STAGES with Peter Eyers
Summary: STAGES is the podcast that accesses a variety of people whose professional life is about connecting with an audience. A host of creative artists and practitioners reflect on their career, their process and what matters – to them. Some have made the arts a lifetime pursuit, some explain how their career became a happy accident … but all describe the challenges and demands – and ultimately celebrate why there’s no business like show business! STAGES talks to talent from front of house and backstage - directors, designers, drag artists and doormen … performers, producers and publicists ... teachers, technicians and talent! Whatever stages it takes to engage and affect an audience – or whatever it takes to carve out a career in the arts – we’ll examine it in STAGES. STAGES is the recipient of the Best New Podcaster Award at The Australian Podcast Awards in 2019.
In this companion episode Stages continues the conversation with our preeminent story-teller and acclaimed Director, Gale Edwards. In part 1 she shared with us her early life in Adelaide with an interrupted childhood, her forays into theatre-making with her company Energy Connection, time at NIDA, her early career as a director working with State Theatre Companies and a breadth of repertoire, and the arrival of Les Miserables in Australia. In Part 2, we learn about her extensive international career and the challenges presented to an artist as they navigate a precarious industry. Her American productions include:The White Devil, Don Carlos (Brooklyn Academy of Music); Hamlet, Richard 3, Titus Andronicus, Edward 2 (Shakespeare Theatre Company); Macbeth (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and Jesus Christ Superstar (Broadway). UK productions include; The Taming of the Shrew, The Duchess of Malfi, Don Carlos, The White Devil (Royal Shakespeare Company); Fortune's Fool, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice (Chichester Festival); The Far Pavillions, Saint Joan (West End), Maria Stuarda (The English National Opera); and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind, Jesus Christ Superstar and Aspects of Love (West End and UK tours). Australian productions include God of Carnage, Arcadia, Coriolanus, Saint Joan (STC); King Lear, The Winter's Tale, The Glass Menagerie (SATC); The Tempest, Uncle Vanya (MTC), Nixon in China (Adelaide Festival) and The Magic Flute and Sweeney Todd (Australian opera). Gale Edwards is frank, astute, intuitive and possesses an infectious sense of humour. It is evident that she adores her role as a story-teller and is most reverential in her respect for the texts to which she gives life. The incredible joy she experiences in being in a rehearsal room is palpable. Hers is a fascinating story and it was a privilege to spend time with Gale as she shared insight, assessment and anecdotes of a celebrated and trailblazing career. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
There are very few Australian directors who can lay claim to have conquered the stages of the world. This accolade belongs to the trailblazing Gale Edwards; one of our most acclaimed directors. In a career spanning more than 30 years she has rewarded audiences with visceral and vibrant story-telling. Gale is incredibly charming, candid and passionate. She speaks freely and insightfully about her craft as one of our most celebrated artists. As a preeminent story-teller she is the first Australian to have opened large commercial musicals on Broadway and in the West End. She is the only Australian to have directed at The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon - and the only woman to have directed on their main-stage. Born and raised in Adelaide her early life was impacted by family tragedy and trauma. This galvanised the young Gale to invest in her academic study and due to necessity; surprisingly realise an early training in direction in boundless visits to the cinema; often seeing individual films numerous times. She started her career in 1981 as the founding Artistic Director of the Adelaide-based Theatre company, Energy Connection, an innovative company that created and performed original, devised works with young performers. After graduating from NIDA, she remained on the staff there for four years teaching young actors and directing plays. It was here that she developed her love of the Classics and Shakespeare in particular. Gale has directed all genres of theatre and opera nationally and internationally. She has directed for all Australia's State Theatre Companies, Opera Australia, Victoria State Opera, South Australian Opera Company, New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, English National Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Chichester Festival. Her vast musical theatre output has seen her direct the original production of The Boy From Oz, Jerry Springer the Opera for the Sydney Opera House and a new production of The Rocky Horror Show. Internationally she has worked on musicals for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh. Gale Edwards is frank, astute, intuitive and possesses an infectious sense of humour. It is evident that she adores her role as a story-teller and is most reverential in her respect for the texts to which she gives life. The incredible joy she experiences in being in a rehearsal room is palpable. Hers is a fascinating story and it was a privilege to spend time with Gale as she shared insight, assessment and anecdotes of a celebrated and trailblazing career. