Tag Archives: Brave New Word

Big Crow

27 Feb

Congratulations again to Brave New Word. They’re a company dedicated to new work. Our culture needs it.

Big Crow by Mark Langham is a provocative confection. Set in 1930’s rural New South Wales, it’s concocted from elements of sitcom, black humour and Australian Gothic. This is challenging for performers but fascinating for audience members.


Photo by David Hooley

The play’s concern is the oppressed: exploited workers, mistreated women and the dispossessed, original inhabitants of this land.

Like much Australian Gothic, there’s an overarching sense of dread, a sense that crimes committed are yet to be fully acknowledged. Something’s not right with the world.

Langham’s recurring motif is the crow. Ominous and evoking death, they perpetually scratch at the roof above us. They’ll have our eyes out, I fear, if we don’t learn to see our failings.

Paul Gilchrist


Big Crow by Mark Langham

til 4 March at The Actor’s Pulse, 103 Regents St, Redfern

Info and tix here

Dancing Naked in the Backyard

16 Apr

Not in my backyard. This phrase encapsulates both the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity for civil society.

There are many things I dislike about ancient Greek culture (just look at some of my posts about their theatre to see what I mean). But one thing I think the Greeks got right was their attitude to the polis; the idea that we’re only whole when we actively take part in the community.

C J Naylor’s thought provoking new play is about Nimby-ism. A group of local residents are challenged by a planned urban development. Not in my backyard, they say. The threat politicizes them.

Is this a good or a bad thing? The play seems to put little faith in the political process. And the politicization of the locals seems to go little further than their own narrow concerns.

Perhaps high rise development is necessary. People do have to live somewhere. And how sprawling do we want our cities to become? The locals’ attitude seems to be based simply on the idea that they were there first. Are they claiming to be an unacknowledged indigenous group?

Dancing Naked

Naylor’s script is intriguingly ambiguous. Samuel Smith is the appropriately sleazy developer, fun to portray, easy to mistrust. But the locals are not particularly admirable either. Alan Long and Estelle Healey play mature residents with the script’s intended kookiness, which allows two possible readings of the characters:  that they are either lovable, or laughable. Zazu Towle and Matt Hopkins play a younger couple, likable but difficult to look up to since they seem to be fighting for their right to sit on their couch.

There are, however, some nice comic moments from all the actors. Sascha Hall as the council bureaucrat delivers some wonderful deadpan disdain.

This is Brave New Word’s third production of original Australian writing. It’s great to see a young company investing in this. There should be more of it.

With its simple, direct and unadorned dialogue, and its reliance on short scenes (which this production didn’t deal with well), Dancing Naked in the Backyard feels a lot like television.  However, that’s probably appropriate. After all, the theme is the challenge, and necessity, of political engagement, and that’s something that should be discussed in every Australian lounge room.

Veronica Kaye

Dancing Naked in the Backyard by C J Naylor

TAP Gallery til 26 April



28 Nov

The myth I grew up with was that younger people were more radical than older people. As people ‘grew up’, they settled. They collaborated. They became the problem.

As I have grown older myself I’ve come to realise how self-serving this myth is.

More and more I’ve come to feel that many young people are actually conservative. It shows itself most clearly in the extraordinary snobbery of youth. Life (as well as everything else smaller on the scale) must be done a particular way. To use a trivial example, it’s in the small-mindedness of someone who says,  if you’re not performing at Griffin by 30, you’ve failed.

But snobbery can be forgiven. After all,  it’s just fear.

Triune by Brave New Word is an intriguing exploration of our changing expectations of Life.

It’s based on the conceit of one character having a three-way conversation with the younger and older versions of themselves. It asks, how do our values change and how do they stay the same?

I’ll admit I had trouble relating to any of the values held by the character at any stage in his life (too much interest in sex, drugs and travel, and as a result of the chosen structure, too much interest in himself.) But it’s the nature and worth of drama that it presents different world views, and it would be to fall into the very error of parochialism, that I began this article criticizing, to complain that the character on stage was not living Life as I think it should be lived.

Photo by David Hooley

Photo by David Hooley

This piece was devised by the company and there are some wonderful moments. It’s a quick one hour show, and I would’ve loved to see a little more stage time to develop some variations in pace.

The joy of this piece is its assertion that the older character of the triune is actually the wisest. This is a beautiful affirmation of the process of Life, a declaration that it’s not something to be afraid of. It’s a generous spirited acceptance that Life is always, and gloriously, greater than our vision of it.

Veronica Kaye



Brave New Word

TAP Gallery until 7 Dec