Left – Liam Graham. Cover – Thomas Vowles
One of my friends updated his facebook status after seeing this production. It said something along the lines of “Earth gave me an artistic hard on”. I thought this was an apt description given the nature of the, often sexually driven, devised play by WAYTCo.
Within the first few minutes of the show, it became evident that all 8 of the young people in the cast had well and truly passed “Acting 1.01”. To qualify for WAYTCo, they need to be under the age of 27 (with the youngest in this production probably being about 19), despite this, they’ve acquired impressive CVs and there is already a wealth of experience among their ranks.
The first section of Earth gave us a somewhat voyeuristic perspective of a group of young people with a creative mission. Dressed in matching red tracksuits, the cast started by explaining what this play would or wouldn’t be about. Acting as a heightened version of themselves, they quibbled, suggested, interacted and workshopped, saying plenty and nothing simultaneously. Random and gratuitous though some scenes were, it was exciting, funny, moving and unpredictable. I found this portion of the production to be the most interesting.
The second section, while beautifully delivered with skill and creativity, was stock standard youth theatre. Each of the 8 actors did what they said at the beginning they wouldn’t. They indulged in traditional youth issues, like sex, belonging and relationships.
For the last few months, the actors have been keeping blogs for an alter ego they were developing. From each of the blogs sprung a monologue, based on the issues of the character they had built. Strung together with a unified voice by director Jeffrey Jay Fowler, and interspersed with the ambient architecture of sound scapes and general discussion between the actors, it was easy to allow each character to draw us into their moment in time.
Where Earth really excelled was in the way that they tackled heavy issues with intense commitment one moment and then superficial farce the next. They allowed the audience to decide what their reaction would be to each approach, and the topic itself. In his Director’s notes, Jeffrey Jay Fowler states that the “theatrical scaffolding is still visible”. One of the most humorous examples of this for me was at the conclusion of the play when one actor asked us “did you like it?” This dissolved into a discussion about taboos and post-show theatre foyer etiquette.
I’m pleased to report that the last few shows of Earth are sold out because it is a piece that thrives on the energy of the viewer. The first of a trilogy, Earth sets a high standard and I will certainly be keen to attend the next two plays in the series, Wind and Fire.
WA Youth Theatre Company (WAYTCo) presents
Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler
Venue: The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge
Dates: 30 November – 10 December, 2011
Times: Tue – Sat, 8.30pm
Tickets: $25 full, $15 concession
Bookings: blueroom.org.au | (08) 9227 7005