debrief_the tragedy of lucrece

My goodness what a whirlwind couple of months! I needed to take some time off the blog to process my thoughts regarding my last project, The Tragedy of Lucrece, and have also since started working freelance for the Melbourne Arts Centre (which I will write about soon!) so I have been away from the computer too long. I shall use this day dedicated to hats and horsies (Melbourne Cup – what else?) to try to catch up.

Themes

*** TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion surrounding rape, sexual assault and suicide. ***

The Tragedy of Lucrece ended a fantastic run at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, with many audience members wishing to stay after each show to discuss the shows themes and impacts with the cast and creative teams. It was a challenging and thought provoking piece, with many people expressing extreme discomfiture at the experience, whilst also recognising that at least a part of the reason the work is so disturbing, is that despite the historical setting these heinous acts are still carried out today with shocking frequency. The rhetoric surrounding women’s assault  today – the doubt and suspicion on her assertions, the question of her motives, and the suggestion that any act must have been somehow implicitly invited by the victim – is alarmingly reflective of the words and attitudes being expressed in the historical mists of 500BC. The concept we now know as victim-blaming, passed down to us from our very models of society in ancient Rome and Greece, brings us a startling and challenging thought – have we really progressed so far as a society, when a Roman Prince’s words from 500BC could be paraphrased by a 2013 premier league footballer in the newspaper today?

As a dedicated and outspoken feminist, this work was challenging for me in several ways. Enzo Condello, our wonderful playwright, wished Lucrece to be a strong heroine who, although destroyed personally by the rape, suicides as a political statement and thus sows the seeds of change that would see the collapse of the Roman Monarchy and the birth of the new Roman Republic. However I couldn’t help seeing over and over again, how Lucrece is simply used by each of the men in her life for their own purposes – Brutus uses the rape to advance his political ideas; Collantine stays quiet in concern that the news would reflect badly on his family’s house; even Lucrece’s father, Lucius, succumbs to doubt and opts to approach the King and let him dictate the outcome of the accusation (which of course, is in his own family’s favour).

Knowing the statistics that one in six women will be raped, and one in three sexually assaulted in their lifetime, along with knowing personally many strong, incredible women who have already become victims of these crimes, watching this play daily was a challenge in keeping my anger in check. I felt it was an important play that needed to be seen – one that shocks the audience by presenting such a contemporary problem dressed up in historical garb, and forcing them to realise and reconcile that ugly aspect of our society.

Our incredible director, Brenda Addie, was a rock for me during this production. Sharing my passionate feminist values, she knew that this was an important work with the ability to make a great impact. Plagued by misfortune throughout the start of the production (an entire cast was re-cast, the entire prod team disbanded to other projects, and yours-truly bought on board with only 6 weeks until opening!), Brenda held the whole thing together through sheer force of will sometimes, and was truly the guiding force in making this show happen. She also managed to encapsulate one of the hardest things I thought possible to do well and respectfully – the rape scene – with a brilliant AV / Soundscape montage of images of the rape of Lucrece throughout history, using this multimedia aspect to ingeniously link us right up to the present. With haunting images of Anita Cobby and Jill Meagher, we are reminded that this is not a historical reenactment. With contemporary images of human rights abusers from around the world, including contemporary footballers currently in jail for rape, we are reminded this is not a historical reenactment. And with images from open cut mines and deforestation, we are reminded that this is not just a human violation, but the very violation of nature herself.

With a passionate writer such as Condello, and a visionary bombshell such as Addie at the helm, this was a challenging, haunting, and meaningful piece I am proud to be associated with.

Technical

While it was the multimedia aspect, the ability to bring this historically-set story into the present, both in presentation and in narrative that bought me the most joy as a feminist, I have to admit that it also provided the most stress as a Stage Manager! Our lovely venue, the Richmond Library Theatrette, had a basic set up and a raised stage that suited our studio-performance style production very well. The essential component however – the projector – was a very old, very basic, and very lovingly donated to us for free so we can’t complain sort of number which, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed to live up to its duty of projecting anything. So we had a bit of a scramble at 2-days to opening to find a replacement projector.

