Blog

24 May 3:04 pm

A Note from Lee, 24 May

Sydney is filled to the brim with great Australian plays at the moment.

Good Cook is leading the charge and once you have seen that, make sure you head over to Belvoir for Alana Valentine‘s The Sugar House and then Nakkiah Lui‘s Blackie Blackie Brown at STC. Huge stories, great talents, nights in the theatre to talk about as winter heads our way. 

I am writing this on the train back back to Melbourne from Geelong after the opening night of The Bleeding Tree at Geelong Performing Arts Centre. It’s late, the train is pretty empty and I am once again overwhelmed by the language of Angus Cerini. The journey of this play has been extraordinary. Seeing audiences in Canberra, Melbourne and Geelong thrill to the terrifying, hilarious, gruesome, gorgeous, contradictory, epic, human, awful world of this play has been pure pleasure. But being in Melbourne has touched it all with a certain sadness—I am sorry Malcolm Robertson didn’t get to see the fruits of his support for Angus’s writing. Through his foundation he supported the first production at Griffin—and happily he got to see that—but I think he would have been thrilled to welcome the work to Melbourne. I didn’t know him well but I enjoyed the few conversations we had and was inspired by his commitment to emerging artists, his love of Australian plays and his patience. We need more of this kind of Malcolm! I know a lot of people have supported The Bleeding Tree and Griffin, but I couldn’t help it, I sat in the audience tonight and wished he could have been there. His foundation continues to support playwrights and projects at Griffin. We hope to continue making him proud.

The next newsletter will be cheerier because Phil Spencer will write it while I’m away in Melbourne directing MTC’s production of Gloria. And in the next newsletter we will be able to announce the winner of the Griffin Award! But for now, goodnight from the empty train carriage with the city lights of Melbourne in the distance…wow…the LED Ferris wheel!

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

10 May 2:25 pm

A Note from Karen, 10 May

In the Griffin office this week we can’t wait for you to…

See Good Cook. Friendly. Clean.

Brooke Robinson’s new play Good Cook. Friendly. Clean. opened last night to much acclaim. It has been fantastic to receive audience feedback throughout the previews as the team have transported Brooke’s gut-wrenching play from the rehearsal room to our intimate Stables stage. It’s terrific to have Marion Potts back with us directing this intricate work. The last time Marion was here was with Peta Brady‘s Ugly Mugs—and I know you will find this work just as daring and provocative. Book your tickets now for Good Cook. Friendly. Clean. (we are selling quickly!) and come and experience the amazing stage chemistry between these three fine actors. Worth it just to see Tara Morice back at Griffin!

Experience the rest of 2018!

It’s not too late to subscribe to the 2018 Season. A Griffin subscription is great value for money and the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on what’s in store for the rest of the year. Plus, one of the subscriber benefits is half-price drinks at the Stables Bar…what’s not to be happy about there?

Celebrate the national tour of The Bleeding Tree

Angus Cerini’s beautifully rich play The Bleeding Tree opened at Canberra Theatre Centre last night.  We are thrilled to be touring this Helpmann award-winning production to Canberra, Melbourne and Geelong. If you haven’t seen this deeply heartfelt work and are near any of those towns, get along. It is a production not to be missed.

Hope to see you at the Stables soon!

Cheers,
Karen

Karen Rodgers
General Manager

26 April 4:26 pm

Celebrating ‘Good Cook. Friendly. Clean.’
Sharehouse Horror Stories

Brooke Robinson‘s Good Cook. Friendly. Clean. follows Sandra (played by Tara Morice) as she spirals down a rabbit hole of ridiculous sharehouse interviews in the daunting midst of the Sydney housing crisis.

In anticipation of the show’s opening, we asked you to send in your own personal experiences with horrible housemates. Follow this blog post as we add stories and tidbits ranging from the hilarious to the truly heinous–and if you’ve got your own, there’s still time to submit! Email marketing@griffintheatre.com.au and you might see your story published on the Griffin website!

Dairy Dilemma

“I lived with a woman in Glebe called Sam. Sam had a penchant for leaving refrigerated items out on the kitchen bench for ridiculous lengths of time. The record was a two-litre carton of milk, which was left on the bench long enough to swell to almost double in size, and turn to a festering green colour. Yummy.”

