Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stories From The Wayside

Hurricane Productions in association with The Wayside Chapel presents STORIES FROM THE WAYSIDE at the new Wayside Theatre, Kings Cross.

The Wayside Chapel has always had a theatre space. There is now a brand new green space at the Wayside. STORIES FROM THE WAYSIDE is the inaugural production.

Eight actors were assigned an individual each: staff and/or clients that have had a relationship with the organisation. The actors interviewed their study over five different meetings throughout July/August of this year. The actors studied their subject closely and observed the physical, vocal and emotional gestures, capturing the vocabulary and information from a set of prepared questions. It was all recorded. Under the direction of Dean Carey the material was examined and ordered into a verbatim play. It is a process that we have engaged and seen before and none the less still effective theatre.

Simply, the actors arrive, sit on milk crates and each equipped with liquid to keep themselves fluid, and a candle, begin an integrated story telling experience. Simple stories, of ordinary people who have found at the Wayside Chapel acceptance and support in a non-judgemental atmosphere, that proposes and offers these men and women the opportunity to achieve a sense of dignity and pride. As we listen to the story material of their lives, we get caught up in their past, their struggles, their victories, their joys, their failures, their present, their memories of others, their admiration of others, their regrets, their hope for the future.

Angus Anderson,Gustavo Barbosa, Hamish Briggs, Nikki Britton, Graeme McRae, Suzanne Pereira, Eloise Snape and Paul Hooper, all graduates from the Actors Centre Australia (ACA) each have respectfully created telling and involved characters that affect the audience into a very gentle web of friendship, so that quickly, we, the audience, begin to care and identify for them and with them.

They are all a bunch of characters and seem to be modestly happy to be talking to us. Their sense of mission to enlighten us to a knowledge of their human condition so that a level footage can be found for understanding is easy and embraceably possible. The performances and the production avoids sentimentality, although the sound scape signals sometimes a little too unsubtly the emotional tone of the sequences, the balance is beautiful among the actors.

A simple  design of a wall of poster photographs of the actors camouflaged  with painterly daubs and scattered torn paper surrounded by towers of  blue milk crates, is, I understand by Rodney Fisher, a denizen of the Cross - an artist that in his participation reflects the generosity of all involved. they all have heart.

This is the third piece of political theatre I have seen this weekend. The raucous explosions of a minority celebrating their lives at Marrickville in YOU LITTLE STRIPPER; a devastating and immensely sophisticated disquisition about the ability to practice our freedoms to speak out on issues around Islam and democracy by the brilliant DV8 physical theatre company in CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS?; and finally this modest community verbatim telling of stories to give understanding and dignity to what some may regard as an underclass of the lower depths. A panorama of cultural stratospheres that gives a deep weave and context to living in Sydney today.

The motto on the banner of THE WAYSIDE CHAPEL is LOVE OVER HATE. All three events give us an education that leads to a shared knowledge that helps us all to give every individual the right to be, by understanding. To help us to love the humanity around us and not let ignorance cause fear and hate.


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