Ariana’s Guide to Student Theatre Pt. 1

By Ariana Rosenberg

Hey there readers!

My name is Ariana, and I’ll be your guide to this year’s spectacular season of Murdoch Theatre!

I’ll firstly go and introduce the fact that Murdoch does incorporate theatre into its Arts Degree and where the plays are located with a guide to the theatre companies at Murdoch University coming at you tomorrow.

There will be a recap of the year of theatre so far in this article. From then on, this space will feature a monthly article on the plays for the month and then a review and/or an article for each play. (I’ll aim to see the Thursday showing and have the review up by the Friday afternoon.)

Upcoming Articles and Reviews

Stay tuned for the next set of articles & reviews this week! The first article will overview the upcoming plays in June. There will be three productions in June, ‘Women’ (Black Martini Theatre), ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ (Top and Tail Theatre) and ‘Play in a Day’ (a Black Martini Theatre competition).

The second will feature an in depth article on Black Martini Theatre’s production of ‘Women’ directed by Jess Serio and written by Chiara Atik. ‘Women’ débuts in Studio 411 at the South Street campus on June 9th, June 10th and June 11th, doors open for a 7pm start. (It’s good to be there ten minutes prior). I had the honour of going to a rehearsal on Saturday night (May 14th, 14 6-9pm) and it’s absolutely hilarious! I won’t spoil anything about the play, and the article will include a bit of a Q&A from the cast and crew.  The cast are definitely dedicated to the play and are extremely close to going through the whole play completely without the script.

‘Women’ Facebook page event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1120741761323201/

This July, From the Hip Productions, in collaboration with Murdoch Theatre Company and Second Chance Theatre will be producing a fantastic line up of Gothic plays. From the vision of three experienced directors (John King, Tim Brain and Scott McArdle), three classic monsters take over the stage to show that gothic thrillers can definitely be performed through the Performing Arts with the right blend of design, acting and special effects.  There’ll also be plenty of reviews outside of Murdoch University to read about this mammoth sized project, two years in the making… I had the pleasure of going to the media launch on Wednesday afternoon, unfortunately I haven’t read any of the reviews so far. Tickets went on sale on Friday May 13th (how terrifyingly fantastic!) So take a look and learn more about The Gothics Project trilogy!

Nexus Theatre Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Nexus-Theatre-172480719465841/

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Theatre at Murdoch

Murdoch University is blessed with two theatre stages, one is in Nexus Theatre next to the Library on South Street’s Bush Court, the other is in Studio 411 near the Tavern and adjacent to the Murdoch Gym. Each year, Murdoch Theatre companies plan and produce plays with talented actors, production crew and directors who are studying or have graduated from Murdoch’s Theatre and Drama Arts major. Nexus Theatre has been at Murdoch University since 1993 and has seats for up to 175 people. The newly renovated Studio 411 is used for Drama workshops and also has seating for 65 people. Nexus Theatre is currently prospering under the wonderful tutelage of senior technicians and managers, Tim Brain and John King.

Plays at Murdoch University are usually on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. With only the two venues, there’s limited clashes and the productions usually get three days to a week to prepare the venue. Play productions have a ‘bump in’ (where the crew set up the stage/set design, move in props/costume and also have a dress rehearsal on stage with lighting & sound), have three evening shows and then a ‘bump out’ (move everything out to be stored). Sometimes there’s a matinee, an afternoon show on the Saturday. Show times vary between 7pm and 7:30 most of the time. Prices are very affordable for Perth, at $10-15 per ticket, the $10 concession being for University students. (Try to have tickets ready for the show night, a few days beforehand at best) All productions have access to an extensive backstage cornucopia of props, costumes, lighting rigs and sound design. They each possess the capability to be technically advanced and stylized, with plenty of room for emerging directors and designers to experiment with the ‘tools of their trade’.

