Watters Gallery (Sydney) presents an exhibition of artwork by the well-loved artist Chris O'Doherty, also known as Reg Mombassa. His irreverent designs have become iconic symbols for a generation of Australians. Hallucinatory Anthropomorphism coincides with a major Mambo retrospective at…
See article in its original context here by Richard Watts ArtsHub.
Blood, sweat and fears: establishing an independent theatre company
Plans, personnel, the right project – a number of ingredients are required when setting up a new theatre company.
Running an independent theatre company can be exhausting, heartbreaking work. Conversely, it can also offer theatre-makers enormous freedom, allowing artistic vision to flourish unhindered from commercial imperatives – albeit usually on the smell of an oily rag.
Together with collaborator and designer Romanie Harper, Aaron Orzech has formed Melbourne’s newest independent theatre company, The Family; their debut production, The Collected Works of Victor Bergman, opens at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs in early December.
‘We’d both worked with a bunch of different independent companies, Romanie as a designer and me as a performer, and we really wanted to break out on our own and have some more creative control over our own products. The company came out of a desire to do that,’ Orzech said.
Melbourne has dozens of independent companies, some of which are created to present a specific work before dissolving; others with longer term goals. The Family’s identity and aims are, at this early stage, still in flux.
See article in its original context here by Theatre Alive.
Once upon a time in Romania, Aaron Orzech and his girlfriend met a strange and powerful man named Victor Bergman. The next day, he married them in the village of Voroneț. By the third day, he was gone, but for days and weeks and months afterwards he haunted Aaron’s life.
From that encounter comes The Collected works of Victor Bergman. We caught up with Aaron, in the lead-up to the premiere season at fortyfivedownstairs…
Tell us a bit about The Collected works of Victor Bergman. How did the piece come about?
The Collected Works of Victor Bergman has its genesis in an encounter I had in 2009 while backpacking in Romania. My girlfriend and I met an older man, named Victor Bergman, with whom I became very close.
Within three days of our first meeting, he had convinced us to get married, presided over our wedding, and deserted us. This real-life story was the catalyst for our show.
As we worked on the show, co-director Romanie Harper and I began to find all sorts of strange parallels between my relationships with Victor Bergman, and Brian Lipson (my fellow performer in the show). These centered around notions of ritual, masculine mentorship, storytelling, and the passing on of wisdom from an older man to a younger one.
The work we have created is a cumulative fantasy. It’s drawn from the dreams, nightmares and real-life stories which the encounter with Victor Begrman has provoked in every member of The Family.
See article in its original context here by Andrew Fuhrmann for the Australian Book Review.
Anne (Helen Morse) is in her sixties, a grandmother, still doing piece work to support herself while babysitting for her daughter. She begins a relationship with Majid (Yomal Rajasinghe), a much younger man of a different race, an immigrant who is out of work and still finding his feet in his new home. An old white woman and a young coloured man – what will the community think?
Dreamers is an Australian première and marks the first collaboration between playwright Daniel Keene and director Ariette Taylor in more than a decade. Between 1997 and 2002, the two led the Keene/Taylor Theatre Project, a small ensemble which presented more than forty-seven shows and influenced a generation of theatre artists. Back then, they focused on the lives of the urban underclasses and on characters on the margins of society. Here, in a one-off collaboration, they turn to intolerance and fear in a testing but ultimately uplifting drama that stands love on the uncertain ground between faith and despair. Majid and Anne’s relationship inspires resentment and disgust in the local community; what starts out as nasty gossip and offended sniping soon escalates to violent confrontation.
Peter Green is in France and couldn’t attend the opening night of Dreamers at fortyfivedownstairs. But had been looking forward to it so much he arranged for two women to go in his place – one in her 70s (that’s me, Marysia Green) and one in her early 20s (Charlotte Righetti). With orders to forward him our impressions right away and share them with 3MBS listeners. So here they are.
A sense of anticipation was palpable when we entered the pleasantly distressed former warehouse that is fortyfivedownstairs. The collaboration of writer Daniel Keene and Ariette Taylor , whose joint Project about a decade ago created theatre pieces still talked about with admiration, was about to be renewed. The set, by Adrian Chisholm, was both beautiful and intriguing – a neat bed-sit, a cafe, work spaces, all hinted at in a free-flowing arrangement across the large performing space. A pianola player pumped the beast to give us renderings of Frank Sinatra songs. Aussie characters gathered round and sang and the audience joined in, unbidden. Who were these people? What was going happen between them?
See article in its original context here by Anne-Marie Peard for the Aussie Theatre.
I wasn’t in Melbourne when the Keene/Taylor project was the darling of this city’s independent theatre scene (1997–2002), so it’s a joy to see Mary Lou Jelbart’s fortyfivedownstairs brings writer Daniel Keene and director Ariette Taylor back together with Dreamers.
Originally written by Keene for French company Tabula Rasa (Keene is loved in France), Dreamers is about loneliness and the hope that can be found even when the isolation seems impenetrable.
Set in a low-income block of flats in any city, widow Anne (Helen Morse) lives alone and earns her living from sewing consignment garments. She’s rarely interrupted, except when she catches the bus to babysit her grandson. At the bus stop she meets fellow residents including building foreman (Marco Chiappi), a former bus driver now ticket inspector (Paul English) and younger new-comer to the city Majid (Yomal Rajasinghe) who’s looking for work.
Majid knows that people ignore him and move away because he’s black, but Anne doesn’t and when he’s turned away at their local cafe by the waiter (Jonathan Taylor), she buys him a coffee. When their friendship develops, locals (Natasha Herbert and Nicholas Bell) are disgusted and her daughter (Brigid Gallacher) doesn’t understand.
