17 December 2018

What Melbourne Loved in 2018, part 6

Today, we remember that our theatre community is far more than just the people on stage.

Sarah Walker

Sarah Walker. Photo by Jordon Prosser

Favourite moments in 2018
I photographed three productions by Western Edge Youth Arts this year, and they all totally blew me away. Casts of young people, aged between 12 and 25, almost all from migrant communities, tackled Antigone and Romeo and Juliet with such power, passion, humour and wickedness. I was floored.

There were so many moments just in those three performances: Young Samoan performers stepping in and out of character with whiplash speed to comment on their own experiences of tradition, honour and ceremony. Somali girls agonising over exactly what it felt like to be turned into an object, when unpacking the Montague/Capulet conflict in Romeo and Juliet. Polynices reframed as a young black man enraged by the system and reclaiming power the only way he knew how. A young man playing Creon, soliciting press questions from the audience and answering them more deftly than any real politician I’ve seen.

They were the most exciting, innovative and thrilling performances I saw all year, and they reminded me what theatre can and should be. Huge props to the staff and directors there who are giving so much of themselves to make space for new voices. Terrific stuff.

Looking forward to in 2019
I’ve been working with Fleur Kilpatrick for 10 years, and to be in the room with her and a collection of incredible, intelligent women for the development of Whale has been just so exciting. I can’t wait to be part of giving that show a life next year. I think it’s going to be a real good one.

SM: Sarah and I talked about ghosts for a project she was making; I loved that.

Robert Reid

Robert Reid. An old publicity shot

Favourite moments in 2018
Contest, by Emilie Collyer. Incredible text staged by a fiercely intelligent team. My review at Witness Performance.

Prize Fighter by Future D Fidel, Powerful story, powerful writing, powerful performance, great theatre. See My review at Witness Performance.

Pre-Historic, Elbow Room, great story, great writer, great performances, plucky and spunky and smart and fun. My review at Witness Performance.

My Sister Feather by Olivia Satchel, most human show i saw all year, two performers at their best with two great characters by a great writer. My review at Witness Performance.

The Infirmary, Triage Live Art Collective, dark, light, deep, affecting. My review at Witness Performance.

Calamity Jane. One Eyed Man. Pure joy. My review at Witness Performance.

Looking forward to in 2019
Looking forward to? Dunno. The Cloud Street remount at Malthouse ... my production of The Bacchae at the Courthouse ... big shows I guess ... epic five hour long shows.

SM: I was sitting next to Rob during a Melbourne Festival show. He'd lost his voice and was communicating by writing messages on his phone. At the end of the show, I asked him to tell me his thoughts in an emoji. He nailed it. He still wrote a long and complete review, but that emoji was still perfect.

Carla Donnelly
Critic, podcaster
Across the Aisle

Carla Donnelly

Favourite moments in 2018
2018 saw so many incredible works. My stand outs include Blackie Blackie Brown  – which is essentially the play I never knew I always wanted and could have. Blackie Blackie Brown was an outstanding feat of stage craft; so many things I have never seen on the stage coming together in one riot of unapologetic blackness, super hera-ness and feminism (and death).
The BBB episode.

Sandy Greenwood's performance in Matriarch is one I couldn't stop thinking about for days. In a inter-generational story about exploring cultural identity and trauma, she truly channelled the four women in her family and brought them all into the room with her. Her performance was absolutely mesmerising.

Bighouse Dreaming (Melbourne Fringe killed it this year) was another that stayed on my mind for a long time. An extremely well written and directed play clearly articulating the dehumanisation of Indigenous people in all facets of this colonial world – especially when coming into touch with power. This show (and many others at Fringe) gave me that total wonder of alchemy; how artists can create something from nothing and put it on with very little but deliver works that are so powerful.

Other favourite shows of the year: The Nose by The Bloomshed, Love Song Dedications by Ten Tonne Sparrow, Lone by The Rabble, The Nightingale and the Rose by Little Ones Theatre and The Infirmary by Triage Live Art Collective.

Looking forward to in 2019
Barbara and the Camp Dogs!! The Legend of Queen Kong.

SM: My favourite moment is happening right now as I listen to Across the Aisle. There are so many great discussions about Melbourne theatre. We need to do more to get them all heard far more!

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