This adaptation by William Zappa after Homer, has been 7 years in the making. Zappa has researched 17 translations, travelled far and wide, testing the work. He always knew Homer came from a tradition of professional guilds of storytelling, the words were meant to be heard. So now with the start originally a commissioned radio drama, the four actors devote themselves to the storytelling with their voice their primary instrument but delivered as if a staged reading with script in hand, moving in and out of the central sand circle.
I must immediately acknowledge only a limited visit to Homer as a student of literature. It is the oldest western writing surviving, attributed to Homer (mostly – but that is the debate around many very old writers Shakespeare included). 3000 years old. Written in the mid eighth century BCE. Earlier than the festivals of Greek Tragedy with which we might be a little more familiar. So it sits, Epic, it is after all still 24 books told in 3 parts and 9 hours. But Zappa has allowed intentionally in his direction (supported by Sport for Jove and specifically Damian Ryan) to become a resonance of our very modern world. Attempting to make the world of Homer’s Iliad, at once, an Australian Soap Opera, an HBO series with recaps and reminders, and I thought inconsistently, a colloquialism that ‘played’ with his characters; be they kings, princes or indeed gods. Continue reading THE ILIAD – OUT LOUD…PARTS ONE, TWO AND THREE→
THE CHILDREN by Lucy Kirkwood opens with 3 still scenes. Each of the three characters, singly. Each alone. Each in their own world. Throughout the show each, at some stage, will command the intimate, warm space in a cottage surrounded by sea. This is where Hazel comforts her inner self, where her husband Robin comes home to nest and be taken care of and where interloper Rose relives the bloom moments of a youth long gone. Each individual with the potential to put aside their history in search of a future for the children: Miller-like, all the children. Continue reading THE CHILDREN: POWER ,PHYSICS AND THE TRIANGLE.→
American writer Theresa Rebeck’s 2011 play SEMINAR, the new production at the Ensemble Theatre, is well worth catching.
The play features a very lively clash,- Rebeck pits four very keen, ambitious young writers in waiting against a brilliant but monster of a a writing coach. The writers,-Kate, Douglas, Izzy and Martin, each put down 5 thousand to take a 10 week writing course with the acerbic Leonard. Kate is so keen that she offers up the living room of her stylish New York as the venue for these seminars.
SEMINAR starts with our young writers starry eyed and full of enthusiasm, chatting away in Kate’s apartment as they wait for Leonard to arrive to deliver his first class.
Their enthusiasm soon takes a bit of a fall. Leonard’s first Seminar is a nightmare for young Kate. She shows her new work to Leonard and he tears it to shreds. Rebeck has set up her play deftly. We, the audience, are thinking. How is this going to work out? Are we going to see blood on the floor, stemming from one of these writers?!
A highlight of SEMINAR is the way that it constantly changes direction….We are never quite sure how the play will ‘land’,- in a dark place or a place of light?!
Anna Crawford’s Australian premiere production serves Rebeck’s play well. Crawford’s strong creative team is headed by designer Alisa Paterson who has come up with a memorable, finely detailed set, inspired by the show’s original design.
A good cast bring Rebeck’s vibrant characters to life.
William Zappa delivers a master class in acting, as well as in writing, in his portrayal of Leonard.
Matilda Ridgway shines in the pick of the other roles. Her character, at first, comes across as a delicate, fawn like woman however as the play moves on, we see a much stronger person emerge.
Michelle Lim Davidson, who some will know as a regular presenter of Playschool, revels in playing the role of the racy, manipulative Izzy, Felix Gentle plays the priggish, highbrow Douglas, and Matthew Zeremes plays the introverted, tentative Martin.
Recommended, Anna Crawford’s production of Theresa Rebeck’s SEMINAR opened at the Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli, on Wednesday August 21 and plays until Saturday September 14, 2013.
The Blue Mountains town of Katoomba, one of Australia’s most well known tourist destinations- with an estimated four million visitors per year, is set to have its first ever professional theatre company.
