Posted by Morgan Leek, August 26th, 2011
If you are trying to reach us in the office next week, there is a good chance you might get our voicemail. In fact, you might get most producers, general managers, marketers, performers and venue coordinator’s voicemail in the Australian arts world because it’s conference week.
Not one, but three conferences will be happening in Perth starting Sunday night with over 400 delegates between them. The 2011 Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA) Conference, The Australia Council’s Arts Marketing Summit and Long Paddock hosted by Country Arts WA will be taking over The State Theatre Centre of WA.
Our artists will be running amok this year with pvi collective’s tug-of-war performance of resist in the upstairs foyer on Thursday and secret acquisitions with Tawdry Heartburn upstairs. We will also be pitching Night Train Production’s WISH and Sally Richardson’s The Ghost’s Child during the Long Paddock session on Thursday – so make sure you come along if you are registered!
Chookas to Rick Heath and his team, Country Arts WA and the Australia Council for the Arts for their events!
Fiona de Garis & Sarah Rowbottam, Performing Lines WA
Posted by Morgan Leek, August 22nd, 2011
The Gender Agenda – Women in the Theatre – let’s get Rid of the Equality Myth
Words: Sally Richardson, Independent Director
“There’s been a lot of discussion over the past few years about an endemic imbalance between opportunities for male and female playwrights in mainstage Australian theatre. It’s a debate that’s not likely to dissipate anytime soon but constructive solutions are being investigated across the sector.”
And a round-table it was last Friday 12 August at the Sydney Theatre Company. Representatives from leading Australian Theatre Companies, funding agencies, script development organisations, academics, and most importantly many of Australia’s leading women playwrights. A joy to be in the room with the likes of Hannie Rayson, Katherine Thomson, Catherine Zimdahl, Rosalba Clemente, Verity Laughton, Melissa Reeve, Kit Lazaroo, Alana Valentine, and others.
Directors, literary managers and writers discussed, mildly tussled and found moments of common understanding as they negotiated the hot potato that is the inequity of representation of works by Australian women playwrights in the programs of our major companies.
The statistics speak for themselves (see below) – so why is it that women’s work equally developed, workshopped and commissioned somehow drops off the radar in the sweat fest that is Annual subscription programming of most major companies?
A matter of artistic taste? subject matter (too female)?, lack of cut throat approach in the pitching ‘couch’ phase?, Or lack of interest in a climate that favours wunderkind young male directors (apparently) with a fixation of re-working their unique vision into and onto a classic text ie: their just not interested ladies!. Are women not team players, part of the ‘in’ crowd? or is their work just not cutting it?
A gentle reminder that works that might be seen as not driven by the written text (ie a playwright) are now part of mainstage theatrical seasons – Force Majure, Lucy Guerin, to name a few. The climate is changing to be sure…and yet? The words did not however fall upon deaf ears, and as in the uproar of 12 months or so ago in terms of the representation of works directed by women, we shall see more ‘mindifulness’ and apparent subtle shifts and changes, if not the defined quotas that some were seeking.
And so, I found myself looking around, and admiring…these womens courage, tenaciousness, intelligence, wit, creativity, and always the passion to see their work reach their audience (in the face of many obstacles, (not least a new generation artistic director)…there was years worth of new work just waiting in this room alone…
2010 and 2011 Seasons in Australia
What follows is an edited version of documentation collected by AWOL group of Australian women playwrights.
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Posted by Morgan Leek, August 3rd, 2011
Rhiannon Newton is one of eight performers currently working with Chrissie Parrott Performance Company on the development of Reign – a new multi-art production bringing the artwork of Patrick Doherty to the stage. A trained dancer, Rhiannon has worked internationally and nationally with some of the worlds most radical choreographers and artists. For Reign, Rhiannon transforms from dancer to hyena.
Words: Sarah Rowbottam and Rhiannon Newton
SR.First up, briefly tell me about yourself.
RN.I come from a small town in NSW called Crescent Head. I studied dance at WAAPA from 2004 to 2007. I’ve since lived and worked in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv and at the moment I’m in Perth working across a couple of projects including Reign.
SR.In a few sentences, what is your character in Reign?
RN.My character is called the hyena, but basically i feel like she is the embodiment of the beast or the evil in the extremity of each character… kind of the extreme evolution or mutation brought about by the dying Earth. She has moments of almost remembering her former human self but is largely driven by primal instincts and a need to survive in the barren “Reign” landscape.
SR.How do you prepare for creative development and the exploration of your character before and during development? Did you do anything specific for Reign?
RN.A bit of you-tubing of hyena’s for movement ideas. Chrissie and I spent a week out in the salt lakes in the Goldfields on another projects called Parched and that was interesting gestation time for both of us, to be drowned in the mass and emptiness of such spaces. Chrissie works really visually and there’s often quite a bit of online back and forth with images which I find quite stimulating entry points for character development…. and of course with this project Patrick’s images have been a huge influence and inroad for our characters.
SR.How has this development been different to Stage One development back in November?
RN.Stage one was really a coming together of the many different bodies of the Reign creative team and it was really a process of trialling ideas. In this stage we have the idea and are unfurling/building a world that communicates it.
SR.I imagine in a development process, each day would be fairly different from the last. Briefly take me through one of your favourite days thus far.
RN.Well yesterday was a long one. We are 3 days out from the showing and we just did the first full run through. We had the entire cast in the studio today plus all the behind the scenes creative team which was great and we actually developed two new scenes that will end the work (at this point). The show is a series of little acts some more danced, some more spoken, so rehearsals are quite complex in that we have concentrated sessions with Chrissie to develop and refine our individual bits and then time around to solidify them for ourselves.
