The Sound of Quality

How do you describe a performance that absolutely rocks?  The kind that picks you up by the scruff of the neck from the moment the performers appear before you, and keeps you engaged till the bows at the end?  They don’t come around all that often, so you won’t find any University courses that only ask you to deal with performances of this calibre.  Whether you are studying Theatre Studies, or Performance Studies,  when they send you out to attend theatre performances so that you can analyse them, you won’t be asked to write assignments accounting for the over-arching strategies that resulted in such fine work.  You’ll be asked to comment on different elements – for example, the lighting, the use of the space, the director’s vision – and you’ll be asked to explain what was done, and how.

The result of this kind of education in theatre arts has the effect of denying that there are qualitative differences between productions, and between methods of using the various elements.  I’m not saying that these courses should only be training theatre critics, I am proposing that critical rigour should be an element of the training.

Imagine a literature course that expected its students to read any three books published in a given period, with no idea as to whether the books concerned were well written or not.  Even limiting it to books by certain authors, or from certain publishing houses is no guarantee of quality.

But as I said, there just isn’t a lot of really finely made theatre around, so you couldn’t expect the theatre/performance/drama 101 courses to wait until there were enough excellent productions available to study.

And perhaps this accounts for the fact that theatre text books, and journal articles about theatre productions can talk about shows that were, frankly, pretty poor, analysing their socks off without a hint that there was just nothing better to talk about.

And perhaps this is why we don’t seem to have a formal terminology to discuss different qualities of work. Or to be able to say when, and how a performance DID hit the mark, and what bits of it did not.

And there’s no use arguing that such things are ‘subjective’, because all observations are necessarily subjective. I might argue that the lighting effects at one moment created an atmosphere of fear, and you might argue that it created a calming effect. The marker would credit us both, because we noticed the lighting effect.

How do we describe the lighting effect that was so effective that we didn’t notice it?

Or how do we describe the acting that was so sublime that we didn’t notice the voices providing us with the language of the text?

Just asking…

runaway train…

My apologies, I have been out of blog-mode for quite some time now. That’s what happens when life and work take over – not unlike a runaway train whizzing down hills and around mountains, expecting to find an uphill slope round every corner that will slow it down.

Instead, there were a couple of bridges down as we approached, which we managed to leap across, jolted but essentially undamaged.

To explain – we had to postpone our production of The Fall of June Bloom till July, (June in July, has quite a nice ring to it!) due to unforeseen circumstances.

So, I’ve been concentrating on the other production I have been involved with, Brave New World Order: a serious rock comedy, and it is now into its second and final week.

BNWO has been quite a journey, with many fascinating performance questions coming out of the rehearsal process. First and foremost of these is: how do you play comedy?  Do you try to be funny, and take the micky out of your character, and the script as you do so, or do you try to be real and allow the audience to find what happens funny in the context of the world of the play?  How is it that some people can be wildly outrageous and yet real at the same time, while others can be deadly serious and straight, and yet still be very funny?  Just where do you draw the line, as a performer, between the outrageous and the real?  Because there is no doubt that sometimes being outrageous turns into disrespectful, while sometimes being ‘normal’ means the humour is totally lost.

As a director, I have struggled to help different actors find their own way to make that difficult choice.  It would be lovely if there were hard and fast rules that everybody could follow, but I don’t believe there are. People are complex, and so is comedy.

Feel free to disagree!

The Fall of June Bloom (or What You Will)

Thunder’s Mouth Theatre is proud to present the World Premiere of

The Fall of June Bloom (or What You Will)
a new tragi-comedy by Flloyd Kennedy with William Shakespeare.

at the newly refurbished, re-named Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio (formerly The Cement Box) at the University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane.

This is a novel kind of entertainment, with Dame June Bloom attempting to deliver her world renowned lecture on The Voice of Shakespeare while her world crumbles around her.

8 – 12 June 2010
7.30 pm
Tickets $15 (concession $10)
Bookings: Phone 3365 2552

some reactions to the work-in-progress presentations in Brisbane, Dunedin and New York
"thoroughly engaging, thought provoking, fascinating and charming" . " BRILLIANT!" “What I found interesting were the intellectual concepts – the density and journey of the language”“Weaving Shakespeare’s text with contemporary language was really, really interesting! "“The power of the performance was carried securely by excellent performances” “I loved the open ended mystery" “it’s Hugely funny!" “The play highlights how we can work across generations and across cultures, bringing them together”

You can still contribute to the production fund-raising project, by purchasing unique handmade jewelry items from

With kind regards

Flloyd Kennedy (Ms)
Artistic Director

phone: +61 (0) 414 749 739
Skype: flloyd2010