Posts Tagged ‘zen zen zo

11
Apr
18

Alchemy

 

Alchemy

Zen Zen Zo & Festival 2018

Southbank Cultural Forecourt

April 5 – 8 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

ALCHEMY is the fourth collaboration between renowned Australian composer/musician Richard Grantham and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre. ALCHEMY is an exploration of the ancient process of transforming base metal into gold. A potent metaphor for the Commonwealth Games, ALCHEMY celebrates the journey towards realizing our full potential, and the power of transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers along the path, weaving their way through the inspirational soundtrack, until they finally “spin out of nothingness scattering stars like dust” in the dramatic climax. This is a moving performance work that is a meditative homage to the long passage towards greatness.

 

The highlight of Brisbane’s Festival 2018 – a performing arts program staged at Southbank Cultural Forecourt to coincide with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – was Alchemy, a little show with a lasting impact, bringing butoh back to Brisbane.

 

Zen Zen Zo’s ALCHEMY brings our imagination and our senses to life, melding startlingly original live music – a living, breathing, beating-heart score – and ancient movement to stir our souls, light our hearts and transform our view of ourselves in the world.

 

 

Alchemy is a stunning sensory contemporary performance showcasing Zen Zen Zo’s unique brand of movement and original live music to create a world in which audiences feel free to lose themselves in wonder, and linger in a soulful, joyful experience long after the lights have gone down.

 

Undergoing some transformation themselves, the company has focused on the training arm of the business for a number of years, and also on developing new projects including taking to New Zealand for the first time, their renowned rigorous actor training residency, Stomping Ground, and reconfiguring their popular internship program for inclusion in the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts)

 

This production boasts a current student of the course and two graduates from the inaugural year in 2017 (and this review is written by another!), further testament to Lynne Bradley’s proven track record of training and mentoring multi-skilled performing artists of the highest calibre in this country and overseas. 

 

USC would do well to start shouting about their Masters courses in Performing Arts and Creative Writing

 

 

Alchemy sees a continuation of the collaborative relationship between Zen Zen Zo and composer/musician, Richard Grantham, and brings on board another couple of gifted Australian composers in Iain Grandage (When Time Stops, With Love and Fury, The Rabbits, The Secret River) and the Sunshine Coast’s Joshua Curtis.

 

While DUSK had a festival audience entranced during its meditative moments, Alchemy lures with more potent force an entirely new crowd to its cross-cultural open-air experience, fusing traditional butoh and contemporary classical music by way of an original composition, and a compelling performance by Curtis.

 

With the addition of Grantham’s viola crying and lilting and lifting its exquisite voice, the bold essence of this work takes us beyond ordinary and into ecstasy before we’re released and dropped gently back into a more contemplative place. Incredibly sensual and cinematic in some of its transitions, the music resulting from this meeting of minds is a truly evocative gift. Even re-reading, it sounds as if I’m overstating the fact…until you’ve heard it. And you’ve not heard anything like it since the pairing of Aaron Hopper and Kacey Patrick-Bare AKA Stringmansassy (Aaron’s stunning solo album is available on iTunes).

 

 

But first, without a sound, other than the murmurs of the audience members as they – the children first, always the children first – look up to take in white painted performers in lush costumes of red and silver layered robes (designed by Bill Haycock) and red full-circle skirts beneath (designed by Kaylee Gannaway, who very kindly made me a black one for opening nights…and for twirling), the performers, elegant and other-worldly, slow-walk to take up positions against the city lights and the ever-changing Brisbane River.

 

While this is a perfectly picturesque backdrop for a 20-minute public performance as part of a larger event, the open-air venue is less than ideal. Performance spaces placed too closely together left techies with little control over the sound bleeding from multiple stages, resulting in competing productions rather than a program of complementary and perfectly timed events to be seen and appreciated as separate entities.

