Circle- Theatre Review

 

Five friends plan together to take a road trip despite it being quite difficult since they have different schedules. Having been friends since High school, they’ve continued to keep in touch even though they no longer hang out like they did back in High school. Several events that happened in the flashbacks were relatable. Hanging out with friends playing video games, watching tv, going to parties, seeing movies or just chilling.

The script was well written and the circumstances of the events had very concise timing.
The dialogue was clever and often humourous. Sean Wcislo’s writing style has developed exponentially since Roommates live which was produced in . There was a fascinating twist to the genre of tragicomedy in Circle, beginning in the end. The play catered towards high school and university styled issues and themes. The events were enriched by the common history between the friends. Their friendship became very realistic through the various flashbacks and believable for the audience.

On stage the set was minimal, a couch and camping gear. The set was used very effectively. Projected on the screen, was a date, 13/05/2016 for the flashbacks it changed several times during the play. The actors and technicians did well with creating smooth transitions between flashbacks. They made them obvious by using the couch on the left (right stage). The sound and lighting were suitably designed and complemented the play’s action brilliantly.

The play was about friends and being challenged by life but still supporting each other. It was very funny, but near the end it was touching and somewhat sombre. It’s worth watching as people might find that it can be quite cathartic. Please be aware of strong language and supposed alcohol consumption.

Highly recommended, Rating 7/10

Circle is still showing tonight and Saturday at 7pm 29th, 30th July, Studio 411 is located on South Street, Murdoch University campus. Carpark 4 is the best place for parking.

Play- Circle
Presented by Modicum Theatre Perth Inc. Written by Sean Wcislo and directed by Leigh Fitzpatrick, Photography by Beck Thorman

Links
Circle- FB event
Modicum Theatre Perth Inc.
Trybooking Tickets

Frankenstein- Theatre Review

 

Going into the foyer, people cluster in groups, excitedly anticipating the beginning of the play. At around 7pm, the doors open and people begin to enter the theatre in droves. Sitting at the back row,I was ready to see Frankenstein performed on stage. Preparing myself, I eagerly wait for the opening scene, my eyes straining in the dark to take notes.

It was a marvellous show, very in depth on the events surrounding Victor’s life and the creature’s journey since his creation. I was conflicted between whether I should sympathise with Victor or the creature, as both of them were morally divided, carrying guilt and loss. Victor Frankenstein, the main protagonist, uses such stark and eloquent language. Amongst all the gore, humorous scenes are scattered in between the main action. A story weaved on stage before an enraptured audience.

There were two acts, the first was about one and a half hours and then the second act was about an hour. This was still surprising considering most of the main events from the novel were included so timing could’ve been longer. It was quite succinct. With a cast of twenty-one actors, there was always something happening on stage. It was highly engaging and everyone gave splendid performances. Besides Victor Frankenstein and the creature, the landlord, Henry and the captain stood out to me.

The play begins on a boat in the middle of the Arctic Sea. The crew and captain have caught a stowaway and demand he be watched. It’s highly suspicious to be out here. Victor Frankenstein, played by Scott McArdle, tells the captain his life story, flashing back 15 years to when he grew up in a Swiss family. His father, mother, brother William, friend Henry and adopted sister Elizabeth. His mother’s death during his childhood wasa turning point. His father avenges her death and the family never fully recovered. To escape the solemn household, Victor decides he was to be a doctor. He travels to Germany in hope of studying to become a physician. In search of lodgings, his misfortune leads him to renting the attic and having to put up with his crazed landlord. In his growing, morbid fascination with life and death, he ignores that he has a responsibility as a doctor. In the present, Victor chases after his own memories, haunted by his decisions and his guilt. In the second act, the creature goes through its life of suffering, starting when Victor abandoned him.

Written by Mary Shelley, the script was adapted for the theatre by Scott McArdle. Frankenstein was originally a novel and considered literature. McArdle managed somehow to write the script, direct and act in the same play. Originally Aaron Jay was going to be Victor Frankenstein, though something happened last minute that prevented him from continuing. Scott was able to take on the role within 6 weeks. Being experienced in adapting to the demand  is a distinguishing ability for an actor to have.

The production was able to find a way to have wolves and a horse on stage, with enough fine detail to provoke the imagination. The smoke machine was frequently used  for storms, fires and foggy streets, allowing for a realistic atmosphere. The costumes were very practical and precise. The sound was effective in application and enhanced the impact of the action on stage. The lighting was elaborate and complemented the sound-scape.

The same set as Dracula and The Mummy was used, adapted specifically for this performance. It suited well in the differing settings but the set was installed with a ‘fold out’ bed and I noticed that it was already stained before the action began. This is most likely from one of the rehearsals or the preview on Wednesday. The bed itself was a great addition to the set, it just slightly disrupted the illusion.

