It's been a year rich in experiences and opportunities. In Indonesia collaborating with Mainteater on the performance Urat Jagat (Veins of the universe), running the Shadows and Wind workshop at Artplay in May, solo performance Pancake Opus 100 in June and July, running workshops throughout the year with DnD theatre. If you are interested, this is the second half of 2015:
1: Destination Home: (Director/co-creator)
I collaborated with Dan Goronzsy Arts to create Destination Home for the Fringe Festival in September, a performance about home and dispossession. Performed by Dan herself who is the character 'Red', alongside 25 paper mache heads made by Dan, with sound by Sharyn Brand, lighting by the ever creative Bronwyn Pringle, and costume by stylist and designer supremo Emily Barrie, this piece spoke the truth about what it's like to be a renter in an increasingly competitive and hostile environment.
The heads represented many things during the piece, Red's lover who is moving in with her (they decide not to let property managers know in case they discriminate against a same sex couple), others at a rental inspection, people desperately fleeing wore torn countries to search for safety, people in the so called line to immigrate being asked questions to test their allegiance to Australia, news headlines, a choir, and more. This is a beautiful work, performed in the intimate Grand Caravan, and will be having another season in the Midsummer Festival at La Mama February 2nd-7th. We will be doing some redevelopment before this season. After Midsummer it is going to the Adelaide Fringe Festival, without me I'm afraid. I'll be sticking it out in Melbourne for a hot February hopefully with lots of dips in the Elwood beach.
No sooner was Destination Home up then I was redrafting the script for Birdcage Thursdays, and then in rehearsals.
This work has taken 5 years roughly to write. It started as an attempt to capture the idiosyncratic language and communication style of someone very close to me in my family who a few years ago was at risk of losing her home because of a little problem with hoarding. I ended up getting involved in the situation and getting help for her, but not without a struggle the whole way. It was a really difficult experience at the time, and this script is the hardest thing I have ever written. Although I tried to get support for the development of the script from all the orgs that support script development in various ways over that time it was not forthcoming. Probably because, well, nothing really happens in the script, it is about communication, and also, movement ideas are embedded within the script which perhaps is just too much I don't know. Anyway, actually the early versions of the script, which I thought were pure genius were probably really shit and although I saw the vision which wasn't quite there yet, I guess the assessors who read it didn't. Well, anyway, it all worked out. La mama took it on, with the amazing support of Caitlin Dullard who directed it. They supported a development in their exploration season, then, the Big West Festival, love them, saw even more potential and supported it further, with money and other support, linking us with health and housing organisations who got right behind the work. Then, joy oh joy, the Helen McPherson Smith Trust saw even more potential and they funded us! And, to top it off, Genevieve Picot, the amazing Australian actress also saw it's potential and joined our team, quite prepared to spend time during rehearsals redrafting, alongside Sophia Constantine. There is so much movement in this piece, Sophia Constantine moves between being a bird and a fitness freak, while Genevieve moves between dance moves, bowls moves and calligraphy. It is about communication and compulsive behaviours. You think it might be funny only it's actually reality. Much more redrafting did occur, whole sections were slashed, and there's still more drafting to do, but we got it somewhere quite good. Here's some reviews:
We will be back. There is more life awaiting Birdcage Thursdays.
While in the early stages of Birdcage Thursdays, I did some script consultancy for Rani Pramesti Collaborations, on a collaborative work Rani is making with Shivajani Lal and Ria Soemardjo - I unfortunately missed the showing after spending time talking to both Rani and Shivajani about the text and then spending a day with them in a workshop at Footscray Community Arts Centre, as the showing was in Sydney. This work will be premiering in the Next Wave Festival in May 2016, can't wait.
2 days after Birdcage Thursdays finished and was bumped out, I picked up Wawan Sofwan and Heliana Sinaga from Mainteater Bandung at the Airport. I have been collaborating with Indonesian Theatre collective Mainteater for 18 years now, and was delighted that we were asked to present a micro version of our work 'Urat Jagat (Veins of the Universe) by Godi Suwarna, with Jodee Mundy performing and Mal Webb doing sound in the Mapping Melbourne Festival this year. This time I elected not to perform but instead to focus on directing. We rehearsed for 6 days, and on Saturday December 5 we performed 'Microcosm' at the State Library of Victoria 6 times in a row. It went for around 17-18 minutes each time. Godi's poems are about greed, environmental destruction, consumerism, a cry from the voice of nature itself, angry and in pain. Beautiful poems. My favourite is Ujang Masuk Sekola, a poem about a small child starting school, and the sudden regimentation which takes place in his life, while his dreamy child state is forever lost, his character moulded into the same form of the adults around him. It is performed in Sundanese and English language together. If you are curious, here is the video
5: DnD performance.
So the workshops I have been running through DnD Mambourin culminated in a performance at the Footscray Community Arts Centre. It was a show casing of the masks we made a few months back with the participants doing solos and duets and a big group dance improvisation, alongside the Mambourin Choir performing and a film showing from the film group. A lovely morning indeed! No photos, but here's the group:
Well, tomorrow I am going to the Intergalactic Sweet Spot to serve Watermelon Sorbet and dance the new year in. In 2016 I wish peace for everyone, but know that only through being at peace myself can I have any impact on the world. So I am aiming to be at peace with myself, and to find the elusive balance between creating structure in my life and being free. It will be a year of learning - I am returning to do a Masters in Writing for Performance at the VCA, and will be continuing with the projects I have done this year, alongside writing a new script which is something like 'The Education System will turn your children into fucking little Bureaucrats'... working title.....