Throwback Thursday

Wonthaggi Theatrical Group – Little shop of Horrors

22 September – 2 October 2016, Wonthaggi State Coal Mine

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2016 Little Shop of Horrors

 

On Thursday last week I attended the opening night of Wonthaggi Theatrical Group’s (WTG) 2016 production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, directed by Karen Milkins-Hendry. Ten years ago, I shared Wonthaggi’s stage with my two best friends in the very same production, directed by Karen Milkins-Hendry. The experience I had on  Thursday was un-real.

First of all, the production is an absolute delight. Milkin’s Hendry has taken the Musical to it’s limits – developing it’s characters and setting with a focus on intriguing, engaging and captivating the audience. The production was absolutely magnificent with strong performances all round, fabulous vocals, a smashing band and sensational puppets (you have to go and see this show!).

As a ten-year anniversary production, Milkins-Hendry honours her earlier work by providing moments to reflect the 2006 production. The subtleties of a picture, direction, or moment in imitation of the 2006 production play a tribute to the earlier performance, and importantly reflect on the 10 year journey of WTG.  The current Little Shop production opens a new performance space; it is the first production hosted at WTG’s venue at the State Cole Mine. This invaluable venue is the product of years of volunteer work: dreaming, planning, building, applying for grants…the hours are countless and the work is often thankless. WTG’s new venue paves the way for a bright future in performing arts locally and is the perfect venue for this anniversary production.

In addition to the amazing performance and venue, for me the experience was more sublime than the entertainment and excitement of those in the audience around me as I wasn’t only transported to the fictional Skid Row – I was literally taken back in time.

2006 was a big year for me. At the end of 2005 I had decided between Advanced Marine Biology and Musical Theatre – choosing to take a position at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in pursuit my dreams to be a Musical Theatre performer. While studying at the VCA I landed my first lead role as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors with Wonthaggi Theatrical Group. Little Shop gave merit to my decision to follow a performance pathway and fed the creative motivations of Rory, Will and I. From this we went on to write and create several comedic, raucous and fun-filled theatre pieces for our hometown audience and eventually branched out into our own niches. On Thursday night I had a very rare experience of re-living the beginning of it all.

The gratitude hit me like a rock. I am so lucky. Lucky to have landed those opportunities at exactly the right time. Mostly, lucky to have such amazing and special friends. Now, ten years on, I realise how unique those friendships are. I also realise more than ever the value of community theatre. Without community theatre I simply would not have had the courage to dream, or the support to realise those dreams. Today, community theatre plays a different role in my life – one where I hope I can help inspire and motivate young people, and where I can express myself and indulge my passions for music and performance.

It’s been a long time between blogs and I hope to close the gap for good.

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2006 Little Shop – Rory, Will and I

 

 

When Disciplines Collide

Site One - Part One - Online engagement.

Site One – Part One – Online engagement.

Wednesday October 8th, 2014

On Wednesday evening I witnessed 4th year Design student Jamie Vella’s piece For Site to Become New: a performance in many acts at The Abbotsford Convent.

It was enlightening. Experiencing a performance with roots in design was powerfully different to what I have come to expect as a theatre studies scholar. The aesthetics of the piece were flawless. They were meticulously crafted from the finest shadow to the broadest brushstroke: the placing of the objects in the space, the use of light, shadow, sound, raw materials, colour, shade, shape…all was designed with an architects eye.

The witnessing or ‘performance’ was actually part two (site two) of a two part work. Before actually arriving at the space, the audience were engaged in part one (site one), an online activity. Spectators were given a multiple choice selection panel of sights and sounds (see image above). We were asked to tick boxes next to descriptions such as “dust in corner”, “tray of drinks” and “soft applause”, as we liked it.

It appeared as though our selections provided the scripting for the action in Part Two. The performer had four piles of A4 paper, precisely placed in the centre of the playground (see images below). She returned to the pages, dramatically overturning them and then following a series of actions with objects in the space. Actions included sitting, turning lights on and off, running her hand along a railing, unwrapping and eating a lolly…all the time generating interesting shapes and sounds. It was all aesthetically very impressive.

Playground of actions.

Playground of actions.

Light and shade.

Light and shade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The impact of the designed architecture in the room combined with our previously provided ‘stage directions’ or ‘requests’, was instantly spellbinding. However, where the enchantment could have culminated in a playful exploration or personalised experience, it instead wore thin, and faded with the daylight.

Beyond the aesthetic the piece seemed to lack substance. It certainly touched on something interesting in Site One, but there was no room in Site Two for our previously instated engagement and investment with the piece. Despite the movement and action, and the curiosity and divine visual pleasure of this piece, the monotonous and linear unpacking was a little boring.

I was disappointed. Where in the first site the audience were privy to a personalised and intimate experience, selecting their preferred elements. In the second site, the physical audience were superfluous. I really felt that if I, and all other spectators in the room, had not been present – the integrity and existence of the performance would not have faltered. With two go-pro’s strapped to the ceiling, two upright cameras recording and two photographers furiously clicking away to capture every angle – it was clear this was being performed not for us, but for future viewers to enjoy and critic via digital mediums.

I wanted to be engaged with by the performer. I wanted her to see me, to invite me into her world. I wanted to play, even if it was virtually, to give her more instructions, in real time. I missed the performance – spectator relationship.

In saying this I am probably being unnecessarily critical; judging a design piece through a theatre lens. Vella’s For Site to Become New: a performance in many acts, had many wonderful elements that I would simply never conjure up. Because of our different roots, we see and imagine spaces differently. It’s certainly opened up my mind to the power of collaboration and the possibilities generated when disciplines collide.

Object Theatre Workshop – April 13, 2014

The Creative Generator

Object Theatre Workshop – April 13, 2014 – The Mechanics Institute, Melbourne

Exploring the Object.

Presented by Nina Barry-Macaulay for Platform Youth Theatre

April 13, 2014 at the Mechanics Institute, Brunswick (Melbourne)

The term Object Theatre is commonly used to describe a style of puppetry which animates everyday or ‘found’ objects, rather than traditional theatre puppets. However, this workshop explored another, related meaning of the term as ‘a theatre of objectification’. In this meaning, the value of the subject (performer) is overridden by the value and emphasis placed on the object or prop. This workshop used objects as impetus in a similar way that a site or place might be used to stimulate site-specific theatre.

The participants were blindfolded and each given a different object which they were asked to explore. They began their discovery through the tips of their fingers, and eventually were invited to use their whole body. They engaged with the touch, weight and sound of the object and recognised the impulse, reaction and effect generated by their object. They were then asked to create movement and performance driven by the object, at this time they could choose to remove their blindfold.

Through assigning a character, emotion, metaphor or power to the object, the subject (performer) is confronted with a dynamic shift, where the observer’s attention is divided between them and object. A triangular relationship if formed between the observer, subject and object. In this relationship, the object participates in the act of communication and the performance. The aim of this workshop was to engage this group in the quality and power of objects as tools for communication and stimulation, and to encourage them to recognise the significance objects carry in performance settings, and the possibilities of using objects in extra ordinary ways.

FILM – 1 minute investigation of the Object.