5 Questions with Nisrine Amine and Wendy Strehlow

Nisrine Amine

Nisrine Amine

Wendy Strehlow: What inspired you to become a performer?
Nisrine Amine: Had it not been for my high school years at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta under the guidance of my Drama teacher Ms Julia Homfray, I don’t think I would have ever had the
courage to enter a career in the arts. She saw my potential and believed in me so strongly that
it subsequently made me (bring out the violins!) believe in myself. I am also inspired EVERY
SINGLE DAY by my family and friends, by the people I meet, the people I observe on the
streets (in a very discreet and non-creepy way), the stories I read, the sounds I hear. How can
we live in a world, on a planet, that is BUSTING with stories and life and heartache and
conflict and love and struggle and courage and NOT be inspired? Not be inspired to write
about it all? To share and celebrate it all? C’est impossible!

Who do you admire as an artist?
Not any one person in particular but generally speaking (and excuse my French) those who
don’t give a fuck. The ones who are so strongly compelled to be nothing but themselves, who
own their craft, who own their voice and who see artistry and creativity as being something
bigger than themselves – a duty, a responsibility. On a more practical note, I admire people
who are persistent and consistent, primarily because I can tend to be neither of those things.
Oh, and I love writer/director/producer combination people. Like Lena Dunham and Mindy
Kaling or people who turn their real life experiences into art like Benjamin Law and Josh
Thomas.

What made you join the The Leftovers Collective?
I got a random call one day from Curly whom I’d never met but who happened to be a friend
of Bali Padda (who I also hadn’t really met but we were FB mates which counts for a lot in
this day and age – Hi Bali!). Curly said that he was looking for an Arabic speaker to join the
crew and Bali had recommended me and the rest is history. I did my first show with the
Leftovers where I had to recount a Jacobean text in Arabic. I think I scared half the audience
because the Arabic language is harsh enough let alone using it to deliver a passionate speech
from the Jacobean era. Ai yai yai. It was a lot of fun though! Experimental, social,
provocative theatre isn’t something I normally gravitate to but being part of this collective
has definitely helped to cultivate my fondness of the art form.

Have you ever experienced racism in your daily life and in the arts industry?
There have been many times where I’ve visited parts of Sydney and felt a little ‘ethnic’. Like
I very much am aware of the fact that sometimes, the ratio of ‘me people’ to ‘white people’ is
1 to A LOT. Which is so so silly because for goodness sakes, I’ve been in Australia for almost
30 years (we migrated from Lebanon when I was three and a half). But in terms of direct
racism, no, never. Oh, although, I did visit Tamworth once with some cousins of mine and I
could swear that a group of girls at the pub were pointing at us. I think one of them mouthed
the words ‘Oh, they must be Sydney girls’. Maybe they just had an aversion to Sydney and
not necessarily Lebanese people. Who knows. As for racism in the arts? No. Maybe there
have been conversations and opportunities lost behind my back, but I choose to believe that
people are good and so I don’t invite that sort of treatment into my space.

Tell me the background of your first and last name.
Well, my first name comes from the Persian word ‘Nasrin’ meaning ‘wild rose’. So I’m
named after a flower which is great because one of my favourite shows is Keeping Up
Appearances and the four sisters in that are all named after flowers. A fact that makes me feel
that much closer to Hyacinth Bouquet. Not ‘Bucket’. (Only true fans of the show would get
that joke!) As for my last name, not too sure where that comes from. Somewhere in Lebanon
I imagine. My ancestor’s surnames were Maatouk so I think ‘Amine’ is an evolved version of
that. Oh, here’s a question: if my grandfather was born in Cuba to Lebanese parents, that
makes me a tiny bit Cuban, no? Am I allowed to claim that?

Wendy Strehlow

Wendy Strehlow

Nisrine Amine: You won a Logie for Best Supporting Actress in 1985 for your role of Judy Loveday in A Country Practice. Do you remember what that night was like and what you were feeling?
Wendy Strehlow: I do remember the night very well. Bill Collins and Anne Baxter gave me the Logie and
Country Practice won a swag of awards that night. I felt really proud of the show.

