Hannah Belanszky announced as Playlab’s 2017 Young Playwright-in-residence

BMEG’s Hannah Belanszky has been announced as Playlab’s 2017 Young Playwright-in-residence. Check out the interview below from Playlab.org.au

Playlab’s Young Playwright-in-Residence program is a year-long mentorship for one young Queensland based playwright who is offered: dramaturgical support from our Playwright-in-Residence Kathryn Marquet, professional guidance from Playlab’s Artistic Director Ian Lawson and access to Playlab’s resources.

Meet Hannah Belanszky our 2017 Young Playwright-in-Residence, during her time at Playlab she will be working on a text that answers the universal questions, ‘Where did I come from?’ and ‘Where am I going?’.

To learn more about Hannah and the work that she is doing check out this interview:

What compels you to write?

I am compelled to write often by things I read, overhear or observe, people I know and stories I am told. It is through writing that I can try to make sense of the world that I am living in. I find it a challenge at times to appear present in some situations because I am mentally writing it all down! I think it all comes down to a need to communicate and share in experiences. I love to talk…most people who’ve met me will agree it is difficult to get me to stop once I’ve started…yet writing has become a welcome refuge in my life as another form of storytelling and expression.

What has stood out to you so far from your meetings with Kathryn?

So far, our focus has been on the importance of being clear and specific about every single detail of the play. I’ve always had the tendency to just jump in and write scenes without knowing where they are even going (often scrapping them later when they aren’t right!) I’ve learnt that whilst organic, spur of the moment creation is wonderful and has its place, it definitely goes hand in hand with planning. In the end, this process will save time and ensure the scene is focussed and has a purpose in the larger scheme of the play. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Kathryn. I am loving being able to meet with another writer to discuss and develop a new play… as we all know, writing can be quite an isolating task!

What is your favourite artwork?

When asked this question, I can’t not say my mother’s artwork because I know too well the back stories to the paintings she produces and the hard work that goes into her creative practice. Her contemporary Indigenous artwork: bold and magical, is important to me for it is a reflection of her, a person who never fails to inspire and support me. I think she is a rare person for she is so unabashedly herself. She is the ultimate dream-chaser!

What do you as an artist stand for?

When given the platform for your voice to be heard (or read) by others, I believe artists are obliged to be truthful, to use their voice wisely and to take the chance to say what everyone is thinking but not necessarily saying out loud. As an artist, but also just as a human being, I strive to be as genuine as possible. I think if you truly care about something and are really passionate about it, other people will connect with that honesty. It is the artist’s job to be observant, to break from the comfort of their private bubbles and to engage with the world around them. On a personal level, I believe it is my responsibility as an artist to always be working on my craft so that I am constantly growing while improving the quality and the boundaries of my work. I figure if something makes me nervous or a bit uncomfortable, I am probably on the right track!

What’s your background?

I decided when I was six that I wanted to be an actor while watching The Sound of Music on stage, green with envy of the young girls performing.  I was very interested in writing short stories and poetry as a child but it didn’t cross my mind until years later when I was completing my actor training that I would ever write for the stage. I was reading a lot, looking for monologues and audition material, and I found myself craving something outside of the repertoire of popular monologue choices. I was finding it quite difficult, as a young woman, to find many meaty characters in my age range. This started me thinking about writing my own material. I think my background as an actor definitely helps when I am writing as I consider how an actor might approach the text and whether I am leaving just enough clues for them.

What art do you most identify with?

I enjoy reading journals as they are so personal. In particular, I really connected with the diaries of Anais Nin and was inspired by them to start journalling myself, which more or less lead to my playwriting. I started by writing whenever I was in any kind of heightened state because I felt that whatever came out would be uncensored. I was interested in what my language choices would be like when I wasn’t premeditating what I was going to write next.  What I love about the diaries of Anais Nin is how she can find meaning and passion in every single moment of her life, even the seemingly mundane. I definitely identified with her analytical nature. It was also interesting to read her journals as an accompaniment to her stories and essays, for their insight into her process as a writer and how her personal life was feeding into her work.

I love nothing more than sitting in some kind of moving vehicle and staring out the window while listening to music as my mind wanders. I find music a very powerful tool when I am writing and also performing for getting in the right headspace.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

My goal is to be writing and performing in my own work on a professional level. I want to be involved in the creation of a piece as well as the performance of it but would love to be commissioned to write for others as well. I am interested in venturing overseas to train further at some stage. My aim is to keep moving, learning, feeding my soul and being challenged by the new and unfamiliar!

Brad Watt in The Sublime

BMEG’s Brad Watt will star in ‘The Sublime’ by Brendan Cowell at the Brisbane Powerhouse, presented by No Interval Actors Theatre Co.

