Interview with Kathryn Osborne | The Last Great Hunt

Posted by Thom Smyth, April 16th, 2014

Late in 2013, a new theatre company launched in Perth. Independent companies spring fairly frequently, but this launch sparked national press attention. Formed from members of Weeping Spoon (Tim Watts), Mythophobic (Jeffrey Jay Fowler), Side Pony Productions (Adriane Daff) and The Duck House (Kathryn Osborne, Gita Bezard), and teaming up with long-time collaborators Arielle Gray and Chris Isaacs, The Last Great Hunt was born to much anticipation.

With two new works to be presented at The Blue Room Theatre and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts this year, The Last Great Hunt are getting ready to show their first works under the new company name, as well as maintaining the momentum of the touring juggernaut Alvin Sputnik. Thom Smyth caught up with Director Kathryn Osborne to hear about the group and their new work Elephents.

TS: The Last Great Hunt was formed last year, drawing members from local companies The Duck House, Weeping Spoon and Mythophobic. What was the impetus for creating the new company?

KO: The seven artists that now make up TLGH (myself, Gita Bezard, Adriane Daff, Jeffrey Jay Fowler, Tim Watts, Arielle Gray and Chris Isaacs) had already been collaborating under smaller companies for several years. We wanted to formalise this ongoing collaboration, strengthen our creative relationships and support each other’s practices. The seven artists all have different aesthetics and focuses in our work, but we have common ideas about our practices. We value collaboration and place equal importance on audience accessibility and artistic rigour when making our work.

It’s really exciting to be working on different projects with different combinations of the seven artists.

TS: How does the company work? Can any members create work under the company name, or is there an overarching artistic style or rationale to the works?

KO: The artists make decisions collectively on what works we will develop and produce. Artists pitch ideas to the group and then those ideas are discussed and a decision is made by majority (seven is a good number for this). We’re pretty much acting as one artistic director. This can be challenging and time consuming, but it’s ultimately rewarding for everyone.

The overarching artistic style is us. The identity of the company is the combined styles and pursuits of the seven artists. It’s eclectic, but there are definitely things in common we have in our works. I would say a sense of play and humour are definitely a key to all our works.

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TS: Elephents is your first project to hit the stage. Tell us a bit about it.

KO: Elephents is a play with songs about the ‘elephant in the room’. We were interested in exploring why we can’t be honest about things that are glaringly obvious. We are looking at both the personal and political in this idea. The work is in the style of a sit-com with some great musical numbers and a dark simmering undertone.

TS: The team involved are not immediately associated with musical theatre. Has it been something you’ve all wanted to have a go at?

KO: YES. Personally, I always love to work with music, especially live music. Musicians have surrounded me all my life and I love how musicians work. It’s so attractive to me. Good use of music and sound can transform a work in my eyes. I also love playing with the form of a song as a way to communicate something deeper and unsaid in a piece. And Elephents is about what is unsaid.

TS: It’s the first full-length show from The Last Great Hunt, and there is a lot of interest in the new company. How are you handling the weight of expectation?

KO: I’m just really excited that there is a buzz about the show and us. In any creative process you never know if you are going to succeed or fail. So I try not to worry about the expectation. Another key aspect of TLGH is to be risk taking in the work we make and to push ourselves. Sometimes this might not come off. But I believe it’s vital to take these risks to make engaging, challenging and entertaining work.

I can’t wait to hear what people have to say.

TS: What’s up next for the company?

The company is currently working on Falling Through Clouds which was funded through the Theatre Works grant from DCA. That show will be on at PICA at the end of September. We’re also developing a new play trilogy about female heroism for production in 2015.

We’re also working on touring opportunities for a back catalogue (Minnie and Mona Play Dead, Alvin, A History of Drinking). We have a past body of work that we still really want to get out there.

Elephents runs 29 April – 18 May at The Blue Room Theatre. For tickets and info, click here. For more on The Last Great hunt, click here.

Images courtesy Jamie Breen.