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Leading into our Fringe Production of PressureLands, here are some thoughts from our Assistant Directory Kirby Taylor on her experience of the project…..

PressureLands is a meaningful play written by Alysha Herrmann, it is about two girls and a boy in year 12 and getting ready to go to uni. It talks about their life and how things don’t always go according to plan and how people change their minds. I am assistant director and it has been a pleasure working with the play and with the cast. James Herrmann (who plays as Jamie), Brianna Obst (who plays as Rachel) and Amelia Hoffman (who plays as Lisa) have been an honor working with.  There’s also the lighting manager Nic Crouch and Alysha’s fiancé Nic, who have given the crew and cast quite a few laughs.

At first I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, and we spent more time doing physical activities and exercises rather than going over the lines, and I didn’t know what was going through Alysha’s head… but when does anyone know that? Jokes, don’t kill me Alysha… back then I was treated more like a cast member rather than a crew member and I participated in a lot of the physical activities and ran through some of the lines too. After about 5 rehearsals I finally got to sit on the side lines and help the cast learn their lines and get to put my say in about how the cast moved and acted on stage. That was when I started feeling more like an assistant director.

During rehearsal let’s just say that everyone has a bit of a wild side. We’d be rehearsing our lines and suddenly someone would say something and everyone would crack up into laughter for minutes on end. Sometimes we’d have ten to twenty minutes breaks but sometimes we’d go the whole night without a break, just constant rehearsing. It was tiring but it was definitely worth it. Because I live all the way in Renmark while rehearsals are at Waikerie, I didn’t get back home till 11:30pm and then after having a cup of instant noodles (my sorta tradition) I wouldn’t get to bed till 12am or 12:30am, then have to get up the next morning for school at 7:30am. I recall falling asleep in class a few times, but luckily I was never caught. If I thought I had things tough, Alysha had things a lot tougher, a lot more hectic. Based on stories she told me when she picked me up to take me to rehearsal, she wasn’t getting to bed till 2am or later.

Despite being the youngest, only 17, turning 18 in May, I sometimes felt like the eldest, though I think that was because my sense of humour is different from theirs. There have been good times and bad times during rehearsals and working with PressureLands, though I won’t go on about the bad times because it’s too much work and effort on something not even worth it.

Jamie is a character who really, desperately wants to get away, get out of his house, his life, get far away from his world in the country and start a new life, travelling around the world and being somewhere else, to a different place with a different door. Rachel is a character who has her parents controlling her future. She wants to stay in the Riverland with her boyfriend Matt and continue working at bowland and going to the Vines to party but her parents want her to go to uni. Lisa is a character who wants to go to uni so she can be different from her mum. She’s terrified by the thought of becoming her mum ideally, so she works really hard to go to uni so she can try and become more than her mother could, however her family is too poor and because of that, she is forced to take a gap year.

When I first auditioned for PressureLands I went for the role of Rachel, now that I look back at myself and this play, I’m glad I took up the position of Assistant Director, it suits me a lot better than a role as one of the cast. I get slight stage fright and I tend to be a bit of a scatterbrain, so I’d forget my lines onstage. I’m also not good at expressing emotions and feelings, so Rachel would be more monotone or act differently from how I wanted her to look. I believe that each character has been assigned the correct actor, they suit them so beautifully and they display them amazingly.

I’ll admit that at first I was questioning things and I wasn’t too sure this was all going to work out, but now that we’ve reached the end of our rehearsals, I can confidently say that PressureLands is a must see for all teenagers to give them an insight to how things will be for them during the transition from child to adult. It was show them that things don’t always work out and that plans do change regardless of looking like they are set in stone. Personally I rate PressureLands 4 out of 5 stars for it’s ability to get to the point, it’s insight and it’s abstract views.

There have been good and bad times and sometimes we cracked up laughing and sometimes I felt like strangling the cast, but that’s typical for these situations. PressureLands has been brought to you by Alysha Herrmann and the voices of over 600 young people in the Riverland and Mallee.

And here’s the gang at one of our rehearsals….

Auditions are now happening for the PressureLands Adelaide Fringe Cast.

PressureLands will be touring Adelaide and the Riverland as part of Adelaide Fringe in March. Fringe cast will also be performing PressureLands as part of the Berri Barmera Youth Week Celebrations in April.

We are looking for 3 Riverland young people aged between 16-23 able to play characters aged 17/18. There are 2 female roles and 1 male role. We are also looking for a Stage Manager, Sound/Lightning Techie & an Assistant Director.

To audition or register your interest for back stage roles email pressurelands@me.com with your expression of interest. PressureLands creator Alysha Herrmann will then provide you with an audition time, audition material and other important information. Auditions will happening from the 5th Jan until the 10th Jan 2012. You must have registered by the 4th.

