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Wednesday, 03 August 2011 14:23

Songs from an Unmade Bed

Musical Theatre in preview

The result of one lyricist and 18 composers combining their talents? The creation of a unique cabaret show. ‘Songs from an Unmade Bed’ is an enticing and compelling look at the trials, tribulations and triumphs of love of a gay New Yorker. Starring Tye Shepherd, an acclaimed performer, the show will make you laugh, cry and contemplate the meaning of love.

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 14:19

The Harry Harlow Project

Theatre in Preview

A one-man show about love has been done before. But if it were a play about one of the most controversial scientists of the 20th century and how he examined the meaning of love in ways never imagined? Now that would be unique.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:12

Australian Poetry Slam ‘11

Poetry/ Spoken Word in Preview

For $10,000 in cash and prizes, could you stand on a stage, pick up a mic and let your words take flight? From freestyle rappers and armchair anarchists to thespians, singers and storytellers - the Australian Poetry Slam is unpredictable, unapologetic and unrelenting.

The contestants in this year’s competition are seriously talented wordsmiths, lyrical emcees and spoken word poets who command the English language, caressing and contorting it for their own purposes. Nick Grivas was a first-time entrant in 2010 who became the runner-up in Queensland and went on to compete at the National finals.

Q: What does poetry mean to you?
It is primarily a way to connect with people and share in a unique exchange of expression.  It's about opening myself up in a way that enables others to relate their own lives and stories to the words I speak, which ultimately strengthens the feeling that we’re all sharing the same experience, on the universal roller coaster.

Q: How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?
I didn’t get into poetry, it got into me. When I was about 15, I was into rap music, listening to the likes of N.W.A., Ice T and Public Enemy and had always gravitated towards any music with strong meaning and lyrical content. Discovering my abilities and the power of the spoken word in high school English helped me realise that all the music I loved was just another style of poetry. My writing continued, but was contained to the written page, until I stumbled on the Australian poetry slam scene. Up until then I didn’t even know that performance poetry existed. Knowing that there was a platform to express my talent inspired me to write.

Q: What have been your experiences so far? Do your family/ friends support or find it weird? My experiences this far have outweighed my initial expectations. All I ever wanted was to share my performance and passion with others, and anything more than that was always going to be a bonus. So I never expected to make it past a first heat, let alone make it all the way to the National Finals in Sydney where myself and 14 poets got to perform on a stage that has been graced by the likes of Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Hugo Weaving. It was a huge buzz to perform to a crowd of over 500 people, all there to support the growing spoken word scene.

Q: What inspires you and how do you create your poetry? My own life experiences, other performance poets, poisonous flower petals floating down a bubbling brook on a silky spring morning, the intriguing interactions I have with complete strangers and the feeling of freefalling in love through clouds of cocoa butter bubbles sliding over my open pores. Inspiration can come in at any time but usually pops up when I have space in my life to create. Once I’m happy with a finished performance poem, I begin to have a strange relationship with it. I read it over and over until it’s a solid piece of dusty hardwood furniture in the cluttered lounge room of my mind. Once I’ve memorised it, I perform it to myself any chance I get - in the car, in the shower, while making sweet love to my beautiful girl (although I wouldn’t recommend that unless you have a very understanding partner). I’ll whisper it, say it with different accents, sing it like a 1970s disco/ country crossover song and once I’ve exhausted that process, only then do I perform it in front of friends or at a slam. This goes on till I write another piece, then I break up with that last one, and the whole process starts again. However I will often call on my older poems for a booty call from time to time, but it’s never the same.

Q: Tips or advice? I’ll give the same advice given to me by Ghostboy at one of his workshops - “own your words!” It doesn't matter if you’re talking about the neighbour’s cats’ sex life or the atrocities happening in the Congo, if you get on stage and own it, the audience will connect with that even if they don’t like what you have to say.

Q: Describe the Poetry Slam comp in 5 words. Eclectic, goosebumpy, surprising, endorphic, inspirational. Performance poetry is not about pompous poets reciting pretentious prose in monochrome jackets.

