Posted by Thom Smyth, December 15th, 2016
It’s that time of the year when we go out to the industry to find out what got people talking and who they’re watching out for in 2017. This year we added a category – the commission. Given a chance to commission a show about anything, what would you pick? Check out the suggestions below.
There was a range of shows and artists mentioned, but the big winner for 2016 was Barking Gecko Theatre Company for their completely charming instant classic Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories. Congrats to the company and all the artists involved. Bambert is off on tour throughout 2017, but if you missed it, keep an eye out for a return season in Perth in late 2017!
Honourable mentions as well to The Last Great Hunt‘s New Owner, Bangarra‘s touring hit Our Land People Stories; and Blackmarket by pvi collective.
And there was a wide range of hot tips for who to look out for next year. Sally Richardson’s new circus company Maxima, dancer and choreographer Tyrone Robinson, and writer and director Will O’Mahony are safe bets to keep tabs on in 2017.
Thanks to all respondents – let us know on Facebook what your top picks were!
Stephen Bevis | Communications Manager, Perth International Arts Festival
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental – 17 Border Crossings: Thaddeus Philip’s virtuoso solo theatre work took us around the world and deep into the personal intensity of trying to enter another country.
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Barking Gecko Theatre Company – Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories: This beautiful tale of a bookish recluse sending his stories into the world by balloon won a rare Helpmann Award for a WA company.
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Red Ryder Productions – Grounded: Alison Van Reeken’s exhilarating Blue Room performance of George Brant’s taut, morally complex monologue about a fighter pilot-turned-drone operator was an adrenaline rush akin to that craved by the grounded lead character.
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017: Will O’Mahony: He never ceases to surprise and assembled a great cast for his Performing Lines/Black Swan co-pro Coma Land.
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Roe 8 – The Musical
Rick Heath | Executive Director, Australian Performing Arts Centres Association
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Barking Gecko’s Bambert – this show rocked on so many levels but above all it was quite simply sublimely crafted – and kudos to Tim Watts – I could watch this guy all day!
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: James Berlyn’s I Know, You’re There – a deeply personal experience that resonated in ways indescribable.
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Waifs – Fremantle Arts Centre – for the sheer joy of local artists celebrating and sharing their extraordinary talents with ‘their people’.
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: James Berlyn – the work of a mature artist who continues to evolve and reimagine what’s possible is always worth watching
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: ‘People in Glass Houses …’ A dance work on the contradictory political career of Peter Garrett featuring the music of Midnight Oil – © all rights reserved R Heath
Andrea Gibbs | Performer & Co-creator of Barefaced Stories
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Is This Thing On? by Zoe Coombs-Marr @ The Blue Room Theatre – Of course!
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Barefaced Stories – all of them!
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Bangarra Dance Our Land People Stories at The State Theatre Centre
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Side Pony Productions
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Barefaced Stories Regional
Aaron Beach | Executive Director, Co3 Contemporary Dance Company
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Our, Land People Stories by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Always a thrill to see these guys in Perth, we were lucky enough to have them in WA twice with Terrain touring as well
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Sugarland by Australian Theatre for Young People (toured by Performing Lines). I’m a little biased but I think this was a really important work to present in Perth.
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobelle at Perth International Arts Festival. Incredible magical theatre.
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Gavin Webber, Grayson Millwood & The Farm
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Chrissie Parrott, Tyrone Robinson, Antony Hamilton – Let’s look at dance through the eyes of these change-makers!
Sharon Custers | General Manager, Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Falling Through Clouds – The Last Great Hunt
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Oddysea – Sensorium Theatre
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Kaya – Ochre Contemporary Dance
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Ochre Contemporary Dance
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: The future
Aurelien Scannella | Artistic Director, West Australian Ballet
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: West Australian Ballet/Matt Lehmann/Radio and Juliet
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: West Australian Ballet/Chihiro Nomura/The Nutcracker
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: West Australian Ballet/Andre Santos/Ballet at the Quarry
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Chihiro Nomira/West Australian Ballet
Matt Edgerton | Artistic Director, Barking Gecko Theatre Company
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Blue Room, Porto, Written by Kate Benson, Directed and Produced by Lisa Louttit. This was an exceptional piece of funny and multi-layered new writing, realised with a lot of subtlety and class.
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Black Swan State Theatre Company, Tonsils and Tweezers, Written and Directed by Will O’Mahoney. An really inventive new work, directed with pace and precision – full of satisfying revelations and comic delight.
