Tom's picks for August

21 Aug 2012

The latest recommendations from our Literary Manager


 

 

Each month Tom delves into our extensive catalogue and suggests plays suitable for classroom use, for tertiary study and performance and for community theatre groups. You can also get these recommendations delivered via email, by signing up here.

 

 

ALICE OF HEARTS
by Bruce Hoogendoorn

CRYSTAL
by Caleb Lewis

Recommended for schools

Bruce Hoogendoorn is a playwright based in Canberra who has a written a number of full length and short plays. This month’s choice, Alice of Hearts is a thought-provoking spin on the original characters created by Lewis Carroll. One of the great things about drama in a school environment is that it can act as a catalyst for conversations about wider issues. This play is an interesting study in the politics of power and control, dressed up in a light-as-a feather comic fantasy. It has a large cast and the opportunity for some serious character fun.

Crystal by Sydney writer Caleb Lewis is a delicate and poetic exploration of the devastation of divorce on young kids. Developed for the Riverland Youth Theatre Company, it uses a salt-storm as its central image. This show was made with and for teenagers. Its short scenes and pithy dialogue make it ideal for reading and working on in highschool drama.

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THE TELEPHONE
EXCHANGE

by Samantha Bews

BELOW
by Ian Wilding 

Recommended for tertiary study

The two plays I have chosen this month, The Telephone Exchange by Samantha Bews and Below by Ian Wilding would make a wonderful (although perhaps too long) double bill – maybe a season which presents both…? They are very opposite in their concerns – Bews’ play explores the lives and experiences of working women in 1950’s Australia, while Wilding’s play concerns the very masculine world of outback mining. The characters of Below are supposed to be in their mid 30’s, but I reckon it would stand up just as well with younger actors.
 
They are also stylistically very different propositions. Where Below is gritty and realist,Telephone has a disjointed and image-based rhythm where the whole is composed of a series of poetic glimpses.
 
What they have in common is a wonderfully meaty and muscular use of language. For both of these writers, the words are the thing. There are wonderful roles for all concerned and really dynamic directorial and design challenges.

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THE SWEETEST
THING

by Verity Laughton 

MINEFILEDS AND
MINISKIRTS

by Terrence O'Connell

Recommended for community theatre

This month I have chosen two plays that focus on women – albeit in very different ways and styles. Verity Laughton is one of Australia’s finest and most nuanced playwrights. Her work is delicate, intricate and often sits in the liminal space between magic realism and epic. The Sweetest Thing is a bittersweet text that swings effortlessly between naturalism and heightened poetic sensibility.
 
Terence  O’Connell’s Minefields and Miniskirts is a gutsy and uplifting shout out to the women who served in the Vietnam war.  Packed with stories in the voices of the women who were there on the ground, it is a beautiful and theatrical event with wonderful roles for strong women. And there are heaps of great songs as well.

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Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts and Music (VCAM) in 1989 Tom Healey has worked as an actor, a director and a dramaturg with companies and projects around the nation. Positions held include Curator of the Australian National Playwrights’ Conference (2006), Artistic Associate of Playbox (1999-2003), Artistic Directorate (Hothouse Theatre 2006-09), Casting Consultant and Artistic Counsel (Malthouse Theatre 2005-07) and Panellist (Arts Victoria Performance Panel). As a dramaturg he has worked with Australian playwrights both emerging and established, and he has directed premieres of many new Australian works. He has also directed and developed works in contemporary opera, cabaret and music theatre and taught at the universities of Melbourne, Ballarat and La Trobe as well as the VCAM and NIDA. Tom is currently the Literary Manager of the Australian Script Centre.



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