All posts by Geoffrey Sykes

Over 30 professional theatre productions, as writer, producer or director, including La Mama Melbourne, Holden Street Theatre Adelaide, 707 Theatre Redfern Sydney, Tap Gallery Sydney, Teatrul Municipal Bacovia Bacau Romania, Inculise Bucharest Romania,People’s Theatre Sofia Bulgaria, Old Fitzroy Sydney, Art Gallery of NSW, Powerhouse Museum and National Gallery of Canberra. Video programs have been broadcast on ABC, SBS, Foxtel and New Zealand television, and screenings at NSW Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canberra, South Australia Art Gallery, S.H.Erwin Gallery, Holden Theatre Adelaide, Wollongong Art Gallery, Thirroul Excelsior, Project Gallery Wollongong, and other public venues. Commissions by Art Gallery of NSW. Sponsorships by Peabody Energy, IMB Bank, Lawrence Hargrave Centre, Anzac Commemorative Fund. Lecturer in media and communications at University of Western Sydney, University of Wollongong, Notre Dame University and University of New South Wales. Editor of Southern Semiotic Review journal.

ANVIL : AN EXCITING NEW AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL

On a cold mid-winter night in Gwynneville, an inner suburb of Wollongong, a major regional city of NSW, an uplifting and theatrically hot event occurred – the premiere of an Australian musical ANVIL written by South Coast creative arts teacher Stephen Goldrick. 

The premiere benefited from a long gestation of its 20 something songs by its writer, through folk festivals and concerts, starting with some kind of artistic epiphany in the Abercrombie Caves, where the bushranger Ralph Entwhistle and his “ribbon” band of followers from Bathurst held out against a formidable arrange of colonial military and police force. The show honours the fate and values of innumerable small players in Australia’s early white history, individuals faced with invidious decisions under the iron grip of British imperial power. 

The show is a surprisingly rich tapestry of music styles, including classical and modern folk, love ballads (“Seven Secrets”) blues (“Not Repeatedly Yours”) a rock gallows number (“Gates of Time”), opening and closing (“Beat the Drums”) anthems, Gilbert and Sullivan ditties, choric chant, improvisations and underscoring. The actual text of the final sentence of the bushrangers is accompanied by baroque harpiscope composition. All the music is a pleasure to hear.

A larrikin playfulness of acting style, that finally assumes a Brechtian non naturalist stance, allows the diversity of music and stagecraft. Some moments – such a hands fluttering from offstage as a comedy riff – are risky, but it all hangs in a light coherence, that treads deftly through a panoply of emotions and action – ranging from sentimental, romantic, authoritarian, comedic, and melodramatic. Continue reading ANVIL : AN EXCITING NEW AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL

HERE AFTER : A MASTERPIECE OF MODERN DANCE

HERE AFTER  is a finely woven tapestry of contemporary dance. It asks a lot of its ensemble of six dancers, who are on stage continuously for its hour length. Jennifer Horvath, Georgia Sekulla, Bree Timms, Abi Gasson and Karina Cruickshank were all accomplished and precise, with Maddie Tratt providing an additional and impressive solo.

The show however is a lot more than abstract patterns such as seems the case with much experimental dance. Various admirable elements – of lighting (Peter Rubie), sound, costume (Sally Andrews) and choreography – are tautly integrated around a cohesive sequence of life and death, bonded in an epic narrative of humanity responding to a life field beyond itself. The fluid variegated mix of innovative sometime original dance states range from the tribal and repetitive repetition of self-becoming or prostration of the start, to the ethereal operatic lyricism of the ending. The complex sound track by Paul Tinsley, consistently matched expressed emotions – even at maximum volume with human drama of “inner demons and angles” (program notes) it enhances, and does not substitute for, substance. Continue reading HERE AFTER : A MASTERPIECE OF MODERN DANCE