22 December 2018

What Melbourne Loved in 2018, part 10

Three amazing women today who all work (mostly) in independent theatre.

Emilie Collyer
Playwright, dramaturg and curious human


Emilie Collyer. Photo by Ross Daniels

Favourite moments in 2018
My favourite moment was watching Sheree Stewart's show Pilepileta at Theatre Works as part of Melbourne Fringe. A gut punching and also uplifting piece that was everything Fringe is about for me. New voices. New words. New ways of telling stories.

Other moments that have stayed with me are: Kai Bradley's incredible monologue about violence in Rachel Perks and Bridget Balodis's (double water sign) Moral Panic, Peta Murray's intimate and affecting work vigil/wake at Arts House, the power and devastation of Bighouse Dreaming by Declan Furber Gillick (directed by Mark Wilson), and Janelle Da Silva's unclassifiable and ground breaking show Frankghanistan at the Melbourne comedy festival.

Looking forward to in 2019
The real gems will pop during the year of course. But of things I know about, I am excited to see Queer Lady Magician by Creatrix Tiara. I missed it at Fringe so am thrilled it's having another life at Midsumma. Also looking forward to The Butch Monologues at Theatre Works for Midsumma, Jenny Kemp directing Caryl Churchill's Escaped Alone at Red Stitch and the collaboration between Alison Croggon and The RabbleMy Dearworthy Darling, at Malthouse.

SM: Emilie's play Contest really needs a second season, but what I love this year about Emilie is that she sees lots of shows. She knows so much about indie theatre in Melbourne because she's out there seeing it and supporting it.


Alia Vryens
One half of comedy duo PickUp


Alia Vyrens. Photo by Jamie Breen, Very Serious Photography

Favourite moments in 2018
Jude Perl's I Have a Face really got me in the guts. The show was light and incredibly skilled. Jude's composition is so unusual and delightful... but really it all boiled down to the last song, which really hit me when she sang about being in a group of your friends and still feeling alone.

I don't often cry in theatre, let alone comedy cabaret, but Telia Nevile's Untitled No. 7 was the show I saw right after Jude's, on the same night. It was a fairy tale about the dangers of being cursed with a knowledge that you are special and deserve to be gifted the golden key to success. This also suckered me in the guts... so many of us independent artists are striving, pushing, working, running, climbing to reach this level of 'success' that I'm not sure everyone really understands. Both of these shows, back to back, made me reassess myself a little, and made me desperate for a wine.

 ZoĆ« Coombs Marr's Bossy Bottom. As an aspiring comedian, I'm in awe of what Zoe did with this show. It was clever and funny and crafty and stupid and intelligent and personal and witty and genius. It was everything that I hope to one day make.

Looking forward to in 2019
My favourite types of performance are when genres are smashed together, when comedy is staged and crafted as intelligently as "real" theatre, and moves and impacts you just as much as something serious. I love it when music can play an integral part of the storytelling, and when the laughs make you think about something new. So, I'm mostly looking forward to the fringe stuff in 2019. I don't get excited by a lot of big shows (honestly, I can't afford to see any of it...),  I'm excited by the independent artists working in festivals or doing it on their own, smashing ideas around and making beautiful things inside incredibly limited budgets.

 But if I have to answer in one sentence? I have to be self-serving and say PickUp's, new show –Nerds are Sexy (for MICF at The Butterfly Club) – and the evolution of our long-running music variety night Funny Music Mondays.

SM: This week's Christmas Funny Music Monday was the just fabulous – seeing Sammy J and Randy back at the B Club was special – and my birthday was on a Monday this year. Being a significant age, there was an assumption that I'd do something and I was never going to get to it. So, a free show with awesomely funny people at a club that serves great cocktails was perfect! Funny Music Mondays is back next year.

Jean Tong
Writer, dramaturg

Jean Tong

Favourite moments in 2018
The Fall at Arts Centre Melbourne. Brilliant, heart-wrenching, relevant. It comes with my favourite Q&A moment that saw the audience being told that white people should hang tight and give POC space to ask their questions first... followed by three white ladies taking up the full Q&A time with zero hesitation. SPACE. Who gets to take it up?

Highlights: seeing Prize Fighter multiple times while audio describing the show; getting drunk and watching the baby onstage disrupt/become the performance in Baby Cake; watching an audience full of Potter fans absolutely losing it for Puffs silliest/funniest gags.

Looking forward to in 2019
Watching Anchuli Felicia King take over Melbourne and Sydney theatre, and inevitably the rest of Australia, too.

Truly Madly Britney by Stage Moms; Mama Alto and Maude Davey's Gender EuphoriaThird Nature by Raina Peterson and Govind Pillai; Beast by Krishna Istha – Midsumma 2019 delivering the goods.

Hopefully seeing the sector take responsibility for its abusive power structures. Not just the big names getting (finally) outed, but the directors who condoned that behaviour, the ADs who prioritise box office over the safety of their employees, a hierarchy which disempowers people from being honest out of fear of reprisal, etc.

SM: Watching Jean develop as one of our most exciting new playwrights has been a highlight for me this year. I saw Romeo is not the only fruit, Hungry Ghosts and After Hero (co-writer). An indie, a main stage and a university show. Each one exploring stories and that are missing from our stages.

But listen to what she says about making space for voices. And do it. Making space means that sometimes some of us have to shut up, even if it's about something we want to scream about. Often,  best way to support is to stand aside and let other people speak.

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