INTERVIEW: The Farm Co-Directors Gavin Webber & Grayson Millwood

With Frank Enstein opening tomorrow on the Gold Coast, and headlining Bleach* Festival, we chat with Gold Coast-based Co-Directors of The Farm, Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood. Read on to learn more about their choreographic style, why they decided to create Frank Enstein, and what it’s like to collaborate with the Co3 dancers.

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What prompted you to create this work?

Frank Enstein started, as so many of these things do, with a long conversation about shared fascinations. In this case it stemmed from under-utilised ideas from previous works in Europe, but didn’t become “this” work until Daniel Monks joined us. With Daniel’s unique take on the role of Frank, the work moved from ‘shared fascinations’ to an urgently unfolding work that needed to be made.

 

How does the production bring something new to the storyline?

In the original story, the monster feels shunned by society, unworthy of love or even companionship. In our version we ask, what if this is how the doctor feels, animating his monsters in an attempt to create love and find acceptance?

Having the role of a brilliant but lonely Dr. Enstein played by a performer with a disability does give a unique take on the work but our interest lies in the universal experience of feeling unworthy.

The themes in Frankenstein are so rich that they easily encompass our totally different take on the story, but as far as the plot line goes, we kind of left that behind in week one.

 

How would you describe your choreographic style?

We’d like to think that it is always specific to the show we are working on, but of course there are interests that span all of our work, such as humour, danger and humanity. Choreography is always created in response to the themes of a work rather than aesthetics and we have a strong sense of dramaturgy at all times. We also equally value art that is both high and low.

 

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What’s it like working with Co3 dancers? 

Co3 dancers rock! We have worked with them before, and we keep coming back for more. Specifically for Frank Enstein, Talitha, Zachary and Andrew make the perfect monsters because they are inhumanly good at what they do. It was an early decision that the monsters would be hyper-able bodied so it’s lucky we’re working with Co3 because it’s hard to match their level of physicality.

 

What kinds of themes are explored in this work?

Self acceptance is the biggie. It is central to every motivation for the characters. When we started we thought about what we would like to say to our children when they get a bit older and we wanted to let them know they were okay being themselves, they didn’t need to match everybody else to be loveable. There are other things we are dealing with such as isolation and what is real and authentic versus artificial, but in the end we will always veer back to the need for self acceptance.

 

See the Co3 dancers in Frank Enstein, at the Arts Centre Gold Coast 31 March – 1 April, and at the State Theatre Centre WA in the Studio Underground from 5 April – 8 April, 7.30pm.

BOOK TICKETS NOW!

 

Images by Michael Maclean.

 

INTERVIEW: Andrew Searle in Frank Enstein

With Frank Enstein opening in just two weeks at the State Theatre Centre WA, we chat to Andrew about performing in the show, working with actor Daniel Monks, and what to expect in this retelling of a much-beloved tale. Catch Andrew in Frank Enstein when he performs at Bleach* Festival on the Gold Coat from 31 March – 1 April, and in Perth at the Studio Underground from 5 – 8 April.FRANK_Portraits_002_AndrewSearle

 

Tell us a bit about your role in the show.

My role is Frank’s first creation that he is initially super excited to meet, and they form an instant friendship. He helps Frank to build a new creation and remains his trusted and often rebellious counterpart for the rest of the show, before finding his own companion.

 

How do you get into the mindset of your character before a show?

It’s very easy to portray my character with Daniel (who plays Frank) as he is so enthusiastic in his role. It makes it very easy to bounce off each other. To get into the right mindset, I usually take some time for myself before a show to focus in, but I also connect with my fellow dancers to get in to character.

 

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

Not really, I just take some time to really focus in and prepare my mind and body before a performance.

 

What is it like working with Gavin and Grayson at The Farm?

I enjoy working with Gav and Grayson because although their approach can be loose at times, their vision for the end product is always very specific and they really know how to craft the work. Their collective performance experience has shaped them into two very effective theatre-makers.

I also really enjoy the physicality of The Farm’s repertoire and having worked with Gavin in many physical-theatre oriented works, I find the style very enjoyable. It challenges me as a performer to engage more in performance.

 

How has your experience differed from typical dance works to this one, which has an actor?

I have worked with actors in the past and always find it very rewarding to see and learn from how they approach the work. As dancers we often work from the body first, however in most cases actors will let their mind dictate their performance so it’s always nice to see the marriage of these two approaches in creative development and performance.

 

What can audiences expect from this retelling of Frankenstein?

Audiences can expect a fun and theatrical look into the hunt for companionship and the human desire to be liked, have friends and find love. It’s got a bit of everything for everyone and is a fun retelling of an old classic for all ages.

 

 

See Andrew in Frank Enstein, on at the State Theatre Centre WA at the Studio Underground from 5 April – 8 April, 7.30pm.

BOOK TICKETS NOW!

 

Images by Claudio Kirac and Michael Maclean.