For the last few years, my Top Ten has been listed in
alphabetical order because I see no point struggling any further with ranking
art. This year, more than most, any show in my Top Ten could have been my
absolute favourite – and they probably were, until I saw the next one in the
I saw shows in Melbourne, Sydney and New York this year. I
feel very privileged to have seen amazing theatre in all three cities; there
are shows from all three places in the list. And I will never forget any of
them. THE TOP TEN Bernadette Peters – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne
How to describe seeing one of the great Broadway leading
ladies from the front row of Her Majesty’s Theatre? Singing some of the most
iconic songs of her repertoire, from some of my favourite shows? Making eye
contact with me and talking directly to me at one point? Magical.
Cabaret - Broadway Sam Mendes’ and Rob Marshall’s iconic production of this
absolute classic musical has been revived yet again, because every once and a
It took a long time for me to accept I would never get
narrative closure from Twin Peaks.
I was a teenager when it first aired and I
was obsessed with it. As obsessed as anyone could be back in 1991, when all you
could do between episodes was discuss it at school or read reviews in the
newspaper. And it was like nothing I’d ever seen. It was unlike anything else
It’s not just that the show was cancelled – I was used to
that happening, especially as a science fiction fan, watching series after
series debut on FOX only to last a season and then disappear. They were looking
for their next The X-Files. They
never found it. Maybe, Fringe?
It was the fact that the ending was so bleak. So dark. So
devastating. Evil triumphed. The town of Twin Peaks, torn apart by the murder
of Laura Palmer, tried so desperately to recover – only to be consumed by the
darkness that surrounded the town. And the series’ hero, FBI Special Agent Dale
Cooper, was... well, even twenty-five years lat…
It’s September and there are still some great shows to be
excited about at Melbourne’s mainstage theatres. But it’s also that time of the
year for us to look ahead – at what they have planned for 2015. Marion Potts
presented Malthouse Theatre 2015 on Tuesday night. Brett Sheehy unveiled
Melbourne Theatre Company 2015 tonight.
It’s like theatre Christmas. Some expected faces and some
Here’s what I’m most excited about (in order of first performance): Endgame by Samuel
Beckett, directed by Sam Strong
Starring Colin Friels, Luke Mullins and Julie Forsyth.
Excited to see Strong direct Beckett and for Mullins to be on the MTC stage.
From March 21
Meme Girls by Ash
Flanders/Marion Potts, directed by Stephen Nicolazzo
Pretty much Ash Flanders trawling through YouTube videos,
From April 8 Timeshare by
Lally Katz, directed by Olive Butler
Set in a timeshare resort that’s situated on the
International Date Line, it’s enough that this is by Lally Katz.
From April 23 The …
Today, we completed principal photography on episode one of Sonnigsburg.
After twelve shooting days, we’ve filmed in Walhalla,
Croydon, Richmond, Hampton, Highett, Ashwood, Maribyrnong, Glen Iris and
Belgrave. We’ve posted heaps of photos to our Facebook page – both behind-the-scenes
shots and stills from the show itself.
And the little bits of footage I’ve seen cut together looks
amazing. Our director, Glenn Triggs, has done an incredible job directing the
episode – and now has the fun of editing it together.
I’ve been involved in a handful of short film shoots before,
but nothing quite on this scale. And while production happened on episode one,
the scripts for episodes two and three went through a few re-writes. Don’t
worry, actors – those scripts will be released to you soon. I know you can’t
wait to see what happens next!
I do have to apologise to some of the actors, who were
intent on being as surprised by upcoming scripts as viewers will be of the show
itself – but I blurted …
I have seen three different productions of Into the Woods on stage – and I am well
acquainted with the DVD of the original Broadway production. By the end of this
year, there will be a feature film version – and then I can write an article
comparing the five witches I’ve seen: Bernadette Peters (DVD), Rhonda Burchmore
(Melbourne Theatre Company, 1998), Donna Murphy (Public Theatre NY, 2012),
Queenie Van De Zandt (Victorian Opera, 2014) and Meryl Streep (feature film,
Well, no, I probably won’t do that. Each of them has their
strengths and a couple of them have no weaknesses. Just as the productions overall
have things that work brilliantly and other parts, not-so-much. And it’s hard
to compare the lavish original, to the Public Theatre production that was
staged in Central Park, to the more sparse version that Victorian Opera put on
this past week. Into the Woods is
one of my favourite Sondheim shows, probably the favourite – though I have a
lot of affection for Sweeney Todd, C…
How do you tell a life in 90 minutes?
How do you give the audience enough context to tell even one
story from a life in the same amount of time? The Book of Loco is a semi-autobiographical monologue by
Alirio Zavarce, covering what he terms “rational madness” – bizarre things some
of us accept because we don’t (or can’t) know any better. It’s all about context.
