on now, Review

REVIEW: Dracula

“Do you believe in destiny? That even the powers of time can be altered for a single purpose? That the luckiest man who walks on this earth is the one who finds… true love?” Bram Stoker

Bound, tethered, inescapably trapped within the realm of existence to which he so desperately lingers, time beyond time we find a lost soul scouring the very ends of the earth, searching boundlessly for not so much the love of his life but the love without which for him there is no life.

Meet the romantically tragic villain, our beautifully brooding anti-hero, Dracula.

Brought to you by the always brilliant West Australian BalletDracula is the ambitious world premiere gracing the boards of the beautiful stage of His Majesty’s Theatre – the perfect setting for this adaptation of the classic gothic Victorian tale by Bram Stoker which captured the sensibilities of the era. The set design by Phil R. Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith with its overtly baroque styling references the darkly satirical movie version – that wonder of the 90s by Francis Ford Copella, complete with giant archways and columns spanning the stage, ironwork silhouetted against the lights like spider webs.

Dracula is a visually stunning production, rendered exquisite by Krzysztof Pastor‘s unique choreography. Adapted specifically for the stage, the stylistic storytelling of the vampire classic amalgamates the traditional neoclassical movement and form of the traditional Ballet with the contemporary and nonconformist expression of the theatre. Flipping the script on the traditional focus on ensemble pieces, this production’s emphasis is on the characters. Each individual dancer expresses their character through moves that become their signature – like that of a musical theme. From the erratic and jerky movements of Renfeild (Jesse Homes) to the strong presence and calm stability of Dr Seward (Christian Luck) each dancer embodies their role fully.

Melissa Boniface is sublime as Lucy Westenra; she glides across the stage effortlessly en pointe as though entranced by the power of Count Dracula. It is interesting to note that the cast does change as each role is so demanding, no more so than that of the titular character. On the night Fourth Wall reviewed, Aurelien Scannella was compelling as Old Count Dracula – a role he was lured out of retirement to fulfill. His fluid movements are at once sexually provocative and powerful. He stalks across the stage with the roiling confidence of a predator. One of the triumphs of the show is the transition from Old Count Dracula to his younger counterpart. The movements are ritualistic as though steps in a particular dance – as Scannella waltzes around the stage, Matthew Lehmann resplendent in fresher costume and long dark hair seamlessly enters the scene – replenished by his victim’s blood.

The set design by Daniels and Smith perfectly portrays the dark aesthetic of the Gothic Victorian era but doesn’t leave out the decadent vibrancy of the hedonistic nature on display in the opening waltz. The costumes assist in developing a strong sense of character – they are non-traditional and nothing short of spectacular. Victorian gowns twirl in a kaleidoscope of colour as the dancers whirl faster and faster. Dracula’s cape frames the vampire in a blanket of quilted darkness and Lucy’s tantalisingly semi-transparent nightgown moves hauntingly around her as she flits in the transient space between life and death.

Melissa Boniface, Matthew Edwardson, Oliver Edwardson and Aurelien Scannella in Dracula. Photo by Jon Green

Musically, the tone of Dracula is unlike most ballet scores. Composer Wojciech Kilar has created a soundscape that elevates the performance and once again, provides a strong sense of character. WASO (West Australian Symphony Orchestra) are flawless in their performance. It’s a careful blending of classical and filmic convention, slightly reminiscent of the Coppola film with a sumptuous layering effect that creates spine-tingling chills. It’s achingly romantic and melancholic.

For those on the fence about whether or not this version of Dracula is for them, why not  leave it to the tragic soul himself to convince you:

Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory and we should not trust the weaker.

Review | Fourth Wall Team: Amanda Lancaster, Laura Money & Link Harris

WHEN: 6 – 22 September 2018 | Various times

WHERE: His Majesty’s Theatre | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $22 – $120 | Duration 2hrs 25mins | Interval | Contains stylised violence

LINK: https://waballet.com.au/whats-on/dracula/

 

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REVIEW: WA Dance Makers Project

Westfarmers Arts proudly presents Co:3‘s WA Dance Makers Project, as advertised it is double bill of new and exhilarating dance theatre works…. and this is about as simple as it cant be described.

Prepare to experience the joy of movement, the freedom of expression and the ephemeral beauty that is  contemporary dance.

