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Bare Witness: Review highlights


Andrew Fuhrmann

….an amazing dramatic collage describing the exhilaration, the horror, the outrage, the anguish and the dread hopelessness of combat-zone photography, fusing a compelling life story, expressive choreography, poetic visual effects, a complex moral dilemma and the best sound design of any production seen in Melbourne this year…..

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Review: Bare Witness review on Arts Hub

This review of Bare Witness was written by Smiljana Glisovic for Arts Hub. See it in its original context here.

As in a flipbook, fragments of a life are animated, moving through the war-zones of Bosnia, East Timor and Iraq. The limits of the space, of this photojournalist’s life, are constructed and dismantled, along with the ethics and moral boundaries of the situations that she is thrust into. Flashes of light explode from cameras, bombs and light-boxes. A chorus of actors bends in and out of liminal spaces, dodging and re-assembling the shrapnel, like snap-shots, telling a multiplicity of stories and possible versions/takes. The live music score (by award winning Jethro Woodward) is relentless, but beautifully so, writing in a phraseology that departs from the single elements of the narrative and deepens the echoes of metaphor.

This piece comes from writer Mari Lourey, who comes to this piece via a music career, various arts projects, critically acclaimed Dirty Angels (La Mama 2003), and award winning The Bridge (Green Room and Vic Health Award, 2003).

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Review: Bare Witness review in The Age

This review of Bare Witness was written by Martin Bell for The Age. See it in its original context here.

THE camera never lies, according to the adage, but of course neither can it tell the whole story, because what is left out of the frame is often just as important as what is left in. This paradox is central to the ethical dilemmas faced by photojournalists working in war zones, who must constantly balance their own moral commitment to the truth with the media industry’s thirst for a graphic picture.

Bare Witness is Mari Lourey’s exploration of these contradictions, the pun in the show’s title drawing attention to how photojournalists can themselves become victims of a conflict, emotionally wounded by the images they ”shoot”.

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Review: Bare Witness on Stage Whispers

This review of Bare Witness was written by Geoffrey Williams for Stage Whispers. See it in its original context here.

The cultural influence of photojournalism on the battlefield has resulted in some life-changing images. Some, like the Associated Press’s Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a naked little girl running along a road immediately after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War – are defining images of a generation.

Controversy, too, has challenged the reputation for authenticity of both written and photographic journalism that has emerged from places to which few of us would dare travel – especially given the life and death stakes that exist in constantly unpredictable war zones. Renowned war photographer Robert Capa’s iconic “The Falling Solider” – a photograph of a ‘soldier at the moment of death’ – has long been the subject of controversy, with a Spanish newspaper declaring it a fake in 2009. Capa, who most memorably (and miraculously) photographed World War II’s D-Day Landings in 1944, also once wrote: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Ironically, Capa was killed by a landmine in 1954 while on assignment for Time-Life magazine covering the first Indochina War. He died, it has been reported, “with his camera in his hand”.

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Review: Bare Witness on Australian Stage Online

This review of Bare Witness was written by Liza Dezfouli for Australian Stage Online. See it in its original context here.

Bare Witness, by Mari Lourey, has been in development for many years and is a meticulously researched play. As a work of performance, it is wonderful, employing eloquent and dramatic theatrical devices, multi-media, and some terrific physicality where the actors turn themselves inside out to say the unsay-able. The play creates with authenticity and verve the fraught hyper-reality of the world of the foreign correspondent, often in peril, living an unholy and thrilling existence surrounded by horror, and all the while documenting it. The play gives us to understand how the war journalist is very nearly another sort of human being. Bravery exists in all sorts of guises but very few of us are required to demonstrate the sort of immediate courage required of a photojournalist in a war zone. It’s an extraordinary thing to bring to life in an inner-city theatre space this sort of atmosphere and tension and it is to the credit of the team involved in Bare Witness that it succeeds in this so well. The form of the play itself crosses boundaries; it is, as well as a drama, a work of choreography. The live music score adds to the frequent effect of breathlessness and numerous devices are brought into play to serve the world it is portraying. You can nearly smell tear gas, sweat and blood.

