Posts Tagged ‘queensland premier’s drama award

06
Jul
17

RICE

Rice

Queensland Theatre

Queensland Theatre Bille Brown Studio

June 24 – July 16 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Tini biyoyer sathei aasen. She moves with victory. Tini biyoyer sathei aasen. She moves…

Rice is the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winner (2016), a slick and sophisticated two-hander about women, ambition, power, partnerships, love, loss, loyalty, forgiveness and family. Melbourne’s Michele Lee says, “Initially I said Rice was about a plethora of ‘big’ contemporary issues. As if I was some Michael Moore of theatre. Mass agriculture. Super economies. Mercenary corporations. Women in business. Rice is about these things. But it’s partly, primarily, about two women searching for new friendships and new intimacies, new versions of family, however fleeting.”

Lee’s writing is refreshingly real; her characters are recognisable and relatable. The dialogue is fast, funny, and unapologetically localised, a delight for Brisbane audiences, peppered with references to familiar places. Leading ladies, Kirsty Best (Nisha) and Hsiao-Ling Tang (Yvette) also play the incidental characters who come in and out of their lives, including the boss, the boyfriend, the bogan, an Indian widow, a nephew, a daughter… The first of these transitions is a little uncertain but once established, these switches work well, making this play a tidy little touring number. 

Renee Mulder’s sleek, white minimal corporate office set and Jason Glenwright’s bright, spare lighting keep the focus on the performers, who step into a natural rhythm that allows them an easy banter and yet, appropriately uncomfortable silences at times to underpin a few home truths about the world views of the Indian Princess and the Chinese Cleaner.

This is the part of the story where I tell you about an Indian princess.

Nisha (Indian Princess) is a typical young thing in a navy suit who knows everything, until it’s revealed that she doesn’t. Both her undoing and the making of her is her ability to see things for what they really are. Yvette is the Chinese Cleaner who has been bettered all her immigrant life by others, including extended family members. She continues to struggle to maintain a civil relationship with her daughter. Both women have a clear picture of where they’d like to be and they think they know how they’ll get there. But life – a death, a flood, a legal battle – gets in the way and other things along the way become important again.

This is the part where we eat.

There is a delicate balance in the writing between the vulnerability and intimacy of the women’s working relationship and the apparently unavoidable distance – a chasm, in this life at least – between them. This is beautifully measured in the performances when the women are playing their main roles.

Director, Griffin Theatre’s Lee Lewis, has created on the 20th floor of Nisha’s inner city office building, a microcosm of contemporary society, placing the personal worlds of the women squarely inside the bigger global picture. They can’t escape or dismiss the personal. They can’t ignore a connection with another human being and continue to complain about not being noticed or supported…or deeply affected. The women must always, in some small way, be there for each other.

Great theatre allows us to see ourselves in the story. Lee’s universal story of connection, shared via a personal, local lens, doesn’t condescend or compromise or get in its own way.

Its humour, insight and wonderfully engaging personable performances make Rice a lovely easy play to watch. The challenge is in walking away and making the tiny daily changes to the way we do things. Because we can. And we must; ignorance is no longer an excuse for the ill treatment of people in our immediate circles (or outside of them). Was it ever? How often do we consider the way we go about our day? How do we speak to our loved ones, our colleagues, strangers and friends we haven’t met yet? How do we choose to respond to others? How do we choose to treat others, in business and in life? On the train? At the checkout? In our homes and schools and offices? In the street? Can we go forward now, into every situation, with genuine curiosity, dignity and compassion? Can we just take a breath, half a moment, before uttering anything aloud or online to consider the impact it might have on a person? And how far, really, is too far out of our way to give a person a lift home?

Through the strong, vulnerable, wonderful women of Rice Michele Lee asks these vital questions with the utmost respect, and with greater wit and good humour than most.

This is the part where we go.

11
Aug
15

Entries Open for Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2016-17

 

Entries now open for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2016-17

 

 

Continuation of page-to-stage award celebrates Queensland talent

 

 

premiersdramaaward

 

Australia’s only playwriting award that guarantees a professional production of the winning entry within two years has opened for nomination, as part of a long and successful partnership between the Queensland Government and the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC).

 

Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Queensland Government had maintained its serious and ongoing commitment to the arts by calling for entries for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA) 2016-17 and celebrating previous winners who had seen their works developed and transformed into professional productions.

