English teacher by day, theatre blogger by night. You can also find my stories from the Brisbane stalls at bluecurtainsbris.wordpress.com/ or follow me on Twitter (@BlueCurtainsB) / Facebook (Blue Curtains Brisbane: Stories From The Stalls)
Published March 16th 2014
Theatre risks can equal some different rewards
If, when you envisage theatre, you only imagine an increasingly expensive QPAC-like experience, then perhaps you should give some of these options a look, as a means of reinvigorating your usual theatregoing experience.
1. Support student theatre Theatre is there for people to attend. Too often however, opportunities are lost by misguided conceptions as to the probable worth of shows, especially in the case of student theatre. Not only can student theatre provide an inexpensive night out, but it can offer access to a range of interesting shows.
Vena Cava Productions, the resident theatre company of the Queensland University of Technology, for example, is celebrating its 18th year in 2014 with a diverse program, beginning with the promising comedy "Brisbane (a doing word)", written by David Burton, showing at The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts from March 20 - 22. With a description that includes mention of comedy, contemporary theatre, slam poetry and a big dose of Brisbane (love it or hate it), the work sounds like an intriguing new rendition of a tried and tested theme, for if there is one thing Brisbane theatre companies do well, it is tell Brisbane stories. And this is just one of many on offer this year.
2. See something different For something different, why not see a work in progress or attend a reading such as that of "Anita Elizabeth Jenson" (the name, the marvel, the majesty) by Lewis Treston and Nicholas K. Watson, being presented on Tuesday 18th March in special edition at room 60 for only $10 as part of a fundraising event towards the costs of pitching the show for the world to enjoy. Although only presented as a reading, this tale of a tragic ageing celebrity is a lively character piece (which was presented at the 2013 Festival of Student Theatre), rich in nuance and laugh-out-loud humour and well worth a look as part of its journey to being fully realised on stage.
Tickets are now on sale for the 2014 Anywhere Theatre Festival, a 12 day (May 7 – 18) fiesta of performance, occurring in the nooks and crannies of unusual locations around Brisbane's city and suburbs. The festival features performances from circus to comedy, dance to drama, poetry to puppetry, burlesque and music, with 420 performances of 67 productions show. So there is no shortage of choice in a varied program of relatively inexpensive offerings. With performances occurring in barbers, boats, bowls clubs and bathhouses, amongst other venues (there is even, for the first time, a performance in a hospital), the festival certainly exemplifies a different way to engage in theatre. One look at the program and you are bound to find something to your liking.
4. Try a different location Theatre is unforgivably immediate. And especially in intimate venues like Metro Arts, there is little place for artists to hide. But this is exactly what can make the experience at places such as Metro Arts experience so rewarding. Metro Arts has always celebrated risk and nurtured new and emerging ideas, forms and practices. And from the look of their program, there is going to be much to celebrate in 2014, from the return of The Escapists to exploring the nature of travel as a rite of passage for young Australians in "Packed" and "The Dokboki Box", a live music and performance collaboration between Australian and Korean artists. All that's left to do is check it out.
5. Try a different genre Brisbane's theatre scene is alive with variety and this can be no better seen than in the range of genres on offer. If you are used to traditional theatre with of the straight-forward narrative and clear conflict type, then maybe seeing a physical circus might be a rewarding detour. With companies such as Circa Contemporary Circus and Expressions Dance Company calling Brisbane home, there is certainly no excuse not to. And what is on offer is work of the highest calibre.
After performing over 200 shows in Berlin Circa will be back in Brisbane in April to present a season of "Beyond" at the Brisbane Powerhouse, a shows that promises to be a surreal, enchanting and moving mix of circus, show tunes, ballads and electronica. Expressions Dance Company are also in creative development for "The Red Shoes", Natalie Weir's signature work for 2014, which promises to be a magical follow up to her 2013 stunningly beautiful "When Time Stops".
Sure, seeing something different can be a gamble. Thankfully though, with alternatives such as these, the price of a loss is never that high. And when you have a win, the elation at experiencing an undiscovered gem can be glorious.