HOT TIPS | PICKS FOR THE FESTIVAL SEASON – CECILE

Posted by Cecile Lucas, January 16th, 2018

Skimming through the festival brochures and deciding which shows to go and see this season is always an exciting, yet daunting exercise for me. Exciting because I want to see as many shows as I can (afford), and daunting because what if I come away disappointed? But isn’t Art meant to challenge and provoke you anyway?

Embracing the weird and following my instinct, here is a taste of what my 2018 festival season will look like:

 

TOP PICK: Damien Jalet – Vessel |1 – 4 March
Haunting and ravishing at the same time, Vessel is everything I like in dance: it’s theatrical, intense and visually captivating! This spectacular new work by Belgian Choreographer Damien Jalet and Japanese sculptor Kohei Nawa explores motifs like death, re-birth, and the sacred, informed by Japanese and Balinese myths. A glimpse at the 48 second trailer had me sold, and begging for more. I love how the near-naked bodies move and merge on that stage filled with water, forming mutant creatures. Truly unmissable, Vessel is one contemporary dance piece that I am aching to see. Tickets are almost sold out as we speak, so jump on it NOW! Get tickets>

(Second) TOP Pick: The Second Woman by Nat Randall | 3 – 4 March
This was Thom’s top pick, and his enthusiasm for this work was so infectious, it had me hooked instantly. This piece gathers all the components that I love in a contemporary performance: it’s bold, it’s brave, it’s exhausting. Enough said or I will have to push and shove to grab a seat! (Tickets are only $10, and ONLY available at the door). More info>

DJUKI MALA | 28 Jan – 25 Feb
They are BACK!!! Terrific and energetic, Yolngu dance ensemble DJUKI MALA has caused a stir in festivals and venues around the world with their highly charged performances fusing modern and traditional dance, and I am not going to miss them this time! What started as a Youtube sensation 10 years ago with their unique take on Zorba the Greek, is now a powerful story of evolution and cross-cultural celebration. It’s cheeky, playful and feel-good for anyone to enjoy, young and old, so why not take a friend or the family for a fantastic night out. Get tickets>

 

Cerita Anak from Polyglot Theatre & Papermoon Puppet Theatre |23 – 25 FEBRUARY – (SOLD OUT!)
A story about refugees and the perilous journeys they take to find a better life away from their loved ones, Cerita Anak (child’s story) is a powerful and inspiring tale brought to us by Melbourne’s Polyglot Theatre and Indonesia’s Papermoon Puppet Theatre. In this interactive show, youngsters and their adults are invited to jump on a large-scale boat and as passengers, be swept away by puppetry, song, shadow imagery and sound. Unfortunately, tickets are already sold out for this stunning piece, but you can subscribe to the waitlist online and pray for more to become available.

Oedipus Schmoedipus by Post | 8 – 10 MARCH (Mandurah Performing Arts Centre)
Why not venture off the beaten track, and have a look at what venues outside Perth have on offer this season? With Oedipus Schmoedipus, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre proves once again that contemporary theatre is not exclusive to capital cities. Fed up with white men staging the deaths of white men in plays written by white men, the white ladies of Post have pirated the classics and hands them back in one bloody mess, with a new cast of 25 local volunteers each time. EOI are now open for anyone brave enough to join in. Would you dare? …I think I might 😊. More info>


WA Decides | Perth’s favourite show of 2017

Posted by Thom Smyth, December 12th, 2017

The results of our annual industry poll are in, and it was a close and mixed one this year. We asked the below respondents to: let us know what their favourite shows were; to nominate a company or artist to look out for in 2018; and let us know their pick for a show commission.

And the winner is…Co3 Australia for their show The Zone! This super-physical new work by Raewyn Hill combined movement, live music and a stunning design from architect Satoshi Okada. Honourable mentions to Roslyn Oades’ Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday (toured by Performing Lines) and Perth Festival’s stunning 2017 opening event Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak.

We’ve got a tie for artists to watch out for! The joint winners are: Perennial favourites The Last Great Hunt, and the WA Youth Theatre Company under newly appointed Executive Producer James Berlyn.

