Posts Tagged ‘Sydney Theatre Company

08
Feb
18

Black Is The New White

 

Black Is The New White

Queensland Theatre presents a

Sydney Theatre Company production

QPAC Playhouse

February 3 – 17 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

Two politically powerful families at war. A son and daughter helplessly in love, defying their parents. You’ve heard this story before – but what if Romeo was white, Juliet was black and the war mainly fought on Twitter?

 

“It’s about a successful Aboriginal family called the Gibsons who are activists and very proud to be Aboriginal and who also happen to be quite financially successful,” Lui says. “Their youngest daughter, Charlotte, is just back from being in Europe for three-and-a-half months and she’s bringing home her boyfriend for the first time – he’s white and a poor, struggling musician who also happens to be the son of her father’s arch nemesis. “It’s kind of what happens when you get together with family over Christmas – you laugh, you fight and you talk about all the things you’re not meant to talk about in a very intimate and flippant way.” – Nakkiah Lui

 

Nakkiah Lui’s script is razor-sharp in its unbridled observations of race and human nature, and Paige Rattray’s precision production is masterfully handled, fast-paced, funny and highly entertaining. There’s a dance break AND a dance off AND a food fight! I wonder what this work would look like, sound like, without Rattray’s light hand? The characters are heightened, delightful and painful, completely believable, (mis)behaving exactly as our family members (mis)behave at Christmas, and the sense of the work is at first light-handed, hilarious. But don’t think that means you won’t cringe at times, faced with your own pre-conceived notions and beliefs. Is this just a mirror of Australian contemporary society or a hammer to shape it? No stone is left unturned, with each character either delving into or narrowly avoiding addressing the misconceptions surrounding the mistreatment of our Indigenous peoples, privilege, gender roles, rich vs poor, cultural sterotypes, the courage of individuals and the common interests of communities – and sparking bold conversations around the emergence of an Aboriginal middle-class and the re-rise of a feminism that sees an older generation of women – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – claiming their sexual identities and political ideas.

 

Unless you’re at a Williamson, you might not think it possible to pack such a wealth of material into 2 hours and 20 minutes of theatre, and yet there it is, and with deep insight, the off-hand and humorous remarks hitting hard, getting under our skin and challenging everything we think is Australian. Human.

 

 

Luke Carroll (the Spirit of Christmas disguised as the Narrator) is probably the least essential element, and tells us more than we need to know, particularly in the second act. His performance though is highly entertaining, and I come to love his omnipresence and subtle interactions with the family members. However, it must be said that Carroll’s perfectly clipped consonants are either the stuff of over articulated nightmares, or that he’s the very model of a trained-within-an-inch-of-his-life stage actor (no comment on his screen performances, which have been well received, earning him Deadly Awards and a Bob Maza Fellowship). This is not to be unkind, but to make a point: Carroll is excellent and can afford to employ a more relaxed vocal style. Once the initial nerves/disparate energy of opening night disappear there’s not one amongst this stellar cast whose performance misses the mark. Comic timing is spot on, beautifully crafted by Lui and polished by Rattray, leaving us in no doubt of the fun and playfulness of the creative process.

 

Tony Briggs (Ray Gibson) and Geoff Morrell (Dennison Smith) narrowly avoid playing political enemies for laughs, and leave us in horrified hysterics from the outset of their ongoing sandbox dispute. Briggs brings particular wit and wry humour to this role, which could just as easily have turned into caricature.

 

 

Melodie Reynolds-Diarra, as wife, Joan, reaches our hearts on multiple levels. It’s she who has penned her husband’s speeches, and she finally feels she deserves some recognition for her part in his story. Vanessa Downing as Dennison’s wife also steps up at a crucial moment, demanding that her life preferences be respected.

 

 

Miranda Tapsell joined this cast for the Brisbane season, and she brings hilarious headstrong energy to Rose, the millennial entrepreneurial sister of Charlotte (Shari Sebbens, straight up and sensational) and wife of Sonny (Anthony Taufa, in his element here), as does Tom Stokes as Francis, the (wonderfully awkward!) struggling artist and fiancé of Charlotte.

 

Renee Mulder’s stunning design, beautifully enhanced by Ben Hughes’ lighting, is a pristine playground for these Christmas shenanigans, with Steve Toulmin’s soundtrack an easy invitation to simply enjoy the ride….for now.

 

This crafty contemporary farce – poised for a film option – has a strictly limited Brisbane run. See it, and join the conversation.

 

Production pics by Prudence Upton

22
Jun
15

Helpmann Award Nominations 2015

 

Helpmann Award Nominations 2015

 

If awards equate to success for you, the Helpmann’s are the top of the heap.

 

Because I’m vaguely on strike for a bit while David Williamson’s Dream Home has my attention, I’ll share the nominations as per suzygoessee because now that Augusta Supple is busy with other projects and I (still) need to know what’s happening in Sydney, I sometimes glance at what Suzy Wrong is seeing, and you know I like to share the blog love. Check her out!

