Viewing entries tagged
physical theatre

Review: Home

Comment

Review: Home

It is always great to see a production that combines, in an effortless way, different dramatic forms and genres. Home is a blend of mime, physical theatre, dance, slapstick, immersive performance art, and Ikea-style house construction—all held together with wandering minstrel-style musical narration (by Elvis Perkins).

From your first home (likely to be “your mother’s house”) to your own family home (“lay your foundation now”), where you spend time sleeping, showering, cleaning, cooking, working and celebrating, home is an important place in everyone’s life. During the 100-minute performance, the cast (Geoff Sobelle, Sophie Bortolussi, Ching Valdes-Aran, Justin Rose, Elvis Perkins, Ayesha Jordan, and Luke Whitefield) encourage us all to reflect on the nature of ‘home.’ They achieve this feat through a gradual building of a house (one of the best uses of the sizeable QPAC Playhouse stage I have seen in a long time), where we experience the passing of time as layers of moments spent using the building—from daily bathroom ablutions through to a major house party (where members of the audience are hosts and guests). At the end of the show, two members of the audience speak about special memories of their first homes, encouraging us all to reflect on the importance of our own houses (as the minstrel sings at the end, “thank heavens for the roof overhead”).

 
Picture: The cast, building the house.  Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: The cast, building the house. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

 

It is fair to say this was not the ‘theatre’ production I had expected. Most of the show relies on the choreography/physical theatre, where the occasional musical numbers are the only verbal communication to the whole audience (the quotes in this review are from some of those songs). The exception is where the cast members engage directly with individual members of the audience—coaching them through the production when they are brought on-stage, or encouraging those seated in the stalls to assist with putting up the party lights.  

Pictured: ‘Layers’ of bathroom use.  Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: ‘Layers’ of bathroom use. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Cast and audience members staging the house parties.  Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Cast and audience members staging the house parties. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The choreography of movement is superb (particularly when it comes to the bathroom and kitchen pieces), and the incorporation of the audience members kept us all completely fascinated and entertained. Throughout the piece, audiences gasp at some of the illusions, laugh at the moments of celebration, and ponder the process of laying down the rich-layers of memory through which we turn a house into a home.  A fascinating show, and an excellent choice for ‘Act One’ of Brisbane festival 2018. Congratulations to creator/performer Geoff Sobelle, Director Lee Sunday Evans, and their co-creators (in particular the set designer, Steven Dufala, and lighting designer, Christopher Khul).

 
Pictured: Events at the house, including cast members (third from left: Geoff Sobelle) and audience participants.  Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Events at the house, including cast members (third from left: Geoff Sobelle) and audience participants. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

 

Verdict:  Fascinating.   

Audience tip: Signs at the entrance alert visitors to what is described as a “10+” rating as there is some full-frontal nudity in the ‘bathroom’ of the ‘house’ (a member of our party commented they wished their parents had let them go to anything with nudity when they were younger, so you may have your own views on the rating). Be prepared to get involved (don’t worry—you will be able to remain fully-clothed)!

Home had only five shows in the September 2018 Brisbane Festival program (12th-15th September, 7:30pm, with a matinee on Saturday 15th September at 1:30pm). For more information on other Brisbane Festival events, check out the Brisbane Festival website. 

Catherine Lawrence, perspectives

The reviewer attended the Saturday 15th September 2018 performance (1:30pm).

 

 

 

Comment

Review: The Box

Comment

Review: The Box

Dis has so many negative connotations and uses in our language: dislike, discontent, disbelief,  disown... In The Box, the artists created and performed a moving contemporary physical theatre piece, challenging perceptions of people living with disability.  In the promotional material for the show, Screech Arts note that the artists seek to encourage audiences to reconsider “what stigma is, especially in relation to the actors’ experiences as people living with a disability.” Individual performers in The Box may need support to achieve some of their goals, but they all demonstrated a variety of talents, and many great abilities, in their production. Together they have created an inspiring piece that hopefully will not be hidden away in a box but will be shared at future events. It is a work that deserves to reach a wider audience.

Picture: Danielle Stewart. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: Danielle Stewart. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Campbell Place is a road at the back of the UQ Union complex. It is also a grassed area between UQ Union and the Great Court, 5 minutes’ walk away. I’m sure that the UQ team will work on their naming of places and signage for any future theatre festivals. And I’m delighted the performance was at the grassed area, which has a pergola that makes for a perfect outdoor stage. When I arrived, I worried if I’d missed half of the show because a number of the performers were also in the Screech Arts Dance Troupe, already entertaining an enthusiastic audience with some great dance moves. However, this was a bonus activity: a great way to attract an audience for the theatre piece, to demonstrate some fantastic dance moves, and to warm up on a cool evening.

The Box mixed contemporary dance, spoken word (often through speech synthesizers), song, mime, and theatre. The performance space (using the pergola to create elements of the box, augmented with clingfilm and black tape) was described as symbolic of “society’s treatment of minority groups, where vast assumptions are based on first impressions and appearances.” It was an inspired choice to use the pergola, bringing the piece out of a traditional theatre and into the daily lives of students in the centre of the UQ campus.

