Tag Archives: Budding Theatre

The Inheritance: postmortem

It’s been two weeks since my first full-length play The Inheritance had its last show at Belconnen Community Theatre. It was a short run – four days, five shows, and only six weeks of rehearsals.

The Inheritance program

The Inheritance program

What a ride!

I had a lot of anxiety going in: What if we don’t sell enough tickets? What if people don’t like it? What if an actor gets sick and can’t go on? What if everyone suddenly realises I’m not very good at this playwriting stuff?

Who’d have thought being a playwright could be so stressful!

Luckily, my play was in safe hands. Cate Clelland, our fearless director, ushered my story from page to stage with experienced finesse. Our actors brought their A-games. People turned up. Most seemed to have a good time (most!). And now that the dust has settled, I haven’t heard a whisper from the playwriting police demanding my playwriting licence back.

The world continues to spin …

Highlight of the week was being able to share my work with friends and family. I don’t see them enough, so being able to give them a glimpse into my silly little brain was a real treat.

I also got a kick out of talking to the friends and family of the cast and crew in the foyer after each performance. It was cool to see how proud and impressed they were with their loved ones, and it was great to know my little play could give them something to reminisce about down the road (“remember that ridiculous play you were in about the stupidly rich family …”).

The full cast and crew (well, almost … someone had to take the photo!)

The biggest surprise for me coming out of the production was seeing just how many people it takes to put on a play. It was humbling to see so many talented people volunteer their time and experience to get this thing off the ground.

With that in mind, here’s a big list of thanks …

To the crew, designers and set builders: Ryan Lee and all the other magical pixies! Don’t think I didn’t see you flittering about making stuff look great. Love your work.

To the front of house staff: Stephen and his many helpers. Every machine needs good lubrication. Thanks for popping those corks and keeping the happy flowing.

To the young cast: Erin Stiles, Vivian Murray, and Martha Russel. You started each show with a bang. If I had known we’d get such great young actors, I would have written more scenes for you!

The spectacular cast of The Inheritance!

To the “adult” cast: Linda Chen (for expertly playing the empathetic straight woman surrounded by class clowns); Jess Waterhouse (for taking “sassy” to a whole new level); Alexandra Howard (for making bitchy look dignified … and easy); Victoria Hopkins (for bringing depth, even from the confines of a toilet stall! Sorry!); Vivek Sharma (for bringing big laughs to a small role); Rob Defries (for keeping everything anchored in “reality”); and John Kelly (for bringing a dead guy back to life!).

To my fearless director, Cate Clelland: the script set you challenges, but you always had an answer. Big thanks for your frank feedback and words of encouragement. I learned a lot from watching you work. Best of luck with your future productions!

To my producer Kirsty Budding and Budding Theatre: thanks for taking a risk on me, and for your ongoing support. A lot of people seek permission to do theatre; you go out and do it. I love that, and I can’t wait to see what Budding Theatre does next. Until then, try and get some sleep.

As for reviews, The Inheritance got the full Hollywood treatment: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! Some of the responses I expected; some caught me by surprise. Regardless, all the feedback has been insightful and beneficial.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from The Inheritance is that you can’t learn until you do. It’s one thing to write a play, to hear a reading of it, to see it workshopped, to watch it rehearsed, to get written feedback on a script, to discuss it with friends etc. It’s something else entirely to see it in full flight on a stage with a set, lights, and audience. Only then do you see the full picture: what works; what doesn’t; what could have been done different; what special nuggets were always hidden inside. I can honestly say that the five shows I saw of The Inheritance has taught me more about playwriting than anything I’ve done before. I have no doubt it has made me a better writer for the experience.

A memory to take home. Love it!

So what next? Hopefully The Inheritance will live on in one form or another. I’ll make a few adjustments, send it around, see if anyone is interested in it. I have a suspicion this won’t be the last time I see this wacky family butting heads on stage or on screen.

