On Crossing Bridges, homeless youth, and Anne Bogart

It's been a while since I've posted about my goings on, but I've finally had time to sit down and do a little blogging.

Recently I participated as a guest artist in Crossing Bridges, Covenant House's theatre program for homeless youth. Over four weeks, twenty residents of Covenant House took part in masterclasses in directing, acting, writing, voice and movement. In the writing masterclass week I taught some of the participants about story structure, using Lecoq and Comic Strip Mime (previous artists have included playwright David Henry Hwang and director Andy Gale).

 Reenacting 'Fat Amy' from Pitch Perfect 2 in my class on story structure. Photo thanks to Grace Khoo.

Reenacting 'Fat Amy' from Pitch Perfect 2 in my class on story structure. Photo thanks to Grace Khoo.

Last weekend the program culminated in the presentation of a 24 hour play festival at the Helen Mills Theatre on 28th St. After choosing a fairytale, groups of two Covenant House residents and two guest artists worked together to create 10 minute plays that updated the fairytale to modern day New York.

 Myself and co-writer  Brian Hampton  with our Covenant House team. Photo thanks to  Brian T. Carson .

Myself and co-writer Brian Hampton with our Covenant House team. Photo thanks to Brian T. Carson.

It was great fun of course, with our group updating Aladdin to the fashion world of New York. Other groups presented 'Summer Black' (Snow White) and a musical version of 'Briella and the Beast.'

The whole project was a great experience, with the focus being mainly on traditional theatre forms. However I would be rather interested to see how the concept of jo-ha-kyu and other physical theatre forms would be taken on by these youth groups. Some thoughts for another project.

As you may or may not be aware, I've recently become interested in exploring composition and how my theatrical training can influence my writing process, particularly in fiction. On how processes like Viewpoints, as instigated by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau, can transfer to the page (or simply, 'viewpointing on the page', if you will). 

A recent essay I wrote about fragments for The Offing addresses some of this, but I'm interested in taking it further in the rehearsal room. So look out for some observations and thoughts about composition and adapting it to the writing process fairly soon.

Playwriting Australia Footscray Salon

So this week I returned to the acting crew in Melbourne as part of a reading with the Playwriting Australia Footscray Salon at the Footscray Arts Centre. After an intensive workshop with playwright Jane Montgomery-Smith, four playwrights-in-training had their work mentored by established Australian playwrights, the results of which were performed in a reading on Thursday night by myself, Leighton Young and fellow VCA mates Kane Felsinger and Naomi Rukavina. The workshop was run by Melbourne Theatre Company literary manager and former Playwriting Australia head Chris Mead, and was much funsies. In and amongst all the graveyard peeing and Spanish and pretend vodka drinking there was some awesome work by the up and coming playwrights. Many thanks to Playwriting Australia for including me and providing copious amounts of cream logs to eat during a starved rehearsal!

There was also a chicken. We loved the chicken. We are looking forward to the return and the execution of said chicken.

Find out more about the salon and the writers here.

The team! Back row L-R: Simon Miles, Melissa Reeves, Naomi Rukavina, Leighton Young, Tania Canas, Grace Pundyk, Chris Mead, Tom Holloway, Tim Roseman, Dominic Golding. Front row L-R: Teik-Kim Pok, Van Badham, me, Kane Felsinger 

More Talon Salon

Talon Salon is (was - I'm a bit tardy) on again at You Are Here, an arts festival based in Canberra from the 14th to 24th March. Photo below is from the original installation at Paradise Nails:

Talon Salon will be on again later this year at another arts festival. Will keep you posted on further sightings!

NOVA Workshop - Day 5

The lovely cast and creatives of 'Little Deaths' at Victorian Opera:

From L to R: Daniel Carter, Simon Meadows, Judith Dodsworth, Tess Duddy, Paul Castles, Deborah Kayser, me!

After a morning run through we began today's showing in the early afternoon. 'Little Deaths' was showing between Adam Yee's 'Carmilla' and Mary Finsterer's 'Biographica', and after I stopped holding my breath I started to enjoy the afternoon of music and opera! Super happy with the cast and musicians, had a lovely response, and am looking forward to a repeat of the event tomorrow!