NAME: Graeme Watson | Editor, Out in Perth

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Clearest Light by Christopher Hill, presented as part of the WA Ballet’s Quarry Season. Hill is a super talented, choreographer and musician, This piece was foreboding, dark and mesmerizing.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Lady Eats Apple – I had huge expectations for this show from Back to Back Theatre, it didn’t disappoint, I think I slipped into a trance during this show.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Renegade Productions Unveiled: Gay Sex for Endtimes – I saw it a week ago and I’m still laughing.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Cougar Morrison – his Fringe World shows are always amazing, but he’s been perfecting the art of drag throughout the year, and giving stunning performances.

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: clearly we need some shows about dual citizenship

 
Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday | Image by Amy Brown


NAME:
 Mitchell Whelan | Independent Artist

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Gabriels by Richard Nelson at PIAF – 9 hours of ‘hard core naturalism’ at it’s finest

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Hello, Goodbye and Happy Birthday by Roslyn Oades, produced by Performing Lines at MPAC – Just so beautiful, and heartfelt

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Price Tag by Jeffrey Jay Fowler – I laughed, I screamed, I bought a cheap delicious beer after the show

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Rhiannon Walker, designer of Once We Lived here @ The Blue Room; Frieda Lee, performer in The Advisors by Last Great Hunt and a Black Swan Emerging Writer; Liz Newell, Playwright of Toast @ The Blue Room

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: FUCK TRUMP; “gender is a construct, tear it apart” – Sasha Velour; Russia is rounding up and killing gay men

 

NAME: Joanna Trilling | Producer, ABC News

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Complicite & Simon McBurney – The Encounter at Perth Festival: This incredible feat of story-telling took us on a journey into the Amazon jungle – it was an astonishing technical feat.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Barking Gecko Theatre Company – Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories: I’d heard so many wonderful things about this production having missed it’s first run so expectations were high -it didn’t dissapoint. Bravo Barking Gecko for delivering this delightful, gem of a show.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: CO3, Raewyn Hill The Zone – Raewyn’s hard-hitting, physical choreography combined with Eden Mulholland live music, Mark Howett’s lighting and Satoshi Okada’s set created a mesmerising work.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: The Last Great Hunt and James Berlyn (WAYTCo)

 
Boorna Waanginy | Image by Toni Wilkinson


NAME:
 Alex Desebrock | Lead Artist, Maybe (   ) Together

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak – Perth Festival – just stunning, and timely. Such an massive experience by Perth locals talking about necessary things, with magic, science and heart.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Aeon by Lz Dunn, presented by PICA Perry Lakes and produced by Performing Lines – I had a magic experience doing this. Walking through WA bush and swarming with strangers. Loved its simplicity.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Fantasy Light Yoga by Deep Soulful Sweats – those girls know how to get people moving. This was the second time I’ve done their work and it always amazes me that everyone participates, embodying their star sign. Hilarious, joyous and a work out!

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: I missed the PRVCY showing at PICA and am interested to see how this evolves….sounds hot. Am also super excited by High Tide and Fremantle Festival and how this is going to evolve! Shout out to Open Lid Ensemble for Hypatia this year too – look forward to seeing what’s next.

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Anything getting people with differing perspectives connecting in the same room. Anything with two sides (indigenous and non, young and old, left and right, etc: bring it!)

 

NAME: Terri-ann White | Director, UWA Publishing

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Strut Dance/One Flat Thing, Reproduced A masterpiece of alfresco intensity and future projections for crack dancers

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Roslyn Oades/Hello, Goodbye and Happy Birthday Such exquisite theatre-making and performance

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Perth Festival/ Boorna Waanginy: the Trees Speak/Kings Park Opening Event Transformative

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Strut Dance

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Beauty and love in our difficult era

 

NAME: Mararo Wangai | Independent Aritst

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Gregory Maqoma: Exit/Exist

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Hart – She Said Theatre

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Laika: A Staged Radio Play by Second Chance Theatre

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Innua Ellams

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Borders

 
The Advisors | Image by Daniel James Grant


NAME:
 Paul Selwyn Norton | Director, Strut Dance

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Betroffenheit – Kidd Pivot – Perth Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: One Flat Thing, Reproduced – William Forsythe – STRUT Dance

