‘Speaking of….’ A Chat with Nicholas Tan

By Sarah Smit

Nicholas Tan is an award-winning writer and recently premiered his new play, Five, Six at Studio 411 for the Fringe Festival. METIOR caught up with him to discuss his directoral debut and indie theatre in Perth.

This is your first time directing, right?

That’s correct. I did some assistant directing 3 years ago for fringe 2015, but this is my first time at the helm, yeah.

Has it been a challenging transition for you?

It’s interesting, because on the one hand I have  a vision — being the writer, I know where I want the actors to go — but the difficult part is trying to find the language to direct. And because the play deals with OCD and some other issues, it’s sometimes hard to teach the actors to be authentic about it so we’ve had to do a few changes. Some of the bits will be stylised, so that’s one difficulty. The other difficulty is I’m also producing, as well, so it’s kind of having to put on two hats. It’s pretty full on.

Can you tell me a bit about the play?

Essentially, it’s about two brothers, and one of the is closeted and the other one has OCD and they come from a broken family, and what happens is they try to cope with their struggles.

Has the experience been quite stressful?

Yeah. Some of the things that were originally in the play are no longer there, or now we’ve just implied it, so there were  a few character changes. Also it was originally a ten minute play, and now it’s gone to an hour.  The ten-minute version was directed by someone else and [in the shorter version] some of the behaviours are ok, but when they’re expanded to an hour long play, some of those characteristics are a bit difficult to prolong because we’re trying to express it in  a way which is respectful, too. What I found is that when the OCD continued throughout the play, there was something wrong with the structure of it. We have a younger cast; in the ten minute version they were all 25 and older, [now] the youngest is 19, we have two 20 year olds, and the oldest is 28.

Was there a generational barrier there?

Yeah, some issues of the display of mental health. The play is set around ten, fifteen years ago, so and it still plays in my mind, but I kind of have to externalise the pain [for the actors] because things have changed since then. I think we have a better awareness now of mental health issues, and we’re slowly changing our positivity to saying ‘I’m not alright, I need help,’ whereas in the play, some of the characters have facades, and that doesn’t make sense to the actors. It makes sense to me though, and I have to try and explain that. And just the experience as well, some of the younger actors may not have experienced OCD or mental health issues. I have to try and give them that research to help them. The play isn’t  an exposition on mental health, but there’s lots of implied issues in there, so they needed to understand it. I think that’s the challenge.  The play also deals with closeted behaviour,  and what I get from these actors, [is] it’s not an issue that their friends have experienced, so showing up and having to teach them how to conduct themselves, and the history behind it, I think, is a very important part of the process for them as actors to discover the script. Then again, saying that, the benefit of a cast that we have now is that they’re closer to the age of the characters than the original cast were. But it does meant that there’s a lot of research and pre-acting exercises.

OCD and mental health struggles are quite internal experiences; do you find it difficult to communicate your experiences of those things to the actors?

Yeah,  it’s hard for me to show because my expertise in the theatre is not acting itself, so I have to rely on different tools and resources to be able to teach them. One of the things we did I couldn’t do it myself without making a fool of myself, or going into my OCD phase. I couldn’t personally show it to them, so one of the suggestions I gave to Callum, who plays Joel, was to look it up on Youtube. But even then it’s difficult to try mimic it.  And I guess that’s why I try to stylise those things, not too much to the point where it becomes mimicry or disrespectful, but enough that we avoid the situation of having to fake it. It’s not really putting it in good words, but yeah… but it’s important to try to be respectful of it.

To find a genuine portrayal of it?

Yeah, a genuine portrayal , otherwise you just lose it. It’s even things as basic as anger that can be difficult to actually show the actors. Part of it is them not understanding, and me not explaining it to them what the rationale is. Once I explained it, they got it. So the challenge is me thinking when do I need to explain it and when don’t I need to explain it.  There’s such a limited time sometimes in my mode, I go do this and do this and do this, and I forget that because I’m the writer, it’s already in my head. But they didn’t write the script, so I need to develop it with them.  So that’s the difficulty of having two hats.

What’s your background? How did you get here?

My interest is actually in writing. In 2016, there was a festival in Newcastle NSW, and they were asking for ten minute pieces. The theme was out of place, and I wrote this piece and it was selected as one of 10 plays. I went to Newcastle and saw the play, and I thought that the story and characters were not finished yet, so I decided to write [the expanded version of] it myself.
Before that, I had something I wanted to produce at Fringe, but I wasn’t able to find a director. So with this ten minute version, when I wanted to do it for Fringe, I thought ‘Why don’t I have a go at directing it myself?’ But of course it was going to be a sixty minute piece, and on top of that, I’m also producing and doing other tasks as well, so it’s a little difficult. If I could get a director, that would have been great! I love the idea of someone else interpreting [your work] for you, because I think when you interpret it yourself – especially at my early levels of directing- mistakes can happen, and you want an experienced person. But the nature of Fringe and where I am at the moment, meant that I would have to direct it myself, and so I decided to, and I produced it myself. I had to train myself pretty quickly about what was expected in directing, and how you deal with actors. The producing side was not as difficult in the sense that I didn’t need to look up or read up or anything, but more the time you needed to sign documents and send emails. But the directing, definitely, I had to make sure of the theory and make sure I was proficient.

