Tag Archives: theatre

Zero Feet Away: An experience

My love and I have ten minutes to find the venue and we’re lost. As we back track up Hindley street, we see a familiar face pop out of an alleyway and relief washes over me. We’ve found it. The alleyway is framed by posters for the show on either wall. I don’t know how we missed it. Others arrive at the same time we do, unexpectedly they are familiar faces that fill me with affection.

We are handed an instruction sheet to choose our nickname and log in to the show app. We make our nicknames and they wave us through. Down the alleyway and we swing left, down stairs and into a small room scattered with chairs. There is a small bar to the right and another small room with chairs. We can buy drinks at the bar and we continue to stumble into some of my favourite people as the venue fills up. We picked a good night to attend.

People gather in groups, some sitting on the scattered chairs and some standing, everyone waiting for the show to start. We pick out the actors by the small microphones taped along their jaws, they are dotted among us. The room has white sheets taped at various locations, we see the rolling projection of audience nicknames appear. We try to match nicknames with new people coming in. The projections match the app screen appearing on our phones. We’re all logged in and ready for whatever this is going to be.

Throughout the show I stand, I sit, I stand again. I eat crisps. I drink coke. I laugh. I cry. I feel the weight of sadness, of grief, of collective shame, of joy, of hope.

Technology is rough and ready, gritty with texture, projection sheets are slightly crooked, projectors are installed in milk crates. Actors look like me. Actors look nothing like me. Actors tell their own stories. Actors tell other people’s stories. Ushers are audience, are wait staff, are aware. Music is quiet, barely noticed but powerful, perfect, necessary. Audience can interact with their phones, or not. The phone app creating a tweet-stream like back channel, another way to listen, to learn, to question, to contribute.

This is the theatre I want more of. This is the theatre that I want to make more of. This is the theatre that I want to see more of. This is the theatre that I want there to be more of. Theatre that tells stories of here and now. Theatre that moves me. Theatre that reminds me. Theatre that pokes and prods. Theatre that unites and celebrates. Theatre that closes my throat with hurt. Theatre that fills my fingertips with hope. Theatre that is not perfect, does not try to be perfect. Theatre that is contextual and nuanced. Theatre that doesn’t have all the answers but has some offers. Theatre that takes me to old places in new ways or to new places in familiar ways. Theatre that does neither and both all at once.

It might not be your cup of tea, it might have a completely different effect on you. That’s okay. Not everything is for everyone.

 

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ActNow Theatre

Zero Feet Away

January 25-28 2017

Ancient World

 

Director, Developer and Performer –
Edwin Kemp Attrill

Associate Producer –
Chiara Gabrielli

Devisors and Performers –
Matilda Bailey, Melissa Maidment, Jamila Main, Jason Masiglia

Composer and Musician –
Matthew Gregan

Lighting Design and Technician –
Alexander Ramsay

 

 

Baby Sounds #crowdsource #help

Amaya Crying

Dear friends who have (or once had) small children I am making a thing and I need your help.

I am looking for audio recordings (video is fine, but I will only use the audio) of two things:

  • babies/toddlers crying and/or screaming
  • babies/toddlers laughing or other happy sounds

I know I must have other weird friends who record these things. I am only using the audio so you/your child will not be recognizable. If you can help please email me files or dropbox link etc to pressurelands@me.com

Grow into it #sprout #regionaltour #crowdfund #artpatron

Sprout Image

Image by Louella Pleffer (via Jessica Bellamy)

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One of the independent projects I have on the go this year is producing a regional tour of a gorgeous little play by Australian writer Jessica Bellamy.

This project came about through a desire of mine to share the beautiful story of Sprout with some of the community I love, at the same time as investing in South Australian emerging talent. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the 2015 Kirk Robson Award earlier this year and decided that I wanted to use the award to reinvest in my communities and in arts experiences for others – especially emerging artists and audiences. Some of the Kirk Robson Award has gone towards the beginning of a new multi-year project in Berri (Manifold Portrait) and the rest towards bringing Sprout to life in some of the communities I know and love.

