Production photography by Rupert Reid Photography.
Darkness edges the two figures who appear before us. The shadowy stage lights have crept up to wash the tiny downstage area with a yellow tinged late afternoon falling. They are hard to make out these two schoolkids with their bored skatepark slouching. The effort of peering seems to blur them more.
They will pull us, disturbed and fearful for them, into their fragile, adolescent lives in ninety minutes of engrossing theatre yet the playwright, director and cast of MOTH (atyp) conspire to be unreliable narrators. Claryssa and Sebastian will never really take shape. They will flutter just beyond our understanding and will beat their wings wildly to warn us away. At the end of the play, as these creations melt back into darkness and we emerge blinking into the light, we are slow and panicky in our anxiety for the young people around us and the world we are leaving them. Continue reading MOTH : FRAGILE ADOLESCENT LIVES EXPOSED IN DECLAN GREENE’S NEW PLAY→
This year, the Australian Theatre For Young aPeople (ATYP) has initiated an exciting new program – the Homeroom Series. The first in the series featured a thought provoking A Double Bill depicting the challenges that young people face in an increasingly complex and at times overwhelming world.
The two plays performed were British playwright Evan Placey’s GIRLS LIKE THAT, an ensemble piece for young women, and Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott’s MICHAEL SWORDFISH which was an encore season for young men which was originally written for, and performed by students from Newington College.
Both main characters are teenagers who are out of synch and different with their peers. This being the case their lives become increasingly difficult, to the point of being unbearable. Both go missing, and the guts of both plays are concerned with the anxiety that their disappearance causes, and the longing to bring them back to the herd and somehow make it up to them.
If INTERSECTION is any indication of the professionalism, focus and commitment of the next generation of performing artists then the art is in a pretty good state. From 15 -24 years, these nineteen actors have my complete admiration for their unwavering composure as they brought to life the 10 short plays in the 90 minute production. I attended a matinee … it was viciously hot; patrons were reluctantly and unavoidably noisily leaving because of the swelter; there was a somewhat drunken, very loud party going on outside and yet not one performer short- changed their audience.
Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) has a few generations of experience behind them and is well known for their facilitation and creation of new works. INTERSECTION is one such. ATYP supports a diverse range of Youth Theatre activities including the annual National Studio where they work with young and emerging writers for youth. Continue reading ATYP PRESENTS ‘INTERSECTION ‘ @ STUDIO 1→
“And that’s it. That’s the moment I realised. Never again is it gonna be like before.”
MOONCHILD by Julie Patey is a moving and funny new play exploring the relationships that shape us whether we are 13, 23, or 83 years old. Part space rave, part lift-off sequence, part coming of age story, the play revolves around quirky thirteen year old Moonchild, who dreams of outer space to escape the devastating loss of her best friend and the forces pulling her family apart.
Produced by we make theatre and presented as part of ATYP’s Cameo series, MOONCHILD brings together two of Australia’s most exciting young theatre makers, at either end of their generation, for a truly one of a kind theatrical experience.
The only solution to grief is to grieve. It’s as simple as that. You just have to grit your teeth and go through it.
You can try to bury it; to stow it away in the darkest cavities inside you, but grief grows thick and wet like moss in the dark.
You can try to ignore it, or pretend you don’t know it, but sooner or later it shows up on your doorstep, bags packed and intending on staying a while.
You can try to drown it, but you can be assured that the motherfucker will learn to swim.
The only way to learn this, is to have something to grieve for.
Funny, tender and deeply felt, DRIFT is an homage to young adulthood in all its guts as well as its glory. It is the follow up to Clark’s critically acclaimed Jennifer Forever, described by one critic as “such a brave and bold accomplishment” (Steve Zipper-Theatre Unzipped).
The fourth production by Two Peas, the indie theatre company who “rescued David Mamet’s Edmond” (Lisa Thatcher) and whose inaugural production We’re Bastards was described as “a great example of how the smaller theatre companies in Sydney are really knocking it out of the ball park” (Joy Minter).
DRIFT is the company’s third presentation of new Australian work.
July 20th to 30th, 7pm Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm Sunday 24th
PATRICE BALBINA’S CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH THE END OF THE WORLD is having a short run at the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) before transferring to Vancouver, Canada for a full season. The show has an important pedigree as it is the final chapter of the two-year international partnership between three theatres from Europe, two from Canada and ATYP, supported through the European Union’s Cultural Fund. Thematically exploring migration and its effects, BOOMERANG: Documents of Poverty of Hope has facilitated 6 co-productions and this final production was developed with international cast and creatives to draw their experience together. ATPY’s WAR CRIMES (July 2015) was also part of the project.