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Last Great Hunt, New Owner, Created by Tim Watts and Arielle Gray. A cracking piece of children’s theatre with a lot of heart that never spoke down to its audience. It has a very long life ahead of it!
HONOURABLE MENTION: pvi collective, Blackmarket, Kelli Mccluskey & Steve Bull with Steve Berrick & Chris Williams. Immersive post-apocalyptic mayhem on the mean streets of Subi. So much fun!
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: I’m really looking forward to seeing the work of emerging designer Tyler Hill, designing set and costumes for Endgame, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Tony Currie | Content Development & Publicity Officer, West Australian Ballet
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster, Nicola Gunn & Performing Lines
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Pindorama, Lia Rodrigues at Perth International Arts Festival
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Decadance, STRUT Dance
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Tyrone Robinson
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Relevance
Henry Boston | Executive Director, Chamber of Arts and Culture WA
PERFORMANCE PICK #1:The Wild Duck by Simon Stone, Perth International Arts Festival
PERFORMANCE PICK #2:Decadance by STRUT Dance
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Punch Brothers
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Maxima
Ian Sinclair | PONY EXPRESS
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Pindorama by Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues as part of PIAF: A live dance installation that drowned the audience in political, environmental and spiritual extremes.
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Blackmarket by PVI COLLECTIVE also part of PIAF. Surviving Subiaco has never been more fun!
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster by the indomitable Nicola Gunn at PICA: an ethically charged, ‘word vomit’ extravaganza complete with a Duck hyper ballad!.
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Choreographer Tyrone Robinson; man-about-town Chris Donnelly; Maybe ( ) Together’s Alex Desebrock; all things Mikala Westall x The Lost Boys; visual/performance artist Liam Colgan; Sally Richardson’s new company MAXIMA; Will O’Mahony’s Coma Land presented by Black Swan Theatre Company + Performing Lines WA, new kids on the block Those Who Love You led by Monty Sallur and Your Mouth Collective led by Madeleine Lewis, Lukas Radovich and Phoebe Sullivan.
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: The online radicalisation of straight white men.
Jenna Mathie | Producer, The Blue Room Theatre
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Grounded – Red Ryder Productions
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories – Barking Gecko Theatre Company
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Our Land People Stories – Bangarra Dance Theatre
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Tim Green and Samantha Maclean are recent graduates from WAAPA’s BPA course who just made their first show and it was a ripper. I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves. I’m also looking forward to seeing Will O’Mahony and Joe Lui making their directorial debuts with Black Swan State Theatre Company and The Last Great Hunt are working on some exciting projects including The Midnight Run as part of PIAF.
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: Diverse voices on our stages including culturally and linguistically diverse artists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and artists with disability.
Jenny Simpson | Artistic Director & CEO, Awesome Festival
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: New Owner – The Last Great Hunt
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Oddysea – Sensorium Theatre
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: A Mano (By Hand) – El Patio Teatro
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Sensorium Theatre
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: Empathy
Ryan Taaffe | Executive Director, Circuitwest
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories – Barking Gecko Theatre Company. A beautifully crafted and performed piece that brought childhood back to lots of adults.
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: New Owner – The Last Great Hunt. On of the newest offerings from this company and is a touching story that makes use of the digital space and puppetry.
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: I Know You’re There – James Berlyn. A well placed, personal work from a wonderful story teller.
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: SAMANTHA MACLEAN AND TIMOTHY GREEN. Getting great reviews and praise for their first outing Tissue at The Blue Room.
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: Unity, mob mentality and fear thinking/communication. The discourse of power and hate speech.
Graeme Watson | Editor, Out In Perth
PERFORMANCE PICK #1: On the Face of Things – this Fringe show from WA Youth Theatre Company Ensemble was so much fun, I was captivated.
PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Picnic at Hanging Rock – Black Swan State Theatre, I always loathed the story, and this production made me love it, and it was scary!
PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Vaboux – this odd new drag queen on the scene is always mysterious and creative.
ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: I never have any expectations
2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: I’d like to see more works addressing HIV/AIDS in 2017, we’ve forgotten to talk about this important issue. Especially the reality of living with HIV.
Images by Jon Green, Jhuny Boy Borja, Gregory Lorenzutti,
Posted by Thom Smyth, November 2nd, 2016
Next up in our profile series, Thom caught up with The Blue Room Theatre’s new-ish Producer Jenna Mathie to talk career paths, LOFT, self-preservation and more.
