Archive for September, 2009

Photos-Brand Spanking New- Bump in Week 1

A selection of photos from Leah McGirr- documenting the process of a bump in and plot on Sunday for Brand Spanking New.

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Anne- Maree Magi with the dream team!

Anne- Maree Magi with the dream team!


Gus Miller- Who says dramaturgs can't sew?

Gus Miller- Who says dramaturgs can't sew?


Toby Villis and Bron Millar

Toby Villis and Bron Millar


Beautiful Bron Miller- Stage Manager, and general Goddess of logistical proficiency

Beautiful Bron Miller- Stage Manager, and general Goddess of logistical proficiency


Miles Thomas- The Lighting Designer with a Heart of Gold and patience of a monk!

Miles Thomas- The Lighting Designer with a Heart of Gold and patience of a monk!


Paul Matthews Designer and paper shuffler

Paul Matthews Designer and paper shuffler


BSNers preparing the set

BSNers preparing the set

Augusta at Bump in on Sunday

Augusta at Bump in on Sunday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1VEuT0hUxU

Company B 2010 – the season that has sent shock waves across the industry

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Since 10pm on Monday I night I have received text messages, facebook messages, emails- I’ve read the installments from 7-On: (http://sevenon.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-is-going-on-here.html) and Joanna Erskine (http://www.joannaerskine.com/cluster/), and talked and listened to the frustrations and the disappointment of many of those in the industry. This is a post about the reactions, my thoughts, my feelings and my perspective about the theatre industry as it is right here and now. And what it means to be a practitioner working in that industry. A practitioner who happens to be a woman.

Firstly the issue that has surprised and even shocked and infuriated some is that in the 2010 Belvoir Season that was launched on Monday night, there was a clear lack of female key creatives at the helm of the shows. Belvoir st will be celebrating their 25th year- no mean feat! And within the next 6 weeks there will be the naming of the new artistic director…. its a big turning point.

Belvoir has always had a special place in the hearts of many- practitioners regard it with pride having worked their- they talk of community and family and equality. (Perhaps this has to do with the egalitarian pay structure?) They regard it as the place whcih was started by a syndicate of like minded practitioners who all fronted cash- put money where their hearts were – to start a theatre. This mythology has captured the imaginations of already a highly imaginative group of people. And rightly so.

Belvoir has hosted a range of Australia’s top practitioners- launched the career of many a celebrity… names Australia and the Australian creative industries are proud of- Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchette, Wayne Blair, Lee Lewis, – You know the ones I am talking about.

Belvoir has also championed new Indigenous writing and indigenous practitioners- giving space and time to the oldest living culture of storytellers the world has known. Though sometimes seen to be treated as a token pattern of programming- this is still an essential part of theatre practice in this country- it is essential for Indigenous stories to be told by artists who are Indigenous… as this exchange is artistically and culturally vital as a step towards any sort of healing and understanding.

However- there is another side of this- if you look at Belvoir as a place of equality- lets look a little further. Lets look at the Contact Us section of the website…
http://www.belvoir.com.au/800_contact_us.php

The top and most influencial names of the company- the taste makers- the folks chosing and priviledging the practitioners, the plays, the stories that are told- are all men.

The women of the company are in positions of education. Of promotion. Of support.

It seems the age old saying is true- behind every great men are great women. And Belvoir certainly has impressive women working there- Brenna Hobson- a remarkably intelligent and skilled producer and manager whom I first met in 2000 and have ever since held in very high regard for her clarity and strength and her calm and sensible ability to overcome all challenges.

Tahli Corin- one of the most supportive and passionate and brave and change making individuals in the independant sector- she is largely an unsung hero for the opportunities she has provided and projects she has spearheaded.

But the question begs- are women fairly and equally treated in our industry in general? I am not going to discuss the wider world politics of women- that is for another time. Is the Belvoir season indicative of Australian/local theatre talent?

As someone who sees between 1-4 productions a week, I would say, no. And then the question is- does this matter that Belvoir’s Season has not equally represented women, or new australians, or first Australians, or transgender identifying?

My thoughts are-
The gender issue only matters if there is not equal opportunities available for female artists as there are for male artists.

The gender issue only matters if there are not avenues for people to be selected, based on talent and merit.

The gender balance only matters when there isn’t one.

