What drew you towards doing an immersive piece?
I was originally approached by members of TBC to see if I’d be interested. I’d literally just seen a number of immersive shows overseas, some had worked and some hadn’t which gave me a clear indication of what I liked and what I didn’t like in immersive theatre. When done right it has a unique way of allowing an audience member to choose their own path; in a sense create their own story. It made me reminisce about the ‘Choose your own adventure books’ - which I loved as a child, so that’s the thing that excited me. Most of the immersive works I had seen which worked had no words and could be timed musically. This show was to have no music and dialogue which created a whole new set of problems when it comes to timing scenes which all had to happen in different places at the same time. The challenge of this is what drew me to the piece. It was something I hadn’t done before – which was quite exciting.
What was your process in the development of the show?
As there was no script in the beginning we had to work backwards to develop the show. The original story that was presented focused on a central storyline. With an immersive piece multiple storyline have to be happening at once. Clare and I worked together to expand on what she had already written to include more characters and to raise the stakes. Drawing from the large amount of research Clare had done on the period of the 1890’s a background story was created for each character. I then told actors they were not to share any of the details of their history or secrets to anyone else unless information directly related to that other character. It was up to them to discover this information during the rehearsals through the improvisations. This helped provide true responses and excitement in the actors and helped them learn how to manipulate and trick each other into revealing information. This would also help Clare in deciding how and when to reveal information in the scenes.
I worked a lot with Laban in the initial stages to help the actors find how the physical can influence character and the way one reacts in different situations as opposed to having them improvise as themselves. As we discovered the characters more we learnt how they would respond to each other which ultimately led to scenes in the play.
In the back of my mind all the time was how all these scenes were going to fit in with each other and how they would move in the space knowing that there would be multiple scenes happening at once. Many of the exercises I gave the actors was used to help them make discoveries, putting them into scenarios which forced information to be revealed, but also to help me know if the order of scenes would work in the timeline that Clare and I had created.
What’s been the most exciting part for you in putting this production together?
Seeing it come together. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking ‘Have I made the right choices here? Is this actually working?’ Because it wasn’t actually until the first run whether I had any idea if it was all going to work – and so that was very exciting when it did. Also seeing what the actors came up with during their improvisations in rehearsals. There were always surprises and things you weren’t expecting which added and helped develop the story– so that was great.
You mentioned working in your head, then coming together in the building – did you find your theatrical instincts useful for an immersive work? Or is putting something like this together a different skill?
This is the first time I have directed an immersive piece before so yes I drew on much of my theatrical experience to pull it together but there was a lot to learn for all of us. There was a lot of trial and error. But I knew from the beginning how I wanted the piece to work so it was just a case of finding ways to make that happen.
Immersive theatre works best in my mind when there is intimacy where the audience feels like they are getting a personal story or engagement, so you need to have interaction. However, with the immersive side of this show you are reliant on timing. You can’t engage too much with an audience member otherwise you can’t move the story forward and you throw the timing out. But you still need to make an audience member feel part of it and to encourage them to explore. This was the challenge I gave to the actors; to find ways to invite the audience to follow them or to investigate a room without doing so with words?
You’ve been given a lot of praise about the timing of the show throughout the house – how did you manage to get that right?
A lot of planning. So, Clare (the writer) and I worked quite hard and had a lot of discussions over the timeline of things, so we literally, Clare in particular, had sheets everywhere , most of mine was in my head. Clare came from story point of view and I came from performance point of view, and we had to work together to marry everything. But it is about knowing where everyone is at any one time. While there is a scene happening in one room, there is generally another happening somewhere else. If one is a short scene and the other is a long one, something else then had to happen to make sure following scenes were in time.
After that it was a case of experimentation. So when we got to the venue we literally started from the beginning and played. And say ‘yep, that fits’ then no that didn’t – so go back to the beginning and we’d start again and keep running forward until something went awry and then go back to the beginning, run it again and eventually it got to a point where everything just seemed to slot in.
In some cases the actors have cues that allow them to know when they can move to the next section. This is important as, depending on how audiences react, scenes can speed up or slow down so everything has to be flexible.
If one section goes out too much it can really throw the show – fortunately, the actors know what needs to go where. There are a lot of back up plans – plan B, plan C, plan D – to make things work.