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Advisors – The Last Great Hunt

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: WAYtco

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Moral Leadership

 

NAME: Anna Reece | Head of Programming, Perth Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Gabriel’s, The Public Theatre, Perth Festival 2017. Sharing this show with good friends and strangers for a whole day at Subiaco Theatre Centre reminded me of how extraordinarily powerful and touching simple, bare bones theatre can be. Made me weep with happiness and despair and this crazy old world.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: My Robot – last show out of the gates for Barking Gecko in 2017 was a serious showcase of the best of the West from performance & design through to the genius behind the lovable Robot.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Oddysea – Sensorium Theatre.  Such a treat to be able to enter the extraordinary tactile world Sensorium create for young people with special needs in their amazing underwater dome.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Arielle Gray – a lead artist for the Last Great Hunt’s equally brilliant and adorable New Owner, her performance as the gutsy young adventurer in Barking Gecko’s My Robot was outstanding and currently in development for a new site-specific work in a hotel. 2018 is the year for AG I reckon!

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Contemporary Indigenous stories

 

NAME: Sean Walsh | Producer, The Last Great Hunt

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Deanna Flesher/ Butt Kapinski

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: The Last Great Hunt/ BALI

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Kabuki Drop/ BLINK – Ok I didn’t see much this year, but it was good (for a play I was in!)

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: The Last Great Hunt – more great stuff on the way in 2018!

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Social impact of the dual speed economy – the widening gap between rich and poor in Australia

 
Good Little Soldier | Image by Peter Tea


NAME:
 Sarah McNeill | Arts Editor, POST Newspapers

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Lighthouse Girl/ Black Swan State theatre Co. A beautifully realised local story. Moving. Heartfelt

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Master Class/ Amanda Muggleton. A true master class in performance

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Good Little Soldier/ Ochre Dance company

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Ochre Dance co

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: sexual predators!

 

NAME: Frances Barbe | Senior Lecturer, WAAPA

PERFORMANCE PICK: Co 3 – The Zone

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: WAAPA Bachelor of Performing Arts – Performance Making graduates!

 

NAME: Sharon Custers | General Manager, Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Encounter – Complicite

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: The Arrival – SPPT

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: It’s Dark Outside – The Last Great Hunt

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: The Last Great Hunt

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: What it means to be a young person growing up in the digital age

 

NAME: Anna Kosky | Producer, Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Producer, Perth Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak. An amazing local collaboration of scale

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Wardarnji: Fremantle Festival Opening. A beautiful simple dance and singing celebration of Noongar culture.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Betroffenheit. a show that hit you in the guts and left you reeling for days.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: City of Fremantle I think are doing really exciting things in the arts sector and I think there is heaps of interesting things to come out of the programs down there.

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Post-Weinstein world and the normalisation of sexism and misogyny in our everyday lives.

 

NAME: Philippa Maughan | Director of Investment, Country Arts WA

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Zone by Co3. The meeting of contemporary dance & architecture with the dancers having to overcome barriers simply to enter & exit the stage made for an exciting evening of dance

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Good Little Soldier by Ochre Dance – an excellent merging of dance & storytelling about a compelling subject by an impressive ensemble of actors, dancers & creatives

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Sista Girl – State Theatre of SA & Yirra Yaakin – terrific to hear two voices and a scenario not often heard on our stages in a tight production

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre – if The Rules of Summer indicate a change in tone for the company, then more please!

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Joy

 

NAME: Ryan Taaffe | Executive Officer, Circuitwest

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Co3 & The Farm – Frank Enstein

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: The Last Great Hunt – Bali

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Small Voices Louder – Maybe ( ) Together, produced by Performing Lines WA.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Western Sky Theatre

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: When did empathy evaporate?


Lady Eats Apple | Image by Jeff Busby


NAME:
 Jay Emmanuel | Artistic Director, St Georges Cathedral

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Lady Eats Apple (Back to Back Theatre) The epic is set against the every day in this incredibly moving and profound production. Presented by Perth Festival.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Nautilus by Trygve Wakenshaw & Presented by Fringe World. He is a star of physical comedy. Catch him at Sydney Festival in 2018!

