THE SEVEN STAGES OF GRIEVING by Debra Mailman & Wesley Enoch

(Studied in comparison to The Longest Memory by Fred Daguiar)

A patchwork quilt might best represent this play. One might perceive such an item to be something the poor cobble together out of
whatever is available or as a loving representation of the diversity as part of a greater whole. One of the myths this work seeks to debunk is that the story of Indigenous Australians is singular. ‘The 7 Stages of Grieving’ illustrates the diversity of Indigenous Australians’ stories. Nevertheless, they share a common grief in the disturbance and destruction of both the land and Indigenous Australians’ relationship with it.

When it was first staged, this play was judged by audiences to be too heavy, too emotional; in time we have started to see that witnessing this grief is a necessary first step before healing this country’s wounds. Investigating this text with indigenous artists as well as the comparison to The Longest Memory offer multiple angles from which to penetrate the text and feel its cathartic power.

Price

$17 per student (minimum total fee $1,700)

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PHOTOGRAPH 51 by Anna Ziegler

(Studied in comparison to The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood)

Various feminist movements comment that history is really HIS-story; the stories of men told at the expense of the female voice: if Homer’s Odyssey can be thought of as the father of all stories, Atwood’s ‘Penelopiad’ weaves a new archetypal womens’ tale. Atwood has been a powerful force in writing the female voice and has undoubtedly been an inspiration to Ziegler in her own efforts to tell the stories

of contemporary women. Photograph 51 rewrites the story of the discovery of DNA, highlighting the role of Rosalind Franklin in a discovery conventionally attributed to James Watson and Francis Crick.

Franklin and Penelope are not the same archetypal woman but despite being thousands of years apart, there are frighteningly common threads of sexism that only become obvious when we continue the project of telling HER-stories.

Price

$17 per student (minimum total fee $1,700)

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THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller

(Studied in comparison to The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham)

At first glance the contrast between the comedy of one and the high drama horror of the other is glaring. But there are obvious similarities too. Both are set in small-town frontier communities, riddled with political alliances and hidden tales of infidelity, resulting in a woman being scapegoated. Both explore deceit, guilt, and the loss of identity.

Contrasting ‘The Crucible’ and ‘The Dress Maker’ exposes elements their stylistic differences. The hysteria in The Crucible has farcelike qualities as did McCarthy’s own ‘witch trials’. The grotesque comedy of ‘The Dressmaker’ is counterpointed and sharpened by sitting against the backdrop of tragic and sinister aspects of ‘The Crucible’.

Our workshops will explore some of these themes as well as examining points of comparison between the two texts’ characters.

Because it is my face, and it is yours

Price

 $17 per student (minimum total fee $1,700)

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EXTINCTION by Hannie Rayson

A seemingly simple story about the saving the tiger quoll from extinction contains a complex critique of ‘heroes vs villains’ narratives, highlighting those narratives unsuitability for the modern world. This play deals with a wide variety of possibly interrelated extinctions: the extinction of the Tiger Quoll; the impending threat of Global warming and the extinction of humanity; the extinction of white Pickett fence monogamous heterosexual life partnerships; the extinction of didactic concepts of good and evil. These are just some of the themes that this play subtly mines.

This workshop will provoke questions and give young audiences the tools to explore individual answers to the play and how to tackle the next phase of life on this planet.

“Perhaps extinction is just part of the cycle of life”

Price

$17 (minimum total fee $1,700 )

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WOMEN OF TROY by Euripides

Performance

The screams of the of the women of Troy reverberate through time, echoing into the contemporary world. This stylised ensemble piece is a great introduction to the story of the Trojan War but also draws our attention how parable functions in Greek drama through archetype and myth. The tales of Hecuba, Helen, Cassandra, Andromache, and Talthibius become representations of familiar character and social types and categories. The result is a powerful, cathartic production the reaches out to young audiences making this ancient tale relevant and immediate.

Workshop

Through questions and replaying scenes we examine how directorial choices in the production eclipse and highlight certain themes in the text. Alternative readings of Talthibius and Helen tease out mechanisms of institutional violence and the dynamics of relationships shaped by seductive power and the concept of ‘the vixen’. Where time permits, we examine how dramatic moments may have achieve a different of cathartic effect by highlighting individual character voices and less symbolic dramatic choices.

“The mortal who sacks fallen cities is a fool, his own turn must come”

Price

$17 per student  (minimum total fee $1700 )

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MACBETH by William Shakespeare

Performance

When an evil person gets what’s coming to them there is no tragedy. This production focuses on the familiar- ity and banality of having desires and ambitions, and how unchecked they can lead to consequences beyond imagination. We focus on the journey of a loving couple, who each want the other to achieve their dreams, but ultimately destroy everything they care about, themselves, and each other.

