BOOK TITLE: The Australia Times - Theatre magazine. Volume 2, issue 4

Vol. 2 No. 4 June 2015
Let's Do the
Time Warp, Again
Educating Rit
Under This Sun
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Bridget Conway
Fiona Hart
Laura Money
Freedom Chavalier
Mustafa Al Mahdi
A Welcome from the Editor 05
Rotunda 08
Educating Rita 12
Once We Were Kings 16
Under This Sun 20
Let's Do the Time Warp, Again 24
Hi, I'm Laura, TAT Theatre
editor. Theatre is one of those
genres that expands the
mind. It takes the comfort
and intimacy of the novel
and the reality and images
of the screen, traversing the
fertile ground in between.
There is nothing as thrilling
as watching the action unfold
right in front of your eyes,
seeing the actors breathe,
sweat and throw their
bodies and souls into the
performance. In TAT Theatre
we capture every moment
of theatre in Australia. So, sit
back, read, and re-live the
dramatic experience with us!
Laura Money
A Welcome From
the Editor
I am so pleased to be the new Editor of the Australia Times
Theatre. Live performance is a real passion of mine and I’ve
enjoyed reviewing shows in Perth over the last eighteen months.
This issue is only a small one as we transition into a new, bigger
and better magazine. Australia is producing such a high calibre
of theatre and I feel that now is a truly exciting time to be
involved in the arts. Our contributors have seen shows made
famous on the silver screen such as Educating Rita, shows that
challenge Australia’s notion of Islam in Once We Were Kings,
and we take an in-depth look at the enduringly clever Rocky
Horror Show. I hope you enjoy reading this issue and go out
there and see some live theatre yourself!
ight in time
for the ANZAC
comes Rotunda,
presented by The
New Zealand Dance
Company. A fresh
and elegant dance
celebration that isn’t
afraid to highlight all
the aspects of war:
love, loss, freedom,
loneliness, and
Riverside Theatres
has done it again: a
graceful and powerful
dance piece that
shakes right down to
the bones.
has the element
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of surprise, the
professionalism, and
the beauty to live
up to the history it
talks about. We follow
eight dancers, all
in tip top shape for
the challenging and
emotive movements
ahead, and our ears
are tantalised by the
City of Holroyd 24
piece live brass band
conducted by Marc
Taddei with special
guest on percussion,
Cameron Lee. All eight
dancers exemplify
those young men
and women who
were affected by the
war. They are at a
bright young age, full
of enthusiasm and
youthfulness, and we
watch this progress
downwards and into
full maturity.
The beauty of this
performance has its
foundation within the
choreography. From
playful moments
where the boys play
with the conductor’s
staff and move with
joyful grace, to the
loss of a solider in the
duet of dancer Gareth
Okan and Hannah
Tasker-Poland. The
choreographer behind
, Shona
McCullagh, is also
the artistic director.
It is clear that a whole
lot of thought is put
into McCullagh’s work,
as the style shines
Like art is truly
meant to be,
questions what in
life we often take
for granted until it is
spilled onto our laps.
With war comes a loss
of life so monumental
that it shakes the
country to its core,
and as we learn to
enjoy the company
of each “character”
that dances through
the stage, the loss of
losing them and seeing
the departure of young
men becomes just as
harrowing as if it was
happening to us. The
physical manifestation
of war works well
on stage with dance
performers as talented
as these. With chaos
comes faster more
erratic movement,
with sadness and
loss comes the slow
upheaval of limbs,
the pain of it all
exemplified with each
heavy step.
On a short run at the
Riverside Theatres,
from 13-16 May,
is the New
Zealand Dance
Company taking a stab
at the big time over in
Sydney. They achieve
this will fullness and
wit, and with each flow
of the arm, they bring
us closer to those we
have lost and loved.
© John McDermott
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hey say you can’t judge a
book by its cover, but I think
you can make a pretty good
guess about a play by its cast.
I have watched Catherine McGraffin
in several different plays now, and
she chooses her work well: they
have been some of the strongest
productions I have seen in Sydney.
But it is as this eponymous heroine
that she is her most endearing,
her most talented, and her most
enchantingly watchable. It is no
wonder that Frank, Rita’s educator,
is charmed by her - who wouldn’t
want this Rita at your dinner party?
