Features, Music, News, Performing arts

WA Day celebration

Alessandro Pittorino has been exploring the organ since he was a child, literally inside and out. The West Australian organist has recently returned from New York’s Juilliard School and will be performing at Government House Ballroom’s WA Day Gala Concert. Pittorino’s charismatic performing style will be on display alongside tenor Paul O’Neill, soprano Naomi Johns and drag queen Cougar Morrison in a celebration of Western Australia’s diversity, humour and culture.

Editor Rosalind Appleby caught up with the 25 year old organ sensation to find out more about his fascination with the instrument.

Rosalind Appleby: What first inspired you to play the organ?

Alessandro Pittorino: When I was around 5 years old, I saw someone playing quite a large pipe organ in Fremantle and I was completely fixated on it. My mum use to like to go into the church on a Sunday afternoon for quiet and peaceful reflection, away from the crowds. Around the same time the movie Harry Potter had just been released. With the organist seated on ground level, but the sound coming from all around the building, and so many different sounds – I honestly thought it was magic. I had found my Hogwarts letter! I was then granted access to this instrument and continued to explore it by myself – the ultimate musical instrument for any child who loves to explore!

RA: The pipe organ has evolved since the 3rd century BC into one of the most complex man-made devices. Why do you think humanity has been so interested in music made from blowing wind through pipes?

AP: There’s a certain human element to this otherwise machine of an instrument. This idea of a living and breathing instrument, just like we as humans breathe, gives the organ this humanizing element. But it immediately transcends that as the organ works with the infinite – as long as you hold the note, only then will it continue to sound. It is interesting to add that the organ I be will playing is called the ‘Infinity’. The sheer amount of musical possibilities that can be achieved with facility has fascinated and continues to fascinate musicians, builders, and audiences alike. Although the organ looks like a beast of an instrument, it is actually incredibly intimate and is capable of producing many different types of sounds, depending on what the score may require. Whether it is J. S. Bach’s monumental Passacaglia in C minor or John Williams’ iconic Star Wars suite, the organ, at its best, gives its player the ability to express themselves with the amount of power and flexibility usually only afforded to an orchestra. There is something special about doing that and witnessing it.

RA: Pipe organ repertoire spans over 500 years. What is your favourite period of organ music?

AP: That would be like trying to choose your favourite child. I love listening and performing all sorts of different music for all sorts of different reasons. There is no one size that fits all. The beauty about the arts is that it has power to be a true reflection of who we are and rarely will that ever be a black and white image. Our world is filled with so much colour and there are as many emotions as there are colours in the world. There exists all sorts of music to convey and express that, and that’s why I can’t choose just one.


RA: Where do you hail from originally (you have a rather exotic name!)?

AP: I was born and raised right here in Perth! I attended East Fremantle Primary School, then both Christian Brothers College Fremantle and Trinity College East Perth! I have both Italian and Greek heritage, but I am a proud Australian.

RA: You’ve studied at the University of WA and have recently returned from three years at The Juilliard School. Where do you hope to take your career now?

AP: I am so incredibly blessed to be living and working as a performing artist. My work takes me all over the world, and affords me the opportunity to work with so many different people, both in the performing arts and outside.

RA: What do you love most about what you do?

AP: I love being able to share what I do with people – and I love meeting and being around people as a result. Like with any career, being a musician is a full time job requiring precise training, development and performance on an almost daily basis.

RA: You bring a lot of flair to your performances. What do you hope people will experience at the WA Day concert?

AP: I hope my audience is able to relax and have some fun! This is meant to be a celebration of who we are as West Australians! I think we deserve to be a little more proud of our not-so-little state and celebrate the amazing people we have here. If we support one another, and celebrate the best of who we are, there is no reason why Perth and WA cannot be the best in the world. In so many ways, it already is.

RA: Anything else we should know about the WA Day Gala?

This is the first major performance featuring an organ in the Government House Ballroom, and I’m so grateful to be sponsored by Principal Organs of Roland Australia who is providing a brand new Rodgers Digital organ direct from America. Perth audiences haven’t had the chance to experience an instrument like this before as this type of instrument just doesn’t exist here. Although it is not a pipe organ, it is a digital replication of what it would be like to have the real thing in the Ballroom. It comes pretty close! I’m also proud to say it is the first time a drag queen has featured at the Government House Ballroom. Cougar Morrison is a stunning performer; we both studied and worked in NYC, albeit at different times. She brings an international performance extravaganza with a local feel and flavor to the show. I’m so excited to be working with her! This will be one of the most diverse concerts on the calendar so far – and of all the many performances that I do, this is the one that I’m most excited about!

The WA Day Gala Concert is at the Government House Ballroom on June 2.

Picture top: Alessandro Pittorino

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Katherine Gurr and Ian Wilkes rehearsing The Line
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts

Telling a tough West Australian tale

Co3 Australia’s new work The Line investigates a darker side of Western Australia’s past and its impact on the present, discovers Nina Levy.

Say the word “apartheid” and most people will think of the regime of racial segregation implemented by the South African government from 1948 until the early 1990s.

Mark Howett and Raewyn Hill in rehearsal. Photo: Daniel Carson | dcimges.org

But legislated racial discrimination is a part of Australian history too and it’s this story that WA’s state contemporary dance company Co3 Australia is telling in its new work The Line, co created by Co3 Artistic Director and choreographer Raewyn Hill and Co3 Associate Artist Mark Howett, a Noongar man and a director and designer for theatre, dance, opera and film.

The title The Line refers to a law, passed in 1927, that prohibited Aboriginal people from coming within the boundary lines of the City of Perth – an area of about five square kilometres – after 6.00pm, unless they could prove that they were in “lawful employment”. The land inside the boundaries was referred to as the Prohibited Area, and only those Aboriginal people with a special “native pass” were allowed to pass through it after the 6pm curfew.

In spite of the fact that the legislation remained in place for over 20 years, this piece of West Australian history isn’t well-known today and that’s one of the reasons that Hill and Howett have chosen it as the starting point for Co3 Australia’s latest work. It’s also relevant to the company’s mission, says Hill. “Part of Co3’s artistic vision is to situate the artistic program within our people, our culture, our community, our land, our Country, our experiences, our history,” she elaborates. “Every work developed in Co3’s repertoire will have some reference to WA.”