This is one of those stories that is like a Monty Python farce, with false starts and dead ends, funny walks and an obscene amount of swearing that I will save the dear readers of my blog from going through. The short version of the story is, we hired a projector (that wouldn’t throw the correct dimensions because we mounted it so high). We couldn’t mount it any lower without it literally hanging halfway down the stage, so, in my delirium I had a crazy idea (that actually should have been my first one…) – I turned the projector upside down. The throw rate and angle restored, we had a perfectly functional projector for the entire remaining run. I’m not going to lie, at that stage of stress and delirium I felt like a superhero for the rest of the day.

Conclusion 

I loved working on this project, not only because it put me in elements out of my depth that I had to solve for myself, but it was the first project I could say I was personally connected to in terms of themes and philosophies. I was able to grow my skills as a stage manager working on a project and in the company of a Director who’s passionate vision I believed in wholeheartedly. While having such a personal connection to a work is tiring mentally and emotionally, the thrill of successfully achieving something so unique and important is still buzzing. Thank you to all the cast, crew and creative teams who made this show the challenging but special piece of theatre that it was.

the tragedy of lucrece_opening night!

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September 20 – October 6

Established in an historical trajectory of treachery and violence, The Tragedy of Lucrece is a dark and provocative exploration that identifies Lucrece as a metaphor for political change.

Set in 500 B.C., this bold, challenging work follows the arrogant Prince Tarquin, his nobleman friend Collantine, and Collantine’s wife Lucrece, whose virtue and modesty is famed throughout Rome. What starts as a friendly wager quickly takes a sinister turn – ending in a tragedy which changes the course of Roman history forever.

Writer / Producer: Enzo Condello
Director: Brenda Addie
Stage Manager: Chay Moran
Lighting Designer: Callum Robertson
Lighting / Sound Operator: Max Russel

PERFORMANCE DATES

Friday September 20, 8pm
Saturday September 21, 8pm
Sunday September 22, 4pm

Wednesday September 25, 8pm
Thursday September 26, 8pm
Friday September 27, 8pm
Saturday September 28, 8pm
Sunday September 29, 4pm

Wednesday October 2, 8pm
Thursday October 3, 8pm
Friday October 4, 8pm
Saturday October 5, 8pm
Sunday October 6, 4pm

TICKET PRICING

Adults                        $25
Concessions             $20

Group (pp 4+)             $22

To purchase tickets, please click here.

Presented by the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

cast biographies_the tragedy of lucrece

JAMAICA ZUANETTI as LUCRECE

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Jamaica Zuanetti first started performing at The National Theatre Ballet School where she studied dance for ten years.

In 2011 she graduated from the The National Theatre Drama School, where she performed in The Visit and Picnic at Hanging Rock. Her theatre credits include The Tempest (The Shakespeare Youth Festival),The Hamletmachine (The University of Melbourne) Yes, Yes, Yes! (Bloomsday in Melbourne) More Intimate Than (Honeycreepers; Melbourne Fringe Festival) and Season to Taste (New Blood; Kingston Arts Centre).

LIAM GILLESPIE as PRINCE TARQUIN 

Liam Gillespie has returned to Melbourne this year after a 6 year hiatus in Brisbane. His body of work ranges from the musical The Pirates of Penzance, Anything Goes and Grease, to the slightly off-centre in Stoic, Love Let Me Out and my Fat Friend, to the downright indecipherable Playboy of the Western World, The Seven Ages of Joyce and The Field.

He looks forward to continuing his on-the-job training with The Bard.

SEBASTIAN BERTOLI as COLLANTINE

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Sebastian last appeared on stage in Melbourne in Mockingbird Theatre’s critically-aclaimed How I Learned To Drive and in Out Cast Theatre’s Here & After as part of the Midsumma Festival.

Having spent almost 4 years living in Vancouver, Canada, Sebastian is proud be on stage again in his native city. Other theatre credits include: Hamlet (Eagle’s Nest Theatre), The Tempest (OZACT) and Killing Game (Arts Academy, dir. Greg Stone). His screen credits include ABC’s Dr Blake Mysteries, Fox’s Fringe and HBO’s The Pacific.

Sebastian thanks his family for their endless love and support.

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I am honoured to be working with a group of such talented, dedicated people on this challenging production. Introducing the first three cast members for this wonderful production.

