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Interview | Artistic Director and Founder of Technicolour Theatre Company, Andrew CP.

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Andrew is an award-winning director, performer and designer.

Interview | Artistic Director and Founder of Technicolour Theatre Company, Andrew CP.Next up on my local artists segment is the wonderful and incredibly hard-working Andrew CP, Artistic Director and Founder of Technicolour Theatre Company. Andrew is an award-winning director, performer and designer, currently completing a Bachelor of Theatre and Performance with the University of New England and is the Founder and Artistic Director of Technicolour Theatre Company. He has a number of directing credits and is proud to have held the position of 'Theatre Academic Mentor' for Earle Page College at the University of New England (Securing a Resident Fellowship and Cultural Bursary for achievements in Performing Arts), resident senior drama teacher at Spotlight Theatrical Company (2016-18) and Senior Drama Tutor for 'Raise Your Voice' (2017-present). In 2018 he founded Technicolour Theatre Company and its adjacent Youth Ensemble before acting as Convenor and Curator for the 2019 Gold Coast Festival of One Act Plays. Here's what Andrew had to say about Technicolour Theatre Company's upcoming project and how his company has been impacted by co-vid...

VIRAG: There are so many exciting things happening for Technicolour Theatre Company for the rest of this year. However, I imagine that when Brisbane was in lockdown and when COVID restrictions kicked in, many of what shows and workshops you'd planned for this year had to be put on hold or presented using a different form. How has COVID impacted Technicolour Theatre Company and how did the company respond to it?

ANDREW: COVID truly has been devastating for the entire performing arts and creative industries sector; unprecedented, unstable and unpredictable. The necessary safety restrictions came into effect in Brisbane the week of previews for 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' at QPAC where one of our students, Flynn Nowlan, had just finished his final tech rehearsal after months of preparation as the titular character and the entire youth ensemble had tickets for opening night. Our Youth Ensemble were in the final stages of rehearsal for 'The Greatest Showman Experience' at HOTA, Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast; a massive outdoor event in tandem with hundreds of performers and an expected turn out of over 2000 audience members. Auditions for a Javeenbah/Technicolour Production of Gogol's 'The Government Inspector' were postponed indefinitely at the literal 11th hour of the night before, following 12 months pre-production. These experiences barely contribute to the cacophony of tens of thousands of stories from performers, crew, back and front of house staff, producers and creatives, an entire community in a state of mourning - a community where being vulnerable and forsaking security is already synonymous with the craft and lifestyle.

Amongst this tsunamic surge of necessary postponements and cancellations, it became clear that we were moving into this whole new world of the "Theatre of the Socially Distant" and it was essential to postpone our workshops on technical production (lighting/sound/stage management), stage combat, physical theatre, mask, puppetry and special effects make up until later in the year. However, TTC felt the Arts were particularly valuable at this time, whether it be for escapism, entertainment or education and there were real concerns for members of our youth ensemble who had "found their tribe" and were now being isolated while the world was in a state of inertia. With that, we developed 'Technicolour Connect'; a series of virtual workshops and masterclasses curated with a focus on this situation as an opportunity to keep students connected with each other and further connected with a network of national and international industry professionals. Not only did these workshops ensure the continued development of these young performers' craft and technical knowledge, there is a real sense of pride in being able to take control of what seems like a hopeless set of circumstances and reclaim them. We lowered term fees to ensure accessibility for any families affected by COVID, made sure that every workshop was open to anyone outside of our pre-existing ensemble who wanted to join, and any profit generated went into paying our teaching artists. Technicolour Theatre Company's new home @ GeSS Education on the Gold Coast.

Interview | Artistic Director and Founder of Technicolour Theatre Company, Andrew CP.VIRAG: Whenever I scroll through my Facebook feed, I always see a post pop up about your upcoming virtual workshop. Have you, or the specialist teachers you bring into teach particular classes, found it difficult adapting to an online format?

ANDREW: Yes! It was this dystopian initiation/shared experience of all these wonderfully creative artists collectively questioning: "How do I make a break-out room?" immediately followed by "How do I share screen?". Now that we are back in the space, I have members of our youth ensemble teasing me: "I bet you wish you could mute us now, Huh?". In reality, it was members of the youth ensemble who made the transition almost seamless with their prerequisite technical knowledge and familiarity with online learning forums.

One of the innate qualities and true strengths of performing artists; the inherent ability to think on our feet, collaborate and work within the given circumstances. I always consider Technicolour Theatre to be surrounded by resilient, dedicated and innovative artists and their restructuring of workshops to suit the new, digital method of delivery is a testament to that.