 

With so many years of successful Brisbane Festival outdoor staging inside the same perimeter, you’d think there’d be enough experience on the ground to avoid any rookie errors. But the opening night performance was unable to go ahead due to the sound from the nearby Orbit Stage drowning out Alchemy’s soundtrack and thus, the performers’ cues, and adding insult to injury, show times throughout the weekend were continuously updated in a last-ditch effort to solve the problem. It’s actually amazing that anyone at all found themselves in the right place at the right time to experience Alchemy.

 

If you missed it (or if you saw it and loved it), get onto the company’s Facebook page or send an email and demand its return. There’s nothing quite like a return season by popular demand! While you’re at it, demand that it also comes to Ocean Street and NOOSA alive! (The only footage available for the moment is embedded below, a sneak peek at rehearsal, very brightly lit!).

 

It’s interesting to note that during the process, a question arose around the “pop-up” nature of the work, with the assumption perhaps that a public performance would be (should be?) light and funny. Hmmm… The company’s Artistic Director and director of this production, Lynne Bradley, responded, “We do do comedy, but everything we do is attempting to dig deeper, not flit across the surface of life.”

 

Indeed, the performers resist flitting and move fluidly, like liquid gold, with Gina Limpus contributing warm vocal harmonies to complement Curtis’s early melody before joining other accomplished physical performers, Travis Wesley and Jamie Kendall, in an extended sequence of the fluttering (fluttering being vastly different to flitting), floating, falling, rising and twirling that had us entranced during DUSK, as well as sharper, more angular and deeply grounded gesture. Limpus is captivating and not just because she’s front and centre, holds the audience gaze with ease.

 

WE COME SPINNING OUT OF NOTHINGNESS

SCATTERING STARS

LIKE DUST.

RUMI.

 

Zen Zen Zo’s signature performance style begs us to respond emotionally rather than letting us off the hook with an easy narrative. When asked about this type of very visceral contemporary performance, we’re likely to respond with “It was beautiful!” or “It was amazing!” or “It was so moving…” without being able to explain exactly what it was about. The intention is not to offer just one hero’s story with its happy ending but to inspire and slightly – or deeply – unsettle, urging us to look inwards and to consider our own stories, recognising which of those are limiting or damaging, and which will help us not only to survive in this world of overload, but to thrive and find our way to gold. 

 

 

Images by XS Entertainment

#iPhoneonly

 

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11
Jan
18

Mamma Mia!

 

Mamma Mia!

Louise Withers, Linda Bewick & Michael Coppel Entertainment

QPAC Lyric Theatre

January 28 – February 4 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

There’s not a better night out in Brisbane to begin the year, especially for mothers and daughters, or a gaggle of girlfriends, than Mamma Mia!

 

A celebration of love, laughter, family and friendship, MAMMA MIA! brings the fun and joy the world needs right now. Set on a Greek island paradise and inspired by the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs, writer Catherine Johnson’s heart-warming tale centres around Sophie, a young bride-to-be. On the eve of her wedding, Sophie’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

 

 

Australia hasn’t seen Mamma Mia! since 2001, when Natalie O’Donnell, Donna in this production, played Sophie. How strange it must be, to be singing Slipping Through My Fingers instead of stepping into a wedding gown during it. O’Donnell is one of the highlights of this production, with a beautiful soulful musical theatre voice and the acting chops to match. She’s a delight, and so is Sarah Morrison (Sophie), whom we remember fondly from Queensland Theatre’s Ladies In Black. Perfectly cast as mother and daughter, there is genuine affection between them. Poppy had asked me before the show whether or not I’d cry during this scene, when mother helps daughter prepare for her wedding day and imminent departure from the idyllic Greek island she’s always called home, and I told her I didn’t know, it would depend on the delivery. That’s a standard response, but it’s not always entirely true. With nothing to fault in the delivery, others might have shed a tear, but there are times when it’s hard to take off the reviewer hat and stay fully immersed in the story, suspending disbelief rather than keeping some distance from the action and emotion. It’s a safe place to be, but not a very vulnerable one, and so I’ve had to admit that this scene didn’t move me to tears after all. What did though, was O’Donnell’s gritty and bitterly accepting reading of The Winner Takes It All. With such a basic book, it’s ultimately up to the actors to sell every moment in a jukebox show and with one exception (not their fault that the opening of the second act was likely staged under the influence of ABBA era hallucinogenic drugs…other likely explanations follow, see below), this stellar cast nails it, earning in turn, our affection, and fuelling our hopes that each of them (and by association and the magic of theatre, that we too) will see their (our) dreams fulfilled.

