Our August picks for tertiary study
John Kachoyan - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
Well, first off, an apology for the tardiness of this bulletin. Last week I flew to Hobart for one of our team catch-ups and, in the heady excitement of debating the state of play with our Education Curator, Meg Upton, I managed to leave my computer in the airport as we boarded our outbound flight. There followed a couple of panicky days as I racked my brain (and my very messy house) for the computer that holds all of my information. Many phone calls later it was located and now, finally returned. So that’s why this is late. Soz!
The two plays I have chosen this month have very different flavours, though both are written by playwrights well known for pushing the envelope. Slow Love written by playwright, director, dramaturg and esteemed teacher Richard Murphet is an amazing hybrid work – part dance, part installation and part physical theatre. Lake Disappointment by Lachlan Philpot and Luke Mullins was developed through Playwriting Australia and received a production in Sydney, directed by Malthouse associate, Janice Muller.
Lake Disappointment is the result of a collaboration between two queer artists, Lachlan Philpot and Luke Mullins. It is a solo work and the text is filled with Philpot’s trademark wit and incisive imagery. Perhaps it is only because I know that it was developed with a writer and performer, but the text feels immediate and very spontaneous in its rhythm, in much the way that great improvisation does. The flow of it feels quirky and very personal and its themes of celebrity, narcissism and self-doubt swirl and eddy at the subtext of this very (apparently) light and diverting surface. It concerns a film star, Kane and his body-double who are working on a quirky, indie film called Lake Disappointment. The two are inextricably linked, at least in the body double’s mind. It is he whom we follow in this journey. This is a wonderful opportunity for some great acting and imaginative and playful direction and design.
Murphet’s Slow Love is a very different proposition for programming. It is an immense challenge for directors, designers and performers but one which all would embrace with enormous appetite (although possibly a little fear mixed in there as well…) Murphet’s aim, to quote Martin Portus in his Arts Today review, is “to pull apart the tyranny of the romantic tradition, the centuries of expectations, courtship rituals and culturally defined behaviour which makes us behave the way we do when we fall in love. Richard Murphet says he wanted to radically rework those classics upon which so much of our cultural edifice is built - the love songs, love movies, popular magazines and airport novels, everything basically from medieval minstrels to Bette Davis movies.” The work is made up of over 100 very short scenes, some with text, some just image and the effect is somewhat like a kaleidoscope – it’s a cascade of images, pop culture quotes and mundane moments – a woman folding clothes for example – that all conspire to create a panoply of crazy, beautiful and lyrical glimpses of love. Murphet’s background from the Pram Factory is well on show here, but this is a modern iteration of that aesthetic. It’s bold, it’s daring and it’s very passionate. It’s also (although originally written for four performers) the kind of work that could contain many performers. Go on! Have a read and see what you think. I reckon this one could be a cracker for the right uni group!
Tom Healey, Literary Manager