ARTSHUB: Return to Oz

First published December 2007

When Dorothy returned from the bizarre coloured world of the munchkins to her black and white world on the farm, she burst into tears. She was grateful to be home, and in her own room, in her own bed, with Aunty Em calming her down. She learnt when looking for adventure, she need look no further than her own back yard.

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ARTSHUB: Artistic temperaments or bad behaviour?

First published November 2007

Trying to unravel why some people in the theatre industry believe that bad behaviour is a synonym for “Artistic temperatment” and therefore acceptable. It completely undercuts professional behaviour and therefore the arts as a profession.

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ARTSHUB: The revolution will not be government funded.

First published October 2007.

This covers a few things: my 27th birthday: and what that means for applying for grants, Garret’s policy for the arts (pre election), and the idea of government subsidized productions (ie not depending on audiences for sustainability).

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ARTSHUB: Assumptions and Fear: Questions Surrounding New Australian Plays

First published September 2007

Its coming up to the pitch season for independent theatres across Sydney, and I am feeling that rise of panic in my chest as I start to assess my options for pitching something. I have been seeing shows all over the place, having a look at what’s on and what’s getting chosen… who are the independent players in this game… and it is surprising what’s on and where it comes from.. how its been supported. It becomes blaringly obvious that there is an ugly frightened figure, quivering in the corners of our theatres: cultural cringe. “Still!?!” I hear you shriek. Read more

ARTSHUB: Is Australian theatre pretending to be dead?
Return to Oz #8
Written by Augusta Supple

There are many reasons why its difficult being a writer and/or a director but the biggest thing I have realised in the last month is that all those reasons don’t matter. They don’t matter for the express fact that it doesn’t stop that feeling in me that there are stories worth telling, and people worth making them with and an audience worth telling them to. The reasons why or how its difficult don’t matter because I continue to do it anyway. I continue to write, I continue to direct and I continue to support an industry that is forever moaning and groaning due to financial or (so called) cultural malnutrition. Read more

ARTSHUB: Theatre Jobs: Knowing when to say “No”

First published June 2007

I’ve been on both sides of the fence. There is no “sitting on the fence”… you are either on one side or another. You are either working on a show, or you are not. Thinking about working on a show, wondering if there is a show you could work on etc, is in the category of “not.” But if you are in the process of approaching people, raising money and writing proposals: you are working. For me, it’s not just the luxurious 6 weeks (part time) with actors I enjoy and count as “working on a show”… It’s the deciding on the scripts, the selection of the team… the whole invisible process that starts months before. Read more

ARTSHUB: The Community sitting in the Theatre Industry.

First published July 2007

For an art form full of sparklingly charismatic, articulate and fascinating people, theatre also has the capability to make one feel self conscious. The curse of comparison rears its ugly head again as you start to line up your career highlights with a peer, wonder why they got that opportunity, why hadn’t someone told you about that audition, and you start to wish yourself to be better connected/ better trained/ well known/ more liked/ taller/ older/ younger/ funnier/ more organised/ more commercially attractive more something… and you start questioning “why WHY won’t anyone give me a chance?” Read more

Brand Spanking New Photos

Brand Spanking New 2008 E-card

Wolf Lullaby Photos

Augusta Supple talking through the design conceptAugusta Supple with the cast of Wolf LullabyIn rehearsalIn rehearsal

Art is a Weapon- Review

Art Is A Weapon
New Theatre, Sydney; newtheatre
Tuesday, October 30, 2007. Opening Night Performance. Review by TROY DODDS.

Until November 2. Bookings: 1300 306 776.

The good thing about an evening of short plays is that you know what you’re in for. It’s very rare that you’ll come across a bunch of terrible plays, or for that matter an array of brilliant ones. Short play evenings generally feature three or four really good pieces of theatre, a few you can take or leave and others that have you thanking the lord above it’ll all be over in 10 minutes.

For a little while, it looks like Art Is A Weapon, an initiative from the newtheatre in which writers must present plays under the theme of the concept’s title, is going to defy the odds given the first three plays are absolutely wonderful, but by the time the two-and-a-half hour marathon comes to an end we’ve managed to go through the full gamut of good and bad, on so many levels.

All of the plays have an element of controversy, whether it be references to politics, terrorism, war or sex. The test for the playwrights is ensuring that the lines don’t get blurred between penning something controversial for controversial’s sake, and writing something that actually conveys an intended worthy message.

The two plays that do best in ensuring the balance is right is Suzie Miller’s Flight / Flight Mode, a post September 11 look at how the dynamic of the “fear of flying” has changed for both Caucasians and those of “Middle Eastern appearance”, and Wayne Tunks’ Unspoken, a sometimes amusing but deeply serious look at a gay affair with a little more than a tinge of politics thrown in.

Flight / Flight Mode works so well because it’s not a difficult play to write. That’s not to question Miller’s ability – indeed, it takes a supreme talent to ensure the process from thought to concept is crafted so well – but unfortunately the ever-real threat of terrorism in the skies has changed the way people think and act when on a plane, and it’s something anyone can see day in, day out at airports across the world. The obvious glares at people presumed to be Muslims and the clear fear on the face of many is so evident in this world addicted and in some ways obsessed with 9/11, and Miller has done a superb job in consolidating those fears into a 10 minute piece and perhaps opening the eyes of many.

It’s also fortunate that this play features the two best acting performances of the evening, with Beejan Olfat and Anna Hruby simply amazing in their very different, but incredibly similar roles.

Tunks is no stranger to plays focusing on gay relationships, hence it’s no real surprise it is the focus of Unspoken. The piece follows an older politician (a family man, no less) who is having an affair with a man in his early 20’s. What is initially a quirky and funny piece eventually becomes one questioning gay rights in modern day politics. It’s a good, solid play, and Tunks has done a sensational job in developing it, while Augusta Supple’s direction is impressive.

Other highlights exist in Ned Manning’s Pericles, Jon Fosse’s A Red Butterfly’s Wings and Terence Crawford’s hilarious Fuck ‘Em If They Can’t Take A Joke. The latter unfortunately falls over at the end but with a little more work it could be a real winner at short play festivals around the traps in the years to come.

Nick Parsons’ The Gallery Sketch is somewhat amusing, as is Woman With Books which features a stellar individual performance from Marika Aubrey.

The other pieces are far from terrible, though they’re not very good either. However, only The Generous, The Merciful, The Giving (Horrific Acts) and I Can Make You Disappear would fall into the “never again” category.

The evening finishes with a piece labelled Civics Lessons by Stephen Sewell. A talented writer, Sewell is the perfect example of one who gets sucked into the passion of being controversial, an element of his writing that has let him down before. Instead of telling a story, Sewell tries to force it down the audience’s throat, a ploy that rarely works. Sewell’s desperation to be controversial is becoming predictable and hence his work is less explosive than it once promised to be.

All in all, there’s some quality plays here from writers who deserve to be unearthed on a more regular basis. It’s an entertaining night out, with plenty of laughs and a few thought-provoking moments along the way.

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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.