Posts Tagged ‘social media

11
Aug
14

Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival and the question of reviews and social media…

 

Remember when I said I was going to post every Friday, my column from the local rag, the Sunshine Coast Daily? Yeah? No. That hasn’t happened and you haven’t asked for it! But here’s my column from last week (Friday August 8 2014), which they actually printed without editing very much. Mostly, this column, somewhere between submitting and printing, has become a dead easy “What’s On?” list of things to see on the Sunshine Coast and often I’ll begin it with a comment on the state of the local arts scene. But I always wanted to throw into this space some of the harder questions too. Like, what is it we’re all doing? And, why are we doing it? And, what’s the use of reviewing what we’re doing if we continue to do just exactly what we’ve always been doing? #justasking

 

What makes this much more interesting than the fact that I felt the need to write it in the first place, is the way it was presented on the page, beneath a photo I didn’t submit, beside a “review” that no one saw coming because the other columnist on the page tends to write exclusively about his own theatre company and their productions. Isn’t media manipulation a funny thing? Separated, and published over different weeks, a parallel would not have even been drawn, but due to savvy editing and fascinating timing (could be a full moon thing), I came under fire on social media for presenting an opinion with which some people didn’t agree.

 

facebookdrama_willywonka

 

As I’ve explained to concerned friends and family over the weekend, I’m a blogger, I’m a writer, I’m a reviewer, and because I’m confident enough to put myself out there, it’s no surprise (and certainly not the end of the world!), when somebody has a problem with something I’ve said. I know they’d like to think they are all-powerful and all-knowing, with a convincing enough argument to band together a legion of fans in a vitriolic thread (for what purpose, I don’t know), but you know what? I’ve come to realise the trolls and haters who comment without thinking first are just little wizards of oz, hiding their insecure, trembling, self righteous little selves behind a great big curtain called a keyboard. Sam and I agree (What? I know! Surprise!), I must still be so naive! Because it genuinely surprises me every time to see somebody’s true colours online. Do they actually think they’re anonymous on Facebook?! Do they genuinely not realise that everyone knows everyone on Facebook?! OOPS! HA! I used to worry more about them and their opinions, and I do – of course I do – feel the awful sting of a snide remark or cruel comment. Who doesn’t? But then, and I thank you Brisbane community for helping me to move on after some interesting learning experiences, including Jekyll & Hyde and The Truth About Kookaburras, I take a breath and look at how wonderful every day is. Other than travelling the world (and we’re working on it!), we actually have everything we have set out to get. And we do love giving back. It makes me wonder what sort of lives the haters have. I learned very early, at school, that kids with less confidence would say whatever it took to make themselves feel better (but did they really feel better? Really?)… It’s actually laughable. I actually can’t believe some of the things people feel comfortable saying on social media. I wonder why they don’t say them to my face? I see them often enough! The Sunshine Coast is not a big pond! Isn’t it funny to really see someone for who they are? Luckily, I’m blessed with actual friends, and a supportive family and husband who are able to point out to me if I ever forget it –

 

 

whatsusiesaysofsally

 

 

Now let’s get some things straight, just in case you’ve been following the wrong Facebook threads.

 

Sam and I have only ever been supportive of local community theatre but the truth is, we are in the game now for slightly different reasons. In addition to “having fun” and being social, we want to continue to produce professional productions. We’re so proud of our original pieces, and of our recent success at Noosa Long Weekend Festival. It’s true, we expect a higher standard from everybody involved in our productions and THAT’S WHY WE PAY THEM. This is the fundamental difference between what we do and what is accomplished by the haters involved in their amateur groups. There is always going to be merit in treading the boards for free and for fun – it’s how we learned a heap of basic skills and developed enormous confidence too – but we decided a few years ago to try to make it pay, and now that it does so we’ll continue to focus on doing more of the same. You can argue that the quality of the productions are the same as your amateur efforts but in actual fact they’re usually not. How do I know? Because I’ve seen what you’ve been doing. And in the past there have been times when you’ve asked for feedback and I’ve offered it. Whether or not you’ve taken it on board, or even used it as a starting point to simply reconsider or reflect on what it is you’re doing, has been up to you. And we’ve certainly seen you improve…or not.

 

To see that I’m right, you should really get out more. Go see “good” theatre. Go see MORE theatre so you start to see for yourself what “good” looks like. You never have to take my word for it! Quite simply, Sam and I set our own standards and with a production budget we can afford to see that we reach them. We have a core ensemble – and it’s a true ensemble – and we will always welcome into that awesome little team, people with a professional approach to match our own. If you’re a performer (or stage manager or designer or techie) aspiring to greater heights, let us know. You don’t have to work for free anymore on the Sunshine Coast! Hooray! On the other hand, if you’re happy to do so, if you’re totally okay with the way you’re currently presenting on stage (and off), go ahead and keep supporting your local community group and having a ball! Cheers!

 

managingcarmen_castandcrew_NLWF14

 

So. Sam is still the President of the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance, I’m still writing the column for the paper, we are both on the Noosa Long Weekend Festival board and programming committee, I’m on the Matilda Committee, and we are still directing, coaching, consulting, emceeing, promoting and supporting many local artists and events for free. We actually do far more for free, still, than for dollars. And that’s okay too, although we are more selective now about the people and charities we choose to support. We can only do so much. But we truly value community theatre so we continue to support it. We’ve always walked the talk. I thought that much was pretty obvious but I guess when some-unenlightened-body gets a bee in their bonnet they forget the big picture. It actually infuriates me momentarily, to see and hear criticism from those who purport to know us or to know better. But, sure, you’re entitled to your opinion too. Just maybe think twice before putting it online.

