Four Sides to a Story
17/09/2006 - 19/09/2006
29/09/2006 - 30/09/2006
Researched, written, directed and performed by Hayley Dallimore, Sarah Gallagher and Ora Simpson
Directed by John Humphries
Dramaturg: Elizabeth Mills
Presented by IN THE SHAPE OF A SQUARE
Four Sides To A Story, a new play which explores love, identity and betrayal, opens at Alleluya Bar and Café on Sunday 17 September for three performances only. Four Sides To A Story showcases hot young actors Hayley Dallimore, Sarah Gallagher and Ora Simpson, who not only perform, but have researched, written and directed the work themselves, under the guidance of dramaturg Elizabeth Mills and director John Humphries.
On the surface Lucy and Jimmy excel at the normality of marriage. Underneath they are haunted by long-lost happiness and unfulfilled desire. Then along comes Kane and a shattering discovery. The story unfolds through three interwoven monologues. Alleluya Bar and Café is open from 6pm with live music, so audiences are encouraged to come early and get a table. The show begins at 7pm. Tickets are $10 each and are available in advance from www.square.org.nz or at the venue on the night.
The project is a two-fold initiative by In The Shape Of A Square’s Artistic Director John Humphries set up to firstly provide creative opportunities for upcoming and emerging artists and, secondly, to create community-specific work that takes theatre into the community and tells their stories. “We are a theatre company that isn’t gluing itself to a venue and expecting our audience to come to us,” says Marketing Manager Amy Molloy “we are creating theatre for the people – weaving their stories into highly charged performances – and taking it to them.” Next year the initiative will see new trios of talent taking theatre to the North Shore, Waitakere and the Bay of Islands.
The play confronts with the little-understood yet important issue of gender identity. Transsexual MP Georgina Beyer lends her encouragement, saying, “Their enthusiasm for their project reflects the value I think In The Shape Of A Square can offer an audience on a rarely seen or explored subject matter. Support is important and I hope you may consider this project worthy of yours.”
The season is short and seating is limited. Booking ahead is advised.
Alleluya Bar and Café, St Kevin’s Arcade, Karangahape Rd
Sunday 17 – Tuesday 19 September; live music from 6pm, show at 7pm
Book online at www.square.org.nz or buy tickets at the door (cash only)
Taking theatre out of the theatre
Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 20th Sep 2006
John Humphries, Will Gaisford and Amy Molloy. Names to watch out for if you are interested in the development of innovative theatre in Auckland. They are the driving force behind a young energised entity called In the Shape of A Square. Graduates of Unitec, not only are they creating their own opportunities; they are focussing on fresh ideas, fresh performance spaces, fresh actors, and a fresh approach.
So how did they fare through Four Sides To a Story? Inspired by diverse accounts that observers of a shared event gave to an intrigued John Humphries (director), this short work is written and simply presented as three interwoven monologues, by three skilled actors. It explores transgender issues and sexual identity, and is testament to the fact that if you have a good story, and you tell it well, that is often all you need.
Their choice of venue is also inspired. At the Alleluia Café at the end of St James Arcade, which opens straight out onto K Road, In The Shape of A Square hopes to reach a new audience, including the transgender community, at a grass roots level. As Humphries states: they aim to take "theatre out of the theatre."
When we arrive, pre show music in the café by Sam McCarthy is smooth and easy on the ears. A simple black curtain separates this social scene from the actual ‘venue’. Behind the fabric the actors sit waiting – Ora Simpson, Sarah Gallagher and Hayley Dallimore – as the actual sounds of life on K Road set the tone.
In terms of a set, no designer could recreate what this venue gives. The space is intimate with just three rows in front of the actors, who are framed by a massive window, floor to ceiling high and even wider across. Three oversized desk lamps illuminate our storytellers nicely. But the real star is the live backdrop: the most stunning cityscape of Auckland in all her urban neon night-time glory, with the omni-present Sky-tower firmly upstage centre. A vast and epic set that houses countless individual stories such as those about to be told.
The first words spoken are a revelation. A theatre could not capture the acoustic of this unique setting. The voice is carried in the most extraordinary way: vocally, words are crisp and clear yet they seem to linger in the roof, suspended for a moment, giving the effect of amplification but without the loss of vocal purity. As the stories are told, the vibrancy and sounds of K Road fuse real life and theatre.
In terms of the atmospheric sound scape provided by the foot and vehicle traffic of K Road, once again, a composer would never be able to recreate the actual sounds of K Road on a weeknight. At one time, the night I went, the character of Lucy had just finished describing how running was her escape when we heard the real noise of stilettoed heals dashing down the road, approaching, passing, fading away. Magic.
As scriptwriters, all three show promise and empathy towards the task set by their dramaturge, Elizabeth Mills. It’s apparent from the programme notes that limited knowledge of the context and fear of the unknown were initial hallmarks of their process. However, Elizabeth Mills has helped them find an honest voice, real and engaging.
It is also apparent from her programme notes, that Hayley Dallimore – who wrote Lucy (played by Sarah Gallagher) – is a confident and intelligent woman. It is eerie to hear Lucy remember her innocent childhood take on God’s place in the world, on a night when the Pope’s recent comments on similar matters, has caused death and mayhem.
Sarah Gallagher is conversational and natural in the role of Lucy, though misses opportunities to communicate the discomfort she feels in her womanly skin, though the restriction of static storytelling doesn’t make that an easy task.
As Jimmy, Ora Simpson is instantly likable and recognisable as a down to earth Kiwi lad, straight up, unpretentious and good with his hands. When Lucy and Jimmy’s monologues almost converge, as they recall their first meeting, some lovely prose is exquisitely delivered. On the one hand Lucy describes their union as "twin souls reflected", then later recalls their first "pash". How nice it was to hear that timeless yet strangely underused word in this context.
There is a Mars vs. Venus feel to Jimmy and Lucy’s recalling of their meeting, which encapsulates Humphries’ motivation expertly: that one person’s retelling can be so foreign to another’s.
However, the gap between understandings widens to much more than predictable gender differences within a partnership, when Lucy begins to reveal the identity of Kane to us. When Jimmy begins to smell conspiracy, his yearning for the innocence and simplicity of how they were when the first met, finds empathetic ears from all who have been bitten by betrayal or change.
When Kane finally finds his voice, Simpson’s writing allows Dallimore to bring simple honesty from a new perspective. Dallimore’s performance is tangible and affecting. As the actors attempt closure, there is on the one hand, a sense of hope that with time might come eventual understanding. However, a look from Simpson captures how devastating this betrayal has been for Jimmy.
In the Shape Of A Square has six projects planned for 2007, some in different unexpected venues throughout Auckland. Their organic vision is to make their story telling fit in some way, to the themes thrown up by the various locations they find themselves in.
‘Stop Press’: Four Sides to A Story has a special return season, although in a more conventional space. They have been invited to repeat their performance on 29 and 30 September, in the Maidment Studio. It will be interesting to see how this work stands up in a theatre.
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