Tag: Emily Barrie

Arts Centre Melbourne Presents JACK CHARLES V THE CROWN


By Caitlin McGrane

Uncle Jack Charles has a long and illustrious artistic career behind him; from co-founding the first Indigenous theatre company Nindethana to Hollywood’s hallowed halls, Uncle Jack Charles has carefully crafted his presence in both the international and Australian arts scenes. Jack Charles has also faced a long history of abuse, frustration and rejection through the Australian judicial system. A member of the Stolen Generation, Charles’ story of addiction, arrest and prosecution was documented beautifully and poignantly in the documentary Bastardy.

Jack Charles. Photographer Bindi Cole[1] copy.jpg

Jack Charles v The Crown seems to me an attempt to address some of the issues in the 2008 doco by retracing Charles’ life from his beginnings at the Royal Women’s Hospital to 2016 in the Arts Centre’s Fairfax Studio. Charles is alone throughout the performance, joined by only the band to provide beautiful musical accompaniment along the way. Co-written by Jack Charles and John Romeril (who also served as Dramaturg), Jack Charles v The Crown is a poignant reminder of how far Australia still has to go in addressing its appalling treatment of Indigenous peoples.

The play opens with scenes from Bastardy of Charles injecting himself with heroin, current Charles meanwhile works blissfully away on a pottery wheel on stage, delicately moulding the clay. The audience is simultaneously introduced to Charles’ charge sheets from 2004 when he was arrested on several counts of burglary. It sounds rough but the production is created carefully and unflinchingly, so what could be interpreted as painful is actually full of pathos and humour.

Director Rachael Maza has masterfully constructed this production, weaving together documentary footage, photographs and charge sheets together with Uncle Jack Charles’ unmistakeable gleeful cheek to create something much greater than the sum of its parts. This production is a story of redemption and coming to terms with the past: the way Charles tells his story means one moment you feel utterly heartbroken, yet a few moments later he has you giggling and guffawing at some innuendo.

The musical score composed by Nigel MacLean kept the pace of the production and added depth to Charles’ monologues. These musical interludes and accompaniments were performed by Gary Dryza, Mal Beveridge and Phil Collings, and occasionally Uncle Jack Charles; who knew he had such a set of lungs on him? The set and costumes (Emily Barrie) were carefully designed to keep the sense of intimacy as Charles moved around the stage making pottery and a cuppa. Lighting (Danny Pettingill) and audio visual design (Peter Worland) supported the performance, and gently overlaid the mood on stage.

I loved everything about this performance, and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. I feel very privileged to see a part of Uncle Jack Charles’s story, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Jack Charles v The Crown is now showing at The Arts Centre’s Fairfax Studio until 20 November – make sure you get in quick. Tickets and more info: Arts Centre Melbourne

Image by Bindi Cole


A glimpse of the dazzling future of Australian circus

By Myron My

One False Move is a showcase circus performance featuring NICA’s second-year artists in some impressive and intense acts. The show is inspired by film noir and there are a lot of shady characters, deadly women and clever use of various iconic props that help support this genre.

One False Move

The lighting design by Eduard Ingles, the costumes by Emily Barrie and the live music throughout the show (by the performers themselves) all add to that film-noir feel: edgy, dangerous and exciting. What One False Move then does very well is infuse touches of comedy throughout. A perfect example is the use of black screens sliding across the stage, dropping off and picking up performers in their travels where we witness murders and sexual escapades aplenty but with the comic timing adding a strong dose of humour.

As with any circus show there is a risk of failure: an off-the-mark landing, a prop getting a mind of its own or a loss balance. Part of the skill of being a good performer is how you recover from this, and with occasional hiccups occurring all the students remained highly professional and ensured the show kept on going. This embracing of and then triumphing over problems ultimately gets the audience on side, and made the consequent accomplishments even more worthy of cheers.

Another important focus required for circus shows is to retain engagement with the audience. What these guys are doing is not easy but they need to be able to make it look easy and be relaxed with their audience. Chelsea Angell and Ashleigh Tomasini‘s cheeky and flirtatious audience interaction whilst doing their Russian wheel routine was a wonderful example.

I was also very impressed with the pole act by Isabel Rose and Patrick Denison – despite the physical demands of such an performance, they both remained beautifully in the realm of film noir and worked together to create an act that had great sexual tension between the femme fatale and the brooding man. Other notable performers included Morgan Wilson, Angelique Ross, Dylan Rodriguez and Jon Bonaventura who all provided some highly entertaining moments.

NICA’s One False Move has some tremendously talented performers in it and I feel confident the future of the circus industry is more than safe in the powerful hands of these charismatic young people.

Venue: NICA National Circus Centre, 39-59 Green Street, Prahran.

Season: Until 29 June | Wed-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 1:30pm, Thurs 1:00pm

Tickets: $27 Full | $22 Conc

Bookings: http://www.nica.com.au