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15 March 2:54 pm

A Note from Lee, 15 March

It’s autumn! Batch Festival is just around the corner (so hurry up and book your tickets!), the days are getting shorter, all the chocolate in the supermarket is egg-shaped and the light is changing. The light has changed inside the Stables Theatre as well. The Girgensohn Foundation supported an upgrade to our technical equipment and boy, will you see and feel a difference when you come and see Kill Climate Deniers… which is going off! Snap up tickets now if you haven’t already, because nights are filling up fast. Rebecca Massey and Sheridan Harbridge are the funniest buddy cop comedy duo you will see all year, and the whole cast are amazing as they bring slapstick together with melodrama, documentary, techno music, action films, real science, awesome lighting and killer sound design to boot—thanks to our new equipment and the ridiculous talent of the design team.

At the other end of the new play spectrum, the 2018 Lysicrates Prize was won by Travis Cotton. Thank you to everyone who came to the Opera House on Sunday afternoon to vote for the play they wanted to see more of. If you’re in the mood to catch more plays in their early stages, check out the National Play Festival next week down at the Eternity.

And if you really want to see into the mind of a great playwright, check out Alana Valentine’s new book Bowerbird, which is being launched by Currency Press next week.

It’s not quite time to get the doona out and there may be a few more weeks of swims at the beach left, but the year is flying by and there is some great theatre happening. Thank you for being a part of it.

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

2 March 1:32 pm

Kill Climate Deniers reference material

If you’re interested in delving deeper into some of the ideas and topics presented in Kill Climate Deniers, here’s some quick reference material for you courtesy of the playwright David Finnigan.


Geoengineering 
The research and discussions around Solar Radiation Management are real, and happening right now. Clive Hamilton and Tim Flannery both wrote articles for The Conversation in 2015 which provide two quick glimpses at different perspectives on this debate.

Geoengineering might work in a rational world… sadly we don’t live in one
By Clive Hamilton

There’s another way to combat climate change… but let’s not call it geoengineering
By Tim Flannery


Climate Change Commentary
There are a lot of great commentators on climate change at the moment, but one that I’ve found very helpful in the last couple of years is Jonathan Rowson from the UK Royal Society. His Seven Dimensions of Climate Change report is well worth a look, a quick summary exists on The Guardian.

Also check out Anna Krien’s Quarterly Essay from 2017, a brilliant summary of climate politics in Australia.

 

Taking Action
If you’re looking for any kind of quick action you can take, now and today, throw some money to the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council. They’re currently fighting a native title claim for the Galilee Basin in Queensland, the prospective site for the new Adani mine.

11:54 am

Kill Climate Deniers Feedback

If you’ve seen the play, we would love to hear your thoughts on Kill Climate Deniers. To keep the conversation flowing, we’ll be posting any considered feedback and comments we receive onto our blog.

To join the discussion simply email your observations to info@griffintheatre.com.au

 

As someone who works for a climate organisation, the show and its themes resonated deeply with me and I thought you did an excellent job at portraying such a complex subject in an entertaining manner. The acting was sublime and loved how the plot line was used as a vehicle for broader political commentary. So clever.  Also, the section where all the emails from the climate deniers was just so spot on. I felt like you could be reading out our own info@ email account at times!  Thanks for backing such a bold and contentious play. 

– Bek

 

Tonight’s play, Kill Climate Deniers, was a preview before the opening and hence a little rusty with sound equipment but energetic and already controversial. The title had elicited lots of hostility from those self-appointed Conservatives who were happy to “kill” Julia Gillard but who willingly took offence at a play they had not read and had not seen. Cue here to Andrew Bolt and friends.

Those criticisms were built into the play and the “playwright” kept a running commentary within the play, offering alternate realities, scenarios and providing a constant communication with the audience. This was not a play where you can forget you are watching a play. The scaffolding of the theatrical experience was laid bare.

While didactic and self-consciously so it was also a Surrealist theatre of the Absurd. It was a high octane energetic farce played at speed with many of the cast playing multiple roles. In the sights of this play were politicians, their media advisers, the media and, well, yes, us, for we are too comfortable to see that real climate policies would truly, fundamentally change the way we live.

