5 Questions with Cristabel Sved and Dubs Yunupingu

Cristabel Sved

Dubs Yunupingu: What 5 words would you use to describe the play?
Cristabel Sved: Magical, theatrical, funny, physical, inspirational.

Do you have a favourite moment in the original book and in the play?
There are lots of brilliant moments in Lewis Carrol’s book of course. An important one for me is when Alice challenges the viewpoint and power of the Queen of Hearts. In our play this is where Alice really comes into herself and finds the courage from her adventures and her encounters with all the other wonderful, fantastical characters to stand up to this imposing authority figure.

What has been the most enjoyable part about bringing this play to life?
I’ve enjoyed so much about working on this show. It’s been great working with Mary Anne Butler, the playwright, who has done an amazing job crafting Lewis Carroll’s story for a new audience. And it’s been an absolute pleasure collaborating with our wonderful creative team and these very special young actors to bring the magic of Wonderland to the stage. Revisiting the text and the character of Alice and finding a new relevance and message for young audiences and their families has been a great journey.

What has been the most difficult part about bringing this play to life?
I think the magical things that happen in Wonderland have been our biggest challenge to bring to the stage, but it’s also been lots of fun. Alice shrinks, grows, visits the cosmos, finds herself floating in a river of her own tears, talks to mice and packs of cards…. Our production design is deliberately low tech. It relies on the theatre’s unique ability to transform ordinary objects into extraordinary things. I can’t wait for audiences to come on the journey with us. Of course, we’re asking them to help us create this magic with the powers of their imagination and this is an important theme in our play too.

If you could make any childhood book into a stage show, what would it be?
I might keep that up my sleeve for now!

Dubs Yunupingu

Cristabel Sved: What 5 words would you use to describe Alice In Wonderland?
Dubs Yunupingu: The five words I would use to describe Alice In Wonderland are magical, adventurous, fun, suspenseful and intriguing.

You play Alice. How would you describe her personality?
The way I would describe Alice’s personality is that she is a very strong girl, she is more of a tomboy in a sense that she loves playing footy and loves a good adventure. She doesn’t want to be the neat and pretty girl everyone expects her to be. All she wants to do is find her voice to be able to express herself. Through her journey in Wonderland she slowly builds up the courage to do so.

What is it you are enjoying most about doing this play?
I am enjoying telling the story and bringing Wonderland to life with my amazing work mates.

If Alice could date any current film star who do you think she would choose and why?
If there was no age limit I would say Johnny Depp because of all the amazing crazy adventures he goes on in all the awesome films he has done. He gets to express himself through so many different characters and I feel that all Alice wants to do is to be able to express herself. 

In a nutshell, how have you approached the role of Alice?
I have gone in full force, no expectations and loving every minute of it.   

Cristabel Sved directs Dubs Yunupingu in Alice In Wonderland, part of Sydney Festival.
Dates: 5 – 27 January, 2018
Venue: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

Review: PUNCTURE (Legs On The Wall / Form Dance Projects / Vox – Sydney Philharmonia Choirs)

Venue: Riverside Theatre (Parramatta NSW), Jan 21 – 25, 2015
Director: Patrick Nolan
Choreographer: Kathryn Puie
Composer: Stefan Gregory
Images by Prudence Upton

Theatre review
Dancers are at the forefront in the exploration of theatrical space. Without the burden of words and narratives, they open up senses to what the physical presence of things and bodies can do on a stage, and how we communicate between persons, to create meaning where little or none had existed before. Puncture features a great number of people, some are dancers, and the others singers, introduced as though emerging from the audience, and we are encouraged to identify with them, and to read their performance as though what they present have come from us, even if we feel secure in our seats with temporary passivity. The mix of characters features a beautifully diverse range of ages and ethnicities that reflect the breadth of human experience, and of Australian life. The vocalists in particular, are almost a visual copy of the viewing crowd, and efforts at incorporating them into the dance, provide some of the more emotional moments of the piece.

Patrick Nolan and Kathryn Puie have created in Puncture, something that is a little less self-conscious, and a little more accessible than what we have come to expect of modern dance. They investigate the notion of inclusiveness to address the art of performance, as well as the consumption side of show business. It is a noble ambition to blur the lines of where the show starts and where it ends, but redefining audienceship is a difficult exercise. While not always successful, the ideology of breaking barriers provides strong impetus that shapes the show into something that feels adventurous and earnest. We are at our most engaged when the cast tackles the unconventional. The incorporation of rigging (executed behind the scenes by Jon Blake and Felix Kerdijk) to lift bodies 4 metres away from the ground, the soprano on an aerial hoop, and the tender interchanges between choristers and dancers; we are kept fascinated and entertained.

The 22-strong choir is led by Music Director Elizabeth Scott and Composer Stefan Gregory, with accompaniment on piano by Luke Byrne and on percussion by Bree Van Reyk. The marriage between what we hear and see is wonderfully cohesive, with the music at its most successful when it ventures into the avant garde. Even at its most daring, all the sounds are elegantly resolved, except when words like “hello” and “love” are used, disrupting the abstract beauty that wishes to be experienced in personal ways. It is noteworthy that there are many intriguing personalities in the choir, who could have been featured more heavily in the work’s choreography. Trained dancers tend to lose their individualities in the very discipline they invest in, and the juxtaposition provided on this occasion with non-dancers on the same stage is a main feature. Getting the singers to do more with their bodies is probably challenging, but it is precisely the idea of redefinition that would be elevated further, and the meanings that one draws from Puncture can therefore be more powerful.

Many in the show are dedicated and accomplished dancers, but this is not a piece about athleticism or superhuman faculties. It is an expression of how we live, feel and breathe as individuals and as collectives. Its themes are not always clear, but it articulates its concerns with sensitivity and focus. These artists intend to show us something important in their inimitable ways, and if we think that everything important can be put into words, then they have proven us wrong.

www.legsonthewall.com.au / www.form.org.au / www.sydneyphilharmonia.com

2014 Season Programs In Sydney

What to go see? Here’s a handy guide to who’s doing what in 2014.

If you’re reading this in 2013 or early 2014, now is a good time to book your generously discounted season tickets and subscriptions! If you’re accessing this page overseas, here’s a good list for planning your theatre experiences in Sydney in 2014.

The Australian Ballet

The Australian Ballet

Bell Shakespeare

Bell Shakespeare

Belvoir St Theatre

Belvoir St Theatre

Carriageworks

Carriageworks

Darlinghurst Theatre Co

Darlinghurst Theatre Co

Ensemble Theatre

Ensemble Theatre

The Genesian Theatre

The Genesian Theatre

Griffin Theatre Co

Griffin Theatre Co

King Street Theatre

King Street Theatre

New Theatre

New Theatre

The Old 505 Theatre

The Old 505 Theatre

Opera Australia

Opera Australia

Reginald Seymour Centre

Reginald Seymour Centre

Riverside Theatres

Riverside Theatres

2014-rocksurfers

Rock Surfers Theatre Co

Sydney Dance Co

Sydney Dance Co

Sydney Theatre Co

Sydney Theatre Co

Sydney Independent Theatre Co

Sydney Independent Theatre Co