Pictured: Joe Surawski, Amy Lawrence, and Alex Procopis. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Joe Surawski, Amy Lawrence, and Alex Procopis. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

There were so many highlights in the production: dance and mime (unfair to single out two performers, but perhaps most notably by Julie Stewart and Amy Lawrence who created a real sense of the frustrations of ‘inhabiting’ the box), poignant dance and speech (from Dale Gonelli and Danielle Stewart), compelling stage presence and work (by Joe Surawski, Niala Lewis, and Alex Procopis), and a great soundtrack (technical support by Julian Rodriguez Campos). The movement and interactions were well-judged, but it was much of the voice work that will stay with me. I loved the discussion between Amy and Dale (“How are you?”), which led up the poignant story about the experience of the 11-year old Dale at the train station. Danielle’s powerful monologue “I’m an aunt and I babysit” rose to a screech that created a real sense of both the joy and frustrations of a life spent fighting other people’s perceptions. And Danielle and Dale also performed the thought-provoking “just because” duet.

Pictured: Dale Gonelli, Amy Lawrence, and Alex Procopis. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Pictured: Dale Gonelli, Amy Lawrence, and Alex Procopis. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The piece ended on a very quiet note, but if I had to make suggestions for future developments of the work, I might suggest ending on Danielle’s monologue instead. And I found the hospital-style emergency bleep a little disconcerting when played for any length (but that may have been the intent).  My enthusiastic congratulations to all of the team—led by Martina Cross (Director, Screech Arts State-wide Coordinator and Facilitator), and supported by volunteers (in particular Natarsha Wrensted [Stage Manager], and Cate Collopy: [Stagehand and Mentor] and Julian [technical support, as noted above]). Proving that with the right support, they can achieve their collective goals, the performers created a memorable piece. I hope it leads to many more conversations, and a “breaking down the box that is stigma” (to quote Martina).

Pictured: Julie Stewart. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Julie Stewart. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Verdict: Heartfelt communication. An enthusiastic, enjoyable and insightful piece, which encourages everyone to rise to the challenge of “why did you assume?”

Audience tip: Arrive early and get to cheer on the Dance Squad. Wrap up warm and bring a seat/blanket (UQ did have some deckchairs).

Only five performances during Anywhere Festival 2018 (all 7pm): Mt Ommaney Shopping Centre10, 17 & 24 May) and at The University of Queensland’s Campbell Rd Promenade (16 & 23 May).

Tickets are available at the Anywhere Festival website. Free. Suitable for audiences of any age.

Catherine Lawrence

Pictured: Dale Gonelli and Joe Surawski. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Dale Gonelli and Joe Surawski. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The reviewer attended the Wednesday 23rd May (7:00pm) performance at The University of Queensland.

Pictures Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Comment

Review: Proximity

Comment

Review: Proximity

Circus is often associated with fun and a demonstration of feats of skill and strength. Circus protest may conjure up thoughts of ethical treatment of animals, or female equality (both of which have been linked to protests associated with established circuses in recent years). But, reflecting on the opening night of Kelsey Laura’s Proximity, it appears to me that Serious Circus (or Circusactivism) is making its way to Brisbane.  Anywhere Festival 2018 includes a number of shows using circus or physical theatre as a means to tell stories and open up debate about some serious issues. For example, Alex Mizzen shared shares some of the rage and frustration associated with finding her own creative voice in Invisible Things. Kelsey Laura’s Proximity, seeks to explore and examine issues of consent. Very serious circus, indeed.

Pictured: Kelsey Laura, Proximity. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Kelsey Laura, Proximity. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

As a sensitive exploration of issues of consent, trust and safety, the audience are warned at the start about the subjects to be addressed (and the program provides details about a range of support and counselling services). And then we walk out, into the dark, and toward the staged area. Ahead of us is a single female, speeding up and slowing down, depending on our proximity to her. Waiting for us is a single, lit trapeze. And then we are looking into the clear gaze of Kelsey Laura, who is defensively clutching a handful of keys. Over the 25 minutes of the show, Kelsey demonstrates skills in trapeze and physical theatre, while gradually unpacking a box of eggshells. A literal demonstration of discussions which need to be held.

Pictured: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography

Pictured: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography

The excellent soundtrack (sound design, Shelby Neufeld) incorporates extracts from interviews with a range of young people, playing back discussions about potential rapists, the issues of blame and responsibility, and the need for consent to be an ongoing process of checking and re-checking between partners. As one commented, “communication about sex is not seen as sexy,” but they all gave frank and insightful responses to some very direct questions about the subject (interviewees: Maddy, Catherine, Alex, Ali, Paige, Shantona, Shelby, Jen, Bree, and Ruthie). It was great to see how, as the performance and discussions unfolded, the performer moved from uncertainty (and a self-conscious ‘covering up’) towards a stronger and more positive exposition of an empty box and a throwing of the keys to one side.

A successful solo show requires the support of a network of work ‘behind the scenes.’ It’s great to see that Kelsey has drawn on excellent rigging, crew, marketing, sound, marketing and tech support (and Director Lara Croyon). I really like the idea of circus being used to provoke serious debate, and even to making change. Perhaps in a future iteration the show might be included in a longer program of material or incorporate different acts to reach a wider audience (as seen in the marvellous 2017 Hiraeth, also at Flipside Circus, Alderley, in which Kelsey performed).

Picture: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Verdict: Serious issues raised for debate, in a new work which includes strong trapeze and physical theatre.    

Audience tip: Outside seating, so wrap up warm (or pick up one of the blankets on some of the seats). 15+ (adult themes). 25 minutes. 

Only four performances during Anywhere Festival 2018: Friday and Saturday nights (7pm), 18-26 May 2018. Tickets are available at the Anywhere Festival website. $15.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Friday 18th May (7pm) performance.

Pictures Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Comment