In the meantime, it’s back to the keyboard. The best advice I’ve ever been given as a writer (apart from “read … a lot”) is to not delay tackling a blank page. So, I’m diving back in. I’ll do what all writers must do when they get to the end of a story – start again.

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A long story of a short play that became a long play: The Inheritance

The Inheritance, 16-19 August 2017 @ Belconnen Community Theatre

A few years back I was writing my first full-length play as part of the Hive development program (run by Canberra’s Street Theatre). It was going to be a serious play about serious things – family, death, secrets, betrayals etc. It was going to be deep and meaningful and emotive. It was going to be my first foray into “real” theatre writing.

Unfortunately, I got about ten pages in and was utterly bored!

So, I switched tracks. I abandoned drama and dove into the more familiar pool of comedy. I had another piece I had been tinkering with on and off for a few months. It was supposed to be a ten-minute play. But the more I wrote, the more it demanded that I keep adding to it, keep delving into it, keep letting it unfold. For the first time in my theatre writing life, the characters didn’t want to stop playing on page ten. They demanded more: more lines, more laughs, more everything.

Who was I to argue?

I toiled for a few months on a first draft. Most of it I wrote while on holidays in Townsville where I was visiting my wife while she was on work placement. I sat under a ceiling fan on the deck of an old Queenslander trying to ignore biting mosquitos and the screech of curlew birds nesting across the street. It was hot, sticky, uncomfortable. It was the best month of my writing life!

So started The Inheritance – a silly and farcical play about an eccentric family struggling to reconnect after the death of their billionaire father. I’m not sure where the story came from. Not personal experience. My family is odd, but not rich enough to be eccentric. But after weeks of banging words into a computer, there it was. A play. A long play. My long play.

An early draft of The Inheritance

Bristling with the kind of confidence only a newly completed manuscript can give, I took my shiny new draft back to the Hive for review. Unfortunately, they were not as impressed with my efforts as I was. The dramaturge and his offsider smiled and politely told me the script was “funny in places” and that “the last scene should be the first scene”. Essentially, they were saying, “Is this all you’ve got?”

To be fair, this was all valid (and helpful) feedback. The Inheritance is not a cutting-edge, boundary-pushing piece of writing. It’s not reinventing theatre or revolutionising drama. Not my style. I write to entertain. To have fun. To make people laugh. Sure, I hope to impart some insightfulness here and there, perhaps even shed some light on something innate or intriguing. But primarily, I want to make sure people have a good time watching my play.

The rather unenthused feedback left me feeling flat and dejected. I thought perhaps this playwriting thing wasn’t for me. Maybe I should be looking at other mediums. TV? Skits? That would be great, but there aren’t exactly a lot of opportunities in Canberra for that. So, I put The Inheritance in the bottom drawer and set about writing another play. Something new. Something dramatic. Something “theatrely”.

This second play took about six months to write. It had everything I thought a theatre company would like – family, death, secrets, betrayals etc. But alas, this play didn’t get much love either. Whatever the theatre folks were looking for, I didn’t have it.

So, I stopped. For a while. I wrote some short comedic pieces. Had a baby. Started to teach myself photography. You know, life stuff …

About a year later I woke up thinking about The Inheritance again. This was unexpected. Mentally I’d put the play to bed, filed it away under “Play Attempt Number 1”. But for some reason, it came back to me. I opened the bottom drawer and dusted off the last version I’d printed out. I took a read. Tried to be objective and self-critical.

The play wasn’t perfect. It had an odd structure, too many characters, the stakes were a little dubious. It took place entirely in an office and a toilet for crying out loud!

But despite its flaws, there was something compelling about it. It was funny. I don’t usually laugh at my own stuff, but I couldn’t help but chuckle as I flicked through the pages. The characters, though a little over the top, felt real. The family dynamic was authentic.

Put simply: the play had life.

I got to work again. I drafted, refined, cut some characters, added in new scenes, tried to give the story a better balance and a better arc. After a few more passes I was content that it was “a thing”. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do with it.

