Lacking the inchoate anarchy that has marked previous season launches, The Blue Room Theatre still stayed well away from dull as an exciting Season 2 line up was announced for 2015.
The format remained similar to previous seasons, each performance area set with tables for theatre members, artists, media and representatives of various funding and cultural organisations to be introduced to the upcoming line up of innovation and entertainment. Food and wine were provided, this year by The Blue Room Theatre itself, breaking with a tradition of having themed food and beverage accompanying each of the presentations. Amazingly, given a selection of the most daringly creative, comedic and avant garde creative types asked to introduce their shows AND provide food, none of these long table launches have resulted in mass poisoning of Perth’s independent theatre sector. The often whimsical nature of the food provided has led to some bemusement in the past, so this season’s launch instead ran with unified themes in each room.
The Studio space was set with the eponymous long tables, running lengthwise down the room. Heads craned back from the fixed seating to see the screen and stage area at the front.
Opening with Latitudes, presented by The Lost Boys, director Mikala Westall gave a thoughtful speech about memory, and how the act of remembering itself changes the nature of each memory. A slide show of members of the show’s team at different points in their lives provoked much merriment, and then in a mysterious twist, lights dimmed and tins filled with torn book pages were distributed, with the instruction to “dig”. Obedient rummaging revealed cloth parcels of children’s treasures of sweets, pieces of bark and ripped photographs with cryptic notes scrawled across the backing. The Lost Boys look to bring an intriguing drama from 18 August to 5 September 2015.
Co-writer Nick Pages-Oliver entered dressed in a safari suit and wearing a beekeeper’s face net for Bastard Theatre’s presentation for their comedy, Two Bees... Introducing himself as a hologram from the future, he gave a speech about our present day existence and darkly hinting at horrors to come. In an echo of previous long table dinners, assistants handed out honey-dipped edible flowers. The hologram’s warnings about the future continued, but the slide show was hijacked by cute pictures of cats. Screams and pleas from the doorway concluded the presentation as Pages-Oliver was dragged away by unseen forces. Bastard Theatre comedy promises the unexpected when Two Bees... graces The Blue Room Theatre from 15 September until 3 October 2015.
The sweetness from Whiskey and Boots was delightful as writer, director and performer Mark Storen and fellow company member Jacinta Larcombe introduced family show Benjamin & Me. Larcombe demonstrated that beyond her dancing talent and engaging acting skills, she is a dab hand at the quick draw, producing a large cartoon image on stage while Storen sang a song and strummed his ukulele. Watching the video presentation featuring a small child in an aeroplane bathtub with a dog and lots of imagination, it became clear that Benjamin & Me is set to be AWESOME family entertainment (part of 2015 AWESOME Festival) in its many shows scheduled from 6 to 24 October 2015.
The season’s contemporary dance work will be White Matter, choreographer Shona Erskine’s piece that wryly acknowledges the abstract nature of the art form as a means of communication. Erskine gave a classic dance-text explanation of White Matter as an examination of multiple sclerosis, leaving us bemused and then neatly turning the tables by acknowledging the density of ideas in the descriptive prose as well as in the performance sample itself. The physical presentation began with an absorbing projection of dancers played on the back of performer Isabella Stone before Stone herself moved, drawing the eye with distinct, large movements. Pulling back into herself, she intrigued further with her use of a black light to reveal a pattern of nerves on her body, echoed by spidery writing on the wall. For lovers of dance, those curious about the form and those with an interest in multiple sclerosis, Shona Erskine’s White Matter will be performed from 10 to 28 November 2015.
A brief interlude between sets of presentations gave audience members time to mingle and share opinions. Moving into the vacated main space with its distinct cabaret feel, The Blue Room Theatre retaining Songbird’s set dressing from the last work of the previous season. Black and white tiled floor, sound desk cunningly hidden behind a bar, with round tables clustered around a tiny stage in the corner, and we were ready for the opening of an appropriately moody musical number.
Introducing The Cockatoos, director Andrew Hale spoke briefly about his adaptation of the play which, while not a musical, does feature some crooning. Caitlyn Beresford-Ord, accompanied by popular Blue Room stalwart Matt Penny on keyboard, treated us to an original composition from the work. Audiences should anticipate thoughtful drama from Happy Dagger Theatre adaptation of Patrick White’s poem, The Cockatoos, when it plays from 20 October to 7 November 2015.
The Last Great Hunt’s Arielle Gray and Chris Isaac brought a change of pace by introducing All That Glitters – political punch and pop music. Their latest project is a response to Australia’s policies on asylum seekers, and the performers presented their views via beautiful physical expressions, Taylor Swift, amazing jump suit onesies and lots of glitter. Whatever happens in All That Glitters, it promises to be amazing. The Last Great Hunt will bring their take on current affairs to the stage from 11 to 29 August 2015.
Writer-director Scott McArdle of Between Solar Systems took the stage with chagrin, following glittery glam with a short talk about the glories of science fiction. McArdle kept it short, introducing performer Nick Maclaine who shared entertainment duties with the shipboard computer. Maclaine’s character, Vincent, is the very last human in existence and we, the audience, exist only as computer-stored memories. Maclaine’s delight in presenting his character bodes well for the entertainment levels of Between Solar Systems when Second Chance Theatre presents it from 8 to 26 September 2015.
The closing presentation for Multiverse Theory in D featured writer and director Jessica Messenger’s musings on science fiction, accompanied by an acapella quartet mash up of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) and the Big Bang Theory theme tune. (The Blue Room Theatre presentations are certainly original). Messenger’s ponderings on parallel universes or multiverses, the number of scripts actually written for this one show and the nature of choice were illustrated by sharing jelly shots and contemplating traffic disasters. Ellandar Productions’ production of Multiverse Theory in D promises to be intense and thought-provoking, with plenty of humour when it rounds out the season from 17 November to 5 December 2015.
Smoothly-run, this event itself speaks for the increasing sophistication of the shows performed at The Blue Room Theatre within its main seasons. As an overview to introduce the many varied approaches taken by each company, it was a resounding success. It is now up to the performers and creatives to live up to the promises and deliver more fascinating, original and innovative work as their turns come around.
For more information on the upcoming season, check the website of The Blue Room Theatre at blueroom.org.au
Top right – Latitudes. Stevie Cruz-Martin & Matt Sav
Bottom right – Multiverse Theory in D