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Thank you, 2012: Taking my theatre to new places

As you might have seen from my Favourite Theatre 2012 list, I saw lots of theatre in lots of different places this year. I also had multiple productions of my own work across four different cities: Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and a reading in New York City.
First of all, I’d like to thank my collaborators in the Wooden Leg – our little theatre company, that’s still learning to make theatre but has plans for the future, so look out! Thank you, Wallis Murphy-Munn, Andrew Dodds and Hayley-Lawson Smith for challenging me, supporting me and giving of yourselves in the form of new works we will develop over the course of 2013.
And in chronological order:
Thank you David Attrill and Erin McMullen for their work on Like a House on Fire, as part of Short & Sweet Sydney 2012.
Thank you – please don’t let me forget anyone – Renee Palmer, Christine Husband, Adrienne Sloan, Andre Stefan White, Ryan Hodge and the team at Revolt for their work on Painting with Words & Fire. Also, a hat tip …

My Favourite Theatre of 2012

This year, I saw shows in Adelaide, New York, Sydney and Melbourne. Here are my Top Ten, Runners-Up and Honourable Mentions.
They are listed in alphabetical order. I didn’t want to torture myself by having to rank them.
THE TOP TEN
BOY GIRL WALL - The Escapists, Melbourne Theatre Company A smart, insightful, cleverly-written, engagingly-performed monologue about a Boy, a Girl and the Wall in between them.

THE BOYS - Griffin Theatre Company, Sydney Sam Strong’s powerful production of the heavy-hitting Australian classic. A tour-de-force for everyone involved.
INTO THE WOODS - Public Theatre, New York Any show, even one of Sondheim’s best, might not be able to live up to the expectation I had for wanting to see it in Central Park so badly I based my trip to New York around when it was playing. It exceeded expectations.
ONCE - Broadway The perfect little movie is developed into a perfectly crafted immersive stage musical. A revelation.
ON THE MISCONCEPTION OF OEDIPUS - Malthouse The Oedipus m…

Eight Minutes: Production Photos by 3 Fates Media

My latest short play, Eight Minutes, opened at Chapel Off Chapel this week as part of Short & Sweet Theatre 2012.

3 Fates Media is the official photographer of the event - their website, their Facebook page. Check them out if you are after portrait photography, video production or theatre photography. More details on their website.




Being the first show after intermission is fun - and Theatre Week B is entirely different to Theatre Week A. There's a lot more "off the wall" stuff this week.
I'm very proud of this little show. Director Clara Pagone has really brought Eight Minutes to life in an exciting and innovative way - and Sean & Anna have found some thrilling ways to embody these characters' stories.
Two more performances tomorrow: 1:30pm and 7:30pm. Come along, check out 10 bite-size shows and vote for your favourite. And join us in the bar for a drink after.

You only live twice: SKYFALL and the resurrection of Ian Fleming’s James Bond

Spoiler warning for the entire Bond franchise - books and films, but specifically for Skyfall. See it before you read this review!
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I’ve been a big fan of James Bond since high school, back in a time when the only way to see the movies was when they appeared on television; for some reason, they were never all available on VHS to hire and never to buy. In between seeing the movies on TV and waiting for the next ones to be released (the first Bond film I saw on the big screen was The Living Daylights), I read the original Ian Fleming novels, most of which I bought from second hand book stores.
So, as much as I see problems with both the books and the films, each iteration is of its time and I’m still drawn to the character in a similar way to when I was twelve years old. I just have so much fun with them. But I also adore the character and the world Fleming created. And it’s nice to see his original vision respected, while James Bond continues to grow in the twenty-first century.


Ian F…

Announcing the Director and Stars of "Eight Minutes" - Short & Sweet Melbourne 2012

There are three basic ways to experience a Short & Sweet Festival:

1) As a wildcard, performed once (or twice) - with all your work focused on that one (or those two) performances to impress an audience
2) As a Top Thirty play - five performances spread over a week, a decent but short season to show off your ten minute play, put together in a handful of weeks by writer, director and actors that are basically thrown together randomly
3) As an Independent Theatre Company submission - where an independent theatre company presents the show as a group, able to handpick their director and have more discretion over casting, production, etc.

And as I've been involved in three Short & Sweet Festivals in Melbourne now, I've progressed through each of those experiences. They all have their pros and cons, but for me, developing this project with The Wooden Leg team has been the most fulfilling to this point thus far.

Wallis, Andy, Hayley and I got to decide which play we were goin…

“Fate Will Twist The Both of You”: Twenty Year School Reunion and the party next door...

