Posts Tagged ‘physical theatre


Richard Grantham & ZEN ZEN ZO Present DUSK

RESTRUNG 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & ZEN ZEN ZO


Saturday August 19 2017 at 3:45pm & 9pm 


Hit pause on your fast-paced hectic life, and take a moment to slow down, breath, and be present at DUSK


Restrung 2017 delivers an all-star line-up of more than 50 international, national and local artists to explore the spaces between genres – classical, electronica, folk, jazz, rock, pop, minimalism and more.


The three-day program includes The Viola Cloning Project and Zen Zen Zo’s DUSK, and Collusion and Queensland Ballet Academy’s Muscle Memory: Reflex.


Third in the series of Restrung festivals, the program offers a joyous explosion of strings-driven music, dance, theatre and art that challenges musical and artistic boundaries: a roller coaster ride through the arcane, the forbidden and the gorgeous.




DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.


DUSK is a moving meditation, a danced haiku, an opportunity to inhabit the “space between” (day/night; sound/silence; movement/stillness; life/death)


a regenerative space of unfolding potential…


Performer, Travis Weiner talks about



There are 2 aspects of the show itself I can tell you about.


I’ve performed in all of Lynne’s shows since I started with the company in 2014 and this is probably the simplest but the most physically and mentally demanding choreography I can remember. That’s partly because some of it is just hard work and partly because Richard’s original composition can’t be broken into beats of 8. When we dance to his music, which is also in parts just him jamming, we have no musical beat to keep us in sync with each other. So almost the entire show is us kinaesthetically responding to each other. It’s an exciting challenge.


From a creative perspective it’s more complicated to explain what’s unique about this show. We were talking about this yesterday and we all see Richard as this god-like maestro summoning us as otherworldly spirits. I would say he deserves such a role. He is a very talented musician, and I wouldn’t say so lightly. The music he is able to create with literally one instrument and a bunch of pedals at his feet is mind blowing. It’s like he takes the concept of a one man band and turns it into a one man orchestra.


Our challenge was to create a movement score that kept Richard in focus for the majority of the piece. After watching Richard create his music I don’t think we would be able to steal too much limelight if we tried. His performance is simply fascinating.


Working with Zen Zen Zo is always a challenging experience because of the nature and standard of the work, but also very rewarding. Anyone who has trained with the company knows how exhausting an experience it can be. When it comes to a show the bar is set even higher and understandably so. Sometimes we look at each other and go, “can we actually do this for that long?” And then we do. I would say to anyone it is worth coming to see Richard play, even if he was on stage alone. But also to anyone who missed Zen Zen Zo’s sold-out In the Company of Shadows season last year, here is a second chance to see the performers from that show take to the stage again.



In the Company of Shadows from on Vimeo.


Bring a wine or a green tea and enjoy an afternoon or evening of mindfulness in the presence of these extraordinary artists.


DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.



THU 17–SAT 19 AUGUST 2017

Two-Show Festival Pass (full)$110*

Two-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$100*

Three-Show Festival Pass (full)$150*

Three-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$135*

*An additional fee applies to each booking transaction. Single tickets $3 / Multiple tickets $6.



Composer: Richard Grantham

Directors/Choreographers: Lynne Bradley & Jamie Kendall

Lighting Design: Simon Woods

Design Consultant: Rachel Konyi

Costumes: Bill Haycock & Kaylee Gannaway

Performers: Richard Grantham with Jamie Kendall, Gina Tay Limpus, Aurora Liddle-Christie & Travis Weiner





Zen Zen Zo moves to Brisbane Powerhouse in 2014




After a long tenancy at the Old Museum Zen Zen Zo will be moving to the Brisbane Powerhouse as a Resident Company in 2014.




This provides a fantastic opportunity for the company to build new audiences and link up with other creative minds at one of Australia’s premium venues.


As always, the company will launch into the new year with their famous January intensive training program, Stomping Ground. 