Post our December Development Intensive here are some thoughts from the lovely Kelly McNamara, who joined us for the week as an actor and provocateur to help refine and strive towards a solid draft 4…

 

So many stories, they echo….

Describe your personal experience during the entire Pressure Lands project? I came at the end of the development – a project that has been worked on for 2 years. I feel that I am standing on an iceberg and I can see the solid, glistening section above water but can just sense the immenseness and history of the foundation that exists below the surface. Below the surface is hard work and difficult stories but also dreams and hopes.

Hummus and hope

How do you feel within the Pressure Lands group? What is your role in the project? The other members of Pressure Land called me hope (or that I symbolised that section of the script)…. I called myself hummus. There was some logic behind this. I said, “I am the hummus of the project”. It’s the spread that can go with most things however it is a relatively new condiment in Australia, as far as the history sandwiches go.  It is a new flavour that goes on the bread to blend and enhance the flavours of the salad. Alysha is of course the foundation – the bread, and the other Pressure Land people are their individual salad items.

Stick or carrot?

What are your impressions of Pressure Lands? Safe, fun, honest and respectful. Very relaxed and chilled out, but not in an unprofessional way ; it’s just Pressure Lands chooses not to marshal people into action but coddle and motivate. It doesn’t need to use a stick because the carrot is sooo good. Everyone I met wants the show to be a success and is willing to volunteer their time to the project. Everyone wants the chance to go to Adelaide, the Fringe and continue on. After just a few days I can’t believe the structural and character leaps forward – this script has developed into one delicious carrot!

 

By Kelly McNamara

This the third week-long intensive development of the PressureLands project is definitely a time for reflection….

I asked the cast & creative team to jot down some thoughts late Sunday night.

Brianna Obst says:

So I guess this stage of creative development has been a bit easier.

I’ve gotten used to meeting new people now. That sounds funny at nineteen but, hey! This round of intensive workshopping brought with it an introduction to a new willing victim. Welcome Kelly! Kelly brings a different dynamic to our previous actors and today was the first time Kelly had read the script. It was nice to see how she interpreted it. Although the work we were doing was similar to what I’d done before, what came out at the end was different – the space became more open and easier to explore. Having become familiar with Draft Two has made it easier to feel where movement and lines merge and to establish convincing and real moments.

Also – I’m not overly fond of movement “it was hard and it was yucky” but I got through it 😛

***Writer/Director’s Note – After working to the wee hours of this morning, I revealed Draft 4 during today’s Creative Development. More on that soon.

Some articulate, thoughtful thoughts from our fabulous composer who has spent the last 3 days immersed in our world. Unfortunately he has to go back to the real world for the rest of the week but we’re super excited about the beautiful sounds he’s already created and will create to fill our world. Read on for his thoughts on the past few days…..

PressureLands December 2011 Intensive!

If I could comprehensively (and intelligibly) summarise my experiences during the past few days, I would. But my brain is a particularly piquant kind of mush right now. I could attribute this to the weather, or the caffeine, or even the triumphant ingestion of a tequila-soaked jalapeño. But no. No, ladies and gents; I’m going to attribute this to the Awesome. Being close to this kind of Awesome takes energy.

Here is the closest metaphor I can affix to my perception of the process at hand. Imagine covering a canvas in paint. Lots of paint, in lots of different colours, in lots of different splattered and scattering ways. Then imagine willing the paint into an impressionist painting – a vast landscape, dotted with figures, each commanding their own space, and each completely lost in it. Then give each of the three of the figures a voice, woven out of many voices. A composite worldview, sung out of secrets.

Oh and also the paint is sentient, and has feelings. And vocal cords made out of post-it notes.

Anyway. Imagined it? Okay. You’re about halfway there.

I was jokingly referred to as ‘just the music guy’. I was apologised to, but I wasn’t ever offended by the sentiment. While the music will hopefully play a useful part in the proceedings as planned, the story is, and always has been, a collaborative effort on behalf of all those living it, be they performers, writers, the director, or the original contributors themselves. The pressured. The beleaguered. The lost. I’ll put a soundtrack to it all if I can. But this story is big, bigger than its canvas. Bigger than the stage they’re putting it on.

If all else fails, I’ll just sneak some death metal in, and slink away before they have time to notice.

– Ryan Morrison, Just The Music Guy, 18/12/11, 9:39pm

 

So you might have heard that a TEDx event is happening right here in the Riverland this weekend!!

Yep, that’s right 3 Sessions of inspiring speakers and ideas worth sharing modeled on TED talks (http://www.ted.com/) right here in the Riverland!

