I’M YOUR MAN
Belvoir and Sydney Festival, in association with BYDS, present
I’M YOUR MAN Creator & Director ROSLYN OADES This production of I’m Your Man opened at Belvoir St Theatre on Saturday 14 January 2012. Lighting Designer & Production Manager NEIL SIMPSON Sound Designer BOB SCOTT Choreographer (Branch Nebula) LEE WILSON Project Manager TIM CARROLL Script Consultant RAIMONDO CORTESE Design Consultant RALPH MYERS Technical Supervisor HOLLY WOOLLARD Production Assistant ANNA-MAY EVANS Interview Assistants MICHAEL MOHAMMED AHMAD TIM CARROLL JALEESA DONOVAN Performers MICHAEL MOHAMMED AHMAD BILLY McPHERSON KATIA MOLINO JUSTIN ROSNIAK JOHN SHRIMPTON
PHOTOGRAPHY Heidrun Löhr DESIGN Alphabet Studio
Director’s Note Roslyn Oades
There’s no cowards in fighters that are able to climb those three steps into the ring. Now, he may go lay down in there, when he gets hit the first time, he may be frightened, scared shitless, ‘scuse my language, but he’s got to climb those three steps. That takes courage. Gus Mercurio I’m Your Man is the final part in a headphone-verbatim trilogy exploring acts of courage. The previous works Stories of Love & Hate and Fast Cars & Tractor Engines considered this theme in the context of challenging social and cultural tensions. With I’m Your Man, I was excited by the creative potential of framing this concept in a highly physical and visceral manner. The medium of professional boxing opened up a world of personalities driven by an intense desire, will or need to fight. In most cases it’s what makes these men special, a consuming pursuit that has shaped their lives. In this hyper-masculine and very public realm, the notion of maintaining one’s dignity or pride enters a whole new level of personal risk. Time and again I was struck by the vulnerability of these big-hearted warriors: inspiring individuals who burn bright and fall hard. The beginnings of this project took root 10 years ago, when I met a charismatic ex-fighter called CJ at a boxing gym in East London. It also happened that one of my long-term collaborators in Bankstown, performer Mohammed Ahmad, had been a boxer and was passionate about making a boxing show. We approached local featherweight fighter Billy Dib, who kindly allowed us to follow him over an 18-month period as he pursued his dream of an IBF World Title. During this time I became increasingly interested in boxing gyms – the sounds, the rhythms and the community of characters who hang out there. It’s been an amazing journey and in many ways this show is a diary of my adventure – or more accurately, an eavesdrop.
The headphone-verbatim technique used in I’m Your Man is a process I have been exploring since 2001. I have a long-held fascination with the unique qualities of speech patterns, individual vocabularies and group conversations. As a theatre maker I operate from the principle there is as much information embedded in the way someone speaks as what they are saying. Through meticulously preserving the vocal print of real-life interviews in performance we set out to mine these rich nuances like musicians following a score. The audio-script for I’m Your Man relied heavily upon the generosity and trust of my interviewees, to whom I am extremely grateful. The stories of seven professional boxers appear in this production, but many individuals from Australia’s boxing community contributed to my research – providing invaluable insights and contacts. I would also like to acknowledge the creative input of my extraordinary artistic team – it has been a privilege and a joy to watch them bring this project to life. The performance technique Rather than reciting memorised lines, the actors wear headphones and speak along to a sequence of carefully edited audio interviews word-for-word. By confining the actors to the discipline of accompanying a recording with absolute precision (including every cough and stumble), a curious, hyper-real performance style is established. While the actors often adopt characters with an accent/background/age/gender obviously not their own, the technique eliminates the possibility of parody or interpretation. It also allows the many quirks and imperfections of human speech to be acknowledged with integrity.
Members of the Australian boxing community who shared their stories Billy ‘The Kid’ Dib and the Dib family; Jeff Fenech; the late great Gus Mecurio; Oyewale ‘Lucky Boy’ Omotoso; Tony Mundine and Dave Aloua; CJ; Vacharakrit Senahan and his management; Wally Carr; Billy Hussein (trainer extraordinaire); Anthony ‘The Man’ Mundine; Jorge ‘Baby Face’ Lacierva; Barry Raff; Mischa Merz; Diana ‘Dirty Di’ Prazek; Mick Hargraves; Barry Michael; Garth Woods; Nader Hamden; Peter ‘The Chief’ Graham; Nathan Butler; Murray Thompson (Fighters Factory Gym); Paul Kent (The Daily Telegraph sports reporter); Tristian Hay (announcer); Barrie Francisco (Grange Old School Boxing); Steve Stenborg (North Melbourne Boxing & Fitness); Tim Hateley; Brian Wilmott (cutman); ring-side photographers Peter McDermott, Tim Barry and Richard Davis; and card-girls Sam Smith and Renee Milne.
