WA Decides | Perth’s favourite shows of 2018

The results of our annual industry poll are in!

We went out to artists, administrators and presenters across WA, and the below respondents let us know what their favourite shows were and who they are looking out for in 2019.

In a hotly contested competition, the winner of WA’s favourite show was…Vessel by Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet and Japanese sculptor Kohei Nawa, which had its Australian premiere at Perth Festival this year. This highly-physical yet slow-paced dance performance was spectacular, with near-naked bodies moving, tangling and intertwining across a stunning water-covered stage.

Special mention go to pproductions Let Me Finish by Charlotte Otton, Tjaabi – Flood Country by Big hART and Yourseven by WA Youth Theatre Company which share second place together.

The Last Great Hunt remains one of the pre-eminent companies to look for in 2019, along with Director and Writer, Charlotte Otton.

At Performing Lines, we are all about sparking urgent conversations, so we wanted to know what discussions WA needs to have in WA in 2019. Check out the responses below, covering more meaningful audience engagement, more diversity on stage and behind-the-scenes, and more opportunities for independent artists.

Vessel by Damien Jalet & Kohei Nawa

Yourseven by WAYTCO

NAME: Frances Barbe | WAAPA

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Let me Finish by Charlotte Otton at the Blue Room Theatre. It was entertaining, funny, serious, smart and had an important message. It was work by young female artists about being female in 2018. It had heart, soul and intelligence.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Vessel by Damien Jalet and Kohei Nawa presented by Perth Festival. Exquisitely performed physicality that spoke beyond words.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The House on the Hill by WAAPA students presented at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Work by young emerging artists engaging with the history of Fremantle Arts Centre. Exciting, engaging, unique.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Samantha Nerida and Static Drive Company. They are smart, creative and capable of really interesting work. I feel there is more in them than we have yet seen. Exciting potential.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: The whole arts ecology from mainstage to independent, from regional to metro work, from seeding work to Festival opportunities. We need a second tier between The Blue Room and STC. Women in leadership positions in the arts. Diverse voices in mainstage productions including work by women, indigenous and CALD artists. Removing the culture of sexual harassment and bullying that has only recently been called out. Calling it out more and talking about it proactively especially with young artists.

Let Me Finish by Charlotte Otton

 

The House on the Hill, a WAAPA production

Nassim by Nassim Soleimanpour and Bush Theatre

Bambert’s Lost book of Stories by Barking Gecko

NAME: Drew Dymond | Albany Entertainment Centre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Nassim by Nassim Soleimanpour and Bush Theatre at the Albany Entertainment Centre. Simple storytelling , clever use of an unrehearsed performer/local participant and showed the whole audience a bit about another culture and that we all share basic human feelings and needs.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Tjaabi – Flood Country by Big hART at the Ngurin Pilbara Aboriginal Cultural Centre . Great performance and engaging blend of traditional and contemporary storytelling. Also insightful regarding the deep connection to the land for indigenous people

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Bambert’s Lost book of Stories by Barking Gecko presented at the Albany Entertainment Centre. Great performance and high production values . the quality and content was not compromised in any way and respected the intelligence of a youthful audience

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: The Last Great Hunt . I think they produce engaging theatre and are good at the craft.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: Ways to tell indigenous stories that connect with a broad demographic of audience.

NAME: Paul Selwyn Norton | Strut Dance

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Yourseven by WAYTCO presented at PICA during Fringe World. Beautifully executed and designed and very effecting.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Attractor by Lucy Guerin presented by Perth Festival at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. Exquisite performers and choreography.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Cockfight by The Farm, presented by Performing Lines at the STCWA. Brilliant performers and concept.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: STRUT Dance’s Sunset at Perth Festival, as well as And Then Some, a new platform for independents, and STRUT workshops with Hofesh Shechter.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: More presentation opportunities for independent WA Makers

Cockfight by The Farm

Fleabag by DryWrite and Soho Theatre

NAME: Rebecca Nelson | CircuitWest

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Vessel by Damien Jalet and Nawa Kohei presented by Perth Festival. Breathtaking. Completely unlike anything I has ever seen before. Utterly compelling. Best ‘theatre’ I have ever seen.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Fleabag by DryWrite & Soho Theatre at the Blue Room Theatre. Both funny and devastating. Fantastic performance. I thought and talked about the work and themes within it for weeks afterwards.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Butt Kapinski by Hey Boss at the Blue Room Theatre. Totally unique audience engagement – loved it. Hilarious, fun, stylish and a bit creepy.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: The Last Great Hunt, Barking Gecko, Whiskey & Boots. I love them all. Always something exciting and new.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: Leadership, Identity, and the Changing Landscape.

NAME: Katt Osborne | Independent producer and director

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Events by Black Swan State Theatre Company. Great performances coupled with simple staging and beautiful live choral music really moved me.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Huff by Yirra Yaakin. A solo performance that was raw and affecting.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Nanette by Hannah Gadsby at the State Theatre Centre of WA. Exceptional crafted storytelling, also really moved me. All the pieces I’ve chosen in y top 3 have emotional affected me in some way.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Barking Gecko! Very excited to see Fully Sikh later in 2019 and see where a new AD will take the work of the company next.