Andrew Searle and Ian Wilkes rehearsing ‘The Line’. Photo: Daniel Carson | dcimges.org

This isn’t the first time that Hill and Howett have worked together. As artistic director of WA’s Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, Howett convinced Hill to come out of performance retirement to dance in his physical theatre work Good Little Soldier in 2017. The pair knew they wanted to collaborate again, so when Hill started looking for WA stories, Howett was an obvious person to approach.

“We started talking about Roe St and the possibility of making a piece that related to something near the State Theatre Centre of WA (where The Line will be performed),” recalls Howett. “I said, ‘You know that we’re really in the heart of the Prohibited Area, in the theatre.’” Hill then gave Howett Stephen Kinnane’s Shadow Lines to read, a book that tells the story of Kinnane’s grandparents, an Aboriginal woman and an Englishman, and the challenges they faced, as a result of their different racial backgrounds, in early to mid-twentieth century WA. Shadow Lines details many of the hardships and cruelties faced by Aboriginal people at the hands of the Government, including the Prohibited Area.

“The conversation really took off from there,” says Howett. “We thought that there was something in [that book] that was pretty remarkable, in a way… and in the lack of [awareness amongst] most West Australians about the Prohibited Area, and its impact on the Noongar community, and Aboriginal community in general.”

Talking to Noongar elders Lynette Narkle, Richard Walley, Darryl Kickett and Anna Haebich has played a big role in shaping The Line, says Hill. “I remember saying to Mark – not so long ago – that I was worried, because I couldn’t find the core [of the story]. He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, the elders will bring the story.’ And they did. We always knew [the story] was around the concept of the Prohibited Area: separation, segregation, confinement … but … speaking with the Elders I felt they brought the story of recognition, reconciliation, empathy, compassion, healing.”

And though the story is (loosely) set in Perth of the 1930s, the focus is very much on the present, says Hill. “Talking to people, [we’ve found that many] didn’t even realise that [the Prohibited Area] existed. We’ve sort of uncovered something about our past and then we’ve made a narrative about that, but we talk about the impact on how we are currently, rather than saying here’s a story about [our past].

“So instead of saying, ‘Here’s a story about the Prohibited Area,’ we’re saying, ‘What did that [legislation] do to us as a community, as people? How did that shape our current situation?’”

It’s important to Hill and Howett, too, that audiences understand that while the Prohibited Area may be a thing of the past, discrimination continues today, in other guises.

“I find the parallels [between Australian society of the past and the present] remarkable,” says Howett. “The 2003 Curfew Act – which was another welfare policy by the State Government to take unaccompanied minors off the street and had a big impact on the Aboriginal community – was really, in a way, no different to the policy of the Prohibited Area and having to have a native pass. The parallels keep coming. Like, for example, most of the Aboriginal people who were taken to Wadjemup (Rottnest), [when it was a prison for Aboriginal people during the 1800s and early 1900s] were arrested for larceny and petty crimes, and you only have to think of the young Noongar actor just sent to jail for unpaid fines… the echoes of that are really remarkable.”

Hill agrees. “It’s a story that’s alive and well, it’s more than current.”

It’s also, Hill acknowledges, “very difficult subject matter, it’s filled with trauma and it’s dark, and there’s a lot of pain.”

So how to present that on stage?

“The way we’ve been dealing with it on a narrative level is we’ve been using slapstick when it gets really heavy, drawing from silent movies,” explains Howett.

“We’ve been looking at Charlie Chaplin, silent movies, looking at the irony of his storytelling and how he could address darkness with no voice and just through mime,” continues Hill. “That’s been a real inspiration.

“It’s not about dumbing it down or cheapening it, but we’ve been able to talk about some really dark things through humour. So in fact we’ve probably gone even a bit darker… but it doesn’t necessarily feel like that. You are left laughing and laughter is something that brings us together, as a community. It’s a common language.

“Mark is extraordinary at telling a story. That’s what brings us together as makers. What I’m intrigued about, as a maker, is finding different ways of telling that story where you mute the voice, or the voice sits outside of the physical body. So we’ve been playing with that, and that’s enabled a whole new movement language.”

Ian Wilkes and Andrew Searle rehearsing ‘The Line’. Photo: Daniel Carson | dcimges.org

Talking to Hill and Howett, it’s apparent that they approach the process of making the work from opposite perspectives, but rather than clashing, they complement one another.

“Mark has a phenomenal ability to direct, to find narrative, to tell stories and I don’t think I do!” Hill laughs before continuing, “The combination of Mark’s direction, with my movement imagery and language… we feel like these sit quite beautifully together.”

For Howett, Hill’s dance knowledge is a gift. “It’s great for me, as a maker, to have someone who understands the mechanics of the body much more [than I do],” he muses. “I can often see something that’s not working [for the dancers], but don’t really know how to fix it mechanically. Raewyn will really easily resolve it. She does a little dance horse-whispering.”

The Line plays the State Theatre Centre of WA, May 15-19.

Pictured top are dancers Katherine Gurr and Ian Wilkes rehearsing ‘The Line’. Photo: Stefan Gosatti.

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2018 PAWA Award winners holding their certificates
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts, Theatre

And the winners are…

The 2018 Performing Arts WA (PAWA) Awards were held Monday 28 April, at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. Presented annually, these WA-based industry awards have traditionally celebrated outstanding achievement in theatre. In 2018, however, the PAWA Awards were expanded to include a selection of prizes for dance, making for a record number of awards presented on the night. The excitement, too, was heightened, as representatives from both art-forms came together to recognise the achievements of artists and companies across the two disciplines.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Performing Arts WA Awards:

DANCE AWARDS

Best Production presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Dust on the Shortbread – Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre

Best Performer (Female) Ella-Rose Trew.

Best New Work presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Krzysztof Pastor – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

Best Newcomer presented by MEAA: Luci Young – Frank Enstein, Co3 Australia

Oscar Valdes and partner
Best Performer (Male): Oscar Valdés with Sophia Raine.

Best Performer (Male): Oscar Valdés – La Sylphide, West Australian Ballet

Best Performer (Female): Ella-Rose Trew – WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

Best Director or Choreographer: Grayson Millwood and Gavin Webber – Frank Enstein, made by The Farm in collaboration with Co3 Australia

 

THEATRE AWARDS

Julia Hales holding two awards
Winner of the award for Best New Work, ‘You Know We Belong Together’ writer and performer Julia Hales.

