Posts Tagged ‘Youth Theatre

22
Aug
14

Why saying no is hard and when to say yes

 

I thought I would have a little break, slow down, step away from the crazy busy stuff of life, and take a break from it all. I didn’t plan to spend three weeks in Greece (although that would be nice), and I didn’t intend to switch off completely from social media (although that would be sensible). I just decided to not do so much. Well, let me tell you how that is working out. It’s not.

 

I’m finding it really difficult to STOP.

 

Why is it so hard to stop? To say no? (I can’t answer that. Can you?)

 

This morning I caught up with a couple of friends at the groovy, cosy, completely rebranded BV Pizzeria & Wine Bar on Kawana Island. It used to be the Thai Islander Beach Café. I used to live in an apartment across the road. It was the perfect place for a catch up after the mad rush of rainy day school run traffic. To be honest, I felt like staying in bed and watching the chickens singing and dancing in the rain. But getting up and getting Poppy to school so I could enjoy a long overdue coffee with a couple of girlfriends turned out to be the right choice.

 

bv_martini

This is actually what I felt like ordering. Is it ever too early?

I should clarify, I don’t actually drink coffee anymore, so when I say, “Let’s go for coffee,” what I actually mean is, “Let’s meet somewhere and you have coffee and I’ll find out how they make their chai and probably end up, when they say they make it with syrup or powder, ordering a soy hot chocolate or an Earl Grey instead.”

Like, when I say I’m taking a break, I’m not actually taking a break.

 

I ordered Earl Grey without asking about their chai. I wanted no complications. I didn’t take a photo for Instagram and I didn’t check in on Facebook. I KNOW! I was feeling overwhelmed and outta’ control – not crazy outta’ control, but dreamy, floating, coasting, fairyland outta’ control (I would like to call it “surrender” but you and I both know I’ve got a way to go before I can claim “surrender”), as if nothing today would matter. But here’s what matters.

 

All three of us had a busy day on the cards, and we stopped. We didn’t stop for long but we each committed to teasing open a little crack in time, in between our other appointments and deadlines to say, “Yes, let’s!”

 

Let’s enjoy stillness rather than rushing about.

 

Let’s cherish each other’s company rather than quietly, politely ignoring each other’s just as crazy busy existence.

 

Let’s imagine for just one hour that we have several hours to spend together, to hear about each other’s joys, fears, successes and challenges.

 

Let’s feel supported, admired and valued for whom we have become.

 

Let’s leave feeling nourished, inspired and reenergised.

 

Let’s promise to catch up again soon and actually catch up again soon.

 

While we were chatting away and finishing tea and coffee (and chocolates – hot beverages at BV are served with a chocolate and doesn’t that just make your day?), a tiny sparrow came in out of the rain. It perched on the back of a chair nearby and appeared to be listening in. I don’t profess to see anything profound in that; it’s just that a tiny sparrow came in from the rain and found warmth and a safe place to be for a moment.

 

It seems it’s just as difficult for me to say yes as it is to say no. But knowing when to say yes, and feeling happy rather than guilty about doing so, is maybe more important at the moment. They say the lessons you need to learn in life keep turning up until you learn them. Looks like I’m staying busy for a bit longer.

 

xanthe_iphone_b&w

 

Reality Bites – Australia’s Premier Literary Nonfiction Festival launches tonight! The program is online today! Check out realitybitesfestival.org

 

The Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival Youth Section begins tonight and continues until Sunday. Details on the website. Check out livetheatre.com.au

 

 

 

 

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07
Dec
10

I Can Do That!

“Youth Theatre” is the bane of my life. It hooked me at 15 years of age, it kept me busy on stage and off until I was 30, and now, er…with another birthday coming up, it wants to take over my life again. But to Youth Theatre, I say NO! There are others! The grown ups have me now! I will coach you but I will not direct your productions! Unless, of course,  you pay me and then I will happily direct anything your young, enthusiastic, untainted hearts desire.

Please note: Youth Theatre is different to “Theatre for Young People“. The latter enjoys (a little) government funding and (some) support in (some) schools and venues.

In the Australia Council for the Arts Review of Theatre for Young People in Australia (December 2003), the Executive Summary states:

Among other factors, early exposure to positive arts experiences correlate to later interest in and engagement with the arts. It is one of the reasons that Theatre for Young People (TYP) is so significant, why the nature and quality of contact with this work matters. For some, the rationale for engaging with young audiences, and supporting other specialist theatre companies to do so, is enlightened self-interest—the cultivation of tomorrow’s audiences. But there is an equally cogent argument—that children and young people are entitled to the same cultural rights as adults. They are not the audiences of tomorrow, they are the audiences (and participants) of today. On this basis, the same resources should be devoted to TYP and other means of providing access to quality theatre experiences as are devoted to adult, mainstream companies.

About one-third of Australian school children take part in organised cultural activities outside of school hours, according to a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2006. Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, theatre was just that other thing; the organised activity we did if we were not doing one or most of the following:

  • Swim Club
  • Surf Club
  • Netball Club
  • Rugby League Club
  • AFL Club
  • Soccer Club
  • Little Athletics
  • Ballet, Jazz and Tap
  • Gymnastics
  • Callisthenics’s

It’s a very sporty place.

N.B. The Callisthenics’s kids never really fitted in either.

There was only one place to go – if you really wanted to be taken seriously as a performer – and that was BATS (Buderim Amateur Theatrical Society). Those were the days! We would get hot chips, tomato sauce and tubs of Homer Hudson ice cream from the shop on the corner (the site is now home to a fancy French restaurant, a salon and a couple of old lady boutiques), which we shared outside, lying about on the grass, just as we did later, at uni…hmmm. There was nothing better for young voices! And faces! And figures!