The Team. The Code. The Machine. How far does your loyalty take you?

What happens on the footy trip doesn’t always stay on the footy trip. When things go wrong in Thailand, only three people know the whole story. There’s Liam, an NRL workhorse who’s devoted to his code and his teammates; his older brother Dean, a top pick for the Brownlow, who tries desperately to clean up Liam’s mess; and Amber, a promising young athlete who rests uneasily on the edge of complicity and victimhood.

Cutting through the media-managed clichés of professional football, Brendan Cowell’s (Ruben Guthrie, The Slap, Love My Way) controversial new play The Sublime plots an emotionally charged trajectory to expose human faults that go way beyond the sporting field.” – Brisbane Powerhouse

The Sublime is running from 30 August- 2nd September at Brisbane Powerhouse’s Visy Theatre, for tickets click here

‘Blackrock’ starring BMEG’s Amy Ingram and Tom Cossettini

“This is an uncomfortable, challenging yet utterly riveting piece of theatre”-  The Courier Mail 

Blackrock features the fantastic BMEG Actors, Amy Ingram and Tom Cossettini. The below review is from  The AU Review written by Jodie B Sloan

“A group of teenagers come together for a party on the beach. But come morning, a fifteen year old girl is dead, raped and then beaten to death. The work of late playwright Nick Enright, Blackrock follows the aftermath of this terrible act, as the party-goers explore their guilt, whether as perpetrators or as bystanders, and their families come to terms with their sons’ actions.

Inspired by the 1989 murder of Leigh Rennea Mears, Blackrock is an iconic piece of Australian theatre. In the two decades that have passed since its 1995 premiere, starring a young Joel Edgerton, Blackrock’s themes of toxic masculinity and victim-blaming, and its warped visions of what it means to be a friend remain tragically and painfully relevant today.

A joint production between La Boite Theatre Company and QUT Creative Industries, Blackrock features eight talented young actors in their final year of their BA Fine Arts, alongside seasoned performers Christen O’Leary, Amy Ingram, and Joss McWilliam.

The strength in Blackrock, for me, lies in its women. From the powerfully absent victim, Tracey, visible only as flowers that remain on stage throughout like a floral Sword of Damocles, to the teenage girls who rail against their cruel position in an unmoved world, to the mothers who fought once but can’t anymore, Blackrock shifts the focus from the immediacy of victim and perpetrators to the girls left behind. If the old excuse of “boys will be boys” still rings true to you, Blackrock will point to the women that it threatens.

Two scenes stuck with me more than any others. The first is when Cherie (Ebony Nave) goes to Tracey’s grave. Instead of quietly placing flowers and leaving, Cherie goes almost primal. Blasting out Tracey’s favourite song, she dances, screams, and cries. She gives over to her emotions, anger first amongst them, and it’s a powerful, heartbreaking moment. Partially believing herself to blame, it’s a scene that sets the course for the dismantling of victim-blaming and survivor guilt. How can a fifteen year old girl blame herself for what four teenage boys did? It’s poignant and painful, and the blows just keep on coming.

The second follows the revelation of Toby’s (Tom Cossettini) involvement in the crime, and the response of his parents (Ingram and McWilliam). Central to the scene is Rachel (Jessica Potts), Toby’s sister, who has to watch as her parents focus not on what Toby did, but how to keep him out of jail. Anyone who followed the story of the Stanford Rapist in the US will see clear parallels; the rapist and his threatened future feels more important than the girl’s life he ruined, and the violent act he committed. For this scene to play out front of Rachel, who is told to be quiet and to be supportive of a brother that played a role in a vicious attack on a girl just like her – a girl she found dead on the beach – is particularly confronting, and Potts’ performance had me simultaneously punching the air as she stood her ground, and crying tears of frustration as her family disregarded her.

Blackrock encourages a dialogue about the themes of toxic masculinity, slut-shaming, and victim blaming. It’s hard to watch and, in the best possible way, it isn’t an enjoyable experience, but it’s important and impossible to ignore. See it – and its outstanding cast of upcoming actors – as soon as possible.” –  The AU Review

Tickets available here. The Production runs through until 12th August at La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre.

Photo Credit: Dylan Evans

Amy INGRAM
Tom COSSETTINI

RICE starring BMEG’s Hsiao-Ling Tang

“Michele Lee’s whip-smart, finely tuned and ultimately very moving Rice simply has none of the usual flaws of new work.

It’s not overlong, isn’t groaning with self-importance and is ­clearly a script that has paid its dramaturgical dues. There’s not a word out of place and it never loses momentum.