So back into the drawer it went.

Another year passed. One day I found myself chatting with Kirsty Budding of Budding Theatre. Budding Theatre has always been a supporter of my work, and that of other writers looking for a collaborative place to experiment, have fun, and get their work in front of a real audience.

I took a punt and told her about The Inheritance. I said, “It’s a bit silly, and not exactly Shakespeare, but I’m pretty sure people would have fun watching it.”

To my surprise, she said, “Send it through, I’ll take a look”.

The Inheritance cast photo shoot (July 2017)

Before I knew it, The Inheritance started to attract supporters. We organised a table read with some actor friends. Kirsty found a director – the awesomely talented Cate Clelland (a bit of a Canberran theatre legend). A casting call went out. Auditions were had. A cast was assembled. Next thing I know I’m standing in a room full of people talking about my characters and getting photos taken for the play’s promotional materials.

The Inheritance had started to breathe.

I don’t know how the play will go down or what to expect. I still don’t consider myself a real “theatre writer”. I think “comedy writer” is closer. Regardless, I write for fun. If the cast has a good time, if the director gets a kick out of playing with my characters, if the audience has a few laughs and goes home feeling good about their night out, then I will consider the play a success.

Anything else is a bonus.

The Inheritance will be performed at Belconnen Theatre on August 16, 17, 18, 19 at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee on the August 19.

Tickets are available via TryBooking.

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Sexy Beth and her dildos are back

Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection @ Short+Sweet South India 2017

I am super pumped that my short play Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection will be in this year’s Short+Sweet South India on 5-9 July!

I wrote this play a few years back as part of Budding Theatre’s Unwrap Me short play showcase. It received great feedback from audience and critics alike.

Not sure why it took me so long to re-write it for the 10-minute format. But now that I have, I am super excited that it’s going to get another (albeit slightly shorter) run!

This incarnation is directed by Vinod Anand, and will feature Krishna Kumar S. as Phil, Mitra Visvesh as Beth, and Arvind R. Vyaas as Dale.

If you happen to be hanging out in Chennai, be sure to check it out!

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Getting festive with SANTA, BABY!

SANTA, BABY!I’m jolly excited that my new play Statistically Speaking will get a short run as part of Budding Theatre’s SANTA, BABY! short-play showcase on 16 & 17 December at the Courtyard Studio (Canberra Theatre).

Statistically Speaking rehearsal with Felicity Knott and Philip Meddows

Statistically Speaking rehearsal with Felicity Knott and Philip Meddows

Statistically Speaking tells the quirky tale of a statistician looking for love in all the probable (but not predictable) places. It features the ever-awesome Philip Meddows as Milton and the delightful Felicity Knott as Rach. Yours truly will be directing!

Following up from the success of UNWRAP ME in 2014, SANTA, BABY! will include nine short, Christmas themed plays written by Canberra playwrights and performed by local actors. The full line-up includes:

  • Mother and Child by Kate Roediger
  • Statistically Speaking by Greg Gould
  • Christmas Cheers by Frances McNair
  • Gingerbread or Smarties by Zoe Swan
  • Reindeer in Red by Kirsty Budding
  • Christmas in Yorkshire by Harriet Elvin
  • The Christmas Fairy by Adele Lewin and Nigel Palfreman
  • Xmas Is What You Make It by Bronwyn Vanzino
  • Not What You Expected by Judith Peterson

Featuring songs, angels and a visit from Santa, SANTA, BABY! is a Christmas event not to be missed. All profits go to wildlife conservation charity The Thin Green Line Foundation.

Tickets are available via Canberra Theatre.

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October productions

Short+Sweet Manila

Short+Sweet Manila

It’s been a pretty crazy month. I started a new job, had a birthday, found out some awesome news about a play of mine that’s currently in development with Budding Theatre (more on that soon), and had two plays in L’amour et la mort.

