Posts Tagged ‘World Theatre Festival

19
Feb
14

A Boy and His Soul WTF14

 

WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse

 

February 13 – 23 2014

 

A Boy and His Soul (USA)

Written and performed by Colman Domingo

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre 

February 12 – 16 2014

 

Review by Guy Frawley

 

A Boy and His Soul

 

 

 

A Boy and His Soul is an autobiographical tale of three interwoven stories told by the electrifying Colman Domingo. A love letter to the music Colman was raised with, an homage to his family of larger than life characters and the story of a young African-American guy coming to terms with his sexuality in Philadelphia’s inner city during the 80s and early 90s.

 

 

If I was to look for fault in A Boy and His Soul it would be found in this final strand of his story. Whilst the rest of the show serves a blend of entertaining over the top theatricality and heartfelt ode to the days of yore, Domingo’s coming out story (predictably accompanied by Diana Ross’s queer anthem I’m Coming Out) clunks through the same territory we’ve all heard a hundred times before. I’ve no issue with the authenticity of the tale, this is Domingo’s story and in the life of any gay man one’s coming out story is a big moment. But in A Boy and His Soul nothing new is brought to the stage with the retelling of this part of his tale. Where Stefanie Preissner brought a fresh voice and angle to her telling of 20-something angst in Solpadeine is My Boyfriend, on the same stage only an hour previous none the less, Domingo’s coming out seemed to just rehash the same story we’ve all heard before.

 

Now that that’s out of the way let me tell you why I absolutely adored the rest of this show!

 

It’s my firm belief that soul music is a genre best enjoyed with company. Grooving along at the barbecue, in the arms of a lover, with friends on a long hot summer’s night. James Brown calls on you to get on up because this is a music that’s made to be lived! It’s this shared experience that is the true soul of this show. Domingo’s family stories are filled with colour and detail as he brings to life the characters of his mother, stepfather, brother and sister. His impersonation of these individuals are fully realised and many of the shows best moments appear when he effortlessly adopts these personas. He embodies these characters with a greater effect than any costume could provide and it would be easy to say A Boy and His Soul has one of the best ensembles of I’ve seen in recent months if this wasn’t all a one man show.

 

Domingo performs with a burning, effervescent charisma, from start to finish he had the audience eating out of his hand. The costumes and sets are relatively non existent, just an old record player and two milk crates full of albums. But with the presence that Domingo brings to the stage and the constantly pumping soundtrack of soul classics, there isn’t any need for further embellishment.

 

His joy at regaling these stories and revelling in the music of his people is thoroughly infectious. I say it’s the music of his people because it’s obvious that these aren’t just songs he’s enjoyed, but songs that have raised, sustained and guided him. These weren’t just names and faces on a record sleeve but extensions of his family; ever present throughout his formative years putting a song in his heart and a groove in his step.

 

18
Feb
14

Solpadeine is My Boyfriend WTF14

 

WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse

 

February 13 – 23 2014

 

Solpadeine is My Boyfriend (Ireland)

By Stephanie Preissner

Brisbane Powerhouse (Supported by Culture Ireland)

Visy Theatre

February 12 – 16 2014

 

Reviewed by Guy Frawley

 

Presented as one long lyrical poem, Stefanie Preissner’s Solpadeine is My Boyfriend, is a contemporary story of 20-something angst set against the backdrop of a Ireland’s failing economy and the mass emigration of Preissner’s generation to ‘luckier’ countries.

 

Solpadeine is My Boyfriend

 

Solpadeine is My Boyfriend has a brilliantly well written script that uses the rhyme and rhythm of Stephanie Preissner’s lyrical poem to great effect. We’re introduced to our protagonist as she sets forth from her provincial home in southern Ireland for the promise of a better life in the capital. This move isn’t the cause, but it does mark the beginning of Preissner’s own iliad of woes. I doubt if crafting, writing and staging such a personal piece of theatre could ever be a simple task, but throughout the entire show Preissner performs with with an effortless intimacy with her audience. The themes are heavy and this show could easily have been an hour long slog through a morass of substance addiction and self loathing,  but by the very grace of Preissner’s heartfelt presentation Solpadeine is My Boyfriend more often sparkles with humour and pathos than it does plumb the darkest depths.