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday By Roslyn Oades. A cross generational performance that puts us in touch with our humanity. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Julia Hales, Ziggy Ramo, Kevin Wangai, Daisy Sanders, Maddie Kate, Liam Colgan, Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, Black Swan State Theatre Company’s incredible 2018 program

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Works that explore intercultural conversations.

 

NAME: Julian Hobba | Executive Director, The Blue Room Theatre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Side Pony Productions & The Last Great Hunt – The Irresistible | Devised work that was rich, economical, evocative and aesthetically moreish!

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: The Kabuki Drop – Blink | A beautifully spare and refined production of a text-based play

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Renegade Productions – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes | A brave and grounded post-dramatic work that crossed from theatre into art

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: FUGUE | Maiden Voyage Theatre Company

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: the disconnection of our social tissue

 

NAME: Leigh Hill | Journalist, Out in Perth

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Arteries By Ancestry – Fugue

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Hypatia – The Open Lid Ensemble

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Mache: Home – Gendermess

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: Gendermess


Coma Land | Image by Philip Gostelow


NAME:
 Fiona de Garis | Senior Producer, Performing Lines WA

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: This Little Light of Mine (Proximity Festival Program C) / Rachael Dease in Proximity Festival – possibly my favourite Proximity show so far. Beautifully judged framework for a deeply personal and transformative experience

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Coma Land / Will O’Mahony Black Swan State Theatre Company and Performing Lines WA – OK, OK, totally biased on this one, but just as in love with this story of love and letting go after seeing it onstage as I was when I first read the script.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Zone / Co3 – I could have watched the dancers being sucked in and out of the walls all night. Great to see the company in full flight on the mainstage.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2018?: WA Youth Theatre Company – exciting things ahead for WAYTCo with James Berlyn and Carmel McKie at the helm.

2018 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Happiness


OPINION | Postcard from ATF17 – Riley Spadaro discusses diversity

Posted by Cecile Lucas, October 19th, 2017

Just how white is the Australian Performing Arts industry? How do we create space for diversity on our stages and within our organisations? This week, recent WAAPA graduate Riley Spadaro reports for us on his experience as first-time attendee at the 2017 Australian Theatre Forum, and outlines the profound challenges that arts organisations, producers and artists are facing when it comes to cultural diversity, what pathways can we create to be more inclusive and how can we embrace our differences.

What could “better” look like?

The Australian Theatre Forum is a biennial national conference for theatre artists, producers and cultural provocateurs to come together and discuss national concerns and practices. It is a significant industry event for sector-wide conversation and action. Co-curated by Alexis West and Steve Mayhew, and hosted on Kaurna Country at the Adelaide Festival Centre 3 – 5 October, ATF 2017 declared it was ABOUT TIME we tackled the sticky topics.

 

But where to begin? What are the problems and possibilities of our time?

Access?

Climate change?

Cultural competency?

Dismantling funding models? Gender constructs? Glass ceilings? Governance structures? Heteronormative narratives?

Implementing self care strategies?

Increasing diversity on Australian stages?

 

Q: “What can the arts actually do?”

A: [Pause]

 

A genuine dilemma here.

Deep breaths.

I can only begin by stating where I am.

I am a white, cis-gendered male who identifies as part of the LGBTQI+ community. Like most of my friends, I am standing in a space between Yes and No, between knowing and not knowing, with bullets flying past my head and “No” being written in the clouds above. It is a painful place to be, but I own that. I am a second generation Australian, but I do not identify as culturally or linguistically diverse. I am able-bodied. I am a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. I am educated (albeit with minimum earning capacity). By the time this blog is published I will be living in Sydney and working at Belvoir on Barbara and the Camp Dogs. I have mobility and I am unmistakably privileged.

I speak from this perspective because it is the one I know, but it is not a singular experience, nor should it be viewed as such. Space is not finite. Space creates space.