Do you have any favourite moments in the show?
I have many. One of my favourite scenes is when Hugh and Mary are talking to each other in the dining room where Hugh flirts with Mary and reads the whole moment completely wrong. Also the scene between Mary and Naismith outside is a beautiful scene; the awkward dinner scene always makes me laugh and I like the play between Agnes and Abercrombie and how they come from the same worlds but have totally different ways to manipulate. There are so many, but they are the ones that come to mind…
It’s called Mr Naismith’s Secret…but do you think there are many secrets that the audience haven’t found yet?
There isn’t a single protagonist because everyone is one, depending on what path the audience takes and every character has their secrets. It’s impossible to find them all in one viewing. Many people have discovered the secret of the central story by the end of the play but only one I know of has worked out what I consider the ultimate secret and that is actually finding out and understanding why the other secrets exist in the first place. There are the surface secrets but there are also the underlying secrets which are far more interesting.
So…what’s next for you?
I’m not sure yet, I have been approached about doing another immersive piece – so I’ll have to check that out. There’s also my own play that I’ve been writing for some time now, which needs to get up on it’s feet, so that’s got to go back into development. And there’s also a kids TV pilot which we’ve done the pilot, we’re just looking where that goes next.
Things That Go Bump Over the Weekend
Or, Bumping in at the Fabulous Trades Hall Or even, What the Hell is a Bump In?
It's bump-in time for TBC, and so we felt it was time to answer a few questions about our process. Or even more specifically for the especially confused, what the hell is a bump in? Here we answer all your questions and even a few you didn't think to ask.
1. Bump-ins have nothing to do with 70s disco trends.
Okay, so in the 70s people were doing craaaazy dance moves, like bumping their hips together. Oh, those crazy kids. There was even a song about it (Kenny, 'The Bump', check it out if you must, but it's awful. Check out this instead; it's much more entertaining. Disclaimer: TBC does not endorse the dance partner prejudices of 1970s disco stars ).
Bumping in has a whole lot less dancing, unless you count the 'where-is-the-gaffa-tape' shuffle.
2. Nobody knows why moving a show into a theatre space is called a bump-in.
Much as with many theatre terms, the origins are unknown for this particular name for moving all the set, lights, costumes and general ephemera into a venue.
Also like many theatre terms, the name can change from region to region. Apparently the Brits call it a 'get-in', which makes more sense but is also a bit close to 'get with' for comfort. Although one can lead to the other, of course.
3. Nobody knows why moving a show out of a theatre space is called a bump-out.
See above. Apart from the Brit bit, whence it is called a 'get-out'. Which is a bit harsh, honestly, especially when you're feeling all emotional from finishing up a season.
4. Gaffa tape can solve anything.
Need to secure a cable? Gaffa tape. Parts of the set falling apart? Gaffa tape. Lost a costume? Gaffa tape. (Seriously, TBC is associated with at least one person who owns a gaffa fedora.)
Gaffa tape is the miracle cure for everything. The only thing you can't do with the stuff is eat it. This is why you will see rolls of it being carefully guarded during bump-in, where everyone from the lighting techs to the front of house guys will be after it to fix something.
Gaffa: the material holding the universe together. It's official. Mythbusters have proved it.
5. If you search the term 'Bump In' on Flickr, you get a whole lot of pictures of heavily pregnant women.
So. There's that.
Flickr seems to be a lot more literal in its interpretation of search terms than other search engines. Yes, Flickr, technically those women have a bump in.
Hysteria: the straight deal
Okay, so we've all heard of hysteria? The whole 'wandering womb' theory, the hysterectomies, the 'you're crazy because you've got too much sperm' thing...
Wait. What? Yep, part of the hysteria epidemic involved having too much sperm.
First, a word on female hysteria.
It's often believed that we have the otherwise excellent thinker Plato to thank for hysteria, but belief in the condition dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Early thinkers thought that the womb was a living creature, wandering the female body and wreaking havoc (picture the Blob, and if you can't picture the Blob, look it up on IMDB and welcome to the wonderful world of pre-2000 cinema, guys!).
