which Achilles will die. Troy will burn. Odysseus will find it almost impossible to get home. And though Agamemnon will survive and return, he’ll be ambushed by his wife and revenged by his children. Greece will eat its young only slightly less literally than Thyestes ate his. Knowing all this makes us witnesses to both the necessity and the uselessness of every action. That’s the bitter absurdity of Euripides’s play.”

 

Tony Adler for chicagoreader.com

 

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24
Sep
14

대홍수 Deluge

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대홍수 Deluge

Brisbane Festival, Motherboard Productions & Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse

September 18 – 20 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

Deluge. Anything that overwhelms.

 

We are all naked in the face of grief…

Director, Jeremy Neideck

 

 

Deluge Preview from Motherboard Productions on Vimeo.

 

During Brisbane Writers Festival, I was delighted to speak with Morris Gleitzman, mostly about tea. Not only a renowned author, he’s what you might call a tea connoisseur, quietly, humbly possessing vast knowledge on many varieties of tea, and the many ways in which humans have enjoyed tea for centuries. I’ve come to realise that tea expertise impresses me immensely and if you can talk about it, and make it well, you are a prince (or princess) amongst men (or women).

 

In our household tea is very special, even sacred (I quit coffee a couple of years ago); the drinking of tea is not to be rushed or denied. Our tea “ceremonies” enable a level of conversation and connection that we just don’t discover over any other shared beverage. Tea is the first and final thing we share each day, and it links events, friends and colleagues in between.
Considering my appreciation for a good cuppa, I delighted in the notion of a tea ceremony to open the show. During this time the house lights stay up and we watch as members of the company take tea orders from the audience. Black? Green? Milk? Sugar? They are relaxed, in no rush at all, waiting patiently to take turns to pour the water to make the tea from a towering urn centre stage, which sits in pride of place on a kitchen hutch. It’s not what Raymond Mao would do but it sets the scene and serves to focus our attention on the performers’ focus, kindness and control of the elements. A deceptively simple soundscape (Sound Designer Dane Alexander) and the alternating pace of the performers’ movements remind me of the imagery and viewing experience of Baraka. Although the slow-mo sets the pace of the show and establishes its ritual, which continues in the following moving water vessels sequence, what starts out as a quirky, gentle, delightful opening sequence feels, after 20 minutes, too long, even for me.

 

Other segments of the show feel indulgent for little gain or effect. Without a narrative – everything is symbolic – at times we’re left floundering (though no less fascinated or impressed by the movement itself), like the flotsam and jetsam along the shoreline. I try to go with the flow, to take in as much as possible on an experiential level. Despite its strengths Deluge is presented in an extended form that some may be reluctant to sit through again. This is unfortunate (or is it?) for the development of the piece, which might just need a new pair of eyes on it. Ultimately, despite some moments that are forever etched in my memory, this version of the show is one that is less mesmerising than it should be.

 

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The production’s strength lies in its design and ritualistic choreographic elements. The action happens in and around a semi-circle of pylons, rising up out of swirling mist like some structure’s ruined foundations at the edge of Brisbane River. Having waded through waist-deep, stinking black mud to get to Drift in the aftermath of the 2011 floods, and knowing there was a similar clean up required at Brisbane Powerhouse (and everywhere else), this picture alone elicits strong feelings. It’s the bold work of Sarah Winter, the head and heart behind A Dinner With Gravity, a rare production of pure magic, which has never left me. Here too, Winter creates a dramatic, quite magical scene out of very little. A fantastic final segment, the climax of the piece, utilises the majesty of the simple set, immense lengths of white fabric (and, are they plastic bags?), and the power of Neideck’s physical and vocal performance especially, to striking effect. Before that though, an extended trance sequence builds and builds, the performers shivering, trembling, and eventually leaping up and down on the spot, Maasai Warrior style, possessed by some dark spirit or inherent longing. They suddenly stop, and one by one disappear, drowned, beneath a shimmering green light, a body of laser brilliance that engulfs each figure. The audience gasps, collectively; the movement and music and flood of emotion has quietened all at once. This moment is why we gather together to experience live theatre. (It represents the way we come together after a natural disaster, in one breath, the same realisation, all at once). The award-winning lighting, surely, by David Walters, the stuff of illegal substance enhanced dreams, is easily his best work to date.

