Posts Tagged ‘nambour civic centre

20
Aug
14

Hedonism’s Second Album

 

Hedonism’s Second Album

La Boite Indie, David Burton & Claire Christian

With the support of QPAC

Loft Theatre

August 13-30 2014

 

Reviewed by Guy Frawley

 

Presented as a part of this year’s La Boîte Indie schedule, Hedonism’s Second Album is a thoroughly enjoyable show that explores with humour, the meaning of modern masculinity, growing up and friendship.

 

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The show poster’s attempt at replicating an actual album launch poster was so successful that I felt quite the fool arriving at La Boîte last Thursday to discover that I was indeed reviewing a play and not covering (as I had originally wondered, perplexed) an album launch. Once the initial confusion was erased I settled into my seat with anticipation to view a piece with absolutely no preconceptions or expectations.

 

Hedonism’s Second Album tells the tale of a young Brisbane based indie rock band, the eponymous Hedonism, who after the success of their first album are about to begin recording their anticipated sophomore recording. Due to their hard partying, questionable work ethic and laissez-faire attitude a series of Hangover style escapades ensue that guarantee this won’t be a smooth recording process.

 

The cast of five fill their roles with well crafted personalities that under the direction of Margi Brown Ash evoke both depth and pathos.

 

Patrick Dwyer, Gavin Edwards, Nicholas Gell and Thomas Hutchings are the bandmates who are all struggling with their own demons, some more obvious than others but all revolving around the reoccurring themes of masculinity and growth. Hedonism’s Second Album spends the majority of its dramatic arc exploring what it truly means to grow up and how young men are adjusting to these changes in the modern world. The excesses offered by celebrity and the microscope of the public eye add further to this tumultuous time and kickstart a week of drama as the boys question their roles as friends, bandmates, husbands, lovers and men.

 

The script by David Burton and Claire Christian is crackling with energy and humour but in the wrong directorial hands Hedonism’s Second Album could have easily been clunky and inauthentic. This is a play that relies heavily upon the tone set by the director and the charisma of the cast and it was a pleasure to see both so perfectly on point.

 

Dwyer, Edwards, Gell and Hutchings deliver delightful performances both individually and as a unit. Each oscillating through a range of conflicting emotions and responses, convincingly portraying fully fleshed out individuals that convince us these guys have known each other for years. The emotional core of this play is to be found when we see how this group reacts to the changes in their own lives and within the band. What happens when you don’t live up to your close one’s expectations? How do you handle not living up to your own expectations? When the group are together and able to ignore all adult responsibility these problems seemingly cease to matter, but outside of the vacuum of the recording studio real life will always eventually catch up with our protagonists.

 

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Ngoc Phan rounds out the cast as the iron willed studio representative who is tasked with the Herculean job of keeping the boys under heel and on schedule and delivers a fiery performance. Phan plays the role with the confidence and fire required but displays enough emotional depth of character to avoid becoming a stereotype.

 

The soundtrack curation by Riley Schleinstein presents an atmospheric mix of indie tracks and audio soundscapes that help to both set the scene and heighten the moments of drama.

 

Hedonism’s Second Album is a thoroughly enjoyable 80-minute journey through the inner workings of a band as they battle with themselves, their success and each other. It’s thought provoking, entertaining and at some moments incredibly touching. See it at the Loft Theatre until August 30 and, for one night only, at Nambour Civic Centre on September 4.

 

 

14
Aug
14

Hedonism’s Second Album (and here comes Margi Brown Ash to adjudicate the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival)!

 

Hedonism’s Second Album is a new Australian comedy from David Burton and Claire Christian.

 

It’s for anyone who’s ever been let down by their favourite band, or their best mates.