For the practical theatre units, there’s a production night for either a play, group performances or a Monologues night (monologues are a single actor/character short script). The Nexus Theatre is also available to hire for a variety of external clients from Secondary schools, bands to professional companies for events such as dance performances, live music, cultural performances and presentations. Anything outside of theatre units and external organisations/schools is on the initiative of established theatre clubs (Theatre Companies) at Murdoch University.

Nexus Theatre website: http://www.murdochtheatre.com/

Nexus Theatre Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Nexus-Theatre-172480719465841/

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The Gothics Launch Event Q&A

A little bit about me, your somewhat unbiased Theatre Guru: Ariana Rose

My name is Ariana and I turn 20 in June this year. I’m currently studying English and Creative Writing and will nominate Drama and Theatre as my double major once I’ve finished my first year (I started mid-semester last year).  You can see how ‘unbiased’ I am by counting how many adjectives and pronouns I toss around in such a carefree manner. I’ve grown up being surrounded by art and the Performing Arts in Arizona, United States. My parents encouraged me to partake in Theatre productions at Desert Theatre Stages. (They had both Children’s Theatre and Young Adult Theatre seasons) I was usually playing a minor role, like a street urchin in Cinderella, kid in a candy shop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and under the crocodile in Peter Pan…. (I don’t really remember the rehearsal process, just moments from the actual performance. I enjoyed the drama camps the most.)

I moved to Perth in 2008, and while my path (in high school) wasn’t always been easy (though I know It could’ve been worse) I still remain enthralled by how theatre enables us to see the world around us, gives perspective to the pressing issues which have and will effect societies and brings to life masterfully crafted and performed characters which dance all over my heart. I aspire to write my own scripts, books and short fiction in the future, though I feel it’s best to start somewhere, even if it’s on a smaller scale. I’m currently not the most outgoing person, but I definitely improve and become wiser each year… It’s definitely noticeable in my thinking process and writing style. I created a website few years ago which I revamped in December. It’s still just blossoming and I haven’t been able to nurture or properly write stuff on it, besides some updates on my writing processes and publications portfolio.

It’s quite difficult for me to actually be ambitious, so I admit here that I’m interested in post-graduate studies such as Performance Writing, Language/Linguistics, Education and maybe in Business Management. But I’m keeping my options open and trying not to think that far ahead. I also hope to work on either creating or helping already established Not for Profit Organisation/s that would focus on education/literary, Health & Social Welfare services, Sustainability and hopefully will also help the Arts and Cultural diversity in Australia continue to prosper and actually be funded.

Desert Stages Theatre: https://www.facebook.com/Scottsdale-Desert-Stages-Theatre-108389754096/

Scottsdale, Arizona: http://www.experiencescottsdale.com/

Rose On The Horizon Website: https://roseonthehorizon.wordpress.com/

Scott McArdle: A rising Murdoch star

This theatre major is going places, and fast. METIOR caught up with him to steal some of his contagious passion and find out what he’s up to.

By Madura McCormack

Self-assured, he speaks in scenes, choosing words that craft a reel of images in the mind. He radiates theatre, the glint in his eyes dancing as he discusses his favourite medium. At just 22 years old, Scott McArdle is arguably Murdoch University’s fastest rising theatre star, on the verge of presenting his fifteenth show.

His passion for theatre is transfixing, this pinpoint focus probably being what has propelled him into the depth of the field so quickly. Stepping foot into Murdoch midway through 2011, by November he had founded Second Chance Theatre [SCT]. Some four short years later, McArdle has now teamed up with The Blue Room Theatre, and will set up shop at the Perth Cultural Centre.

The youngest producer to currently be working with the Perth based theatre group, McArdle’s latest play will be his longest running yet, with a three week residency at the PCC in September.

Titled ‘Between Solar Systems’, the play is a futuristic exploration of the human psyche which follows the life of Vincent, a 25 year old orphan raised alone by a computer in a spaceship after human kind rushed to leave a crippled Earth.

Set in 2050, Earth now ceases to exist after a botched United Nations plan to reverse global warming 30 years before goes awry, forcing everyone to flee the planet.

