19 December 2012

What Melbourne loved in 2012, part 10

Glyn Roberts, Tobias Manderson-Galvin and Yvonne Virsik are the last three to the post. (Maybe.)

Thirty of  Melbourne's writers, actors, directors, creators have shared their favourite moments, shows and memories for 2012 and it's been a hoot.

Thank you to everyone who contributed. This series has been the most-read of all posts this year, so let's do it again next year.

It's clear that our commercial and subsidised theatres aren't creating the art that our theatre community remembers. MTC got votes with The Golden Dragon and On the production of monsters and Malthouse with Pompeii L.A., but these shows were mostly created by artists who have been working in our independent theatres for years. Perhaps it's time to see more of these artists on our subsidised stages?

Pompeii L.A., Summertime in the garden of Eden, The unspoken word is 'Joe' were often mentioned favourite shows and all have one thing in common: Declan Greene (writer, writer/director/lighting designer/stage manager, director). So Declan wins – another – brand new award as the Most favourite of Melbourne's favourites for 2012. (I'm also in the process of writing something about our Dec.)

Now all that's left is for me to write up my favourites (which I decided on before this started) and have a couple of weeks off.

Glyn Roberts
MKA creative director

Photo by Sarah Walker

GLYN: I really liked the Dewey Dell show at Arts House. It was a form of dance/performance art/theatre that I want to see more of in town. I think The Golden Dragon at the MTC had a loneliness and sadness to that is rarely seen here, particularly in ensemble pieces. I loved it.

Over with us (MKA), the best moments were usually audience based.

Jamming 100-plus people into the restaurant/kiln at the Malthouse at 11 pm for our National Play Festival readings.

Sneaking into a hot and heaving and pink theatre to watch the final acts of sex.violence.blood.gore, then doing it all again in Sydney.

Hearing the gasps when Janine tore up the floor in Triangle and again as she disappeared into the distance.

When the earthquake happened during Tuesday and the entire audience (60 people) just collectively assumed that it was Toby and me shaking the set/entire room as a prank.

Also The Unspoken Word is 'Joe' was pretty cool in general.

SM: MKA have collectively shaken up Melbourne's theatre scene and reminded a lot of us why we keep going to theatre, so pretty much every moment with them is memorable, but my favourite moment with Glyn was at a show at the warehouse. I bought a drink from him and realised that I hadn't bothered to bring money with me. He gave me the drink.

Tobias Manderson-Galvin
MKA creative director

Another photo by Sarah Walker

TOBIAS: According to a document I've been keeping, I've seen about 300 live performances this year. That said, I count going to the Rugby League and seeing live music in there but it's about 200 for capital P performance and capital T theatre combined.

With that in mind, what I loved was:

Tom Green Live: ostensibly comedy but anyway he's more than that and I loved seeing him.

Justin Shoulder, The River Eats Itself was spectacular. (Next Wave)

The Lana Del Rey live concert. A stage covered in ferns, a string quarter, a grand piano, but it was the ritual of it all and Del Rey's impeccable character work that made this one of the theatre moments of 2012 that I loved. And that she performed without any percussion contributed to this being one of the most intimate experiences I had this year.

Nicola Gunn's Hello my name is was the only of its kind that Melbourne had to offer this year. And it was a pleasure.

When Amaya Vecellio and I apparently got too boisterous at Impasse (a fantastic interactive memory foam maze/world) at Arts House, one of the artists accosted me afterwards. Despite the bullying, it was the playground within that I loved.

When Hayley Bracken and I turned up one minute late for Schaubuhne's Enemy of the People, we had to sit in the 'viewing room' for 16.5 minutes, so we started reading the subtitles out loud. The show was great but that's was what I'll remember. Someone should put this in a show on purpose.

Stephen Sondheim in conversation. Rare opportunity to see a master. Insightful.

SM: 300 live performances. Three-fucking-hundred! Even if only 200 are theatre, that's still a number that few get near. (I see about 100 theatre shows each year.)

Tobias writes, directs and creates exceptional theatre;  he's the co-founder of MKA, the company with the reviews where writers try to out wordgasm each other; and he freaked out Brynne by wearing a hat.

See the correlation? When new playwrights ask me for feedback, the best thing I can say is, "See more theatre". If you want to make great theatre, you have to see a lot of theatre. It's like if you want to write, you have to read – a lot.

If you've never created theatre but want to, I promise that if you see 200 shows next year, you'll be making better theatre by 2014 than a lot of people who have been around for ages but see 20 shows a year.

Favourite moment with Tobias? Every MKA show and Judging Short and Sweet when he didn't get why he didn't hate a play with very dull content. (It was because its structure was textbook and it hit every story mark.)

Yvonne Virsik
director, MUST artistic director

In the middle of 2012, I was lucky enough to spend three months overseas. I saw some extraordinary theatre while I was away and clearly missed some back here.

Two verbatim pieces had a strong effect on me and made me determined to investigate the ‘genre’ in my own work.  At Edinburgh Festival, Fringe, I saw Look Left Look Right’s Nola, which dealt with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill – subject matter I didn’t think I’d be interested in – but it was well-executed and complex, leaving loads to ponder.

Hate Radio in the Berlin Theatertreffen festival was a punch in the gut – maybe more of a pummel. It portrayed the vicious anti-Tutsi propaganda proliferated by the popular Rwandan radio station RTLM, which fuelled the violence during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Can you even imagine a radio show call-in topic: ‘Tell us where the Tutsis and their sympathisers are hiding so we can broadcast it and the Hutus can get them’? The fact that it was theatre that brought me this part of the Rwanda story reignited my belief in what it can do.

There were a few very memorable moments in Berlin with audiences. On one occasion, in a theatre rather like The Playhouse, several audience members yelled "speak up" and "louder" to the actors onstage and we often saw people walking obviously along the edge of stages to go to the bathroom and then back again!

Caroline Horton's Mess (Edinburgh) again dealt with a seemingly theatrically unfriendly subject – anorexia – but was written and staged with incredible charm, humour and inventiveness.  I’ve become a huge fan.

SM: Yvonne, have I really not seen anything you've directed this year? Oh yeah, you spent three months in Europe. No wait, Girls Do Gertrude. Pyjamas, mystery and a cast who loved every moment and ensured that the audience had as much fun as they did. Sometimes Stein wrote for the sake of showing off, but you found the absolute fun, the delicacy and the story in Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters.

part 1
part 2

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