 

hedonismssecondalbum

 

Written by David Burton & Claire Christian

Director Margi Brown Ash
Designer Josh McIntosh
Lighting Designer Ben Hunt

with

Patrick Dwyer, Gavin Edwards, Nicholas Gell,
Thomas Hutchins & Ngoc Phan

 

In a music studio in surburban Brisbane four men gather in an attempt to build upon a surprisingly successful first album. Newly clean, front man Gareth is losing his cool. Lead guitarist Chimney has got cold feet. Bass player Michael is keeping secrets and Sumo, the drummer, has vanished. Meet Hedonism.

Hedonism have rocketed from pub gigs to support acts, international tours and brand management. It’s a whole new world. They’ve been given a license to drink, be rockstars and live, well, hedonistically. They’ve been give permission to never grow up, as long as they record their second album.

After an all-weekend bender involving under-age girls, bikies, racial slurs on YouTube and a wombat from Australia Zoo, record label exec Phil is sent in to pull the boys into line and prevent the looming PR disaster. During the testosterone-fueled fallout, closely-guarded secrets are laid bare and friendships tested.

Hedonism’s Second Album premieres tonight at The Loft as part of La Boite Indie, and continues until August 30.

With Sunshine Coast support bands, The Flumes & The Floating Bridges, Hedonism’s Second Album comes to Nambour Civic Centre on September 4 2014.

 

 

 

Director, Margi Brown Ash, joins us on the Sunshine Coast from tomorrow night for the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival #SCTF14

 

 

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Margi is adjudicating the one-act play Open Section (this weekend) and Youth Section (next weekend). I’m looking forward to hearing her comments about our competing actors and directors, and particularly, her advice to younger performers. Previously, we’ve welcomed Andrea Moor, Kate Foy, Karen Crone and many more industry experts, all of whom have offered valuable feedback to our local and visiting theatre companies and at the same time, enlightened audience members about playwriting and production elements.

This year, for the first time, we’ve added a week-long program of events and moved the entire festival to the lovely little Lind Lane Theatre in Mitchell Street, Nambour. It IS little, accommodating only 100 punters per session, so book early for all sessions and special events, which include a forum and debate, workshops and theatresports.

Check livetheatre.com.au for details and booking information

29
Mar
13

Infinite Space & Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013

Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013

 

 

A rather late launch in March, yes, on the Thursday leading into the Easter weekend, a Thursday known as Maundy Thursday, a fact I know due to my Lutheran schooling. OUR TWENTY-YEAR SCHOOL REUNION IS COMING UP! WTF? And did I miss the ten-year get together then? I don’t remember putting in an appearance. I only see school friends on Facebook. Can I tell them I invented Post-Its? Oh. No. It’s been done.

 

 

 

So at my Lutheran school, I sang on Maundy Thursday in Chapel, “They crucified my Lord and he never said a mumblin’ word…” That’s right. Every year I have that top soprano line in my head and only one of seven or something verses… “Not a word, not a word, not a word.” Funny the things you remember.

 

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This was indeed a late-in-the-year launch, for a season of Sunshine Coast entertainment that has well and truly begun, across the three Council run venues, Lake Kawana Community Centre, The J in Noosa, and Nambour Civic Centre, the venue for the launch. Hmmm.

 

The Nambour Civic Centre is a little like Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane. The last time I was there, only recently actually, to see SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody, the best thing about the place was Stephen Mahey (needless to say, I’m excited to see him next as Kenickie!). Nambour desperately needs some love too. While the foyer is fairly open and inviting, with easy box office and bar access, it’s a shocking performance space, especially for dancers, and more importantly, for audiences.

 

I was sure I’d heard a rumour last year that a second lot of tiered seating was to come. Well, it hasn’t come yet! Tip for the punters: Don’t book floor seats at Nambour. Ask to be seated in the raked seating, from about 4 rows back or miss the entirety of any floor work. We were in row AA, the first of the raked seating, and missed most of it. (Don’t be fooled by thinking that the closer you are to this stage the better vantage point you’ll get. What you’ll get is a crookneck!).