Is the play autobiographical , or is it more an exploration of the issues that you went through?

There are definitely some true experiences in there, of myself and people that I know, but I’ve also added fiction to it. I did give the script to a few people to read, and some of my friends could see bits that they thought were them, but they still couldn’t figure out the whole thing. So I think I’ve done a good job; I’m not going to get sued for slander or libel! The characters in the play are from a broken family, and that was pretty much the experience, growing up in Kalgoorlie; I’ve seen it firsthand. So some people will see some truth in it, but there are other parts that are totally comic and probably wouldn’t happen in real life. *laughs* Hopefully not!

What do you want to achieve with Five Six? Ideally, what would the audience take away from it?

I think I don’t want the audience to think that the characters are right. Because characters are not always right. The way I’ve written it, sometimes the characters make the wrong decision and take the consequences. And do not think the play reflects my views. You’ll see, when you watch the play, that some things are left unanswered. And that’s how I think that some things should be. But the theme I think definitely is taking responsibility for your choices, and being responsible for your success and your happiness. But also, considering your journey. In the play, all the characters go through the same problems, but they each take a different way out. And that’s what I want the audience to get.

But it’s not there to teach any morals; I don’t believe in that. And I try not to judge my characters. I think when we go to see a play, sometimes we’re too quick to go ‘this character is good and this character is bad,’ but we’ve got to look at the flaws. I think the what the audience member should say is, I wouldn’t have done this if I were the character, or I understand what the character is going through but I would have done it a different way.

Did you grow up with a brother?

I do have a younger brother, and that’s sort of where the issues come up. The issues didn’t come up with how I grew up, the issues came up from people that I saw. So it was taking experiences of lots of people and putting them together. I didn’t grow up in a broken family, but many of the people I went to school with did. I’m a bit suggestive when It comes to characters, I believe it’s up to the audience to come up with the story for the characters, so I try not to say this particular character grew up in a broken family.  It’s not said in the staging or dialogue, but I try to suggest it. Audience members have the right to their imagination. I think sometimes in indie theatre there is sometimes a lot of amplification and flamboyance, and everything’s in your face. I wanted to minimise that. I want the audience to be able to think, to imagine and be creative. They’re part of the play as well. Something I told the actor is that the final part of the production is the audience; it’s up to them what the play is about in the end. We can only do so much.

You mentioned that there’s a lot of amplification in indie theatre, could you expand on that?

Yeah, I find in Perth indie theatre, there is a lot of amplification, there is a lot of flamboyance, there is a lot of out there, in your face. In this play there are some parts that are in your face, but not in your face in an artificial way, I think. What I mean is that if it’s in your face, it’s by movement, and by voice and by dialogue, but not by special effects. I try not to rely on special effect too much. That might change, it’s just where I am at the moment. I would never say ‘this is how I will be forever,’ but at this moment, my artistic practise is to try and keep it actor focused. If you rely on special effects too much to  try and entertain the audience in a play that deals with issues, you end up talking about the issues and not the people who are affected by the issues. That’s how I see it anyway. There are lots of plays that deal with identity politics that are very out there and push the form, and that’s good, its always good to push the form. But then the question I ask is where are the people? Because it’s people who are affected by the issues, not the issues themselves. So it’s important to make sure there’s a balance and ecology in the theatre world, and that’s what I’m trying to do. But also for me, it’s also interesting to see how much can I push the actors and the script in a way which doesn’t have to rely on props. Some people are lighting designers, or set designers, but I’m not. If I were to use the props, they’re not my strengths.

Are there any directors in Perth who are doing those things that you find really interesting?

There’s this company called Improve Silence – one of my actor friends is one of the producers of this company- and they recently made a show so that is character based, and I finds that interesting to watch. There was another show by The Last Great Hunt; it wasn’t so recent, they already did a second part. [It starred] Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, and they’re just storytelling on stage. And that was a really interesting performance, because it was really stripped bare. But saying that, The Last Great Hunt do produce other shows with effects. [They did] one that involved puppetry and there was no dialogue, but the characterisation was interesting.   I couldn’t do anything like that. Even if you have your style, still I think it’s important to see what’s around.

I suppose you can know your own style and still be informed by other performers and other ways of doing things.

You need that variation. But I think, for me, you can’t look at a different style without knowing your own style first. Otherwise, especially at an emerging level, you will get swept in and it’ll just be too much. Even with this production, ‘I have to say no, I’m making a decision, this is how it’s going to be.’ Just because something’s in trend, doesn’t mean you should always choose it. It has to be right for the story. I always have to ask myself ‘does it serve the story?’  And sometimes it won’t.

Our review of Five, Six, can be found here.

Q&A with the cast of Women

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.
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

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.


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.

