The Raw Shakespeare Project: Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors

Raw Shakespeare Project

11th January 2019

McLaren Vale Visitor’s Centre

The Raw Shakespeare Project, previously Little Fish, opened their Summer Season on the 11th of January, with a performance of Comedy of Errors at the McLaren Vale Visitor’s centre. If you haven’t seen a show here, it’s certainly something to put on your bucket list. A Shakespeare company often found out of doors, The Raw Shakespeare Project, with director Damien White, has brought a number of the bard’s plays to life over recent years, showcasing the acting of a number of local and talented actors each sharing a passion for Shakespeare.

The McLaren Vale Visitors Centre is one of four venues to host this performance, three of which are located in the iconic wine region forty minutes from Adelaide. Stage-less, The Raw Shakespeare Project makes use of the open grass at the rear of the building, using the beautiful backdrop of local vineyards, hills, and forestry to contrast with the varied and vibrant settings of various Shakespearean works.

Beginning at seven, the show was designed to take place as dusk fell, fairy-lights and “stage” lights prepared for the evening to come. With one twenty-minute interval in the show, audience members were given the opportunity not only to refresh their drinks, but also to marvel at the changing sky behind the centre as the sun set.

Comedy of Errors follow the story of two identical sets of twins whose lives have been spent apart. Antipholus of Syracuse (Jabez Retallick) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Ognjen ‘Oggy’ Trisic) and their servants Dromio of Syracuse (Phoebe Shaw) and Dromio of Ephesus (Isabella Shaw) are interchangeably mistaken after Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant arrives in Ephesus. As the hilarity of mistaken identity ensues, is becomes “clear” to Adriana (Kate van der Horst) that her husband has gone mad. With the help of her sister Luciana (Heather Crawford) and the Duke Solinous (Damien White), Adriana intends to help her husband overcome his madness. But will Amelia (Shannon Gray) have something to say about that?

With the ready dynamic of the Shaw sisters as the Dromio sisters, and the cheerful antics of White as Solinous, Comedy of Errors was in set in motion. The similarities between the Shaw sisters gave the comedy a feeling of authenticity it might have otherwise lacked.

Despite a few extremely minor hiccups, the show was certainly entertaining and engaging. With much of the audience entranced, the Raw Shakespeare Project certainly paid tribute to the bard. I would recommend experiencing the Raw Shakespeare Company if not for their performance, then for the rich value of the experience: watching talented actors convey stories that aren’t just familiar but ingrained into our culture.

Comedy of Errors will be showing on Saturday January 18th at Beach Road Wines, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of February at Marion RSL, and concluding on Saturday 9th February at Fox Creek Wines.

Tickets for this limited time only show can be purchased online through their website: https://www.rawshakespeareproject.com.au/box-office

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell20181009_105310

Kayla Gaskell is one of the managing editors of Tulpa Magazine. She has a Creative Arts and Honours degree in Creative Writing from Flinders University. As well as working on Tulpa, Kayla writes for Fest, The Eye Creative, Readplus, and more.

 

Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America

‘What does this all mean?’ I’d love to tell you, but I have no flaming idea.

 

Last Friday night, while everyone else was gearing up to hit the town, some friends and I found ourselves at Adelaide University’s Little Theatre, ready for a wholesome, thought-provoking theatrical experience to round off our week. The play on offer was Stephen Sewell’s Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America. Did it fulfil our hopes for the evening? Let me just say this: it was a lot to take in.

We followed the character of Talbot, played by Nick Fagan, an Australian man working at an Ivy League college in America as a Liberal Arts lecturer. The audience watches him go off his rocker as he falls victim to societal questions about terror, ignorance, and the line between patriotism and nationalism. First produced in 2003, this ‘drama in 30 scenes’ deals with the carnage left behind after September 11. Sewell is renowned for his award-winning work, with this baby being one of his big ones.

The director, Erik Strauts, expresses a strong connection with the idea that society should, but never does, learn from history – this production was an active choice to explore how this concept applies to our modern world. The discussion that this play raises remains timely; it’s been kept in the spotlight by Trump’s rise to power in recent years.

As far as the set was concerned, designer Brittany Daw managed to reflect the vibe of an exceptionally uncomfortable merge between Nazi Germany and contemporary America: the colour scheme was red and black, spotted with white and blue finishes. During scene changes, the audience’s eyes would be directed up to a projection of an imposing American flag. As the play progresses the flag takes on another dimension, subtly fading to make way for an imposing icon – so keep your eyes peeled!

From where I was sitting, there were some stand out performances. The first one that comes to mind is that of James Black, who plays Max, the Aussie best friend of our poor mad-man, Talbot. Until a sneaky twist at the end, Max served as much needed comic relief – he was the familiar Australian perspective, uttering the word ‘mate’ here and there to dilute the sea of everything American.