 

The angst ridden musings of another Gen Y may seem cliche (Can’t I just stay home and binge on some episodes of Girls?) and yes, tales of youthful angst often lapse into dragging up the same worn out tropes and stereotypes. But in Solpadeine is My Boyfriend the prose is, refreshingly, self aware and avoids rehashing the same old schtick. She’s conscious of the fact that more of her needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy are being met than many others around the world but this doesn’t lessen the sting of her sense of betrayal when confronted with a changing world. Raised on the economic back of the Celtic Tiger, Preissner’s post-2008 rude awakening mirrors the experience of millions of 20-somethings globally who were to find the promises of their youth turn to dust as they inherited the woes of their parents generations economic mismanagement.

 

Solpadeine is My Boyfriend is a personal and charismatic tale of one woman’s experience coming of age in a time of disappointment and failed promises. It’s not just a story of a generation abandoned by their country but a battle cry for those who are left behind, when those who can flee do.

 

 

14
Feb
14

The Great Spavaldos WTF14

WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse

 

February 13 – 23 2014

 

The Great Spavaldos (UK)

By Sylvia Mercuriali & Simon Wilkinson for Il Pixel Rosso

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

February 11 -22 2014

 

Reviewed by Guy Frawley

 

 

The Great Spavaldos isn’t so much a piece of theatre to be witnessed as it is a fully immersive experience to be lived.

 

 

The Great Spavaldos

The creative team take your photo once you’ve been fitted with your goggles and just before you’re taken out to explore their virtual world. It doesn’t even begin to give justice to the fabulous weirdness of this show.

 

Hijacking four of the five senses, this event toys with with your sense of sight, touch, sound and smell to transport you into the dark underbelly of a 1940s circus troupe, leaving you disorientated and awed.

 

In the foyer of the Powerhouse you’re fitted with headphones and as the voice over begins you’re quickly pulled into the fantastical world of the eponymous Spavaldo brothers.

 

 

Before long however you realise you’re not exactly watching their story, you’re living their story, you become one half of this gravity defying, acrobatic duo.

 

Mere minutes after arriving at the theatre, flustered from a spot of rather bothersome city traffic and relieved I’d made it in time for my 6pm viewing, I was mounted on a trapeze and staring nervously at the floor that seemed to be at least 10 meters beneath me, suffice to say I’d well and truly forgotten everything else that had preoccupied me during the day. In reality my feet were likely only inches above the floor but there in that moment, perched atop the trapeze, rope gripped firmly in both hands with the sound of the audience cheering beneath me…well lets just say my acute fear of heights seemed very real, and logic be damned, the boys and girls from Il Pixel Rosso have hit the virtual reality nail right on the head.

 

With a pair of video goggles, a set of headphones and some delightfully creative staging, The Great Spavaldos is 25 minutes of immersive joy. This is the kind of experience that you walk out of and immediately want to tell all of your friends about, more than that, you want to drag them along to experience it for themselves; It’s just so freakin’ cool!

 

It’s tantalising to wonder about the other stories that could be told using such a method and I for one would love to see where else the creative team behind The Great Spavaldos take this concept. Hopefully their creative journey will bring them back to Brisbane sooner rather than later! You do however still have until the 22nd of February to catch this show and regardless of what your taste is in theatre I challenge you to experience this piece and to not walk out of the performance space with a massive grin on your face.

 

the great spavaldos – promo 1280×720 from il-pixel rosso on Vimeo.

12
Feb
14

All That Fall WTF14

 

WTF14 Brisbane Powerhouse

 

February 13 – 23 2014

 

All That Fall

Pan Pan Theatre (Ireland)

Brisbane Powerhouse

Powerhouse Theatre

February 11 – 16 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

All That Fall. Image by Ros Kavanagh.

Playing around with dark and light, sound and Samuel Beckett’s text, a radio play, All That Fall, Pan Pan Theatre returns to Brisbane Powerhouse for WTF14 in a glorious golden wash. This production looks and sounds as though it should work – and indeed, it does work – but I’m left rocking in my chair pondering the relationship between director and author, wondering if this is theatre. Well, of course it is (everything is theatre). It’s just a little different to what we’ve been seeing lately.

