The cliché that one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter only really makes sense in a world of moral equivalence; we all know that a man like Nelson Mandela could only be a terrorist in the eyes of a villain. And of course, Dutch-governed South Africa, with its 44-year apartheid separating blacks and whites, was nothing if not villainous. “There were good people on both sides” is a sentence no current nor future leader of that country would dare to utter. A musical of Mandela’s story is one of those ideas that sounds almost feasible on paper – an ordinary man facing the cruelty of a poisonous regime rising “from prison resident to president” – but it proves glib and simplistic in practice. The great bulk of the blame lies in the score and the lyrics; Jean-Pierre Hadida and Alicia Sebrien are credited with the latter and Hadida alone seems responsible for the score (what drove two French people to think they were qualified to tell this story is anyone’s guess). Oh, and the choreographer is Johan Nus, whose career highlights include Magical Dream at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas. The bio-musical is a pretty grim subcategory of the traditional musical, and it shares the same irritating qualities of the bio-pic: it tends to leap from incident to incident, hitting beat after predictable beat; it tends to flatten and simplify any nuances of personality in the pursuit of an easily digestible character arc; it tends to settle for the blandest and most shallow of readings abou
Sydney’s beloved harbourside landmark will be transformed into a massive dancefloor for a free weekend of Indigenous celebration. This nation-wide Indigenous dance competition honours long-standing cultural traditions and welcomes performers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from across Australia.Each dance troupe, dressed in traditional skin markings, will present three choreographed numbers including a welcome and farewell dance, and a freestyle piece. They’re competing for a grand prize of $20,000. Last year, the event attracted over 300 performers from across 21 nations and 31 clan groups. And for the first time, the group who has contributed outstanding communication of cultural knowledge in their community will receive special recognition. If you watched from the stands in years past, you’ll recognise a few familiar dancing faces returning to the stage. The 2017 overall winners, the Kulgoodah Dancers, will shake a leg on the dancefloor, and you’ll see 2017 wildcard winners ALLKUMO Malpa Paman Dancers perform. Highly acclaimed professional troupes like the Muggera Dancers and New Zealand dance collective Te Rua Mauri will also make an appearance. There’ll even be some award-winning music to match the skilled dancers. Double threat electro-pop duo Electric Fields will sneak in a Saturday night performance, and on Sunday Canada’s Anishinaabe singer-songwriter Leonard Sumner will join forces with Julian Bel-Bachir, the drummer for Indigenous hip hop g
It’s near impossible to get a real sense of what audiences might’ve felt when they first saw Shakespeare’s plays. he way we experience the drama today is miles away from how it initially burst onto stage: we either read the plays in classrooms or sit in darkened theatres listening closely to every word with a reverent silence. And the language a bit of a stretch for contemporary ears. It can be hard to believe that people used to go to Shakespeare for fun. But the experience of seeing a show at the Pop-up Globe – and believe us when we say it is an experience – gives you a bit of an idea as to what it might’ve been like to be in that “wooden o” back in the 17th century. You might start to understand why people become so invested in the Bard’s plays. The productions are physical, funny and smash the fourth wall apart to reach out to the audience. In return, the audiences are usually appropriately rowdy – or at least they have been the times we’ve been there – and cheer, boo and hiss along to the action. It’s a little like a panto for adults; drinking beer and eating popcorn in the theatre is totally acceptable. The theatre itself, a 900-seat temporary recreation of the second Globe Theatre, is a fascinating and transportive place to spend a night. It’s a little like a time machine, but the performances are brimming with so much life – and are littered with contemporary comedy and references – it never feels like a stuffy backward-looking academic exercise. A Midsummer Ni
At first glance, the building – an old business furniture showroom situated between a rubbish-truck rental and a hipster coffee shop on the outskirts of Newtown – seems an unlikely place for a show. But when you step inside, hand over your valuables and sign a safety waiver, it’s clear that A Midnight Visit is no ordinary show. This is an experience. An Undertaker greets you and escorts you into this new, mystical world. You are warned that the residents you’ll encounter are strange and perhaps dangerous. You’ll be handed a surgical mask (no talking allowed). You might be separated from your friends – but you’ll find them again soon enough. Now it’s time to pass over. Based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe and populated with characters and scenarios you might recognise from this old-school goth (yes, there’s a Raven, and he and Poe have some serious sexual tension), A Midnight Visit is an exploratory playing space. Over two levels, through winding corridors, secret passageways, and once through a magical, Narnia-style closet, you’ll be able to follow these characters through a world that’s a little bit horror movie with a dash of fun (an example: there’s a creepy church – but inside is a ball pit). A Midnight Visit owes a great deal to Sleep No More, the immersive, abandoned-warehouse theatre experience whose take on Macbeth transferred from London to New York in 2011, where it has remained open and inspires a fanbase of dedicated, triple-digit repeat viewings. A Mid
