Alex Robson and Christopher Curcuruto share a passionate belief that there should be more opportunities for people living in non-metropolitan Australia to spectate, and participate in, live theatre … hence, the birth of Felt Tip Theatre Company.
Christopher, when did you first start the Felt Tip Theatre Company, and who are the directors?
Alex and I established Felt Tip Theatre Company and Youth Division in January 2011. Felt Tip is only a company in name, not in structure. We currently operate as a partnership and have plans to incorporate as a not-for-profit company in the future.
How is your theatre company funded?
Felt Tip is primarily self-funded. All production revenue is re-invested into the company, allowing us to grow and gradually put on bigger, better and inevitably more expensive productions.
Alex, where did you learn to write and direct plays?
While at high school, I took to writing monologues for myself to perform, but my skills were honed while doing a Bachelor of Theatre Studies at UNE. In my second year, I directed the Earle Page College musical, Rent, with Chris producing – our first collaboration – and that was an incredible learning experience. I learnt on my feet – and continue to do so.
Describe the process of producing a live play?
It’s all about finding the right play: a play that you’re passionate about, that you can make other people passionate about, and, several weeks later, lure the locals out to a theatre, so that they can fall in love with it too. It’s a hard slog, tempering artistic vision with financial reality, but it is a process that is, inevitably, very rewarding for all involved.
What’s your next production?
In a few short weeks we are staging The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. I am calling it a play with music: the actors sing, but it’s not your standard musical, and, despite the title, it’s definitely no opera. Brecht wrote it as a critique of what he perceived as the evils of capitalist society, which he experienced in pre-Nazi Germany.
Weill’s music is extraordinary, with a distinct flavor of the Berlin cabaret and Jazz bars of the 1920s. The Ballad of Mac the Knife, sung by such varied stars as Louis Armstrong, Michael Buble, Sting and Cyndi Lauper, is from this show. The themes and characters are dark and gritty, but, as a critic once said of it, the music will have you chewing your chocolates in time with the songs about murder and theft.
Christopher, we also hear that you organised the burlesque night at the Armidale Club. How did that go?
Ooh La La was a huge success! We were completely sold out, and everyone had a great time. Briana Bluebell, our special guest artist, was an absolute delight, and she had the audience captivated. Combined with our local burlesque/cabaret trio and host of local bands (The Set ‘Em Up Joes, Maracuja and The BopCatz), it was a show nothing like Armidale has ever seen before.
We are currently planning our next major event, Music, Magic and Masquerade, and another burlesque night is definitely in the works. Check out www.thearmidaleclub.com for details!
How can our readers obtain tickets for your next production?
Tickets to The Threepenny Opera are available online by following the links at www.felttiptheatrecompany.com or alternatively, from Black Dot Music.
This story was published in issue 64 of the New England Focus