Tag: Colin Craig

5Pound Theatre Presents JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND SMILES

A true story beautifully told

By Joana Simmons

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”– Martin Luther King Jr.

In Journey of a Thousand Smiles, Jessica Hackett takes thousands of steps of faith, bravery, compassion and wisdom. This show by Hackett and the 5pound Theatre Company presents the heart-rendering story of her walk from Melbourne to Canberra gathering signatures for a petition to give to the House of Representatives in the hopes that asylum seekers and refugees can finally be treated with dignity and respect. It’s a true tale told with beautiful raw emotion, cleverly crafted and interwoven with multimedia, music and charming audience involvement.

journey-of-a-thousand-smiles

Jessica Hackett turned her anger at the Australian Government for the way they treat asylum seekers into a positive thing, and her story, as told in the show is equally delightful in the content as it is in the delivery. She is an endearing stage presence, and uses her dry conversational humour to help the audience members meet each other. The sparkle in her eye and smile on her face lights up the room, and she steps into our hearts from the get go. On a stage adorned with gum leaves, clad in an Akubra, Kathmandu shirt and backpack, she takes us on her journey across 35 days, 710 kilometers, and the gathering of 17,000 signatures. Colin Craig plays a great role accompanying her on the guitar, which subtly adds tone and brings the energy up as the story builds. I was especially impressed with all the wonderful theatrical moments cleverly thrown in to help lighten the mood around what is a very heavy issue. Jessica’s physical comedy as she acted out the silent film was particularly fantastic.

She pushed us as we sat in the dark listening to voiceovers of real stories of the asylum seekers she had met talking about their escape from their countries. She made us comfortable then uncomfortable showing 5 ways to make a person feel welcome or unwelcome: big bold and beautiful statements strongly made in a clever way. She bought up her real tears and emotion worrying that her cause was not going to make a difference, that she wasn’t smart enough or brave enough and it was all for nothing. It’s memorable and inspirational. I wanted to yell out “No Jess, keep going, you are doing an amazing thing!” and the audience was on her side as there were tears and sighs and stillness. She made us smile and gave us hope telling us with a look of joy about the generosity she was shown by all the people in the small country towns.

Director Jason Cavanagh has artistically transformed this remarkable story into a remarkable and wonderful show. I must also mention the lighting was used in one of the best ways I have seen in that space, adding first-rate dimension.

While for me, ‘There’s Nothing Like a Cabaret’ and I’m a stickler for comedy, choreography and costumes, this is one show that stands out from the rest in its own special way. Told by a very extraordinary person, who met some wonderful people and did a very powerful thing, it shows how theatre and art is a strong platform to initiate change. I am so happy I managed to catch A Journey of a Thousand Smiles at the end of its season; check out http://www.thewelcomepetition.com/ for more information and please see it next time it comes around.

Journey of a Thousand Smiles played at The Butterfly Club from 18-22nd January 2017

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Review: DRINKING, DREAMING, DATING AND DOING

Eloquent, elegant, encompassing solo show

By Myron My

I’m sitting in the foyer of The Owl and the Pussycat, waiting to be ushered into the theatre when a man comes down the stairs and asks us have we ever been in love?

Colin Craig

For a second I was thrown and thought this was a drunken visitor stumbling down from the room upstairs, but quickly realised it was the evocative beginning of Drinking, Dreaming, Dating and Doing.

We are introduced to Liam (Colin Craig) as he opens up about love and life, and in the small area where we are gathered, it is very personal and intimate. You can’t help but feel a little awkward that this stranger is opening up so much to us. Eventually we are led into the theatre space where Craig as Liam continues to captivate our attention – his eye contact with the audience really dramatises how intense and sincere he is with his thoughts and honesty.

So often I see actors take on multiple roles for a production only to have it suffer by not having a set of independent eyes watching other aspects of it, but Craig – as producer, writer and performer of Drinking, Dreaming, Dating and Doing – excels in all these areas and along with director Brooke Smith-Harris has really captured the feeling of intimacy and spontaneity with this piece.

I’ve seen Craig perform previously and he does very well with long wordy scripts, so it’s not surprising he has chosen to create a conversational and eloquent one-man show in Drinking, Dreaming, Dating and Doing. Inspired by the song “Diversions” by New Zealand group Betchadupa, Craig has delivered a script that is written in beautiful prose with strong spoken imagery throughout.

It’s not until the end that you realise what all the different types of “flowers” we had been given prior to the performance are to be used for, which leaves you with a sombre yet hopeful feeling.

Coming in at roughly 50 minutes, Drinking, Dreaming, Dating and Doing is a short piece but a strong performance that will remain with you for much longer than its running time.

 

Venue: The Owl and the Pussycat, 34 Swan St, Richmond

Season: Until 6 April | 8:00pm, Sat 2:00pm

Tickets: $19 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://www.owlandcat.com.au/drinkingdreaming.html

Review: THE JOY OF TEXT by Robert Reid

School controversy cleverly examined

By Myron My

Written by Robert Reid, The Joy of Text receives a second life at La Mama Theatre after premiering with Melbourne Theatre Company last year.

The Joy of Text

Set in a high school, RePlay’s production deals with the politics and concerns faced by teachers and students on a daily basis – and some issues that do not occur so often…

We are witness to some very wordy and intense monologues and discussions about what happens when the line of student/teacher relationship is crossed; who is the victim and why – or is there even a victim? Would two years make the world of difference?

The cast here could not be faulted. There was amazing energy between them and a connectedness with the characters they played. Colin Craig does have the added pressure of carrying the play with his portrayal of central character 17-year-old student Danny, but does an amazing job of showing a perfect balance between Danny’s vulnerability, intelligence and bratty behavior.

Another notable mention would be Elizabeth Thomson‘s impressive work as the long-suffering English teacher Diane who wants to introduce a controversial text to the syllabus about a student’s relationship with a teacher. Kasia Kaczmarek (Ami) and Jason Kavanagh (Steve) also give strong, authentic performances in their respective roles.

The inclusion of a projection on the stage showing more to an environment was a brilliant idea by director Peita Collard: mixing the acting in the projection into the acting on stage was played out perfectly.

For example, Diane telling a student on screen to pick up the rubbish on the floor interrupts a conversation that Ami and she are having on the stage. The student does so but as soon as Diane turns her back to her, the student just throws it back on the ground and returns to her friends. This production thus does an incredible job of mixing multimedia to expand and augment the story.

The Joy of Text explores an education system where there is still a lot of grey areas about serious ethical dilemmas, resulting in panic and metaphorical lynching when these issues occur in our schools.

This is a very smart and insightful production with moments of comedy the cast do a wonderful job playing about with, and leaves a strong impression that will have you thinking about and discussing the play and its themes long after you’ve walked out of the theatre.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 24 March | Wed, Sun 6.30pm | Thu, Fri, Sat 7.30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au