Posts Tagged ‘WTF


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.




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.




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. 


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






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.




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



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!).



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!



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…





I Heart Alice Heart I

I Heart Alice Heart I

HotForTheatre, Ireland

Visy Theatre

World Theatre Festival

Wednesday 20th – Sunday 24th February 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Featuring: Amy Conroy & Clare Barrett


The most delightful, heartwarming work of this year’s World Theatre Festival program, I Heart Alice Heart I, is a pseudo-doco that draws on the lives of two Alices – Alice Kinsella, played by writer and director, Amy Conroy, and Alice Slattery, played by collaborator Clare Barrett – and it’s a love story. About as far removed as we can get from another gay love story playing across town, this piece is intimate, simple and glowing, full to overflowing with quiet life and goodness. It’s goodness of the sort we forget about sometimes in the theatre – there’s very little theatricality about it – it’s old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, face-to-face storytelling. It’s such a simple formula and it works so well here that it makes me wonder, as much as I love a big, bold blockbuster, why on earth we don’t see more of it.


I Heart Alice Heart I

I’d love to see somebody gentle and loving and caring scoop up I Heart Alice Heart I into their capable arms and make a wonderful film of it – a great many more people than those who can half-fill the Visy Theatre need to see it – it’s such a beautiful story, a conversation; fragmented, like any discussion between lovers, and it’s just about as real as it gets.


There is a great deal of careful, patient writing and direction. It’s a gem of an idea from the woman who observed the Alices kiss in the soup and condiments aisle of a supermarket in Dublin. That was Amy Conroy. Alice Kinsella is the first to agree to a lengthy process of interviews with Conroy, with Alice Slattery eventually unable to resist the fun of making a play and finally joining the party.


Through a series of monologues, as per the prompts tacked to the kitchen wall behind the nervous pair, the story is shared along with a photo of Alice’s younger sister, and a plate of chocolate cake. These are passed around and most audience members take the time and the opportunity to study the photo and eat the cake. This act of sharing supper, of “breaking cake” has a profound effect on the audience. Performance Studies guru Richard Schechner had reminded us earlier, in his conversation with Robyn Archer, that theatre is a shared meal. We make the supper and share it with friends. The Visy Theatre, full of friends, truly felt like the Alices’ home; it’s as if we sat at the kitchen table with them.


I Heart Alice Heart I

Beautifully assembled and carefully, deliberately delivered, I Heart Alice Heart I means that, whether they actually exist or not, these two women, once ashamed, shy and quiet, can finally be seen. Once they were invisible to the world, now they are visible and proud, proud of themselves and of their 29-year long relationship, with all its hurdles, scars and smiles.


I Heart Alice Heart I is a story that is easily received, regardless of where you stand on gay relationships. And I say that because so many, still, are unsure as to where they stand…or worse, they are far too certain. I spoke with some senior students the other day about the Drama kids at their school having the opportunity to see a play about a gay relationship and one bright girl spoke up immediately, telling us that while she’s under his roof, her father would never allow her to attend such a production!


I have enormous confidence in the power of theatre, and it is work – and talking about work – such as Holding the Man and  I Heart Alice Heart I that might just help change the world a little bit.





The Last Supper

 When Audience Becomes Actor: White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Gob Squad’s Kitchen & The Last Supper


Part 3: The Last Supper


The Last Supper

Reckless Sleepers, Belgium/UK

Turbine Platform

World Theatre Festival

Wednesday 20th – Sunday 24th February 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Featuring: Mole Wetherell, Leen Dewilde, Tim Ingram


The Last Supper

How will the last moments of your life play out?


Not strictly audience as actors, but with the expectation that we would be somehow participating, just 39 audience members approached the Turbine Platform late on Sunday night, and waited at the bottom of the steps to be seated according to a lottery, at a massive U-shaped table, set for dinner, to listen to a series of last words, delivered by the actors…and eaten by the actors. Famous last words (and not so famous last words), drawn from historical figures to death row prisoners in Texas, read aloud from rice paper notes and promptly stuffed into mouths, to be consumed with wine or water…


I declined a glass of wine. This was my last show of the festival, I was tired, and I had to drive home to the Sunshine Coast, otherwise a glass of red would have been welcome. This, the sharing of red wine, the table arrangement, and other religious references are obvious without becoming thematic, and a moment of bombast and blasphemy nicely becomes the delivery of Jesus Christ’s last words, pleasing believers and non-believers alike.


Another great gimmick, in addition to the rice paper eating, came with cloche covered dinner plates, revealing the unusual last meal requests made by the men on death row, including coconuts, hamburgers, fries and fruit milkshakes, and to my disgust, a plate of liver and onions delivered to the gentleman sitting next to me. The strong smell of liver makes me sick and I hoped I could block it out! After some time, the guests on either side of the liver agreed that it had to go, and somebody placed it behind us where it was less offensive. You cannot imagine how distracting the smell of liver and onions can be! If only I’d been seated next to the chocolate cake guy!


