13 December 2013

What Melbourne loved in 2013, part 12

Today Hannah Norris and Scott Gooding make me want to go to Edinburgh and know that I have to see Adrienne Truscott's pussy, while Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton remind us that Today Tonight can result in awesome stories because neighbours will always peer through curtains.

Hannah Norris

HANNAH: I saw my first Punchdrunk work this year. In London. The Drowned Man.

Before the show, all I knew was the company's reputation – mainly from people who'd seen Punchdrunk's famous Sleep No More in New York (which Sarah Collins and Mike Finch have talked about). For three hours, wearing a mask, in the company of several hundred but anonymous and alone after deliberately splitting from my friends (as you are encouraged to do), I explored the incredibly detailed rooms and world of the multi-storey building. Discovering performers in private and public moments, chasing stories and answers, feeling exhilarated and scared and exposed and awestruck by the work as a whole, and all the individual parts that made up my own experience of it. Braving the darkness and the maze of rooms independently, each audience experience is unique – and makes for thrilling post-show debriefs.

It was extraordinary. Not only one of the best shows I've ever seen, but one of the best things I've ever done in my life!

In Melbourne, The Rabble's Story of O was a stand-out for me. I greatly respect and admire Kate and Emma's long-term commitment to their vision, aesthetic and the kind of work they want to create. It was beautiful, painful, confronting, polished and yet raw. And I will never forget Gary Abrahams shoving that ice-cream up my pregnant bestie Dana Miltins's short, tight gold dress. Amazing.

I also loved Dayne Rathbone's It's Me Dayne at the comedy festival.  Very terrible, awful, awkward, hilarious, wrong and daring comedy.

At the Edinburgh Fringe, Mercy Killers was a devastating solo show by New York actor/writer Michael Milligan about the state of health care in the USA. His storytelling left me speechless and sobbing – my most favourite way to leave a theatre as an audience member. And this kind of political work is so important.

And finally, some things I've seen that might be coming to Melbourne in 2014 and are not to be missed.

The Worst of Scottee. Vulnerable and intimate with shameful secrets. Scotee is hilarious, super talented and very brave.

Credible Likeable Superstar Rolemodel. With her 9-year-old niece Taylor as inspiration, subject and co-star, Bryony Kimmings investigates the images, ideas, norms and systems confronting Taylor as she grows up today. A striking, loveable, theatrical questioning of how to make the world a better place, particularly for young women.

Adrienne Truscott's Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! In her first shot at stand-up, Adrienne (one half of the Wau Wau Sisters) won the Edinburgh Comedy Panel Prize for this very smart, funny, disarming, timely, semi-nude reaction to the recent debate about rape jokes in comedy.

SM: Hannah's performance in Palace of the End was remarkable. She played a women whom I hated for her actions, beliefs and choices; Hannah left me understanding her and wondering if I may have done the same if I were in that world.

Scott Gooding
actor, director

SCOTT: So, another year of fantastic theatre in Melbourne and abroad. Chance, planning and luck dragged me away from Melbourne for a lot of the year, so there were a number of things that I missed. 

My favourite thing was seeing some of the great independent theatre companies – The Rabble, Daniel Schlusser Ensemble, Sisters Grimm – get wider recognition within the artform, the larger community and the general public. And while I missed the Story of O and The Sovereign Wife,  I did see MenagerieRoom Of Regret and Summertime in The Garden of Eden and was delighted and engaged.

In Edinburgh, there was Adrienne Truscott's Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! A joyous, comical discussion summed up my thoughts in a much more concise and funnier way than I ever could on this current topic of comedians (mainly male) and the rape joke.

SM: Scott hasn't been on a stage for a while, so it was super cool to see him in Uncle Vanya, that's on at La Mama until 22 December. But my favourite moment happened at a picnic when a friend told me about being involved in a RAG Theatre workshop and how good he thought the director was. He didn't know the name of the director, but I know who it is.

Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton
Human Animal Exchange
writers, performers

Photo by Luke Lennox

SARAH AND JUSTINE: Our favourite theatrical moment of 2013 was when Justine’s neighbours turned up amidst a writing session to tell us they had just spotted Justine’s boyfriend on the news being arrested as drug lord.

Having spied him through the window on various occasions, they were adamant it was him. We were forced to turn on the news as the neighbours and their three children squeezed onto the couch admonishing Justine’s boyfriend (for being a drug lord).

Needless to say the Today Tonight extravaganza revealed that it was not Justine’s boyfriend, nor anyone known to us or the neighbours. Everyone was relieved that the man in question was not a drug lord, though Justine seemed strangely less euphoric. The best moment was observing how quickly the neighbours backed out the door saying they could have “sworn it was him!”, having spied him through the lace curtains, a good fifty yards away.

Second to that, came Little Ones Theatre's Psycho Beach Party by and Back to Back’s Super Discount.  We really loved those.

SM: Thyacines (Tasmanian tigers) are one of the first animals that formed my views about how we, as humans, treat animals. Thylacines and Blue Whales. I used to imagine that someone would find a pack of thylacines (is it a pack?) deep in a Tasmanian forest and that there'd be thylacine puppies to play with. The extinction of that animal still breaks my heart. 

Their Melbourne Fringe show was They saw a thylacine; it brought me as close to seeing a thylacine as is possible. I wanted to pat the skulls.

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