And just when I thought it was done, I find out that three more of my plays are bouncing around stages across the world.

The first two, Stargazers and The Assignment, were included in Week 1 of Short+Sweet Manila on 21-23 of October.

This is the second time I’ve been included in Short+sweet Manila, with Last Drinks taking part in the 2014 festival.

Shorter+Sweeter in Dubai

Shorter+Sweeter in Dubai

The third play,  Smart Jimmy, Slow Bob, has been included in Shorter+Sweeter in Dubai on October 29. This show looks very interesting. It consists of five winning plays from various Short+Sweet festivals in one night. The other writers on the bill include Alex Broun, Kate Toon, Angie Farrow, and Tim Hehir – a fine list of folks to be sharing the stage with.

Honestly, I had no idea either of these productions were happening until about a week ago. In the 10-minute play scene, this will happen from time to time. Not that I am complaining. I’m just stoked that these little plays are still floating about, and hopefully giving some people a few laughs.

After all, that’s exactly why I write them!

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Last Drinks at Best of Crash Test

Best of Crash Test @ Courtyard Studio

Best of Crash Test (25-26 June)

Super excited that my short play Last Drinks will hit the Canberra boards again as part of Best of Crash Test on 25 & 26 of June.

Last Drinks was my first Crash Test play back in 2012. Since then it has become one of my most performed pieces with almost a dozen productions throughout Australia and abroad. In 2013 it won People’s Choice at Short+Sweet Canberra and was a Gala Finalist in Short+Sweet Auckland. Recently it was part of the inaugural Shorts on Stage ten-minute play festival at Noosa Arts Theatre.

Apart from the buzz of getting to see Last Drinks live again, I’m excited that this version will feature the talents of Rob Defries and Helen Way. Rob and Helen were the first actors to take Last Drinks into the Crash Test arena, and I’ve been itching to get them back in the roles. Added to this, the awesome Phillip Meddows will be directing! What more could a playwright ask for?

Best of Crash Test is a celebration of Crash Test Drama Canberra, a moved reading event aimed at developing original work and fostering creative collaboration. Since kicking off in 2012, Crash Test has played a key role in the emergence of a dynamic, energetic and inclusive ten-minute play scene in the ACT. A number of writers, actors and directors that have taken part of Crash Test Drama Canberra have gone on to enjoy success in ten-minute play festivals and competitions worldwide.

The full line up for Best of Crash Test is:

  • “My Undies are Evil” written and directed by John Lombard
  • “A Dog’s Life” written and directed by Angus Algie
  • “Sprung” by Nigel Palfreman, directed by Kirsty Budding
  • “Cupid’s Waiting” by Kate Roediger, directed by Rob Defries
  • “Cuts” by Mary Langdon, directed by Marcus Freeman
  • “Wardrobe Diplomacy” by Harriet Elvin, directed by Amanda Gillespie
  • “Money Rats” by Kirsty Budding, directed by C.S. Carroll
  • “Last Drinks” by Greg Gould, directed by Philip Meddows

The plays range in subject and style, from outlandish comedy to subtle political satire. All look to be a lot of fun.

The Best of Crash test kicks off at 7pm on 25 & 26 of June at the Courtyard Theater.  Tickets are on sale via Canberra Theatre.  The show is produced by the ever-enterprising Budding Theatre.

Note: this show is not suitable for children. There will be bad words. And sexy words. But mainly bad words.

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The Assignment gets a HD at Crash Test

The Assignment gets the Crash Test treatment

The Assignment gets the Crash Test treatment

My play The Assignment made a great first impression at the last Crash Test Drama Canberra. Not only did it take out the People’s Choice award (as voted by the audience and other Crash Test participants), it also took home Best Director thanks to the insightful and energetic guidance of Philip Meddows.

As a founding member of Crash Test Drama Canberra, it’s awesome to see the format doing so well. Hats off to Budding Theatre for keeping the ten-minute play format alive on Canberra stages. Great to see so many new actors, writers and directors taking part.

