reverancepavane: (blink)

Amateur theatre at Adelaide University (a University whose Performing Arts School lacks a drama department and would look askance at anyone suggesting that this might be an area of viable study), has always been somewhat problematic. There has always been the Theatre Guild, but for the entirety off my association with the University this has been a rather incestuous group, and one which makes most of the local neighbourhood dramatic societies look positively Elysian in outlook. Still that hasn't stopped the formation of a number of student theatrical companies that have gone on to do great things while they lasted. After all, the Art cannot be denied.

The latest is the Adelaide University Fringe Club, who successfully put on The Adventures of Stoke Mandaville last Fringe, and have offered Operation Mincemeat and Servant of Two Masters this Fringe. Whilst I cannot speak for the first, I'm very much afraid that the second was a very amateur production.

Too many people mistakenly equate amateur and professional as a measure of the quality. They are not. An amateur does stuff without the need to get paid, literally for the love of it ("amatori"), whilst a professional expects to get paid for their work. Naturally we expect a high standard in the work we pay for, and thus we often have come to equate professional with a high standard of work (or at least, one we are willing to pay for). But this does not mean that amateur work cannot also have a high standard.

And Servant of Two Masters had all the hallmarks of an extremely amateur production: the cast was highly enthusiastic and enjoyed their roles, there were plenty of in-jokes, a lack of focus (too many people on stage doing nothing was the biggest problem here), little consideration was given to the existence of the audience, and no real attempt was made at blocking (except in the non-theatrical sense). All of which can be put down to the fact that there was absolutely no visible* sign of any direction in the production of the show.

Which was a pity, as even through this lack, several of the cast demonstrated great future potential (at least, when they weren't chewing the scenery or standing around dumbfounded). Although for at least one actor I'm glad it is a short season; they will have to learn to project rather than shout if they wish to keep their voice for long.

And I'm afraid it didn't help that the play was not only a comedy, but a farce; a form that is very difficult to do well and very easy to foul up. After all, comedy is all in the...**

* I wont even mention the audible nature of the production which was so atrociously bad that I suspect the person running the sound board was not only doing something else, but actively providing the sound cues for a totally different play.

** ...timing.

reverancepavane: (Default)

Just saw the (Royal) National Theatre performance of Terry Pratchett's Nation. I found it quite excellent, although, as I have yet to read the book, I can't say how well it hues to the original storyline (although I am told by an expert that, apart from some interesting asynchronicity, it is an excellent adaptation). Emily Taaffe* and Gary Carr do a wonderful job as Daphne and Mau, and the ensemble cast is excellent, particularly in the recurring role of Locaha. The design and choreography were excellent, and a tribute to the director Melly Still. In particular the rotating domed stage does a wonderful job of physically defining the front and back of stage, allowing very quick scene changes, vital in a show that travels from the sitting rooms of Dorset to the islands of the Pacific and then onto lands metaphysical. I enjoyed the puppetry of the Grandfather Birds. It also includes some catchy musical numbers, although they did end up being seriously overused in the second act. However I can see people less accustomed to the fantastic, comparative anthropology, and the classical idea of the underworld and its keeper might get a wee bit lost if they haven't read the book.

And in case you are wondering exactly how I managed to get to the South Bank in London and back again so quickly ... well, I didn't. This was part of the National Theatre Live initiative, where they record the performance for limited display in cinemas around the world. If you want to see it, the last performance in Australia is tomorrow (Sunday 14th) at 1pm. Well worth going to see.

* Although it was occasionally difficult, especially when she was in native costume, to remember that she was supposed to be portraying a 13 year old girl. What can I say? The grass skirt really suited her. <grin>

reverancepavane: (blink)
I have to admit I really enjoyed Sleepless Nights, even though I probably shouldn't have, as most of the dialogue cuts far too close to the bone in my case. <sigh>

It was part of the Short & Sweet 10 minute play festival held in Melbourne last year (and actually took the prize for Best Overall Performance). Sometimes I really miss good theatre.

reverancepavane: (Delenn)
It's the Adelaide Fringe again. Scarcely seems two years since the last one ... oh that's right, it's not. Converting the Fringe to an annual event would seem to explain that uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm that seems to abound. Or maybe it's because all the literati are currently involved with the Adelaide Film Festival and haven't had time to switch to Fringe Mode. Either that or the V8 supercar street rally. Anyway it's time to see if anyone else is interested in seeing stuff at the same time as me. These are what currently tempt me... )

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Ian Borchardt

October 2012

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