Posts Tagged ‘zen zen zo

03
Sep
17

DUSK

 

DUSK

Restrung 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & Zen Zen Zo

Restrung Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

Saturday August 19 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

 

DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

 

DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.

 

I’m becoming more and more familiar with Zen Zen Zo’s work from the inside. I’m completing my masters this year with founder and Co-Artistic Director, Dr Lynne Bradley, and training weekly with the company. A small group from the masters course recently spent time in Japan with Lynne to train and perform with Akaji Maro’s acclaimed butoh company, Dairakudakan, and we came back to experience DUSK.

 

A close collaboration for Restrung Festival with the extraordinary composer and performer, Richard Grantham, DUSK features original music and movement to lull the senses and at the same time, heighten the live experience. Grantham’s compositions are built from looped layers over melodic drones. From a basic viola line, the increasing complexity is deceptive; it’s such easy, meditative music to listen to, to dream to…

 

Having spent the best part of the last decade performing and touring with a multitude of bands, Grantham has become an adept improviser upon a large number of stringed, keyed and woodwind instruments. The loop recorder and other effects pedals turn his customised five-string carbon-fibre viola into a one-man string and percussion orchestra.

 

Grantham also sings into the viola, or across it, creating a mesmerising, ancient effect, not unlike spiritual singer, Sheila Chandra (now mute), bringing the piece to an intoxicating conclusion, which at both performances held the audience in silent reverie for the longest moment before thunderous applause, with many up standing.

 

Lynne was thrilled to work once again with Grantham. She told me, “This is my third time collaborating with the amazingly talented Richard Grantham. He is such a joy – huge talent, small ego, and willing to try anything! His openness and willingness to explore experimental contemporary performance modalities make him the perfect creative collaborator.”

 

The challenge for Lynne’s performers in this production was to stay in “minor” and allow Grantham the spotlight. Indeed, our focus at first appears to be on Grantham, but our eyes are naturally drawn to movement and it’s the dance of the four we mainly follow, as they meld in and out of the light, the shadows, and the haze; evocative states that have been sensitively and imaginatively realised by Simon Woods, while Grantham remains front and centre, beneath shades of white, on a raised dais for the duration.

 

 

The dancers are primordial, curled and rolling into the stage space from the wings. Unfurling, they gradually come to standing, demonstrating superb control and focus, which their (Suzuki and butoh) training brings. Their body stockings barely visible, we notice intricate vines of delicate blossoms winding around the bodies. When they step into Kaylee Gannaway’s luscious red full circle skirts, there is palpable excitement, because anyone who’s seen Zen Zen Zo’s In the Company of Shadows will know the joy of anticipation preceding Sufi whirling, to which these skirts are so well suited. I was terrified to try it, but to finish my first ever training session with the company we whirled for 25 minutes! The sensation was a long-lost memory of a feeling from childhood, spinning in the tall grass beyond the back yard, with arms outstretched until we fell down dizzy and giggling and crying out, “Again, again, again!” Throughout DUSK the dancers retain this sense of joyful abandonment, and also offer a sense of immense peace and calm, and quiet contemplation.

 

“I invited four of my favourite performers to appear in DUSK,” Lynne explains; “long-term collaborator Jamie Kendall, Travis Weiner, Gina Tay Limpus and Aurora Liddle-Christie. Their stage presence is mesmerising – I never fail to be profoundly moved watching them dance.” She says, “I can only equate it to the sensation of falling into a well which travels deep inside the earth – their connection to profundity is palpable.”

 

 

Their connection to profundity earns our complete commitment to the performance, regardless of whatever it was we might have been expecting. A loyal Zen Zen Zo fan might be surprised to see less of the grotesque, which is a bit of a butoh trademark and one that is embraced by the company. But this is not that show. These gentle shadows offer a chance to pause and reflect on the quietude that escapes us on a daily basis. DUSK is a meditation; a contemplation and a chance to dismiss the noise.