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Review: Bare Witness on ABC Arts

This review of Bare Witness was written by Prue Bentley for ABC arts. See it in its original context here.

Mari Lourey’s newest play explores the life of the self appointed “eyes and ears” of the world, the photojournalist, writes Prue Bentley.

You could argue that the media is in an ugly place at the moment. Opinion journalism has ascended under the auspices of the 24 hour news cycle. Fact-averse, deadline-hungry news agencies are increasingly enslaved to the easy headline.

So, while words can be moulded to an agenda, there’s still a perception of purity in the undoctored, still image.

Mari Lourey‘s newest play Bare Witness tours the life of the self appointed “eyes and ears” of the world, the photojournalist; curious, disconnected individuals who go from conflict to conflict, seeking truth, justice and the next front page.

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Bare Witness in The Age

An article about Bare Witness from The Age. See it in its original context here.

A photographer’s frustration and exploitation is explored on the stage, writes Robin Usher.

PHOTO-JOURNALISTS risk their lives so people can see the ravages of war from the safety of their homes. Yet the paradox is that the photographers do not decide what people see, despite their battlefield exploits, and they can be left feeling frustrated and exploited.

This is one of the themes explored in the new play Bare Witness, by Mari Lourey, about frontline photographers that she has been researching for about six years. ”There have been other projects during that time but I was always thinking about this,” she says.

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Nadja Kostich discusses Bare Witness on Australian Stage Online

And interview with Nadja Kostich, director of upcoming play Bare Witness.  Interview by Paul Andrew, published on Australian Stage Online.  See the interview in its original context here.

Bare Witness by Mari Lourey draws on the real life experiences of photo journalists and foreign correspondents in the Balkans, East Timor and Iraq, roles which have become increasingly dangerous, while their moral validity is increasingly questioned.

Australian Stage’s Paul Andrew speaks to Director Nadja Kostich ahead of the show’s Melbourne season.

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Bare Witness on Theatre People

An article about Bare Witness from Theatre People.  See it in its original context here.

Without realising, I pass into the zone of a dangerous place…

Bare Witness, a new Australian play by Mari Lourey (Dirty Angels, The Bridge, Digging Into The Green Mountain, ) and directed by Nadja Kostich, will premiere at fortyfivedownstairs, as a special La Mama presentation, featuring a stellar cast including Isaac Drandic, Daniela Farinacci, Todd MacDonald, Adam McConvell and Maria Theodorakis.

Set in the Balkans, East Timor and Iraq, against the complex terrain of contemporary photojournalism, Bare Witness scrutinises the way we view our humanity – through the fragmenting lens of the media. Photographs, memories and dreams collide in a physical multi-media performance that follows a pack of complicated flawed characters who share the unbreakable bond of war journalists. Searching for the pieces of herself lost to years in the field, a young Australian woman is at a point when thrusting the camera between herself and her subjects ceases to protect her.

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Review: Do not go gentle… on Foyer Talk

This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Trevar Alan Chilver for his blog Foyer Talk See it in it’s original context here. Seeing Do Not Go Gentle was an experience. Not just because it's a great show, but because I got…

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Review: Do not go gentle… on Sometimes Melbourne

This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Anne Marie Peard for her blog Sometimes Melbourne and for See it in it’s original context here. In 2006 Melbourne playwright Patricia Cornelius won the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and the…

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Review: Do not go gentle… on Theatre People

This review of Do not go gentle… was written byNatasha Boyd for Theatre People.  See it in it’s original context here.

Submitted by K.E. Weber on Tuesday, 10th Aug 2010

Do not go gentle…grapples with existential questions of love, death, loss, happiness and the lust to live life to its fullest.