Check out the first heat of the Australian Poetry Slam ’11 at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Wednesday August 3.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:09

Moth

Theatre in Preview

“Sometimes there’s no scarier place to be than inside your own mind…” and therein lies the dark premise for the latest production ‘Moth’ at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:04

Theatre, Film & Dance Reviews

Flamenco Sin Fronteras
Dance in Review

Wednesday, 13 July 2011 14:26

Cosi Fan Tutte

Opera In Preview    

Mills & Boon, eat your hearts out, the latest production from Opera Queensland has seduction, drama, love, infidelity and scandals aplenty, not to mention moustached aristocrats. What more could one want from a musical outing?

The official synopsis reads like a script from ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’, ‘two sisters, two soldiers and one holiday villa by the sea set the scene for the ultimate test in love, loyalty and fidelity’ so get ready to embrace your inner drama queen when you see ‘Cosi fan tutte’. 

Zoe Taylor steps into the role of Dorabella, one of the sisters who is led astray by a charming stranger and wooed relentlessly until ending up at the altar. Zoe speaks affectionately about her character, describing her as “the petulant spoilt little sister” before explaining the plot in a succinct way even an opera novice can comprehend. “The opera is set in the Jane Austen time, and I think there are some nice parallels between this and the ‘Sense and Sensibility’-type situation where you have a strong older sister and a slightly flighty, more passionate younger sister. So Dorabella is the first one to sway in her love for her fiancé and the first to fall in love with her Albanian lover.” She pauses and laughs before adding, “not the world’s most sensible plot.”

The plot itself, is hilarious, ridiculous and utterly absorbing and is a light-hearted alternative to the usual opera fare. As Zoe points out, this opera would be an excellent choice if you don’t get to see opera very often. “It would be fantastic to see this as I think ‘Cosi’ would be the best one to go to if you haven’t seen a lot of opera. Simply because whilst it has a silly storyline, it is an interesting, light and fun situation at the start which becomes more complicated and serious as the opera goes on.” She sums up the plot, “Basically, you have to suspend belief slightly, as you have two sisters who are betrothed to two brothers. These boys have a friend who bets them that their fiancées will cheat as ‘all women are inconstant’ and bets them that within a day he can make these women waver in their love. The brothers don’t believe him and thus begins a silly farce where they go off to war  (allegedly) and then reappear in disguise as Albanian aristocrats replete with ridiculous moustaches and frightening coats and proceed to woo the other sister (not their fiancé).
Does that make sense?” she asks. Actually it does… and then she goes on to add that the sisters end up falling for the dashing strangers and end up at the altar. “But then this is stopped at the last minute by their ‘real’ lovers returning and everyone is unmasked and we all end up with our original lovers. Which, when you think about it, is slightly odd and disturbing as we’ve just been about to marry someone else.”

Aside from these Albanian courting techniques that seem infallible, there is also some serious and beautiful music to be appreciated. Zoe agrees and adds, “The thing that is really interesting about ‘Cosi’ from a more experienced point of view is that whilst the plot is light and frivolous, but the music is amongst some of Mozart’s best. So you have incredibly complex and beautiful ensemble pieces whereas with a lot of operas, you go for the famous aria or a beautiful duet. With ‘Cosi’ there are two very complicated quintets and an amazing sextet where the whole cast ends up singing this really complex interwoven music. This opera really is a masterpiece in terms of the musical sense. You just get glorious music the whole way though.”

Leading the team and reworking this romantic comedy is director David Berthold whom many would recognise as the Artistic Director of La Boite Theatre Company. Couple this with Opera Queensland bringing a relatively youthful cast together to perform a highly complex musical masterpiece (but whose storyline is about as fluffy as a white rabbit) and it seems a risky mix. But it is exactly this interesting mixing of intricacy and simplicity and the new and old that proves a successful formula and has created an opera that appeals to a very wide range of people.

 â€˜Cosi fan tutte’ is on until July 30 at the Conservatorium Theatre, QCGU.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011 14:19

Speaking in Tongues

Theatre in Preview

The latest production from Metro Arts is an award-winning play written by Andrew Bovell (‘When The Rain Stops Falling’) which also formed the basis of the iconic film ‘Lantana’. Anthea Patrick is part of the team bringing this play to the stage.

Q: What is your role in this production? Director/ Producer.