And then there were Stan and Jack. Jack and Stan. Jarrod Chave and Tim Edhouse were highly convincing in their roles as staff members at the college and had an appealing chemistry on stage. Chave and Edhouse’s accents were also consistent and well-established.

There was one character which, for the life of me, I could not entirely wrap my head around. If any of you figure him out, please, get in touch. Halfway through the second act we are introduced to ‘The Man’ – yes, all I can think of is the Killers song. ‘The Man’ proves to be exceedingly problematic for our protagonist. He appears to resemble someone out of the Matrix: the big black coat, the white gloves, the wrap around sunnies. A 2000s icon if there ever was one.

I’m going to say that this University of Adelaide Theatre Guild production is not for the light hearted or impatient. It’s saturated with swearing and soaked with political and philosophical lingo.

Little Theatre pic

When you ask, ‘what am I in for?’ Well, it’s dense. It’s distressing. And it’s heavy in concept. It will challenge each and every one of its viewers. Without a doubt, it appeals to an elitist audience and, unfortunately, excludes the masses – in order to get the most out of this show, you need a thorough understanding of political and societal structures, as well as familiarity with influential writers and philosophers. Otherwise, you might find yourself in struggle-town. Perhaps this is a statement from the playwright about our ignorance. Or perhaps not.

In hindsight, I find it rather peculiar that I was sitting in the theatre at Adelaide Uni, watching a play, written by an Australian playwright, which picks apart the intricacies of the American dilemma. And within this play, Australia is spoken of as a ‘pretend country’ which really drills home how America seem to define us.

The movements of America – our so called ‘big brother’ – have become part of our everyday news headlines, absorbing our constant attention, and now occupying our theatrical spaces. Do we keep feeding the American ego by granting it all this attention? Or at the other end of the spectrum, are we becoming desensitised to the U. S. of A. because we are just hearing too damn much about it? Dare I say, we should now be looking a little closer to home, starting by centring our conversations around our own country. Because I would like to think that out nation is just as great, our issues just as urgent, and what we have to offer is equally as appealing.

Some things to think about between the many questions that will be left on your conscience after this doozy of a production.

 


Showing times: 17-19 May 2018, 7:30pm.

Venue: Little Theatre, University of Adelaide.

Tickets: $28 Full/ $23 Concession

Follow the link to secure your tickets.

 


Words by Michelle Wakim

The Hearth: Masquerade

The Hearth is quickly becoming a fixture of the South Australian spoken word scene. Here at Tulpa we’re no strangers to The Hearth, or the incredibly supportive platform they provide for Adelaide’s writing community. The Hearth’s approach to creative readings is unique, with equal focus placed on work and the creative process.

Tuesday’s ‘Masquerade’ theme did not disappoint, with readers approaching the subject from entirely different angles that both delighted and fascinated the audience. First up was Amy T. Matthews, a Senior Lecturer at Flinders University and award winning novelist. Amy shared an extract from one of her romance novels, admitted her embarrassment at some of the tropes it covered and shared her experiences dealing with publishers in Australia and abroad.

The second reader of the night was CJ McLean who treated us not only to a discussion of queer identity and persona in literary history but also donned a wig and performed a cheeky musical number. Needless to say, the audience had a great time clapping along.

Next up was Tulpa’s own Taeghan Buggy, a writer, poet and creative writing Honours student. Taeghan’s poetry gave a modern touch to a few mythological deviants. Who doesn’t like to hear about Puck as a high school delinquent or about Loki’s modern expressions of queerness?

After a brief bar break we were treated to an essay on Billy Joel and the changing definitions of ‘cool’, courtesy of Quart Short collective co-facilitator, playwright and essayist Ben Brooker. Ben’s creative process included printing his piece off at OfficeWorks right before the show.

The final reader of the night was social media poet Katie Keys who combined wit with photography for a performance that was equal parts poignant and hysterically funny. Katie’s dedication to her medium has made her tweet a daily poem on social media for nearly a decade.

Every Hearth night ends with something special- a chance for the audience to ask the performers questions. The Q&A is a great opportunity for the audience to learn from, and engage with, the performers, their work and their creative process.

I would recommend The Hearth to all writers of every experience level. Whether you go as a performer or a listener there is no doubt that you will get something out of these extraordinary reading nights.


Words by Lisandra Linde

For more information on The Hearth and upcoming events check out their Facebook page. You can also learn more about The Hearth collective and its performers on their website

The Poetry Slam: An Insider’s View

When I say Slam Poetry, what do you think of? Beatniks in black turtlenecks and clicking hipsters? Or maybe you think of Neil Hilborn’s “OCD” – the spoken word poem that made the rounds on the internet circa 2013. Slam poetry – or spoken word poetry if you like – is experiencing something of a resurgence and for a good reason. If you’ve ever listened to a spoken word poem, then you know that it is a powerful gut-punch of a storytelling medium. More than that, it’s a highly diverse form as well; the content and structure of spoken word is open wide to innovation and interpretation. Highly personalised or highly politicised, spoken word is a glimmering oyster of diverse styles and poets, which makes it a pleasure to listen to every time. It also makes it highly enjoyable to write and to read – because above all, spoken word poetry is designed to be read aloud and heard. There are few better places for this than the ubiquitous poetry slam and it’s sister, the open mic poetry night. As a person who’s performed in several poetry slams, I can tell you the nitty-gritty of what it is like to be involved in one.