Thom Smyth | How did you get started in the industry? Have you always had your sights set on producing?
Jenna Mathie | While I was at university a friend of mine asked me to produce a show she was directing. I had been doing some production work at the university theatre but never produced anything in my life so didn’t really know what I was getting myself in for. I said yes, and loved it. After that, I produced a number of shows while I was at university, but started working in the cacophonous world of orchestras and classical music and it fell by the wayside. At some point, I realised I didn’t want to work in music anymore but did want to produce theatre. So when I moved back to Perth in 2014 I did a number of short term contracts that helped me develop the skills I thought I needed to be a producer. Along the way I emailed Susannah Day, the then Producer at The Blue Room Theatre and before I knew it I was working here as Assistant Producer for Summer Nights. Since then, they haven’t been able to get rid of me.
TS | What were some career highlight/s before starting at The Blue Room Theatre?
JM | I’ve been pretty fortunate and have travelled quite a bit through the various positions I have had. In 2013/14 I lived in Cambodia and worked with an inclusive arts organisation which was incredible. It made me realise both the power of the arts in all different forms and at all levels of expertise, but also how lucky I was to be born in Australia and do what I do for a living. I also worked on a presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the music performed live by a symphony orchestra at the Sydney Opera House which was brilliant.
You were appointed to the position earlier this year. What’s been the biggest challenge in taking up the new gig?
JM | Getting yourself out there and trusted by artists can be tricky and takes a while to develop. Having worked here in different roles since 2014, I had a bit of a head start than if I had come in completely new. But the wide variety of personalities and different needs of every artist we work with means it does take a while to build the trust that is so integral to this role. As an organisation The Blue Room Theatre actively tries to assist and support as many artists as possible, which can make saying ‘no’ hard. It has been a learning process on how to not overcommit, but at the end of the day I’m one person, in one organisation, so it is important to say ‘no’ and look after my own sanity as well as the sanity of the other staff members here.
TS | The Blue Room has recently closed its final round of the LOFT devolved funding scheme. What are some of the program’s successes so far? If it is continued, would you want to change anything going forwards?
JM | LOFT has been absolutely wonderful. It’s a platform for support and getting the work of independent artists produced – more than the funds. Just like any show at The Blue Room Theatre, if you walk in the door you get the support of the whole staff. You’ve got a team behind you who are constantly on the lookout for opportunities for LOFT projects.
So far we have had two creative developments, one of which has since been successful in receiving further development opportunities, and the other which has a very exciting 2017 in the pipeline, as well as a killer season of Those Who Fall in Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon The Ocean Floor at Griffin Theatre in Sydney (the first WA show in the Griffin Indie Program). It’s been great to see artists and producers who have been successful in receiving funding through LOFT leverage that support to secure other funding and opportunities.
With each round of LOFT we invite peer assessors from the Eastern States to sit on our panels, building networks and getting West Australian works in front of artists and arts leaders from around the country. Continuing to build these networks and provide opportunities for presentation, development or exchanges interstate is something we would love to ramp up.
Project Xan by jedda Productions (funded through LOFT)
Going forward, it would be great if we had more money to give to independent West Australian artists, as each round has been so competitive and it is always a difficult decision for the panels. With the limited amount of opportunities available in Perth, we want to support more mid-career and established artists in developing and presenting the biggest and boldest ideas they have. Project Xan is a wonderful example of this and it opens at PICA in a few weeks, so make sure you check it out.
TS | The arts industry is kind of notorious for consuming your time and energy. What keeps you going?
JM | I really love what I do and the artists that I get to work with. I spend a lot of time at work, seeing shows and talking to artists and producers which can be tiring. But at the end of the day I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than around engaged, curious and intelligent people, and in Perth we are lucky to have a lot of artists that fit that description. That said, I do turn emails off on my phone every evening and weekend, so as soon as I am out of the door here the administrative side of work stops, even if I am talking about or seeing theatre. I think that’s really important, to draw boundaries for yourself and stick to them.
TS | The role of the ‘Producer’ varies widely across organisations. What do you see as the role of the Producer in an organisation like the Blue Room?
JM | Yes, Producer absolutely does mean something different in every organisation. At The Blue Room Theatre, all of the productions we work with in presentation seasons or through the LOFT initiative have their own Producer as well. So I see my position as providing assistance and advice to those Producers to make sure they are feeling supported, well-resourced and like they have someone to come to with any questions or queries along the way. I think about it as endeavouring to produce a sustainable independent theatre sector in Perth; so creating and managing opportunities to help make this a reality. This is not only done through presentation seasons, but through professional development programs and also the advocacy and support we offer members and shows.