Educating Rit
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That is not to take anything away
from Mark Kilmurry’s portrayal
of Frank. Stepping into the role
at the last minute when the
original actor’s head was turned
by a television offer, as the play’s
Director (with a long string of acting
credits to his name), Mark was an
obvious choice. His Frank is clearly
sharp, learned and infused with a
love of literature, but at the same
time pitiful enough for the audience
to understand why Rita cannot
take his affectionate throwaway
comments seriously. Indeed,
when the two meet outside of the
scheduled tutorial times it is only
ever successful when it is at Rita’s
invitation - despite her deference
to Frank as the authority figure, it is
Rita who holds all of the power from
the start. The staging reflects her
slow awareness of this beautifully:
initially Rita sits on the floor to
write, or curls herself up into a
small figure at the desk as she
scribbles away while Frank lounges
back in his chair, or conducts his
teaching while standing. But as the
play unfolds Rita’s posture does too:
she sits proudly at the desk, talks
of standing to ask questions, and
ultimately physically directs Frank,
telling him where to sit.
This play is a little gem in the
heart of Sydney. The dialogue flows
effortlessly, the set and lighting
create the perfect ambience, and,
while McGraffin undoubtedly steals
the show, Kilmurry playing a drunk
Frank is a delight to be seen.
© Clare Hawley
‘Educating Rita’
is on at
the Ensemble Theatre,
Sydney until 28
June 2015
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hird Culture Kids presents
We Were Kings
, an intimate
series of stories of struggle and
disillusion that illuminate the real
yearnings of young Muslims.
The show begins with a male and
female figure rendering their faces
blank by holding up white canvases
to cover them. When the lights
go down, a multimedia show is
projected onto the canvas, projecting
western ideas of Muslim identity
onto the silent figures. There are
psychedelic galaxies and whirling
star formations representing a larger
universal hegemony and a female
hand complete with red nails dancing
not unlike a snake being charmed
by the accompanying music. A male
hand approaches the female hand
unsolicited and is pushed away. This
process is repeated until the female
hand finally gains independence and
fades out. It’s an incredibly powerful
statement, bringing up ideas of
consent, control and repression.
A young man tells his story of
immigration, a young girl smokes and
taps her sparkly red heels together,
another dreams of the comfort she
misses from family. They are angry,
loud, soft, kind, jovial and traumatised.
A young girl rocks in a chair wearing
a blue full-length stylised burka. She
cries and tells her story in fractured
gasps, not ever coming out and saying
it but implying rape and exploitation.
It’s powerful theatre, and exactly
what one would expect in a play that
explores Islam but it is done in a way
that avoids cliché.
The show is drawn from real stories
of young Muslims living in Australia
who are often silenced or closeted.
They highlight the fact that they
don’t fit in either culture, especially
a young homosexual man, the ideas
that Australians have of them that
are wrong but mostly what it is
to be a ‘crescent shaped peg in a
southern cross shaped hole.’ There
are some iconic and memorable
moments and the show is visually
stunning. Watching all three actors
perform their prayers in Arabic and
then English, using the ritual and
rhythm of the prayer to highlight the
hopes and dreams of ordinary young
people facing the same problems as
non-migrant youth mingled with the
complexity of feeling alienated and
trapped between the culture they
came from and the culture they are
trying to embrace is not only poignant
but incredibly memorable.
Once We Were Kings
played at The
Blue Room Theatre
, Perth from the
– 29
May 20
Ocσ σ σrσ igs
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Ocσ σ σrσ igs
© Mustafa Al Mahdi
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Under This Sun
f you are looking for a witty and
gritty approach to Australian
identity then look no further
Under This Sun
. It tells the
tale of three young people’s journeys
through the bush, intertwined yet
independent of each other. There
are only three actors (Maja Liwszyc,
Tristan McInnes and Peter Lane
Townsend) but they traverse vast
distances in both time and space,
hearkening back to a
Wild Colonial
era but told with the promise of
today’s youth.
Walking in, the audience is hit by
a dust cloud. Three pairs of legs
stick out from under an umbrella,
sprawled in the big pile of red sand
and sticks. Water bottles looking
as barren as the set hang from
the ceiling. This is the beauty of a
versatile space like the Blue Room,
it is essentially a blank canvass that
each play can transform into a set
as small as a room or as vast as the
Australian outback.
As the lights go down, a country
twang with a hint of didgeridoo
blasts from the speakers and the
players become dynamic, grabbing
the sticks and walking around the
sand, kicking it up in swathes.