Even more exciting is that the first production by the new theatre company- going by the name the Katoomba Theatre Company (KTC) is due to take place in the first quarter of next year.
Over coffee at the well known Katoomba cafe THE ELEPHANT BEAN, Larry Buttrose, one of the KTC’s founding members, filled me on the background.
Together with his partner Belle, they spotted an opportunity when it was revealed that the library would be moved into the new Katoomba Cultural Centre in November, 2012.
Council had plans to turn the old library space into a community hall. The Buttroses had other ideas, and began lobbying the Council for it to covert the space into a contemporary theatre venue.
As Belle said: “A theatre can be a hall, but a hall can’t be a theatre.”
The community campaign that began in April last year generated substantial local support, and the fledgling Katoomba Theatre Company soon gained three high profile patrons – director Bruce Beresford, actor Jack Thompson – and Larry’s very famous cousin, Ita Buttrose, this year’s Australian of the Year.
The Katoomba Theatre Company was officially formed in mid 2012with an impressive group of founding committee members – the Buttroses, Chris Gabardi, Georgia Adamson, Andrew McDonell, Joanne Samuel, Tiriel Mora, Beth Champion, Adam Quinn and Louise O’Halloran.
The Blue Mountains Mayor, Clr Daniel Myles, was very supportive, and in late 2012 the Council agreed to conversion of the old library space into a theatre. It is expected to open in early 2014.
Council has set aside a budget of $750,000 for the conversion including a figure of $250, 000 for the fit-out for the new theatre. Work is due to begin next month.
It is envisaged that when the theatre is complete, it will be a 200 seater with tiered seating and full lighting, sound and other facilities.
The Company anticipates that for its first season it will put on two new Australian plays, and one classic. From this foundation there are many plans and ideas:
‘We are giving close consideration to a number of new Australian plays for our opening season, including one for children.
‘We also plan to produce “Katoomba Follies” – a historical, vaudeville-style, variety show. Something that would attract the interest of the many tourists that come through Katoomba. We are looking at putting on the show at lunchtimes, for foreign tourists and day-trippers up from the city’, Buttrose said.
‘Another idea is to run a weekly, early Friday evening performance of Noel Coward’s PRIVATE LIVES. It is a perfect fit for the Carrington Hotel, one of our main sponsors (along with iconic Australian community bank, BENDIGO BANK). Perhaps we will be able to offer a package, a performance of PRIVATE LIVES together with accommodation and dinner at the Carrington’.
The Committee is also keen to set up its own Youth Theatre program, headed by leading actor, director and theatre educator Helmut Bakaitis – a local resident. As part of this, the Company has been holding talks with Katoomba High School, to involve its students, and discussing with the Council the possibility of having an untenanted retail site in the Civic Plaza as a “pop-up” for the program.
The Company has maintained a high local profile this year. A popular season of eight readings of new Australian plays has been held so far at the Library in the Carrington. The most recent, a standing-room only reading of Buttrose’s comedy “As Could Be” featured leading Australian actors Helen Thomson and William Zappa, and KTC’s Georgia Adamson and Chris Gabardi.
Buttrose says that the Company will also march in the Blue Mountains’ largest annual community event, Katoomba’s Winter Magic Festival, on 22 June.
Fundraising projects are an integral part of any burgeoning theatre company, and KTC has a major event coming up. Ita Buttrose will be guest of honour at a gala fundraising dinner in the Grand Dining Room at the Carrington Hotel on Friday 2 August. There will be an auction that will include an autographed copy of the original Cleo centrefold featuring Jack Thomson. The copy will be signed by the actor, along with the signature of its publisher, Ita Buttrose.
This emergence of an ambitious and determined new professional theatre company in Katoomba fits well with the ongoing cultural renaissance of the Blue Mountains, known as the ‘City of the Arts’, with more and more creative artists leaving the fast paced city life for the more artistically conducive Mountains life.
For more information, visit the KTC website:http://www.katoombatheatrecompany.com.au