Bradford Elmore’s Gravity Shortlisted for the 2020 Queer Playwriting Award

Company of Rogues is thrilled to announce that Bradford Elmore’s debut play Gravity has been shortlisted for the 2020 Queer Playwriting Award.

In development with ‘The Rogues’ since late 2018, Gravity is a new romantic drama about finding yourself, and finding yourself falling apart. Exploring the forces that draw us to each other, tear us asunder, and sometimes leave us adrift, this semi-autobiographical work from Kentucky-born Elmore is a deeply personal, utterly unapologetic story of one man’s need to understand who he is, and what love looks like when gender is only part of the question.

“As a bisexual man who has oft felt unseen due to a lack of representation in media, being nominated is such a huge honour.” said Bradford, “The intent of this work is to be part of a beacon that others can see themselves in, identify with the struggles of the characters, and feel less alone in their journey.”

Playwright Bradford Elmore

Gravity enjoyed a week’s intensive development under Director and Dramaturg Anthony Skuse (Wink, Caress/Ache, Sunset Strip) with actors Audrey Blyde, Oliver Burton and Drew Wilson, with excerpts read at The Australian Institute of Music on November 21st. It was presented in its very early stages as a staged reading at Siren Theatre Company’s Playlist event during the 2019 Mardi Gras.

Producer Robbi James has been involved with the work since it’s inception. “It’s been incredibly fulfilling to be a part of not only the development of a poignant and important story, but to also witness the journey of a new playwright coming into their own”, he said, “the reception to the work has proven that there is a need for queer stories that reflect the complexity and beauty of all of our most intimate lives.”

The award, presented by Gasworks Arts Park in partnership with Midsumma Festival, aims to identify, support and develop new playwriting talent and to get queer issues out there for mainstream audiences to consider and enjoy. Gravity is one of four works selected including Butterfly Kicks by Jamila Main, Home Fires Burning by Maeve Marsden and New Wave by Margot Morales Tanjutco.

It will be decided on Tuesday, 28th January 2020 in Melbourne after the four shortlisted plays present a 15-minute staged reading to a panel of industry professionals and the public at Gasworks Arts Park’s Studio Theatre. The winning work will go on to receive support and development with a view to being presented at the 2021 Midsumma Festival.

For more information: www.gasworks.org.au/queer-playwriting-award and Midsumma Festival: www.midsumma.org.au

The current development of Gravity would not be possible without the support of the Australian Institute of Music, Our Secret Spot and Critical Stages Touring.

The Rogues Farewell Founder and Artistic Director Goldele Rayment

Company of Rogues announces the departure of our Artistic Director, Goldele Rayment, who founded the company solo in 2015. Goldele leaves to pursue her artistic practice as a teacher, dramaturg and director, and to enjoy time with family after her recent wedding to educator Aston Kwok.

The company will now be helmed by producer Robbi James in partnership with performer, director and producer Erica Lovell.

“Since Robbi joined Company of Rogues we have achieved career milestones which had previously seemed unattainable to me, such as touring Morgan Stern both nationally and internationally, and obtaining our first grants for a creative project,” Goldele said, “It is a remarkable thing to seed an idea and have others join you with as much passion and commitment as he has.”

Goldele fondly remembers the dozens of arts professionals the company has worked with in her time as Artistic Director, “I am incredibly grateful to Erica and Robbi, and to the too-many-to-name-here performers and other creatives with whom I have made joyous, risky, challenging and inspiring theatre under the auspice of Company of Rogues” she said.

Robbi and Erica will each take the title of Executive Creative Producer, working collaboratively to develop and produce our ambitious 2020 season.

“Robbi and I share a goal for The Rogues that will continue Goldele’s vision to select work that challenges and inspires us” Erica said, “we’re committed to finding and developing original stories, to seeking out new arts opportunities and to creating space for invisible artists to be seen on Australian stages.”

Goldele’s next steps include her new focus on directing opera, including directing Willoughby Symphony Orchestra’s Last Night of the Proms in August for the Pacific Opera Young Artists program.

For Robbi it’s a bittersweet change, “I’m humbled and grateful to Goldele for believing in me, in our work and in our partnership. Her original vision will always be at the heart of Company of Rogues. I will dearly miss Goldele’s energy, artistry and passion but I’m also excited to see where these great assets will take her next”.

Thank you Goldele, and Chookas to a bright creative future!


Some of our favourite memories of Goldele at work…

Farewell Statement from Rogues Artistic Director Goldele Rayment

When I first established Company of Rogues in 2015 it was a platform for myself as a director in Sydney after relocating from Melbourne and a hiatus of a number of years during a period of ill health. I hoped that I could build something that would be sustainable and lasting for myself and those involved. As an Artist with a Disability I knew there was no way I could do this without substantial support and help, and I searched for 2 years for a core collaborator. When Robbi James joined me as a partner in crime in 2017 these dreams started to become a reality.

