‘Hello my name is …’ was conceived by Melbourne-based, performance workshop teacher Nicola Gunn. In 2011, Nicola won ‘The Stage’ magazine award at the Edinburgh Fringe for best solo performer. It was also winner of a Green Room Award for Conceptual Realisation. In addition, Nicola was awarded the Centaur Award for best play (‘The Elephant Club’).
This fresh and unusual production has been co-created with Carlee Mellow, in association with Theatre Works (World First). Australia Council arts funding, and the Besen Family Foundation have assisted the funding of the show.
This Australian Premiere is being presented by ‘The Blue Room Theatre and Sans Hotel’, as part of the 2012 City of Perth Winter Arts Season. This novel, adult-themed show is being performed at The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge until Saturday 30th June. All shows are at 8.30 pm.
After reading that the audience are asked to wear ‘sensible’ shoes, it was with some trepidation that I journeyed through the Tuesday storm to the Blue Room. At the box office the poster warned about possible ‘Live animals, alcohol, nudity and traces of nuts!’ What could possibly be ahead?
As I was led into the local ‘Community Centre’ – the rehearsal room - I really had no need to be frightened, as the soft spoken, very attractive, French hostess, Sophie had arranged a warm welcome. Possibly the warmest that I have ever experienced. She had invited a few friends, and friends of friends, around for a special social gathering. After we had introduced ourselves to each other, we started to relax with fun and games.
Sophie was a warm-hearted but highly strung girl, far too interested in helping her friends rather than caring for herself, and really needs our help in the form of a good sit-down chat. She is an excellent host and likes to see her guests happy. She entertains with her very dry humour, in a way that many may not have been entertained before.
Sophie’s mood-swinging, intricate performance - and it was very hard to believe that it was a performance - strongly drew out the fatherly instinct from me. I felt like giving the poor lass a good cuddle and trying to sort out her sad life. She opens her heart and mind to us her friends; we really should give her something in return.
‘Hello my name is …’ was great fun, but a bit like being at a firm’s ‘bonding party’ when you are not sure if it is purely for pleasure, or is there an underlying, non-threatening look at ‘you’?
‘Many a true word is said in jest’ and Sophie’s sophisticated, but rebellious, wit and emotional outbursts make the viewer re-examine their own unknowingly exposed and susceptible lives.
This casual night out is like an artist’s painting, you think that you have seen and admired the full picture, then on revisiting it, the complexities and richness starts to surface. When I think of the emotions that have been stirred within me, they range from being nervous, having a good laugh, freedom and enjoyment, surprise – some may even say ‘shocked’.
Like watching a magician’s performance, don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the approach, the brilliance is unseen as Sophie has very complex depths and is otherworldly.
The brave director was Nicola Gunn, the genius who had a great deal to do with Sophie’s behaviour and character development. The backstage credits go to the Sans Hotel group of friends, with dramaturgy by prize winning comedy writer, David Woods. The sound design by Green Room nominated Luke Paulding, whose talents cover several genres of music. The lighting design by several times Green room nominated, Gwen Holmberg-Gilchrist. Indeed, a highly talented group. The show in Perth was teched and stage managed by Alice Hatton.
An unusual happening that may leave some ‘cold’, but for most it was a unique and searching event. Everyone left the night with a big smile on their faces, and their brains spinning. A masterly piece of inimitable theatre.
A play rehearsal is interrupted by the arrival of a divided family who have been abandoned by their creator and are seeking an author, ‘any author’, to give them a ‘definitive artistic form’ so their stories may be staged. While the first performance of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author to a Rome audience in May 1921 was almost booed off the stage it has gone on to have many successful seasons and is still a major part of the theatrical repertoire. The play, in part, is Pirandello’s attack on the Italian theatre of the time, with its actor-managers and star-systems, its stock characterisations, and its standard repertoire of romantic melodramas. However, it is a play on many levels. It raises questions about the nature of reality, of what constitutes identity, and how we can gauge what is truth. On another level it is a hysterical romantic melodrama about a warring family who live out their emotions on the skin. And, it is also a deeply tragic revenge narrative – a tale of betrayal, adultery, suicide and death. Students enrolled in theatre studies at UWA present this very physical, at times comedic, and often provocatively philosophical play, virtually uncut and unlike many productions we choose not to attempt to modernise it into the contemporary world of electronic media.