“Aida”, Opera Australia at Sydney Opera House until August 31. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA
“POETRY exists all around us…It is an inescapable facet of being in the world,” Canberra poet Joshua Bell, said recently of Canberra Youth Theatre’s stage work based on his collection of poems, “Poem Every Day.”In that production at Ainslie Arts Centre, a young group of actors took snatches of Bell’s poetry and interpreted them in their own way.
At Belconnen Arts Centre textile artist from August to mid-September, Dianne Firth responded to 14 poems written by writers involved in the 2016 festival, “Poetry on the Move,” even as the 2017 event went ahead at the University of Canberra.
Last week Andrew Galan and BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! told us of preparations for the Canberra National Poetry Slam, where Canberra’s top spoken-word poets vie for the chance to compete on the national stage and where Wollongong spoken word artist Emily Crocker will launch her new poetry collection.
Now news is to hand of an entirely different approach to staged poetry, in what The Street Theatre describes as a “remix” of poetry, song lyrics and the spoken word from the 1940s to the present.
Compiler, editor, and director, Adele Chynoweth has taken selections from poems by no fewer than 32 Australian poets, deriving the theme and title, “Under Sedation,” from a poem by the late Canberra poetry legend, A.D. Hope, who wrote of the poet’s condition, “Remember, sister, we are/Under sedation of habit, of hope, of lust.”
Chynoweth has put together a performance anthology from writers of poems and songs, running the gamut from Geoff Page, Sarah Rice and Kevin Gilbert to Coda Conduct and Cracked Actor.
The director’s idea is to weave together the “old and the new, sung and spoken, published and drafted, applauded and unknown, the earnest and irreverent” with the intention of transforming local poetry into a production that will “enrich the dialogue that Canberra poets and songwriters have so generously brought to our community.”
Actors Ben Drysdale and Ruth Pieloor will perform, while movement will be designed by Emma Strapps, a soundscape by Shoeb Ahmad and lighting by Linda Buck.
At last count, the poets inspiring Chynoweth are A.D.Hope, Andi and George Band Greg Appel Dorothy Auchterloine, Burrows Michael Byrne, Adrian Caesar, David Campbell, Coda Conduct (Sally Coleman & Erica Mallet) Malcolm Coller, P.S.Cottier, Vesna Cvjeticanin, Michael Dransfield, Chris Endrey & Bec Taylor Niloofar Fanaiyan, Bela Farkas, Fun Machine Kevin Gilbert, Paul Hetherington, Suzie Higgie J.C.Inman Subhash Jaireth, Aaron Kirby, Victoria McGrath, Mark O’Connor, Lizz Murphy, Omar Musa, Geoff Page, Anita Patel, Sandra Renew, Sarah Rice, Fred Smith Melinda Smith, John, Karl Stokes and Monique Suna.
By juxtaposing poems and voices with design, sound, movement and actors, the director and her team of artists aim to breathe life into verse.
ACT finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, Main Hall, Gorman Arts Centre, Braddon, 7pm to 11pm, Friday October 6, bookings to agac.com.au
Under Sedation: Canberra Verse Remixed, at the Street Theatre, September 29 (preview) to October 14. Conversation with the director, 3pm Sunday, October 8. Bookings to the street.org.au or 6247 1223.