Some of the other thoughts on hysteria included the idea that the womb could be lured back to its proper place by putting bad-smelling things near a woman's mouth and luring the womb back down with perfume near her vagina. Another, much more fun-sounding theory, was that the problem was caused by lack of orgasms.
Interesting etymological fact: the Greek word for uterus was hystera. You do the math.
Sigmund Freud was a fan of the latter theory, although his thoughts on the topic were wrapped up with his ideas on how everyone's parents ultimately scar them for life.
Fun fact: hysteria wasn't erased from the Bumper Book of Legit Psychological Disorders (otherwise known as the DSM III) until 1980.
Spermatorrhoea: the male hysteria.
So, if lack of orgasm in females is a cause of female hysteria, the male hysteria is also a lack of...
If you said 'orgasm', you're wrong. Spermatorrhoea, the male hysteria, is linked with excessive semen discharge. Folks thought that an involuntary leakage of semen was caused by, among other things, too much masturbation.
The cure? Stop being such a pansy. Get up at 5am, sponge yourself down with cold salt water, lift some weights and go for a jog.
Yep, that'd put most people off a quiet moment alone in the shower.
The cure is worse than the cause.
In both cases, the ultimate cure for chronic conditions was much worse than the cause. Females had to submit to invasive surgeries, while men had to submit to needles in their most beloved parts.
Yes. Needles. And worse. (Worse? Read the resources below.)
Hooray for medicine!
Want to read more? Check out these resources:
*This psych paper explores the history of female hysteria: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480686/
*This article from The Conversation is an excellent read on spermatorrhoea: http://theconversation.com/spermatorrhoea-the-lesser-known-male-version-of-hysteria-9996
CC pictures courtesy of:
1. Quelle Horreur by Paul Stumpr
2.Uterus by Hey Paul Studios
3. Sperm race by Mike Goren
4. Ouch by Bark
Tennessee Williams: A Listicle
Here at TBC, we take our research very seriously. So we leapt at the chance to delve into our muse and author for Project: Hysteria - playwright, moustache enthusiast and all round Dapper-Dan Tennessee Williams.
Then we thought: what better way to saturate your screens with TBC than to present our extremely serious research in that most lauded and well-respected of journalistic modes: The Listicle.
So, may TBC proudly present:
Four Things We Didn’t Know About Tennessee Williams Before And Think That You Won’t Either (working title)
1. Tennesee Isn’t Tennessee’s Real Name.
What?! His parents didn’t name this -
- after this?
Apparently not! Unlike modern celebrities (I’m looking at you, Dakota Fanning), Williams had to change his name to ride on Nashville’s coat-tails. (After all, where would Fanning be without Mt. Rushmore? Orlando Bloom without Disney World? George Washington without…wait…)
The son of Cornelius and Edwina Williams, Tennessee was born Thomas Lanier Williams III in 1911. It wasn’t until 1939 that the name Tennessee Williams was first printed.
2. Tennessee Williams was Pals with Jackson Pollock.
The Abstract Expressionist bad boy, responsible for this -
- knew the crown prince of Southern gentility? How? Where?! When?!?
Before the runaway success of The Glass Menagerie in late 1944, Williams was doing what any artsy type of the time would do: hanging round Cape Cod.
Really – the 19 dune shacks of Cape Cod provided a haven for artists and bohemians as early as the 1920s. Pollock and Williams would be introduced by Lee Krasner, whom Pollock would marry in 1945.
Fleeting though the meeting may have been, it seems to have had an effect on Tennessee – the short play The Day on Which a Man Dies, which depicts an artist committing suicide, was written in the year following Pollock’s fatal car crash.
There is also much conjecture about the influence of Pollock on Streetcar’s Stanley Kowalski – some saying Stanley was modelled on Pollock, others suggesting different players from Tennessee’s life. Some even suggest that Pollock’s public persona, and in particular the iconic images of him, were influenced by Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Stanley. The short play that Streetcar would grow out of, Interior: Panic, names Blanche’s brother-in-law as Jack. Coincidence? I think not! (probably)
3. Tennessee’s Sister Rose was Lobotomised.
Sorry guys, no jokes on this one. In 1943, after 6 years of failed treatments for paranoid schizophrenia, Rose Williams was given a bilateral prefrontal lobotomy. Tennessee would only learn about it after the fact, having not seen her since 1939. She formed the basis of Laura, the owner of the titular Glass Menagerie, completed in 1944. Tennessee’s successes allowed him to assign a portion of the royalties of his plays to her care. His estate was left to the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, who were entrusted with her care. She would survive him by 17 years.