When the Australian Ballet’s Spartacus toured America in 1990, it nearly brought New York to a standstill. Crowds in Times Square stopped to gawp at the giant poster of leather-clad dancer Steven Heathcote as the rebellious gladiator, while at ground level promoters were kept busy replacing posters stolen by overeager fans overnight. The tour was a triumph. Fast forward to 2018 and principal dancer Kevin Jackson is taking on the role in a new version of Spartacus created by former company dancer and NIDA-trained director Lucas Jervies. And the leather harness is nowhere to be seen. Composed in 1954 by the Russian-Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, the story is based on the historical figure of Spartacus, an enslaved gladiator who led a rebellion against the tyrannical Roman commander Crassus in the first century BC. Traditionally, it’s been a vehicle for a company’s male dancers to step out from behind the ballerinas and take a well-earned place on centre stage. Read our interview with Kevin Jackson about taking on the role.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your ears: Bell Shakespeare is hoping to jolt us out of complacency with its new production of Julius Caesar. While the play mightn't be Shakespeare's most performed, it's certainly one of his stabbiest, and Bell Shakespeare is promising its production will be full of action as Brutus grapples with the idea of political assassination. The play stirred an international furore last year when a New York production depicted the assassination of a Trump-esque figure. But Bell Shakespeare is taking a slightly more abstract approach to its politics. Director James Evans has spent four years making the company's productions for school audiences, and says his mainstage debut will have a steely, industrial asethetic. "It is contemporary, but not weighed down by modern references – no iPhones or handguns on stage," Evans says. "My particular interest is in dystopias – especially the way in which yesterday’s dystopia becomes today’s normality. Read today’s headlines. Then imagine reading those same headlines in 2015. It would be unfathomable. And yet here we are, in a new reality." The cast is headed up by Kenneth Ransom (Gods of Egypt, Prize Fighter) as Caesar, alongside Jemwel Danao, Ivan Donato, Maryanne Fonceca, Ghenoa Gela, Neveen Hanna, Emily Havea, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Russell Smith and Sara Zwangobani.
Pop-up Globe is a replica of the Globe Theatre of 1614, built to the exact specifications of the Bard and his players. This is how the most popular plays in the world were born and staged: with natural light and unplugged sound, a standing audience of general admission ‘groundlings’, direct-audience address, and dirty jokes telegraphed with obscene gestures. Of all Shakespeare's comedies, The Comedy of Errors is probably the most straight-forwardly funny, and should fit perfectly into the intimate Pop-up Globe. The plot touches on some serious themes of displacement and immigration, but it's driven by slapstick, puns and wordplay, following two sets of twins who were separated at birth. The play will be performed by the Pop-up Globe's Southampton's Company, which is made up of both male and female performers. Also at the Pop-up Globe: Macbeth The Merchant of Venice A Midsummer Night's Dream
Pop-up Globe is a replica of the Globe Theatre of 1614, built to the exact specifications of the Bard and his players. This is how the most popular plays in the world were born and staged: with natural light and unplugged sound, a standing audience of general admission ‘groundlings’, direct-audience address, and dirty jokes telegraphed with obscene gestures. The Merchant of Venice has long been considered a particularly difficult play due to the character of Shylock. To some, the play is one of Shakespeare's greatest pleas for acceptance and against discrimination, but to others, it is starkly antisemitic. But it's also one of his most ingeniously structured works, by turns funny and confronting. The play will be performed by the Pop-up Globe's Southampton's Company, which is made up of both male and female performers. Also at the Pop-up Globe: The Comedy of Errors Macbeth A Midsummer Night's Dream
Skip the soliloquies and give us more eye gouging! That’s the prevailing mood after seeing Macbeth at the Pop-up Globe, an Elizabethan time machine that has crash-landed into the middle of the Entertainment Quarter. In the sunny Sunday matinee crowd, the mood was pretty jovial for a performance of a classic tragedy – and the audience seemed pretty hungry for blood, which was a relief, because some of them were splattered with the stuff. It’s hard to be fully immersed in a dark tale when you’re simultaneously experiencing the novelty of seeing a show in this touring replica Globe Theatre, built with Shakespearean specificity. It’s that famed roundish shape and partly open-aired, with plenty of space for the “groundlings” (the term for those in the old-school standing-room only cheap seats near the front of the stage) and balcony seating alike. The show uses technical effects that are hundreds of years old – think trap doors and thunder sheets – and the mood is that of a shared experience that’s a bit out of the ordinary, totally incongruous with daily life. There’s just something about that cognitive dissonance that brings an audience together. The story is the same one so many of us know well: of a man named Macbeth (a broody Stephen Lovatt), who, alongside his wife (an endearingly giddy Amanda Billing), gets drunk on ambition and a witches’ prophecy that he’ll one day be king. There’s murder and ghosts and madness as Macbeth and his Lady go from giddy, “can-you-believe-
Siblings Michael, Rosemarie and Constantine Costi clearly don’t spend their time together bickering over the TV remote. The trio, all successful creatives in their own right (Michael is a writer, Rosemarie a composer and Costantine a director), have banded together to create a new musical based on a 1842 short story by Russian novelist and playwright Nikolai Gogol. The darkly funny story of Nikolai, a lonely St Petersburg office worker who decides to sell everything he owns in order to buy a new overcoat and change his life forever, features a Russian jazz trio live on stage and stars Laura Bunting, Kate Cheel and Aaron Tsindos, with Charles Wu (also performing upstairs with An Enemy of the People) as the tragic Nikolai.