Theatre Review: Concrete Jungle

Concrete Jungle

The story is right up my street, being myself a chronic sufferer of white, middle class guilt, as well as being lucky enough to work in an industry in which the family behind me gave me greater chance of success than someone without such advantages. In others words my evening at the Whitefield Garrick was a real thinker . . .

Concrete Jungle, by Sarah O’Connell, is the story of Natalia (Katy Federman), an idealistic young journalist hoping to change the world with her documentary film, set deep within the drug underbelly of the city of Leeds.

Natalia starts her journey in London amongst the world of privileged, rich, white men whose own personal views of the world heavily dictate how news is disseminated to the public. Natalia must convince her producers, Verity and James (played brilliantly by and Portia Booroff and Shaun Hennessey), that it’s time to fund something a bit different. Eventually, they oblige, giving her a shoestring budget to get the footage. Natalia sets off, bags full of equipment, to complete the task in six short weeks. Little does Natalia know her bosses have their own agenda; they have no intention of telling the story that she intends to document.

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Theatre Review: Please Don’t Ask About Becket

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Becket (Hunter Garner) and his twin Emily (Rachel Seiferth) in Sacred Fools’ ‘Please Don’t Ask About Becket.’ (Photo by Ed Krieger)

The world premiere (eek!) of Please Don’t Ask About Becket (hum), a memory play (eek!), by celebrated playwright Wendy Graf (yay!) is on stage at the Sacred Fools Black Box theatre (yay!) with Kiff Scholl as captain director of the ship (yay!).

The thoughts in parentheses were my “before” thoughts on the situation and I’m pretty sure they hold true as my “after” thoughts. In more traditional theatre review fashion, I will attempt to explain.

First, the obligatory plot points you can find in any press release:

PDAAB is a story of a loving, but disfunctional family with every bit of power and privilege at their disposal, who could not seem to prevent the loss of one of their own. Their loss was their charismatic and gifted child, the beloved twin, Becket. Emily, the remaining twin, is haunted by the loss of her brother, and the recounting of the progression of his spiral downward is viewed through her eyes and perspective. It’s an intense play asking hard questions of the responsibility of parents in their child’s poor behavior. It raises the possibility of harm in doing too much for a child instead of allowing them to experience the consequences of their own decisions. Also, how does it all go so wrong with one child when the other appears to be fine, while being raised under the same roof?

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The Genius in Daydreaming

DaydreamingIn late 2006 I spent three incredible weeks in Québec observing the creation process of Ex Machina, the company founded by internationally acclaimed theatre actor-director Robert Lepage. The company’s work is often described as cinematic, an intended compliment, but one Lepage actually loathes.

A tradition of equipping actors with head mics, so they can speak naturally instead of projecting, plus integrated use of multi-media and techniques that offer visual perspectives and varying frame sizes without audience members actually moving from their seats, leads critics to label the work cinematic. Yet Lepage would argue that he is simply using every device possible to communicate his vision, which just happens to occur on stage.

Labeling Ex Machina’s creations cinematic is less of a compliment to Lepage than it is an indictment of the run-of-the-mill companies to which audiences have unfortunately become accustomed.

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Top Five Takeaways From Our UK Event With Casting Director Sue Needleman and Agent Paul Spyker

Last month we were thrilled to have a double act for our regular series of Q&A events: Sue Needleman, who casts for CBBC, and top UK theatrical agent Paul Spyker. We breakdown the top points from the event here for you.


1. “It has to be as good as the real deal.” (S.N.)

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If a brief calls for an American accent, then it has to be a believable American accent, not an impression, because you will be up against genuine American actors. Remember, play to your strengths and don’t apologise or come up with excuses as to why your accent is not spot on. Do you research and practice, practice, practice.