4. Tennessee Blamed Hysteria for His Family’s Maladies.
Hysteria, you say? I hear there is a wonderful performance at Poppy Seed with that title! Whatever could hysteria be? Well, doctors used to cure it with this:
To be more accurate, Tennessee blamed his mother’s mania and his sister’s schizophrenia on sexual repression: “They were both victims of excessive propriety.” He would wage war on that propriety, both with his own hedonism and with his writing – Blanche’s solicitations would eventually make her into some kind of Lady (sexual) Liberty.
And that’s all we learned. All of it! We know nothing else at all about him…
But if YOU want to know more about him, seeing Project: Hysteria from the 10th of November at the Trades Hall Ballroom would help a lot. Just sayin’… (BOOK NOW! BOOK HERE!)
(all images, facts, quotes, jokes, thoughts, words, breaths, heartbeats sourced by the google machine)
Poppy Seed's big opening act
The first play performed at the Poppy Seed Festival will be big and it will be bold.
TBC Theatre will launch the festival’s inaugural opening night with the works of one of the most famous playwrights of all time – Tennessee Williams.
For the first time ever in Melbourne, audiences will be able to see the ‘seeds’ of iconic roles that have previously been played by acting royalty, such as Marlon Brando, Vivienne Leigh and our own Cate Blanchett. They’ll be brought to life again in a selection of rare one-act plays which have been regarded as the precursors to A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie.
Alister Smith (Pacific Overtures, Watch This – Nominated Green Room Award, Best Direction) makes his TBC directorial debut supported by lighting designer Daniel Chapman (Threepenny Opera & Himmelweg, both for Redroom Theatre Co) and Green Room Award winning costume designer Chloe Greaves (The Waiting Room, MTC; Pacific Overtures, Watch This; Blak Cabaret, Malthouse).
Starring Trudi Boatwright, Luke Cadden, Damien Harrison, Annie Last, Fleur Murphy, Edward Orton, Vaughn Rae, and Jessica Redmayne, TBC Theatre have the biggest cast in the festival, with a talented ensemble of experienced actors taking to the stage to perform Project: Hysteria, a sexy, dark and dramatic piece.
This incredibly captivating company performed their debut Loveplay inside an old dome in The Docklands in 2014, followed by the immersive Shadow of Angels inside the cells of The City Watch House, both to five star reviews.
In Project: Hysteria audiences will be treated to a fresh perspective on the characters made famous by one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century in Melbourne’s historic Trades Hall Ballroom.
“I don’t want realism, I want magic” is the very essence of this production, so if you want magic get your ticket to Project: Hysteria now!
An absolutely stunning and epic theatre experience awaits you on opening night.
EXCLUSIVE OPENING NIGHT GALA TICKETS - $50.00
Includes a ticket to the opening night performance of 'Project: Hysteria' plus a ticket to the Gala Party - complete with live entertainment, drinks and light refreshments.
Hosted by: Nadine Garner
Entertainment including: Mikelangelo with Cave. Waits. Cohen
WHAT: Project: Hysteria @ Poppy Seed Festival
WHEN: 10th – 22nd November
WHERE: Trades Hall Ballroom, 54 Victoria St Carlton
For more info and ticket bookings head to: www.poppyseed.net.au
Images at the top feature the four Poppy Seed shows: Project: Hysteria by TBC Theatre, The Yellow Wave by 15 Minutes From Anywhere, Gin Sister by Man With A Plan and The One by Fire Curtain Co.
TBC Theatre ensemble member Myles Tankle has taken on the challenging role of AD and Fight Director for our upcoming production of 'Made in China'.
Without giving too much away, we can certainly say that the text itself packs a punch - it's full of witty, dirty, fast-paced dialogue, definitely a challenge in itself for our 3 actors. Add on top of that a fight scent that needs to happen in a roughly 4x4 metre 'apartment' with some rather creative weapons (you may have noticed the prosthetic leg on our posters?) - and you've got yourself one hefty piece of theatre.