Best Mainstage Production presented by Hawaiian: You Know We Belong Together – A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Director of ‘Frankie’s’ (Best Independent Production) Libby Klysz.

Best Independent Production presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Frankie’s – The Blue Room Theatre and Variegated Productions

Best New Work presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Julia Hales with Finn O’Branagain and Clare Watson – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Best Newcomer presented by MEAA: Mackenzie Dunn – Assassins & Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Supporting Actor (Male): Will O’Mahony – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Supporting Actor (Female): Morgan Owen – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Female), Amy Mathews.

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Male) presented by Artist Management Australia: Kelton Pell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Female) presented by Moore Creative Artists: Amy Mathews – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

St John Cowcher
Best Actor in an Independent Production (Male): St John Cowcher.

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Male) presented by Media Super: St John Cowcher – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre and Variegated Productions

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Female) presented by Media Super: Frieda Lee – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre and Frieda, Sam and Friends

Best Director of a Mainstage Production: Adam Mitchell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Scott McArdle holding his award
Scott McArdle, winner of the award for Best Director of an Independent Production.

Best Director of an Independent Production presented by Gage Roads: Scott McArdle – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and Second Chance Theatre

 

THEATRE & DANCE: PRODUCTION AWARDS

Best Sound Design: Eden Mulholland – In-Lore Act II as part of WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

Best Lighting Design: Joe Lui – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival

Tyler Hill, winner of the award for Best Stage Design.

Best Stage Design: Tyler Hill – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Costume Design: Charles Cusick Smith – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

Michael Brett, winner of the award for Best Composition or Arranging.

Best Composition or Arranging: Michael Brett – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

To see the list of nominees, head to www.seesawmag.com.au/news/2018-performing-arts-wa-awards-nominations

Pictured top are the happy winners with the State Member for Perth, John Carey.

All photos: Rebecca Mansell.

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Features, Music, News, Performing arts

Hacking the piano

At Seesaw we enjoy publishing a range of voices. In this feature WA Academy of Performing Arts student Mae Anthony offers her insights as a Gen Z and a pianist in an interview with experimental pianist Zubin Kanga.

Have you ever wanted to control what a performer does on stage? International experimental pianist Zubin Kanga is taking the idea of improvising on a theme to a whole new level, inviting audiences to hack his piano recital by uploading ideas to a website. The piece is called WIKI-PIANO.NET and will be performed as part of his recital at Subiaco Arts Centre, the penultimate leg of his national tour.

PIANO EX MACHINA is the third in a series of unique programs (DARK TWIN (2015) and CYBORG PIANIST (2017)) containing pieces that merge elements of theatre, cinema, gaming, internet culture, and advanced technology. Nearly all of these pieces have risen from discussions and collaborations between the Australian/UK pianist and artists from around the world, resulting in funny, ironic and entertaining incarnations that offer insights into everyday life.

WIKI-PIANO.NET by German composer Alexander Schubert is arguably the most exciting piece on the programme in the way that it attempts to provoke a genuine human engagement between performer and audience members. Its praxis is the embodiment of the kind of work that Kanga is pioneering through performance: the interaction between art, specifically the piano, and technology.

Hacking the music

Over the phone Kanga described the process Schubert used to create WIKI-PIANO.NET.

“It is like a Wikipedia page that anyone in the public can go visit. The website is comprised of texts, sounds and audio, videos and images that are embedded by the public into the page, and that serves as the notation for the score. It is a piece that is always changing and dependent on the content that is posted.”

The multimedia content is shown to the audience and then the performer must act out, and respond to, what is being shown.

“It is always quite funny to perform because it’s got memes and things that people have done on the internet and can provoke me to react in surprising ways,” Kanga remarked, “There have been instances where I had to yell out lines from that really bad movie The Room or sing along to a pop song. A few weeks ago there was something in there about Will Smith in blue paint in that Aladdin trailer looking really ridiculous.”

Growing up in Sydney, Kanga pursued studies not just in music but also in philosophy and computer science. His music studies from this well-rounded education included the opportunities to explore musical projects with a vast amount of freedom. From as young as 22 he worked with Damien Ricketson and Ensemble Offspring. This opened up possibilities for him to work with experienced senior musicians in other projects.

Zubin Kanga is at the intersection of technology and piano. Photo Raphael Neal.

Collaboration is key

Kanga says that building these relationships between himself as the performer and the composer is so essential to the outcome. One of his significant collaborators is Sydney saxophonist Ben Carey who will be performing in PIANO EX MACHINA. Carey’s piece taking the auspices is inspired by the flocking of starlings and uses artificial intelligence and 3D scans of objects to merge audio and visual elements live on stage. Carey is a technologist but also a saxophone player which gives him insight into Kanga’s performance practice.

“Carey knows how to read my body language and respond in a very organic way, which I think is really important to the sound of the piece,” says Kanga. “Often when you’re working with all this technology there’s so much risk in terms of what could go wrong so it’s essential to have someone you trust.”

Australian Works

The program contains four other Australian works including a piece by monumental Australian composer and improviser Jon Rose, titled Ballast, a work comprising a whirlwind of sound using a 3D hand sensor. The use of new technologies in piano performance is where Kanga feels most at home, and it is also the essence of his research as a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the Royal Holloway, University of London.

“Working as a soloist with new technologies has become the big focus in my work. It’s what I love doing and the kind of work I like commissioning.”

Continuing the theme of new technologies, A Novel Instrument by Australian composer Kate Neal, in collaboration with stop-motion animator Sal Cooper, explores the kinship between cars and pianos. One movement from this large music-theatre work will be premiered in PIANO EX MACHINA. It combines music, images, film, electronics, and piano to create a mixture of musical counterpoint, visuals and movement.

Tristan Coelho’s work Rhythm City amalgamates looped urban film scenes with music. These visuals can be manipulated by the pianist using a midi keyboard and then is responded to at the piano.

International networks

The union of video and piano can also be seen in Adam de la Cour’s Transplant the Movie 2!, a piece that presents as a short film and is a comical take on low-fi action and spy movies from the 1980’s. This piece is the sequel to Transplant the Movie! by the same composer based on early 20th century horror movies.