Q: Why should people see this? What will it make them feel/ think/ say? One of the major elements that drew me to this play is how Bovell gives an audience so much to do. From the moment the play begins the magic of the script draws you in, giving you a puzzle to piece together. A visceral depiction of six degrees of separation, ‘Speaking in Tongues’ tangles together the lives of nine characters, their intersecting relationships and ultimately, their betrayals. It will make an audience feel human. Anyone has put their heart on the line for love will empathise with these characters and get inside the gripping story that unfolds. It will leave you thinking, mulling and constructing long after you've left the theatre.

Q: Funny stories from the rehearsal room? We're all just a little bit nuts really! From group renditions of ‘Night-time - day-time’, ‘Allan Allan Allan’, and ‘Double Rainbow’ and a substantial amount of crude jokes (the show is a bit sexy after all), we have a pretty good time on and off stage. Apparently I dance impromptu... a lot.

Q: How does this compare to Andrew's other works? Bovell has a really stylistic approach. His works play with plot structure; presenting different times, locations and realms on stage simultaneously. He also likes to explore taboo subjects. These elements are qualities that define his style and were highly enjoyed by audiences last year when QTC presented ‘When The Rain Stops Falling'. Bovell writes very theatrical plays in the sense that they require a dynamic design concept and invite everyone involved into an exciting creative challenge.

Q: Anything else readers should know? We believe the play is beautiful, exciting and honest and something anyone can get stuck into. We can’t wait to share this work with you! We're running a two-for-one student ticket deal from the Thursday July 21 - Saturday July 23. Drop in on those nights with a friend and some student ID and get a free ticket between the two of you.

 

‘Speaking in Tongues’ will be on at Metro Arts from July 20 – August 6.

GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY
Metro Arts are giving away two double passes to the play for the Tuesday July 19 show at 7.30pm.
To win, email your name and contact number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." mce_' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy29366 + '\' target="_blank">'+addy_text29366+'<\/a>'; //--> with ‘Tongues’ in the subject header.

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 14:07

Rabbit

Theatre in Preview  

Hold the Berocca, this play is like a blurry boozy night out on the town but without the killer hangover. ‘Rabbit’, directed by Daniel Evans, written by Nina Raine and starring Amy Ingram as Bella, can be described as a one-night stand without the threat of a sexually transmitted disease, a trashy photograph that won’t be tagged on Facebook and an epiphany without the need for hallucinogenics or a trip to India. Basically, this play could reveal the meaning of your life, in the space of two hours, without any nasty side effects.


Dan Evans, local theatre-maker, performance teacher, resident comedian at Metro Arts and all round  fast talker, is at the helm of this production that is being staged mid July. He is also one of the busiest boys in Brisbane, having completed various works already this year with more in the pipeline. “Phew! I’m just coming out of ‘FreeRange’ at Metro Arts and then obviously I’ve got ‘Rabbit’ next and then was in Melbourne for another piece I’m working on. You know when it rains it pours, and when it doesn’t – it’s an effing drought! So you say to yourself ‘ I’ve got to push myself because these opportunities won’t come again.’” Aside from being a slave to the arts and traveling the globe for his craft, Dan has managed to stay in one place long enough to produce a fine piece of theatre, ‘Rabbit’ is funny with an acidic edge and witty with a side of wisdom.

Speaking of existential crises, Dan segues into the ‘Rabbit’ spiel. “It’s funny that you mention your dilemma because that’s kinda where Bella (the central character) finds herself. She is turning 29 and next year she will be 30. So there is that conundrum of arriving at the end of your twenties like a return of sorts. You’ve finished the university degree and now you should be working and a fully functioning human being. Instead we find Bella at the end of her twenties and the realization that party for her has to end.  She has been pushing herself so hard and so fast through her twenties and had daisy chain relationships, some sexual, some genuine love and now wakes up on her 29th birthday and needs to change.

“She has been a huge partier and so decides to invite all her friends, who don’t know each other because she’s kept them at a distance and separate from one another, saying, ‘let’s have a party, let’s go down to this bar and get completely shitfaced.’”