A beautiful turn about to the normal honouring opening speeches usually associated with performances introductions sees An effortlessly enigmatic  Young Man takes to the floor, and in one of the clearest most melodic voices you will ever be lucky enough to hear, regaling audiences with a short  personal story from his childhood about the importance of sharing  a persons culture and the responsibility people at large hold if they are to continue keeping it alive.

the lights completely dim and the show begins.

The first act which opens the curtains for the night is by ECU’s Link Dance Company with a new work by Richard Cilli; comprising of Andrew Barnes, Aline Doyle, Ana Music, Briannah Davis, Bridget Flint, Elizabeth Ferguson, Georgia Smith, Hannah Phillips, Jessie Camilleri-Seeber, Jocelyn Eddie, Jacinta Jeffries, Kimberly Parkin, Rhiana Hocking-Katz and Ryan Stone and Scott Galbraith. The stage lights up with all fourteen of the dancers holding red pom-poms, they all start making sounds in unison then in chaotically different intervals, then they all start moving getting intertwined weaving in and out of each other going from looking organised to chaos at the drop of a hat almost like the dance troupe as a whole is one evolving organism. For Those unfamiliar with contemporary dance  this company and piece will offer a fun and simple way to ease into whats about to ensue.

The second piece In-Lore Act II which is definitely  the dramatic stand out of the three performances is choreographed by Australian dance legend Chrissie Parrott, stars David Mack, Ella-Rose Trew, Andrew Searle, Zoe Wozniak, Katherine Gurr and Tanya Brown. On the right we see a large family sitting around a table watching an old TV and another woman on the left dressed in white, as she starts to dance she interacts with the family on the right. There was definitely a feeling of escalation, dread or melancholy  happening even if it wasn’t explored or understood by audiences fully.  perhaps though that is the point to this piece,  the work seems to draw or paint a picture of something  in a constant state of flux or shift. An ephemeral demonstrable tangibility to the ever changing things people do themselves each other  their identities and the often desperate heart wrenching consequences of those acts and choices.. Either way this is definitely an brilliantly emotional piece which will probably be interpreted differently by everyone that watches it.

The third piece You Do Ewe produced by the trio of Unkempt DanceAmy Wiseman, Carly Armstrong, and Jessica Lewis – with Trew, Searle, Gurr, Wozniak, Brown and Mitch Harvey . This is a fun and bordering on slapstick comedic piece where each of the six dancers comes in one after the other and introduces themselves then they break into a very intentional albeit out of sync tango looking dance. Placing their hands where they shouldn’t be so instead of on hips they were on their elbows, backsides or even knees which definitely made this ridiculous act stand out on its own for being without a doubt fun and a delight to watch.

This is definitely a good show to watch even if you don’t quite understand what contemporary dance is all about and if you do you will most definitely adore these three pieces for their own varying and distinct merits.

For those who don’t intellectually associate with this  performance you will definitely find your self emotionally unable to forget it.

You may not.

Review | Amanda Lancaster & Link Harris

WHEN: 12th – 15th September 2018| 7:30pm

14th September 2018 | 12pm

16th September| 5pm

WHERE: Studio Underground | State Theatre Centre WA| Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $35 | Duration 90 mins | Suitable  18 | DANCE

LINK: https://co3.org.au/program/wa-dance-makers-project-2018/

on now

ON NOW: Dracula (WA Ballet)

Need something to sink your teeth into this Spring? Join WA Ballet as they bring you this neo-classical tale of love, loss, and of course vampires. Working with world renowned choreographer, Krzysztof Pastor this unique re-telling uses a libretto and expressionistic dance to bring this gruesome yet beautiful tale to the the stage.

Dracula is a World Premiere and will darken the stage at His Majesty’s Theatre from 6 – 22 September 2018. Get your tickets here

WHEN: 6 – 22 September 2018 | 7:30pm + matinees

WHERE: His Majesty’s Theatre | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $22 – $120 | Duration 2hrs 25mins | Interval | Contains stylised violence

LINK: https://waballet.com.au/whats-on/dracula/

 

Interview, on now

INTERVIEW: Frieda Lee

Frieda Lee is the lead creative on the new play currently showing at The Blue Room Theatre – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish. We caught up with her ahead of the show to find out what it’s all about.

