The play reading’s the thing

QPDA Finalists’ Play Readings

The Greenhouse, Bille Brown Studio

July 8 – 9

To quote Rudyard Kipling, “words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” And, as such, words are the reason why, to me, the play reading has always been the thing as reading from scripts, actors, free from other constraints, are able to immerse themselves completely in the characters and the story. The result is a fully engaging theatre of the mind. And, as Queensland Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Wesley Enoch noted at the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award finalist play reading night, emphasis needs to be on the engagement of imagination, to be sparked by what is going on, taking in the works with open hearts.

The play readings of the finalists in the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2014 – 2015 occurred over two nights at QTC’s Bille Brown Studio, during which three diverse finalists from 121 entries were presented.

“One in Seven” by Megan Shoery presents the reality of parenthood behind the longed-for beginning, using catchy and poignant chamber music and lyrics to tell its tale of modern morality.

“Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” by Daniel Evans is a contemporary imagining of the events of the Ancient Greek myth from the perspectives of periphery characters. The fractured myth is savage and shocking in its swearing, simulated violence and graphic dialogue, but also outrageous funny and revealing in its examination of how we respond to tragedy in modern times.

Tim Benzie’s “The Overflow” tells a more localised story, (thanks to its setting in the aftermath of the 2011 Queensland floods, where retired Fernvale residents have taken in their neighbours in need), but still hits on some larger personal and political themes related to displacement, belonging and identify.

Although a stage reading focuses on dialogue, there is so much more than just the words too, pacing and flow, and other dramatic elements still contribute to the theatre experience. And I enjoyed each of the works presented in the intimate theatre event. Like other audience members, I have my favourite, and also what I think will win. However, I can easily see any of the three being fully realised on stage, thanks, I am sure, to the efforts of the skilled Directors (Andrea Moor, Jason Klarwein and Todd McDonald) and cast members, which included, in a virtual who’s who of Brisbane theatre, Margi Brown Ash, Lucas Stibbard, Emily Burton and Carol Burns.

play readings

The winning play will receive further script development towards production of a fully staged show as part of Queensland Theatre Company’s 2015 season. With previous winners including Marcel Dorney’s brilliant drama “Fractions”, there is much anticipation for announcement of the winner in the coming month.

The calibre of scripts on show as this year’s finalists, more than proves the Award’s value in supporting writers to bring new works into the world. Now in its 12th year, this is the only playwriting award in the country to guarantee a production to its winner – proof that the play continues to be the thing.

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