 

maturingisrealizing

 

SCD Arts Friday August 8 2014

 

We know the Sunshine Coast has talent, and some of us can even recognise excellence when we see it on stage, however; I miss the days of legitimate local theatre reviews, which we used to enjoy via this publication, thanks to an arrangement with Ian Austin, professional playwright and critic. Those of us involved in theatre at the time remember our early Saturday morning race to buy the Sunshine Coast Daily for Mr Austin’s insightful write-ups of local productions. Not only did the reviews provide valuable feedback from a respected theatrical identity, they gave potential audience members valid reasons to consider which productions they might be interested in supporting.

 

It’s all very well for each community theatre group to promote their own production, or for enthusiastic cross-promotion to continue happening – after all, we should be supporting each other’s endeavours – but to blatantly mislead the public and the talent about the standard of a local show when one has recently attended no other local shows with which to compare it is outrageous and irresponsible.

 

To my understanding, a review is certainly one’s personal response to a production, but it should also offer some truth in terms of what audiences may expect to experience at a show. This requires broad knowledge, an open mind and the acceptance that honesty does not necessarily initiate or nurture friendships.

 

Amongst my peers, the theatre reviewers feel a degree of responsibility to the creatives, but also to audiences. Over the last five years I have attended, on average, 1-2 professional theatrical productions a week, and during festival time that number increases. What kind of reviewer would I be if I proclaimed every production just as excellent as the next? Or a mediocre production the most impressive? I don’t presume to help box office sell tickets – that’s what marketing collateral is for – but I do appreciate the opportunity to offer people a fair assessment of a show, allowing them to make up their own minds as to whether or not they might enjoy it.

 

It’s an unfortunate fact that theatre reviewing in this country is not valued enough by the industry, nor by the publications who seek content (both in print and online) to provide any remuneration for the job. Perhaps if it were a paid position, and genuine feedback was taken on board by those who insist on putting productions together, our audiences could reasonably expect a greater degree of excellence on local stages and attend the theatre more often, which in turn would help to sell tickets and keep our local theatre thriving. I wonder what the theatre companies, venues, councils and arts funding bodies might think of that? What do you think?

 

 

ifyouhavegoodthoughts

 

 

Next up, Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance is hosting the largest theatre festival on the South East Queensland Drama circuit. This means, starting this Friday, we’ll be at The Lind, Nambour, for 10 days of workshops, forums, debates and one-act plays. We have a record number of youth entries across the final weekend of the festival and some new and familiar faces competing in the open section, which takes place this weekend.

 

 

Forum Panellists are Mahana Currie, Robyn Ernst (BYTE), Ian Mackellar (Noosa Long Weekend Festival) and Ian Williams, discussing Sunshine Coast Theatre – Past, Present, Future. The debate will see Mark Darin (MIX FM), Joy Marshall and Marina de Jager argue the merits of musical theatre with Gail Denver, Errol Morrison and Frank Wilkie. These events cost just $5 to attend and give you the chance to mix with the local makers and lovers of live theatre.

 

 

We welcome special guest adjudicator, Margi Brown Ash, Director of Hedonism’s Second Album, which opens on Thursday night at La Boite.

 

 

For SCTF14 details and bookings check out livetheatre.com.au

 

 

 

 

12
May
14

Machina

 

Machina

La Boite Indie & Madcat Creative Connections

With the support of QPAC

The Loft

May 8 – 24 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Six Degrees – Bloomberg – Usenet – GeoCities – Friendster – MySpace – Orkut – Flickr – Facebook – Twitter – Tumblr – Instagram – Pinterest – Linkedin – Google+ – SnapChat – Kik – Machina

 

deus ex machina

 

No, not the Smashing Pumpkins album, not the motorcycle, and not the famed café chain (now open in Bali!).

 

MACH_ShowPageBlock_690x250

 

I don’t know that Machina’s ending is quite right but let’s not start there. Let’s start at the very beginning, which is basically where we are right now, transfixed by a screen, quite possibly by multiple screens, juggling gadgets; probably engaging in several conversations whilst simultaneously checking emails and scrolling through news feeds.

 

We are living masterfully created half-lives online and something else, something almost resembling real lives, offline.

 

Machina is a play to make us think deeply about the connections we make – or fail to make – in real life and those we make so effortlessly in the virtual world via various social media constructs, which we’ve had at our fingertips since well before 2004 when the world’s most popular platform, Facebook, first appeared. That’s right. It’s Facebook’s tenth year so what better time to program, as part of the La Boite Indie season, Richard Jordan’s intriguing new work about a guy who decides that “going inside” is a better option than continuing life on earth. Think about that. It’s mind blowing.

 

One month ago, David Sergeant made the ultimate commitment to social media, choosing to forever separate mind and body by uploading his consciousness into social networking site Machina. An experimental and irreversible new process known as ‘going inside’, the user discards their need for a physical body and attains a kind of digital immortality in the cloud.

 

2005_facebook_profile.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

 

WOW. UPLOADING HIS CONSCIOUSNESS. As you will have read in the Playwright’s Note and in our interview with Jordan here, the notion of disappearing from real life in order to live eternally in the ether is not as sci-fi as it might at first appear to be. Sometimes I think some of us are already ready to opt (out) for that. Scary, really. There is good reason behind the loneliness people feel, despite having thousands of Twitter and Insta Followers and Facebook friends…the interactions are not quite the same, are they?

