01 December 2013

What Melbourne loved in 2013, part 1

Last year, I asked a few SM friends what their favourite moment in theatre was for the year. The responses were wonderful and remain some of the most popular posts; so, of course we're doing it again.

This series isn't about what the critics or the award committees think, it's not about what had full houses or made money; it's about those shows, people and moments that make us love theatre. It's about those moments when we feel something real and can't imagine being anywhere else.

If you want to be involved, email me at sometimesmelbourne at hotmail dot com.

There's also a version running in December in Issimo magazine. (I'll link when they're up.)

I'm starting with Stephen Nicolazzo. In 2012 he said that his theatre experiences "have changed me and allowed me to find a platform to express myself without censorship or fear".  Without censorship or fear! And that's what he – and so many other artists and creators – have done this year, and they are the ones we will see over the next month.

And there's Angus Cereni and Alex da La Rambelje.

Stephen Nicolazzo

STEPHEN: There were many moments in theatre this year that have stayed with me and inspired me so much.

The Rabble’s Story of O, in particular, stood out as a fearless, entertaining and bold expression of sexual politics that was both incredibly humorous and tragic at the same time. Though it sparked controversy and debate, I think the key reason this work resonated with me was its assured aesthetic and deconstruction of gender; one that was engaged with both its ideas and its audience. It felt connected. On an intellectual and visceral level, it was a deeply satisfying and invigorating theatrical experience that I don’t think anyone, whether they loved it or hated it could deny.

This is what theatre is inevitably all about.

Also, of course, my love and respect for Sisters Grimm’s numerous works this year still stands with The Sovereign Wife, Little Mercy (at STC) and the re-imagining of Summertime in the Garden of Eden. What was so inspiring with their work this year was its ambition in scale, style and design – taking the essence of their ethos to a new level of visual and theatrical possibility. Very exciting indeed.

Another work that I feel was so very beautiful was Matt Lutton and Van Badham’s version of The Bloody Chamber at Malthouse. It was lavish and stark at the same time, beautifully directed and performed, and the music by David Chisholm made me wet for classical in a way I never thought possible!

Also loved, loved, loved I’m Trying to Kiss You’s remount of I Know There’s a lot of noise outside… at La Mama as it contained a performance that totally blew my mind by Anna McCarthy. I was crying with laughter and then crying from the tragedy of it all, all guided by that siren’s voice. 

This was also a big year in my own career. The success of Psycho Beach Party from Sydney to Melbourne and to the Brisbane Festival left me full of delight and gratitude. This was a work I never thought would touch anybody, and to see its effect on so many audiences over the course of 2013 has been so rewarding and exciting.

It, and my work with Malthouse on Salome, a production that I am deeply proud of like nothing else I have ever worked on, has solidified a key group of artists whom I simply could not create theatre without.

I would like to take the opportunity here to say thank you to all of the people I have had the pleasure of working with this year, as at the end of the day, those relationships and the work we have brought to the stage are my most memorable moments of 2013.  It seems that 2013 was another year of fearless theatre-making from the independent and main stage, and that is a friggen triumph indeed.

What Stephen is looking forward to in 2014 at issimomag.com.

SM: What I love most about Stephen's work is that he show us what it's like to be Stephen Nicolazzo. It's like tripping around his mind and soul and seeing the world as he wants it to be. It sometimes frightens me that that world is a bit too much like my mid-80s teen brain, but I turned out OK.

As a director, he also creates a sense of purpose and love on the stage. It's so clear that all of his performers and designers love being in these worlds as much as he loves creating them. And he celebrates and supports a notion of queer that's embracing and welcoming; one that doesn't exclude because you don't quite fit in with those who think they don't fit in. He lets us find what makes every one of us queer and opens the door to the party with no questions asked.

Angus Cerini
Actor, playwright

Photo from Melbourne Writers Festival
ANGUS: That's easy! It was the completely mixed up MTC foyer during the NEON season.  To see that building buzzing and alive with all sorts was about time.  Long may it continue!!!

SM: Angus's writing gives me shivers – both good and terrifying. We didn't get a new work from him this year, but I'm one of the many who are very excited that he's in NEON for 2014!

As for a favourite moment. All I can say is that it involved a discussion about why he prefers to see genitals hidden by underwear.

Alex da la Rambelje

Alex (C) with Luke and Vyrom from A Modern Deception

ALEX: My favourite theatre moment started with a performance workshop run by Derek Scott, who plays the lead clown in Slava's Snow Show. He showed me the power of breaking rhythms and having lucid thoughts on stage; it has changed each and every show I've done since.

I saw him on stage in Slava's Snow Show this year, after having seen him in the show ten years ago. Watching him with the new knowledge of how he works was one of those rare experiences of constant realisation and clarity of thought.

SM: I'll never get tired of having no idea how Alex does things with cards. It bloody must be magic.

I had great fun taking a four-year-old to see Alex and Luke in How to Make Your Parents Disappear, but my favourite moment has to be Sh!t Tecoma People Say (and how good is Penelope the cat).

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
2012 part 1, with links to the rest