Saturday, November 21

DAY 2 of Gorge '09

The sassy songbird, Libby O'Donovan, sung us sensationally into the second night of Gorge '09, this time looking vampy and voluptuous in a figure-hugging red gown. Accompanied with great relish on the keyboard by the incomparable Matthew Carey, Matthew showed his gift with a quip by throwing in the odd provocative comment from the keyboard during Q and As.

Daisy Brown and Chris Drummond, felt a bit like it was Groundhog Day @ Space Theatre last night. About half the audience had been there the night before so knew the drill. But D and C wanted to ensure first-timers were included. So they reiterated the background to Gorge, the rules and so on. You can read it in an earlier blog.

Featured writer last night was Matthew Cormack. Matt writes for film usually - and, as he pointed out, collaboratively. So the script he wrote for Gorge '09 was not only his first theatre script but also the first he had written alone so quite a challenge.

During Daisy's writer Q and A, Matt revealed he was born in Adelaide, grew up in Adelaide and had brought his Mum along to verify this. He also revealed he was a twin - a point the audience remembered later when they heard his play, Like Brothers In A Bathtub, read by Eliza Lovell, Rory Walker and Brendan Rock, in which Matt's main character has a twin - or does he?

First interpretation of the work after interval was by media-inspired company TheimaGen (Director, Justin McGuinness, later explained the name describes them as 'of the theatre and image generation').

Using two projection screens, a shopping trolley, a banana, a fluorescent light and two actors, Jamie Harding and Kate Roxby, TheimaGen combined live performance with film and played between the two - literally.

Unreasonable Adults, who describe themselves as a hybrid-art collective, presented a non-verbal installation type interpretation with a range of props - including a banana - and the script realised with text-to-speech synthesis.

The two very contrasting interpretations divided the audience completely and resulted in some robust discussion and heated comment during the forum that followed, with a couple of people expressing their opinion that the writer's script had been dishonoured by UA's interpretation.  The writer, though, expressed admiration for both interpretations and reflected that each were equally valid.

Two in the audience who spoke strongly for the UA interpretation were brothers and actors David and Brendan Rock. When Chris Drummond pointed out to the audience that they were twins they  immediately cried out together, "But we're not in a bathtub!" Hilarious. Well, maybe you had to be there!

The heated and robust discussion continued down in the Bistro post-show with questions being raised about what is art and what is not.

The final night of GORGE '09 tonight sees Nicki Bloom's play, Footsoldiers, interpreted by Real Time Collaborators and Stone/Castro.  You'd be mad to miss it....

Friday, November 20

The GORGE-ing has begun!

Day one of Gorge '09 went well.

The luscious Libby O'Donovan was Mistress of Ceremonies and sang the show off to a good start after downing an audience member's beer in one! Yes, you can take drinks in to Gorge '09...

Framed within a set dripping with red and strawberries, Gorge '09 artistic directors, Daisy Brown and Chris Drummond,  gave the audience the back story to Gorge, the rules the artist had to work within  and a quick summary of how the night would run - and encouraged the audience to be interactive throughout.

Led by Libby like a lamb to slaughter, Alirio, as the featured writer of the night,  joined Daisy on the red couch. In an amusing question and answer routine (including multiple choice), the audience heard a little about Alirio's background - where he began, what his worst bad habit was - and his process as a writer and writing this script for Gorge '09.

Alirio's script (Conflict Under An Australian Quilt) was read by 3 local actors, Eliza Lovell, Brendan Rock and Rory Walker, with script directions by Chris Drummond. This set up for the two amazingly different interpretations of the script presented after interval by freelance director Dan Clarke (with actors Tamara Lee, Sahil Choujar and Mondli Makhoba) and freelance choreographer Aidan Munn (with dancers José Gonzalez, Glen McCurley and Rachel Mendham).

As part of the rules of Gorge, neither artist could have contact with the writer to discuss the script or question meaning or intention. During the interactive forum at the end the audience was treated with hearing the very different ways Dan and Aidan each went about interpreting the script they were given and bringing it to life onstage.

The success of Gorge is as much in the hands of the audience as it is those on stage and last night's audience got very much into the spirit of things. Marks will be given at the end of Gorge '09 for the best/loudest/most interactive audience!

Next on the chopping block is writer, Matt Cormack! Tonight Matt's script, Like Brothers in a Bathtub, will be interpreted by Unreasonable Adults and TheimaGen.

Wednesday, November 18

Being short isn't easy!

Nicki Bloom, the third of the three commissioned Gorge '09 writers has given Brink Bits... her thoughts on writing a ten minute play.

I find ten minute plays difficult to write. I find ten minute plays with no restrictions on theme, scope or content even more difficult to write. With a longer play you have the luxury of time in which to build the linguistic patterns, psychological details and thematic resonances which constitute the universe of the play. In a ten-minute play, the universe needs to be immediate – created, contained and understood from the first. I like my work to be at once specific and open. Specific in its language and rhythms, so as to give performers firm, secure footholds, yet open enough to allow room for invention, movement and discovery. I am very much looking forward to seeing what the universes we’ve all made alone look like together…

Friday, November 13

Gorge '09 outed...

