Posts Tagged ‘QUT

18
Nov
16

Tartuffe

Tartuffe

Queensland Theatre & Black Swan Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

November 12 – December 4 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

tartuffe1-image-by-daniel-james-grant

Queensland Theatre’s final production for the year is a co-pro with WA’s Black Swan Theatre Company, and Director Kate Cherry’s last for the company before she takes up the reins at NIDA. This delightfully fresh reimagining of Moliere’s Tartuffe has Black Swan stamped all over it, largely due to its clean, white, luxe, functional design by Richard Roberts. I love it. The orange accents not so much. Still, we could be in Sydney, or Noosa; it’s elegant, understated and stylishly lit (David Murray). The full revolve allows for seamless transitions and all the anticipated hiding-and-overhearing shenanigans of traditional farce, because as Roberts notes, a set designed for the best actors and directors should be “Like an adventure playground that allows kids to play imaginatively”. This is evident from the outset, with a raucous party appearing to be taking place. The music evolves as the set revolves (and the characters regress, misbehaving in all the best ways while the father is away), from an unsurprising baroque lilt to a surprisingly upbeat, very contemporary shake & stir style orchestration. And suddenly it dawns on us that this is simply the good, fun, wealthy life without apparent consequences, which we all (still) want to be living! And so the tone is set for a riotous take on this French classic.

tartuffe_tessa-and-james

A wonderfully funny scene has the maid, Dorine (Emily Weir) and the bride-to-be, Mariane (Tessa Lind), on the second floor balcony in a frenzied discussion about her limited options as the daughter of the house. The hysterical young girl, having been promised by her father to the titular character, a conceited con man, performs a little miracle of props mastery, both impressive and hilarious, taking urgent drags on a cigarette, chugging desperately from a champagne bottle and inhaling necessarily, her Ventolin, though not necessarily in that order. This is a fabulous scene Cherry has stitched up for Lind because Moliere gives her little else to do in the role except fawn over her lover, Valere (James Sweeney, the smartly dressed playboy/pool boy/Noosa Main Beach boy of the story, and somehow looking not a little unlike Rob Mills here. Not a bad thing…), and protest loudly to her father, Orgon (an infuriatingly upright Steven Turner in a perfectly pitched performance), re the match he’s made for her with the awful Tartuffe in his awful wig.

tartuffe3-image-by-daniel-james-grant

Tartuffe (Darren Gilshenan) is the easily recognisable, much lauded, and laughable spiritual guru, ghastly in every sense, sleazy and sneaky and suddenly the master of the house through his devious machinations and double standards. Orgon, incredulously, falls for his every word and allows him to have his way…almost. A short, rather silly but successful scene, in which Orgon’s wife (Alison van Reeken) is as sexy as Tartuffe is shallow, slimy and simpering, has Orgon hiding under a table at her insistence, until he deems the monster has gone far enough in the seduction of his wife to convince the poor, stupid man – FINALLY – that everything the family has told him is true, catching Tartuffe with his pants down.

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Jenny Davis delivers an accomplished performance as the intolerant matriarch, Madame Pernelle, and Alex Williams takes the opportunity to claim the spotlight on more than one occasion as Damis (offering our second actors’ lesson for the evening in dealing with difficult props, as he rescues a runaway green apple and then has to use it until the scene’s end without creating further distraction. Hugh Parker, one of our faves, is a gallant-arrogant Cleante, perfectly balancing the scrutiny, wit and wisdom of this character with an appropriately unapologetic air of superiority. There’s a hint of Bottom the Weaver, as he instructs his players and whether a conscious choice or not, it works to endear us to him. The fans tend to feel endeared already towards him and we can look forward to seeing more from Parker in QT’s 2017 season.

