Welcome to TBC's first NEWS BLOG entry!!! Our aim is to share the experiences, trials, successes (failures?) and our ensembles general artistic adventures with YOU - our curious theatre loving reader! Here at TBC we've quickly discovered that we're a very diverse group of theatre makers, all of whom work professionally within the arts industry. It's something that we're extremely proud of and want to celebrate - so every few weeks we'll feature a little interview with one of our members.
First up is Ben Adams. A Music Theatre Graduate from WAAPA, Ben is now based in Melbourne. As well as being an amazing performer, he's also an emerging writer of all things theatrical…. and musical! He's got a few interesting notches under his belt too - He was a finalist in The Julie Michael Cabaret Prize (for 'Pure Imagination', Writer/Performer) and won Best Director at the Brisbane Underground Festival (for 'Dance of the Sadist'). Ben's latest project is 'Metastopheles', which will be premiering at this years Melbourne Fringe Festival. TBC had a little chat with Ben about his current writing projects…
Tell us more about 'Metastopheles' and how this project came about?
A couple of years ago In Company Theatre did a series of short plays called 'Offcuts'. There was one play that presented this strange and wonderful idea revolving around a man who was a street vendor – selling stories to playwrights. It influenced the tone of 'Metastopheles' really heavily. 'Metastopheles' is about a playwright writing a play about a playwright, who then summons a demon to help, who summons a demon to help… And it goes downhill from there. On top of the ridiculous premise, the play is written largely in iambic pentameter. The piece was originally written as a short play and was entered into Melbourne's Short+Sweet Festival 2013. It ended up winning the 'Melbourne Fringe Development Award', so now I'm developing the script for it's first full-length premiere at the Melbourne Fringe this coming September.
You mention that the play is written in iambic pentameter. Was this an artistic choice from the very beginning?
On this particular play, I had trouble getting started, so I said to myself “have less degrees of freedom – constrain yourself”, which is why it’s in verse. I never intended to finish the whole thing in verse, it was just a writing tool, but then I started making jokes about the verse, and discussions turned to why would we use it at all, and it just kept going in that direction.
What inspires you when you're beginning a new project?
Everything! Although I must admit that sometimes when I'm watching theatre I get so inspired that I can zone out and start thinking about my own ideas. Even in the very best of performances, I’ll start to analyse what’s happening – the writing, the directing, the set, the performances – to think what I would have done with the same material, and before I know it 5 minutes have passed and I have to catch up with my memory on the story. I have this inexplicable desire to work with whatever I’m watching.
The other thing that inspires me, and something that I often come to grief with, is the road less travelled. I am the kind of person who, without fail, will actively ignore things lots of people like, in search of something else. It makes me seem kind of “holier than thou”, and super hipster, but it has brought me to some of my favourite things! I love the playwright Sarah Kane, I love the Aussie hip hop band The Herd, speed metal band Dragon Force, Olivier Messiaen’s The Quartet for the End of Time (my favourite classical music). I found all these things because people actively dislike them. As such, in my theatre work, I can’t help but strive for what other people aren’t doing.
So if you're looking at creating theatre that other people aren't doing, what is it about being part of TBC that excites you?
Something I’ve never had the chance to really do is write roles for people. Having an ensemble of strong personalities, as well as abilities, means that you can create characters you know people will play really well, and angle your work towards the richness of personality and history that is already there. I don’t know what it would be about, but writing to the strengths of these crazy, wonderful people is a very exciting prospect.
Also, once Fringe is done, I’m hoping to move into some more heavy writing. I’ve had this idea on the fringes of my consciousness for about eight years that I’ve never had the courage to actually put pen to paper on. It's this weird blend of surrealism and nihilism, like Sarah Kane meets Kafka or something. I find it really hard to describe ridiculous torture plays that only exist in my brain.
Do you have any other exciting projects hovering on the horizon?
In the last week, I’ve had 2 people approach me out of the blue and say “work with me on this!”. I’m either in high demand, or I’m everyone’s last resort. So I’m dramaturging a musical about art theft, and developing a political comedy piece.
For future info on Ben's upcoming show 'Metastopheles' head to the Melbourne Fringe website at www.melbournefringe.com.au.
Thanks to Ben for the great chat… and thank you for reading our first blog entry!