Boozy Bedfellows

“I had a flatmate who would routinely come home drunk in the early hours of the morning and leave the front door wide open.  The best night was when I came downstairs to find the contents of her handbag distributed along the path leading to the front door – sunglasses, make-up, lipstick etc.  She’d managed to get the door open, left it open, and then promptly dropped her keys, wallet and the bag itself in the hall before going to bed. 

This was only topped by the night she climbed into my bed at 3am, declaring that she wanted to sleep there.  I thought the best course of action was to go and sleep in hers – only to be confronted by her in the morning, demanding to know what I was doing in her bed.”

Chicken Feet Friends

“I moved to a new city and ended up in a house full of creative artists. It wasn’t rare to walk out of my bedroom in the morning to find strangers filming music videos in the lounge room, strangers drilling holes into slime covered dildos on the kitchen floor, or finding mannequins dressed as 16th-century witches, complete with necklaces of dried chicken feet opposite my bedroom door.”

Shower Showdown

“I moved into student accommodation and my roommate had hair about three feet long that used to block up the drain. One day the shower was so clogged that by the time I got out, there was about half a foot of water in there. Not wanting to pull HER hair out of the drain, I got out and left it – only to come home that evening to find a passive-aggressive note addressed to me, asking me to drain the shower after I use it.

On the day I moved in, I asked if there was a rubbish bin in the kitchen and she looked at me like I was crazy and just shrugged. And she once left hard boiled eggs sitting on the kitchen table going bad for a whole week.”

Meat & Greet

“My partner lived with a guy called Stu who was from country Victoria. About once a month, Stu would go home for a visit and when he returned on the Sunday night, he brought with him a cow’s carcass. The carcass was never completely dried out, so he hung it under the stairs inside the house until all the blood drained out of it… once dried (some time later), he proceeded to cut the carcass into steaks for the household for the next month.”

Smells Fishy

“In first year uni I lived with a girl who only cooked smoked cod with white sauce or macaroni cheese. That was it. Week days was smoked cod and she had the macaroni cheese for a treat on weekends. Our whole house smelt like a mix of a bad fish shop and some cheap fromagerie! At the end of first year she moved on to Kraft cheese on toast and mandarins which was much easier for the rest of us to live with!”

Coital Conundrum

“I was running late one morning and couldn’t find my bike lock. Noticing that my housemate’s door was open, I thought “ah, *name redacted* is up, I’ll ask if I can borrow his” and walked into his room, to the harrowing sight of he and his girlfriend mid-coitus. With the door WIDE OPEN.”

Itchy & Scratchy

“During a 6-month university exchange in the States I shared a tiny dorm room with a girl who didn’t wash her sheets in 6 months, had a chronic skin condition (we had bunk beds and I’d awaken early in the morning to hear her scratching in the bed above me, the flakes of her skin drifting down like snowflakes in the early morning light) and who woke me every few days at the crack of dawn blow drying her hair an inch away from my face. Our room was literally next door to the enormous women’s bathroom for our entire floor, but she didn’t want to use it because she was “scared of being electrocuted.” I’d come back to our room some nights to find her and her friends lying in my bed—literally under my doona—watching a movie on her laptop and eating takeaway from the Thai restaurant down the hill. Some mornings I’d wake and have to shake rice and bean sprouts out of my hair. The hilarious thing is that even though she was a bit of a nightmare to live with, on our last day I still gave her a little present and a ‘goodbye, good luck, all the best’ type card. She did not give me anything.”

Book Worm

“In a sharehouse in Harbord, I once borrowed a book that was placed on bookshelf in the living room area. It was a can’t-put-downer, and I finished it in one weekend. I RAVED about how good it was to my flatmates over dinner, because it was. Later that same evening I received a text message from one of the flatmates. Let’s call her Lisa, because that was her name. At the time of texting, Lisa was in the bedroom next to mine. Her message informed me that that book was a present to her and NOT mine to read until she had read it first. My taking it from the shelf was impertinent and selfish and I should have known better. Now I am scared to go near bookshelves.”

