Into the minds of young performance makers

25 September 2019

WAAPA 3rd Year Performance Making Students, “TILT” ·
Blue Room Theatre, 11 September (programme 1) 18 September (programme 2) ·
Review by David Zampatti and Steven Cohen  ·

It’s tempting to think of WAAPA’s Bachelor of Performing Arts – Performance Making course as a hybrid, a combination of the established dramatic canon – acting, musical theatre, physical theatre, dance, puppetry – but that would misunderstand both its provenance and its contemporary real-world significance.

Shakespeare may be our greatest playwright, but, in his own time and in his practice, he was a theatre maker – writer, director, actor (small parts only) and entrepreneur bundled up into a marketable package.

More significantly today, though, theatre making is a response to the exigencies of paying the rent as a performing artist in these days of feckless and tight-arse funding, distracted audiences and crippling costs; it’s survival elevated to a distinct art form.

This year’s “TILT”, like its predecessors since 2015, is a series of short performances presented over two nights at the Blue Room Theatre. No doubt, like its predecessors, it will throw up ideas-in-waiting that will soon re-emerge on our stages, and no doubt some of them will succeed and some will fail to make the transition from short-form to full-out productions.

What’s more interesting than that, though, is the insight “TILT” gives us into what is occupying the mind of our emerging artists, and how they intend to bring it to the stage.

– DZ

Here are this year’s eleven “TILT” treats:

The Outcast
Directed by Carolina Duca
Devised and performed by Finn Forde, Joel Mews and David Vikman
Three coming out stories neatly woven together with energy and natural humour. Some of the language is a little forced, but the dialogue develops a nice rhythm that sees the piece through its awkward moments.
– DZ

Just Kidding
Written and directed by Sian Murphy
Performed and devised by Murphy, Hannah Davidson and Maddy Lee
The story of motherhood from attempts at conception to waving the brutes goodbye as they leave home is so well-worn it’s surprising there’s a blade of grass left on it, but Murphy and her sidekicks, with the aid of a Stanley Kubrick-sized pregnancy tester have knocked up a bit of ensemble stand-up about it with the great virtue of being seriously funny.
– DZ

Austere and emotional gravitas: ‘You and I’. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.

You and I
Directed by Bec Fingher
Devised and performed by Shaun Johnston and Linea Tengroth
A pas de deux performed to the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 is all but wordless and expressionless, but Johnston and Tengroth give it an austere and emotional gravitas and a kind of threat. Not greatly suited to the space or its (lack of) production values, but in the right place and time Johnston and Tengroth’s work could be quite something.
– DZ

Devised and performed by Jennifer Bagg and Hayley Whisson
If no-one had come up with the expression “passive aggressive” they would have needed to for this warp-speed litany of ills personal and universal, real and percieved. That’s fine, but a little restraint at times would have been nice, if only so we could regain our composure.
– DZ

Directed by Mark McDonald
Devised and performed by Jarad Barkla, Jono Battista, Oscar Millar, Lawrence Murphy and Jackson Vaughan
The biggest, and most traditional, of TILT’s first programme plays out around the dongas and wet mess of a FIFO camp somewhere in the North-West. It’s fertile ground for domestic drama, albeit all-male, and the slices of life we see are well drawn and pointed. There’s a nice economy of staging and characterisation, and, while the denouement could have been more effectively handled, there was more than enough there to suggest FIFO could be back.
– DZ

‘FIFO’ could be back. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.

Devised and performed by Hannah Davidson, Anna Dooley and Bec Fingher
Directorial support by Amelia Burke
Juliet is the story of female actors and the things they go through to prepare themselves for auditions, but also an interrogation of what the powers-that-be deem to be beautiful. Preparing to audition for the role of Juliet, Davidson, Dooley and Fingher examine the isolation and inadequacy faced by those judged not desirable enough. Parodying the ludicrous reality, these three fine actors mimic the casting call with an exuberant and exaggerated aplomb.
– SC

Tall Thing
Directed by Shaun Johnston
Written and performed by Finn Forde
An androgynous silent dancer weaves in and out of a dream. In an intense performance that blurs the boundaries between theatre and contemporary dance, Forde successfully wraps a gentle genuineness with lyrical movement to frame a muddled personality. Thoroughly intoxicating.
– SC

This Heaving Mass
Written and directed by Sian Murphy
Performed by Sam Hortin, Oscar Millar, Lawrence Murphy, Mila Nieman and Haylee Whisson
Another dramatic movement-based work, mixing modern day anxiety with the unease of youth. The choreography is predicated on extremes; elegant, raw, tender and violent. Though at times the piece felt obscure and lacking clarity, at others the performance was powerful.
– SC

‘3°’ weaves together clever set design and movement Photo: Stephen Heath Photography

Directed by Jennifer Bagg
Performed by Fiona MacDonald, Mark McDonald and Linnea Tengroth
A quiet interaction between art and science,  weaves together clever set design, sound and movement to create a tense meditation on climate change and environmental degradation. It’s a tenacious and thorny think piece, which cleverly avoids language to successfully focus upon the urgency of the flailing natural world.
– SC

12 Rounds
Written and performed by Mila Nieman
Life is a boxing match, a sometimes brutal, exhausting Fight Club, in which we throw punches that don’t stick and are punched without notice. Nieman is eloquent and daring in this solo performance that is a fearful mix of high-end anxiety and sweat. The scripting was perfectly matched to the well-tempered performance.
– SC

Written and directed by Laura Liu
Performed by Hannah Davidson, Bec Fingher, Sam Hortin, Shaun Johnston, Lawrence Murphy and Jackson Vaughan
After five reasonably intense performances, a welcome respite arrives in the form of Honey, a boy band lovefest featuring a boy and his myriad of lover(s). What begins as an 80s ironic ode to sweet hip thrusts and air grabs, ends in tears, violence and a single red rose. So much for the respite! Perhaps my favourite short of the evening, with each actor brining their own perspective to the narrative, providing a soft maturity to the production.
– SC

Pictured top is Mia Nieman in her work ’12 Rounds’. Photo: Stephen Heath.

Interrogating the relationship between beauty and power in ‘Juliet’. Photo: Stephen Heath Photography.

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Author —
David Zampatti

David Zampatti has been a student politician, a band manager, the Freo Dockers’ events guy, a bar owner in California, The West Australian’s theatre critic and lots of other crazy stuff. He goes to every show he’s reviewing with the confident expectation it will be the best thing he’s ever seen.

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