Colder 2011 Reflection #3

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Helen Howard in the poster image for Colder. Image Sean Young.
Sunday afternoon, kicking back in a rehearsal for Colder, updating my blog. We are four weeks out from tech and I’m not panicking. Maybe I’m holding all of that in store for later. But then again, perhaps I have every reason to feel confident. The actors are bringing it. A real pleasure to watch as they grow into these roles. Michelle (our fearless director) is just so damn smart (no pressure) with a really clear vision for the work. The design is simple and visually grabbing.

A fair bit has happened since last time. Got a lighting sponsorship from the awesome Heath at FireFly Lighting. Our lighting designer Dan Anderson is licking his lips in anticipation, and I’m really interested to see who this comes together with the set. Poster art has come back from the printer and will go up around town in the next few days. Working on doing a little production preview video … production meetings blah blah … there’s a lot to do and strangely the last thing I think to do is sit in on a rehearsal. Check in on the art. See what demands they are facing. See what help they need.

Mostly being a producer is doing and communicating the doing. But before the doing (and the communicating the doing) comes the thinking and after comes the reflecting…. and perhaps it’s this thinking and reflecting which is the real task in the rehearsal room. Not thinking and reflecting on product, that is after all the director’s job, but thinking and reflecting on process. The point is to be helpful, to keep the challenge in focus, manageable, and resourced.

That, and laugh at all the funny bits.

Colder 2011 Reflection #1

This is the first of a few reflections I’ll write  about my experience co-producing Colder (by Lachlan Philpott) directed by the awesome Michelle Miall, which will be playing as part of the Indie season  at La Boite Theatre.

As I write this we are a smidgen over six weeks from opening. I have just been to a rehearsal and had the joy of watching this beautiful cast work through some of the demands and complexities of the script.

There’s something special about getting to eavesdrop in on the creative process of theatre artists. Some might argue that this can detract from the experience of the finished work, but for me being able to share in the discoveries that artists are making as they are making them only serves to deepen my connection. That this “eavesdropping” is necessarily part of the role of a producer doesn’t by any extent diminish the feeling of joy I had tonight on my way home.

Continue reading “Colder 2011 Reflection #1”

Review: I Love You, Bro – La Boite

Charming, delicate, and deliciously self-mocking this lovingly crafted one man show is an absolute winner.

Johnny is a fourteen year old logged onto a chat room as LBJ. There he meets Markymark. A football star a couple of years his senior. Markymark mistakes LBJ to be a girl. Oh the deliciousness of it all. What pranks could a fourteen year boy pull on the older lad? Well, not so much of a prank. No, in fact, Johnny falls in love with him.

For serious right? Well, yes, but also a lot of bloody fun.

You see, what is poor old Johnny (as LBJ) going to say to him when he wants to meet? That’s right, Markymark is a regular horny teenage boy who’s going to want to see this LBJ in the flesh (if you get my drift), I mean, really wants to see this LBJ. Clearly this isn’t going to work for Johnny. And so the real deception begins. LBJ gets a step-brother, then another step-brother (actually Johnny) then a dangerous ex-boyfriend out for revenge, parents, obviously – and well – the cast of fictitious characters begins to outweigh the actual. Indeed a veritable army of online handles come into existence all designed to help Johnny get his man. And does he? Well, you’ll have to see it.

Our hero is brilliantly writ and played. The language walks this beautiful balance of teenage innocence crossed with an adult sophistication able to comment on the shear absurdity of the increasingly complex story Johnny creates.

Sure the play captures unrequited love, but perhaps more interestingly, there is a real art to the way Johnny goes about playing his creations. Throwing himself deep into the lie, so even he begins to lose sight of the real.

I Love You, Bro is one of those rare theatrical treats where we get to be kids and adults, where we laugh, where we barrack for our hero, where we go on the roller-coaster too. Although it is based of an English story, it’s Australian theatre at its most fine.

Recommended for all. Take a date, take you’re mum, take your son. Either way you’ll get a good laugh and a fine night out.

Show watched Thursday 22nd July 2010.

Playing at La Boite Theatre at the Roundhouse. Season extended until 15th Aug 2010.

Review: The Chairs – La Boite Theatre

You may have heard the phrase absurdist and thought it to describe any number of plays or movies you’ve seen that were just a bit weird. Like the writer had perhaps taken a spot of acid and knocked off a couple of pages whilst on a really bad trip. (Say Bob, I like all that whole boy meets girl and fall in love thing, but what’s with pink elephant on page 39?) Well in theatre we tend to get a bit carried away. (That’s right, Bob my friend, take big swig of that absynthe you and him are going to be friends for a while.)

As to be absurd is, by its very nature, not to make any sense. Absurdist theatre then presents non-sense and attempts to make sense of it. Something, well, quite difficult to do.

What’s so weird about these plays then? Well it depends, sometimes the structure of the work is off, sometimes the language, sometimes the characters, sometimes more –

All of this is true for Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs.

The Chairs does follow a story of sort though. An old happily married couple, A Man and A Woman, are going to have guests around. Why are they coming around? Well, to listen to the Orator, naturally. And what does this Orator have to say? Well, the great meaning of life as realised by the Man, who, despite a beautifully comic turn of phrase, feels inadequate to the task of relating it himself.

The guests arrive, only there are no guests merely the chairs brought forth by The Woman upon which they sit. Introductions are made, half conversations are heard – clearly in the minds of the married couple, they are entertaining!

The play picks up as each new guest arrives, the numbers pick up, guests and more guests, the whole room is packed tight – chairs everywhere – and indeed the arrival of the orator is anticipated with great interest.

Where’s the absurdism? Well in the performance. In that gnawing gash in your mind that screams – but there’s no-one there!

The Chairs then is at times is quite brilliant, with the language exuding through the space, filling the emptiness. This pleasant mixture of anecdote, rhyme, derision, repetition, romanticism and non-sequiturs at times leave you in splits of laugher and at others puzzling over what you’ve missed while another audience member erupts on the other side of the room.

It’s not an easy play on an audience then, partly because our dear playwright is as times taking aim right at us, and partly because of the intensity with which it attempts to get its message across.

Indeed, as absurdist theatre goes, it accomplishes its goal; to draw us in and push us out, to make us laugh, and make us think. That it doesn’t fit our preconceived notions about that way theatre and stories are supposed to be told is kind of the point.

Recommended for those who like their comedies to gnaw, for those with a poetic heart, and all students of theatre.

Show watched Thurs 10th June.

Playing until 4th of July 2010 at the Roundhouse theatre, Kelvin Grove.

Presented by La Boite Theatre