For whom the bell tolls

— 21st May 2013 —

Bell Shakespeare’s latest offering is a modern interpretation of a Ted Hughes translation of a French tragedy inspired by a Greek myth. And it’s about as watered down as it sounds. For me, the production fell flat. Sure, there were some great moments from Catherine McClements - it’s obvious that this production is essentially a vehicle for her to flex her acting muscles – but even that wasn’t enough to save us from disappointment.

The direction was weak and ultimately undermined the incredibly high stakes at play in the text. Strangely, the actors seemed to have been told to ignore their impulses and stand still, making the play feel more like a series of speeches than a gut wrenching taste of life, lust and desperation.

What ever happened to playing the given circumstances and ‘going for it’ physically? My aunt would be a hundred times more expressive and engaging than this production when telling a simple story about gardening.

I'm often concerned that in voicing my true opinions, I will come across as ungrateful. I craved theatre as a kid growing up in country New South Wales. Bell Shakespeare was practically the only professional company that bothered venturing anywhere near my home town. For that I'm grateful. Perhaps I’m just not as easily impressed these days. Then again, it doesn't seem so terrible a thing to expect the best from one of our leading theatre companies...

Image by Bell Shakespeare Company.

Musical Fairytales

— 10th May 2013 —

Click the image above to view gallery.

Recently, the team from Melbourne Youth Music invited me to adapt a selection of well known fairytales to be narrated alongside the Melbourne Youth Orchestra at The Edge, Federation Square. I worked alone in the weeks leading up to the performance, familiarising myself with each piece of music whilst researching and rewriting the following classic tales from my childhood:

Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel
Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Ravel's Mother Goose Suite (Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, The Little Ugly Girl, Beauty and the Beast and The Fairy Garden)
Prokofiev's Cinderella
Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty

I then worked with the orchestra and conductor, Daniel Carter, to piece the narration and movements together in a way that brought the stories to life. Think voices, characters, props, stunning music and imaginary worlds - I had a ball (and kind of went to a ball...)

We performed for a full house in the stunning glass palace that is The Edge. Following the show, I stood near the donation 'wishing well' and thanked people for attending and for their generous support of Melbourne Youth Music. A number of people stopped to tell me how moving and joyous the performance was, but perhaps the best review came from a small girl who whispered to her mother as she passed, "Look, there's Cinderella!"