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But it’s the new QUT Fine Arts grad, Emily Weir, who neatly and boldly steals the show. Her comedy is so bold and witty, and precise, and for one so new to the table, she plays every hand like a seasoned pro, such a pleasure to watch. So much of her character comes through her gesture and facial expression, as the other characters interact around her, unwittingly perhaps making her the centre of their actions. She employs her full vocal range and incorporates a fantastically funny and irritating Australian nasal twang, playing with the language to extract the vivid colour of the piece and placing it smack bang in contemporary Australian money-not-necessarily-indicating-style suburbia.

tartuffe4-image-by-daniel-james-grant

Justin Fleming’s astute adaptation is the other star of the show, making the 17th Century text brand new again, retaining the original structure and adding without shame or apology, our favourite Australian colloquialisms. Fleming also delivers a more conclusive and satisfying end than the original, during which Parker shines again, in the fitting guise of a reporter for the ABC.

Kate Cherry’s cheeky, savvy, slick Tartuffe demonstrates the power of redressing the classics in a truly contemporary way, delivering timeless messages wrapped in timeless style.

25
Jun
15

Introducing Katy Cotter

 

Welcome Katy!

 

 

You may know Katy from Dust Covered Butterfly and Awkward Conversation.

 

 

katycotter_butterfly

 

Hello. My name is Katy Cotter and I am a Brisbane-based actor and writer.

I recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Creative and Professional Writing at Queensland University of Technology.

 

Writing is a new lover of mine but acting has always been my passion. Being the youngest of five children and having a significant age gap between my siblings and me, my childhood consisted of embracing my vivid imagination and transforming the backyard into faraway worlds.

 

In 2009 I graduated from Southbank Tafe with an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Acting. Since then I have worked with independent companies, having been involved in Daniel Evans’ theatre marathon, Awkward Conversation last year. Recently, I wrote and performed in Dust Covered Butterfly at Metro Arts. The creative team and I had been working on the show for the past three years and finally saw all of our hard work culminate in a three-week season.

 

DCB_katycotter_killer

 

To pay the bills I work for Creative Brisbane, a distributing company, supporting and advertising upcoming shows for major and independent companies in Brisbane. We also have a What’s On Guide each month for which I write the profile, and have interviewed a variety of talented people.

 

I am so excited to join the XS Entertainment team to develop my writing and witness groundbreaking theatre and performance.

 

Brisbane is producing some great works and I am lucky to call some of those artists my friends. I love and support the arts just as I love and support good coffee. As should we all! So look out for my upcoming reviews and follow me on Twitter for news, or if you also have a fierce obsession with Tom Hiddleston.

 

Images by Morgan Roberts

 

19
Jun
15

Introducing Katelyn Panagiris

 

Welcome Katelyn!

 

I always mean to introduce our new writers but there is always so much on that they are invariably writing before I get a chance to do so! We’ve recently welcomed Brisbane based Katelyn Panagiris to the team.

 

katelyn panagiris

 

My name is Katelyn Panagiris and I am a young theatre maker currently studying a Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama) at QUT. From a young age I have had a serious love affair with the theatre and since the age of about eight, have seen my future in the industry.

 

I recently graduated from the Queensland Academy for Creative Industries (QACI). Here I was given the opportunity to study theatre, mainly through practical experience and under the guidance of incredibly supportive, dedicated and knowledgeable teachers. Over my three years at QACI I was exposed to several new styles and ways of thinking about theatre. I was challenged, tested and ultimately left the course with my understanding of theatre fundamentally changed.

 

At the centre of the course was the simple question, what is theatre? This question continues to drive me forward everyday.

 

I have an insatiable hunger for more knowledge and most importantly, experience. The artists and companies that surround me both locally and internationally are a constant source of inspiration. These artists have paved the way for me, and I know that ‘I stand on the shoulders of giants to see further’.

 

I know that I am young and that I have barely even scratched the surface of my practice. I know that I am entering a complex industry with plenty of challenges – the majority of which I don’t yet fully understand or appreciate.

 

Perhaps naively, I have decided that all I can do for now is embrace the present moment, trying my hand at as many roles as possible.

