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Thank You, 2011: And everyone who contributed along the way

2011 was an amazing year for me and my theatre-making endeavours.
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to put on The Wooden Leg’s first season of shows at The Owl & The Pussycat in September.
Thank you to everyone involved in Richard Di Gregorio: On Time – my first foray into the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Thank you to Short & Sweet for continuing to showcase new works from emerging artists – and to Nicole Bilson for bringing Poems a Dead Boy Wrote to life.
Onward and upward in 2012.
Thanks to the creative team behind Painting with Words and Fire, which will premiere in February 2012.
Thanks to David Attrill and Sarah Connor, who are working hard on Like a House on Fire, for its late January premiere at Short & Sweet Sydney.
And more thanks to all involved with Richard Di Gregorio: On Time before we head off to Adelaide for Fringe in late February.
I’m already hard at work on shows that will hopefully see the light of day in late 2012: a full-lenth play or two and a s…

My Favourite Theatre of 2011

With my theatre-going year over, here is a list of my favourite productions of 2011. The Top Ten, The Runners Up and the Honourable Mentions are all listed in alphabetical order. In years past, I’ve ranked my top ten or twenty shows. This year I decided I wouldn’t put myself through that kind of torture.
Without any further ado, my favourite shows of 2011... THE TOP 10
Boxman – If Theatre
Daniel Keene plus Matt Scholten – an unbeatable combination. Again.


Christina: A Story with Music –Attic Erratic
This moving and haunting tale of lost love was beautifully realised by writer/actor/composer Tom Pitts and director Celeste Cody. And the set, the set! Amazing.


Clybourne Park  - Melbourne Theatre Company
A smart and funny satire on racial politics and real estate. A companion piece to the classic A Raisin in the Sun, it was fully deserving of its Pulitzer Prize.
Delectable Shelter - The Hayloft Project
After last year’s one-two punch of Thyestes and The Nest, this is the only Hayloft Project…

Three Shows, Three States, Three Months: Already Very Busy in 2012

In fact, from the opening of Like a House on Fire through the two week season of Painting with Words and Fire (formerly Three Women) to the end of Richard Di Gregorio: On Time – it’s less than six weeks. Late January to early March.
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First up, as part of Short & Sweet Sydney, my ten minute ode to pyromania and sexuality, Like a House on Fire will play at the Newtown Theatre from January 25 to January 28 (8pm) and January 29 (5.15pm). Directed by David Attrill and starring Sarah Connor, I’m thrilled to have something on in Sydney – finally – and it’s a good excuse to go back after having been there so recently.

Also, while in Sydney, I get to check out Griffin’s new production of The Boys – which should be suitably confronting in that small space. Also tempted to check out Hayloft’s Thyestes – which Belvoir is producing at Carriageworks, but I’m afraid that seeing it a second time might dilute its power.
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Next up, at Revolt Melbourne Artspace in Kensington, a tryptic of monologu…

FOURSOME: Thoughts on The Economist, Return to Earth, Boxman, Little Match Girl

Let’s hear it for new Australian work – from pop-up theatres to our mainstages, new work from established and emerging artists is flourishing across Melbourne. And these are only the ones I’ve seen. But it’s thrilling to have seen four new Australian shows in a row, even when the end results are mixed.
THE ECONOMIST by Tobias Manderson-Galvin, directed by Van Badham
There’s been a lot said of The Economist, even before its first preview on Tuesday night. It tackles the difficult subject of Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik – slightly fictionalised here as Andrew Berwick. Local media didn’t like Manderson-Galvin’s criticism of the media in regards to the case, nor of his highlighting the fact that Brevik had quoted rightwing Australian politicians and pundits in his manifesto.
The play, as I expected, cannot be judged on the conservative backlash it has received. The play is an interesting meditation on how a man like Brevik and his worldview is formed, but it doesn’t really attack his…

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Poetry, Fire, Cabaret & Bombshells: Two Weeks of Theatre-Making and Theatre-Going

The last two weeks have been a blur, so much so that I keep forgetting it’s November. And November is almost half over.
Short & Sweet Melbourne has come and is almost gone. Tonight is the Gala Finale, featuring 11 under-ten-minute pieces starring and written by and directed by some of the most talented people working in Melbourne’s independent theatre today.
Unfortunately, my piece Poems a Dead Boy Wrote failed to make the final – for which I am most disappointed for Nicole Bilson, who did an amazing job as Jane, a woman grieving the loss of her boyfriend. I am really proud of the piece – a monologue – and so thrilled Nicole was on board for the production. I got some really great (and useful) feedback from friends and colleagues through the five-show run – and as always, Short & Sweet is amazing for meeting new people and for putting on exciting short works.
I saw all forty-two shows across the four Short & Sweet programmes – plus squeezed in one night of Short & Swe…

