Meet our 2016 Artists | Mark Wilson


He’s a man of many talents. Next month Mark Wilson will write, direct and star in the production of Anti-Hamlet. An International Fellow of Shakespeare’s Globe, Mark has been described as a ‘chronic Shakespeare tinkerer’ Time Out. His radical excavations of Shakespeare’s iconic plays – Unsex Me and Richard II have toured the country to critical acclaim, and Anti-Hamlet is shaping up to be equally bold. Mark talks to theatremaker Dan Giovannoni about what we can expect from Anti-Hamlet.

This is the third Shakespeare text you’ve adapted/’excavated’ – what are you digging for in there?
I’m looking for why I love Shakespeare so much: what’s the elemental thing in there that makes it such great theatre.

Which is?
Well, it’s the use of language, and it’s the understanding of theatre as a poetic medium, not just a series of things that people do. But mostly it’s the gaps. When you say so much so well, it creates what Heiner Muller calls an avalanche of images, which overwhelms and provokes far beyond what the playwright has written. Shakespeare writes in the heads of the audience as well as on the page.

I’m also looking, on the other hand, for what doesn’t work, or what doesn’t work anymore. In what ways have we outgrown Shakespeare, the greatest writer ever? There’s no democracy in there, in any modern sense. There’s no third wave feminism. There are passages and bits of action in there which point to things which are very now, but it’s very important for me to make the distinction between what is actually there and what I want to be there. There’s no Australia in Shakespeare, for instance. Let’s not kid ourselves about that: there is no depiction of an Australian experience.

That seems like a particular concern in this trilogy, right? Particularly in Richard II and in Anti-Hamlet – we’re implicated. 
Uhuh: as there is no Australian experience in there, audiences are asked either to silently accept a substitute (and end up identifying with England and what is “English”), or audiences are asked to get in there and wrestle. I’m a fan of the wrestle, and as a writer my adaptations are never really whole, there’s always the invitation, the necessity to wrestle.

You’re an International Fellow of Shakespeare’s Globe – what happened in the time you spent at the Globe? Did it change your relationship to Shakespeare?
That was a big crazy experience in a very condensed period of time. We were there, ten of us, from all over the world, for six weeks and we worked six days a week, from at early as 7 or 8am to as late as 1 or 2am. We worked with the theatre’s heads of voice, movement and verse. It was amazing to meet people from all over the world who had a passion for Shakespeare, and quite incredible to receive a heavy download of pretty traditional Shakespeare training. Two things I have taken with me: a richer and more complex understanding of how Shakespeare uses verse and how he encourages actors to use it; and how extraordinarily physical Shakespeare’s theatre was: in the round, performed unamplified to 2000 people sitting literally 360 degrees around the performers. And of course, there ain’t no fourth wall in the Elizabethan theatre: look the audience in the eye, or die a slow death.

Even though this is a much bigger work than Unsex Me and Richard II, you’re still at the heart of Anti-Hamlet as writer, director and lead. Can you speak about the experience of being at the centre of a work like this?
This is the biggest project I’ve been so completely in the middle of. Normally you have partners in crime in these roles, or, like in Unsex Me or Richard II, the whole team is so small that everyone is a partner. Anti-Hamlet is like that in that I’m surrounded by partners in crime (and what criminals!) but also different because of the scale. While we are rewriting as we go on this as well, we had a long time with me wearing my writer hat, which was not how it worked on Unsex Me and Richard II, which was all about juggling hats all over. This has plenty of hat juggling!!! Most of all though, this process is like any other process of mine: about empowering my collaborators to create a shared ownership over the work. There’s a lot of me in this – as a writer, director, actor – but it’s really the equation me plus everyone else equalling something I couldn’t make on my own. When you’re as inside a work as I am on this one, you really need to be able to trust those sitting on the outside, which is why the team is so especially important on this one.

