Out of town try-out

— 8th November 2013 —

The start of November marked a huge achievement: Reception: The Musical was performed in its entirety for a paying audience! We decided to do things the Broadway way and debuted the show out-of-town. Destination: Mansfield, Victoria.

Myself, composer/pianist Peter de Jager and director, David Wicks, enjoyed an overnight trip to the High Country to perform our newly finished show at the stunning Produce Store as part of the Spring Arts Festival. The turn out was great - 55 people packed in around tables for a delicious dinner and an original musical. What's not to like?

 

The Weather and Your Health was performed in Mansfield back in 2011 as part of the big regional Victorian tour, so it was lovely to be back in town, reconnecting with some of the arts council staff. The owners of the Produce Store - Gill and Dean Belle - are beautiful people. They are big arts lovers, often programming evening performances using a portable stage in the front window of the cafe. And, boy, do they know how to look after people. The performers and the audience were treated to amazing hospitality and incredible food.

 

Having a performance date in the calendar turned out to be the best way to ensure that we finished this darn show. It may seem that we have been working on Reception for years now, but in actual fact, my time with Peter has been limited to a handful of rehearsals and workshops. We now have 12 original songs for this little story of a trained actor who discovers that she has in fact landed her dream role - working as a receptionist in an arts company.

 

It was exciting to perform for a live audience. Thanks to development showings and a popular bit of footage on Youtube, we knew that the first songs, My Name is Bethany and Do You Have Sticky Tape would work well, but this was a chance to air the rest of the material. The feedback was so valuable, and very encouraging! Many people noted that the show was clever and true. That's always the aim - to make work that is relatable and entertaining.

 

We had such a wide range of people in the audience that night, from country folk, to couples visiting from the city, arts industry professionals, actors, teachers and doctors. It's always a great sign when people want to share their own stories after the show. In particular, people were keen to share their name (or names) with me. It was a hoot. A lovely local GP told me a few anecdotes from his practice and then lamented the fact that he could have brought his admin staff with him. That's the ticket!

Down the Lane

— 1st November 2013 —

I recently wandered the back alleys of Melbourne CBD to visit Little Mule Café – home of the quirky Melbourne-founded night school, Laneway Learning. Café by day, classroom by night, Little Mule is a perfect setting for curious individuals to attend classes on all topics from hair braiding, to vampire movie trivia and everything in between. At $12 per class, this concept has taken Melbourne (and now Sydney) by storm. Be sure to check out their website, and if anything takes your fancy, get in quick as most classes sell out!

This was the second time I have run my Introduction to Playwriting workshop for Laneway Learning, and I loved it: the intimate setting (classes are never more than about 20 people), the eager mature aged students with a wide range of writing experience and the hand delivered latte to mark the halfway point of the class all add up to success in my books.

After establishing the role of the playwright and various styles and genres to communicate within, we moved into examples of given circumstances, active and passive dialogue, dramatic structure and taking the page to the stage. One of my favourite exercises in the playwriting class is asking people to pair up and create a short duologue demonstrating subtext and given circumstances. It’s a thrill to see strangers working together, busily discussing and writing their ideas down. It’s even more of a thrill to see them offer to jump up and perform their work for the rest of the class.

One of my favourite pieces came from a gentleman in the class who wasn't attending off his own bat - his daughter believes he is a writer and purchased his spot in the class as a birthday gift (there was a collective “Awwww” when we learned this). He and his partner played the role of orphan siblings under the age of ten who were on a voyage in the 1800’s. It was so creative and very well acted! What fun. After the class, people hung around to ask specific questions regarding their own writing projects and my teaching habits.

I left Little Mule on a high that night. And it wasn’t due to the coffee.