NOLI ME TANGERE is a new Australian musical based on the novel, of the same name, by iconic Filipino nationalist and hero Dr. José Rizal, that inspired a nation during the tail end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines. ‘The Noli’ (as it is called in the Philippines) was the “first major artistic expression of Asian defiance to European colonialism” and is now widely known as the great novel of the Philippines.
As we are at Riverside Theatres quite often and have been watching how many people pick up the flyer for the show to discuss it with curiosity and interest we wanted to bring our readers some insights into a new grand musical. The Guide had the chance to put some questions to Miguel Castro who plays Ibarra and Susana Downes, playing Maria Clara. Continue reading NOLI ME TANGERE – INTERVIEW WITH ‘IBARRA’ AND ‘MARIA CLARA’→
This is the provocative question at the heart of Jane e Thompson’s play FIERCE which tracks the career of Suzie Flack, an extraordinarily talented Australian Rules Football player who achieves her lifelong dream of being drafted to play alongside her male counterparts in the AFL. This raw but imaginative play explores the impact of this success on Flack and on her family, her relationships, her team and the sport as a whole.
The Guide had the opportunity to ask some questions of Lauren Richardson who plays Suzie.
SAG: So were you fierce before you started work on the role? Is that drew you into the project or have you had to learn fierceness in some way?
LAUREN: I don’t think I would have described myself as Fierce before starting this role. I don’t think women are encouraged socially or culturally to take up space, stand their ground, or be heard fully without apology.
So it has definitely been a learning process. Finding the character’s physicality really helped, the ease with which she takes up space. And training and getting physically really fit and strong makes you feel like a bad ass too so that helps.
SAG: I gather it’s been a very physically demanding rehearsal period with boxing and AFL included, what new skills have you been working on?
LAUREN: Yes, boxing has been the main one as we see Suzie boxing in the play, so I thought I better work out what I’m doing. I’ve got a brilliant coach and to my own surprise I’ve fallen completely in love with it. Who knows maybe next I’ll be getting in the ring?
We also train together as a cast at Spectrum Fitness who sponsor us and absolutely flog us in our sessions. It’s been great bonding for us because nothing builds camaraderie quicker that sweating it up and suffering through a tough session. Then the boys and I usually go for a kick before rehearsals.
SAG: Your character must be extremely emotionally resilient too, where does that strength in her come from?
LAUREN: The biggest influence in Suzie’s life is her Dad. He was once an accomplished footballer himself so footy is in her blood and it was her Dad that first taught her to kick out in the backyard at 3 years old. So Suzie’s love of the game is one of the ways her connection with her Father manifests.
But her single mindedness to achieve her dream, has meant her life is all about training and playing and not much else. So the way she interacts with others and the world more broadly beyond football has definitely been compromised. Despite everything she goes through she never gives up fighting and that trait most definitely comes from her Dad.
SAG: The Old Fitz is a pretty intimate venue if male aggression is disconcerting should the front rows be avoided? How full on is it?
LAUREN: Front row is great! Up close to all the action. The lovely thing about the play is there’s wonderful contrast, so there are scenes that are physically dynamic, violent or fast. But then also more quiet, intimate, still moments so the audience will get the chance to breathe.
SAG: Do you think there will be a gendered take-away in the audiences or are you expecting some kind of solidarity of response?
LAUREN: Not really, I feel like the play prompts questions for the audience and I feel like there will be a multitude of responses to it.
But however they feel, we want the audience to experience some of the passion and thrill you get at the footy so I hope we manage to excite them. We very much intend to!
That sounds like front rows and a beer for me. Best wishes for a successful season and I am really looking forward to the show.
Sugary Rum Productions is about to present the Australian Premiere of JESS AND JOE FOREVER as part of 25a at Belvoir Downstairs.
Meet Jess and Joe. They want to tell you their story. Joe is Norfolk born and bred and wears wellies. Jess holidays there with her au pair and likes to sneak Spam behind the bus stop. This is a story of growing up, fitting in (or not), boys, girls, secrets, and maybe even love, but most of all, it’s about friendship. Spanning several summer holidays, Jess and Joe Forever is an unusual coming of age tale that explores what it means to belong somewhere, if you can really belong anywhere.
