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Previews: The Grange That Stole Christmas, The Bear Pack, Seedlings

Three previews for the week before Christmas: a comedy pantomime, an improvised storytelling experience, and a delicate piece of verbatim theatre.

The Grange That Stole Christmas Poster
The 2014 SUDS Christmas Panto: The Grange That Stole Christmas
Wednesday 17th December; Manning Bar, University of Sydney; 7pm doors for 8pm start.
Access $3/Student $5/General Admission $10

“As alcohol continues to fuel widespread violence and rampant corruption, the Liberals are forced to liquidate the festive season to help cope with the budget crisis brought about by Labor’s profligate spending.”

What a mouthful.

Described as “the wharf revue without the budget or baby boomers, but with actual jokes” (‘maybe’—eds), the Christmas Panto returns for its second year, this time upgraded to the cavernous maw of Manning Bar. Christmas cheer will be plentiful, in the form of alcohol (the bar’s open all night), and the directors promise both controversy, in the form of an Ebola medley, and originality, in jokes on the topic of Joe Hockey’s weight. They also maintain their desire to court defamation lawsuits from all who would care to serve them, promising all manner of legal risk for those involved. It is, above all else, a political show, promising some respite from the Grinches inside Kirribilli House. Anyone able to “tell their Jacqui Lambies from their Pauline Hansons” is compelled to head to Manning—preferably drunk—and ring in the holiday season in the hack equivalent of a Roach Motel.*

The directors also wish to emphasise that all who fail to attend will suffer the extreme guilt of having shunned a student theatre production.

More information here.

* The show will only poison your liver.

This is a picture of The Bear Pack, Sydney Improvisers Steen Raskopoulos and Carlo Ritchie.
Giant Dwarf Theatre: Improv Theatre Soap Opera & The Bear Pack
Wednesday 17th December; Giant Dwarf Theatre, Redfern; 7pm doors for 8pm start.

Each month, the Bear Pack descends on The Chaser’s Giant Dwarf theatre for a double-bill of comedy performed by some of Sydney’s finest improvisers.

The first half, Improv Theatre Soap Opera, is—as it sounds—an hour long improvised soap, taking place at a prestigious University that may or may not be inspired by our own USyd. Stocked by a cast of stock characters—like Dean Donald Deanson, the crusty old Dean of Studies, and Tommy “Hoops” Hooper, the dramatic society’s biggest jock—the performers embellish all the tropes of the soap opera format to create something unique with every performance.

The second half, the Bear Pack, are Steen Raskopolous and Carlo Ritchie, theatresports legends who emerged from the humble womb of Manning as beautiful (internationally regarded) improvising butterflies. They practice longform story-based comedy, improvised in collaboration with the audience, with a skill and professionalism that transcends anything you’ve seen in lunchtime theatresports.

The Bear Pack perform monthly at the Giant Dwarf, this is their last show for 2014.

Tickets available here.

Poster for Seedlings

SUDS Presents: Seedlings
Thursday 18th and Saturday 20th December; Village Green, Campbell Street, Blacktown; 11am, 3pm, 5pm

“Someone recently suggested to me that perhaps my love for gardens sprung from the fact that my parents were able to truly find a home there. They are both migrants, and I’ve often felt that despite their fluent English and embracing of Australian culture, there is a part of them, and perhaps a part of me that has never belonged to the land. Or perhaps, a part of us, which never forgot where we come from.”

Student art—and particularly student drama—is sometimes unfairly maligned as the product of a privileged few, taking place in black box theatre spaces, nestled away beneath campuses. In Seedlings, the stereotype is upended by a grassroots open-air performance collaboration between Sydney University Dramatic Society and Captivate Drama, a troupe for young students based in Western Sydney.

The piece had previously been staged in an appropriately discrete sunken lawn behind the most impressive building at the University, as director Gabby Florek coordinated four performers from the Sydney University Dramatic Society in a thoughtful and gentle sharing of voices rarely heard on campus.

Now restaged firmly as a piece of community theatre, it avoids the worst pitfalls of student theatre. There isn’t dialogue per se – the script is an unpretentiously curated series of verbatim interviews, enabled through element and minimal images which last. The show culminates with an extended hand to the audience, invited to physically take part in a shared gesture tying those watching with those speaking and those performing.

Seedlings uses gardens as a symbol for multiculturalism and reconciliation, looking at experiences of immigration based on a collection of interviews with migrants curated by the director. The show’s brevity and delicacy is wonderful. The sustained metaphor of communities and seedlings and nurture never tires – it’s an effect that soothes and binds. It seems obvious that the piece, with its emphasis on community spaces as catalysts for unity between diverse groups of people, has an additional relevance this week.

By staging Seedlings in a public space in Blacktown, Florek initiates a dialogue that has been cruelly absent from theatre as located in Sydney’s cultural centre. It invites a local audience conceived to be ‘outside’ of traditional theatre to take part, while the connection to SUDS also pulls the ostensible ‘insider’ out of their Inner West bubble. The piece is, above all else, a sharing of voices. Free, twenty minutes long, and performed thrice daily, it’s a beautiful and delicate experience for all who care to listen.

More information here.