Review: The Lady of the House of Love – Queensland Music Festival, Brisbane City Council and Metro Arts – Sue Benner Theatre

You go away for a bit and, when you get home, find out from friends just how many good shows you’ve missed. It’s inevitable, I suppose; Winter is the busiest time of the theatre year in SE Queensland. The indies are out in full force right now joining the main-house and touring productions at QPAC – harbingers for the coming Brisbane Festival and its accompanying fringe events in early spring.

It’s not hard to miss a show or two in Brisbane these days. The range and general quality is impressive. Greenroom has missed a couple or come to them late in their season – no bad thing of course, although it does mean you have rather missed the bus when it comes to getting a review out in the usual time frame for such things. As a side note, I managed to catch the marvellous Venus in Fur from Queensland Theatre Company before it closed last week. The reviews were universally glowing, and deservedly so for David Ives‘ intellectual hijinks superbly directed by Andrea Moor and magnificently played by Libby Munro and Todd Macdonald. People are still talking about it; I don’t think they knew what had hit them. Plays like this confirm why we love theatre. As do productions like The Lady of the House of Love an equally beautifully realised fantasy but in another theatrical key altogether. I also came late to this production and I am so glad I did not miss it. Continue reading “Review: The Lady of the House of Love – Queensland Music Festival, Brisbane City Council and Metro Arts – Sue Benner Theatre”

Free Range 2011: Jo Thomas (Interview 22)

The last time I saw Jo Thomas was on stage a couple of months ago at the Darlinghurst Theatre in Sydney. She was on tour at the time with Jo&Co (her company’s) show Sometimes I Find That I Am Naked. That production is ‘resting’ currently as Jo gets stuck into something completely different at !Metro Arts month-long Free Range Festival in Brisbane. She and the Naked … team will be back on the road later this year as part of a national tour through the independent theatre champion Critical Stages.

I’m keen to hear what she will be doing as she takes time out from what is a successful tour for Jo&Co. A bit of well-earned R&R, perhaps? Perhaps Recreation, but not much Rest, it would seem from what she has planned for herself and what Free Range has planned for Jo and the other artists being incubated during the month of June.

Free Range is about giving artists time and space over an intensive period to develop their work. When I spoke with Jo it was early days for her and her collaborators – a brainstorming period. The project piece, which she has called Ukiyo-e: Tales From the Floating World ‘doesn’t yet exist,’ she tells me, and it’s very different in style from Sometimes I Find That I Am Naked, which she describes as ‘populist.’ Continue reading “Free Range 2011: Jo Thomas (Interview 22)”

Free Range 2011: Steven Mitchell Wright (Interview 21)

Risky, avant-garde and experimental are not words that frighten Steven Mitchell Wright, Artistic Director and founder of The Danger Ensemble; he relishes them. ‘I believe in the power of words and using them to say what we mean,’ and so is happy, in fact, completely unapologetic when using them to position his work as an artist. We talk briefly about why people reject labels – especially ones that appear to take such strong positions like avant-garde or experimental. He’s matter of fact and sweetly tactful. ‘I think it’s just that some people are afraid of being deemed something in case they limit themselves,’ he responds.

Steven’s C-V lists work as performer and creator with Brisbane’s Zen Zen Zo and Frank theatres. Whilst his artistic background lies in dance and theatre, he tells me he has been interested for a long time in the space where music and theatre meet – but not the way they do in musical theatre. He’s appeared at the Edinburgh Festival and directed Amanda Palmer‘s world-tour where her fans experienced a high-end, eclectic theatre show rather than the usual rock-venue presentations they were used to. ‘I’m interested not just in innovation, but in creating new audiences and new experiences for them.’ He’s emphatic about eschewing innovation for innovation’s sake, however. ‘I’m not interested in tack-on gimmicks. It is essential that theatre makers take the time to consider how audiences are going to receive their work. There’s so much influence now from the web-based world and work trans-media,’ he adds, ‘but if the work is about the technology, I’m not interested. There must be humanity at the core.’

Steven’s enthusiastic not only for the work being enabled by !Metro Arts, ‘who provide a place where we can create work we want to do and to investigate the format in which to present,’ but also the wider culture in the south-east of Queensland. ‘We’re in a strong place here,’ he says.  I ask him why. He cites generational issues – a lot of young people, strong leadership in the arts, a real feel that change is in the air. ‘It’s a place of opportunity,’ he adds, ‘and there’s a rejuvenated spirit about. People are attempting to create work with a bigger, more confident voice.’ He also talks about local artists getting increased exposure to other theatre practices. He mentions WTF! ‘We’re engaged in creating a strong, sustainable culture right now.’

But right right now, Steven’s got curatorial charge of  CROSS-STITCH: WITHOUT APOLOGY (all caps but I’m not shouting) which opens the Free Range 2011 Festival tonight. I ask about his vision for the work. Continue reading “Free Range 2011: Steven Mitchell Wright (Interview 21)”

Free Range 2011: !Metro Arts – to begin at the beginning …

With all the talk of free range and incubation models, it was probably inevitable that I started thinking of chicken and egg metaphors as I prepped to talk with Daniel Evans, Jo Thomas and Steven Mitchell Wright this week. All are involved with the 6th Free Range Festival which occupies nearly the whole of the month of June each year at !Metro Arts’ Edward Street, Brisbane home.

It’s going to be a busy barnyard from 3rd to 28th this year. As the press release notes about the Free Range program, it

will bring together an eclectic group of independent performance makers to seed new ideas and evolve new work through a challenging, intense and inspiring month-long program.

Dan Evans tells me more about the process of getting this stimulating and immersive experience up and running. Continue reading “Free Range 2011: !Metro Arts – to begin at the beginning …”

The Glorious Nosebleed: Monsters Appear at !Metro Arts (Allies)


Absurdity, time travel and mystery are set to drench the Sue Benner Theatre this April, when Monsters Appear present THE GLORIOUS NOSEBLEED.

‘THE GLORIOUS NOSEBLEED is an original theatre work which tells the tale of two adult? children and the extraordinary things that happen to them when they face grim circumstances’, says Benjamin Schostakowski, performer and co-deviser of the work.

Schostakowski and fellow co-devisor/performer Athalia Foo play strangers, a young boy and girl who find themselves trapped in a mysterious underground room. Their subterranean night is relayed through a fractured series of interconnected images and scenes. The audience pieces the production together to build their own understanding of the night’s occurrences ? one of course being the glorious nosebleed. This seemingly sinister duologue reveals the magical inside world of children’s creative minds, exploring time, entrapment, intrigue and escapism.

Monsters Appear is an emerging Brisbane independent theatre collective comprised of Benjamin Schostakowski, Athalia Foo and Nikki Taurau. The collective present new contemporary performance works that aim to provide a unique experience for their audiences. Their work melds together traditional theatrical devices and modern technologies. Monsters Appear employ visual stage images, illusion, projected images and minimal dialogue to play with space and time. With a zealous theatrical sensibility, they aim for the unexpected.

‘This production marks our opportunity as a collective to present our theatre work in a professional context. It’s devastatingly exciting for us as emerging Brisbane artists’ says Athalia Foo.

Tickets now on sale.

SEASON: 30 March ? 9 April 2011, Preview 29 March WHEN: Tuesdays – Saturdays, 7.30pm WHERE: Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts 109 Edward Street, Brisbane.

TICKETS: Adults $20/ Conc. $16/ Preview $12/ Group (10+) $12 Cheap Tuesdays: $12 (door sales only)

BOOKINGS: (07) 3002 7100 or