Posts Tagged ‘tadashi suzuki

22
Aug
19

The Tempest

 

The Tempest

Zen Zen Zo

Trinity Parish Hall

August 16 – 31 2019

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

We all want to break the chains that hold us in our prison cell.

We all want to be released and find our way out of the damp dark well.

We all want to glide like wind – an eagle to the wild.

We all want a land that we can call home.

 

I arrive in time to park in the street, beneath trees boasting fairy lights and a sky alive with the Ekka fireworks; perfect! An Ariel checks the water level in each of the silver buckets placed Zen-Zen-Zo-ever-so-strategically around the outer edges of the rectangular lawn that separates Trinity Church from Trinity Parish Hall on its sweet little island in The Valley. It’s here that we’re greeted by the company’s new Executive Producer & Education Manager, Nicole Reilly, and then by our Ariel. He is our Ariel by the powerful magic to which performers and top speaker circuit salespeople are privy; he engages and connects in the half a moment we need to simply pay attention and follow. We’ve already been stamped on the wrist, door bitch style, and guided to a place to sit. Or stand. This is serious adulting; for audiences, making these choices is part of a more active and immersive theatrical experience.

 

The tempest of the title takes a long time to happen, like a storm building far out at sea that doesn’t hit until after midnight, and seemingly only in our dreams. So I guess the spell is taking effect. The opening sequence is all very atmospheric, with outdoor lighting to cast Prospero’s shadow on the high brick wall of the hall, and a violinist giving the multiple Ariels their cues to move together, thrusting now rather than gliding if you must know – and if you’re an actor or an actor in training you must know – and the unlucky ship’s crew entering and bracing, preparing for perhaps the most famous literary and theatrical storm of them all. Ross Miller gets the opening line here with an almighty Suzuki trained and Linklater influenced, “BRAAAAAAAACE”.

 

This opening sequence sets up for the audience that something different is happening, and at the same time, risks being considered sliiiiiiiiightly self-indulgent and slow moving. It serves the performers by giving them time to establish role and mood, and to rattle or settle the disparate energies of their audience. This is vital if they are to manage us and move us through the space. So for some time, they play with spatial relationships and focus, relying on super close proximity and pensive or sultry stares and postures, depending on the performer, to slightly unnerve some and thrill others. They usher individuals from one spot to another, for no apparent reason other than to change the vantage point, or provide a point of focus while nothing much else is happening. It sets the mood and it gives latecomers their only chance to see the show, since a strict lock-out period applies once we’re inside and there is nothing zen about challenging the lock-out at a Zo show. Just don’t bother. It’s a Lynne Bradley thing. You can’t win.

 

If you miss out on the show on any given night, what you can do is go for a lovely dinner nearby, or see what’s on offer at Ad Astra or Brisbane Powerhouse, an old Zen Zen Zo haunt. Speaking of which, another stomping ground, The Old Museum, appears to have been made affordable for brides-to-be but not performing artists. While it’s lovely to begin in nature and enjoy the warm and intimate timber surrounds inside the parish hall, both the Powerhouse and The Old Museum would have served this show well. This makes me consider the challenges of a company’s homelessness; without a permanent place to work again, one of our long-term leading theatre companies is left to fend for themselves and find a space each time they schedule a season. It’s all very well to live and breathe The Viewpoints, discovering the architecture and interesting existing spaces throughout the city, but there’s merit in the madness of settling down. I recently visited Dairakudakan’s tiny all-black-everything performance space in Tokyo, and recognised once again, the sense of belonging and security offered by a permanent home for artists. 

 

If I think about it for too long, The Tempest’s constructed, contrived start annoys me, but for those who frequently visit a traditional theatre space (without writing afterwards about their experience!), and especially for the school groups that this show appears to be geared towards, looking to see the curriculum at work in the real life business of the Performing Arts, it’s the perfect invitation to join the company on a journey inside and to another island, the home of Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda, servant, Ariel, and slave, Caliban.