 

 

This year’s Helpmann Awards, hosted by Todd McKenney, will be presented live at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre on July 27 2015. Watch the live simulcast from wherever you are via foxtelarts.com.au

 

 

Todd-McKenney_Jim-Lee-Photo

 

 

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
ANDREW UPTON
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
CLARE WATSON
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
KIP WILLIAMS
Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)
SARAH GOODES
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
HELEN THOMSON
After Dinner (Sydney Theatre Company)
JULIE FORSYTH
Endgame (Melbourne Theatre Company)
PAMELA RABE
Beckett Triptych – Footfalls (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
SARAH PEIRSE
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
JULIE FORSYTH
Night on Bald Mountain (Malthouse Theatre)
PAMELA RABE
The Glass Menagerie (Belvoir)
ROBYN NEVIN
Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)
SARAH PEIRSE
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
BRUCE SPENCE
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
GLENN HAZELDINE
After Dinner (Sydney Theatre Company)
JOHN BELL
As You Like It (Bell Shakespeare)
LASARUS RATUERE
Kill the Messenger (Belvoir)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
HUGO WEAVING
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
HUNTER PAGE-LOCHARD
Brothers Wreck (Belvoir)
PETER CARROLL
Oedipus Rex (Belvoir)
STEVE RODGERS
Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Porn (Griffin Theatre Company and Perth Theatre Company)

 

BEST PLAY
CALPURNIA DESCENDING
Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company
ENDGAME
Sydney Theatre Company
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Belvoir
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
Sydney Theatre Company

 

endgame_stc

 

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL
ANDREW HALLSWORTH
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
KATE CHAMPION and MICHELLE LYNCH
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Love Story on Stage (John Frost)
MICHAEL ASHCROFT and GEOFFREY GARRATT
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
STEVEN HOGGETT
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)

 

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
DEAN BRYANT
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
JOHN TIFFANY
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
LAURENCE CONNOR and JAMES POWELL
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
STUART MAUNDER AM
Into the Woods (Victorian Opera)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
AMY LEHPAMER
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
CLAIRE LYON
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
KERRIE ANNE GREENLAND
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
LUCY MAUNDER
Into the Woods (Victorian Opera)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
CAROLINE O’CONNOR
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
HELEN DALLIMORE
Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents)
MADELEINE JONES
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
PATRICE TIPOKI
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

lesmiserables_patricetipoki_mattmurphy

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
ALEX RATHGEBER
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
BRENT HALL
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
CHRIS DURLING
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
COLIN DEAN
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
EDDIE MULIAUMASEALI’I
Show Boat (The Production Company)
TREVOR ASHLEY
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
HAYDEN TEE
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
SIMON GLEESON
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
TODD MCKENNEY
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
TODD MCKENNEY
La Cage Aux Folles (The Production Company)

 

BEST MUSICAL
ANYTHING GOES
Opera Australia and John Frost
DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC LOVE STORY ON STAGE
John Frost, Karl Sydow, Martin McCullum and Joyce Entertainment
LES MISÉRABLES
Cameron Mackintosh
ONCE
John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo

 

anythinggoes

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
ANNA CORDINGLEY
Masquerade (Griffin Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia)
DALE FERGUSON
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
GABRIELA TYLESOVA
The Rabbits (Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company)
GARY MCCANN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC)

 

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
GEOFF COBHAM
The Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera Company, South Australia)
NICK SCHLIEPER
Macbeth (Sydney Theatre Company)
PAULE CONSTABLE
Faust (Opera Australia)
PAULE CONSTABLE
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
RACHEL BURKE
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
CAMERON GOODALL and QUENTIN GRANT
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
KATE MILLER-HEIDKE with IAIN GRANDAGE
The Rabbits (Opera Australia)
MIKELANGELO and THE BLACKSEA GENTLEMEN
Masquerade (Griffin Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia)
TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)

 

BEST MUSIC DIRECTION
ERIN HELYARD
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
MARTIN LOWE
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
TIMOTHY SEXTON
The Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera South Australia)

 

BEST SCENIC DESIGN

DAN POTRA
The Perfect American (Brisbane Festival and Opera Queensland)
GEOFF COBHAM
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
MARG HORWELL
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)
MATT KINLEY
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

BEST SOUND DESIGN
CLIVE GOODWIN
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
JD BRILL, CLAIR GLOBAL and EAGLES
Eagles | History of the Eagles Live In Concert 2015 (The Eagles and Frontier Touring)
MICHAEL WATERS
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
MICK POTTER
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK
AIDAN FENNESSY, MUSIC AND LYRICS BY TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
ARENA THEATRE COMPANY
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)
JOANNA MURRAY-SMITH
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)
NICKI BLOOM with songs and music by CAMERON GOODALL and QUENTIN GRANT
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
OPERA AUSTRALIA and BARKING GECKO THEATRE COMPANY
The Rabbits (Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company)
TAMARA SAULWICK
Endings (Sydney Festival and Insite Arts)

 

BEST AUSTRALIAN CONTEMPORARY CONCERT
CHET FAKER | NATIONAL TOUR 2015
JIMMY BARNES | 30:30 HINDSIGHT GREATEST HITS TOUR 2014
KYLIE | KISS ME ONCE TOUR 2015
TINA ARENA RESET TOUR

 

kylie_kissmeonce

 

BEST CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL
BLUESFEST BYRON BAY
LANEWAY FESTIVAL
VIVID LIVE 2015
WOMADELAIDE 2015

 

