Laboite Theatre Company
Here we feature content created and written by our Ambassadors for 2018.
6 TIPS FOR BEING A TRUE FREEBORN DAME WITH ALETHEA BEETSON
By Paula Araujo
‘Lysa and the Freeborn Dames’ is a play hosting important conversations, and it got me thinking; what the hell does it mean to be a feminist these days? And how can I be a good one?
The latest evolution of feminism is intersectional feminism, and who better to speak to it than one of the Brisbane art community’s most active members, and general creative powerhouse, Alethea Beetson.
Alethea Beetson is an educator, story-teller, history preserver, and artistic director of Digi Youth Arts. You might have seen her at La Boite’s ‘No Wave Femmes’ event back in March.
So, first things first:
What does intersectional feminism look like to you?
Alethea: Intersectional feminism for me serves all peoples. It serves me, other First Nations sisters, women of colour and transgender, gender non-conforming and diverse bodied peoples. And it understands that previously, feminism, all the waves of feminism, have sought to favour one group of women over another.
And what we need is that No Wave feminism which comes from an organization called RISE. [Which] calls us to decolonize feminism. And to actually make sure that this current conversation we’re having isn’t going to serve one group of women over another. And that means that we have to look at the systems that we operate in, and understand that those systems are privileging certain groups of people over another. And that, as a woman, we have to work in a society that doesn’t give us the equality that we need, but then as an Indigenous woman what does that mean? As a queer Indigenous woman, what would that mean? And then what does that mean in the transgender, gender fluid, and diverse body community as well.
Tip 1: Think systematically
To notice layers of privilege, to understand how racism operates in our society, and how we can dismantle it, we have to take a look at the hierarchies present. Alethea asks people to look and these structures and aware of how we are participating in them which further enables them. She explains;
I think we just have to be consciously aware that we are choosing to operate in systems that are serving others. And I do this as well, otherwise I probably wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything. Let’s look at some popular music festivals. At one, there is a whole section that appropriates Native American culture. I know that I’ve attended the festival and I have to acknowledge that I have then participated in a system that isn’t acknowledging or respectfully going about [these] processes.
She notes the need to scrutinize who is being given a platform. For people in positions of power providing that platform, examining the associated processes should be a priority.
If you don’t have women or First Nations people (as examples) represented in your line-up, play season, arts board or project, it isn’t because of who is available, be aware that there are other societal limitations that could have stopped them from applying. Knowing about the opportunities? Coming to festivals or arts venues? We operate in colonial structures that have been designed to oppress others.
Tip 2: Visibility is key
Being aware: check. But how? What power do we have to exercise in our everyday lives? Why, the internet of course! And social media is a great place to start because it creates visibility.
Visibility is important when we think about the times maybe 30 years ago when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, other people of colour, transgender, gender non-conforming, diverse body people didn’t have visibility. However, so much more space needs to be given to all facets of society.
Alethea acknowledges we are still a long way off, but when people and their stories are visible, we can become more aware of how far reaching an issue is, and find ways to dismantle the structures that perpetuate them.
I think that [social media] is a really great place to start. … I remember Michelle Law was asked this question when we did No Wave Femmes at La Boite. And her response was, now she only reads books that are by people of colour. And what would that do if for a period of your life you just went ‘you know what? I’m going to read this.’ Or if you actively sought out different information. …The material is out there; engage with the content that is there.
Tip 3: No more mindless scrolling, time to pay attention.
There has been a call, particularly through Instagram, to ‘decolonize your feed.’ This means you increase the visibility of diverse voices on your feed (and therefore your day-to-day life) BUT you are also increasing the power of their platform by giving them your attention. Take note of where the focus is within different types of accounts, and the experiences it speaks to. Alethea points out it is particularly vital for artists.
There are people making work about this. So if you are a performance maker, then you need to be engaging with the work that’s out there because your work can only be enriched by connecting in firstly with First Nations people and therefore this land, and then also having those wider perspectives can make you realize perhaps when you need to bring that perspective [into your work], because you aren’t the person that can share that part of the story. Anything you can watch, listen to, or read that’s from another person’s perspective is going to be of benefit.