I approached emerging Adelaide director Hannah Fallowfield to direct the play after seeing some of the work she was doing last year through my involvement with Urban Myth. I was really impressed and interested in the ‘artistic eye’ and passion she brings to things and wanted to foster further directing opportunities for her. I also had a feeling that she’d love Sprout as much as I did.

Anyway – you can read the full story over on our Pozible campaign and if you feel taken, drop us $2 towards the project and score yourself a fun reward of your choice!

http://www.pozible.com/toursprout

Elusive Maybes #makethings #lovearts #elusivemaybes

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Tied in/ an untangled maybe/ shouting, whispering, pleading/ maybe I will, maybe I will//   

I should most definitely be sleeping.

I want to be sleeping.

It’s 1.23am and I’m exhausted and have to be up by 6:30am for a full day.

But something is brewing in my brain and wouldn’t let me fold myself quietly into sleep. This is very rare for me. I usually sleep easy.

I’m thinking about a project.

A story I want to tell.

And it’s getting louder.

Crashing against the fringes of all the other things right in front of me. Insistently asking me to untangle its possibility. It’s been creeping slowly around the edges of my thoughts for a little while. Tentatively connecting a dot here, a dot there. And now it’s roaring so loudly I can’t hear myself think.

I think I’m doomed.

To live this life always hungry. Always yearning. Always chasing these elusive maybes. Untangling these seams of unheard.  Driven.

So I’ll pour some words onto paper now and hope that’ll be enough to still the maybes for today.

Hope sleep is finding you more pliable.

xx

The why of the work #ATF2015 questions

 

Questions swirl, morph, continue. The process of asking them seems as important as the actual answer. Because our answers are different. As they should be. As they have to be. From our different contexts, our different needs, our different passions.

IMG_5310.JPG

 

I’m at the Australian Theatre Forum in Sydney this week and those questions…

 

Why do we make art?

Who is it for?

Does it even do anything?

 

…always find their way into these conversations.

 

I attended an artist talk with Danny Braverman in this morning’s breakout session and he touched on audience reactions after a show (and what that says about the show). I’m badly paraphrasing here, but along the lines off:

 

“‘Oh the parking is shit, not much to eat’. Well the show can’t have been so great. Or you have the shows ‘Oh the lighting was nice, wasn’t that performer great.’ Yeah but what was it about? But then the ones where people are sharing anecdotes of their own with each other – their own stories in response to the show.”

 

 

That’s where my hunger begins.

Or builds.

I want the ideas.

The rage.

The arguments.

I don’t want to see pretty lights or have great parking.

I want to stretch and be stretched.

I want people to see themselves and each other or NOT see themselves in such an extreme way that they have to talk about it and argue and tell their stories. I want the community that brings. The sense of empowerment, connection, change.

 

Why do I make art?

Because I feel compelled to. Because I feel a responsibility to. Because the experience of making or seeing art CAN change a life, or a vote.

 

Who is it for?

My community, my family. All the people like me who feel like they have no place in fancy foyers with fancy people. My granddad. My mum. My children.

 

Does it even do anything?

It can. It can be the net that catches you. The door that opens a new way of living. It was for me. And I hope that the art I make in some small way, somewhere along the line has even a fraction of the impact on others that others work had on me.

 

It’s not a perfect answer. Or a finished answer.

 

It’s my answer today though.

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….and now a bonfire #ATF2013

Yesterday David Milroy’s session was titled ‘The Burning Question‘  and he spoke about the need for a ‘fire in the belly’. This morning’s session at the Australia Theatre Forum had plenty of oxygen, fuel and the all important ignition source. That the fire keeps burning until it brings space for new growth is my greatest hope.

The morning started with an address from Tony Grybowski, the new CEO of the Australia Council.

(…) Aboriginal people have been here telling stories and creating culture for 50,00 years. The Australia Council has been supporting art and culture for 40 years. I’ve been in the job for ten days. It really puts things in perspective. – Tony Grybowski

Tony had a background as a professional musician (playing the tuba) before falling into arts administration and making it now to the ‘top job’

I’ve got 15 minutes and I’ve got notes here. Feel free to ask a question. – Tony Grybowski

Being new to the job Tony was of course putting his ‘stamp’ on what he hopes to achieve and how he sees the role of the Australia Council moving into the future. Speaking from the bottom, these wider policies and structures feel very far away but the way they shape the culture at the bottom really does matter so I was interested in what Tony had to say (and how he said it).