BEST CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL CONCERT
ED SHEERAN | X WORLD TOUR 2015
FOO FIGHTERS | SONIC HIGHWAYS WORLD TOUR 2015
PAUL SIMON and STING – ON STAGE TOGETHER
THE ROLLING STONES | 14 ON FIRE

 

BEST COMEDY PERFORMER
JUDITH LUCY
Judith Lucy – Ask No Questions of the Moth (Token Events)
MATT OKINE
The Other Guy (Century Entertainment)
NAZEEM HUSSAIN
Nazeem Hussain – Legally Brown (Live Nation)
RONNY CHIENG
You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About (Century Entertainment)
SAM SIMMONS
Sam Simmons – Spaghetti for Breakfast (Token Events)

 

BEST CABARET PERFORMER
BECCY COLE and LIBBY DONOVAN
The Cowgirl and the Showgirl (Adelaide Festival Centre Trust)
CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN
Camille O’Sullivan – Changeling (Arts Centre Melbourne)
DAVID CAMPBELL and JOHN BUCCHINO
David Campbell Sings John Bucchino (Luckiest Productions)
KIM SMITH
Nova Noir (Adelaide Festival Centre Trust)

 

kimsmith

 

BEST BALLET OR DANCE WORK
FRAME OF MIND
Sydney Dance Company
MEETING
Antony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe
MOTION PICTURE
Lucy Guerin Inc
PRECIPICE
Rachel Arianne Ogle

 

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
ANTONY HAMILTON
MEETING (Antony Hamilton Projects, Arts House and Insite Arts)
NATALIE WEIR
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
RAFAEL BONACHELA
Frame of Mind (Sydney Dance Company)
STEPHEN PAGE
Patyegarang (Bangarra Dance Theatre)

 

BEST FEMALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
CHLOE LEONG
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
ELISE MAY
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
JESSE SCALES
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
MADELEINE EASTOE
Giselle (The Australian Ballet)

 

BEST MALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
ALISDAIR MACINDOE
Motion Picture (Lucy Guerin Inc)
CASS MORTIMER EIPPER
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
DAVID MACK
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
JACK ZIESING
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)

 

theredshoes_elisemay

 

BEST VISUAL OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
BEYOND THE CIRCA
Arts Centre Melbourne and Circa
DISLOCATE’S “IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK”
Marguerite Pepper Productions
THE PAPER ARCHITECT
Davy and Kristin McGuire and Perth International Arts Festival
TABAC ROUGE
Produced by Compagnie du Hanneton, presented by Sydney Festival

 

BEST DIRECTION OF AN OPERA
DAVID MCVICAR
Faust (Opera Australia)
DAVID MCVICAR
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
LEIGH WARREN
Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera of South Australia)
PAUL CURRAN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)

 

FAUST_OA

 

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
ANNA DEVIN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
ANNA STARUSHKEVYCH
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
NICOLE CAR
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
TARYN FIEBIG
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)

 

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
CAITLIN HULCUP
Iphigenie en Tauride (Pinchgut Opera)
JENNIFER RIVERA
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
LATONIA MOORE
Aida – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (Opera Australia)
NICOLE CAR
Faust (Opera Australia)

 

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
CHRISTOPHER LOWREY
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
SHANE LOWRENCEV
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
TEDDY TAHU RHODES
Faust (Opera Australia)
WARWICK FYFE
The Flying Dutchman (Victorian Opera)

 

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
ADAM DIEGEL
Madama Butterfly (English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Lithuanian National Opera)
CHRISTOPHER PURVES
The Perfect American (Brisbane Festival and Opera Queensland)
CLAUDIO SGURA
Tosca (Opera Australia)
MICHAEL FABIANO
Faust (Opera Australia)
TEDDY TAHU RHODES
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)

 

BEST OPERA
FARAMONDO (Brisbane Baroque)
FAUST (Opera Australia)
MADAMA BUTTERFLY (English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Lithuanian National Opera)
THE PHILIP GLASS TRILOGY (State Opera South Australia)

 

phillipglasstrilogy

 

BEST CHAMBER AND/OR INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE CONCERT
GOLDNER STRING QUARTET, MUSICA VIVA INTERNATIONAL CONCERT SERIES NATIONAL TOUR 2015
Goldner String Quartet for Musica Viva Australia
LES ARTS FLORISSANTS and LE JARDIN DES VOIX IN Â JARDIN Ã L’ITALIENNE
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House and Perth International Arts Festival
THE SIXTEEN
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House, Perth International Arts Festival, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Australian National University of Music, Llewellyn Hall
STEPHEN HOUGH IN RECITAL
Sydney Symphony Orchestra

 

BEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
MAHLER 3
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
REFLECTIONS ON GALLIPOLI
Australian Chamber Orchestra
TAFELMUSIK’S HOUSE OF DREAMS
Musica Viva

 

BEST INDIVIDUAL CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMANCE
ASHER FISCH
Beethoven Festival (West Australian Symphony Orchestra)
CHRISTIAN TETZLAFF
Christian Tetlaff (Melbourne Recital Centre)
EMANUEL AX
The Beethoven Piano Concertos (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)
WILLIAM CHRISTIE
William Christie (Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House, and Perth International Arts Festival)

 