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Iain Grandage is a composer, conductor and Festival Director. He has previously been at the helm of the Port Fairy Music Festival and in 2020 will launch his first program as Artistic Director at The Perth Festival. Born and bred in Perth, his excitement at steering the festival is palpable and contagious. He knows his audience and the responsibility of celebrating local and indigenous art forms, whilst also delivering unique and stimulating experiences drawn from an international canvas. Iain was musical director and arranger for the national tour of Jimmy Chi's multi award winning Corrugation Road, and his involvement with indigenous musicians has continued through his collaborations with the Spinifex people of Central Australia, initially on the theatre work Career Highlights of the Mamu, and subsequently with concert works in collaboration with WASO and Topology. Iain's concert works have been performed by the ACO, Brodsky String Quartet, Australian String Quartet, Australian Brass Quintet and choirs and orchestras around Australia. As music director he has won Helpmann and Green Room Awards. He has conducted orchestras for Kate Miller-Heidke, Katie Noonan and Tim Minchin, and led the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Guiding young audiences he has conducted and presented the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Education program. His scores have covered a broad range of genres and cover diverse subjects; Opera with The Rabbits and The Riders, Theatre with Cloudstreet and The Secret River, Dance with When Time Stops and Film with Satan Jawa. Iain greeted me armed with a block of chocolate and a peppermint tea, eager to generously share his vision for the 2020 festival and an insight into his incredible instinct and ethos as an artist. The Perth Festival runs February 7th to March 1st, 2020. The program is out now and available from perthfestival.com.au The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Tania Chambers always loved the arts but never thought she'd have a career in them. She speaks with much enthusiasm and an intellect peppered with engaging humour and incredible insight of the local film industry. As the founder and Managing Director of Feisty Dame Productions Pty Ltd. she has produced the comedy feature A Few Less Men directed by Mark Lamprell and the comedic thriller Kill Me Three Times directed by Kriv Stenders She believes that each of us can strengthen our community and enrich our lives through our experience of the arts. "It is time that we truly valued creativity and the courageous people who inspire, entertain and challenge us. Our culture and economy benefit immensely from the creative industries." Her list of credentials is extensive - chief executive of Screen NSW and ScreenWest, Screen Producers Australia councillor and board member of Perth International Arts Festival, AusFilm and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Impressive accomplishments for someone who almost didn't have a career in the arts! She knows how the screen industry works from the inside, the deals and the deal-makers, and how to get ahead in the screen industry. Tania is well known for her mentoring and generosity with new and emerging filmmakers. She was very generous with Stages, offering her terrific knowledge of the film industry and drawing a vivid portrait of the art, of making art. The Stages podcast is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Janet Holmes à Court grew up in a household infused with the arts. Her parents instilled in her an enduring love of art, music and theatre. She is charming, astute and informed; recognising the supreme necessity for us all to celebrate and embrace the arts across all genres. She studied chemistry at the University of Western Australia and subsequently worked as a science teacher; relishing her time in the classroom. Long-time patronage across all artistic disciplines has provided her with immense appreciation and respect for all art forms and the practitioners who craft them. Ms Holmes à Court is recognised as a leading philanthropist and a major collector of indigenous art, which contributes to an extensive Art collection, much of which is loaned to public galleries around the world. She has chaired the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and The Black Swan Theatre Company; and currently serves as Chair of the Australian Children's Television Foundation. She is a Board Member of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) and the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG). Hers is a career of vast artistic governance and leadership. Ms Holmes à Court was a founding patron and chairperson of Western Australia's Black Swan Theatre Company, recognising the enormous benefit of a state theatre company to traverse local and indigenous stories, and to champion a repertoire of classic, and international works. She speaks with enormous passion and a keen awareness of the many artistic expressions being celebrated in Western Australia. The Stages podcast is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Henry Boston is the inaugural