 

afgroup-0021The launch event was held in the foyer by the bar, with drinks and too-hard-to-handle canapés laid on. I never take for granted good catering, with teeny tiny neat morsels, masses of serviettes and constant attention from the staff so there is no awkwardness or mess. While the staff did their utmost, they had little chance of winning and I dread to think how many super-size-me Malay chicken sticks and deep-fried meatballs (or were they arrancini balls?) were wasted because they were simply too large to eat while standing and talking with a drink in hand. It’s a practical decision, which has little, if anything, to do with the fact that you may or may not turn up hungry to these sorts of events. Thank goodness Poppy and I had already enjoyed wild rice and Catalan stew at home.

 

The launch was short and sweet, with technology allowing us a sneak peak at the entire season of Sunshine Coast Council’s entertainment program, including theatre, dance, music, comedy and children’s entertainment. I know that Sunshine Coast peeps had better be booking early for a heap of these shows – it’s a great selection – and my tip is that if you get organised you can possibly halve your trips to Brisbane this year. And introduce some new friends and family members to the joy of live theatre. My picks are Animal Farm, Art, Jack Charles, Daniel Gartrell, R & J, Giselle, The Ten Tenors, and the Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow.  The kids should definitely get to Flipside Circus, Fluff, Possum Magic and The Wiggles. But wait! THERE’S A WIGGLES’ WOMAN NOW?! #forserious #whatofit

 

Infinite_Space

Following the launch, we were invited to attend Melbourne Ballet Company’s Infinite Space, comprising four separate pieces, choreographed by Resident Choreographer, Simon Hoy (and Robert Kelly, Co-Choreographer of In One Day). The highlight was seeing Alexander Bryce on a Sunshine Coast stage again, and I wondered why the names of the artists did not appear anywhere. An oversight? Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance members had to ask me, “Who IS that?!” because of course they were able to recognise him but couldn’t place him without a name to put to that familiar face and form. Bryce commands attention and I think we’ll see him moving well beyond Melbourne Ballet Company.

 

Poppy’s definitive comment following the first piece, In One Day was, “It was about relationships.” And while I agree absolutely with her, because I saw masculine-feminine struggles, relationships, image, identity, sexuality, insecurity, manipulation and bullying, apparently we were waaay off the mark and it’s actually a work that “celebrates physicality and athleticism” and was created to “pay tribute to the city of Melbourne.” Well! Okay. But I have to tell you that the main homage appeared to be to the likes of Material Girl Madonna and Gaultier (I even thought of the original, disturbing The Beauty Myth book cover!), in dance gear that was nude ruched satin pin-up booty pants and tops. I know, I know, it’s a slight nod that I’ve taken to be total inspiration. Totally not the case. It’s just where my head goes. This garb is pretty plain in comparison. Simple. Functional. A little bit fun and shiny. And absolutely beautiful. It’s a pity we didn’t see more of the dancers, as they moved in and out of shadows that may or may not have been intentional…

 

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Because I hadn’t been asked to review the show, because Poppy hasn’t been 100% this week, and because we have a massive weekend planned, we left after In One Day. The work that I’d really hoped to see (Infinite Space) was the final one of the night and sadly, I realised that we’d be missing it.

 

The Sunshine Coast is such a strange place for entertainment. We do festivals exceptionally well, particularly in Noosa. It was such a joy to spend the evening with our gorgeous friends, Trena and Murray. Trena is the publicist extraordinaire for Noosa Longweekend (and at least ten or eleven other fabulous clients), and in speaking with her, I realised that we are about to be flung head first into our crazy festival season. I knew it was creeping up on us but OMG HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS PEOPLE! As well as Woodford Folk Festival each year, we have Floating Land, Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, Noosa Longweekend, Noosa Jazz Festival and before any of that, we’re celebrating on Sunday at the Ocean Street World Festival! Everybody goes to the festivals. To get people in through the theatre doors is another matter entirely. But now there’s no excuse not to go more often to the theatres, is there?!