BEST REGIONAL TOURING PRODUCTION
FESTIVAL OF CIRCA
Circa
FOOD
Force Majeure and Belvoir
KELLY
Queensland Theatre Company
SONS & MOTHERS
Performing Lines and No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability

 

kelly_stevenrooke

 

BEST PRESENTATION FOR CHILDREN
CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS
Circa and Queensland Performing Arts Centre
HANS CHRISTIAN, YOU MUST BE AN ANGEL
Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne
PETE THE SHEEP
Monkey Baa Theatre Company
THE RABBITS
Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company, in association with West Australian Opera, cocommissioned
by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

 

2015 HELPMANN AWARDS BESTOWED AWARD

 

BEST SPECIAL EVENT
PERTH INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROYAL DE LUXE
The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of the Giants to the Streets of Perth

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

 

SUE NATTRASS AWARD™
ERIC ROBINSON

JC WILLIAMSON AWARD®
PAUL KELLY

BRIAN STACEY AWARD 2015
JESSICA GETHIN

 

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

22
May
11

Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness

Reviewed by Sam Coward

La Boite and Sydney Theatre Company

The Roundhouse

Paul Bishop as Edward Gant. Image by Al Caeiro

“Boring the audience is the one true sin in theatre. We’ve been boring audiences for decades now…”Anthony Neilson (The Guardian 21st March 2007)

The most talked about show of the year opened last night at The Roundhouse…and was anything but boring. A colourful and enthusiastic full house enjoyed this most unique and unusual theatrical experience.

Brought to life by the collaborative geniuses of La Boite Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company, Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness lived up to the hype surrounding its Brisbane premiere. In this production, we find another example of a simple story told superbly, entertaining the ever-increasing appetite of the Brisbane theatre community.

First time main stage director, Sarah Goodes, has allowed her imagination to run wild and in her words, “everyone has been able to dive deep into their theatrical tool kit” to deliver this magical piece; the first-born for this joint venture between these two companies. Goodes has assembled an impressive team of creatives and has demanded a lot from the show’s production elements, which, without exception, surpass expectation.

Edward Gant explores the wondrous, grotesque, the beautiful and the bizarre; the scene is set as the vaudevillian freak show fills the room. Design and production elements, as you would expect from a production of this calibre, are brilliant. Renee Mulder (set design) has delivered a functional and gritty workplace, raw and open, yet magical and full of promise; the clever central rotunda serving as its main feature, with multiple traps and other hidden trickery adding to the carnival mystery. With exposed costume racks and gantry, we are informed that this is a travelling troupe; here only briefly to tell their tales, then tramp on with their small hands and cabbage cologne.

Lighting, by Damien Cooper, was a production element highlight, truly transforming locations and enhancing mood with precision and sensitive clarity. I loved the use of lead lights as footers and then as hand-helds for effect. On the same set and with light alone, we were taken to Nepal. Now, I am usually critical of these elements and often feel I am being asked a lot of, to go where the story leads, but in this instance I was swept up and away, utterly convinced.

Romance Was Born, responsible for the costuming and clearly settling into a relationship with STC that works like a charm, created a wardrobe that was, in a word, superb. Each character was clearly identifiable and the detail and degree of difficulty in some of the pieces was pure artwork. The pimple mask in particular. Special mention must also go to the stage manager (Sue Benfer) and hands involved in this production, as the many and complex effects and mechanics were seamless and most impressive.

Image by Al Caeiro

From the outset, we meet the troupe and are invited by Gant (Paul Bishop) to come along for the ride as they prepare to entertain us; we, the audience, are under no illusion that this is a troupe performing sequential stories in true vaudevillian style. As leader of the troupe, Bishop is outstanding. I was eager to see how he tackled this large contemporary character; I am happy to report it was with commitment and skill. Every subtlety and nuance clearly controlled but never contrived, his posturing and physicality embodying the snake oil merchant or travelling evangelist and portraying warmth towards his creation and his troupe. This was most noticeable when he was merely observing. There was a genuine quality about his performance that belied the show’s form, and yet like most things with this show, as head bending as that sounds, it worked.

Lindsay Farris. Image by Al Caeiro.

Lindsay Farris, playing Nicholas Ludd, brought a roguish masculinity to the stage. No sooner had this been nicely established, he proceeded to embody a more than believable gorgeous sister in the first of the two stories to be told as per the whim of the playwright, Neilson or by the director, Goodes; at this point, who can tell? Everything is spinning, up is down, left is right and pimples are full of cheese……wait, I’ll finish this later for reasons you will later learn. Farris provides the rebel factor and spars well with the experienced Bishop, we get to see the full gamut of performance in Farris; comedy, tragedy, real, absurd and even a black face Indian healer (yes, they use black face, yes it works, yes it fits the style and era that they are depicting and yes I and everyone else laughed and loved it. I thought I should make that clear before moving on). For me, some of the shows highest highs involved this exciting young actor and I will follow his career with great anticipation.

Bryan Probets, playing Jack Dearlove, provides the show’s funny bone, with a character instantly identifiable and akin to the dad in Strictly Ballroom. Probets’ physical humor, timing and pathos give a sense of the most comfortable stage professional I have seen. His loyalty to Gant and his own broken existence are displayed with pathetic perfection.