 

A small raised stage serves as the centre of the island, a striking setting that features a rowboat front and centre, jutting out as if dashed upon the rocks, holding Miranda in front of us, and under her father’s stern rule above us. Designed by Drew der Kinderen and Ben Adams, and alluringly lit by Simon Woods, the collaborative result is a place of mystery and magic; the audience  delights in moving around it, and we stand or sit as directed, or not; ultimately, the shape and pace of this show is as much about crowd control as creating the world of the play. I should mention that it was suggested we wear warm comfortable clothing in which we’d happily sit on the floor, however; having spent the previous weekend successfully participating in AusAct workshops wearing a pencil skirt, I decided to put this advice to the test. Conclusion? Strong core work required to frequently, elegantly, spiral up and down in said skirt; no problem.

 

 

Wayne Jennings is a stern and powerful yet playful Prospero; he’s imposing and omnipresent. He wields a magnificent hand-carved wooden staff and the thunder created with it as he drives it into the floor makes audience members jump, and not just the first time. I suspect its inclusion is, or was at some stage of the rehearsal process, also an actors’ dojo in-joke. As Prospero, Jennings is also gentle and generous when the story calls for it, as well as being an accomplished musician and MD. The title of MD is shared with performer and composer, Josh Curtis, who caresses a guitar that dreams of being a lute, and with Gina Tay Limpus, these two featured Ariels, willing slaves to the music as much as to their master, provide much of Emma Dean’s beautiful original score, with its intricate layers and harmonies, and tones and textures and pauses and catches of breath. Their voices blend sublimely and I can’t wait for their debut album.*

 

*unconfirmed

 

So let’s talk about the humble, completely unintentionally scene-stealing, Gina Tay Limpus. Seriously. Just for a moment; I mean, what on earth do we do with her now? After the show on opening night, I suggested putting her in front of Tarantino (there’s one degree of separation after Kill Bill, after all!), but this extraordinary talent could successfully transfer to any context anywhere in the world and make her mark there. Gina is one of the few female performers I know who properly stands in her power on stage. Talk about sovereignty. She’s a stand out, but you may not have ever heard of her, unless you saw DUSK at Brisbane Powerhouse or Alchemy staged in Southbank’s Cultural Forecourt during Festival 2018 (or my Insta feed during that time because #girlcrush and Kaylee Gannon’s costumes). Gina is the embodiment of our much discussed actor training and preparation, encompassing rich vocal work, and strong, sensual, controlled movement, fierce focus, harnessed, centred energy and that unnameable essence (though we may refer to it as ‘presence’), which has us hooked, not wanting to look away. But we must, because there are other gorgeous gifts in the vocal and physical performances of Travis Wesley (sinuous, sculpted), Ben Adams (hilarious, spontaneous and super fun as Antonio, opposite Siobhan Gibbs’ Sebastian), Maja Liwszyc (innocent, joyful, playful; she makes Miranda a tender temptress) and Luke Davis, the latter a relative newcomer to the tribe who’ll settle during the season as Ferdinand. He and Liwszyc connect beautifully, and sustain an extended bisoku sequence as the story continues elsewhere, their love for one another bringing time to a standstill. 

 

Alongside Director, Lynne Bradley, and a Caliban, Melissa Budd, Jamie Kendall has choreographed powerful and beautiful sections of this show. Not seeing him perform here could be considered a travesty, however; he’s another ready to fly. Zen Zen Zo proudly catches teaches and releases, and many of the performers return home at some stage, but this configuration shares a new, youthful ensemble energy. Special mention then, of Kai Woods, who appears with Nicholas Mohr as the King’s Men/Clowns and quietly, assuredly makes his presence felt.   

 

 

Wesley leads a motley Caliban crew, featuring Budd, Amy Cooker, Grace Keane-Jones, Liam Linane and Joshua McLean, and their heightened physical presence and appearance is enough to prompt some audience members to lean back or move away, staying out of their penetrating gaze and lion’s breath! The juxtaposition of this energy against the gentle, gliding Ariels is apt. (Heidi Harrison, Georgia Politikis, Sho Webber, Jazz Zhao and our local neo-burlesque beauty, Lauren Story). Bradley uses the Ariels and Calibans to draw attention to the company’s training arm, and the featured performers to showcase the individuality and finesse that comes from Zen Zen Zo’s disciplined approach to performance making. That’s not to say that a sense of fun or play is lost along the way, in fact; play remains at the centre of the creative process, and it informs each performance to a lesser or larger extent, depending on the demands of the text and the talent of the company members. Bradley skilfully shapes this re-staging of The Tempest, utilising the gifts and talents of the ensemble members to support the storytelling, and inviting audience members to become their travel companions. Shakespeare’s classic story is perhaps more authentically delivered this way and certainly, it’s more clearly presented by Zen Zen Zo than by many English teachers – sorry not sorry, English teachers; work it out. Get that text up and onto the floor. 