I wish the show well. It’s brave theatre. It’s great to see risk. It’s great that the Griffin Theatre takes those risks. It is a truly special place!

–Brian

 

Having attended the behind-the-scenes session at Sydney Uni, I was excited to see how Lee finally wrangled the ‘script’ into submission. The final production exceeded my wildest dreams. It was awesomely good…so good at times that I had tears in my eyes from the sheer brilliance of it all. Fast-paced, funny, technically superb. Loved it so much I might even go again if I can get a ticket. PS. I don’t use ‘awesome’ lightly

– Trish

 

It was absolutely amazing!!! The use of the small space was inspiring, and the contrast of style – from melodrama to realism – was done so well! The fight sequences had me at the edge of my seat. Overall it was the best piece of theatre I have ever seen. 
– Sophie 

 

The bottom line is, this would never convince anyone who did not already believe in climate change, so what is the point?

–Ian 

 

My guests had a fabulous time and thoroughly enjoyed the play. It was particularly timely because one of them worked on the ABC radio program Science Report and had listened to the broadcast earlier that day with Robin Williams regarding a climate conference in the United States. Her partner, Paul Davies AM is an internationally recognised astrobiology as among other things and is very much into climate science. Both are professors at ASU.

– Jonathan

 

I wanted to say a massive thank you for my tickets last night. I took my mum and we roared with laughter and absolutely loved the play. I will be telling all of my friends. You have revived my enthusiasm to get back out and see more plays, thanks again.

–Jackie

 

This has prompted political backlash… The threat to kill in these words even in jest and if said at an airport as a joke would lead to a prison sentence and it is incitement… I think this has caused big issues in the media… There are mad people out there and I am a speaker for Al Gore in Climate Reality and  a green campaigner for many years the last thing we need is negative publicity, from the majority of people who will not see your play and will attribute this kind of attitude to people like me.

–Susie

 

I wanted to say, after attending Kill Client Deniers tonight, how much we all enjoyed it. Brilliant piece of theatre – funny writing, challenging topic, brilliant performances and top marks to Lee for the direction. Kill Climate Deniers rates as one of the best plays at the Griffin for ages, and wonderful to see such clever and witty Australian writing. The only complaint we could have is that there is so much going on, between the stage and the screens, that we feel it needs a repeat visit just to appreciate how much there is in it! Congratulations to all involved – on stage and back stage, and thank you for keeping Australian theatre alive and developing. I am spreading the word to friends about this play.

–Ian

 

It dealt with the major issue of the environment but the approach of using the education minister and having her back story made the piece so much more relatable, as well as confronting. Although the hostage situation may have seemed a bit over-dramatic, it confronted the audience (or at least me) because it made me think this is really what we are going to have to come to if the government keeps ignoring the problem of the environment. Overall I thought it was an amazing piece and the whole cast and crew should be very proud of themselves because I would go back and watch it again every day if I could.

– Pip

1 March 12:46 pm

A Note from Lee, 1 March

The first play of the 2018 Griffin Season is opening tonight!

Kill Climate Deniers is a wild ride of a theatrical experience. Playwright David Finnigan is offering a vision of the world that is thrilling, frightening and funny.

The production is filled with great Australian talent, made by some of Australia’s best young designers and laced with outrageous politics and passions.

If I told you the references for making the show were Die Hard (1 & 3), The Thick of It, Magic Mike, The Terminator and Mission Impossible 3, would you be excited or scared?

This is the kind of play that Griffin is made for—the plays that cannot and should not start at a State Theatre Company but absolutely must be on an Australian stage.

So put your adventure hat on and grab your tickets for a show like no other.

See you in the foyer!

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

15 February 1:18 pm

A Note from Lee, 15 Feb

Every week during rehearsals, we have a production meeting where everyone working on the show updates the team on their progress towards getting into the theatre. The meetings are usually early in the morning.