 

Under the mentorship of Kathryn Kelly, I am currently trying my hand at Resident Dramaturg of Terra Nemo Theatre Company – a company providing opportunities for young artists to experiment with and develop their practice through producing new theatre created entirely by young people. I have also recently performed Pinch Mea solo work directed by Katie Farr and presented by Dead Owl Factory as part of Anywhere Theatre Festival. This was my first experience with Anywhere Theatre Festival and I thoroughly enjoyed performing in non-traditional spaces as part of this diverse and culturally significant festival.

 

katelynpanagiris_pinchme

 

My next project is Departures, a devised work that I will be directing alongside Zoe Sheppard for Vena Cava’s Fresh Blood Festival. Naturally I am nervous about finally putting my ideas into practice. I’m not sure what the performance will look like or how it will stand up against the work of my idols – all I know is that to create is the only way forward.

 

 

As well as making theatre, I am passionate about viewing and reviewing theatre. I hope that my reviews will encourage you to see the interesting new work being produced in Brisbane at the moment.

 

For me, this year presents an opportunity to extend my knowledge and practice as an artist, and I hope that you too will be inspired to go out and explore as much theatre as possible.

 

I am so very excited about where theatre is heading as it simultaneously rebels against and incorporates all that has come before. I can’t imagine what the art form will look like in 20 years time, but hope that I will play some part, however small, in shaping its future.

 

10
Mar
15

The Seagull – now look here

 

The Seagull

now look here

Metro Arts Warehouse

March 3 – 14 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

It’s Chekhov, but not as you know it…

 

theseagull_header

 

“You can’t do Chekhov with bad actors.” Director, Kate Wild

 

 

“I”M SO UNHAPPY!” #sochekhov

 

I know of three productions of The Seagull happening this year in Brisbane alone. QUT (April 22 – May 2), QTC (August 29 – September 26) and now look here (until March 14) are all indulging in a bit of a Chekhov Crush. And I can understand why. We love Chekhov’s language, we love his dismal characters, the hopelessness of everyday life and the shrewd and sorry observations that we laugh about…so we won’t cry. There is tragedy in each fleeting moment of comedy, and there’s never a happy ending. Chekhov’s intensive study of the humdrum and dull horror of daily life makes me grateful for the abundance of love and joyful activity in my own.

 

AND particularly with the guidance of an intelligent and insightful director, Chekhov is glorious food for actors.

 

 

Chekhov is to actors what Colin Fassnidge is to foodies #usethewholepig

 

 

In this case, our director is also writer, adapting the original text over the course of an intriguing year, which involved workshops with various actors. (In fact, Kate Wild tells me after the show that amendments were being made right up until opening night!).

 

This adaptation impresses me greatly, and learning about Wild’s association with London’s Young Vic doesn’t surprise me at all, since it’s the NT Live productions that consistently show us how a classic can successfully be reimagined for contemporary audiences. Wild’s version of Chekhov’s classic is pared back and relies on the actors’ ability to present real characters, really. No, REALLY. There’s nothing that is surface level, no token anything here. Deeply inspired performances, which come directly from the text (just as Mamet wishes), mean we are privy to a new world of old-school values; it’s the same dysfunctional family but shown in more modern light. The language and the references are updated so that a whole new audience might not even think to question the origin of the play. The contemporary outback setting is about as far removed from 1800s Russia as we can get, however; it’s not dissimilar. Created with nothing more than a curtain, a table and chairs, some lamps and three white curved timber structures, which become walls and door frames and seats and a bed, the scene is sensitively, economically realised, and is made all the more poignant in the suddenly silent, extremely small space of the 4th floor Warehouse in the Heritage listed Metro Arts building on Edward Street (Designer Gordon Fletcher). It’s as if we’re in the room with them. It’s salon theatre in disguise…

 

Wild told scenstr, “I’ve seen a lot of innovative work, a lot of very creative directors doing a lot of very exciting things. But I felt I wasn’t seeing a lot of text-based theatre being done very centrally with a very simple sort of aim of telling a story. So I think I needed to show what theatre could be like if we went back to the basics and I made it very writer and actor led rather than maybe led by the concept of a director.”

