The Street Company is an intensive ensemble training and production program for the development of pre-professional actors (18 – 27 years) in the ACT. It provides an opportunity to develop potential and nurture performance skills through practical experience. The program is designed to prepare actors to rigorously engage in the professional rehearsal room, being responsive, open and valuable contributors to a range of forms from creative developments and staged readings through to full scale production. Led by renowned theatre-maker Karla Conway, The Street Company members are a mix of young actors from diverse backgrounds who share a passion for theatre.
The Street Company 2018: Damon Baudin, Daniel Berthon, Bronte Forrester, Ash Hamilton-Smith, Hiyab Kerr, Hayden Splitt, and Anneka van der Velde are are about to make their professional debut as an ensemble in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, acclaimed UK playwright Alice Birch’s explosive detonation of language on stage, directed by Karla Conway. Described as a manifesto-as-stage-play, REVOLT is not a rant as it explores feminist issues and ideas that are not new. It asks the audience to look at them differently as the ensemble investigates them through physicality and a revolution in language.
The Street talks to Company members during rehearsals for Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.
WHAT IS COMPELLING FOR YOU AS A PERFORMER IN ALICE BIRCH’S SCRIPT?
Aside from Act Two, there are no prescribed characters in Revolt. That leaves a lot of freedom for us to decide who says what. As a performer, this has allowed me to construct characters of my own that I think would fit within the world of this play. This creative freedom is compelling as a performer, as it allows the actor, script and director to be truly collaborative in their construction of the play. At times this has felt confusing and a little crazy, but reinforced by Alice’s reminder that this play is not meant to be well behaved.
REVOLT HAS BEEN SELECTED AS A GOOD FIT FOR AN ENSEMBLE. HOW HAS THE ENSEMBLE DEVELOPED TOGETHER AND WHAT DISCOVERIES HAVE YOU MADE?
Over the course of several months our ensemble has worked very closely to tackle obstacles which we have overcome by working together. The initial stages of bonding between us was challenging because some of the cast members had previously worked together; however, we’ve have all worked extremely hard and I believe our dedication will pay off.
I’ve personally enjoyed working with the ensemble and I have also learnt a great deal about directing from Karla. I hope to implement some of her techniques into my future work. I have enjoyed working with a group of talented and passionate people who have become life-long mates. This year was not without challenges. I think I speak for the whole cast when I say we have given this performance our all…I hope the audience will take the subject matter as seriously as we have.
REVOLT IS A MIX OF DRAMA, HORROR, SUSPENSE, COMEDY, PLAYFULNESS. WHAT ELEMENTS ARE STRONGEST FOR YOU AND HOW HAVE YOU MADE THEM WORK FOR YOU AS A PERFORMER.
I think REVOLT does a great job of luring you into its dramatic moments without losing the comedic and playful elements. The play knows exactly what it wants to say, when to say it, and with what theatrical conventions it wants to express itself. The elements of drama and comedy stick out the most to me throughout this theatrical piece, whether the comedy is in an abstract form in scenes within Act(s) One and Three, or in a darker sense in Act 1.4. As a performer, I’ve used comedic timing and physical humour when necessary, while letting the dramatic moments flood in over the top of them when the timing is just right. REVOLT is a sort of emotional rollercoaster at times, so I’ve tried my best to roll with the dramatic punches without falling out of the ride.
TELL US ABOUT THE CHARACTERS THAT EMERGE IN REVOLT AND THE RANGE OF CHARACTERS YOU PLAY.
Revolt she says, Revolt again is a play by Alice Birch that criticises and challenges the patriarchal constructs of our society today.
The first Act is a series of narratives that deconstructs day to day situations. The women that emerge in this Act are set in situations in everyday life that show how imbalanced and skewed the power is between men and women. The first character I play is a woman who wants to participate with her partner when having sex. Alice Birch dissects the language used to show how women are mistreated in these situations. I also play a woman who performed a protest piece in a supermarket aisle by exposing herself and finds power in choosing what happens to her. In Act 2, I play Agnes who is a Bulimic. These are 3 of the characters that I play in this show. Going into Act 3 the cast portrays and swaps between 2-3 characters at a time. The women that emerge in this play are a reflection of women’s’ experiences in society today.
WHAT IS YOUR PHYSICAL LANGUAGE FOR REVOLT AND HOW HAS IT BEEN DEVELOPED IN THE REHEARSAL ROOM.
The various workshops and exercises we have done over the rehearsal period have seen my physical language drastically develop over time. Through these exercises we have explored various forms of physicality that we have all, individually, felt the text demanded. In particular, upon discovering and deciding on my characters arc, I have witnessed a freely open style of movement influenced by confidence and assertiveness evolve quite rapidly to a constricted fight for something. My various characters embark throughout the piece fighting a masculine status quo and do everything in their power to attain that back.
Anneka van der Velde
THERE ARE FOUR ACTS IN THE PLAY BUT ONLY ONE HAS CHARACTERS ASSIGNED TO THE DIALOGUE. HOW DID YOU RESPOND TO THIS REVOLUTIONARY LANGUAGE APPROACH TO A PLAY?
As there are no specific characters or set amount of actors per scene, the first cold read of the play was, rather enjoyably, utter chaos. At the beginning of the script, there are also several guidelines that the playwright, Alice Birch, has put in place to help infer where the actor might emphasise a word, stutter, pause or even breathe. There are even some monologues that don’t have punctuation in them and points where all 6 of us are speaking at the same time! As you can imagine, these guidelines were quite overwhelming at first and as we started to work with the text and the language, I think it’s safe to say that it took all of us a bit of getting used to and made us put in the extra homework to really do justice to the text. Now that we’ve worked with the language for so many weeks, hopefully the audiences will be able to really listen and enjoy every stutter, breath and word we say because we’ve worked very hard to perfect them!”
YOUR ROLE IN REVOLT IS BEHIND THE SCENES AS STAGE MANAGER AND ASSISTANT TO THE DIRECTOR. HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK IN SUPPORTING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE DIRECTOR AND ACTORS DURING REHEARSALS?
For me working on Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. has been a honour to work with such talented individuals. As stage manager for this show it has been crucial to maintain a very comfortable environment as the play covers some difficult topics. As it is my AD/SM debut it has been a steep learning curve, however I will be eternally grateful to the company as they supported me as I found my feet in these roles.