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Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, News, Performing arts, Theatre

Ghosts and dolls

New Ghosts Theatre Company’s founder and director, Lucy Clements, has been busy since graduating from WAAPA just three years ago. Under her guidance, the Sydney-based independent theatre ensemble has produced and presented four works, including The Wind in the Underground, which played Fringe World last year.

This year, New Ghosts Theatre returns to Fringe World with Paper Doll, written by Katy Warner in response to Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, and directed by Clements. Ahead of the show’s WA premiere, Clements squeezed in Seesaw’s Fringe Session Q&A.

Lucy Clements

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?
Lucy Clements: It certainly wasn’t a childhood dream of mine, though my mother and sisters are involved in theatre so maybe it was inevitable. Thinking back to high school, I really loved biology, drama, literature and visual art, but even when I graduated I had no idea which career path to follow. I took a gap year aiming to figure out what I missed and it was acting! I joined the WA Youth Theatre Company and scoured open audition sites, seeking opportunities in other projects. At the end of that year, I actually enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing at Notre Dame University, so thought that sealed my fate . And then I got the call from WAAPA. It wasn’t until I accepted the place there that it really became clear that this is what I was going to do.

S: As founder and director of New Ghosts Theatre Company, your roles include writing, producing and directing – did you cover those skills at WAAPA or did you also learn on-the-job?
LC: Both. My formal training during my three years at WAAPA was mainly in performance.  The course dabbled in directing, but my main experience in this
didn’t come until I moved to Sydney, where I  got an awesome opportunity as assistant director for a show at the Australian Theatre for Young People. Then I was really lucky to have the Old Fitz take a chance on me by letting me direct a work I’d written in one of their late-night slots later that year. In 2017 I travelled to New York for three months and worked as an assistant director under a really wonderful director named John Gould Rubin. I consider that period  of time to be real self-directed training that shaped my craft and the personal philosophies by which I now work.

S: Career highlight?
LC: Last year New Ghosts Theatre Company brought Yen, by Anna Jordan, to the stage at Kings Cross Theatre. I discovered the script while I was working in New York. Being able to bring it home and mount my own production of it eighteen months later was a huge accomplishment for me. I couldn’t have been more proud of what we created and it really set a new standard for us as a company.

S: Career lowlight?
LC: Every Fringe World artist knows how to run a technical rehearsal quickly. The tech. is our one rehearsal in the theatre, where we get to plot the lights and sound and actors get to rehearse on the stage. In a typical show, this might happen over a day or two, and at Fringe World you’re given about four hours.

Last year I had the pleasure of directing a work in an Australian festival that will remain unnamed. It wasn’t until the day itself that I was informed that the tech. rehearsal would take place from 3pm-6pm – with the show itself starting at 6pm! The previous show’s rehearsal ran late, so we proceeded at lightening speed.  During our last scene, a poor actor bumped the prop bar on stage and all the glass bottles, filled with liquid, smashed… everywhere. There was broken glass and fruit juice as far as the eye could see. The venue manager was very unimpressed, particularly because we were being followed by a dance show performed barefoot. Thanks to a bloody wonderful team, the show went on and we had a great response. But it still doesn’t make for a fond memory.

S : You’re no stranger to Fringe World. Tell us about your previous brushes with Fringe…
LC: I first appeared in Fringe as a performer while I was at WAAPA , and later in their “600 second” program as a  director/writer. Last year my company brought The Wind in the Underground  to the State Theatre Centre. Having  trained in Perth, it was a real dream come true to have a show in that amazing venue!

S: And tell us about your 2019 Fringe World show, Paper Doll
LC: Paper Doll is one of the best shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. It was made in 2017 in the  inaugural “New Fitz” program at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney. This company commissioned ten Australian playwrights to write ten new one-act plays in response to one of the shows they were producing in their mainstage season. The  resulting shows were then presented in tandem with the mainstage show which inspired them.

I was paired with the amazing Katy Warner (who, coincidentally, is also Perth born and bred!), who wrote in response to Arthur Miller’s  A View from a Bridge. Katy took the inappropriate relationship between Eddie and Catherine as the underlying seed  of inspiration for Paper Doll, and the result is an extremely dark and intense whirlwind of a work, which is performed  by two world-class actors, Martin Ashley Jones and Hayley Pearl. Both these actors have recently returned to Australia after a long time working in the US, and I can’t wait for them to make their Perth debut with Paper Doll.

New Ghosts Theatre Company’s production of Paper Doll plays nightly from 12 – 16 February at the Blue Room Theatre.

Pictured top: The cast of “Paper Doll”, Martin Ashley Jones and Hayley Pearl.

