The Studio: onwards and upwards

RealTime

The Studio got off to a good start with its first 6 month program, quickly establishing itself as a popular haunt for all sorts of live arts fans—sometimes it felt like each show attracted its very own tribe. It’s generally agreed that the contemporary arts scene has been enhanced by the presence of this comfortable and accommodating venue at Sydney’s premier location and its energetic support of Australian artists through programming, commissioning and co-producing.

If volume is what it’s about, The Studio has the goods. At the launch of Program 2, the management proudly stated that while there were 92 performances between July 2000 and June 2001, by June 2002 they’d counted 173. Given that most of these were short seasons, it’s amazing that Executive Producer Virginia Hyam and her team look as perky as they do. The new program suggests no rest is in sight, save for the 5 week season of The 7 Stages of Grieving. By the end of 2002, 104 independent artists, 5 small to medium companies and 17 music groups will have appeared at the venue.

A welcome new element is The Studio’s hosting of ReelDance Dance on Screen Festival in August (preview, page 32). And while the Dance Tracks programs might have had teething problems, it’s good to see a commitment to continuity in Dance Tracks 3, this time The Studio teaming with the Breaks of Asia Club as part of the Asian Music & Dance Festival, August 14-18. (Incidentally, don’t miss the visit by the acclaimed Akram Khan Company from London who’ll be performing their work Kaash at the Drama Theatre for the festival, August 20-24). Later in the year, in Dance Tracks 4, guest musicians are Endorphin and French DJ, BNX.

It’s great to see a classic of contemporary performance given a new outing. With Deborah Mailman’s current TV popularity, The 7 Stages of Grieving should be huge. Same goes for Donna Jackson who impressed with her Car Maintenance Explosives and Love at Mardi Gras a while back but hasn’t been seen in Sydney since. Her Body: Celebration of the Machine is part of the cultural program for the Gay Games. Hanging onto the Tail of a Goat created and performed by Tenzing Tsewang (RealTime 43) is a small but significant work originally previewed at Performance Space, premiered at Melbourne’s Gasworks and now given a welcome Sydney season. Premieres include Legs on the Wall’s foray into the primal world of sport, Runners Up, and Wide Open Road a collaboration between 2 youth theatres, Sydney-based PACT and Outback, based in Hay in south-western NSW.

The Australian Composers series features the work of 2 contemporary artists. Drew Crawford presents Lounge Music, an intimate evening of works chosen from his theatre and dance compositions, electronic works, opera, cabaret and concert music. And in Over Time Andrée Greenwell orchestrates her engaging collision of popular, experimental and operatic musics.

There’s jazz and fusion and some top notch stand-up in the form of Sue Anne Post (G Strings and Jockstraps) and Lawrence Leung (Sucker, winner Best Solo Show, Melbourne Fringe) and some quality acts in the exhibition space including Christopher Dean, Clinton Nain (responding to The 7 Stages of Grieving) and Mikala Dwyer.

As with Program #1 there’ll be hits and occasional misses in Program #2 at The Studio, a lot of creative risk-taking, and plenty to argue about afterwards at the ever inviting Opera Bar. Importantly, it’s all presented in a spirit of generosity and celebration of Australia’s contemporary culture. RT

RealTime issue #50 Aug-Sept 2002 pg. 40

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1 August 2002