As the birth-given amber flame inside sputters towards its inexorable, inevitable fading, we older folk often turn reflective. Searching for a moral? Not really. If we are old shouldn’t we have that already? Meaning? Perhaps, but of what? The metaphysic? Surely that answer awaits us at the extinguishment. THE TROLLEYS, playing at the Australian Theatre for Young People, burns with a gentle, compelling glow as it softly illuminates a path to reflection for any audience, young or old.
In a dystopian future we are confronted initially with darkness. A figure clutching a waning orangey light in a jar moves towards us. As her light disappears, shockingly so does she. A new figure arrives to lovingly clear away the dust of the departed, then to scurry away. A motley, dirty crew of 6 children wake and cluster to become the protagonists of the story. They call themselves The Trolleys after the way each carries their meagre belongings. Their small society is self-sufficient with clear rules to keep them safe. But they know what happens when the light in their ever-present jar fails. Continue reading The Trolleys @ ATYP Studio 1→
With her current play THEN, playwright Yve Blake has tapped into the propensity that many of us have to look back, to reflect on how we used to be, before we became the people we are today.
Blake has tapped into this introspection in a major way. In late 2013 Blake created http://www.WhoWereWe.com/ an interactive website that asked people from around the globe to contribute their stories, videos, playlists and photos of how they saw themselves. The site is still on-going. So far people from over 154 cities around the world have contributed.
Dominica Duckworth is presenting her new stand-up comedy show KILL TONY ABBOTT (a stand up show, not a suggestion!) as part of this year’s Sydney Fringe Comedy Festival.
In a colourful and varied career so far Dominica has performed with the Australian Theatre For Young People, participated in the Caravan Slam, is a former Raw Comedy heats finalist and currently holds a day job as a high school English teacher.
American playwright Lisa D’Amour has described her play as being about ‘the opening up of the private self to the public self’.
This is a good ‘way in’ to appreciating this difficult, dense work if you decide to see DETROIT. The play’s biggest moments are when the characters unmask themselves from their public persona and reveal what is truly going on for them.
Two couples, Ben and Mary, and Sharon and Kenny, are living the American dream, setting up themselves in the new suburbia in downtown Detroit. The time period- circa the the nineteen sixties- signposted with the prevalence of Motown music in the soundscape. Continue reading Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit @ Eternity Playhouse→
A recent academic study conducted about the British Performing Arts (2011-2012) reported that only 38% of people working within the industry were women. This almost 2:1 ratio favoring men has been taken up and there is a momentum gathering worldwide for this gender imbalance to be redressed.
ATYP can be very proud of its record and THE LITTLE MERMAID: Not Suitable for Children cements its reputation for supporting young artists who might well become the vanguard of the equity battle. There are 23 young women in this show. Not all of whom will become professionals but they are the audiences and the benefactors of theatre into the next decades.
Starting from a pretty girlie topic: fairy stories, this production immerses the audience in an experiential rendering of the Hans Christian Anderson’s original, dark tale. The mermaid falls for the prince she meets when visiting land. She sacrifices all she knows but it is not enough. Director Danielle O’Keefe in her program notes, refers to the mermaid as an “ambitious, heroic, lost, lonely girl”. We meet 23 of them blended into the telling of the story. Continue reading The Little Mermaid→
To be chosen by others always makes one feel special. To be the soloist, on the team, a friend, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a representative. Being singled out is a gift of self-worth that even the most bashful or shy enjoys.But what if your special chosen status is beyond the realms of belief by others? Your best friend, chosen by you, has a strong spiritual faith and belief in God but struggles with believing your stories of alien abduction and the theory that your father was taken as well.
Lachlan Philpott’s latest play, THE CHOSEN, is a multi-layered and deceptively complex work that focuses on the isolated Freya, played by a perfectly cast Belinda Hodgson. Recently relocated with her mum (Chloe McKinnon) and younger brother, Tiddy (Kelty O’Shea) to Grove Grammar in Brisbane from a list of other places, including Andromeda, Freya has become very used to her status as the bullied outcast at school. Her raging skin condition, which she attempts to hide by wearing jumpers in summer, makes her an instant target for the ubiquitous bullying tribe. Continue reading Lachlan Philpott’s THE CHOSEN→
From time to time a new Australian production comes along that contains all the elements of great theatre – good writing, direction, acting and the accompanying creatives of lighting, sound, costume and set design.