Huff by Yirra Yaakin

Oedipus Schmoedipus by Post

 


The 1s, the 0s, & the Numbers In Between by Riptide

NAME: Guy Boyce | Mandurah Performing Arts Centre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Oedipus Schmoedipus by Post at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre. I saw the show on one night and just loved it. The next night I was one of 86 local people who took part in it, and this was a great community outcome. I was at the barbers a week later and they told me one of their customers had been an actor in the show and was still talking about it! An opportunity of a lifetime.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Reclaimed Pianos by Circa at the Pinjarra Civic Centre.The show was a world class piece of intimate circus – audience in the round, around circus mats. but bound by a sound track of local community members memories of association with the piano – a sublime experience of world class community theate!

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The 1s, the 0s, & the Numbers In Between by Riptide contemporary youth company. Written by Chris Isaacs, co-commissioned by MANPAC & ATYP, this was a wonderful, authentic portrayal of the trials and tribulations of young people finding their way with technology. A huge step up for our local young people. Hats off to Katt Osborne and her creative team, plus the local riptiders

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Riptide – over the last 6 years they have developed a voice, a way of working that is young and Mandurah, and now the local young people are stepping up to really run the company. Next year they will be making two new works, reprising one from last year, and touring The 1s, the 0s, & the Numbers In Between to Sydney in partnership with ATYP.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: We do things differently here, we set our own trends, so let’s champion these rather than always looking over East.

NAME: Natalie Bell | Spare Parts Puppet Theatre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Carnival of Animals by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and WASO. The fusion of puppetry, live music and animation/digital projection. Plus the joy and fun that conductor Ben Northey brought to the show.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Tom Vickers and the Extraordinary Adventures of His Missing Sock by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre at the WA Shipwreck Museum in Fremantle. I love the audience participation in the show. A highlight was the trench walk through the mud.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Xenides by Black Swan State Theatre Company. Four powerful and interesting women on stage.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: The Last Great Hunt. Always interesting shows.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: Diversifying behind-the-scenes talent.

Carnival of Animals by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and WASO

The Events by Black Swan State Theatre Company

NAME: Jenna Mathie | Independent producer

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Vessel by Damien Jalet and Kohei Nawa. Remarkable use of human body as sculpture and a pool on stage! Such a beautiful and completely transfixing work.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: The Events by Black Swan State Theatre Company. The whole damn thing. What a combination of writing, direction and performance.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Let Me Finish by Charlotte Otton at the Blue Room Theatre. A work that had an energy and freshness to it that I haven’t seen on indie stages for a while in Perth. Very exciting collaboration from some emerging artists.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Charlotte Otton – Let Me Finish is one of the most exciting shows I’ve seen in the indie sector for a few years and I’m very keen to see what happens next for the artists involved.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: Continue the push and support for more diverse stories and voices on our stages. Sustainability in all aspects of theatre making.

NAME: Rick Heath | PAC Australia

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Tjaabi, Flood Country by Big hART at the Ngurin Cultural Centre in Roeburne. This was the perfect combination of place, people and story. Patrick Churnside’s performance was authentic real and deeply moving. Simple story telling brilliantly fusing traditional and contemporary practice.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Milnjiya, Milky Way – River of Stars by Gary Lang NT Dance Company & the West Australian Ballet at the Quarry Amphitheater. It’s rare, in my opinion, to see Aboriginal traditional dance and song integrated well with classical art forms (ballet/opera). This work was an extraordinary exception to that rule. Meditative and contemplative, the soul of this work seemed to flow to the audience – it certainly did to me. And kudos to WA Ballet for going there! (And the cosies were pretty amazing too.)

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Solothello by Yirra Yaakin at Subiaco Arts Centre. Regan Taylor’s extraordinary solo performance was simultaneously warm and inviting, bold and compelling and laugh out loud in a kind of way that made me remember the joy of a great performer.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Unashamedly bias, on two fronts… As a Board member of The Last Great Hunt I’m constantly astounded at the creative capacity of this team of individuals. Having seen a development of the upcoming Le Nor, commissioned with the Perth Festival, I have no doubt The Hunters will be adding yet another meaty work to their ever-growing repertoire of significant new Australian work. As a proud parent it’s my obligation (and total unbiased joy) to say keep an eye on beautiful WAAPA dance graduate Ella Watson-Heath. Stunning!

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: PLEASE lets start taking about audiences – more, deeper, different. If, at its core, art is about communication then the audience is a critical part of the work. As funding stagnates, the potential to grown earned income i.e. box office (not by creating work for an audience) seems a logical and untapped revenue – this is about creating sustainable work for artists and companies and making sure the impact of the great work of our WA talent is shared far beyond those in-the-know and those who can afford it! Equally important, let’s push the conversation harder and longer about developing and promoting First Nations work. We are in the midst of a movement – our Indigenous culture will be the central focus of our national cultural identity before too long – lets get behind that and make it sooner rather than later. (And can someone please tell us about +8!)

