Archive for January, 2011

Food Chain | Sydney Festival


This Sydney Festival I have spent the majority of my time at The Seymour Centre – watching as punters swirl and spin off into one of three venues – all with a revolving programme – all with an exciting variety of shows to experience. Last time I was at the Everest I was there to review Mike Birbiglia a stand up comic, on this occasion I was there to see a devised work created by a range of physical theatre performers/dancers which was developed over two continents. Though my first love is text- I am always keen to branch out (pun acknowledged) to other modes of performance and am trying to bring myself up to speed on physical performance and dance.

There is something awe-inspiring about dance, for me. Me who sits, reading or writing or watching or thinking… all quite sedentary occupations and past times – the spectacle of watching someone move and twist and negotiate space with their body is impressive. Add to that a narrative created by an ensemble of performers. Ideas about the observations of humans from an animal’s point of view – and I was very curious to see what the results would be. Read more

Adventures in Art: Big Deal |Tim Andrew

T!M_Andrew_invite Friends

Australia Day 2011 was huge.

Not in the flag wearing, cooking snags on the barbeque, sun-kissed skin, sandy feet and cold beer sense. While my phone buzzed with messages from friends and colleagues encouraging me to pop by their Oz Day celebrations for a quick hello and some lawn chair conversation, I was up a ladder with a staple gun, pair of pliers and a metal rule helping prepare for an exhibition that opens tonight at Gaffa gallery in Sydney. The show is by my best mate Tim Andrew and his show is a Big Deal – in name and scale.

It’s a brilliant collection of work (and I say this not just because Tim is my friend – it just so happens all my friends make brilliant work – it’s not why we are friends – but it certainly seems the case that I have remarkably talented friends). Sculptures, paintings, film, prints and giant wall-paper murals cover the walls. Though one can see his love of colour and him commentary on the idea of fakeness – what I love about Tim’s work is that he strives to be as authentic as possible. He’s not shallow, or trying to present anything other than who he is. He’s a white, male artist in his early thirties – and his work speaks of his interests and anxieties: there’s mild horror themes and deeply personal confessions and opinions. Read more

A Sensitive Sensibility or “What a weepy bitch”


Every Christmas when I was little, in my grandfather’s back yard in Coffs Harbour, I would sit amongst the wisteria eating unripe passion fruit and imagining adventures for myself. I’d frighten myself with stories of what lived under the house – and laugh until I couldn’t breathe at the jokes I invented. I’d imagine the possibility of being homeless and sleeping on the mossy ground under my favourite hydrangea. I’d convince myself I could be completely self sufficient and sleep in the garden if I was in such a situation. Luckily for me the garden of choice was my Grandfather’s garden – with vegetable plots and fruit trees including a gnarled grumpy looking grapefruit tree and a sacred mulberry tree worthy of the Fred Astaire tune “I’m in heaven” that I’d croon gleefully as I stained my skirts and stuffed my face with purple berries.

In one of the garden beds was what Pa called “a sensitive plant” – every time I touched its soft fringed leaves they would contract like a venetian blind, neatly minimizing itself into a single blade of green. I would wait for it to unfurl and I’d delight to see it shrink at my fingers…

I’ve been thinking about the value of sensitivity. Mainly because I am sensitive. And it is who I am. Read more

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer | Sydney Festival


I love children’s theatre. I love the creativity of children’s theatre. I love the audiences of children’s theatre.

Whether it is theatre made by children for children (Shopfront Theatre’s junior ensemble always delights me) or if is children’s theatre made by adults, (Eg The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy or The Book of Everything) what is most important is the imagination of the audience and the inventiveness of the artists.

(And please note I am not talking about “children’s theatre” in any pejorative sense.)

For me inventiveness and imagination is the essence of theatre and is most powerful when an image, sound, word that stimulates or inspires in it’s viewer (participant/meaning maker/audience) more than merely the tangible, obvious meaning of what it is made of/what is being shown. It’s that extra level of engagement i am fascinated by – the suspension of disbelief -the willingness to access the possibility of all things.

When we as adults accept the possibility of things, we become brave enough to contribute to the world and consequently (whether we like it or not) change happens. Read more

John Malkovich in conversation with Jim Sharman | Sydney Festival


I couldn’t get tickets to the The Giacomo Variations. As an avid reader of biographies (currently I am reading Brave Mouth a Billy Connolly biography -a book stolen at Christmas time from my parent’s house) I was thrilled to be able to join the mass of pilgrims to hear Jim Sharman and John Malkovich speak in the magnificent Sydney Town Hall this evening.

Other critics (Fairfax and News Ltd critics) were busy at the Theatre Critics Circle Awards at Paddington RSL, delighting in the best of 2010. Some onliners and I waited patiently at the Box office for our tickets to what would be a very stimulating and rewarding evening examining art forms and acting, story, character, career, ensemble, collaboration, celebrity, family, seduction –

This was not quite “Being John Malkovich” as “‘Being’ by John Malkovich” a deeply invigorating conversation I am lucky to have heard…. Read more

Merit vs Misogyny in Australian Theatre – and what we’re going to do about it

Woman Writing Letters by Charles Dana Gibson

There has been a simmering discussion amongst AWOL (Australian Women Playwrights On Line) about the presence (or lack of presence) of female writers included in the mainstage theatre seasons. Currently in Main stage seasons women are grossly unrepresented – and it’s not because there aren’t any women writing plays. There are. When curating the multi-playwright seasons I have produced in the last 4 years, I have not struggled to find quality female playwrights, and not just any female playwrights – excellent playwrights.