Thank you Special thanks to the wonderful Annette Madden for commissioning this work through B Sharp and nurturing its development. Also: Mark Wing-Davey; Alicia Talbot and Michelle Kotevski at Urban Theatre Projects; Andrew Ma; Patrick Skene (Black Gold, 93.7FM Koori Radio); Santo Caruso (Melbourne Sports Bookshop); Murray Thompson at the Fighters Factory for loaning us his poster collection; Jane Worsley, Aaron Galea, Bilal Reda, Laura Luna and Sam Ivancsik at BYDS; Fadle El Harris at Filmotion; Jack Michaels; Angus Pitt and Owen Smith at Fox Sports; Sam Ada; Chester Ferro at ChesFX; Uncle Sam; David Griffin; Keith Drain; the staff and patrons at Bar Coluzzi; Chris and Reuben Womersley; Mark Evans; Khai Ngo at City of Sydney PCYC; Elouera Boxing Gym; our colleagues who attended the work-in-progress showings and gave us their valuable feedback; and lastly, to Angela Morosin and Paul Heath, Janice Muller and Patrick Fensham, Emily Oades and Steve Taylor, Tim Carroll and Vandana Ram, Nic Carroll and Yvonne Haber and Jane Flanders for the generous accommodation. Funding partners The development of I’m Your Man was supported by Belvoir’s B Sharp Creative Development Program and its partnership with the Macquarie Group Foundation; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; the NSW Government through Arts NSW; Bankstown City Council and PlayWriting Australia.
Biographies ROSLYN OADES Creator & Director Roslyn is a theatre maker, performer and voice artist. She created and directed Fast Cars & Tractor Engines (Urban Theatre Projects/BYDS, 2005) and Stories of Love & Hate (UTP/BYDS, 2008) which was recently remounted at the Sydney Theatre Company as part of their Education season. As a performer/ collaborator she has worked with Not Yet It’s Difficult, Blackhole Theatre and the Non-Fiction Theatre Company in London. As a voice artist she has performed major character roles on the animated TV series Tracey McBean, Dogstar, Bananas in Pyjamas, Zigby, Toybox, Bambaloo and Sea Princesses. MICHAEL MOHAMMED AHMAD Performer Mohammed is currently completing his Honours Degree at the University of Western Sydney, following his Bachelor of Arts. He is chief editor of the BYDS literary program, Westside Publications. His writing appeared in the distinguished literary journal, HEAT, in 2008 and 2010. In 2008 Mohammed received a grant from the FTO’s Young Filmmakers’ Fund for production of his script, The Pizza. For Sydney Writers’ Festival he has produced the events Alleyway Honour (2009), Inside the Westside Writers’ Group (2010) and Launch into Deep Suburbia (2011). As an actor Mohammed has performed in Urban Theatre Projects’ Fast Cars & Tractor Engines and Stories of Love & Hate.
TIM CARROLL Project Manager Tim has been running the arts program at BYDS since June 1991. He has initiated more than 120 arts and cultural projects with the communities of Bankstown over that time. I’m Your Man is the third headphoneverbatim project that Tim has developed with Roslyn Oades. Tim loves his team very much. RAIMONDO CORTESE Script Consultant Raimondo graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts School of Drama in 1993 and is a founding member of Ranters Theatre. Raimondo was the Artistic Director of Ranters from 1994 to 2000. He has written over 30 plays including Features of Blown Youth, Roulette, St Kilda Tales, Holiday and Dream Life of Butterflies. The Indestructible Corpse was published in 1998 (Text Publishing) and he has also written for film, TV and radio. He lectures part-time in Masters for Performance Writing at VCA, Melbourne University.