Tjaabi, Flood Country by Big hART

 

Milnjiya, Milky Way – River of Stars by Gary Lang’s NT Dance Company and WA Ballet

 

Le Nor by The Last Great Hunt

The Second Woman by Nat Randall & Anna Breckon

NAME: Alex Desebrock | Independent artist

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Second Woman by Nat Randall & Anna Breckon, presented at PICA during Perth Festival. It lived up to its hype. Its (relative) simplicity harnessed so many feminist issues – and it was so gripping! Stunning work.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Siren Song at Perth Festival. I loved the take over of the Perth CBD at sunrise and sunset. It felt so immersive & poetic – to be surrounded by such unnatural noise as a helicopter skilfully wove around the skyscrapers. Beautiful.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Vessel by Damien Jalet & Kohei Nawa at Perth Festival. I hadn’t seen anything like this before. The images are etched behind my eyelids. Meditative beauty.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: I am looking forward to James Berlyn’s new work with WA Youth Theatre Company, where Julia Hale’s work You Know We Belong Together evolves in its restaging. I also really enjoyed the platforms In Situ & Know Thy Neighbour and look forward to seeing what happens next in those two programs.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: Independent artists. This year has really brought to the fore (for me) Perth’s reliance on independent artists and how, as an industry, they work and are supported in a healthy, sustainable arts industry. (SPRUIK: that’s why FLOCK was founded this year)

NAME: Wendy Martin | Perth Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: You Know We Belong Together, a co-production by Perth Festival, DADAA and Black Swan State Theatre Company. Hearing the voice of artists with Down syndrome. Strong sense of community. Relationship between audience and performers. Authenticity of performances.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Nanette by Hannah Gadsby at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. Honesty, humanity, politics.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Second Woman by Nat Randall & Anna Breckon, presented at PICA by Perth Festival. Engagement with local community. 24 hour experience. Brilliance of Nat Randall performance. Brilliance of concept. Brilliance of execution.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Last Great Hunt. Excited to see the production Le Nor. To see company explore new territory.

You Know We Belong Together by Perth Festival, DADAA & BSSTC

Il n’est pas encore minuit by Company XY

NAME: Fiona de Garis | Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Yourseven by WAYTCO at PICA during FringeWorld. Incredibly moving intimate experience beautifully realized by the young performers from WAYTCo. I can’t be the only one who needed tissues.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Il n’est pas encore minuit by Company XY at Perth Festival. I saw it on the opening night of Perth Festival and felt like my festival was done. They just nail the form.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Bakkhai by Vahri McKenzie with ECU and Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre. Exceptional ensemble work featuring artists and community members from across South West WA. And the masks made for the show by Margaret River’s Sky River were artworks in themselves.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Performing Lines WA (of course!). They have an exciting range of artists with works in development and I cant wait to see how they all turn out.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: A re-examination of Australia’s responsibilities and attitudes to the ongoing global migration crisis

NAME: Mararo Wangai | Independent artist

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Xenides by Black Swan State Theatre Centre. Moving and unpredictable

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Let Me Finish by Charlotte Otton and directed by Phoebe Sullivan. Raw, unapologetic and necessary

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish by Frieda, Sam & Friends at the Blue Room Theatre. Beyond Australian borders, politically conscious without preaching – heavy lifting from both performers, puppetry, multiple characters and physical movement

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Phoebe Sullivan, she is unafraid, unpredictable and has her finger on the pulse of new work.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: Representation, diversity, and the complexity that each of these terms comes with; cultural baggage, historical baggage – present these issues without necessarily trying to force a solution into the narrative. It’s ok to let an audience do the work as long as you have done the research yourself to lead them along the way.


The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish by Frieda, Sam & Friends

Joan by Milks Presents

NAME: Philippa Maughan | Country Arts WA

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Yourseven by WAYTCO. The gentle respectful way the young actors guided the audience through the performance and the wholehearted commitment to creating another place inside and yet outside of our busy whirlwind lives.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Joan by Milk Presents at the Blue Room Theatre. A terrific inventive comedic and poignant telling of the Joan of Arc story with the subtle undercurrent of Joan-the-original-dragking.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Tjaabi – Flood Country by Big hART.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Samantha Chester and the team behind Hiro who created a performance that was both intimate and epic, quiet and loud.

NAME: Graeme Watson | Out in Perth

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Elixir by Head First Acrobats at FringeWorld. The perfect combination of skill, comedy and abdominal.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Yourseven by WAYTCO. OMG I’m going to die one day. I’ve been thinking about this revelation since February.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Dracula by WA Ballet at His Majesty’s Theatre. It was romantic, ambitious, stylish and a brilliant neo-classical dance.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH FOR IN 2019?: Cougar Morrison – I feel something big is coming.

DISCUSSION WE NEED TO HAVE: impromptu art, guerilla art, underground magic.

Dracula by WA Ballet

Performing Lines acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work – the Gadigal in Sydney, the Whadjuk in Perth, and the Muwinina in Hobart – and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

We extend those respects to all First Nations peoples on whose lands we travel and perform.