Opportunities to show new work are both exciting and important. For a start they give everyone a deadline, something to work towards. But most importantly it’s a chance for artists to test out their ideas in front of an audience. It’s all very well for something to work in your brain or on the page, but it’s another thing altogether for it to make that next step to performance. This is why performance opportunities are so important, this is why we here at The Perf are great supporters of initiatives like Bake Sale For Art’s Monthly Friend series, or the recent Applelöft where a bunch of our fellow artists got together in a house to share new ideas. These sort of low risk events help to create a strong community of support for new artists as well as serving as a breeding ground for new talent.
Which brings me to Brand Spanking New, a two-week festival of new writing put together by Augusta Supple at the New Theatre in Newtown. This time it’s the writing that is on show, with both established and emerging writers offering their wares to the good people of Sydney. What was exciting for me was that it was often the names I didn’t know, at least as writers, whose scripts I found the most interesting. Highlights for me across the two weeks were Kit Brookman’s “if i could be anything i would be something different” with director Mark Pritchard carefully wedging the actors into the space, Jonathon Ari Lander’s “Measure” which looked at the aftermath of years of pain in Cambodia, and Sonal Moore’s “White Wedding”, a tender look at marriage in another culture.
But in the end it is not the specific works which make the festival worthwhile. It is the theatrical community coming together to give emerging artists a chance for their work to be seen and critiqued. It is also a chance for new actors and directors to be seen on a Sydney stage. Experiments like this should be the rule not the exception, and hopefully, they will be successfully and spurn more opportunities for new work of all varieties. The second week programme opens tonight, so you've got four nights to get in there and support it.