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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Over Exposed?

I love the smell of fresh directors. I also have a habit of embarrassing myself when I am around them. Maybe it’s the charm they give, or maybe it’s the fact that these are their early days and one day we might be calling them God.

Whatever the romances, the first batch of three has arrived. These three Victoria students are exposing themselves on stage, each with a half hour production that marks their directorial debut. As first time directors, they are the freshest kids off the block, ready to “dare” and to “experiment”.

William Donaldson brings the New Zealand premiere of Edward Albee’s Finding the Sun, a social satire, exploring sexuality and questioning the essence of relationships. Rachel Baker has adapted New Zealand playwright, Jo Randerson’s monologue, Banging cymbal, Clanging Gong, for three actors. The three females play a lone Barbarian, who tells her obscene yet gorgeous tale, which questions our view of a civilised being. Claire O’Loughlin will present another New Zealand premiere, Martin Crimp’s Fewer Emergencies, a black comedy with an optimistic outlook on a dark situation.

On Banging Cymbal Clanging Gong, Baker says, “Girls can like beer, sex and gory battle scenes too, and that’s why I was wooed by this bizarre misfit and her story.” Rachel waves her arms in buoyancy, “I just love the energy of the process, it is exhausting, yet completely invigorating.”

Like Rachel, Claire began her production, fresh from Ralph Upton’s recent 1001 Things You Must Do Before You Die. Her concept draws on that process. “The actors are who they are. They essentially play the text, not forcing it, and the audience is made to use their imagination”. This production plays with this blur of reality and unreality. The audience is left wondering if they are watching or participating…or are they orchestrating the emergency?

William Donaldson, the director of the fast paced and ensemble work Finding the Sun experiments with a mixture of Stanislavskian and Suzuki physical theatre techniques, allowing the actors to find the characters through physicality and truth, rather then through the usual psychological means. Daring. He allows his cast to discover their roles through improvisation and games, which also helps to establish the cast as an ensemble, “I really want to bridge the gap between the text and the play, the play and the audience and make them engage”.

While these three productions set out to challenge the audience, Rachel neatly sums up, “Essentially it is a… story. All I am trying to do is restore value to storytelling.” You may squeal with “Why does this matter?” Well, because this isn’t your sit around a campfire and yarn about who slammed who, this is theatre. You got to be worried of how it looks and how it sounds. More importantly, you have to be concerned about the weight in the story. If not, you have become the Michael Bay of theatre.

These three are anything but that. The stories they are to tell are of certain heaviness to us emotionally. It is not about violence, chaos or mad sex romps, but why we do what we do and how it happens. These three directors dare and experiment to do one simple thing, allow us to look at ourselves in a different light. After all, the stories are about us.


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  1. Jackson Coe says:

    Just a wee clarification, this season of plays is showing from August 13 – 16 at Studio 77 at 7pm. Sorry we left this out of the printed edition!

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