 

youneedtogetofffacebook

 

I used to spend a lot more time on Facebook and Twitter. No, really! Social media is an addiction and I tend to go through phases of taking responsibility for decreasing the amount of time daily on each social media platform. I seem to be on Instagram a lot more often lately. I totally blame Fat Mum Slim’s #fmsphotoaday challenge for that! I also love to keep up with pics from my family on Insta because there’s a new baby, and #100waystospellterese

 

I often explain to friends that Instagram is to the Internet what Disneyland is to the planet – it’s the happiest place online.

 

I can’t stand the sob stories, vaguebooking, self-promotion and relentless advertisements in my Facebook news feed so more often than not I’ll use Insta to post a photo (my Insta is also synched to Twitter #sorrynotsorry) and I’ll use Facebook just to check in somewhere #xsneverstops

 

procrastination

As the X of XS Entertainment I often feel a certain amount of pressure to maintain the public image we’ve worked so hard to establish. Don’t get me wrong, we really actually do have heaps of fun! And if we’re not having fun, I’m generally not posting about it. Social media lets us edit our lives this way so what we’re seeing is only the most interesting, gorgeous, intelligent, witty, wonderful, successful versions.

 

Wait. You knew that, right?

 

I still rely on gmail for invites, press releases and quick notes about what’s happening around town but I’m trying to measure the amount of time spent being a passive user of social media, which is really just another way of admitting that I’m trying to procrastinate less.

 

As a consequence of not being prolifically on any particular platform anymore, I miss stuff. I miss birthdays, engagements, weddings, separations, the births of babies, the acquisition of new pets, and the loss of old pets, your new pair of shoes, your new property, your new position at work, your children’s achievements and much more. Sometimes I suffer from serious #FOMO and other times I genuinely think that friends and family members will call or email if they have something they need me to know. Sometimes I’m right and I hear from them IRL! Hooray! Sometimes I CALL THEM! I KNOW! I feel slightly disconnected, yes, but I’m not prepared to go back to the hours of trawling through news feeds, and liking and sharing and re-tweeting to safeguard against you thinking that I don’t care about what’s happening in your life. I do care. But LIFE is happening (or trying to happen) here too and sometimes that doesn’t need to be announced.

 

I MIGHT BE WRITING. BUT I MIGHT NOT POST ABOUT IT.

 

I have friends who simply deactivate their accounts temporarily in order to get things done. Do they really? Wow! Do you? Do you get more done? Or do you sit and wonder what everyone is up to while you’re not reading their updates? My preferred strategy involves resisting checking any social media before the school run and also, whenever I’m supposed to be focusing on something. Like a review. Or a movie. Or a conversation. *opens new tab to check Facebook purely for the Production Gallery images on La Boite Theatre Company’s page. Really.

 

deactivatedfacebookforanhour

 

On weekdays that’s around 9am and for the most part of the day…some days. Some days I just see how many hours from waking I can stay off social media! I know, it’s exciting, isn’t it? When I’m out somewhere I might post a foodie photo, check into a place on Facebook and see that I have, like, 84 notifications. Sometimes I check some of them. I’m truly sorry if I miss your stuff. I’m confident in the knowledge that if our friendship and/or support is valuable enough to you, you’ll call or sms or email to get my attention, and just so you know, I’m trying to do that more often too. *brings iPhone screen to life to make sure there is no message regarding tomorrow’s arrangements, which include a lunch date, school pick up, yoga and a meeting in Brisbane at peak hour traffic time. What was I doing? Oh, the blog. Review. Right.

 

In Machina, Director, Catarina Hebbard, has deftly created a world on stage of missed connections – barely-even-there connections – as well as ever-present people with whom the characters are yet to connect (I love the opening image of dancers floating “out there”, together in isolation in the ether…or is it in real life?). It’s as if we are watching the same self-study that leads to considering deactivating the social media accounts, but not seriously, because if we do so where will we be? What will become of us? We won’t exist in the minds of others if our news is not in front of them every day and we might even cease to exist for ourselves. What are we if not a continuously evolving online presence? #ifitdidnthappenonfacebookdiditreallyhappen

 

machina_liamandpeter

 

Some of the connections between characters come across more successfully than others. I love the very awkward relationship between Scott (Jack Kelly) and Tom (Liam Nunan), particularly during their first meeting at a bus stop. Necessarily AWK-WARD. This scene is played out beautifully, perfectly timed to elicit the sort of restrained laughter we feel might offend because somebody (Scott) is just trying so hard! I feel like Nunan is the one to watch here – he has some superb moments of reflection and intense emotion throughout the play as he struggles to communicate offline and away from his completely competent online persona. Within his story is the crux of the play – how do we see others, and ourselves, and how do we present in real life with the same confidence and charisma as that which we’ve created online? In contrast, Kelly may have some subtlety to learn but his vivid characterisation is perfectly suitable, and he brings a lovely lightness to the production.

 

machina_liam

An odd friendship develops between Amanda (Luisa Prosser) and Hannah (Judy Hainsworth) that could possibly become another play – it seems to want to be its own story, with the girls switching online and actual identities, however; other than to prove a point I’m not sure why there is so much time afforded to this. The connection that we need, and the one I enjoy most, is between Isobel (Kaye Stevenson) and Adam (Peter Rasmussen). Stevenson plays David’s mother and she connects online via the social media platform, Machina, with Adam, who confesses he is there “for the sex”. Through this unlikely relationship she learns the truth about David – that at thirty-something her son was depressed and friendless, and felt his family would be better off without him actually being around. Despite the exposition, I left feeling a little confused, I’ll admit, which is perhaps the desired effect. Was David really dead then? He must be, but the question remains, are we ever truly gone now?