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Circus, Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, News, Performing arts

Feats for hands and feet

Perth-born juggler Jeromy Zwick and Finnish tightwire dancer Liisa Näykki are united by their love of circus… and each other. As circus duo Hands Some Feet they bring together their respective specialities alongside acrobatics, physical theatre,  skipping ropes and live music.

Ahead of their 2019 Fringe World season, Seesaw managed to catch Zwick and Näykki with their feet on the ground long enough for a quick Q&A.

A woman standing on a man's shoulders.
Jeromy Zwick & Liisa Näykki. Photo: Michael James.

Seesaw: Tell us about your training…
Jeromy Zwick: We both went to the National Circus School of Belgium in Brussels (E.S.A.C.) where we met each other, although it took another three years before we realised that we had fallen for one another. We completed an amazing yet very tough three-year Bachelor of Circus Arts program there. We didn’t just work with some of the best specialised circus teachers in the world but we were also trained in physical theatre, dance and many other skills, in order for us to graduate as professional circus artists. But we continue to learn something new every day as this job has such variety that goes beyond doing circus and being on stage.

S: Career highlight so far?
JZ: Well, there are many. For us both it would be being able to create our own show (this one) and have total artistic control of our own material, which is so great. We just love being on stage and performing this show.

S: Career lowlight?
JZ: For me  it would have be when I was told that my entire tour with another company had to be cancelled due to an injury within the group and I was suddenly out of work when I thought I would have steady work with them for at least the next three years. Liisa had a similar thing happen to her which just goes to show that an artistic profession can often be very unstable and unpredictable.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
JZ: Waking up in the morning and knowing that we are lucky enough to have fulfilled our dream of becoming professional circus artists. We don’t have to look back one day and think, “If only we took that hard road to really commit to our dream.” Now we can just be so happy that we did and we can start enjoying the benefits of all those years of hard work . Nothing beats the joy and pure pleasure of being on stage in front of an audience. The equal giving and receiving between the performer and the audience member is such a magical thing.

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
JZ: We once performed at a Finnish porridge party (yep, you read that right, a party with porridge). It’s like a pre-Christmas party where they serve a giant pot of rice porridge. Just after our performance Santa Claus made his appearance from Lapland.

S: You performed at Fringe World last year too. What drew you back?
JZ: Our first Fringe World experience was such a welcoming and heart-warming one that there was no question in our minds at all, when presented with the opportunity, that we would return with our updated and re-worked show.

S: Tell us about Hands Some Feet’s 2019 show 
JZ: Our show is a fresh, quirky and energetic contemporary circus show powered completely by our passion to create together. We combine our two specialised circus techniques of tightwire and juggling, hence the name “Hands some Feet” me being the hands as a juggler and Liisa being the feet as a tightwire dancer. The word “some” describes all that other “meat around the bones” making the show rich and full with pair acrobatics, physical theatre, skipping ropes and live music.

One of the biggest inspirations for the show comes from a special word found only in the Finnish language: Hepuli. Hepuli means to have a negative or positive burst of emotion, the kind that even the most civilised great ape cannot withstand. In our show we deliver a universal interpretation of young couples under the spell of hepuli.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
JZ: As I am a Perth boy, I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends during the time at Fringe, as most of them are also circus artists. It’s such a nice opportunity for many of us to return from all the four corners of the globe, find ourselves back together in Perth, watch each other perform and see how we’ve all developed as individual artists.

S:What is your favourite part of the playground
JZ: I do love a good swing from time to time, and I have a really strong urge to jump on any swing I pass by. I guess I’m held back by the fact that I’m an adult now, although to be honest that doesn’t usually stop me.
LN: I’ve always loved all the climbing parts on playgrounds, climbing frames, monkey bars etc.

Hands Some Feet plays at the Black Flamingo at Yagan Square, February 5 – 17

Pictured top: Liisa Näykki and Jeromy Zwick. Photo: Michael James.

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Comedy, Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, News, Performing arts

From sex worker to comedian

Bella Green has worked in brothels, strip clubs, peepshows, dungeons, massage parlours and adult shops… and she’s here to tell the tale. Her debut show Bella Green Is Charging for It combines stand up, sketch comedy and storytelling to provide a window into the world of sex work… and she’s got some surprising answers to the questions you didn’t know you had. Seesaw caught up with Green to find out more.

Bella Green on stage.
Bella Green

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a comedian?
Bella Green: I’ve wanted to be on stage for as long as I can remember, but I wasn’t sure how or why. I didn’t know I wanted to do comedy until I was about 30. I had no idea I was funny, I just knew my Facebook statuses were good.