Only Girl (In The World)

“I lived with a girl called Marielle who played Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ every single day for a year and whenever I hear it now my left eye twitches uncontrollably. In that same house was a Parisian called Charles who read Nietzsche obsessively, never shared any of the cheese his family sent him and didn’t speak to me for a month because he thought I broke his lamp. (I didn’t).”

Oh, Those Belgians

“My housemate put her room on AirBnb, and an eccentric Belgian took it. Early on, he looked at my phone lock screen, which was a cute, obviously romantic photo of me and my boyfriend, and asked optimistically ‘Eez zat your….brother?’ This remark was put into context when, two days later, I caught a glimpse of the contents of his washbag in the bathroom. It contained nothing but approximately 200 condoms.”

Not So Secret Diary

“My friend kept a secret Tumblr called ‘Confessions of a Terrible Housemate’ where he detailed, unknown to his housemates, all the things he had done in the house. Highlights included ‘I used your wooden spoons to tie-dye my underwear and now all the spoons are red’ and ‘I stole your wine and drank it sitting down in the shower.’ When he moved out he sent it to them.”

Sour Note

“I had a housemate who fell in love with me and then when I rejected him, he moved out in the middle of the night and we only found out by a tiny note he left us.”

 

12:57 pm

A Note from Lee, 26 April

In all the excitement of our first Batch Festival I forgot to tell you about The Bleeding Tree! It is going on the road! Next Monday I go back into rehearsal with the magnificent Paula Arundell. Two new actors, Sophie Ross and Brenna Harding, have come on board to play her daughters. It is a real pleasure to be working on that play again – as tough as the story is, we all feel really lucky to have it on a stage once more.

People often ask me why our works don’t tour more. Truth is, in Australia it is a really expensive, difficult thing to do well, and it takes time, cash and a huge effort to remount and tour a play – these are resources we don’t necessarily have at Griffin. We choose to stay focused on producing new work. But every so often, there is such demand from other cities to see a particular play that we just have to make it work. If you saw The Bleeding Tree at Griffin and Sydney Theatre Company you will understand why Canberra, Melbourne and Geelong want the chance to see it for themselves. So tell your friends and families down south to book tickets – then you can finally talk about the play with them!

In the meantime, this is the last week of Batch, and then next week, Good Cook. Friendly. Clean. is in the Stables. I snuck into the rehearsal room last week and was thrilled by what I saw. It is funny and disturbing and moving and a really exciting debut from new playwright Brooke Robinson. I think you will really like it! 

See you at the Stables!

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

11:45 am

A Sharehouse Like No Other
A Note From Phil Spencer

For those of you not familiar with Griffin’s Admin Head Quarters—it is, for want of an exact phrase, a ‘sharehouse’.

A six-bedroom, one-bathroom, half-a-kitchen sharehouse—what a clean-shaven real estate agent would call ‘a burgeoning micro-garden with huge botanical potential’, aka a back deck with three dead pot plants and a bin.

The Griffin sharehouse, or ‘Craig’ as it is known, is much-loved and much-occupied by team Griff. As with all communal living quarters, Craig has its own unique domestic eco-system. We have rules of course. Some rules are decreed in biro upon the back of an electricity bill on the fridge door – like “if you eat the last biscuit, you buy the next biscuit.” And some rules are unspoken but well-known—like “Strictly no April Fools jokes, not after the last time guys.”

Every Thursday morning around 10am a game show buzzer goes off and we have a flat meeting. There is weak tea and gluten-free day-cake and a pile of passive-aggressive post-it notes to talk through.

I make my way down the stairs, past the sign that Lee Lewis made in red texta that reads “All flatmates are equal. But some flatmates are more equal than others.” I step over the semi-permanent hallway parcel addressed to Sam Strong (an ex-flatmate who for some reason still gets all his ASOS packages sent here and luckily, we’re the same shoe size— thanks Sam). I arrive in the front room which is stuffed full of bleary-eyed arty types clutching keep cups.

The flatmate roll call here at Craig reads like a list of names of people who were on the “I’m sorry, but we cannot offer you a place this time round” list for the NIDA acting course circa 2001.

And this meeting starts the way every weekly flatmate meeting begins in every house the world over—self-elected boss lady Karen Rogers (who I strongly suspect of stealing loo roll (in bulk)) starts the meeting by holding up an A4 laminated sign that simply reads “Wash your dishes people! I am not your mum!”

