Trolley Boys by Alex Cullen at !Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre
Grimm Tales adapted by Carol Ann Duffy and dramatised by Tim Supple, Dir Michael Futcher, Queensland Theatre Company at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
Greenroom now tweets out a daily digest called Greenroom Asides of the tweets posted by us and by those we follow or ‘curate’ as Twitter has it. If you are on Twitter and follow Greenroom (you do, don’t you?) you will already have seen these as they flow in during the day; they contain some of the best theatre-related links you’ll find anywhere. You can also read them all gathered together here in an online newspaper or magazine format, complete with images. You might care to subscribe to Greenroom Asides if you don’t tweet …
The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art invites independent Queensland artists and companies to apply for Fresh Ground, their artist-in-residency program due to kick off in early to mid 2011. Successful applicants get $10,000 in space, expertise and equipment to develop, create and rehearse new projects across a range of genres. Katherine Lyall-Watson recently interviewed Ruth Hodgman, the Judy’s Director about the concept of Fresh Ground. Just remember to get your application in by December 3.
La Boite’s Season 2011 is looking most engaging. We especially like their website and the spooky, smoking fridge in their season trailer.
Continuing: Grimm Tales adapted by Carol Ann Duffy and dramatised by Tim Supple, Dir Michael Futcher, Queensland Theatre Company at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC Prydon Pairs a new Australian musical based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Vicki Millar, Dir Tim O’Connor, Harvest Rain Theatre (Interns) at Mina Parade Warehouse, Alderley
With something of a gulp, we notice the year ticking away, with Christmas a little over a month away. News right here was of a silly hack of our site during the week. It’s now fixed, thanks to the good guys at A2 Web Hosting (see their logo over on the side there). If you are looking for a web host for your own blog, you couldn’t do better in our humble opinion.
La Boite launches its Season 2011 on Monday – possibly the last cab off the rank in terms of announcements for next year’s annual seasons. It will be fascinating to see what David Berthold has planned for the year ahead.
We wrote last week about the Wasserstein Prize furore in the US. The outcry at no play’s being deemed worthy this year for the prize resulted in the panel’s decision to review their decision. There’s no news yet but, as with most of these things, there is more to this than meets the eye. There was a thoughtful follow-up interview by Adam Feldman for Time Out with one of the jurors, Victoria Bayley. It’s worth a read to get the other side of the picture.
Greenroom now tweets out a daily digest called Greenroom Asides of the tweets posted by us and those we follow. If you are on Twitter and follow Greenroom (you do, don’t you?) you will already have seen these as they flow in during the day; they contain some of the best theatre-related links you’ll find anywhere. You can also read them all gathered together here in an online newspaper or magazine format, complete with images. You might care to subscribe to Greenroom Asides if you don’t tweet …
Steven Tandy and I haven’t sat down to talk, really talk about theatre and acting and all of that stuff since we were young actors together. I imagine we did a lot of it back then, at the parties we all went to. You know, the kind of ‘finding yourself in the kitchen in the wee hours’ kind of actor talk. Since those days – what – nearly 40 years ago, there hasn’t been time or space to do it. We worked several productions together for the QTC in the early 1970s, and our last professional meet-up was in a production of Who Was Harry Larsen? by Frank Hardy for NETC in the mid-1980s. We haven’t really seen much of each other since. We’d be ships passing at opening nights, trading a few snippets of news, and conversation, but it wasn’t a good, old-fashioned talk. Our lives had meandered in different directions, and we’d rather lost touch as one does in this busy age, something I’ve often regretted. It’s been great to see this fine actor on stage again in Queensland over the last few years.
I first met Steven Tandy in his and my first foray as professional actors for Queensland Theatre Company and the Queensland Arts Council. In 1972, along with Grant Dodwell, we were cast in a huge, schools’ tour throughout Queensland. It featured Michael Boddy and Janet Dawson’s plays, The Badly Behaved Bunyip and The Man, the Spirit Fish and the Great Rainbow Serpent. We toured thousands of miles together and spent many hours talking about where our futures might take us. ‘I remember there was a lot of yoghurt,’ Steven notes drily. Our director, Margaret Bornhorst took very seriously what must have been a self-imposed objective to get her small acting company fit. Yogurt figured strongly as did Vogel bread, as I recall. We were all very new to health food and to the theatre business: Steven and Grant were fresh out of NIDA, and I’d just come back from nearly 4 years in London. Grant was in town recently with Gwen in Purgatory – a good excuse for a catchup, but again, it was a quick ‘How the hell are you?’ chat in the Roundhouse foyer between shows on the final Saturday.