TS | What is on the horizon for the Blue Room in 2017 and beyond?
JM | We kick off the year with Summer Nights, which is our curated program of theatre and performance in FRINGE WORLD. For the first time we are programming the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre of WA, which is very exciting, and some brilliant WA artists are presenting in the space. This is an opportunity we are really proud to be able to provide. We will be starting a few new professional development programs, as well as continuing to support West Australian artists to develop and push the boundaries of their artistic practice, from the emerging to the established.
jedda Productions’ Project Xan by Hellie Turner
8 – 19 November 2016 | PICA Performance Space
The Blue Room Theatre | Season Two
[Porto] | Finishes Saturday | Tickets/info>>
Tissue | 8 – 26 November | Tickets/info>>
Signifying Nothing | 15 Nov – 3 Dec | Tickets/info>>
Posted by Thom Smyth, October 3rd, 2016
We’ve got a bunch of opportunities that have come across our desks, radars, inboxes and newsfeeds, so rather than spamming you mercilessly, here’s a handy overview of everything currently open for artists and presenters.
DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE & THE ARTS | Commercial Development Grants (Under $25,000)
The Commercial Development Grants Program provides project funding to assist WA-based creative businesses to develop their commercial potential, increase business viability and extend market reach. This does now include performing artists and other artforms. Closes this Thurs 6 October – click here for more info>>
ASSITEJ | International Director’s Seminar for Children’s and Young People’s Theatre
National centers all over the world are now invited to nominate a director as a participant for next year’s seminar on the topic of “Streets and Crossroads”. The applicant needs to come from the ASSITEJ centre, not individual applicants, so please send an expression of interest to Australian representative Sue Giles. EOIs close 7 October, final applications due 7 November – click here for more info>>
ARTS HOUSE | CultureLAB development grants
CultureLAB is Arts House’s creative development stream offering time, space and fees of up to $10,000 for dedicated on-site creative development and research. Applications close 20 October – click here for more info>>
PERTH FESTIVAL | PIAF Young Creatives
Young Creatives is a development program that provides aspiring arts professionals aged 15 to 18 with opportunities to develop their skills through engagement with Festival events, artists and practitioners.
Applications close 14 October – click here for more info>>
FRINGE WORLD | Various employment opportunities
There’s a bunch of jobs in marketing, ticketing, production and more going at Fringe World. Various closing dates – click here for more info>>
IETM | Valencia Plenary applications
IETM is a network of over 500 performing arts organisations and individual members working in the contemporary performing arts worldwide: theatre, dance, circus, interdisciplinary live art forms, new media. They host bi-annual summits for producers and artists. Applications close 14 October – click here for more info>>
CITY OF JOONDALUP | Arts Development Scheme
The City’s Arts Development Scheme is a fund designed to develop new audiences in the Joondalup area. The aim of the Scheme is to bring professional performing arts companies and artists into the City of Joondalup, for performances and workshops. Applications for up to $10,000 close 20 October – click here for more info>>
HONEYWOOD PRIMARY SCHOOL | Call for public art tender
An opportunity open for all Artists/Artist Teams who are invited to submit an EOI for a Public Art work at Honeywood Primary School – up to $98,000. Applications close 28 October – click here for more info>>
AUSTRALIA COUNCIL | Nominate as a Peer Assessor
Registrations are currently open for anyone wishing to nominate as a Peer Assessor for the Australia Council. They are particularly looking for candidates from their focus areas: First Nations people; Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and South Australian representation; People from regional and remote areas ; People under 30 years of age, and; People who identify with a disability. Registrations close 3 November – click here for more info>>
ON YOUR RADAR | Upcoming opportunities
Keep an ear out for a number of touring opportunities opening soon:
- ArTour are running the Queensland Touring Showcase, applications opening in December
- The Performing Arts Touring Association have announced a new national touring showcase, ShowBroker, will be held alongside Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival in early 2017. Applications open soon through the National Touring Selector
Posted by Thom Smyth, September 12th, 2016
This week choreographer Tyrone Robinson premieres his new solo Being in love is not a good reason for two people to stay together in PRIME CUTS, a double bill presented by Strut Dance in partnership with Performing Lines WA for the 2016 MoveMe Festival at the State Theatre Centre of WA. We had a recent chat about the inspiration behind this work and his dancing life.