 

There’s some great stuff being offered in the council venues this year and it’s not just the shows I’m talking about. Check out the workshops, film festivals, and special events too. It’s easy to connect with the arts/venues arm of Council, via their Sunshine Coast Venues and Events website and Facebook pages. You can also subscribe to the e-newsletters so you’ll never miss a one-night-only show again. With the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance season, professional touring productions, fabulous dinner theatre, dance events and all of those festivals, there is literally TOO MUCH TO DO HERE! GET AMONGST IT! And if you stayed to see the rest of the show after Interval tonight, do let me know your thoughts!

 

 

06
Sep
12

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

Gardens Theatre

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

Ensemble Theatre

Gardens Theatre

4th September to 6th September 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

In no way does the small cast mean this is a small show. There are big personalities encapsulated in these small moments, and David Williamson is certainly not stingy with these hilarious moments. He has a flair for binary plots. Binary as in the old saying “opposites attract”. Whether or not it’s true it certainly takes effect in Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica. The play even goes so far to have its characters, Gary and Monica, mock this age old saying in heated conversation.

You don’t need to be studying a music degree to enjoy this show. Gardens Theatre’s in-house stereos amp the tunes up regardless of whether you recognise them or not. In fact, it’s a bit of a brief music lesson from time to time with the witty banter of this misfit couple.

I find the best kind of romance is the unconventional kind. The kind of love you find in places you weren’t looking, or even better; the kind of love that comes and finds you. Chases you, no matter how many times you stamp your feet and refuse. “NO!” You might yell out. But love comes a-runnin’ anyway. That’s what it’s like between Gary and Monica. Despite everything Gary, as his radio persona Rhinestone Rex, says. No matter what Monica does, they end up in the same lounge room bickering away.

All the credit can’t go to David Williamson though. He may have penned the witty banter between the two but in this production it is Alexandra Fowler and Glenn Hazeldine who bring them to the stage. Glenn Hazeldine has already performed this role, opposite Georgie Parker, in the original Ensemble production in Sydney. The role fits him like the cowboy hat that sits perfectly on his head. Meanwhile, Alexandra Fowler I have already seen bring Williamson’s creations to life in other plays like Let The Sunshine.

My only grievance with this performance is the ending. I suppose a balance between the real and unreal is my biggest gripe. Maybe I’m too cynical but I felt this production could’ve been concluded ten minutes earlier. A particular scene just feels so apt in describing the human condition. When Monica and Gary’s hands almost touch just as the lights drop. Letting us witness the moments, the unfinished ones, that’s what really represents life for me. Something unfinished, unresolved and understated.

Wrapping things up in a perfect package is to me like telling a bedtime story. The prince finds the princess, the dragon is slain and they all live happily in the kingdom. But life, and especially love, is nothing of the sort. Monica’s dragons will still haunt her, or in the long run she will learn to live with them. Rhinestone Rex or truthfully Gary, the tradesman, will never be the ultimate prince, but he will be the man who cares. Their kingdom may not be glamourous but it will be theirs with all its imperfections. That’s how I like to think of it, but the conclusion to this production just doesn’t measure up to this ideal. But like I said, I’m a cynic who’s never quite satisfied.

Just like this review Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica touches upon sad moments and humourous ones. The mockery between Gary and Monica is both punctual and surprising. Delivered perfectly by Hazeldine and Fowler the theatre is filled with laughter from everyone seated. Whether Monica is hitting Rex where it hurts or Rex is counteracting Monica with his cheekiness the serious and the jovial interact wonderfully. They feel well rounded, funny, but real.

Once again Australian theatre has stepped up to meet the demands. I found myself poised on the edge of my seat during the tension filled moments and flung back laughing during the comical. If you believe in love, if you believe in music or if you believe in something a little in between then Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica is the show you can’t miss.

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica continues on to Nambour Civic Centre this Saturday 8th September at 7:30pm and then to venues across Australia. Check the tour schedule for details.