It’s an extraordinary team – and what a cast! Have all of them played Shakespeare before? Are they playing Shakespeare now?
I have to pinch myself every time I go to rehearsal. They’ve all done Shakespeare before, and certainly they are all great text actors. I love actors who really love words and rhythms and know how to wield them. But nope, most of the actors don’t get a single line of Shakespeare in Anti-Hamlet. There are a couple of parodies of lines, which people who know the original will enjoy, but other than that it’s new text from start to finish.

Was Shakespeare political? Is Anti-Hamlet political? You’re a massive pinko leftie, right?
A group planning to overthrow Elizabeth I paid for a production of Shakespeare’s Richard II to incite a popular rebellion. It didn’t work, but the fact they tried suggests the theatre-politics dynamic has been bubbling a very long time! Anti-Hamlet is a show which is engaged with a whole lot of stuff, and asks a bunch of questions about all sorts of things. It definitely asks about what it is to be Australian. If you’re looking for politics, you won’t have trouble finding it!

Anti-Hamlet Season: 03 -13 November 2016
Click here for tickets and information

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Meet our 2016 Artists | Tanya Gerstle

Tania Gerstle | Director

Meet Director Tanya Gerstle. Tanya has worked in theatre in Europe and Australia for over 30 years. Melburnians might recognise Tanya as she’s been training actors at the Victorian College of Arts since 1999 as Head of Acting and Head of Theatre, and is currently currently an Honorary Senior Fellow.

Tanya initiated OpticNerve Performance Group to create text-based works with a dynamic staging approach called Pulse. She has adapted a number of works using this method including Five Kinds of Silence (a radio play by Shelagh Stephenson) YES (based on a film by Sally Potter) and Pale Blue Dot. We are so excited to see what Tanya, and the OpticNerve Performance Group bring to George Eliot’s classic tale of inspired rebellion, The Mill on the Floss, when they move in as Artists in Residence this month. Read on for our interview with Tanya.

Describe your show in one sentence
Known for their visceral, physical performance style, OpticNerve tells the twisted tale of passionate, disobedient Maggie Tulliver trapped in the moral vortex of 19thcentury England.

Describe the OpticNerve story-telling style
OpticNerve’s story-telling style weaves a physical ‘language’ expressing a character’s emotional inner world with the verbal text of a narrative.  The hidden story implied by the text is manifested through action. As the actor’s body paints the space through direct physical experience and memory the body becomes content and image. We build the atmosphere and aesthetic of the play’s ‘world’ in an empty space, through the actor’s body, light and sound design.

Our staging style brings a contemporary resonance and intimacy to a complex, classic epic.

Tell us about your initial interest in Mary Ann Evans
Mary Ann Evans (aka George Eliot) became a social outcast by co-habituating with a married man. She made her intellectual escape through friendships with free thinkers and their advanced social ideas.

She published The Mill on the Floss under the pseudonym George Eliot.

My initial interest in the novel was peaked when I read that apparently neither the publishers nor the public ever questioned the gender of the writer, as the writing was considered to be too good to be written by a woman. A hundred years later Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunuch and here we are a hundred and fifty-five years later telling Mary Ann’s story on the stage.

I have always been committed to presenting stories of ‘women ahead of their time’, women who fought for the right to express their full humanity and this one is no exception. Both the writer and her protagonist are dark, disobedient and passionate women struggling to live an imaginative life.

This story has endured because it deals with humanity at its most complex. 19th century society was bound by tight moral codes. Emotions remained unspoken.

The Mill on the Floss Season: 28 July – 13 August 2016
Click here for tickets and information

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Theatre Works | Australia Council Operational Funding Outcome

Theatre Works is disappointed by the recent news of cuts to arts funding in Australia and the ripple effect this will have across the entire arts industry.

Theatre Works was one of the many organisations unsuccessful in its application for operational funding from the Australia Council.. Across 2011-2015, Theatre Works received Australia Council Program Presenter funding, which directly supported artist fees.

Theatre Works will still be eligible to apply for funding from the Australia Council. Despite this, the vision to strengthen the organisation and introduce initiatives to deepen the level of support for artists, as part of this application, will need to be re-imagined.

