07 December 2013

What Melbourne loved in 2013, part 7

Today's favourites are from playwright and play maker, Rob Reid, director Daniel Lammin and director Shannon Woollard.

And remember that contributions are welcome from all SM readers.

Robert Reid
playwright, director, play maker; artistic director, Pop Up Playground

Photo by Sarah Walker
ROB: Kids Killing Kids. Totally awesome show, amazing energy, incredibly entertaining for a work that was fundamentally a power point presentation, lecture and a dance number.  But how do you pass up a show that was condemned on the floor of the UN.

SM: I'm not sure when Rob has time to breathe. He's just finished a week where he was directing a play reading (Yours the Face by Fleur Kilpatrick for the VCA's Master of Writing for Performance), had a new work premiering at 5Pounds of Repertory (Because of Reasons), a recent work (The Well) re-mounted at La Mama, and was playing his guts out at This is Door 13 at Theatre Works. I managed three out of the four, but I saw the first season of The Well. He's created and co-created more shows and events in 2013 than a lot of people have seen in 2013.

But my favourite moment was a tweet saying that he'd created a Valkyrie game for me. I consider this my achievement of the year.

And see what Rob's looking forward to in 2014 at issimo.com

Daniel Lammin
director, writer

DANIEL: There have been a few highlights for me this year, some expected and some a complete surprise. But the biggest highlight?

A few honourable mentions would be Matt Lutton’s double-punch with Dance of Death and The Bloody Chamber, both which left me giddy with joy.

Daniel Schlusser also hit it out of the ballpark with Menagerie and M+M.

I was prepared to despise Simon Stone’s The Cherry Orchard, but absolutely adored it.

Bagabus delivered the gorgeous Bushpig, a beautiful little fable with cracking writing and a tremendous performance.

And then there was the sublime impossibility of Einstein on the Beach, which might be one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in a theatre and probably ever will.

But if I have to pick the highlight, it's MKA’s Kids Killing Kids. Not long into it, I began to feel sick to my stomach in the best possible way. There had always been, in the back of my mind, this worry that we artists don’t really think about the consequences of what we do, and often get away with so much because it is ‘art’.

What David Finnigan, Sam Burns-Warr, Georgie McAuley and Jordon Prosser dared to share with us was an extreme experience of where that danger is magnified to unexpected proportions, but all four had the maturity to leave it to us to decide whether they did the right or wrong thing. No work I’ve seen has made me question my intentions and ethics as a theatre maker as much as this show.

I left it shaking, dizzy, crying and distressed; terrified to dare walk into a rehearsal room again, and questioning every decision I’d ever made as a writer and a director.

And I was so incredibly thankful for that.

Part of me worries that a lot of those questions were lost on a lot of people hypnotised by how ‘cool’ the show was or how exhilarating their production of Batallia Royale sounded, but I think the questions it poses and the discussion it has instigated made it exactly the kind of show we needed to see, for our practice and our conscience.

There was something deeply unsettling behind the eyes of these four young artists, a need to tell this story in order to understand it better for themselves. It might not have been technically impressive with opulent set design and ridiculous costumes, but Kids Killing Kids is probably the most important piece of theatre of this past year.

And then there was the Febreze bottle in Summertime in the Garden of Eden. Give that thing a Green Room Award.

And see what Daniel is most looking forward to in 2014 at issimomag.com.

SM: Maybe we could redesign the actual Green Room Award to be a Febreze bottle? 

My moment of Daniel's this year is his Columbine: every moment of it, from the early Facebook updates to being there and knowing that every seat was sold. As it was being created, I wondered why he was telling a story that's distanced from his own. He showed me why.

Shannon Woollard

SHANNON: After all the slog, tears and triumphs associated with production of Jazz Angel, it was – unequivocally – Steve Gome's mesmerising turn in Dario Fo's Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas at Trades Hall in October.  Seeing this done properly (a labour of love for Gome and director Wayne Pearn) was very moving for me.  

One of the first "adult" plays I was permitted to see was Cant Pay? Won't Pay! in London at the age of 13. That crazy genius Fo entered my psyche and could not be removed thenceforward. Seeing Johan Padan was worth enduring those tedious, frustrating and disappointing theatrical experiences. Having a lone actor take me on a two-hour expedition into this incredibly humanistic work reminded me that history is about perspectives and that theatre, or more accurately, storytelling, is actually a form of nourishment. I also felt deeply sympathetic and incredibly pissed off when I found out about the poor attendance figures in the first part of their run.  The show deserved to be sold out.

Shannon's annual PlaySix festival opens on 12 December. Details here

SM: Jazz Angel was in in the upstairs theatre at The Athenaeum. It was like being in the 1920s. This is a space that should be used more.

(OK, my real favourite moment was when I was feeding a cat called Artie while his parents were on holidays. Not having seen Artie for a couple of days, I was panicking. Then on day three of the disappearance, I saw him. He glared at me and ran off, but I knew I hadn't lost him.)

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