Barbara and the Camp Dogs by Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine (Image: Daniel Boud)

Without question, ATF 2017 was the most inclusive forum in recent memory – boasting 31 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander delegates, 47 CALD, 57 regional-based, 58 LGBTQI+ (5 of who identified using they/them pronouns), 25 people with disability, 78 young and emerging, and 101 with a special dietary requirement. I would love to believe this level of inclusivity was normal, and part of me, some days, naively thinks it is the case. But having these statistics read aloud and met with applause was an uncomfortable indication of how far we have to go. We are in a marathon – not a sprint – and we are tired.

It is important to acknowledge that we have been attacked, repeatedly, over the last two years. We have been faced with a traumatic government intervention into arts funding that quashed the small-to-medium sector, a global shift towards isolationist politics, an increase of 6 parts per million in C02 emissions, and now a divisive postal survey asking us to vote on someone else’s right to love. It is important to acknowledge that we are weary, but to give way to despair is the ultimate cop-out.

The opening keynote from Jo Bannon was a war cry.

“At our best, we are a bit fucked – personally, politically, socially.” (Yes, Jo. We know.)

“The pooch is screwed and it can’t be unscrewed.”

“Art can’t unfuck the world, but it can fuck it right back.

 

Invigorating. Exhausting. Toxic. The revolution was alive. What would the backlash be?

One delegate: “If you are not actively working to dismantle systemic structures of whiteness then you are participating in white supremacy.”

Another delegate: “Frankly, I’m tired of saying sorry.”

(Poor start. Let’s unpack.)

 

Earlier this year, I studied abroad at the Intercultural Theatre Institute in Singapore where I trained alongside students from across the Asia-Pacific Region. Studying in a culturally and linguistically diverse community forced me to confront my privilege as a white cis-gendered male (an uncomfortable discovery), and prompted me to ponder the questions: what is the underlying terror in the Australian cultural unconscious and does this terror give rise to the need to construct borders? Indeed, the imagined Australia is built on an Anglification of the geographical and ideological landscape. That is, non-Indigenous Australia – or, more specifically, ‘White Australia’ – is constructed on the idea that a person, object or geographical location can be classified as ‘Australian’ or as ‘Not Australian’ based on its seeming whiteness.

For performance studies scholar Joanne Tompkins, this anxiety with ideological classification stems from “a fundamental discomfort with the process of settlement and the establishment of nationhood” and a “will to forget what is actually known” 1 – that the Australian land mass always was (and always will be) Aboriginal land. Indeed, the notion of white ownership is institutionalised by a regime of truth which advances white nationalist discourses through legislative mechanisms of anti-immigration and marginalisation. For instance, hardline, state-sanctioned policies on border security and offshore detention work to enforce a white national identity by entrenching xenophobic attitudes towards ‘Non-Australians’ in legislative processes and systems – giving rise to a language that, in no uncertain terms, separates ‘us’ from ‘them.’

The use of this divisive language could be attributed to an unconscious lived-dislocation, or a seeming inability to construct a sense of being ‘at home.’ That is, the preoccupation with maintaining a ‘culturally pure’ national identity could stem from an innate insecurity towards the illegitimacy or non-permanence of white land ownership. Indeed, White Australia is constructed on a systemic dislocation and dispossession of land from Indigenous and First Nations people, and, therefore, any attempts to reclaim or reshape colonialist narratives are met with hostility.

But the arts are inclusive, right?

In her article Multiculturalism and the Mainstage, Dr. Roanna Gonsalves commented: “if the performing arts are meant to hold a mirror to society, then the Australian performing arts sector functions as a spectacular distortion.” 2 Today, 25% of Australia’s 22 million people were born overseas, 44% were born overseas or have a parent who was, and just under 20% speak a language other than English 3 and yet these culturally and linguistically diverse voices are largely under-represented in the Australian performing arts sector. 4

(Note: As a definition, ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’ is problematic as it reinforces a sense of ‘other’ and addresses non-Anglo-Saxon ethnicities as one homogenous group, rather than as separate cultures. However, despite these limitations, the definition is useful as it acknowledges that people of non-Anglo-Saxon background encounter a shared range of issues relating to access.)

