sunday at the hayman

‘Sunday at the New Hayman’. Each week the Curtin Theatre students present two, 1-hour plays for a minimal charge of $10. These are plays that have been chosen and totally produced by the students themselves; the idea being to give them challenges outside their comfort zones.

The Hayman Theatre is in building 302 on the Curtin campus. To find this new theatre, enter Curtin University’s grounds from Manning Road, and then turn right at first roundabout. Go 650 metres to second entrance to carpark C9 on the right. The path to the theatre is on the left.

Curtain up is at 7.00 each Sunday evening, with lunchtime performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at noon.

‘The Bald Soprano’ is the well-known, hilarious, totally madcap play by the Rumanian playwright Eugene Ionesco, who spent most of his life in France. Although this play was written almost 70 years ago, it is still as fresh and entertaining as ever.

The director was Rebekha Penn, with dramaturg assistance from Chelsea Gibson.

The stage manager was Alex Thorburn. Rebecca Penn’s lighting design was operated by Kaylin Cutfield.

The scene: Rebecca and Kaylin were also responsible for the smart living room set, with comfortable armchairs, drinks trolley and chairside table with lamp. There is a black front door at the side of the stage.

         Middle-aged, Mr Smith (Callan Hodge) is seated in a plush armchair, intently reading his newspaper. In the other lounge chair is his adoring wife, Mrs Smith (Kyra Belford-Thomas) sipping tea, after a busy day’s travel. Their room clock ‘vocally’ chimes at freewill, with little relevance to the time.
       Mrs Smith recounts to her husband, an amazing coincidence that she had encountered – ‘that very day’. As she finishes, Mary the maid (Kailea Porter) reminds them that their visitors are expected any minute, for a meal.
       There is a knock at the door and Mrs Martin (Shona Schütz) enters fanning herself. She is followed by her vacant looking husband, Mr Martin (Ella Randle). The visitors express how hungry they are, and how very much they are looking forward to the special meal. However, the conversations continue, with little sign of a meal.
       The calm of the evening is interrupted by the arrival of a local Fire Chief (Jonathan Hoey), who has important business in the house.

This play takes a special mentality to portray the characters. For several minutes Kyra cleverly gabled away at top speed with this bizarre script, whilst having to retain clear enunciation and good body language. Callan was perfect as the disinterested, bored husband who on the surface pretended to show some attention. Kailea as the maid seemed to live in her own dream world. The visiting couple, Mr Martin (Ella) showed no emotion or comprehension of his surrounds, whilst his wife was more interested in her personal aura and appearance.

The fire chief (Jonathan) was in full control of an important situation – or was he?

Great characterisation by a wonderful, well directed cast. Congratulations to all.

‘REVOLT. She said. REVOLT AGAIN’ is a dark, tragic and moving play by Exeter playwright, Alice Birch. Alice Birch won the 2014 Arts Foundation Award for Playwriting, along with several other awards since then. Amazing work for a writer, who was still only 28 years old.

In the words of ‘The Bald Soprano’, by ‘strange co-incidence’, an ex-Hayman student, Violette Ayad, appeared in this ‘very play’ only two months ago in Sydney.

With superb use of dialogue, Birch examines the treatment of today’s women from love to severe abuse.

The play was magnificently directed by Dylan Dorotich, who had dramaturg help from Max Gipson.

The scene: is a family home.

The set: an oak dining table with three matching chairs. The floor is strewn with paper bluebells.

 Alex Thorburn’s lighting design started with a cool, dreamlike blue glow, emphasising the bluebell carpet. By the end, the lighting was a scarlet throbbing light, pulsating as for a stressed heartbeat. The lighting was sympathetically operated by Ethan Mine. The AV was by Sarah Connolly.

The subtle sound design and operation was by Keely Moloney.

For the costumes the men wore white shirts and standard flannel trousers, but costumière Amber Anderson had the girls dressed in smart black dresses and black underwear that had to take rough handling and mistreatment.

The most realistic ‘special effects’ were the work of Molly Earnshaw.

By the end of the drama, stage manager Kyra Belford-Thomas was faced with cleaning up a bloody slaughterhouse.

       At the opening of the play, we see a couple sitting at the dinner table. In a very funny passage, the man (Tim Lorian) is lustfully demanding sex from his reluctant wife (Gabriella Munro), but the light-hearted tone changes, and eventually his wife reluctantly relents; on changing her mind, to the man’s horror, she treats him in a similar demanding manner, however he cannot cope when faced with his own approach.

      In the next scene a woman (Dominique Duvall) lies on the dining table demanding to be abused and raped by her partner (Taylor ‘Mitta’ Beilby), not because she wants or enjoys this treatment, but because of her patriarchal upbringing she feels that this is what is expected by ‘the man of the house’ and should be provided.

        The next scene is a busy office, where there is a woman CEO in command. Another generation of the women’s family (Amber Anderson) steps forward, pointing out the imbalance and lifetimes of family abuse.

This is an important and bold production, courageously exposing the warped male attitudes. The play has been described as ‘feministic’, but that infers an unjustified feminine bias, when really the play is simply, but powerfully, putting forward the justified female’s point of view, along with that of common sense and communal decency should be expected.

Sadly, stage and cinema are increasingly demanding male domination scenes. Four years ago, Alice hoped to see a massive and instant awakening to the situation, and suddenly with the Harvey Weinstein saga this has swiftly started to happen.

These talented actors have shown tremendous courage in performing this ambitious play. They had to degrade themselves, and show that they expected to be defiled. Defiled both in the making of their own lifestyle statement, and in the demands of the acting profession. One can only wonder how long it will take the actors to recover after the performance; a long season of this show would be a tremendous physical and mental strain.

An exceptionally moving, thought provoking and disturbing play presented most skilfully.