Founder Lynne Bradley says, “Teaching Stomping Ground is one of the highlights of my year. Meeting so many fascinating artists from all around the country, and the world, is a wonderful way to start our year as a company. This year I’m even more excited than usual, because we’ll be holding the program in our new home – the Stores Studio at the Brisbane Powerhouse – a space of inspiration and creativity!”


Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart is also excited about the move. “We’re thrilled to have Zen Zen Zo resident at Brisbane Powerhouse” said Kris. “It makes sense given both Brisbane Powerhouse and Zen Zen Zo are about combining the old with the new, great storytelling and entertainment.


Zen Zen Zo’s office will also be based in the Powerhouse from January 2, 2014 – at this stage all contact details including phone and email remain the same.


Lynne teaching


Medea: the river runs backwards


MEDEA The River Runs Backwards

Zen Zen Zo

The Old Museum

19 August – 7 September


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


Past and present blur together, as Medea tries to reconcile the events of years gone by, and her own guilt, before she dies. Time and space shatter, as the echoes of Medea’s deeds reverberate through her life. How did someone so strong, so intelligent become so overwhelmed with the need for revenge? How can someone live on, when they have cut out their own heart?





Euripides’ story of the vengeful murderess, Medea, is thousands of years old and our reception to it hasn’t changed; it’s as shocking as ever to process. Dramaturg Ian Lawson’s treatment of the classical text is the best version I’ve seen – clear and real – but having been Zen Zen Zoified, it’s lost a little of its power in the translation from page to stage.

See it for yourself this week, before it closes on September 7!


The ancient world of King Creon is created by ghostly columns and drapes in a spacious studio at the home of Zen Zen Zo, The Old Museum (Design by Christine Urquhart & Eleanor Gibson. Costume design by Julian Napier). We’re in the middle of it, while a maelstrom builds around us, the performers using every available space. Newest Resident Director, Drew de Kinderen, has reverted back to the way things used to be. No, not the ancient, but the old Zen Zen Zo, just as Michael Futcher and Helen Howard had begun to lead the company in a bold new direction that promised a perfect blend of the old and the new. Sure, it’s the physical and visceral site-specific production that Zen Zen Zo are known for, and thrilling for teachers and students, especially with a physical theatre workshop offered after every matinee performance, but for me it’s disappointing. The impact of the most recent work (of course I’m referring to 1001 Nights, Therese Raquin and Vikram and the Vampire) was wonderment followed by a solid punch in the guts and a quick glance at our own lives to consider whether or not we were on track.




While Medea: The River Runs Backwards might make you think twice before killing off your ex’s new wife and the children you bore him, that’s the text talking, and not this underdone production. And it’s not underdone in any obvious way because there is plenty of well-trained and practiced chorus work, booming vocal work and intricate staging in and around those damn Corinthian poles. It’s just that somehow, it misses the mark.


I know many others, including Sam, vehemently disagree. Sam loved it, and was mightily impressed by every element. In fact, everything that I found wanting, he thought was spot on. But we agree that the immense talent of Lauren Jackson, who plays Medea, makes her the standout of this production. This is the performance that was perfectly contained, as opposed to underdone or OTT (can we bring back classical voice training now, please, Austraya?), and leaving us to wonder about this mysterious woman who has the gal to kill her own children. We never see the typical theatrical signs of a mad woman (darting of eyes, wringing of hands, tearing of hair), thank goodness, but we see her journey towards a state of madness that easily envelops her, drowns her – the river that runs backwards – and leaves us in the aftermath, on the mud banks by the wayside, along with everyone who thought they knew her, wondering WHAT THE?


While the soundscape, by Thomas Murphy is perfectly matched to the action, I somehow came away with a Katzenjammer song in my head (and visions of Madonna singing Like A Prayer, clad in Mad Maxified Desperately Seeking Susan corsetry, lace and leather. I know. Never mind)…



I love Lauren’s internal work, and I wonder if the chorus had rehearsed within her presence for longer, could a little of that have rubbed off on them? Yes, you can learn a lot of the craft of acting through osmosis. I also enjoyed the point of madness and horror reached by Jason, played by visitor, Eric Berryman (he’s off again after this production to study with Anne Bogart).