Kanga resides in London for part of the year where he is able to immerse himself in the vibrant contemporary music culture in the U.K. He works closely with a number of British composers including de la Cour. Kanga says collaborative relationships of this kind create a space where he can merge other styles and interests, such as film, theatre, comedy, and movement on stage with music and work at the piano in particular.

“Hopefully a few of these pieces will be quite funny, as well, rather than being just intense and serious which I think a lot of contemporary music can be,” Kanga said.

Kanga has also contributed a composition to the program, a piece titled Transformations that manipulates sounds from the inside of a piano with those of an analogue synthesiser. It draws inspiration from the lives of his friends, family and colleagues who are experiencing changes to their internal, and in some cases external, bodies. It’s another aspect to Kanga’s adoptive process where his creative outcomes are grown from the seeds of input from others.

His unique methodology enables Kanga’s performances to both provoke and amuse audiences and PIANO EX-MACHINA promises to continue that proud tradition.

Zubin Kanga performs PIANO EX MACHINA at Subiaco Arts Centre on April 24. Be sure to visit http://wiki-piano.net leading up to the performance to add your own unique voice to the show.

Pictured top: Zubin Kanga. Photo by Raphael Neal.

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A woman stands on a trampoline
Features, News, Performing arts, Theatre

Putting together the puzzle pieces

What does it mean to be lonely in a world where we are never alone?
That’s a question local performance company Whiskey & Boots is asking audiences to contemplate in its latest work The Loneliest Number. Nina Levy chatted to the show’s creative team to learn more.

There’s no such thing as a person with one job in Whiskey & Boots. One half, Georgia King, is a performer and producer; the other half, Mark Storen, is a performer, director, writer and musician.

In keeping with this theme, Whiskey & Boots’ productions tend to cover multiple disciplines, evading easy definition. Their award-winning production, THE ONE, a play written and directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and produced and performed by King and Storen, is accompanied by song… but it’s not a musical. The most recent iteration of their Bystander project which sees King and Storen collecting real-life stories from people living in country towns and transforming these into a one-off verbatim theatre performance, brought together theatre, music and photography, and included an interactive installation.

Mark Storen and Georgia King in ‘Bystander’. Photo: Fionn Mulholland.

So it’s no surprise that Whiskey & Boots’ latest work, The Loneliest Number, also weaves together three artistic disciplines into a single program… but this time the experience is immersive. Audiences are invited to bring a picnic into ART ON THE MOVE’s Fremantle gallery space, and listen to original and classic music played by Storen, and Holly and Tom Garvey, while taking in a photography exhibition (also by Holly Garvey), before the story-telling part of the evening begins (written by King and performed by King and Storen).

Though the various components of the work can be enjoyed separately, they are inextricably linked. “By using music, photography and storytelling/performance, you’ve kind of got three parts of the puzzle, and it’s up to you, as the audience, how you put them together,” explains Storen.

“Holly has taken the photos directly in response to the performance, so there’s a photo for each character in the performance, with a didactic [panel],” continues King. “So audiences can read the didactic [panel] and pick up the ‘clues’ about what’s going to be in the performance. And the original songs are also a reflection on, or a response to, the performance.

“The image tells a part of the story that the narrative doesn’t; the songs give you an insight that you haven’t already got from the text.”

“And it’s interesting to look at the conversations that happen between the three elements,” reflects Holly Garvey. “With the photography I’ve been trying to look at what hasn’t been told, at what we are saying if we layer that with Georgia’s text, and with the music performance.”

As the name of the work suggests, those three layers – music, photography and performance – are also linked by the concept of loneliness, an idea that came from King. “Loneliness is a state that is interesting to me,” she remarks. “I grew up as an only child, and I lived on a very large farm, so I was alone a lot growing up. I feel like I’m sensitive to lonely people and the sense of being lonely. It sounds like a cliché but we’re so connected now that I think people struggle being alone, more, perhaps, than they used to.

“I like the idea of pushing people to just ‘sit’ alone. I think we avoid that… I do, I’m totally guilty of it. We avoid just being with ourselves. I want to challenge people, to shake that up a bit, to feel that feeling of solitude.”

A man eating fast food, sitting alone
‘Loneliness is confronting’. Mark Storen in one of Holly Garvey’s images for ‘The Loneliest Number’.

It’s a concept that it is very relatable – we all know how hard it is to resist the temptation to fill any spare time by picking up our smart-phones. As Storen remarks, “Loneliness is confronting. When the noise goes away, and you’re left with the quiet, that’s when it’s really confronting. So we fill it with white noise, strange noise.”

Confronting it may be, but the Whiskey & Boots team believe that there is something precious to be found in those quiet, ordinary moments. “It can be really beautiful to just sit by yourself,” points out Garvey. “And we’re celebrating that.”

When the company presented a showing of the work-in-progress last year, the feedback from the audience was telling. “People wanted more of the stillness,” remembers King. “Audiences are interested in details.” And people are curious, notes Garvey. “This show is like people-watching.”

“The show has got a voyeuristic feel,” agrees King. “The audience is getting a peek into this secret moment.”

The Loneliest Number plays ART ON THE MOVE in Fremantle, April 23-28.

Pictured top is Georgia King, in one of Holly Garvey’s images from ‘The Loneliest Number’. 

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Adults and children making a shelter out of brightly coloured yarn and wire.
Features, Installation, News, Visual arts

A space for children to explore

“Manguri Wiltja”, an interactive play space/installation by FORM in collaboration with Polyglot Theatre and the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, brings experiences of remote community life to city kids.

With a focus on the creative and community-building possibilities of collaboration, and a strong commitment towards leaping into the unknown, project curator Andrew Nicholls gave Miranda Johnson some insights into the background of the project and what to expect when the installation is opened to the public at Revealed: WA Aboriginal Art Market, Saturday 13 April.