How did you develop The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish?  
I started writing the play a few few years ago when I was staying in Singapore for some intercultural theatre training. I also lived in Thailand a few years before that – the country which is the home port for many of the horrible people running the fishing industry slave trade. The play is a comment on the fishing industry and also on migrant domestic workers. But overall it is a comment on what happens when some people’s lives are worth more than others. As to how I developed it – I sat on my bed in Singapore and wrote it while I listened to my housemate play the piano. And I’ve continued to write it for the last few years. Sam, my husband and co-performer takes long walks on windy nights and comes back with lots of ideas for me to try and fit in.
Do you follow a particular creative process, or does your work just evolve organically? 
Many drafts. And much feedback from people I trust. And then lots of writing and time on the floor.
What does Inconsequential Lives have to say about capitalism and systems of oppression?  
It’s not so much about capitalism – although it is largely private enterprise driving the demand for the fish produced by forced labour. It is very much about systems of oppression. The people who end up on trawlers are people without agency, they are migrants without paperwork, often they don’t speak the language, often they are stateless. They cross borders with the help of brokers who promise them work then sell them to boat captains. They’re asked for bribes by police and when they can’t pay they’re sold to boat captains. Because they are so powerless their lives are worth very little. I read a horrifying quote from an activist that said to buy one of these men it costs 95% less than it did at the height of the 19th century slave trade because they’re not thought of as important investments but rather as disposable commodities. They work 20 hour days, are fed a bowl of rice a day, they’re executed, beaten, dumped in the sea if they’re sick, I read about one man tied to four boats and pulled apart.
It sounds like the characters face some hardships along the way, how strong is their relationship and what do you think is the key to writing realistic couples?  
They love each other very much. We try to set it up through a montage at the beginning where he teaches her about being human. They have laugh together, cry together, get angry at each other and boss each other around. And, well, this couple happens to be a real couple – it is me and my husband Sam and our real live baby. So it’s quite easy to portray.
Are any of the characters similar to you?  
Sam believes Little Fish is me and gets upset when anything bad happens to her. She has a few qualities that are similar to me but many differences as well – in particular – I have never faced hardship and I have never been a fish.
 
Why the fishing analogy? What is the work really saying?  
Oh – actually it really is about fishing. And except for a bit of magic at the beginning and in the thrilling conclusion  it’s very much based on accounts of real people. There’s no hidden meaning, it’s just saying – what happens to these people is horrible.
Describe the play in three words.
Wow that’s hard. I’ll steal our marketing copy – Love Cruelty Revenge
You can catch The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish at The Blue Room Theatre from 4 – 22 September. Tickets here: https://blueroom.org.au/events/the-inconsequential-lives-of-little-fish/
Interview, on now

IN CONVERSATION: Leanne Glover

This August, WASO (West Australian Symphony Orchestra) will be performing the epic Tristan und Isolde in a five hour special concert, complete with two intervals. We caught up with Cor Anglais player, Leanne Glover ahead of rehearsals for the gargantuan concert.

FOURTH WALL (FW): Tell me about the Cor Anglais.

LEANNE GLOVER (LG): Well, the English Horn is a member of the Oboe family, so it’s a woodwind instrument. It goes back throughout history – someone translated it as being ‘English/Anglais’ but it was actually ‘angled.’ So, over the years it’s become known as the English Horn but it has nothing to do with brass instruments! I have also just recently heard ‘Angel Horn’ which I think is nice, too.

FW: So, how did you get into playing the Oboe?

LG: I grew up in the country, Mount Barker, and there was a teacher down there who taught all of the instruments and his son had given up playing the Oboe and there was one under the bed…I don’t remember the exact moment! Apparently I heard an Oboe on the radio and said to my Mum ‘I want to play that one!’ So I learned from the teacher at school and then I gave it up for horses – but I picked it up again when I was sent away to boarding school. MLC had a really good music program so I got involved in that. People tend to do what comes easily to them, so I didn’t think how hard it would be to get a job! No-one sat me down and said, don’t! Luckily, it worked out.

FW: Tristan und Isolde is probably one of Wagner’s most intimate works but it is obviously still epic in scale, how is this being staged?

LG: Well, traditionally when we present these works in a concert-style, the singers stand behind the orchestra, but [the conductor] Ascher Fisch may put them up the front, I’m not sure yet.