What if this character was a woman? Making important writing choices

“Write what you know” is a frequently repeated, important early lesson for novice writers. On the face of it, it seems like basic common sense; you can’t write about what you don’t know. You can’t write something that feels true, if you don’t know the truth of it yourself.
On a deeper level, it really means – write what you understand, write what you feel. Don’t just write about your life (that’s an easy trap to fall into and very difficult to make work as a young writer), but write about your experience through characters you create. Characters who are part you, part other people you know and part creation/reaction/relation to the world.
I wrote a short play once (it never really worked as a short; it might be a full length one day) about three people penning a speech for the commander of the first manned mission to Mars. The three characters were the White House Communications Director, a Media Consultant for NASA and a Pulitzer Prize Winner. At this point in time, I am none of those …

Poems A Dead Boy Wrote – Short & Sweet Melbourne 2011

Today was the first rehearsal I was able to attend for Poems a Dead Boy Wrote, the piece of mine that will be part of the Top 22 plays at Short & Sweet Melbourne, 2011.
I met director Flora Georgiou during auditions and, happily, I was there the day Nicole Bilson auditioned – because once Flora had cast her, I already knew we were onto a winner.
The audition process was much different this year to last – more collaborative and asked more of the actors. They read their audition pieces, took part in movement exercises, were encouraged to take part in “Hot Seat” – as a way of opening up about themselves, as well as reading their audition monologues for a second time under the direction of Anthony Crowley, the Festival Director for this year’s season.
Throughout the process, Nicole relaxed, opened up and the second reading of her monologue felt like a wholly different character to the first. It was amazing to watch. (A lot of other actors did great jobs, too - and I would have had a…

On Time: three more shows, then Adelaide 2012

"[Richard's] storytelling style and dramatisation allowed the show to be  meaningful and somewhat philosophical amongst the jokes."  - Chris Dewberry, Comedy Beast Magazine
If there's one thing that all my previous shows have had in common - productions have happened long after I've written the scripts and turnaround has been really quick. Six week rehearsals or two week rehearsals - or that one time I wrote a play in a weekend for a Sunday night performance. Good times.

On Time has been with me since December, through first draft, rewrites, short film shooting and rehearsals, it's the most time I've spent on a project before its production. And there's only three shows left? Really?

The other big difference is that Richard, Chris, Ephiny and I are already looking at a future for the show - having almost decided on a venue for the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2012. It's always been at the back of my mind that the show would and could tour. And it'…

DON’T MISS THE MOMENT: MTC’s 2012 Season

The first thing that struck me about this new Melbourne Theatre Company season – designed by Robyn Nevin, Pamela Rabe and Aidan Fennessy – was how it has veered away from showcasing emerging local writers (Robert Reid, Lally Katz) but has been thoroughly generous with debuting exciting independent directors (Matt Scholten, Anne-Louise Sarks, Alkinos Tsilimidos) on Melbourne’s main stages.
Not so many World Premieres then (Australia Day, Music) but a rash of exciting productions from beginning to end – with two venerable Melbourne writers bookending the season with Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (a Neil Armfield transfer from Belvoir) and Ray Oakley’s brand new Music.
Though Australian classics don’t always fill me with confidence, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, always feels like an important Australian work to me – an important Melbourne work, in particular. Ironic then that this production with birthed in Sydney, but exciting to have a Belvoir show transfer to MTC rather …

The December Photo: from inspiration to a Melbourne Fringe show

Look at us. Look how young we look. Look how full of hope and creativity and smiles we are.
We’re in Richard’s office, sitting in front of his Mac, generating ideas for the one man show that would eventually become RICHARD DI GREGORIO: ON TIME – which premiered at the Melbourne Fringe Festival last night.
(And check out the online story which got published in the hours before opening night.)
Richard and I met when Richard was cast in my play, “The Fidelity Act” – part of last year’s Short & Sweet Melbourne. (Thanks to Ephiny Gale for picking my script and to Yvonne Virsik for suggesting Richard, when Ephiny was having trouble casting the part of Charlie. This year would have been entirely different for us without those two people.)
During rehearsals, which began in October, Richard asked me what else I’d written. He asked if I had ever written a one-man show. It’s a great feeling as a writer to have an actor ask for more of your work – whether to find a part already written that they …

Reflections on when life changes: MTC's Circle Mirror Transformation

Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation is a gentle play which slowly excavates the characters' lives from beneath the most deliberately false of facades - acting. In fact, it pokes gentle fun at the art of becoming someone else by setting the story in a community college in Vermont - far away from the bright lights of the New York stage and far away from what the young character of Lauren (Brigid Gallacher) thinks acting is about.