 

If you can get a ticket – there are just 20 remaining – come to this show curiously, sans assumptions about the company, the style of theatre or the space in which it’s staged, and you’ll experience a little bit of magic that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. This reimagining of The Tempest is a physical, musical, whimsical journey offering an enchanting escape from the daily grind, and a sweet moment of relief from whatever heavy notion, frustration, grief or grievance has got you down. It’s a style and a vibe of performance that will seduce you, tease you, test you and gently release you, ready or not.

 

Brisbane, it’s time to accept that, ready or not, Zen Zen Zo is back.

04
Sep
14

La Boite Theatre Company’s A Doll’s House for Brisbane Festival 2014 – a chat with Director, Steven Mitchell Wright

 

brisbanefestival2014

 

We asked Director of La Boite & Brisbane Festival’s A Doll’s House, Steven Mitchell Wright, to drop everything and tell us about the show and his process and he did! Hooray! You HAVE booked now, haven’t you?

 

Steven, why do we need to keep revisiting A Doll’s House?

We don’t need to but the work is rich.  It’s deeply relevant still.  The work has undeniable feminist readings. I believe (despite recent social media phenomena) that we are in a world that still requires an argument for feminism and equality. Nora’s position within this work is not just about an individual but also an entire culture.

 

For me, it’s also a story about individual happiness, and about the sacrifices we make for other peoples happiness and the cost of our own.  Particularly in Love and the ways that in relationships we can love someone so much that we lose ourselves or when we spend so much energy on making sure our Love is ok that we forget to make sure our lover is. I’m not sure that will ever fall out of a place of relevance.

 

What’s different about this production?

Well, Lally made it a bit of a musical. Well, not a musical, a show with songs.  For me, the inclusion of songs shifts the form in a really challenging way.  I abhor domesticity in theatre and I don’t really believe in realism so that makes this production different to the way it is often perceived and presented in the majority of the works theatrical history.  That said, Mabou Mines and Pan Pan have both presented very experimental versions of A Doll’s House in Brisbane in the last decade or so and our version is in no way that irreverent… but it is also not a domestic sitting room drama, we are playing with time and space in a different way.

 

What was your first experience with the play?

I believe I read it when I was at university but I have little to no recollection of having any feelings about it. I saw Mabou Mines production at Brisbane Festival many years ago but really my first deep engagement with it was reading it last year when we were in early discussions about programming the work for La Boite.

 

Can you relate to any of the characters?

I relate to all of them, I think that’s one of the greatest things about the work and one of the reasons the work has endured time.

 

What do you think made Lally Katz the ideal writer for this gig?

Well, I don’t think there is such a thing as an ideal artist, the creatives on the work make them what they are.  Had it been a different writer it would have been a different show entirely.  What I think is great about Lally though is her rhythms, her sense of poetry and the idiosyncrasies she writes with, it marries with my philosophies.  I don’t like watching theatre that asks us to forget that the actors are acting.  I like theatre that is undeniably theatrical and Lally’s writing is great at keeping the theatrical bouyant and the poetic in her work is unexpected.  I’ve been an admirer of her work for a long time so it’s an honour to be working with her.
What do you think would happen in the sequel? What does Nora do next?

I think the power in A Doll’s House comes from the potential and possibility at the end, I would never speculate as to what becomes of Nora, I think that could kill and crush A Doll’s House.

 

Which directors do you admire and why?
I feel like I’ve answered this question for XS Entertainment before, and I’m scared that my answers haven’t changed. Jan Fabre, Robert Wilson, Simon McBurney, Robert Lepage, Tadashi Suzuki, Barry Kosky, Anne Bogart, Tim Etchells – I admire them all for different reason – largely they give me something to aspire to.

 

Locally, Daniel Evans‘ work constantly inspires and challenges me.  I’m really interested in the work of The Rabble and The Hayloft Project but I haven’t seen enough of their work.