This 90-minute retelling of the age-old tragic tale is less than spectacular, but at the core of the work we still see the magnificent classical text, and some good training and creative talent, for which Zen Zen Zo are renowned. If you can get a ticket (most of the shows were sold out weeks ago), go see Medea The River Runs Backwards and make up your own mind.




Poppy’s Perspective: Circa Zoo Wonderland


Circa Zoo: Wonderland

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

The J Theatre

Saturday 15th June 2013


Reviewed by Poppy Eponine


Circa Zoo_photo byRed Eclipse Photography for NLW Festival 2013Circa Zoo is a troupe of young performers daring to create and deliver spectacular contemporary circus art through performance.


See a glimpse of their world through the elegance and tenderness of relationships and experience the true meaning of adventure being about the journey, not the destination.


Based at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Fortitude Valley, the Circa Zoo program is just one of many circus training programs run by internationally renowned contemporary circus company, Circa. Circa Zoo is Circa’s extension performance program for talented young people who, in following Circa’s ethos, re-imagine circus in their own way under the guidance of trainers and directors.


Circa Zoo is a troupe of young performers daring to create and deliver spectacular contemporary circus art through performance.


Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

At The J Theatre I went to Circa Zoo and when we walked into The J it looked beautiful with beautiful decorations, just especially for The Noosa Long Weekend. We saw Trena and Ian and Travis but I didn’t remember Travis because I was too little when he went to WAAPA. I was a bit shy when I saw him. I didn’t want to give him a hug but I know Trena so I gave her a big bear hug.


When we went in to find our seats we saw coloured hoops along the front of the stage. It was interesting because it looked like they might throw the hoops into the audience. The hoops looked like the middle of the pom poms I make.



The best tricks were the swinging body slams.



Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

And the body slams, the hanging hoops, the swing, and the giant round toys that the youngest girl in the troupe had, and they hid behind them. She had the mini set of the round toys. They did handstands on them. And one kid tried to steal the toys from her. There were other funny acts like that.


They didn’t roll over the giant one, but they tumbled, galloping on their hands. Then they rolled the biggest one over a kid. Two kids! That was very cheeky. And at the end they used it to make a tree. They all made a tree with their bodies and that was nice. They seemed to all be friends, and that’s nice. It was like it was a family tree, like the people make one big family.



It was fabulous and I loved it. It wasn’t just the tricks. It was funny. It was funny because it was cheeky when they rolled the giant toy over the two girls but it looked like they probably didn’t mind because they’d practiced doing it.


It was interesting when the girl did the hoop tricks. She did tricks that I think you would need to do many, many days of practice for, unless you’ve already done years of hoop practice because you’ve grown up as a circus kid. She had a beautiful face, her expression was beautiful and I liked the eye contact she had with everyone in the audience.


The music was beautiful and it was my favourite kind of music when it was upbeat and I could find two beats in the music. It was a good choice for the types of acts there were. They had a good sense that it would be good for the show and I loved it. The music made me bounce up and down. I was dancing in my seat! Maybe the people behind me had to bounce up and down or move around to see because I was dancing. It would have been a bit annoying for the people in that row. BUT I hope they still enjoyed the show.


Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

The circus kids had extremely wonderful faces. Their faces looked surprised, like in Alice in Wonderland, when Alice saw a rabbit in clothes.


They must have had the best teachers because they did so well. After the show we met Abby, one of the trainers, so I have to give her a bit of love because she’s one of the trainers.


I know how hard it is to put on a show because I just did my BYTES concert, but the difference is that this show was harder and they must have practiced A LOT!



Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGESThey were brave.


You’ve gotta’ be brave to be a circus person. I wish I could do it. I would need to practice A LOT! I would like to learn the balance work and if I was able to, I would like to do the swinging slams. I’ve actually been practicing already. Dad can catch me when they swing me into his arms. And I can do both types of splits.


