Monthly Tips – August Edition #2

Posted by Fiona de Garis, August 28th, 2012

With the run-away success of last month’s handy tips post, the boffins in the lab have decided to do it all again! With Sarah away in New York/Melbourne/Fiji the rest of the team have knuckled down to bring you this month’s list of producing gold!

Performing Lines WA Monthly Tips – Edition #2

Tip #1 – Touring is extremely tough to secure, you are wasting your time and energy chasing the opportunities if the work isn’t good enough. Be your own worst critic and make sure the work you are putting up is the best you can offer. – Fiona

Tip #2 – I always over prepare when speaking to an audience.  After writing down my structure a couple of times, I usually feel competent enough to speak without referring to my notes too much!  It’s also really useful to attend other presentations to find out what works and what is not relevant to a broad audience.  And a bit of AV always breaks things up a bit!! – Rachael

Tip #3 – When starting a new project really think about who your audience is and where the market will be for the work. – Fiona

Tip #4 – Interning at a company (like Performing Lines WA) can be a richly rewarding and education experience, though if you remain with the company for a while you will almost certainly become their de facto IT person… – Tom

Tip #5 – 2 weeks out from a creative development, a tour and premiere production – you need to make sure you have constant supply of coffee and the occasional water to keep your body mildly balanced and your brain alert to potential mishaps.  My general rule is as follows: Coffee, coffee, water, coffee. – Rachael

Tip #6 – As I’m rapidly finding out, food (lunch especially) is actually quite important. Don’t be a dummy, take time out of your day to ensure you get your proper nutrition for the day… coffee can only get you so far. – Tom

Got tips you want to share? Tell us below or email

Interview: Bruce Gladwin from Back to Back Theatre

Posted by Fiona de Garis, August 23rd, 2012

From the 28 – 30 August, Geelong’s Back to Back Theatre will be filming the next stage in their long standing touring work ‘The Democratic Set‘ at The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre 3 – 9 September. They are looking for your help – no previous experience required!

‘The Democratic Set’ explores the belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy social, political and economic rights and opportunities. Community participants are filmed in a short video portrait, which is then edited together and forms part of the larger film  screened in the main gallery space at PICA.  Last week I had a brief chat with Back to Back Theatre’s Artistic Director Bruce Gladwin to find out more about this amazing work and the company itself.

You can find an example of the film and full contact details for PICA at the bottom of this post.

The Democratic Set by Back to Back Theatre

Words: Tom Cramond (TC), Bruce Gladwin (BG)
Images: Courtesy of Back to Back Theatre

TC. Many of our readers in WA may not be familiar with the work of Back to Back Theatre can you give us a brief run down of the companys history? 

BG. Started in 1987 the company is centered around an ensemble of 6 actors with intellectual disabilities. I am the 4th artistic director and have worked in that position for 12 years. The company makes accessible, dynamic  idiosyncratic theatre.


 TC. Back to Back is nearly 25 years old, no small achievement for an artistic organization, what do you think has been the companys greatest strength and how has it managed to remain such a prevalent and successful artistic force?

BG. The ensemble are definitely a driving force in the organisation. They continue to take artistic risk, delve into the unknown and bare their own foibles and strengths.


 TC. From a personal perspective, as a writer, director, designer (everything really!) what is it about the companys work keeps you motivated and inspired?

BG. I like to make devised theatre, that is work that is not written from a single voice but plays creatively with process. As an audience member I prefer work that challenges it’s audience. I am drawn to work that is difficult to like. I like to talk about things that are not easy to talk about. Back to Back offers me a vehicle to play with all of the above.


TC. With the filming for ‘The Democratic Set’  due to take place in Perth next week, what have been some of your favourite 15 second performances over the past few years?

BG. Explosive devices, farm animals are always good to film, I feel satisfied when non performers partake and feel the satisfying glow of what it is like to collaborate artistically with others. Stilt walkers, hip hop crews, poets and physical performers.


 TC. What can audience members expect from coming to see the final production of The Democratic Set?

BG. Potentially themselves and people they know spontaneously making performance art. It’s joyous and beautiful. Often at the screenings audiences will scream, holler and whimper with delight at recognizing others on screen, it’s a celebration.


TC. How important is a work like The Democratic Set in enabling the company as a whole to engage and collaborate with local communities?

BG. It offers two very simple parameters – a simple  egalitarian stage and a 10 second time frame into which the performers must work within. It can embody complexity and simplicity, it is a format that is accessible to all. One can simply stand and have their portrait taken or offer a crafted performance.


 TC. Lastly, what does the future hold for Back to Back Theatre? What exciting projects are on the horizon?

 BG. A collaboration with the STC for 2013, much touring of ‘Ganesh Versus the Third Reich’ to North America and Europe and hopefully some rest.