Having been in the industry for well over 30 years, what has been the one thing that has kept you coming back (despite the ARGHH that sometimes comes with being an actor)?
I have a passion for telling stories and I do feel like I have found my tribe. I love working
with actors and creatives and it gives me such joy to be able to do so.

What made you join the The Leftovers Collective?
I met Curly during Love’s Labours Lost by Sport for Jove and we clicked! I like the way he
thinks outside of the box and love exploring new ways of presenting Shakespeare.

Invasia is a social experiment in racism and rule playing at Hustle and Flow Bar Redfern on Australia Day. What does it mean to you to be an ‘Australian’?
My family came here from Europe and ended up in Central Queensland. I have always felt a little outside of things but to be Australian I want to be inclusive and compassionate because WE ALL CAME HERE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! This always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.

Tell us an interesting story about your name.
My last name is Strehlow, but it may have been anglicized from Stralov we think. Over the years misspelling and bad listening skills have morphed it into Strehlow.

Nisrine Amine and Wendy Strehlow can be seen in Invasia by The Leftovers Collective.
Dates: 26 Jan, 2017
Venue: Hustle & Flow Bar, Redfern

Review: #Lads (Kings Cross Theatre)

kxtVenue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Jan 13 – 14, 2017
Director: Danny Ball
Cast: Callan Colley, Ryan Morgan, Ben Schumann, Ross Walker

Theatre review
Presented early in its developmental stages, #Lads is unpolished and unresolved, but like any work of art fuelled by conviction, it is ready to be interacted with. Longstanding ideas about masculinity and youth are framed within contemporary, and trendy, concepts of entitlement and privilege, for a slightly updated look at the perennial problem of manhood, as seen through social distinctions of money, race, gender and sexuality.

The show sets up contexts that are perhaps too familiar, but the questions it inspires are nonetheless potent. We are always worried about the young, because their mistakes are always spectacularly glaring. The team is thankfully very conscious of its generation’s failures, and spends the entirety of the presentation expressing all that is undesired. There is no hint however, at what a better life would look like. The rebel without a cause, it seems, is here to stay.

A more refreshing perspective that #Lads touches on, is the dysfunction friendship that exists between the four boys. We want to know what keeps them together, and what they require of each other, to satisfy their individual twenty-first century narcissisms. We are interested to know how each of their impairments differ, and the extent to which they are isolated within their fragile facade of unity.

As Australians become increasingly wealthy, the problems and difficulties of bring up our children take on new dimensions. As our lives become more liberated and autonomous, our middle-classes are able to decide to procreate only when we become confident in our ability to provide, but offspring that have never witnessed poverty and other forms of struggle, cannot be expected to understand easily, the nature of hardship, and its accompanying qualities of humility and compassion. The millennials, like everyone else, will come into their own, and as always, time is the only one who holds the key to that revelation.

www.kingsxtheatre.com

5 Questions with Jeanette Cronin and Simen Glømmen Bostad

Jeanette Cronin

Jeanette Cronin

Simen Glømmen Bostad: You have a very successful career as an actor. Did you always write as well? And how did this other side of you emerge?
Jeanette Cronin: I’ve always jotted down ideas. Scraps of paper everywhere. One day I turned one of those scraps into a story. Perhaps it was because I was older and less busy, so I started writing
things for senior chicks. I didn’t really think about that, though, I just had a little story to tell.
In I Hate You My Mother we meet four women who in some ways share the qualities of the Bean
Nighe or the Cannard Noz, the washerwomen of Irish Folklore who drown men by the riverside.

How did this interest come about?
Couldn’t tell you now. Something took me there…

What do you want the audience to be left with after watching this play?
That love is king, and if you mangle it, you mangle everything. And also the slightest glimmer of hope.

If you got your hands on one of those highly sought after time-machines, what time and place would you visit?
The Neanderthals are tempting. But then those 1930’s frocks do suit me. And there are a few famous disappearances I would like to sort out…

If you could change one thing in this world what would it be?
Everyone would have imagination. And with it, empathy.

Simen Glømmen Bostad

Simen Glømmen Bostad

Jeanette Cronin: Simen, you play five characters in I Hate You My Mother – well, four characters and a prologue. Do you have a favourite?
Simen Glømmen Bostad: Favourite? Well, there is this Dr. Carreaux, a narcissistic hypocritical new-age
psychotherapist. Just try to say it.