Coughs emerge from the audience
as Grace recites the bush poetry of
Colonial Australia. Her exaggerated
broad accent breathing new life into
the old words. Then, she’s at a pub
as a barmaid. Her two customers
are Jeremy – an extremist
generation Y thrill-seeker who films
himself gearing up for his latest
Jack Kerouac inspired solo walk
© Jamie Breen
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
across Australia. He is irreverent
and not particularly self-aware,
constantly updating his status
with his speech and the ubiquitous
The final member of the trio is also
at the bar – Cooper is a young boy,
just becoming a man and starting
his rite of passage journey with his
father into the bush. You get the
feeling he doesn’t live up to his dad’s
expectations and that his dad is a
real macho man, yet Cooper is still
figuring out who he is. It’s when Grace
finds a letter from her brother stating
that he has left to explore the bush
that Grace resolves to find him.
The rest of the play shows the
three journeys and how they
all intertwine. There are issues
surrounding Australian identity
amongst the youth and this is
perfectly executed with Grace’s
obsession with her book of poetry.
She reads the words and feels them,
yet they seem an odd fit with the
life of a contemporary young girl.
Cooper is the self-confessed non-
reader. He mocks the poetry but one
really feels that he is dismissive of
its relevance to today’s Australia.
By stating that he learned some
great tips from watching American
movies, he subtly digs at Australia’s
identitiy crisis in an ever-increasing
globalisation process.
The bush and landscape serve as a
character in itself and the musical
interludes that signify movement
provide the perfect reminder
that we are all bound to this land.
Considering that most urbanisation
occurs along the coastlines of
Australia we can seem almost
disconnected to the lands that
were tamed in our colonial past.
There is little to no mention of First
Australians but this doesn’t take
away from the conversation with
the past.
Under This Sun
is a way to
connect with the colonial identity
and interaction with this land that
the three youths have built
identities on.
In a tragic turn, Jeremy’s story is
perhaps the most telling of the
willingness to follow a colonial
tradition but being woefully under-
equipped to do so. He relies so
heavily on his technology and his
connection with other people,
digitally, that when he is finally alone
in the bush he loses it a little bit. He
finally connects with the land and
feels invincible, until it is apparent
that he most certainly is not.
Under This Sun
is the perfect
balance between identity, youth,
tragedy and comedy. It shows
how the foundations of Australian
colonial identity – larrikinism,
optimism, hard yakka – have
informed the identities of our
current generation, almost despite
its apparent rejection of the past.
Under This Sun
was on at The Blue
Room Theatre, Perth from 19th May
– 6
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We come to you!
over his own head from the start. As
often befalls one-of-a-kind creations,
delicate for their exceptionality, it
was feared the sickly infant would
not live to see his first sunrise. He,
of course, did see it and many more
English mornings but when he turned
10, at his father’s urging, the family
traded life in the city for a sheep farm
in rural Tauranga, New Zealand.
Young Richard was often to be
found at the local cinema losing
hours watching back-to-back
showings of genre classics, like Dr.
X and The Day The Earth Stood Still.
What we absorb in our youth will
often take hold and proffer great
influence over adult choices, and
farmer Richard was no different.
In 1964, he supplanted agricultural
arts for more artistic ones and moved
back to England. In London he worked
at a series of smaller jobs until his
horseman skills, cultivated on the
pastures of Tauranga, landed him
a gig as a stuntman for local film
productions. But that desire to create
was already gnawing within him. Soon
his decision to pursue acting found
him studying the Stanislavsky acting
method locally and, like all actors
before and ever since, he availed
© Brian Greach
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himself of whatever paying gigs came
his way.
Suddenly you get a break.
It wasn’t long before better
opportunities started to come his
way. He found work in
in 1968. In 1969 he was invited
to join the cast of
, where he first
met fellow actor Tim Curry (appearing
in his first professional role.)
Whole pieces seem to fit into place.
His casting as Herod’s understudy in
Jesus Christ Superstar
would prove to
be one of the most fortuitous jobs of
his career. Although his time with the
rock opera was short lived, it brought
him together with Australian director,
Jim Sharman for the first time.
What followed next was a series of
charting singles he recorded with wife
Australian cast
© Brian Greach
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Kimi Wong (whom he also met during
his time in HAIR), including the song
that ended up as part of the
final book musical.
Richard’s focus on developing as a
songwriter resulted in his writing of
a musical tribute piece to the movies
that had shared so much of his youth:
Science Fiction, Double Feature
The tune garnered the flourishing
songwriter favourable criticism and
his mind began to ruminate on the
possibilities of cultivating an entire
musical experience for the theatre.
