Monday, February 14

New faces at Brink: Chris

Chris Pitman (Skip Miller) and Lizzy Falkland (Alison Caldicott) in Skip Miller's Hit Songs.
Photo by Chris Herzfeld. See the full album here.

Chris Pitman plays 'war-torn Walkley Award Winning Hot Spot Poster Boy' Skip Miller. Involved in the development since 2008, Chris shares what is special about working in a collaborative way.

"I was in Sydney for the last few months of 2010, working on a play called OUR TOWN for the Sydney Theatre Company," says Chris. "When that finished I went to Vietnam for a couple of weeks and spent all my money."

"It has been Skip Miller's Hit Songs I have been looking forward to above anything, since we did the first workshop in 2008," he says. "The development process has been completely inspiring. We have pulled stories, ideas, and research from many different people and places. The play is now beginning to emerge from all this. It is not often you get to be involved in a production, almost from the inception of the idea."

"The difficult thing about this process, as with all new work, is that the play is still evolving. I imagine there will be changes and rewrites well into production week. We are certainly going to be working hard right up to opening night," he says.

But when it comes to giving hints about the play, Chris is as guarded as the character he plays.

"I don't think I have any particularly favourite lines," he says. "Well, maybe I do but telling would give too much of the game away."

Thursday, February 10

New faces at Brink: Mondli

Chris Pitman and Mondli Makhoba, photographed by Chris Herzfeld

Mondli Makhoba is a man of many talents: acting, singing, dancing... and we're sure there are more! He plays Augustus Forkay who is a pharmacist and one of Skip's oldest friends.

"I am a Zulu man born in Durban, South Africa. I have been in Adelaide since 2006," says Mondi.

"The Brink rehearsals have been a great, enjoyable learning process for me. I like Chris's brilliancy, how he connects actors with the characters, closing every gap, answering every question and analysing every line in the play. This help us actors a lot," he says. "I learn so much as I watch other actors work."

"There are multiple scenes and lines I like, but the one that jumps out at the moment is this one. I think this line tells us about the kind of a person that Neville is."

And I hold on for too long. - Neville

"I started performing professionally in 1999 in a show called Shaka Inoguration by Storey Productions in which I was lucky to play the main role as King Shaka. Storey Productions is a theatre company based in South Africa and the UK. I also did The Mighty Zulu Nation which I was playing one of the Zulu chiefs, and Africa-Africa which toured the UK, Italy and South Africa," says Mondli.

"It was during these shows when I realised that I can convey notions through acting."

"From 2003 I was with The Pride of the Zulu, a theatre company that was based in Durban specialising in telling the history of the Zulu's through theatre. After that I I was with The Lions of Zululand touring in the UK and USA, but this was only music and dance. In 2005-2006 I was with Ikhwezi le Africa playing in the show Bhambatha Uprising in 1906, and my luck came to play again I as played King Bhambatha whowas one of the no nonsense Zulu kings."

"In Australia in 2009 I was part of Jambo Africa doing a play called The Magic Waterhole and I also started performing solo Zulu dance. In the same year I became part of Brink Productions and also worked in a short film called Paper Planes," he says.

Tuesday, February 8

New faces at Brink: Assina

Lizzy Falkland and Assina Ntawumenya, photographed by Chris Herzfeld.

Assina Ntawumenya plays Patience Lugor in Skip Miller's Hit Songs.

She has just finished her social work degree at UniSA and has been the deputy chair of the Association of Burundian Community of South Australia for the past four years.

Assina was included in the 2009 SA Women's Honour Roll of 100 notable women serving the South Australian community and has been recently nominated for inclusion in the Who's Who of Australian Women 2011.

In between all of this, Assina has been contributing to the development of Skip Miller's Hit Songs.

"I am Burundian-Australian and I have been in Adelaide for 6 years and 6 months," says Assina.

"This is my first time to do acting in Australia. I performed in a number of shows when I was in high school back in Tanzania. In fact, I was nominated as the best actor in 3 shows."

"So far, I have found the rehearsal process to be enjoyable and fun," she says, explaining that her favourite scene is when Patience 'loses patience' with Neville at the beach. "I also like the way Skip says 'WOW'," she says.

Thursday, February 3

Behind the music of Skip Miller's Hit Songs

Quentin Grant, Jerome Lyons and Lamine Nanky are our live musicians in Skip Miller's Hit Songs. Bringing a range of musical backgrounds to the performance, the three have spent the last few weeks creating original music for the show. Learn more about what obscure instruments they will be using and listen to a sneak-peek rehearsal track below!

♫ M'Bira
The M'Bira - a kind of 'thumb piano' - is a traditional African instrument popular in Southern and Eastern Africa.

♫ Kora
Looking like a guitar, sounding like a harp and played by sitting in front of it, the West African Kora is traditionally made from a large vegetable covered in cow hide, with thinly cut antelope hide as strings. These days the 21 strings (played with two hands) are made from either harp strings or fishing line.

The Balafon, also West African, is similar to a xylophone. In some cultures the instrument was or still is sacred and can only be played by trained religious members at special events like festivals, funerals or marriages.

♫ Song Gong
The Song Gong is a Jerome Lyons speciality. Jerome runs The Cheese Factory Studio Gallery in Meadows and makes instruments under the name Tribal Instruments Australia. This one is sculpted out of a gas bottle to create a drum capable of different melodic notes. Clever!

The djembe is a kind of hand drum that is apparently hard than it looks! Years of training are required to achieve the sound quality of a master drummer.

Other: Guitar, cowbells, flute and bongos

Bounce - Skip Miller's Hit Songs
Rehearsal track

Quentin Grant, Jerome Lyons and Lamine Nanky