My programming practice-

I program on talent. I program based on potential, not genitals. I program for Brand Spanking New and Off The Shelf, based on the heart of the work- that speaks to me. That reflects stories that confront , puzzle and reassure me- who I am living as a person right now in society. I can not avoid nor deny I am a woman. I am not sure how, but I am sure somehow all the things that make up who I am affects how I see the world- those things ranging from my small country town background, my university education, my partner, my experiences of travel, all theatrical experiences I have experiences (as audience and practitioner) up until this point. I can not escape who I am, how I feel and what I want from theatre. I program accordingly. And the results of gender split if scrutinized are as follows:

Brand Spanking New 2009 has 7 writers out of 15/ and 9 directors out of 14 who are women.
Brand Spanking New 2008 had 9 writers out of 14 /and 9 directors out of 14 who are women.
Off the Shelf # 2 has 10 creatives involved half of which are women.
Off the Shelf #1 had 10 creatives involved, four of which are women.

And the truth is- Belvoir is the same- they are a collection of people programming from their perspective- now if that means that female key creatives don’t figure in that- that is their choice. And I can’t and won’t expect them to be anything but true to what they believe in. I don’t want women programmed due to their genitals but their talent- their story. And if Belvoir is not a place for key female creatives in 2010- well thats fine… because women will continue to create and develop work and be in this industry forever- like it or not.

The main issue for me is, has and always will be- are there opportunities offered to people from all backgrounds, regardless of sexual preference, race, gender? Is there enough of a mix- is what we are seeing on Australian stages a diverse and spectacular array of works- or is it the same old story by the same people? Are we chalenging each other and ourselves and our audiences by opening up the industry?

If not why not and how are we going to fix it?

So we’ve had a wake up call from Belvoir- through the absence of female creatives in their mainstage season they have shown us what we DO want to see. So great now we know what we want- let’s make it happen. Can and should one theatre answer all the problems and questions? No. But 100 theatres might.

Brand Spanking New: A celebration of new Australian Writing

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Returning to New Theatre for its second exciting season, Brand Spanking New celebrates Australian playwriting by showcasing the work of both emerging and established writers.

Monologues, short plays and excerpts from longer plays, Brand Spanking New is a curated season of the best of contemporary writing – poignant, tender, brave, bold and unapologetically funny.

Week 1
30th September- 3rd October

Homemade written by Vanessa Bates
Directed by Anne-Maree Magi
Performed by Jane Phegan

Queen of the Night by Tamara Asmar
Directed by Jennifer Monk
Performed by Abi Rayment and Tanya Weiler

Fit for a King by Phil Spencer
Directed by Jane Eakin
Performed by Jeremy Just, Chris Leaney, Matt Ford

The Return by Jonathan Gavin
Directed by Augusta Supple
Performed by Matthew Charleston, Natalie Saleeba and Stephen Wilkinson

Measure by Jonathan Ari Lander
Directed by Tanya Dickson
Performed by Suz Mawer and Felino Dolloso

Last Ride by Ross Mueller
Directed by Travis Green
Performed by Peter Talmacs, Dave Kirkham

Matt Lauer by Rick Viede
Directed by Louise Fischer
Performed by Julian Lovick

Week 2
7th October- 10th October

King of the Mountain by Jessica Bellamy
Directed by Scott Selkirk
Performed by Stephen Peacocke and Olivia Solomons

if I could be anything I would be something different by Kit Brookman
Directed by Mark Pritchard
Performed by Eamon Bryant and Daniel Fischer

Lone Bird by Verity Laughton
Directed by Nick Curnow
Performed by Fiona Press, Tim Allen and Bruno Xavier

White Wedding by Sonal Moore
Directed by Sarah Vickery
Performed by Suz Mawer

The Bermuda Love Triangle by Patrick Lenton
Directed by Augusta Supple
Performed by Lucy Goleby, Teik-Kim Pok and Toby Villis

Siberia by Timothy Daly
Directed by Scarlet McGlynn
Performed by Amy Kersey and Brynn Loosemore

Polly Pocket is Not a Princess by Maxine Mellor
Directed by Danielle O’Keefe
Performed by Richard Hilliar and Mairead Bearn

Self Service by Mary Rachel Brown
Directed by Ian Zammit
Performed by Christine Greenough

The Witness in the Wall| The DeConverters

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Theatre- an artform inheritantly voyeuristic – relying on witnesses in order to exist- is a perfect place in which ideas about surveillance, presence and what it means to be watched can be pulled apart, examined and reconnstructed.