Theatre Works has a 35 year history of supporting the development and presentation of independent theatre in Australia. The organisation has proudly presented Victorian artists as part of Melbourne International Festival and championed art-form development initiatives such as the inaugural Directors Lab: Melbourne, feeding the development of the sector as a whole.

In 2016, Theatre Works will support over 500 artists across 36 productions and art-form development initiatives, tour across five states and engage over 30,000
audience members at their St Kilda venue and beyond.

Artists speak on the impact of Theatre Works on their careers:

“I’ve been lucky enough to stage two productions, Persona in 2012, and more recently THE BACCHAE in 2015, which Theatre Works also co-commissioned. In both instances, knowing that we were presenting at Theatre Works filled me with a sense of limitless possibility. Here is a space that allows us to make creatively ambitious works of scale, and to work to the edges of our imaginations and our practise. The space has been a transformative one, housing surprising, startling and often game changing productions.” – Adena Jacobs, Director Fraught Outfit

“Over the past two and a half years I have worked on five shows which have had incredible seasons thanks to Theatre Works. From international collaborations to new Australian writing, Theatre Works has provided a space for artists to dream bigger than they ever could and resulted in a new wave of exciting Australian talent. This is my proverbial theatrical home, a place for many talented people, both onstage and off, a place to feel nurtured and supported.” – Cameron Stewart, Producer

Theatre Works acknowledges the support of it’s partners, Bridge donors and audiences for their invaluable contribution to the organisation across its 35 years. Now more than ever, Theatre Works opens its doors to independent artists and companies with incredible stories, ambition and vision, offering a place for them to be nurtured and supported, and to have a voice within the arts and cultural conversation in Australia.

To support Theatre Works visit:

Media Enquiries: TS Publicity, Mary Thompson // 9419 8837


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Meet our 2016 Artists: Amelia Ducker | Genius

Genius landscape

Genius | Amelia Ducker and St Martins

The Festival of Live Art is already into its final week! A highlight of the upcoming weekend’s program is GENIUS by Amelia Ducker and St Martins, a live art event led by neurodiverse young people. In this immersive work, the audience is invited to participate in a series of encounters with eight unique thinkers, where each Genius will present their perspective on the topic of their expertise. Concept developer and director Amelia Ducker shared some thoughts on the topic of neurodiversity and what to expect from the show.

Describe your show in one sentence?
An interactive walk through the minds of eight exceptional thinkers.

Neurodiversity. What does this mean?
Neurodiversity is an approach or paradigm that emerged in the late 1990’s and brings forward the idea that neurological differences like autism, dyslexia, ADHD and other neurological conditions are a result of normal variations of the human genome rather than a medical disorder.

Neurodiversity suggests we need to recognize, celebrate and work with the strengths of those who have neurological differences in order to progress as a society. In fact, it would be safe to say that a lot of the technological and cultural advancements that we encounter in our lives now can be attributed to the work of neuro-typical thinkers.

As Genius is made in collaboration with eight young people on the autism spectrum, we have collectively decided that the concept of neurodiversity best speaks to the work that we will be presenting at FOLA.

With the recent claim that there has been a 250 percent increase of children in Australia diagnosed with autism over the last 30 years, it is useful to consider how do we as a society, choose to work with this rise in diagnoses.

And how can we move beyond social stigma into acceptance and useful integration.

What can we expect to learn about the world through the eyes of these eight unique thinkers?
Genius will give you the opportunity to expand your knowledge on areas including Gough Whitlam, Royal Families of the world, Kevin Bacon, Fashion, Australian Animals and Linguistics. However, it will also invite you to consider different modes of thinking and different ways of perceiving the world.

The work itself will in its own way reveal something of a spectrum, and through lectures, speeches, songs, conversations and dances, Genius will uncover the dynamic voices that sit within our community.

GENIUS: Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 March at St Kilda Town Hall
Session times: 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm
Click here for tickets and information

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Meet our 2016 Artists: Kate Hunter Earshot

Earshot | Kate Hunter

Earshot | Kate Hunter

As part of the Festival of Live Art, kicking off this week, we are delighted to present Kate Hunter’s latest work EARSHOT. Created from conversations overheard in cafes and public spaces, Earshot provides a fly-on-the-wall insight into the lives of others: personal, epic, comic and sometimes devastating. Read on to hear more from Kate Hunter as she gears up for the first public showing of Earshot this Thursday.