Further, just over two years ago, the Australia Council for the Arts examined the programs of 135 Australian presenters and found that Indigenous and First Nations performing arts were under-represented in mainstream venues and festivals. Indigenous and First Nations works comprised around 2% of the almost 6000 works programmed in 2015 seasons. Almost 50% of presenters did not appear to program works with Indigenous or First Nations creative control, involvement or content, citing financial risk, difficulty in finding works that are not tokenistic, concerns that Indigenous work is “too serious”, fear of “doing First Nations work wrong”, and Australia’s underlying race issues as the main barriers. 5

And I get it – the truth always hurts. Being reminded that we are living on a land that never was (and never will be) ours is uncomfortable. Being told we have to “pay the rent” on stolen land is uncomfortable. But perhaps we need to lean into this discomfort and, like Indigenous performing artist Teila Watson (aka Ancestress) suggested, quietly take note of our resistances and work towards reconciling ourselves to them.

Perhaps we need to acknowledge that truth is subjective. Perhaps we need to embrace quiet and listen to each other’s truths. Listen to the pain. Listen to the wounding. Listen to the love. To listen is to move towards a space of not knowing, towards a space of zero. Conversation is the first step in dismantling the status quo. Words to speak over and over: “I don’t know, I’m listening, I don’t know, I’m listening, I don’t know.”

And I admit – all of this does seem out of reach. But it is important to remember that institutions are not natural phenomena – they have been invented and we can invent them anew. We need imagination as to what ‘better’ might look like. We need to let ourselves be led by our dreams.

Q: “So… what can the arts do?”

A: [Pause]

 

Art – in its most intoxicating form – holds its grounds while it destabilises yours.

 

On the first day of the ATF, in an incandescent response to the keynotes, Zainab Syed – Performing Lines WA Associate Producer and my friend – asked us to close our eyes and listen.

 

“… My dome will always shimmer in the sunshine

There will always be enough windows in me to let the light in.”

 

Art is to hold together. Art is thoughtful dissent. Art cannot change the world, but art can change people. People change the world.

 

Make the change you want to see.

 

Fuck back.

 

I have just disembarked from a red-eye flight to Sydney (a thought: is my exhaustion and lack of sleep an indication of something inherently good about myself?) and I am invigorated. This is the moment of change. Standing on the precipice of not knowing is electric.

 

 _

Riley Spadaro, Independent Artist
_

Barbara and the Camp Dogs | 2-23 December.

Belvoir Theatre, Surry Hills, Sydney | Info and tickets>>

 

Sources:
1 Tompkins, J. (2006). Unsettling Space: Contestations in Contemporary Australian Theatre. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.
2 Gonsalves, R. (2011). Multiculturalism and Mainstage Australian Theatre. Journal of the European Association of Studies on Australia 2(2), 72-83.
3 BEMAC. (2015). Theatre Diversity Initiative. Retrieved from http://bemac.org.au/projects/theatre-diversity-initiative/
4 Department of Immigration and Citizenship. (2013). The People of Australia: Australia’s Multicultural Policy. Retrieved from https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/12_2013/people-of-australia-multicultural-policy-booklet.pdf.
5 Australia Council for the Arts. (2016). Showcasing Creativity: Programming and Presenting First Nations Performing Arts. Retrieved from http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/workspace/uploads/files/research/ australia-council-research-rep-57c75f3919b32.pdf

 

 

 


PROFILE | Julian Hobba, The Blue Room’s new ED

Posted by Cecile Lucas, May 29th, 2017

The Blue Room Theatre has a new Executive Director – please welcome Julian Hobba.

Julian is a Director, Programmer and Producer. Not only has he collaborated with many emerging and independent theatremakers during his four years as Artistic Director of the Aspen Island Theatre Company in Canberra, he was Program Manager – Arts and Culture for the Centenary of Canberra, and before that was Company Manager at Malthouse Theatre. He has written, directed or produced a number of his own pieces, including The Slip Lane (2016), Bartleby (2014) and Father.Son.Rule which was shortlisted for the 2008 Griffin Award.

Our Marketing Coordinator Cecile Lucas recently caught up with Julian to find out what brought him over our way, and what he has planned at The Blue Room.