Miranda Johnson: How did the relationship between Polyglot, Tjanpi Desert Weavers and FORM originally come about?
Andrew Nicholls: FORM has worked with Tjanpi on numerous exhibition projects over the past two decades we are huge admirers of their work in general, and well-aware of their artistic significance at a national level. Although we had not previously worked with Polyglot, they came to our attention a few years ago when we were looking to incorporate some more children-and-family-focused programming into what we do. It was actually my colleagues Amy Plant and Mollie Hewitt who first came up with the idea of bringing the two organisations together, as they recognised strong aesthetic similarities between the work made by both organisations. The three of us just had a gut feeling that there was the potential there for a really exciting collaboration.

I then approached each of the organisations (back in 2016) with an exceedingly vague invitation to collaborate, which was a bit daunting because at that stage we really didn’t have any clear idea what we were pitching! Luckily it turned out that Tjanpi had been thinking about exploring performance for some time and had just been waiting for the right project, and that Polyglot were huge fans of Tjanpi and also had been looking for a project that would allow them to collaborate with Aboriginal artists, so everything just fell into place. There’s been an extraordinary amount of serendipity and good luck as the work has come together over the past three years.

A man and a woman listening to headphones
Polyglot’s Justin Marshall and Tjanpi artist Dianne Ungukalpi Golding at ‘Manguri Wiltja’ third development workshop in Perth, November 2017. Photo: Bewley Shaylor, courtesy of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Polyglot Theatre, and FORM.

MJ: How were the project’s artists selected?
AN: Tjanpi Desert Weavers engage artists from numerous communities spread across hundreds of thousands of kilometres of central Australia, so to make things manageable they suggested we work with four highly respected tjanpi artists from Warakurna, in remote Western Australia: Cynthia Burke, Dianne Ungukalpi Golding, Nancy Nanana Jackson, and Dallas Smythe.

Polyglot similarly recommended some of their most innovative performers, Justin Marshall, Justine Warner, and Tamara Rewse, with their phenomenally talented artistic director and co-CEO Sue Giles leading the development workshop sessions.

A circle of tents in the bush.
Bush camp as part of ‘Manguri Wiltja’ second development workshop in Warakurna, July 2017. Photo: Bewley Shaylor, courtesy of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Polyglot Theatre, and FORM.

MJ: How has the collaborative process rolled out?
AN: We held our first workshop at Polyglot’s premises in Melbourne in November 2016, to get to know each other and throw ideas around. Again, it was quite daunting for everyone because none of us had a clue what we were actually going to do together, or if a collaboration would even be possible. Thankfully everyone very quickly realised that we wanted to work together to make something really special. It has been an absolute joy to develop the work together, and to draw inspiration from such a talented and professional group of creatives.

The initial workshop was followed by a trip to Warakurna, where all of the non-Tjanpi artists were introduced to the Tjanpi artists’ Country. This was a transformative experience for everyone involved and allowed the artwork to really start to take shape. Further workshops followed in Perth and then in Warakurna again, and now in Fremantle during the lead-up to Revealed.

MJ: What are the similarities and differences that you noticed between each arts organisation’s artistic practices? 
AN: The project came about because everyone involved recognised similarities between what Tjanpi and Polyglot do. Both organisations make very sophisticated work from simple materials and techniques, and both of them have a joyously playful aesthetic and a highly mischievous sense of humour. In terms of the working methodology, the content of the project was primarily driven by the Tjanpi artists and how they wanted to share a sense of their Country, which was then shaped by the Polyglot team into something that would work as an experience for audiences. Throughout this process, FORM played the role of facilitator.

But the joy of tjanpi weaving is that the techniques are so easy to share, so within a couple of hours of meeting everyone at the first workshop in Melbourne we were all making tjanpi creatures that will be travelling across the country to be part of the work in Fremantle.

Women sitting in a circle, weaving colourful objects
‘Manguri Wiltja’ third development workshop in Perth, November 2017. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, courtesy of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Polyglot Theatre, and FORM.

In terms of differences, Polyglot allows everything they do to be driven by input from children – kids are involved wherever possible throughout the development of their projects. This isn’t necessarily how the Tjanpi artists work, but children are always a strong presence in remote community life, so this felt like a very natural thing to incorporate into the process, and we worked with children in each of the workshop locations. The Tjanpi artists meanwhile are primarily inspired by culture and their connection to Country, and everyone got a taste of this in Warakurna. While non-Indigenous visitors to Warakurna are never going to have a comprehensive understanding of what this means, the creative team were given an extremely warm and generous introduction that really crystallised the project for everyone involved.

A child, manipulating a tyre.
Manguri Wiltja third development workshop in Perth, November 2017. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, courtesy of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Polyglot Theatre, and FORM.

MJ: Can you tell me more about the interactive nature of the installation?
AN: The installation is a space for children to explore at their own pace. The artists will all be present to guide this, but as with most of Polyglot’s work it is the participating children who will take control. They will get to climb over and explore the installation, discover tjanpi creatures hidden throughout the space, listen to the sounds of Warakurna, and sit inside the wiltja (a traditional shade structure) and learn how to create a tjanpi object of their own. We have tried to make it a work that children of almost any age, and all levels of physical ability, will be able to enjoy.

MJ: You’ve spoken about the wiltja as a literal safe space created from collaborative labour, which became central to the project. Tell me about this idea of a safe space, and what it can provide in terms of creativity…
AN: Something that I think resonates with everyone who learns tjanpi weaving technique is how incredibly meditative and soothing it is to do – spending an hour or two in the company of those artists, hand-making something and sharing conversation simply makes you feel fantastic. I think the technique itself is a “safe space” and the wiltja was an organic extension of this. As an object in its own right it’s very clearly hand-made and it’s something you can sit inside, so it has a very cosy feel.

Everyone involved in “Manguri Wiltja” has had nothing but respect toward everyone else for the duration of the project, and this trust was able to build up over a solid length of time, which has given us all the confidence to work at our best and take a few creative risks with each other. That’s an incredibly rewarding space to be in as a creative. Ten days out from the world premiere we still don’t entirely know exactly what the experience of the final work will be, but we trust each other enough to know it’s going to be marvellous.

MJ: Do you see collaboration as central to cross-cultural learning and communication? Do you think this is something that would be beneficial to adults as well as children?
AN: Absolutely. At FORM we always strive to try to achieve a level of collaboration in most projects we undertake with artists – we are passionate about placing artists in conversation with Western Australian communities and seeing what can happen as a result. However, co-creation is not something you can force. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The great joy of “Manguri Wiltja” is how the various collaborators “clicked” almost immediately on our first day together in Melbourne. Given how vague the parameters of the project were to everyone initially, and how disparate the various creative practices and cultural influences were, it could easily have gone the other way.