 

Another moment brings us Whirling Dervish sema bliss. Or is it grief even still? It’s mostly grief explored in this production – sorrow, despair and some hope. The sort of hope we hope a hot cuppa will bring.

 

Both female and male performers wear simple yet sumptuous layered, gathered skirts, which swirl and billow around the dancers just like Seven Angels Jasmin Lychee blossoms dance around our big glass teapot. Below a leather waistband cum waspie and above bare feet, the fabric swishes and swings around each performer beautifully, conjuring images of western women working new, harsh land and doing their washing in shallow creeks and rivers, in their entirely unsuitable, beautiful European garb (Costume Designers Kiara Bulley & Bianca Bulley. Originating Costume Design Noni Harrison). Most of the movement achieved draws on Korean traditional dance, most of the vocal work taken from Korean opera, leading us from the beauty and wonder of daydreams by a gentle stream, to the devastation of a stormy, horror story nightmare that is any deluge, or deluge of emotion.

 

Han is a word that is widely held to be untranslatable…it is sometimes described as a dark shadow, or a deep-set knot of sorrow that passes between generations and oscillates in that place between despair and hope. Han is presented as the voice of the pansori singer, and in the body of the traditional dancer. It is precipitated and released in endless cycles that require time for meditation and contemplation as well as cathartic outpourings of emotion.

 

Some would say this brand of art is self-indulgent, but I would say maybe the artists are still in denial about what the audience wants. Or needs. There’s a fine line between sharing ritual and respect for cultural traditions, and selling us a style and a story so that we desire more of it. Neideck has little intention, as far as I can tell, of making anything more commercial, but perhaps it’s time to consider entertainment value. It might not take much – it’s already a beautiful work of art. But for whom is the art being made? Why? Why in this country? Neideck is not only a master of the art form, but also, of knowledge and skill sharing, and nurturing the relationships between artists in Australia and Korea. There must be ways to gently bring this work, and work like it to a wider audience; to help bring all of the challenging cross-cultural collaborative work to an even bigger, newer audience, and not just continue to attract the connoisseurs.

 

Deluge has come a long way since its original work-in-progress showing in 2011 (Red Moon Rising & FreeRange Metro Arts), and it probably has something of an eternal life, or more accurately, multiple lives, should Neideck feel the need to stay so close to its themes. It should be cherished, like the oldest Puerh, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change and benefit from new infusions to be enjoyed by all. I think the beauty and strange power of Deluge in any of its forms is enough to stay with even the most impatient theatregoers, so let’s hope it finds its way across the sea, continues to evolve, and comes back to us on the tide someday.

 

In 2014 Deluge features Hoyoung Tak, Younghee Park, Youngho Kwon, Katrina Cornwell, Sammie Williams, Amy Wollstein & Jeremy Neideck.

 

In 2011 Deluge featured Tak Hoyoung, Mark Hill, Younghee Park, Mary Eggleston, Kat Henry, Ellen Rijs, Jung Minji & Amy Wollstein.

 

Forest – Deluge (2011) from Red Moon Rising on Vimeo.

24
Feb
14

지하 Underground WTF14

 

WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse

 

February 13 – 23 2014

 

지하 Underground (Australia/South Korea)

Motherboard Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse

Turbine Studio

February 12 – 16 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Follow your curiosity to 지하 Underground, a pop-up Korean speakeasy bursting with live music and magical storytelling.

 

Drink the night away with the bar’s eccentric proprietor as his ragtag crew of musicians unfold a timeless tale of love that transcends culture, language, and gender. Created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham alongside an international team, this strange and beautiful travelling tavern returns to Brisbane after sell-out seasons in 2011 and 2012.

 

Post-show, 지하 Underground‘s bar stays open, bursting with performances by special friends and lovers.