At times I was baffled by the actors’ need to read the last words (they’ve been touring this show since 2004), Dewilde stumbling a couple of times and the others possibly lost their place for a moment. But then again, who could tell? Was it intentional?  Another gimmick perhaps, to be referring to notes, rather than have the lines learnt? Once the tone and dramatic devices were established The Last Supper was an enjoyable and entertaining show, with enough meaty bits to make us all breath a little more quietly at the table. The re-telling of the Romanov execution was particularly rattling, and the visceral shock of seeing so many Hiroshima last words consumed is something that I won’t shake for a little while.



Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good)

When Audience Becomes Actor: White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Gob Squad’s Kitchen & The Last Supper


Part 2: Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good)


Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good)

Gob Squad, Germany/UK

World Theatre Festival

Wednesday 20th – Sunday 24th February 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Johanna Freiburg, Sean Pattern, Sharon Smith, Berit Stumpf, Nina Tecklenburg, Sarah Thom, Laura Tonke, Bastian Trost, Simon Will



Andy Warhol’s Kitchen recreated live on stage, complete with bad coffee, nervous breakdowns and wild parties.


It’s 1965 and everything is just about to happen. The German/British collective Gob Squad invites you to take the hand of the King of Pop Art himself, Andy Warhol, and step back into the underground cinemas of New York City, where it all began.


Gob Squad’s Kitchen reconstructs Warhol’s films in the quest to illuminate the past for a new generation, reflecting on the nature of authenticity, the here and now, and the hidden depths beneath the shiny surfaces of modern life.


This was my favourite of the strange, original, intimate productions at WTF this year. Again, using audience members as actors, the cast gradually replaced themselves during the remake of Andy Warhol’s famous film Kitchen (1965). These guys have performed Kitchen (You’ve Never Had it So Good) for audiences around the globe, and their success includes an Off-Broadway run in 2012. An investigation into the nature of authenticity, and a parody of the films of one of our greatest pop art icons, Gob Squad’s Kitchen is witty, zany, and very, very funny.


Laura and Simon set the scene and explain what will happen. They are re-making Andy Warhol’s films to “modernise” them, bring them “up to date” so that we better understand our modern lives. As such, they replace the kitchen items with up-to-the-minute appliances and products, securing early laughs simply by introducing the table, the chair, the bread, the cereal and the instant coffee. We’ve already seen this set from the other side of the triptych of screens we see out front, upon entering the Powerhouse Theatre. We’ve seen the actors mic’d up and the television screens backstage that will help the cast create their own version of Warhol’s film as we watch from out front.


A tattooed girl named Kellie, a guy who I noticed the following night in the audience of Holding the Man, and (unbeknownst to them, surely), the new Arts Minister’s wife, Heather. They were fine, fitting in superbly, and at times going to great lengths to do so, with Kellie going so far as to re-enact the three-minute kiss with a cast member, as per Warhol’s short film Kiss (1963).


I think there’s a chance that some audience members may feel a little cheated when they’ve come to see a company perform and, one by one, the professional actors are replaced by randoms from the stalls. But it’s a different sort of theatre and it’s a style that I enjoyed, admittedly, because it wasn’t me up there on the big screen, but also because it’s cheeky, confident, fun theatre. Kitchen (You’ve Never Had it So Good) is a big, knowing wink at one of pop art’s most famous attempts to share “real life”, and it works superbly.



When Audience Becomes Actor: White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Gob Squad’s Kitchen & The Last Supper

When Audience Becomes Actor: White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Gob Squad’s Kitchen & The Last Supper


Part 1 – White Rabbit Red Rabbit


White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Brisbane Powerhouse

World Theatre Festival

14th February – 24th February 2013


Featuring Luisa Hastings


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Imagine being 29 and forbidden to leave your country. How would you share your story with the world?


Until recently Nassim Soleimanpour was not free; not enough to travel. Having refused the mandatory military service in Iran, Nassim was not qualified to obtain a passport.

Turning isolation to his own advantage, Soleimanpour has created an intensely personal script that travels the world without him. It requires no director, no set and a different performer for every performance.

Neither the performer nor you will know what lies ahead. Thus begins a metaphorical journey into this wild, utterly original play that dissects the reality of a whole generation of Iranians.

By Nassim Soleimanpour. Dramaturgy by Daniel Brooks and Ross Manson.

White Rabbit Red Rabbit will be performed by a different performer each night. Guests include Miles O’neill (Thu 14 Feb), Helen Cassidy (Fri 15 Feb), Richard Fidler (Sat 16 Feb), Luisa Hastings Edge (Sun 17 Feb), Melanie Zanetti (Thu 21 Feb), Lucas Stibbard (Fri 22 Feb), Natalie Bochenski (Sat 23 Feb), and Justin Hamilton (Sun 24 Feb).