This Saturday 19th November 2-6pm at the Renmark Institute.  Check out the Packed Program – TEDxYouth@Renmark Program 2011

Bring a cushion and some munchies and stay for as many or as few as you like.

The event is completely free and brought to you courtesy of Riverland Youth Connect and Alysha Herrmann with support from TEDxAdelaide and Berri Barmera YACU.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is call TEDxYouth@Renmark, where x=independently organized TED event. At our TEDxYouth@Renmark event, TEDTalks video and live local speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

TEDxYouth@Riverland is an offshoot of TEDxAdelaide to conincide with TEDxYouth day.

The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

There is also an opportunity for you to speak about something that matters to you within the themes of the event!! After the official close there will be an opportunity for anyone who wants to speak on the day for up to 4 minutes each!!

The global theme of TEDxYouth Day is: Play, Learn, Build & Share. and our event along with TEDxYouth@Adelaide is specifically focusing on SHARE and asking the question “What can you share with the world?”.

Although the event is designed to upskill, inspire and celebrate young people aged 16-30, the speakers insights also have something to offer for people outside of that age range so don’t be afraid to come along and check it out.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Two major TED events are held each year: The TED Conference takes place every spring in Long Beach, California (along with a parallel conference, TEDActive, in Palm Springs), and TEDGlobal is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily; the new TED Conversations, enabling broad conversations among TED fans; and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.

TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

This independent TEDx event (TEDxYouth@Renmark) is operated under license from TED.

On the way to the Waikerie Primary School Kane (professional actor) suggested the random question of the day which, was’ What dessert would you be and why?’ It was a very mind challenging question as we had to answer why although; it was great to learn more about each other.

When we arrived at the venue (Waikerie Primary School) Kane used Alysha’s groovy music to start us off with stretches to warm up our bodies. After Jess Weedy and Ryan (musician) split away from the gang to practise some beats for the official PressureLands’s song. This left the rest of the gang to practise to control their movements from laying down to getting up. Milly rocked up half way through this activity when it was becoming challenging as Alysha increased the length of time from laying down to getting up. When Jess Weedy and Ryan reunited with the gang we exchanged what we did in that time. I can tell you all that the song is one of the many elements to look forward to from the project 🙂

Shalyee arrived and joined the gang for the next activity which, was to act as a characters that the gang from yesterday created. They created two characters so, they acted like one while the new peeps acted like the other one. We acted as what their (the character’s) attitude would be like when interacting with others. This was done by two people getting up and heading in the opposite direction as the other across the room. It was interesting as we didn’t have to say anything but, it become quite boring doing that so some verbal action commenced.
It was then time for the lunch, Weedy had made Shaylee a cupcake cake as it was her birthday not long ago. We acted as candles and Shaylee followed by Jess Weedy blew us out. After we then brainstormed ideas for all aspects about the Pressurelands project by playing the buzz game where none one can add on to your idea and it was intense. Once everyone had a say the brainstorming become an open discussion amongst all peeps. Many great ideas were suggested and hopefully will be incorporated into the project. We then reviewed and casually rehearsed last year’s script for the working progress.

Sadly, Milly had to leave us and go to work but, we kept rolling on by the last activity. This involved the scenarios that the peeps again from yesterday altered and used others to act out the idea. I worked with Kane to perform his rap which also, included Ryan to crack the beats 🙂 I also, was involved in Jess Weedy’s aging performance which, she directed very well. The other three performances by Tubb (Nic), Brianna and Kait were entertaining and fascinating to watch.

It was then time to clean up our mess in the room and head off to our homes. Tubb made another random question on the ride home which, was ‘Do you think you deserve what you have?’ It was very opinionative and left us with new ideas made by others who answered the question.
Thank you all for a great and enjoyable day it was worth leaving homework for a day 🙂 Only two more day to go until the end of the school holidays sessions so enjoy it 🙂

A couple of people have asked me for details about how to be involved as a performer/ensemble member during the current stage of development.

The ensemble were absolutely amazing last year and I am so thrilled to be in the midst of the 3rd phase of the PressureLands project! Go Team!

If you want to be involved during Stage 3 in creating & building the show, it’s simple really, all you have to do is turn up to Creative Development sessions and contribute what you can when you can.

Here’s the PressureLands Cast Timeline V.1 (now until December). Remember that Transport is provided between Renmark and Waikerie (and all the towns in between) for every session, you just need to text or phone the night before and let us know where to pick you up from.

There is no cost to be involved.

The other important thing – to be involved you’ll need to fill out a medical details/permission/release form. Download PressureLands 2011 Ensemble Emergency and Release Form and email to: pressurelands@me.com or bring along to the first session you attend.