 

괴짜 사장님과 밤새도록 술잔을 기울이는 동안 , 바 종업원들로 구성된 오합지졸 밴드가 만들어내는 멋진 선율 속에 문화와 언어와 성性을 초월한 사랑 이야기가 펼쳐 집니다.

 

제레미 나이덱, 네이슨 스톤햄,그들과 한 팀을 이룬 국제적 공연자들에 의해 창작된 이 신비하고 아름다운 이동식 선술집은 2011년 2012년 전회 매진을 기록하고, 드디어 여러분들 곁으로 다시 찾아 옵니다!

 

공연 후, 지하 Underground 바(Bar)에서는 특별한 친구들과 연인들의 특별한 공연들이 계속 이어 지며 바도 오픈되어 있습니다!

 

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지하 Underground is so nearly a Brisbane institution that I’m surprised a) it’s taken me so long to see it and b) it doesn’t yet have a permanent home somewhere. This is a show that has been evolving since 2011 and to be honest, I guess if it had a permanent home it might just lose a little of its magic, because the whole notion of “pop-up”, whether it’s in retail or the theatre, is a magical idea in itself.

 

It’s a theatrical experience completely unlike any other – part play, part musical, part karaoke – and a completely convincing unique brand of storytelling, which entices, embraces, and invites us after each show to stay and dance with the company and their special guests as part of an up-late program of awesome performers, including Michelle Zen and the Neon and Polytoxic.

 

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It’s the kind of place where everyone greets you, you grab a drink from the bar, settle comfortably, have a great time and find it reeeally difficult to leave, and even more difficult to resist coming back for a second visit. We feel right at home in the unfamiliar surrounds (well, for me, having never been to Korea) of a cute and cluttered speakeasy, crossing paths with the most interesting people, and sharing the quirky space and the queer love story created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham.

 

Told in English and Korean, it’s not your typically commercially touted tale, and embedded within an original musical soundtrack there are just as many lighter, lovelier moments as there are dark, devastating and confronting segments, both musically and theatrically. A fine balance is created by multi-skilled storytellers/performers who have a special gift for finding the rhythm of the piece, individually and as a tight-knit ensemble, without appearing to look for it at all. The writing and direction allow the story to unfold as naturally as if we were all friends up for a big night out together…and we actually feel as if we are. The voices are raw, real and fantastic, and everybody picks up a musical instrument or two. A special surprise performance from vocalist and guitarist random audience member, Henry, sets the relaxed tone of the evening before the pace picks up with a game of fish tank BINGO to decide which of the 지하 Underground bar staff will play which characters in the story they retell each night. Highly energised and hilarious sequences, such as the Coconut Princess (Neideck) racing from one end of the space to the other, through the audience several times to climb up onto an exercise bike on top of a cabinet while singing, smiling, and remembering each time to pick up his suitcase of stuff, are juxtaposed against strange and beautifully mellow moments of memory and quiet contemplation.

 

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지하 Underground is such a strong piece, and it stands out at this festival for being truly original, challenging AND entertaining.

 

As such 지하 Underground has developed a cult following since its inception. I genuinely expect it to run forever, in some capacity, all over the world! It’s a new kind of crazy-genius cross-cultural collaborative creative gem that has real heart and soul (and watermelon and sparkle and disco!). It works on the heart and the head, and on the soul, and I’m going to find it really hard to let it go; its characters and their stories will stay with me, like a dream that I can’t get back to, long after the music and the sparkles have gone.

 

 

 

14
Sep
12

지하 Underground

 Brisbane Festival

지하

Underground  

Motherboard Productions

Storage Container, Absoe Business Equipment car park, West End 

Tuesday 11th – Saturday 29th September 2012

  

Reviewed by Matty Gharakhanian

 

호기심이 이끄는 데로 따라오다 보면, 당신은 어느새 브리즈번의 잊혀진 구석에 자리잡은 한국의 바(Bar)지하 언더그라운드를 만나게 될 것입니다.