The drama unfolds over the night, the play being performed mostly in real time so you will live with these characters for two hours and feel the agony and ecstasy of getting older and knowing a deathly hangover is looming. Dan paints the picture quite succinctly, “As you’re watching, you begin to get to know Bella and her friends and find out that they are quite ugly people and in getting to know all their faults, you as the audience, are going to discover their Achilles heels.” Add to this, tension and drama because Bella is hiding a massive secret from all her friends and at the same time, trying desperately hard to keep it all together. Dan explains the result, “By the end of the night she has to learn to accept responsibility and realize that she does actually have to grow up. The twenties where she just went out and got drunk, had casual relationships and was reckless with people’s feelings – that has to stop.”

If it’s all sounding too close to home, then this play is the tonic you need. Dan speaks so passionately, it is clear that as a director, he is a knowledgeable about the problems facing Gen Y and the pressures felt to achieve everything, all at once, right now. “We are all so gung-ho. We go to school, we travel, we go to university, we get the PhD; it’s like we’re all delaying growing up. It’s a Peter Pan/ Lost Boys/ Wendy syndrome. This play is like Bella growing up and leaving Neverland finally. She does have to sail away and have to grow up.”
The timing of a theatre production can often impact its success but Dan is confident that Brisbane is ready for ‘Rabbit’. “At the moment in theatre there are a lot of serious heavy productions, surreal works and ‘Rabbit’ is arriving in Brisbane on stages when people are ready for a bit of a laugh, a laugh with a bit of a nice jab as well. The beauty of Nina’s writing is that it’s so bitchy and it’s so mean, it’s a comedy of errors melded with theatre of cruelty and it really slaps you. But everything is said with a smile and there is no holding back, not at all.”

 â€˜Rabbit’ is staged at Metro Arts Theatre from July 12-28.

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 14:03

The State Library Young Writers Awards

Competition in Preview
Are you a budding wordsmith, with stories to tell and readers to entertain, captivate and enthrall? Then obviously you will be entering the State Library’s Young Writers Award competition. If you need any more convincing or motivation to overcome your debilitating writer’s block – then surely the $2000 prize money is the incentive you need.

Open to Queensland residents, aged between 18 and 25, there is less than two weeks left to get your short story written. Past winners have included Tara June Winch, Christopher Currie and Alasdair Duncan have all gone on to national and international acclaim including last year’s winner Sarah Boothroyd and Helen Drake (winner of the encouragement award).

Sarah Boothroyd

Winner of Young Writers Award 2010 for her story ‘The Road to the River’.


Q: What does writing mean to you? Writing means reading! I love reading - serious or frivolous, there’s a place for all stories. When I write, I hope that someone (at least one person!), someday, will read and enjoy my stories.

Q: Why did you enter this competition? Did you think you would do so well? I almost didn’t enter - I didn’t think my writing was good enough to win. Luckily, I sent my story in at the last minute. Winning was a completely awesome surprise.

Q: When did you start writing... do you remember why and what motivated you? Writing always felt like the best way of sharing my thoughts and ideas with people (it helps that I’m a terrible public speaker). I’ve always written little bits and pieces, but this was the first story I planned out properly.

Q: Best and worst parts of being a writer? The best part is reading something you’ve written and thinking “wow, did I write that?” The worst part is reading something you’ve written and thinking “oh noooo, did I write that?”

Q: Describe your work/ style in five words?
It’s like... a hopeful explorer, travelling alone.

Q: Anything else that readers should know?
Make sure you plan your story - 2,500 words seems long at the start, but it gets shorter towards the end. And once it’s written, get some (honest) friends to give you feedback.

 


Helen Brake

Young Writers Award 2010 Encouragement Award recipient for her story ‘Hobbe’s Samoyed Acquisition’


Q: What does writing mean to you?
Writing is a way of exploring why a particular moment, thought, or image has haunted me with a feeling of special significance. Writing helps me think through why something is beautiful, sad or amusing. Sometimes I find I’ve fossicked out greater understanding while other times I’ve merely celebrated something I still don’t fully comprehend.

Q: Why did you enter this competition? Did you think you would do so well?
I’d been taking an elective narrative writing course at uni (I was studying literature) as I thought it would be an interesting challenge to try producing fiction, rather than critiquing and analysing it. A week before the submission deadline my tutor sent out an email with another reminder about the YWA and a link to the application form. She had made it so easy to enter, I figured, why not.