The usual desire for Australia Council to be a flexible, transparent and vibrant arts organisation was trotted out and the twitterverse exploded with comments asking for and refuting the definition of vibrant. No one bothered to touch flexibility and the likelihood of that in a highly bureaucratic organisation – but perhaps we’ll all be surprised. Everyone talks about reducing bureaucracy and being flexible but does anyone actually do it and what does it even mean in practice?

(NB – if you want to read the Australia Council Bill that was passed in lower house – find it here)

Challenge us, entertain us and enrich us. – Tony Grybowski (on theatre and what it’s for)

There were some excellent questions and answers but nothing particularly of note that I want to add right now. Really just keep watching Oz Co to see what (if anything) new eventuates under Tony’s leadership.

Following Tony, The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma took to the stage (in pyjamas) to provoke and provoke they did. Pavol Liska controlled much of the conversation, inviting a random delegate to the stage and interviewing her (Claudia from Casula Powerhouse) with initially some almost hilarious results:

CC: Sometimes I make theatre.

PL: What do you mean sometimes? (….) Do you like public speaking?

CC: Usually but not now

Pavol and Kelly were impressive provocateurs and the conversation quickly became an open dialogue with the audience. I’m writing this on the fly but tonight I intend to storify the twitter stream from this particular session as the best way to experience it. Come back after 10pm tonight.

For those who were already following along on Twitter or keeping track via Jane Howard’s blog, you would have heard about the #walkout in the latter half of this session.

I’m just one tiny voice and the least qualified and knowledgeable of the many voices and listeners in this space so I have no hope of explaining the why and the what and the how. I will storify the #walkout stream for you as well tonight and you can make of it what you will but here is my subjective and flawed summary:

Candy Bowers the beautiful, powerful warrior that she is spoke straight from the heart TO THE HEART OF IT in our country. The reality is that not all people in this country can be their true selves. Not all people in this country can be safe. Candy specifically spoke on the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with particular attention to the NT intervention, but also referenced the reality of our first peoples across Australia (and IMO, there are other powerful connections that can be drawn)

Candy’s words came from Pavol questioning if our theatre is too weak. If it really changes anything at all? An audience member (didn’t catch his name) responded by saying ‘It’s because in this country we’re safe. No one is at risk of being killed for the art they make‘.

Candy Bowers: SOME people are safe in this country. We have ten year old boys taking their own lives. (….) Right now there is unacknowledged Apartheid in this country.

Candy spoke deeply, articulately and from a heart full of hunger (for better, for more, for answers, for champions, for allies, for everyone to wake the FUCK UP and see racism for what it is in this country today).

CB: I spend all of my time empowering young people to not see themselves as dumb or stupid but what am I preparing them for? (….) I would give up everything for those children to become the poets and visionaries they are.

 (in answer to Pavol asking ‘Would you give up art to change it/make it better?)

Pavol asked if anyone disagreed with Candy’s words.

No one did.

Except.

Then.

Someone called Leon spoke up in defense of the NT intervention, justifying it (and his words) by saying he works in ‘Indigenous Communities’ and has seen what it’s like. I can’t remember his exact words but the sense I had from them is “Aboriginal people need us to come and fix them with education (a white lens institutional education was implied). Candy positioned the fear of controlling alcohol, drugs and pedophilia against the reality of all these things happening in Canberra right now (and no one doing anything about it) and called Leon out:

I’ve spoken to you before Leon and you’re a racist – Candy Bowers

I couldn’t tell you if  Leon said anything further or what anyone else said in response but a figure stood up and exited the room quickly and quietly. Other people called out comments I can’t remember and then the microphone passed to Lee Lewis (Griffin’s AD) who asked how we could keep talking when Wesley Enoch (Queensland Theatre Co. AD)  had left the room. Lee articulated how important that symbol was, how his leaving said something important.  Another audience member pointed out that Wesley was on the next panel and perhaps he was going to prepare. Pavol, still at the microphone said “As he walked past me, he caught my eye and shook his head” and Kelly added “and he mouthed, I can’t

So I don’t think he was taking a phonecall – Pavol Liska

What are we choosing staying in this conversation? Lee Lewis (before handing the microphone over and following Wesley by leaving the room)

And so people chose. Some walked out and some left.