 

DUSK is as simple and wondrous as the sun setting over the sea; it’s so beautifully realised, and exquisitely delivered by Grantham and Zen Zen Zo, and it gives us a sense that there is something more to life, something other-worldly; a precious in-between… If only we can come to a stop and allow ourselves to be immersed in the magic, if only from time to time, if only for a little while.

 

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14
Aug
17

Richard Grantham & ZEN ZEN ZO Present DUSK

RESTRUNG 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & ZEN ZEN ZO

 

Saturday August 19 2017 at 3:45pm & 9pm 

 

Hit pause on your fast-paced hectic life, and take a moment to slow down, breath, and be present at DUSK

 

Restrung 2017 delivers an all-star line-up of more than 50 international, national and local artists to explore the spaces between genres – classical, electronica, folk, jazz, rock, pop, minimalism and more.

 

The three-day program includes The Viola Cloning Project and Zen Zen Zo’s DUSK, and Collusion and Queensland Ballet Academy’s Muscle Memory: Reflex.

 

Third in the series of Restrung festivals, the program offers a joyous explosion of strings-driven music, dance, theatre and art that challenges musical and artistic boundaries: a roller coaster ride through the arcane, the forbidden and the gorgeous.

 

 

 

DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

 

DUSK is a moving meditation, a danced haiku, an opportunity to inhabit the “space between” (day/night; sound/silence; movement/stillness; life/death)

 

a regenerative space of unfolding potential…

 

Performer, Travis Weiner talks about

DUSK, ZEN ZEN ZO & RICHARD GRANTHAM –

 

There are 2 aspects of the show itself I can tell you about.

 

I’ve performed in all of Lynne’s shows since I started with the company in 2014 and this is probably the simplest but the most physically and mentally demanding choreography I can remember. That’s partly because some of it is just hard work and partly because Richard’s original composition can’t be broken into beats of 8. When we dance to his music, which is also in parts just him jamming, we have no musical beat to keep us in sync with each other. So almost the entire show is us kinaesthetically responding to each other. It’s an exciting challenge.

 

From a creative perspective it’s more complicated to explain what’s unique about this show. We were talking about this yesterday and we all see Richard as this god-like maestro summoning us as otherworldly spirits. I would say he deserves such a role. He is a very talented musician, and I wouldn’t say so lightly. The music he is able to create with literally one instrument and a bunch of pedals at his feet is mind blowing. It’s like he takes the concept of a one man band and turns it into a one man orchestra.

 

Our challenge was to create a movement score that kept Richard in focus for the majority of the piece. After watching Richard create his music I don’t think we would be able to steal too much limelight if we tried. His performance is simply fascinating.

 

Working with Zen Zen Zo is always a challenging experience because of the nature and standard of the work, but also very rewarding. Anyone who has trained with the company knows how exhausting an experience it can be. When it comes to a show the bar is set even higher and understandably so. Sometimes we look at each other and go, “can we actually do this for that long?” And then we do. I would say to anyone it is worth coming to see Richard play, even if he was on stage alone. But also to anyone who missed Zen Zen Zo’s sold-out In the Company of Shadows season last year, here is a second chance to see the performers from that show take to the stage again.

 

 

In the Company of Shadows from info@zenzenzo.com on Vimeo.

 

Bring a wine or a green tea and enjoy an afternoon or evening of mindfulness in the presence of these extraordinary artists.

 

DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.

 

 

THU 17–SAT 19 AUGUST 2017

Two-Show Festival Pass (full)$110*

Two-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$100*

Three-Show Festival Pass (full)$150*

Three-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$135*

*An additional fee applies to each booking transaction. Single tickets $3 / Multiple tickets $6.