Is this play something you would want your mother to see?
Of course. I want my mum to see everything I do, even if it might be unpleasant or shocking to her. I think we always need to be reminded of the bad in us, not just the good.

If you had to describe I Hate You My Mother in one word, what would it be?
Radiant.

What was the last play you did in your native Norway? Is there a theatre at home that you might
describe as a sister theatre to The Fitz? We could suss about a little cultural exchange…

Last thing I did in Norway was an interpretation of Romeo And Juliet, where there were 5
actors playing Romeo and 5 actors playing Juliet. There is a really cool theatre company in Oslo called, AntiTheatre. They give Oslo a flare of something dangerous in the theatre scene. I’m a huge supporter for international collaborations. I will be able to set up a dialogue straight away if its wanted by Old Fitz.

What do you miss most about home?
Parent’s cooking and the four seasons.

Jeanette Cronin and Simen Glømmen Bostad can be seen in I Hate You My Mother by Cronin.
Dates: 24 Jan – 11 Feb, 2017
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre

Review: Nosferatutu… Or Bleeding At The Ballet (Griffin Theatre Company)

griffinVenue: SBW Stables Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Jan 7 – 21, 2017
Playwrights: Tommy Bradson
Director: Sheridan Harbridge
Cast: Tommy Bradson, Sheridan Harbridge, Brandyn Kaczmarczyk
Musicians: Steven Kreamer, Sally Schinckel-Brown, Olga Solar
Image by Lucy Parakhina

Theatre review
We find ourselves at a ballet performance, but a vampire hijacks the proceedings. What he offers is something entirely different from the Swan Lake that had been intended, but is no less beautiful and captivating. Tommy Bradson’s Nosferatutu… Or Bleeding At The Ballet is a tale of jealousy and unrealised ambition. It is about the manifestation of envy as a destructive force, alongside a subversive creativity that can result from the darkness of life as a struggling artist.

On stage, Bradson is an enchanting performer, a Frankenstein monster assembled from our memories of Rowan Atkinson and Marc Almond at their respective best. He wields a kind of magic that is bizarre and confusing, but mostly, it is transportative, taking us effortlessly away to, well, anywhere else but here. Bradson is no ballerina, but every gesture is seductive and powerful. His eyes are mesmerising, full of intense but unresolved emotion, and his voice, a stunning cacophony made of wild imagination and an unbridled passion for high drama.

Direction by Sheridan Harbridge is spirited and adventurous, charming in its embrace of a kind of theatrical madness that the protagonist inspires. The incorporation of live music, headed by Steven Kreamer, is highly effective, with a surprising sophistication in what it allows the production to convey. Also noteworthy are Alex Berlage’s lights and Ashisha Cunningham’s set, both impressive in their interpretation of space for this quirky but bold experiment of non-narrative storytelling.

When Nosferatutu attacks and murders his nemesis, the blood that splatters is a celebration of the avant-garde, and an expression of the innovation that all art requires. It is a messy affair, but anarchy is never convenient, and disruption is always necessary for greater meanings to be unearthed.

www.griffintheatre.com.au

Review: Prize Fighter (La Boite Theatre Company / Belvoir St Theatre)

laboiteVenue: Belvoir St Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Jan 6 – 22, 2017
Playwright: Future D. Fidel
Director: Todd MacDonald
Cast: Margi Brown-Ash, Thuso Lekwape, Gideon Mzembe, Pacharo Mzembe, Zindzi Okenyo, Kenneth Ransom
Image by Brett Boardman

Theatre review
We meet Isa as he tries to make a new life in Australia. After experiencing years of trauma in Congo, he now focuses aggression onto the fighting ring, and as he boxes his way through flashbacks of unimaginably tough times, we witness his tragic biography unfold onstage.

Prize Fighter involves a young man making sense of the world, in order that healing and a brighter future become possible. It is also about a migrant reaching out to his adopted land, asking for understanding and acceptance. Future D. Fidel’s writing is concise and simple. The play knows what it wishes to say and says it clearly, but its inability to delve deeper into our protagonist’s psychological and emotional complexities, results in a story that has a tendency to feel generic.