PICA and Back to Back Theatre are inviting members of the local community to create video portraits for ‘The Democratic Set’. These video portraits will be edited together to create a film that will be screened in PICA’s main gallery space from 8 September to 21 October. Contributions are neither restricted nor censored. They could be solos, duets or group performances, using movement, sound, costumes and props of any kind – you choose. Alternatively you could simply stand in the set totally still and say nothing!

Filming will take place August 28 – 30 at PICA.

Please have a look at some of the amazing Democratic Set films from cities around Australia and the world:

Places for this extraordinary opportunity at PICA are limited, so get in quick! To get involved just send a super brief expression of interest to:

Back to Back Theatre creates new forms of contemporary theatre imagined from the minds and experiences of a unique ensemble of actors with disabilities, giving voice to social and political issues that speak to all people. Based in Geelong, Australia, the company makes work locally and tours globally.

Filed under WA Featured Artist


Posted by Morgan Leek, August 14th, 2012

Last week we began production of Sonya Hartnett’s The Ghost’s Child, adapted and directed by Sally Richardson, with a day of reading and discussion of the final pre-rehearsal draft of the script. Like most independent performances the show has had a long journey to the stage. Follow the final weeks of preparation for the premiere season at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre here in our blog.

First up, some thoughts and feelings on the eve of rehearsal from the Director. 

Words: Sally Richardson  Images: Fiona de Garis


Over four years ago I read a book, loved it, and felt that I really wanted to bring it to life on a stage.I could see it and I hoped that one day an audience could too…

After convincing Performing Lines WA’s inimitable Wendy Blacklock and Fiona de Garis, so it began. The hunt was on for for dollars and friends. Negotiating adaptation rights, various script drafts, creative development, dramaturgy, workshops, ideas, designs, drawings, presentations, applications, rejections, acceptances and wrong turns…

With persistance, patience, and some tears later… finally armed with a DCA grant, an Ozco Music Board commission, Stages WA support, many more friends and a co-producer in the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre team led by Guy Boyce… we begin to make The Ghost’s Child!


For a performance maker, after the initial process of dreaming up ideas and images in your head comes the delicious moment when you start to bring those images into some kind of shape. When you begin the initial process that will take the work for the first time onto a stage and to its audience. The arm twisting, and waiting game, are for the moment done. And that bittersweet delicious immersion into a process of realisation can begin. And so for the next 6 – 8 weeks or so, I get to do what I REALLY love.


I breathe deeply. Here we are now sitting around a table and looking at design drawings, costume sketches, someone’s being measured up, it feels fantastic! We hear from the producing team, talk about promotion and possibilities for audience engagement, discuss train schedules and car pooling while completing tax forms  – and then we read the script…

You are listening, making notes, rude asterisks and question marks on the draft in front of you, and watching closely the people around you as they start bringing these characters to life. You laugh out loud, sometimes in surprise, you hold your breath, and you ‘feel it’ and begin to sense its heart, its truth, its potential. You are again delighted and entranced by actors and their craft, the insights that emerge from the collective creative brain…and know that yes, this is going to be magical…

Support the production on Pozible .

The team:
Direction/adaptation: Sally Richardson
Composer/performer: Melanie Robinson
Production Design: Matt McVeigh
Lighting Design: Jenny Vila
Production Manager: Chris Donnelley
Assistant Designer: Emma Craig

And featuring:
Nicola Bartlett
Katya Shevtsov
Kynan Hughes

Premiere Season   28 September – 5 October 2012
Presented by Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
More details

Interview: Chrissie Parrott

Posted by Morgan Leek, August 13th, 2012

One of the biggest issues facing any  independent West Australian artist is the lack affordable and accessible venues to create and show their work. So much so that renowned choreographer Chrissie Parrott and composer/sound artist Jonathan Mustard have the  taken slightly ambitious step of opening up their own multi purpose art, workshop, gallery and performance space in Maylands – just a ten minute drive from Perth’s CBD. Last week I (Tom) headed out to The Chrissie Parrott Art Space and caught up with Chrissie herself to find out all about the new space and her plans for an exciting group show at the end of the year.

Image supplied by Chrissie Parrott

Words: Tom Cramond (TC), Chrissie Parrott (CP)
Images: Tom Cramond 

TC. Why as an independent artist do you need a space like this?

CP. I’ve wanted  space like this for 30 years really, because as you may be aware I used to have a professional company and we were always renting space so you never had that sense of security. More recently because I’ve been dabbling in visual arts and prop making I decided it was time stretch my wings a little bit and be able to make a mess and not have to clean it up everyday! So I started looking for a space two years ago.  I was looking for a semi residential space with some kind of a workshop and that proved to be very expensive. I looked around O’Connor, Bibra Lake and far and wide because I didn’t think I would find anything close to the city. I even tried Osborne Park, but I found it was too industrial or too corporate industrial. Eventually I saw this space online and I just loved the front of it!