NOVA Workshop - Day 3

So unfortunately I missed Day 2 as I had an audition, but day 3 certainly made up for my absence! Today we had two rehearsal sessions, both led by the indomitable Richard Gill. For the first time the entire ensemble (guitar, violins 1 and 2, viola, cello and piano) performed with the singers (sop, mezzo sop, colotura, baritone) and the results were definitely illuminating! After some teething problems like sorting the instuments in the most effective order and rearranging the singers we finally got down to smoothing out the music and bringing out the best in the orchestration. Some photos of the sesh below:

 

Richard Gill conducting the ensemble

Our 'Jane' singing her aria

The cast singing together at the climax

We've been blessed with a spectacular cast and ensemble so we're very much looking forward to their final performance in a couple of days. More news to come soon!

NOVA Workshop - Day 1

Today was the first day workshopping our short opera 'Little Deaths' as part of the Victorian Opera/Chambermade Opera's New Opera Ventures Australia (NOVA) program and for Paul (my composer) and I it was pretty exciting stuff:

Paul in front of Victorian Opera!

We're very lucky to have a super talented cast and conductor (Daniel Carter) working with us this week and so far it's all sounding pretty great. So far we've bashed out a first run through and are looking to keep refining with the piano and vocalists tomorrow.

More NOVA posts to come!

Little, done, deaths

I was very excited to put together the final touches on the short opera my composer Paul Castles and I wrote for the New Opera Ventures Australia (NOVA) program at the Victorian Opera/Chambermade Opera last year. We've been working on a second draft and it's been looking pretty spick. I'm printing off (pages and pages) of the score at the moment and will hopefully get it in to head office some time tomorrow:

Last minute touch-ups...yes, I am working on my couch (!)

The workshop is on in September and I'm very excited about hearing it all come together. I've never written a libretto for an opera before so it's going to be a huge learning curve for me - and I'm very much looking forward to the challenge. In the meantime though, there's dreaming up a new opera/musical and working on how to improve the current script further.

And of course, if you're around in September, please come and have a listen...

Moths

So I've been lucky enough to work with Michele Lee again on a development of her play Moths. The show is an exploration of Asian Australian identity and sexuality and was a ball to play with during our short development in March. Now we're presenting the second half of the development on Tuesday 5th June from 6-8pm at Northcote Town Hall, under the direction of Emma Valente and dramaturg Gorkem Acroglu, and featuring myself, Jing-Xuan Chan, Fanny Hanusin, Harry Tseng and Keith Brockett. Come, it's free, and there'll be food and wine! Check out the flyer below (isn't it cool!):

ABC Radio

So it's another two months until the piece actually goes up but I thought I would post on it (mainly so I don't forget!). For my first gig out of drama school I was lucky enough to work with ABC Radio in January on a satirical little piece called Heartland by Sydney writer Tim Bosanquet. The play is about a Labor MP and his press secretary and their bung ups, and the cast includes Stephen Phillips (Winners and Losers) and Glenda Linscott (Prisoner), both remarkable actors, and my fellow VCA classmate Claudia Tory (also a remarkable actress!). Look out for it on the ABC Radio National Airplay website on June 24th - it should be a cracker! ;)

Also just reminding you again about Talon Salon, a site specific radio piece at a nail salon which is part of Next Wave Festival. The installation consists of four stories based on the workers of a Vietnamese nail salon, and you can listen to these stories while you get your nails done by said workers! This cast also includes fellow VCA alumni Kane Felsinger, Elizabeth Nabben, Tom Dent and Jing-Xuan Chan. The show runs from 20-25th and 27th May at Paradise Nails in Richmond and you can book your tickets via the Next Wave website here. Don't forget to request 'Travellers' if you want to listen to my kick-arse Cambodian/general Asian accent a sweet cross-racial love story!

More Talon Salon

The flyer for Talon Salon! If you're in Richmond from May 20th-May 27th, why not get your nails done while listening to the stories of the people who work there (and of course the vocal talents of myself, the directing talents of Tanya Dickson, and the literary talents of Michele Lee)? Check out the website, Talon Salon, for further details. Flyer by Claire McCracken, show brought to you by Next Wave Festival.