There are seventeen types of suicide – the eighteenth way to commit suicide is life.


White Rabbit Red Rabbit

On Sunday we saw Luisa Hastings perform this unusual play. Best known perhaps to those playing at home for her Summer Bay appearance, as Sarah Lewis in Home and Away, Luisa did a stellar job, translating clearly, carefully and beautifully naturally, a difficult piece that she had not seen before. That’s right! It was a cold read!


When Luisa appeared on stage she was handed an envelope, within which was a copy of the play by Nassim Soleimanpour.


Nassim wrote this piece to travel without him, to infiltrate the free world while he was banned from leaving Iran. Packed with political and social ideas, it’s an exploration of control, and the relationship between actor, audience and playwright. Luisa, The Actor, reads from the script and in doing so, reveals the story and specific directions, which must be carried out by The Actor and select members of the audience. The stakes are set high. “What matters is possibility…”


We are asked at regular intervals whether or not we’d like to continue and by the end of the play, we are asked to make a decision – to act on our feelings or not – and a member of the audience finishes reading the play when The Actor cannot. I couldn’t help but think of the dialectics scene in The Princess Bride. Suffice to say, without giving away the ending (because if you ever get the chance to see the play you must!), The Actor must make a choice and the audience must support or prevent that action happening…and by sitting there watching we are already condoning the inevitable.



The most incredible thing about this performance is that Nassim, the playwright, has always asked that a seat in the front row remain vacant for him, in the event that he would be granted a passport and get to see the play somewhere in the world. And on Sunday night he was there, in the audience at the Brisbane Powerhouse. You can imagine his excitement to see his play finally, for the first time, and he couldn’t resist leaping to his feet, to introduce himself to Luisa and to us, and take his seat in the front row. Luisa looked so surprised! Even so, I was suspicious! Was this really the playwright? It was. And what a great sense of delight and privilege was suddenly felt in the room. As Nassim settled to watch the remainder of the show from his seat in the front row the atmosphere was as if we had all shared something very special.


I loved the metaphors of this play, and I noted the emotions that came flowing (not all of them welcome),  just from hearing the clinical observation of the behaviour of those poor rabbits in Nassim’s uncle’s experiment, as read by The Actor. Unsettling, unmistakably human behaviours displayed by caged rabbits.


White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Yes! I was a rabbit! A Black Milk Clothing wearing rabbit!
White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour.



Whenever you bite a carrot the other rabbits bite. It’s their nature.


Nassim told me later that he is currently working on a play that requires an audience member to become the actor. I can’t wait to see that.




The Economist

The Economist

MKA: Theatre of New Writing, Melbourne

Rooftop Terrace

World Theatre Festival

Wednesday 13th – Sunday 17th February 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Featuring: Sarah Walker, Peter Paltos, James Deeth, Conor Gallacher, Marcus McKenzie, Zoey Dawson


Andrew has been having nightmares. He’s been doing everything to stop them.


The Economist

MKA turn a tiny, carpeted corner of the Rooftop Terrace at the top of Brisbane Powerhouse into a place of mystery and horror, to tell the imagined tale of Andrew Berwick, a man very similar to Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway on July 22nd 2011. With no set, save for the exposed graffiti brick walls of the building, minimal props, and a cast of six bold actors, Director, Van Badham, takes a piece of re-imagined history and lays its ugly content out in neat little pieces. Badham presents a Wikipedia page in 4D, its paragraphs cleverly copied, and pasted out of chronological order, with Brechtian sub-headings telling us time and place in a matter-of-fact manner. The days seem ordinary. But we know that they are not.


Playwright, Tobias Manderson-Galvin, offers a chilling story that demands world attention without the judgment incited by global media.


As we enter the space, the story, like history, has already begun; an actor wearing a doleful cow mask stands tall, with several others in various positions (one fellow is sitting, miming paddling). All are red-sweatered, smiling, waving and singing peacefully. It’s a calm, pastoral scene, like the opening of a horror movie, creating a false sense of security, but not really, because it’s the calm before the storm and we feel an appropriate sense of foreboding… SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS GOING TO HAPPEN.


Gender blind casting helps us to separate from the horror of the story, the issues of aggression, violence and the disastrous influence of war games as part of the human state and not, as is so often the case, blamed on the male population in general. The performances are exceptional, precise and focused; this is an impressive ensemble effort.


Live musical elements – voice, percussion, guitar and a baby Korg – lend a rock star air to proceedings making it a really creepy space. But it’s not as frightening or as threatening as it could have been. Every word, every gesture, every look, is delivered with a patient and strategic deliberation. There’s nothing rushing at us and there are no missed opportunities. Every step of the way is just as calculated as Breivik’s own, during the days leading up to the massacre.


MKA is creating theatre to change the course of theatre. It’s disturbing on a level that goes far beyond any traditional thriller, leaving us cold, and wondering about the future of the human race.



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