Tip 4: Listen! (!!!)
This is a no brainer, but something I myself am constantly messing up. I asked Alethea how people can have conversations about intersectional feminism without centering themselves, or speaking on behalf of people with different experiences and layers of privilege, particularly that of First Nations people.
I think the first thing if there are First Nations people in the room and then that’s ultimately who gets to be speaking, and everyone else needs to do the listening and perhaps asking for clarification. That’s the best to kind of approach that. …Just ask a question, ’cause questions are a great way for us to understand one another.
And once we listen and understand, we need to get over our discomfort so we can have these important conversations.
Tip 5: Checking and spending your privilege
Privilege is sometimes tricky because it is invisible. It is something you’ve never really had to consider, but is a major issue for people of a different gender/race/ability/sex, etc.
I know that I can walk down the street and not experience the same kinds of discrimination as my other First Nation sisters, women of color, transgender, gender non-conforming, and diverse bodied people. And I’m also a heterosexual female, so I understand that already I have a whole bunch of privileges that impact how the performing arts industry interacts with me. So I already kinda acknowledge my privilege in that regard, and what that allows me to do is understand that it is my role to create pathways for First Nations people because that’s who I can create pathways for, really using that privilege and for knowing when it’s my turn, and my time to kind of sit down and listen as well, because we all have times when we can do that.
Something that ‘Lysa’ touches on is that being an ally is a verb; it’s active. Spending your privilege is when you use the power that was randomly assigned to you at birth, to tangibly help someone else. Alethea uses hers to create pathways in the arts so that it is easier for others, and she actively grows and nurtures her community. She explains that this is what really excites her about the process of acknowledging one’s privilege.
… when you check your own privilege and understand that your one version of experiences and there are other people have different versions of experience you cannot speak to it allows you to actually create a proper agency fueled platform for them.
Tip 6: Reflect, adjust, keep going
Feminism, and basic progress in society, requires us to constantly reflect on where we are, where the power sits, and refine our activism and ways of thinking. It took until 1965 for ALL women in Australia to be able to vote in all elections. This is a war you and I are not going to live to see the end of. We have to fight it for the people who come after. “Small changes,” as the Freeborn Dames say.
I think that it is a life-long process. I know for me, as a First Nations woman, for me to learn about my culture. It’s going to take a life time, ’cause that’s just how Indigenous knowledge operates. It’s embodied, it’s revealed to me when it needs to be revealed to me when I actively search for it. So if it’s going to take ME a life time to learn about MY culture, then it is going to take a non-Indigenous person a life-time to learn about my culture and to have that sense of patience and understand that the fixed time that we associate [with] all Western constructs of knowledge and understanding, that does not exist in my community in many ways. We have a different timeline. Time’s not linear. So I think having an understanding that your journey to being… [It] is going to take time, and constant reflection, and renewal of processes.
Here are some links to the resources mentioned in the interview, and some extras
Pretty for an Aboriginal
The Guilty Feminist
THE REAL DRAMA IN AUDITIONING FOR A DRAMA SCHOOL
By Egan Sun-Bin in collaboration with QUT’s First Year Acting Cohort
Hi. My name is Egan.
Around about this time last year, I was preparing for my audition at QUT and I was really, really stressed. It’s hard. The anxiety of a drama school audition gets to you as the day gets closer and closer. When it was time for my audition, I was basically scared out of my pants. It became worse when I found out I got a call-back and attended that two days later.
A few months later at my high school graduation, I get a call from one of my friends. She was crying like a maniac. To my surprise, they were tears of joy as she told me that she was accepted into QUT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) and that I just had to check mine. I hastily logged into my QTAC account at the beginning of my school’s guard of honour, where a child just recently spewed his guts out, put my email and password in four times because I was in a panic and then came the moment of realisation… it hit me like a bus… I got in.
I’ve been on this journey. I know it’s hard. I know it’s stressful, but I know you’re not alone. So, let me help you out there. Here’s what I collected about auditioning for the four big acting courses here in Australia. By the way, this will not go through theatre or screen auditions specifically, but they’re similar.