This production of Frankenstein retains the potent horror and mystery of Mary Shelley’s novel. With a creative production team and a skilled cast of 21 people collaborating, the production was remarkable. It was both shocking and delightfully gruesome, yet not overly violent. I highly recommend seeing Frankenstein at Nexus Theatre, rating, 8/1013815001_1131536043573986_1478498729_n

Murdoch Open Day
Check out the Nexus Theatre and learn more about Murdoch Theatre at the Murdoch Open Day on Sunday. There will be a presentation and several performances throughout the day at the South Street Campus. 10am-4pm

Upcoming Plays at Murdoch University

Circle, July 28th-30th, Studio 411 Written by Sean Wcislo and directed by Leigh Fitzpatrick. A group of friends take a roadtrip, going on a journey physically and emotionally. Their friendships are severely tested when they get lost. 6;30pm open, 7pm start

In August
2084- Presented by Murdoch University PHD candidates, starting August 18th. Nexus Theatre. A musical, inspired by the novel of George Orwell- 1984. The original script for the production is the product of Sarah Courtis’ and Ellin Sear’s PhD theses. = More information will come some. Have a look at the description on the FB event. 

Links
Frankenstein- FB Page
Second Chance Theatre
Circle-FB Event
2084-FB Event
Murdoch Open Day

An Interview with Circle’s Director and Writer

One Hell of a Show. The Road to Success. A Modicum of Inspiration.

Play: Circle

Company: Modicum Theatre (Perth Inc)
Director: Leigh Fitzpatrick
Writer: Sean Wcislo
Venue: Studio 411, 90 South Street (Murdoch University)
Showings: Thursday Opening night: July 28th, 29th & 30th

Leigh Fitzpatrick (Director)
Sean Wcislo (Writer, Assistant director)

Ariana: How did you find the actors for Circle?
Leigh: We found the actors through networking. It was mainly people who knew Sean and his play ‘Roommates Live from Apartment 19’ who showed interest and went to auditions. (on March 4th)

Ariana: What inspired you to write Circle?
Sean: I liked the idea that people go on road trips and things happen. Where these friends get lost and the only source of action/tension was each other. I was also interested in the course their relationships took when they were tested.

Ariana: What was it like working with Modicum Theatre?
Leigh: They have a different viewpoint when it comes to theatre. As the current vice president, I’m very involved in the theatre’s committee. We’re about learning, you’ll never find out if someone’s a born leading performer if they’re stuck playing minor roles.

Sean: I’m glad it happened

Ariana: How long did it take you to write the script for Circle?
Sean: The idea was a few years old. I’ve been adding to it slowly for awhile. At the beginning of this year I really got down to writing the rough draft. I nearly wrote 25% of it in one night.The first draft of the script took me about a month to write.

Leigh: Sean took the script to one of the Roommate Live rehearsals. As I had plenty of time offstage, I was able to read through and I knew then that I wanted to direct it. .

Ariana: What was your artistic vision as director?
Leigh: “I’ve always wondered about the subtlety , “the characters have history” Using minimalism to let the characters speak for themselves without anything distracting is important.

Ariana: What stood out the most during rehearsals?
Sean: I enjoyed how the actors have engaged with the script enough to take their experiences outside of rehearsals.

Ariana: What stood out during the rehearsal process/realising the script on stage?
Leigh: We’ve been having rehearsals for the last four months” There are certain moments in the script that are eminently relatable.” “The cast was great” “Having a five person ensemble made rehearsals more intense and allowed out to concentrate on making the characters ‘humanly real’ and multidimensional.”

Ariana: How were the characters in the script created/inspired?
Sean: the plot and events were planned before the characters. The characters were created based on their necessity, then were fleshed out from there.

Ariana: What was it like working with the production team?
Leigh: I was continually amazed at the quality of the work people were willing to put their efforts into. I am continually amazed as to their love of the arts.

Ariana: What did you do as an assistant director?
Sean: I helped the director with taking notes and filling in when necessary. When Leigh took notes on actors, I’d be supportive by taking notes on the production side and vice versa.

Ariana: How would you describe the play Circle, to an audience?
Leigh: It’s a tragicomedy it’s about the nature of friendship and the pointlessness of hiding from the inevitable. Also it’s about a road trip through hell. So that’s cool.

Links
Modicum Theatre
Circle Event
Tickets and Booking info
Modicum Rehearsals -Instagram

The Mummy Rises- Review

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The Mummy Rises successfully takes the mummy, a classic monster, into a play riddled with humorous dialogue and ardent characters, without losing the horror and intrigue of the Gothic genre.