 

What made you start directing and keep directing?

I think I started creating first, I wanted to be a maker largely because I wasn’t seeing much work that excited me and I wanted to perform in work that excited me and audiences.  So I started making work and directing them so I could perform in them.  As my work matured and I was able begin to articulate my process more, I found performing and directing became too complicated and was doing a disservice to the work and the other actors.    I’m not sure why I kept directing, it’s in my blood I think. I don’t have much of a choice about it.

 

Describe your creative process and the rehearsal process for a production such as this.

I don’t know that I’m the best person to describe this – my process on this show was an evolution of some ideas I’ve been playing with in different processes over the last few years. This process has been very different for me as it’s the first time in years that I’ve been on the floor with a completed script at the beginning of rehearsals so I’ve had to reassess and relearn some processes.

 

I asked the actors to give me a line each to answer this question.

 

Hugh Parker said, “an intense physical work out that forced me to examine where I was skipping in my own process”.

 

Helen Christinson said, “an incredibly free process that was supported by foundations that encouraged creativity, specificity and nuance.”

 

Chris Beckey said, “it was a process that afforded me the opportunity to explore the minutiae of the text and it’s physicality, a luxury that few processes afford an actor”

 

Cienda McNamara said, “working for specificity and when you think you are being specific, you need to go specifikerer”.

 

Damien Cassidy said, “a rigorous commitment to placing the mundane and the default and the familiar with a precise yet fractured quiet virtuosity”.

 

What’s the significance for you of the inclusion of A Doll’s House in the Brisbane Festival program?

It’s lovely to be programmed as a part of the festival. To be programmed along works of national and international significance.  It gives local artists the opportunity to be involved in the international conversation, to contribute to our greater ecology.

 

stevenmitchellwright

Steven Mitchell Wright

What’s next for you?  

I am directing a work as a part of Awkward Conversation curated and artistic directed by Daniel Evans at Metro Arts. The piece I’m directing is currently embargoed so I can’t spill that but it’ll be announced shortly and I’m really excited and terrified by it. After that it’s basically next year and The Danger Ensemble (the independent company I Artistic Direct) are going into development for a large new work for 2016 and you may see some of our existing works getting a redevelopment and another presentation.

 

I’m also looking to get back on stage next year as a performer and some conversations around that have also begun.

 

 

 

 

13
Aug
12

Chris Beckey: on behalf of Salvador Dali

 Steven Mitchell Wright and The Danger Ensemble’s Loco Maricon Amor opens on Friday night.

Chris Beckey took some time out to tell us about it and about life as an artist.

“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.” – Salvador Dalí

 

Chris Beckey Loco Maricon Amor

 

Chris, you’re a multi-tasking, interdisciplinary master; what exactly are your roles in this show?! Which came first?

Thank you, Xanthe, although I’m not sure I am actually interdisciplinary. But I’ll take flattery where I can get it.

 

I was initially approached to act as dramaturg and literary advisor on the project, much in the same way as I had with The Hamlet Apocalypse. I’d spoken to Steven Mitchell Wright, Artistic Director of The Danger Ensemble and director of Loco Maricon Amor, about my interest in working with him as an actor. So, some time later, he asked me if I’d play Salvador Dali. Of course it’s not as simple as ‘playing’ Dali. So I guess the best way to answer your first question would be to say that I’m working on the project as dramaturg, literary advisor, a deviser and performer. As regards this final role, more specifically I’m the actor speaking on behalf of Salvador Dali.

 

What drew you to The Danger Ensemble? Can you tell us about the company and the way you work with them?

Steven and I have known each other for about 15 years and we first worked together in 2003. So my connection to The Danger Ensemble is through Steven; he’s the artistic heart and brain of the company. I love working with him. And I like to think we’ve developed, and continue to evolve, a really healthy working relationship. We balance, challenge and complement each other. Katherine Quigley is the company’s rather brilliant and generous General Manager and Executive Producer. The amount of work Kath puts into the company is staggering. Somehow, over the years, I’ve managed to develop an appreciation for both the artistic and production processes involved in getting a project off the ground. I guess I kind of act as a sounding board for both Steven and Katherine. And of course, I get to make my own contributions as an artist on various projects. My relationship with the company, with both Steven and Kath, is incredibly precious to me and was one of the big reasons I returned to Brisbane this year.