While it’s a clear reflection on the many ways people hate each other for no reason, Taylor’s direction – and an impeccable cast – never forgets that everyone is a likeable and loved person in their own way. With songs around a pianola and dances around garbage bins, the gentle humour makes it easy to see how hate can surface in the most everyday of places and in the most unsuspecting people.
See article in its original context here by Cheryl Threadgold for the Melbourne Observer.
Writer Daniel Keene and director Ariette Taylor’s latest collaborative work, Dreamers, can be enjoyed at fortyfivedownstairs until November 30.
Keene aptly describes his contemporary play as dealing with the struggle against intolerance. Widowed grandmother Anne’s (Helen Morse) relationshipwith young Muslim refugee Majid (Yomal Rajasinghe) attracts ugly, bigoted community condemnation.
However, positive messages of love, strength, cultural adaptability and ability to move on in life regardless of age, reassuringly shine through racist, ageist and social isolation issues and the couple’s realistic self-questioning.
See article in its original context here by Harry Hughes for The Music.
Though set in our complicated modern world, some the characters in Dreamers reflect the attitudes of a much older society. These rather unappealing secondary players cannot fathom the intimate relationship of the protagonists, an elderly white widower and a much younger immigrant who can barely find work in this country, and they make it their business to make life as difficult as possible for the pair.
Lucente is a MAJOR (in capitals) world class performer who never fails to delight. STAGE WHISPERS Break on through to the other side as the one-man circus Luigi Lucente (ROCKY HORROR, WICKED, JERSEY BOYS) leads you through the mind of…
See article in its original context here by Myron My for Theatre Press.
Romance reveals racism
Originally commissioned for French theatre company Tabula Rasa, the English-language premiere of Dreamers presented by fortyfivedownstairs could easily be a narrative born straight out of current Australian politics and newspapers. The story follows a young Muslim refugee, Majid, who seeks work and acceptance from a community that eyes him with suspicion, disdain and aggression.
Majid (the impressive Yomal Rajasinghe) is waiting for the bus where he meets the lonely and much older Anne (Helen Morse). Through a second chance encounter their friendship deepens into a romantic relationship, much to the outrage of the town’s residents.
Daniel Keene’s story is a slow-burn but utterly absorbing tale of a world of casual bigotry and racial discrimination, where at one point, a resident ranks Majid’s “darkness” on a scale of 1 to 10. The scenes involving the various townspeople (Nicholas Bell, Jonathan Taylor, Paul English, Natasha Herbert and Marco Chiappi) whilst uncomfortable to watch and hear, are a stark reminder of the attitudes that are still held by many in Australia.
Age-discrimination, poverty and gender roles are also explored in Dreamers, but with Keene’s infusion of light-hearted or comedic moments and interludes, he never makes you feel overwhelmed by the issues but allows them to enter your thoughts and rest there.
See article in its original context here by Rebecca Harkins-Cross for The Age.
Dreamers showcases hope in stunning cast led by Helen Morse
A reflective panel hangs at the rear of the stage, casting the real against its warped mirror image. Perceptions of Anne (Helen Morse) and Majid’s (Yomal Rajasinghe) relationship are distorted, too. The apparent transgression of older white woman taking up with a younger black man – both similarly isolated – becomes the focus for a community’s prejudice. Alienated subjects transpose their ennui into hatred.
Dreamers begins where Douglas Sirk’s melodrama, All That Heaven Allows (1955), and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s reinterpretation, Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974), finished. This take isn’t anchored in a specific time or place, stressing continuity with these precursors but taking some sting out of the social critique.
Where those films dealt with class and race, respectively, here they coalesce. The poor man who is content regardless undermines the bourgeois existence, despised just as bitterly as the black other.
Playwright Daniel Keene creates an interplay between melodramatic and poetic modes that’s mirrored in Ariette Taylor’s direction. His observation is shrewd and funny yet has didactic proclivities, which Taylor counters with moments of levity.
See article in its original context here by Kate Herbert for The Herald Sun.
IT IS more than 10 years since the last Daniel Keene and Ariette Taylor theatrical collaboration so Dreamers, their new production, was awaited with eager anticipation.
Dreamers has some of the hallmarks of those much-loved, early Keene/Taylor Theatre Project works: pressing contemporary social issues, championing of underdogs and outsiders, an impeccable cast, unexpected choreography and sparse design (Adrienne Chisholm).
Anne (Helen Morse), a lonely widow struggling to make a living from sewing piecework, begins an unexpected love affair with Majid (Yomal Rajasinghe), an equally isolated but much younger man who is a recent immigrant.
Because Majid is not only young but also dark-skinned, their relationship initially raises eyebrows and silent disapproval, but this simmering intolerance and antagonism soon escalates into unbridled racism and abuse.
Their neighbours — the banal and the bigoted — target difference and disadvantage, creating a non-existent enemy that these hypocrites can blame for their own malaise and sense of dispossession.
Morse is one of Melbourne’s most accomplished and admired actors and her portrayal of the reserved and dignified Anne is delicate, intimate and nuanced.
See article in its original context here by Arts Review.
Who is Helen Morse?
A player of many parts.
What would you do differently to what you do now?
Devote more time to furthering my own projects. Join the Tivoli Lovelies tap class.
Who inspires you and why?
Malala Yousefzai. Shot in the face when she was fifteen by a Taliban assassin who boarded her school bus, she survived and continues to speak out for the education of girls and the rights of all children – including the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists. The writer Helen Garner for the rigour of her thought and her ability to reveal the truth of our lives.
DREAMERS is featured on page 12 of mX today!
"Go and see this show." Peter Burdon, The Advertiser ★★★★ 1/2 "Griffiths is an incredibly skilled performer and an absolute charmer." Bobby Goudie, The Clothesline "The show might be called Adolescent but there is nothing immature about this performance. Griffiths...…