I won’t get to do the workshop next week but when Circa Zoo comes back to Noosa I would like to work with them. Mum says we had better tell the mums and dads to BOOK EARLY!






Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

Poppy Eponine just turned seven and she knows what she’s talking about.








Sunday 16th June at the Festival


10am David Malouf (The J) in conversation with ABC’s Richard Fidler

10am IFilmaking workshops for kids 14-17years (The J)

10.30am African Drumming Workshop (Bicentennial Hall)

11.30am Women in Power Forum (Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort) – I’m live-tweeting it!

11.45am African Drumming Workshop #2 (Bicentennial Hall)

2pm The New Palm Court Orchestra (The J)

3pm Tea Treats and Tales cooking demo and afternoon tea with Janelle Bloom (RACV Noosa Resort)

3.30pm Refugees Forum (Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort)

7pm Tom Sharah ‘Its Raining Me’ & Sarah-Louise Young ‘Julie Madly Deeply’ double bill show (The J)



Therese Raquin

Therese Raquin

Zen Zen Zo

The Old Museum

23rd November – 8th December 2012


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


“The piece has emerged in rehearsals to be as fast flowing as the River Seine – featuring as an eighth character in the story – with the actors seeking to reveal the deeper essence of actions and emotions in their words and movements; it is a high-energy, vivid piece of impressionist story-telling – it is a bizarrely entertaining mix of Gothic horror tale and psychological thriller.” Director, Helen Howard.

Therese Raquin

“I have simply done on two living bodies the kind of analysis that surgeons do on dead bodies.” Emile Zola.

Therese Raquin is Emile Zola’s dark novel (and original stage adaptation, which closed after just nine performances in 1873), a study of temperaments and the physical manifestations of guilt, which gets the full physical and emotional Zen Zen Zo treatment, courtesy of a clear vision and a faithful adaptation of the classic text from first-time director, Helen Howard and partner in business and in life, Michael Futcher. It’s stylised, very staged and the perfect realisation of a nightmare that, in less capable hands (or – hate to say it – with a whole lot more money splashed at it), may not translate to the stage quite as clearly…or as terrifyingly. For what’s a Zen Zen Zo show in The Old Museum if not terrifying?

In the ideal gothic space of Studio 3 (well, except perhaps for its acoustics but then we know The Lyric has its problems too), Howard has carefully considered the abject horror of the self-realisation that follows an act of innate evil, which might surface when somebody becomes suddenly desperate enough…somebody like Laurent, Therese Raquin’s lover, who murders her cloying and sickly husband, Camille, so that he and Therese can be together forever. But forever’s a long time when you’re wracked with guilt and the fear of ghosts.


Zen Zen Zo is renowned worldwide for their physical theatre training and theatrical productions that continue to push boundaries and challenge artists as much as audiences. The unique style is immediately recognisable in a suitably appropriated Butoh-like silent scream, each performer turning slowly on the spot. Maniacal dolls in slow motion, which step out of the vague memory of a horror film seen on the sly during primary school years at a friend’s sleepover; you’re frozen in time and space, watching, unable to look away, and at the same time, eyes fixed. Isn’t it funny, what a live performance will lead you (or lead you back) to? The motif is repeated in fast-forward – whirling dervishes – but this one’s a momentary impression and the story twists on to reveal the truth of a conspiratorial murder and the reality of a grieving, mute Madame Raquin in a most disturbing image; the manipulation by Laurent of his reluctant mother-in-law. She is his pseudocoma puppet. “Notice how his mouth never moves! Almost…” We are inside her home and shop, with most of its doors and stairs imagined (Design Josh McIntosh).


Lizzie Ballinger is in her element as the rakish Therese. She perfectly embodies the silent, lacklustre girl who is transformed by passion into a ravishing, self-confident woman, willing to go along with – almost – anything to marry the man she truly loves. When their bodies are visibly wracked with the guilt of their evil deed, it’s Therese I feel for. She didn’t want her husband dead! She just wanted a new one!  But her murdering lover, Laurent (Luke Townson), suddenly seems callous and manipulative. Be careful what you wish for? Indeed.