 

one-does-not-simply-get-off-facebook

 

It’s clear that the piece has come from eleven separate scenes, the feeling of “dis/connect” is apparent throughout, though at one point early on, a scene erupts in such a tumult of noise and movement, a frenzy that detracts rather than adds value to the notion of Multi-tasking, like when I come back the next day to the ten or more tabs left open on my MacBook because I was “in the middle of something” or “coming back to something” or “keeping something to read for later” (yes, I know there are apps for that!), and I end up closing the window in frustration, too overwhelmed to start again and check out one by one, each of the tabs I felt were so important.

 

Machina is a beautifully considered and intelligent new work that needs some work, sure (the séance and the grating pulling-the-plug sound in between scenes can probably go!), but see it in The Loft, a space made more intimate than you might expect, with its white “cloud” overhead, and pure white blocks and props rather than the clutter and colour of real life. It makes it a rather surreal environment, as if we’d floated in after being online for thirty days straight. The design team, comprising Andrew Panda Haden (Lighting and Set Design), Phil Hagstrom (Composer and Sound Design) and Susan Marquet (Costumes), has had a field day keeping it simple and helping our focus to shift from one part of the fragmented story to the next.

 

The final part of the play offers some hope after all, promising that it’s still possible to make real-world connections, and that it’s really not as difficult or as awkward as we sometimes think it is, but the end comes too quickly, almost before we absorb what’s happening – physical contact, a warm and familiar, old fashioned, comforting, homecoming big old bear hug. Because that’s it. That’s sometimes all we need to do to reconnect; actually reach out, literally, hug. hold a hand, sit and look at each other, and take turns to listen and really talk to each other, actually engage, fully, without a smartphone in one hand and a mouse or tracking pad under the other. It’s clear (perhaps it already was) that the implications of virtual and social media taking over traditional communication channels include the loss of the skills we already had, that for some of us didn’t come easily in the first place. I can’t even imagine what social media would have done for me growing up. Apparently, I hid behind my mother’s skirts and said very little until I was nine. I know, you don’t believe it either. Now, with a daughter not turning nine for another year, who is totally tech-savvy and always checking in with me (“Mum, aren’t you going to foodie photo this?”) and downloading her own apps (“Mum, it’s a free one. I need your password!”), I’m really aware of how much time I spend on gadgets relationships.

 

phonestack_game

Richard Jordan’s Machina is a cold, hard kick in the guts and a self-effacing laugh at the same time, and if you’re not already suggesting a phone stack at dinner, you will be after experiencing this show.

 

 

SHARE THIS REVIEW #justkiddingbutnotreally

 

 

machina_kaye

 

Images by Nick Morrissey.

24
Oct
13

Grindr: A Love Story?

 

Grindr: A Love Story?

Brisbane Powerhouse

October 11 & 12 2013

 

Reviewed by Guy Frawley

 

**Spoiler Alert!**

 

I’ll just go and save you the trouble of wondering, the answer to the question is no. This is a story of many things, most of it terribly entertaining, but there isn’t a love story as far as the eye can see.

 

Nath Valvo’s (almost) one man show, Grindr: A Love Story?, plays as an hour long introductory ‘how to’ course for the gay relationship app Grindr that’s spiked with anecdotes, introspection and a fair serving of addiction. Along-side what is effectively a stand-up routine Valvo has added enough flamboyant theatrics throughout, that his randomly sudden moments of honest reflection catch you unprepared.

 

To my initial glance the theatre, at full house capacity (Grindr: A Love Story? sold out before opening), was practically heaving with gay men. So it came as a surprise when Valvo commented several times on the number of women in the audience. But to paraphrase Samantha from SATC the first step on the road to fame is the gays, followed by the girls. Valvo already has a national voice with his current role as a Nova FM presenter but it’s his comedic future that I’ll be keeping my eye on.

 

His capable assistant throughout the evening, Thomas Jaspers, opens the show in drag as Rhonda Butchmore and steers her initial schtick away from the expected bitchy cattiness into the unexpectedly absurd. Plugging his iphone into the speakers he proceeded to call the Christian Lobby so that the audience, all the while giggling gaily, could leave them a message from God. Immediately after Valvo took over the stage but when we next saw Jaspers he returned to the stage to assist in a practical demonstration by designing a live Grindr profile for an unsuspecting random audience member.

 

Grindr: A Love Story? Contained a few jokes that fell flat but it was hard to remember for long as Valvo already had the audience shrieking with laughter again in seconds. He’s written a fresh show that all appeared to enjoy and if ticket sales are anything to go by he’s found a niche that’s likely to pay off.

 

 

13
Oct
13

A Season of stories for QTC in 2014 – Season Launch

A season of stories to star on stage for Queensland Theatre Company in 2014

 

Sadly, despite our best efforts, we didn’t get to the launch today. We left the Sunshine Coast in plenty of time after a lovely morning of pancakes and pool time with gorgeous friends, but stopped still in heavy south-bound traffic well before the Caloundra/Landsborough exit, and I knew that even if the pace were to pick up before Caboolture, we’d be turning up at QPAC halfway through the event! So I had to call it. We took the exit and took off up the mountain instead! Poets Cafe was the perfect place to sit on the terrace overlooking the forest and the sea, with scones and iced tea, and retweet the tweeters in attendance at the launch! THANK YOU TWITTERATI! Thanks to you all, we were able to keep up with the proceedings and the exciting announcements about QTC’s Season 2014 AS WESLEY ANNOUNCED THEM.

 

Seriously, how good is social media?!