CL: How familiar were you with Perth’s artistic scene before applying for this job?
JH: I’ve met a lot of artists from Perth over my time working in theatre, whether they had migrated to Melbourne, were touring shows or we were meeting at industry gatherings like the Australian Theatre Forum. Between those exchanges and my own interest in Australian theatre, I had a good sense of the macro-level changes in the WA industry and the work that was touring from here. I think in the past decade Western Australian work and artists have enjoyed much greater prominence in the national ecology – companies like The Last Great Hunt and Side Pony Productions for example – and Fringe World has become a greater focal point on the theatre calendar as well.

CL: What excited you about working at The Blue Room Theatre?
JH: There is so much energy and impetus around The Blue Room Theatre and I was aware of the critical role it’s played as an incubator for the work and the companies that have made the national impact I was referring to.

For me there’s a voice that Australian theatre has within Australian culture more broadly that I really gravitate towards it because it kind of makes life worth living. The voice is playful and irreverent and approachable. It’s inclusive and curious and unashamed. The Blue Room Theatre is one of the companies in Australia that embodies that voice, celebrates it, and creates a community around it.

CL: What do you see as your mission as Executive Director? Where do you want to take the organisation?
JH: The Blue Room Theatre has a great story to tell about the importance of the new, and new works of theatre. What we do equips the whole community to better understand, and communicate about, the contemporary world, the way it’s changing, and our relationship to one another.

I really see our mission, as a staff and a board and a membership about 500 people strong, is to do everything we can to support the artists who demonstrate that through their work 40 weeks a year in our two theatre spaces. What we exist to do is support the creation of great new work and great artists and make our venue accessible to the broadest possible audience.

As an organisation, we know that over the next period of the company’s life we need nurture work onto our stages that reflects the diversity and reality of our community. We need to enable the next generation of theatre artists and develop the most urgent voices. We also need to be a good collaborator within the sector and encourage established artists to be ambitious to make works of scale and tour.

Personally, I would really love to see lots of established artists apply to experiment at The Blue Room Theatre – to try that work they would love to do but sits just outside their comfort zone. It’s really exciting to see an artist who has great technique but is clearly discovering something new on stage in front of you.

CL: Are there any productions you’ve seen recently that you think will appeal to Perth’s audiences?
JH: My favourite show for 2017 so far was called Still Life and was at the Sydney Festival. I’m sure it would appeal to audiences anywhere.

It was directed by a Greek director named Dimitris Papaioannou, who is one of those senior artists I was talking about, maybe, who has done a lot of different things, like film and even directing events like the Athens Olympics opening ceremony, but always comes back to theatre to push himself and reconnect with the brilliance of live performance.

The show was about 80 minutes of vignettes inspired by the Myth of Sisyphus. It was largely physical theatre, including an opening sequence of at least 20 minutes which was just play with a large block of ‘marble’ that crumbled onto the stage as different performers were pushed and contorted through a hole in its middle; limbs in and out, from performers in twos or threes. And a thin plastic film, that was a roof to the stage, sagging over the performance and filling with mist. It was funny and also quite stark.

CL: What do you look for in a script? And what turns you off?
JH:Personally, I tend towards lyrical scripts I think – Greek classics, Tennessee Williams, Lorca and Tony Kushner were probably the first plays I really fell in love with; and Patrick White, Dorothy Hewett and Jack Hibberd from the Australian canon. I started out loving poetry and I think the stage can do lyricism in a way that other mediums can’t and it’s what makes play scripts special and unique.

What’s great about The Blue Room Theatre’s programming model, though, is that the decisions aren’t reliant on the tastes of just one person. We have a peer review system that brings expertise and familiarity with a wide variety of theatrical forms and work is programmed based on the strength of its ideas, its team and the thoroughness of its production concept and planning. I think that allows us to take the work that’s most ripe for a presentation within our seasons.


OPPORTUNITIES | Not your usual options…

Posted by Thom Smyth, April 20th, 2017

While there’s been a lot of focus on diminishing government funding for the arts, there are still heaps of other opportunities out there if you know where to look. This month, we’ve unearthed a few of them to get you thinking beyond the government funding box. Many of them will also get you out of Perth to see work and expand your networks around the country and the world! This is far from an exhaustive list – check out the online resources available at Res Artis or Transartists. Make sure to check if it’s a supported residency or if you have to raise the funds.

