Posts Tagged ‘the alleyway project


The Alleyway Project


The Alleyway Project

The Alleyway Project

Cradle Productions & The Alleyway Collective

Winn Lane

14th -15th May 2012

Reviewed by Michelle Bull


Theatre that pushes boundaries…

“Are you sure this is it?” asked my concerned fiancé, dropping me off in front of a grimy looking laneway in the bowels of the Valley…”

“Yep!” I grinned as I eyed a chalkboard sign crudely pointing down Winn Lane, where a mishmash of people wandered wide-eyed into the darkness…

Kissing him goodbye, I joined those heading to see The Alleyway Project, a new work presented by Cradle Productions & The Alleyway Collective and directed by Kat Henry for the Anywhere Theatre Festival 2012. With stories of love, loss and chaos from Brisbane playwrights Dan Evans, Eloise Maree, Dan Maloney and Maxine Mellor, The Alleyway Project was set to breathe new life into little ol’ Winn Lane; turning it into an eclectic performance space full of possibility.

Upon arrival I was welcomed into the atmospheric little space by costumed alley-cats encouraging me to help myself to the hanging casks of goon suspended from the rafters and pull up a milk crate and cushion for my comfort. Half a cup of Sav Blanc and a few ‘cat-mask-wearing’ happy-snaps later, a commotion started up behind me and the show began.

Entering from the street came a disheveled barefoot reveler; frantic and slightly unhinged, he ambled through the audience befriending some and using the bemused expression of others to play out his hysteria. Searching for his missing loafers and recounting a hectic tale of his boy’s night out we soon learnt that despite his plucky exterior, something was fatally amiss. Stripping down to reveal a bloodstained shirt and gradually unraveling to a sobbing heap before us, the audience was left silent and captivated by the spectacle.

The intimacy of an actor in the same space as their audience is often as problematic as it is effective. Despite a few visual restrictions, in this case, it is used to great effect. The familiarity created between audience and actor fostered much needed empathy for the highly charged emotional journey to follow and although extreme, made it more easily digestible through an authentic and honest performance by the actor.

The next performer made a quiet yet strong entrance. With a wonderful feel for language, this tale of unrequited love and gritty lust was both beautiful and grotesque. I enjoyed the audience connection created particularly by the first actor, whose settled performance also showed respect for the rhythm and shape of words as a vehicle for sincerity. I felt this was not executed as well by the object of his affections, Ren, who whilst presenting a wonderfully courageous performance, was outweighed in this respect by her counterpart.  That being said, she brought a wonderful physicality to the role and showed a commitment to character that made for a believable and truthful performance. It was in this scene however, that visually much was lost, as a rather large number of audience members were unable to see the focused performance space and were therefore disconnected from the story.

As the lights went down on this story of young love, we were ushered onto the staircase and told to pack in tight. Like kids at a school assembly, we perched shoulder to shoulder, as fittingly, a chattering pack of schoolgirls came into view. With bra straps showing and all the bravado of youth, this scene held nothing from the imagination as vulgarity spewed from their pink-chapsticked lips in the form of bullying, racism, sexual escapades and even abuse. While this scene had quite a few lighter moments in its characterisation, in reflection it was probably the most affecting.  There was a gravity that was not overlooked as it hinted at abuse and the ability of pop culture to become a tool for its distribution. All three actors gave strong performances that made no apologies for the sensitivity of the subject matter. I particularly enjoyed the Queen Bee and her interpretation of what was a challenging role. Although at times I found the interpretation a little one-dimensional, her commitment to character and onstage energy was captivating to watch. All in all, the three embodied these overtly sexual school-aged characters in a way that left me stunned and wondering if this was a true representation of the sexualisation of high schools today?

The final part of our Alleyway journey came in the form of a scene that I fear may be more common than not in the Valley on a Saturday night. Emerging from the shadows a vomit-soaked couple, interrupted in their moment of passion schlepped slowly into the space. What followed was an amusing conversation about ‘hooking up’, labels, drugs, promises and eczema, providing light-hearted relief to what had been a heavy journey so far. The actors in this scene had a great chemistry that made their interchanges hilariously raw and dreadfully believable. Embodying the stereotypes to a tee, they navigated their way through chunks of vomit and cheesy pickup lines to a place where common ground was found and the nature of a drunken hook up exposed. While often light-hearted, I felt this scene made interesting comment on the casual nature of relationships and sexual encounters within the club scene, presenting without judgment, the gritty underbelly of this side of social culture. It was a fitting and somewhat gross end to what was an exhausting yet enjoyable journey.