Executive Director of the Chamber of Arts and Culture in Western Australia; a peak advocacy body for immersion, expansion and celebration of such content in the West. The organisation's vision is to develop Western Australia as a leader in arts and culture. Retirement from this position has not dimmed Henry's fervour as a passionate supporter of what the Arts can accomplish. Western Australia has a rich creative output and reach, boasting their own orchestras and galleries; opera, ballet, and theatre companies, in addition to an annual festival that receives world recognition. Henry spent a good deal of his career as a proponent of all that is artistic in various roles at the Festival of Perth, where he graduated from Stage Manager to General Manager. Not bad for a young bloke from the UK, travelling to Australia in search of adventure and along the way embracing the many facets of the theatre - technician, lighting designer, production manager, performer and director. His many skills have been informed by a life-long submergence in the theatre, making and presenting art, while also championing it as an avid audience member. In this episode of Stages, Henry reflects on the essential need for the arts in a community; and the many experiences and personalities that he has encountered, in an extensive career. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
As an actor, teacher and writer, Nigel Rideout has been involved in professional theatre, film and television for the past 50 years in the UK, USA and Australia. From 1972-80, Nigel was Deputy Principal and Director of Studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). In 1981 he was invited to create the highly successful theatre department of the newly-formed Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). He has been Head of Theatre and Voice at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and Head of Voice at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Returning to Australia in 2002, Nigel set up the official archives for WAAPA as well as continuing to teach and direct at the Academy, as well as at The National Theatre Drama School in Melbourne. His many successful graduates in the UK include Jane Seymour, Martin Clunes, Nigel Planer, Amy Irving and Dame Harriet Walter. And from WAAPA: Hugh Jackman, Frances O'Connor, Dominic Purcell and Lisa McCune. Amazingly Nigel still receives annual repeat fees for a role in the first series of Dad's Army recorded in 1968. Join us for a riveting conversation where he describes the evolution of Acting training and the emergence of WAAPA; the triumphant training ground for artists, built on the West Coast of Australia. The Stages podcast is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Dr. Richard Walley is an artist of many disciplines - a musician, dancer, painter, writer, indigenous activist and educator. He has spent over 40 years educating Australia and the world on Nyoongar culture and identity through the arts. A role model for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike, Richard continues to push boundaries, continually developing personally whilst always focussed on the bigger 'community' picture of the Arts, Culture and Environment. In 1978, Richard formed the Middar Aboriginal Theatre which subsequently has taken Nyoongar culture to 32 countries, celebrating and affirming indigenous culture and narrative. A former Australia Council Board member, he was named a State Living Treasure in 2015 for his lifetime contribution to arts and culture in Western Australia. Richard became involved with Aboriginal politics at an early age, having active involvement in the formation and operation of the Aboriginal Housing Board, the Aboriginal Medical Service, Legal Service and the New Era Aboriginal Fellowship. Through his involvement, Richard first became aware of the potential of Aboriginal culture to give the Nyoongar people a sense of pride and identity. This awareness grew throughout the years, as Richard 'learned' about his own culture, moving into the world of Theatre and the Arts. It was a privilege to sit down with Richard as he shared his proud Nyoongar heritage and the power of arts to transform and teach and extend our humanity. The Stages podcast is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Commercial and amateur theatre producers who wish to procure the rights to present a musical or play must first apply to the representative of the owners. Whether you're Cameron Mackintosh or the Bullarook Light Opera Company, a licence to perform must be obtained. Intellectual property is then protected and the necessary parties receive their rightful compensation. If you have ever secured a performing licence for a musical or play, chances are you've heard the name Nanette Frew. For almost 20 years Nanette was the Licensing Agent for the organisation Warner Chappell. She protected the many shows they represented and negotiated with many schools, community theatre groups and commercial producers, to ensure that every show licensed was presented as contracted. The properties in her care were extensive; indeed she oversaw the explosive success of Les Miserables on the professional stage and when it was released to non-professional artists. Prior to this she commenced her working life as a copywriter in the world of radio advertising in country Victoria. She has also navigated a significant role contributing to community theatre as a director and actor, working regularly with the Genesian Theatre Company and Pymble Players. Nanette is a delight and shares some fascinating stories of behind-the-scenes, and the tremendous care required in the execution of her role managing many of the shows we have all seen on professional and amateur stages. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