ANNA-MAY EVANS Production Assistant Born and bred on the Central Coast of NSW, Anna-May’s first encounters with theatre began when she started dancing at the age of three. After finishing her HSC in 2009 she moved to Italy and travelled Europe for a year before commencing a Bachelor of Communications in Theatre/ Media at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst. Passionate about all facets of performance and production, Anna-May has just completed the first year of her degree and is thrilled to be working on such an innovative and contemporary show in a renowned festival at a legendary venue. BILLY McPHERSON Performer/Trainer Billy is a proud Murri man who acts, writes, directs, plays didgeridoo and is a professional boxing trainer. Billy started his career in the arts in 1988 with Street Arts Community Theatre Company, West End, Brisbane, on a 12-month traineeship. He has performed in scores of professional and community productions, and on screen and TV since 1988, including Underwraps, Quick Quick Step, and poems by Oodgeroo Noonuccul and Maureen Watson; You Came To My Country and You Didn’t Turn Black; Gunjies, The Lights, The Dreaming Festival, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Silent, NaGL (Not a Good Look), My Place, Dead Heart and The Combination.
KATIA MOLINO Performer Katia completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong, majoring in theatre and movement. Since then she has worked as a freelance performer with many companies, including Entr’Acte Theatre, Stalker, Theatre Kantanka, Marugekku, The opera Project, Urban Theatre Projects, version 1.0 and NORPA. Most recently she has performed in Theatre Kantanka’s Bargain Garden. Katia also makes her own short solo performances, for audiences with challenged attention spans. Commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre, Katia wrote and performed Arboreal Pleasures, in response to spending a year with the Campbelltown Bonsai Group. JUSTIN ROSNIAK Performer Justin has been acting since the age of 10 and is mostly known for his film and TV work, namely his roles in David Michôd’s feature film Animal Kingdom and the TV series Packed to the Rafters and Underbelly Razor. Justin has been working solidly since he was in his early teens playing lead roles on shows such as Eggshells, Escape from Jupiter, Skytrackers, Home and Away, and the feature films Sample People and Sweet Talker. Other recent credits include Rush, Dangerous, Scorched, All Saints, Fireflies, White Collar Blue and the next series of Laid on ABC TV.
BOB SCOTT Sound Designer Bob works with sound for opera, film, modern dance and theatre, classical music and contemporary music. Recent work includes Bliss for Opera Australia, sound design for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, audio production of recordings for ABC Music, audio production for Anzac Day and the Gallipoli Symphony in Turkey, and recordings for Mrs Carey’s Concert, which won an Australian Screen Sound Guild Award for Sound. JOHN SHRIMPTON Performer Since graduating from NIDA in 2007, John has worked in a variety of projects including theatre productions, play readings, workshops and film and TV. In 2010 John performed in Yellow Moon (B Sharp/white blackbird), a moved reading of Budgerigar (Griffin Theatre) and in the epic production of Ben Hur at ANZ stadium. In 2011, John acted in the video art project How to Feel, which premiered at the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art. John is also a facilitator for PlayWriting Australia’s playwriting workshops. His TV and film credits include Out of the Blue, East West 101 and Wolverine.
NEIL SIMPSON Lighting Designer & Production Manager Neil first walked through the doors of Belvoir 35 years ago when it flew the Nimrod Theatre colours. Previously for Belvoir, Neil has done the lighting design for Ngapartji Ngapartji (Belvoir/Big hART/Sydney Festival). For Urban Theatre Projects, Neil has lit Stories of Love and Hate, Ama and Chan, Back Home, Last Highway and The Fence. As a producer, Neil has worked with the Sydney Opera House on the Luminous Festival with Brian Eno and is also part of a small team that produces the Parramasala Festival of South Asian Arts in Parramatta. Neil has also designed the lights for Buried City, currently playing in Belvoir’s Upstairs Theatre. LEE WILSON (Branch Nebula) Choreographer Lee has been a major contributor to the independent performance and dance scene for 20 years as a performer and choreographer, and is a co-creator of Branch Nebula. In 2011 their work SWEAT toured to Dance Massive in Melbourne, and to the In Transit Festival at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Paradise City premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2006 and toured to four international festivals in Brazil, and to 11 venues around Australia. In 2004 Branch Nebula co-produced Plaza Real with Urban Theatre Projects. In 2001 they created Sentimental Reason, which premiered in Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre.
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The program from Belvoir's production of I'm Your Man, which played in our Downstairs Theatre 12 January - 5 February 2012. A co-production...