Reign development: Interview with performer Rhiannon Newton

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.

Reign Stage 3 Development

Posted by Morgan Leek, July 13th, 2011

Chrissie Parrott Performance Company is currently in Stage 3 creative development for Reign at MosArts Hall in Mosman Park. Reign brings together an exceptional creative team of Western Australian artists – Patrick Doherty (Visual Artist), Reg Cribb (Writer), Jonathan Mustard (Composer) and Chrissie Parrott (Director/Choreographer).  They are supported by a raft of wonderful performers and other creative and production personnel. In this stage the artistic team will workshop the sound, movement, script, characters and design developed in Stage 2 with eight performers – Kate Hall, George Shevtsov, Claudia Alessi, Rhiannon Newton, Russell Leonard, Kirsty Hillhouse, Tom Penney and Scott Ewen.

Throughout Stage 2 the core artists have been making work in responsive cycles. Now Chrissie takes over as Director. During this third stage her mission is work with the performers; exploring ways to bring all the material together on the floor. What to keep? What to put together? What hasn’t been created yet?

The following photos were taken during a rehearsal run on Wednesday 6 July 2011.

Photos: Sarah Rowbottam

To read about Stage 1 Development of Reign click here.

The Stage 3 Development of Reign is supported by the Western Australian Theatre Development Initiative (WATDI).

Meeting the creatives behind Kings and Queens

Posted by Morgan Leek, November 18th, 2010

Words & Photos: Sarah Rowbottam

Yesterday I was more than happy to step away from my computer and take a trip to CIA studios to see what the core creatives for Kings and Queens (working title) had been up to over the past two weeks.

After hearing murmurs from Fiona about their movements, it was no surprise to see that Chrissie Parrott (Director/ Choreographer), Reg Cribb (Writer), Jonathan Mustard (Sound Composition) and Patrick Doherty (Visual Artist) had definitely taken hold of the space. Walking into ‘the hub’ I was met by half painted canvases, half empty red bull cans, and a half dressed artist – Patrick Doherty.

Reign development Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Far from coy, Doherty had been working hard (to the beats of hip hop) on producing three amazing large backdrops for the Kings and Queens showing next week. As the visual artist for Kings and Queens, Patrick’s work has been the catalyst for the first stage creative development, with Reg, Chrissie and Jon all creating content in response to his canvases and characters. If you are not familiar with Patrick’s work, click here for some examples.

Reign development Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Next stop was Studio Four, where the windows were laced with the most exquisite costumes, and Chrissie and Jon were busily working on sound and direction. The costumes (finished with intricate appliqués and embroidery), together with some incredible head pieces, were on loan from the WA Ballet – and were the perfect adornment for any king or queen.
Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

At 3pm the cast turned up for the first official meet and greet. We were taken on a tour by Chrissie to see some of Patrick’s work, hear Reg’s script and listen to Jonathan’s sound effects and music. I was amazed how much these guys had achieved in less than eight days.

Next week the team of four will become fifteen as they kick start their third and final week of development at King Street Arts Centre. Luckily for me they will be right upstairs, so expect daily updates on what they get up to.

Reign development Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Reign development Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Reign development Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Reign development Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Find out more about Kings and Queens (working title) by clicking here.

Second Week of Creative Development for Kings and Queens

Posted by Fiona de Garis, November 17th, 2010

Pictured (left – right): Patrick Doherty, Reg Cribb, Chrissie Parrott
Photo: Karen Elizabeth Sekararum

A lot of progress has been made on the Kings and Queens project so far this and last week. The scenes are drawn with general plans for each actor’s role in the production.

Patrick is busy at work creating large backdrop painting which will colour the scene and Chrissie, Reg and Jonathan have been creating scripts, scenes and musical soundscapes.

Everyone is gearing up for next week when rehearsals start at Kings Street.

Karen Elizabeth Sekararum, Intern, Kings and Queens