Julien Faddoul, as Camille, plays both the living and the dead with equal amounts of smarmy self-confidence and shiver factor. I have to admit, I imagined he might float through the audience and give us a fright from behind but I feel this is a trick Zen Zen Zo doesn’t need; the ambience and action are enough already. Phil Slade’s chilling soundscape and Jason Glenwright’s eerie lights lend so much to this production that no tricks are needed outside of these elements.


Louise Brehmer is Madame Raquin, cruel and (hello karma) struck silent by a stroke, keeping the awful truth about her son’s death with her to her grave. Her command of voice and body could easily steal the limelight and yet she is gracious, allowing Ballinger and Townson to shine; as much as it’s an ensemble piece, it’s their show. Likewise, Eugene Gilfedder is a generous Michaud, the Inspector, who sets the scene with Zola’s own flowing words and narrates the story to bring our attention time and time again, back to the sorry state of the guilty party. Luisa Prosser is hilarious as the naive Suzanne; her facial expressions and vocal interjections priceless. These are the lighter moments that we need, along with the repetitive  orgy …game of dominoes.


For some reason, this adaptation loses its momentum after the interval and although I’m the first to support having an old-fashioned intermission, during which one stretches one’s legs and gets oneself a civilised drink at the bar, here is a new show that could do without one. My only quibble is not actually about interval v no interval at all though, but about the way we drifted towards the end, rather than being taken on a fast, furious ride through the second act with its tumultuous, violent denouement, so shocking, no horrifying in the book.


Therese Raquin closes on Saturday. If you can get to it, do; this is the next phase of the new-look Zen Zen Zo. As difficult as it is to put insanity, murder and sex on a stage, Howard’s directorial debut is impressive and Therese Raquin is the type of heritage-turned-contemporary theatre that I’d like to see more of. Oh, and teachers? I’ve recently told some of you in person. I’ll say it again here. It’s well and truly time to bring back your students to Zen Zen Zo.




1001 NIGHTS (18th July – 28th July)


MEDEA – The River Runs Backwards (19th August – 7th September)


MACBETH – A Porter’s Tale (Regional Tour in primary schools)


MARCUS AND THE MANIC MUSIC MAKERS (Regional Tour in primary schools)


RESTLESS PROJECT (29th & 30th March)


END-OF-YEAR CELEBRATION (30th November in Montville)






The Rat Trap

The Rat Trap

Polytoxic & Queensland Theatre Company @ The Greenhouse

Bille Brown Studio

10th – 26th May 2012

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

In a dimly lit corner glistens the muscled physique of a Burlesque King come doorman. He watches intensely as a set of wide-eyed twins chatter and titter girlishly to the audience. A giant anchor dangles from above while Pacific culture is mounted phallic-ally on the wall beside a table laden with champagne…It’s Friday night and we’re here to spend the evening at The Rat Trap, a candy-coloured Tiki bar, that’s steamy, playful and more than a little bit cheeky.

Blending elements of dance, burlesque, circus, vaudeville and physical theatre, Polytoxic’s latest creation divulges tales of five characters caught in the sultry bordello of The Rat Trap. Stripping back to reveal a narrative that mashes pop culture with the Pacific; they whoop, wine and gyrate through high flying burlesque, airborne martial art fight sequences and breathtaking acrobatics, all serving as fitting expressions for their despair, delight and innate penchant for mischief.

Co-Created by Polytoxic and renowned physical theatre and circus director Anni Davey, it is clear that this playful production is determined to challenge, shock and delight its audience. With a soundtrack that takes us straight to the sticky backbench of a seedy bordello in the backstreets of Harlem, The Rat Trap is a visual and aural feast from start to finish. From the moment the doors of the Billie Brown Studio are locked and we meet our host for the evening JanUri, (a delightful diva in drag that to quote one audience member has “better legs than Barbie”), we are lured into the intoxicating world and the delightful ruckus that follows.