 

theseagull_theplay

 

Wild fills the gap with this production, a beautifully configured statement on the value of reinvention whilst simultaneously honouring theatrical form and tradition and never losing sight of the story. The cast is superb, with fine performances from Louise Brehmer, Michael Forde, Matthew Filkins, Pip Boyce, Peter Cossar, Kevin Hides, Ayeesha Ash, Thomas Hutchins and Lizzie Ballinger. Special mentions to the gently placed Blake La Burniy, the quietly competent Kristian Santic and Courtney Snell (Stage Manager), and Erin Murphy (Composer & Musician). Murphy’s cinematic underscore makes my heart ACHE.

 

theseagull_theplay_lizzie

 

Ballinger is feminine and fragile and wild, improbably beautiful as the aspiring actress, Nina. She is fierce and tragic, truth and hope and loveliness all rolled into one. Her easy movement, rich vocal work and bright eyes make her a joy to watch. Hutchins is our tall, dark and brooding doomed writer, Kostya; oh, how we feel for him! Again, the character is wholly realised by the actor, his nuanced voice and movement (and again, the eyes have it), convincing us utterly. This is Hutchins at his best, deeply invested and heartbreakingly believable. In this intimate space we feel a part of every move, every word, every breath, including his last. There is need of a true sound effect to finish though, and with it would come genuine shock and a real sense of loss, rather than the gradual realisation of the situation, which we understand from Irina’s confusion and the doctor’s measured reaction. Hides nails it; his doctor is the epitome of gentility, compassion and honour behind a sparkling family friend smile. I find myself watching him watching the others… It’s the strongest, sweetest performance of the night.

 

 

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As Ilya the farmer Cossar delivers his best performance to date – such is the magic of perfect casting – and as his long-suffering wife, Boyce, although she is Ausssie chook lit mis-styled, is in fine form. It takes me a little while to warm to Ash as Masha, but when she finally settles she is lovely and detached and just as dissatisfied and downright miserable as she ought to be. And Filkins’ Boris?  He’s the perfect love-punched poet, disarming and frustrating. Damn those well to do, attractive, creative types in suits, huh? A-hem.

 

 

 

 

Wild’s adaptation condenses four acts into two and if you don’t need to hit the highway to get home you can be in bed before 11pm…unheard of! This Chekhov rocks! I actually want to buy a copy of this adaptation from Wild since it’s the first time I’ve been truly swept up in the complexities of the story without questioning anybody’s objectives. Drama departments everywhere will want it! Venues everywhere will want it…hello, La Boîte?

 

 

If Wild is here to stay, be sure to see whatever it is she does next. Hers is a sophisticated yet simply stated theatrical world in which we feel warm and welcomed and challenged. If you want to experience a more intimate, honest and personal form of live theatre this year, this is The Seagull you should see.

 

14
May
14

SOLO Festival of Dance – a chat with dancer Cloudia Elder

 

EDC’s Solo Festival of Dance – a chat with dancer Cloudia Elder

 

Interviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

The Solo Festival of Dance mounted by Expressions Dance Company (EDC), and curated by Artistic Director Natalie Weir, runs from May 15 – 24 2014. It features dancers and choreographers from contemporary companies around Australia, as well as independent artists.

 

Twenty-year-old Cloudia Elder, a dance student at QUT, is excited and honoured to be performing in Solo.

 

Cloudia Elder

Can you tell us a little about the piece you are performing in the Solo festival?

My solo was choreographed by Csaba Buday [Lecturer in Contemporary Dance at QUT]. I am lucky to have worked with Csaba in 2013 for his work Élet where I had a short solo that led into a dynamic trio with two boys. We performed this in the QUT graduation show.