PAUL DAWBER as BRUTUS / LUCIUS

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Paul is a theatre vetran, with credits including “Count Dracula” (QTC), “Two” (Malthouse), “Hamlet”,”Romeo & Juliet”, “The Merry Wives Of Windsor”, “Twelfh Night”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (The Los Angeles Shakespeare Co) and 400 performances in the Australian National Tour of “The Sound Of Music” (Gordon/Frost Org).

He also has numerous television credits, including “City Homicide”, “Rush” and most recently the TV movies “Dangerous Remedy” (ABC) and “Underground: The Julian Assange Story” (Matchbox Pictures).

Film work includes “Melvin, Son Of Alvin”, “Black Box” and the AFI nominated “Erskineville Kings”.

GORDON LINDSAY as KING TARQUIN

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Gordon Lindsay has a wealth of theatrical experience as both a performer and writer. His stage credits include: Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady, Fagin in Oliver, Madam Lucy in Irene, Mack in Mack & Mabel, Archie Rice in The Entertainer, Sergeant Bell in Reluctant Heroes, Henry in The Fantastics, Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Earl of Guerney in The Ruling Class, The Actor in The Woman in Black and Honore in Gigi.

Initially pleased to have the opportunity to play a King, Gordon quickly found that – as in most of Shakespeare’s work – this King is a complex and rather unsympathetic character. He has enjoyed working with and exploring these nuances in the script.

JOSIE EBERHART as BIANCA / ALTER SPIRIT

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Josie trained at the VCA last century and has recently returned to begin a Post-Graduate Diploma in Voice Studies.

After ten years of teaching high school drama and doing occasional appearances on TV, film and corporate/training videos, Josie returned to the theatre in 2011 in Six Characters in Search of an Author at la Mama Theatre. In 2012 she appeared in Cosi’ and Macbeth with Eaglesnest Theatre, in Under Milk Wood at the Welsh Church with Whistling Vicar Theatre and in First Fireworks with Reaction Theatre. Recent television credits include Woodley and Winners and Losers.

Josie is enjoying playing and finding the voices for two different characters in ‘Lucrece’ and is relishing the muscularity and poetic richness of the language.

media release_the tragedy of lucrece

TAKING UP WHERE SHAKESPEARE LEFT OFF?

THE TRAGEDY OF LUCRECE by ENZO CONDELLO world premieres in Melbourne Fringe Festival ’13.

Based on Shakespeare’s poem, The Rape of Lucrece, Enzo Condello dramatizes this epic moment in Roman history with the deft hand of a master playwright hailed as ‘Shakespearean in stature.’*

Familiar with tragedy in his own life, writer Enzo Condello, is the brother of the murdered gangland identity, Mario Condello.

Enzo Condello’s play, established in an historical trajectory of treachery and violence, is a dark and provocative exploration that identifies Lucrece as a metaphor for political change. ‘The is a play about hope in that this heinous act altered the course of Roman history,’ said Condello.

With a fine body of work behind him, including The Nero Conspiracy and Shakespeare and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets (selected for 2005 VCE Literature), Condello’s new work takes up where Shakespeare left off.

 Condello has the courage to put on stage what Shakespeare left in a poem.

Directed by Brenda Addie, the cast is headed by Jamaica Zuanetti as Lucrece, Liam Gillespie as Prince Tarquin, and Sebastian Bertoli as Lucrece’s husband, Collantine.

The Tragedy of Lucrece opens on Sept 19 – 6 Oct at the Richmond Library Theatrette, 415 Church Street, Richmond.

*Simon Piening – Australian Stage

Further information and photo opportunities: Chay Moran  – 0421 168 260

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upcoming_the tragedy of lucrece

The Suicide of Lucretia, by  Lucas van Leyden (c. 1515)

The Suicide of Lucretia, by Lucas van Leyden (c. 1515)

I am extremely excited to be Stage Managing a challenging new work by playwright Enzo Condello, The Tragedy of Lucrece. 

This new work tells the story of one of history’s most decisive revolutions. Based on Shakespeare’s long poem, The Rape of Lucrece, Enzo Condello’s inspired classical text richly relives this event in Roman history. An event where one noblewoman suffered irreparably – like her many sisters – then and now.

Premiering at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Tragedy of Lucrece will play at the Richmond Library Theatrette, with the preview opening on Thursday 19/09/13 at 8pm.

For further information of performance dates and booking tickets, please refer to the Melbourne Fringe Festival website: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/the-tragedy-of-lucrece/