사장님과 주거니 받거니 술잔을 기울이다 보면, 바 종업원들로 구성된 오합지졸 밴드가 만들어내는 멋진 선율 속에 국경과 문화, 언어와 성性을 초월한 사랑 이야기가 펼쳐 집니다.

라이브 음악과 마법 같은 스토리 텔링이 뒤섞인 이 찰나의 세계는 연출가 제레미 나이덱의 상상으로 출발하여 마더보드 프로덕션이 선 보입니다.

잠시 여러분 자신을 이 세계에로 초대하신다면, 매 시간이 행복한 시간이 될 것입니다. 공연 후에는 여러 특별 게스트들과 함께 모든 이에게 열린 ‘바 Bar’로 완벽하게 탈바꿈하게 됩니다.

Let your curiosity guide you to 지하 Underground, a pop-up Korean speakeasy that has taken root in a forgotten corner of Brisbane.

Prepare to drink the night away with the venue’s eccentric proprietor, as a tale of love transcending culture, language and gender unfolds to rhythms created by his staff, a ragtag crew of musicians.

Every hour is happy hour as you allow yourself to indulge in a mix of live music and magical storytelling amidst a transitory world written by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham and presented by Motherboard Productions.

Post-performance, the space transforms into a fully functioning bar for the public with a variety of special guests.

 

Underground Motherboard Productions

Underground. Motherboard Productions. Image by Matty Gharakhanian.

 

Upon entering through black curtains, you feel like you’ve entered into another world.  A world you’ve never been before.  You’re given a hearty greeting as you enter the room.  Various pictures, ornaments, mismatching chairs and even more mismatching colours fill your field of vision.  The stage is a modestly low-set wooden crate with a quaint, vintage feel to the place.  Blow-up palm trees are strewn about by the speakers and small, wooden fish trinkets and other crafted sea critters dangle from the fishnet-laden ceiling.  The style is eclectic and colourful and you start to get a feel for what the show will be like.  The vibe is set for the night.

Underground is a tale of love, regardless of culture, language or gender.  This Korean and English show – directed and written by Jeremy Neideck and co-written by Nathan Stoneham – incorporates live music, dance and storytelling to take you on a glorious adventure with the Coconut Princess through love and discovery.

Before the show even begins, there is pre-show entertainment with songs and drinks to keep the spirits of the room high. To get everyone interested, the performers ask for audience participation and before you know it, the energy in the room is electric.  Your heart is racing and everyone’s clapping along and cheering.  The show itself starts off much like a cheesy games show.  I was half expecting to see Larry Emdur from The Price Is Right to pop out at any moment.

 

 

But don’t let this fool you.  There is more to this show than first meets the eye.

Underground is an absolute riot.  From the get go, there isn’t a single moment of rest from the enthusiastic and honest performances.  It’s the kind of show that will have you laughing almost non-stop while still managing to maintain story.  There were highly inventive uses of props to create each scene and setting and with just the tiniest touch or addition to the stage, we are taken to the next part of the production.

The songs are, for lack of a better word, outstanding.  These live-performed songs add to the storyline as the lyrics and music weave in and out of the show.

After briefly chatting to the producer, Dave Sleswick of Motherboard Productions, I found out the music was original and the finale musical number – possibly the best of the show – was something they had been particularly working on for quite some time.  And it shows.  The whole production is quite evidently a labour of love and the music worthy of its own album, which will be made available soon, thanks to the support for the project, raised via pozible.com

Because of the energy and enthusiasm of the performers (Tak Hoyoung, Park Younghee, Lee Chunnam, Thom Browning, Jeremy Neideck, Nathan Stoneham and Abe Mitchell) you can’t help but smile the whole time.  You also soon discover that the entire room is their stage as they sing, dance and act their way through the audience.  Various parts of the performance are set up throughout the room so you can’t help but feel immersed and in the thick of the action for much of the show.

Underground is running throughout Brisbane Festival and is not a production to be missed.  If you enjoy a good laugh and a good time, go see it immediately.