Here’s the basic audition requirement for WAAPA, NIDA, QUT and VCA for their 2019 intake. This may change so don’t take this for as word, research on their website to find out what you need to do and how to apply.
WAAPA: Applicants will apply through ECU’s Portal. You will need to submit your:
On the audition day, you must:
Applications close on the 30th of September 2018.
More information: http://www.waapa.ecu.edu.au/courses-and-admissions/our-courses/acting
NIDA: Applicants must apply through NIDA. You will need to submit your:
On the audition day, you must:
If you decide not to use the pieces that NIDA suggested, bring two copies on the day of your monologue.
For call-backs, you must also prepare:
Both auditions require for you to partake in an interview. Applications close on the 30th of September 2018.
More information: https://www.nida.edu.au/courses/undergraduate/acting
QUT: You must apply through QTAC and QUT’s Online Registration Form. On the day of your audition you will need to bring your:
During your audition, you must present:
Applications close 5pm Friday 14 September 2018.
VCA: You must apply through VTAC and VCA’s Supplementary Form. You must present:
Applications closes at 5pm on the 27th of September 2018
TACKLING A MONOLOGUE
Monologues are the back bone of every audition. When picking monologues, it’s recommended that you don’t pick the “well-known” ones. We’re talking about Cherie from Blackrock, Gillian from Dags and Tom from Away. I disagree with that statement, I believe you should try to strive for connection between you and your monologue. You do whatever makes you feel comfortable because auditioning is already anxious enough. Be comfortable with what you choose and then you prepare by research. Read the play, pick apart the text. Treat it like a real script by being a detective. You can always start by creating your objective and establishing your character’s given circumstances. On the day however, you’ll be redirected so you should probably want to test multiple and obscure objectives. This will free you up to new interpretations, but it always help by researching its origins and context.
Plays are normally written in response to something in the writer’s life. Angels in America by Tony Krushner was in frank response to the treatment of homosexuals and AIDS in America in the 80’s. There’s always a bigger idea in plays and especially in their monologues. If you can land those ideas, you’ll have a clearer understanding of your character’s circumstances.
Classical Monologues are hard to unpack because they’re old. All I can really say is research what the play is and know what your character is saying. It’s obvious in order to act you must understand what your character is saying but it’s true. No Fear Shakespeare it, read the translated version, read the emoji version of the play (Yes, it’s a real thing). Do what you can to know what you’re saying. Especially in Shakespearean work, really take into consideration the punctuation because they are a call for a new thought or change in tactic.
One of the biggest things you want to employ is to be yourself when performing a classical text. It’s so easy to fall under the trap of going into receive pronunciation (a posh British accent) and really presenting your monologue like a traditional Shakespearean actor. Be you. All drama schools want to see you perform and you act and what makes you unique. As the saying goes, be yourself because everyone else taken.
ON THE DAY…
Regarding the actual day, there are two things that should be discussed: before the audition, the audition and the Interview. An audition can be daunting and terrifying; consider formulating a ritual to keep you grounded and positive. Meditation, voice scales and mindful stretching are always the common warm ups to do before an audition, incorporate these into your audition ritual. Find something that is calming while keeping you alert because you want to be able to work in the moment. Especially in group auditions, it’s intimidating to see everyone who’s auditioning seeing your work so take care and be in a positive mindset.
You have worked hard…You have done all you could and have done for it…Now you get the chance to show what you’re made of…You get to show to the best artists in the country what you’re made of…And you’re going…Shine bright…Enjoy every moment…You are enough.
Don’t be scared when you hit the room and perform your monologue. Or at least try your best not to be. When the acting teachers redirect you, be open and try to understand what they’re trying to get out of you. They’re trying to see how you follow direction and how willing you are to learn. If you’re confused, you can question them and explore the direction together. An actor explores the moment and plays with it, so play. Play with them because if you’re having fun, they will too.