Where did the concept for this work come from?
I’ve long been an eavesdropper, and my experiments over the last few years in constructing my own verbatim soundscapes have prompted a greater curiosity about the things we are prepared to say in public, and the ways in which we listen and hear in different environments. We live in an increasingly digital world in which we are subjected to very private stories being aired in very public ways – think about mobile phone conversations that you overhear on trains, for example, or reality TV, or cooking shows, or The Biggest Loser, or the Kardashians, or selfies. These public airings have subtly but radically shifted our relationship to each other, and ourselves, because our experiences and understandings of privacy, of discretion, and of confidentiality have changed.

I think the tools we use: predictive text and voice-recognition, for example, are rich source material for accidental moments of poetry, and Earshot brings a very particular focus to the intersections between what we read and what we hear. Over the course of the development, I’ve been crafting eavesdropped stories together into a performance, experimenting with modes of delivery using live, pre-recorded and amplified voice. In particular, looking at programming data projection with voice-activated text as a tool to experiment with projecting words into the performance space – to create an event in which words appear, are made manifest, as they are spoken in real time. The errors that occur when using predictive text are sometimes insightful, often comic. I’m interested in ways I can disrupt the experience for the audience, or generate a sort of cognitive dissonance – what happens if what they see does not necessarily correlate to what they hear? These technological experiments foreground my interest in the complex interplay between hearing, listening, reading and speaking that is implicit in the ways humans communicate through language.

I always write into the source material, too, so the content is layered with both truthful and invented narrative. The line between what we know to be true and that which is imagined is forever moving.

Has anyone ever caught you out on your eavesdropping? What lengths do you go to in order to remain inconspicuous?
Public eavesdropping is a very insidious thing. There is no way that anyone can catch me at it. I’m just in the background, listening in, typing or writing away. I’m a pretty fast touch-typist so it’s just a matter of tuning in to salient conversations and typing frantically, capturing as much as I can. I never quite capture everything, though, so what emerges is a curious, fragmented but strangely coherent narrative of the world. Sometimes I use a notebook if I don’t have a laptop. No one can tell. I just look like a member of the general public, which I am. I am anonymous.

Earshot Season: Thursday 3 March, 2016 // 6.30pm *One show only!
Click here for tickets and information

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Meet our 2016 Artists: ARTHUR

ARTHUR | Bright World

ARTHUR | Bright World

In 2016, Theatre Works will pilot a new Access All Areas – Residency Model. And we’re delighted to announce, ARTHUR is our first cab off the rank. Theatre Works first worked with ARTHUR on the highly acclaimed season of Cut Snake which sold out and went on to win VCE Best Drama Production in 2013.

In 2016 ARTHUR will take over the Theatre Works space for six weeks in order to develop their new production Bright World exploring the story of William Cooper and his historic protest against the Nazi persecution of European Jews in 1938. Read on to meet  ARTHUR collaborators and Bright World playwrights Andrea James and Elise Hearst.

Tell us about your show in one sentence
Elise –
Two ladies (Andrea and Elise), two cultures (Aboriginal and Jewish), lots of hair (human and canine), and one hero (William Cooper), travel through past, present, and future in the quest to find understanding, identity and legacy.
Andrea – That’d be right, Elise always gets in first and nails it, I should learn to write more quickly.

How’s the experience and process of working with a co-writer?
Elise –
Andrea and I had never met before and I haven’t worked on many co-written productions so jumping into this project felt both exciting and nerve-wracking. It has been an uplifting and challenging experience, mostly because we are tackling issues of race and within that, Andrea and my personal experiences. We have had to confront our own prejudices and part of the process has been about overcoming them and speaking to them. This has been at times, emotional, a bit icky, and hysterically funny. We have found many points of difference but also many similarities, and ultimately I have had a lot of fun sparring with Andrea on the page and on the stage. I am really excited about this show and abut our collaboration.