Play: The Mummy Rises
Director/Writer: Tim Brain
Theatre Company: Nexus Theatre and From The Hip Productions
Showings: July 14, July 15th, July 16th @7:30pm, Saturday matinée @2pm
Location: Nexus Theatre (Murdoch University, 90 South street 6150 WA)

The play begins with a spotlight on a book and Indiana Jones-esque music. Then the sound of chiseling before the tomb is entered. One wall is covered in hieroglyphics and on another lays a sarcophagus. Act One is set in Egypt where a team of archaeologists set out on an expedition to find Artek Bay’s tomb.  Those who disturb Artek Bay’s tomb are warned. But will they heed that warning? What would the consequences be if they don’t?

The comedic dialogue in the play contrasted well with the presence of the mummy. Issues such as gender roles and domestic violence were also explored in the script. There was also a bit of British humor which helped elevate some of the potentially awkward moments and silences in the British Museum. Although some of the characters die, most of them tragic, there isn’t much violence or gore in this play. It’s definitely worth watching for the comedy and the production’s effective technical elements. It’s still a gothic play, since the mummy remains menacing as the proceeding events build the suspense.

The cobwebs and dust were great on stage when the archaeologists enter the tomb. Using smoke for the dust did wonders for the Egyptian setting. The music and sound effects improved action and helped with foreshadowing. It was good decision to have voice-over during the setting change and near the end of the play. The voice-overs worked well in advancing the narrative and offstage events (Clare Waldren). The scene change between Egypt to the British Museum was snappy. The lighting choices were clever, specifically having the lights flicker at key moments and using flashing side lights to represent the press.

Actors/Characters
Tay Broadley’s (Charlie Cameron) nonverbals were spot on and used to great comedic effect. Timothy Brain’s (John Waldren) Irish accent was consistent and his  characterization was precise. Besides acting in the play, Tim also wrote the script and directed The Mummy Rises. Andrew David (Alfred Bray) was convincing in both his relationship with Clare and acting through his character’s affliction after what occurred in Egypt. Andrew Dawson (Mummy/Artek Bay) was quite menacing as the mummy, creeping across the stage as he stalked the archaeologists. Kudos for having to stay in the coffin for so long! Lord Howard Preston (Dean Lovatt) was the financial supporter of the expedition and in his quest for profit and gratitude, he steps over other’s feet to achieve. His wife is the one he relieves his frustration on and karma has it way of “boomeranging”. Lovatt did great in playing his character as the semi-villain and aristocrat.

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Christie Strauss (Clare Waldren) was one of the many highlights of the play with her striking performance as the female heroine, Clare Waldren. As a career-driven archaeologist, her interactions with Alfred were sweet, yet highly confident. Her character was strong and went against traditional gender roles, most notably in her dialogue. Kate Willoughby (Maisie Dalrymple) was the museum’s  librarian and she played a vital role in the final fight scene. She did well in creating the character and experimenting with the librarian caricature and British humor, in dialogue and non-verbally.

Abbey McCaughan’s (Cora Shakley) chosen accent did wonders for her character. Her decisions in interacting with Maisie and Clare on stage helped convey their friendships. Bella Doyle (Abrar Ali) was surprising whenever she appeared on stage. Doyle’s accent and character’s background were possibly researched to be accurate, as her portrayal was very believable. Her role in the play was vitally interlinked with the progression of events both on stage and offstage. Anna Weir’s (Lady Harriet Preston) character was portrayed as brave, superstitious and strong-willed. Lady Harriet’s relationship with her husband, Lord Preston was tense due to her believing in superstitions and him being violent in their marriage. Weir had a strong stage presence and her interactions with Lord Preston were quite heartbreaking.

Overall, I have greatly enjoyed both of the Gothic plays I have seen so far with the acting, set design and technical elements all impressive. Next up comes Frankenstein! The very last in the trio of Gothic stories that have been brought to the stage.

Details/Links
The Mummy Rises-FB Event
Tickets link for Mummy and Frankenstein

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Dracula – Theatre Review

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Music begins to play. On stage, furniture is covered in dust speckled sheets. Half the stage hidden by curtains.  In Dr. Seward’s sanitarium, a man is led astray by his insatiable desires, drawn to madness and hunted in the night…

 
The characters in the play each had their own unique quirks. I personally was interested in how the actors developed their characters non-verbally and when they were bystanders to the action/dialogue. Sometimes the actions of characters and their relationships has a greater impact than dialogue. Van Helsing (Jason Dohle) and Count Dracula (Joel Sammels) went past their stereotypical counterparts. The relationship between Lucy Seward (Toni Vernon) and John Harker (Phillip Hutton) appeared realistically strained on stage, with Lucy’s illness tragically postponing them from being romantically involved or getting married.

