A beginning can happen at any point of a journey. Graduation is an ending that leads to the beginning of a new chapter. Hence, be/ginning is the name the 2023 Flinders Drama Centre students have dubbed their graduation showcase production. It turns out to be a dynamic collection of original works-in-progress which, indeed, herald a bright future.
In the basement of the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Drama Centre Rehearsal Room has been transformed into an intimate theatre. The minimal technical production elements subtly hint that the students are auditioning for their future, which is not inaccurate since more than half of the audience members are representatives of Adelaide’s leading theatre companies. The showcase also cleverly includes a live camera and LED screens with which students may demonstrate their screen acting ability. It also allows Em Ritson, a performer who is absent due to illness, to appear virtually.
The actors proffer individual monologues many of which explore past experiences and ancestral connections. Therein, they may be seen to be realising their new identities, as if ready for a new life. From gender and sexuality to cultural identities, from comedy scenes to emotionally charged soliloquies, their stories are delivered with refreshing energy and versatility.
Connor Pullinger opens the showcase with a heartwarming piece about queerness and regrets. He reminisces amusingly about his childhood obsession with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and poignantly about his memories of his late mother. Then, Tayla Cecere seeks love advice from classic rom-coms and her deceased Nonna. This reflection illustrates the way that people before us stay with us as we get on with our lives.
This theme is particularly strong in Tom Spiby’s The Family Curse. Spiby serenades the audience with his guitar and live-looping skills before he dives into his monologue about ancestral connections through music. His stage presence is open and natural. He shines through as a charming multidisciplinary artist.
On the topic of music, another student, Isabella Vassallo, regales the audience with a soaring singing voice. She also showcases her ability to be vulnerable and emotional in a performance focused on sexuality.
Luke Wiltshire’s work is comedic, sentimental, and political. One suspects that he will have a bright future in “Artivsm (activism through art)”.
Shant Becker performs Fish, a romantic monologue rooted in an unsual marine fantasy. It is a poetic and imaginative piece and it adds a unique flavour to the showcase.
Another of the many notable performances is Used (Like New) by Luke Furlan. It is both thought-provoking and touching. He is an intelligent writer who is able to find deep meanings in daily life. His script is beautifully written and his acting is grounded.
The final scene in this 2023 history piece is an ensemble performance written by Franca Lafosse in which she reconnects with her ethnicity and finds “home”. The ensemble movements are rhythmically choreographed throughout the piece. Her theme of home ties back to Pullinger’s opening performance, making it a lovely ending for the showcase.
This cohort is talented and full of potential. Adelaide shall be delighted to welcome these exciting new talents into the creative industry.
Be/ginning – a showcase of new works in progress is being presented at the Adelaide Festival Centre, with the final performances at 1pm and 4.15pm on November 17.
Nicky Tsz Tung Li is the fourth recipient of the Helpmann Academy InReview Mentorship. She is working with experienced writer Samela Harris to write a series of articles for publication on InReview.
Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.Donate Here