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Posts Tagged ‘David Peake’

Photo by Alice Boyle

Photo by Alice Boyle

David Peake’s first solo cabaret show, David Peake Has Everything He Needs,  opened last night at The Butterfly Club. In Writing on a Chalkboard’s first interview EVERRRRR, we covered such topics as his show, adjusting to an audience and how to get a job as police officer in the UK. We soon discovered the downside of using Facebook Chat for an interview, when despite the fact that were both online, Facebook decided to hide us from each other. That hurdle over with, we began.

David:  HI!

Jalen:  ahoy!

Jalen: How was opening night?

David: It was good. 3 people came.

Jalen: Hahahahahaha

David: Which was actually fine, it made me not nervous, which was a good way to start the season.

Jalen: Was it fun doing such an intimate show?

David: It was. Particularly because all 3 were supportive friends. However, it did make some moments a little laboured, as they felt it was their job to laugh, as opposed to a natural response. It was quite an extreme shift to what I had planned in my mind, so I even cut some songs and added some songs, because some stuff just wasn’t going to work.

Jalen: It’s good that you are comfortable enough to do that kind of thing, how much cabaret have you done before?

David: None solo, only 10 minute segments in 2 group cabarets with VCA alumni.

Jalen: You went to VCA?

David: Yes, the 2 year music theatre course.

Jalen: how did that affect your performance? Was it a huge learning experience?

David: It really was, not just for performing, but for life. I was quite young, 18, and quite an uninteresting introvert.

Jalen: Goodness me, that’s changed.

David: Lol, yep.

Jalen: What’s it like doing a solo show like this as opposed to acting in a play?

David: Similar and different. You still have to convince a room full (unless it’s Thursday) of people that you have something to say that’s worth listening to…But in cabaret, unlike theatre, you have to listen far more carefully to that voice in your head that tells you what the audience like and don’t like, and you have the freedom to play with that, and comment on that, which is also a main feature of a stand up comics world. Long sentence.

Jalen: We have an award for that. Yeah that aspect really interests me, I think it’s ignored a bit too much in most theatre.

David: It’s fun when you do have that freedom as a performer, but is very rare in theatre.

Jalen: How did you get into doing musical theatre?

David: It was really just an extension of the love I had when I started playing in music concerts at 7 or 8, it’s just with music theatre, I got to do more things. At a basic level, it’s just chasing applause really. Chasing validation.

Jalen: what’s it like when you don’t get that? Or not to the level you hoped?

David: I’d love to say “well as long as we did our best” and “you can’t please everyone” is a knee jerk reaction, it’s not. The immediate is at least some dejection.

Jalen: But the good times overrule the bad times

David: Oh, for sure.

Jalen: The material in the show’s all completely original right?

David: Yes, except for one Michael Jackson ‘tribute’.

Jalen: ahah lovely. What sort of process do you go through writing songs?

David: When it works best, it starts with having a feeling I want to capture, and properly defining that feeling. And I start with a little thing to play with on the piano with some chords, or sometimes, a lyric will be so strong, it will become a melody in my head immediately, and when I jump on the piano, the chords just know where to go. I like what Stephen Sondheim says on it:  “It’s not really the music or the lyrics first, it’s the music of the lyrics.” Or something like that.

Jalen: what sort of topics are your songs on in this show? It’s called “David Peake has Everything He Needs”, are they very focused around a sort of theme or story, or pretty disparate?

David: The first few take on a similar feel to establish the show, they’re all “I think this” kind of songs, although they’re sung cheekishly with almost concealed sarcasm from the opposite point of view…if that makes sense…

Jalen: Yeah it does. 

David: Haha.

Jalen: Is there anything you’ve been really tempted to do a song about but have thought it would be going too far or for some reason haven’t done it?

David: not really, this show does it. Or, as much as is solid enough to be done without offending a considerable portion of the audience. It’s about being clever enough to go as far as you want, while still making the audience feel like you at least take into consideration any opposing opinions. Because you’ve at least thought about it enough to be clever. And that’s all. Cool.

Jalen: Last couple of questions, a bit more…unusual shall we say. I’m going to grab the first question that comes up on the Yahoo Answers home page and you’ve got to somehow answer it and relate your answer back to your show.

David:  Haha! Lol.

Jalen:  “My husband wants to become a police officer in the UK – any tips to get in or general?”

(Yahoo answers users aren’t renowned for their clarity of expression)

David:   Haha. OK, I would suggest that he assist in the charitable cause of bringing sandbag the dog back home with the UK troops from Iraq (see facebook page save sandbag the dog). That would be looked warmly upon on any CV. This relates to my show because I make known my distress on the plight of this poor dog, and put forth the solution to keep our forces in Iraq permanently to continue killing people, so sandbag the dog has a home.

Jalen:  Of course

David: This is one of the sarcastic songs.

Jalen: To end our interview, why should people come to see your show (answer in rhyme of course)?

David:  It’s sure to impress.

I may or may not undress.

Jalen:  I’ll be there. I actually will tomorrow night

David:  Very good. Looking forward to meeting you’re face, to go with your very eloquent words.

Jalen: my face is looking forward to meeting you

David: your! Your! Not you’re! I hate it when people do that, not the least myself! Very good.

Jalen: The rest of me- not so much. No! Bad typing fingers! Don’t be mean to David. Sorry about that. Haha okay well thanks for doing this

David:  thanks yourself! See you tomorrow!

Jalen:  Ditto. Good luck for tonight!

David Peake Has Everything He Needs. Created and Performed by David Peake. The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne. Closes September 20. Sat 7.00, Sun 6.00. $22/$17. Tickets through The Butterfly Club. 