 

 

Composer: Richard Grantham


Directors/Choreographers: Lynne Bradley & Jamie Kendall


Lighting Design: Simon Woods


Design Consultant: Rachel Konyi


Costumes: Bill Haycock & Kaylee Gannaway


Performers: Richard Grantham with Jamie Kendall, Gina Tay Limpus, Aurora Liddle-Christie & Travis Weiner

 

 

 

19
Jun
15

Michelle Lamarca does Zen Zen Zo

 

 

 

You’ll remember Michelle Lamarca from her very saucy portrayal of Anita in West Side Story at Noosa Arts Theatre. She also won the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival’s Adjudicator’s Award last year.

 

 

Michelle REALLY wanted to do some “warrior training” with Brisbane Physical Theatre company, Zen Zen Zo. She travelled through peak hour traffic and FIRE to get to her first class…

 

 

michellelamarca_wss2

 

 

michellelamarca_wss1

 

I found out about Zen Zen Zo through email conversations with Margi Brown Ash, who had kindly given me the 2014 Adjudicator’s Award at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival! (Of course I’d hit her up for some advice on where to train in Brisbane).

 

As a performer I have always hit on the same problem and that is not feeling connected to my body on stage. Sometimes I feel uncoordinated, distant and most likely the one to make mistakes or get myself injured. I hadn’t heard of Zen Zen Zo but I had heard of the Japanese acting method of Suzuki through a performer friend and was interested to learn about this system too! Zen Zen Zo training is a combination of Suzuki Method, Viewpoints, Butoh and Composition.

 

zenzenzo_vikram_lizzieballinger

 

I contacted the company ASAP and it turns out the “limited” beginners classes are on my day off too – win! and at a reasonable time, so I can get the car from my partner when she finishes work and then hit the road to Brissy from Noosa.

 

My instructions were to bring water and a pair of socks. I carefully programmed my GPS, packed my dinner and was ready for my adventure. Not being aware of Brisbane peak hour traffic I arrived late in the city and pretty much got myself lost in the one way streets. And I mean lost! I missed the class. I felt defeated, upset and extremely pissed off. I emailed Lynne Bradley that night (the company director) apologising that I won’t be able to get to Brisbane in time and unfortunately will not be doing the classes. It wasn’t meant to be and I put the experience down to just that.. an experience. And maybe I should consider moving closer to the city.

 

Lynne replied the next day with a lovely email. She was impressed with my dedication to drive all that way and invited me to attend the advanced classes, which didn’t start until 7:30. This would give me plenty of time to arrive on time even if I did get lost! Advanced classes!!! On one condition: I don’t miss any classes and come with an open mind and socks.

 

I thought to myself I will swim through floods to get to these classes!

 

zenzenzo_zeitgeist
The following Monday I was prepared! My partner printed me a map with pictures and was by the phone with Google Maps to guide me. All was going to plan when suddenly I hit a traffic jam near the airport. I’m sure the cars ahead heard my swearing. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me! There was a grassfire dangerously coming across the road that I had to drive across. I had never seen a fire so big and followed the other cars through some of the flames! I laughed to myself.

 

I had actually driven through flames to get to these classes!

 

And it was well worth it! Zen Zen Zo’s The Actor’s Dojo is held at the Judith Wright Centre. I arrived with plenty of time to find a park and enough time to introduce myself to the other classmates who were warming up ready for their session.

 

 

I love acting classes of any sort! I love the people, the conversations, the clothing…

 

 

Artists need to be around fellow artists to feel normal, inspired and to have a sense of belonging.

 

 

The advanced classmates were very friendly and supportive, reassuring me that I would be fine and to just enjoy it. Lynne introduced me to the class and explained my situation and I felt a warm welcome from everyone. Some students have been studying for 11 years and were kind enough to share some tips with me. Most of it went over my head!

 

zen_training_lynnebradley

 

We started the class by taking off our shoes and socks to warm up around the space, stretching and moving. It felt quite normal to me and I started to feel safer. We paired up in a line and started what seemed like a dance with stomping. I tried to keep up with the other classmates.