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, we had a production meeting for Kill Climate Deniers, which goes into the theatre next week. This was the report given by our Audiovisual Designer, Toby Knyvett:

Roses are red, just like beef jerky
I’ve got 5 out of 6 projectors and screens working

Roses are red, carnations are dapper
I just need a HDMI over CAT5 transmitter and a dual link DVI adapter
(Which Kirby already brought so that one is off the radar)

Roses are red, romance or sex?
Waiting on the video capture box to be delivered by Startrack Express

Roses are red, I love Outkast’s ‘HEY YA’
At the office they should expect a delivery in my name from Videoguys Austral-ya

>if delivery is done

(Roses are red, oh yeah booyah
Thanks for letting me know, what a fast courier)

Roses are red, pasta is al-dent
By the end of today we’ll have some content

Roses are red, I could go a ke-bab
I’ve started to create a master showfile for Khym to trigger in QLAB

Roses are red, the tech week is loomin’
With that QLAB file I need to work closely on cue points with Steve Toulmin

Roses are red, I hate roller derby
That’s all to report, back to you Kirby…

Hands down my favourite moment in a production meeting, ever! We preview next Friday – grab your tickets and get ready for a wild ride.

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

1 February 2:11 pm

In Conversation: David Finnigan

Bombastic, sharp, and urgent, Kill Climate Deniers is our first Main Season production of 2018. We sat down with playwright David Finnigan to chat about his many influences and what went into the writing of this audacious script.


Image by Sarah Walker

A play is a night out. It’s an evening of entertainment for people who could just as easily be at home. When I’m writing something I’m always asking myself, why would people want to be at your play rather than living it large in their house?

I think, what would make me want to come along for a night at the theatre?

The answer is usually some combination of: good music played loud, explosions, great costumes, some kind of story, dancing, knife fights, more music, and friendship. And you structure it the way you’d structure a party. It starts with a lot of talking, it builds until the dance-floor is heaving and euphoric, and it ends in a chaotic, exhausted mess.

People talk about playscripts like they’re a kind of literature. And some plays are!

My scripts tend to be more like a heated letter to the director, designer and actors, instructing them what to make, prodding and provoking them with challenges and obstacles, and distracting them with lists, asides, comments and questions.

Most of my playwriting influences are people I collaborated and experimented with—Chrism Lloyd, Adam Hadley, Nick McCorriston. Later on people like Jess Bellamy, Declan Greene and Nakkiah Lui for their melt-it-all-down approach to genre.

 

I was reading a lot of Anne Boyer while writing Kill Climate Deniers (and before, and after—always read Anne Boyer). She’s a US poet, one of the wellsprings, a voice I keep turning back to in my writing. I was so conscious of how her poetry is constantly contaminated by politics, how her politics is constantly contaminated by poetry, how she turns this scorching but compassionate awareness on the world and especially her own self, and I want to think some of that aesthetic made its way into my script. Or maybe I just want to tell you to go read Garments Against Women.

But I really learned to write, once you tally it all up, from Jeff Noon. When I was a teenager I devoured his sci-fi novels, then later his experiments in form—Mappalujo and Cobralingus—even (especially) his few essays on writing process, his playlists of songs that he listened to in the writing of various works.

It was Noon that laid out how you might go about applying the tools and techniques of electronic music to making a written work. How you might sample, mix and remix a piece of work into being the way a DJ would lay out a live set.

In one piece of writing, Noon broke down a minimal techno record (Decks, EFX and 909 by Richie Hawtin) and showed how you could craft a written work using the same format:

“The CD consists of 38 pieces of music, with two or three records being played simultaneously. Hawtin includes a diagram on the CD’s sleeve, which depicts where each record begins and ends.

The DJ also employs the other two devices mentioned in the title, a special effects processor, and a Roland 909 drum machine. With these various elements, Hawtin produces a coherent musical narrative. I use the word “narrative” without compromise. Anybody who has enjoyed a good DJ set in a nightclub will attest to this sense of a story being unfolded through the music.