We have always intended for “Manguri Wiltja” to be a work that children can experience with their parents (or other relatives) so we absolutely want people of all ages to share in the joyous spirit of the project and learn some more about life in remote Australia.

“Manguri Wiltja” will be at Fremantle Arts Centre, as part of “Revealed”, Saturday 13 April, 10-12pm and 2-4pm. Entry is free.

Pictured top: “Manguri Wiltja” third development workshop in Perth, November 2017. Photo: Bewley Shaylor, courtesy of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Polyglot Theatre, and FORM.

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Features, Music, News

Our singing city

Perth’s choral music renaissance is about to get a boost. Seesaw editor Rosalind Appleby talks to Luke Donohoe as Fremantle gets ready to host a four day festival of choral music.

For several years Perth has been experiencing a renaissance in choral music, with new, agile ensembles like Voyces, Baden Street Singers and ensembles from St George’s College building on the work of established groups like St George’s Cathedral Consort, Perth Undergraduate Choral Society and the Giovanni Consort. Appreciative audiences have been enjoying vibrant and creative performances of an increasingly broad range of choral repertoire. The interest in choral music has also found its way into the education program with expanding choral programs in schools like John Septimus Roe Anglican Community College and Aquinas College.

Next week Western Australia’s growing appetite for singing will be indulged with four days and over 80 performances by local, national and international ensembles at Choralfest, the Australian National Choral Association’s biennial celebration of choral music.

The festival will be held in Fremantle and kicks off on April 13 in true Aussie style with a pub choir at Clancy’s Fish Pub. It includes workshops, concerts, keynote presentations and free events including a Palm Sunday Procession through the streets of Fremantle.

The Australian Voices (Queensland) will feature at the Choralfest Gala Concert on April 13.

It is the first time the festival has been held in WA in 25 years. Choralfest manager Luke Donohoe says organisers wanted the festival to be as broad as possible.

“We wanted to present the breadth of the choral music tradition and also to reach as wide an audience as possible. If you like to go to free concerts, join a pub choir, or listen to the best choirs in the country – it is all available.”

This year the festival will include a unique feature on Noongar song with presentations by ethnomusicologist Clint Bracknell and Roma Winmar, sessions on teaching traditional songs and a choral presentation involving indigenous dance.

“The traditional owners of the land we live play an intrinsic role in life in WA and to overlook that would be an oversight,” says Donohoe. “Indigenous Australians have an incredible history of singing – it is a unique culture because we can trace their songs back to before they spoke.”

The English tradition of choral singing will be also be showcased with keynote speaker Robert Hollingworth bringing his experience as director of the Britain’s I Fagiolini ensemble. Sessions on youth choral music will be presented by keynote speakers Mark O’Leary (Gondwana Voices) and Jennifer Tham (Singapore Youth Choir).

Forty-five choirs will participate, from as far afield as Botswana, New Zealand and Singapore, presenting a breathtaking range of repertoire from sacred choral music to barbershop.

“We believe choral music can and should be for everyone. It may have a reputation for ruffled collars and cassocks but it is also about pub choirs that are going to sing Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping,” says Donohoe, who is also president of Voyces choir who will be performing at the festival.

Organisers are expecting more than 300 local and interstate delegates and over a thousand participants by the end of the festival. The flexible registration means music lovers can register for just a concert or a day, and choose to participate in choirs that match their age or taste.

Choralfest also offers local choirs and audiences a vital link to choral developments nationally and internationally.

“We think it’s important that the great choral work being done in Perth is connected to what is happening across the rest of Australia and the world,” says Donohoe.  “In Perth there are new, unique and agile choirs leading the charge, telling relevant and contemporary stories and having great success generating audiences and international recognition – but this doesn’t exist in isolation; we are expanding and developing a unique strain of what already exists worldwide.”

Choralfest runs April 13-16. Registration and concert details can be found on the website. 

Pictured top: Choralfest manager Luke Donohoe with Voyces choir. Photo Nik Babic

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Singers and music director stand around the piano
Features, News, Performing arts

Global story takes to the stage

Ron Siemiginowski and Giles Watson were brought together by the shared ambition to write a musical. Neither of them had the faintest idea just how far their dream would go. Seesaw editor Rosalind Appleby found out more about Mimma a Musical of War and Friendship, which will open at the Regal Theatre next week.

“We never envisaged this,” said Siemiginowski, who is the owner of Orana Cinemas and has a background as a pianist and composer. “We met in 2015 and I played Giles some songs I had written. He went away and wrote an amazing synopsis and I was gobsmacked. From there things have taken their natural course as we met people and they connected us to others.”

A man sits at the piano with his score on the music stand
Ron Siemiginowski is the composer and producer of Mimma the Musical. Photo Jared Vethaak.

Mimma a Musical of War and Friendship will have its world premiere at the Regal Theatre on April 9th. The global production might have been dreamt up in a lounge room in Albany but it has attracted musicians from around the country and overseas. The lead role of Mimma will be performed by Australian/Dutch soprano Mirusia Louwerse, whose chart-topping crossover albums and tours with Andre Rieu have earned her the nickname ‘Angel of Australia’. She is supported by music theatre stalwart Jason Barry-Smith as her uncle Aldo Marini, WA Academy of Performing Arts graduate Holly Meegan as jazz singer Sarah Parker and US/Australian singer Suzanne Kompass as Ada Marini.

The story is set in World War Two and follows the Italian journalist Mimma, whose family are involved in the resistance against Mussolini. Mimma takes refuge from the spread of Fascism at her uncle’s nightclub in London and forms a friendship with jazz singer Sarah. As things begin to unravel on a global scale the conflict brings out the best and worst in people. The musical pays tribute to the friendship between Mimma and Sarah as they hold fast to humanity in the midst of the destruction.

World War Two history has fascinated Watson since he wrote his doctoral thesis on this period, and Siemiginowski’s childhood was filled with war stories told by his Polish/German parents who arrived in Australia as displaced persons in 1951. The composer and librettist discovered the period has lessons for our times too, particularly the themes of refugees and extremist ideology.