Need advice on applications? We found this great resource from Arts Queensland. Still stumped? Contact your preferred auspice body (who do them all the time), or get in touch with us and we can point you in the right direction – shoot an email through to thom@performinglineswa.org.au.

That image up there? Thom caught that as part of Pony Express’ The Raft of the Medusa development at Adhocracy. See below.

HOT PICKS
ANTARCTIC ARTS FELLOWSHIP | Expressions of Interest open
For those who are fascinated by the stark icy landscape of Antarctica, and love the confrontation with the vastness of mother nature, we couldn’t find a more immersive experience than this one.

The Fellowship is a rare opportunity for artists and writers to experience Antarctica first-hand, and share this with the broader Australian community through their chosen art form. The Arts Fellows travel south by ship or plane, and spend time at Australia’s Antarctic research stations. Applications close Fri 5 MayMore info>>

ADHOCRACY RESIDENCY | 2017 Artists call-out
We love Adhocracy! Thom went last year – read his blog about it here. In 2016, WA artists Pony Express (Loren Kronemyer and Ian Sinclair) were among the 12 artists and groups programmed, and our Sydney colleagues were producing artists-in-residence Lz Dunn & collaborators. Adhocracy is Vitalstatistix’s national hothouse, supporting the creative development of new experimental and interdisciplinary arts projects. Artists receive funding to support their travel to Port Adelaide, accommodation and a fee, allowing them to spend four days and nights in an open studio environment developing new work. Each day, audiences and peers are invited through a public program of artist talks and work-in-progress showings presented across three evenings. It’s fun, friendly, informal, and has resulted in some awesome shows! Applications close on Monday 29 May. More info>>

PROFESSIONAL ARTS PLACEMENT | Shanghai International Dance Centre
The Australia Council is offering professional arts placement opportunities for arts workers to visit China. These placements will build international expertise, inter-cultural capability, foster industry relationships, and develop an understanding of the Chinese arts market. EOIs are now open for arts managers, producers, and production managers to apply for a Professional Arts Placement at the Shanghai International Dance Centre. Applications close 16 May. More info>>

THINK BEYOND THE GOVERNMENT
THE GEORGES MORA FELLOWSHIP
The Georges Mora Fellowship gives one contemporary artist $10,000 for up to 12 months’ research and given the means and uninterrupted time to work closely with the rich resources of the Victorian State Library, including access to a private study within the Library, which can be used outside normal opening hours! Applications close 23 April. More info>>

IAN POTTER CULTURAL TRUST | Early Career Artists
Get out of town with the Cultural Trust – grants up to $7,000 to assist emerging and early career artists of exceptional talent to take up professional development opportunities, usually overseas. They support applicants who can demonstrate both initiative and exceptional talent, together with an ability to convert their ambitions to reality. Applications close 23 May. More info>>

Sissy Reyes – ‘The Window’. Captured at Arteles Residency using an Ian Potter Cultural Trust grant.

GET OUT OF TOWN
ARTELES | Enter Text Residency (Finland)
Enter Text is an international residency program for poets, writers and text-based artists, taking place at Arteles Creative Center in Hämeenkyrö, Finland. The program brings together emerging and established writers & artists with various backgrounds, from all fields of literature and text-based art. Applications close 30 April. More info>>

WOMEN’S CIRCUS | Artist Residency Program
This offers female artists working in performance their very own room – for free!  The program provides up to 2 weeks of access to the Drill Hall, our training and rehearsal space in West Footscray. The Artist Residency is an opportunity for artists to explore, refine, re-develop, rehearse their work in a supportive space. Applications close Mon 1 May. More info>>

BUNDANON TRUST | 2018 Residency Program
Located in calm and luxuriant New South Wales South Coast, Bundanon Trust’s Artist-in-Residence program is open to professional artists and thinkers from all disciplines, individually or in groups, and is here to support new work, research and collaborations. This is your opportunity to apply for residency space in their beautiful surrounds. You may even spot a wisdom of wombats (actual collective noun!). Applications close Mon 19 JuneMore info>>