 

Csaba decided to develop this work into a full solo for me. It’s been an interesting shift, because I was playing this promiscuous character with these two boys, and now I’m playing with the audience. It’s quite a sexy solo, but not too overwhelming!

 

This opportunity, it’s been a dream come true. I have to pinch myself to realise that it’s still happening. All these amazing guest artists and choreographers are taking part in Solo, and I’m just blown away to be part of the show!

 

You are studying at QUT and on secondment to EDC. How did this come about, and how does the secondment work?

I’m still studying, doing third year in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance Performance). I’m really lucky that QUT has this connection with EDC [as a training partner]. Natalie [Weir] arranged with QUT to take me on as a trainee – the performances here count towards my marks at uni.

 

I do technique classes in the morning at QUT, and at 12 o’clock I come to EDC and I rehearse here. I’m not missing out on anything at uni.

 

I think I’m the first person seconded in this way, but Expressions’ dancer Michelle Barnett was a trainee after she graduated from QUT.

 

The secondment came about after I went to one of EDC’s Brisbane Contemporary Dance Intensive workshops for one week, and they had R&J [Natalie Weir’s reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet] and Carmen Sweet coming up. Unfortunately a dancer had been injured and by the end of the week, Natalie asked me if I would be available to perform in 4 weeks. Of course I said “Yes!” I ended up getting Act 1 of R&J. After that season, Natalie offered me the traineeship.

 

I hope that I have given a good impression and that for others in coming years EDC might also offer the same.

 

Solo is obviously a highlight of your dance career. What other opportunities have been really important to you?

R&J at the beginning of the year. And then I’ll be in EDC’s production of The Red Shoes as well, in July. I’ve been here for the entire creative process, which has been an incredible experience.

 

Natalie has given me the opportunity to have a little choreographic “play” for The Red Shoes. She gave me a few tasks and I got to show her the sort of things that I like to do. She wanted me to be able to adapt to the way she likes to create and direct.

 

Cloudia Elder and Robert Flehr in Berlin (choreographer Graeme Murphy). Image by Fiona Cullen 2013.

 

How did you become a dancer, and who has influenced you as a dancer?

I’m originally from Sydney, and I started dance classes at the age of three with Janece Graham. Straight away she was very strict, but she was amazing, and she really built me up until the age of 13.

 

Then I went to Redlands Secondary School in Cremorne on a dance scholarship, and I studied there with Kim Traynor. She was a major influence for me. She is just this divine, loving person. She had trained at the Royal Ballet School and also danced with the Australian Ballet.

 

At Redlands I was also introduced to Olivia Ansell, who is Executive Producer with Shaun Parker & Company. She was my first contemporary teacher. I got to see a few of her shows, and she gave me solos and really took me under her wing. She suggested I go into contemporary, and then later I got into QUT.

 

At QUT last year we were able to work with Graeme Murphy and perform in his Berlin. He came to the show and said it was just like watching his own dancers when he was at Sydney Dance Company. Getting comments like that was fabulous! He gave QUT the rights to perform his works after seeing the performance. QUT is the only tertiary institution that has that.

 

Cloudia Elder and Robert Flehr in Berlin (choreographer Graeme Murphy). Image by Fiona Cullen 2013.

 

Are there any other people you want to mention who have influenced you?

I’d definitely say first my family. My family are powerhouses. There are no other dancers in the family – oh, but my dad was a ballroom dancer. I don’t know if it comes from him, though. And my mum teaches ryoho yoga. So maybe I got flexibility and power from her?

 

I love to do yoga. Especially ryoho, which is a Japanese style, and very dynamic. I do quite a few of mum’s yoga intensives when I’m in Sydney. You see the changes, even after three days – everything’s so solid, you start to see a beautiful waistline, you feel so much more energetic.

 

I think if you are a dancer you really need to consider taking up yoga.