Nicole Smith on twitter said

I get the walk outs on principle but you can’t further the conversation if you’re not here. Come back, we need your voices! #atf2013

I walked out.

I walked out to live my values. To stand by the song in my heart. And because I didn’t want to sit in an audience sobbing. I was not offended. I was not trying to prove anything. I was not trying to jump on the bandwagon. I was choosing the space and the people I wanted to be with in that moment. So I left. I walked out of the session. Hugged someone I knew and then sat on the stairs and sobbed my little heart out for all the deep scars in our stories that I have no words for.

I’m sorry I can’t explain it. I’m sorry this blog post does no justice to the great, proud and leading voices that were in the room. I’m sorry that my voice and my actions are so small.

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I’m sitting now in the foyer writing this, I’d planned to go t0 the afternoon session

“Kyle: What is Aboriginal Theatre? Isaac: Whatever we say it is.”

But on approaching the door, volunteers turned the white away with the words ‘This session is now only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’.

And my thoughts winged their way back to this morning and the last question asked of Tony Grybowski from the Australia Council by Jason Tamaroo. He challenged the Australian Council Policy that requires Aboriginal people to prove their Aboriginality with a certificate….

So I wait here today. I wait to hear what answers the closed doors may bring back to us.

I wait with hope. And with faith that there are great minds and cultural leaders behind those doors asking the questions I don’t know how to ask and teasing out the answers we all hunger for. I wait knowing that my desire to ‘help’ is something I need to manage, not force on others and make them accept.

And I write. With my own small voice.

To tell you, this matters to me.

Reconciliation, not as a Government token, but as a living celebration of culture and the potential for us to create something beautiful together. To evolve into something none of us seem to have the power to imagine.

I’m doing a terrible job of most things. There is so much I don’t know. So much I’m not good at. But please, please keep making me cry. Keep holding all of us but especially me accountable. Keep demanding that we do better. I want that, for the blue eyed little boy waiting for me back in South Australia. He and EVERY ten year old Australian deserve that we get this shit right.

 

Other Blogs touching on the #walkout:

“Official” ATF Bloggers

Augusta Supple

Jane Howard

Other bloggers

Candy Bowers

Morgan Little

 

Lost in Abundance Panel – #watershedACT

Watershed Panel

It’s quite tricky to write a blog while sitting on a panel. I tried.

Lost in Abundance put me in some rather intimidating company. Joining me on the panel were:

Our panel was facilitated by the gentle Chris Brain, who was both a member of the Watershed Steering Committee and Implementation Committee. We were kicked off by Chris asking “What under-used resource would you like to see young and emerging theatre artists connect with better?”

Obvious one. Working with people with a disability. People are worried about saying and doing the wrong thing so they just avoid it. Diversity strengthens our practice. – Michelle Ryan

I want to reaffirm what Michelle said. Diversity enriches the process. Diversity in every way (deliberately). It’s a huge resource. Also, be open to the possibility of people you meet being a collaborator in the future.  – Baba Israel

Faith in yourself. It’s really broad and you won’t get a lot out of it initially. – Kirsty Hillhouse

Kirsty touched on how this faith in yourself means something to those who fund you (or invest in you in other ways). Everyone is looking for people with bright ideas – not necessarily with capacity or skill yet, there is a willingness to support and grow from the ideas. Make the most of that and don’t wait until you’re a proven product. Asking inspires people, they want to be part of your awesomeness.

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I reiterated what the previous panelists had said and touched on the power of our networks with each other and the industry – in particular harnessing the power of tools like social media.

Being a regional artist, I can’t practically pop to and from events to make networks or collect flyers to see what’s on as regularly as I’d like. But what I can do is follow companies/individuals within the industry through their social media profiles and through this have real time access to a wide range of announcements and insights into the industry and work happening across the country (and internationally). I can research and open up a dialogue with companies and people that excite me so that my travel to urban areas can be targeted and well utilized. I can overcome *some* of the isolation I feel through the connections I maintain. Social media has been a fantastic resource for me and has led to offers of paid work and other opportunity’s that I otherwise would not have accessed. Definitely a resource I would encourage other artists from all walks of life to tap into.