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

 

 

 

21
May
12

Biddies

Biddies

CDP Production

QUT Gardens Point Theatre

18th – 19th May 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Friday often comes and goes by me with a comedy of errors. I like to think I’m part of the Age of Awkward. I threw my back out at the gym while trying to look energetic. As night came around I threw on a scarf and hunched over towards the bus. In the city I banged my leg on a bench. Why was that bench even there in the first place? Clearly it is in the way of my path. As I got closer to QUT’s Gardens Point Theatre the chill bit into me and I wrapped my scarf like a shawl. Waddling up the steps with my sore back and hobbled leg I looked like I was part of the show, another in the cast of Biddies.

Biddies lights up to five little old ladies enjoying a good old “stitch and bitch” in their old classroom. Unforeseen circumstances leave them locked in their coop with nothing but their wits to guide them. The most important thing to remember is they are anything but old. There are songs to be sung, dances to be danced and even gossip sessions that have passed decades. Each biddie reveals their triumphs and flaws of the past. The constant theme of “Men: can’t live with them. Can’t live without them,” is something each woman in the audience can’t help but laugh at.

Just because these ladies are still blasé and youthful in their age does not mean the kids can come along too. I started to self-consciously giggle to myself at some of the crude wisecracks coming from these ladies mouths. It wasn’t long before all of the audience cracked up too, casting aside any guilt in something so rude. It’s anything but a serious affair.  But somehow the jokes reminded me these old ladies have stories we can all relate to. Very cheekily calling out ,“Said the actress to the bishop,” at the drop of a suggestive comment. It sent a shiver down my spine, how similar it was to something I might say to friends. The modern adaption being something along the lines of “That’s what she said!” Though I’m a lady, I would never, ever say such a thing…”

Of all the cast two wildly youthful biddies caught my attention. Donna Lee is no stranger to theatre. Every rude comment, every break into song completed with tap dance and spinning parasols; her role as Connie was behind it. She preempted the laughter for me. On the other end of the character scale was Agnes played by Maggie Blinco. She’s a television icon of four generations in her own right. Watching her take on the role of independent spinster Agnes instilled all the wisdom of a powerful woman every young girl dreams of. She needs no man to save her and with just a dash of Sambuca in her coffee she can quip the words of Shakespeare or Wordsworth. She’s the kind of sassy old woman I wouldn’t mind being when I’ve seen decades of change before my eyes.

Admittedly, Biddies was not particularly my cup of tea. I’m not even a tea drinker. I think that’s the problem. I was craving a flat white from Merlos and I got a cup of Earl Grey.  The play indulges a certain frame of humour, very marginalised with not too many surprises. Not to say the play is uneventful. There are certainly some great surprises in the show.

Ultimately these limitations of genre were no chip on my shoulder. I spent the night laughing, as did everyone else in the theatre. It’s one of those light-hearted pieces of writing that leave you feeling strange. Words like pleasant, or splendid and other adjectives I don’t usually utter come to life. Because that’s what this is: a splendid evening with some anything-but-old Biddies.

 

14
May
12

Biddies comes to Brisbane & the Sunshine Coast!

 

Season 2012

Vulnerable, feisty and in full bloom, these gals are everything – except old!

Five ordinarily marvellous women find themselves back in their infants school classroom plying their needles in a good old-fashioned session of “stitch and bitch”.  Their confessions are frank, their rivalries intense and their jokes outrageous.  They discover a common frustration with the limitations of being female and mature in a world still largely defined by men.

Accidentally locked in the classroom, with nothing but ingenuity, Adora Cream Wafers and a bucket to get them through the crisis, unknown reserves come to the fore. Released from their own constraints, they rediscover their capacity to love, forgive – and take control. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Men see their wives, adult children see their mothers, grandchildren see Nana and the matureAustralian woman sees herself…

Don Reid’s play CODGERS was a touring favourite in 2010, described by the Sydney Morning Herald as“…a heart-warming comedy…you’re in the hands of skilled experts who really do know what they’re doing, how to do it and why.”