 

Beckett was adamant that no radio play of his would be staged, going to great lengths during his lifetime to ensure his wishes were followed, telling his American publisher that the piece was “for voice not bodies” and wanting us to feel a sense of “the whole thing’s coming out of the dark”. Director, Gavin Quinn, has been faithful to the original intention of the writer, but has he created something that we enjoy as much as we might have 55 years ago?

 

The whole “active listening” experience these days may or may not be as entertaining as Beckett intended. I’m an Audible girl and I love listening to my stories, lectures, and Richard Fidler’s Conversations while I’m busy doing something else. And there it is. We’re trying to keep up in a fast-paced, multitasking world, in which – unless you’re sitting in church or the theatre (#samesame) – the skill of just sitting and listening has already been left behind, a little scornfully at times, at school. Can you just sit and listen? Or do you need to be driving, or running, or cooking, or doing the housework?

 

In the audience last night, rocking gently or not, as each would have it, there were young and old. A boys’ school group, some of them listening intently, and a woman of what I like to call indeterminate elderly age, superbly groomed with hair perfectly set and lipstick flawlessly, expertly applied, ready for either a debutante ball or an evening at home in front of the wireless. I found the people watching aspect of the production fascinating, each individual comfortable (or not) in their own little world, some with their eyes closed, some emitting gentle laughter, some attempting to hide smirks…or not. (Out of the entire program, what a strange choice this production seems to be for a boys’ senior theatre class! Did I miss something since I’ve been back in primary schools this year!?).

 

I loved hearing the voices of the actors and I wanted to see them, their faces and bodies in the space, “a listening chamber”, made warm and welcome and intimate by Designer, Aedin Cosgrove, with rocking chairs, a wall of lights, and a sky of starry bulbs hanging over our heads. I heard the skull reference in the text but even so, the skull cushions (and the children’s carpet beneath our feet) were to me red herrings, to take my train of thought along obscure tracks involving poor Yorick and…train sets. Actually, I could be right on the money with those thoughts of life and death and train tracks. The moment a little boy explains to the couple (Aine Ni Mhuiri & Andrew Bennett) why the train has arrived 15 minutes late (the train is never late) is a ghastly, truly chilling one. But I digress. It’s not that I don’t trust my imagination – there are times when I actually do prefer living there – but I wonder whether or not a radio play was ever going to be my preferred medium. Perhaps in a previous life. Perhaps not. Perhaps Pan Pan’s All That Fall feels more like an installation than a show. And sometimes that’s enough, and sometimes it’s not.

 

Last year, thanks to Playlab and a clever local cat by the name of Sue Davis, we staged a reading at Noosa Arts Theatre of George Landen Dann’s The Orange Grove. Accomplished voices, including that of Kate Wilson’s, led us into the world of a lonely woman who fought to the bitter end to save her precious Sunshine Coast property from development – true story. We lit an exquisitely simple green dress, mentioned in the text, and a Chinese vase, also mentioned in the text. The staging was so minimal it allowed us to sit, on stage and at the same time, one with the audience, when we were not speaking. The feedback from the audience was unanimously that it was a beautiful thing (and, “Why is there not more theatre like this?”).

 

Of course both forms are valid, and they are beautiful things in their own right, but if you’re the sort of person who might squirm at the 25-minute mark (it’s a 70-minute recording), you are well within your rights, when there is so much on offer, to think twice about sitting through this show. Having said that, you know me; of course I’m going to challenge you to do so because, again, this IS theatre, and though it may not be your cup of tea it’s a unique evening (or morning or afternoon. The benefits of bringing out no actors obviously include multiple performances per day) and one that you may not get the chance to experience outside of this festival. Having said that, we have a brilliant head and heart in Brisbane, in theatre practitioner Sarah Winter, and in terms of design and the feelings evoked by the design last night, her 2012 production for La Boite Indie, A Dinner of Gravity, came to mind.

 

The final moments are the most theatrical. Jimmy Eadie‘s soundscape ebbs and flows and allows the darkness and light to go with it hand in hand, finally sending us off into a fiercely stormy night. And it’s by far the best storm I’ve ever had the wonder of sitting with. I’ve been (actively) listening (whilst driving) to Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes lately and I think those final moments of Pan Pan’s All That Fall feel rather like the notion of sitting with death, and all the possibility of life at the same time. And then it’s difficult to know if it’s time to go, making it a piece that in the end doesn’t invite any applause, but instead, a little bit of bewilderment and also, the self doubt that says – irritatingly because you know it’s mostly right – “Why have I questioned its form at all?” If you’re prepared to sit with All That Fall, you might just enjoy it.