Unfortunately the strains of running, what is currently an unfunded, profit-share collective still striving for full financial viability, has become too much for me while also trying to support myself financially and maintain my artistic practice.

Since Robbi joined Company of Rogues we have achieved career milestones which had previously seemed unattainable to me, such as touring our production of Morgan Stern both nationally and internationally and obtaining funding grants for a creative project. It is a remarkable thing to seed an idea and have others join you with as much passion and commitment you yourself have. I am incredibly grateful to Robbi, and now Erica Lovell and to the too many to name here performers and other creatives with whom I have made joyous, risky, challenging and inspiring theatre under the auspice of Company of Rogues.

Over the years I have continually wrestled with what is means to be an Artist with a Disability in an industry that demands far too much even of its “able bodied” and “able minded” workers and to sustain an artistic career that will accommodate and not undermine my health. For now, I’m taking things slowly, putting in place supports that will help sustain me long term. I’m enjoying settling into married life and taking time to focus on my health. 

Over the coming years I plan to keep developing myself as a director, with a strong focus on Opera. In August I’ll be directing Last Night of the Proms for the Willoughby Symphony orchestra as part of Pacific Opera’s emerging artist program. I will continue my work as a Teaching Artist with high schools and the broader community, and I hope to start working with tertiary institutions and professional performers.

Goldele Rayment
Artistic Director and Founder, Company of Rogues

Boy Out of the Country

Having enjoyed a successful preview at the Pioneer Play Festival in 2018, Company of Rogues’ Boy Out of the Country – a fast, funny and smartly observant story about family, property, and the progress of life – returns for a premiere Sydney season at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre May 9-25.

In it, troubled country boy Hunter returns home from the city after a mysterious seven-year absence to find the family home swept up in a regional housing estate, his mother in aged care, and his brother Gordon in charge.

In this moment of shifting economies and loyalties Hunter goes in search of answers, but for he and Gordon sibling rivalry and childhood nostalgia will collide with unexpected consequences.

Written by award-winning playwright Felix Nobis, Boy Out of the Country is a bush ballad for contemporary regional life, written in vernacular verse reminiscent of the poetic tradition of Banjo Patterson. Here, old Australia meets new Australia – a country cop comes to terms with rapid social change, a backyard is less important than an extra bedroom, and the places that were once so familiar can change before our eyes.

Directed by Erica Lovell, this newly-realised production features the original cast inclduing Tom Harwood (Things Not to do After a Break Up), Jason Glover (Van Dieman’s Land), Jeannie Gee (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), and Amelia Robertson-Cuninghame (Anatomy of an Offence, Love Child). Joing the cast in the role of Walker will be celebrated actor and teacher Stan Kouros (Actors Centre Australia).

Lovell said “Having grown up in a small Australian town Boy Out of the Country resonates with my own experience of seeing regional places transformed, of going back to discover changes that are always striking.”

Boy Out of the Country emerged from the Melbourne Theatre Company Affiliate Writers Scheme and was awarded the R. E. Ross Trust Script Development Award. It was selected as the premiere work for the inaugural Pioneer Play Festival in Castle Hill 2018.

What: Boy Out of the Country

When: 9-25 May 2019, Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 5pm

Where: Bondi Pavilion Theatre, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach

Meet The Bedlam Artists: Curly Fries

He makes us sit up, take notice and get inspired to do things we never thought we could, and if you haven’t seen him perform you are in for a twisted treat. Meet Curly Fries, our next artist from Bedlam Cabaret Mardi Gras for you to get to know over 5 little questions…

Who is Curly Fries and what is it that you do?
Curly Fernandez or Curly Fries is a hypocrite. I am a trained performer from out west and have rebelled against everything I was ever taught and at the same time embracing everything I was ever taught. I am a text based performance artist haunted by spirits. My practice is based on my fear, the societal rules we live by – all hinged on the clown within us.
What?
I love watching other artists and what they do, their unique creations. I am inspired very much by Sydney – its artistic beauty, its urban landscape, its danger, it’s hypocrisy. I adore classic texts reinvented and I adore participatory art forms. The artistic body I lead – the Leftovers Collective make social experiments coupled with this concept at their core.
My family are a very, very big inspiration (there is such love there and a mix of cultures), as well as friends. At the moment I’m obsessed Naro Pinosa’s work – the absolute simplicity and political subversiveness of his collage’s are beautifully breathtaking. In terms of Cabaret, Meow Meow I find her extraordinary – that voice!
But to be candidly honest it’s my local community and the voices in my head.
Your version of happiness is?
Happiness to me is the beach. With my faCurly.jpgmily. A gorgeous sunny day, clear blue water and designer bathers. The beach to me is my way I connected to Australia. It was really quite tough growing up here. There was probably only 2 black / brown people at my school including me. This included all the way through to university. The beach was a place my partner Lauren took me to lots. It was a place I felt I really belonged. A place where us as humans, used our meat suits to worship.  That area between the two elements, the land and the sea. I found my home there. In most of my creations water exists on some level.
Besides Bedlam, how will you be celebrating the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras?
Masturbating. (Did you just call me a wanker?)
Performance in 3 words
Art. Is. Dead.

