Blog

13 January 11:16 am

Friday the 13th: Dress up and win

This Friday the 13th, we decided to turn the supposedly unluckiest day upside-down, and offer one punter a double pass to any 2017 Griffin Main Season production in the funnest way we could think of: a dress-up competition. Fags, blood, zombies or ghouls, it’s Halloween come early at the Stables and we want you to dress your most ominous. The prize will go to the spookiest costume

Book your tickets to Nosferatutu.

5 January 2:00 pm

10 Minutes With Sheridan Harbridge

Who is Sheridan Harbridge?
I’ve been called everything in my time – from a Wise-Arse Wench, to a Gay Icon, to a Potty Mouthed Pest. I think I’m a theatremaker who loves whimsy and raucousness. 

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by performers and companies who cross genres –  Alan Cummings is very fascinating to me, flipping through screen, theatre, cabaret, writing. Windmill Theatre Companies recent production of Girl Asleep,which I had the pleasure to be in, was wild and electric; the school’s show had the kids screaming, I want to make adults squeal with delight like that. 

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’d like to keep young people coming to the theatre. It’s an old boring sentence, but it’s a pursuit. Its a medium of magic and catharsis, and I’m a champion of its potency, and I want to grow old and develop with my audience.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I did New Orleans for a week last year, and it blew my mind. Cultural melting pot, it’s own strange and dark culture in the middle of America. There’s no place like it in the world. Oyster Happy Hour, 80c oysters, I went twice, final one on the way to the airport, and made myself stupid-sick and happy with over 36 oysters.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to?
I take them to Watsons Bay – the cliffs, the lighthouse, the seafood.

What are you currently reading?
Trainspotting. 20 years after everyone else because I’m always behind the times.

What are you currently listening to (or watching)?
Watching The Crown. It’s strangely addictive, even though you know the plot. 

Happiness is?
Whiskey in bed. 

What does the future hold for you?
Lot’s more theatre this year. Calamity Jane at the Hayes, and The Cat/The Dog at Belvoir for acting fun, and a new project that’s a sister show to Songs for the Fallen.

Why do you think a show like Nosferatutu is important?
Nosferatutu is about many things: love, desire and loneliness is a part of it, but the thing that is ringing clear in the rehearsals is the idea that a monster is made by a monster, the cycle that can’t be stopped, and monsters long for beauty and softness. These creatures were isolated, but we must wonder why they were created. It’s a question about how communities gather together and isolate. It’s a very beautiful portrait of a man who desperately wants to belong, desperately wants to not hurt and destroy, but his instincts cannot be curbed. He’s very heartbreaking. Amongst lots of hilarious blood, singing and dancing and naughtiness. 

What’s your most memorable performance/production to date?
Oooh gosh. Hard one. We did a performance of my earlier show Songs for the Fallen at Oxford Art Factory, a nightclub, with the whole audience on their feet dressed for a masquerade. It was loud, wild and electric. I was feeling it so much I jumped in the crowd and surfed the whole room, even the security guards joined in, they were having such a good time. It was a moment where the show was spilling joy from every nook and cranny and I thought THIS! This is why this art form is in our blood.

Nosferatutu runs 7 January – 21  January.

1:45 pm

A Note From Lee, 5 January

New Year!

To do:

1. Paint the graffiti off the orange stage door entrance.

2. Drop in in the rehearsal room for Ross Mueller’s A Strategic Plan…they look like they are having way too much fun.

3. Buy a raincoat so I can sit in the front row for the first preview of Nosferatutu on Saturday - the first preview with blood could get a bit wild!

4. Start reading this year’s Griffin Award entries.

5. Go back to the gym to start working off Mum’s ice cream Christmas pudding… thanks Ruth!

And we are off and running!

Welcome back everyone. And hello Wesley Enoch’s first Sydney Festival!

Love,
Lee

19 December 3:32 pm

A note from Lee, 19 December

So because things are not busy enough in the rush to Christmas (starting A Strategic Plan rehearsals, hosting a fundraiser for Nosferatutu, saying farewell to our Associate Producer, Melanie Carolan, who is moving to Critical Stages) we decided to hold our annual General Auditions. Each actor was invited to perform two monologues from Australian plays, and I have to say it was a real delight to see so many actors enjoying the words of great Australian playwrights.

