Monday, 24 December 2012

Thank you, 2012: Taking my theatre to new places

Painting with Words & Fire in Melbourne

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 to Amy Jenkins and Fiona Bulle for their contributions and support along the way.

Thank you to Richard Di Gregorio, Chris Broadstock and Ephiny Gale for all their hard work taking Richard Di Gregorio: On Time to the Adelaide Fringe Festival. And thanks also to Jane Howard for some venue reconnaissance in the early planning stages, which I guess happened last year – but whatever, go Jane!

Thank you to Laura Iris Hill, Robert Gonyo, Hannah Finn and Rebecca Burton for the remarkable effort they put into a reading of Painting with Words & Fire at Primary Stages in New York City!

And thank you to Clara Pagone, Anna Burgess, Sean Scanlon and the Short & Sweet Melbourne team for a fun ride putting on Eight Minutes. It really was a thrill to play around with space and format, have our actors mingle with the crowd before our show opened act two.

Thank you to Tom Conyers, Nicole Taylor and Anthony Noack for continuing support in our little writers group – helping each other to make our work better before directors and actors get their grubby little hands on it.

Apart from an appearance of Poems a Dead Boy Wrote at Short & Sweet Sydney in February 2013, there are no other concrete plans for productions of my work in the new year. There are vague plans. There are scripts to be finished. There’s development to be done. Directors to talk to. Theatre companies, too.

Work continues until new shows will inevitably see the light of day.

Thank you to friends, family and audience members who supported my shows by coming to see them. And by giving me great feedback. And for enjoying yourselves. And for telling others about my work. And for taking a chance by promoting me to other audiences.

And, finally, to the Melbourne theatre-making community. I saw a lot of theatre in Melbourne this year. I loved a great deal of it and admired a great deal more. But beyond seeing such great work from so many of you, I am indebted to you all for inspiring me with your generosity; from talking to me frankly about your creative process, to inviting me to meet fellow artists and collaborators, to letting me know how appreciative you are of my work and my support.

I make theatre because I have to make theatre; I write because I can’t not write. I am so grateful that you have all made it easier to do what I love and to love what I do.

See you in 2013.

Painting with Words & Fire reading in New York

Sunday, 23 December 2012

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 myth fully interrogated by artists at the top of their game. Kudos Zoe Atkinson, Matthew Lutton and Tom Wright

POMPEII, L.A. - Malthouse
Declan Greene and Matthew Lutton combine their considerable talents into a searing depiction of celebrity and tragedy and rising stars being destroyed in front of our eyes.

PALE BLUE DOT - Optic Nerve
Optic Nerve’s collage of stories about space, time and space-time which hit many of my favourite subjects and combined them into a piece of theatre that I won’t soon forget.

SONS & MOTHERS - No Strings Attached, Adelaide Fringe Festival
Sometimes theatre-makers try every piece of artiface at their disposal to move people. No Strings Attached, an ensemble of disabled actors, tell simple stories of their lives and their mothers and there was not a dry eye in the house.

SUMMER OF THE SEVENTEENTH DOLL - Belvoir, Melbourne Theatre Company
This classic of the Australian stage is returned, in top form, from a production that began at Belvoir in Sydney and returned to the play’s spiritual home at the Melbourne Theatre Company. An incredible experience.

TOP GIRLS - Melbourne Theatre Company
A classic of modern theatre, this thirtieth anniversary production directed by Jenny Kemp was sharp and pointed and poignant; this ensemble of actors rivalled any I saw in any show this year or ever.


THE RUNNERS UP 

ANGELA’S KITCHEN - Griffin, Malthouse
Paul Capsis’ mesmirising ode to his grandmother, her kitchen and the family she raised.


THE BLUE ROOM - 5 Pound
Jason Cavanagh’s beautiful production allowed actors Zak Zavod and Kaitlyn Clare to shine in the darkness.

EVERYNIGHT, EVERYNIGHT - Frank Theatre
A haunting, heavy production of Ray Mooney’s important prison drama by new company, Frank Theatre.

THE GOAT (OR, WHO IS SYLVIA?) - 5 Pound
Edward Albee’s black comedy made seriously voyeuristic by Christine Husband in the Collingwood Underground Carpark. (I didn’t see the transfer to the Owl and Pussycat.)

THE SEIZURE - The Hayloft Project
The Hayloft Project continue to bring sharp, intelligent theatrical reimaginings of classic texts to the independant Melbourne stage.

THE TEMPTATION OF ST ANTHONY - Four Larks
Four Larks had a mainstage show at the Malthouse this year, but it was this return to their junkyard opera roots that really shone.

TRIBES - Melbourne Theatre Company
Julian Meyrick’s stunning production of Nina Raine’s new work about inter-family communication and an interloper.

UTA UBER KOOL JA - Adelaide Fringe Festival
This hilarious and ultimately moving site-specific work was another highlight of the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Find Uta in a hotel room near you.

THE WILD DUCK - Belvoir, Malthouse
Simon Stone beautifully rewrites Ibsen’s classic work for a modern audience and a modern sensibility. The debate about re-writing classics will go on forever, but in the plus column is haunting productions like this.

THE WELL - La Mama
Robert Reid’s devised work with an acting company plucked from the Monash Student Theatre told the story of the end of the world in a way that was beautiful, haunting, hilarious and visually stunning – often all at the same time.


THE HONOURABLE MENTIONS

THE BOOK OF MORMON - Broadway
An hilarious, crass musical satire.


CHOIR GIRL - Attic Erratic, Melbourne Fringe Festival
A beautifully designed, wonderfully written cabaret experience.

5 POUNDS OF REPERTORY THEATRE - 5 Pound
I couldn’t go past mentioning this extraordinary achievement by 5 Pound theatre – 5 actors, 5 directors, 5 plays, 5 weeks. I missed one of the plays, but I supported this one all the way – and Melbourne audiences seemed to embrace this amazing ensemble of theatre-makers.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM - Her Majesty's Theatre
Sondheim at his most farcical under the clear direction of Simon Phillips and starring Geoffrey Rush and a whole host of great comic actors and musical theatre stars.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER - Broadway
A visually inventive and smart retelling of the Peter Pan story.

RHONDA IS IN THERAPY - Hoy Polloy, 45 Downstairs
Bridgette Burton’s play is smart and funny and very insightful look at a woman dealing with the loss of a child.

THE UNSPOKEN WORD IS “JOE” - MKA, La Mama
As described in the press release, this is Zoe Dawson’s “really good” play about the reading of a really good play. Really.

*

And that, as they say, is that. Some amazing theatre in all the places I visited this year.