 

 

Here’s the official press, and on The Other Blog you’ll find out more about our afternoon NOT at the official function. (Oh. But perhaps not until after school tomorrow. I’m back on class this week! Goodnight!).

 

The story – from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace – is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, 

but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” Ursula K. Le Guin

 

whatsonausday

Australia Day – The Mountaintop – Macbeth – The Effect

Gloria – Black Diggers – Gasp! – A Tribute of Sorts – The Magic Hour

whatsoneffect

 

A season of stories. Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) today unveiled its much anticipated Season 2014, and it did not disappoint. Artistic Director Wesley Enoch announced seven powerful mainstage productions including a world premiere and two Australian premieres and a cast lineup including an internationally acclaimed Director, a world famous writer and a season of stories starring Australia’s greatest actors.

 

Enoch said QTC’s Season 2014 would be a year of important story-telling; of productions that would move and motivate audiences.

 

“There is a very real focus on Australian work in 2014 with 75% of the season Australian plays, and for good reason – Australian stories and storytellers are amongst the very best in the world,” he said.  “We will see a tripling of works being commissioned, we have two productions in association with local groups and four co-productions – this is exciting for us and for our audiences,” he said.

 

“Season 2014 is one that audiences will thoroughly enjoy – it is laced with humour, emotion, conflict, questions and adventure. It is also a season that nurtures our stars – we are very proud to present four works by female playwrights, and welcome two female directors, as well as celebrating a 45% increase in the number of actors across the season compared to this year.”

 

Arts Minister Ian Walker announced that Queensland Theatre Company had been successful in its application for the Newman Government’s Super Star Fund. The funding will go towards Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to be directed by internationally renowned theatre director Michael Attenborough CBE.

 

“Michael Attenborough creates high-impact, contemporary Shakespeare that really thrills audiences,” he said. “This Queensland exclusive will be a unique experience for our audiences. It will deliver the benefits of cultural tourism to the south east of the state, undoubtedly attracting many theatre lovers from interstate. There will also be rewards for Queensland artists with workshops and a mentorship and the development of an education show by Grin & Tonic, I am Macbeth, to be toured to Queensland schools and regionally in 2014.”

 

The Season 2014 story opens in January at the Playhouse with the bang-up-to-the-moment barbecue-stopper of a comedy that questions the national identity in Australia Day. As the brains behind Sydney Theatre Company’s wickedly satirical institution The Wharf Revue, writer Jonathan Biggins has his finger firmly on the pulse of Aussie culture, and tells this story with wit and wisdom. Andrea Moor, director of this year’s smash hit Venus in Fur, directs again, and for actor Paul Bishop, who plays the Mayor, this material is comfortably close to home – when he’s offstage, he is a Redlands City Councillor on Brisbane’s bayside.

 

Insightful and provocative, The Mountaintop is a lively, funny, moving and magical look back at the life of one of the most inspirational men to walk the Earth in Dr Martin Luther King Jr – but far from putting him on a pedestal, it’s a warts-and-all portrait of a human being, culminating in a blistering recap of decades of civil rights history, right up to the present day.

 

Penned by brilliant young Memphis playwright Katori Hall, it was a West End and Broadway sell-out and an Olivier Award-winner. Making his Queensland Theatre Company debut, Pacharo Mzembe shines as King while vivacious actress, activist and hip-hop sensation Candy Bowers dazzles as Camae.

 

In March, QTC presents the classic story, Macbeth – the original Game of Thrones -directed by British theatre royalty Michael Attenborough, in association with 40-year veteran Brisbane theatre troupe Grin & Tonic and starring a cast of 15 superb actors. Jason Klarwein and Veronica Neave star as the royal couple with blood on their hands, heading an all-star local cast featuring Tama Matheson, Andrew Buchanan, Thomas Larkin, Kevin Spink, Steven Rooke, Lucas Stibbard, Tim Dashwood and Christopher Beckey.

 

In July, QTC leaves the Playhouse until September, making its home in the Bille Brown Studio (BBS).

 

The Effect is the story of a struggle for dominance between the clinical order of science, and the roiling chaos of the human heart. A co-production with Sydney Theatre Company, it was written by young British playwright Lucy Prebble, author of West End and Broadway hit ENRON and TV’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl. The Effect stars Queenslander Anna McGahan, recently seen on the small screen in House Husbands, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Underbelly: Razor.

 

A new Australian work, commissioned by QTC, by Brisbane playwright Elaine Acworth is the next story to be told. Gloria is a play about grace and grandchildren, about memory – and for anyone who’s ever stumbled over putting a face to a name, or called an object a ‘thingummy’. It’s a play where music takes centre stage, weaving together Gloria’s rapidly fraying memories and brings together an all-Brisbane cast led by stage powerhouse, Christen O’Leary (End of the Rainbow, Bombshells) as Gloria.

 

Marking the return to the Playhouse in September is a powerful Australian work –Black Diggers.

 

One hundred years ago, about a thousand Indigenous Australians took up arms to fight in World War I. For them, battle on a Gallipoli beach was an escape from the shackles of racism at home. Black Diggers draws from interviews with families of men who heard the call – men who now step from the blank pages of history to share their stories. Directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom WrightBlack Diggers presented in association with Sydney Festival and Brisbane Festival; the cast is headed by the talented Luke Carroll, last seen playing a soldier in a very different war in QTC’s Mother Courage.

 

The finale for the mainstage Season is a work by one of the world’s leading writers and comedians, Ben Elton. Gasp! is a breathtaking, brilliantly funny satire on the heartlessness of big business. Continuing QTC’s fertile collaboration with Western Australia’s Black Swan State Theatre Company, Gasp! draws cast members from Brisbane and Perth. First performed in London in 1990, starring Hugh Laurie, Gasp! was the playwriting debut for stand-up comic Elton (The Young Ones and Blackadder).