The Murdoch Theatre Company has collaborated with the director of Lit by Limelight (a children’s theatre) to develop a set that would be adaptable for the  different productions. For Dracula, the set was designed by Ally Snell with  designs being both sophisticated and durable.  Throughout the play, the stage hands were ‘disguised’ as staff at the Sanitorium which helped with snappy and precise scene changes.

The lighting added to the overall mood of the performance and greatly transformed the stage between settings and scene changes. Lighting was designed by Scott McArdle and manned by Tay Broadley. The sound-scape effectively improved the underlying tension and suspense. The sound was designed by Tim Brain.

The costuming was reminiscent of 19th century fashion and suitably chosen. The costumes for Count Dracula and his brides stood out the most. Costumes were designed by Sophie Braham. The vampires wore coordinated dark red and black outfits. Their undead appearance emphasized with contact lenses, long fingernails, ruby red tattoos and pale complexions. Make up was designed by Leah Toyne. The main special effects in the play included voiceovers, wolf and bat sound effects. The most notable is the use of fog to signal Dracula’s transformation as a bat.

Overall, a great performance was put on by all with all the suspense and terror you could need and my excitement for the next two Gothic plays, The Mummy Rises and Frankenstein,  only increased!

Playwright & Origins of Script

The 1924 stage play was written by Hamilton Deane and was a three act play. Hamilton Deane (1880-1958) was an irish actor, playwright and director. John Balderston was hired by Horace Liveright to revise the play in 1927 for Broadway productions with American audiences. John L. Balderston (1889-1954) was an American playwright and screenwriter. The play was originally presented at the Fulton Theatre in New York City.

The play, Dracula originates from the 1897 Bram Stoker novel, which was first published in the United Kingdom. Bram Stoker was an irish author who started writing in 1872. His interest and writing mainly focused on irish folktales, occult and the supernatural. His focus on these developed while he was bedridden until the age of seven from an unidentified illness. Supernatural folktales have lived on for centuries, from vampires and alongside Stoker’s illness, the story of Dracula was developed. The character of Count Dracula was inspired by the Romanian ruler Vlad Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) who ruled Walachia several times between 1456 and 1462. Since then, several spinoffs and revisions have occurred and it has inspired other books and films around the subject of vampires and the supernatural.

Details
Play: Dracula (Three shows, @ 7:30pm, July 7th, 8th & 9th)
Location: Nexus Theatre (90 South Street, Murdoch University, Carpark 3/near library)
Synopsis: A classic gothic story reimagined on stage, with characters such as the famous Van Helsing and Dracula. Van Helsing is hired to investigate the mystery of Lucy Seward’s illness and its possible link to Renfield’s madness. The play switches settings between Dr Seward sanitorium and their neighbour’s bachelor pad at Carfax.
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror Rating: MA15+
Director: John King, presented by Murdoch Theatre Company
Writer: Hamilton Deane, Revised by: John L. Balderston

Links
Dracula-FB Event
Murdoch Theatre Company-FB Page
John King (director) Interview
Dracula- Original Script (1927)
Dracula- 1897 novel
Bram Stoker- Biography information
Vlad Dracula- Britannica Encyclopedia

Murdoch Theatre in July

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Next month, a trilogy of horror plays will be performed at the Nexus Theatre. The Gothics Project has been a great undertaking for Nexus Theatre, Murdoch Theatre Company, From The Hip Productions and Second Chance Theatre. The directors, John King, Tim Brain and Scott McArdle, have been developing the project from the initial vision they had. Each have dedicated time, effort and money towards making the Gothics project a reality. The lighting, set design, costuming and special effects are top notch and will give the plays a ‘gothic feel’. One set is being shared by the three companies in their technically driven productions. This dynamic two-level set  will take the audience from Castle Dracula, London, Egypt and to the Arctic sea, through the use of stylistic changes to adapt each setting.

The first production, Dracula has begun setting up in the theatre with assembling started on the 27th of June.

Check out the FB event links below for more details on this month’s theatre productions.

Play #1: Dracula
Showings: Thursday July 7th to Saturday July 9th @ 7:30pm
Director: John King
Theatre Company: Murdoch Theatre Company
Script:  This stage play adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel was written by Hamilton Deane and revised by John L. Balderstone in 1927 at Broadway for an American audience. (Samuel French)
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror
Cast/Crew: 11 actor cast