Andrea – I’ve done this sort of gig a few times lately and I always approach these projects with great caution.  I am immensely proud of my Aboriginal heritage and I make theatre to continue the songlines.  There’s a lot at stake, culturally, politically, spiritually and creatively and, frankly, if I represent this story wrong, my mob will lynch me.  I would never have had a conversation with Elise if it were not for the brave gesture towards Jewish people in 1938 by William Cooper and the Aborigines Advancement League. Elise and I have terrified and intimidated each other, made each other laugh; and led each other along brave and bizarre paths of interrogation and creative expression to honour the legacy of William Cooper and give thanks to our peoples survival and resilience. We’ve come to a heartfelt understanding of one another and despite our obvious cultural and class differences, Elise and I both want a better world for our children (and our dogs). We’ve made a play together, and I think we’ve each made a new friend.  Let’s see.

How did you feel about performing in your work as well as writing it?
Elise –
Performing as ourselves in this play is really liberating. I’m finding that having conversations with each other, even if its about our deepest darkest prejudices, by speaking them aloud it dissipates the truth of the prejudice and frees us up to explore other conversations, providing a space for hope and a brighter future. We have developed quite a comical two-hander act which I think audiences will love. It mainly comprises of me saying the wrong thing all the time and apologising a lot.

Andrea – There’s nothing like a director saying to an actor “just be yourself”, but somehow there’s a lot more at stake here. Elise and I have a responsibility to represent our mobs and we’ve had to navigate the murky waters of generational oppression and resistance to get to this place.  I’ve come to the stage kicking and screaming and I’ve had to overcome my dislike of writers writing themselves into their work – let alone acting in the play as well!  We want to tell this story in the best way possible and we’re both coming at this from a spirit of play. Despite my reservations, I am looking forward to the challenge.

Bright World Season: 13 – 30 April, 2016
Click here for tickets and information

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Meet our 2016 Artists: Nancy Black and Duda Paiva (Netherlands)

Black Hole Theatre and DudaPaiva Company | BLIND

Black Hole Theatre and DudaPaiva Company | BLIND

Director Nancy Black and dancer/ pupeteer Duda Paiva first met at the Victorian College of the Arts. In 2014 the pair embarked on a development of the work BLIND at Theatre Works. Upon watching the work unfold, Creative Producer Daniel Clarke knew it had to be part of Theatre Works’ program. BLIND premiered at Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes (France) in 2015 to much acclaim, before touring extensively throughout Europe. The Theatre Works season marks it’s Australian premiere.

The solo work draws on Duda Paiva’s childhood in Brazil, when he was temporarily blinded by disease, subjected to painful experiments and ruthlessly rejected by society. Combining puppetry, dance and audience interaction, BLIND is Duda’s personal story of  discovery, empowerment and healing. Read on to hear from Nancy and Duda.

Nancy – Tell us how the unique partnership with Duda Paiva came about
We first met in 2009, when Duda came to the Victorian College of Arts to teach. We liked each other enormously and thought even then that we would like to work together. We stayed in touch. Then in 2014 Duda invited me to collaborate with him on a new show. And so began an amazing voyage, moving from one story idea to another, emails flying across continents, residencies both here and in Europe. Then, in a development period at Theatre Works, we discovered our mutual links to disability. It was clear to me that this would form the backbone of our piece. Both of us wanted to approach the subject from a theatrical stand point; it was not to be issue-based. We worked slowly, on the floor and on paper, painstakingly so, many stops and starts, and many wonderful revelations. We experimented with the audience relationship; we discovered how rich it could be. Gradually it came together.

Duda – Tell us about the challenges and celebrations of presenting such a personal work on stage
It’s like a remake of my own story with the input of an audience. The many different ways the audience react makes it a new experience each time we perform. I invited Nancy Black to direct the show due to her own experience in the subject of disability and her love towards cross-art-form. She brought the challenge and the courage of touching a difficult subject (for me) with grace and intelligence. The format of the spectacle, having part of the audience on stage, also adds to the beauty of the proximity of intimacy between performer and puppet. This intimacy is something I’ve been seeking for a long time.