I’m going to be real with you for a second. Getting on stage and performing your work to a crowd of strangers is nerve-wracking, especially when there are judges in the crowd who are giving points for your work. But at the same time, it’s also deeply satisfying to know that they’re sitting before you specially to hear slam. Here’s a fact; slam communities want new blood, specifically yours. If you’ve got a poem and a voice to tell it with, they want to hear you say it. They will even approach you afterwards to say they liked your work. It’s humbling and gratifying all at once. If you can get up there to read your poems, you have my respect as a fellow poet, especially if it’s your first time.

At my first poetry slam, I didn’t actually read any of my work. I wanted to suss out how it worked and then ghost out of there after enjoying a night of poetry. Instead I got randomly selected to be a judge (all the judges are randomly selected from the audience). No problem, I thought to myself. Except I had no clue about the standard of work to be expected at a poetry slam competition. Cue me scoring the first two people exceptionally harshly by mistake – I soon wised up, but not without escaping un-called-out. Poetry slams are friendly places with a great deal of camaraderie – expect call outs to people in the audience and call outs about judges who are overly harsh, as I had soon discovered.

My second poetry slam was the one I first performed at and, fortunately, I didn’t make a giant hash of it. I got up on stage, didn’t fall off the edge of it, spoke my piece without squealing feedback from the mic, and then got off the stage. All in all, a success. Since then, I’ve performed in a few and I’ve got ‘performing at a poetry slam’ down to a fine art.

Here’s how it goes:
I rock up to the event a good five minutes before the signup even opens (the signup usually opens about half-an-hour before the slam starts). I then hover like a vulture so I can be first, or second, or third to write my name down on the list. This ensures I’m definitely going to perform at the slam.If the slam is abiding by Australian Poetry Slam rules, there’s a maximum of 20 competitors. The first fifteen names on the signup sheet are guaranteed to be in – any number of people past that go into a lottery to see if they’re competing that night. This is the reason for the vulturing; when there’s a captive audience, I like to
know that they’re going to be my captive audience.

Once I’ve got my name down on the list, I buy myself a cider and claim a seat for myself and whoever has come with me. Some people come in a posse, others with one or two friends or family members. From there it’s only a matter of waiting somewhat nervously while I enjoy the other poets who are slamming that night. While I do this, I usually gnaw my fingers a bit wondering if I’m the next poet up or not – all of the performers are called up in a randomly drawn order, so you never know when you’re up next. I’ve got the luck of a mildly cursed witch; I’m almost always one of the last people to perform, and when I’m not, I’m definitely the first called up. This is what happened at the last slam I was in and I was not expecting it at all.

When I do get called up, I take myself and my poem up to the mic. Sometimes I memorise my poem, but you don’t have to. For poetry slams, the timer starts from the first word so intros aren’t particularly wise. Also, take this advice from someone who knows; pay attention to that timer. For Australian poetry slams, two minutes is your absolute maximum and if you go over, you lose one point every thirty seconds. Poem went for two minutes and ten seconds? That sweet little score of 9.3 has dropped to an 8.3, and with it your chance at placing. Am I speaking from bitter experience? Well, kinda. I’m not particularly bitter. Poetry slam judging is fair even if it’s reasonably unpredictable. There’s five judges, who are randomly selected, and the top and bottom scores are removed. Favouritism is pretty well eliminated but there’s an added element of unpredictability. Once I’ve been given my score, I sit back, drink cider, and enjoy the other poems before waiting to hear the final results. A round of applause to the victors and it’s all done and dusted.

Whether you’re up on the mic or in the audience, poetry slams are always a good time and they happen almost everywhere. If you’re unsure about where to start, a quick google or Facebook search will be able to point you in the direction of your local poetry slam event. If you’re in Adelaide, the Adelaide Poetry Gig Guide on Facebook has an updated list of regular open mic’s, slams, and one off events.

I’ll leave you with this pro tip I’ve learned from experience: don’t perform a poem about someone who’s in the audience unless you really want them to hear it. Otherwise, have fun and if you see me around in Adelaide’s slams, come and say hi.


Words by Taeghan Buggy 

Taeghan Buggy is a writer, a poet, and a performer. Her work tends towards emotional gut punches and dangerous words. Taeghan’s immersion within ‘Arts Culture’ includes the New Wave Audio Theatre project, Flinders’ Speakeasy Creative Readings, and Adelaide’s open-mic poetry scene.