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5 Questions in 5 Minutes with the Pitbull of Comedy, Bobby Slayton

Bobby Slayton

Bobby Slayton

“Bobby Slayton is one of the few original politically incorrect comedians. He’ll pick on everyone from the Mafia to the Muslims. I wanted to punch him in the mouth a couple of times when he opened for me, but I was laughing too hard to make a fist. No one is safe from the bite of ‘The Pitbull.’” – Actor/Singer, Robert Davi

Humor is infectious. When laughter is shared it binds people together, and increases happiness and intimacy. It is no joke that a gargantuan chuckle has the ability to relieve stress and send signals to our brains sparking priceless endorphins, confirming that some good old guffaw-ing can be just what the Doctor ordered.

Comedians are often fallaciously identified by their on stage personas, and the gags they tell about their lives are believed by many to have an element of truth. However, the tears of a clown are shed in the dark and these extroverted entertainers are often the most complex and fascinating of performers.

Named one of Comedy Central Network’s “Top 100 Comedians of all Time,” with his unique candid flair, Bobby Slayton, aka “The Pitbull of Comedy,” aka “Yid Vicious,” has been mesmerizing audiences for over 30 years.

The talent of The Pitbull does not end at comedy; his distinctive gravelly voice can be heard on Family Guy and Dr. Katz, as well as popular USA radio shows including Howard Stern, Kevin & Bean, and Tom Leykis.

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Theatre Angel: 5 Top Tips On How to Win At Independent Theatre, Part III

In honour of the Edinburgh Fringe, Casting Networks Australia’s Theatre Angel brings you a three-part, jam-packed bumper special in celebration of independent theatre!

You can read Part I here: http://blog.castingnetworks.com/12181/

You can read Part II here: http://blog.castingnetworks.com/12229/

PART III:

In our final entry on the Fringe Festival, we review London independent theatre play Mumburger, by Sarah Kosar (Royal Court Young Writers) (Stephanie Koeniger Productions and Rough Hewn).


3rd imageWritten by Sarah Kosar, directed by Tommo Fowler. Designer Ruta Irbite, Composer and Sound Designer Purvi Trivedi, Lighting Designer and Projectionist Arnim Friess, Stage Manager Bella Loudon, Assistant Producer Celeste Harper-Davis, Assistant Director Dominic Cooper, Marketing Designer Richard Lakos

The Archivist’s Gallery. Cast: Hugh: Lindon Alexander, Tiffany: Rosie Wyatt

Synopsis: “Tiffany’s mum got hit by a Birdseye truck on the M25. There’s family to call and a coffin to order, but first she has to talk to her dad – and for some reason that’s the toughest thing on her to-do list. Meanwhile, on the doorstep, an oozing paper bag holds a dying wish that will either bring father and daughter together, or drive them further apart. In her visceral play about family, grief, and red meat, Sarah Kosar asks how far we’d go to reconnect with the ones we love most.”


In the intimate, theatre-in-the-round space of London Haggerston’s Archivist Gallery, the audience clusters around a small, bright, clean space in the unusually sweltering London heat. Without revealing the play’s main spoiler, it is safe to say that its subject matter is confronting, revealing, and perhaps for some, all too close for comfort. Searing into the audience, the strong, yet subtle two-hander pierces right into the heart of what is most raw, powerful, and personal—love, loss, pain, family, and morality.

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Theatre Angel: 5 Top Tips On How to Win At Independent Theatre, Part II

In honour of the Edinburgh Fringe, Casting Networks Australia’s Theatre Angel brings you a three-part, jam-packed bumper special in celebration of independent theatre!

You can read Part I here: http://blog.castingnetworks.com/12181/

PART II:

Sydney theatre director and producer Michael Dean brings us his 5 Top Tips for Australian Independent Theatre: featuring Orpheus, at Blood Moon Theatre Sydney (brought to you by Lies Lies and Propaganda and Suspicious Woman Productions)


1. Do whatever you want.

This is your opportunity to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. That project that you know will be amazing, but have no idea how to sell to the companies up the food chain, or that experiment that you don’t actually know will work, or that space, play, or person you want to take a chance on. And that person could be you. Do you think you’ll be a good director, writer, producer, whatever? Do it.