Direction by Todd MacDonald gives the show exciting vigour, with an athletic cast providing a beautiful sense of visual animation. Lighting design by David Walters is creative, surprising and very polished, but the production often feels distant, or perhaps elusive. Its dim dreamlike quality seems to prevent us from connecting firmly with the characters, and we struggle to connect with an intensity that would befit Isa’s plight.

We hear about humanitarian crises, on the news every day. Reports are made by people in positions of privilege, for the consumption of people with privilege. These stories affect us all, but the stakes are infinitely higher for those seeking refuge, yet their voices are rarely heard in our cacophonous landscape of upper-class broadcast culture. Prize Fighter is a rare opportunity for a first-person account, an important contribution to unceasing discussions on who are allowed to occupy this land. If the world is one, our boundaries can only be false, but humans have always been at war, and even though utopia is only imagined, life means little if we are unable to conceive of something better.

www.laboite.com.auwww.belvoir.com.au

Review: Ladies In Black (Sydney Lyric Theatre / Queensland Theatre)

ladiesinblackVenue: Sydney Lyric Theatre (Sydney NSW), Jan 3 – 22, 2017
Book: Carolyn Burns
Music & Lyrics: Tim Finn (based on Madeleine St John’s novel, “The Women In Black”)
Director: Simon Phillips
Cast: Kate Cole, Carita Farrer, Bobby Fox, Natalie Gamsu, Madeleine Jones, Kathryn McIntyre, Sarah Morrison, Ellen Simpson, Greg Stone, Trisha Noble
Image by Lisa Tomasetti

Theatre review
There is no question that the world needs more stories about women and our solidarity. Examples of how we tear each other down are aplenty, but the ways we offer love and support need to be better envisioned in art and in life, so that we may begin to subvert systems of patriarchy that rely on our disunity to thrive.

Ladies In Black features a group of “shop girls” at a Sydney department store in the 50’s, each of them consummate professionals, all of whom get on remarkably well. There however, is little else to enjoy about the musical. Thoroughly lacklustre, unable to deliver the exuberance and glamour it wishes for its characters to portray. Its humour is underwhelming, with narratives that fail to resonate, and even though Tim Finn’s songwriting could be admired for its slightly unconventional take on the musical theatre format, much of it is uninspiring and forgettable.

For a show that makes fashion one of its central interests, the production is designed with little imagination or innovation. Choreography never offers anything more than the bog-standard, and the cast rarely looks to be challenged or excited by what they have to present. Occasional appearances by Natalie Gamsu, Greg Stone and Bobby Fox as “continental migrants” introduce moments of exhilaration, but they are few and far between.

Young Lisa confronts parochial Australia in Ladies In Black. She is at a crossroads, encountering choices that stoke her passions, versus others that feel easy and normal. We observe a blandness that can take hold, and ways of living that can pale our existences into insignificance. The women go to work everyday, and in their camaraderie, attempt to find deeper meanings to their existences, but the struggle to prevent their black clothed power from fading into a repugnant beige is ever-present, and often defeated.

wwww.queenslandtheatre.com.au

Suzy Goes See’s Best Of 2016

Suzy Goes See Best of 2016

I wrote a total of 198 reviews for Suzy Goes See this year. Sydney may not be a city that never sleeps, but our theatre community is certainly a tireless bunch that does a lot with very little, and we have so, so much to be proud of. I adore being a part of this phenomenal group of passionate individuals who share this raison d’etre. Merry Christmas to you, my dear reader, may the New Year bring wondrous gifts in abundance. Best Of 2016, here we go…

Suzy x

 Avant Garde Angels
The bravest and most creative.

 Quirky Questers
The most colourful characters.

♥ Design Doyennes
Outstanding visual design; lights, sets and costumes.

♥ Musical Marvels
Outstanding cabaret and musicals performers.

♥ Best Supporting Actors

♥ Best Ensembles

♥ Best Actors (Comedy)

Best Actors (Drama)

♥ Best New Writing

 Best Directors

♥ Shows Of The Year
The mighty Top 10.

 

End

Best of 2015Best of 2014Best Of 2013