Best of 2016 – Basement Theatre Interviews

A year ago the Basement Theatre asked whether I might be interested in writing for their blog. 35 posts later, here are some of the highlights from interviews with show creators in 2016.

Leon Wadham on Milky Bits – What was the inspiration behind the show?

We were all feeling miserable and we wanted to make a comedy about it.

Nisha Madhan and Stephen Bain on FREE HAPPINESS – What has been the most difficult part of the production?

Feeling ok about giving away money or worse still throwing away money. Yesterday we shot a video where we destroyed a 20 dollar note, we put thousands of holes in it, then smashed it into tiny pieces, melted it down, ground it into dust, then set fire to it. Pretty sure that 20 bucks is never coming back.

Alice Canton on WHITE/OTHER – How would you describe the show in one sentence?

A contemplative surreal show that softens a relentlessly inquisitive and analytic discourse around identity.

Orangutan was hugely acclaimed, how difficult has it been to follow?

I lie awake at night plotting my failure.. No! But the pressure is all internal. To be better. To have learnt something. To have developed. To be consistent. None of these things are helpful. So I just let myself dance with the doubt maybe once a week and then I put it away for the rest of the time.

Andrew Gunn on Potato Stamp Megalomaniac – How would you describe the show in one sentence?

It’s a rampant solo show about the majesty of the potato stamp and the limits of the brain’s power – underscored by music issuing from a synthesiser made out of potatoes!

The show features a potato synthesiser. What is a potato synthesiser?! 

It’s a synthesiser made by my sound wizard Tom Dennison.

An array of potatoes are connected to a device that Tom has programmed to produce and modulate noises.  So all of our sound is done through Tom touching potatoes.

It’s possibly the most exciting and grandiose tech table I’ve seen before, and to boot everyone wants to touch vegetables with the operator after the show.

Hamish Parkinson on Moon Baby – What changed your life more, winning a Billy T Award or appearing in the New World advert?

Billy T Award was a humbling moment, and I think it made more confident in pursuing my own ideas as well as making a lot of people suddenly aware of me. The New World ad has just meant sometimes people point at me and say vegetarian.

Dynamation team on Mia Blonde in “Ice Dagger” – How much of a constraint / imaginative opportunity is having limited space and budget to pull off avalanches and ski chases?

Well, the show is very low budget and the ceiling of The Basement is very low. But we are embracing that. The great thing about a Dynamotion show is that what you lack in budget you can make up for in interpretive dance.

Nathan Joe on Hippolytus Veiled – What has been the most difficult part of the production?

Wrestling with the text’s inherent misogyny has been a big one. The character of Hippolytus is one of the earliest woman-haters in the theatre history. Add to the fact that the female characters aren’t exactly the most moralistic. We’ve had countless conversations about it as a group. I’ve had countless conversations about it with other people. In the end, these characters aren’t representatives for everyone, and treating them like they are is a mistake. The whole point of Greek Tragedy is that the characters are bigger than life, even if their concerns are universal.

That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a problematic play. But that’s also part of it’s appeal for me. Theatre should be problematic. It should pose difficult situations, characters and ideas. Having your own values reflected onstage is great, but having those values shattered and expectations subverted is even better.

Jo Randerson on Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong – You’ve taken this show around the world (Denmark, Norway, Brisbane and around New Zealand), how have different audiences responded?

When I have played it in Scandinavia, I get a more bemused response. They mostly find New Zealanders bizarre anyway, so to have a Kiwi speaking in a mock-pseudo Scandi/Russian/French accent is a novelty that seems a little beyond their cognition – I think they experience the show as a ‘phenomenon’. They like it and they like her, but in NZ the performance resonates more deeply around the current political climate of suppressing oppositional voices, a climate of homogeneity. This reaction occurs in Australia too.

Hayley Sproull on Vanilla Miraka – Was there anything that surprised you during the development of the show?

How angry some people were, how moved some people were, how challenged I was.

I’ve made this show seem horribly serious. It isn’t.

Jesse Griffin/Clifton on Centaur – What are the central questions, themes, or conflicts that lies at the heart of the work for you?

The central conflict lies between the artist and his own creativity. As a contemporary artist, Clifton is constantly battling with light, texture, form, composition and size (scale). The questions Clifton asks of his work are universal in nature and deeply personal in form. He asks the audience to look at themselves, then look at themselves looking at themselves and then watch someone else looking at themselves looking at themselves.

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