I saw bits of plays written by Kate Mulvany, Andrew Bovell, Jane Bodie, Daniel Keene, Patricia Cornelius, Louis Nowra, Gabrielle McDonald, Michael Gow, Tammy Weller, Michael Abercromby, Maxine Mellor, Rashma Kalsie, John Harding, Nakkiah Lui, Joanna Murray Smith, David Stevens, Elizabeth Coleman, Van Badham, Michael Gurr, Lally Katz, Ray Lawler, Suzie Miller, Brendan Cowell, Vanessa Bates, Campion Decent, Declan Greene, Mary Anne Butler, Lachlan Philpott, Jada Alberts, Reg Cribb, Dorothy Hewitt, Nick Enright, Matt Egerton, Melissa Bubnic, Jane Harrison, Tara Clark, Sam O’Sullivan, Kit Brookman, Tommy Murphy, Disapol Savetsiva, Alex Broun, Duncan Graham, Steven Sewell, Alana Valentine, Jack Hibberd, Patrick White, Sean Riley, Michael Lill, Peter Kenna, Matt Ryan, Verity Laughton, David Williamson, Janis Balodis, Gareth Ellis, Laura Jackson, Robert Allen, Margaret Hickey, Will O’Mahony, Katherine Thomson, Wayne Tunks, Linda Aronson, Robert Dessaix, Travis Cotton, Aanisa Vylet, Erica J Brennan, Ross Mueller, Chris Isaacs, and Chris Bryant.

It was a wondrous way to spend two summer days. Thank you of course to all the actors for their work, but thank you deeply to all the playwrights for creating the scripts that are so inspiring to actors, to me and to audiences around the world. You rock.

Nothing left to say. Thank you everyone for a great 2016 filled with amazing plays. Thank you for subscribing in record numbers for 2017. Thank you in advance to all you last minute ‘this would be a great gift for my family’ subscribers who haven’t made the phone call yet… the office is open until noon on Friday and we will help you get it done in time to have under the tree.

You have all been the best audience a company could ever hope for. Merry Christmas. See you in the New Year.

Love,
Lee

9 December 4:41 pm

10 Minutes With Julie Lee Goss

We sat down with actress Julie Lee Goss whilst Lighten Up was in rehearsals. 

What are you loving about rehearsing Lighten Up?
Lighten Up is a new Aussie play and we are lucky enough to have the writers, Nick Brown and Sam Mccool in the room for rehearsals. Every day in rehearsals we are making discoveries and the script is constantly evolving as we do. As a company we are working towards telling this story the best way we can. It’s been exciting to be a part of such an organic collaborative rehearsal process.

What are you scared of when it comes to the show?
See above! The lines are FRESH. Like, this morning fresh!! It’s seriously exciting and a teeny bit scary!

What are the messages of the play that resonate with you the strongest and why?
 I think the message that we should embrace our differences as people and that this journey needs to start from within is a universal one. Also that you should be careful when bleaching your bits as it can burn.

Best rehearsal moment?
We have had so many laughs!! Finding my character Merle has been so fun! We have been playing with the idea that she is a little bit magic. Like every ghost should be! Walking through walls, making objects appear, wearing disguises – All in a days work!

What’s your favourite line?
I would like to say it’s John Green’s line when he says “Blood is blood, whether it is mixed or not. And it is red” as it really sums up what the play is about. But my real favorite is when my character Livvy says “Why won’t Dicky do Fanny?” For obvious reasons.

What do you love about your character(s)?
Livvy is a precocious budgie obsessed 10 year old girl and Merle Oberon is a 1940s movie star with a secret past AND a secret mission!! What’s not to love!

Are there any similar qualities you have to your character(s)?
I too am a ghost! BOO! Only joking. My characters are quite funny but I’m not really.

29 November 2:48 pm

10 Minutes with Sam McCool

Griffin’s last indie show for 2016, Lighten Up, is just around the corner. This very funny play by actor Nicholas Brown and comedian Sam McCool tells a universal tale of identity, cultural assimilation and bleaching your bits. This is Sam McCool, writer, performer, and all round funny-guy.

Who is Sam McCool?
Sam McCool, Comedian, World-Traveller and Play-Raita.

Who inspires you and why? 
Robin Williams – one of the best free flow comics of all time, outstanding to watch.
Steve Martin – his transformation from stand up comic to playwright is inspiring.
Nicholas Brown – an inspired friend with true determination to tell his story and bring it to life.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’m working on a book based on my show Emracist to create a movement where we embrace difference rather than fear it and another to inspire people to avoid a mid-life crisis and follow their dreams.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Too many to mention, but Bali is my 2nd home. 