Brink Bits... has been told that the Gorge '09 schedule is finally outed!

Thur 19 Nov: 'Conflict Under An Australian Quilt' by Alirio Zavarce. Imagined, interpreted by Daniel Clarke/freelance director (performed by Sahil Choujar, Tamara Lee and Mondli Makhoba) and imagined, interpreted by Aidan Munn/freelance choreographer (performed by José
Gonzalez, Glen McCurley and Rachel Mendham).

Fri 20 Nov: 'Like Brothers in a Bathtub' by Matthew Cormack. Imagined, interpreted by TheimaGen (performed by Jamie Harding and Kate Roxby) and imagined, interpreted by Unreasonable Adults (performed by Kerrin Rowlands and Jason Sweeney)

Sat 21 Nov: 'Footsoldiers' by Nicki Bloom. Imagined, interpreted by Real Time Collaborators (performed by Emma Beech, Craig Behenna, Antje Guenther and Hew Parham) and imagined, interpreted by Stone/Castro (performed by Nick Bennet and Merwan Stevens).

it is okay not to have all the answers at once...

Daniel Clarke is a theatre director, producer and festival director. Brink Bits caught up with him on his Gorge '09 project...

It doesn’t feel like we are working on a ten minute play! It is probably a good thing that we have a 40 hour time limit for rehearsals as I’m sure we could just keep going. Last night we introduced a very important set piece. It became almost like another character. We were thrown. All of the work that we had done the night before had to be revisited and a lot of it changed. At one stage last night my mind went completely blank. I did not know what else to offer – I often forget that rehearsals are for working through challenges and that it is okay not to have all the answers at once – if we knew all the answers why would we do it?

We worked through the challenges and I left the rehearsal feeling like we had all worked really hard. We’ve made some really bold choices with our interpretation. It is not subtle. But then I don’t think that the writing is subtle. I don’t think this is the intention of the piece. We have found the absurdity in the ideas that are being explored and the attitudes that are being challenged. We are yet to run it in its entirety and hope to get many runs in tomorrow. Then I need to time to reflect on the work until we meet again next week. I look forward to Daisy and Chris seeing the work today and hearing their feedback on it. Hoping they find it as bizarrely funny as we have. I do sometimes catch myself in rehearsals thinking wow this is odd, I’m enjoying it, but maybe I’m just odd?!! I guess we’ll see. Dan xx

Thursday, November 12

The writer's process is usually a solitary one...

Brink  Bits... was pleased to hear from Alirio Zavarce, another of the three commissioned Gorge '09 writers. Originally from Venezuela Alirio works with various arts organisations in Adelaide as a performer and creator. This is the first time he has handed over his words for someone else to interpret.

It has been an honour, a challenge and a great experience to be chosen as one of the featured writers for Gorge 09. The writer's process is usually a solitary one, so it has been fantastic to write a lot of material and get feedback from Daisy and Chris. The camaraderie between Matt and Nicky has also been an eye opener in terms of the styles and ways they approach writing.

For my piece I have chosen to play with "race relations" in Australia. It is a topic we don't usually get to open up and talk about so I'm very interested in how the audience reacts to it. I have approached it in a humorous way and I can't wait to find out who the companies are who will interpret it and to see what they have done with it. I feel if at the end of the night we have had a fun and honest conversation about race and politics in Australia, the play will have fulfilled its aim.

Wednesday, November 11

The write way....

Matthew Cormack is one of the three Gorge '09 writers commissioned to write a 10 minute script. Matt tells us some of the challenges he has experienced in doing this...

The challenge of writing a short piece is that you can rewrite and rewrite and still run the risk of not knowing the story because it doesn’t take long to write it all again. You can start again and discover something else, and then start again and discover something else, and think you’re making progress. Look at the different things that my mind can come up with! I’m a fucking genius! But you’re not making progress, because at some point the writer has to take hold of these characters and tell their story in the right way. Perhaps that is what everyone calls ‘craft’; or perhaps it’s just coming to the story in a way that’s quicker than writing 50 drafts. Only next week will tell if I’ve managed to find the right way to tell the right story. If I haven’t, so be it, because the beauty of Gorge '09 is it is also no longer my story, it belongs to the companies interpreting it and what they make of it (or make sense of). Can’t wait for next week!

Tuesday, November 10

We don't know what's going to happen...

Craig Behenna of Real Time Collaborators stopped by Brink Bits....

We go to the room.

We tend to wear black, we don't know why, it's just a thing, like a uniform.

The room is also black. We're shut in, and we feel at home.

We don't know what's going to happen. We just wait for the instructions in an email. We go into the black room and do the exercises. We record the results and send the disc off to Sydney. Then we wait for more instructions. At the moment we're playing with tape decks but we don't quite know why. We hope she will come soon so we can all be in the same black room together.

Also, there are too many of us to play the characters. We don't quite know what to do about that yet. But we're OK about it - at the moment we're playing everyone at once.