Duda – Why do you choose to work with puppets? What role do the puppets play?
The choice is theirs (the puppets). Through the years I found out that my choice of using puppets is secondary. Once you bring life to these figures they no longer are just puppets, they have their own aura, perhaps I should call them living sculptures. In this spectacle I celebrate the very core of what I found by working with them: a sense of calmness as if somebody is guiding me through the darkness, they can see while I keep my eyes closed and rested. That’s the feeling I had when I was in full darkness for two years. A strange sensation of complete surrender takes over me. Puppets help me to transform traumatic experiences or any kind of story into art; therefore there is a power of transformation about them that is extremely theatrical and compelling.

BLIND Season // 8 – 19 March, 2016
As part of The Festival of Live Art
Click here for tickets and information

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Meet our 2016 Artists: Volker Gerling (Germany)

Volker Gerling: Portraits In Motion

Volker Gerling: Portraits In Motion

Our 2016 Program has launched! Over the next fortnight, we’ll introduce you to some of our exciting 2016 artists. To kick off, we’d like you to meet Volker Gerling. Since 2003, Volker has walked over 3,500km throughout his native Germany photographing the people he meets and creating flip books of their portraits. In his show, Portraits in Motion, Gerling shares a selection of his favourite flip books by holding each one under a video camera so that its moving images are projected onto a large screen. What he revelas is truly magic. Sunday Times says, ‘These miniature stories rinse your eyes like spring water.’ Read more about this intrepid traveller and storyteller below and watch the trailer for a glimpse into the show.

Tell us about your show in one sentence
The show is a gentle and thoughtful reflection on the passing of time and what it means when people meet each other.

Describe the relationship between walking and creating
In summer 2002, I took an old wooden kitchen tray and made it into a simple hawker’s tray. There was room for six flipbooks on it. I hung a sign on it, saying: “Please visit my traveling exhibition”. I walked through the city of Berlin and showed people my flipbook movies.

After I had been showing my flipbook cinemas in this way for almost a year, I came to realise that people have a need for “small” and “simple” stories. I decided to travel. I wanted to know how people outside the city would react to my films. I wanted to make new flipbook movies. I bought myself a new pair of walking boots and set off. I did not want to miss anything along the way, so I chose to go slow, on foot. I took my hawker’s tray with me and showed my flipbook movies to people by the wayside and over their garden fences. In the evenings, I went into pubs and restaurants and I visited village parties. I slept in my tent and lived only from whatever people gave me. Sometimes they gave me money as a symbolic fee when they had seen my small show of flipbook cinemas, or they often gave me something to eat.

Today I can look back at 3,000 miles of walking, mainly in Germany, and nearly a year on the road in total spread across more than 10 years. Again and again I experience the excitement and the surprises of setting off without knowing what will happen next. I remain true to the principle of my very first walk – I take no money. I finance my journeys by showing my flipbook cinemas that I carry on my hawker’s tray. Old faces and old stories lead me to new faces and new stories. My exhibition is renewed.

Tell us about the magic of the flipbook
During my time as a student of film at the Academy, I understood that my passion was not for the big screen movie or television, but for a very special small form of film I called photograph flipbook cinema. In my flipbook films I mainly work with documentary portraits of people. The 36 images that my films are made of would run by in about one and a half seconds of ordinary cinema or television, but in a flipbook movie they can be repeated at will, you can see the gaps between them, and you can unconsciously try to fill these gaps. In this form, these pictures gain their own very unusual power and poetry.

People I photograph usually do not know that I will not take only one picture but will actually shoot a whole analogue film in just twelve seconds. Reacting to the camera in action, people shift and move and abandon the poses they first assumed when they knew they were going to be photographed. They react spontaneously. Their gestures and emotions are immediate, caught up completely in the present. These people are suddenly very beautiful and what they show is true and real.

