Where to from here?

Thunder’s Mouth Theatre had a wonderful opening season.  The Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio is a small, intimate venue, tucked away in the heart of the University of Queensland’s St Lucia Campus, next door to the Schonell Theatre.

Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio

preparing for performance

Now that the dust has settled, the post-show blues have subsided and we are all moving onto our next projects, it is wonderful to reflect upon the creative journey that led us to this point, and to signal a few possibilities down the track.

First up is the Arizona Women’s History Project, which has invited Thunder’s Mouth Theatre to present “The Fall of June Bloom” in Phoenix, Arizona next March, as part of their celebration of the creative work of women. We will be working with a local actor, director and producer – all multi-talented women based in Phoenix who are as excited as I am by this international collaboration.

Then there are murmerings in the air about a possible venture to Sydney later in the year, to work with Sydney-based creatives, as well as the faintest of whisperings in the wind about possibly taking part in the Manchester (UK) NotPartOf Fringe Festival. We are following up all of these leads, holding onto our metaphorical hats so as not to lose our actual heads in the excitement.

And of course, if you would like to see Dame June Bloom and experience her inimitable teaching style and take part in her journey towards self-realisation at a venue near you, just say the word…

BitsFestival 2010 at the Fringe Bar

Scenes from “The Order of the Boot” with Gallipoli Grey, “Not Cool like Grandma” with Girlclumsy Productions, Bridgit Griffiths and Soulla Pants.

and now, for something completely different!

It’s over, but it’s only just begun. Heard that before?

Thunder’s Mouth Theatre has closed its first production, but we are planning to tour just as soon as we can get the funds, the venues, the gigs, the organisation generally and that will take time, but it will happen.

Our thanks to everyone who contributed, in any way, to this production, especially –

the June in November company: Tony Brockman, Jeff Turpin, Rebecca Li, Jason Glenwright, Sue Smith, Matthew Higgins, Therese Collie;

the delightful ushers who volunteered their time and energy to making our patrons comfortable;

those who volunteered to come onstage and perform a few lines of Shakespeare in return for a little bit of Dame June’s idiosyncratic coaching –

Brett Heath, Thomas Bishop, Matthew Higgins and David Keirnan;

our generous sponsors –

Joanna Cazden, Brett Heath, Sue Hillman, Heather Jones, Iain Kennedy, Jessie Kennedy, Owen Kennedy, Natalie Kennedy, Arthur Conias Real Estate

all who contributed to our fund-raising event, the CupCake Cabaret –

Kieran Davey, Joanne Loth, Jacqueline Ozorio, Glen Schafer, Andrew Wadley, The Magnificent Object Workers featuring Mrs McMinimum and Lyle, and Anna Greble, Nicole Matthews and Daria Wain (otherwise known as Anna Belle La Belle, Lillian Lace and Smashin’ Dash), Caitlin  Browning, Lexie Boyle and The Fringe Bar team, and SideEffect Theatre (for the shout-out!);

all those who contributed to the development of the play, from its inception as a short sketch to its presentation at the Geoffrey last week –

Nigel Bell, Bernadette Cochrane, Micha Espinosa, Jennifer Flowers, John Graham, Gillian Kehoul, Judi Lehrhaupt,  Vanja Matula, Mark Metzger,  Aole T Miller, Sue Rider, Ira Seidenstein, Krystal Sweedman, Anna Yen, Brisbane Magdalena, ASDA, VASTA, EMSAH;

My advisory team at UQ –

Dr Joanne Tompkins, Prof. Richard Fotheringham and Dr James Smith

those who helped facilitate this production –

Stephen Martin and Kubler Auckland Management, Kris Plowman, Laboite Theatre Co, QTC Theatre Co, Stormy Wehi and the staff at EMSAH,

and finally, to all our audience members, who joined in the fun of the adventure, engaging with June’s lecture and the unfolding narrative of her disintegrating memory and her possible re-integration into her family – or whatever you thought the narrative involved. Thank you for bringing your imaginations and your enquiring minds to the party.

Thunder’s Mouth Theatre has just applied to be one of 19 companies offering rehearsed readings online – live-streaming on the internet – via 2AMT.  We’ll let you know how that goes, and trust that you will join us on yet another exciting new venture, sharing our craft and making theatre that gets you thinking, and dreaming.

First review: Full Version:

This was for me, one of the most engaging and rewarding pieces of theatre I have seen for a very long time.

I found it startlingly and brilliantly unsafe. A pretend lecture on Shakespeare became an edge of your seat experience. What was being asked of me as audience member? Am I suppose to chime in? Am I supposed to respond? The apparent plant, yes. But other audience members fell under the spell and responded as well. Were they ruining it? Were they making it better?