 

What impact do you think The Hamlet Apocalypse had on you and on Brisbane?

Well, I have to say it’s hard for me to discern the impact The Hamlet Apocalypse may have had upon Brisbane. At the time it was performed, as you know, I was living in Wollongong. Since returning to Brisbane in January, for various reasons I haven’t really had, or taken, the opportunity to re-engage with the theatre scene in Brisbane as much as I had hoped. Of course, I’d like to think it did have some impact but I can’t really articulate what that might have been. And maybe that impact, that influence, hasn’t fully emerged yet. That’s not for me to say.

 

As for me personally, it had a huge impact. I rarely cry in theatre. I know the tricks, the mechanics. But I found the collision of worlds and contexts set in motion within the show profoundly moving. I was a mess after each and every run I saw. A critical mess with lots of thoughts and questions, but a mess nonetheless.  I was always blown away by the honesty, the openness and the courage of the actors and Steven’s ability to create an environment where they felt safe to offer those qualities, yet to challenge them to offer more every time. It really was an affirmation for me that these were the people, the kind of artists, with whom I wanted to work. The work itself, the show, always made me value the experiences of my own life and value each moment. I always walked away from the show, whether in rehearsal or in performance, determined to live each moment of my life fully, to savour each and every moment. And I found that to be such a beautiful gift.

 

Describe the company in a word.

Obviously I’m incredibly close to the company and have an insight into the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. I know it’s not very marketing savvy of me, but I’d feel to try and sum that up, and to sum up what it is that the company does, in a single word would end up belittling some aspect of its work and the work of those who make it happen. Sorry.

 

Describe Loco Maricon Amor in a word.

Similar to my answer with The Danger Ensemble, I don’t know if I can sum up Loco Maricon Amor in a word. To me, it’s a beautiful show. It’s complex. It’s challenging. It’s full of heart, full of love in a myriad of forms. It’s heartbreaking. But that’s my experience as someone involved in the creation and performance of the show, a view from the inside. I can’t think of a single word that captures all that without belittling one of its other aspects or biasing the way in which the show might be received. It’s better for our audiences to make their own choices.

(Fair enough, on both counts. – Ed.) 

 

How has surrealist style informed the overall style of the show?

Steven was determined that the show wouldn’t only be a show about surrealism or about artists associated with surrealism as a style and movement, but that surrealist techniques for creation should underpin the show. So throughout creative development and rehearsal we have been using various surrealist techniques and that spirit remains within the show, has had a marked impact on the form of the show.

 

What was your first false memory?

Unlike Dali, I’m not savvy enough to determine which of my memories are true and which are false. And I certainly don’t have any intra-uterine memories . . . as far as I can tell.

My earliest memory, or one of them, is of being about 3 or 4 years of age. It was Easter time. I’d been eating a hard candy Easter egg. I went outside for no particular reason. I have quite a vivid memory of the brown corduroy overalls I was wearing, a visceral memory of the feeling of the Autumn sun on my skin, the taste of candy in my mouth.

Whether that memory is true or false, I can’t tell.

 

What fascinates you about people? About actors? About audiences?

Oh my, how much time do you have? I don’t think you can work in the theatre without a deep fascination with human beings in all of their glory and despair, our light, our dark, our strengths, our weaknesses, our histories, our futures, our complexities, our contradictions, our differences and our similarities. We deal with the raw material of humanity and human experience. We need a passionate interest in all the shades and dimensions of that experience. For me, that fascination stands, regardless of how a particular person comes to the work, whether they are the material on which a work is based, a character, an actor, artist, director, writer, choreographer or as an audience member.

 

Can you tell us about your training? Who and what have influenced your approach to performing and theatre making?

I’ve actually never trained formally, never did an actor training course. Like a lot of actors and performers, I did a fair bit of youth drama activities, such as AMEB Speech and Drama and youth theatre, and I studied drama at the University of Queensland. That was an amazing course but it wasn’t geared to train actors. My first professional job was with Fractal Theatre and I got a lot of on-the-job training from them.  I was so lucky, I learnt so much working with Fractal. And over the years, I’ve attempted to address the gaps in my training through workshops and other experiences, but much of my training has been on-the-job.