Portraits In Motion Season: 1 – 6 March, 2016 – six shows only!
As part of the Festival of Live Art
Click here for tickets and information

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Bryce Ives & Nate Gilkes | PRESENT TENSE

Bryce Ives and Nate Gilkes of Present Tense

Introducing Bryce Ives and Nate Gilkes, co-creators of Present Tense. Theatre Works friends will recognise these two as the team that brought you the delightful Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert back in 2013. This November, Present Tense return to Theatre Works to present RICERCAR an epic 21st century operatic event inspired by the music of JS Bach and featuring pop violin and drums duo The Twoks. We chat to Bryce and Nate about their ongoing collaboration and what it means to be creating their most ambitious work yet.

BRYCE IVES on working with Nate Gilkes

When did you realise that you wanted to develop a body of work and way of working with Nate?
We were paired up on a devising project at the VCA. The moment we started working with bodies in space, with text and with music, suddenly I was free to do everything I had always secretly wanted to do in a rehearsal room. Collaborating with Nate was like finding my lost tribe, and we continue to collect members!

What do you remember most about Nate from drama school?
I thought Nate was foreign, like a foreign exchange student, possibly from Germany.
Nate regularly speaks in accents and is convinced he speaks Italian, German and Russian. He doesn’t speak any of those languages to my knowledge (although there is plenty of German in Ricercar.)
I was so nervous about going to the VCA. I had never really worked physically on the floor before, and I was worried I would be a luddite amongst the elite.
In our first composition class with Leisa Shelton, I looked across the rehearsal room, and there was this tall, awkward man, experiencing as much pain as I was from what is a very basic stretch. Suffice to say we still train with Leisa now, as often as we can, and we still struggle our way through rather simple stretches! Nate and I have a very similar capacity to reach our toes.

What do you think makes for a successful artistic relationship?
A willingness to challenge each other, to not hold onto your personal ideas but instead to be willing to have your ideas radically altered and transformed.
We prototype, we draft, and we sketch, often right up to the finishing line. We work so fluidly that it’s difficult to know who initiated what idea, or who is responsible for what element.

How would you describe Ricercar?
An investigation that is both personal and crucial to our growth, a work that we need to make now, and a collaboration between many exceptional artists.

Why do you make theatre?
Because I wake up in the morning, and I feel the urge to create things. To be honest, I mostly want to create ecstatic experiences, but theatre is the medium I understand and love the most.

If you had one piece of advice for Nate what would it be?
Restrictions create freedom, with love from Bach. Oh, and never put eggs in a microwave, with love from Margaret Fulton.

I love working with Nate because…
It feels like we’re only beginning, yet we’ve been collaborating now for five years. Every work we make feels like another shift in dimension, a surprising beginning. This journey is invigorating and challenging beyond words, and yet it feels like it’s only just begun. It’s nice to feel not stuck, but in transit.

NATE GILKES on working with Bryce Ives

When did you realise that you wanted to develop a body of work and way of working with Bryce?
During our study year at the VCA. Both of us had an idea about how music and theatre could be reimagined together and we thought there was a huge possibility in working together. We ended up creating a sound installation with voices, music and darkness. It was exactly the kind of work I wanted to be making and we felt like we could do it together.

What do you remember most about Bryce from drama school?
It was Bryce’s passion for making theatre and his big open heart towards the actors, the artists and collaborators he worked with. He expected an incredible amount but is also willing to give as much.

What do you think makes for a successful artistic relationship?
Listening. Listening and listening… that and knowing that your collaborators will often have a better idea than you.

Why do you make theatre?
I want to make the foundations shake; I want to rock; I want to feel the awesome rumble of what it is to be alive now.

How would you describe Ricercar?
Ricercar takes the listener on beautiful musical journey through time and space. It taps into the beauty and power of JS Bach’s music and our zany, epic energy and love of live music. It’s an all-encompassing opera for now, the 21st Century; a reflection on what it means for us to be tenants and custodians of this planet. It will be a place for the listener to hear, see and reflect.

If you had one piece of advice for Bryce what would it be?
Try to get some shut eye.