Overall, The Alleyway Project is a lot to chew on. The themes presented are shockingly real and hard to swallow in an intimate setting. This however, is also a huge strength of the show and one that I hope audiences do not shy away from. The actors are to be commended for rising to this challenge, as are the writers and director for their courageous choices. The Alleyway Project engagement with the space was also on the whole, highly successful, enlivening the quiet laneway in a manner that enhanced the poignancy of the themes inherent in the material, whilst embodying the true spirit of the Anywhere Theatre Festival.

The Alleyway Project


The Alleyway Project



theatre anywhere!

Between 10 – 19 May you’ll find new plays in alleys, puppets in bars, cabaret in warehouses, comedy in your home and office and performances you can be a part of online from Texas to London, Hamilton to Toowoomba.

Anywhere Theatre Festival is the brainchild of husband and wife power couple Paul Osuch and Alexandra McTavish. They’re pretty humble about conceptualising, developing and continuing to run the whole thing so when you see them around – anywhere but in a theatre for the ten days between the 10th and the 19th of May – please congratulate them and give them big hugs and a whole heap of love!

N.B. Some shows are already SOLD OUT!

What will you be seeing anywhere but in a theatre???

In the tradition of murder-balladeer Nick Cave, the femme fatales of Babushka invite you into their bloody nightmare to indulge in dark tales of murderous passion, sinister sirens and the infinite beauty of death in the debut season of Where the Wild Roses Grow.
Late night Cabaret at its finest.
DATES: Thu 10th & Sat 12th @ 9:30pm
PLACE: 275 Macarthur Avenue, Hamilton Reach

A family of Gremlins has taken residence in Brisbane. Roxoff, Mofball & Botolf Gromlot are trying to launch their new budget airline and fulfill their dream of flying. Tickets sales are going well, and their maiden voyage is due to take off shortly. There is only one problem….they haven’t built the plane yet.
DATES: Thu 10th to Sat 12th @ 7:00pm & Thu 17th to Sat 19th @ 7:00pm
PLACE: Reverse Garbage, 20 Burke St, Woolloongabba

As a collective the cast and the directors have come up with a collage of 5 scenes exploring life on the brink; public transport, romance, hospital drama and misadventure. 3 Windows will be an excellent opportunity to see Cinematic Theatre for and by Young People at it’s most vivid and vibrant… don’t miss it.
DATES: Fri 11th & Sat 12th @ 7:30pm
PLACE: 37 Manilla St, East Brisbane

Set in the heart of Fortitude Valley, four playwrights turn a dirty alleyway into the legends of nights out – where drunken youth roam free and the pavement becomes a stained and silent tapestry of history.
DATES: Mon 14th & Tues 15th @ 7:00pm ONLY
PLACE: Winn Lane, Fortitude Valley, 4005


10 Really Fast Festival Facts


1. Brisbane does it first
The 2012 Anywhere Theatre Festival is the only fringe festival in the world for performance anywhere but a theatre.

2. Already the biggest performance festival in Brisbane
The 2012 Anywhere Theatre Festival has over 50 productions and 200 performances already confirmed meaning it has more productions and performances than Brisbane Festival.

3. Attracting interstate and international
The 2012 Anywhere Theatre Festival features 6 companies from the U.K., Two from the U.S., one from New Zealand, Tunisia and France.

4. Brisbane proves it has a depth of untapped talent
Recognised companies such as Queensland Theatre Company and Circa Presents mix with independent and up and coming companies.

5. A theatre festival with performances on Twitter
A mix of international and local performances from streamed international performances to interactive augmented realities.

6. A Brisbane festival from the Sunshine Coast to Perth
Performance locations range from the Sunshine Coast down to the Gold Coast and across to Perth.

7. A two person volunteer team producing the biggest festival in Brisbane 
The festival is organised by a core husband and wife team over evenings and weekends with financial contribution from Arts Queensland.

8. Theatre Anywhere – even in your house
This year theatre anywhere will be taken to the extreme with performances you can book to come to your home or office! Other performances happening in elevators, parks, city cats (tbc).

9. A Brisbane idea to the world
The purpose is to bring fringe festival to everyone, especially to places with a lack of theatres. We are already discussing how the festival can move to regional centres and other states.

10. International institutions want to know how we do it!
Since the 2011 festival we have been asked to advise on how to do theatre anywhere and have an invitation from the Milan Commissioner of Culture to talk as they prepare for their 2015 Universal Expo.