In a career spanning several decades, David Mitchell has firmly established himself as Mr Entertainment. His broad range of skills has seen him contribute to the industry as a writer, director and producer across all platforms -stage, radio, television, film and live performance. As a writer, he has provided material for performers and personalities including Barbra Streisand, Bob Hope, Michael Parkinson, Barry Humphries, Clive James, Geraldine Turner, Lorna Luft and Danny LaRue. This has given him vast accolades and a repertoire of riveting anecdotes. For the stage he co-wrote the musical Better Known as Bee, about Sydney eccentric Bee Miles. Collaborating with John-Michael Howson and Melvyn Morrow, the triumvirate of writers created the stage musical Shout! The Legend of the Wild One, which broke box-office records around Australia. Their second collaboration resulted in the hugely successful Dusty: The Original Pop Diva, which took $25 million at the box office during its initial run and won four Helpmann Awards and Melbourne's Green Room Award for Best New Australian production. He is part of the team responsible for the legendary live shows at the venues Capriccio's and Kinselas in Sydney - performances that are still discussed today. David has co-written the Helpmann Awards and for eleven years was Executive Producer of the top-rating series, This Is Your Life. A prolific freelance television producer, David's shows include The Mike Walsh Show, Parkinson in Australia, Saturday Night Clive and The Dame Edna Experience. His Australian Royal Bicentennial Concert in 1988 which starred Olivia Newton John, Peter Allen and Kylie Minogue, amongst many others, was described by international showbiz bible, Variety, as "pure, unremitting, unalloyed, entertainment!" The Stages Podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
Collaboration is the essential life-force of the theatre. Disparate roles work together to produce an experience that is ephemeral; but if successful, the memory may last a lifetime. The adventure often begins with the Playwright, who drafts a blue-print of words and character and action that is then nurtured by a team and its nurturing wordsmith 'parent'. Tommy Murphy is such a 'parent'. He is one of our eminent story-tellers and collaboration comes easy. It is a process he relishes. Perhaps it's being one of eight children that has fostered the skill. Tommy Murphy is an award-winning playwright with recent productions in New York, San Francisco, Indiana, Los Angeles, Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney. He is the only playwright to win the NSW Premier's Award, a prestigious national writing prize, in successive years. Tommy is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Director's course) and a former writer in residence at Griffin Theatre Company. His plays include an adaptation of Marlowe's Massacre at Paris, Holding The Man, Strangers in Between, Troy's House, Gwen in Purgatory, Saturn's Return, Mark Colvin's Kidney and Precipice. His next play is Packer & Sons - a story that puts four generations of the Packer family on stage; men who loomed large over Sydney for nearly 100 years. It receives its debut season at the Belvoir Street Theatre from November 16th through to December 22nd. Tommy sat down with me to discuss Playwriting, Process and the Packers. Find more information on Packer & Sons at www.belvoir.com.au The Stages Podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
Carolyn Chard has an eclectic taste in music; she is moved equally by the heavy beat of dance music or the gentle and beautiful melodies that speak to the soul. However it is the power of the classics and great composers of Opera that propel her through her work day as the Executive Director of West Australian Opera. The company was formed in 1967 and works in close association with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Ms Chard has steered the company for nearly two decades following various arts management positions around the country. Roles at Opera Australia, and Deckchair Theatre and Barking Gecko in WA, nurtured a great passion for the power of theatre. These positions followed her completion of the Arts Management degree at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Informing her decision to pursue Arts Management was her early producing forays in fashion and the rave scene. Working in the banking industry also provided terrific grounding; eclectic experiences indeed, that help to shape the practitioner and guide the artistic journey. Career paths are always fascinating and the rewards can be most satisfying. Ms Chard talks with great candour about her unique journey to arrive at the helm of WA's triumphant Opera Company. Stages is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
