WA Decides – Top Picks for 2015

Posted by Thom Smyth, December 13th, 2015

The time has come for our annual round up of what people in Perth thought was great, grand and generally amazing in 2015. As always we got diverse responses from across the sector with re:loaded by Co:3, Next To Normal by Black Swan State Theatre Company, Happy Dagger Theatre’s The Cockatoos and Shona Erskine’s White Matter both at the Blue Room Theatre, all receiving a lot of love.

Big congratulations to Dalisa Pigrum and Marrugeku whose Gudirr Gudirr, co-presented in Perth by Yirra Yaakin, took out the top slot in this year’s Top Picks!

The Last Great Hunt is also high up on the list with their recent funding success, Fag Stag and All That Glitters. Honourable mentions too for Under This Sun by The Emergence Co (check it out at Fringe World in 2016) with writer/director Warwick Doddrell also listed as one to watch, along with James Berlyn and his Perth Festival 2016 show I Know You’re There. Congratulations to all this year’s picks and thanks to all our guest bloggers. We can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for WA audiences!

Stephen Bevis | The West Australian
The powerful and poetic Gudirr Gudirr – co-presented by Marrugeku and Yirra Yaakin
The impressive ensemble work in Andrew Hale’s clever adaptation of Patrick White’s The CockatoosHappy Dagger Theatre at the Blue Room Theatre
The assured and expressive re:loadedCo:3
Honourable mention: Fag/Stag, the sharp narrative Yin and Yang duet from Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs – The Last Great Hunt
Watch out for: James Berlyn – a generous, open-hearted innovator. I’m looking forward to his new show for the Perth International Arts Festival, I Know You’re There.

Arts and Culture Team | City of Perth
Gudirr Gudirr – co-presented by Yirra Yaakin and Marrugeku
re:loaded – Co:3
Mi Casa es Su CasaStrut Dance AND From the RubblePerth Theatre Company
Watch out for: The Caucasian Chalk CircleBlack Swan Theatre Company‘s first international collaboration.

Amy Barrett-Lennard | PICA
SDS1Ahilan Ratnamohan | Produced by Performing Lines for Mobile States
The Fever and the FretYirra Yaakin
Gudirr Gudirr – Marrugeku, co-presented by Yirra Yaakin
Watch out for: Jedda Productions’ Project Xan, a powerful documentary theatre work developed over several years by WA playwright and director Hellie Turner. It tells the true story of a vicious attack on a 12 year old girl in 1981 and features the presence on stage of this same girl, now a 35 year old woman.


Amber Hasler | Fringe World
re:loaded – Co:3
Under This SunThe Emergence Co
Monroe & AssociatesThe Last Great Hunt (Look out for its return at Fringeworld 2016!)
Watch out for: A truly bumper edition of FRINGE WORLD Festival

Susannah Day | The Blue Room Theatre
Fake it ‘til you Make itBryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn. This is hands down my favourite show of 2015. I know it was one of ours but it was undoubtedly brilliant. I left the auditorium and wept for a good twenty minutes and spent many more days after that talking about the work with peers. The form of the work was exciting and the content expertly handled.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Acacia Prison. This work performed by male inmates at Acacia Prison was easily the most remarkable show I saw this year. Performed entirely by men, the show was held in a building workshop on prison grounds. Complete with a painted backdrop and wooden swords, the production brought the crowd of industry, family and friends to tears of laughter often. Followed by an hour long Q + A, this production reminded me of why we are in this game.
Under This Sun – The Emergence Co. A beautiful piece of physical theatre told with precision and a whole lot of heart. This emerging collective knocked their first full-length work out of the park AND White MatterShona Erskine. An affecting piece of contemporary dance that was personal, intimate and extraordinary.
Watch out for: Warwick Doddrell and his company The Emergence Co. Also watch out for some really exciting and ambitious LOFT projects. It’s going to be a great year!

Sarah Rowbottam | Independent Producer and Proximity Festival
RisingAakash Odedra Company at Perth Festival
MaximumNatalie Abbott at PICA
Meditations on WaterMei Saraswati in Proximity Festival
Watch out for: Pony Express (Ian Sinclair & Loren Kronemyer), a new collective making really exciting immersive work in the area of ecopolitics, sexual diversity and sustainability.

Anna Kosky | Freelance Production and Project Manager
The GiantsRoyal de Luxe at Perth Festival
The Confidence ManSide Pony Productions, presented by Perth Theatre Company, national tour by Performing Lines for Road Work.
The RabbitsBarking Gecko Theatre Company and Opera Australia
Watch out for: pvi collective. I know these guys are certainly no spring chickens, but feels like there’s an exciting momentum surrounding the company and it’s going in really exciting directions.

TGW 1web

Graeme Watson | Out In Perth
Next to NormalBlack Swan State Theatre Company. There were so many things to love about this show: it’s a musical!; it’s actually about a serious topic – mental health; the cast which included old hands and exciting newcomers was almost perfect; and the merry-go-set was superb.
The Cockatoos – Happy Dagger Theatre. I loved this show because it brought the language of Patrick White to life, it featured some of Perth’s best and most under-appreciated acting talent and it managed to put six people in The Blue Room performance space and it still felt spacious. After seeing it I started reading a Patrick White book.
The Marriage of FigaroWA Opera. Neil Armfield’s comical production had people laughing out loud and captivated through the show. The winner here was the staging – it was so amazing, and filled with little ‘out of time’ quirks like the odd hair dryer, vacuum cleaner or coffee urn. More people should go to Opera, it’s amazing.
What am I excited about next year… nothing. I take each show as it comes, avoiding anticipation and just watching each show in the moment. I actually have no idea about what’s on next year. I don’t even know what I’m doing next week .

