Nick Skubij (Interview 36)

Nick Skubij is one of the artistic triumvirate that heads up the enormously successful shake and stir theatre company. Their name may be minimalist lower case but there’s nothing small-scale any more about this company that has been in business since only 2006. Its operations are compact – they work from a small office in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley and call no theatre space their own – but they’ve made a huge impact with the quality of their work, and the scale of reach throughout the state and now national touring circuit with their in-school work and their inventive, award-winning productions of classics.

I caught up with Nick via Skype – they’re in Maryborough tonight – as they approach the final leg of their  current national tour of the George Orwell classic, Animal Farm. In 2011 they took Statespeare beyond the state for the first time.  Nick has adapted Animal Farm for the stage – it premiered in Brisbane in mid-2011.  Michael Futcher has again directed the play which has seen the addition of a new cast member, Tim Dashwood. Next year they’re planning to show the rest of the country their other Orwell – 1984. Funding by Playing Australia (the only funding they’ve ever received) for three national and state-wide tours in three years is not a bad strike rate at all.  “We like being commercially independent,” Nick tells me. Continue reading “Nick Skubij (Interview 36)”

Review: Rumour Has It: 60 minutes inside Adele – The Little Red Company at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art

Image: Dylan Evans

Confession – until last year when I heard Naomi Price was appearing in a stand-up piece (Cheer the Fuck Up, Adele) for the Broadway Unplugged series at Stockholm Syndrome, I assumed Adele was a character she had created. Then (old fogey me) I found out there was a real Adele (Adele Laurie Blue Adkins) singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist – a hugely talented young Englishwoman. OK, intrigued now I listened to some of her music (thank you Spotify), checked out the considerable discography and the awards (my goodness and still so young) and then there was SKYFALL and the Best Song Oscar and … well, there you go.

So, I guess I have to thank Naomi Price for introducing me some time back to the fantastic (real-life) Adele. As I listened to Adele and her songs for the first time, what came back to me was the sound and spirit of some of the great rock, R&B and jazz divas of the past like Aretha and Janis and Reba – also first-name goddesses to me and many others.

And then, last night,  Ms Price (another talented, young Brit) brought her Adele to life in the cheeky, gutsy, quite stunningly good  Rumour Has It …  Devised by Naomi and collaborator Adam Brunes, with original musical arrangements by Jason McGregor, Michael Manikus and Ms Price herself, it’s now playing a sold out (or was close to last night), 3 night season at the Judith Wright Centre in Brisbane’s Brunswick Street. Continue reading “Review: Rumour Has It: 60 minutes inside Adele – The Little Red Company at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art”

Review: Food – Force Majeure and Belvoir with La Boite Theatre Company at The Roundhouse

Images: Kate Box and Emma Jackson | Supplied

Not a co-pro with the host company but a buy-in or presentation by La Boite Theatre Company as part of its 2013 Season, this production co-directed by Kate Champion and writer Steve Rodgers‘ FOOD is a delicious, light confection with some rewarding chewy bits. Buy-ins (or ‘brought ins’ as I heard this referred to during the week) of work made outside a producing company’s own house are contentious beasts for some – seen as filling a season spot with an import and taking away work from local artists. Others are delighted that companies provide theatre-goers with the opportunity to see excellent work from beyond in our ‘common-wealth of national Theatres’ (hat tip to the late, great Bille Brown who introduced me to this term and concept). Whatever your thinking on the matter (and I’m pretty partisan about this), there is no doubt that it’s a good thing to have the opportunity to see excellent work from outside your own patch from time to time. Continue reading “Review: Food – Force Majeure and Belvoir with La Boite Theatre Company at The Roundhouse”

Timothy Wynn (Interview 35)

Guess what frustrates many arts-workers living and working in regional Queensland, especially if their base of operations lies within a 2 hour driving radius of the capital where (arguably) the ‘important audiences’ lie?  You know where I’m going with this, right? I meet it all the time living as I do in Toowoomba where we tend to shrug off the apparent lack of interest from elsewhere i.e., the audiences from Brisbane, with the ‘water doesn’t flow uphill’ epithet. For those of you who don’t know the geography of SE Queensland, Toowoomba sits on the top of the Great Dividing Range less than a couple of hours from the state capital.

If you are a professional theatre maker, you do know when the work deserves a wider audience. However, unless a concerted effort is made to ‘tour’ it, then the work stays at home. Whilst sharing excellent work is undeniably valuable in profiling the group and the individual artists and creatives, I think it’s a false premise to assume audiences and colleagues in a capital city are needed to validate the work being made in the regions. As the region to the capital city so the capital city to a bigger capital city to the world etc. You know … the cringe thing again?

Last week I spoke about these things and a lot more with Timothy Wynn the Artistic Director of That Production Company which, after a couple of years in Brisbane, is now based in Ipswich – about 40 mins from the capital. Tim, along with professional partner Cassandra Ramsay is committed to working in his own back yard. Tim is currently directing a production of Lynn Nottage‘s Pulitzer Prize winning play RUINED(2007) with a cast of Africans now living in and around this regional city. It’s going to be an Australian premiere and it’s certainly note-worthy for Tim’s commitment to building work in and for his own community. Continue reading “Timothy Wynn (Interview 35)”