Workshop

Students are guided to critique the performance, ask questions and delve deeper into interpretive practice by looking at the couple’s relationship, and other monologues as time permits. The scene between Macbeth and “His Wife” before Duncan is murdered is used to explore gender, manipulation, and power. The “unsex me here” monologue continues the discussion about gender introducing ideas about frailty and the supernatural. The “two truths” monologue offers an opportunity for a play full of ambition in tangible, contemporary terms.

“Let not light see my black and deep desires”

Prices

Short performance only $9.50 /pp (minimum total fee $950 )
Short performance + workshop $11.50 /pp  (minimum total fee $1,150 )

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ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare

Performance

“I saw Shakespeare, it wasn’t hard, and don’t tell anyone but I may have even liked it.” This is the sort of thing we hear from students after this show. The dramatic style mirrors the narrative, creating an exciting ride for our young audiences. They are drawn into reckless abandon, a world of period costumes, playful sword fights and comedic characters, as Romeo and Juliet fall in love. But then of course the joy and frivolity ruptures and fades as the tragedy sets in and we all fall together.

Workshop

Students are guided to ask questions and talk about the performance; what they understood, what they liked or didn’t. We often hear the comment that Romeo and Juliet is a play about two dumb teenagers and lust. We explore this idea so students see how what seems to be an off-hand comment could form the basis of a valid reading. Then we challenge this idea by looking at different portrayals of the main characters that might make the love-at-first-sight narrative more appealing. Where time and the level of the group permits, we also look at how creative choices can be used to explore essay prompts such as “Who is to blame?” and “Is love or hate the more powerful force?”

“O teach me how I should forget to think”

Prices

Short performance only $9.50/pp  (minimum total fee $950 )
Short performance + workshop $11.50/pp  (minimum total fee $1150 )

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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by William Shakespeare

Performance

This short performance is a joyful bubbling brook of a rom-com with a warning sign that malice, power games and social critique lurk beneath the surface. Is love a virus or a cure? In a world of deceptions and masks the lines between romance, violence, desire, and revenge blur. Do we celebrate existing notions of love or deconstruct them and strike courtship down? Can we do both? What is the role of leaders and their relationship to compassion, equality, and justice? Are they the source of our ‘bum jokes’ or elected to maintain the status quo?

Workshop

Where the performance blends light and dark interpretations, our workshop investigates how the text supports more extremes readings. One could read Don Pedro and John as harmless tinkering jesters or powerful men quick to exact violence if their whims are not met. Hero and Claudio could be pure and innocent lovers or representations of the transactional transfer of possessions and influence? And are Beatrice and Benedick potentially gullible egos influenced by pandering and conflict, or brilliant minds, burning in loneliness, that realise they need not be alone?

“I do spy some marks of love in her.”

Prices

$17 per student (minimum total fee $1,700 )

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The Truth Is

Despite the age of Euripedes’ play, and the fact that the events it refers to take place almost a thousand years before his own work, it’s striking how little has changed. For all our technological progress, as a species, the same abuses continue to the modern day. Slavery- whether in the form of debt bondage or sexual servitude- persists, and, of course, violence towards women has never ended. In the contemporary era, the figure of Talthybius persists in new and different forms, and the sad truth is, as Hannah Arendt suggested, that evil is banal. Talthybius isn’t some monster; he’s all too human.


Call of Cassandra

This piece is my small contribution to ‘The Women of Troy’ project supporting the production put on by Eagles Nest Theatre Company. The initiative is to combat violence against women through creativity and collaboration.

We speak of violence against women, yet when we turn to our sisters we are largely oblivious that 1 in 5 of them have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. More so, 1 in 3 have experienced physical violence and the chances were that this was in their home; a place of safety and refuge.

“Violence against women was endemic to warlike society 2500 years ago. The threat of war is no longer prevalent for most first world citizens, but the level to which women across the globe are subjected to violence in their private and personal spaces is nothing short of an epidemic” (Eagles Nest Theatre Co.).

Have we not evolved beyond this?
It shakes the skeletons of my mother’s mothers to think that their trauma has brought no change.
It leaches into the spirits of our boys brought into this world through wombs whose memories tell dark stories. It tarnishes our future when these boys perpetually continue the cycle of all they’ve glimpsed through dungeons behind dull eyes.
It leaves rusty red stains when women hold the hands of the perpetrators, of any gender, and stand idle with clenched sledgehammer jaws.

Maybe change is coming…
Maybe the village can help.
Let’s tell our stories and hold hands while the elders sing songs of healing.
Maybe the songs will carry into the valleys and over the hills and far away.
Maybe the songs will spread far and wide;
And maybe they will go down in history and be sung in another 250 years time when things are better. Maybe things will be better.