Play #2: The Mummy Rises
The Mummy Rises was written by Tim Brain and is derived from the original 1999 film starring Brendan Fraser. The humour of Abbott and Costello tackles the haunting of an Egyptian mummy after it arrives at the British museum in London 1890. The play blends  comedy and horror in a brilliant balance made for the stage. The Victorian era language is made more accessible through Tim Brain’s writing. The script takes on a feminist angle with Clare Waldren as a female heroine who rescues the men. Christie Struass performs as Clare Waldren and Andrew David takes the role of Alfie Bray.
Showings: July 14-16th 7:30pm, plus a matinee @2pm on Saturday July 16th
Director: Tim Brain
Theatre Company: From The Hip Productions
Script: Original script written by Tim Brain, specifically commissioned for this project.
Genre: Comedy Thriller
Cast/Crew: 10 actor cast

Play #3: Frankenstein
Showings: Thursday July 21st until Saturday 23rd @ 7:30pm (doors open 7pm)
Director: Scott McArdle
Theatre Company: Second Chance Theatre
Script: This adaptation written by Scott McArdle revitalises Mark Shelley’s classic novel
Genre: Horror, Romance
Cast/Crew: 20 actor cast

Reviews will be coming for all three plays so check out the links below if you are interested in getting tickets.

Relevant Links-

Tickets for the Gothics
Dracula – Event Page
The Mummy Rises –  Event Page
Frankenstein – Event Page

Murdoch Theatre Company
From The Hip Productions
Second Chance Theatre
Modicum Theatre Perth Inc.

Review – Six Characters in Search of an Author

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In the play, Six Characters in Search of An Author,  it’s impossible to discern where illusion began and reality ended on stage. Only a few questions were answered and many still remain…Were they actors or characters? Does reality truly exist? Are we only acting ourselves? Why does no one like writers? (Everything will make more sense once you’ve seen the play!)

Tickets are still available for Friday and Saturday night. Consider inviting your friends or family to see it with you. Though it’s recommended that they are 15+.due to one of the themes not being very appropriate for children. Tickets can be purchased here from as low as $10. Asking someone helping at the door  for a program  before the show  is always helpful too.

Top and Tail Theatre company invited the audience last night to see what an average rehearsal looks like. In the middle of rehearsing a scene from Sean Wcislo’s play Roommates Live from Apartment 19, six characters suddenly appear and demand for their story to be staged. Beginning as a comedy, the play quickly became a melodrama. Even though the company eventually lost control of the stage, I thought the lighting, sound and set were brilliantly eerie. This had the intended effect on the audience and certainly added to the ‘dramatic action’ of the play. The characters were very realistic, while the actors were consistently in character even if the characters wished to deny it! You’ll be left wondering where lost characters end up, and will also receive a quick education of theatre.

The adapted script remarticle2.jpgains true to Pirandello’s ideas on dramatic creative writing, stagecraft, the rehearsal process, characters and the various perspectives that create a story. It also critiques playwrights on the many characters they create but never use, who might be condemned to living through their life story, eternally suffering. Part of the dialogue was rejuvenated and modernized from Moulds’ adaptation to suit the Top and Tail Theatre Company. (This script change was encouraged by the ‘Hypocrites’ for future performances)  While I did take a look at the original adapted script, I was really surprised and intrigued by the unique choices Top and Tail Theatre made in creating their production of Six Characters. 

Details

Play: Six Characters in Search of An Author
Venue: Studio 411 (Murdoch University, South Street Campus, Carpark 4, near the gym)
Showings: Thursday night, June 16th, Friday night, June 17th & Saturday night, June 18th
Genre: Absurdist meta-theatrical, around 80 minutes
Director: Nick Morant
Theatre Company: Top and Tail Theatre
Script Written by: Luigi Pirandello, Adapted by: Steve Moulds (Playscripts Inc.)
Starring: Tay Broadley, Mike Casas, Claire Tebbut, Jonathan Maddocks, Leigh Fitzpatrick, Abbey McCaughan, Sean Wcislo, Clare Talbot, Brianna Lea and Jordan Baynes.

Extra Info

Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) was a dramatist and novel writer from Sicily, Italy. He studied Languages and dialectology in Sicily and Bonn before moving to Rome. He wrote poetry, short stories, and novels. The main highlight of Pirandello’s writing career was the 44 plays he published. Pirandello wrote ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ in Rome 1921. The play has been performed and adapted several times since then. This particular adaption was produced in Chicago, Illinois by ‘The Hypocrites’ and first performed between February 1st-March 11th 2012.

The Hypocrites are a company that was founded in 1997 by the artistic director, Sean Graney. The company’s main aim is to stage deeply engaging plays which the audience can connect to and have a role in the performance. While they are known for staging adaptations, they also sometimes work on new plays. Steve Moulds wrote the adaptation for The Hypocrites. The script and cast was altered to suit the Hypocrites’ company mission in their 2012 productions. Steve Moulds studied at the University of Texas at Austin and has an MFA in playwriting from the Michener Center for Writers. He has worked for theatre companies in Louisville, Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Denver.

