Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve begun writing reviews of theatre here in Perth. I write for The Australia Times, an online magazine, that comes out bi-monthly.
As it is not a frequent publication, the reviews can be longer and more considered than the few hundred words allowed for more immediate reviews. The longer, later review may not be as attractive to theatre companies who see reviews as part of their PR strategy, and so want them to come out early on in the production’s run to generate bums on seats. It means that the production can be considered in a different way – not just as an expression of a particular reviewer’s taste or as an indicator of whether they recommend an audience attend it or not. The lofty aim I’m striving for is to build up a record of a production in some depth, place it in a wider context, and attempt to articulate a contemporary ‘canon’ for the theatre we see in Perth. I can’t see everything, or write about everything I see, but I hope I can make a small contribution to a bigger conversation.
I’m new at this, and maybe there are other ways of achieving it, but I’m having a go, at least. You can find my reviews posted here: Theatre Reviews
I also wrote an article about FringeWorld 2015 looking at the economic impact this has not only on businesses, but on artists, too: Forget Passion: unpaid work keeps fine festivals afloat.
I’ve just returned from Albany and Denmark in WA’s south west where myself and Peter Clark read the amazing Twitter Novella as part of the Great Southern Festival.
We had premiered this work on Sunday at the Perth Writers Festival and we will repeat this in Toodyay in April.
What an experience!! the twists and turns of the plot and the tugs and pulls of the narrative made this an interesting performance challenge! If you’d like to read the whole thing, it’s posted here. writingWA will be posting a YouTube of our performance soon, too. I’ll link that when it’s live.
I also chaired a couple of sessions at the Perth Writers Festival – The Best of Times with Peter Walker, Emily Bitto and Caitlin Maling, and Natural Observations with Annamaria Weldon, Deb Fitzpatrick and Inga Simpson. Both times it was great to hear these authors speak about their wonderful work. And the photo above was taken when I was having the best time doing a little observing of nature myself 🙂
Now I’m moving on to a workshop for my play about the Western Underground Orchid. I’ve titled it several times (The Botany Play, The Orchae, etc.) but now I’m calling it Hidden. I’ll be working with director, Emily McLean, and some great actors in March. Thanks to support from Stages WA Playwrights Consortium this workshop will help me develop the script and make it rehearsal-ready – hopefully before I leave for California in May. Maybe one day soon Hidden will be produced! Yay!
And this is a photo of the orchid (Rhizanthella gardneri) – a very rare and exceptional plant only found in WA.
It is with great sadness that I heard of the death on Friday 30th January of Carl Djerassi, aged 91.
I had the privilege of meeting him last year in Lincoln, England, and was inspired by the breadth of his knowledge and interests. During his life he contributed much to both science and art through his work and writing, and to society through his philanthropy.
His obituary is in the New York Times:
At the end of last year I received some amazing news! I’ve been offered a place on the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in USA.
And it was in one of the most enthusiastic and welcoming invitation letters I’ve ever received 🙂 The opening paragraphs from Executive Director, Margot H. Knight read:
“YES. One of the pleasures of this job is saying YES to artists. You have been selected to be a resident artist at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program during the 2015 season. This is a remarkable achievement—867 artists applied for 66 residencies.
The quality, integrity and direction of your work clearly impressed our panelists.
Congratulations. Let me say it again—YES! Oh, and once more. YES!”
This will be such a wonderful opportunity to focus completely on a new play, tentatively titled ‘Subversive’ – but more of that another time. Needless to say, this play continues my fascination/obession with science in theatre and in society.
I only know that the last residency I held at the Cummins Theatre in Merredin was amazing! I truly appreciated the space and time to just write – it’s so wonderful to immerse oneself in the world of a play, and hopefully this immersion is realised through the play text as well.
Just a quick update to the ‘Botany’ play that I wrote during my Merredin residency, Stages WA Playwrights Consortium is supporting a workshop with the wonderful director, Emily McLean, and some very talented actors, to help move this text closer towards production. I changed the title to ‘The Orchae’ but I think I might change it again, as that one’s a bit obscure, perhaps. I’ll keep you posted…
Anyway – back to my research of ‘Subversive’!
And here’s to a productive and happy 2015 to you all ☺
Afeif and I are celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of our unique productive collaboration – transcreation this Saturday 4th October 2014.
Featuring Dennis Haskell, Roderic Pitty, and David Moody we will share what we’ve achieved and what it means not only to us, but further afield. Transcreation, as we see it, isn’t just a means to bring Afeif’s words from Arabic into English, but a process of cross-cultural engagement. I hope you’ll be able to join the celebration and taste the complimentary Sudanese finger food, tea, coffee and soft drinks, as well as listen to the wonderful music of Nazik Osman & Eltayeb Hamid.
DATE: 4th October 2014
TIME: 7pm to 9:30pm
VENUE: Ethnic Communities Council’s Hall, 20 View Street, North Perth WA 6006
Books available for sale on the night.
A life in the Arts is sustained by hope and resilience. Hope inspires me to keep putting my work out there, and resilience stops me giving up when my enthusiasm for what I do is not matched by funding and institutional willingness to support it 🙂 Audiences and readers are enthusiastic but I’m wondering if they realise what goes in to sustaining an artistic life/career. So, I thought I’d present an overview of what I have been doing since the beginning of the year to try to get my work out there, and why I think there should be a greater voice for Arts in the public conversation than there is now.