I actually think that in Sydney we are blessed with medium and large companies that are relatively risk-taking, but money still equals risk-aversion, so stop thinking of money as the limiting factor to your work. The opposite is true. Make the sort of work that you will look back at with such longing when you’re a big shot director who has to make sure that any decision won’t terrify the subscribers. Be bold, creative, and have fun. Make work that’s like nothing anyone’s every seen, or nothing like you’ve ever made before. Show everyone what you can do. My co-producer on Orpheus, Alixandra Kupcik, started Suspicious Woman Productions because she knew she’d be great in a particular role. The resulting production, 2015’s The Big Funk, was a huge success, and Alix is now a talented producer and great advocate for women in the arts. For me, Orpheus is about pushing my work further into uncharted territory – building on my previous experiments in movement, devised work, cultural and personal stories, and a whole bunch of other things. It’s terrifying. I don’t know if it’s all going to work, or if anyone’s going to come and see it. But when I think about some of the stuff we’ve created I start grinning like an idiot, so I feel like we’re onto something and we might be rewarded again for our risk.

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Theatre Angel: 5 Top Tips On How to Win At Independent Theatre, Part I

In honour of the Edinburgh Fringe, Casting Networks Australia’s Theatre Angel brings you a three-part, jam-packed bumper special in celebration of independent theatre!

PART I:

A brief history of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Plus, UK comedy-writer and actress Beth Granville shares her 5 Top Tips to Win and at the Edinburgh Fringe: featuring Foiled at the Edinburgh Fringe (Duckspeak)


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Actor promoting at Edinburgh Fringe


“Have a great product you are at the very least passionate about and at the most, would die for … If you don’t care this much about it, then no one else is going to.” – Beth Granville

In 1947, a group of theatre companies who hadn’t been invited to appear in the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival decided to . . . well, show up and perform anyway.  The Edinburgh Festival Fringe was born!

Since that time, the Fringe, a celebration of diverse theatre and performance, has grown to become the world’s largest arts festival, and inspired multiple other similar festivals worldwide, among them the Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney Fringe Festivals. Running from the 5th to the 29th of August in the Scottish capital, the Fringe is colourful mix of over 30,000 international acts, combining comedy celebrities and theatre royalty with start-up performance companies, street performers, and millions of theatre punters from across the globe. It is, in short, an explosive, dynamic, spectacular, and at times manic carnival of theatrical highs, lows, and above all— opportunities.

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John O’Hare Studios: ‘Twere, the Mirror Up to Nature

Hello again,

Welcome back to the John O’Hare Studios blog.

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel. Director: John O'Hare.

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel. Director: John O’Hare.

During Hamlet’s well known conversation with the actors, he directs them not to go beyond the simple truth of nature.


“…with this special observance that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is from the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” – Act 3, Sc2 of ‘Hamlet’


The important thing to remember here is that you “the actor” are the mirror of nature!

Your job is to reflect the image of your character’s humanity to an audience, either onstage or film. The reflected images an audience sees are the expressions of your inner self, your soul and your inner feelings. Meaning and truth for an audience are your characters’ moment-to-moment reactions to specific circumstances on film or stage. The audience sees your outward behaviours as reflected by your response to the characters inner life.

So how does the actor become as “’twere the mirror of nature?”

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#BreatheMoveReact: Keeping it Core

 

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Hey guys!

As actors, the ability to transform is paramount. To create and live within all the unique physical and vocal traits we as human beings possess, allows for the creation of a truthful character. This skill comes from a neutral place of being for the actor. We must start with a clean board and then paint upon it the strokes of the character. At the heart of neutral is our core. Our core is made up of several different muscles which all work to stabilize us. If we have a strong core, with an awareness of posture and efficient movement, we can add in the tidbit’s that comes from living and experience. The slight hunch, the limp, the over exuberant walk, the bits that humanize and flesh out a role.

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