SR.I know you have worked on a few different projects with Chrissie recently, one being a short dance film shot in Menzies, Lake Ballard. What has your experience being like working with Chrissie across various projects and what are you hoping to learn from working with her during Reign?
RN.What I love about working with Chrissie is the creativity she demands from us and the opportunity she gives us to dive into / inhabit this ulterior world she is creating. Reign is particularly interesting for me because it involves a lot of very talented and experienced artists from dance, theatre and the visual arts and that is a very rich, challenging and stimulating environment to be working in daily.
SR.Like many of the dancers in this production you bring a significant amount of international and national dance experience to the project. How do you feel the Australian (and particularly the Western Australian) dance is seen in wider society compared to other countries? If you had a magic wand, what would you change?
RN.I would maybe fast forward ten years. I think it’s on track we’re just a bit, well quite behind. But really the dancers / performers coming out of here (WAAPA) are so strong at the moment, I think it’s quite exciting, and we are starting to have the right structures in place for quality work to be made and with ongoing support and hard work we hopefully will arrive, someday, at a point where the whole system is more robust and functional and WA audiences have a real sense of pride in the work created here.
Reign by Chrissie Parrott Performance Company is currently in Stage 2 & 3 development
at MosArts Hall until Saturday 6 August 2011. Read more about Reign here.
This development has been supported by the Western Australian Theatre Development Initiative.
Rhiannon Newton completed her Bachelor of Arts and Honours in Dance at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2007. As a dancer she has worked for Jan Fabre / Troubleyne (Belgium 2008), Anouk van Dijk (The Netherlands 2008), Odelya Kupperberg (Israel 2009) and Machol Shalem (Israel 2010). She is currently based in Western Australia working in various independent projects with Chrissie Parrott Performance Company, Jonathan Buckles, Jo Pollitt and Aimee Smith. Rhiannon will perform The Check Point Solo, directed by Jo Pollitt in the 2011 Brisbane Festival’s Under The Radar.
Posted by Morgan Leek, August 1st, 2011
Performing Lines WA Producer Rachael Whitworth talks about the final creative development for Shiver. Over the past five weeks Rachael has been working with Danielle Micich and the performers at CIA Studios and Midland Junction Arts Centre.
Words: Rachael Whitworth Photos: Sarah Rowbottam
Danielle Micich (Dank) has just completed her final creative development for Shiver before she goes in to rehearsals for production later this year. She worked with the dancers full-time for 2 weeks at Midland Junction Arts Centre, developing the many ideas and choreographic material that was generated in a part-time development at CIA studios a few weeks before.
At last, the full cast was together with Gerard Van Dyck joining the ensemble from Melbourne. The vibe in the studio was fantastic, everyone seemed to be having a great time and the work was focused. For the first week, Dank seemed to use the morning rehearsals to generate new material using many different mechanisms or inspirations as a point of departure. Sometimes this worked really well and the dancers latched on to the ideas and evolved them to create solo or duo material. Other times, they did not quite understand the concept and wafted around the space, looking unsure and lost. This was an interesting dilemma for Dank who mostly had a clear picture of what she wanted in her head – but it didn’t quite translate. As in any creative process, this is the constant challenge for a director- finding new pathways to access different ideas and inspire the performer to create something new, or even something simple that speaks as part of a larger picture. However, Dank managed to find new access points that guided the artists to achieve what she was looking for after a bit of a break and some new inspiration.
I was amazed at how fast the work developed from the first week to the second. By mid-way through the second week, the work was looking polished and so much clearer in intention and narrative. Most dance sections were choreographed which allowed Dank to determine whether the structure of the piece as a whole was working or ‘saying’ what she wanted it to.
On the final day, we had 2 different types of showings. One was an open rehearsal for people to observe how a dance work is made. A number of attendees from Midland came to the rehearsal and said they felt privileged to see behind the scenes. They noted that it would make their appreciation of the final performance so much greater as they had an insight into the work it took to create such a work. This open showing worked really well and is food for thought for further projects.
In the afternoon, three regional presenters came to a showing to provide feedback about the work as a whole. It has always been Dank’s intention to create Shiver to be accessible to a wide audience who may not necessarily be avid contemporary dance goers. With this aim, she and Performing Lines WA are keen for the work to tour regionally and be attractive to these audiences.
The dancers were quite nervous during the showing and Dank and I were surprised that some sections had really sped up. However, the work looked great and seemed to translate well. The feedback session with the presenters was amazingly valuable. Generally, they were all very positive about the work although all seemed to lose interest during a couple of sections. This was great as it was very clear which sections weren’t quite working. We discussed how to market the work and it’s rather challenging and potentially depressing content and how to engage audiences with interactive marketing techniques to build interest in the performance well ahead of time.
I think this was a unique opportunity for an artist to receive really useful and constructive feedback from presenters who understand their market and what they can actually sell. On top of this, it was at a time in the creative process where there is still opportunity to make changes and refine the work in an effort to make the production the best it can really be. I’m looking forward to the next 3 week rehearsal leading in to the production of Shiver in November this year as this is when we will see where Dank can really extend Shiver.
Rachael Whitworth, Producer Performing Lines WA
SHIVER will premiere at The Dolphin Theatre, UWA on 17th of November 2011.
Choreographer: Danielle Micich Sound Designer: Kingsley Reeve Performers: Gerard Van Dyck, Jacqui Claus, Leanne Mason, Lewis Kilpatrick Design Consultants: Lawrie Cullen-Tait, Lin Kilpatrick Lighting: Joseph Mercurio Dramaturg: Humphrey Bower. Produced by Performing Lines WA.
To find out more about SHIVER click here.