FdG: Where did your dancing roots begin and who has inspired/supported/mentored you during your dancing journey?
TR: I began training in dance at the age of 10, studying dance styles such as jazz, hip hop, acrobatics & tap. I then went on to further those skills in high school and it was there that I was encouraged to join STEPS Youth Dance Company, which was my first encounter with contemporary dance. Within 3 years of dancing for STEPS I was given my first professional choreographic opportunity as an Assistant Choreographer for the 2010 STEPS show Phoenix, mentored by Alice Lee Holland.
From this came the opportunity to study at the WA Academy of Performing Arts under four greatly influential and supportive lecturers Alice Lee Holland, Claudia Alessi, Rachel Ogle and Sue Peacock. To date I am still mentored by Sue Peacock. Sue’s keen eye for detail and unique perspective make her an incredibly intelligent artist, one I was very keen to continue learning from. Sue’s support, generosity of knowledge and patient guidance has been integral to me finding my creative identity.
FdG: I assume your new work ‘Being in love is not a good reason for two people to stay together’ is about love? What inspired you to explore this topic? Is it based on a personal experience?
TR: The work is about love, and was the natural progression of a prior work I presented at STRUT Dance 2016 Short Cuts Season called “Jimmy is funny”. This is the title of a poem written and performed by spoken word poet Sasha Banks. Her performance struck me not only on an emotional level, but a physical one. The passion and rhythm in her voice as she delivered the very personal text inspired me to move and so began the interest in the potential of using spoken word as a base for a show.
In exploring the concept, I found that the subject matter that provoked such passion in people’s poetry was either anger or love. With a lot of anger seeming to stem from issues of race, gender and identity, I found myself connecting with the love poetry, finding similarities with my own experiences with love regardless of the poets’ race or gender. I thought as an idea for a work, that it may be something audience members from many different walks of life would be able to relate to in some form or another.
FdG: What are the challenges of making and performing your own solo dance work? Did any of them surprise you?
TR: I suppose the biggest challenge of creating a solo work on yourself is a complete lack of objectivity. I ended up recording myself during rehearsals so I could get some idea of what it was I was creating. Unfortunately watching a live event off a recording doesn’t do it justice, and so it became apparent that I would need a collaborator with whom I could share a creative understanding about the piece. So I sought out a dramaturg.
FdG: Did you find working with theatre dramaturg Will O’Mahony changed the way you thought about, or structured, the work?
TR: I don’t know if working with Will changed the way I viewed the work, mainly because I couldn’t view the work at all really. I had structured the work blindly hoping that it would read a certain way, but was then very reliant on Will’s interpretation of the work to gauge whether I was heading in the right direction. There were definitely some observations that Will would make that hadn’t even crossed my mind when creating certain images, but I suppose a subjective response is to be expected when working in an abstract art form.
What was great about having Will in the process is that coming from a theatre background he tended to view the work in terms of a narrative structure, which for me always clarifies a lot about the work I’m creating. Being able to see a story play out would tell me that the flow of the piece was working.
FdG: After ‘MoveMe’ you’ll be dancing in Lucy Guerin’s new production ‘The Dark Chorus’. This is the first time you’ve worked professionally with Lucy’s company. Can you tell us about any memorable/auspicious moments so far?
TR: Well today we tried on our beautifully extravagant costumes and visited the Meat Market theatre where we will be performing. I feel like this has been the most memorable moment so far. From what I know the work is very different from anything else Lucy has created on her company. It is quite theatrical in its concept and quite absurd in the way of movement, so it was really quite incredible to see these two key elements of costumes and space come together and bring new life and clarity to the work for me. I am slowly beginning to see the grandeur of the spectacle she is creating.
FdG: If you weren’t dancing, what would you be doing?
TR: If I was not dancing I would be definitely be working in the fashion Industry. Most likely design given my interest in creating. Fashion has always been a great love on mine and I am in constant awe of the glamour the innovative creativity that comes from the world of fashion. It’s an art form that reaches everyone, so it’s capacity to influence everyday life is so tangible and fascinates me greatly.
PRIME CUTS presented by STRUT Dance in partnership with Performing Lines WA
Featuring a double bill of new work by Shona Erskine and Tyrone Robinson
Sat 17 + Sun 18 Sept | State Theatre Centre of Western Australia
Produced by Performing Lines as part of MoveMe Festival 2016
SOLD OUT | Click here for more info>>