22 November 2017

What Melbourne Loved in 2017, part 2

Today we have three people who have all been through MUST at Monash Uni; MUST won last year's "Everything they do rocks" award.

Mama Alto
Jazz cabaret diva

Taylor Mac and Mama Alto. Photo by Sarah Walker

Favourite moments in 2017
900 people, in tears, with smiles, hearts full to burst, singing together: “You can lie down or get up and play”.

Honourable mentions must go to Kate Mulvany’s fascinating depiction of Richard of York in Richard III, Margot Tanjutco’s magical realist 1940s Asian-American wonderland in Estrella Wing: Showgirl, and Anne-Marie Peard crocheting queer rainbow granny squares live on stage whilst Taylor Mac sang "Yankee Doodle Dandy".

Looking forward to in 2018
I was lucky to catch The Bleeding Tree, one of the most astounding Australian plays I have ever seen, in Sydney in 2017 – and I am thrilled it will be coming to Melbourne in 2018. Revelatory, damning, chilling, fascinating, introspective, and arresting performances from all three actresses, but especially Paula Arundell.

Similarly, it will be fabulous to have the Virginia Gay lead Calamity Jane come to Melbourne.

But most of all I look forward to being surprised.

SM: No YOU'RE crying! Who am I kidding. We're back at Taylor Mac and I'm crying. And one of the greatest of all the unforgettable moments of that 24 hours was Taylor giving the stage to Mama during Chapter III. The captured silence. The moment when the whole audience breathed in together before we exploded in applause – or was it screaming. It was magnificent.

Mama has been involved in the creation of so many shows this year; I miss too many of them. I'm not missing the Christmas show at the Butterfly Club this year.


Daniel Lammin
Director, writer

Daniel Lammin made it to Broadway!

Favourite moments in 2017
It’s a tough one this year, because my favourite theatre experience wasn’t something I saw in Melbourne. So I’m going to cheat and do two, mostly because I’m excitable and greedy.

The Melbourne-based production that had the biggest impact on me this past year was probably The Rabble’s Joan. I’ve never been a big fan of their work, but Joan really deeply moved me. It was raw and unforgiving, thrilling in its form and devastating in its content, and the sight of those four superb women baring their souls on stage was often breathtaking. There was nothing didactic or self-consciously clever about its execution, every moment seemly crafted by primal instinct and tremendous daring. I’ve always been fascinated by Jean d’Arc as a figure, but had never seen her story approached with such integrity and fury. The final monologues had me captivated and sobbing. It’s easily my favourite work from The Rabble and I walked away with the feeling that something had shifted inside me as both an audience member and a theatre maker.

This year though, I made my first overseas trip ever to the USA and spent two weeks in New York. I saw eight shows over there, many of which were superb (especially the immersive Barrow Street production of Sweeney Todd), but the highlight of the trip, and my year, and one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve ever had, was seeing Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen.

I unashamedly love the musical even with its many problems, and the production is excellent, but Platt’s performance was jaw-dropping. The closest I’ve seen to any performance as detailed, committed and unforgiving was seeing Robin Nevin in Kosky’s Women of Troy, and the effect was similar – uncontrollable sobbing and wide-eyed awe (thankfully, everyone else was dry-heaving sobbing as much as I was, so I didn’t ruin anyone else’s evening).

As an audience member, I was shattered by every second he appeared on stage; as a director, I marvelled at how the hell he was able to do it in the first place, especially someone so damn young. I’ve spent a lot of my theatrical practice looking at young men in emotional crisis, so both the show and Platt’s devastating performance were something I really needed to see. To be honest, it was probably the best performance by an actor I’ve ever seen on stage, and worth every cent of the $US300 I paid to see it.

Looking forward to in 2018
Well, I can’t wait to see how the fuck Matt Lutton and Declan Greene adapt Lars von Trier’s Melancholia on stage because what the hell, and am pumped to see Anne-Louise Sarks’s production of Blasted. Plus there’s A Doll’s House Part 2 and Patricia Cornelius FINALLY ON A MAIN STAGE with The House of Bernarda Alba at the MTC, and I’m sure a whole lot of other independent work that’ll pop up over the year. Really though, I just can’t wait to see Picnic at Hanging Rock again. I’m going to take my fiancĂ© and his family along and, honestly, I hope it scares the shit out of them!

SM: My favourite Daniel moment is the same as last year's: His production of Awakening. Giving Wendela power and letting her take back her story still makes me skip a breath to take it in. Too many women's stories about, especially young women's stories, about rape and abuse still end in the convenience of death and silence. Shows like this do so much to take away shame and let women be heard.

Christopher Bryant
Writer, actor

Christopher Bryant. Photo by Lisa-Maree Williams

Favourite moments in 2017
Revolt. She said. Revolt again. at the Malthouse – the first half was some of the most joyous/intelligent/occasionally crass writing I’ve seen this year, and the second half an overwhelming gut punch. I know I’m talking in hyperbole, but I just honestly loved it. It was the first time in a few years that I sat in a theatre grinning uncontrollably as I watched something.

The other moment (“moment”) would be Julia Croft’s If there’s not dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming. I knew nothing going in and was blown away for an hour: a simultaneously hilarious and venomous deconstruction of onscreen female representation that played with form. It also had a brilliant soundtrack to boot. Both pieces felt truly unpredictable, and therefore, truly exciting.

Looking forward to in 2018
Working with Children by Nicola Gunn, Astroman by Albert Beiz (I saw the development showing at the 2015 National Play Festival, and it was really exciting), Melancholia, Blackie Blackie Brown… so many things. Also, heaps of shows that I don’t know about: I didn’t get to attend as many shows as I would’ve liked to this year, and I’m going to try and see more next year.

December PS: I'm glad and mildly regretful that I only saw Nanette after I submitted to this because I feel like it just would've turned everything into: "Nanette. The whole thing. The whole damn thing."

SM: This Fringe, I saw a lot of shows and wasn't able to write about; Christopher's Intoxication was up there with the best. He wrote and performed a very honest and personal story without being sentimental or indulgent. One of my favourite moments during the show was his story about getting advice from Kate Mulvany. I'm really looking forward to seeing the next steps of its development.

part 1

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