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to?
Sydney Opera House – it’s the ultimate performing arts venue in Australia, everyone should see a show there at least once in a lifetime.  

What are you currently reading? 
The Alchemist. Even the 2nd time around it still conveys valuable life lessons.

What are you currently listening to (or watching)? 
At this very moment, listening to Nach Baliye and watching some Bollywood choreography at rehearsals of our play Lighten Up.

Happiness is? 
Moments of fulfillment immersed in a lifelong sense of contentment. 

What does the future hold for you?
More plays. More stand up shows. And a venture into politics when the old age pension scheme runs out of funds.  

Why do you think a show like Lighten Up is important?
To celebrate diversity, to tell original stories from modern multi-cultural Australia and to Lighten Up and have a laugh at each other and with each other.  

What’s your most memorable performance/production to date?
To watch: my first show at the Sydney Opera House Multiple Personality Distorter in 2012 was a landmark moment in my career, and shows I’ve done overseas have always been a fun challenge. 

Favourite Bollywood move (or movie).
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It means Something Something Happen. I watched it for 3 hours, nothing really happened! 

24 November 1:58 pm

A Note From Lee, 24 November

Greetings from beautiful Brisbane! I have spent time up with our partners Queensland Theatre in development on Michele Lee’s play Rice. We were in the building at the same time as a development of another of their plays for next year My Name Is Jimi. And if there is ever a reason to get on a plane up to Brisbane to see a play, it must be to see Jimi Bani! There was such a feeling of excitement in the building as the company started to gear up for Sam Strong’s first season up there – it is great for Griffin to be a part of it! 

Back inside the Stables, it is our last week of Stephen Carleton’s fierce comedy The Turquoise Elephant. We will miss this extraordinary troupe of actors who have been making us laugh, cringe and think through such a turbulent political time in the world. The impact of this play will be felt for years to come.

And it is not possible to think about the legacy of plays this week without also thinking of the legacy of great performers. We lost an extroardinary actor this week in Russell Kiefel. The last time he was onstage at Griffin was in Tom Holloway’s play And No More Shall We Part, a play about not wanting to let go of those we love. We have to let go of him but we can keep all the memories of his performances always.

Love,
Lee

18 November 2:17 pm

10 minutes with Nicholas Brown from ‘Lighten Up’

Griffin’s last indie show for 2016, Lighten Up, is currently in rehearsal. This very funny play by actor Nicholas Brown and comedian Sam McCool tells a universal tale of identity, cultural assimilation and bleaching your bits. As we move closer to opening night we’d like to introduce you to the amazing creative team. Meet Nicholas Brown, actor, writer & Bollywood leading man… 

Who is Nicholas Brown? 
Nicholas Brown is currently a dog whisperer, an obscure plant enthusiast and an essential oils fiend. I like Myrrh these days. Patchouli be gone.

Who inspires you and why? 
As an artist I’ve always been inspired by Bjork. Her lyrics have struck a chord with me since I was a teenager. I get annoyed when people call her ‘weird’ because I think she writes about very human things, the body (inside and out), the universe, plants, planets, technology. She’s inspirational in every way. I’ve always been inspired by Meera Syal too. I think she’s a terrific actor but has also managed to write and produce her own TV shows and films. She’s an accomplished author as well. Her ability to jump back and forth as a writer and actor is something that I’ve always wanted to do. 

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Being of Indian and British origin, I would do whatever I could to abolish the caste system in India. It’s something that disturbs and upsets me deeply. It’s a hangover from the British rule and is so deeply engrained in the Indian psyche. It makes equality in India nearly impossible. I’d also do whatever I could to raise awareness for Indigenous Australian rights and to promote the preservation of Indigenous culture. 

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I’m obsessed with Iceland but I’ve never been. I went to Tulum in Mexico a few years ago and that was probably my favourite holiday. Tulum is an ancient Mexican town by the water and it has a hypnotic power over its people and the tourists that go there. Ancient Mayan ruins are everywhere and huge lizards walk around overseeing them like gatekeepers. They stand on cliff tops looking out to the ocean as if they know ancient secrets that you might only discover if you drink less tequila and walk barefoot. I had a profound trance-like experience when I went into a temazcal to get blessings from an Aztec shaman in Tulum. It was unforgettable. 