The Guide had the chance to speak with director Shaun Rennie as his cast and crew head into bump-in and production week.
SAG: Very excited to see this play … so it’s country boy meets city girl? How does this story unfold?
SHAUN: Why I love this play is because it sets up binaries. It sets up storytelling tropes that we all know: boy meets girl; country kid meets city kid; rich kid-poor kid. Jess and Joe both meet each over a series of summers in Norfolk where Jess is on her holidays and Joe lives there full time. So they develop this friendship over the course of their ‘tweens’, their adolescence essentially.
It’s an intriguing title so The Guide reached out to the co-creators of DELTA SIERRA JULIET to get more of an idea about the production. We had the chance to send through some questions to Jackson Used who with Darcy Green (also directing) and Elliot Vella created the show when it first appeared as part of the NIDA Directors’ and Designers’ Graduating Productions.
SAG: The name of the play is obviously a call sign, what’s going here? JACKSON: Delta Sierra Juliet refers to the callsign of the Cessna 182L light aircraft that Frederick Valentich was flying when he disappeared in 1978. We found a transcript of the conversation between Valentich and the Melbourne Air Traffic Control Tower right at the beginning of our creative process, which is genuinely spooky. Delta Sierra Juliet felt obscure and mysterious, almost like you were reading code. Continue reading DELTA SIERRA JULIET EXPLAINED. INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF THE CO-CREATORS→
The Sydney premiere of THE MOORS by Jen Silverman and directed by Kate Gaul, looms darkly through the fog before its opening to previews on February 7.
After being lured by mysterious letters, Emilie takes the position of governess in a household on the forbidding moors. Upon arriving, she finds two sisters – the stern and domineering Agatha, and the needy and flighty Hudley – a dog, and a glowering maid who isn’t always who or what she seems. Emilie’s arrival sets this odd assembly on a strange and increasingly bizarre path.
Inspired by the lives of the Brontë sisters, THE MOORS is a black comedy about love, desperation, and the way women are seen.
We had the opportunity to annoy cast member Brielle Flynn, who plays the hapless Emilie, while she was fog-deep in production week.
SAG: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. So, there are 4 women and a dog in the cast? I’m assuming The Moors passes the Bechdel test?
In a rare treat for our readers, Sydney Arts Guide was invited into the rehearsal room for the first full run-through of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, produced by Packemin and directed by Neil Gooding. Escorted by the disarmingly chatty and vibrant Brittanie Shipway, who plays Mary Magdalene, assisted by the completely charming Toby Francis, taking on the role of Judas, I had a production desk seat for a thrilling evening of unburnished performance excellence from the full cast of nearly 70.
Flouro lights above, only a piano, bass and drums, no mics, a no-set flat floor and a Green Room in the carpark, not to mention a Quidditch T Shirt in the crowd, the noise and pre-rehearsal hubbub hit a peak with a whole cast warm up to Calvin Harris’ ‘We’ll Be Coming Back’. Then that mysterious thing happened with one bar … just one bar … of an electric guitar wail as an ensemble of superior focus transmogrified the place and time. Continue reading JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. REHEARSAL VISIT AND INTERVIEW WITH MARY→
THE WOLVES had a sell out season last year (SAG Review) and is making a welcome return to a new venue. A Pulitzer Prize short-listed play by Sarah DeLappe the production is again directed by Jessica Arthur.
Nine young women are members of a soccer team and over a season the audience will get to know each, their drive and weaknesses as they bond as a team. Michelle Ny is reprising her role as #14 and we had the chance to speak with her before the show moves into production week.
SAG: Thank you so much for your time. I gather it’s your lunch break so special thanks on that. You must be pretty busy.
For Mardi Gras 2019, Shaun Parker & Company will present the world premiere of KING, an international music-dance collaboration between award-winning Australian director/choreographer Shaun Parker and renowned Bulgarian singer-songwriter/performance artist Ivo Dimchev.