David was lucky last and rather than picking just one thing, he reaffirmed everything everyone else had said and shared the following list:

  • Using the internet. Accessing opportunities. Heaps of websites. Google opps for young artists. Research.
  • Travel. Being out of your space and seeing other work.
  • Older artists. Mentors. Asking questions. People whose work you like.
  • DIY. Don’t wait for the offer. Ger in there. The benefit is you start making the mistakes early.
  • Mistakes. They are a resource. Make them early.
  • Seeing more/other work. It’s easy to become a bit insular. See everything you can. Sometimes thing you hate really inspire you to be productive.
  • Playing out of your depth. You SHOULD feel scared, and like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You shouldn’t feel like that every day of course, that’s no good for you. But if it’s been more than a year or two since you felt terrified, go and do it now. Bite off more than you think you can handle.
  • Find inspiration from outside your field.
  • Networking and collaborating. Provoke people around you to be creative. Even if it’s something small and stupid.
  • Talk with funding bodies. Ask questions. They are waiting to talk to you.

I love David. 🙂

The floor was then open to questions. This is where it just got ridiculously tricky to write everything down as I was listening and responding to questions and the other panelists and just couldn’t manage to type at the same type. So sadly I can’t give you a run down of the Q and A in detail.

Many of the questions (though not all) were asked by what I’d consider ‘youth participants’ or ‘aspiring artists’ rather than young/emerging artists. What I mean by this is people actively engaging with the arts through youth theatre and school who in the future want to consider or pursue an arts career but aren’t actually participating in the industry themselves (at present).

I found this a little frustrating, not because they weren’t valid questions, but because the vision for the summit was to be a space for young and emerging artists either completely in or well on their way to transitioning into professional practice. These questions (and the people asking them) were coming from a completely different place, and a place that is valid and important but wasn’t (from the steering committee perspective) a place that was designed to be addressed as part of Watershed. It meant that we were using time (both in this panel and Watershed as a whole) to answer questions that would have been best answered in some cases by Google searches and by attending workshops at school and with their youth theatre company.

Young people engaged with youth theatre, school and other arts as participants is a really important conversation. And one as a result of my personal practise that I am incredibly passionate about, but it is a different conversation to that of young and emerging artists as professional practitioners in the wider industry. Sadly so many people/companies just lump it all in together if you’re under 30 (or 26) which I find really ridiculous. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you want to make work with or for other young people. And just because you love engaging with the arts through youth theatre and school doesn’t mean you’ll move into professional practice.

This issue of specificity was a concern to me across the spectrum of Watershed but I have gone a little off topic from the Abundance Panel, so I will aim to visit this structural issue in a separate blog and take the time to really tease out why it was an issue and why myself and other Steering Committee members felt unsatisfied in certain areas.

Before moving on though, I do just want to make it very clear that the issues I’m talking about are not in any way a criticism of the very hard work of the Implementation Committee. They delivered the content they decided upon very well, it just happened to be content that didn’t necessarily answer the required questions for a National Theatre Summit for Young and Emerging Artists (as opposed to a National Youth Theatre Summit). I’ll delve into this properly when I get to that other blog.

Going back to the panel, there was some great discussion in response to audience questions and I was super impressed (and super intimidated) by the responses of the other panelists. What really stood out to me is the repeated motif of ‘Just ask. Just do. Just start.’

I was also struck by how the fact of being on the panel, somehow made people assume I was further in my own career than I actually am. It’s an interesting observation in terms of how the frame we put around someone shapes how we perceive and engage with them.

I am still figuring out who I am, both as a person and as an artist and I ALWAYS will be, because I see myself as ongoing project and I have a deep hunger to learn, learn, learn. I want to be better each day than I was the day before.

Also.

I have NO idea what I’m doing.

At least that’s how it often feels.

Until I remember that my journey is mine and mine alone. I bring my life experiences and professional experiences and the unique combination of the two. I’m not finished. I’m not an expert.

And that’s okay.

I still have something valuable to say.

#justsaying?