Margrete Helgeby | Dance advocate/Co:3 Board
re:loaded – Co:3
Rising – Aakash Odedra
The Red BalloonBlack Swan Theatre Company
Watch out for: Reason for Being – a Co:3 and Art Gallery of WA partnership and a new conversation for new audiences. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds and what emerges for all three stakeholders: Co3, AGWA and the public. Rachel Arianne Ogle, Andre Santos, Laura Boynes and Jayne Smeulders – choreographers at different stages of their careers (and with very different ‘voices’), each developing their own sophisticated language.

Bryony & tim. April 2014Photo Credit ©Richard Davenport

Guy Boyce | Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
Fake it ‘til you Make it – Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn
Gudirr Gudirr – co-presented by Yirra Yaakin and Marrugeku
Great WhiteThe Skeletal System
Watch out for: The Last Great Hunt. Now that they are funded just see what they can do – this year on project funding and pure adrenaline they made so many great works. Fag/Stag and All That Glitters were my two favourites.

Philip Mitchell | Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
FoxSpare Parts Puppet Theatre
BluebackSpare Parts Puppet Theatre
Benjamin & MeWhiskey & Boots
Watch out for: I See Red – A West Australian Academy of Performing Arts / Spare Parts Puppet Theatre partnership. This will be a collage of edgy adult puppetry works inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, devised and performed as part of the WAAPA 3rd year Bachelor of Performing Arts Puppetry unit, exploring the power and potential of puppetry, object manipulation and visual theatre in performance.

Henry Boston | Chamber of Arts and Culture WA
La Soiree -Tease without sleeze
Accident & Process from Derek Kreckler. A terrific survey of the multi-media work from one of Australia’s most talented conceptual artists.
Reflection TourTura New Music. A meeting of music-making and audience that left us so much richer for the experience.
Watch out for: If not Chris Edmund, an overnight success and a pronounced talent, then the winner of his award, WAAPA Graduate Shalom Brune-Franklin.


Shane Colquhoun | Strut Dance
Next to Normal – Black Swan State Theatre Company
The Giants – Royal de Luxe at Perth Festival
Fag/Stag – The Last Great Hunt
Watch out for: Clinton, the Musical – I will be interested in how the amazing Adam Mitchell handles this more commercial, and what could be rather crass, musical: an interesting experiment for Black Swan.

Alice Jorgenson | State Theatre of Western Australia
Be Your SelfAustralian Dance Theatre (need I say more?)
White Matter – Shona Erskine. You had to see performances by both the male and female casts. The choreography, subject matter and amazing lighting came together to provide a moving, beautiful and accomplished piece of dance. A 2015 highlight at The Blue Room.
Next to Normal – Black Swan State Theatre Company. Clever design, great direction and performances – a thought provoking show.
Watch out for: I Know You’re There by James Berlyn. The latest show from this Perth based creator of intimate theatre experiences is sure to provide another amazing experience for a lucky audience… if you can get tickets!

Secret Monster Photo Booth hero - by Simon Pynt

James Berlyn | Artist
White Matter – Shona Erskine
Mobile MomentsSarah Nelson
Secret Monster Photo Boothme!
Watch out for: Sensorium Theatre AND The Last Great Hunt

Sarah Nelson | Artist
Great White – The Skeletal System
Before UsStuart Bowden
The Secret Life of SuitcasesMonkey Baa Theatre Company
Watch out for: Raewyn Hill and Shona Erksine (choreography), Will O’Mahony (writer), Felicity McKay (actor), Michael Maclean (videography) and Zoe Wozniak (dancer) Next generation: Rory McLaughlin (kiddie Actor = Pascal in Red Balloon) and Eloise Hunter (kiddie designer & actor = Blue Girl in Red Balloon).

Hilary McKenna | Perth Festival
The Rabbits -Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Opera Australia AND Rising – Aakash Odedra Company (obviously I’m biased here, but I found these works really special) both in PIAF 2015
All That Glitters –The Last Great Hunt
Proximity Festival 2015 – Especially Meditations on Water by Mei Saraswati and Current Mood by Jackson Eaton
Watch out for: Dark Matter by PRAXIS, produced by Performing Lines WA. It’s in development for presentation in 2016 and will be a must-see!

Philippa Maughan | Country Arts WA
RiverClaire Lovering
Gudirr Gudirr – co-presented Yirra Yaakin and Marrugeku
Next to Normal – directed by Adam Mitchell for Black Swan State Theatre Company
Watch out for: Third Culture Kids. Their show Once We Were Kings, looking at different Muslim identities that are often sidelined, silenced and closeted, was a new voice this year and it will be interesting to see how they develop in the years ahead.

Rick Heath | APACA
Rising – Aakash Odedra – literally moved me to tears,who’d have though one person could fill an entire auditorium with such energy
Under This Sun – The Emergence Co  a really unexpected surprise – beautifully crafted.
Re:loaded – Co:3 great to have a new company in the mix in Perth doing this kind of work
Honourable mention: Senators Scott Ludlam, Catryna Bilyk and Ian MacDonald / Senate Inquiry hearing into Australia Council budget cuts – poetry in motion!
Watch out for: New work from Barking Gecko under Matt Edgerton’s artistic direction. More from Co:3. And the always special James Berlyn.