The philosophy of The Phoenix Theatre is to have a theatre space which is not controlled by one resident company. The space is to be a venue where all arts workers can come together and generate performance based work in a supportive and nurturing environment.
The Primary objectives for the theatre are to:
Promote performing arts in the local area
Provide performance and rehearsal venues for professional and amateur theatrical groups in the local area
Promote arts which are incidental to, or associated with performance art in the local area
Promote and provide education and training in performance art and associated professions in the local area
The manifesto and operational guidelines are a product of extensive consultation with council, based on the achievement of these primary objectives and an assessment of the needs of the performance based arts community.
The Phoenix Theatre has been set up to be an alternative to existing performance spaces in more ways than simply its physical space. Steen, the projects creator, envisions a performance space operated on a more international model and style than those of most other Australian theatres.
in Europe, Steen attended many performances and workshops where
he noticed the attitude to performance was totally different
from the one in Australia. This was strange because
the attitudes of Multiculturalism, resourcefulness
and partnership are ideals held dear to most Australians and
even considered by us as the Australian way of living. So why
do we not see these ideals carried over into our performance culture?
Australians are the creative backbone of many performance
groups overseas, we do it better than anyone else because of
the way we live and the way we think. Our theatre workers are
leaving home to find what they need to express themselves. Again
why? Where is the source of the problem? When productions
that have a more global perspective have happened they have
been very successful, for example, the Lion King or Cirque du Soleil. Steen believes the biggest problem is support,
and The Phoenix Theatre is going to try to address the lack
of support for performers who want to take a more global approach
acclaimed director Peter Brook said,
“Even if it’s ancient, by its very nature theatre
is always an art of modernity. A phoenix that has to be constantly
brought back to life. Because the image that communicates in
the world in which we live, the right effect which creates a
direct link between performance and audience, dies very quickly.
In five years a production is out of date. So we must entirely
abandon any notion of theatrical tradition”
the search for a language that will communicate to an audience
the appropriate image must be found but there are some constants
that will always stay. Brecht said, “a Chair is a Chair
is a Chair.” The two philosophies of Brook and Brecht
along with other great directors such as Joan Littlewood and
Julie Tamore make up the basis of The Phoenix Theatre's philosophy.
We also believe in the ideals of the Bauhaus School of the Weimar
Republic and the Cabaret Voltaire of Zurich which was a Dada
Project. I don’t want to go into a detailed analysis of
their individual philosophies here, but distilled down they
are basically as follows:
PERFORMANCE IN THE THEATRE
- Old boundaries should be torn down and a new language should be developed that expresses the here and now for each project as it stands. Tradition should be respected and used but should not become a cage.
- In all performance the search for excellence and deeper meaning is vital. The extra steps to lift a performance should be taken so a work can be all it may be. Close enough is not good enough.
- Each aspect of a performance is as important as the others, no individual element can exist on its own therefore a cohesive whole is the aim of each performance. The skills of other arts disciplines should be incorporated to enhance the whole work and bring the possibility of greater expression.
- The Phoenix Theatre is a community and while one person has set the direction of the theatre all have the opportunity to voice their opinions and have input. If it can be done it will be done.
When the theatre reaches the stage for public performance, a hire system will be put in place to make it affordable for community groups. Criteria for selection will be made public and special criteria for projects that fulfill the Theatre Philosophy will be made available so that performances with a more innovative feel will be encouraged. At present the working criteria are:
1. Is it achievable in the space?
2. Is it innovative?
3. Does it promote the Philosophy of the Phoenix Theatre?
PERFORMANCE IN THE CABARET
The foyer of the theatre has been transformed into a Cabaret venue where performers can present personal works and projects in a small comfortable venue. The foyer can seat 60 people at tables and in lounges. We do not wish to replicate what is already in place in the region, so projects that are different from those presented in existing venues will be given priority. The dressing rooms have been renovated to accommodate 10 performers for the cabaret space.
Steen, Theatre Manager and Chair
Trevor Slattery, Secretary
Elysia Viles, Treasurer
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