Since the rise of paranoia from governements across the world- and the heightening of security (or perhaps the need of “a sense of”) in streets, on buses, in lifts- the Orwellian Big Brother emerges. What appeared to be a futuristic fantasy is now not only present- but a vehicle for the rise of the “reality TV” celebrity. We are a generation who is constantly under watch- we encourage others to watch us through our facebook status- there is a flattery about being on screens – watching us walk through train gates… we are a curious animal- curious about ourselves in the wider context of the world and perhaps now more than ever as camera surveliance multiplies, and implies the danger which is other people.

The DeConverters lead by fearless Jane Grimley, is a group of performers including Grant Moxom, Amy Wanless, Jaya Sound, Sam Duncan and Sacha Harrison and media artists- Daniel Brown, Sacha Cohen and Ben Storey who have spent months collaborating, workshoping and devising The Witness in The Wall.
This is the first prouction by the DeConverters who have chosen to launch their tour of this piece at Newtown Theatre. For those who remember Newtown Theatre as “The Edge”- home of Kinetic Energy Theatre company for some time- this style of work is not an unusual fit for this space- but for those more familiar with Newtown Theatre as the home of Short and Sweet it may be a surprise for you to attend this style of performance in this venue.

Weaving audio visual materials, live sound (a very evocative harmonica), text (spoken and projected) , Witness in the Wall is a series of vignettes which seek to explore what it means to be watched. This is not the type of performance in which there is a linear narrative- but a collage of ideas and sentiments and moments wherein te performers move through a sequence of mundane and then extraordinary moments- performance as a living gallery of ideas and actions. Playing with the connection between audience and performer- a small segment of direct address is largely terrifying for audiences who enjoy being in the sweetness of the darkness of the audience seating.

Though I must declare that I appreciated many moments of The Witness in The Wall, especially the opening video projection which felt largely like star gazing, the major ideas that came across to me, was not necessarilly the effect of surveillance- but the disconnect people feel in a society where in we are busy watching each other. Through watching we can feel lonely, disconnected, removed from each other… through watching we are alone.

This is a really unique and interesting piece of performance- and depending on where you are in your own headspace- it will reach you in someway, somewhere about what it means to be present and particpating in a world where we are constantly looking out in order to understand what is within.

More Info:
http://www.thedeconverters.com/witness/company.html
Contact :thewitnessinthewall@gmail.com
$10-$20 Rock on up Tuesday-Saturday until September 26th
Book Here http://newtowntheatre.com.au/

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Brand Spanking New 2009- Meet and Greet

Thanks to the kind folk at the Marlborough Bar in Newtown, despite the heavy rains and blustery conditions- we had an awesome night chatting and getting to know each other- about 40 Brand Spanking New-ers turned up (about half of the whole festival) and here are some highlights taken by photographer Leah McGirr-

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Brand Spanking New:A Celebration of New Australian Writing

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Returning to New Theatre for its second year, Brand Spanking New celebrates Australian playwriting by showcasing the work of both emerging and established writers in a two week fully curated season.

Monologues, short plays and excerpts from longer plays, Brand Spanking New is a selected snapshot of the best of contemporary writing – poignant, tender, brave, bold and unapologetically funny.

This season is for all those who are bored with seeing the “same old plays”, for those who believe in seeing vibrant and fresh new work- by brilliant emerging artists and award winning contemporary Australian theatre artists. So check it out… Read more

Wheels in Motion|Documentary Premiere

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The 1st of September was the launch of the AFI Screening Circuit- and the night of the premiere of a new Documentary made by local filmmakers Jillian Bartlett and Philip Myers…. no prizes for guessing where I decided to go… Read more

A Woman in Berlin| Splinter Theatre Company &Tamarama Rock Surfers

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It’s an unfamiliar space- where in the action of A Woman in Berlin is enacted. The Old Fitz Theatre space is converted by designer Gabrielle Logan into a museum space- black reflective floor, white walls with ornate trim, fringe-in the action.

A bench centre stage. A line of text – a horizon of dates skim around the walls. German. Read more

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Augusta Supple

Sydney-based theatre director, producer and writer. This site is about my long, deep, bright-eyed, ever-hopeful, sometimes difficult, always invigorating, rambunctious, rebellious, dynamic and very personal relationship with Australian Arts and Culture... I reflect on shows, talks, essays, writing, artists that inspire me to say something, and you'll find out what I'm working on, who I'm working with and what inspires me.