We had cool teachers, who let us finish our ice cream inside. It was fun. And I learned early that you didn’t have to face the audience to say a line, which was a point of contention at school. (At school, I also argued about beginning sentences with capital letters. Thank you, Veny. And the existence of God. Thank you, Lutherans). We gained confidence, friends from other schools, regular performance opportunities and some of us even got our homework done in between rehearsals! We really did have some fun at BATS.

Some might say nothing has changed. I would say a hell of a lot has changed, however; BYTE (Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence), based at the same hall in Buderim, run by Robyn Ernst for over 10 years has stayed the popular option. One of those cool teachers of mine, Ian Austin, had this to say, back in the days when he was given a say, about BYTES:

BYTES offers students from 5-18 professional studio training in acting, dancing and musical theatre with several public performances every year.  This esteemed training ground, enriches and builds talent and perhaps more importantly personal character.  BYTES showcase presentations add the imperative gloss.” Ian Austin Review Sunshine Coast Daily

And he’s right. I get to their shows pretty irregularly and when I do, I see this to be true. Basic character is evident, as is the self-confidence (some might say over-confidence). The kids learn their lines, they deliver them in well-projected voices, they sing mostly in tune (thanks to the talented teaching team, Scott and Libby Gaedtke) and they are always dressed magnificently and lit quite adequately. I am aware that there are other productions throughout each year, which might showcase a wider range of acting ability, however; I haven’t seen any lately and the last one I did get to – I think I mentioned in a post at the time – had cast members blacking up for To Kill a Mockingbird at the same time a production of Miss Saigon went on in Hobart without any Asians in the cast! Just saying! Nevertheless, the productions provide the performance opportunity and the gloss that kids need, to feel the magic of the theatre and to be able to say, when they see something they like and aspire to, “I can do that!”

The Pirates of Penzance was perhaps an odd choice, with so many male roles and – typically – very few males available to fill them. I always loathe girls playing boys unless the context can be updated and we get to enjoy the legalisation of gay marriage for the finale. Obviously this messes with the original book and a particular demographic in the region.

In the show that I saw on Saturday afternoon, the cast featured Brandon Maday (Frederic), Eloise Mueller (Mabel), Robert Steel (Pirate King), Daniel Moray (Major General), Brianna Schlect (Ruth) and Phoebe Sullivan (Police Sergeant). I have to tell you a) I know Eloise and b) Eloise was the stand-out. Her mature vocal work was matched by Brandon’s (and what a relief that was)! The ensemble were enthusiastic and the company clearly enjoyed themselves. And that is really important. Some parents would say that their child’s enjoyment of the activity is the most important thing. But what if that fun, enthusiasm, confidence and the opportunity to perform can be tied in with some basic stagecraft and performance etiquette?

That is precisely what my friend, Mary Eggleston, is doing at SODA (School of Dramatic Arts). She runs classes in Buderim and Coolum and she is really, for youth theatre, the hottest new kid on the block. SODA’s inaugural showcase, on Saturday morning, was testament to Mary’s ability to use original material and the talents of those kids involved. We saw younger students share The Rime of The Ancient Marinater, which is like giving your primary school production of Alice in Wonderland a bit of a Tim Burton slant! It’s not light stuff and the 7 performers handled the text and the context well.

A cast of 16 slightly older students re-told the story of our local lass, Eliza Fraser, as penned by Sue Davis. The material, Figments of Eliza, was originally performed by Mary as part of the NeoGeography project  and it was interesting to hear her voice-over relay some of the story as part of this re-interpretation. And it was a pleasure to hear the familiar qualities of another of Leah Barclay‘s original compositions as their underscore. As well as teaching these students basic stagecraft, voice, movement, discipline and performance etiquette, Mary has encouraged one of the students to develop his technical skills and so Tully Grimley, for this show, became Lighting Designer and Operator.

Mary works with young people in the same way that Sam and I work with adults. I know this because as well as seeing the results in performance, I’ve taken classes for her a couple of times and these kids respond in the same manner. They are keen to perform and even keener to learn everything they can about themselves and the craft along the way. This is perhaps the difference that we are noticing now on the Sunshine Coast. The performers we seem to attract want it all. Those who stay away want just to be recognised for their performances, regardless of the end result. So we play, we have fun and we make up stuff all the time, just like those kids! We also notice what it is that the individuals bring to the ensemble, how they are connecting with themselves and how they are able to connect with others.

Kids who want more than just the gloss of the final performance should check out SODA.

Adults looking for something fun, interesting and a little more challenging should check out Sam Coward’s production of David Williamson’s INFLUENCE for Noosa Arts Theatre.

John Waters as Ziggi Blasko

 

Information Night: Friday December 10th 7pm at Noosa arts Theatre, Weyba Rd, Noosaville

Audition (Workshop): Friday December 17th 7pm at Noosa Arts Theatre, Weyba Rd, Noosaville

Season: April 20th – April 30th 2011

Casting:

Ziggi Blasko – early fifties, talkback radio “shock-jock”
Carmela Blasko – twenty-nine, Ziggi’s second wife, narcissist ballet dancer trying to return to form after childbirth
Vivienne Blasko – seventeen, turns out to be manic depressive
Tony – a taciturn man in his forties
Connie Blasko – forty-seven, social worker
Marko Blasko – dignified Croatian man of eighty-two
Zehra – forty-two, a slim Turkish woman

 

For more information email xsentertainme@gmail.com or check http://noosaartstheatre.org.au




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