Emily Tomlins, as Madame Poulet, beguiled us as loyal player and aloof devotee of Gant. I saw Emily in last year’s Sydney Fringe Festival, in A Tiny Chorus and saw many of the traits from that character carry into her Madame Poulet. The consummate storyteller, Tomlins has the rare ability of being able to convey several emotions simultaneously; perhaps it’s the kind of multi tasking that is magnified by being the only female in this ensemble. Her characters: the ugly sister, the jam roll junkie love interest of Sgt Jack and (believe it or not) a teddy bear, Tomlins brings a truth to her work and an endearing quality that allows you to feel everything she does.

The characters traverse their inbuilt production landscape of the Carnival with the workman like commitment you would expect of a troupe in this era and form, the show rolls on from the first story to the next and is halted abruptly by Gant, who wishes not to pursue its telling and leaves the performance within and without at a stand still. Some poetic impro from Ludd attempts to stabilise the show but he is suddenly lost for words and Gant reappears as the Phantom of the Dry: another device of Gant’s trickery. As Ludd trudges on, we meet the teddy bear, now…stop…wait a minute…where this came from I have no idea and I am not a hundred percent sure that it worked as intended. Yes, the micro story of the life of a young boy’s bear was beautiful but what it was doing here in the play I can’t explain. Either it didn’t quite come off or it could simply be another example of Neilson’s mind intercourse at work. In any event it did lead us to the ultimate falling out between Gant and Ludd. Ludd decides he can no longer be party to such whimsical nonsense and chooses to go off in search of a greater truth, upon which all is revealed and the stories told are closer to home than you would have believed…or else missed altogether if it were not for one last, clever line.

The opening night audience was very vocal in their appreciation. In fact, the laughter came thick and fast and from my seat, often seemed unwarranted. For me this show was more beautiful than it was funny. Like any good Vaudeville, it had its share of innuendo, vomit, bum and gross jokes but the simmering undertones resonated louder for me than the giggle material. Perhaps that’s the genius of the writer: to concoct a script that can speak to several layers of each audience. The twist of form from Vaudeville to realism to clowning and beyond gives this show a sense of radical freedom and a true sense of creation.

All told, it is a very slick, sensational piece of theatre: bold, challenging, cheese-filled pimples and all. Perhaps Gant himself best sums up what was witnessed in The Roundhouse last night: “In a world where death is at our shoulder every hour, even the smallest act of creativity is a marvellous, courageous thing.”

Be sure to catch this marvellous, courageous thing before the caravan heads south to Sydney.

Emily Tomlins. Image by Al Caeiro.

P.S. Pimples aren’t filled with cheese; they’re filled with pearls. Everyone knows that.

12
Oct
10

Red Sky Morning

Red Sky Morning got me. It really got me. It really got me thinking. About all sorts of things. Bear with me…

THING 1

How close to self-destruction are any of us? Are we not all ever-so-slowly imploding silently over something? No? Not at all? Perfectly, delightfully happy in every way every day? Really? Okay. Maybe it’s just me.

But have you never thought (or not quite thought) while you’ve been driving, about letting the car gradually drift into the other lane entirely? Or off the road entirely and into the scrub and the trunks of the eucalypts? Off a cliffside and into a canyon? You’ve never had a Thelma and Louise moment? Not ever? Just me? No prescriptions filled twice over and no one at home to cook for? No walk-into-the-sea fantasy? No wish for a loaded gun? Just me. Okay. Well, clearly not I’m afraid, because this is something that Red Sky Morning dares to address. Or at least dares to dare you to consider.

Stop. I don’t want you to flood my inbox with ARE YOU OKAY messages because I’M OKAY.

The point of difference of course, between seeing these events in our mind’s eye and taking action to bring about these events must be somewhere vaguely in a place where we remember we are loved and we have an awful lot to live for. Or, if one can’t remember such a poignant thing at that point, perhaps it’s the fear of enduring any sort of real physical pain that stops us. Or the knowledge that those left behind will suffer unbearable anguish, unable to ever understand what it was we forgot there was/is to live for. I’m not sure. I’ve never stepped (or steered) quite that close to the edge. In any case, how do we stop time at that point, in order to reconsider and take that step away from the other place, the place of tragic – not always quite conscious – decisions about finally, one dark day or night, acting out our fantasies of self-harm or suicide? I can’t actually answer that. It’s heavy stuff.

Red Sky Morning is really heavy stuff. Tom Holloway has written nothing and everything about my life. And quite possibly about yours too. His ability as a writer is obvious and something that, during the afternoon’s discussion with the cast and the director, they kept coming back to. I could feel that they were, rightly so, in complete awe of Tom’s lyric. I’m fascinated that from a piece written originally in Word columns, for three characters to speak a monologue each, together in cacophony for the duration, a brilliant composition was structured and workshopped and re-structured and rehearsed and re-structured, to become distinct movements, delivered to stunning emotional effect. Sam Strong is a BIG fan of Anne Bogart’s work. So yes, you got those references there. I knew you would.