Now it’s time to hear from the ladies, as some of Australia’s most beloved actresses bring this delightful new comedy to the stage. You’ll laugh till you cry. Move over Codgers, the Biddies are in town…

Vulnerable, feisty and in full bloom, these gals are everything – except old!

Cast includes: Annie Byron, Maggie Blinco, Vivienne Garrett, Julie Hudspeth, Donna Lee and Linden Wilkenson

Written by Don Reid

Directed by Wayne Harrison

Gardens Point Theatre

Friday 18 May 7.30pm
Saturday 19 May 2.00pm & 7.30pm

Nambour Civic Centre

Wed 06 June 2012

06
Apr
12

april’s fool: return season


This April, the powerful production April’s Fool, based on the 2009 death of Toowoomba teenager Kristjan Terauds, embarks on a national tour.

A startling work of sadness, loss and love, while laced with humour and ultimately optimism, April’s Fool has been based on interviews about Kristjan by local playwright David Burton, with friends and family of the popular youth, who died from complications from illicit drug use just two weeks shy of his 19th birthday.

After its debut season in 2010, young people, parents, teachers, youth workers and theatre critics alike, for its honesty and ability to engage its audience without preaching or lecturing, universally praised April’s Fool.

We asked Writer, David Burton, and Director, Lewis Jones, to tell us about what it means to re-visit this moving play and offer it up to a whole new audience. Rehearsals started last week. Jones said, “It is a little surreal coming back to something, where it is almost entirely the same cast – four out of the five cast members are the same.” The only change of cast we’ll see for this tour is Belinda Raisin replacing Kathryn Marquet.

Jones explains, “The initial creative development process came directly out of the events on which the play is based, in that David Burton began conducting interviews on which to base his verbatim work within four or five months of Kristjan’s death. There were then three intense creative developments between then and the final rehearsal period. The show premiered in July 2010, some fifteen months after Kristjan died. It was a very raw and immediate process for all involved, which I think made its impact very raw and immediate as well.”

Writer, David Burton

Burton notes, “It was originally commissioned by the Empire Theatre Project’s Company. So Lewis Jones, the director, is the brains behind this whole project. I quickly caught Lewis’ passion for the piece and ran with it. When you sit down and hear the story for the first time it’s pretty astonishing, and we had Kristjan’s father’s journal as source material too. Lewis’ passion, along with the family’s desire for positive change in the community, really fueled the project and turned it into what it was.”

Director, Lewis Jones

As Director and the person who had to instigate the production – it was a high-risk undertaking – Jones was not sure how the local community would react. “I knew that it was a story that was both innately theatrical but more importantly, it was a story that needed to be shared. And I feel that this is why it has been received so positively by audiences. It is a story that we share with the audience very gently and with a great deal of love. It is not sensational. It is not ‘dramatic’ in the usual sense of the word.

We have found that audiences appreciate the gentleness and the directness of the storytelling and young people respond very positively to the work, because it respects their ability to make up their own mind. At no point does the play tell them whether to take drugs or not to take drugs; it just tells the story of one boy who took drugs.

At a Conference I was talking to Nicole Lauder who is a close family friend of the Terauds family. At the time, Nicole was General Manager of La Boite Theatre and in asking her how she was, she shared that she had just been up in Toowoomba watching the son of a friend die. She asked if it was time to revisit Margery Forde’s X-Stacy and I suggested that it was probably time for a new work within this genre.

She put me in touch with David, Kristjan’s father who had written a journal entitled ‘April’s Fool’ chronicling the last days of his son’s life. It was a devastating read and I asked if it could form the basis of a new theatre work and very generously the Terauds family gave permission for the development of the work.”

Burton interviewed family members and friends to get the full story. I asked if this was a “difficult” process.

“Difficult is too simple a word. It was one of the most beautiful and awful experiences of my life. It’s still haunting. Obviously you’re sitting with people who are going through massive grief, so it’s very sad. But you really become aware of how much love is in a community, and how much a death can affect so many people. It was never difficult finding people. Overall, people were very willing to come forward and talk quite openly. The community was extremely gracious and generous with their stories.”