SUGARLAND is all this and more. Playwrights Rachael Coopes and Wayne Blair spent two months in the Northern Territory top end town of Katherine from 2011 to research their new play that was commissioned by ATYP (Australian Theatre for Young People). Continue reading Sugarland→
David Gieselmann’s play, translated by David Tushingham and presented by Pantsguys, is absurdist black comedy at its best. It produces many laughs, numerous plot twists, some shocks and highlights some very unpleasant aspects of human behaviour.
A bored young couple, Sarah (Claire Lovering) and chaos researcher Ralf (Tim Reuben), invite Edith (Paige Gardiner) who works with Sarah and her architect husband Bastian (Garth Holcombe) for dinner and an evening of mind games and manipulation. They fail to provide dinner and order take away pizzas in one of the plays many clever comic moments.
Things take a dark turn when Sarah & Ralph claim they have killed their co-worker Mr Kolpert and put his body in a large trunk which features on the side of the stage. Did they really murder Mr Kolpert, or are they just carrying out a grim wind-up of their guests, especially Bastian, who comes to truly believe they are the callous murderers despite their urbane and witty chat?
Is the divide that has always existed between the generations growing greater and greater as advancements in technology make further and further inroads into our lives?
I think that it would be fair to say that popular opinion would very much answer this question in the affirmative.
One of Australia’s finest young playwrights, Lachlan Philpott, throws a different, brighter light on this whole issue with his new play, M.ROCK. The play’s romantic notion is that the universal love of music has the power to bridge the gap between the generations.
ATYP (Australian Theatre For Young People) deserves praise and recognition for their ongoing support for our young writers and actors, giving them an annual showcase called “The Voices Project”, which was successfully launched in 2011.
Hundreds of young writers, aged between 18 and 26 submit their work. Of these, 18 are chosen for a workshop at the Fresh Ink Writers’ Retreat at Bundanon. Twelve of these monologues have been published by Currency Press and ten of these are performed at ATYP’s Studio Theatre Under the Wharf.
This year’s theme for the seven-minute monologues is food, aptly named BITE ME. Accomplished director, Anthony Skuse, has given inspiration and life to these ten pieces, which blend into each other effortlessly, allowing the audience to save their applause until the end. The occasional transition has the actors using their gymnastic skills for a bit too long, unrelated to the texts. However, the use of the only real prop on stage, a table, is very effectively used – under it, on top of it, choreographed cleverly by Adele Jeffreys, movement coach.
Which is also what I am doing now writing this brief piece on British playwright David Harrower’s SWEET NOTHINGS. Harrower’s play is a smart, contemporary adaptation of Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler’s 1895 play LIEBELEI (FLIRTATION). Schnitzler, the playwright who inspired the movies EYES WIDE SHUT and THE BLUE ROOM, described his play, written when he was in his early thirties, as a, ‘touching tragicomedy’.
The play is on a similar theme to one of my all-time favourite films, Swiss fimmaker Claude Goretta’s THE LACEMAKER, and starring French actress, Isabella Huppert. Huppert, who shared a Sydney stage earlier this year with Cate Blanchett in a Jean Genet play, plays a young woman whose spirit is shaken when she is abandoned by a careless lover.
SWEET NOTHINGS opens with two party boys, Fritz and Theodore, in a boisterous mood, getting ready for a big night out. Lothario Fritz has been having an affair with a married woman which is threatening to be exposed. Theodore is trying to distract Fritz from his adulterous affair by inviting two women over, party girl Mitzi and her friend, Christine.
The women arrive, everybody gets plastered, the party gets more and more decadent, and everyone starts kissing everyone… Then, there is a knock on the door, a Gentleman arrives…
John Kachoyan’s production serves Harrower’s play well and he wins good performances from the cast.
Ensemble Studios graduate Matilda Ridgway gives a well measured, touching performance a Christine, a naïve, sweet natured young woman who falls for Fritz. Christine Mills impresses as the brash, outrageous, Mizi.
Graeme McRae and Owen Little shine as the dirty, rotten playboys, Fritz and Theodore. Alistair Wallace plays the Gentleman caller out for vengeance. We have to wait until Act 2 to see veteran star of stage and screen, Mark Lee, who impresses as Christine’s anxious father, Weiring, and Lucy Miller plays family friend, Katherina.
Kachoyan’s creative team enhance the production with a good work coming from Sophie Fletcher’s well detailed costume and set design, Marty Jamieson’s atmospheric score and Hartley Kemp’s sharp lighting design.
SWEET NOTHINGS is the final production of the year in the ATYP’s Under the Wharf program. Recommended, SWEET NOTHINGS, a co-production by pantsguys productions and Geraldine Timmins, opened at ATYP Studio 1, Pier 4/5 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, on Friday November 8 and runs until Saturday November 23, 2013.
