October already!

September has been a terrific month for theatre in Queensland.  The biggest story was the Brisbane Festival with a wide array of local, national and international acts in town.  Then there was the Under the Radar Festival of fringe theatre – both put a spring in the step of Queensland in the south-east.  Closer to home, we launched Greenroom here on 1 September, and since then we’ve been thrilled at the welcoming response.  It proves to us the interest in and the need for a niche spot to focus on the work being done by professional and independent companies in Queensland.  We pull in reviews, interviews and commentary in the one spot.  Suddenly though … it’s October.

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Image @BrisbaneGirl

Wikipedia says October is actually the eighth month of the year in the old Roman calendar.  It’s also breast-cancer awareness month – who could miss Brisbane’s Story Bridge lit up pretty in pink?  Thanks to @BrisbaneGirl who was en route to the theatre when she snapped this image from a CityCat on the Brisbane River – great way to get there, and no parking worries!

October is also young adolescents’ month; popcorn popping month (really); orange month in Sweden (look it up yourself), Black Cat month (Halloween I suppose),  and Women’s Small Business Workplace Politics Awareness Month (you didn’t know about that now, did you?).

In the Australian theatre world,  October sits in the middle of a 3-month launch season for the coming year.  From late September through early November you can log on to websites and see what will be coming to theatres near you in 2010.  Smart brochures begin plopping into mailboxes around the place, and casual subscription sales staff swell the ranks of the employed around the country.

Apart from launches, October is still a pretty busy time on the theatre calendar.  Queensland Theatre Company celebrated the start of its 40th anniversary year on 1st October, the date of its first production of The Royal Hunt of the Sun with a reception hosted by the Governor of Queensland.  Both the Under the Radar Festival and the Brisbane Festival finish on October 3, while former Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company Robyn Nevin continues her fine, fine performance in Cate Blanchett‘s production of The Year of Magical Thinking for the Company at QPAC until 17th.  Don’t miss this one.

There are more season openings throughout the month: The Crucible (Queensland Theatre Company); Lazarus Won’t Get Out of Bed (AS Theatre); Cats (Empire Theatres); Les Liaisons Dangereuses (THAT Production Company); As You Like It (QSE) … to name a few.  Check the season dates and times by mousing over the calendar on Greenroom.  You can also subscribe to add what’s on and coming up to your desktop calendar or phone.

Applications for La Boite Theatre‘s innovative Indie 010 project will open on Monday October 5, the same day that Queensland Theatre Company launches its 2010 season.  La Boite will launch its season early in November, and there are lots of people keen to hear what AD David Berthold has in store for the new-look La Boite.

Epilogue:
Don’t forget, if your group wants to send in details of an upcoming production, an audition, or a launch, please contact us and we’ll do our best to assist.  And if you would like coverage of a production or would like to talk to us about your company, we’d love to hear from you.  This site is about helping the professional and independent theatre community, and enhancing the work being done throughout the state.  The image on this page is a screen-grab of our ‘poster wall’ on Greenroom right now.  It features companies and organisations with links to their home pages.  If you’d like to be added, send us your group’s logo and we’ll add it to the wall.

Do you have a Twitter account?  You should!  If you do, don’t forget to following us @greenroomQ for wider coverage of your work.  Remember Twitter gets the word out beyond the closed walls of Facebook – great as FB is!

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“Shut up, listen, and just do the work!” Kathryn Fray and 23rd Productions (Interview 1)

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It’s late morning, and I’m interviewing Kathryn Fray via Skype. The artistic director of the Brisbane-based independent theatre company 23rd Productions looks and sounds … well … almost too perky for someone who is in the middle of producing a brand new play.  She’s clearly busy; for a start her Facebook status has been showing ‘Living in the land of Pinter’ for a while now. The Pinter in question is, of course, the one and only, late and great Harold Pinter, British playwright and Nobel Prize winner. The play in question My Night With Harold is a new work, a team-written “massive challenge and wild experiment” she says, “which we were unsure we could pull off.  It was a great idea, but there was nothing really for a producer to hang anything on.”  That initial idea has already gone through a creative development process, and is now in the middle of rehearsals for its first full production.  Whether or not Kathryn and 23rd Productions pull it off will be known at the end of this week when My Night With Harold opens as part of the Under the Radar independent theatre festival within the wider orbit of the Brisbane Festival.  On opening night 19 September 23rd Productions will be very much front and centre on the city’s theatre radar. Continue reading “Shut up, listen, and just do the work!” Kathryn Fray and 23rd Productions (Interview 1)

On personal branding and being a business on two legs

This is one out of Groundling’s archives – May 2007 in fact – but it’s worth a face wash and a review. I’m gone from academe but I see the need more and more to ‘become your own mouthpiece’ as an freelance artist. Greenroom was established (in part) to introduce people to the power of digital networking.

You know how the old saying about mothers goes …. they’re sociologists, counsellors, tutors, managers, chauffeurs (add your own personal favourite). So it is these days that I find my role as a university lecturer diversifying in the oddest ways. Now this has probably got more to do with the nature of the discipline field … theatre, and preparing young artists for a professional role in the entertainment industry. Most of my classes are involved with training students for careers as actors. Yes, I teach and direct, but also (and for nearly 10 years now as the industry has changed its face) I’ve been training them to think about themselves and their work in a business-like way – empowering them to engage in what the economists like to call disintermediation and which, in the arts industry, means extracting yourself from the middle man and the control they can have over your work (aka agents of all kinds). The jury’s out on whether or not it’s a good thing to cut the painter entirely, and let’s face it, actors wouldn’t be actors if they didn’t have an agent to blame for most things.

Which brings me to something I’d never have thought about even 3 years ago (make that 5 7 now!) but which seems pretty important right now. I’m finding that I talk a lot more about the importance of establishing and taking care of your online-identity. Now this was not even vaguely on the horizon until a year or so ago, and nor was that ghastly ubiquitous term ‘branding’ … that was something stockmen did to cattle as I recall. Now it’s everywhere. Anyhow, it seems that personal branding is also something a start out professional needs to tackle. Want to know more? Try the discussion on a post from Michele Martin on the issue of online identities. There’s also a great slide stack from R. Todd Stephens on professional personal branding, and whilst I might find the term distasteful, the advice is sound.

There are some other fairly basic things that anyone in business or the public eye should consider: a professional-looking email address … ditto a voice mail message on the phone. It’s also smart to take care what appears on your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Embarrassing tweets, apps and messages under your name on any site may never go away. It’s also getting almost mandatory to consider a personal webspace or at very least an e-portfolio to promote your work.

The bottom line is that artists and creatives more and more these days act as producers and freelance agent-distributors of their own work. They need to start treating what they do as a business and to think of themselves as CEOs of their own companies. I coined the phrase a small business on two legs years ago, and it pretty much still holds up. The days of the disempowered ‘artiste’ are on the way out.