The result of such generous, courageous community sharing is a new breed of verbatim theatre. Burton notes, “If I can make up an entirely new label, I’d say April’s Fool is a ‘narrative verbatim’. We were always very focussed on the narrative. We don’t stop too often to really stop and smell the roses and reflect in this play. I always wanted to keep the story moving. So in that sense I think audiences shouldn’t expect a ‘discussion’ about the event that you can see in some verbatim plays. April’s Fool tells you a story. That was always it’s main goal.”

Not an easy story to share.

Even so, neither Jones nor Burton had any misgivings and they remained consultative throughout the process, allowing those interviewed to have a seven-day cooling off period. He says that the immediacy of the interviews was of utmost importance to allow it to be part of the grieving and healing process. Jones observes, “I guess that is how the rehearsal process is different this time. There is a distance from Kristjan’s death. The mood in the rehearsal room is somewhat more reflective. The premiere season had an urgency to it, this remount is perhaps a little gentler, though nonetheless powerful, and it is underpinned with the knowledge that this is a show that has proven its artistic merit and its ability to have a positive impact on the communities where it is performed.”

During the original rehearsal process, Burton says he was involved as much as any writer. “I would pop in every week or so to check in, tweak things and make changes. Lewis Jones and I work extremely well together, so there was the occasional phone call where we’d bounce around ideas. I was there when we showed the parents for the very first time. That was one of the most memorable days of my life. But overall, it was such a pleasure to work with the team.  It’s a superb cast and crew.”

“There were a few key people with this script that really bounced it along,” says Burton. “The most influential was Lewis Jones, along with Christie Tickell and Michael Futcher. There was other advice from the cast along the way too. Theatre’s a collaborative art form, and especially with a piece like this it’s important to remember that you (the writer) actually has very little spiritual ownership of it. So if someone suggests an idea that’s brilliant, who am I to complain? Once again, the team behind this was brilliant, so I always felt the script was in good hands.”

As well as holding an open call for actors who would complete his cast, Jones handpicked Barbara Lowing and Allen Laverty, whose work he had known for many years. “I knew I could trust them with the material,” he said. “There is an added dimension to working on material you know to be real and immediate and all the cast met what I will call the main players over the creative development process, with David Burton perhaps operating as a conduit; he had, after all, conducted the interviews and built close relationships with the family and close friends. The most important thing for the family is summed up by Kristjan’s mother, Helena who said, when asked why she was prepared to let this tragic story be shared, said, ‘If I can stop another mother going through what I have been through, then it is worth it.’”

Interestingly, Kristjan does not appear in the play, nor do we hear his voice. Burton says, “It was an instinct. The very first thing I knew about the play was that it wouldn’t feature Kristjan in any real physical sense. The fact he’s not there is what the play is really about. And an attempt to reenact his life or have someone play him flirts dangerously with bad taste. I kind of really like that by the end of the play you feel like you know Kristjan, but you still feel like he’s incredibly mysterious. I think that’s really important to the piece.”

I wondered what that original opening night would have been like, as a member of that community, as a member of that family…

Burton remembers, “The opening night was huge. It was terrifying. But then the lights went down and it all played out and it was one of the best experiences of my life. We all hung around with the family and the cast and it was a really beautiful symbol of a community coming together. Kristjan’s whole community seemed to be really pleased with it. From there, the play’s had pretty amazing affects. We get feedback from every show that blows us away. It’s changing lives, which is what Kristjan’s parents originally wanted.”

I asked Burton if he thought April’s Fool should be mandatory reading/viewing for high school students. He said, “I’m biased, so of course I think yes. But I certainly don’t think it would hurt! We’ve had people come to this show and say things like ‘I never knew theatre could do that.’ We’ve had teenagers come and then go home to their parents and confess their drug problems that same afternoon. We’ve had several local politicians see the show and say that every teenager and parent should be exposed to it. I think it’s a vital issue, and I do think that there’s very little out there that talks about these issues in quite the way that April’s Fool does. I think it’s rare you get a play like this.”