 

Supporting the mainstage Season are two productions that tell stories in the BBS. May sees two productions – A Tribute of Sorts which is an artful, dark, morbidly funny celebration of the art of theatre itself, and The Magic Hour, where actor and singer Ursula Yovich breathes new life into the fables collected by the Brothers Grimm.

 

The season announced today leads a full program of touring, education, children’s shows and more.

 

Season Tickets on sale queenslandtheatre.com.au

30
Jul
13

Problogger Training Event: why I’m going to be there and why you might like to be my roomie for the weekend!

 

So will I be seeing you at the ProBlogger Training Event in September?

 

 

It’s my first. That’s right. I’m a ProBlogger Training Event virgin. And I can’t wait to pop my little conference cherry at the quirky QT Gold Coast September 13th – 14th.

 

If you’ll be there I’d love to hear from you, and if you’ll be there and you haven’t yet booked your accommodation, you could be my roomie! I thought I’d have one but she’s elected to go overseas instead. SO UNLESS YOU’VE ALSO BOOKED A TRIP OVERSEAS IT COULD BE YOU!

 

QT Gold Coast room

 

I have a gorgeous room at QT booked, so there’s no driving involved, and included in the package is breakfast both mornings and dinner on Saturday night! It will cost you just $255 for the two nights of the conference (that’s less than the ProBlogger Training Event special price per night!), and we’ll get to hang out!

 

Just DM me on Twitter or comment below if this sounds like you. We could be roomies!

 

problogger_sketchnotes_matthewmagain

 

The Problogger event always has such a fantastic program, with so many awesome speakers, that the whole conference this year booked out within hours of the original tickets going on sale. I’m super excited about the recently announced Lounge Sessions, which are a little more intimate, giving attendees the chance to ask lots of questions.

 

And I have LOTS of questions! You see I need to decide what to do next.

 

I’ve been reviewing theatre for three years, and occasionally I write something about something on my other blog. Add to that a weekly arts column for the local print media, and I’m happy being in the thick of it! When we’re not making theatre we’re supporting it, and I don’t want to stop supporting it (I love it!), but I want us to make more of our own type of theatre. For Sam, this means directing and producing, being given free reign over a text or an idea that grabs him. For me, this might mean writing. Wow. See how non-committal I am? (This is driving Sam crazy!). This is because I’m also a teacher, and I can make better money supply teaching than writing at the moment.

 

But while I’m teaching I’m not writing. So instead of committing fully to one or the other, I’ve been STAYING RIGHT HERE, frozen on the spot, doing what I’ve always done online and teaching less. I’d love to be teaching MORE OFTEN. Because, you know, income. And routine. I can teach during the day, and review theatre and write at night! Yes, I can. It’s what I’ve been doing for a while now, this juggling thing. I don’t mind juggling. It means I can HAVE MY CAKE AND EAT IT TOO MARTINI AND DRINK IT TOO. POOLSIDE. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Yes, I hear you…

 

QT Gold Coast drinks by the pool

 

Wouldn’t it be easier if I were happy to just stay teaching? YES. Yes, it would be. In so many ways, life would be easier. I envy my teaching friends who’ll never do anything but teach, and travel in their holidays. I’ve never stayed long enough at one school – or in one system – to earn long service leave, and I can’t even imagine that life.

 

I want to write – I need to write – and if I were going to just write, wouldn’t I be doing it? Yes, alright, thank you, I’m DOING IT, but the blogs the way they are are not what I mean. JUGGLING HAS ITS PITFALLS. And that’s why the ProBlogger Training Event IS GOING TO CHANGE MY LIFE. I’m going to come away BUILDING BETTER BLOGS. That’s right. Something, or someone there will be the thing that helps me get on track and really get writing. SAM, YOU’RE KILLING ME; DON’T SAY IT WON’T.

 

Remember, I HAVE A ROOM AT QT that I’d love to share with you if you’re going to be there, for the event or just for the weekend! For details just DM me on Twitter or comment below. It’s a great deal and I’m really nice to holiday/work/live with.

 

Down That Little Lane

22
Jul
13

Nathan Sibthorpe Talks Short+Sweet 2013

Nathan Sidthorpe

This week Meredith caught up with Nathan Sibthorpe, this year’s Short+Sweet Festival Manager.

She found out what he’s been up to recently, and what you can expect at Short+Sweet 2013.

 

I saw your work with Delicacy, which was fantastic if not a little macabre; will you be bringing the same ferocity from your direction to the direction and management of the festival?

I had the pleasure of assistant directing DELICACY under the vision of Lucas Stibbard. DELICACY was a unique sort of play – the kind that makes your stomach turn yet leaves you hungry at the end. Although I don’t believe any vital organs are going to be severed, I know that there are a few plays in Short+Sweet that might give you those slightly uneasy feelings – but in only the best of ways! Of course in a strand of up to eleven short plays, I reckon there should be enough to satisfy anyone’s appetite. Kind of like theatrical tapas!

 

I know you’re managing both the Gold Coast and the Brisbane circuits. I can’t wait to see what you do in Kelvin Grove’s The Loft, but do you think it’ll be tough juggling the workload?

So Short+Sweet this year is made up of four strands, each featuring a selection of ten-minute plays by local artists. Two strands will be performed on the Gold Coast, and then two in Brisbane. All up there are about 35 short plays to keep the festival going. It’s a tough juggle at times, but all of the artists are fiercely independent, and their passion holds everything together! They’re very good at supporting the festival that supports them.