Ever the perfect hostess, JanUri (Fez Fa’anana) makes a glorious entrance clothed in a hooded robe and stiletto boots that add to this vaudeville superstar’s commanding presence and absolute magnetism. Destined for the spotlight and effortlessly sexy, JanuUri serves as ringmaster to the characters that take to the boards, as well as instigating much of the mischief that follows. Fez Fa’anana is riveting to watch in the role; his energy and dynamism make for an elegant yet cheeky performance that demonstrates his technical skill without any compromise to theatrical honesty. With strong character development and a clear commitment to the role throughout, it is clear just how much this performer loves his craft!

Helena and Marlena (Lisa Fa’alafi & Leah Shelton) are the next to appear. Siamese twins and all round diva femme fatales, they begin with a tale of a violent separation due to a freak boat anchor incident at sea. Playing out their anxiety upon the ropes (and lips) of the bordello stage, in tandem voice and turn of verse they tell their tale in a style that is reminiscent of a Greek chorus and schoolyard rhyme rolled into one. Particularly charming is the telling of a tale where their kimono robes double as a storyboard, such a unique and kitsch storytelling device! Both these performers show innate comic timing and a beautiful embodiment of their roles both emotionally and physically. In addition to possessing great technical skill in the physicality of their roles, the energy in their ensemble work was electric, and showed a true connection to character and narrative. Equally as strong as their duo are their solo moments, where we get a glimpse of another dimension of their characters and individual journey.

Maurice (Natano Fa’anana), father of the twins, Samoan chief and survivor of the Pacific slave trade is equally compelling in his role and adds a wonderful weight to the chaos around him. Maurice’s Pacific inspired dance and aerial routine, was stunning and had the audience dropping their drinks and jaws at Fa’nana’s physical skill and artistic expression. Never far from the chaos, the character of Maurice is constantly drawn into the rowdiness of his companions but his efforts to maintain composure amidst the commotion make him compelling to watch. Fa’anana quietly commands your attention with his portrayal of this role and performs with grace and theatrical honesty.

The dangerously handsome doorman Mohito (Mark Winmill), and his sparkling…personality were also hard to ignore. Cheeky as a five year old with sticky fingers and just as passionate, he ordered the attention of his audience with all but a devilish glint of his eye.  His ‘anchor’ aerial act was quite the showstopper, and immediately showcased this assured performers strength and physical expertise. Dramatically, Winmill performed with a fiery and roguish charm that made him utterly convincing in the role.

For all its glitter and grime, there is an abundance of touching moments in The Rat Trap, as we are given glimpses into the underbelly of these characters. Aided by the use of tastefully composed multimedia and a simplistic approach to choreography, moments of theatrical significance are ‘book-ended’ and given reverence without compromising the high energy flow of the production. My only disappointment in this production was that at times parts of the set were not visible from where I was seated. That being said, the space was used to it’s potential with the performers performing inclusively through the space, but with such a fantastic set and multiple performers onstage at all times I was greedy for more!

Overall this show is a fantastic offering by Polytoxic Dance Company. It cultivates a sense of danger, spontaneity and excitement within its audience that serves as a timely reminder of what is so thrilling about live theatre! The physical skill of each performer along with their dedication to a rich narrative, loyalty to ensemble and character driven drama makes The Rat Trap a mishmash of mischief too good to miss!

Following The Rat Trap on Friday night, Queensland Theatre Company’s Greenhouse program NightGarden welcomed us back into the world. Emerging from the show buzzing with excitement and wandering into a fairy lit garden where the wine flowed as fast as the post show chitchat was a brilliant way to share the experience with other audience members and fellow creatives descending upon the space for the nights festivities. Billed as “a visceral hothouse of art, ideas and exploration” the NightGarden treated us to pop up performances by Anywhere Theatre Festival participants  Instantaneous Associated: Define and SeeD Theatre Productions, as well as musical stylings by Michelle Xen & The Neon Wild. This new little hotspot is a fantastic hub of creativity and a wonderful way to share a wine or two with like-minded souls, not to mention a splendid way to end a magical night.