In a ripping odd-couple yarn that’s simple in means and yet epic in resonance, ambitious ­corporate brat Nisha (Kristy Best) raises hell with the office’s Chinese cleaner Yvette (Hsiao-Ling Tang) in a daily ritual ­centred on the removal or otherwise of the after-hours takeaway scraps.

Still young enough to know everything, Nisha works late, ­because she’s got this scheme, you see, to sell rice to the Indians. ­Genius. She’s amazing. Just ask her. Yvette, on the other hand, has seen more of life and, unlike her blindly ambitious tormentor, has known failure.

And there’s the troubling ­matter of Yvette’s activist daughter, in legal strife because she ­pelted the Coles boss with his own rotting vegetables.

Anyway, after an uneasy ­detente is declared, Nisha goes off to India to seal the deal, and that’s when things get really interesting, as Nisha’s ruthlessness self-­reveals as naivety, and she ­confronts the inevitable lived­experience realisation that self-assurance is usually self-delusion.

Superbly acted by Best and Tang with joy, relish and stage chemistry, the direction from Griffin’s Lee Lewis is pinpoint.

And it needs to be. Perfectly conceived for postage-stamp ­spaces and no budgets, the early scenes require fast gear-shifts as the two actors transform into all the bit players — like the boss, the boyfriend, the daughter and the obstructive Indian official.

For a moment it teeters in “what-the?” territory, but such is the consistency of the theatrical aesthetic and the brilliance of its execution that the moment-on-the-brink passes.

And from there it’s showtime. Lee’s often very funny script is filled with crisp one-liners, terrific dialogue and a Brechtian awareness that this is theatrical story­telling, right down to a breath­taking moment when the ­aud­ience is reassured that nothing, at that point, is happening.”

Article from The Australian, Written by Martin Buzzacot.

Photo by Stephen Henry via The Australian

Rice, by Michele Lee. Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company. Griffin Theatre, Sydney, July 22-August 26. HotHouse Theatre, Wodonga, August 29-September 2. Duration: 90min, no interval. 

Australian Graffiti: Reviewed

Sydney Theatre Company’s Australian Graffiti starring BMEG Actors: Mason Phoumirath, Monica Sayers and Sri Sacdpraseuth is currently on at the Warf 2 theatre until 12 August. Since opening two weeks ago, the play has received some wonderful reviews.

“This play, set in a Thai restaurant in a small Australian town, ­explores the tensions that arise ­between the Thai characters and the locals when mysterious graffiti appears, in Thai, on the walls of their much-loved Baptist church.

The central character is 16-year-old Ben (played by Mason Phoumirath), who is interested in a local girl but whose relationship with her sours when she discovers the graffiti. He is drawn back into the company of his family and co-workers when the townsfolk ­besiege their restaurant.”

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“There are good performances by Mason Phoumirath, who is very affecting as Ben; … Monica Sayers as conflicted workers; and by Sri Sacdpraseuth as the dead chef.”

– The Australian

“Mason Phoumirath carries the play very effectively as Ben and is excellent when he takes his first steps towards rebelling against his mother”

 Daily Review

“After their brilliant turns in Chimerica,… Monica Sayers return to Sydney Theatre Company (STC) as the powerful matriarchs of the family”

Arts Review

Featured Image courtesy of The Australian

Simon Burvill-Holmes in Joh for PM

Simon Burvill-Holmes

Joh for PM is a musical comedy by playwright Stephen Carleton and composer Paul Hodge, starring BMEG actor Simon Burvill Holmes

“The musical comedy satirizes the bizarre events that occurred in Australian politics during the Bjelke-Petersen reign. Set at a fundraiser for Joh in 1987, audiences will want to sing along to original tunes such as Pumpkin Scone DiplomacyFeeding the Chooks and the most catchy political song ever, Joh for PM.

Bjelke-Petersen was Queensland’s longest serving, longest-lived, most quotable Premier. He was one of the best-known and most controversial political figures of 20th century Australia. Award-winning playwright Stephen Carleton (The Narcissist, The Turquoise Elephant, Bastard Territory) and Off-Broadway composer Paul Hodge (Clinton: The Musical) have taken inspiration from these historic events to create one of the best musicals to come out of Queensland” – Brisbane Powerhouse

Joh for PM, a musical comedy by play. It’s campy, glorious fun, and if it has a weakness, it makes Joh – who’s well played by Colin Lane – look dumber than he was. As one song points out, much of his rise, from local member to minister to deputy to premier – thanks to his predecessor Jack Pizzey dropping dead of a heart attack – seemed accidental, if not divine intervention. But you don’t stay premier for 19 years without ruthlessness and rat cunning.” – The Guardian