This latest work from one of Australia’s most highly acclaimed contemporary dance companies builds on Shaun Parker & Company’s reputation for combining hard-hitting cutting-edge choreography with theatrical invention and striking soundscapes. The Guide had the opportunity of asking some questions of Shaun Parker.
SAG: The setting is two parts, cocktail bar and jungle. How does the name of the show, KING, sit inside those two places?
SHAUN: The set design is part cocktail bar, part jungle. The men are dressed in dinner suits, complete with bow-ties pomade-slicked hair, and polished black shoes. Only the cocktail singer is dressed in a deep wine velvet jacket, which sets him apart from the other men. He has a seemingly otherworldly quality, possessing a gender neutral essence, and as he sings he becomes a puppet-master for the suited men beneath him. Continue reading KING. AN INTERVIEW WITH SHAUN PARKER→
Playing as part of Sydney Festival 2019, THE MAN WITH THE IRON NECK, a powerful new work by leading physical theatre company Legs on the Wall and Ursula Yovich, is about a family embracing life after trauma. Weaving together a story written by Yovich, with aerial performance and innovative video design, this bold and tender story addresses the issue of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths.
In one of our favourite interviews this year, The Guide had the chance to speak with the deeply humanist and completely captivating writer and performer, Ursula Yovich.
SAG: This is a very exciting project. I gather it began with Josh Bond’s original concept and work some ten years ago. (Bond is co-director with Gavin Robins) Then you came on as an actor before you started to work on the text?
Plush Duck Productions‘ inaugural production is the NSW Premiere of NED: A NEW AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL. Based on the life and experiences of Australia’s most iconic bushranger, NED: explores Ned Kelly’s turbulent life and the events which led to his demise.
We sent through some questions to Josh McElroy who is playing the legendary character.
SAG: Thank you for taking our questions, especially so close to opening. What attracted you to the role?
JOSH: Every time a role for Ned Kelly has ever come up I have been chomping at the bit to get involved. He is an icon, a legend, a puppet, a politic. It’s odd to think that once upon a time he was just an average man though.
For me, it has been absolutely riveting getting into his head and trying to understand, not just what occurred on some of those dark days, (for even the facts of a lot of these incidents are contested) but why they occurred, what his thoughts must have been, what he feared, what he valued and what he championed.Continue reading NED: A NEW AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL. AN INTERVIEW WITH NED (JOSH)→
HERRINGBONE marks the welcome return of Squabbalogic to Sydney stages. Award-winning director, performer and Artistic Director of Squabbalogic, Jay James-Moody, will be assuming the title role of Herringbone and the ten characters that live inside him at Kings Cross Theatre in January. The Guide had great fun chatting with Jay about this unique and odd show.
SAG: Well … no Christmas for you if you are getting all these characters together ?
SAG: So they range from an 8 year old ?
JAY: The youngest character is an 8 year old and the oldest … who is probably an octogenarian… is his grandmother. A range of ages and genders.
MAAS (Powerhouse Museum) will entertain the kids over the school holidays with a series of educational workshops as part of STAR WARS: Identities exhibition. The Guide had the chance to speak with Stefanie Ferguson who heads MAAS school holiday programming.
SAG: So the activities for the school holidays program are based around the Star Wars: Identities exhibition. I saw that exhibition and it was just thrilling, so I expect the kids are going to love it.
From Red Room Poetry, whose vision is to make poetry a meaningful part of everyday life, the winners have just been announced for Poetry Object which is Australasia’s largest free poetry writing competition for students and teachers (Years 3-10). Poetry Object ignites imaginations by inviting young writers to create, publish and submit poems inspired by special objects.
The Guide had the opportunity to get a little more background from Emma Rose Smith who heads the project.
SAG: Congratulations on the eighth year of Poetry Object. The objects which the young writers choose are incredibly diverse, both manifest and shrouded. I was very much taken by ‘Breathing Object’ which is delightfully obtuse and by Year 8 student! Why focus the attention of the poets’ work to an object rather than a theme or idea?