 

And of course, I’ve done a lot of training in various forms of Japanese theatre, such as Butoh, and with the method of actor training developed by Mr Tadashi Suzuki. I’ve been working with these styles and method for 20 years now and I’m still blown away by the insight they offer on the craft of acting. And not just in a general sense, but each and every time you come to the methods, each time you train.

 

As for my influences in terms of the theatre I create, one of my biggest inspirations is Adrian Kiernander, who was a lecturer and tutor at UQ while I was studying there. His teaching was amazing, the balance he found between critical and theoretical thinking and practical creation and exploration is something to which I still aspire. His teaching is my benchmark, it still has a massive influence on my work as a teacher, actor and creator.

 

I have a huge list of performers and directors and film-makers who have influenced my own work. I guess the big ones are Lindsay Kemp, Steven Berkoff and Kazuo Ohno and film-makers like Peter Greenaway and the late Derek Jarman. I was also entranced in the mid- to late-1990s by the work of a number of performers based in Sydney, many of whom were associated with the Sydney Front; performers like Nigel Kellaway, Meme Thorne, Dean Walsh, Joel Markham and Deborah Pollard.

 

I guess I’d describe these as my core influences, the influences that keep me working, creating, questioning.

 

And even though they’re not theatre artists, my work has been hugely informed by French poststructuralist theory and philosophy. My understanding of the world and my approach to thinking and to inquiry is drawn from writers such as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes. I also take inspiration from the contemporary American philosopher, Alphonso Lingis. Lingis shows us how philosophy and thinking must be lived and must be tested through the living, while our lives, the way we live, should also give rise to deep and critical thinking.

 

What sort of theatre do you strive to make and why?

I’ve always aspired to make theatre that asks questions of and challenges myself as an artist and the world in which I’m situated. Theatre that explores and extends our understanding of what it is to be human at this point in time. But I also hope to celebrate our humanity, in all its ugliness and beauty, its light and its dark. For me, this is where my heart is, this is where my passion lies. I don’t think that all theatre necessarily needs to do this. But this is the kind of work I seek to make. As artists, we have the ability to effect the way that people feel, perceive, think. About themselves. About the world. That’s a privilege and a huge responsibility. If I don’t use that to question and grow, it feels to me like I waste a precious opportunity. Oh, and of course, I always strive to make work that is just plain fabulous.

 

Lorca was a poet and director. Tell us about the sort of theatre he made.

I haven’t actually found much by way of documentation of the kind of theatre Lorca was making. I feel bad for saying this, but I suspect I wouldn’t have liked it. Which is fair enough, I guess. Lorca was working in the 1920s and 1930s, I’m a theatre artist living in 2012. There’s about 80 years of theatre history between us. A lot has changed in that time. But despite all that, his words – his plays, his poems, his essays and lectures – are still incredibly powerful and beautiful and seductive. I’d hazard a guess he was making theatre of his time, maybe even ahead of his time. But theatre is ephemeral, which is something Lorca loved about it as an art form, and so are its conventions and its styles. So for me, Lorca’s value lies in the artifacts he left behind, his words, his thoughts, his feelings, his blood and his passion in print. I think it’s a great tragedy he died so young. When he was murdered he’d been working as a director for about 5 years. He’d written three stunning plays, just amazing pieces of work. I really wonder where his thoughts on theatre and poetry and where his work would have led if Spanish history hadn’t played out the way it did.

 

What makes an artist an outsider?

It’s an interesting question. A complex one, too. You know, there’s a long history of artists being treated as outsiders. In Ancient Greece, Plato wanted poets banished from the city. In the Middle Ages, artists were regarded with a great deal of suspicion. And on and on. Artists never seem to have sat, or have been accommodated, comfortably in social frameworks. Then you look at someone like Jean Genet, who embraced the idea of being an outsider. I suspect Dali was also fond of the idea of being an outsider. Even though he was a member of the Surrealists, he didn’t seem particularly upset when they expelled him from their ranks.

In 2012, are we as artists, and I’m talking primarily theatre artists, outsiders? I’m not sure. I guess it all boils down to how you define what constitutes being inside and how being outside relates to that.