A few weeks’ ago, Queensland Theatre Company had a barbecue to welcome the When the Rain Stops Falling company – Aussie themed. Steven and I were invited along, and so the Badly Behaved Bunyip team got together, albeit without Grant. It seemed that now was the time for that sit down and talk, so we did. It began under Bessie the bottle tree in the courtyard at 78 Montague Road and continued in the Company library when the rain started falling on the party and the cricket match. When we came up for air, it was nearly 5 o’clock. The rain had stopped, we hadn’t noticed, and we’d been talking for over 2 hours. What I did manage to write down and what I do recall of our conversation appears below; it’s just a flavour of that long afternoon, and it’s taken me this long to wrangle my notes and memories. ‘It’s been quite a journey,’ as Steven told me that afternoon. Continue reading “Steven Tandy (Interview 12)”
A long time ago now, it seems, when vinyl records were the thing, you could get regular Singles (one song to a side) as well as LPs (long play and lots of tracks). There were also EPs – extended play recordings, which usually had two or three singles to a side.
Well, of course, times and technology have changed as I was reminded a few years ago when I referred to someone’s being like ‘a cracked record’ and drawing blank stares from the largely sub-20 year olds in the group. These days the new ‘single’ is an iTunes download or a file-share on one of the other less-legal networks. From Tuesday this week, you could download single tracks of the Beatles from iTunes – showing my age, right?
What’s all this about? Well, I’m reminded by the variations and changes in recorded music presentations of a current fad in theatre right now – for single or EP performances of monologues. They’re not quite a one-act (though most of them are) and certainly not an LP – a ‘full-length’ play, though goodness knows, since the death of the three act play, it’s hard to know what a ‘full-length’ play is anymore. Time perhaps to dump that outworn phrase along with the ‘well-made play’ dodo that continues to lurk and squark somewhere in the room like Poe’s Raven.
2010 is the year of the monologue and the ‘EP’ in Brisbane. When is the last play you went to that had an interval?
Furious Angels by David Burton, directed by Travis Dowling, and currently playing at !Metro Arts Sue Benner theatre, is an EP but almost a Single – this one comes in at 60 minutes and not the more usual ’90 minutes without an interval’ type show we’re getting used to. Sighs of relief often accompany the news that there won’t be an interval – though the downside is no interval buzz, no chat about the show and, for management, no bar sales and fewer employment opportunities for casual staff – but I digress. Furious Angels has all the feeling to me of a sketch for a larger play out there, a short story, a chapter in a book or, perhaps, one part of a collage of one-person works – for Furious Angels provides the opportunity, as do all good monologues, for bravura acting. In this production, the play’s first, it’s for Daniel Mulvilhill who moves with ease from one character to another in Mr Burton’s piece set in a decaying mental institution somewhere in the 1930s.
The narrative structure of Furious Angels whilst overt – the narrator prefixes each episode as a ‘Chapter’ – is rather flimsy, though the theme is compelling. There are more than a few historical and literary hat-tips to, among other personages, Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare, and they work well. Mr Burton is one of our more promising writers: Lazarus Won’t Get Out of Bed and April’s Fool are two of his better known and more recent works. This one, an eerie fable about the bleakness and blackness of authoritarianism feels more like a dream or a mood piece than that ‘well-made play’ which, I am sure, it has no intentions of being, but it does signal a development in the direction of the writer’s style from the more structured form of his earlier works. It’s a big subject to tackle across 60 minutes, and Mr Burton has done well to encapsulate it in fragments via a teller of tales, a narrator (Dan) who brings the subject matter to life through a handful of the asylum’s characters (Dizzy, Dr Aintel, nurse Lenore and Will).
The delight in this kind of stage work is the marriage of text and actor’s body with all its transformative power in what is a largely empty space. Travis Dowling’s direction understands this, though I found some of the sound effects repetitious in their usage – grim moments are signalled again and again in the soundtrack. And speaking of current fads, do we always need soundscapes backing action? Just wondering …
The fine performance by Mr Mulvihill is what lingers in your mind after the show is down. I love watching actors at work, which is why I swatted aside my initial thought that Furious Angels could work just as well as a radio play. It’s up close and personal – direct audience address, though some of the narrator’s asides are a little self-conscious for my taste – and the running C-bomb gag is not so much undergrad as overdone. The built-in humour of Furious Angels text doesn’t need such obviousness, and Mulvihill’s charm and stage presence fill it out admirably.
