Too Dumb Blondes – Does It Please You? The Final Saga
Last year Taylor Nobes and Mikayla Rudd staged their first rendition of Does It Please You? and walked away with the Fringe Award for Best Emerging Artist and the Holden Street Theatres Award for 2021.
This year the duo returns as Too Dumb Blondes, their newly established theatre company, with a more refined, darker and funnier version of this production.
Too Dumb Blondes emerged from a place of “deep frustration mixed with deep passion”.
“We were both the youngest in our corresponding year levels at drama school and found ourselves consistently being underestimated because of it, no matter how hard we worked… [we] realised that being taken seriously in this industry as a young female was not going to be easy,” say the pair.
In establishing their company, Nobes and Rudd wanted to embrace concepts that interested them, but that other people often dismissed, such as pop-culture reference and Y2K trends. They also figured that some people were calling them “Dumb Blondes” behind their backs, so they reclaimed the name as well.
Too Dumb Blondes endeavours to challenge stereotypes and subvert viewpoints on stigmatised topics, with mental health being the main theme explored in Does It Please You? Their intention is to empower audiences to embrace new ways of thinking.
Does It Please You? was written by Nobes, after she experienced her own mental health struggles. She says she channelled her “anger and resentment” into this work.
“I found myself frustrated at the lack of support and knowledge for people suffering from mental health conditions. And I, like many other people, tried to shrink myself into the mould that society deems acceptable, but I realised that wasn’t who I wanted to be,” says Nobes.
Does It Please You? The Finial Saga is described as an “emotional rollercoaster” and features laugh-out-loud comedy, original songs, and dance numbers. Nobes and Rudd characterise their work as a dark comedy that also works to strip away the assumption that theatre is always a “high-brow’ affair”.
“We love nothing more than to get an audience laughing… We believe that when an audience is laughing, they’re at their most vulnerable, which makes productions so much more emotionally raw.”
Does It Please You? The Final Saga will be at the Holden Street Theatres from March 8-20.
Famous Last Words – Home Thoughts
NIDA graduate and award-winning playwright James Watson moved back to Adelaide in late 2021. He is now set to stage his first production, Home Thoughts, with his company Famous Last Words.
Watson is no stranger to the South Australian theatre scene, with his last production in September 2021, The Triumph of Man: A Comedy in Two Acts, receiving widespread praise. However, he wanted to establish Famous Last Words to encourage audiences and other creatives to form a relationship with his brand.
“It’s a vehicle to establish a following and create more work and bring in other collaborators without it feeling like it’s one sole person’s control or specific vision,” he says.
The name of the company is a reference to text, the exploration of a script, and the capacity for evolving interpretations of works.
“It implies a relationship with the text, whether that be a departure from text or an emphasis on new text,” Watson says. “So that’s really it – a relationship with what we say on stage, what we are verbalising, who is creating these words, what does it mean when we say the same words in a different voice or with a different person.”
Watson is reluctant to pigeonhole himself into specific themes, theory or a pre-determined aesthetic for Famous Last Words; instead, he wants the freedom to collaborate with a range of other theatre-makers and respond to the political and social climate as it evolves. As a result, audiences can expect it to produce a diverse array of shows.
Famous Last Words’ debut production is a timely, original piece titled Home Thoughts, which explores the push and pull, rejection and attraction, that young people find themselves feeling towards Adelaide. Watson was inspired by his personal reflections when he was overseas and interstate.
“I was feeling really homesick and missing Adelaide a lot… but I got back, and my first thought was, ‘I need to leave again. I’m happy, this is nice, this place is beautiful, it’s summer, I’ve seen all my friends that I’ve missed, but I am deeply uncomfortable here’.”
While Famous Last Words is debuting with the “Adelaide play”, the productions to come will explore a plethora of themes, styles and theatrical formats.
“I wouldn’t want every production from Famous Last Words to be like this [Home Thoughts]. It would be so exciting if the next one is 100 per cent different.”
Home Thoughts will be at Bakehouse Theatre from February 28 – March 5.
Quasar Arts – Escaping the Burning Sun
The 2022 Fringe is a launchpad for one of South Australia’s newest theatre companies, Quasar Arts. Founder Jazz Siegertsz, a 21-year-old queer creative, has written an original play, Escaping the Burning Sun, that will mark its debut on Adelaide’s theatre scene.
A quasar is described as “the brightest thing in the known universe. It is the light that surrounds a black hole; the darkest thing in the known universe”. This imagery served as fitting inspiration for Siegertsz, who intends for Quasar Arts to help bring light to the darkness of life post-2020, particularly within the arts sector.
“I saw how few opportunities there were for creatives in Adelaide – for the arts to be people’s full-time careers. I decided that the only way for me to have a full-time job in this industry was to create one myself.
“My hope is for Quasar’s growth and therefore the ability to provide many Adelaide creatives with paid jobs.”
Quasar Arts’ first production is a single-act, sci-fi, dystopian-drama. Escaping the Burning Sun examines mortality, tyranny and the privilege of choice. To engage audiences with this exploration, the cast of Escaping the Burning Sun will give them the power to determine the show’s ending.
“Escaping the Burning Sun is a play with two endings, much like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, but in a play format. I’m excited to see audiences really think about their vote on the ending and try to decide which choice will grant them – grant the characters – the best outcome,” says Siegertsz.
Following its debut, Quasar Arts will focus on producing original and experimental works engaging a range of artistic mediums, including music, dance and even fictional storytelling through podcasts.
“I want to push the boundaries of creativity and find what different mediums have to offer that few have explored before,” says Siegertsz.
Escaping the Burning Sun will be at The Little Theatre in Victoria Drive on February 18-19 and Domain Theatre at Marion Cultural Centre on March 16-17.
Eminence Theatre – Charismatic Wankers
Eminence Theatre’s debut cannot be easily defined; it is a “post-dramatic, fourth-wall-breaking, comedy-theatre show incorporating elements of film, music, dance, circus, cabaret, comedy, theatre, physical theatre and live video projections”. This all comes together in a show titled Charismatic Wankers.
Founded by Marley Reid and Adam D’Apice, best friends who met at university, Eminence Theatre is committed to genre-bending productions. Reid and D’Apice are trained in theatre but share a passion for a range of art forms.
“Our productions aim to amalgamate these disciplines and create our own unique live performance genre. We aim to create productions unlike anything seen before,” the pair say.
“As this is our first production under the Eminence Theatre banner, we are aiming to ‘throw everything at the wall’, experiment with the disciplines and incorporate unique lighting and sound.”
Charismatic Wankers tells the story of two young men, Marley and Adam, who are trying to make their way through adulthood. Audiences will learn how these two characters met, and see their friendship challenged as they move in together.
“Childlike, super silly fun” is how they describe the show. “We thought to ourselves, with everything that has been happening in the world over the last couple of years, which people are the happiest? The answer: children. Is that because they have no idea what is going on? Perhaps. But neither do we.”
While Eminence Theatre is kicking off with a comedy, its founders say audiences can expect wide variety from their productions in the future.
“This year we are focusing on comedy, but we have a passion for drama, so stay tuned to see what we do next. We are equally as excited to produce more ‘high-quality’ productions… While our first production is a comedy-physical-theatre show, we aim to create immersive, powerful and meaningful theatre in the not-so-distant future.”
Charismatic Wankers will be at the Sky Room at The Griffins from March 9-20.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.