“There are parallels with the Syrian crisis and people displaced through war,” said Siemiginowski. “People looking for refuge from war, wanting to make a better life in Australia. I hope the audience will get a sense of the universality of what it means to be someone coming through great struggle, war, privation, and wanting to find refuge.”

The musical also highlights the extreme ideology evident in politics at the time.

“I’ve learned from my personal family history to be wary of extreme ideology on any side of politics,” explains Siemiginowski.

England’s paranoia about Italian and German migrants is articulated in the song Collar the Lot which quotes Churchill’s blanket approach to deporting ‘Enemy Aliens’.  In the musical a boat of deported Italian and German refugees is sunk, making reference to the sinking in 1940 of the Arandora Star by a German U-boat.

Mirusia Louwerse, Holly Meegan, Suzanne Kompass and Jason Barry-Smith in rehearsal. Photo Jared Vethaak.

Siemiginowski’s music weaves the themes together, with Italian arias inspired by the lush melodies of Puccini and Verdi sitting alongside 1940’s styled jazz numbers. There’s even a Rhumba Italiana which includes the transcription of a trumpet solo by Australian jazz icon James Morrison. New York based Australian composer and conductor Sean O’Boyle has orchestrated Siemiginowski’s piano score and will conduct the Perth Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere season at the Regal Theatre.

“I hope the audience will experience a wonderful story of courage, fortitude against all odds,” says Siemiginowski. “And above all love the music.”

Mimma a Musical of War and Friendship is at the Regal Theatre from April 9 – 21.

Pictured top: The Mimma cast includes Mirusia Louwerse, Jason Barry-Smith, Sean O’Boyle (music director), Holly Meegan and Suzanne Kompass. Photo Jared Vethaak.

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Two young women dancing
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts

No ceilings for young dance makers

Two recent graduates of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts’ dance program, Briannah Davis and Olivia Hendry, are the artists behind new dance theatre collective Not Sold Separately.  Amy Wiseman chatted to the pair about their upcoming debut season “ceilings.”, and how they have navigated the transition from training to profession.

Two girls drinking tea
Olivia Hendry and Briannah Davis. Photo: Sarah Sim.

Amy Wiseman: Tell me about “ceilings.” and the two works you are presenting within this program.
Not Sold Separately: “Drug Aware presents: ceilings.” is a double bill encompassing two new dance works: Bloom, choreographed by Briannah Davis, and No Mandarin’s An Island, choreographed by Olivia Hendry.

We have joined forces as Not Sold Separately because we are interested in similar subject matter – expressing the female experience. We feel it is important, both for our own artistic careers and for those of our peers, to provide a platform for young female voices to tell their stories through multidisciplinary performance. Both works feature all-female casts of recent WAAPA graduates, along with collaborating composer Annika Moses.

Bloom (Davis) explores how we support those we are close to in times of need; falling apart and building each other back up again, influencing our personal growth.

No Mandarin’s An Island (Hendry) focuses on the “islands” or states of existence we inhabit, based on life’s experiences. Quirky, disarming and evocative, the work is jam packed with ideas exploring togetherness, isolation and how we choose to take up space.

AW: What made you decide to present your own independent season outside of the Fringe World umbrella?
NSS: Fringe is such a bustling time of year in Perth. We felt this work was at risk of being lost amongst the bombardment of material that is produced at that time. We are also both involved with another performance collective called SYNDICATE, that presented during Fringe, and we felt “ceilings.” deserved our undivided attention.

We saw an opportune space in the calendar for April, when we knew our voices would be heard, as well as allowing ourselves the appropriate amount of time to really refine our ideas and present them in a sophisticated way.

AW: What are some of the challenges you’ve come across as young emerging choreographers and producers? And any wins?
NSS: Our biggest challenges have arisen on the producing side of things, as opposed to choreographing. Basically, every choice we make and every obstacle that presents itself is one we have not faced before – so there is a learning opportunity around every corner. Perhaps the most startling challenge has been selling tickets and expanding our viewer demographic. We have amazing amounts of support behind us from connections made at WAAPA, but we are new to the broader independent performance community.

Our biggest win has been receiving a Drug Aware YCulture grant through Propel Youth Arts WA, which has definitely helped us to stay afloat and learn all the varying aspects of show-making as they occur.

AW: What would you say is the most difficult thing about the transition from student to professional?
OH: I think what’s most difficult is coordinating schedules. Once you leave the university bubble, you realise that not everyone exists in the same time frame as you used to, so getting a cohesive cast together and finding the (often unpaid) time to work on the project is a challenge. It takes a lot of sacrifice and forward thinking. But with experience and understanding it becomes more manageable.

BD: I think often the hardest part is believing in yourself. As a student, the professional world seems daunting and out of reach. However, anything can be achievable if you give yourself the chance to actually try it. I know I still have a long way to go but choreographing and producing our own show has given us so much insight into how much work goes on behind the scenes, and I know that learning these skills straight out of university will help me continue making and dancing into the future.

AW: What advice do you have for other aspiring choreographers and/or future graduates?
NSS: Just put yourself out there. There are so many artists who have come before you, who are incredibly generous with their time and want you to succeed – we have been blown away by the support we have received. You just have to be present, show your face and ask. Take risks worth taking, take matters into your own hands, and know that right now is your time to learn and grow – so use it wisely.

ceilings. plays Studio C5, Huzzard Studios April 4-6.

Pictured top: Olivia Hendry and Briannah Davis. Photo: Sarah Sim.

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2018 Performing Arts WA Awards nominations

The nominees for the 2018 Performing Arts WA (PAWA) Awards have been announced.

Traditionally covering theatre, in 2018 the PAWA Awards were expanded to include dance. The twelve theatre, six dance and five shared design awards will be presented at the 2018 PAWA Awards gala event, Monday 29 April, from 7pm, at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia.