 

“Since its inception in 2002, QTC has developed 24 plays as part of this award, employed more than 160 actors, writers and directors, and generated audiences of more than 26,000 to new and emerging Queensland work. This is an excellent result for the Queensland arts industry,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

 

Queensland Theatre Company Artistic Director Wesley Enoch said the awards had helped discover some exceptional storytellers who had introduced Queenslanders to a variety of narratives that were sometimes complex and confronting.

 

danielevans_theweekendedition

 

“Daniel Evans won last year’s award with his modern Australian-suburbia-meets-Greek-tragedy Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, following the 2012-13 winner Maxine Mellor’s controversial character play Trollop, chosen from a field of 83 entries from across the country,” Mr Enoch said.

 

The award covers a two-year cycle. In the first year, three finalists are selected and their works undergo creative development with industry professionals prior to judging and the announcement of the winner. The second year involves further development of the winning play followed by the professional world premiere production and the publication of the script.

 

The deadline for this year’s submissions is Friday 30 October 2015 with three finalists selected in December 2015. The winning entry is announced in the second half of 2016. Groups, as well as individual artists are encouraged to apply.

 

oedipus_drapl

 

Previous winners include:

 

2014-15 Daniel Evans for OEDIPUS DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

 

2012-13 Maxine Mellor for TROLLOP

 

2010-11 Marcel Dorney for FRACTIONS

 

2008-09 Richard Jordan for 25 DOWN

 

2006-07 David Brown for THE ESTIMATOR

 

2004-05 Adam Grossetti for MANO NERA

 

2002-03 Sven Swenson for ROAD TO THE SHE-DEVIL’S SALON

 

The conditions of entry and entry form can be obtained by visiting Queensland Theatre Company’s website at www.queenslandtheatre.com.au or by contacting the Producer of New Work and Development on 07 3010 7607

 

31
May
15

Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

 

Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Queensland Theatre Company

Bille Brown Studio

May 23 – June 13 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

INCEST ASIDE, IT WAS A GREAT WEDDING.

 

 

WHAT IF OEDIPUS LIVED NEXT DOOR?

 

 

MUTHAFUCKA

 

 

I never really liked Neapolitan icecream but when we were kids we would have it for dessert sometimes – a special treat – and now I’ll never eat it again.

 

 

oedipus_header

 

 

Daniel EvansOedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is what we’ve been waiting for. It’s an incredibly fast, funny, deeply affecting piece, which uses the ancient story of Oedipus to look at how we respond to unspeakable tragedy.

 

 

The winner of the 2014-2015 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, the only writing comp in the country that guarantees a fully professional production of the winning work, this Oedipus is a disturbingly accurate contemporary take on Sophocles’ Theban plays. If you’ve never before been able to work out the complex plots, this production gives you all the clues to do so.

 

 

Transposed to an outer suburban neighbourhood somewhere in Australia (it’s one we might try to avoid visiting after dark), the unfathomable story suddenly becomes horrifyingly familiar – as familiar as any tragedy involving celebrities or royalty might seem via Facebook – as a chorus of four young actors rise from green plastic chairs and tell us simply and directly where they are and which role they’ll be playing in order to relay the shocking tale.

 

 

Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is masterful writing, brought to vivid life by a brilliant team.

 

 

And speaking of teamwork, let’s not forget the Dramaturgs: Stephen Carlton, Saffron Benner and Louise Gough, who have helped to nurture the text through many stages of development.

 

 

I guess this doesn’t really require a mention either, but something about this production reminds me of another winner of this award so I’m going to remind you of it too. Marcel Dorney created an ancient world for his winning play, Fractions, directed by Jon Halpin in 2011. It had been in development for four years. “We all thought it was pretty special but were worried it was too hard, that the ideas were too difficult and too big and people would just switch off,” Halpin told Cameron Pegg. The boldness paid off, bringing us the big ideas and difficult lessons of an old story in a new framework. Halpin said of Fractions, “It’s set 1500 years ago but it speaks with an urgency and relevance to today’s world with more insight and profundity than any other new work I’ve come across.” I would say the same of Evans’ Oedipus.

 

 

The story is inconceivable, the stuff of the inescapable 24-hour click-bait news cycle but told this way, so cleanly and unapologetically, we believe it.