During the audition, you will also be interviewed and honestly, they just want to know you. They want to see how you think, work and live. Be willing to just have a conversation because they’re not scary people. They’re humans too. The difference to remember is that they’re building a cohort and they want to see if they can work with you. If you just tell them the truth and bring your authentic self. At the end of it, you will be happy no matter the outcome.
Auditions are tough, and some would consider that drama school auditions are harder. No matter how you are on the day remember to always be resilient and keep going in this craft. My advice is only just one person’s view so keep looking for more and research the drama schools and see what they have to offer. The best video I’ve seen so far is Stage Milk’s Interview with Andrea Moor. Research and practice for the big day. I wish you luck on your audition and hope this helped you out.
Thank you to the QUT First Year Cohort and Andrea Moor for giving their time to share their wisdom and advice.
Andrea Moor’s Interview with Stage Milk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rY7-p4Ntw0
Feminism and Activism: A response to Lysa and the Freeborn Dames
By Ciara Condren
You’re going to a show and… it’s going to be about feminism. You’re not against feminism or anything, but you just don’t get the point of it. Why do you need it? Why would you use it? Feminism doesn’t apply to you. But let me be real with you, Lysa and the Freeborn Dames isn’t exactly about feminism; it’s about activism, and that applies to everyone. Why? You may ask. It’s called the “Lysa and the Freeborn Dames” so obviously women are free now. But how did that happen? Activism, and feminism.
Let’s take a look…
Women weren’t allowed in bars back in 1965. This pissed off two Brisbane women, Merle Thorton and Rosalie (Ro) Bogner, who just wanted to get pissed, so they chained themselves to the Regatta foot rail. Some blokes bought them a few schooners, because the publican didn’t want to get fined for serving women drinks. The police showed up and made a show of asking them to ‘like not’, but no one really minded. The demonstration got people’s attention and the Queensland legislation changed, and women were free to get pissed.
Bars suddenly became free for everyone again! But they weren’t really… because anyone who was a person of colour also couldn’t get into a bar, and anyone who was any presentation of LGBTQ+ wasn’t safe to be open about that. And the reason for that is totally political because freedom isn’t something everyone is born with.
The only reason the law got changed back in 1965 is because all Australian citizens regardless of gender, class or race could vote, because back in 1908 all (white) Australian women got the vote, because back in 1895 South Australian (white) women with property (rich) got the vote, and before that well… that’s big and important reconciliation stuff.
Politicians have to listen to their voters. They had to listen when these women said, “we don’t like this law,” but they didn’t have to do anything until all the blokes were like “hey this is dumb let Merle and Jo have a drink.”
Feminism makes us think about politics through lenses of race, privilege, gender and sexuality. Feminism, like our ideas about race, privilege, gender and sexuality has changed a lot since 1965.
You are, or probably know someone, whom these lenses mean certain things about their safety and quality of life, both presently and historically. Some of those things are dumb; you might want those things to change so you actively go about doing that.
Activism and feminism.
Being a human being is a lot more than coming from a certain privilege, race, gender or sexuality; politically it doesn’t work like that.
Lysa and the Freeborn Dames isn’t exactly about feminism because it’s about activism, and those things go together, because dismantling systems of power is really hard unless you know who’ll stand beside you. Like when you lock the star footy player in the bunker, even if they’re only standing there to tell you that that’s a dumb thing to do.
INTERVIEW – ROXANNE MCDONALD, BARBARA LOWING, HUGH PARKER
Lysa and The Freeborn Dames is about a political act, and that subject matter alone makes the play a political act. To investigate the link between art and activism, we’re interviewing some of the phenomenal artists involved in this production. Today we’re joined on the blog by Roxanne McDonald, Barbara Lowing and Hugh Parker.
What is a pivotal, political theatre work for you?
Roxanne: I think a lot of my plays have been activist-y. I’ve done a lot of indigenous productions and there’s been a lot if issues within the plays themselves. One that stands out for me is a play called ‘The Cherry Pickers’. That really looked at a lot of things that were happening for indigenous people around the time and that play touched on a lot of important things that we, as aboriginal people, had to say at the time and comment on. Another play I did was called It All Begins With Love, it was a verbatim piece, with all these women telling stories of domestic violence. So I think that one was received really well and resonated with a lot of people.