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Relevant Links:

Six Characters FB Event
Top and Tail Theatre
Luigi Pirandello
Steve Moulds
The Hypocrites
Playscript Inc.: Six Characters in Search of An Author

 

Women – Theatre Review

The play, Women, was wonderfully hilarious, poignant and captivating.

The script was well chosen by director Jess Serio as it covered highly relevant issues such as gender equality and was positively received by the audience, who constantly laughed whenever a particularly funny line or pause occurred on stage. The relationships between the characters were startlingly poignant. They eagerly took on portraying their characters and remained upbeat in delivering their lines throughout the play. Women was another successful production by Black Martini Theatre that was professionally stylistic, performed by talented actors and made possible through the dedication of  its production crew.

It was great seeing the production come together with all the production elements. It certainly felt as though the audience was being teleported into the past with the characters. The costumes were irrevocably in a style reflective of the 1974 American film, ‘Little House on the Prairie’. (I watched some of it in primary school when I lived in Arizona) In the opening scene was ‘Oh Shenandoah’, an american sounding old-fashioned music. With American accents, it really did feel like I was in America again… without the summer heat!

The set was given a homely look, through the use of four wall partitions, four chairs and a chest of dolls. The scenes were transitioned mainly by props and movable household furniture with the help of both actors and backstage hands. While the set was not extravagant, it adapted well for each of the scene changes. (It was a good call by set designer, Thomas Dimmick, since there were many quick scene changes during the play.) The costumes, set and sound worked together in tandem to create realistic settings. The timing of lines was right on point, making the dialogue even more comedic than it was in the rehearsals I’ve witnessed.

The script itself was filled with humorous dialogue, witty remarks and it parodied the rigid social rules that governed 1800’s American society…particularly on ‘courtship’ or dating. In the script, there are several ironic mentions of the disparities women experienced in society and there is also clever foreshadowing… spoiler moments in between the main events. It’s quit interesting to see how much gender equality has improved since the 1800’s. In the past women were not encouraged to pursue a career or voice their opinions w hich is strongly disregarded by Jo March in her quest to become a writer. She even voiced her opinions on this clearly throughout the play by refusing to conform to society or stereotypes.

The play, Women, is set in 1860’s, Massachusetts, America near the end of the American Civil War. Four sisters and their ‘Marmee’ anxiously await the return of their father from Washington. Burdened with the responsibility of providing for their family, they are restricted in their future ambitions and pressured to settle down with man in order to start a family. Unfortunately they haven’t met any men yet, “not even cousins”. This play follows the four sisters as their lives go in different directions with each overcoming the moniker, ‘Little Women’ bestowed upon them by their parents.

Women  was inspired by HBO hit-series Girls and uses characters from Louisa May Alcotts’ Little WomenThe script was written by Chiara Atik, an author and playwright from New York City. Atik has previously written the book, Modern Dating: A Field Guide (2013) and the play, Five Times in One Night. Chiara Atik is a member of the group, Youngblood. Youngblood (Founded in 1993, New York) consists of playwrights under 30 fostered by the Ensemble Studio Theatre, aimed at supporting emerging playwrights establish a professional career.

Women is still showing this Friday night (7pm @ June 10th) and Saturday night (7pm @ June 11th) at Studio 411 on Murdoch University South Street campus.

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Women, by Chiara Atik
Showings: Thursday, June 9th, Friday, June 10th & Saturday, June 11th at 7pm
Venue: Studio 411 (Murdoch University, South Street Campus)
Director: Jess Serio
Theatre Company: Black Martini Theatre     FB Page
Starring: Shannen Precious, Cat Perez, Claire Tebbutt, Virginia Cole, Maddy Jolly Fuentes, Hock Edwards, Matthew Abercromby, Will Moriarty and Michael Casas.

Relevant Links:

Chiara Atik

Chiara Atik’s Writing

Youngblood

‘Women’ Event Page

Trybooking Tickets

Q&A with the crew of Women

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The play,  Women graces the stage on June 9th-11th at studio 411. Women is foremost a comedy and secondly a timeless classic mix between HBO’s Girls and Little Women. It follows the journey of four sisters in their quest of overcoming the affectionate moniker, Little Women bestowed upon them by their parents and becoming adults.

This play will keep you laughing for days thinking about the wonders of being a lime artist, dancing and the delights of motherhood. The play also explores the impossibility of dating and the struggle of pursuing a career as a woman in the 1800’s.