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to?
Either to Newtown or to the Blue Mountains with a stop over at the Norman Lindsay Gallery. Fairy porn is the best. 

What are you currently reading? 
I’m reading The Manual of Psychomagic – The Practice of Shamanic Psychotherapy by the incredible Alejandro Jodorowsky. 

What are you currently listening to (or watching)? 
Owen Pallet’s last album In Conflict. It’s breathtaking. I bought the Young Talent Time cast album from 1987 on LP and have been listening to that on my record player. It’s brilliantly awful. I’ve been trying to watch Mike Leigh’s new film Mr Turner on DVD but I keep falling asleep. Their British accents are so broad, I fear I may need subtitles. Multicultural ambassador fail. 

Happiness is? 
A Labyrinth Masquerade Ball. 

What does the future hold for you?
Truffles. 

Why do you think a show like Lighten Up is important?
Lighten Up is my attempt to make some sort of shift to the Australian psyche – to bring an awareness to the underlying racism we have here that is not always seen and felt. It’s a story about owning and celebrating one’s identity no matter how mixed up it is. Despite being a laugh out loud comedy, it very much has political and spiritual agendas. Much like me. 

What’s your most memorable performance/production to date?
Barry Kosky’s Mourning Becomes Electra. I was nineteen and was completely electrified by the show. I like to be electrified in the theatre. 

Favourite Bollywood move (or movie)
I like to dance my own steps and to create my own Bolly dance moves. I have a signature creation but it’s very hard to describe in writing. It moves through five actions in a few seconds and is sort of the running man with the legs being pulled backwards in the other direction. Hard to explain but take my word for it, it’s totes groovy and cultural at the same time. Favourite Bollywood film is an Aussie Bollywood movie called Lighten up. It hasn’t been made yet but the lizards from Tulum told me it would be soon. 

 

10 November 1:12 pm

A Note from Lee, 10 November

I was onstage with the cast of The Turquoise Elephant doing an audience post-show Q&A last week when the subject of the US election came up. Belinda Giblin, who magnificently plays Olympia, predicted a win for Trump, talking of the world gone crazy. She was still in costume as she was speaking, so her incredibly perceptive words were coming from behind her almost clown-like mask of makeup, but her observations on that night haunt me today.

It is hard not to see the loss of Hillary Clinton as evidence of how much men do not want women to lead. Of course I understand that there are so many other factors in play. So as usual I look to the satirical newspaper The Onion to make some sense of the disaster.

Writers, you must speak to us in ways our journalists cannot. Playwrights you must conjure our best selves to inspire us (Lorena in Ladies Day) and our worst selves to warn us (Olympia in The Turquoise Elephant). Artists you must lead us when it is now so obvious that our politicians will not. You have to give us some hope that one day there will be actual equality, because today equality only exists in our imagined worlds.

Love
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

27 October 2:20 pm

A Note from Lee, 27 October

Hello jacaranda, hello Sydney Festival, and hello to the wonderful production of The Turquoise Elephant. It’s colourful, it’s a restoration, apocalyptic, farce which has been described as a comic kick in the teeth to our political complacency, and it is the perfect end to our 2016 Main Season.

That’s right… it is the last play of a theatrical journey that launched this year with Alana Valentine’s Ladies Day, delved into  Phil Kavanagh’s Replay, giggled through Justin Fleming’s The Literati, fractured into Benedict Andrew’s  Gloria and will finish with the final confronting question posed by Stephen Carleton ‘What are we going to do?’. What an extraordinary year of new plays from courageous playwrights, actors, directors, designers and stage managers who have led us into such different worlds. Where do we go from there? I’m glad you asked…

Into our 2017 season of course! A Strategic Plan is gearing up to take us deep into the horrific heart of bureaucratic comedy. And on Sunday morning at 9am Sheridan Harbridge was in my backyard in a tutu being drenched with blood to make the poster shot for the vampire cabaret Nosferatutu. No, the weirdness never stops. Make sure you subscribe to be a part of the whole 2017 playwriting tornado. Have I suggested yet that a subscription can make a fine Christmas gift… I know that is what I give to my whole family! This is actually a test to see if they are reading my newsletter.

With only one big horse race and one American election to get through, the silly season is nearly upon us.

Come on Summer!

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

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