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Theatre

Joining MUST is a must!

Awakening – MUST 2017 Directed by Daniel Lammin. Photographer Theresa Harrison new

Monash University Student Theatre (MUST) is a theatre company that creates vibrant, innovative performances by and with Monash students, for all audiences. Our work is bold, diverse and of an excellent standard, attracting awards such as the Melbourne Fringe Live Art Award (2015) and great reviews: “they create the kind of theatre that blows me away every time…” Sometimes Melbourne (2016); “A radical and devastatingly effective adaptation…brilliant, deeply moving…” The Age (2017 of Awakening)

The MUST community is widespread and our graduates are making a significant impact throughout the national arts sector. Students are involved in every area at MUST: direction, marketing, stage management, design, musical composition, tech, acting and more. We pair new backstage people up with experienced student mentors. If you want to improve your leadership and communication skills, get some marketing experience on your CV or be trained in theatre lighting, let us know.

Auditions are open to ALL Monash students. You don’t need any experience, just dedication and enthusiasm. Our 2018 season is bursting with artistic expression. We’ve got new works, old favourites, interactive experiences, cabaret, workshops and unadulterated fun. Check out how you can get involved!

Where? The MUST Offices are located on the ground floor, western end of the Campus Centre, down the corridor to the left of the pharmacy. Info and audition sign-up sheets are there. The theatre entrance is on the other side, opposite the Menzies Building

Who? MUST Staff are Artistic Director Yvonne Virsik and Technical Manager Jason Lehane and hundreds of enterprising student volunteers!

Contacts?  (e) msa-must@monash.edu    (ph) 9905 8173

More Info via (w) msa.monash.edu.au/must   (f) facebook.com/musttheatre

A low down of some opportunities at MUST right now

COME ALONG TO…

  • Say hi to students at the MUST Stall in the O Week Carnival
  • See The MUST 2018 O ShowBack to the First Year

Charge your portal guns, grab a sonic screwdriver and check your flux capacitor! This year’s O Show is taking us to a world of Interdimensional discovery! Created by Aleks Corke and Gina Dickson, Proudly Sponsored by Campus Community Division

O Week, every day 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm & 3pm (FREE)

  • A Casual General Welcome to MUST Session (O Week & Week 1)
  • Auditioning at MUST Workshops (Week 1)
  • The MUST 2018 Season Launch and Party! (Thurs March 15)

WRITE OR CREATE FOR…

  • The MUST Phone-It-In Film Festival – Your chance to let your cinematic creativity shine using the magic of your own smartphone!
  • PRONTO – Performed Readings Of New Theatrical Offerings – Diverse new scripts; new directors; performed readings and discussion
  • Careful they might hear you – Spoken word workshops & performance

GET INVOLVED IN…

  • The MUST Beginners & International Students’ Performance Workshop Program – Fun, free weekly acting & performance workshops, culminating in public showings. All welcome!
  • The Bacchae workshops – in preparation for Rob Reid’s all-female-performed trilogy at La Mama in 2019.

AUDITION (Weeks 1 & 2) OR PERFORM A CREW ROLE FOR…

  • MUSTBOP – MUST B-Grade Film Overdubbing Project – Created by Eamonn Johnson & Lachlan Liesfield, this year to a gloriously dreadful 80s Sci-Fi extravaganza!
  • Vinegar Tom by Caryl Churchill – A 17th Century witch hunt; an indictment against the treatment of marginalised women. Directed by Gina Dickson
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – A trivial comedy, for serious people … with cucumber sandwiches. Directed by Bernd Faveere
  • The Monash Shakespeare Company’s Much Ado About Nothing

AND THEN IN SEMESTER TWO WE’VE GOT:

  • The MUST Cabaret Festival – A wonderful performance showcase for diverse artists. Evenings of varied genres including theatre, dance, drag, music, comedy and more! Curated by Emily Vitiello & Austen Keating
  • End Transmission – an Immersive Sci-Fi Performance Installation – Interact with performers and mysterious technologies as you move through an abandoned space ship. Created by Humphrey Cheung & Michelle Nguyen, Directed by Yvonne Virsik
  • Holloway – a new musical – A university community copes with the fallout of a traumatic event. Written by Fraser Mitchell & Earl Marrows, Directed by Kat Yates
  • Monash Shakespeare Co. present Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
  • Monash Shakespeare Co. present Antony and Cleopatra

IN DEVELOPMENT:

  • Q – An existentialist maze, a bureaucratic ritual. Written and Directed by Aleks Corke
  • Detention – A new work exploring youth incarceration in Australia. Created by Edan Goodall
  • Alice – A new take on Lewis Carroll. Written by James Walker; Directed by Diane Pereira
  • We’re partnering with Women’s Circus to offer special mentorships for female theatre makers Diane Pereira, Georgia Bell and Georgie Wolfe.