In the context of Zavarce’s “book of loco”, a notebook he
carries around to keep track of the stories of his life, we get to know him
quite well. Depending on how semi this autobiographical show is.
Did he really get pulled over by customs officials over a reinforced
suitcase? Did he really get interrogated on another return trip over the “convenient
excuse” of his mother’s cancer? Did his marriage really collapse on September
11, 2001? The Book of Loco is theatre, of course. It’s a performance.
And it’s very theatrical. The set is a large stack of boxes. But inside those
boxes are the stories of a life. Some of the stories are …
I think one of the hardest narrative tricks to pull off is
writing a story to an inevitable conclusion. A conclusion that the audience
knows is coming. Some authors want you to know; Shakespeare tells us that his
two star crossed lovers take their lives in the prologue of Romeo & Juliet.
It’s a tragedy and you’re waiting to see how that falls into place.
Prequels suffer a similar pressure; we know what’s coming,
but what happens on the way there. And if we're already emotionally invested in the outcome, maybe we won't care about what came before? David Lynch’s Fire Walk With Me tells the
last week of Laura Palmer’s life; the object of Twin Peaks becomes the subject
of the film. The dread comes from seeing what we know to be true come true.
When Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released in 2011, it
had a lot to live up to – The Planet of the Apes is a classic of the genre, as well
as having one of the most famous endings in the history of film. In fact, its
ending is so…
Late in 2013, Fiona Bulle had an idea for a television show –
and we’re just about ready to start shooting it. Today, though, was a table
read of Episode One, with as much of the cast and crew and we could get
together on this chilly Melbourne Sunday.
It’s been seven months since Fiona corralled a group of four
writers into a room and we started throwing ideas around. Sonnigsburg will be a
six-part supernatural drama that is scheduled to air on Channel 31 in 2015. And
the writers room was a new experience for all of us. Early on we decided who
would take ownership of what episodes – and then it was a matter of pitching
the kind of stories we wanted to tell and the kind of characters we wanted to
populate the series.
Sonnigsburg is a mystery; a town in the woods that hasn’t
been visited for seventy years. Or so the legend goes. Nearby is the town of
Mount Sunshine – and it’s there that our main character stops on her way to
research Sonnigsburg. Savannah’s ex has called her out of the…
Above is a quote from one young audience member, even before
he’d exited the Beckett Theatre at the Malthouse. I don’t know what other
experience he’d had with plays; ‘pretty good’ might mean that he wasn’t really
impressed with other stage shows he’s seen. Or maybe he just didn’t know what
to expect from a one-man version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches.
The theatre was basically full, mostly of parents and their
children – some of whom were delighted by their interaction with actor Guy
Edmonds before the show even began. The boy sitting next to me – who would
later become part of the play, as a Witch – was talking to his mother about
what he was expecting. Or, rather, they were discussing how they thought
Edmonds might pull off different parts of the story.
“How is he going to become the witch, do you think?” his
“Masks, probably.” He was quite confident.
“What about the mice? How do you think he’ll do the mice?”
The boy thought for a while and figured out that Edmonds
Seeing theatre in New York inspires me. Being in a city with
such a vibrant theatre culture is exciting. We may have gone slightly overboard
to start with – seven shows in four days, but even the ability to be able to do
that is thrilling. We slowed down after that, which was good for our sanity and
our theatre-going mood. It’s hard to not want to sample everything that New
York theatre has to offer, which is impossible – but still tempting.
Here’s some short reviews of the shows I saw.
* Hedwig and the Angry
It’s true that the reason that this production is so great
is that Neil Patrick Harris is perfect in the lead role – and he brings the
audience along with him. What makes it even better than expected are the tweaks
to bring this cabaret show to a Broadway-sized stage, plus – a masterful
performance by Lena Hall as Yitzhak, whose character is fleshed out here like
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Sutton Foster on
stage, but I went into this show b…
I never have enough time to do everything, but so far this
year, I’ve used all my spare time to do the things I want to do. I’m balancing
several projects at different stages of development. It’s mid-April, though,
and my first blog post was this week – about spoilers and Shakespeare and “Game
And though I’ve been to see some amazing theatre this year –
so far the highlights have been “Neighbourhood Watch” at Melbourne Theatre
Company and The Rabble’s “Frankenstein” at the Malthouse – 2014 has been mostly
focused on writing. My writing and collaborations. Productions and
pre-production. Applications and workshops and improvisation.
I’ve never really believed in writers’ block. I always have
more projects that I’d like to work on than time in the day, week or year.
Ideas that have bubbled away in the back of my mind for months and years before
I’ve committed words to a page. Sometimes I can’t make the small things work.
Lines or dialogue or scenes. But I tend to always ha…