Real Time Collaborators  is a group of SA-trained artists who work worldwide across stage, screen and cross-platform new media projects. Gorge '09 brings them together in Adelaide for the first time. Their presentation is Sat 21 Nov, 7.30pm at Space Theatre.

Monday, November 9

Moving words....

Aidan Munn, choreographer and dance teacher, talks to Brink  Bits... about the work he is doing with José Gonzalez,  Glen McCurley and Rachel Mendham for Gorge '09:

We started in an empty studio with the dancers' bodies and the script, a daunting task ahead of us. The process has been about discovering movement that enhances the words, adding another layer of emotion and bringing out the rhythm of the script. It was my aim that although the dancers say every word, that if the words were removed the story would still be told. I am almost asking the impossible of the performers, it is as if they are performing two works simultaneously, reciting lines while completing complex movement phrases and partnering. At this moment half way through the creative process it has been a lot of hard work, but we are beginning to get somewhere. Now that the script is almost learnt and the steps created, it’s time to have some fun, to bring out the humour hidden within this play which deals with some serious and complicated topics.

Aidan & the company's work will be featured on Thursday 19 November at Gorge '09

Saturday, November 7

Serve of fruit with Libby O'Donovan

The sassy songbird, Libby O'Donovan, was on Peter Goers' show on ABC 891 last night and plugged Gorge '09 - of which she is Mistress of Ceremonies. Seems it was suggested she'll be wearing PVC and smearing strawberries on herself - though she swears that was more Peter than her.....

Hmmm.  Well, you heard it on the ABC.....

Thursday, November 5

Unreasonable Adults through a different lens...

UNREASONABLE ADULTS presents their Gorge '09 interpretation on Friday 20 November. Unreasonable Adults is a hybrid-art collective who work together to devise, strategise and develop new live and mediated works for stage, film and online projects.

Our first hurdle or consideration is that none of us are actors! So we are looking at this script through a different lens, thinking in terms of creating an audio experience first and foremost, and then  looking at how to frame that visually - so it is a real challenge in some senses, as our script is so clearly written as a series of scenes to be performed. We have been translating stage directions into sounds, and re-imagining the essential story as a radio play, performed live. We're not sure whether to place a body on the stage (a live body, of course!) or just let the audio fill the space. It's been a real up and down wrestling match for us ... but we're happy with what we've shaped. Working outside our comfort zone has given us a lot of food for thought. 

Wednesday, November 4

A word from Daisy Brown

Daisy Brown says:

GORGE‘09 is a bold interactive mini festival unlike any other, in which writing for performance meets its purpose….it’s performed! It provides insight into both the writing process and the creation of the performance as you get to meet the writers themselves as well as the companies who bring their words to life.

The countdown has begun! The three newly-commissioned scripts have been allocated and now the six companies are feverishly creating their interpretations of the work. Ready for us, the audience, to witness and begin to understand what makes a writer’s words come to life. And don’t forget the writers have had no communication with the companies, they don't even know yet which companies are interpreting their works! So we all get to see the interpretation for the very first time together!

GORGE’09 offers a new experience for Adelaide audiences and artists to directly engage in the creation of new work, an experience where the audience is active throughout the evening, allowing theatre to be a living experience.

3 writers showcased over 3 nights with 6 performance companies interpreting their work in their own unique style. You wouldn’t want to miss it! Come on all three nights… We'll see you there! love Daisy x

The Gorge '09 back story....

Daisy Brown and Chris Drummond are the artistic directors of Gorge '09.  As director-in-residence at the  Adelaide University Theatre Guild. Chris created an event called Brewed, a sort of instant theatre. It was focussed on collaboration in much the same way as Brink works now, with all the creative teams brought together on an equal footing then working together to each create a piece of theatre within 24 hours - concept, script, development, rehearsal and performance. Brewed was exciting, exhilarating and completely exhausting. Only some lived to tell the tale and Daisy Brown was one of them!

Chris moved to Sydney and the Theatre Guild approached Daisy to restage the event. She refused as it had almost killed her! But took the basic concept and improved it. She changed the focus to interpretation, developed the idea of 1 writer's work being interpreted by 2 very different companies, wrote some guidelines and created a spectacularly exciting event called GORGE.

GORGE has had several very successful incarnations over the years and in 2008 Chris asked Daisy [now of 'The Misery Children'] if Brink Productions could present GORGE '09 as part of our FEED program. He saw this as an opportunity for Brink to give back to the community, to provide an opportunity for emerging writers and independent artists and small companies to be spotlighted. Daisy was thrilled that GORGE would get another outing and was excited to develop new aspects to the event with Chris.

Brink committed its team and a substantial amount of resources from its core funding, sought and secured philanthropic support from Sidney Myer Fund toward the event and partnered with Adelaide Festival Centre's inSPACE program. Additional philanthropic support from  the Mabel & Franklyn Barrett Trust Fund will give opportunities for disadvantaged theatre-goers to attend GORGE '09 as well.

Over the next couple of weeks Brink Blogger will post bits n pieces from Daisy and Chris and others involved in GORGE '09.