No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: University of Adelaide Theatre Guild

Review: Antigone

Edwin Kemp Attrill created his own career as a theatre director. By-passing the typical drama school pathway, he established his own company ActNow Theatre for Social Change at the age of 16. Starting with a focus on political street performance, their first work was about detained Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks.

Under Kemp Atrill the company went on to have a particular focus on forum theatre, with their work Expect:Respect, about sexual harassment and date-rape, touring South Australian schools and youth prisons, alongside a series of more traditional but politically informed works, such as 1984 and An Enemy of the People.

After leaving ActNow to pursue new directing opportunities, Kemp Attrill was afforded the opportunity of being the first Artistic Director of the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild in many years. In a previous incarnation, this role was last held by Chris Drummond, who went on to be the Associate Director at the State Theatre Company and is now the Artistic Director of Brink Productions. The Guild has framed this AD role as a professional development opportunity: time for a professional to spend time with directing as their primary profession, while also bringing something new to the amateur company.

While the Guild has a history of radicalism this has waxed and waned over the years, and by the time I studied at the university the Guild had a reputation – amongst students, at least – as one of conservatism. Always a “town and gown” society, the guild had become much more “town”; the Guild didn’t even hold a table at O’Week when I started. Some of these things have changed since my time – the much needed establishment of “student only” productions one factor – but I was very excited to see both the Guild and Kemp Attrill afforded this partnership, not least of all because I consider him a very close friend, but also because of the wonderful opportunity of resources it gives to up-coming directors, and onwards into the greater Adelaide theatrical landscape.

I give you this rather long introduction to this review, as this background is what I have been trying to process since seeing Kemp Attrill’s first mainstage work for the Guild. His production of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone (in translation by Lewis Galantiere) is by all accounts a solid production. It’s biggest downfall, and my greatest puzzlement with the work, is the air of conservatism through the piece.

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Adelaide Critics Circle Awards 2011

The 2011 Nominees for the Adelaide Critics Circle Awards.  Recipients in bold 5.12.11

Individual Award 

  • Guy Barrett for the RBS Morgans International Piano Series
  • Tamara Lee, actor, That Face (
  • David Mealor, director, Buried Child (State Theatre Company of SA)

Group Award 

  •, The Eisteddfod
  • Soundstream Collective
  • State Opera of South Australia, Moby Dick
  • State Theatre Company of SA, Holding the Man

Emerging Artist of the Year 

  • Robert Bell, actor, The Pillowman (University of Adelaide Theatre Guild)
  • Charles Sanders, artistic director, Early Worx
  • Nigel Tripodi, actor, A View from the Bridge (University of Adelaide Theatre Guild)
  • Alex Vickery-Howe, playwright, Molly’s Shoes (Accidental Productions)

Independent Arts Foundation Award for Innovation 

  • Chris More, video and set designer, The Girl Who Cried Wolf (Windmill Theatre)
  • Jason Sweeney, sound designer, Three Sisters, The Eisteddfod
  • Adam Synott, animation and sound, Side To One (Craig Bary and Lisa Griffiths)

Visual Arts Award: Amy Joy Watson

Individual Award – Amateur Theatre 

  • Megan Dansie, director, The Pillowman (University of Adelaide Theatre Guild)
  • David Roach, actor, Red (Independent Theatre)
  • Russell Starke OAM, actor, Breaker Morant (Therry Dramatic Society)

Group Award – Amateur Theatre 

  • Therry Dramatic Society, Breaker Morant 
  • University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, A View from the Bridge 
  • University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, The Pillowman 

Lifetime Achievement Award: Barbara West

Some  quick questions: why are two amateur actors nominated in the “professional” categories?  What exactly was innovative about More’s video/set and Sweeney’s sound?  (I didn’t see Synott’s work.)  Are there not enough visual artists in Adelaide to make a nomination list?  Why is the State Opera credited with Moby Dick, but not co-creators the Dallas Opera, the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera and Calgary Opera?  Why is Windmill credited with The Girl Who Cried Wolf, but not original production company, the Arena Theatre Company? 

A Catch Up and Newsey Pieces

  • Having been almost completely obliterated by the Festival season, I was one of those lucky people who found work getting more intense post-Fringe than during it, hence the overall lack of posts bar some catching up re-posts from other sources.  Outside of work work, I spent five days working for the Come Out Festival as a delegate host, which was one of the most inspiring and satisfying art experiences I have had perhaps ever.  To spend five days surrounded by artists and programmers and administrators, seeing theatre for children with children, is incredibly gratifying.  I saw some truly incredible work (and, yes, a few terrible pieces), including two works which completely changed my outlook on everything: Hans Christian, You Must Be An Angel a theatre installation unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, by Teatret Gruppe 38 from Denmark which was filled with more magic and joy than can possibly be explained:And Thick Skinned Things by Dutch group Stella Den Haag, a curious monologue about a woman who “belongs to the legion of the uncomfortable.”  Nora lives alone, struggling with everything, even her garbage bags, until she finds comfort in the way the man next door lays down his garbage bags:

    Can you find comfort
    in the way a person puts his garbage outside
    I would wonder desperately
    Can this be?

    Until one day, he is gone, and all that Nora can do is run into the forest, and dig herself a labyrinth: “I am a mole. I speak softly.”  It was in this play by Hans van den Boom, about sadness and loneliness and isolation, under a masterful performance by Erna van den Berg that I actually found an incredible peace and calmness and started to repair myself from the extreme tiredness of the season.

  • ActNow Theatre has a new Artistic Director in the form of director/writer/actor/administrator/friend Sarah Dunn, and with the help of publicist Sophie Bruhn, they are starting to conquer social media.  I did my Arts Admin Traineeship with Sarah, and I am greatly looking forward to raking her over the critical hot coals seeing what she comes up with. They will be revealing their new logo and officially welcoming Sarah to the fold May 13.
  • Edwin Kemp Atrill, the former AD for ActNow, will be stepping over to the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild taking their inaugural Artistic Director Grant, which is a brilliant initiative for emerging directors in this city.  2011 has already been programmed for the company, so we will possibly have to wait until next year to see what stamp Edwin puts on the company.
  • In May, Adelaide’s independent theatre companies are starting to emerge from the post fringe drought.  This week, opens The Eisteddfod by Lally Katz.  Katz is one of the most produced playwrights on Australia’s main-stages this year, with world premieres playing at Malthouse, Melbourne Theatre Company, and Belvoir Street, and if you are interested in Australian playwrights and/or female playwrights you should be making an effort to see this show. Coming up later in the month, Accidental Productions will be presenting a new work by Adelaide playwright Alex Vicory-Howe, Molly’s Shoes from the 20th, and also from May 20 Tutti are presenting One directed by Daisy Brown, who you may remember from my rave of Ruby Bruise.
  • And for something a little different from what I usually write about: to catch some Adelaide theatre actors on the big screen, and see why my job became more crazed post-Fringe, the Mercury Cinema will be screening the best South Australian films of the last year on May 6 – 8, with the South Australian Screen Awards announced May 13.