I recognise that each and every one of you are super busy people who have loads of other commitments between school, work, family, friends, sports, community and other artistic projects – to make PressureLands Stage 3 work in 2011 I have an open door policy. What this means is that you come to scheduled Creative Development when you can, there is no expectation that you will be at every one or even at a certain amount. So I’ve provided the full timetable for you to plan ahead and think about how much time you are willing and able to commit.

Each Creative Development session will utilise whoever is there to progress the project to the next level. So you can have as much or as little involvement as works for you during Stage 3. (Please Note – even if you only come to one session I still need your emergency release form).

Not only is Stage 3 going to be an opportunity for us to fully craft the production, we’ll also be working with a dancer/movement artist & a professional actor to increase our skills, we’ll be joined by our composer/musician and a set/costume designer who will craft the other elements of the production with us over the coming months.

And wait for it …..Yes, PressureLands is registered to perform at the Adelaide Fringe in March next year! There will be auditions for the final performance cast early next year.

Any questions or concerns ring/text/email or hassle me on the streets. This project is for all of us so let’s make it special!

PS. For those of you who don’t check facebook regularly – did you know that PressureLands has been nominated for an Advantage SA award in the ‘Youth’ & ‘Arts’ Categories?? And PressureLands has also been invited to be showcased at the Goolwa Regional Arts Conference in October 2012. We’re super cool.

Post by Brianna Obst

Question of the day:

Part I: If you were a jungle cat, which one would you be and by choice what noise would you make?

Part II: (Working clock wise around the car) what animal best represents the person on your left?

Today has been one of the more challenging sessions at PressureLands but as things turn out it was also one of the more rewarding days.

Beginning with a very different style of warm up than we’re used to, Kane put us through our paces disco style! …not really but kind of. There was lots of dancing.

Theatre sports was next, the ensemble played typewriter and discovered stories with a town crushing giant, ugly girls and the attack of the birds, the greedy Prince and his revengeful servants and a little merman that got stuck on a rock.

After creating our own stories we read to each other from innocent looking children’s stories need I say looks can be deceiving. After selecting one of the books that didn’t make us cry as a group we retold the story through performance about worries that sneak up on you. Despite some crazy ideas, we managed to tame them in a way that worked for all of us.

After lunch it was time to get a little more focused on the project, yesterday we wrote ‘Once upon a time’ short stories. They were a bit scary to read and even scarier to write. Inspired by one of the stories/ quotes or what ever they are, we directed the rest of the group in performing something of great worthiness! This definitely did not come without its challenges but it was great to be a part of and really rewarding especially when yours was performed 🙂

After having such fun working together all day an individual task just didn’t seem quite right. As Alysha left the room we cheated and worked together anyway… to call MUTINY!!!!! (With a back up just incase sleepiness made her grumpy or sad or in Kane’s words “PISSED!”) but she wasn’t because she’s pretty cool like that and even after poking and prodding and pushing her around with creepy little PressureLands chants she smiled, so I kind of felt half bad and we finished off the task as she’d asked.

GO TEAM!!!

Here’s a little blurb from cast member Kait talking about Creative Development on Wednesday 21st September 2011.

Tonight we started off by doing some stretching to warm up and to loosen our bodies and that was pretty good. Then we did some impulsive walking, we had a space in the room to walk around in and we weren’t allowed to think about our next move we had to do everything by impulse. This was really hard because you would try and not think about what you were going to do next but then an idea would come into your head and you would think ‘yes lets do that’ but then you realize that you just planned it so you can’t do it anymore. After we did that for a few minutes we lay on our backs and focused on our breathing and did some breathing exercises and I found it really relaxing. We then had a look at photos that were taken from our photo shoot and some of them were quite hilarious! But there are some really good ones and we had to pick 5 of our favorites. It was really hard to pick. While we were doing this we ate food. Food is great  we had this amazing dip called ‘Baby Spinach & Feta’. It tasted amazing! Alisha then gave us all a children’s book and we had to read it like we were reading it to primary school children and that was interesting it was difficult to try and read a book that you have never read before and have the book facing the audience so they can see the pictures while trying to concentrate on the speed you are reading at and the way you pronounce your words so they are clear and have emotion to make them sound interesting. The final thing we did was we used our bodies and our voices to demonstrate a sound like SPLOSH! That was hard because we weren’t meant to think about it too much either.

Stay tuned for more guest blogs coming your way in October as we head into our school holiday intensive with visiting Actor Kane Lach, Set/Costume Designer Lachlan Sully, Composer Ryan Morrison and our phenomenal cast. If you’d like to be involved contact: pressurelands@me.com or 041 626 7391

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