From a writer’s point of view, Crash Test is still my favourite way to develop ten-minute plays. It’s fast. It’s furious. It’s never what you expect. It’s also the best way to find out which parts of your play will stand up under the pressure of an unforgiving stage. What dialogue works? What can be left out? Does the story need more attention? Put your hard-earned words in the hands of a Crash Test crew and you’ll find out quick smart.

Big shout out to my fellow Crash Test writers at the last event. The quality of plays on offer was impressive. I especially enjoyed Cupid’s Waiting by Kate Roediger (directed by Annastasia Denton) and My Undies Are Evil by John Lombard (directed by Arne Sjosetd). Both were witty, funny, and subversively insightful.

For info about upcoming Crash Test Drama Canberra events, check out the Budding Theatre website or Facebook page.

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Stargazing at Crash Test Drama

CrashTestDramaCanberra-1November2015

Crash Test Drama Canberra – 1 November at Theatre 3

My newest short play, Stargazers, will be Crash Tested on 1 November by the always entertaining folks at Crash Test Drama Canberra.

Crash Test Drama is a local moved reading and networking theatre event. In a single afternoon, a bunch of new ten minute plays will be cast, rehearsed and performed script-in-hand in front of an audience. The audience then votes for their favourite play, and the judges give out awards for acting and direction.

This round, six ten-minute plays will be put through their paces, including works by Harriet Elvin, Angus Algie, Greg Burgess, Jim Jones, Kirsty Budding and … me.

Crash Test is super fun, and a great way to iron out your ten-minute play kinks. Can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Crash Test takes place on 1 November at Theatre 3. Casting and rehearsals start at 3pm. Performances start at 5. Actors and directors who want to take part should contact Budding Theatre.

If you like theatre that’s fast, fun and a little bit out of control, be there!

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Unwrap Me Reviews

Brendan Kelly and Rob de Fries

Brendan Kelly and Rob de Fries perform in “Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection”

Alison McGregor and Brendan Kelly

Alison McGregor and Brendan Kelly perform in “Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection”

The Unwrap Me cast and crew

The Unwrap Me cast and crew

Unwrap Me, a showcase of Christmas themed short plays by new and emerging Australian playwrights, wrapped up with a sold out show at the Courtyard Studio on Saturday 20 December.

My play “Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection” closed out the show, and I am delighted to report that the reviews have been very positive. Below are a couple comments I particularly enjoyed:

Greg Gould’s “Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection,” dealing with honesty in family relationships, hit the spot in both writing and directing.
– Helen Musa, CityNews (read entire review)

The evening ended with perhaps the best written script: Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection by Canberra-based Greg Gould. […] The quality of the writing is in the immediately established genuineness of the feelings and motivations of each of the characters …
– Frank McKone, Canberra Critics Circle (read entire review)

Overall Unwrap Me was a fantastic and fun production to be involved in. Big congratulations to Budding Theatre for pulling the show together, and for fostering a truly inclusive and “can-do” approach to theatre making. I have no doubt they will continue to put on amazing shows in the future.

I’d also like to thank my amazing cast Brendan Kelly, Alison McGregor and Rob de Fries. As a first time director I knew I needed to surround myself with experienced and talented actors, and I couldn’t have asked for a better troupe to work with. They took my script and lifted it to another level. In fact, they knocked it out of the park!

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UNWRAP ME opens December 18

Unwrap Me: December 18-20, Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre

Unwrap Me: December 18-20, Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre

Opening night for Unwrap Me, a Christmas showcase of short plays by new and emerging Australian playwrights, is only days away!

The show kicks off at 8pm on December 18 at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre, with more shows happening on the 19th and 20th (including a matinee performance at 2pm on the 20th).

My play “Sexy Beth’s Giant Dildo Collection” will be one of ten plays performed on the night – and they all look pretty damn cool.

Tickets are on sale direct from Canberra Theatre. Be sure to check it out!

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