I love working with Bryce because…
Freddie Mercury summed it up perfectly in ‘Don’t stop me now’

RICERCAR Season: 24 November – 12 December, 2015
Click here for tickets and information

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Interview with Morgan Rose | Playwright Virgins & Cowboys

Playwright Morgan Rose

Playwright Morgan Rose

Morgan Rose is a theatre artist orginally from New Orleans. As an actor, she also has a background in Suzuki Actor Training, The Viewpoints, Composition, Slow Tempo and Butoh. She has studied with SITI Company (NYC, USA), Pacific Performance Project (Seattle, USA), Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre (Brisbane, Australia), and Dairakudakan (Hakuba, Japan). So with such an diverse mix of influences, it’s no wonder her latest work Virgins and Cowboys is one of the most eclectic pieces in the FLIGHT Festival program. We take five with Morgan to talk about her love of physical theatre and what audiences can expect from this vibrant new production about the search for connection.

How would you describe your play in one sentence?
A sitcom that falls apart to reveal its ugly insides.

You are collaborating with choreographer Dale Thorburn on Virgins and Cowboys. What interests you about exploring your play through physical movement?
I’m a writer who prefers dance. The performances that have affected me most have always been movement based. I can’t create this myself, I don’t have the mind for it. I spent years studying physical theatre before admitting that I was much better at writing text. Words, I get. Movement is a mystery, which is perhaps why I’m drawn to it. Dale Thorburn, our choreographer, and I have known each other for many years, and artistically we click, even though we’ve rarely gotten the chance to work together. One day, over dinner, he said to me ‘I’ve always wanted to do a choreographic treatment of a text.’ I had just finished writing Virgins and Cowboys and as soon as he said it, I knew that’s exactly what the piece needed. Because the traditional form of the play disappears halfway through, and the characters no longer have realism to assist them in deciphering blocking, we suddenly have more options and movement becomes more important.

Who is your favourite playwright and why?
I’m going to cheat and name a screenwriter, and that’s Charlie Kaufman. He’s dark, and funny, and he doesn’t write realism. Being John Malkovitch was an epiphanous moment for me. It was so bold. I didn’t realize that was allowed. If you want me to play by the rules, I would name Will Eno. His work is heartbreaking and strange. It washes over you rather than asking you to cling to a story.

How does the form you’ve chosen speak to the content of your play?
The characters in the play are all desperately trying to find some sort of happiness, and they are all failing miserably. They are disconnected from each other and from themselves, and so their attempts to fill the void are disingenuous and futile. We use a lot of tricks in the work to mimic the ways we communicate these days in a theatrical way. The dialogue flows like a television sitcom to begin with, there’s a falseness and familiarity to it, and then it becomes disjointed and out of sync like an instant messenger conversation. A single conversation can last for hours as the conversationalists walk away from their computers, have lunch, come back, reply to a question, etc. This speaks to the bizarre world we currently live in where we confuse our own identity with our Facebook profiles. Or at least I do.

This play is a response to the US recession through the lens of suburban Australia. How does your position between these two cultures affect your work?
I’m definitely half way between the two cultures at the moment and it’s problematic. I get called out on it frequently (‘Will this read to an Australian audience?’), but there’s not much I can do about it. I can’t help the fact that I grew up in America, and that my past is going to inform my work. I also can’t ignore the fact that I live here now: all my interactions are with Australians, my own accent is changing, my way of socialising is changing, I am not as American as I was 5 years ago. I am somewhere in the middle, and so is my work. There’s a sort of freedom in it though. Being in between two things means you can ignore the norms of both places. I play the two countries against each other in order to get away with things.

Why do you write?
I write specifically for performance. I love conversation and the way people communicate and miscommunicate. I love that people can say one thing and actually mean the opposite. I love banter. I love a live audience. I love the things you can get away with on stage (singing! dancing! silence! painting yourself blue and beating a drum!) I love how difficult performance is, how it requires collaboration and timing and luck and there’s no way to ever be 100% successful at it. I guess, in short, I’m a masochist.

Virgins and Cowboys Season: 14 – 23 August, 2015
Click here for tickets and information

Follow Morgan’s company – Motherboard Productions here

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