In turns, David (company AD), Sarah (company casting), Erin (company admin) and Sam Strong (director), explained the process by which this show came about. It became clear that it has been the collaboration, between writer, director, designer, actors and audiences, over a three-year process, that has made this piece so real and raw and really funny and completely devastating all at the same time. The cast, without exception, were simply outstanding in their vocal work particularly (um, rote learning lines my arse, guys; maybe to begin with, as one might learn poetry in the primary school but then there is talent and intuition and intellect at work!) and in their uncanny ability to match each other’s continuously changing energies, making physical and emotional connections (and complete detachments, sometimes almost within the same instant) without actually connecting with each other through touch, proximity or any eye contact. Ever. Seriously. I’ve only seen that level of intense commitment – I’m talking about that level of extreme character too – in the snippets of Alice Ripley in Next to Normal on Broadway, on YouTube. In actual fact, there are a few parallels there, between mother and mother, which would be apparent if you are a theatrical geek-freak, as I am, and you have perhaps watched said clips of Alice Ripley in Next to Normal on Broadway, on YouTube, something like, ooh, six million times.

I MAY HAVE EVEN POSTED IT ALREADY. HERE IT IS AGAIN BECAUSE IT IS SO GOOD.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE. NEXT TO NORMAL IS COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU. That is, if you’re anywhere near MTC and the precinct next year.

THING 2

Red Stitch is my new favourite company in this country. In fact, I will attribute them with validating the way that Sam and I approach our work and with inspiring us to continue down this path, gather the right people around us gradually and produce great theatre in our own time, via our own non-methods, attracting and building our own audiences along the way. It is highly unlikely that anybody will really care about that now, at this point. I’m just saying. For future reference. For, you know, editorial, for when they’re searching desperately at deadline, for quotes and links to include in a feature story about the theatre-makers from Queensland. I’M JUST PUTTING IT OUT THERE. FOR THE UNIVERSE, YOU KNOW?

THING 3

See, now we’ve progressed beyond the Seuss Things.

The touring set is pretty much the original set. It cost the company $1000.

The reddish earth for the floor is sourced locally, wherever they go, immediately giving a great sense of place and somehow – not entirely sure what I mean – a sense of trust or normality (or something) and authenticity (or something) to this production, just by it being there, underfoot. I think it was the reality underneath, if you cared to look through the thick, murky layer of fantasy and smog (hello, Mt Isa memories) that served to ground us again, bringing us back to that safe, child-like place of trust and normality, just as the father craved, grasping handfuls of earth as he lay there upon it, just considering his place in this lonely place and just as the daughter craved, reacting violently to everything happening outside of her control by forcing a fight, in the dirt in the school yard, with her best friend, finally losing all self-control and regaining at least some sort of self-respect in the defense of her mother against the public taunts and accusations, which she had previously ignored.

Then again, the director and the designer may have had a conversation that went something (or nothing) like this:

DISCLAIMER: I did not hear Sam Strong say, “mate” in all the time we were there. It’s late. I’m tired. If it were a show about putting on a show (currently enjoying a Brisbane season), this is how it would play out.

 

 

Timber. Timber floor boards, mate.

No. Too warm, too friendly, too comforting. How about dirt?

Dirt. Soil. The real, red earth. The dust of life

No mate, that’s Bui Doi you’re thinking of; they’re doing Miss Saigon in Brisbane while we’re there, aren’t they? That’s a brave choice.

Yeah, yeah. Brave choice…

Dirt, mate; let’s get the local dirt and spread it across the floor. It’ll be even more comforting than boards.

Yeah, yeah, no boards; local dirt’s good. But you know it’s been done, mate.

No, not for ages, mate; not since Capricornia and that was only seen by the Brisbane peeps. Do the local dirt, mate.

Alright, mate, that’ll be brilliant. And local. Dirt.

 

 

ASIDE: When I notice that in the back of the cute little STC season brochure for 2011, in their clever little SUPPORT US YOU LOVE US YOU LOVE OUR LAVISHNESS (and p.s. don’t forget our efforts to recycle and greenify the company) the donations they received this year covered costume and set costs upwards of $20 000 for multiple productions, I realise what sort of company I would like to work…like. I would say work for, only you would not say no to an STC gig if it were to come up, would you?! Well I certainly wouldn’t. But by the same token, there is something to be said for the humble independents, draining minimal funding and producing exceptional theatrical work for their country, regardless. Hats off, I say.

So within the strict confines of an ingeniously designed venetian-blind-box, a little family, in a typical almost-outback small town struggles to simply be together. On the surface, it’s a play about survival. Under the surface, it’s about questioning the desire to keep trying…fighting to survive. Who can be bothered? And what (or whom) for?

A husband and father convinces himself that he is, in fact, “bloody lucky” and heads off to work each morning before his wife and daughter are even up and moving. They are both, however; wide awake and considering the day before them. The play is, to begin with, surprisingly…upbeat. The daughter, off to high school and, with a crush on her teacher, chatty and looking forward to getting out of the house and being amongst friends. The mother, off to the kitchen to…oh! just grab a beer before breakfast, after seeing an elephant in the hall before getting out of the house and going for a jog. And so it goes…but not like anything I’ve seen or heard before. And I was ready for it! Having spent the same afternoon on the fourth floor of the Judith Wright Centre with the generous cast, stage manager and director, discussing every aspect of the show, it came as an enormous shock on so many levels – and a total sensory overload – to actually hear two or all three of the actors speaking at once!