From there we tick off the agenda items with the zesty enthusiasm of a group of people who’ve been forced by circumstance and a love of the theatre to share close confines and one unpredictable lavatory:

Item One: For those in favour of ‘Vegan Tuesdays’ raise your hand.
Item Two:  For those interested in going on the ‘VR, the death of theatre and life as we know it’ one-day intensive course over at AFTRS sign here.
Item Three: Under no circumstances eat the cookies baked by the last intern. They are, and I quote, ‘dubious’.
Item Four: Despite what he says, Elliott is not the landlord, so if you’ve given him any cash in the last month please request it is returned—granted he has been here an eternity and I for one have never seen him pay any rent—but two wrongs don’t make you a landlord.
Item Five: Despite wide spread rumours Ang did not die with a falafel in her hand, she went on holiday and will return next week.
Item Six: Any other business…

 

Phil Spencer
Artistic Associate

12 April 2:33 pm

A Note from Lee, 12 April

First ever BATCH is awesome! 

The first-ever Batch Festival started last night with the best wordsmith in Australia, Omar Musa, live on the Stables stage for his solo show Since Ali DiedSomeone give me the money to commission a play from this incredible voice! The Australia Council was hosting a group of international visitors as part of their Future Leaders program—they chose to bring that group to Griffin last night and I was so happy that Omar’s work was front and centre for them. You have to see him.

And once you have, stay a bit longer and buy another ticket to see Cassie Workman‘s new piece GiantessDelicate, moving, funny, confronting and questioning…about as intimate as a piece of theatre can get. And once you’ve shared the same air as her, stay up a bit later and buy a ticket to see Club Mama

So while we are sad to say goodbye to our gorgeous Kill Climate Deniers team, there is a blast of fresh talent and exciting work to thrill you. There is a huge three-week program of work by independent artists curated by Griffin’s Phil Spencer and Nicole La Bianca for your enjoyment and inspiration—plus some great beer from the serendipitously named Batch Brewing Co, who we were so happy to have come on board. 

If you’re feeling like a bit of an adventure, come on over to the Stables and see the future of Australian theatre! 

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

29 March 12:22 pm

A Note from Lee, 29 March

There are moments in time when plays talk directly to each other. When the smallest theatre in town and the biggest theatre in the country are telling the same story in vastly different ways. When the playwrights zero in on an idea and the plays manifested are joined at the political hip, regardless of the budget of the productions.

There are two performances onstage in Sydney that you must see if you want a 2018 snapshot of political leadership seen through the eyes of Australian playwrights. The first is Rebecca Massey as Gwen Malkin, Minister for the Environment in David Finnigan’s Kill Climate Deniers. The second is Hugo Weaving as Arturo Ui in Tom Wright’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s play The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui down at the Roslyn Packer Theatre.

Both are virtuosic performances. Both actors have created frighteningly real portraits of power in this age. One is a clown, one is a tyrant. Neither offers comfort as we face an uncertain future. One is written by a young, passionate activist playwright used to making provocative works on the fringes, the other is from Brecht by one of our most established adaptor/translators who works in the heart of our biggest companies. Together, they exemplify the strength and range of new Australian writing.

You have one more week to see Rebecca Massey. You have one month to see Hugo Weaving. It’s not a competition between companies, it’s a conversation. But can Hugo Weaving pole dance? That’s all I’m saying…

Eat a lot of chocolate this weekend and I’ll see you at the gym next week.

Love,
Lee

Lee Lewis
Artistic Director

23 March 1:39 pm

Joint statement: Shared commitment to cultural change in the theatre sector

We pay our respects to the First Nations people of this land that we’re meeting on.

Gathering on Wurundjeri land within the Kulin nation, the inaugural Safe Theatres Forum took place last weekend bringing together representatives from all areas of the not for profit spectrum of the performing arts industry. This historic and unprecedented forum is the culmination of over a year’s work and was initiated by artists.

The 47 participants of the forum included culturally and gender diverse artists, LGBTIQA+ artists, First Nation artists, artists with disabilities, Artistic Directors and Executive Directors of major, small to medium and independent theatre companies, arts advocacy groups, funding bodies and representatives from the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, to initiate a national conversation and combine our collective effort in driving lasting cultural change to eliminate sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in the sector.