FW: How does it feel to play something like this, that walks the fine line between epic and intimate?

LG: It’s a wonderful journey, a wonderful experience to do it – of course I’m going to say that! – but actually it is. It’s quite a marriage of a few things, because Wagner himself wrote the text, which is very unusual, and wrote the music to go with it – emotionally, the two are so blended because he did both. So, it’s just integrally so together, and intimate as you say. It’s such a love triangle, everyone loves each other – King Marke loves Tristan, Tristan loves Isolde and King Marke, Isolde loves Tristan – so it’s all there. It all leads towards intimacy.

FW: I just think it’s such a beautiful story and one that lends itself to the music. The fact that it hadn’t been done before Wagner is quite interesting.

LG: It is such a great story, and it is interesting that no-one had taken that legend and done it. But it’s so integral to the human experience – I mean, it’s King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere. It’s come up in the human psyche so many times, this love triangle – even though there’s a love potion which gives it a kick that it might not have originally had.

FW: But that’s the operatic side of it, isn’t it? That’s what makes it so perfect for opera as a medium.

LG: Well it is pretty interesting considering it was meant to be a death potion but thanks to the handmaiden it became a love potion. It just gives it all these twists, but I think everyone can relate to the love story in it and we’ve all felt parts of this, moments of that. And the music is just so inbuilt into the building, building, building moments of passion. You know, the performance takes five hours, but it’s not just five hours of playing, there are two relatively large intervals so it makes up three just-over-an-hour performances, which is absolutely doable.

FW: So, it’s quite similar to a regular concert?

LG: Yes, with one extra bit really. It’s like one extra ‘half.’ I think, because the music doesn’t stop and the story doesn’t stop, like in operas that came before it they always had this little recitative section where you talk about what is happening and then this big long aria, where you sing about what happened before, and that doesn’t happen in this. It’s just continuous singing and action and story, and because we’ll have the subtitles up it’s shows what a good story it is.

FW: What I really like about it is this idea that it doesn’t stop – do you think that’s what compels people to see a Wagner opera?

LG: I think it’s an experience to go and see a Wagner opera. It’s not something that you would do six times in a year – well some people do, they chase them around! – but it’s a real experience to go and commit yourself. I’m making it sound like it’s a massive thing to do and it’s not! But it is a real journey and I think you come out of the concert hall feeling different to how you went in. That’s what’s the best thing – it’s like when you go to a really good movie – Shindler’s List – you go in on a normal day and you come out changed in some way, you come out affected by what you’ve seen and heard, and I fully expect that that’s going to happen to every person in the concert hall – that they’ll come out different.

FW: I think also, because the work has been entrenched in the canon for our whole living memory, it’s been in existence for so long, it’s like going to see Shindler’s List a second time – you know what you’re in for.

LG: Yes! You notice different things, many more details and you’re prepared to be open and to let yourself be carried away and I think if you go in closed it won’t be successful But if you go in and you sit in your seat comfortably and you let yourself go exactly where Wagner takes you and you just be open and really feel the emotion that the singers are singing about and that we are supporting – it’s not even a support, they’re equal. The music and the text are totally even and they rely on each other. I think it’s exciting!

FW: What’s your experience with Wagnerian music?

LG: Just what we’ve done in the orchestra here, really. I’ve done Tristan und Isolde as a concert before, although I played a different part, I played first Oboe – so this is the first time I’ve played the Cor Anglais part, which is massive. It’s the Shepherd, it’s this mournful lamenting tune that comes back in the third act. It keeps saying ‘no, her ship’s not here! I’m really sorry.’ I mean, Isolde is the only one who can save him, so they’re all asking ‘is she here yet?’ and I’m going ‘no! There’s no ship on the horizon.’

FW: Does the music aid you in conveying that emotion? Is it in the writing, the playing, or how it’s conducted?

LG: Oh, absolutely. It’s all those things. Because Wagner wrote it so specifically, he knew exactly what he wanted having written the text – it’s all there but you have to interpret it and you have to put your heart into it, otherwise no music works. We haven’t played much Wagner – of course we did Stuart’s CD [Stuart Skelton sings Wagner with WASO] with Ascher and we did some Wagner on tour with him. It will be very interesting to see what Ascher does with it, because it is so well known.

FW: Have you seen the opera independent of WASO?