I drove past the place, looked in the window and there was just this big empty space and I just fell in love with it. I remember showing it to a few colleagues and when they saw the space they just went quiet – I think they though the space was too big to deal with, but it’s remarkable how quickly it fills up.

Also I’m at that place at my life and at my career where I’m very excited about the idea of presenting other people’s work. But I dont want to go into a formal (role) becoming a producer so I thought curating is the next best thing. I have a lot of friends from overseas as well and it is easy to bring artwork to another country through digital means.

On top of all of that Jonathan and I are still experimenting with our own digital display work (large scale projections) and it’s very difficult to find a space for that. If you don’t get funded you end up not doing anything. This  means that with the space even if we don’t get funded we can still continue with our work until we get the funding that we need, so it gives us incentive. Though you have to work hard in a space like this because it is still a business.

TC. How has working in this space helped you as an artist?

CP. One of the most important things about the space for both Jonathan and myself is that it can transform. Presently it has the gallery (approx 100sqm) with the artist studios and event space. However we are thinking in two years  why not pull all this infrastructure down – because it is all just smoke and mirrors really – and open it up as a big space potentially for site specific and performance based work.


TC. Are you and Jonathan running the space entirely by yourselves?

CP. I did a business course last year and Jonathan is doing the same course now and this means both of us are taking responsibility for this new business venture. Jonathan is called the ‘Space Man’ because he does all the space management out the back, and I’m doing the gallery management out the front. We’ve done all of this single handedly, all the infrastructure and everything we’ve built ourselves. It took a little bit of time but it’s been so rewarding watching the space change. It feels beautiful in here –  it has lots of character.

The property itself has a five year lease. When we spoke to the owner originally he was a bit worried about what we were going to do – “how can you make a gallery? It’s so grimy and messy in here!”.But we had a vision. And when  he came the other day he couldn’t believe it. We had to get an industrial cleaner to remove all the oil (the building used to be a panel beaters) but the great thing is that it feels like we’re always in the theatre.

TC. What have some of the challenges have been?

CP. When we were setting up the space we had to go and speak to the council (City of Bayswater) as the building is still classified as commercial. We went along a bit nervously – with my tap shoes in my pocket! – and we did a presentation in front of the council and they were absolutely fantastic, a unanimous vote of support. Do it, Go for it! I was a little nervous to begin with, but in the end they were fantastic and really quite vocal about their support for the project.

Right now one of the biggest challenges is making sure that we become visible, making sure we get our story out there onto the street and allow people to find out we’re here. Ultimately because it’s a business we have to make sure we have some kind of income coming into the space.


TC. And lastly, what can you tell us about your upcoming 12/12/12 project?

CP. I’m always looking for an angle on an event, and I’ve known about the triplicate (12/12/12) for a long time – It’s the last one for 88 years certainly the last one while we’re alive. I just thought it was a great angle. On the walls we are having 12×12 inch artworks (and I am being very specific about that) and we are doing a series of 12 minute performances from 12:12 am to 12 midnight the following day.

We’re having film, live performance (including specific, small scale dance), standup comedy and electro accoustic music. Already we have a quite a few artists and acts lined up which is really exciting. People can come and see a couple of performances, make their way out the back to watch some footage, maybe have 12 biscuits – who knows!

CALL OUT for work

Chrissie Parrott Arts is hosting a 12-hour event presenting film, artworks and live performance on Dec 12 2012 at 12.12pm till 12 minutes to 12pm. We are looking for expressions of interest from artists to show work at the new gallery + screen space in Maylands. Please submit your ideas to Chrissie Parrott Arts email below by the deadline, August 31.

Type of works we are looking for include:

Music Electro acoustic or acoustic x 4, 6, or 12mins duration performance Poetry, Monologue, Duologue, Solo dance, Duo dance x 4, 6, or 12mins duration film & video 4, 6, or 12mins duration, performance art 4, 6, or 12mins duration, 2d artworks 12×12 (inches); any medium (e.g. photo, digital art, painting, mixed media, illustration) framed, stretched, or mounted.

Full details can be found here. 

Visit Chrissie Parrott Arts at 4 Sussex Street, Maylands, WA. Open: Wed to Fri 12 – 5pm  Sunday 12 – 4pm

Chrissie Parrott Performance Company (formerly Jambird) was founded by Chrissie Parrott – a highly prolific, multi-award winning dance choreographer, and Jonathan Mustard – an experienced composer, working with computer music, visual arts and animation.Together they create hybrid performance works which are highly theatrical and often merge dance with theatre, visual arts, and live music. Chrissie Parrott is a core artist with Performing Lines WA.