We asked Myles to give us a bit of an insight into his experience working on 'Made in China' - so here it is...
A fight director is a person who has mastered the art of staged violence, and it is very much an art form. I am not a ‘fight director’. This title takes years of study and practice to achieve this title. So with respects to qualified fight directors out there, I’d like to give my point of view of what it is to collaboratively create a fight scene.
I remember my teacher saying once that the choreography itself doesn’t actually matter. It must tell a story. We should actually aim not to notice the fight. The actors should take the choreography and breathe into it the living reality of being pushed so far that words no longer suffice to deal with a problem. Violence is a last resort and the audience should see and feel this.
Much of staged combat relies on distance, timing, some form of physical contact and an intense awareness and focus on the actor playing opposite you. We are always working for the other person, whether aggressor or victim. These roles must be clearly defined as oddly enough, it’s the victim that must be in control, so that the perceived violence can remain totally safe. Then there are the many tricks to play with. The Audience’s viewing angles, inventive uses of space and movement technique to name just a few. Throw in some actors and that’s where the fun really begins.
It’s been joy to work collaboratively and steadily to create a series of moments that add up to what is an effective and exciting bit of staged violence between three Irish blokes in a living room somewhere in Dublin. Some of us have trained in some form of martial art and/or stage combat whilst some have not had any martial training. Interestingly enough this is not a hindrance as it has given us a unique set of skills as a foundation to work with and the chance to learn and consolidate that learning.
Our challenges have been many. Our space is not a regular theatre space. Our seating layout meant that a lot of simple stage combat angles instantly became more complex, the text jumps between violence to descriptive rhetoric back to violence, and in fact, it never settles. The characters use of weapons adds yet another layer and on top of that and the space is much smaller than one would like to believe it is.
Despite these challenges, I believe we have crafted a dynamic scene that looks realistic and clearly furthers the action of the text. It’s the story that’s important, and the playwright Mark O’Rowe has written a brilliant one. After all, what’s a bit of good old Irish craic without a bit of a fight for good measure?
Made in China
July 8th to 25th 2015.
Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat - at 7.30pm.
Q44 Theatre, 1st Floor, 550 Swan St Richmond.
Ticket prices - Full $30 / Concession $25
TBC is always excited to find out about the innovative work other arts professionals are up to. Recently we were lucky enough to work with a new theatre and events planning company - Little Sister Projects, managed by Shannon Woodford - on their immersive halloween event 'Are You There Louise Lovely?'.
The event was a collaboration with actors from Melbourne based companies TBC Theatre and The Honeytrap and was hosted by The National Trust in the historic (and suitably atmospheric) Labassa Mansion. Guests were able to walk freely around the mansion, through the grand rooms and up the swirling staircase, where they discovered secrets lurking in the dark…
Thanks so much to Little Sister for having us on board, and to and The Honey Trap for a fun collaboration… and a spooky night out.
To find out more about Little Sister Projects, head to their Facebook page.
Creative time behind bars.
Today we chat with TBC ensemble member and playwright, Fleur Murphy, about her upcoming play reading and what it was like to spend time locked in a cell whilst writing her new theatre piece "As We Come To Wake".
Tell us a little of your story as a playwright.
I’m still pretty new to playwriting. My background has predominantly been as an actor, graduating from the University of Ballarat Arts Academy in 2004 with a B.A in Theatre Performance. After completing my studies I moved to Melbourne where I’ve had work professionally as an actor in theatre, film and TV. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of creative people and companies whose artistic approach is generally quite collaborative, so I think that has fueled the desire to explore creating my own work too.
A few years ago I wanted to learn more about film making so I wrote a short film called ‘Rain For Morgan’. The film went on to win a few international awards, (Winner of “Best Narrative Short” at the Festivus Film Festival Denver, 2011; Winner of “Best International Short Film” at the Ireland International Film Festival 2010; Winner of “Best Sound Achievement in a Short Film” at the Australian Sound Guild Awards 2010) which was really exciting and extremely encouraging.