THEATRE AWARDS

Best Mainstage Production, presented by Hawaiian
Hir – Black Swan State Theatre Company
Stay With Us – The Last Great Hunt
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll – Black Swan State Theatre Company
Xenides – Black Swan State Theatre Company
You Know We Belong Together – A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Best Independent Production
Frankie’s – The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
godeatgod – The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Squid Vicious
The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish – The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Let me finish. – The Blue Room Theatre & Charlotte Otton
Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes – The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions

Best New Work
Samantha Chester & Ensemble – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, Samantha Chester
Julia Hales with Finn O’Branagain and Clare Watson – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production
Barbara Hostalek – Banned, Mudskipper Productions
Libby Klysz & Ensemble – Frankie’s, Variegated Productions
Terence Smith – 52 Hertz, Beyond the Yard

Best Newcomer
Cassidy Dunn – The Talk, The Last Great Hunt
Mackenzie Dunn – Assassins & Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Julia Hales – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production
Frieda Lee – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Angela Mahlatjie – Let me finish., The Blue Room Theatre & Charlotte Otton

Best Supporting Actor (Male)
Geoff Kelso – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Russell Leonard – Slap & Tickle, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & The Kabuki Drop & WAYJO
Will O’Mahony – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Igor Sas – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Mararo Wangai – Improvement Club, The Last Great Hunt

Best Supporting Actor (Female)
Caitlin Beresford-Ord – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Mackenzie Dunn – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Vivienne Garrett – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Jo Morris – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Second Chance Theatre
Morgan Owen – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Male), presented by Artist Management Australia
Jacob Allan – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Gary Cooper – Skylab, Black Swan State Theatre Company & Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company
Sam Longley – Tom Vickers and the Extraordinary Adventure of his Missing Sock, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre & Western Australian Museum
Will O’Mahony – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Kelton Pell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Actor in a MainStage Production (Female), presented by Moore Creative Artists
Julia Hales – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan – Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production
Monica Main – The Swash-Line Secret!, The WA Museum Shipwrecks Gallery
Amy Mathews – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Toni Scanlan – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Alison van Reeken – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Male), presented by Media Super
Humphrey Bower – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, The Blue Room Theatre & Samantha Chester
St John Cowcher – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
Sam Hayes – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
iOTA – Slap & Tickle, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & The Kabuki Drop & WAYJO
Andrew Sutherland – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Female), presented by Media Super
Holly Jones – Banned, The Blue Room Theatre & Mudskipper Productions
Frieda Lee – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Esther Longhurst – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
Della Rae Morrison – Banned, The Blue Room Theatre & Mudskipper Productions
Clare Testoni – The Beast and The Bride, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Bow & Dagger

Best Director of a Mainstage Production
Gita Bezard – The Talk, The Last Great Hunt
Jeffrey Jay Fowler – In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, Black Swan State Theatre
Company
Adam Mitchell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Zoe Pepper – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Clare Watson – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Best Director of an Independent Production
Susie Conte – Lysistrata, Tempest Theatre
Libby Klysz – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
Joe Lui – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions
Scott McArdle – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Second Chance Theatre
James McMillan – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE

DANCE AWARDS

Best Production
Dracula – West Australian Ballet
Dust on the Shortbread – Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre
Structural Dependency – Brooke Leeder & Dancers, with Louis Frere-Harvey, Nemo Gandossini-Poirier and Matthew Thorley
“WA Dance Makers Project” – Co3 Australia

Best New Work
Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis & Amy Wiseman – You Do Ewe, WA Dance Makers Project,
Unkempt Dance
Serena Chalker & Quindell Orton – Dust on the Shortbread, Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre
Brooke Leeder & Dancers – Structural Dependency
Krzysztof Pastor – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

Best Newcomer
Michelle Aitken – Future’s Eve, Paper Mountain
Tanya Brown – In-Lore Act II, WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia
Sarah Sim – Structural Dependency, Brooke Leeder & Dancers & Natalie Allen’s Sisters Vice from In SITU, Emma Fishwick & Kynan Hughes in association with STRUT Dance, Tura New Music & Artrage
Luci Young – Frank Enstein, Co3 Australia

Best Performer (Male)
Eric Avery – Dancing with Strangers as part of “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Zachary Lopez – Frank Enstein, Co3 Australia
Andrew Searle – “WA Dance Makers Project”, Co3 Australia
Oscar Valdés – La Sylphide, West Australian Ballet

Best Performer (Female)
Floeur Alder – Beyond, Supported by Ochre Contemporary Dance Company
Marlo Benjamin – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Ella-Rose Trew – “WA Dance Makers Project”, Co3 Australia
Miranda Wheen – Miranda as part of Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards), Marrugeku & PICA

Best Director or Choreographer
Kynan Hughes – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Brooke Leeder – Structural Dependency, Brooke Leeder & Dancers
Grayson Millwood & Gavin Webber – Frank Enstein, Made by The Farm in collaboration with Co3 Australia
Unkempt Dance – You Do Ewe, WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

THEATRE & DANCE: PRODUCTION AWARDS

Best Sound Design
James Brown & Laurie Sinagra – Frank Enstein, Made by The Farm in collaboration with Co3 Australia
Ben Collins – Seeking basics needs and other tales of excess, PICA & Renée Newman with Ben Collins
Ben Collins – The Talk, The Last Great Hunt
Joe Lui – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions
Eden Mulholland – In-Lore Act II as part of WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

Best Lighting Design
George Ashforth – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE
Matthew Cox – “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Joe Lui – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Phoebe Pilcher – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions
Trent Suidgeest – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Stage Design
Maeli Cherel – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Stephen Curtis – “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Phil R. Daniels – Dracula, West Australian Ballet
Sohan Ariel Hayes – Ngarlimbah as part of “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Tyler Hill – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Rhys Morris – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, The Blue Room Theatre & Samantha Chester

Best Costume Design
Alicia Clements – In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Stephen Curtis – “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Charles Cusick Smith – Dracula, West Australian Ballet
Lexi De Silva – La Sylphide, West Australian Ballet
Lynn Ferguson – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Tarryn Gill – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Composition or Arranging
Michael Brett – Dracula, West Australian Ballet
Sascha Budimski – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Georgina Cramond – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Second Chance Theatre
Ekrem Mülayim – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, The Blue Room Theatre & Samantha Chester
Nat Pavlovic – Night Sweats, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Static Drive Co

Head to the Perth Theatre Trust website to book tickets for the 2018 PAWA Awards gala event.

Pictured top: Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of ‘Hir’. Pictured: Will O’Mahony, Toni Scanlan and Igor Sas. Photo: Daniel James Grant.

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