THE SERPENT’S TEETH is currently playing at Kings Cross Theatre. It’s an exciting production with an extremely diverse cast of 15 actors from across more than 9 cultural backgrounds. Directed by Kristine Landon-Smith it has been getting great reviews and as the season draws to a close we had the opportunity to speak with two of the cast, Phoebe Grainer and Jillian Nguyen.
SAG: Congratulations on the production. This is an interesting staging concept for the venue with two distinct places evoked for the two short plays. Is the playing of several characters aided by the physical setup or is mainly in the psychology of each?
JILL: Both, but more so the psychology. It’s a pretty bare set, dream like in some ways, sprinkled with little moments of humanity. The first set up helps me as the actor but above all, it serves to make the audience feel a certain way. So I think the psychology of me in the characters’ circumstances is absolutely vital to navigate such a non linear play.
“Pleasure to play”, is director, Kristine Landon-Smith’s catchphrase. She encouraged us to not think too much about a made up character, but to simply be ourselves and present with the other person.
I, CLAUDE MONET, an award-winning documentary based entirely on Claude Monet’s personal letters, reveals Monet the artist, businessman and lover as never before. Disposing of traditional narration and talking heads, I, CLAUDE MONET allows Monet to tell his story in his own words. Based on three thousand surviving letters, the film reveals a tumultuous inner life marked by moments of intense depression and euphoric creation, offering a complex portrait of one of the world’s best loved artists.
ALL MY SLEEP AND WAKING is playwright Mary Rachel Brown’s deeply moving look at the knot of family. A story of how the ties that bind us can just as easily undo us. Unspoken rules and rusted on habits undergo a tectonic shift, as a family attempt to understand the truth of who they are to each other.
Brown has revisited and rewritten the play. We had a chance to speak with her before Apocalypse Theatre Company opens the newly reworked play at the end of November.
SAG: It’s so nice to speak with you again.
MARY: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me about the show.
Merrigong Theatre Company has just announced their 2019 season and we had the opportunity to speak with Simon Hinton, Artistic Director / CEO.
SAG: You must be incredibly busy at this particular moment . Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us.
SIMON: It’s always busy but yes we had a big night last night with the launch. Doing a bit of media this morning and watching our patrons going to the website!
SAG: How long does it take to put a program like this together, there’s such depth here.
SIMON: We are almost a quarter of the way towards the program for 2020 now, so we are working up to two years ahead. But the last bit of that program came together, like two weeks ago.
SAG: And do you have a particular focus in mind when you are putting in a season ?
SIMON: Not necessarily thematically. We certainly have certain things that we are trying to achieve in terms of the diversity and a balance between work that is challenging and work that is accessible. And a little bit of genre. I wouldn’t say we have a formula but we have some targets. We want to make sure we have some movement based work , some work with music , ensure that we’ve got stories that explore a range of things and that we have different voices on our stage.
What tends to happen is that a theme or thread emerges as we are programming and I feel like this year, Find Your Place is about speaking broadly about how theatre defines us and who we want to be and helps find our place in the world. But there also were, emerging from the season, a number of shows that seemed to be about people’s journey of finding where they belong.
SAG: I can see that. I’m a Queenslander, a North Queenslander in fact, and I was pretty excited to see Dancenorth on the program. SIMON: It’s something I am really proud of it in the season. As another company based in regional Australia, Merrigong has been really excited to see the rise of Dancenorth to be absolutely world class. And I have to say that what Kyle Page is doing up there is some of the most exciting… well I hate using the term Contemporary Dance because because it puts it in a box and what he’s doing there is more than that. He’s making extraordinary movement based theatre with some incredible dancers.
We are a co-commissioner of DUST with a number of major festivals through the Major Festival Initiative. And it’s stunning, ground breaking, high caliber work.
SAG: I notice that the design element is very important in that particular work. Does your season benefit from having multiple, different, places in which to perform?
SIMON: Yeah it is really important. Across the two venues Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and Wollongong Town Hall we have five different spaces we can program into. Most of the theatre season goes into the two fixed seat theatres in IPAC but then if we need a flat floor area we can bring it into the Town Hall. And there’s a more intimate venue called the Music Lounge.
So that flexibility has become more and more important as contemporary theatre is diversifying artistically in the spaces it needs. It’s very important. To confine everything to a proscenium arch space would be really tricky now to program a diverse interesting season.