“We need to stop asking rhetorical questions in the theatre”, the character of June tells us. And with a single line brings the whole show into perfect clarity. This is not a performance. This is not a lecture. This is now. This is a moment. And for the first time in a very long time, I felt that I (the audience) was part of that moment. Trying to capture a theatre that we have lost. Memories that are no longer our own. Rules and guidelines have replaced what once was skill and human instinct. We have become creators of oh-so-clever recitals. What Flloyd has captured is the importance of that all pervading, all-powerful question that (at least for me) all great theatre is based on – “What Happens Next”?

Bravo.
Matthew Ryan

Jumping in the Blue, New!

One down, three to go. Three more chances to play, to discover, to invent and explore, to realise, to actualise, to – oh, I could go on, but really, I should take a shower and cool down.

Last night, our opening night audience included friends and family, colleagues and students, and their friends and partners. In other words, the home team, very supportive and responsive, some of them theatre makers themselves, and some relatively new to theatre going.

The idea that you can sit in the audience and also contribute to the discussion and to the action on stage can obviously be confronting, but that is something I hope to change before the end of this run. This is one of the challenges I have set with this play, how to create an atmosphere in the theatre which encourages participation, which is clearly not about humiliating the audience, but about engaging with them on equal terms.

Last night, when my character asked for a volunteer to speak some Shakespeare text, someone came out and did so. The short improvisation that resulted allowed me to share yet another vocal quality with the audience, and to highlight yet another aspect of performance that was not otherwise mentioned in the script. And so the work evolves. It is never the same, we do not repeat ourselves, our rehearsal process has been totally geared toward being present to the actual moment, going with the flow in every sense of the word. That doesn’t mean we don’t have marks to hit, climaxes to arrive at, stories to tell, lines to remember. It’s just that we do it as we encounter it, and that means being actually present to the audience that happens to be in the room, and responding to their responses.

Last night, one member of the audience interjected freely throughout the play, prompting me when I forgot my lines (part of the script, I assure you – my forgetting, not his prompting!) so I had to deal with it. He knows his Shakespeare, and was most free in sharing his views on points of interpretation, and his opinion of when we, the performers, hit our marks as he perceived them. I wish he would come every night, because he would have something different to respond to every night.

We are in the process of making the kind of theatre I enjoy. It’s alive, inclusive and it deals with the human condition and some of the philosophical concepts we humans love to toy with. That sounds dry, and it’s not dry by any means. It’s warm-hearted, funny and even a bit silly. And I’m probably going on too much, but I’m pretty sure there won’t be any reviews, and somebody has to tell you about it, otherwise how would you know?

I’m now exploring the idea of setting up a live stream on Friday night. I need someone to operate the computer, and an external mike, so if anyone is willing to lend a hand, give me a bell! One way or another, Dame June Bloom will be heard!

We had a preview!

As a general principle, I don’t believe in previews. I know they exist, but why? Every performance is a work in progress, so why make a difference? Or do you deliberately invite audiences in to see work that you don’t believe you can charge full price for?

Aaaargh! So now I am hoist with my own petard, because tonight we had a preview. It was actually our final dress and tech run, but there were certain people who needed to see the show, who couldn’t make it to the actual performances, so we opened the doors to them, and boy oh boy, am I glad we did! Because we actually got to play with an audience, as against the invisible, imaginary people we’ve been playing with so far.

I had the opportunity to experience all of those audience responses that can occur when an actor addresses audience members directly, from the friendly semi-smile to the hard stare to the sliding-look-away, to the ‘oh alright I’ll tell you what I think, since you’ve asked!’. The experience was invaluable, because now I realise how much more clear and precise I need to be in communicating that when I am talking to you, in the audience, I am not pretending to do it, I really am talking to you. And if you don’t like it, you are welcome to ignore me. And if are ok with it, and have a point or a comment to make, please feel free to do so. It’s that kind of a show.

It may not be any kind of a show you are familiar with. There is no intention to humiliate the audience, on the contrary, you are honoured guests AND members of the community that makes up the world of the play, not as actors, but as yourselves (and isn’t that the best kind of acting?)

So many questions, and I’m sure there are many different opinions. I hope you will come along to one our our performances (only four, remember!), and don’t leave without having a chat with us in the foyer afterwards.

Oh, and I must remind you, there are no credit card facilities at The Geoffrey, so only cash sales at the door.

Playing with Music

Rehearsing with music

Today Jeff Turpin, our soundscape composer-musician came to rehearsal for the first time, so Tony and I decided to do a fun read-through of the script, to give him an idea of how we play. Jeff brought several instruments, some familiar to me, some he almost certainly has made himself because they look like the unusual offspring of several different instruments.  I’ll take photos next time.

So we read, and we played, and Jeff played along, switching instruments, wandering around us as we roamed around him, happily interacting with us. At the end he gave me a run down of what he got from the text, and a whole bunch of new possibilities emerged that never occurred to me as I wrote it. I’ll happily take whatever I can get!