 

 

From the outset we’re drawn into a hilarious retelling of events (no really; it’s really horribly funny) with just a couple of amendments to detail, such as the pedophiliac father’s chariot becoming a car in a fatal crash.

 

 

A compelling scene toward the end of the play humanises things even more than the humour can do, in case we didn’t already feel something. To set it up, we live through the excruciating tension of a high school shooting orchestrated and executed by Eteocles and Polynices (the sons of Oedipus). The massacre is reenacted on top of a pulled-from-the-wall campus mud map. Again, as we’ve seen before, there is comedy in it that makes us feel inhuman for laughing out loud. It leaves me numb. I’m filled with dread in the moment before the final “bang” is voiced by one of the boys and then I feel sick to my stomach. This slow burn is a master class in tension and restraint, a perfect example of the restraint shown throughout by Director, Jason Klarwein. It’s his best work to date and it thrills me to think of what he might, as Director, be gifted with next.

 

 

The beautifully tragic scene-that-shouldn’t-work (and wouldn’t work in the hands of a less intelligent team) takes place in a deserted playground, in which Haemon (Son of Creon and Eurydice, engaged to Antigone, who is dead) sits silently on a swing while an unknown girl chatters away to him under the pretext of sharing the last can of rum from the carton at Haemon’s feet. Eteocles and Polynices have killed everyone else (BANG). The rum is…warm. The mood is…awkward. Burton is superb here, a gangly, desperately frightened teen unravelling for the longest time. She is mesmerising, expertly manipulating pace, pause and proximity. Suddenly, after his eerie extended silence, a single sentence tossed spitefully across the playground by Haemon destroys her completely and he exits and kills himself. It’s brutal, brilliant stuff.

 

 

The space is intimate and at the same time retains a vast, empty feeling, as if we are lost in time and space. Justin Harrison’s soundscape, comprising original compositions and precision theatre sound effects (is that even a thing? I’m making precision theatre a thing), matches the text moment-to-moment, beat-by-beat, leaving silences through which we can only breathe…or not dare to breathe. An intelligent lighting design by Daniel Anderson works like a spell to capture and focus our attention; it’s the best example I can offer to tech-obsessed students this year of the way in which the elements are used to enhance a production. That leads me to mention that although it’s a risqué show for secondary schools, that doesn’t mean students should stay away from it. While the school might not be in a position to take you, senior students, you should see this show. You’re welcome.

 

 

oedipus_drapl

 

 

The design, perfectly realised by Jessica Ross, is spectacularly simple, featuring fluorescent lighting to frame the action and a graffiti wall by Drapl, which is foreboding even in all its colour and humour, warning us like the Oracle and welcoming us like Laius into the cold, hard, clashing world of ancient and modern youth. The overall effect serves to focus our attention on the performers, an astonishing ensemble.

 

 

oedipus_sidelines

 

 

Ellen Bailey, Emily Burton, Joe Klocek and Toby Martin are uncompromising in their multiple roles. If Bailey were a criminal she would be considered a master of disguise. Her ability to switch from one character to the next is impressive and always funny. Burton is a beauty, swinging from hysteria to thoughtful silence in a heartbeat. Martin sometimes shouts a little more than necessary but as Laius, King of Thebes, he successfully harnesses the craziest, creepiest kind of power imaginable over the young boy, Crysippus, and seers his image and evil energy onto our hearts. It’s Klocek we’ll keep an eye on though, because this 19-year-old achieves the same level of depth and nuance and variety with his characters as the others do with far less stage or screen experience under his belt. Here’s his bio:

 

 

Queensland Theatre Company: This Hollow Crown, Face It. Other Credits: QUT: Orphans, The Three Sisters. Film: Rome. Training: QTC Youth Ensemble, 2012.

 

 

THAT IS ALL. HE’S A NATURAL.

 

 

How exciting and frightening that the story of Oedipus who kills his father, sleeps with his mother and rips his own eyes out (the “professional opinion” here is a killer), can feel new and fresh and raw and completely relevant. I won’t give away the final moment but IT BITES. THIS PLAY BITES. WHO COULD WRITE SUCH A THING?

 

 

Well, Daniel Evans could and he has done, and if you miss it you miss bearing witness to a new, living, fire-breathing brand of Australian theatre that other writers are trying desperately to master.