Joh for PM is on now at the Brisbane Powerhouse until this sunday. Get tickets here 

Featured Photograph: Stephen Henry, The Guardian

Kamil Ellis & Katie Beckett in Cleverman Season 2

Kamil Ellis
Katie Beckett

“Set in the near future, parts of Cleverman took place in The Zone: a tumbledown shanty town on the edge of existence – like District 9 or Bartertown – which was home to the ostracised Hairies. In season two, which premieres on Friday, the place is no more. Hairies are loose in the city, while the hero Koen lies in a body bag.”  –The Guardian

Watch the trailer for Season 2 here

Cleverman season two premieres at 9.30pm on Thursday 29 June on the ABC in Australia and the Sundance channel in the US. 

Tune in to see BMEG Actors Kamil Ellis and Katie Beckett in action

Michael Beckley to star in Melba at Hayes Theatre

BMEG actor Michael Beckley is currently in rehearsals for Australia’s new Musical, Melba  opens 11th August at Hayes Theatre, Elizabeth Bay.

A marriage, a scandal, a lost child.

“Dame Nellie Melba was the most celebrated singer of her generation. Lauded on more than three continents as a phenomenon, her life was the stuff that dreams are made of, but her journey to the top was not always untroubled.

From humble beginnings as Nellie Mitchell in Melbourne, to the stages of opera houses across Europe, Melba charts the life of a woman who was determined to be the best in a conservative world. Melba’s life was filled with triumph and tragedy, stardom and shame; a story that is little known beyond her stellar career.

Blending contemporary music theatre with operatic arias, Melba brings to life a woman we know so well, yet not at all.

Hayes Theatre Co and New Musicals Australia are thrilled to present this new Australian work, which was previously developed as part of the New Musicals Australia program. Directed by internationally acclaimed director, Wayne Harrison with musical direction by Michael Tyack and starring one of Australia’s most popular opera stars, Emma Matthews as Dame Nellie Melba.” – Hayes Theatre

Performances: From 11 August 2017
Mon 6.30pm | Tues – Sat 7.30pm | Wed & Sat 2.00pm

Book tickets here

Monica Sayer’s in Melbourne Theatre Company’s Hay Fever

BMEG actor Monica Sayers appears as Myra Arundel in Melbourne Theatre Company’s Hay Fever which will run 23rd September – 28th October 2017 at Southbank Theatre, The Sumner.

“Although Judith, a retired actress, tends towards melodrama in her everyday affairs, and her husband, David, a novelist, can be rather reclusive and foul tempered – the Bliss family can be perfectly charming when they want to be. Their grown-up children, Simon and Sorel, are quite capable of civility too – if it suits them. It is just that, on this blighted weekend, each has invited a guest to stay at their country house without telling any of the others. So dashed inconsiderate! And for their poor guests, perfect agony!

No Bright Young Thing ever burned brighter than Noël Coward in the Twenties, and his deliciously seductive comedy of bad manners, Hay Fever, has been raising scandalised laughter for almost a hundred years. – MTC

Mason Phoumirath, Sri Sacdpraseuth & Monica Sayers in Sydney Theatre Company’s Australian Graffiti

BMEG Actors, Mason Phoumirath, Sri Sacdpraseuth and Monica Sayers star in the world debut of Australian Graffiti at Sydney Theatre Company. With BMEG’s Courtney Stewart  as Assistant Director in this production.

“This is the debut of a remarkable young Australian writer. Disapol Savetsila’s play is an investigation of the migrant experience from the inside out – a touching and humorous insight into identity and belonging.

A Thai family has uprooted its restaurant business one too many times. Being the only migrant household in a small country town turns out not to be a great idea. And when graffiti starts appearing, tensions quickly escalate. Should they go back to Sydney? Should they go back to Thailand? Or should they keep heading west?

After their brilliant turns in Chimerica, Gabrielle Chan and Monica Sayers return to STC as the powerful matriarchs of the family, with Kenneth Moraleda (Talk) and STC newcomers Mason Phoumirath and Srisacd Sacdpraseuth completing the family at the heart of this story. Joining them onstage are Airlie Dodds (The Bleeding Tree) and Peter Kowitz (Talk).

Developed by STC in partnership with Contemporary Asian Australian Performance and Playwriting Australia, Australian Graffiti is directed by Paige Rattray (Black is the New White), who has been part of the play’s evolution since its STC Rough Draft workshop in 2015.”- Taken from STC’s website

They have recently commenced rehearsals for the play opening 13th July. The season will run through until the 12 August at STC’s Warf 2 Theatre. Tickets available here