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Showing posts from July, 2011

Film 564/1001: Richard Linklater’s Slacker (or, where did those last 20 years go?)

I am not crazy or OCD enough to think I’ll ever get through all 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die , but a few years ago when I got the book, I did want to tally up how many I’d seen from the list which begins with 1902’s Le Voyage Dans La Lune ( A Trip to the Moon , d: Georges Melies) and ends with Kill Bill, Volume 1 – at least in the 2004 edition. Janet Leigh as Marion Crane in Psycho (1960) At the time of my first count, I’d seen around 550 – since then I’ve caught up with a few more and subsequent editions of the book have added 78 more titles from the 2000s and presumably slicing out films that no longer make the cut. I have seen 44 of the 78 newer films, or 56% of the 1079 total. This represents a self-guided film education, which has slowed down over recent years. Still, I sometimes get around to watching films from the 1001 list that I’ve always been meaning to see. The most recent – Slacker from 1991. Director Richard Linklater is responsible for what I occasio

Traditional theatres, found spaces and Four Larks' Undine

Four Larks' Undine After Melbourne Theatre Company’s thrilling adaptation of Hamlet last Monday night, in their relatively new, state-of-the-art traditional theatre with as much money as you’d expect on stage outside of an imported Broadway musical, it was lovely to see Four Larks’ new show, Undine , produced in a non-traditional space – someone’s garage. And be as engaged in this intimate venue as in the Sumner earlier in the week. Nearly all the shows I see are in traditional theatres – from the giant State Theatre to the intimate La Mama on Faraday St, but a found space like a garage or even something as odd as the Collingwood Underground Carpark, gives the piece an added layer of experience. Attic Erratic’s Christina – A Story with Music was memorable for all its elements – acting, script, music, set and score, but the depth of the space (the Carpark) also resonates in my mind. As it if were a stage that went on forever. Four Larks’ Undine shares some visual element

Unpack my heart with words: MTC's Hamlet

Photo by Jeff Busby  Every time I see Hamlet , I want to write a lot about how this production compares to all the other stage and film versions I have seen. Structure changes, cuts, line readings, performances - every time I see something new, unpacking new subtext from the heart of Shakespeare's play. But I'd like to keep this brief. Ewen Leslie researched the role by watching as many film versions of the character as he could, which is the antithesis of how actors typically work. As far as I can tell, most would rather not be accused of being too influenced by notable performances past. But with his all in approach, Leslie seems to have steeled himself against the possibility of echoing an old performance by finding a fresh angle on Hamlet - a Prince of Denmark who is tormented, troubled and ready to have fun while riding on the edge of insanity. From playing with a gun while he questions, "To be or not to be" to dismissing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with a

Selling myself

Writers write. Writers who write for performance obviously can't and don't work in isolation. It's a collaborative medium and I love that part of the process. Watching a script of mine go from page, through a director's head and into an actors' body, is like watching an incredible metamorphosis. Sometimes I write things that suggest they should be short stories or novels (though there's rarely a voice suggesting I finish those novels, dammit), and there's a lot of creative satisfaction in writing prose that is entirely mine. From my fingers to the page. From the page to the readers' eyes. Still incredible. I still hide behind "writers write", though. Even though, as an independant theatre maker, I am used to finding actors to do readings, finding directors to give me feedback, and pitching to producers/production managers (read: usually friends) to get work off the ground. But there are still times when I feel like actors, directors and p

Walking out... I couldn't do it, could you?

Every so often, I think about walking out of a play, but I can't. I've never done it and I don't think I ever could. I've never walked out of a film, either. It's not in my nature. In the end, I'd rather suffer through the entire thing so I can criticise the entire play, rather than leave halfway and never know if it got any better or any worse. This has come to mind now, not because I wanted to walk out of Terence Malick's big budget experimental film The Tree of Life , but because apparently walk outs are becoming a phenomenon with that particular movie. And in a packed theatre at Cinema Nova last night, the walk outs were notable by their absense when the lights came up at the end. It certainly won't be to everyone's taste. It's very much an impressionistic film that explores grand ideas through mood and beauty, rather than telling a coherent narrative. But, even those moments in the film that were the most challenging on a "need for

Three Women, how it began...

While pre-production for On Time barrels along, I'm also working on a show with the working title of Three Women. This will certainly not be the finished title, but it works right now because it's about three women. I've written a lot of short plays - mostly inspired by the opportunities offered by the Short & Sweet Festivals, and the fact I've been produced a couple of times there. And, like short films, ten-minute plays can really get to the heart of a character or situation and tell strong, short stories. Having written On Time for Richard - the first time I've written a one-person show, I wanted to write a couple of one-woman pieces. This led to me writing two short plays, "Poems a Dead Boy Wrote" and "Like a House on Fire". The first was read at Melbourne Theatre Collective and the second at the Cold Reading Series - and both got really strong reactions. Admittedly, "Poems" got a more sombre reaction - because it's a

Melbourne Fringe Show - Ten Weeks To Go...

I'll be writing more about the content of On Time closer to Fringe, but just wanted to say a few words about where we are in the pre-production process after our most recent meeting. Last night was our first in-depth discussion about marketing and promotion, which always seems daunting to me, since it's not something I tend to think about as a writer. Producers, sure - that's their job. Actors, definitely - they usually have to do all the talking. But I think we've got some good ideas and our connections in the media are pretty strong, too. We went over a list of answers we need to get from our venue and talked about when we'll need to print up posters, send out press releases and the like. I also got to hear some of the music from the show, which got me really excited since music is something I have an opinion on but basically no talent for. Finding collaborators that can bring different elements to make the show better are awesome. And tonight we got sent a

Lights up.

A writer sits in front of his laptop, trying to find the right words to introduce himself and decides simplicity is best. Hi, I'm Keith. I'm a playwright, living in Melbourne, Australia. The last three years has seen my plays - both short and full-length - read, workshopped and produced in various venues across Melbourne (and once in Malaysia, in 2008). I'm currently in pre-production on two shows; one that's headed for the Melbourne Fringe Festival in September and October 2011, and one that's aiming for production in November. It's a busy time for me - and it's a busy time for the Melbourne creative community. I want to write a little bit about the process of putting both of these shows on. I wish I'd started blogging about them when they were first conceived, but as with most things creative, it's not always easy to pinpoint their conception. Over the coming weeks and months, I'm going to look back on how both these projects began - b