 

It’s worth noting, at least for other performing artists, directors and obsessors of the genre, that on opening night at least, the gentle, whimsical song that opens the show (I Have A Dream), didn’t particularly serve the show or Sophie as well as the following upbeat number did. (And look, other than to set the scene for Jesus Christ Superstar, do we ever need an overture anymore? Really?). The real start of the show, Thank You For the Music, saw Morrison light up, and leap into brilliant, connected and wholehearted storytelling mode.

 

 

Mamma Mia! – like so many of the jukebox blockbusters – is a perfectly polished production, one of the “precision musicals”, that simply can’t fail, with a spectacularly fun score comprising entirely of ABBA songs written by Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus (and some with Stig Anderson), a tight and light little book written by Catherine Johnson, a beautifully designed and functional set (Linda Bewick), and a stellar cast, featuring O’Donnell and Morrison, Alicia Gardner (a hysterical Rosie), Jayde Westaby (a fabulously sexy Tanya, making Does Your Mother Know That You’re Out one of the showstoppers of the year, closely followed by the high impact full company Act 1 finale Voulez-Vous), the wonderful possible fathers – each of them a class act – Ian Stenlake (Sam), Phillip Lowe (Harry) and Josef Ber (Bill), and Stephen Mahy, an undeniably gorgeous and sensitive Sky, however; the jury is still out on whether or not he was the perfect choice for this role – perhaps it’s just the musical theatre tables turned on a secondary male role (rather than a typically flimsily written female role) getting through to the final edit without being further developed, but it seemed as though Mahy never got his moment to really shine. Did I miss it? Unlikely, with a vantage point from the second row, which I don’t recommend actually, unless you’re into counting abs and inhaling additional haze.

 

The supporting cast is terrific, comprising Monique Salle (Ali), Jessica Di Costa (Lisa), Sam Hooper (as Pepper he’s a standout) and Alex Gibson-Giorgio (Eddie). A strong ensemble brings to life the people of the neighbourhood.

 

 

Donna’s taverna is a little too pristine to be the run-down setting demanded by the story, but Bewick can be forgiven for bringing such beauty and functionality together. Transitions happen seamlessly, largely due to the multi-talented ensemble moving things about, helping the pace to race along. At least until we come to the awkward and clumsily choreographed Act 2 opening number, which for some reason is played out as if Fruma Sarah has visited from beyond the grave to join Dairakudakan’s Daiichiro, and Zen Zen Zo in their butoh bends and twirls around a double bed in the hope of scoring a cameo in The Greatest Showman… Whose nightmare is this?! What was it that Director, Gary Young (Resident Director Jacinta John), was thinking in the staging of this piece? Was it

 

  1. the writers’ work is sacred and cannot be changed
  2. the fine print states that the writers’ work is sacred and cannot be changed
  3. cutting it will mean we see less of the chorus and require the running time to be amended
  4. every musical needs a dream sequence (even Rocky had a montage)

 

It’s completely at odds with the overall look and feel of this production, but if we can move beyond it (and we must!), Young’s direction hits every other mark, and Tom Hodgson’s choreography (Resident Choreographer Danielle Bilios) is otherwise cute and fun and funky.

 

 

MD Michael Azzopardi leads a bright band, diving into the score as if it’s the playlist to the party of the year, which was the claim after all! And having taken an evening off from Woodford Folk Festival to attend opening night, we’d have to agree. We can never celebrate enough, the love, laughter, family and friendship that makes every ABBA song at any given moment still a favourite of someone’s, somewhere in the world, and Mamma Mia! all over the world, an unashamedly shiny sequinned and spandex’d smash hit!

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.

 

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.

 

 




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