Hugh: I did a piece here (La Boite) a couple of years back called Straight, White Men, and that was interesting to be involved in something where male behaviour was examined by men on stage behaving in that way due to the systems that are in place in our modern life. That play was almost a companion piece to this (Lysa and the Freeborn Dames) in many ways, I think, and this type of theatre is something that La Boite as a company are very interested in.
Barbara: I did a piece a few years ago by an extraordinary playwright, David Burton. It was a verbatim piece that dealt with illicit drug use in the community, in particular the effect on a family in Toowoomba. So, David interviewed the family, and other close friends, surrounding the death of a young man, which we then turned into a verbatim piece. And it was such a powerful show, that was incredibly devastating, also. It remains one of my favourite pieces of theatre, and one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I’ve ever been involved in and I’d do it again in a flash.
What theme in Lysa and the Freeborn Dames resonates the most with you?
Barbara: The honest truth. The things that women feel every single day of our lives, 24/7, 365 days a year, that we didn’t even think about until we really started looking at it. You didn’t think that you were constantly aware of your surroundings even if it didn’t look like you were, being prepared for anything. I think that’s what really resonated with me.
Roxanne: I think what resonates the most with me is talking about the legacy of women. For the women who’ve come before, they did so many things for us to get the knowledge of what they had to go through to learn. So, for me it’s the legacy- the acknowledgement of so many women who have fought for so long for the issues that are in the public eye now. In this production we’re riding that wave, and the younger actors get to as well; they’re making change because this is a big political statement, this play. I just think this is gonna go off.
Hugh: It’s interesting being in the room with a new generation of younger men, there’s a couple of younger guys in this production, who are checking in on and investigating what my generation accepted as the norm. It’s interesting seeing these men look at not just themselves, but where men have been and where they are at and how far they’ve come.
Why are plays like this needed in the world we currently live in?
Barbara: Because they have to be. People have to be given diverging points of view. It’s a gift to give people, to change their way of thinking. Mainly, plays like this have to be here to open the lines of conversation, you know, if people see a production that affects them, they go away and talk about it, then the play has done something to the world we are in. The play will have kept the conversation going and hopefully it will change some people’s perception of what life is like in this day and age.
Roxanne: For me, when we do shows and people say, “Oh, you’re just preaching to the converted, who are you really reaching?” They’re saying that the people who these plays are really targeted at, those people are not coming to theatres. But theatre gets the word out there. Sometimes you can’t reach those people, but it could be a ripple effect in the wider world. If you can change one person, then we as actors have done our job.
What is the best way to get your message across besides wreaking havoc in a footy club?
Barbara: I’ve seen people use a tactic – and I strive to do it over becoming emotional – If a person attacks you – you do not meet them with any form of aggression and eventually you get the person calm and they start to talk. The key is communicating, being honest in your truth and being calm in your truth. Be passionate, but engage people in productive conversation for things to start to work.
Hugh: I think while we’re performing Lysa and the Freeborn Dames to hundreds of people at a time, and theatre is an incredible medium. But, outside of this, in your own real life, your point of view has a drip effect. If you can help one person, they can help another; you never know the true knock-on effect of your actions.
Roxanne: The old tried and true method: stage more big protests! Stage more big protests in states, territories, get out there to be seen and be heard. Get educated and get out there and make change.
Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation states that;
F = g x m1m2 / r2
The force = the gravitational constant times m1m2 over r2.
For those of us who aren’t physicists, let me explain. The Law of Universal Gravitation tells us that any two given objects (mass one and two) will pull on one another, or create an orbit, across space (r2). The closer together they are, the stronger the pull is. Gravitational theory was created to explain the cosmos, but maybe it can explain the gravitation we feel toward those we love.
So, let’s just say that ‘f’ is a substitute for love, ‘g’ represents longing, ‘m1 & m2’ are the symbols for two lovers and ‘r2’ is the space between them. Our equation now reads;
Love = longing times lover1 & lover2 divided by distance.
