On Saturday 11th January 2020 Opera Australia launched their new season of CARMEN one of the best known operas in the western world. Bizet’s CARMEN was adapted from a book of the same name written 30 years before by French dramatist Prosper Mérimée.
Merimee had adapted a story told to him by a Countess friend and based the book around Don José who is different from the opera in that he has already committed multiple murders. Not an innocent by any means but a short tempered and violent man. Carmen in the book is also far more loose offering sexual favours to get herself and her friends out of all sorts of trouble and marrying Don José after he kills her husband.
This was a .great night of theatre brought to us by two of Australia’s theatrical legends.
The scenario. In 1944 at the Hotel Maurice, the Swedish diplomat Raoul Nordling and the German General Dietrich von Cholitz meet in a life and death situation for the city of Paris. On abandoning Paris, Hitler has ordered its destruction. Raoul has one night to persuade the General to leave the landmark city standing.
What we see is a battle of wills between the two men. We feel every bit of the battle and the shifts that so delicately take place. At first there seems little chance for Nordling to win the General and on more than one occasion he is shown the door yet somehow he always manages to come back. Thankfully, in the end, he wins the General over and Paris is saved. Continue reading DIPLOMACY @ THE ENSEMBLE→
This year’s Bell Shakespeare Company season began with the ribald farce THE MISER marking its 29th year. At the opening night after party Gill Perkins, Executive Director of Bell Shakespeare, outlined an ambitious program for this year and the next.
The most exciting project to celebrate the 30th year is a proposed move to Pier 2-3 in Sydney’s Walsh BayEarlier this year the John Bell Scholarships were awarded to winners from Hamilton, New South Wales, South Yunderup, Western Australia and Darwin, Northern Territory. It involved a week of intensive performance training and mentorship in Sydney. Bell Shakespeare will train 30 teachers from all over Australia to receive specialist training in exciting and involving ways to teach Shakespeare with ongoing support throughout the year.
There will also be a tour of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING visiting 28 venues nationwide as well as master classes, workshops and seminars across the country which reach more than 140,000 people annually.
Featured image- John Bell and John Gaden in DIPLOMACY at the Ensemble Theatre. Pic Prudence Upton.
Paris, August 25th, 1944.As the Allied Forces move closer to the city, Hitler has decided, in his ever-increasing delusional state, that if Germany can’t have Paris, then no-one will.He has ordered the complete destruction of the city, so famous for its centuries of unique cultural history and beauty.
From this historical fact, French playwright, Cyril Gely, has created in DIPLOMACY, a fictional reason for Paris’ survival, a beautifully rich, philosophical and persuasive dialogue between two men – quite different by nature, but both very powerful in stature and personality.
Gely’s play was first performed in 2011 at Theatre de la Madeleine in Paris. It was skilfully adapted and translated into English for John Bell’s Australian premiere by Julie Rose. Gely also wrote the screenplay for the French movie based on his stage play, ‘Diplomatie’, which was shown at our 2015 French Film Festival.
Bell Shakespeare has opened its 2015 season and its 25th anniversary year with AS YOU LIKE IT. As John Bell is retiring from the company he so successfully started in 1990, this production will be the last one co-directed with Bell and ongoing Artistic Director Peter Evans.
Bell and Evans open their program notes with, “Above the new Globe Theatre in 1599 stood the words, ‘Totus mundus agit histrionem’, which can be translated as ‘All the world’s a stage’, the monologue so beautifully delivered in the play by Bell’s restless and melancholic character, Jaques.
This motto seems to be reflected throughout the play, including the adaptable and minimalist set design by Michael Hankin, which, including 5,500 hanging flowers, could be set anywhere, anytime. Kate Aubrey’s radical costume design incorporates the 30s, 50s and 60s decades, further enhancing the timelessness of the world stage. Continue reading As You Like It @ The Playhouse→
Hands up those who remember the iconic incredibly popular TV series Monkey of the 1970’s ?
Theatre of Image under the brilliantly inspired direction of Kim Carpenter, in combination with legendary John Bell of Bell Shakespeare and in collaboration with Team 9Lives have fashioned a magnificent, enthralling, visually stunning production based on a story originally from the 1500’s that enchants.
For those unfamiliar with Monkey it could perhaps be compared to a Buddhist style ‘ The Wizard of OZ’ with our heroes on a mission to rescue three holy scriptures and return them to the people of China. The fable with its moral and visual symbolism lends itself splendidly to this multi layered production. Continue reading Monkey…Journey to the West→
THE MAGIC CHICKEN featured a great plot with perfectly choreographed mime which easily kept every child mesmerised from start to finish. Constant giggles and laughter also came from the adults.
The play is set in a fun ‘Seussian’ kitchen and restaurant, initially with the dumb ‘under’-lectual chef and sous-chef, until a new customer enters the restaurant, and the busy comedy mayhem escalates into utter chaos with the most perfect timing including hip-hop dance moves and time-altering slow-motion. Continue reading THE MAGIC CHICKEN→
This can be called one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ as it is full of both intense psychological drama yet also is lyrical, rustic and has a romantic happy ending. In some ways it is almost in effect two separate plays, with massive shifts in mood and tone. There is lots of doubling of roles by the excellent cast and fine ensemble work.
It is all seen through the imagination of young Prince Mamillius (Otis Pavlovic or Rory Potter) who controls and manipulates everything. Mamillius acts as lynchpin, questioner and observer throughout. The ’nursery’ /fairytale set as designed by Stephen Curtis was light and airy with bunk bed with ladder, a cradle ,small child size stools, a wonderful mobile…