LG: Not live. I’ve seen it on my computer in its entirety but I’ve only ever played it. I’ve never really had the chance to see it live because I haven’t been anywhere it’s on while I’ve been there!

FW: What do you think audiences will get out of the live experience?

LG: I think it’s the journey experience that they’ll get. They’ll come out having gone somewhere in it. They’ll have some moments of fatigue, and then they’ll get back. But I think they’ll be elated. They’ll experience something that they wouldn’t have experienced on that day, otherwise. I think it would be good for people to read up about it first, know a little bit about Wagner. And go in with the right attitude. Let yourself be immersed in it.

FW: WASO’s program is quite diverse – one week you play with James Morrison, the next concert is Wagner, how do you prepare for a part and for so much change?

LG: Well, I switch between instruments for a start – I’m either playing the Oboe or the Cor Anglais, so it’s just part of my job to be able to switch between the genres. I’ve been practicing my part for Tristan for quite a while because it’s a big part for me, personally, and it’s actually quite fatiguing. The third act is big, so I’ve been trying to build up my stamina to be able to play it the way I want to. You’ve got to stay a few weeks ahead – you get to know what you’ve got to prepare for a lot and what’s going to be fine. It comes down to experience – the first years in the orchestra, you absolutely look at everything but I’ve been in the orchestra for 28 years now, so I know what I need to spend time on. Occasionally I get surprised! But I like to be super prepared.

FW: How much do you do at home? I would assume that the rehearsals are like the office job – you come in, you do your work and then you go home – how much do you ‘check your emails’ after work?

LG: Look it really depends what’s coming up. For Tristan I’ve done a lot of work, for us in the Oboe section I have to make reeds. I’ve made quite a lot because I need some ‘magic’ ones. I’ve done a lot of preparation at home because it’s quite demanding of me and the concert after Tristan is another big one and there’s only one day off in between!

FW: What’s on the radio when you’re preparing for a piece? Do you listen to it on repeat?

LG: No, not at all, I listen to whatever. Sometimes I listen to what I’m working on, but never on repeat. Mainly because I don’t want to play it like I hear it, like someone else. Sometimes it’s really good to get ideas from people but then I like to stop it so I don’t just sound like someone else.

FW: And how do you bring your own voice to a part that’s historically been played by multiple people?

LG: A lot of it’s similar – there are traditions, like you slow down here or get louder here, but if you don’t listen to someone right up to the moment you have to play it you end up doing stuff and you don’t even realise it’s happening. You just interpret it the way you see it. I think it also comes with experience – to have the confidence to say, it’ll be ok to do this because of that. It’s hard to do that when you first join the orchestra but then you start to get a feeling for what’s ok and what’s not.

FW: We’ve mentioned before that this performance is a long one, so what do you do in the intervals?

LG: Well, in the first break we’re going to have our dinner. And the second break, I don’t know, because we don’t usually get a second interval! My biggest part is in the third act so for half of it I’ll probably just sit down and relax, and the second half of it I’ll be getting ready for the third act which is my big solo. I’ll be getting ready for that, I think.

FW: What do you consider to be the most important musical themes within Tristan und Isolde?

LG: Well, the motives that go with people or emotions come back time and time again and people will recognise them. They’re the cues for what’s happening here really. He’s just built this chromatic movement into it which just tears at you because it’s dissonance and it resolves, then dissonance and it resolves and it just builds and I think they’ll start to recognise the themes when each person comes or an emotion comes It’s part of the thing, I think, to start recognising it. And it begins and ends during the same thing – it’s wrenching.

FW: How much of an emotional response do you get from the audience when you do these kind of concerts?

LG: Well I’m interested to see, I can’t remember as we did Tristan so many years ago. I remember the experience for myself – it was fantastic, it was big and epic. But I’m a bit more experienced now at handling the length of time of just concentrating. So, I’ll be interested to see how I go. I’m waiting to see what the audience will do.

You can see WASO perform Tristan und Isolde at the Perth Concert Hall in August 2018.

Interview | Laura Money

WHEN: 16th August 2018 6pm | & 19th August 2018  2pm

WHERE: Perth Concert Hall | Perth

INFO: Tickets $85 – $95.50 | Duration 5 hrs | 2 intervals (20 mins each) | Suitable 12+

LINK: http://www.waso.com.au/