 

You claim to be the Geek-In Residence, what gives you such a title?

Ha! In actual fact, it’s the Australia Council for the Arts that gives me that title! Well, them in combination with Queensland Theatre Company. My role at QTC started off as a funded position from the Australia Council, as part of their Geek-in-Residence program. I was recognised as a theatre-maker who actively experiments with digital technologies in live performance. I’m also the Twitter guy, the video guy, and the “which iPad app could help me solve this task?” guy.

 

Can I get any gossip about what to expect at Short+Sweet 2013?

Well, I don’t want to give away too much…. But look out for sexy handcuff pranks, intricate shadow puppets, dangerous spontaneity, feminine hygiene in 19th century England, people finding love, people losing love, people inventing what love could be … Body bags, wrecking balls, serial killers, symbolic balloons, a mime, a pig, a runaway bride, the evil undead… Secrets will be declared, someone will be humiliated, fights will break out, cake will be spilled, someone will die, the world will end, and dancing will happen. In ten minutes or less.

 

I’ve seen a few articles now saying this year’s is going to be refreshing, is that just hype or can we expect something different?

I think the festival is really growing. This year the standard of work has been really exciting. We’ve got more artists, more plays, and some of the shows are really going to push beyond expectations. It’s particularly exciting to have people like Catarina Hebbard directing, not long after she directed a MainStage show at QPAC for Queensland Theatre Company…. And then Sven Swenson, an award-winning playwright contributing to the pool of scripts. It’s also worth noting that this year is my first year managing the festival – that’s something different for sure! I know I’m finding it refreshing!

 

Have you been dealing with the selection process directly? If so, what speaks to you as a worthy script and performance for the show?

I have been very closely involved with the selection process this year, which has been an absolute privilege. I’m really interested in scripts that can promise theatricality, that know how and why they are a piece of theatre. I also want these plays to surprise us, to show us something we haven’t seen before, or to make us feel as though we’ve been a part of something bigger. Diversity is also a key factor of this festival – to make sure that each play has a different flavour, something unique to offer. You might hate one that everyone else loves and then fall in love with one that nobody else understands.

 

I saw some of the shows at last year’s Short+Sweet festival in The Loft, would you borrow a leaf from last year’s book or try to make this your own creation?

I think this year will have a bit of a different feel to last year. As well as there being more plays, there are also bigger concepts and challenging forms. One play relies on skilful shadow puppetry; another tells a story using only one word at a time. The script selections were incredibly competitive this year, so I’m confident that we’ve got some very exciting stories to tell. I’ll also say that we’re often going to have a hell of a mess to clean up after the performances!

 

Last year’s winners were well deserved, but what’s in it for this year’s yet to be known victors of Short+Sweet 2013? What sort of prizes or accreditations can they expect and do you think it’ll launch some of the more independent or younger competitors? As much as it is a festival it is most certainly a competition too, we mustn’t forget that.

 

Additional prizes are not yet announced for this year, but every award comes with an original sculptural trophy hand-made by an emerging artist from the Brisbane Institute of Art. There’s also something to be said about the value of the accreditation! After I won the Best Director award in 2011, my CV suddenly started working in my favour. And you might remember Dead Puppet Society got their first big break after winning the Short+Sweet Award in 2009!

 

An exciting extra incentive has only been introduced in recent years – that the overall winner of Short+Sweet QLD will win a coveted spot in the Sydney Short+Sweet Festival in 2014! (SRT’s So Where Is It? won this coveted spot in 2012 – Ed).

 

It’s getting close to the show now, less than a month away. Would you do it all again if they asked you back next year?

For sure!

 

Thanks so much for chatting, Nathan. I look forward to seeing the show in August. 

Thanks Meredith, look forward to seeing you at the festival!

Short+Sweet 2013 dates will be running as follows. Make sure to get your ticket.

 

GOLD COAST

The Arts Centre, Gold Coast

 

STRAND ONE – MAINSTAGE
Tues 30 Jul, 7pm
Wed 31 Jul, 7pm
Thurs 1 Aug, 7pm
Fri 2 Aug, 7pm

 

STRAND TWO – WILDCARDS
Sat 3 Aug, 7pm
Sat 3 Aug, 7pm

 

BRISBANE

The Loft, Kelvin Grove

 

STRAND THREE – MAINSTAGE
Tues 20 Aug, 7pm
Thurs 22 Aug, 7pm
Sat 24 Aug, 7pm

 

STRAND FOUR – MAINSTAGE
Wed 21 Aug, 7pm
Fri 23 Aug, 7pm
Sat 24 Aug, 3pm

 

GALA FINAL
Sun 25 Aug, 3pm
Sun 25 Aug, 7pm

22
Jul
13

Little Orphan TrAshley

 

Little Orphan TrAshley

Brisbane Powerhouse

17 – 20 July 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

Direct from a sell-out season at Sydney Opera House, the writers who brought you the smash hit Fat Swan (Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott) team up with acclaimed director Craig Ilott (Smoke & Mirrors) to give you this uproarious new spectacle with an all-star cast.

 

Ashley stars as little orphan Fannie, a ten-year old with a terrible secret… one she can’t even share with her inmates at the Sutherland Shire Girl’s Orphanage, let alone the bad-tempered showbiz has-been who runs the place: the drunken Miss Trannigan (Rhonda Burchmore). The truth is: Fannie is not yet all woman. But, to get her gender reassignment surgery, she’ll have to find her true birth parents to get their permission.