Q: Best and worst parts of being a writer? I’m not sure whether I call myself a writer. A writer is someone with a gold-and-green court lamp, overdue rent and a special commission to communicate something otherworldly to humankind. The best thing about writing, for me, is the deepening thrill as a question, incongruity, or absurdity I’ve been mulling sparks an idea for a story or poem. The worst parts of writing are those frustrating, disappointing times which seem to begin several steps into a piece. I have a clear idea of the story I wish to build when the bricks (POV, context, character etc) I’ve been carefully and joyfully lining-up stop fitting together and it becomes increasingly more ‘work’ and less ‘fun’ trying to place them side by side.

Q: Anything else that readers should know? Just do it. If you have a piece written, excellent, submit it. Now. Stop doubting and over-critiquing it and give your story a chance to be enjoyed by others. Let me mimic my tutor for a moment and give you a kick up the proverbial backside. It’s time.

The Young Writers Award closes at 5pm on Friday July 15. For more details www.slq.qld.gov.au/youngwriters

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 17:01

Belong

Dance in Preview   

Elma Kris is dancing in the wind – as both choreographer and dancer in ‘About’, a new work commissioned by Stephen Page for Bangarra Dance Theatre. A dancer for over ten years with the company, this is her second piece as choreographer and she is feeling both nervous and inspired.

The two-part Bangarra performance entitled ‘Belong’ features a section by Stephen Page and one by Elma. "My section is called 'About' and looks into aspects of Torres Strait Island culture and how the environment is so important to us as islanders.” Proud of her heritage, she was driven by memories and moments spent with her parents when choreographing this work.

“It is reflecting on how knowledge is passed down - knowledge of the land, seas, sky. It's about looking into the winds. I also give you, the audience, a language to describe these winds, rather than the European names. The words to describe the winds are Naigai, Zei, Sager and Kuki, and this was all told to me by my parents. They liked to go fishing, travel island to island by aluminium dinghy, so the winds became important to us.”

Her voice is animated as she describes the long ago conversations, “When I remember them talking about these things, they say ‘you mustn’t forget you can't even see the winds but can only feel them on your body, like emotions’. You can feel them on your skin, react to them - you feel, you fear.” If you have seen previous Bangarra performances, you will understand that this isn’t an odd or abstract subject matter choice, rather one that speaks to both choreographers and dancers and resonates with them. Elma speaks with reverence when talking of nature, “When it becomes a new day, you can feel it and you're like 'wow what a gorgeous day. What can we do today?' Things we see, we adapt to them but we can't see the wind. We can only see what it does to nature, the effect it has on trees. Or nothing moves because there is no wind. That kind of movement, the wind like a spirit, it is so inspiring.”

As part of the Bangarra ‘Belong’ national tour, Elma’s work speaks of the links between the land and the people, between communities and their environment. She explains, “It's my second work and it's more contemporary, more abstract. The music is fantastic. But still I worry how to convey the wind through the dancers. I think they will probably have expression on their faces, they will change from one section to the next section - depending on which wind they are representing. It becomes their journey as well for how do they see these winds? How do they feel it on their skin? How do they move their bodies?”

Her enthusiasm is contagious and her rapid-fire words flow fast, explaining her world on stage. “I like when you think about it - when you think about the weather because usually it's more about what you can see (like the rain, or the sun). But I feel with this show, I'm painting pictures and I want to bring this wind on stage and use the dancers bodies to represent that. It's kind of a magical, mystical moving of the wind, and they move like spirits.”

In an interesting addition, Elma will also be part of the production on stage as a storyteller.  When questioned, she explains, “The storyteller becomes the human because she is telling the story, she is not the wind. It is an experiment in how to use the body of a woman or a man to project this. It’s making it translate to the audience, I want to make them feel the wind like they are there, like it is washing over them as they watch.”

A company is nothing however without their dancers and Elma is full of praise for the Bangarra troupe. “The dancers are beautiful and they work so hard. When we are working and they do the moves and they come up with a shape – then I say to them ‘yes can I have that shape’ or I do my shape and then they add to it or want to add a jump to it and I have to say ‘hold on, I still have to work this out and you’re getting so excited.’ I do wonder what the audience will think and feel when they’re watching it. The dancers are all amazing and because I’m looking at it – I can see what they can’t and it looks so good.”

‘Belong’ by Bangarra Dance Theatre is on at the Playhouse QPAC from July 1-9.

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