Richard Hartley (with whom he had
worked in Sam Sheppard’s
The Tooth
of Crime
), and Jim Sharman gathered
one night at Richard O’Brien’s flat to
discuss the prospect of doing a show
together. As the legend goes, by the
time Sharman had heard the four-
minute song Science Fiction, Double
Feature for the third time, he signed
on to do the yet unwritten play, for a 5
week run at the Royal Court Upstairs.
Tonight is the night that my beautiful
creature is destined to be born.
And Rocky was born - to magnificent
audience feeback. “It took off by
word of mouth,” says Patricia Quinn,
Magenta in both the original 1973
theatrical production and the iconic
film, “...by the end of the fifth week,
Mick Jagger, Bianca and Elliot
Gould were queuing for tickets.”
Soon its popularity surged beyond the
capacity of the 60-seat experimental
theatre. It was temporarily housed
in a converted cinema in Chelsea,
before it landed at the Kings Road
Theatre for the remainder of its
memorable run.
Swedish film star Brit Ekland brought
American music producer Lou Adler
to the see show. The musical stayed
with Adler, and less than two days
after attending, he had secured the
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American rights to the show.
Rocky Horror Show
premiered at The
Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles 19 March
1974, a mere nine months after its
initial performance. From here it
would move to Broadway, and the now
(in)famous film would grow to become
the very definition of a cult success,
remaining in constant circulation at
select cinemas ever since.
With its inspirational corset-clad
mantra of
Don’t Dream It – Be It
it is small wonder that O’Brien’s
originally penned camp musical
continues to find itself in a constant
state of revival.
Following a sell-out Australian tour in
The Rocky Horror Show
for a limited run at the Sydney Lyric
Theatre in April, and will be taking up
residence at Melbourne’s Comedy
Theatre starting 12 June 2015, with
many shows already sold out.
Star of stage and screen, Craig
McLachlan, revives his Helpmann
Award winning performance as
Frank. Musical theatre favourites
Amy Lehpamer (
Once, Dirty Rotten
) and Stephen Mahy
Grease, Jersey Boys
) play Janet
and Brad, the innocent soon-to-be-
weds caught with a flat, and Jayde
Westaby, as Magenta (
Chicago, The
Rocky Horror Show
UK tour).
Kristian Lavercombe whom
O’Brien himself has described as “a
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© Brian Greach
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fantastically talented Riff Raff,” joined
the Australian tour after travelling
the world as the notable hunchback.
First drawn to the show as a teenager,
Lavercombe says, “Rocky Horror has
been a big part of my life. I've been in
several different productions,” having
donned Frank'n'furter’s garters and
Brad Majors spectacles before his
tenure as the Handyman. And how
did he feel about stepping into such a
well-known role?
“When people think of Riff Raff they
rightly think of Richard O'Brien's
iconic performance. When a person
is so famous for playing a certain
role it can be difficult for people to
imagine the role being done any other
way. When I first rehearsed the role I
Richard O'Brien with
Australian cast
© Brian Greach
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
think I was conscious of trying to find
a happy medium between giving the
old Rocky fans what they wanted and
also attempting to bring as much of
myself to it as I could. Now when I'm
on stage I'm completely unaware of
that aspect.” Lavercombe has even
worked as Riff Raff along Richard
O’Brien in the Narrator’s role. “Richard
once told me that, ‘We must have been
born from the same alien mother.’” It’s
easy to see why Lavercombe considers
that “possibly the most treasured
comment” of his career.
Other familiar faces, returning from
the sold out 2014 Australian tour
include Nicholas Christo (
My Fair
) in the dual roles of Eddie and
Dr Scott, and Brendan Irving (
Officer and a Gentleman
) as the
object of Frank’s attention: Rocky.
The toe tapping Columbia, is played
by Angelique Cassimatis (
Poppins, King Kong
), and the Narrator,
none other than stage and television
veteran Bert Newton (
The Producers.
) Rounding out the
spectacularly talented ensemble,
The Phantoms are played by Meghan
O’Shea (
A Chorus Line
), Suzanne
Steele (
), Darren Tyler (
) and Drew Weston (
), and the Swing/Dance
Captain is Nicholas Eaton (
War Horse.
It’s astounding. Time is fleeting.
Catch Richard O’Brien’s Rocky
Horror Show at the Comedy Theatre,
Melbourne from 12 June 2015.
Performance Times are: Tues 7pm,
Wed–Sat 8pm, Sat matinee 2pm,
Sunday 1pm & 5.30pm and tickets
prices start at $69.90
For bookings: ticketmaster.com.au
or phone 1300 111 011 Groups 8+ call
1300 889 278
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