The intention of former arts broadcaster and writer, Mary Lou Jelbart, who is the founder of fortyfivedownstairs, has been successfully realised in a short space of time and obtained a well deserved reputation as creating a venue that produces a varied range of independent theatre and art space. And it was this that created much enthusiasm amongst the packed audience which greeted opening night of Patricia Cornelius’ avant-garde piece “Do not go gentle….” this weekend.

Cornelius, after all, has been working on this script for six years, including being rewarded as the proud recipient of both the Patrick White playwright’s award and RE Ross Trust Playwright script development award. Cornelius surely felt her work was in safe hands as good friend and experienced director, Julian Meyrick, who has brought two of her pieces to life previously, as well as other works for MTC, STC, and State Theatre of South Australia, was at its creative helm. Not to mention the high calibre and experienced cast that were attracted to this piece and on hand to bring this piece to life.
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Review: Do not go gentle… on the ABC

This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Prue Bentley for 774 ABC Melbourne. See it in it’s original context here.

Pamela Rabe as Bowen in Patricia Cornelius’ Do Not Go Gentle. Photo by Jeff Busby.

We fear the unfulfilled life.

In the world as we know it, full of aspiration and glamour, there is something monstrous about coming to our end full of regret.

In Do Not Go Gentle, the latest work from Patricia Cornelius puts a group of ageing characters out on the ice to face their lives, their choices and their challenges. And they do it through the goggles of the ill-fated antarctic explorer Robert Scott.

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Review: Do not go gentle… in The Age

This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Martin Ball for The Age. See it in it’s original context here.

Do Not Go Gentle


August 9, 2010

An extraordinary cast

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

By Patricia Cornelius
45 Downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane. Until August 29.

DYLAN Thomas’s famous poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is a passionate clarion call to live life to its utmost, even into old age. Such a philosophy of not going quietly – spelled out in the poem’s refrain, to ”Rage, rage against the dying of the light” – provides the starting point for Do Not Go Gentle, Patricia Cornelius’s wonderful new play about a group of characters in a nursing home, facing the trials and tribulations of old age.

The genius of Do Not Go Gentle, however, is that the characters double their roles in telling the parallel story of Scott of the Antarctic’s doomed expedition to the south pole and this astounding leap of poetic imagination sets up abundant connections between the image of Scott’s men trudging wearily one foot after another into blinding snow, and the creeping onset of senescence that dims the light for so many of our older folk.

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Review: Do not go gentle… in The Australian

This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Alison Croggon for The Australian. See it in it’s original context here.

The poetry of age in an uncertain world

PATRICIA Cornelius’s award-winning play borrows its title from Dylan Thomas’s poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. Perhaps the most beautiful villanelle written in English, Thomas’s poem celebrates the vivid life of old age, pressed hard up against death: “Old age should burn and rave at close of day”.

Likewise, Do Not Go Gentle . . . explores the flare of vitality that reaches a desperate intensity in the face of death, through seven characters who live in an old people’s home.

The central character, Scott (Rhys McConnochie), is obsessed with the tragic heroism of Robert Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, a race he lost to Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, and that ultimately cost him his life.

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Review: Do not go gentle… on Crikey

This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Andrew Fuhrmann for Crikey.  See it in it’s original context here.

DO NOT GO GENTLE-®Jeff Busby_120

Photo by Jeff Busby: Malcolm Robertson, Pamela Rabe, Terry Norris and Anne Phelan

Dylan Thomas’ famous exhortation that old age should burn and rage at close of day is here filled out with a specific and passionate argument by playwright Patricia Cornelius: the rage against the dying of the light is the rage of memory, of memory projected forward into action, into the renewal or reconsideration of old convictions, into reconciliations, into fresh desires, into affirmations, and into new adventures.

This is the much-anticipated premiere production of 2006’s Patrick White Award winner, Do Not Go Gentle. It’s an unflinching, imaginatively drawn, life-and-death scenario, similar in the directness and ardency of its argument to Cornelius’s work with the Melbourne Worker’s Theatre and related in its arrangement to her contribution to Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?

