There was a huge response to the Silver Gull Play Award this year, with the plays displaying a wide variety of subject matter and a high standard of writing.
The shortlist of five was particularly strong, with three other plays being given a ‘Highly Commended’.
The judging panel of Annie Bilton (former Literary Manager, Griffin Theatre Co; Play Assessor, New Theatre), Louise Fischer (Artistic Director, New Theatre), Patrick Howard (freelance theatre-maker; Play Assessor, New Theatre), John Keightley (actor; Play Assessor, New Theatre), Joy Minter (Director, The Buzz From Sydney), Katie Pollock (award-winning playwright) and Luke Rogers (Artistic Director, Canberra Youth Theatre) didn’t have an easy task. But, after much deliberation, a winner was selected.
Katie Pollock’s NORMAL is an intriguing nigh in the theatre.
The play is set in an unstated town where everyone is living ordinary lives then one day a young woman Polly develops tics and loses control of some of her body’s expressions and movements much like a person suffering from Tourette’s syndrome. She has medical tests which come back negative. Locals are distraught by what’s happening to her. By the end of the show other people in the town have developed a similar condition.
There’s a lot to ruminate over with this play. What is it really about? There is no tidy ending and the playwright leaves it up to each member of the audience to make up their own mind. My take is that the play is about young women who have problems expressing themselves and as a result they develop a Tourettes like condition, a sign of how repressed they are. They need to somehow free themselves, to develop their own identities. By the end of the play, Poppy has at least in some ways liberated herself, whilst her friends lag behind. Continue reading KATIE POLLOCK’S ‘NORMAL’ @ THE OLD 505→
THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES, a verbatim play by Katie Pollock and Paul Daley from an original concept by Peter Fray, provides us with a look at the state of Australian politics by the most direct route possible, chosen extracts from the recently completed 43rd Parliament.
The surprising thing, for me at-least, was that our politicians did not fare too badly from such close analysis. The play even ends on an optimistic note quoting Anthony Albanese wishing everyone well till the first sitting of the new Parliament.
Essentially, THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES works as a highlights and lowlights reel/record of the last Parliament with a lot of time allocated to the major issues that dominated the term including the plight of Asylum Seekers and the continuing Australian involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Each issue was dealt with with independently and then the play would move. A lot of ground was covered over the night. One of the play’s highlights was that we not only heard from the major political figures such as Gillard and Abbott but also from much less well known MP’s who made significant contributions to the relevant debate.
Just three actors, and great actors they were too, David Roberts, Camilla Ah Kin and Tony Llewellyn Jones, said the words of a wide range of pollies, each using a lectern. A large multi-media screen behind verified the name of the politician they were playing. This screen was also used for other dramatic purposes including the posting, one by one, of the names of the Aussie soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.
With the effect of adding emphasis, occasionally through the play, use was made of snippets of radio recordings of Parliament where one actually got to hear the authentic speaker.
At the play’s beginning, the actors endeavoured to play the pollies neutrally however this did not last for very long and by play’s end the trio were having a lot of fun with their characters.
THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES was an interesting and different night in the theatre. Peter Fray advised that he intended to produce further handard monologue pieces for future parliaments. Such nights can only add to the weight of political debate coming up to the next election.
A co-production of the Seymour Centre, the Merrigong Theatre Company and the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, the HANSARD MONOLOGUES played in Sydney at thbe York theatre, Seymour Centre on July 23 and ran until July 27, 2013.
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