 

 

Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is an exceptional play and this is an electrifying production, which must be supported to have a life beyond its World Premiere run.

 

 

 

07
Aug
13

Trollop

 

Trollop

The Greenhouse QTC

Bille Brown Studio

1 -17 August 2013

 

 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

whatisclaramaking.com

 

trollop_amyingram

You might not like this show. On the other hand, it might be the weirdest and most wonderful production you’ve seen in a long time. Trollop is not a nice, neat, fun or family-friendly play. It’s strange and savage, and a little bit sadistic. It’s a shock to the senses, and perhaps to your sensibilities. It’s the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award Winner by Maxine Mellor, it’s a world premiere, and far from what you might expect, it’s not pretty. I’m glad I didn’t see it alone.

 

Clara is depressed after something ghastly has happened. We see the muddied trash and broken furniture piled on either side of the paper walled set, a grisly reminder of the floods or the lives wasted along with the debris. If you were there in the cleanup you’ll recognise it. Perhaps you’ll smell it. The mud, I mean. It comes back to you every so often. It does! It’s the first shock of the evening. There are several more, as the tension mounts and the mythical world becomes reality, at least for Clara (and of course for us, watching). Your own nightmares are undoubtedly worse than even the most grotesque images here, but the realisation of Clara’s fears is impressive.

 

trollop_amy

With the combined visions and skill sets of four designer-directors – Wesley Enoch, Pete Foley, Ben Hughes and David Morton – and the force of three young actors – Amy Ingram, Lucy-Ann Langkilde and Anthony Standish – The Greenhouse at Queensland Theatre Company have created a monster model that’s so crazy it just might have worked!

 

 

trollop_amyandanthony

As Clara, in the throes of apathy and depression, Ingram is always present, even when she’s completely absent from the life that her boyfriend, Erik, wants for her. Despite being silent for much of the play, we hear her loud and clear. When Langkilde, in her QTC debut, enters as the “strange Jehove” and changes the course of the action, it feels like a device that should work beautifully to break up the heavy discourse between the couple, and distract us from whatever grisly end is nigh. Instead, this section of the play seems like a last-minute consideration – something “normal” to throw us off the scent and settle us into a false sense of confidence because really, the weirdest thing happening here is that Clara wants her boyfriend to kiss the girl! Standish has already stolen the show with comparatively masses of dialogue and action by now, and at this point, when his character is stoned and drunk, willing but confused about whether or not he should follow Clara’s command, he delivers the funniest line of the play… “Something in my head is telling me this is a trick”! Laughter serves as welcome relief from the tense situation at hand, and lets us breathe before it’s too late! Before the big finish takes our collective breath away.

 

I can’t give it away, and I hope no one else does so either, but the big finish is almost as you’d expect, and at the same time it’s nothing of the sort. It’s the mythical become real and we’ve all had similar nightmares. I’m not a Game of Thrones fan – I abhor violence and I don’t think watching it contributes anything of particular value to my life – but I was reminded of a disturbing and fascinating installation at Sydney’s MCA, which I loved and hated, whose artist attributed some of the inspiration for her fur, twine and timber creations (I’m talking about Wangechi Mutu’s Black Thrones) to the graphic imagery of the series. I wondered if Mutu’s unique work had infiltrated Trollop’s creative process at any point.

 

trollop_onscreenlucy

The sound (designed by Chris Perren), particularly a high-pitched sound of such high frequency that it might be the most disturbing element for some, along with some “stranger and stranger” down-the-rabbit-hole-type imagery serve to challenge our imaginations. Flickering video footage is thrown across the sparse white set, establishing the nightmarish mood from the outset and revealing the versatility of Langkilde, who appears as multiple characters, from children’s television show host to David Attenborough style narrator, of which we are later, rather quickly and cleverly, reminded before she walks through the door into existence. (But wait, what of the ICE? I was expecting the “Sofie” story and the impenetrable, prison-like ice surrounds to all come together at some stage, but as in a dream it simply disappeared, giving way to the new “reality” that included Langkilde).

 

Maxine Mellor has penned some strange and truly terrifying thoughts in order for Trollop to live, in this, its first incarnation. Props to The Greenhouse at QTC for getting this beast up on its feet, and the best of luck to the next company desiring to stage it!