In late 2009, the Philip Parson’s Award hosted a panel discussion “Where are the women?” to which 200-ish female theatre workers turned up to prove exactly where the women are (Just in case Belvoir couldn’t see them, as their 2010 suggested) – they were filling the theatre. that day I sat with Suzie Miller and Vanessa Bates. When confronted with the argument that women aren’t being programmed because scripts and directors are assessed on merit not gender – Miller told of her experience which was having a play of hers knocked back for an Independent Season at Belvoir, only to have the very same play receive awards and productions overseas. Rachel Healy turned to Neil Armfield and said, “Well, Neil, it looks like we stuffed up.” And I think everyone in that audience agrees: there has been some major stuff-ups when it comes to theatre companies being committed to equal opportunity employment. So much so Melbourne Theatre Company have since implemented an EEO policy. Read more

The Wau Wau Sister’s Last Supper | Sydney Opera House


As the usual Sydney crowd shuffles like well-dressed cattle into The Studio of the opera house, we pass a sign which warns of adult themes, coarse language and nudity. Which is more of a confirmation of what we may suspect seeing as their marketing materials have the New York Times quoted as saying they are “Irreverent, sacrilegious, foulmouthed and uninhibited.” The prim Opera House ushers are joined by two slightly sparkly “school girls” offering communion wafers to patrons as they enter. While the punters find their seats at tables or in the “safer” upper seating areas, the sisters and their assistants mingle with the guest, welcoming us in a sly Southern drawl. We were accosted momentarily, and after a quick chat where I welcomed her to Sydney, she left me with a passing suggestion for us to loosen up a little and have a nice time.

Before long – the mayhem begins with a Catholic schoolgirl strip tease and some very impressive handstands. Read more

SOAP | Sydney Opera House


The Sydney Opera House is more than a place for elderly classical music enthusiasts to snooze through concertos. In what appears to be a season of circus spectacular, the white sails are housing some of the most impressive productions touring the world. So much so, you will be forgiven if you mistake these shows as a part of the Sydney Festival.

Soap is billed as “Dazzling, daring and dangerous, eight acrobats will perform in, on and around a series of bathtubs in the Australian premiere of the late-night variety show.” And it absolutely delivers on it’s promises – I would love to meet the person who does not find their jaw-dropped, gut wrenched and heart stopped for the duration of this production. Read more

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend | Sydney Festival


The Seymour Centre is abuzz with the Sydney Festival – all three venues are handling multiple shows of multiple genres and multiple bump in/outs. It’s exciting. In this wonderful carousel of acts is a show by American comic Mike Birbiglia.

Definitely a poster boy for arguments of why marriage is stupid, why bureaucracies should be punished for being absolutely stupid, and how ugly and gross making out is “It’s like watching a dog eat spaghetti.” But I am not one to bust open all the best gags in an evening of comedy (I can’t stand it when reviewers/critics hack open a production and scoop out all the jokes and spontaneous surprises, leaving us with the deflated skin of a show – I think it is selfish!) So I wrote this review trying to give a flavour of the show – without exposing the best parts. This is a fun show – part stand up, part storytelling -simple effective, clear story from a guy who is pretty relatable to.

I highly recommend this show – especially if you are over 28 and find relationships messy, dating embarrassing and awkward, have a love of analogy and believe in love. And really, at $30 you won’t find a better deal at the Sydney Festival (except if you want to get up at 4am and stand in line at Tix for Nix in Martin Place). Read more

Eddie Perfect’s Misanthropology | Sydney Festival


There is something magical about the Speigeltent – could it be the sound of words escaping through curled moustaches? The bowler-hatted ushers? The pillars made of mirrors? The “Something Wicked this Way Comes” style circus tent promises more than fairy floss and family entertainment… I have witnessed performances by La Clique (aerial bathtub circus-y feats of human strength and beauty), Tripod, Iota in his acclaimed cabaret Smoke and Mirrors (back this year for a return season at this year’s Sydney Festival)… so it stands to reason that Eddie Perfect’s new show Misanthropology is included in this venue.

Known to some as the duel embodiment of Downer/Hewson from Neil Armfield’s production of Keating! The Musical, Eddie Perfect is also the creator and performer of Warne The Musical and recent TV series “Offspring.” With a blond spiky quiff, a swag of experience Eddie is the consumate Melbournite cabaret performer with a scallywag persona and a penchant for “segway kicks” and singing about whatever a 30-year-old man wants to – titties and penises. For those who only know his TV persona they may find this incantation of Eddie Perfect alarmingly offensive – perhaps that’s what inspired some of the walk out’s last night? Directed by Craig Illot (also the director of Smoke and Mirrors) this is a punchy, chunky, bold and unapologetic cabaret designed to offend and expose the foibles of modern well-to-do society. Read more

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Augusta Supple

Sydney-based theatre director, producer and writer. This site is about my long, deep, bright-eyed, ever-hopeful, sometimes difficult, always invigorating, rambunctious, rebellious, dynamic and very personal relationship with Australian Arts and Culture... I reflect on shows, talks, essays, writing, artists that inspire me to say something, and you'll find out what I'm working on, who I'm working with and what inspires me.