No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Queen’s Theatre

Interview: Zoe Barry and Howling Like A Wolf

The abandoned warehouse space which is Queens Theatre seems to have hit a new stride and has, all of a sudden, become my favourite place to see theatre. In a city which seriously struggles in performance spaces I’m really excited to see the Queens claimed in earnest by interesting artists both during and outside of fringe time. We desperately need these flexible performance spaces, and because of the particular challenges of the Queens we are really getting an opportunity to see artists stretch their creative muscles.

Next in the venue we’ll be seeing Restless Dance Theatre with their new work Howling Like A Wolf. Director Zoe Barry and I meet one chilly Sunday morning to discuss the show she has been working on for two and a half years with performers from four disability performing arts companies in Adelaide: Restless, No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, the Tutti Ensemble, and Company@.

The show began when Barry was invited by Kate Sulan, the artistic director of Melbourne’s Rawcus, to work with the companies on a weekend residency. The two companies worked together on The Heart of Another is a Dark Forest at the Melbourne Fringe, and this was an opportunity for members of Restless’ company to see how Rawcus develops work.

As they were trying to come up with a theme for the weekend, Barry says she had just read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

The book, she says, was:

looking at how we take in information in the blink of an eye, how we read situations and all the levels of information that we read, and what goes into our reading a situation. What is assumed, what prejudices do we hold, what implicit associations do we have, and then also how does our brain compute.

He’s fascinated with psychology so he went into a lot of psychological investigation about that. And there was a lot of stuff about reading people, and he looked at lying and micro-expressions, and I thought that would be really interesting for the performers, because they’d all have really different experiences of reading others, and also being read, as well, by others.

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No room with a view

This article was first published in the July 2012 Adelaide Review

Adelaide’s theatre community is in urgent need of space to rehearse their work.

Preparing for the world premiere season of Involuntary with the Adelaide Festival Centre’s inSPACE program, director and choreographer Katrina Lazaroff found her company missing one integral feature: rehearsal space.

After “looking all over Adelaide” Lazaroff was lucky the Adelaide Festival Centre staff solved the situation by splitting rehearsal time between the Dunstan Playhouse and Space Theatre.  “It’s almost never heard of that you get to rehearse in a theatre,” she says.

In 2010, Arts SA prepared an audit into the lack of suitable performance spaces for Adelaide’s professional dance and theatre community. Alongside citing a lack of suitable venues, outdated technical equipment, and inadequate disabled access to performance spaces, the audit also spoke to a lack of rehearsal space.

Two years on, companies are struggling to find suitable space to develop and rehearse their work, and few are as lucky as Lazaroff. Chris Drummond, Artistic Director of Brink Productions, says every show “involves a saga where our production manager Françoise spends weeks and months looking for a rehearsal space.”

Their latest work, Land & Sea, was forced to rehearse in their performance space, the Queen’s Theatre. While an evocative venue, it is, in effect, an empty warehouse with a concrete floor and tin roof, which Drummond describes as “harsh, cold and incredibly noisy due to the building site next door”.

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Review: Land & Sea

Sorry about the published draft, if you happened to catch it anyone. WordPress reaching back into the bowels, enjoy the inner workings of my brain. Here’s an interview I did with Nicki Bloom and Chris Drummond to make up for it.


There is this strange thing when I see a work which emotionally impacts me. I simultaneously feel that I need desperately to write about it, while also feeling writing about it can do nothing but transform it in a way I don’t want.

I want to sing its praises from the roof tops; I want to keep it a secret.

I want to feel I’m a good enough writer to put it into words; I feel like there is no way I possibly have the skill.

I left Land & Sea and I felt like I needed to go into a corner and cry. But I also felt safe in the space of the foyer, like I didn’t want to walk out into the world so I could find that corner I needed.

I felt, somehow, that this was the wrong emotion. The work, while filled with strands of sadness, wasn’t overall a sad story. Or, perhaps it was.

It wasn’t, perhaps, overall a story.

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Fringe Review: Sons & Mothers

Sons & Mothers: titles don’t get much more explanatory than that.  This show, quiet and simple, yet swelling with ideas, stories, heart, and, eventually, making our eyes swell with tears, is the stories of those relationships.  Seven sons tell the stories of their seven mothers, of childhood and adulthood and all the fun times and stumbles along the way.  These sons lovingly introduce us to their lives, their stories, and their mothers.

In 2005, director Alirio Zavarce returned to Adelaide from a visit to his mother in Venezuela.  The trip wasn’t a happy one: he had returned to say good-bye to his dying mother, a huge loss in his life, his family, and particularly in the life of his older brother who had been blind since childhood.  In Adelaide, he was comforted by the men he has worked with for many years through No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability’s Male Ensemble.  These men told him stories of their relationships with their mothers: some alive, some no longer with us, but always in their hearts.

From these conversations, Alirio and these men eventually built Sons & Mothers, a devised work sharing their lives and loves for their mothers.  For many of these men, Alirio tells us, the relationship with their mother is probably the closest relationship they will ever have with a woman.

The work is embodied not only with pathos, struggle, and great heart, but perhaps all the more importantly, with great humour.  They have demonstrated an acute understanding of how to play their audience (“Clipsal makes me angry” is proudly proclaimed by Duncan to the no doubt arty audience who has been putting up with the sound of hornets and road blocks), but also a want to show the joy and loves in their lives.  Some of these men have lost their mothers, they have all certainly faced (and will continue to face) discrimination and difficulties, but we are privileged enough to see them at their most joyous, doing something they love, and are good at: performing on stage, telling their stories, and sharing their loves and fears with an audience who are absolutely there along for the ride.

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What’s new Tuxedo Cat?

This article was original published in the January 2012 Issue of the Adelaide Review.

Adelaide’s “cultural boulevard”, North Terrace is home to heritage institutions the State Library of South Australia, the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia but the 2012 Fringe will add pop up venues to North Terrace’s list of must see destinations.

Greg Clarke and Jennifer Layther at the first walkthrough of the new Tuxedo Cat. Photo Gary Cockburn.

This festival season a new cultural venue will open on the southern side of North Terrace, the latest incarnation of the Tuxedo Cat. Since 2008, the Tuxedo Cat has established a reputation as one of the most loved Fringe hubs for independent performing
arts work.

Established and run by Bryan Lynagh and Cassandra Tombs, the Cat, as they affectionately call it, started as a rooftop venue in Synagogue Place off Rundle Street, running for three Fringes before the building underwent development. For the 2011 Fringe they opened in Electra House opposite Town Hall, also sitting empty in preparation of development. In 2012, they will be operating in Club 199 and the iconic 200 North Terrace.

“We feel like it’s our best address yet,” says Lynagh over a drink. “I think it’s a good mix having the Art Gallery and Library and Museum just across the road from a grassroots arts venue.”

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