 

What makes an artist free?

Similarly, I think that depends a lot on how you define freedom. Are we free to create the work we want? Are we and our work bound by the financial relationships into which we enter, whether with governments, patrons and sponsors or co-producers? Are we bound, limited, by the socio-political climate in which we create? Can we say what we want to say, need to say, in the face of these factors? How far are we prepared to bend, to compromise, so that our work is made and seen? Sorry, I’ve answered your question with a plethora of my own. Whether they’re important questions to ask or not, I don’t know. But I guess these are the questions I’m asking of the current climate in regards to our freedom as artists.

 

What will we take from this show?

Obviously, that’s hard to predict from inside the work. Loco Maricon Amor will definitely offer a unique theatrical experience. Stepping out of actor mode for a second, I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. I think at the heart of the work lies a question about what limits us, what holds us back, and a challenge to throw ourselves into life, into our work, our love, our art, with all we have, without fear or hesitation. If anything, I hope audiences take that challenge from the show.

 

What will you walk away with?

Oh, I walk away with the same challenge. I’d never ask something of an audience that I wouldn’t ask of myself. Apart from that, it’s been such a rich experience. As part of this process, we’ve been asking whether it was possible for me to work both as a dramaturg and as a performer on the same process. I’ve learnt heaps in that regard which will obviously have a carry-on effect for future projects. It’s been such a pleasure working with this ensemble of artists. It’s been difficult territory to enter and the courage of each and every person and the support given to each other has created a beautiful environment in which to work. It’s always great to reconnect with those who work regularly with The Danger Ensemble, Peta Ward and Polly Sara in this instance. They’re completely inspiring. I’ve loved having the chance to work with Caroline Dunphy again. We haven’t worked together on a show since 1996. Steven has been trying to get Caroline and I on a stage together for some time now so I’m glad it’s finally happened. More please. And it’s been great working with the younger artists on the show, Thomas Hutchins, Lucy-Ann Langkilde and Bianca Zouppas. I look at their work and wish I’d had their guts when I was their age. I know it’s the kind of thing that always gets said, but I really do hope we all stay in touch beyond the end of this stage of the project.

 

What’s next for you?

Once Loco Maricon Amor opens, we begin in earnest the process of developing a new work, i war, with a work-in-progress showing presented by Queensland Theatre Company and Brisbane Festival as a part of QTC’s Greenroom program and Brisbane Festival’s Under the Radar in September. I’ll also be working on a new draft of the text for Children of War, which is being presented with Vanguard Youth Theatre in November as part of the La Boite Indie season.

 

By all means, don’t go near this question if you prefer but if you’d like to go there, what do you think about the current state of the arts in Queensland and what can we do about it once we’ve broken free from our negative cycle of bitching, blame and reproach?!

I’m not sure I can really comment on this one with any authority. I’ve only been back in Brisbane for a little over six months and I’ve found everyone to be really lovely and supportive so far. And circumstances have restricted my engagement with the industry, so I’m not really sure of what’s been going on in the community. Recently, Brian Lucas quoted Andy Warhol on Facebook, Warhol said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” And I’ve accidentally found myself in that situation. Although, thinking about it, that’s probably a good place to be. Head down, tail up. There’s always going to be conflicts within the arts industry. The work we do as artists isn’t easy, we put a lot of heart into it, we put a lot of our selves on the line. And sometimes we can take criticism or circumstances that compromise our art on the chin, sometimes we can’t, sometimes we shouldn’t. I guess my hope would be that, regardless of that, we create an environment where young artists are able to grow and flourish. As I said before, one of the great things about working on Loco Maricon Amor has been working alongside Bianca, Thomas and Lucy-Ann. I’d hate to think we’re creating an environment where they feel inhibited, where they feel their only option is to move to another city to pursue their careers. I’d have to confess that I’m not one hundred per cent au fait with the cultural policies of the new state government but what I have heard and understood has left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable. We need artists here, we need diversity, we need old voices, we need new voices. And if the government isn’t going to encourage that, the onus falls on us to do so. How do we do that? I’m not sure. Hopefully, time will tell.

Loco Maricon Amor

 

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Andy Warhol

 

Chris Beckey Loco Maricon Amor_2