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Underground Motherboard Productions

Nathan Stoneham & Younghee Park. Image by Gerwyn Davies.

29
Jun
12

La Voix Humaine

La Voix Humaine


Erica Field. Image by FenLan Chuang

La Voix Humaine

La Boite Indie & Motherboard Productions

The Roundhouse

27th June – 14th July

The human voice. The woman’s voice. The voice of the weaker sex?

Jean Cocteau’s classic one-woman show has been vividly re-imagined by Dave Sleswick and the multi-disciplinary performers of Motherboard Productions for La Boite’s Indie season. It’s the third of six daring productions in the series and it is sure to divide Brisbane audiences.

This is an intense and completely captivating interpretation of Cocteau’s hour-long monologue, using three performers to encapsulate and recreate the one role, of a woman scorned…though really, as we are asked to accept from the outset; she is simply a woman in love and holds no malice for the man on the other end of the telephone, who is about to marry another. To us, the audience as voyeur, she seems obsessive and slightly mad. That is, she becomes so, once she is interrupted several times by crossed lines and the telephone operator and she tires of hearing unsatisfactory responses to her lies (and confessions), from her lover on the other end of the line. Over the course of the conversation (remember, we hear only her side), she becomes distraught, self-pitying, depressed and suicidal.

But wait! Surely, this is not the picture of Woman that we expect to see on stage these days! This woman, in this enlightened age, must be in fact, our worst, most pathetic version of Woman. It may have been an accurate depiction in 1939 (and within a 1950’s context it may be more clearly depicted again in Francis Poulenc’s operatic version of the play) but the strong, independent, unwavering, contemporary woman we like to see? This is she? Really? Well, of course it is! She is quite possibly each and every one of us, regardless of our education, connections and enlightenment, sitting and waiting and agonising by the phone, only half-expecting her lover to call her back after they are cut off, perpetuating the Happily Ever After myth, making (the collective) us seem as pathetic as we always imagined ourselves to be. We try not to let this dependence on a partner’s attention make us who we are but we are also, at various times in our lives, slaves to it.

Merida

I took the six year old and her BFF to see Brave the other day. Would the rebellious Scottish princess Merida wait by the phone for her lover to call? If you listen closely, Disney Pixar tells us that indeed she will! She will, at some stage of her life, wait by the phone for the lover of her choice to call (as opposed to a suitor chosen for her by her parents, as tradition dictates). So nothing changes (though there is some hope for the sanity of the next generation), and there will no doubt be further technological advances so that a break up might one day be not over the phone, not via a text message but by a singular thought, in the first instance, transmitted by some telepathic state and thus saving agony over weeks or months or years of wondering, “Does he love me?” “Is he seeing somebody else?” and “Is this the end?”

At first, the woman – played at first by Noa Rotem – demonstrates tenderness and unwavering love and devotion that infuriates me  – clearly, she is unwanted, this guy is already out on the town (in the opera we actually hear a momentary lively jazz segment leaving little doubt about it) and already, completely over her; he’s moved on – but gradually, as her efforts to cajole her lover and win him back become more urgent, more desperate, I begin to recognise her self-doubt, her self-loathing and her self-destructive behaviour. Yes! I too have been that woman, sliding down the wall and wailing, “PLEASE GOD! MAKE HIM CALL ME BACK!” Yes! I know! Pathetic! But that was me. At one stage in my life, that pathetic woman was me.  And in Brave the sequel, it might also, one day, be Merida.

Sadly – and happily (and intriguingly) – the scale of human emotion hasn’t changed over time. The tumultuous experience of a woman (of a human), despised and discarded by another is common to all humans, across centuries and continents, the difference being, in how we choose to think about and respond to the awful situation we find ourselves in. The secret must surely be in our capacity to forgive and move on, our ability (our willingness) to draw from our reserve of resilience.

Erica Field presents the second aspect of Woman and Liesel Zink the third, though there may be audience members who struggle to accept the three women as one and who consider the possibility that they play three different women, almost in different eras. While I know and accept that the premise is three distinct voices within this woman, the voices are never conflicting enough to be truly representative of the multiple voices we each have inside us. Or are they? They become blurred, each unsure of her argument; this is also something we recognise and wish we had more control over.