Twelve months ago, I premiered a short play of mine at The Owl & the Pussycat in Richmond. Titled You Will Be Kissed By Princess Leia, the play was about how you can’t always live up to the dreams you had when you were fifteen years old. It’s definitely the most autobiographical of all my plays, dealing with one character at age 15 and at age 35, interrogating himself about where he’s been and where he’s going. It’s about finding your feet as a kid and finding your comfort zone as an adult.
There was some fun to be had in the fifteen-year-old not understanding references his thirty-five-year old self makes. And some drama in the conflict between how the character had been as a teenager and how he’d wished he’d been. And the show was done in the round in the Owl & the Pussycat’s then-gallery space, as if the crowd was surrounding two kids fighting in the schoolyard.
After the show, if we weren’t drinking at the Pussycat, we’d head next door to Holliava to talk about how that n…

“A mote of dust suspended in a sun beam”: Optic Nerve’s PALE BLUE DOT

The cinema has a grand tradition of science fiction that is cherished and respected, lauded and revered. The genre seems quietly overlooked by theatre. Where are the great plays about scientific discovery? Where are the great plays of specualtive fiction? Please, if you know of any, recommend them to me. It’s certainly a wish of mine to try my hand at science fiction on stage.
Optic Nerve’s Pale Blue Dot is a mix of fact and fiction – an ode to science, which reveres its grandeur while also poking and proding its humanity. A collage of stories about the infinity of space and the limits of photography and art at capturing such epic majesty.
“Pale Blue Dot” is a photograph taken by the Voyager space craft in 1990, a photograph of Earth not taken for strict scientific purposes but as a picture of perspective. Carl Sagan fought to have the photograph taken, just as early astronauts postponed sleep for mere minutes of “sight seeing” in space – human need over scientific necessity.
The play fi…

Quoting himself, badly: Aaron Sorkin and The Newsroom

A long time ago, I was told not to use a famous quote to open a play – because I was setting myself up for comparison and dooming myself to failure. Quote Shakespeare or Proust or Freud, but do it somewhere in the middle, where it rolls off the tongues of your characters and not as the first impression the audience has of your work.





Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom doesn’t open with a quote as such, but it does – just as his Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip did 6 years ago – open with a Network-like “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” scene, setting up comparisons between Sorkin and Paddy Chayefsky, as well as between the two narratives.
For me, though, the problem here is not this direct comparison but the shorthand way that Sorkin is telling and re-telling stories. Two later episodes (“Amen” and “The Greater Fool”) climax with Sorkin repurpsoing other people’s endings to finish his stories – as if acknowledging the lifts from Rudy and Oliver Twist is enough to absolve h…

A New Light: Melbourne Theatre Company 2013

The launch of the Melbourne Theatre Company's 2013 season - under the leadership of new Artistic Director Brett Sheehy, accomplished a lot. A new logo - neon. A name for the MTC theatre building - the Southbank Theatre. The Open Door initiatives: shows for young audiences, Pathways for emerging artists and Neon - a thrilling studio season.

Oh, yes - and the eleven plus one shows that make up the MTC's mainstage season. Including another brand new initiative, Zeitgeist - more on that in a moment.
While the umbrella title for the season is "A New Light", the theme of the launch was inclusiveness. 
We have household names like David Williamson, alongside other mainstage regulars like Johanna Murray-Smith and Allison Bell and Robyn Nevin, presenting work with Sam Strong, Simon Stone, Alkinos Tsilimidos and Nadia Tass.
And the incredible Neon initiative, allowing The Haylot Project, Sisters Grimm, The Rabble, Fraught Outfit and Daniel Schlusser Ensemble to present brand …

Broadway, Off Broadway & a Cabaret Show: Adventures in New York Theatre

There are forty theatres that comprise the world famous Broadway. Altogether, there are over 230 theatres in New York, if a talking tour bus is to be believed. And what of cabaret venues and non-traditional performances spaces? New York must be the city with the highest concentration of live performance in the world. It’s hard enough to keep tabs on everything that’s happening in Melbourne’s theatre scene. In New York, it’s impossible.
Which is why New York is so enticing, but also so tricky. How can I even sample everything the city has to offer? Can I avoid the temptation of Broadway itself, with its shiny marquees and Tony Award Winner notices plastered everywhere? Where do I begin Off Broadway? Whose recommendations do I take?
This trip was inspired by a production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods – a transfer of a production from London’s Regents Park to New York’s Central Park. I’ve always wanted to see one of the Public Theatre’s shows at the Delacourte, so why not fly hal…