The danger in play that uses acting as a metaphor - and acting classes and exercises to lend weight to the material - is that it might feel a bit too "inside" for most audiences. Even theatre audiences, who are used to live theatre, might not be aware of these tricks of the trade - how actors learn to be present, learn to trust themselves and each other, how they learn to open up without exposing themselves.

And yet, this show sidesteps that problem quite effectively. Yes, there were definitely some knowing laughs in the audience (pick …

You Can Take A Picture: Meeting Alan Ball and TV as (bad) influence

It used to be cringe-worthy to say I was inspired to become a writer by the television I watched. I was a voracious reader as a child and I was exposed to theatre and was a film buff as a teenager, but the lasting narratives in my life were television serials. Often soap operas. But TV was a constant with me as a child. It's where my lasting love of continuing stories comes from.

It's no coincidence then that one TV show I could point to as a great influence on me - when I was studying writing and had to articulate what made me love long-form television narratives - was Twin Peaks. It was soap opera and detective series and Gothic melodrama of the highest order. And it was one of the very early examples of feature film auteurs putting their stamp on the small screen.

I used to say Twin Peaks was my favourite television series. And certainly in the context of TV shows that changed the face of TV - and my opinion of the medium, David Lynch and Mark Frost's cult television se…

News from the world of Keith

It's been an amazing - and ridiculously busy - week. I won't ever talk much about my day job here, but it's also gotten insanely busy just as one of my shows opens and the other opens in less than two weeks.

THE WOODEN LEG season of short plays at The Owl and the Pussycat in Richmond had an amazing opening night - full house and some great feedback from the audience after. I've been to all three performances so far and I think the show is getting stronger and stronger every night. I particularly love the intimacy of the three spaces and how that is helping tell all three stories. The audiences are quite confronted by "You Will Be Kissed By Princess Leia" - especially as they circle the actors, like people surrounding a schoolyard fight. And of particular interest is the moment when Paul throws Tom against one wall - forcing the audience to move or get crushed in this great moment of physical theatre. (I was on that wall opening night, so it seemed staged. Last…

The Wooden Leg: Dress Rehearsal Day!

I took some photos during the rehearsals/run-throughs before the dress rehearsal today because at dress we ran the shows one after the other to see how the night flows and I didn't want to distract actors with a camera. Flows really well. Here's one shot from each play. Opens Wednesday at Owl and Pussycat in Richmond.

Book now!




Shooting Everyone! Making the intro for "Richard Di Gregorio: On Time"

Look at that pained expression in my eyes. That's the writer in me wanting to run away from the greasepaint make-up and the indignity of standing out in public - having people stare, even as I hid behind this mask of character. Or, you know, I hate having my photo taken even when I'm unrecognisable!

There's definitely a frustrated actor in me wanting to get out, but usually I leave it up to the trained and the professional. Today, I shot a cameo for the introductory sequence for Richard Di Gregorio: On Time - on sale now! End plug.

(If anyone out there knows about the character I am playing, can you keep that to yourselves, thanks :-)

In fact, most of the people already involved in the production are taking part in front of the camera for this introduction to the show. Producer Ephiny Gale, Director Chris Broadstock will be front a centre for a line or two - as well as Richard's partner, Niniane LePage, and Chris Broadstock's mother, Joan. Nick Brien (who starred a…

The Wooden Leg is coming to life

We all make plans. We all talk about the plans we have made. But do we all get what we want out of life in the end? Do we get our happy ending? Brand new theatre company, The Wooden Leg, performs three short plays over 5 nights at The Owl and Pussycat, Richmond from 7-11 September.

The audience will be guided through three different spaces where they will find themselves immersed in three different worlds in which the characters live, love, question, and make decisions. Or try to make decisions, about what it is they need to go on living their lives.

With a talented cast of upcoming actors these dark comedies from New Australian Writers Keith Gow and Hayley Lawson Smith, are brought to life with energy and truth. Lauren Hopley, Christine Husband and Paul Knox took on the immense challenge of directing these plays, with only 2 weeks to rehearse and the hectic work schedules of all of the emerging artists involved. With the pressure on, the result is honest, passionate and real performa…