It’s interesting to note that there is no place for social media in this production. We have Skype but not Facebook or Twitter (or Pinterest or Instagram). It just doesn’t go there. I wonder why not?

Liesel Zink. Image by FenLan Chuang.

Together, Field, Zink and Rotem transcend any notion of traditional “acting” and give us instead, raw emotions through incredibly physical performances, enhanced by multi-media and visuals by Brad Jennings and Stephen Maxwell, a challenging sound design by Lawrence English and simply beautiful, intimate lighting by Verity Hampson in an elegantly bare, simple set, incorporating a Japanese style sliding screen (upon which we see some of the surtitles and images) and beyond which we see the unused seats of The Roundhouse: a reminder that we’re in a theatre, experiencing a theatrical work.

The three girls deliver exceptional performances; bold, brave and highly polished in terms of their physical performances. The edgy contemporary choreography, devised in consultation with Brian Lucas, is executed inside and outside the confines of the set with vulnerability, strength and severity, the bodies moving jarringly and the limbs at odds with the organs, in perfect self-contradiction. The dance element is at once an arresting image of the woman at odds with herself and the ideal interpretation of this piece in a physical sense. In these bold hands, the play could easily be presented in its entirety as a dance piece. The vocal work is also impressive, supported by the amplification and distortion of multiple microphones placed throughout the set, with Rotem speaking the bulk of her lines in Hebrew.

Liesel Zink. Image by FenLan Chuang.

As voyeurs to this pitiful woman’s self-destruction, we are alienated on so many levels. We are continuously reminded that we are seeing a play, a theatrical version of events (and what Steven Mitchell Wright, of The Danger Ensemble, refers to as “theatrical theatre”), which may or may not have happened the way in which we have witnessed events played out. Stage directions are expressed explicitly and not followed, opening the show and setting the scene – but not – and in closing the show, when the figure of the woman mismatches the description of her, we are left wondering why we have been exposed to the stage directions at all. It’s a slightly unnerving, unsatisfactory end but then, so is the end of a relationship. And so is the end of a life. We leave it in an unfinished state, as if we are cut off mid-conversation. So many words are left unsaid. So many thoughts, feelings, issues…left unresolved.

Dave Sleswick is a director with guts and vision. Motherboard’s La Voix Humaine will have you thinking and feeling deeply. This is not just new world theatre; it’s a new world order. Motherboard is here to stay.

La Voix Humaine

Here’s a wonderful reminder about why we do what we do here, in this place, from The Escapist’s Helpmann Award nominated, Lucas Stibbard, currently touring his hit show, boy girl wall.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE. 

I have been asked, more than a couple of times, in recent months “What is great about the Brisbane scene?”. I usually babble for a bit about quality of life and the relatively strong network and the fact that you can make a go of it here without having to wait tables at Bondi 8 hours a day to pay rent. 

Tonight, however, I got a really good answer handed to me. (And forgive me Dave Sleswick if I get this wrong – please correct me.) Anyway, during his speech Dave spoke of the immense amount of support that the community had put behind the work – from it’s inception at Metro Arts, on through their Free Range Program, to further development with Brisbane Festival’s Under The Radar and the Judith Wright Center, on to being picked up by La Boite Independents Program and then rehearsed with the assistance of AusDance, Brisbane Powerhouse and Queensland Theatre Company, with visuals from Markwell Presents, as well as the 53 individuals who contributed $4,000 to their set-build. This combined with the knowledge that Motherboard Productions whilst producing independent art on a shoestring with a group of such talented creatives, cast and crew who have, no doubt, worked for little or deferred payment, have made something magical. By the end of Dave’s words I was a bit teary.

So why is Brisbane a good place to make work (despite the still lifting banana curtain that leads to our work so rarely making it south of the border and current incumbent political bungle)?

The answer is the community.

Lucas Stibbard