Original audiences might want to see this production again. “They might want to bring a friend or a young person who is now in the age group who are most deeply affected by these issues, but who was not the last time it can around,” says Jones.

The response from school groups has already been phenomenal. When the government doesn’t show their support for the arts, it’s vital that schools and parents do and it’s pleasing to see so many families, teachers and principals prioritising a student trip to this show.

“They witnessed real characters, real feelings and real reactions. It shocked them, it challenged them, it angered them, it saddened them, it made them laugh and it made them cry. This was the first performance my students have been really passionate about.”

Michelle Radunz, Drama Teacher at Chinchilla State High School

“I was amazed by the rapt attention of the large audience of school students. They appeared to hang on every word. For me, this is clear evidence of the play’s success in reaching its target audience who will hopefully consider and discuss the issues long after the season has finished.”

Katherine Lyall-Watson, ourbrisbane.com

April’s Fool is a real, raw, affecting story but Jones would not describe it as “hard-hitting.” Rather, he explains, it is “remarkably gentle – profound, moving, beautiful, sad. From my perspective it is an act of love. The work opens up discussion on a difficult topic. This work will save lives.”

April's Fool is available at australianplays.org

Kate Foy reviewed the world premiere in Oakey, near Toowoomba, in 2010 and likened the play to – “a piece of art and in form and intention” – a quilt, with its fragments of deep feelings and shared history. I was curious about what made the final cut.

“There were long and very confidential conversations between Lewis Jones and I about certain pieces of information. You’re going to encounter that with any verbatim play. There are some moments in the play that we took a small (and very calculated) risk by including, because we felt they were important. There are other moments that we sacrificed along the way. Sometimes this was because it was information that was too sensitive. But almost all of the time it was simply because a moment didn’t work because of fairly mundane theatrical reasons.

We have to wonder if the experience of telling a difficult story is a cathartic experience for those involved in its telling. Burton notes, “The six or so months that I worked with the family was fantastic. I can’t speak on their behalf of what their emotional experience was like, but I know a lot of them felt positively about it. I think it’s dangerous to assume these things can always be cathartic. Grief is a funny and mysterious beast. For one person it may be ‘cathartic’, for another it can be extremely dangerous. The only reason we ever went ahead with the project was that the family (who have been involved in theatre before and understood what would happen) were so enthusiastic for it. They really wanted it to happen. I feel humbled and honored to be a part of it. It remains one of the things I’m most proud of (creative work or otherwise) in my life.”

Burton is currently writing a couple of plays for school audiences with Grin and Tonic Theatre Company. He’s also writing a new work, which will premiere at the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba in September. “I have a weekly podcast that I do with a mate about arts in Queensland (stuffandthings.com.au) and I’m polishing off a couple of novels that will hopefully see the light of day quite soon.”

As Director of Brisbane’s Judith Wright Centre, Jones continues to seek out work that “transcends the ordinary by putting us in touch with the intangible.” He points out, “Yes, that last sentence is not logical. Perhaps it sums up my artistic heart.”

Jones’ support for new work, new talent and the growth of the industry in general does not go unnoticed. He says, “I carry with me a belief in the ability of EVERY one – artist or not – to have their life enriched by the arts. There is a lot of shit that goes on around the arts, and so I like to focus on ‘the work’. In the end it is about connecting artists to audiences and audiences are our masters.

There are audiences out there with a hunger for productions that feed them – perhaps – spiritually and it is our task to make work that transcends the ordinary.

My hope for Queensland is that we continue to acknowledge that we have some brilliant theatre makers and that we have the capacity to take that to audiences near and far – and that we do not need to validate what we do by seeking approval from afar.

It’s about the work and supporting artists to develop business models that allow them to build genuinely sustainable practice.”

Book online to see April’s Fool at the Judith Wright Centre or Nambour Civic Centre