AND TO CAP OFF THE YEAR:

  • 2018 Wrap Party and Awards Night
  • MUST Theatre Boot Camp

Come see us at MUST for more info on opportunities for you! We’re looking forward to seeing you in 2018 onstage, offstage, or in the audience.

Yvonne Virsik – Artistic Director MUST

 

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‘Falsettos’ gives energetic voice to outsiders

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Falsettos is a complex and layered musical that explores themes of sexual identity, family
relationships, coming of age and terminal illness. It is well renowned in the world of music
theatre as one of the first musicals to deal with the AIDS epidemic of 1981 and to normalise
gay relationships. At the heart of the script, though, it is not a musical about the tragedy of
AIDS or even about being queer. Falsettos is about how life’s rapid changes of direction
challenge our expectations and perceptions of who we are.

On top of all of this complex subject matter, the book by William Finn and James Lapine also
plays with unconventional plot development and experiments in narrative. The story mixes
real life with scenes that take place inside a character’s anxious internal psyche, challenging
audiences to determine from whose perspective we are observing the action at any time.

Indeed, StageArt have taken on a complicated and unrelenting piece of theatre that is
deeply beloved by many in the musical theatre community. Overall, director Tyran Parke
makes an engaging combination of bold and simple choices, and the cast are each
outstanding singers who carry the demanding score with confidence and refinement.

The set, designed by Daniel Harvey, uses a chess board as flooring and the New York City
skyline as a backdrop. The game of chess is a motif throughout the play, with Jason being a
reclusive young chess enthusiast who finds solace in the simplicity of the game compared to
his chaotic family relationships. It also serves a metaphor for the convoluted evolution of
life, in which characters often think they are moving in one direction and are suddenly
thrown off by a change in the game. The skyline, however, feels like an obvious and
thoughtless solution to the issue of needing an unobtrusive and transformable backdrop.
The New York setting is clearly established through the text and does not need to be
constantly reinforced as the themes of the musical could apply to a variety of contexts.

Sarah Shahinian, who is returning to the stage after a five-year hiatus, is the stand out actor of thecast. Her performance as Trina, a functioning addict who works tirelessly to maintain appearances of ‘a tight-knit’ middle-class family is compelling and honest in its mix of comedy and desperation.
Fourteen year old Ben Jason-Easton also delivers an extraordinarily mature performance as the child of a complicated divorce, who is apprehensively approaching his Bar Mitzvah and trying to appease his family in conflict. Easton’s relaxed stage presence and convincing performance is highly commendable.

The three (adult) male leads are all exceptional singers. However, the relationship between Marvin (Don Winson) and Whizzer (Sam Ward), which is supposed to be so rich with sexual energy that it drives Marvin to break up his marriage and sacrifice his dream of a conventional family, is lacking in chemistry and ultimately unconvincing until the final stages of the second act.

A three-dimensional, un-clichéd portrayal of LGBTIQ+ characters is an essential part of what makes Falsettos such an important musical for many in the music theatre community. In each of the queer characters’ storylines, homosexuality is a secondary characteristic to a plethora of other personality traits. Marvin is a father, an alpha-male and a businessman who questions his sexuality. Charlotte (Francesca Arena) is a brilliant doctor who is also a lesbian, and Cordelia (Jenni Little) is a chef with an overbearing personality who happens to be a lesbian too. It is this humanity that makes Falsettos feel so truthful and ahead of its time.

In Parke’s production, however, the character of Whizzer is portrayed as a homosexual with very little else going on. In the second act we find out he likes baseball and is a fairly keen athlete, though this seems like a plot device that is primarily used to reveal his depleting physical strength when we later discover that he has contracted a horrific illness. Sam Ward is undeniably an excellent singer, but his portrayal of Whizzer feels more like the shallow representations of homosexuals that we are used to seeing in films from the 80s and 90s, and stands in contrast to the nuanced portrayal of the other gay characters in the ensemble. It is worth noting, though, that the writing of Whizzer as a character likely feels dated now to a 2018 audience due to the overuse of this particular brand of gay stereotype in film and television from past decades, and may have seemed like a more relevant depiction of a proud openly gay man when Falsettos originally opened in 1992.

Two of the most powerful moments of the production are the anxiety-inducing performance of ‘March of the Falsettos’ and the unfolding of Charlotte’s realisation about the severity of the HIV/AIDS infection that is killing many of her patients. Parke uses moments of genius surrealism with puppetry and toy-like instruments to symbolise the scenes of insight into Trina’s nervous breakdown, and there are several brilliant moments of aside from Jason Easton that poignantly capture the anxiety of going through puberty.

Ultimately, the production uses an incredibly affective combination of frenetic pace, sound
and staging to capture the central themes of quiet restlessness in inner-city, middle class
social life and the anxiety of feeling like one’s perceived identity falling apart. Overall, the
musical direction and stellar performances from many makes for a praiseworthy show that
is essential viewing for music theatre fans.

Falsettos plays at Chapel off Chapel until the 11th of February.

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