 

What are your hopes for your future career?

Well, at the moment I am very focused on EDC of course, and hoping for a future with EDC with my fingers crossed.

 

I’m also really interested in the choreography and dance I’ve seen from Israel.

 

One of my biggest influences – it really told me “you need to go into contemporary” – was a work by Hofesh Schechter, an Israeli choreographer based in London. He did this phenomenal work called Political Mother,which was performed in Sydney a few years ago at the Opera House. There was live music (the audience had to wear ear plugs), and the dancers were just unbelievable. It was so relevant to what was happening in society, and I just thought I couldn’t really imagine doing the Nutcracker every year.

 

Contemporary dance really connects with current issues and emotions.

 

I did a workshop with another Israeli company last year – Vertigo Dance Company. And I fell in love with that movement as well.

 

I would definitely like to travel to Israel, do workshops, spend some time there. Working overseas is something a dancer should always be up for. It would be an incredible experience. But at the moment, Expressions is my priority.

 

 See the best in the country, at their best.

Solo Festival of Dance

May 15 – 24 2014

 

Cloudia Elder and Robert Flehr in Élet (choreographer Csaba Buday). Image by Fiona Cullen 2013.

 

 

 

 

12
Mar
13

A Chat With Christen O’Leary

A quick chat with the gorgeous and very talented Christen O’Leary, currently embodying Judy Garland in

 

End of the Rainbow

 

the first co-pro of the year from QTC & QPAC

 

 

Christen O'Leary

 

You were Judy Garland in The Boy From Oz. How different is it to take on the persona for End of the Rainbow?

It was quite different preparing for EOTR compared to BFO. In BFO Judy really is a supporting role. A strong force in the piece but with only a handful of scenes and songs. This really was Peter Allen’s story. Quite rightly. Of course I did a lot of research but 2 things struck me. When you’re not onstage all night…you have to hit the ground running from the first moment. I had to hit the audience immediately with my impression of Garland. In some ways I had to be bolder in my interpretation. In EOTR I have all night to play with her. I can let her unfold gradually, steadily…and allow the audience to see further and further into every aspect of this human being.

The second issue was the singing. In BFO Judy sings only Peter Allen songs. No songs she was actually famous for in her career. Gotta say…this is easier on the one hand…because no one can say…”well she didn’t sing that song like that”. BUT you can’t find footage/recordings to study. To sing Garland songs as Garland is very a daunting…and complicated task. Everyone who knows/loves her has an opinion on her sound/style…

but as I studied her more and more I found she shifted as she aged. Her interpretations evolved…her keys dropped. Her voice really did change. I tried to play with that.

 

Can you talk about the challenges of performing a one-woman show?

Ah! The one person show! That beast! I did my first last year with Bombshells and I’ve got to say it was probably the most frightening thing I’ve faced in my career. Jacki Weaver said to me “Oh yes Darling. It’s so lonely.” And it is. If I’m honest…I think I imagined that my ego would soar to new heights…as I tackled it and mastered it! Ha! It became a lesson in humility. I existed in an overwhelmingly vulnerable state throughout. You feel immense pressure to succeed because you appreciate that the company has invested hugely in you making this piece work. They have put their faith and money behind you. I realised after 25 yrs in this industry just how comforting it is to be on a stage…turn your head…and look into the eyes of another actor. Another actor who sees your fear…can hold it…and help carry you thru.

 

I know you feel strongly, as most creatives do, about too-early reviews of productions that are still in preview. Can you talk about why the best time to form an opinion that will be shared with the public is from opening night onwards?