 

I consider myself to be not too bad with fitness but after about 90 seconds I was completely covered in sweat and knackered! With the music and intensity I started to lose myself in the movements. I felt like a warrior. The energy around me was electric and I felt very inspired! And aware! Aware of my body and the space around me! BINGO!

 

Anyone interested in physical theatre or improving themselves has to give this training a go!

 

Coming from a martial arts background I noticed similarities to how the core is used and how important breathing is, and the centre of gravity. Like karate, I felt healthier and empowered! I noticed too that different exercises had different energies too. next we moved onto “viewpoints” Lynne asked anyone who wanted to get up to find a space on the floor , I didn’t hesitate (I drove through flames! I may as well give it my all!). I ran to a corner and stayed still not really knowing what I was doing. Then suddenly we had to change/move! Fast! So I ran to the other corner, again…still. A student ran full speed up to me face to face, staring me in the eyes! It should have been intimating but I decided not to think. But to just be.

 

The class spoke about tempo, spacial awareness and response.

 

It was explained to me that if you can train to look inwards at yourself but from an audience point of view (I forget the cool Japanese word for this), you can utilise your space to be more appealing and create a great performance.

 

I can see why artists love to practice at Zen Zen Zo. There was talk about shapes, stillness, energy.

 

A lot of it went over my head and a lot I felt I resonated with. every student was involved and passionate it was infectious! yes my mind was totally blown there is so much to learn in Zen Zen Zo! In only one lesson I felt confident as a performer and felt I haven’t even scratched the surface with what the body can do. An hour and a half went quickly and we all finished the class sitting in a circle talking about what we had learnt. I thanked Lynne and my classmates and drove home looking forward to the next lesson.

 

zenzenzo_medea_laurenjackson

 

zenzenzo_header

 

15
Nov
13

Zen Zen Zo moves to Brisbane Powerhouse in 2014

 

#howexcitement

 

After a long tenancy at the Old Museum Zen Zen Zo will be moving to the Brisbane Powerhouse as a Resident Company in 2014.

 

Powerhouse_1.114958

 

This provides a fantastic opportunity for the company to build new audiences and link up with other creative minds at one of Australia’s premium venues.

 

As always, the company will launch into the new year with their famous January intensive training program, Stomping Ground. 

 

Founder Lynne Bradley says, “Teaching Stomping Ground is one of the highlights of my year. Meeting so many fascinating artists from all around the country, and the world, is a wonderful way to start our year as a company. This year I’m even more excited than usual, because we’ll be holding the program in our new home – the Stores Studio at the Brisbane Powerhouse – a space of inspiration and creativity!”

 

Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart is also excited about the move. “We’re thrilled to have Zen Zen Zo resident at Brisbane Powerhouse” said Kris. “It makes sense given both Brisbane Powerhouse and Zen Zen Zo are about combining the old with the new, great storytelling and entertainment.

 

Zen Zen Zo’s office will also be based in the Powerhouse from January 2, 2014 – at this stage all contact details including phone and email remain the same.

 

Lynne teaching

02
Sep
13

Medea: the river runs backwards

 

MEDEA The River Runs Backwards

Zen Zen Zo

The Old Museum

19 August – 7 September

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

Past and present blur together, as Medea tries to reconcile the events of years gone by, and her own guilt, before she dies. Time and space shatter, as the echoes of Medea’s deeds reverberate through her life. How did someone so strong, so intelligent become so overwhelmed with the need for revenge? How can someone live on, when they have cut out their own heart?

 

 

Medea-Poster-Final

 

Euripides’ story of the vengeful murderess, Medea, is thousands of years old and our reception to it hasn’t changed; it’s as shocking as ever to process. Dramaturg Ian Lawson’s treatment of the classical text is the best version I’ve seen – clear and real – but having been Zen Zen Zoified, it’s lost a little of its power in the translation from page to stage.