Vincent, played by Perth actor Nick Maclaine, is a perfect human, living out his routine in solitude.

“Until he sees a woman running around in the spaceship from the corner of his eye, making him question if he is alone… he starts searching for the truth, sabotaging the ship to find out what is really going on,” McArdle explains, refusing to reveal if the woman is a figment of Vincent’s imagination or if she is real.

There are a couple of twists at the end that are powerful and gripping, he says, describing the ending as the most beautiful part of the piece.

Between Solar Systems from David Cox on Vimeo.

Drafted on a red-eye flight

Relocating to Sydney earlier this year for a course with the National Institute of Dramatic Arts [NIDA], McArdle found himself in tumultuous times, with one thing going wrong after the next.

“I was feeling lonely and depressed, and suicidal,” he says, after the stress from private problems and the pressure of being away putting a strain on his personal relationships.

“I felt stuck in this womb…this ship, this emptiness… And I couldn’t crack it, because I wanted to come home. So I left.”

McArdle caught a midnight flight home to Perth and it was then that inspiration struck him. By the time the plane landed, he had written the first draft of Between Solar Systems.

He named his main character Vincent from the feelings of despair and isolation he felt during his time at NIDA, where the writer’s room was filled with pictures of the great Dutch artist Van Gogh.

“They are both characters who are sad and don’t know it, and it fit,” says McArdle, whose Van Gogh screensaver reminds him of why he wrote the script to begin with.

Between Solar Systems Source: Blue Room Theatre

Between Solar Systems                                                  Source: Blue Room Theatre

McArdle frequently draws inspiration from his personal battles, with one his previous plays, Bye. Gone. based around the year-long argument he had with his mother.

His gaze deviates once in a while as he collects his thoughts, only to return with a stream of words more powerful than the ones before. Music is his muse as well he says, with the tunes that fill his ears guiding him to a part of his life that ignites an idea for his shows.

“There is a scene [in Between Solar Systems] set on a beach. It’s about someone who went to the ocean. She’s talking about this ocean and how it will swallow everything… it is about accepting the inevitable, about walking into the ocean and lying in it and being at peace with it,” a part, McArdle says, that came to him after a friend sent him an instrumental piece called ‘Arctic’.

There is no permanence in theatre

Unlike film, which can be viewed over and over, theatre has a real rawness at its heart McArdle says, with sets being painted over soon after a show ends, without leaving a trace of its existence.

“A play you work really furiously on is gone in a week… you spend a year writing it, planning it, and it will be done. It’s sad but you get used to it… It’s happened 15 times now.”

But if there is something that remains fixed, it is the strong theatre presence at Murdoch University. To date, the school has three theatre companies, after McArdle moved Second Chance Theatre into the professional arena.

Black Martini, Murdoch Theatre Company currently helmed by Justin Crossley, and Modicum Theatre Perth are always improving he says, and have been strengthened by the recent renovation of Studio 411 on campus.

McArdle; deep in thought or half-asleep? Either way still inspiring Source: Supplied

McArdle; deep in thought or half-asleep? Either way still inspiring. Photo by: Kieran Peek

Be open

McArdle’s streak of achievements continues on, with the artist currently in the midst of writing his honours thesis at Murdoch. He is arguing a definition of a new theatre genre called ‘Dream-realism’.

His meteoric rise in the local theatre scene is likely due to his infectious thirst that is fed by a bottomless oasis of ideas, and supported by the air of humble sophistication that surrounds him. And his advice for other aspiring playwrights is reflective of this demeanour.

“Be open,” he says, “Be open to criticism. As much as you are praised, be open to change.”

“Be ambitious. Don’t settle, and don’t be afraid to fail tremendously.”

Between Solar Systems is playing at The Blue Room Theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, from September 8-26 at 7pm.

Check out Second Chance Theatre’s Pozible Campaign here to give them a hand.

Tickets cost $20 for students and can be booked at blueroom.org.au.