13 December 2016

What Melbourne Loved in 2016, part 9

Today we here from three amazing kick-arse women and actors: Andi Snelling, Mary Helen Sassman and Genevieve Giuffre.

And we're reminded that La Mama turns 50 next year. Here's to spending a lot of time in Carlton next year.

Andi Snelling
actor

Andi Snelling. Photo by Sarah Walker

AS's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: I'm the sort of person who uses the word "love" a lot. And I do mean it when I say it. I love colour co-ordination. I love satire. I love cry-laughing. And I really, really, really super love theatre. This year, I recall saying the word "love: in relation to something I’d seen on a stage in these ways:

Am I Right Ladies? (Luisa Omielan, MICF): I loved the dance party atmosphere Luisa created as you entered and exited her show. It made me feel like everyone in the audience had suddenly come together to be in the same feminist, fist-pumping gang. Like we instantly got every other stranger in the room. It was that simple and powerful.

Nelken (Tanztheater Wuppertal, Adelaide Festival*): I loved this show and the way I ended up there. Sometimes with theatre, you don’t go to it, it comes to you. I randomly wound up with a ticket to this show via a fortuitous conversation with someone I bumped into at the Adelaide Fringe Artists Bar. You know, one of those a-performer-I-met-once-at-a workshop type connections? He had accidentally gone on the wrong night to the show, but the ushers, for whatever reason**, hadn’t noticed his tickets were for the following night and they let him in and he somehow got seats. So on the real night that the tickets were valid for, I ended up going! I had second row seats so could literally smell the Nelken (carnations) – actually, they were fake, but I could definitely smell them, that’s how excited I was to be there. Apart from the show's historical significance, I feel like this was the first time I saw Tanztheater done the way it's meant to be done. I've always felt actors lack physical expertise and dancers lack acting expertise, so seeing these two elements beautifully melded together hit my heart hard. This experience was one that goes well beyond the minutes and seconds of the show itself.

* I know it’s not a Melbourne theatre moment, but I’m a sometimes rule-breaker and this was my favourite show of the year. (SM: Breaking rules is a rule here.)

** I like to think they subliminally knew that Andi Snelling chick just has to see this.

Purge (Brian Lobel, MICF): I loved the way something of significance in my life changed because of this show. Purge was totally out-of-the-box: part–game show, part–love story and part-lecture, which got my cry-laughing juices going (which you already know is a thing I love). It was a highly interactive theatrical experience in which Brian shared his story about how he had kept or deleted 1300 of his Facebook friends, based on strangers' decisions. During the show itself, I ended up on stage re-friend requesting an old friend who I had unfriended the year before after a bitter falling out. This personal moment for me became a personal moment for everyone in the audience that day. And I wasn't the only one who got up. I realised how extraordinary it was that a kooky comedy show had got me reflecting so soberly on my connection to the humans in my world.

What AS is looking forward to in 2017: Somehow managing to score a free ticket to The Book of Mormon!

SM: I love anyone who uses the word love even more than I do. Andi's Deja Vu at Melbourne Fringe was dance theatre at its best. It was emotionally dark and at times very weird; for most of it, I had no idea what it was about or what was going on – and that was the point. I loved being able to sit and watch a performer without having to assign any meaning that wasn't my own. It was like crawling around in emotion and not being able to tell which were hers and which were mine.

andisnelling.com

Mary Helen Sassman
actor

Mary Helen Sassman. Photo by Brett Boardman

MHS's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: I guess I can't name watching my four-year-old make his ballet debut in an excerpt from The Nutcracker as my faourite moment in a theatre in 2016?  It's not what you think, it's just that I got to watch his face in the theatre after his item had ended as he fell deeply in love for the very first time. Awwwwww.

I have two legitimate favourite moments to share:  One was to witness the harrowing transformation of Jane Montgomery Griffiths as a woman dying in Wit. She killed it. She crushed me. She is remarkable.

The other was Jess Thoms in Backstage in Biscuitland. I howled with laughter and crumbled with shame while she performed with vulnerability, with sheer resilience and at every step with consumate story telling skill.  This was the piece I raved about in the school yard.

What MHS is looking forward to in 2017: La Mama turns 50!!! What does this mean? Well, a party of course. But also a book on the history of my favourite theatre (oh the stories, oh the pics!) And then a season curated by Liz Jones where she has invited loads of excellent people who have worked here to present a work for a few nights.  The rest of this town might as well shut down for a time – it's going to be jam packed and so much fun!

Oh, Joan (The Rabble) at Theatre Works will surely be AMAZING (I'm not in it so I'm allowed to say that). In fact, I'd take out a subscription to the entire 2017 Theatreworks program if I could.

And my now five-year-old wants to sign up for jazz and acro next year and that might just trump 'em all.

SM: Mary Helen acts from a place so deep inside her that it feels like we're watching something secret. As for a moment: steak and glitter in Cain and Abel.

Genevieve Giuffre
actor

Genevieve Giuffre

GG's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: I loved Hissy fits menacing work I might blow up someday for FOLA. After a long winter of some pretty boring theatre in London, it was so nice to be beaten and tackled to the ground by a giant head banging Bratz doll (main man Nat Randall).

I can still see Mark Wilson's body contorting in front of a black curtain in Anti-Hamlet (what a great show!) The "SORRY" on fire in Blaque Showgirls after the sorry not sorry dance. Ben Grant's yogo and wigs nightmare in The Rug, and how Zoe Coombs Marr's Trigger Warning emerged  like a phoenix out of a desolate tip of a year for independent funding and support.

What GG is looking forward to in 2017:  The next generation taking over... but in the meantime, The Homosexuals or Faggots, Joan, Merciless Gods, The Book of Exodus 1 & 11 and of course the return season of Playing to Win.

SM: This is easy: every moment Genevieve was on stage in Lilith, the Jungle Girl. She captures the soul of broken people and makes their pain so hilarious that it hurts to keep watching because you're trying to laugh and cry at the same time.

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