Tag: Shane Grant

Metanoia Theatre Presents MILK BARS

Engaging and evocative nostalgia

By Narelle Wood

Just as the title suggests, Milk Bars explores that iconic Australian fixture of the milk bar, its place in Australia’s past and its potentially questionable future.

Milk Bars

This is not your average theatre show though; it’s performance art. Over the course of an hour and a half, the audience are guided from room to room to witness different performances and art installations that all, in some way, explore the idea of the milk bar.

The performances range from Elnaz Sheshgelani’s exploration of pre-Islamic Persian storytelling to Janette Hoe’s movement and mime pieces to a heart-felt talk presented by Domenic Greco, the executive Director of CAMBA. Each performance adds another perspective to the milk bar experience. Hoe transforms herself into a milk-bar owner, contrasting the talkative and perky behind-the-counter persona with the personal struggles that occur behind the scenes. Shane Grant’s monologue, beginning with advertising catchphrases that he and Zayn Ulfan shout at each other from across the room, documents the sacrifice and hard work of milk bar owners especially in a time of modernisation.

The theme across all performances is definitely this hard work and sacrifice in the face of an unknown future, thanks to globalisation and giant supermarket chains. But amidst this are stories of new immigrants finding their place in new communities and the sense of community and belonging that a milkbar can provide.

Each of the performances in themselves were fantastic, and as an ensemble, left me profoundly nostalgic for the local corner store where you could buy a massive bag of mixed lollies for 20 cents and buy your mum a packet of ciggies because the shop lady knew you. This is in no small way due to the setting of Milkbars, which under the artistic direction of Gorkem Acaroglu, transports you back to what appears to an authentic  1970’s milk bar. There are Big M calendar ads on the wall, an obligatory Chico Roll ad, Tarax pineapple soda in the fridge, and you can also purchase your very own bag of mixed lollies.

This isn’t the sort of show I’d normally gravitate towards, but the mixture of art installations, performances and movement between spaces was a really fascinating way of reflecting upon what the milk bar means to you personally, as well as to the performances and Australia culture.

 Milk Bars was performed at The Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, from July 27 – August 6, 2016

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Bare Naked Theatre Presents 4:48 PSYCHOSIS

Deeply moving and memorable

By Margaret Wieringa

Sometimes, theatre is heavy; weighed down by the topic, by the experiences of those making it and those watching it; weighed down with every line uttered, every movement. 4:48 Psychosis is one of those pieces: heavy, and difficult – and wonderful.

Bare-Naked-Theatre-448-Psychosis-Alisha-Eddy.jpg

Written by British playwright Sarah Kane, it explores mental illness in a variety of forms, including self-harm and suicide. Knowing that the playwright herself tragically committed suicide without ever seeing the work performed adds a whole extra weight and emotion to the performance.

The show is made up of twenty-four sections that seamlessly flow from one to another, moving through naturalistic conversations to more abstract movement pieces, and back. The script gives no specific settings or characters, but it felt to me that there were constants. Director Kendall-Jane Rundle seems to have interpreted the work to have a single patient, a doctor and two others – internal representations of the patient or, at times, possibly forces outside of the patient. Sometimes the patient is aware of them, other times not. The Metanoia Theatre was sparse, allowing the actors to transform the space throughout. Lighting designer Shane Grant used bare bulbs hung around the space at varying heights and these were attributed with meaning throughout – although sometimes, a light bulb is just a light bulb.

Kendall-Jane Rundle not only directed this performance but played the character of the patient and was magnificent in this role. She was subtle and intense, humorous on occasion, and so very real. The script has lines that are filled with overwrought poetry that could easily be melodramatic and possibly ridiculous, but Rundle delivered them with such truth that they worked. At times, it was difficult to hear her, but I felt even this was planned. Jessica Stevens and Alisha Eddy played off each other as the two mysterious characters, often echoing the patient, moving through the space, sometimes still or only very subtly moving. Their performances, both individual and together, were exactly what was needed – strong at times, but able to almost disappear altogether. As the doctor figure, Jeff Wortman was able to infuse each scene with hidden depth. While acting calm and collected, there was a sense that the character was repressing fear or frustration or anger, although every now and then, the professional facade slipped. Wortman made the character not just a tool to represent those attempting to support, help, even cure people with mental illness, but someone who was also a full person, even though we never got a name or much beyond.

Bare Naked Theatre is a new company to Melbourne, set up by Kendall-Jane Rundle. With a first show as powerful and poignant as 4:48 Psychosis, they are a company to look out for.

Where: Metanoia Theatre at the Brunswick Institute, 270 Sydney Rd Brunswick

When: Wednesday June 29 to Saturday July 2, 8pm

Tickets: Full $30/ Conc $25

Bookings: metanoiatheatre.com or called 9387 3376

If you know someone struggling with mental illness, this production recommends  visiting www.sane.org for helpline assistance, information, and donations.