The Australian Theatre for Young People’s (ATYP) enterprising Artistic Director Fraser Corfield has chosen well in presenting, and in this case directing, British playwright Anya Reiss’s debut play SPUR OF THE MOMENT, written when she was just seventeen years old. The play premiered at London’s Royal Court in 2010, directed by Jeremy Herrin, and is now having its Australian premiere season. Reiss, brought out by ATYP, was in the audience for opening night.
The talented young playwright throws in plenty of fuel to get her play firing. We are taken into the world of a struggling middle class family at a very tense time. Wife Vicky has just found out that her husband Nick has been having an affair with her work boss and is on the war path.
The Evans family are having trouble meeting their mortgage repayments. For this reason they have installed a lodger in the house, 21 year old University student Daniel. Their precocious daughter Delilah is about to turn thirteen, and is a handful. Even more so, she is showing signs that she quite fancies Daniel….
Corfield’s production is strong all round. Adrienn Lord’s set is cleverly set up with its open plan view. We- the audience-see into the main rooms in the family home, all well detailed,- the kitchen, the living room and Daniel and Delilah’s bedrooms. Whilst the main action takes place in one room, we get to see what other characters are doing- in their own time, so to speak…
The show features an impressive cast who each inhabit their characters well.
The talented young ATYP trained actors are aided by having two very experienced actors in the senior roles, including Felix Williamson, himself ATYP trained. as father Nick. Williamson delivers a relaxed, confident performance as the straightlaced, awkward, goofy, Nick. Zoe Carides plays his fraught, highly strung, hyper wife, Vicki.
Holly Fraser gives a strong performance in the main role as their precocious daughter Delilah, who is attempting to jump the transition from childhood to womanhood. Holly’s scenes with Joshua Brennan, impressive as lodger Daniel, represent some of the play’s highlights, at times very funny and at other times tender and sad.
Lucy Coleman impresses as Daniel’s girlfriend, Leonie, who flies in to stay with Daniel for a while, and is like the meat in the sandwich, caught up in the crossfire between Holly and Daniel.
Simone Cheuanghane as Emma G, Madeleine Clunies-Ross as Naomi and Antonio Lewin as Emma M are great fun as Holly’s high spirited, zany girlfriends.
Even if you just go to see this show on the spur of the moment, you won’t be disappointed. Recommended, Anya Reiss’s debut play opened at the ATYP Studio 1, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay on Friday August 30 and is playing until Saturday September 14, 2013.
Stories Like These production company, formed in 2008, is presenting its latest play FIREFACE in a co-production with atyp (Australian Theatre for Young People), whose venue under the Sydney Theatre Company, is both intimate and comfortable. Both companies use emerging and established professional actors as well as local and international playwrights.
FIREFACE introduces us to an alarmingly sad dysfunctional family struggling together through their dark and desperate journey.
German playwright Marius Von Mayenburg, who first presented this award-winning play in 1997, has delved boldly into the turmoil of adolescence, a brother and sister, Kurt and Olga, in love and inseparable, who do not want to grow up and become like their parents.
When Olga brings home her first boyfriend, Paul, Kurt’s obsession with his sister turns to anger. His favourite hobby, firebombing, takes a serious turn resulting in his face being burnt. The parents are seemingly unaware of the intensity of their children’s liaison, being somewhat distracted trying to save their own marriage.
Father lives through his newspapers, Mother is lonely for conversation, but feels quite at home undressing in front of Kurt, who is hopelessly entangled with his sister. Father does not relate to Kurt and dismisses his behaviour as “puberty”, favouring the company of Paul.
Olga gives up Paul, returns to Kurt, and the pair begin their downward spiral. They stop talking to their parents, choosing to eat dinner on the stairs.
There is some good humour in this dark story. The script moves quickly within its 94 short scenes. There is great sadness in the lack of communication, particularly for Mother, who tries so hard to get her son back. Lucy Miller is fabulous as Mother. She has the compassion, cynicism and sensuality which bring her character to life. James Lugton plays Father, the dry, introspective, frustrated engineer extremely well. Paul is played by the charismatic Ryan Bennett, refreshingly naïve, but perhaps lacking suitable responses at the end of the play.
Darcie Irwin-Simpson as Olga and Darcy Brown as Kurt, are superb as the tormented lead characters – reckless, sultry and withdrawn. Their fluid movements are beautifully orchestrated by director Luke Rogers and the sexual contact is subtle and full of love.
FIREFACE touches a deep chord in our fragility and provokes curiosity about human behaviour.
FIREFACE is playing from August 1 to 17 at atyp Studio 1, The Wharf, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.