Home' Teacher : April 2011 Contents 24 TEACHER APRIL 2011
Consider the ease with which we can access
and download music, film, imagery and text
these days and it's difficult to imagine that a
mere century ago the only way you could lis-
ten to music was by watching someone play
it in front of you. In our online, on-demand
world, mind you, there's still an artform
that you can't download. It's called theatre,
which by its very nature must be experi-
enced physically, in the moment captu red
between performers and a live audience.
That focus on performance is central
to the Victorian Certificate of Education
Drama and Theatre Studies course, which
requires students to undertake an assess-
ment task based on the performance of a
play on the playlist. One of this year's plays,
Lloyd Beckmann , Beekeeper, is a sensory
experience in more than the usual ways.
I spoke with Kelly Somes, the direc-
tor and co-author of this one-man show,
which had a successful run at Melbourne's
La Mama Theatre last year, has been nom-
inated for a Green Room award in stage
design and is touring nationally, starting in
Melbourne before travelling to Sydney and
Brisbane. The Melbourne performances will
include several matinees with forums where
students can ask questions of Somes and
Tim Stitz , the sole performer and Somes's
BJ: Can you tell me about the process of
developing the script?
We started in 2007. Tim approached me
to help him work on a project, or impersona-
tion, that he'd built around his grandfather.
He came to me because I'd worked on a
number of projects that focused on grief and
ageing and death, which I was interested in
at the time. We developed the work from a
series of transcripts of interviews that Tim
had had with his grandfather, originally
from a high-school history research pro-
ject that he'd done in Year 9, because his
grandfather lived through the Depression,
so he was finding out a bit about that. More
recent interviews were fuelled by trying to
find about more about his grandfather and
his father, who died when he was younger.
The beginning point was the beekeeping.
His grandfather talked a lot about his life
as a beekeeper. We took some of those sto -
ries and put them onto the floor in rehears-
als as well as the research we did during
creative development in Albury-Wodonga
at HotHouse Theatre. All this research fed
into the work and fuelled the themes. So
when we were looking at the text we drew
out the stories of beekeeping that related to
these themes, the cycle of life, and the pro -
cess of packing up a life. Tim and I worked
mainly in the rehearsal room but at times
we had input from other sources, so when
we did our residency in the country we had
the lighting designer and the aroma designer
working with us.
BJ: Aroma designer?
We have this little machine that emits
aroma. Lloyd is meant to be a fully sensory,
immersive theatrical experience. The audi-
ence is sitting in Lloyd's lounge room, on his
armchairs, cushions, couches. They drink
his cups of tea, taste his honey, smell the
different smells of honey and so on. Smell is
very important in being linked to memories.
The audience is completely immersed in this
experience, so they're smelling things, and
touching things, and tasting things as well
as seeing and hearing things, which works
to make it a really unique theatrical experi-
ence. It's a visceral experience, one of its
best qualities and one of the most exciting
things about theatre.
BJ: How do you think students benefit
from live theatre, given the almost limitless
entertainment already available to them?
It's an opportunity for students to engage
directly with something, so it's different to
sitting at home watching a screen. They're
having an instant reaction, sharing that
reaction with others who are sitting right
there with them. In this instance, the audi-
ence is seated within the playing space, so
they share the space with the actor and the
actor works through the character, works
off the audience, so the relationship formed
BRAD JACKEL TALKS WITH DIRECTOR AND PLAYWRIGHT KELLY SOMES
AND FINDS OUT WHAT THEATRE OFFERS TO TODAY'S STUDENTS.
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