Saturday, 12 November 2011

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


"Imagine if Rowling dropped with Goblet of Fire,
we'd all have lost the plot..."
Props from Poems a Dead Boy Wrote

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 & Sweet Cabaret, which showcased some incredible musical talent. Chapel Off Chapel has felt like a home-away-from home for the past two weeks – and I’ll miss it, but I’ve made some great new friends and contacts during the process, even if things didn’t go as smoothly for me personally as they did last year.

Highlights of the festival for me: Tim Mager’s Bot, Kathyn Goldie’s The Kind of Man, Mark Loder’s Surrender (featuring incredible performances by Vivenne Garnett and Kerry-Anne Haffern), Nir Shelter’s Life of Death, Tom Mesker’s Spinning (directed by the multi-talented Nicole Bilson), Gary Dooley’s Datenav (directed by Christine Husband), Fleur Murphy’s Shadows of Angels (featuring the  incredible Kara Stacey Merrin), Jane Miller’s A Taxing Revenge,  Mark Andrew’s Climate Change, Con Nats’ The Pond and A Stitch in Time (winner of Short & Sweet Auckland).

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Poems a Dead Boy Wrote was supposed to be produced as part of Short & Sweet Brisbane/Gold Coast last weekend, but due to personal issues, the actor had to pull out late in the rehearsal process and too late for the director to recast. It’s a shame.

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Meanwhile, another of my short pieces (and another of my one-woman monologues to feature in Three Women next year), Like a House on Fire will premiere at Short & Sweet Sydney in early 2012. I’m thrilled to, at last, be invited to be involved in Sydney – and can’t wait to see how that piece shapes up. The director and I discussed casting younger than I originally envisioned – and this excites me, purely because of the director’s commitment to the actor he has cast, as well as the actor’s personal connection to the piece.

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Last week I had the priviledge of seeing an incredible production of Johanna Murray-Smith’s Bombshells at the Owl and the Pussycat. (Note: Melbourne independent theatre practitioners, please lend your support to Save the Owl & the Pussycat at the venue tomorrow!) 

Produced by new company Lil’ Frenchy Legs, Bombshells was originally written for one actor – the amazing Caroline O’Connor. This version splits the work amongst three incredible actors: Madeline French, Stephanie Lillis and Tilly Legge. I was absolutely blown away by the actors themselves, presenting six wildly different women in six very strong monologues. I was transfixed and delighted by the performances and the production itself – directed by Jim French.

Sounds like the show has been very well received, with several sold out nights – including the show’s final performance tonight. I’d urge you all to see it, but there isn’t a single ticket left. But keep an eye on what these women do next – it’s sure to be incredible.

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I now have a week off from my 9-to-5 job, which will afford me lots of time to work more on Three Women, as well as see some more great theatre – including the last couple of MKA Open Season readings at their new pop-up venue in Abbotsford, and two shows in Sydney, where I’ll be spending next weekend, to catch up with a couple of friends and get away from it all. But it's hard to leave theatre behind.

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