With this in mind, we could use Richie Hawtin’s CD as the template for a novel. We need to create 38 stories, which then blend into each other using the CD’s diagram as a guide. As one story comes to an end, another story, or two other stories, are mixed into it. These new stories are then carried on, until further stories are added to the mix.

Hawtin will return to the same record twice, or to a different remix of the record; we can use this technique to allow our various stories to reappear at different places in the narrative. The special effects and the drum machine elements can be interpreted in their own ways, according to the individual imagination. There are no rules, only opportunities. Above all, imagine the pleasure gained from following the various stories through the mix.”

Maybe a playscript is really actually a mixtape, a recipe for a dancefloor trip with just enough story to contextualise the heat / the energy. And Kill Climate Deniers especially is wired straight from those late-80s / early-90s House and Techno tracks where snippets of movie dialogue or spoken word are sampled and dropped in to shape the mood.

This was such a focus in the development of the script that it led to DJ/producer Reuben Ingall and myself producing a Kill Climate Deniers album for Clan Analogue. The record is straight techno bangers in the vein of classic rave circa 1988-92, overlaid with samples from the play. (Listen to the record on Spotify if you like, or try Music to Shoot Climate Activists To for a taster.)


Image by Sarah Walker

So: take the overloaded-night-out-party aesthetic, blurt out years of fury and despair at the absurd collision between climate science and Australian federal politics, and weave it together like it’s a DJ set from 1992: that’s the script.

But that’s just the start. Then Lee and the other creatives take that script and a playlist of outstanding dance music into the rehearsal room, and burn the whole thing down until it’s a live experience. I don’t know how they’re going to do it but I’m excited, worried, charged with that nervous euphoria rush.

1:18 pm

A Note from Lee, 1 February

When you work on a play, the play inevitably works on you. You have to let it into your life and so all the questions it raises in the fictional world become questions you start asking yourself in the real world.

I’m in the rehearsal room for David Finnigan‘s Kill Climate Deniers and it’s making me really uncomfortable. This is the story of a climate science activist and his struggle to get through to the world about the battle he is fighting. It’s a cry of rage. I mean, he screams in a comic way so it’s fun to do and to see (’90s techno is inherently funny, yes?) but the underlying questions it asks about our extraordinary capacity to ‘forget’, ‘misunderstand’, ‘bury’ and ‘silence’ our history, our difficulties, our pain, our errors, our humiliations, our massacres, our lies… well let’s just say thank god I’m in a room with some great actors.

So you have to come and see it.

And if you know Andrew Bolt… you have to invite him.

2018 people! It’s here!

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

18 January 1:48 pm

A Note from Lee, 18 January

Greetings from hot and beautiful Katherine!

Yes, I am way up north on a development of a new work. It’s too early to talk about the story yet, but one of the great things about working up here is that a break isn’t a quick trip to Messina – it’s a swim in the pools at the bottom of a waterfall. Leliyn (Edith Falls) in the Nitmiluk National Park is perfect in the hot, hot, hot afternoon. As I float in the current I’m thinking just #ChangeTheDate. And I am thinking that log looks like a crocodile.

Monday will see me back in the Sydney rehearsal room for the first day of David Finnigan’s Kill Climate Deniers. And I might just sneak into the theatre Monday night to see FAG/STAG again, which is proving to be a great festival hit.

If you are coming back from holidays, welcome back to the best time of year in Sydney – there is some great theatre to see. If you’re sneaking in a few more days before the end of January, good luck to you… I hope you find a great waterfall to sit under.

With love from the land of Paul’s Iced Coffee,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

10:39 am

Two of Us: Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs on FAG/STAG

After winning a bunch of awards at Edinburgh, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe festivals, festival favourite FAG/STAG has arrived in Sydney. We talked to co-writers and performers Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs about where FAG/STAG  begun and all the places it’s taken them. 

Where did you two meet?

Chris Isaacs: We met around 2006 at The Blue Room theatre — an excellent performance hub for artists in Perth.

Jeffrey Jay Fowler: From there we knew each other through the same circles of theatre makers in Perth.

CI: We worked together on a few shows, but really became much closer since the forming of The Last Great Hunt and the collaboration of making FAG/STAG.