Please get your tickets soon and find a time that suits you! (Thursday, Friday or Saturday night)

Event Page

CREW
Director – Jessica Serio
Stage Manager – Rebecca Dilley
Assistant Stage Manager – Sean Wcislo
Costume Design – Anna Weir
Lighting Design – Kiah Van Vlijmen
Sound Design – Tijana Simich
Set Design – Thomas Dimmick

Director: Jessica Serio
Jessica Serio is in her fourth year of studying the Theatre & Drama major at Murdoch University. Jess was the production manager for Black Martini’s production of Boise, Idaho (2016) and the stage manager for Little Red: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf (2015, July 16th-18th) which was produced by Murdoch Theatre Company.

(The director chooses the initial script, has a vision for the overall production and has a role in the audition process and casting. As the director, Jess oversees the production of the play, endeavors to unify the various aspects of production and gives feedback to the actors after each rehearsal.)
What influenced your decision to choose ‘Women’ as the script for your production?

Jess: Black Martini aims to produce shows that are different. I had this in mind when I was looking for plays to put on this year. This one was actually found by the Artistic Director Tom Dimmick and it just jumped out to me. I think what I like most about it is the kind of dark, witty humour throughout the show.

How did you, as director, want to add to Chiara Atiks’ play, ‘Women’ and what was your artistic vision?
J: My main goal was to do it differently to how it has been done before. The great thing about these plays is there is so much room to play with blocking, characters, tech etc. There are parts of the blocking for example, which add to characters in ways I don’t think has been done before. The way I envisioned the show is pretty much exactly as it is turning out even in this early stage of rehearsals, which basically shows how talented the people at Murdoch are.

Was there a specific time in rehearsal/moment in the script that stands out for you the most?

J: One of the funniest moments in the script is where Beth dies the way we’ve done it in rehearsals plus the way its written and the fact we’re using it as part of our marketing makes it incredibly funny.

Can you please describe what you enjoyed the most/learned from directing Women?

J: The most enjoyment I’ve had so far is working with the cast and crew, most of whom I’ve worked with before. They enjoy rehearsals and make it fun, while also being able to be professional and work hard. I also love that we have some new faces in the cast, its great to bring new people in to work with. There have been many challenges I’ve encountered so far and there are still plenty to be had in the coming rehearsals but I learn from everything that happens so I’m looking forward to it.

Stage Manager: Rebecca Dilley
Rebecca is in her third year at Murdoch studying Theatre & Drama. Rebecca played Hansel in Murdoch Theatre Company’s production of Little Red: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf and performed as Belladonna in the 2015 Children’s Theatre unit production, Return of the Snow Queen (May 13th-15th school performances & May 16th Nexus Theatre.

Assistant Stage Manager: Sean Wcislo
Sean is now studying Theatre & Drama and is midway through his third year. Sean has gained experience as an actor, writer and recently as a stage manager. Sean is the assistant stage manager for Black Martini Theatre’s production of Women. Previously he has performed in Little Red: (MTC, 2015), leading as the wolf and he played Dialysis the lead character in Saving the Greeks: One Tragedy At a Time (Black Martini Theatre, November 19th-21st 2015). This year, Roommates Live From Apartment 19 (Top and Tail Theatre, February 18th-21st) was featured in the 2016 Fringe Festival. Sean did a brilliant job of writing the Roommates script, overseeing the set design also starred as one of the characters.

(The stage manager acts as a coordinator and organiser, with being responsible for a variety of tasks involved with organising the production, communicating between the director, production crew and the cast. The stage manager also maintains a prompt book, follows the script during each rehearsal and supports the actors by filling in for absentees or prompting an actor if a line is forgotten)
What did you find stood out in the progress of the play, from the first script reading and through the rehearsal process?

Rebecca: The talent here at Murdoch always amazes me. In such a relatively small rehearsal period, the actors have managed to create entire characters and backstories from an old story in fresh and invigorating ways. We have a great production team too, and everything seems to be running like a well-oiled machine. For now!

Sean: Minor additions from the actors. Actors are playing with their dialogue and actions to add a deeper layer of comedy to the show and it’s working wonderfully. Watching the same scene being performed countless times is still being made entertaining by the quality of the performances and the occasional surprise of an actor ‘trying something’ that really keep the show fresh for us and offer new things for all production members to work with.

How did the production of Women challenge and/or cause your capacity in your production role? (Stage manager, Assistant Stage Manager)
R: Women is actually a very special show for me as it is my first time in a production role. As stage manager, it is both an exciting and daunting experience to piece a show together, but working with the actors and Jess definitely make it a lot less stressful and way more fun! It is definitely a challenge having little understanding of what’s expected of me or what’s to come in intensives week and when the show goes up, but I hope I can rise to the occasion and do the wonderful cast and crew proud!

S: As Assistant Stage Manager I’m being more educated than challenged. My workload at this stage of the production is quite low – maybe I’ll be prompting the actors while the Stage Manager is paying attention to blocking and cues, or reading for an actor who can’t attend that day – but working close with the Stage Manager in any capacity is a great opportunity to learn about what goes into the role while still being helpful in some capacity.