See it for yourself this week, before it closes on September 7!

 

The ancient world of King Creon is created by ghostly columns and drapes in a spacious studio at the home of Zen Zen Zo, The Old Museum (Design by Christine Urquhart & Eleanor Gibson. Costume design by Julian Napier). We’re in the middle of it, while a maelstrom builds around us, the performers using every available space. Newest Resident Director, Drew de Kinderen, has reverted back to the way things used to be. No, not the ancient, but the old Zen Zen Zo, just as Michael Futcher and Helen Howard had begun to lead the company in a bold new direction that promised a perfect blend of the old and the new. Sure, it’s the physical and visceral site-specific production that Zen Zen Zo are known for, and thrilling for teachers and students, especially with a physical theatre workshop offered after every matinee performance, but for me it’s disappointing. The impact of the most recent work (of course I’m referring to 1001 Nights, Therese Raquin and Vikram and the Vampire) was wonderment followed by a solid punch in the guts and a quick glance at our own lives to consider whether or not we were on track.

 

medea_lauren

 

While Medea: The River Runs Backwards might make you think twice before killing off your ex’s new wife and the children you bore him, that’s the text talking, and not this underdone production. And it’s not underdone in any obvious way because there is plenty of well-trained and practiced chorus work, booming vocal work and intricate staging in and around those damn Corinthian poles. It’s just that somehow, it misses the mark.

 

I know many others, including Sam, vehemently disagree. Sam loved it, and was mightily impressed by every element. In fact, everything that I found wanting, he thought was spot on. But we agree that the immense talent of Lauren Jackson, who plays Medea, makes her the standout of this production. This is the performance that was perfectly contained, as opposed to underdone or OTT (can we bring back classical voice training now, please, Austraya?), and leaving us to wonder about this mysterious woman who has the gal to kill her own children. We never see the typical theatrical signs of a mad woman (darting of eyes, wringing of hands, tearing of hair), thank goodness, but we see her journey towards a state of madness that easily envelops her, drowns her – the river that runs backwards – and leaves us in the aftermath, on the mud banks by the wayside, along with everyone who thought they knew her, wondering WHAT THE?

 

While the soundscape, by Thomas Murphy is perfectly matched to the action, I somehow came away with a Katzenjammer song in my head (and visions of Madonna singing Like A Prayer, clad in Mad Maxified Desperately Seeking Susan corsetry, lace and leather. I know. Never mind)…

 

 

I love Lauren’s internal work, and I wonder if the chorus had rehearsed within her presence for longer, could a little of that have rubbed off on them? Yes, you can learn a lot of the craft of acting through osmosis. I also enjoyed the point of madness and horror reached by Jason, played by visitor, Eric Berryman (he’s off again after this production to study with Anne Bogart).

 

medea_laurenanderic

 

This 90-minute retelling of the age-old tragic tale is less than spectacular, but at the core of the work we still see the magnificent classical text, and some good training and creative talent, for which Zen Zen Zo are renowned. If you can get a ticket (most of the shows were sold out weeks ago), go see Medea The River Runs Backwards and make up your own mind.

 

 

01
Aug
13

The Lady of the House of Love

 

The Lady Of The House of Love

Presented by the Queensland Music Festival, Brisbane City Council and Metro Arts

Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre

26 July – 3 August 2013

 

Reviewed by Guy Frawley

 

Let’s just cut straight to the chase here, I’m about to give you roughly 500 words on why I think you should pull out your credit card, log onto the metro arts website and book yourself (and hopefully your friends) tickets to go and see The Lady of The House of Love. If you’re not in a reading mood however, let me just lead with the sentence below.

 

This show is a one hour reduction of utter professionalism that showcases everything I love about the creative process.

 

Inspired? Please, do yourself a favour and book yourself a ticket or two. Intrigued? Read on.