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Interview: "I know some really stupid old people"

See the below interview by John Bailey with some three of the Do not go gentle… cast and the director.  See the interview in it’s original context on Bailey’s blog, Capital Idea, here.

Do not go gentle…is written by Patricia Cornelius, directed by Julian Meyrick and produced by fortyfivedownstairs. The play runs from 6 – 29 August.


A few weeks ago I sat down with director Julian Meyrick and some of the cast of Do not go gentle…, opening tomorrow at fortyfivedownstairs. At the table were:

Rhys McConnochie, 73

Malcolm Robertson, 77

Terry Norris, 80

And Mr. Meyrick.
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Interview: Julian Meyrick on Curtain Call

An interview with Do not go gentle… director Julian Meyrick from Crikey’s Blog Curtain Call.  See the interview in its original context here.

Next week, Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs will present the world premier of Do not go gentle… , written by Patricia Cornelius and directed by Julian Meyrick. It’s an award-winning script using Robert Falcon Scott’s final — and fatal — Antarctic expedition of 1910-13 as an allegory for life in an aged care facility and the final journey that five of its residents take through dotage into death.

Cornelius employs Scott’s tragic end to amplify the struggle of her five geranauts against the dying of the light. In Antarctica, twilight lasts for weeks, the colours are spectacular and the views infinite: the terrible sublime of an endless sunset. On reaching the pole, Scott wrote in his diary: “Great God! This is an awful place.”
The script won the 2006 Patrick White Award and was also short listed for the Griffin Award. Despite critical acclaim, it has waited four years for its first production.

Dr Julian Meyrick
is and has been a passionate contributor to Australian theatre for more than 20 years, as a practitioner, historian and theorist, critic, administrator and occasional polemicist-cum-pamphleteer. He is currently a Research Fellow at La Trobe University and has previously been Associate Director and Literary Advisor at the MTC, directing many productions in Melbourne and around Australia. As an historian, he has written histories of Nimrod Theatre and the MTC, as well as Trapped by the Past: Why Our Theatre Is Facing Paralysis, a bracing 2005 Platform Paper written as part of Currency Press’s quarterly essays on the performing arts.
We interview’d the engaged and engaging Meyrick during rehearsals for Do Not Go Gentle.
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Review of Manbeth on Captain's Blog

This review of Manbeth is from White Whale Theatre’s Captain’s Blog.  See it in it’s original context here.

I was, I have to admit, a little worried as I made my way down the familiar set of stairs at 45 Flinders Lane last night.

The idea of an all-male Macbeth, set in a jail, has some cheesy potential.  In theory, it could have been cheesier than a deep fried wheel of King Island Blue Brie.  But a number of my most trusted carrier pigeons had informed me that this was not the case.  And, I’m happy to say, they were right.

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Patricia Cornelius on Australian Stage Online

An article about Patricia Cornelius and her upcoming play Do not go gentle... from Australian Stage Online, written by Trevar Alan Chilver.  See it in it's original context here. Dreams, Visions and Constipated Old Farts Images of an ageing Ghandi…

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Review: Manbeth

The review of Manbeth below is written by Joanna Bowen for Australian Stage Online.  See the original review here. Manbeth is a riot of masculinity; within minutes, you can smell the testosterone. This retelling of Macbeth is set in a…

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Review: Othello by The Kingsmen

Below is a review of Othello by The Kingsmen, written by Liza Dezfouli for Australian Stage Online.  See the original review here.