Longing is a constant in love’s equation, and then let’s assume that our two lovers are locked in as independent variables. The only thing that changes the force of the love is distance.
Trust keeps lovers close, as does laughing. Contentment and nights of long drawling conversation, openness, honestly and ardent adoration. Distance is diminished when lover two runs their hands through lover one’s hair. The pull of love is strong when they feel a dizzying lightness about it all. Passion, pleases and thank yous and ‘have a good day’ notes left on bathroom mirrors keep the distance small, and the smaller the distance the stronger the lover’s orbital pull is.
But distance can grow too – and when it emerges it tilts the equation. Not much at first, in fact it’s barely even noticeable in the beginning.
It starts with dissonance, disagreements. It is busyness, it is “I’m sorry I missed dinner”, it is periods of silence and listless apologies. Then it’s a latent bitterness, a pit of dread forming in lover two’s stomach. Distance is compounded with a wandering eye. It grows exponentially with each moment of unrest, each hour of argument, each day without a call. It becomes resentment and “I think we want different things”. Their gravitational pull stops being so universal. They start to fall out of orbit all together.
But the longing for love to exist is still there. It is the constant.
Love = longing times lover1 & lover2 divided by distance.
When the distance is small, it is easy to spot longing in the equation. You can see it in the eyes meeting across a room and the smiles adorning their faces. When the distance is great, longing is much fainter. Longing becomes looking at old photographs, checking their recent calls list over and over. It is wishing that they were wishing that you were with them.
Every Law has a limit. The orbit wears thin because R2 just put too much pressure on the rest of the equation. There is no force great enough, not even love, the keep two lovers together. They stop taking, they move out, they don’t dream about each other anymore. They drift further apart. Lover two is swept into a stronger orbit and finds a greater Universal Gravitation. Lover one is left in a state of flux for a time – until eventually, they find another orbit as well. The formula starts again.
Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was designed to teach us how the planets remain in orbit, but, unbeknownst to Newton, he also created a formula on falling in and out of love.
And then came the light
We have tiptoed in to this world
Riding on the waves of unimagined power
Letting the universe feel itself, hear and see itself through our eyes
Spiritual beings trapped in physical bodies
Physical bodies forgetting we were once spiritual beings
What we think makes us forget the ebb and flow and the natural order that comes with life
What we do distances us from the collective dreaming
What we say affects one another
The gravity of our actions changes the course of each other when applied
They say we are the cosmos made conscious
They say we are the way the universe will know itself
But how do we remember?
How do we remember when we are all bathed in the collective dark
Et lux in tenebris lucet
And the light shineth in the darkness
Et lux in tenebris lucet
And the light shineth in the darkness
Every year at La Boite they gather a bunch of young people to be ambassadors.
This year, that group of people is nineteen bright-eyed Ambassadors who are ready to change the face of Brisbane theatre AKA us, the people writing this! When we were brought on board, we were asked, “what sort of projects do you want to do, how do you want to engage people, what engages you?” We talked about good theatre we’d seen and how that’d generated a conversation for us. But why should these conversations be limited to Facebook group chats or theatre foyers? We decided we wanted to share our thoughts about the way we engage with theatre, so we created a blog. This blog.
In this blog, we wanted to create a platform for people who want to know more about La Boite and what goes down behind the curtain. We get the privilege of seeing open rehearsals and witnessing the processes that go into a production. What you’re going to get on this blog is us exploring La Boite through our eyes – why this theatre piece, and why now? Our investigations take many forms, sometimes it’ll be a behind the scenes piece, or a nifty guide for a mate/family member you’re dragging along to the theatre for the first time. Other times it’ll be a broader discussion about the politics of particular shows, or a look at the broader theatre industry.
All of us are dedicated to good theatre with the proviso that good theatre doesn’t answer any questions, it only asks them. We’re here to give our answers to those questions and ask for your answers too.
Welcome to the 2018 La Boite Ambassador blog! Come chat and stay awhile.