 

theladyofthehouseoflove

 

On Friday night I walked into Metro Arts with little to no idea of what I was about to witness, a basic level of Facebook stalking had educated me enough to know that the British author Angela Carter, in the form of her anthology The Bloody Chamber, had provided the source material for the evening. However, apart from this and the glam rock marketing photos, I was flying blind. Goth chic styling and a 70s horror literature pedigree alone isn’t something to sniff at, but Sandro Colarelli injects this performance with sufficient backbone to rib a second Victorian lace corset! (More on the corset later).

 

Walking into the theatre and taking my stage side seat, my curiosity was further piqued by the staging. At the same time monastic and lush, the simple down spotlight shining through the intricately carved wooden partition, and the dusting of rose petals across the naked stage began to set the scene. Set designer Josh McIntosh and Lighting designer Andrew Meadows really managed quite a lot with very little.

 

As the stage darkened and the first haunting musical notes began to sound, Colarelli emerged from behind the wooden screen and began to welcome us into his theatrical inner sanctum. The meaning of the partition itself seemed to warp throughout the show as many times as Colarelli, from altar, to boudoir screen to confessional partition. We were not met however by a priest offering benedictions, but by a siren of the gilded silver screen, wrapping her enchanted and undead talons around our very beings and dragging us into the magical realism of Angela Carter’s dark world.

 

A story told from two perspectives, that of a cunningly frail, un-dead nymphette and a naïve, young English soldier, Daniel Evans has done a really beautiful job adapting the script from Carter’s original prose. After seeing this show I tracked some sections of The Bloody Chamber and Evans has managed to translate the sumptuous usage of language and imagery that Carter seems to do so well.

 

Maybe it’s a product of his experience with the physical theatre company Zen Zen Zo, but Colarelli is a man who is in absolute control of every inch of his body for every second of his time on stage. A talent that makes his attempt to portray both of the previously mentioned characters a complete success. His vocal abilities were also an absolute delight to witness. The character and emotion he was able to convey, even whilst jumping from perspective to perspective in the blink of an eye, was truly enviable. That he was able to do all of this whilst constricted within a cinched corset made it all the more impressive.

 

I’ve always loved vampire fiction, my first real introduction being Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and after the disappointing failure of the Elton John penned musical Lestat I think she should have a word or two with Jake Diefenbach, who served as both composer and musical director. I doubt the creative team would be overly thrilled with me using the phrase ‘vampire musical’ anywhere here, but from what I saw on Friday, Diefenbach  would have been a far better fit than Elton John. His score was absolutely fantastic and you’d be a fool to leave the theatre, as I did, without purchasing yourself a copy of the soundtrack that’s available. I’ll be swinging by Metro Arts when I’m back in Brisbane later this week, and will be grabbing myself a copy as I haven’t been able to get the music out of my head!

 

 

I read an interview Colarelli had given just before opening and he mentioned how blessed he felt to be working with such an amazing team. It’s no wonder, because from what I saw it would appear as if every single person involved in the development, production, staging and performance of this piece is as talented in their own field as Colarelli is as a performer.

Now go and see this show! I just might see you there during my second time around.

 

 

28
Jul
13

1001 Nights

1001 Nights

QTC & Queensland Music Festival

In Association With Zen Zen Zo

Bille Brown Studio

18 – 28 July 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

stevenrooke_1001nights

Aladdin. Ali Baba. The names are as well-known as the stories behind them. They resonate down through the ages and across vast oceans. They whisper the promise of adventure, exoticism and romance, from their ancient roots among the shifting sands to the bedside of every child.

 

Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre joins traditional Persian musicians Pezhvak, for an evening of riveting storytelling, dance and song based around the Middle-Eastern magic of 1001 Nights. Adapted by Michael Futcher and Helen Howard, resident directors of Zen Zen Zo, this production blends together a storytelling troupe that weaves words to charm and delight.