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Baby Doll (Leone Darling) telling off her daughter (Steph Calthorpe)

Baby Doll (Leone White) tells off her daughter Diddums (Steph Calthorpe). (Photo by Louris van der Geer)

I was rather excited to see Honey-Bun and Baby Doll because Louris’  last show is one of my two favourite plays ever. I didn’t like this anywhere near as much, but it was still a great piece of theatre, and I’m still in awe of her skill. As I was watching the line kept running through my head- “Louris is Beckett, Louris is Beckett”. The similarity was striking. They shared, to point out one similarity, the comedy that is also deeper and unsettling. In Beckett’s work people often miss the comedy because his plays are considered so ‘meaningful’ and have such a place in the theatrical canon, but in Honey-Bun and Baby Doll the situation was reversed. People missed the more serious or unsettling elements because it was just a little piece by an amateur in a youth theatre festival.  The overall…style I suppose is also the same. The play as a situation which represents something wider, but also exists in it’s own right. Beckett created images, situations, events, which are not of our world or life, but neither are they above it, blatantly ‘poetic’ and ringing with the echoes of ossified historic grandeur. The woman stuck in a mound, talking away with a smile on her face. Honey-Bun and Baby Doll had the girl picking through a pile of electronics, pulling them apart, while her parents canoodle in the background.  Both creations are intensely theatrical. But what does that really mean? They have a direct presence in the theatre, are of the theatre, and the form cannot be separated from the content. Where Louris, or should I say Ms. van der Geer, and Beckett differ is in the degree of their removal from literal reality. Louris’ piece is much closer to life, in an external sense, than Beckett’s work is.  Louris had a house, a couch, a couple, whereas Beckett’s more ‘parents in dustbins’. One is something we would come across, in a literal sense,  in our everyday lives. The other is not. This is not to say that Beckett’s work is less relevant, or less connected with reality, in fact it could easily mean the opposite. Something does not need to be represented in a literal way to be close to reality. This same difference is present in the dialogue and the structure: Louris’ relied a lot more on the image we all have of reality. Beckett’s plays break free of any ties to naturalism or ‘realism’ and live solely in the theatrical space, unfettered. So perhaps we could say Honey-Bun and Baby Doll had the spirit of Beckett clothed in the garb of naturalism. With all this though, the difference is a matter of degree rather than opposing natures. The dials do not have to turn very far to get from Honey-Bun and Baby Doll to Happy Days. Those names themselves share something, a kind of gentle irony. Both plays and both names pick a little fragment out of life and hold it up to the light. It may look stange to us ripped from its surroundings and viewed from a different angle, in such bright light, but in the the end the light shining through it does not distort it, but illuminates it in a way we’ve never seen before.

The actors all rose to their task perfectly, there was never a sense that the script was good but the actors were letting it down. The two blended completely, making the play a single living object. It was always very much a play, it never drifted into seeming like a real interaction happening spontaneously, but it didn’t need to. Interestingly enough, it’s artificial nature didn’t make it seem dead or like things were happening simply because the script said they should. Spontenaity and artifice gelled perfectly. It was interesting seeing Leone Darling, who played Baby Doll, in another Hatched production. Her performance was nowhere near the quality it reached in Honey-Bun and Baby Doll, where her self and the role seemed to blend. In the other production, Welcome to the Show, she was merely going through the motions. I would put this down to the directors. It’s not merely a matter of a director ‘drawing out’ a great performance from an actor either, One of a theatre director’s main roles, whether conscious or not, is creating a certain atmosphere in rehearsals. If the atmosphere is right an actor is free to give a great performace. It’s more a matter of the director not stuffing the actor up, which is a much harder task than trying to make the actor better by some sort of addition.

I didn’t enjoy Honey-Bun and Baby Doll as much as I enjoyed Louris’ Hatched show last year, They’re All in Their Little Boxes. A few people I spoke to said the same thing, including Louris herself. I was trying to work out why and I think one reason is that Honey-Bun and Baby Doll was a lot more static. One of the basic parts of playwrighting is creating a routine and then breaking it. Macbeth is having a feast, then that routine is broken by the appearance of Baquo’s ghost. In They’re All in their Little Boxes, routines were being broken constantly, left, right and center. There was never a moment for you, as an audience member, to become complacent. Boredom was out of the question. I described it to Louris as a fast paced tennis match between me and the play. We were both being pushed to the limit of our abilities, and throwing out amazing shots, each of which our opponent had to use all their skill to return, but still their return shot was a terrific shot as well. Honey-Bun and Baby Dollwas more homogenous. On a smaller scale routines were created and broken perhaps just as fast, but they were all encompassed in one slow-moving river. The shots were still expertly executed, but followed a particular well-defined gameplan. If anything Honey-Bun and Baby Dollwas a much tamer play. It bowed further to the gods of the well-made play, though the one doing the bowing was still a genius. I personally would say fuck the gods, let your soul live unfettered by duty. After all, if we can’t do that in the theatre, where can we?

Unfortunately Hatched has already closed, as has Liminal Theatre’s Oedipus, which I saw yesterday (I’ll post the review tomorrow). I went to the closing nights of both. That’s a habit I should get out of if I’m going to write this blog and expect people to read it. “Oh yeah this show was great, the most life changing experience I’ve ever had. But you can’t go. It’s closed. Done. Yeah. Yeah I know I just posted this. I posted it after  it closed. Yeah. I know. Too bad. Sorry.”

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Honey-Bun and Baby Doll. Written, directed & designed by Louris van der Geer. Honey-Bun– David Peake; Baby Doll– Leone White; Diddums– Steph Calthorpe. Part of Hatched ’09, St. Martins Youth Arts Centre. Closed.

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