JJF: Our friendship was a long-time brewing.

Who are your main artistic influences?

JJF: Tricky one.

CI: I’d say we get influenced more by individual shows than by artists.

JJF: We were influenced by a spate of confessional storytelling shows that we’d seen a few years ago, and started to wonder what would happen if we played with two unreliable narrators rather than one.

CI: Recently we were influenced by Richard Nelson’s The Gabriels trilogy, though that probably plays more into Bali than FAG/STAG.

JJF: Also we both saw a show in Edinburgh this year called On Ice by Suzanne Grotenhuis which deeply moved us both and has given us something to think about for further works. She quickly shifted a simple story about fake ice rinks into a plea to take care of the planet so effortlessly it was shocking.

How do you go about writing a play collaboratively?

CI: We spent about a year talking, hanging out, thinking, dropping ideas here and there — letting the show be present in our minds but not forcing it out. Then we sat down in a room and set out a rough timeline of events in the play and then both went away to write and think about each character’s perspective on those events.

JJF: We were thinking a lot about masculinity, our own lives, the current fight against toxic masculinity, the arguments set out on both sides of that debate. A week later we sat down in a room and improvised the text — recorded it — listened to it — edited it — revised it — re-recorded it — listened again — sharpened it — wrote it down and performed it.

CI: The actual writing process was very quick, but the ideas and characters were gestating for a year.

JJF: The text is still fluid now. We change small things every season. The world changes, we adapt the play to fit. Some lines around gay marriage have been clipped and edited after the happy event of it becoming legal in Australia.

What new perspectives do you hope for FAG/STAG to offer?

CI: One of the nicest responses we’ve had is a guy coming up to us after the show and say “I’m going to go home and hug my boys a little tighter tonight.” I think it’d be nice to have men think about masculinity with a little more scrutiny.

JJF: I think the play gives the audience an opportunity to understand two people they may not necessarily like.

Any stories from the FAG/STAG tour? 

CI: We’ve been very lucky to take the show around to a few festivals now, and most recently had a great season at Edinburgh Fringe. You meet many interesting artists when you’re in festivals like Edinburgh and we had a wonderful dressing room for FAG/STAG. It was us, English comedian Jack Rooke and BAFTA winning actress Monica Dolan.

JJF: We were rubbing shoulders with real celebrities!

CI: Jack was always a nervous wreck because he was just about to do his show — and Monica (who had about an hour before her show when we were in the dressing room) was either putting on her makeup or doing yoga, or some very quiet vocal warm ups. Every day Jack would be hurriedly looking over his script — completely unorganised — dealing with a thousand things at once — and Monica would spout little acting wisdom gems like ‘technique is what you use on the nights you’re not feeling it’ in a wonderfully pleasant English voice.

JJF: That bit of advice really came in handy while doing Edinburgh Fringe!

CI: Those fifteen minutes after finishing our show were always bizarre, lovely fun.

JJF: It’s been great taking the show around the world since 2015. The world is changing, the conversation around men is changing, and that means what people get from the show changes too. One of the best parts of the show is realising that every season is fresh and new and different because it is performed in response to a different city and a different zeitgeist.

FAG/STAG runs until 27 January.

Image credit: Robert Catto

4 January 3:20 pm

A Note from Lee, 4 January

Put your skates on — 2018 is happening! And we have some great shows for you. There will be a year of laughter, tears, passion and politics.

We are about to kick it all off with festival smash-hit FAG/STAG written by Story Lab alumnus Chris Isaacs and the talented Jeffrey Jay Fowler.

Reading has started for the Griffin Award. ATYP is getting ready for its first show on the SBW Stables’ stage. Kill Climate Deniers is in pre-production. Sydney Festival has all sorts of delights in store for us. There is no traffic! I love summer in Sydney.

And given all the weddings we are all going to may I suggest that in this summer of love the perfect wedding gift for the couple is a pair of subscriptions to Griffin 2018…?!?! You know it’s a good idea.

Happy New Year!
Lee Lewis

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

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