THING 4

In a dysfunctional family (and, let’s face it, that could be any family, really, depending on just how closely you look at it) how agonising is it to choose to go on with each day rather than to end the pain, frustration, confusion, miscommunication and missed opportunities – for everyone – in a life that hasn’t turned out quite the way you thought it would? (Did I mention boredom, resentment, regret, regression, manic depression and delusions of grandeur? Yep. That’s right. Remember, I’ve lived out west too). Well, we certainly saw the agony. We felt it. I felt it so that I couldn’t breathe. And because I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sob, which is really what I felt like doing, as if I were in front of that heart-wrenching film, KOLYA, once again with my four-year old daughter asking, through her own desperate tears, “Mama, why won’t the mama take her boy?” (and her absolutely bewildered tears at the end of it, “Mama, how can the mama take her boy back now?!” Her capacity for sympathy and her depth of understanding confounds me).

Anyway, the last theatrical work to really get me like that was Steppenwolf’s production of Stockholm. At the end of it, I was a complete mess. And as an artist, I thought, “WOW…we can do that!” At the end of Red Sky Morning, I fell apart and, as an artist, thought, “WOW. HOW THE FUCK DO WE DO THAT?!”

The academic in me wants to sit in on everything this company does and just observe and absorb…and ask lots of questions about process and write it up for my thesis. The actor in me wants to do their very next production, whatever it may be, and work collaboratively to be a part of something amazing. And the director and teacher in me wants to work with new talent and use my non-methods, which of course pay homage to Bogart, Chubbuck, et al, to continue to introduce actors on the Sunshine Coast to this little world that we are trying to build here. What is, I realise, a microcosm of Melbourne’s Red Stitch community. That is, if I may be so bold as to claim any similarity to their ensemble philosophy and innovative approach whatsoever!

Brick by brick, somebody recently told me, though I think he referred specifically to building the Brisbane theatre scene at the time. Brick by brick. It applies wherever we are. So. I tell you what. We’ll give it another year here. One more year of bricks. Okay? Then…well, who knows? Brick by brick and day by day, I say!

25
Sep
10

Erotique: The Fringe of the Fringe

Finally! Home on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, where the air and the water and the streets are clean, for almost a week and I can tell you this…

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city…

Petersham Town Hall. The fringe of The Sydney Fringe Festival. If you were one of the few who found us out there, on the edge, thanks so much for coming; we hope you enjoyed the show.

We figure we’ve earned our stripes now. We were the out-of-towners this year, the interstate visitors, the Sunshine Coast emerging artists; we didn’t know anybody, our support network was small and we had very little local knowledge. We thought, “How excitement! This is what a fringe festival is all about!” We expected to meet a heap of other artists, see their shows, hang out in a chai-type-tent somewhere and talk theatre into the wee small hours.

Well, we met a heap of other artists on the first night of our stay. We met Kris Stewart, Artistic Director of the festival and Meryl Rogers, General Manager of the festival and we also met some of the top peeps in the industry at Mr Anthony Costanzo’s one-night-only show at Notes: Words and music from Life’s a Circus and More. Featuring Lucy Durack, Patrice Tipoki, Chris Parker, Rob Mills, Amelia Cormack, Maria Mercedes and Cameron McDonald, this first show – for better or for worse – served to reinforce my high expectations of what was to come and remained one of the festival highlights for me.

The other was Bare, a newish musical take on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers; in this case, two boys who fall in love at a Catholic High School. Friends there assumed it had been written and developed especially for the festival but I knew this was not so. In fact, I remembered reading that Bare was hailed as “better musically and dramatically than Rent” by Los Angeles Daily News in 2001. That’s a big call. And this production, seen by just 4 full houses at the Newtown Theatre, proved it.

Performed by a cast of senior students and new graduates, Bare was the show that blew me away. The collective talent was phenomenal and the entire production was pared down in order to simply share the heart wrenching story. There was never any question about what was happening where. These kids worked much harder than some of the professional ensembles I’ve seen. This includes the talented young MD and his band. Their energy, their focus and their intent, in most cases, meant passionate and perfectly authentic performances. As performer and performance coach, I was completely inspired and maybe even a little bit envious that these kids have had the opportunity to do a show that, clearly, I am too old to ever be cast in! I know that Ben felt the same way, hearing some of the songs sung in turns, so tenderly and powerfully by Seann Moore and Zac Smith. N.B. Not strictly true (I’ve still got time!) but look, Jenni Little, who played the unfortunate young Ivy, definitely had the show stopper, as her character struggled to come to terms with her roller coaster ride. The other stand out had to be Elyse Atkins, who played the hilariously self-deprecating sister of Jason, Nadia (or, as she self-proclaims throughout one song; “Plain Jane Fat Arse”). Each character’s journey was massive and I cannot stress enough, how professionally these kids delivered a really challenging – on so many levels – show. I hope to see them achieve their goals for this production next year and if possible, I would love to see it again.