With the desire to return to my theatre roots, I decided to have a go at writing a play. In 2010 I attended an exhibition in Geelong called ‘Femme Fatale – The Female Criminal’. I was very moved by the hauntingly real and gritty mug shots of Australian female criminals in the 1920s. The women, their faces, their stories and the crime scene photos inspired my first play, ‘Shadows of Angels’. The play premiered at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2012 and was also presented at the SheppARTon Festival and The Owl and The Pussycat Theatre in Melbourne in 2013. I’m now working on a new play called ‘As We Come To Wake’…
Why is theatre important to you?
I love the ‘live exchange’ that theatre offers its participants. And its participants are the actors on stage, the audience, the technicians and designers – it’s all a constant, living, breathing beast. It’s something I find very hard to articulate - but I crave feeling alive, challenged and inspired by work. Theatre feeds this craving for me, whether I’m sitting in the audience, or if I’m working on my own piece.
I also love theatre because of the immediacy and ownership of it in a way… If that makes sense? Making a film (even a short one) can take a really long time, and there are technical elements and processes that I would love to be a part of, but because of their specialised nature I can’t always contribute to – or have control over. The journey of filmmaking can feel quite disjointed and sporadic at times. As a theatre maker, I feel like I get some of that control and ownership back – which probably exposes me as a bit of a control freak at times.
There is also a wonderful diversity when it comes to independently produced theatre. At the moment Melbourne is pulsing with amazing work, produced by some really innovative independent theatre companies. It’s an exciting time! There’s a real fearlessness to the work – their voices are bold, unapologetic, relevant and honest. I find that hugely inspiring.
How have you found the experience in the Old Melbourne Gaol cells?
It’s been really great having a space that is solely dedicated to writing. I think (like most writers) I’m a brilliant procrastinator, so being able to get out of the house so that I can focus has been handy.
My work is rather visceral and the language I use can be quite poetic and descriptive at times, so working in such a rich, immersive environment has been wonderful. In the play I’m currently writing there is a section where the characters spend several months in a Dublin Gaol in 1846. Even though the play isn’t set in the Old Melbourne Gaol, working here has helped me absorb the general atmosphere of a gaol from that period in time. I’ve really been able to imagine what my characters experiences and conditions were like. Even the smallest details have inspired me – the muffled sounds of the outside world, the coldness of the stone walls, the dull clunk of the lock on my cell door, the way the sunlight streams through the windows and bounces off the metal staircases in the morning... All of this has fed my work.
Can we get a small teaser of your new play? What is it about?
‘As We Come To Wake’ is loosely based on some rather interesting family history. My great great great great grandfather, Michael Duffy, and his two brothers Bryan and William were wrongfully accused of committing a violent crime against a known vigilante ‘Ribbonman’ in Ireland in 1846. The judge wanted to make an example of them, and in the hope to cleanse Ireland of the 'viscous and immoral', the three brothers were torn from their family and sent to Van Diemen's Land. The play follows the physical and emotional journey these Duffy boys endured, from the initial ‘crime’ and proceeding trial, through to planting their feet on distant, unfamiliar soil.
What do you think is most challenging about writing a playscript?
For me, it’s keeping the momentum going. I often have a very prolonged research and ‘digestion’ period before I start to put words on a page. I can get a bit frustrated with myself if I haven’t written much down, but I’ve got to remind myself that it’s not the way I work and I need to relax and just let it come when it’s ready.
I think another big challenge at the moment is being able to produce solid dialogue that helps define and develop my characters. One of the best ways to test this is to hear my work spoken out loud. I learn a lot when I can get ‘out of my head’ and put the words into the mouths of a few actors.
What’s on your calendar?
I’ll be presenting a staged reading of the first draft of my new play ‘As We Come To Wake’ as part of the Cells for Writers open day on Sunday the 27th of July. Visitors to the gaol will be able to attend the reading, which starts at 3.30pm. Entry to the gaol is $15-$25 and gives you access to the Old Melbourne Gaol, The City Watch House and the play reading. I highly recommend that people make an afternoon of it and spend a few hours exploring the cells and corridors of these historic buildings.
Also, my first play ‘Shadows of Angels’ will be returning to Melbourne for three weeks in October. The show is being produced by TBC Theatre in partnership with The National Trust and will be presented in the City Watch House. The show’s return to Melbourne in such a historically relevant venue offers our company the scope to present the play in a way that has never been realised before. From the moment the audience arrives they’ll be whisked back to the gritty streets of Melbourne in the late 1920s.
