Theatre Will Eat Itself (Guest Contributor: Paul Osuch)

Did you know there was a get together of independent theatre Artistic Directors and General Managers last week at Flipside Circus? It was a bit of an old school invitation in … umm … email instead of Facebook but, nonetheless, it was sent around.

I went along because I had recently sent an email and Facebook message around asking people if there was a Brisbane Theatre Producers’ network I could tap into to talk to people about my current project, the Anywhere Theatre Festival. I received a number of responses about things that had happened in the past (and generally imploded). Then, completely unconnected, I received an email from Markwell Presents’ Stephen Maxwell about the event at Flipside Circus.

What happened at the event? Well, I’m not supposed to tell you, but we came up with a secret handshake, discussed how we would form a cartel that would limit any kind of funding going to any other company, and devised a strategy to steal everyone’s audiences.  Pity you weren’t there. Or, in reality, we had some lunchtime food and drink organised by Flipside Circus and Markwell Presents, had a chat to a mixture of people we had and hadn’t met before (or for a while) and then decided we should do this again on at least a quarterly basis.

The event got me thinking. In Brisbane theatre I think we are great at coming up with new ideas and starting new things. I think we are pretty shite at admitting someone else has come up with something great and joining in or simply sharing. It isn’t an original thought. You may argue it isn’t even an accurate thought. There are exceptions. However, after attending many forums, sessions run by visiting international artists, sessions run by funding bodies or festival organisers, I’d have to say it could be a reason why many of these events are woefully underattended. Or is it? Continue reading Theatre Will Eat Itself (Guest Contributor: Paul Osuch)

News and What’s On: this Week in Queensland Theatre November 15-21

From today, Greenroom will also report in its regular This Week in Queensland Theatre Monday post on theatre news from round the ridges and beyond. Contact us if you have a story or an angle you’d like to promote – in addition to productions you’d like to see featured on Greenroom’s front page calendar.

What’s On:

Check company websites for further details

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
  • Furious Angels by David Burton Dir Travis Dowling: !Metro Arts Independents at Sue Benner Theatre

In the News:

Thinking globally, acting locally This weekend and, from the international #2amt Twitter and website group of theatre-makers, came a Modest Proposal to create readings for the finalists of the Wendy Wasserstein Prize. Now, although most will have heard of US playwright Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006), we’d venture to suggest that most Australian playwrights won’t have heard of the Wasserstein Prize, which is open to female writers from the US and UK – and that is probably why it’s not known well here. However, this year, the TDF (Theatre Development Fund) jury, in its wisdom, decided that no play was worthy of the prize. Does this sound spookily family to the response in May this year from the panel deciding the NSW Premier’s Literary Prize for Drama? No play was deemed worthy then; that kicked up a flurry too, and rightly so. Here’s Performance Anxiety from The Australian at the time if you missed it. But, back to #2amt, who’ve responded creatively to the TDF Wasserstein Prize jury’s decision, and it’s very exciting.

2amt are suggesting that the 19 finalists for the Wasserstein receive a live-streamed reading of their works, and are calling on companies anywhere to assist. Already groups from the US, UK and Australia are committed. What about you and yours? Interested? If so, check out the post (hotlinked above) and playwright Michael Lew’s terrific response to the TDF Selection Panel on their decision.

Now, there may be some here who would fly the parochial flag and kick about none of the play’s being by an Australian writer. Balance that against thinking of this ‘modest proposal’ as the chance for an international production, as well as a great opportunity to link up with colleagues and share with audiences around the world. Providing support for female playwrights is a fine gesture too. And, bye the bye, live-streaming is perfect for play-readings, in our humble opinion.

… and in other news

You know about ATF (Anywhere Theatre Festival) right?  Headed by Paul Osuch, ATF is the first theatre festival to get around the lack of theatre venues in Brisbane by only allowing shows that don’t use them. Whilst it’s not coming to a recognised venue near you between 5-14 May 2011, look out for theatre anywhere at that time. Seen the look of their new website?

This week ATF have been working away steadily on the social networks investigating the idea of a local producers’ forum as an exchange of ideas. One response suggested Brisbane theatre-makers don’t like sharing their ideas. Really?

Finally, if you’re a Brisbane theatre-maker and haven’t got your application in to BITS yet – do it today!

Theatre here there and … anywhere: Paul Osuch (Interview 8)

The ways of social networking can mean that you get to ‘know’ a lot about someone … or at least what is posted about that someone online … long before you meet them.  And that meeting can be face to face or via the old-fashioned telephone call.

So it was that I got to know Paul Osuch before we ‘met’ via a video Skype call a week or so ago.  What I knew about Paul was that he was the founder of Jam and Bread Theatre Company, which, for lack of a venue went dark before it had even lit up.  You know the old saying about a door closing and a window opening?  Well, the Jam and Bread door slam has opened a window into a rather cool idea – the Anywhere Theatre Festival (ATF) planned for Brisbane in May 5-14, 2011.

I also wanted to talk with someone who’s tried and been unsuccessful in acquiring a performance space in Brisbane – what led eventually to Jam and Bread’s early demise.  Then there was the ATS and planning for another new festival in town, but I especially wanted to meet Paul to find out more about this online presence – someone who clearly has some big ideas, but whose name wasn’t especially familiar to me in theatre circles. We ended up having a wonderfully rambling conversation for about an hour. At the end of it (and I still haven’t met Paul face to face) I feel I do know him a whole lot better.  Those big ideas are taking root, and what he had to say about his experiences in Brisbane made for a fascinating conversation.

Apart from his producing and directing credentials, Paul is a playwright and script-writer. In company with other writer and actor friends including Stephen Vagg and Guy Edmonds, he began creating sketch comedy and then short plays in Brisbane at the Cement Box Theatre. It was at this time (1998-2002) that Vagg wrote what became a trilogy of works (All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, Friday Night Drinks and Dirty Caff) with Paul’s own Borderline Defamation Productions. ‘They all had a distinctly local flavour,’ he tells me. ‘For a start, no one had ever written about an infamous night club in Brisbane before this.’ With the introduction to directing, he also came to learn the importance of production and marketing.  ‘It was good to see that for the 20-somethings at the time, Brisbane stories were really successful in picking up a particular audience.’ I’m keen to find out more abut how and why that happened. Continue reading Theatre here there and … anywhere: Paul Osuch (Interview 8)