SAG: And the there’s the Spiegeltent Wollongong?
SIMON: It’s a great thing for the city. For nearly a month the Spiegeltent parks itself near the arts centre and we create a lovely precinct there with outdoor dining. And it’s become a tradition now in its 3rd year.
I think what’s fantastic in our season next year is for the first time not just the centrepiece show is available for our season ticket holders. The centrepiece show is DELUXE DELUXE .. a kind of adults only cabaret burlesque circus spectacular and that will be amazing and really built for the tent.
But they can also include Lano and Woodley’s show FLY in their season choices. They are coming in and doing four nights to allow it to be offered to subscribers because most of the stuff in the Spiegeltent comes as a single show. Early next year we’ll announce the rest of the Spiegeltent program, about 30 different shows across the month.
SAG: It’s a pretty amazing season all round. A new work THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL about Keating, and a reprise of BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS and a great kids’ program. I can see I will be beating a path to Woolongong. I’m at the base of the mountains and it’s easier than getting into the city!
SIMON: That’s happening more and more . Generally people in urban Australia are realising that things are happening in regional Australia . We’re pretty close to Sydney and people come down here for the first time and go I don’t know why I’m traipsing into the city!
RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW includes five new commissioned artworks made in collaboration with 25 young and emerging artists from Western Sydney. Audiences are invited into arcades, restaurants and Blacktown’s iconic main streets and together share food from diverse local Persian, Ethiopian an Afghan restaurants.
RHRN is produced by Urban Theatre Projects in partnership with Blacktown Arts. We had the opportunity to speak to Rosie Dennis UTP Artistic Director and RHRN Curator.
SAG: It’s a pretty exciting project you’ve got there. I loved my time wandering around Blacktown with a bunch of strangers.
ROSIE: It’s fun isn’t it?
SAG: Have you had lots of people come through?
ROSIE: Yeah look we have. I think we are already sold out on our Saturdays which is really great. The responses have been really great too. That it’s a really unusual experience, that it feels really personal and also just really enjoying the street and having that kind of space between each work. People having a good night out. Continue reading RHRN. AN INTERVIEW WITH THE CURATOR ROSIE DENNIS.→
After the success of FESTIVAL FATALE brought to you by WITS [Facebook] at Eternity Playhouse on October 27, The Guide had the chance to catch General Manager and Producer, Tara Clark to ask about this year’s event.
SAG: Thanks for talking with us again. Have you had any chance to catch up on some sleep?
TARA: Sleep! Not quite yet, but soon. Often post event wrap-up is just as exhaustive as the pre-planning, so there are still some loose ends that need tying up, but I did just have my first weekend off in about 3 months, which was very nice and very needed!
Q Theatre is taking audiences on a journey back to Sydney’s early modernist art movement in their new work YELLOW YELLOW SOMETIMES BLUE.
YELLOW YELLOW SOMETIMES BLUE is the story of Iris and Leo, two outsiders peeking in at a world of money, power and gossip as they prepare canapés and cocktails for a debaucherous gathering of Sydney’s cultural elite at the home of Gerald and Margo Lewers.
Inspired by the history of Penrith Regional Gallery&The Lewers Bequest, the new work traces the roots of Sydney’s early Modernist thinking and offers a fresh take on Emu Plains in the 1950s.
We had the opportunity to speak with the playwright, Noëlle Janaczewska.
SAG: It’s so nice to speak with you. I gather you are knee deep in rehearsals. Is that how you like to work, to be in close at the rehearsals?
In our QUEST FOR THE BEST OF THE FEST we turned our attention this week to preparations. Head of Production John Bayley was very generous with his time to answer some questions about the the work that gets done before Sydney Festival 2019.
SAG: There are so many venues across the festival, 32 by my count from the back of the program. I imagine each would have very specific challenges so as to bring the physical place in line with the artistic requirements?
JOHN: At the festival we always try to choose the right venue for the show. That’s the ideal. When that’s not possible we work closely with the venue to understand just how far we can push and what we can do to make a show work.