 

Pan Pan’s work – some of the most innovative and original in Ireland since the company’s 1991 founding – is nothing if not representative of the porous boundaries between visual art, sound art, theatre design, installation, live art, and performance…Pan Pan is more alert than many other companies to the increasingly obvious fact that the choice between pure experimentation and keeping “faith” with authorial intention is, like all binaries, a Faustian bargain. It is not either/or, but both/and: Pan Pan’s productions are still partly “coming out of the dark,” and we are also asked to “listen to the light”.

 

 

Nicholas Johnson

 

 

03
Dec
13

Circa Zoo Showcase

 

Circa Zoo

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

1 December 2013

 
Reviewed by Meredith Walker

 

circa-zoo-showcase-34

 

At last month’s World Theatre Festival 2014 launch, Artistic Director  of Brisbane Powerhouse, Kris Stewart, referred to Brisbane as a circus city. It would seem Ruth Hodgman and Lewis Jones at The Judy agree, with leading Australian contemporary circus group, Circa, having made its home there fro some time.

 

Since 2006, Circa has toured its innovative performances across the globe to critical acclaim. Behind the scenes of its mainstage triumphs, however, is a youth workshop program, and it was its youth performance troupe – Circa Zoo – that was on display last weekend, presenting two shows to an almost full house of supportive audience members, as part of its Training Centre showcase.

 

UpDownUp is an out-the-box style of show, literally, as it features nine nimble performers of various ages emerging from a large box to balance, tumble, flip and manically hula-hoop in a series of gymnastic moves. And while ensemble synchronicity may still be developing, the skill of the young performers is undeniable. Then there is Brink which begins with a single spot-lit dancer as hint of the focussed acts to follow.

 

With lithe movements, performers use the traditions of the circus to impress, particularly through their rope and aerial work. Indeed, the whole show is not so much a circus as a celebration of strength and skill (and balance that would impress any yoga guru).

 

While all performers were given chance to showcase their variety of skills over the Circus Zoo’s 85 minute duration, the show could have been more succinct. Choreography is clichéd at times, however, this suits the comic tones of some routines and the consequential vaudeville flavour is playful and fun. The enigmatic soundtrack, which features both artsy and upbeat remixes of familiar songs is another highlight.

 

Though stripped back in its presentation style, the Circa Zoo showcase revealed plenty of compelling moments.

 

The calibre of talent on show indicates that the future of our circus city is certainly in capable hands.

 

23
Nov
13

WTF – Brisbane Powerhouse launches World Theatre Festival 2014

 

World Theatre Festival Launch 2014

Brisbane Powerhouse

Thursday 21st November

 

Attended by Meredith McLean

 

The Brisbane Powerhouse was lit up on Thursday night for the highly anticipated WTF14 Launch. No, it’s not the acronym you might associate it with (though they played with that joke a little), it’s the World Theatre Festival coming up again. Powerhouse put on a wonderful soiree to generate excitement for what’s to come.

 

Though the dress code wasn’t too stern people were encouraged to dress up in a way to make people say WTF? I’m sure you can figure out what that stands for now. There were some beautifully hideous 80s outfits being sported by guests, but otherwise it was a classy night in the Powerhouse.

 

Kris Stewart nearly stole the show from the guest performer with his speech. Beaming brighter than the projectors on the walls Kris went into exuberant details of what’s in store for WTF14.

 

There will be performances from UK, Ireland, Scotland, Indonesia and of course our own Australia just to name a few of this myriad of culture and performances.

 

BPH_WTF_All_That_Fall_3_2014-1177x663

 

There are some returning faces as well as new ones. Look out for some fantastic creations. Money’s on Abandon by Opera Q Studio and Dancenorth (Australia/Scotland). There’s anticipation brewing as well for Chelsea McGuffin and Finegan Kruckemeyer’s Australian performance She Would Walk The Sky. But if you’re looking for something visually dominating  go for Pan Pan Theatre’s (Ireland) production of the great Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall. There will be a magnificent installation of sixty rocking chairs under burning lights, just to really bring Beckett’s radio play to life.

