Tag Archives: Clemence Williams


Helen Thomson and J
Helen Thomson and Jacek Koman in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Arthur Millers’s ‘Death Of A Salesman’. Pic Prudence Upton

I should state my preference in theatre straight away. I love works of Sturm and Drang, those works with plenty of dramatic  action and high emotionalism. It is with this preference in mind that the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Arthur Miller’s classic 1949 play DEATH OF THE SALESMAN was a good fit.

For weary, middle-aged  travelling salesman Willy Loman  the great American Dream, that success and happiness can be achieved by any American who is a regular, hard working person, has always been out of reach.

Miller’s play starts with Willy Loman’s world already starting to crumble around him. He has worked all his adult life as a travelling salesman and at his peak he was was successful. During this time he married his sweetheart and raised two boys.

Willy has comes across lean times. His company has taken him off salary and he is now working on commission only. His wife Linda is struggling to make ends meet. The couple still haven’t finished paying off the mortgage.

Linda pressures him to talk to his boss to put him back on salary and ask him if he could be given a job in New York, that he was getting too old to travel  around. Continue reading DEATH OF A SALESMAN : IN THE HEAT OF WILLY’S NIGHT


Following seasons in Adelaide, Edinburgh and St Petersburg, Russia, CHAMBER POT OPERA returns to Sydney to play in Australia’s foremost Opera venue, the Sydney Opera House for its final season, commencing 11 April 2019. Tickets go on sale on Friday 22 February.

CHAMBER POT OPERA tells the story of three women who meet for the first time in a public bathroom. One is in an abusive relationship, another is terrified that she has come on too strong on a date, and the third has been promoted through the glass ceiling to land her dream job. Together they sing of shared histories, traumas and fantasies using a catalogue of popular music from the operas of Puccini, Mozart and Bizet.

A uniquely intimate production, CHAMBER POT OPERA will be performed for only 42 audience members at a time in the elegant Playhouse Ladies Bathroom at the Sydney Opera House. The three performers will utilise the entirety of the splendid and intimate space from the bathroom sinks and decorative mirrors to the hand dryers and toilet stalls to weave together a story in a setting where women can safely express themselves.

Originally performed in November 2016, this new season of CHAMBER POT OPERA Is due in no small part to the Sydney Opera House’s commitment to creating new operas for contemporary audiences as well as its commitment to fostering new, young, and exciting artistic talent.

CHAMBER POT OPERA features a talented team of singers and creatives from NIDA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Created by director Clemence Williams (Banging Denmark), musical director Keiren Brandt-Sawdy (Mansfield Park) and dramaturg Thomas De Angelis (Unfinished Works) and with a cast including Sally Alrich-Smythe (The Phantom of the Opera), Britt Lewis (Rent) and Jessica Westcott (La Boheme), this production brings together Australia’s next generation of opera performers and creators.

Director and co-creator Clemence Williams says that this season “is the culmination of three years of touring the world and bringing our message of the timelessness and beauty of opera to the masses, one bathroom at a time!” The idea for the show came from Williams’ own experience being a performer confined to the ‘bitches, witches and breeches’ roles in opera.

Dramaturg and co-creator Thomas De Angelis says, “It seemed like the right time to bring Chamber Pot Opera home, and particularly to stage it in Australia’s most recognisable cultural institution, the Sydney Opera House. We’ve made some changes to the show and added some new material – and crucially, we’ve tried to keep the ticket prices as low as possible to maximise the accessibility of the show.”

CHAMBER POT OPERA is the only opera written and designed specifically for publicly accessible women’s bathrooms. It’s sure to delight opera novices and aficionados alike.

“Chamber Pot Opera makes opera accessible, celebrates the power women can have when they choose to support each other, and forces audiences to rethink their opinions of performance spaces.” – Broadway World

“Don’t be surprised to see these singers on great operatic stages in the future. In the meantime, go along and see this great little show — it’s a gem.” – Adelaide Advertiser

“For those who love Opera you must see this, for those who are novices, you also must see this.” – Stage Whispers

Presented by Bontom Productions and Sydney Opera House
Created by Keiren Brandt-Sawdy, Thomas De Angelis and Clemence Williams
Directed by Clemence Williams
Musical Direction by Keiren Brandt-Sawdy
Dramaturgy by Thomas De Angelis
With Sally Alrich-Smythe, Britt Lewis and Jessica Westcott

11 April – 28 April (7pm and 8:30pm) at the  Playhouse Ladies Bathroom at the Sydney Opera House

For more about Chamber Pot Opera, visit https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/opera/2019/chamber-pot-opera.html
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Jetpack presents Rhinoceros (image by Patrick Moran Photography)
You hear something rumbling and thundering in nearby alleyway. It’s getting closer, it seems to be… trumpeting. You could have sworn it was a person just a moment ago. It charges past you, large, raucous, grey. You jump out of the way, and watch it fade it into the distance. If it weren’t such a silly idea, you would have said it looked not unlike a Rhinoceros. No-one else seems to think so. But then again, everyone else is also a rhinoceros. What would they know?