 

Luckily for Fannie, she meets acclaimed photographer/multimillionaire Daddy Warhorse (Gary Sweet) who promises to sponsor her! But can she survive a rigorous set of blind auditions, a very ‘arty’ photoshoot and an appearance on evil controversial talk-back radio personality Ellen Jones’ show before she finds her parents?

 

To make her wish come true, Fannie may need more than just her trusty ex-sniffer dog Bullshit (Rhys Bobridge).

 

Well, you might have LOVED this show. I’m happy for you #winning

 

Let me know in the comments section below what it was you loved (as opposed to telling me what you think I should already know about my lack of knowledge, experience, tact, etc, etc when it comes to reviewing theatre).

 

I really wanted to love this production. I’ve missed previous TrAshley shows but I was looking forward to seeing this one. I had a ball live tweeting the show (I’ll add those Instagram pics later), but I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I’m surprised that something so unpolished has had some of the rave reviews it’s had. There is such a wealth of talent involved in this production but sadly, very little of it manages to cut through the crass humour and faltering pace. It could be that the brand of humour is just not my cup of tea, but even so, I expected a higher standard across all departments, regardless of personal preference when it comes to comedy.

 

Do you know what this show was? (An industry peep who shall remain nameless said it was a train wreck!). For me, it was one of those really bad parties (you know the ones, you’ve been to them too), when someone who is not the most popular person in the building invites everyone around after work on a Friday night and you go with some colleagues and a couple of add-ons because there was nothing else planned, but there’s no footy on, and they haven’t tidied the house, or planned any party games, or offered the first drink, and they’ve shopped at Coles on the way home with a budget of $32 for chips, cheese and crackers for 30 people (can you even GET chips, cheese and crackers for 30 people for under $32?). While this scenario would make a decent play, the feeling during the show that I was AT THAT AWFUL AWKWARD PARTY did nothing to convince me that I was experiencing the same show I’ve heard others go wild about!

 

Of course I was there with my social media hat on, having been invited to a lovely little pre-show soiree by the fast-moving folk in digital marketing at Brisbane Powerhouse. My feedback to them was not really for them (other than that they put on a lovely little soiree), but for the performers; if they’re going to announce before the show that they’d like us to turn ON our mobile phones and tweet the night away, they need to pause for a moment longer in those wonderful camp poses so we can get great, clear shots to post! It’s a great idea, and opens up the discussion on the merits (and annoyance to other patrons) of Tweet Seats at performances, particularly at performances of this nature. Social media loves the shock value. The Brisbane Powerhouse team are way ahead on so many counts, but I hope they have some better quality fodder to throw at us next time. Or a whole lot more champagne.

 

It goes without saying that if something sells out at the Sydney Opera House you’re gonna’ wanna’ bring it to your venue, but I fail to see what’s so appealing about Little Orphan TrAshley. It failed on so many levels for me, and I don’t think it’s useful to anybody to say otherwise. If I did, it would be a case of supporting and condoning the mediocre in a country that is renowned for its cabaret. Yes we are, indeed! So how does a show like this get let loose on the unsuspecting public? I DON’T KNOW. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW. IT FASCINATES ME. It’s different to just not being blown away by a great show (case in point: Mrs Warren’s Profession & The Maids. No, I haven’t written about them yet). So. Oh dear. Here we go. Here’s the break down:

 

  • the premise is tres amusement for a moment and then IT GETS OLD
  • the set actually looks CHEAP. This may well be the intention.
  • the lack of improvisation skills baffles me. A simple encore of the opening number would have saved everybody – performers, crew and audience – the uncomfortable two and a half minutes on opening night of microphone lead or pack probs, or whatever it was that made us all squirm uncomfortably while a techie adjusted something beneath Burchmore’s skirt. That’s right. And yet nobody on stage or off had the initiative/training/experience/forethought/improvisational skills/confidence to call it. EXCEPT THEY ALL HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THOSE SKILLS/QUALITIES. They just stood there looking embarrassed. Oh, and in the middle of all that awkward silence TrAshley acknowledged via his working mic, “Well, this is fucked!” BIG MISTAKE. I’m afraid I lost a lot of respect right there. Even in community theatre THE SHOW MUST GO ON
  • the jokes are bad. Really bad. Like, think of the worst racist, misogynist dad joke you’ve ever heard and multiply that by about 100 you-can’t-laugh-at-that groans, and that is ALMOST how poor the comedy is. I was expecting trashy AND witty. I was genuinely surprised when people laughed.
  • pedophile jokes – and worse, characters that are built upon them – are never funny

 

Bobridge and Burchmore both did their best to save the night, almost succeeding on a number of occasions, but even his chap-clad buttocks, cheeky grin and spot-on moves, and her sass, self-deprecating humour and supersize talent wasn’t enough to win me over. 

 

IS IT JUST ME? It might be. And that’s okay. I know TrAshley has a huge following already, and some of the dedicated fans were obviously glad to have caught this Brisbane season. They weren’t disappointed at all! But I bet anybody in the audience with a good, slick, sophisticated and intelligent cabaret show ready to go will be wondering WHAT THE HELL DO WE NEED TO DO TO GET A SIMILAR TOUR UP?! 

 

If Meow Meow is the Queen of Cabaret in this country (and she must be), why aren’t more artists aspiring to be like her? And by “be like her” I simply mean writing and producing cabaret shows that are slick, sophisticated, intelligent, funny and completely gorgeous. (I’ve seen a few lately that could do with the hype that comes with TrAshley, but deservedly so). Meow Meow’s shows are the best parties in town. Let’s have more of those.