Recently I worked with the team at 1440 Productions casting six teenage roles for a live-action trailer that they are trying to get off the ground into a fully fledged series:
On a school excursion, six very different thirteen year olds take a wrong turn. They hurl through a wormhole into the parallel world of Dig Deep Creek – an 1850′s gold mining ghost town.
The wormhole is an unpredictable beast that connects to an infinite number of vastly different worlds. Amazing and terrifying things can travel through to Dig Deep Creek and at any time the wormhole could collapse.
Needing courage, ingenuity, cooperation and hope to survive, the teens are their own worst enemies.
Their daily struggle to find food and water, outwit the bushranger and battle the wormhole’s perils is hamstrung by infighting, jealousy and self interest.
Can they work together to survive day to day – let alone find their way back home?
Arts administrator and live-theater fan Ben Cameron looks at the state of the live arts — asking: How can the magic of live theater, live music, live dance compete with the always-on Internet?
Have you ever been surrounded by the bush at night – to be engulfed by the extreme darkness of the night sky? It can’t be denied that there is something deeply unnerving and uncanny about it.
As part of the Post Graduate Directors season at the VCA, I’m currently directing Goat Town.
Developed through a process of storytelling and improvisation, Goat Town follows a group of old friends on a camping trip to scatter the ashes of a mate. Grief and nostalgia mix with guilt and tension as they discover how much, yet how little, between them has changed. Read more…
The british playwright Howard Barker once said “One has to reach beyond the proposition that truth exists, beyond the categories of reason which defend the right to truth and into the hinterland of uncertainty, ambiguity and doubt.” Over the past month I’ve been directing Reasons for the fall of Emperors, from his collection of one-act plays The Possibilities.
Looking back over my early preparation work and the first few rehearsals, it has become increasingly clear that something has shifted in my energy and focus as a director.
To describe this in a sentence, it would be something like “a director must feel empathy for all characters situations, feelings, and motives.” This empathy is about registering what it is for the character of the Emperor to be at his wits’ end after a terrible battle and to understand, also, where an actor may be on any particular day and at any particular stage of the rehearsal process. Read more…
To celebrate Alan Bennett’s 76th birthday, my local cinema screened a live broadcast of his latest theatrical offering The Habit of Art, a high-definition cinema broadcast part of the National Theatre Live project. I should say from the outset that this was actually my second experience of the production, after having seen it performed live in London last December.
The Habit of Art reunites some of the major collaborators of Bennett’s runaway success The History Boys and subsequently doesn’t fail to disappoint us fans of Bennet. In some ways it’s an extension of the key themes, or perhaps a thematic sequel to The History Boys, by further examining the relationship between homosexuality, loneliness and relationships between older men and younger boys (this time through examined via Benjamin Britten’s relationships with adolescent boys and his fear of the audience’s reaction to him composing a truthful and authentic version of Death in Venice, an opera which deals with an ageing writers obsession with a young boy.)
We are left wondering if Bennett is saying that the act of older men having sex with teenage boys is not necessarily wrong, a somewhat fascinating argument, made more so by Bennet’s status as a “national living treasure”. It seems that Bennett can potentially examine issues in a very mainstream theatre environment (in this case the National Theatre) that other playwrights would be lampooned and potentially hung for in the mainstream British Tabloid Press. Bennett is daring in the concepts he examines and what he potentially does and doesn’t say in his writing.
Fatboy is an adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, an absurdist play that sparked serious riots, both in the audience and across Paris, following its debut in 1896. It would be deeply satisfying to report to you that the rather subdued audience in attendance at Red Stitch Theatre also revolted in disgust and anger at what they witnessed. They didn’t. Two people walked out and I imagine others felt uncomfortable. Given what it’s predecessor most famously achieved, it makes me wonder if Fatboy can evoke a similar passionate response.
In comparing it with Ubu Roi a review in The Age labeled Fatboy a failure:
“The main problem facing something like Fatboy lies outside the theatre. To a generation raised on South Park, Clancy’s play will be all too familiar. Director Marcelle Schmitz fails to keep the production as transgressive as it should be, precisely because she ignores the degree to which Jarry’s legacy has been absorbed into the Gen Y aesthetic.”
Over my brief journey as a director, I have become fascinated by an energy or attribute within certain exceptional individual actors, an energy that can only be described as presence. Most often it’s something that makes an actor compelling to watch and unforgettable long after the performance is over.
Joseph Chaikin described presence as “a quality given to some and absent from others…It’s a quality that makes you feel as though you’re standing right next to the actor, no matter where you’re sitting in the theatre.” Presence is executed and experienced in many ways: the actor needs to be available to himself, he needs to engage his concentration, focus, imagination, his dreams and nightmares, his understanding of the very moment in history that the performance is taking place. Read more…