 

upsidedown

 

That wasn’t all the guests got a chance to hear about at last night’s party. Moses, from She Would Walk the Sky, gave us a short performance. It wasn’t a monologue or a scene from a play. He gave us a live trapeze stunt. The man flipped and twirled while the audience literally oohed and ahhed. In true classy Aussie fashion a man in the back was heard exclaiming “Fuck!” when the trapeze artist hung from the trapeze literally gripping the rope with nothing but his back muscles.

 

If you’d like to find out more about the shows scheduled for 2014, and I insist that you do, head to their website and check out the official program now. Book early so you don’t miss out, because WTF is renowned for SELLING OUT!

 

Head here for details. 

02
Mar
13

WTF Wrap Up: Week 2

The strange power of art is sometimes it can show that what people have in common is more urgent than what differentiates them.

–     John Berger

 

 

 

 

2013_WTF_Media_Image-1

The vibe was so different this year! Did anybody else besides Zo and I talk about that?! Brisbane Powerhouse, from top to bottom and from inside out resonated this time round with the impact of a production team that changed a year and a half ago. The place was buzzing with theatre lovers, theatre makers, and randoms from everywhere. (It’s the randoms that fascinate me!).

Somebody (random) asked me, “Well, is this really what Brisbane needs? Another festival? A World Theatre Festival? A few select shows from… wherever?” AAAAAARGH! YES! IT IS ABSOLUTELY WHAT BRISBANE NEEDS! I’m sure Box Office will reflect one aspect of the success of this festival this year. And I know that many other aspects of the festival can be considered hugely successful, including its appeal, its reach, its challenges to writers, directors, designers, performers, producers and publicity peeps, its many and varied challenges to the local and global communities, its unfailing ability to bring together people from all walks, inspiring discussion and debate, and its undeniable entertainment value.

 

PLAN TO BE THERE NEXT YEAR!

 

These are some of the things I’ll think of when I remember that the World Theatre Festival is more than its shows from wherever

 

FLOOD

It really felt like this much rain again. (The ‘flood’ sculpture outside the Brisbane Powerhouse at New Farm, erected to commemorate the 1974 floods, was partially submerged on 12 January, 2011!).

RAIN! ALWAYS RAIN! WHY DON’T I LIVE IN NEW FARM YET?!

 

Topping up the Flowtoll account twice in two weeks because that’s how often I’ve been travelling through those eerily empty tunnels. I would never go the old way to avoid the toll because when you’re stuck in heavy south-bound traffic on the Bruce Highway with around 36 minutes to get to a show those tunnels are BLESSINGS. BLESSINGS I say.

 

Margarita pizza and Rockbare Shiraz enjoyed in the bar, at a table too tiny to sit both food and drink upon.

 

Intense conversations happening everywhere, in every nook and cranny, in every doorway, on every stairwell, about theatre and theatre making, and CHEESE.

 

Fleeting conversations, hugs and kisses (on both cheeks), with friends, performers and creators, with whom I’d dearly love to spend more time.

 

Speaking with the writer of White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Nassim, and promising to email him.

 

 

Laughing until my face ached at Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good).

 

 

Feeling nauseous next to a plate of liver and onions, served during Reckless Sleepers’ The Last Supper.

 

 

Feeling like everything – EVERYTHING – is worthwhile doing and saying, as a friend and I shared Alice Slattery’s chocolate cake in the Visy Theatre during HotForTheatre’s I Heart Alice Heart I.

 

Chatting with convivial bar staff. Always being served by the tallest fellow, standing head and shoulders above the girls, who laughs every time I ask him if he’s managed to get to anything yet!

 

in-conversation-richard-schechner

Getting to Richard Schechner’s conversation with Robyn Archer, after dreadful traffic from the Sunshine Coast on yet another rainy day, and being overwhelmed by hearing again about his vast body of work, his “apprenticeship” approach to actor training, and rasaesthetics.

 

Looking out over the Brisbane River and wondering/imagining who actually lives in that big brown house.

 

Men in thongs at the theatre. Really. Looks like we’re wearing flip flops to the theatre now.

 

 

This clip is great. It’s totally unrelated and wholly relevant. Hope to see you in a theatre soon because when you look around, in between World Theatre Festivals, there’s a whole world of theatre here…

 

 

 




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