Oh yes. The Previews. I do have strong opinions about them yes. Previews are a vital part of the process in forming a production. But they are part of the process…not the final product. We rehearse for 4 weeks in the room…then hit the theatre where/when all the technical elements of a production are created around the actors and the play. This is a very tricky part of the process for all involved. The Creatives are working round the clock and AGAINST the clock to finally hone their elements for the work. For the actor of course this can be very off putting because you feel like you lose the play as all these outside elements…costumes, set, lighting, sound, music, darkness, revolves…get thrown at you. But that is part of the process. THEN you bring an audience into this mix in previews. These tickets are cheaper for a reason. The production is still being formed. It is not a final product. Audiences are watching a work trying to emerge as a cohesive piece. Through these preview days and nights the production is changing constantly. The audience teaches us so much about what is landing and what is not. Every person involved in the production is changing/honing/modifying the work everyday and every night. I believe preview audiences understand this. They relish the terror and electricity this creates in the theatre. They know they are watching a production flying by the seat of it’s pants. If the piece was really ready to open it would open at full price at this point. The reality is that when the production actually DOES open…it settles. Major changes stop emerging…unless something is really wrong….and that is rare. The written word is a powerful thing. Critics have power and they know it. They believe their opinion matters or they wouldn’t write. I think they should therefore take that responsibility very seriously and let a production open before they offer their opinion on it.

 

To what extent have you trained to prepare physically and vocally for End of the Rainbow?

I of course did a lot of research of Garland when I played her in BFO but for EOTR I studied everything I could get my hands on. Watched, read, listened over and over again. I suppose for about the last year I have just drowned myself in her. I had to build stamina vocally and physically gradually in the months prior to beginning rehearsals. Probably about 6 months out I started to learn the piece…slowly getting it into the voice and body.

 

What are your hot tips for vocal health?

Vocal tips? Mmm everyone who knows me knows I am paranoid about my voice! So I’m probably not a good/sane person to ask! Having said that….

 

Rest/Steam/Water/Never push!

 

How do you get through a demanding season and what do you try to do in your down time?

What do I do in my down time? Ha Nothing!! I don’t speak. At All! I write notes! I live in my pyjamas!

 

With the Academy Award for Best Actor going to Daniel Day Lewis (for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln), and so much focus swinging back again to Method Acting, can you talk about how important is it to be able to step outside of the character and take a break from what you’re doing in the show?

I believe Daniel Day Lewis is very picky about the work he chooses and takes long periods of respite from work. When you see his performances that’s completely understandable to me! I am not a method actor…but….I do feel that I balance a very technical/pragmatic worker with a willingness to plummet the depths of the work. That can take it’s toll if you’re not careful. I have a husband who knows me deeply and draws me home….and 2 children who don’t give a damn about Judy Garland or any other character for that matter!

 

Children remind you that being a brilliant performer is not the most important thing in your life.

Being a brilliant wife and mother is!

 

Which acting methods or approaches have you trained in and what is your default approach to creating (becoming) a character?

Default position when approaching a character? Work!!! Lots of work!! Research. Preparation. Know that play. Better than anyone. Be open to the Director to your other actors. Someone will always think of something you haven’t. Try anything. Aubrey Mellor said to me many years ago…” Any character is capable of doing anything. The important question is…Would she do it in this moment?” Gold! I’ve never forgotten it. We can easily fall into the trap of  “Oh…My character wouldn’t do that.” Be Brave. Go there. Plummet the depths that expose themselves. Be ugly. Be true. You must seek the truth. And find it. You’ll fool no one if you’re faking. It’s Acting! Look into the eyes of another actor….and play with them.

 

Tell us what it’s been like to work so closely with your (husband) MD and musicians on this piece?

Short answer… I could not have got thru this show without my husband Andrew McNaughton (MD). No way in hell. He knows me better than anyone. He knows my terrors and insecurities and he has done everything he can to nurture me thru this. He is always honest…”you know you’re flat there?”…but always supportive and encouraging. Gotta say…it’s been like a 2nd honeymoon. Don’t know if he would say that though! The band? Well…Live musicians bring something to a production and a performance that is magical and intangible. They lift you to a thrilling place. Andrew has assembled a very kind bunch. They know they’re not dealing with a musician in me…but they back me…follow me…save me…always with kindness.