Ready for a wild night out? Join the award-winning Jetpack Theatre Collective for a breathtaking night of Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece.

With Jade Alex, Madeline Baghurst, Robert Boddington, Rebecca Day, Emilia Higgs, Johnathan Lo, Madeline Parker, Kay Pengelly, Alexander Richmond, Julia Robertson, Cheng Tang and Luke Tisher

Written by Eugène Ionesco
Directed by Jim Fishwick
Produced by Aaron Cornelius
Sound design by Bryce Halliday
Set design by Kirsty McGuire
Dramaturgy by Clemence Williams

$25 General Admission
$18 Concession
$40 Rich Person
$15 Stampede! (Group tickets)
$15 Early Bird (Book by July 1)

7.30pm, 26-31 July 2016 at Kings Cross theatre, 244-248 William Street, Kings Cross.

For more about Jetpack presents: Rhinoceros, visit http://www.jetpacktheatre.com
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When Good Men Do Nothing @ The Cellar

Meg McLellan who plays xxxx. Pic Julia Robertson
Meg McLellan in WHEN  GOOD MEN DO NOTHING. Pic Julia Robertson

I really enjoy student theatre. It can have energy and enthusiasm. Often there are new ideas and original perspectives. The best of it has a fresh approach to the mysterious art of pulling an audience into the characters’ world. Admittedly, I get to see some student shows that I just grit my teeth and suffer through silently, begging for it to end. But not always. Sometimes I encounter a little event that really makes my instincts tingle. WHEN GOOD MEN DO NOTHING by Sydney Uni Drama Society is such a work.

This show is essentially a series of 6 monologues, often overlapping, which according to the program, ‘explore an individual’s discovery and decision –making’. The monologues present a woman’s decisions after being accosted by a resident of ‘Suicide Towers’; a person with a racist boss; an umbrella fighter in the rain who obviously needs help; a personified building and a starfish just floating with the tide.

There are three performers, one of whom is standing in a white square in the foyer, boiling a jug when the audience arrives. In the performance space are 2 others who are on chairs in the corners. After the jug boiler arrives in the black box we are locked in.

This really is a black box, even the operators are hidden behind black. The director, Clemence Williams, has the seating placed facing either the black costumed character or the blue or the grey. And you can’t necessarily see each of the speakers. The small rostrum in the centre of the room has each second chair facing the opposite way to the first. Because of this, the audience hears rather than experiences at least one of the trio. That disembodied voice is a bit like a radio play.

Fortunately, the writing is good. Very good. “Don’t leave me with the racist boss, then I’ll look racist.” gets to the heart of the decision about jobs and standing up for the right thing. “I’m a good person, isn’t that enough?” goes without reply. I’m not sure the title clearly represents what playwright Sophia Roberts is hoping people take away but it is a catchy title and this is a skill in itself. Also a subtle unifying ‘something’ between the monologues might gently enhance the cohesiveness of the work without making it a traditional piece.

Roberts writes comedy really well too. There is lots of fun in this show. The instant noodle riff is hilarious in places and is written with that perfect kind of stoned insight into our acceptance of faults and flaws. Charlie O’Grady does a great job of bringing out the humour of this section. Charlie is a dynamic force but in the several shows I have seen this young artist in, sometimes struggles to adopt a character. It’s always a committed performance though.

Julia Robertson and Meg McLellan are the other sides of the triangle. Roberson is bold and unafraid in her performance but needs a little work on her diction. The director might need to help her reduce some of those pauses, too. She makes the emotion very, very clear but tries to travel it though silence, a technique which doesn’t work if used too frequently in a piece.

McLellan is the strongest of the three. She has considerable stage presence, handles business well and has a great voice which she uses in well-modulated ways. Her body language shows potential too especially in the limited space. Occasionally though, there was some lack of purpose evident in her head and eye movement. Since the characters talk at us, the director or the playwright might consider giving the audience a clearer understanding of who we are and why they are talking to us.

WHEN GOOD MEN DO NOTHING at the Cellar Theatre, Sydney University Campus, runs at less than 30 minutes and it fits neatly into that time frame, any more would just be padding. It’s a good work.

The show finishes its brief run tonight but I hope there is a remounting as I am keen to see how this show progresses. There is a lot to see from SUDS this year. Their season includes a work about mental illness and another about the body in artistic expression. Also, there is what reads as an exciting re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s Richard III and Henry VI Part 3.