S: Tell us about your training…
BG: I used to tell jokes to anyone who’d listen at the brothel where I work. When I realised I wanted to be a comic, I took some improv. classes for confidence and then I hit the open mic comedy circuit.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
BG: I don’t know that I have a creative practice! I just scrawl weird joke concepts into a notebook at 3am while eating gnocchi in bed.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
BG: I love destigmatising sex work. Showing audiences that sex workers are just regular people is so fulfilling.

S: Career highlight so far?
BG: Being nominated for Best Comedy at Melbourne Fringe 2018.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
BG: I opened a stand-up set with a joke about roller derby and a nice middle-aged man yelled out that his daughter played derby and did I know her? Turns out I do! I then moved into my sex work material and the poor guy was so horrified. I almost had to reassure him that his daughter isn’t out turning tricks.

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
BG: Perth is my hometown. To quote Kendrick Lamar “I was contemplatin’ gettin’ on stage / just to go back to the hood, see my enemy, and say where you when I was walkin’?”

S: Tell us about your show Bella Green is Charging For It
BG: Bella Green Is Charging For It is a journey of stand-up, storytelling and sketch through the surprisingly mundane but always hilarious world of sex work, where the heels are high, the carpet is sticky and the customer is probably wrong. I’ve worked in brothels and strip clubs, peepshows and dungeons, massage parlours and adult shops, but my most degrading job of all was the three months I spent in a call centre for a “Big Four” bank. The show will answer all the questions you never thought to ask about sex work. Like, why is paying for sex so similar to ordering a salad? What really goes on in a peepshow? And how can you get away with wearing uggs while being a cold, hard dominatrix?

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
BG: I can’t wait to hit up that silent disco.  I’m also very excited to see Two Girls, One CuckRose, Donna and Nick are all brilliant up-and-coming stand-ups.

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
BG: The swings! I used to launch myself off the swing set at the park as a kid and pretend to have broken my arm for any stranger that walked past. I was born to be on stage.

Bella Green Is Charging for It plays Deluxe at Yagan Square, 5 – 17 February. 

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Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, Jazz, Music, News

A passport to another place

For West Australian jazz musician Kate Pass, music is a means of transcending cultural and geographical boundaries, a passport to other places and a way of communicating across language barriers. As leader and composer of Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble, she brings together her passion for Persian music and jazz, and the group’s 2019 Fringe World show, Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz, promises to transport audiences to another place. Seesaw chatted to Pass to find out more.

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
Kate Pass: I always enjoyed music as a child, and was encouraged from a young age to be creative and play. I remember going to concerts, being in awe of musicians performing on stage and thinking to myself, “I’d love to do that!” After playing trombone for a few years in high school, I picked up a double bass and within a few weeks of learning, I decided that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

S: Tell us about your training…
KP: I was lucky to be part of a newly-introduced instrumental music program at Newman College, where I had some great music teachers. After school I went to WAAPA and studied for a Bachelor of Music (Jazz). A lot of my learning was done on the job though, from playing a wide variety of gigs with a broad range of musicians. There’s always more to learn, and much can be gleaned from working with, and watching, other musicians.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
KP: I’m a double bass player – usually this means I’m a side-person, but I also lead my own band (Kohesia Ensemble). I compose the music myself for Kohesia, inspired by my love of Persian music and jazz. As well as performing live, I spend a lot of time playing music on my own, or jamming with friends, as well as composing and trying to come up with new ideas.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
KP:  Every day is different! It’s also really special to work with so many talented musicians, and connect with them both musically and personally over a long period of time. I also love the way music transcends cultural boundaries – you can go anywhere in the world, and even if you don’t speak the same language, if you both play music, you can communicate and understand a lot about each other through music.

S: Career highlight so far?
KP:  Through being a musician, I have had some amazing opportunities to travel. Some highlights would be playing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with Persian singer Tara Tiba, and also at my favourite world music festival, WOMADelaide, with the same band. Recording my debut album “Kohesia” was also a really special experience!

S: Funniest career moment so far?
KP: Being on a 10-day cruise and getting so seasick I could only get out of bed to perform – and had a very green tinge on stage! I never missed a performance though!

S: Tell us about Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz
KP: “Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz” will take audiences on a journey, exploring the sounds of Persian modes and instruments with jazz. It features my original music, which enables a musical conversation between the unique voices of amazing musicians within the ensemble. Unusual time structures, microtonal melodies and soaring solo sections will transport audiences to another place.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
KP: I’m fortunate to be involved in several other Fringe Shows, so I’m really looking forward to performing with Adam Hall and the Cuban Young Guns, and Perth Cabaret Collective. I’m also excited to see some circus and cabaret acts that I wouldn’t usually get to see throughout the year. More than anything I’m looking forward to the great vibe that Perth has during Fringe World.

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
KP: Monkey bars

You can catch Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz @ The Sewing Room, Perth on January 30 & February 10

Pictured top is Kate Pass (centre) with Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble.

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