 

What is it about Judy Garland that we love so much? What do you love about her music and the roles she has played in some of our best-loved films?

Why do we love Judy? Talent!! Heart! Vulnerability! Resilience! TALENT! At her best she was breathtaking. At her worst…heartbreaking.

 

What’s your favourite film of all time?

Favourite movie? Sophie’s Choice! Still!

 

What’s on your playlist?

Playlist? Terrible…I don’t have one! I’m banned from playing Judy in the house anymore! My husband is a bit of a music Nazi at the best of times…so….when I’m in the car….alone….I secretly listen to crap pop radio! Clears my head from the absolute terror of going to work every night!

 

Catch Christen in End of the Rainbow at QPAC until March 24th

 

12
Sep
12

Sweetest Things

Vena Cava Productions

 

Sweetest Things

Woodward Theatre, Kelvin Grove QUT 

Vena Cava

10th – 15th September 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

 

How do you find the truth when it’s hidden amongst secrets, lust, betrayal and deception? This year’s Mainhouse One director, Catarina Hebbard, will attempt to answer this, in her edgy adaptation of Kate Rice’s text Sweetest Things. The work is an investigation of the sacrosanct relationship between student and teacher, and an examination of boundaries that exist within this association. But what happens when temptation allows these boundaries to fail?

Catarina brings a wealth of performance and directorial experience to Vena Cava’s final production of the year, having produced such works as the Matilda award-nominatedMinefields and Miniskirts (MadCat Creative Connections). Her minimal and representational design for Sweetest Things is one that will lead the cast through a twisted mass of uncertainty. This is one scandalous story not to be missed!

 

Sweetest Things

Sweetest Things is all about layers. No, I’m not talking about the kind ogres have, according to Shrek. I’m talking about the gritty kind; the queasy kind. Queasy. There’s a word that describes perfectly how I felt during this performance. I should explain further; not queasy as in a sense of distaste. Queasy as in that sick kind of feeling where you know what’s going to happen but you can’t look away. It’s like a car crash. Different people involved, some grave consequences and all the while you can’t help but stare.

 

I did find the playwright, Kate Rice, has presented something that is somewhat a little like a paint by number picture. I wanted to be that smug, obnoxious punter who yells out, “Called it!” when a scene I predicted did indeed come true. But despite the writing and elements of the plot progression being somewhat easy to predict it’s to be expected. We all know exactly what we’ve gotten ourselves into, and to an extent the characters do too. But we watch anyway because the carnage is too good.

 

The lighting, ah the lighting. There is a wonderful moment. The heated anger between the teacher and the writer is juxtaposed against a very imperturbable, cold water-like flood of light as projectors light up. The manipulation of the screens to communicate messages isn’t unheard of but it is done exquisitely in Sweetest Things. It all draws back to that carnage. That queasy feeling in your stomach as each word flashes.

 

Be prepared, this is a play where none of the characters are particularly likeable. Each plays their part in the act of exploitation. The writer, though quiet and a little lost amongst the stronger shadows of the perpetrators, has her own agenda. The teacher you will learn is charming and cruel. Meanwhile the girl is vulnerable but perhaps not as innocent as you’d hope.  Other characters too, some played by the same student, miss the signs or perhaps ignore them for their own sake. I found Sebastian Houston’s ability to shift from character to character impressive. That need to be able to interchange between the roles quickly and quietly was executed wonderfully, even stirring a few laughs in the crowd.

 

But as the program forewarns, this is not a show for children and far from a comedy. Some of the words feel all too real and made me shudder to listen. But I loved it. Under Catarina Hebbard’s direction there is something genuinely chilling about this production. In part it is the content naturally. The visuals too stoke the fear but it is the realness of it all. The contrasting perceptions and stories of those involved gives it a human quality. See the show and decide for yourself who you think was innocent.




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