Fractal Theatre is Back! Brenna-Lee Cooney (Interview 9)

Brenna-Lee Cooney is telling me about the plans she has for the revivified Fractal Theatre, now based in Ipswich.  After some years of child-raising, teaching, a self-imposed break from theatre-creation and urged, she tells me with a snort, by her now grown-up children to ‘do something with your life,’ she’s energised and ready to tackle afresh one of the most challenging tasks any theatre maker has – that of producing and directing (and choreographing) a show from the ground up. I sense Brenna-Lee is not one to do things at half-pace and, as she speaks, my pen rushes to keep up.

Like most who’ve not done a day’s study of physics in their lives I’m interested to hear why ‘Fractal’ for a theatre company? I do know a bit about the relationship between physics and fractals, having read Gary Zukav’s wonderful ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters‘ many years ago; it’s still one of my favourite science books. But why ‘fractal’ for theatre, I ask? It turns out that it’s all about patterns. ‘I’m interested in the ever-repeating patterns of nature and history and pattern repetition in movement and music and, of course, in the poetry of text,’ Brenna-Lee explains.

She and Fractal have always been interested in creating theatre that blurs the boundaries between the forms, and Steven Berkoff‘s The Secret Love Life of Ophelia, which opens next month in its Australian premiere, continues the tradition begun when Fractal started in 1989.  At the time Brenna-Lee was studying at UQ; ‘Richard Fotheringham, then my lecturer, threw me the keys to the Avalon (theatre) and told me to do something over the Christmas break,’ she recalls.  She did, and a production of Lysistrata emerged.  A series of productions – some epic, some small, and all innovative followed over the years. There were classical Greek works, including a Butoh-inspired Oresteia led by Lynn Bradley, Ibsen’s Peer Gynt supported by the Norwegian Community, Wedekind’s Lulu, all with enormous casts. Continue reading Fractal Theatre is Back! Brenna-Lee Cooney (Interview 9)