Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

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Archive for July, 2008

Canberra Youth Theatre

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on July 22, 2008

I got the job! I will be what they call a tutor. It’s part time. One class will be at my local primary school (that’s what they call a middle school, college is high school and uni is university). The schools throughout the city contract with CYT to have a tutor come out once a week and teach a drama class. It so happens that she needed someone for the Turner school so I can easily walk there. This class is really a beginning acting – theatre games, pantomime and storytelling – much of what I did with my Drama 1 classes at the high school. At the end of the semester the students put on a little program for their parents.

The other assignment is to co-teach  a class on Melodrama at the CYT center. This group is the 13 – 25 age group. The parents pay for the kids to take part in a variety of acting and technical theatre workshops offered each semester. I will teaching kids who want to take drama and whose parents are motivated to keep them attending. The melodrama class should be fun. Again at the end of the semester they will perform a short melodrama for parents and friends. This class is also on Thursdays after school. The CYT has it’s own theatre building where they rehearse and perform.

Pip said that she rarely has discipline problems because the students really enjoy being involved. One of the groups is the Ensemble group. This is a group of students who have taken classes at the center before. They audition to be in the ensemble group and then they do a full blown production. They rehearse on Saturdays from 10 to 4. The public pays to see their productions and from what I hear they do some really outstanding work.

CYT is funded not only by enrollment fees but also my the federal and state arts councils. Pip also applies for grants. She recently got a grant to create a new work for the Ensemble group to perform. Pip had just cast the show at the beginning of the week and they were going to have their first rehearsal on Saturday. Since it would be their first read through I asked if I could volunteer to help with this play so that I could get to know more about how the organization works, meet more students and help with anything she might need. It just so happen that this week the playwright, Ross Mueller from Melbourne, the set and costume designer, Tobhiyah Feller from Sydney were going to be there. Toby and Ross are professionals (young but successful – Ross has written many plays and Toby has a design studio in Sydney).

Toby presented her costume  and set designs to the cast – a group of about thirteen 16 to 22 year olds and one 10 year old girl. I will try to get photos once the set is built. During the read through, Ross and Pip continued to make small revisions to the work. The play is an adaptation of a young adults novel called “The Messenger” by Markus Zusak a popular Australian novelist. The group did the read through and I was impressed with many of these young actors. On Sunday they did a mini read through presentation to an audience of arts council members, sponsors and parents. Pip gave a short presentation on the process thus far, the cast read scenes one through five, Ross discussed the writing process and the audience asked questions. It was a wonderful afternoon. When Pip introduced the key players, Ross, Toby, Sharon the office manager, Lonnie the stage manager, and the sound designer, she also introduced me as the center’s newest tutor and her assistant director for this play. I’m finally beginning to be a part – even if it’s only a bit part. Learn more about CYT .

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Broulee Beach

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on July 21, 2008

We rented a townhouse just south of Bateman’s Bay at Broulee Beach on July 3 thru the 6th. The weather was fantastic, not too cold, clear skies and a little breezy. The townhouse was fully equipped with everything except food, sheets and towels. We were able to bring the dogs because the townhouse had a nice fenced yard and a balcony that faced the beach. It reminded me of my townhouse in Carlsbad with the living area on the top floor and extra rooms on the ground floor. There was was a nice balcony with a table and chairs and we sat out there in the morning sun with coffee and tea. 

I should have written this soon after the weekend because now it’s all just a memory. The Moore’s came a day later and we had a restful weekend. We went to dinner one night at the Air Raid Pub in Moruya and the next night we grilled some steaks. Mostly we walked on the beach. The dogs had never been to the beach before and it was fun to see them explore. They were unsure about the water, didn’t like the waves or the taste of the sea. We couldn’t get them to chase the ball or frisbee into the water. 

Broulee Beach is south of Bateman’s Bay – you might be able to find that on the map.  On Saturday morning we went o breakfast in Mogo – a cute little former goldmining town but now a spot with artist shops and gift stores. After breakfast we went to the Saturday market at Moruya, a small town south of Broulee.

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Theatre in Canberra

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on July 21, 2008

Since we arrived in Canberra I have been exploring the theatre scene. We saw “The Old Time Music Hall” at the Canberra Theatre – the professional venue in town. We have tickets for “My Fair Lady” for August. That production is by a national group from Sydney and they have also performed it in Melbourne. Learn more about Canberra Theatre Centre.

ANU (Australian National University) is really close to us and they have a Drama Department. I took my resume by there a few weeks ago and talked with the department chair. Unfortunately they are a small department – himself and two other professors. He said he would love to be able to hire someone part-time but has no funding – what a surprise I guess that’s a worldwide issue. Now if he was chair of the business school that would be another story. Learn more about ANU Theatre.

He suggested I visit with Helen at the Canberra Repertory Theatre. Their venue is a theatre called Theatre 3. It’s a cosy blackbox theatre and the production teams are a combination of professional and volunteer artists. I accidentally introduced myself to a woman who I thought was Helen telling her I would like to drop off my resume, she corrected me saying she wasn’t Helen but Pip, the director of the Canberra Youth Theatre. It just so happened that she was going to put an ad in the paper next week for a drama teacher. She gave me her address and asked me to drop off a copy of my resume.

I finally found Helen and she explained that most of the “professionals” i.e., the people who get paid are the actors and directors of the plays and for those of you who do theatre know, it’s a long line for those positions especially when no one knows you or your work. I’m not opposed to volunteering – I miss doing theatre.

I went to see a production at Theatre 3 – a play called “Someone to Watch Over Me” – a drama about three men, an American doctor, an Irish journalist and a English professor who are being held in a Middle Eastern detention prison and don’t know why. Very sad, brilliantly acted and eerily staged – the men have one ankle chained to the floor and have a filthy pillow and thin mattress each, and are lighted from above by a single shaded industrial lightbulb.

Britt and her neighbor Esha – a high school girl who goes to the performing arts school and I went to see “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at Theatre 2 (Yes there is a Theatre 1, all of these theatres use to be part of the university but when they got their new theatre the city took them over and are now run by separate theatre companies as part of the city art council – or something like that). Theatres 1 & 2 are part of an organization called The Street Theatre. To learn more about these theatres click on the highlighted names.

I still haven’t seen anything at the university or Theatre 1 but I will get to them eventually. There are also MANY community theatres that I haven’t even begun to explore. In the meantime I got a call from Pip and I went to interview for a paid position at the Canberra Youth Theatre – stay turned for the next installment for the results.

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