Sam and I saw Wicked while we were in town (it closes in Sydney on Sunday). Of course, the production values were spectacular and I loved it because I love the show but I couldn’t help but wonder (and I often wonder about this so bear with me)…why did I feel that there was something missing? If anybody can enlighten me, please feel free to add your comments. I know not everybody loves Wicked but I actually, really LOVE Wicked! Having said that, the book is a little lacking in substance, assuming that we all know what happens next and that we are familiar with the characters. But when we are given a different take on those characters, I would like to see more of the layers, more of the complexities and, especially in Act 1, much more of who Elphie is; I mean, who she is outside of the stereotypical Green Kid who doesn’t fit in. In a spectacular, touring, professional production, just how does one DO that? Is there even room in the rehearsal schedule to work on individual characters to the extent that we will feel empathy for Elphie due to her own actions, reactions and emotions, rather than the simple sympathy that is derived from how she is treated by others? Is it just me? Am I a heartless, shallow soul? Alright, don’t answer that. I probably haven’t explained very well but I’m sure the same point will come up again.

Despite my musings, I came away from The Capitol Theatre (sans green glasses, glitter globe, shirt and cap) impressed with the performances. In fact, I think I am Lucy Durack‘s newest biggest fan. Her interpretation of Glinda was original, not to mention gorgeous and I’m going to say it (I don’t say it often), absolutely flawless. She and Patrice Tipoki, who (we are proud to remind everybody) hails from the Sunshine Coast, were wonderful together. I’m now even more excited about taking Poppy, four, to a matinee in Brisbane in January.

Meanwhile, back at our humble little venue in Crystal Street, Petersham, we had the usual technical hitches before our first show on Wednesday and, as usual, everything was alright on the night! We celebrated at Max Brenner‘s on King St, Newtown (I will write that once but in fact, the same could be said of at least three more “celebrations”! Copious amounts of chocolate was consumed by the cast. What a deliciously decadent discovery)!

Word of mouth, even without a sizable support network, worked and we enjoyed greater numbers at each subsequent performance. On a couple of occasions, we also enjoyed the pizzas from the boys next door, who thought it was about time somebody rocked up to give the topless pub waitresses up the road a bit of competition! That made Sam so proud.

Closing night saw us with an audience that was well over capacity and nothing but praise for the production. And lots of friends and randoms asking, “So how do you prepare to get naked?!” I’m going to put that to the cast and get back to you because I know just my version can get a bit tedious sometimes.

We got to 3 shows at Carriageworks and 1 other at The Italian Forum. At Carriageworks (surely the most under-utilised venue of the festival), A Tiny Chorus, Clammy Glamour and a secret show, upstairs between those two shows: The Nick Cave Murder Ballads. A Tiny Chorus moved me to tears and then later, in retrospect, I decided I would love to work with those girls to get something different from them! Not better, different. It was a superb show and it would be fascinating to see what else can be done with it, especially after winning some of the awards at the other festivals.

Clammy Glamour was tricky and untidy. Others loved it and their closing night sold out. Murder Ballads was mostly disturbing and a little bit amusing. Others would certainly reverse that statement to reflect their enjoyment of the shocking puppetry, like Coraline meets The Corpse Bride meets Team America (FUCK YEAH)!

Pistol Whipped, a dance piece, which was on late one night at the Italian Forum, was not at all what it promised to be. It was a great lesson in marketing.

That is what a fringe festival is all about!

We are still having fantastic conversations about everything we saw- conversations that started over coffee and dessert in various groovy cafes late at night and continued after rising late each morning, over the best breakfasts to be found in Newtown, at El Bahsa/El Basha on King St. The boys there made us feel completely at home and never once looked as if they were even close to throwing us out. No, not once! Clearly we were spending far too much on coffee and chai! I think it’s important to note too, that we helped support several other local establishments, including the cash-only (curses!) Pastizzi Cafe and the tiny Blackstar bakery, which had a selection of pastries and gorgeous sweet treats, including incredible edible-even-after-you’re-quite-full danishes and the most delicate pistachio macaroons. The only place that comes close to Blackstar on the Sunshine Coast is my latest discovery, thanks to the French friends of French friends, Maison de Provence in Cooroy. Now I find out that our composer, Ms Leah Barclay, has known about it all along!!!

We visited STC and pretended we were taking a break from rehearsals to grab a coffee over the water, as you do, feeling totes inspired by the famous names, the stunning photography and the current season’s imagery lining that corridor. As I tweeted, how good would it be to go to work here every day?! I know. There is no tone in tweets. Only some of you who really know me, really got that level of emotion. I know.

For a bit of R & R, we spent a full day in lovely Manly, which we thought felt a bit like Noosa in the old days – no, really – and enjoyed Spanish tapas or steaks, depending on the mood. I was extremely tempted, during both ferry crossings, to belt out a bit of THIS

…but thought better of it. It will make much more sense on the way to New York, obviously.

Um. So Ben was feeling left out of the nudity clause, obviously…

We managed to balance the week quite nicely, between our show, others’ shows and the fun and games. This was possible because we have, as I’ve mentioned before, such a fantastic team. It’s been sad to come home and fully realise that there will never again be a performance of Erotique. Not like this, not with these performers. If you missed it, you really missed it! We didn’t even film it. Not sure why. We’ll definitely regret that, having collected such great footage previously, to give La Ronde some immortality. And that’s the next focus: the DVD, which will give La Ronde a life beyond the sold-out Sunshine Coast seasons. Well, that and the creation of 2 more shows this year as well as 2 shows and a fundraising mega-event next year. A holiday in Greece is also on the list. Or at least one in Sydney.