"Tis a divided world in which we live. This creed versus that creed; highbrow versus lowbrow and so on, - ad infinitum. A major division at the present time - and one that interests us - is that the world is divided into two sections, those who have seen 'My Fair Lady' and those who haven't". This decree was the opening paragraph in the J.C. Williamson's program heralding the arrival of the musical sensation that had captured the public consciousness around the world - Lerner and Loewe's glorious musical examination of the social transformation of a young woman by a phonetics teacher - My Fair Lady In 1950's Australia the Original Cast Recording of My Fair Lady became a highly sought treasure. Families gathered at homes to 'Get to the Church on time' and 'Dance all Night' dreaming of the arrival of the show to Australian theatres - 'Wouldn't it be Loverley?' The musical was a return to graciousness and elegance on the stage; allied is the fact that it is a Cinderella story - surely theatre's surest standby. And it carries a rich source material in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Eager to replicate the productions in London and New York, the Australian Impresarios, J.C.Williamsons' imported American creatives and secured a principal cast from the UK. Williamson's had a policy at the time of preferring to cast lead players that they could bill as "direct from the West End" even if unknown. It was felt that an actor with that billing would always attract larger audiences than an Australian. Early days in the commercial theatre; but the seed for an Australian Company of players had been planted a couple of years earlier with The Pajama Game. Leading the Original Australian company of My Fair Lady was Bunty Turner. Born in Northern Ireland she had established herself as a singer of great accomplishment in U.K. productions of Free As Air, The Dancing Years and Hansel & Gretel. The original production of My Fair Lady in this country enjoyed tremendous success; so much so that a second company was launched to tour Australian capitals and New Zealand. Bunty Turner played the role of 'Eliza Doolittle' in productions throughout Australia and South Africa. What happened to Bunty at the conclusion of the show? We discover all, in this enchanting episode of STAGES with the vivacious and thoroughly engaging, Bunty Turner. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Zoe Terakes exudes a passion for her craft. She is immediately engaging on, or off the stage. She is a young actor set on a path to make the best work possible and with considerable credits assembled in her short career thus far, future prospects on stage and screen look assured, and mark her as an artist to watch. She made her stage debut in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. Terakes' performance as Catherine earned her a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in an Independent Production. Zoe also received a Helpmann nomination for this performance at the MTC. Her 'Catherine' was seen by audiences at The Old Fitz theatre, the Melbourne Theatre Company and The Ensemble theatre; contrasting spaces offering adjustment and discovery for the actor. Other theatre credits include A Doll's House Part II for MTC and Metamorphoses and The Wolves for The Old Fitz. Zoe made their screen debut in the critically acclaimed Janet King for the ABC opposite Marta Dusseldorp, whilst completing her HSC. She will next be seen in the Foxtel series The End. Most recently, Zoe co-starred in the feature film Ellie & Abbie (and Ellie's Dead Aunt), the short film The Craft, which premiered at FlickerFest, and the forthcoming web-series Bondi Slayer. Her enthusiasm for performance is contagious. Exposure to various platforms and working alongside some of the country's leading actors are offering her a unique opportunity to refine her craft and indeed, to make the best work she possibly can. STAGES conversations are available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
James Evans is Associate Director at Bell Shakespeare. He is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art and holds a Master of Arts from the University of Sydney. In 2018 he directed the Julius Caesar national tour, previously directing productions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He has appeared in Richard 3, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth and Henry 4. His other theatre credits include Paul and Homebody/Kabul for Belvoir; and Private Lives for the Queensland Theatre Company. James co-wrote and presented the acclaimed iPad App Starting Shakespeare and co-directed the ABC online series Shakespeare Unbound. He has been a visiting artist at the University of San Diego, as well as presenting a series of leadership seminars worldwide. In the corporate sector, James has established and facilitated professional development programs for numerous clients. He is currently directing a production of Much Ado About Nothing, opening next week at The Sydney Opera House, following a National tour. There was much ado in this episode of the podcast as we examined the life and times of The Bard of Avon, and brushed up our Shakespeare! Much Ado About Nothing begins its season at The Sydney Opera House on October 22nd. Bell Shakespeare has also recently released its season for 2020 - productions of Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors to look forward to. Further information at bellshakespeare.com.au