Explain what you enjoyed most about the production of the play. (in a few sentences?)
R: It’s been really fun watching a play come together from ‘the other side of the fence,’ if you will. I’ve only ever acted in Murdoch productions, thus far, so I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the auditions, seeing the thought process that goes behind things like casting and set or lighting design. It feels much more inclusive.

S: Rehearsals are just so fun to attend. This is usually the case with comedies, but the light atmosphere and humour from the script allow for those present to enjoy themselves while performing and working, so just being present while everyone is having such a good time working on the show is hugely enjoyable.

Q&A with the cast of Women

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I was invited to a rehearsal of Women on May 15 by Thomas Dimmick and Jess Serio.  I’ve divided the Q&A into two parts, part 1 for cast Q&A and part 2 for Crew Q&A. I will be seeing the first show on Thursday 9th June but there are also shows in Studio 411 near the Murdoch University gym at 7pm on June 10th & 11th if Thursday doesn’t suit your schedule.

Women is written by Chiara Atik, directed by Jess Serio and produced by Black Martini Theatre. It has a nine actor cast who have been rehearsing since mid April with auditions being held on April 9th & 10th.
CAST
Jo – Shannen Precious
Meg – Cat Perez
Amy – Claire Tebbutt
Beth – Virginia Cole
Marmee – Maddy Jolly Fuentes
Laurie – Hock Edwards
Mr Brooke – Matthew Abercromby
Professor Bhaer – Will Moriarty
Mr Lawrence/Carl/Clovis – Michael Casas

Women Event & tickets

Black Martini Theatre

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How would you describe the play in a sentence or two?
Virginia : Women is a brilliant, witty comedy following four sisters through the formative times in their lives.

Cat: Women is Little Women mixed with a sprinkle of the future.
Hock: It certainly isn’t your average period drama.
Matthew : A light-hearted, fun portrayal of the life, times and hardships for young women in post-civil war Massachusetts.
Maddy: It’s a super witty and tongue in cheek take on Little Women, but still captures the general essence of the original story.
Mike: It’s a funny and witty parody based on the Little Women series that focuses on having a laugh and not taking itself too seriously.
What did you enjoy most during the rehearsal process of ‘Women’?
Shannen: I enjoy being able to experiment with such an exciting and different character, changing her voice, mannerisms and exploring her background and figuring out why she is the way she is. I also enjoy bonding and getting to know my fellow cast and crew!
Claire: What I enjoy most is probably the laughs we all get when someone nails one of their punch lines. And the satisfaction I feel when I can pull a laugh no matter how many times the crew watched me.
Cat: I enjoyed being with my fellow cast members and messing around and having fun, but also being productive and making sure we get our job done.
Maddy: I’m new to Black Martini Theatre so I’ve loved working with a brand new group of people. Our first read-through as a cast was great. Everyone gave it so much energy and found the script hilarious.
Hock: The relaxed vibe. We can, and are encouraged to, have fun while still getting everything we need done.
Matthew: I enjoyed meeting like-minded people from around Murdoch who shared my passion for drama and it has made rehearsals relaxing and fun.
Will: The people involved in this production are amazing to work with and are incredibly funny. Working with them and bringing this show to life more and more every week is what I enjoy the most. This is my first comedic show so turning up to rehearsals every week has been a real treat.

 

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What were the two main things you did to bring your character to life from the script?
Shannen: I needed to watch the film of ‘Women’ and the television series of ‘Girls’ to be able to understand how the writer wanted to combine the two characters into one. I also watched other inspirations of my character so that I could understand how other actors read her.
Cat: I get quite method with my acting sometimes so having a distinct change in the accent helps to differentiate where I stop and Meg begins! And then there’s the non- verbal elements like how she sits and walks that really bring her to life.
Claire: I’ll be quite honest I spent an inordinate amount of time observing limes. [Editor’s Note: Claire’s character, Amy, brings limes to school and gets home-schooled as result in the original book Little Women]
Virginia: For me my main challenge has been with the accent. I’ve never attempted an American accent before so it has been interesting to develop that. I also had to get well versed on different ways with expressing my character through coughing.
Will: The only main thing that I did was sitting down and watching a lot of films with actors speaking in German accents. Films such as Indiana Jones, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained are to name a few. I took a lot of inspiration from Christoph Waltz who stars in both Inglorious and Django to add to my character’s accent and personality.
Mike: Because I have three different characters one of the main things is getting them to all be different and unique. It really helps distinguish and give each character their own space. The second is probably  attempting an accent. Getting voice and posture down is a huge help in building character.