Othello | The Kingsmen
Written by Liza Dezfouli
Thursday, 10 June 2010 11:02

The geometric 90s looking set design tell you immediately that you’re in for something new and different with this production of Othello. The windows of the theatre space at 45 Downstairs are festooned with tapes of black and primary colours, suggesting the bars of a prison, the narrow window openings of a castle, or the timbers of a ship. Lighting is simple and there are few props. The action happens on the bodies of the actors, tightly choreographed into a piece that at times almost veers into dance. The actors tumble and roll; there is clowning and buffoonery a-plenty. The extensive development of a vocabulary of body language provides an original and vivacious aspect to this presentation of Othello’s dark story. The marrying of Shakespeare to physical theatre is an ambitious undertaking with a whole new level of performance to keep track of along with the demands of the language. It does make for a particular effort from the audience and, although the physical aspect is meticulously designed to support the script, the clowning is at times distracting; it may be that the cast hadn’t quite settled into the form and was having to work hard to deliver the story on so many levels.

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Othello: Moor than the role of a lifetime

Article by Michelle Griffin, published in The Age, 7 June 2010:

AS A 1.9-metre-tall Tongan, 27-year-old actor Anthony Taufa is very conscious of resisting typecasting. ”I’ve always said I’m more than a security guard,” says Taufa, who has just graduated from NIDA’s prestigious acting course.

”I want to show the world that Islanders are as liberal and complex as any other nationality in Australia. ”I do want vulnerable roles, I do want to be in love, to do romantic leads.”

But there is one role Taufa happily accepts as his lot in life: Othello, the Moor of Venice. At 27, he is about to play the 50-something soldier for the fourth time, as the lead in The Kingsmen’s production at fortyfivedownstairs.

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Oz Baby Boomers' review of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Read the review below or on the Oz Baby Boomer’s website.
Review by Prue Bentley:

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, by Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by David Myles

Human Sacrifice Theatre | fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne | Until 30 May

Alarm bells start ringing when you discover there’s a cast of 20. They really begin to get going when you find out you’re about to see a cast of 20 play in a small theatre, for THREE hours.

And it really goes all Saint Peter’s on you, after reading that it’s “loosely based on” The Bible.

In normal circumstances this could see the more half-hearted theatre-goer conveniently wimping out, lingering a little too long over their last mojito and waiting for the perfect moment to blush “Oh look at the time!”

But they’d be wrong to.

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Review: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Reviewer Cameron Woodhead
May 15, 2010

Review published in The Age

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
By Stephen Adly Guirgis Human Sacrifice Theatre fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, city, until May 30

BETWEEN heaven and hell, there’s courtroom drama. With The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis – a writer for NYPD Blue and The Sopranos – takes us into a theatrical retrial of Jesus’ betrayer.

Human Sacrifice Theatre has assembled a huge cast (the play has more than 20 characters, and there’s no doubling up) to deliver an ambitious, probing and diabolically entertaining production.

Heard in purgatory, the case is presided over by a hanging judge (Bruce Kerr), hearing argument from an unctuous prosecutor (Adam Mattaliano) and an impassioned liberal defence attorney (Holly Shanahan).

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Capital Idea Review: MEN

The below review is by John Bailey and was posted on his blog, Capital Idea, on Friday 19 March 2010: This one's arriving a little late, but I've been super busy of late with this great new hobby. It involves…

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MEN in the social pages

MEN in the social pages of The Age. Clockwise: Rush's Catherine McClements, Jay Bowen and Rodger Corser at the premier of MEN; Underbelly star Asher Keddie and MEN director Sarah Hallam; Josef Ber congratulates his Rush co-star Samuel Johnson; Television…

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Congratulations to our Green Room Awards winners

Last night at the Arts Centre Playhouse was a triumph for productions presented at fortyfivedownstairs last year: For their work in Progress and Melancholy (November 2009), Bagryana Popov was awarded Best Director (Independent Theatre) Todd Macdonald (Lopakhin) won Best Actor,…

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Arts Hub Review: MEN

A review of our current production of Men from ArtsHub: Men By Shelley Blake ArtsHub | Tuesday, March 16, 2010 There’s something quite raw about Brendan Cowell’s debut play Men, now playing at fortyfivedownstairs. After a brief season in 2009,…

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