Your advice for someone thinking about writing for stage?
Oh, tricky. Ummmm, I guess see as much theatre as you can. See independent theatre, main stage theatre, good theatre and bad theatre. You’ll soon discover what kind of work presses your buttons.
Find ‘your people’. I know for me, having a group of like-minded creatives to work with has been really important when developing a piece. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who can inspire, critique and challenge my work. I’m very grateful for that.
Also, keep writing – just do it whenever you can. I guess playwriting can feel like a bit of a difficult thing to get right. There’s so much going on in your head while you’re working on a piece; characters, narrative, tone, language, stakes, – the list whirls on and on. Add to this the niggling little voice that asks ‘is this even going to be entertaining?’ This is when I try and remind myself that I come first. It may sound selfish, but it’s how I focus. If I’m writing something that I love, that I’m invested in and care about then ‘the good stuff’ just flows.
At the end of the day, I think everyone’s journey as a playwright is different – as is the reason why people write and tell the stories they’re driven to tell. So… I don’t know?… Write the plays that give you insomnia. Write the plays that sit in your stomach like an ulcer. Write the plays that make you cry, feel angry, laugh! Write the plays that make you fall in love, that consume you. Write the plays you want to see on stage. I guess that all sounds a bit dramatic. But that’s kind of the point? Right?
Thanks so much for chatting with us Fleur!
Here are the details if you'd like to attend the reading:
Location: The Old Melbourne Gaol, 377 Russell St Melbourne.
Date: Sunday the 27th of July.
Time: 3.30pm start.
Price: Entry fees for The Old Melbourne Gaol range from $15 to $25.
To pre-book your Old Melbourne Gaol day pass click here .
Everything is now coming together for TBC’s debut production of ‘Love Play’ by Moira Buffini. We’re almost a week out from opening! Geeehhhh!
Over the weekend our director, Stu Duffield, and a few of our manly ensemble members joined forces to build a seating bank. If we build it … the audience will… Yeah. Ummm. Ok – a bit of a cheap joke. Sorry, please forgive ;-)
Stu had a secret to getting the best out of his men… and his secret was to feed them chilli! Hot, delicious, meaty chilli! Perfect for building stuff on a chilly Melbourne Sunday.
Here’s Stu’s recipe…
Ingredients for Stu's set building burrito chilli:
1kg of quality beef mince
2 medium brown onions
3 hot fresh chillis
2 big fresh tomatoes
1tbs ground cumin
1tbs ground coriander
1tbs ground chilli
1tbs ground hot smoked paprika
1tsp cumin seed
1tsp coriander seeds
500ml passata (tomato puree)
1tbs tomato paste
Juice of 1 lime
2 cup of water
Brown onions then throw in meat and cook til brown. Add chilli and spice seeds while meat is browning. Add all spice powders and cook for 5 mins.
Add tomatoes and passata plus water. Simmer until liquid reduced.
Serve with fresh made salsa, jalapeños, cheese, guacamole, lettuce and good corn tortillas. And other delicious things. Enjoy!
How many actors does it take to build a seating bank? 5 apparently.
In amongst a busy rehearsal schedule we had one day to build a seating bank so our audience can enjoy ‘Love Play’ to the fullest. Or at least see it. We had the measurements of the space, we had an idea of what we needed and with a breath of confidence we assembled. We had five hours.
We measured, we talked, scratched our heads and we confused each other. It took two hours. But what slowly formed was a plan. A plan we jumped on. We purchased supplies, we cut wood, we drilled wood, we made many wood related sexual jokes. We laughed. We laughed again. We possible laughed too much at our bad jokes. We ate chilli and we laughed some more.
Finally, our deadline past and we stood admiring our completed job. 4 seating banks built in a day. Not bad work for 5 creative types.
A momentary pause. Then a convoy headed to rehearsal. A long rehearsal. A late rehearsal.
It's what we do.
Thanks to Stu for sharing his recipe and for his ‘Director's note’ ;-)
To book tickets head to our ‘Love Play’ page on our website.
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!
Keep up to date with members of our ensemble as they share their news and experiences.