Kudos to the entire production and design team which includes collaboration on set and costume from David Burton, co-producer Carley Commens and Travis Dowling. Kylie Morris is on form as always with her sound design, and Ben Hughes‘ top-knotch lighting design provides a brilliantly-lit platform in which characters are born and die, emerge and retreat in this fragmented fairy-tale.
It’s being a good year for independent theatre in Brisbane and the regions.
Furious Angels plays till Saturday 20th this week at !Metro Arts and at Empire Theatres (Toowoomba) on November 25-26.
Something unusual happened to me this month; I got work as an actor!
Coming to a new city is daunting. One has to re-establish oneself without any of the support networks (or fewer and smaller ones anyway) that one had in the old city. I have to go out and network. I have two problems with this: I don’t know how to network, and I have no idea how I managed to get known back in Brisbane anyway. So it’s been a slow hard slog and the two gigs were very welcome.
My two acting jobs arrived on the one day, one via my agent, one via a friend (part of my smaller and fewer networks.) The first was a 50-worder on Working Dog’s next film, tentatively titled 25. I’m sure every actor has thought when auditioning for a 50-worder, ‘Oh, why don’t they just go with a photo? They know I can act from my CV or showreel. Surely all they are after is a look.’ Well, Working Dog have heard our thoughts, I gather, and I got the job without an audition. Constrained by a confidentiality agreement, I cannot say more than that, not that I can tell you much more. It was a pleasant afternoon’s work with a good crew.
Incidentally, I got paid for that job within three weeks – superhuman speed compared with my other experiences.
The other job, which I got after the film but did before the film, was at a corporate function for Opera Australia. IMB were celebrating some 25 years of sponsorship (or some such) and the theme for the evening was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I, along with my friend Gavin Ingham, played a magic tree. I was downstairs and Gavin upstairs in the cocktail area. Corporate gigs are good when the crowd is moving, or you are; three jokes are enough to get you through the entire two hours. Here were mine: There were little dancing girls as fairies being guides to the guests. I would indicate one and say “That fairy there, her name’s Nuff. Fairy nuff.” Or I would keep very still until the guests were close, then spring into life wave my branches and say, “Don’t worry, my bark is worse than my bite.” Or as they went up the wooden stairs, I would say, “Be careful on those stairs, that used to be my mate Trevor.” Thanks to Anika Vilé and Opera Australia for the work – all part and parcel of the life of an actor. One of the reasons I became an actor was to avoid doing the same thing every day, and here was that life come to … well, life.
Being an actor often means one leads a double life: day job, and real job or however you want to phrase it. And then, there’s the fear that one’s day job may become the real job. And then what do you do?
Being an actor often means one leads a double life: day job, and real job or however you want to phrase it. And then, there’s the fear that one’s day job may become the real job. And then what do you do? This thought occurred to me at my other job – the one currently keeping a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food on my table. I work for Metro Trains Melbourne, the private company that run the metropolitan trains in the city. They have only been on the job for less than a year. Metro Trains have improved the service, so far as I can tell, but there is still a long way to go. I could go on about public transport but that perhaps is for another time and site.
The bosses held a meeting to keep employees informed on where Metro is at, and where they hope to go – all very good and useful, and, dare I say it, inspiring. The men and women who gave presentations were from all over the world with long CVs and a clear passion for their work. Yes, a passion for public transport and trains. It was quite infectious. All of a sudden I was considering my alternative life. I could work my way up in Metro, from Leading Station Assistant to – well just about anything. There is a wide variety of jobs on offer, actual career paths, promotions, structured pay rises, holiday pay. Creativity has its place here too – even in my present entry level job. It’s also a job I don’t have to think about after-hours. I do my work at work and leave it there. This is also attractive.
I don’t have to rush off to job interviews (or auditions) at odd hours and in odd places, at short notice, wondering what the hell do they want this time, I don’t have to pay for photos or voice reels – on my to-do list for the next two expensive weeks. I could go to theatre just to enjoy it. So what keeps me going?
Till next time, gentle readers,
Love and mercy,
Incidentally, I have started to hate the word passion. A beautiful useful word in itself, it is often used to excuse rudeness, ignorance and anger. It is also a meaningless buzzword in many advertisements:
I have also noticed among some arty types a snobbery, with the odd belief that only artists have passion. What a limited world view! My brother, a pilot, has a passion for flying. My grandfather, an engineer, had a passion for mathematics. I could go on. Let us stop misusing ‘passion’ and give it back its dignity and power.
This post is part of a series by guest blogger Nick Backstrom, a Brisbane actor and writer who is now based in Melbourne.