 

Backed by the authentic sounds of traditional instruments including the oud, the dohol and the kamanche, this energetic and enchanting show embraces Zen Zen Zo’s legendary physicality.

 

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A simply shared, ingeniously sumptuous production, told in the style of Vikram and the Vampire, and showcasing the talents of Dan Crestini, Gavin Edwards, Steven Rooke, Isabella Tannock and Tina Torabi on stage, as well as the Pezhvak Traditional Music Ensemble, 1001 Nights is a treat for the senses…sans fragrance of the sandalwood mentioned on more than one occasion (I’m sure the budget didn’t stretch that far. Burning sandalwood oil is expensive!).

 

Against a sparse setting of sand and the semblance of a structure to serve as multiple settings, and utilising rich fabrics – brocade of silver and gold – for everything from tablecloth to flowing cloak to tailored coat, and oil drums, some pots and the power of our imaginations, the famous tales of the Arabian nights are shared with passion and the type of physical theatre and vocal mastery that we’ve come to expect from Zen Zen Zo. (Designer Bill Haycock and Lighting Designer Ben Hughes).

 

From the very first strains of Persian traditional music, and as the lights dim, we are already enraptured – snared – and ready to take the journey, to be transported to another time, another place; an exotic land of impossible dreams and intolerable violence in retaliation for offences that would have our contemporary crims out of irons after a short stint of leisure activities including improvisation, or studies of Shakespearean text.

 

Adapted by Michael Futcher and Helen Howard, and directed by Futcher, 1001 Nights suffers only from Zen Zen Zo’s indulgence in too many stories. It’s too long, perhaps by two or three tales. We are restless. We are enthralled, and enraptured, and restless. The stories are intriguing, the performances are A1 and very often the characters featured are, in turn, funny and infuriating. I wonder about what could be omitted; such an incredible wealth of material has already been so cleverly condensed. At times, in between tales, it’s the music that holds up the pace, but it’s so beautiful, we are forgiving of these pauses, when the actors appear to have to wait for the musicians, who momentarily, and quite rightly, claim centre stage for the opening of Act 2. (Musical Direction Phil Slade).

 

It’s funny and confusing. My favourite is The Little Hunchback. I listened to the podcast so I knew the story. I knew he wasn’t really dead. It was funny when he danced! The music and the voices are beautiful proper storytelling music and voices. When can we see it again? Poppy Eponine

 

genie_1001nights

We were warned that the Genie may be quite frightening, but Poppy wasn’t frightened. She likened the Genie to The Wizard of Oz, with his booming, reverberating voice and wicked face on a stick, held high above the ensemble by one of its members. “It’s a trick, a theatre trick.” When we talked about it she said, “Well, maybe it would have been frightening for a little kid.” Poppy is seven, so by “little” she means a child of three or four.

 

This is a strong, tight-knit ensemble, their collective vocal and physical talent is impressive, and with its stunning design and the addition of – truly magical – live traditional music, you would expect this production to enjoy a longer run. I just love what Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival, James Morrison, has to say in his notes about Futcher securing a run for this production during QMF. Morrison says there was no pitch, no story board; “he simply had Pezhvak play and said the words ‘1001 Nights’…I was instantly hooked and wanted to sit on a rug and hear the stories.”

 

Let’s hope 1001 Nights will be resurrected at some stage as a touring show. It would be a hit with secondary schools, if they ever had time to see it! Or perhaps it could be made available on the corporate circuit. I’m serious! This is the type of themed entertainment that we are being asked each year to create for major fundraising events! Teachers, parents and event managers, keep an ear to the ground, because if 1001 Nights comes around again you’d be foolish to miss it!

 

And if you’re very lucky, with no other plans this afternoon, you just might secure the last remaining tickets to the final performance today at 3pm.

 

AND just because I love it, and I couldn’t see any Pezhvak on YouTube, here’s an homage to the gorgeous (and hilarious) Bollywood moment!