The participants of the forum have agreed to be the custodians of change. They have made a long-term combined commitment to create workplaces free of harassment and bullying; workplaces that are safe, where policies and procedures are clearly communicated and understood, where avenues for complaint and redress are available which respect the rights of all parties involved.

The forum discussed the success of the theatre sector in changing the culture around the management of physical workplace health and safety and agreed that the lessons of this change provide confidence that a similar shift can be affected in the prevention of unwanted behaviours in the theatrical workplace. As with all successful programs of cultural change, multiple initiatives will be required over the coming years, from strong and appropriate legislative frameworks; to a comprehensive, transparent and effectively utilised backbone of policy and procedure; to peer-to-peer campaigns that promote respect, inclusivity and responsibility and make these the accepted norms amongst theatre workers.

The participants have agreed to pool resources to galvanise the industry to establish safe workplaces free of harassment, bullying and discrimination. The participants will lead by example but are committed to sharing their resources, policies and knowledge to others working in live theatre. The participants have agreed to several future steps which will shape a plan of work towards achieving safe theatre workplaces.

● The 12 theatre companies present at the forum will seek to harmonise their policies and procedures to create a common framework which can be adopted throughout the industry.
● All participants in the forum will make a commitment to the Live Performance Australia code of practice once it is finalised.
● Toolkits and resources for independent artists will be created so they understand their rights and avenues for action.
● Artistic Directors and Associates of the companies in attendance commit to undertake intimacy training to build skills in this area of creative practice.

The participants will make contact with other institutions within the sector to propose contributions that they might be able to make to ensure a coordinated program of action.

The participants will make a detailed statement about specific actions the groups will take in the near future.

The participants will hold state-based forums in the next three months, to share actions and commitments and to hear feedback from arts workers across the country.

The participants will reconvene in 12 months to report back on progress.

All participants agree the forum was a valuable opportunity to open new channels of communication, and lasting cultural change will need to be a managed process over time, but share a resolve to address harassment, discrimination and bullying in Australian theatres.

#safetheatres

Taking part in the Safe Theatres Forum were (in alphabetical order): Zoe Angus (MEAA), Robyn Arthur (MEAA Equity), Michala Banas, Nicole Beyer (Theatre Network Australia), Annie Bourke (Malthouse Theatre), Loretta Busby (Ensemble Theatre), Elena Carapetis (State Theatre Company South Australia), Shareena Clanton, Elaine Crombie, Chloe Dallimore (MEAA Equity), Lisette Drew, Sue Donnelly (Belvoir), Peter Evans (Bell Shakespeare), Sharna Galvin, Jodi Glass (State Theatre Company South Australia), Ming-Zhu Hii, Kate Hood, Katherine Hoepper (La Boite), Ann Johnson (Sydney Theatre Company), Amanda Jolly (Queensland Theatre), Sapidah Kian, Lee Lewis (Griffin Theatre Company), Eryn Jean Norvill (Safe Theatres Australia), Virginia Lovett (Melbourne Theatre Company), Sarah Neal (Malthouse Theatre), Annette Madden (Australia Council for the Arts), Patrick McIntyre (Sydney Theatre Company), Sarah McKenzie (MEAA Equity), Bruce Meagher (Griffin Theatre Company), Daniel Monks, Claire Nesbitt-Hawes (Ensemble Theatre), Lou Oppenheim (Circus Oz), Gill Perkins (Bell Shakespeare), Paige Rattray (Queensland Theatre), Karen Rodgers (Griffin Theatre Company), Sophie Ross (Safe Theatres Australia), Shari Sebbens, Brett Sheehy (Melbourne Theatre Company), Dan Spielman, Sam Strong (Queensland Theatre), Pearl Tan, Eva Tandy, Rob Tannion (Circus Oz), Anna Tregloan, Emma Valente, Clare Watson (Black Swan Theatre Company), Kip Williams (Sydney Theatre Company) 

 

The Safe Theatres Forum was held in Melbourne on March 17 and 18, 2018
Joint statement: Shared commitment to cultural change in the theatre sector

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.

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