On World Theatre Day we announced Rachael Beck would be streaming in from Bondi with a Masterclass in Musical Theatre, Rob Horton (Senior Acting Tutor at the New York Film Academy) would lead a workshop on Scene Study, Emma-June Curik (NIDA Graduate and Professional Producer) had developed a workshop on Pathways to Professional Practise in the Industry, Jacki Simmons (NIDA Tutor) would deliver expert dialect coaching, Caroline Taylor would cover everything you needed to know about 'The Voice of The Actor' and Gabriella Flowers had restructured her entire Audition Prep Workshop to focus on self-tapes and digital auditions.

There's a great quote from John Steinbeck which I have referred to multiple times throughout the pandemic: "The theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.". I am truly humbled by support from teaching artists, students the wider community in this endeavour.

Interview | Artistic Director and Founder of Technicolour Theatre Company, Andrew CP.

VIRAG: This week, you revealed the cast of your upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet, which is such an extraordinary production and to be performed by youth instead of twenty plus year olds I think is even more extraordinary. But I have to ask, why have you chosen this story to tell as your first production post co-vid restrictions?

ANDREW: Yes! And we have such an exceptional cast of dedicated and talented young artists who participated in a completely digital audition process and used time in isolation to be off-book (the directors dream). There's also something interesting about the casting of Romeo and Juliet as their "correct" ages in the script, without giving away too much - this production is adapted and directed by Matilda Award Nom Timothy Wynn. In early discussions Tim and I were unanimous in making sure that this was a production that was enhanced by having a youth cast rather than a censored or junior version of something that they couldn't completely authentically and sincerely inhabit. In his adaption he has omitted all but 3 of the adult roles [Their casting is TBA], so at no point do we actually see the patriarchs or matriarchs of the Capulet or Montague houses, although we might hear their attitudes and opinions spoken by other characters. What the audience does see is the effects and reaction of a group of young people inheriting a world with a mandate to hate, a theme that resonates with young artists and activists today.

Interview | Artistic Director and Founder of Technicolour Theatre Company, Andrew CP.VIRAG: Do you think you'll do another Shakespearean work in the future?

ANDREW: With regards to the youth ensemble: I hope so! While 'Romeo and Juliet' is directed by Tim [Wynn], I have previously directed 'Midsummer [Night's Dream]' and 'Comedy of Errors' with two other youth theatre companies and it is so energising and an enriching experience to facilitate young performers' initial exploration of "The Bard" and a privilege to introduce them to the genius of the writing. Also, because Shakespeare's plays are so accessible in their liminality and ability to transcend time and place, I am really inspired by a creative process guided by a contemporary interpretation from young artists. However, while our 2019 production of 'Peter Pan' was an exploration into clowning, metatheatre and immersive theatre (We performed in a giant Tipi at the Gold Coast Broadwater Parklands and it was the coolest thing ever) and this year's production of 'Romeo and Juliet' explores Shakespeare and classical texts in contemporary performance; next year we are looking to, once again; offer new experiences and collaborate with new artists in an exploration of devising theatre and musical theatre (Two separate projects). With regards to Technicolour as a whole and "Will the Company be producing another Shakespeare?" ... our 2021 playbill will be announced soon. Stay tuned.

Interview | Artistic Director and Founder of Technicolour Theatre Company, Andrew CP.VIRAG: I imagine that there are many creative souls - be it children or adults- that are self-isolating, in lock down and/or have had creative opportunities or classes postponed and may be grieving those lost experiences. What advice would you give them?

ANDREW: I can only speak from my own experience, but I think it's important to acknowledge loss as a staring point. It is my belief that we [Artists] have a tendency to push ourselves. It's the "show-must-go-on" mantra that fuels our push to be sincerely vulnerable in creative pursuits. We push through auditions, push through long rehearsals, push through tech week and all with the certainty of some form of feeling of accomplishment in this shared experience at the end, both short term and long term, objectives and super objectives. Right now, there is no certainty of that release of tension or validation or escapism anytime soon. The stakes keep rising and, being the solution-based thinkers that we are; we keep pushing and giving and creating. This is any permission that anyone needed to be kind to yourself, present and grounded. We have seen our entire industry effectively abandoned. An industry we have dedicated so much to, it is ok to mourn, acknowledge loss and find effective coping mechanisms that work for you. Meditate, check-in with your collaborators, keep dreaming, learning and creating in this moment, surround yourself with people who make you your best self and do not be afraid to ask for help. A new phrase I have come across that articulates the counterpart to this is the idea of 'toxic positivity', perfectly articulated in this meme:

Therapist: And what do we say when we feel like this?

Me: That's showbiz kid

Therapist: NO! Remember: You are enough!

You can follow the adventures of Andrew and the Technicolour Theatre Company on social media.


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