Theatre in June


June Theatre 2016: Upcoming Plays & Auditions

Upcoming Plays

Women-Black Martini Theatre

 Written by Chiara Atik & directed by Black Martini Theatre president Jess Serio.

Women is Black Martini’s second production this year. Women follows the story of Jo March. She strives to “become the voice of her generation, or at least, a voice of a generation”. But living in 1800’s New England is extremely difficult as a “little woman”. With influences from the HBO hit series Girls, the adventures of the beloved March sisters are shown to the world.
‘Women’ will be performed from June 9th – 11th at 7pm and located in Studio 411.
I’ll be publishing an in depth article this weekend or beginning of next week which will feature a Q&A with the cast & crew.

‘Women’ Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1120741761323201/
Black Martini Production info: http://www.blackmartinitheatre.com/#!current-production/xt0yl
Tickets: https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=20233

‘Six characters in search of an author’- Top and Tail Theatre

Written by Luigi Pirandello, adapted by Steve Moulds & directed by Nick Moran.
“Six characters, abandoned by their creator, invade a rehearsal in progress and demand to be brought to life by a new author. This intimate adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s absurdist classic foregrounds the comedic contrast between melodrama and the contemporary sensibilities of the acting company, all the while asking us to consider just what we believe to be real. The play script was adapted by Steve Moulds and is licensed by Playscripts Inc.” (A quote from the ‘Six Characters’ Facebook event)
Performances are from 16th June -18th June at 7pm and located in Studio 411.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1079075968830372/
Top and Tail Theatre Page: https://www.facebook.com/Top-and-Tail-Theatre-405065149680308/
Tickets on sale: https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=191887

Play in a Day –  Black Martini Theatre

‘Play in a Day’ will be hosted on the 25th of June where teams of 2-8 people can collaborate, write and perform an original short play based on the same theme and object. The theme/objects will only be given out on the day. Each team gets to nominate a team name and a captain. Plays can be up to 10 minutes and teams have from 9am to 7:30pm to plan, write and rehearse their play. Not all members have to perform but all can help in their capacity as a writer, director or any other stage role. Team members must be Murdoch University students past or present. Please check the registration form for more information.

‘Play in a Day’ is a yearly competition for people in teams to write a short play script in a day and perform in front of an audience in the evening on the same day. This theatre competition is run by Black Martini Theatre in June and was a success last year. The ‘Play in a Day’ was created  to encourage writers, performers or anyone interested in theatre to compete and showcase their talents and ‘theatrical skills’. Even if you aren’t interested in competing, please do come and support your friends or family by either seeing them perform or driving them home after a day full of excitement. This year, registrations opened in May and teams have until June 1st to register, after which they’ll have to pay a small fee (if there are still openings). There’s limited space for the first 12 teams, so if you’re interested and haven’t registered, get your team registered before May finishes! Below you’ll find a link to registration and the competition guidelines.
‘Play in a Day’ 2016 Registration form: http://www.blackmartinitheatre.com/#!auditions/d0w5z
Black Martini Theatre Website: http://www.blackmartinitheatre.com/
Black Martini Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/blackmartinitheatre/

In 2015, seven teams registered for ‘Play in a Day’ to compete for first place in front of a panel of judges. Last year’s performances were stunningly captivating and the scripts were wonderfully imaginative (I enjoyed watching it with my mum). Last year, teams were given the theme greed and a fire-fighter’s hat which they had to include in their performance. The top three teams won prizes with runner up team members winning trophies and chocolate and the winning team receiving a larger trophy and a box of wine. “In third place with their play “Clueless” was Big and Hairy, Yet Still Approachable. Coming in second was Peek and Boo with their play, “The Destructive Greed”. And finally, the  winners of the B trophy was The Brecht-Fast Club with “The Department”.

Theatre in June 2016: Upcoming Auditions

For news on the upcoming productions of each Murdoch Theatre Company, please check out their Facebook pages and subscribe. A couple of them have their own newsletter to advertise opportunities for students interested in acting, writing or set, lighting and costuming design. I will make sure to liaison with the theatre companies and the METIOR magazine to see what information I can release. However some auditions might only be open to those who already have experience in theatre or company members. Please check out part 2 of the theatre guide published on Thursday May 19th, for information on the companies and their contact details (or just search on Facebook).

Below will be brief descriptions, dates and contact information for upcoming auditions for productions by Murdoch theatre Companies and independent theatre companies in Perth, WA. There will are usually  auditions happening in August. More information along with Facebook events will be available once details have been finalised, closer to the time. I’m quite sure productions need at least 2 months to rehearse and combine all the production elements. So if you’re interested, keep in mind that you’ll need to be informed of when auditions are so you can prepare well in advance.

Black Martini Theatre
Top and Tail Theatre: Auditions near the beginning of August
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Top-and-Tail-Theatre-405065149680308/
Second Chance Theatre
Murdoch Theatre Company: Auditions in August
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MurdochTheatreCompany/
Modicum Theatre Perth Inc.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ModicumTheatrePerth/

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/

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.