Wonderland, Gremlins & It Plays to Move

Anywhere Theatre Festival 2012

Saturday 12th May

Experienced by Kathryn Rose

Ever heard of a plane being piloted by a loaf of bread – with Gremlins as cabin crew?  Or a play being directed by someone who has never laid eyes on the script?  These are just a few of the bizarre circumstances you could find yourself in during the Anywhere Theatre Festival.

I first heard about this concept when my gorgeous boy, Matt, attended the TEDxBrisbane event in October last year.  He forwarded a recording of a presentation by Paul Osuch talking about the Anywhere Theatre Festival and its aims.

The main objective is to encourage, and provide opportunities for, more people to experience live performances in places other than the traditional theatre complex.  Artists pay to register their act and have it promoted on the Anywhere Theatre website, then get to pocket all the proceeds, thereby cutting out the middleman and hopefully channelling more remuneration to the actual performers.

Matt and I started our Anywhere Theatre experience on Saturday in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall with Wonderland, a cirque-type act with a group of very talented young people. This free performance was very much appreciated by the large group of shoppers who stopped to have a look.

From there it was off to a very different venue in Auchenflower – the lounge room of Mark Theodossiou, an actor, producer and director from Australian Actors Network.  Due to circumstances beyond their control, Matt and I were the only audience members for that session.  But the show must go on (and we’d paid our $22!), so Mark and Michelle explained the concept of their performance.  We were offered the choice of four two-hander scripts and asked to choose the style and direction of delivery we wanted from our actors.  We had to nominate which actor would play each role and the emotion or motivational features we wanted from the characters.  We had a lot of fun watching Mark’s character, Linus, being besotted with the recorded voice on Linus’ mobile phone in Ma Belle. For the second selection I asked them to perform the play, Jammed, conventionally first then we mixed it up with some challenges for our capable actors. At the end, both actors said they really enjoyed my direction (I bet they say that to ALL the girls!).

After a leisurely dinner at Southbank, we continued our adventure and headed to a rather seedy part of Woolloongabba, where The Gremlins were performing.  The ‘venue’ was an enclosed area at the front of the Reverse Garbage warehouse, with a motley assortment of chairs arranged in rows.  We handed over our $12 each and collected our ‘boarding passes’ for the inaugural flight of the Gromlot family’s new budget airline. At 7pm we were all ushered into our barely-half-completed plane where our hosts proceeded to entertain us with pure escapist, joyful nonsense that had us rolling around laughing.  Because Matt had previously seen The Gremlins perform at Woodford, he had high expectations – and they definitely didn’t disappoint.

The Anywhere Theatre Festival is a wonderful mixture of random, artistic and highly-creative acts that is sure to catch on further around the world.  Let’s hope the Sunny Coast embraces this concept as well; the possibilities are endless!

Ed’s note: See the final performance of EPIPHANY by 2Muse Productions on Saturday 19th at 5pm at the Sunshine Coast School of Photography, Yandina.

Featuring Korean performance artists, well-known to Brisbane indie audiences, Younghee Park and Pak Hoyoung, with Mary Eggleston and seven young Sunshine Coast actors, this is a re-imagining of the production we saw last year. With funding to support the community development goals and the time to explore a few brand new plot points, it’s a very different show and well worth a (second) look. Incorporating effective AV elements (Sue Davis, Judy Barrass, Julia Dawson & James Muller), an evocative soundscape (Eggleston & Bruce Hamilton) and live musical accompaniment by popular Sunshine Coast entertainer, Simon Russell-Baker, EPIPHANY is a fine example of what an independent company can do with limited resources and limitless imagination, blurring the lines between training and entertaining and providing opportunities for young artists to develop their craft alongside professional performers without having to leave the beautiful Sunshine Coast!

EPIPHANY is a whimsical, magical, fantastical tale, which you’ll relate to if you’ve ever wished you could escape your current reality. Escape once more on Saturday 19th May.