For those of you who are not involved in the Arts this is a snapshot of the time, energy effort and emotional investment many of us put into our work.
I started out with a concerted effort to apply for projects – currently totalling an estimated 40 or more discrete actions to realise my arts practices.
I decided this year I’d concentrate mainly on my theatre work: writing, acting, directing and occasionally producing. In summary:
Of these, 6 playwriting submissions had a positive outcome – dramaturgy, readings etc. and I’m working with a director on a potential productions in 2015.
I’ve presented 4 writing workshops and have 5 more lined up for the rest of the year.
I auditioned 5 times and was selected 3 times, plus I had on-going voiceover work. I performed in a remount of a play from last year, which was presented at a regional festival. I am currently in rehearsals for a show in November.
I was dramaturge/director on a play reading, and am currently in pre-production as a director for a play for next year.
I helped with publicity on ‘3 Seeds’, a play I transcreated with Afeif Ismail at the Blue Room Theatre, and I began producing a show that subsequently stalled.
However, I submitted some poems and of the 10 sent out, 2 were selected for publication and I am waiting to hear about 3 others. And I was a guest at a regional writing festival.
I also sat on panels, was involved in industry consultations, judged competitions, published reviews and articles, attended conferences, marked essays, gave talks and presentations, MC’d at events and gave informal dramaturgy to friends and colleagues when asked to.
Of the over 40 attempts to work, I’ve achieved 24 publications/activities so far this year, and I’ve been paid for 10 of them. So over half of the ‘work’ I’ve done has been unpaid. Around 20 applications were unsuccessful, so nearly half of my efforts to achieve work were also unpaid. This snapshot is not uncommon amongst artists. Often we are driven by passion as well as profit, plus there’s a belief that it’s important to remain visible and engaged in the Arts sector, otherwise you’re easily forgotten.
So why am I telling you this (and thanks for staying with me)? I said earlier that it’s time the Arts and Artists had a greater voice in the public policy conversation. Recently The Arts Party, a new party dedicated to arts and culture, has entered the political arena. But I feel arts should be a key part of every political party’s agenda of whatever stripe. If we want that to happen the question we should ask our politicians is ‘So, you want my vote, what’s your Arts Policy?’
Collectively, across all art forms, and arts and creative industries, we can have considerable impact. There are a lot of us!
If, like me, you are committed to working in the arts, or if you’re a passionate lover and supporter of the Arts (often we’re both) and you’re interested in being part of this, please make The Arts a political as well as a personal priority in your life.
Don’t delay – the 2016 election is not that far away…
Australian Plays has published 8 of my short plays, all available separately. Each one has either been performed, published or won a prize 🙂
The plays are:
The Comic’s Tale
Freedom of Birds
Pillar of Water
Scream from Tal Afar
Just had the OPENING NIGHT of 3 of Afeif Ismail’s short plays which he and I transcreated from Arabic to English! Congratulations to all the cast and crew and especially Jeremy Rice, the director and producer with Always Working Artists. These plays are being performed up until 5th July at The Blue Room Theatre, James Street in Northbridge.
We are SOLD OUT tonight Friday 20th June when we have ‘A Taste of Sudan’ after the show including Sudanese music and food. This event is sponsored by WINGS Organisation for Cross-cultural Development as part of Refugee Week 2014.
So ‘3 Seeds’ is having a 2nd ‘A Taste of Sudan’ on Saturday 21st June. I hope this one sells out too 🙂
More info at ‘3 Seeds’ at the Blue Room Theatre or phone: +61 8 9227 7005
2014 is off to a flying start!
After the heatwave and the Festive season malaise things are starting to happen.
I’ve completed the second draft of ‘The Orchantes’ (formerly known as ‘The Botany Play‘) and I’m looking to take the next step – development towards production.
This play has been a pleasure to write. I’ve travelled to Sydney, London and Merredin in WA’s wheat belt, to research and write it. Plus, it introduced me to Brendan McCall. Brendan is a performer, director and producer and is nearing the end of his tenure at the Cummins Theatre, Merredin, where I undertook a writing residency last year. Through support from Stages WA Playwrights Consortium he’s been working with me as dramaturge over the past few months and the play has come along amazingly well. Thank you Brendan, and good luck post-Merredin!
Other things shaping up in 2014:
I’ve had a play selected with the Belarusian Dream Theater Project
I’ve been invited back to teach workshops at Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre
and 3 plays by Afeif Ismail, that I co-transcreated with him are being produced at The Blue Room Theatre, Perth in June.
More projects are bubbling under the surface but are not confirmed and I’ll post these, as and when 🙂
I’ve been playing the role of Gertrude Stein in Her Infinite Variety Ensemble’s production of Gertrude Stein and a Companion by Win Wells. It’s been a fascinating and inspiring journey finding out about this incredible woman and her partner, Alice B. Toklas. As both a writer and performer I’ve enjoyed playing the role, which incorporates Stein’s writing, too. This was a rare chance for my love of both language and performing to come together.
Plus there were some great reviews! See:
The West Australian
Independent Theatre Australia