Lizards and deer and bats…oh my!

It’s been a bit quiet on the MARC Up front recently while Carly and I not only focus our energy on other things, but also try to find the right project for MARC Up to bring to audiences next.

However, the last few weeks have been very exciting and inspiring. But let’s rewind a bit shall we….

About 3 years ago, whilst still at drama school, Lily Fish and I created these two characters: An old man and an old woman, who were saying goodbye to each other for the last time. Goodbye due to death, goodbye due to illness? That wasn’t clear, but there was something that we connected to, me especially. Six months later, Lily and I along with Glenn Luck (who accompanied us on guitar), performed a 10-minute piece My Pet, My Love at Short and Sweet Melbourne at the end of 2011. This piece told the story of an elderly couple and how their relationship is affected as he develops dementia. We then went into further development, this time with Michelle France taking over Lily’s role in the piece and Lily Fish and Rachel Torrance coming on board to give an outside eye and help us shape the piece. Michelle and I spent hour upon hour in the rehearsal room, playing with ideas, and text, and keys and jars and water until we were happy with our second version of My Pet, My Love which we performed as part of La Mama Explorations in October 2012 again with Glenn Luck (this time accompanying us using glass, metal and water!)

But for me, that still wasn’t enough. There was still something more that needed to be said. There was still some reason why I couldn’t let this story go. For those that don’t know, my personal connection with this story stems from being directly impacted by dementia. My Nonna suffered from dementia for a number of years and I saw how it effected not only me, but my father (her son) and the rest of my family.

So, last year after a lengthy application process, we were awarded a residency by Hot House Theatre in Albury as part of their Month in The Country program. What this means is that we were given two weeks accommodation at a farmhouse in Albury, that had an adjoining rehearsal studio and nothing but open space to let loose and create. This time it was just me and Lily Fish, and we went there in mid February 2014 with the goal of creating a skeleton of a one man show. And that we did!

The benefits of leaving Melbourne and going out to a secluded farmhouse were incredible! The countryside was beautiful, the wildlife was a plenty and it was the perfect setting to create. During our time there, the ideas and inspiration would flow, then we’d hit a rock, which would only encourage us to explore deeper. We laughed, we cried, we  scared each other, we sang songs, we came 4th at a local pub trivia night, we ate a lot, and without the distractions of life back home (I rarely had phone service, let alone access to Facebook!) we were able to go deep into this subject matter and create a piece of theatre that I am really proud of.

For any theatre makers or writers out there I strongly recommend applying for the Hot House residency – As long as you can handle the locals – lizards, snakes, spiders, frogs (in the toilet), deer (the cutest Bambi-like deer ever in our front yard!) and bats (that somehow got into the house and would fly around our lounge room every night) – then it’ll be an inspiring two weeks for you.

So the piece is not yet ready for an audience. We still have a lot of tweaking, and we need to get some feedback (and some money!) before we put the show on, but it’s an exciting time. So watch this space…

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Phew!

Since the frenzy of Kiss Me Like You Mean It, I’ve bumped into many you and heard your feedback. Inevitably, I’ve been asked the same two questions: “How’d it go?” and “What are you doing next?”

To answer the first; it went really well. We got great reviews and good audiences. We sold out four nights and had a successful opening night attended by industry guests, friends and family. You can read some of the reviews here. Being a well-seasoned project manager, I set our “key success factors” with Rob when we started in July. We achieved all of those and nearly three months out, I’ve recovered from the adrenalin overload and can smile about it!

In response to the second question, “what’s next?” well, it’s a little more fluid…

MARC Up was recently awarded a two-week residency at HotHouse Theatre in Albury to further develop an original work My Pet, My Love. This piece has been brewing since 2010, so later in the year Rob will be heading up to HotHouse with a team of artists and we are very excited to get the opportunity to develop the piece further.

Before that, Rob is about to make his appearance on stage at La Mama in Unconditioned Heart directed by Suze Smith, and then will be heading off to New York. He’ll be building on his Meisner training and attending Wendy Ward’s studio for six weeks. Then he’s off to party in Canada with his best mate.

My actor child is feeling neglected and needs some love. So I’m auditioning around the place and training with Director Nadia Tass.

But I just can’t stay away from producing! I’m producing Yarn, for Melbourne Fringe Festival, a one-woman show starring the very talented Lily Fish. Let me know if you want to know more.

Creating MARC Up was an opportunity for Rob and I to act and get our work in front of audiences. But for the moment, we’re doing our own bits and pieces while we are on the hunt look for the next project. So MARC Up is “in development” for now…

A big thank you for supporting us and telling us what you think on facebook, twitter and in person. Let’s keep the conversation going…

Carly x

Two down, eight to go!

Earlier this week we bumped the show into the theatre, rigged the lights, set up the set (doesn’t sound right, but I’m sure it is), had a tech run, a dress rehearsal and then we opened! Phew! Somehow in amongst those crazy few days we ran around doing last-minute publicity, including a great radio interview on SYN FM (click here to listen), made a few props and did a hell of a lot of painting and gaffing. There were tears and frustrations, but we made it. Our opening night – a night Carly and I had been thinking of for many many months. And what an opening it was. To say that our opening was flawless would be a lie – some things don’t go entirely to plan. But our audience was so supportive. They laughed, they cried, they cheered, and most importantly, they made us feel that it was all worthwhile and I couldn’t have been happier.

Yesterday was Valentine’s day. Before the show, our extremely talented sound designer Lore Burns set the mood by playing her original compositions on the piano, and with champagne and chocolates in hand, our audience entered the theatre for a night of fun and laughs. It was sweet to see people on their date night – we all felt the love in the room!

Our first review came out this morning. Alex Paige from Stage Whispers had this to say “Rob Gaetano as Tony is engaging while self-deprecating. Chloe Reid as Ruth gives us a cool exterior with a nice spark of genuine warmth beneath, which gradually emerges as the play progresses. Kirk Alexander as Don is full of bluster, passion and infectious energy. And a special mention must be made of Carrie Moczynski, whose genuine, touching and multi-layered Edie was a standout.” Click here to read more of this fantastic review!

Bonnie Moir from Storybottle who filmed our fantastic trailer, took these photos at our final dress rehearsal. Thanks again Bonnie for all your support – you’ve been amazing!

Tony  Edie  Tony and Don  Ruth and Tony  Ruth  Don and Edie  ChloeReid_Ruth  Tony and Ruth

There are eight more shows to go and tickets are selling fast. If you haven’t booked yet, I encourage you to do so soon. Just follow the link at www.marcupproductions.com.

Hope to see you at the theatre!

Rob

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