Don’t miss Curly Fries at Bedlam Cabaret on Wed 28th Feb at Marrickville’s Red Rattler – tickets on sale now here!

Check our more of the incredible creative work that Curly leads by visiting The Leftover Collective – do it!

Meet The Bedlam Artists: Ben Noir

The Rogues are practically beside themselves with cabaret glee – our line up of artists for Bedlam Cabaret Mardi Gras is one of our best ever. So we’re asking 5 little questions to get to know them better, starting with the one and only Ben Noir!

Who is Ben Noir and what is that you do?
Ben Noir is a Cabaret and Burlesque performer who incorporates a variety of skills into his performance art. Some circus elements from a previous life as a professional acrobat, but mainly a blend of classical music into the art of Burlesque. As a trained classical singer and pianist as well as someone who likes to get his kit off on stage I felt that there is a little sub genre here just waiting to be explored.

What inspires your performances?
Really just that I’m a massive show off! But if I had to choose. The voice of Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland as well as the juxtaposition between Opera and classical music being a traditionally conservative art form and Burlesque having an edgier connotation. I want to bring the two together in a way that defies expectations of what one might think other the other.

Ben_the divaYour version of happiness is?
Apart from Swiss chocolate and marrying a Swiss guy on a Swiss mountain, If I can give an audience a buzz or a unique experience through my performance then I’m happy. I love a positive reaction from an audience. I also love spending as much time as I can with my model hubby…. who is actually a model…

Besides Bedlam, how will you be celebrating the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras?
To be honest, with a close group of friends and with my husband Stephane quite possibly down the coast. As a performer being often in the spot light you look for moments of calm and Mardi Gras is quite the opposite! I will be happy to watch the parade on TV have a laugh with friends. I prefer to acknowledge in my own way the generation who stood up for our rights under so much oppression to allow us to have the freedoms that we have today.

I hope that my performance inspires that sense of equality rather than the expected gender “norms” that some conservative views may still hold.

Describe your Bedlam performance in 3 words.
Sensational Classy Cheeky.

Don’t miss Ben Noir’s performance at Bedlam on Wed 28th Feb at Marrickville’s Red Rattler – tickets on sale now here!

Journey to Edinburgh 3 – Gina Schien

Showing directors a new script can be humiliating and dangerous, like running naked through traffic. All your bits are in full view but you’re probably just a distraction. And if a director decides your play isn’t terrible and they want to direct it, they’ll probably kill it with bad casting.

Goldele liked Morgan Stern but I could still hear car horns honking. Why? Because no one could play this character. ‘What the hell was I thinking?  What?  What?’ 

Goldele said to calm down, she knew this guy. And she did. Graeme Rhodes filled that role with high grade petrol and took it for a beautiful long spin. Audiences ate from his hand and then got to their feet. My job was done.

Only one thing left to do now, Company of Rogues said. ‘Have a burger and Corona to celebrate?’ No – take it to Edinburgh. We’ll take a play about madness to the craziest festival on earth. We’ll work our butts off and organise everything while you go on holidays and take it easy.

And they did.

So I’m not just fully clothed again, I’m now wearing a top hat.

Thank you team.

The drinks are on me in August. Xx

Gina Schien – Playwright, author of Morgan Stern

Journey to Edinburgh 2 – Robbi James

When I began a Masters of Arts Management at the Sydney Opera House almost 2 years ago I did so hoping that the study would lead me to new opportunities to work with creative people and their projects. It was there that I got to know Goldele Rayment. At the time I honestly hadn’t thought about returning to the theatre world (I spent my teen years on the stage) but there is a very good chance, that very deep down, there is a part of me that was yearning to be here.

Goldele invited me to see Morgan Stern in late 2016 and I was struck by the power of the production, even in the simple setting it had at Blood Moon. I knew that there was something here I wanted to explore and that deserved to be seen by many more people – locally and beyond.

But when I first starting working with Company of Rogues I was hoping for a small local festival and finding ways to introduce Morgan Stern to Australian audiences. When the opportunity to join Siren Theatre Co in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival came up I took it as a sign that this new Australian play had to go – there was no turning back!

You see it’s not just the way Goldele breathes life into a compelling story, or the honest beauty of Gina Schien’s words or, indeed, Graeme Rhodes’ transformative performance that has inspired me to join the Rogues – it’s the collective passion and belief that Morgan Stern has the power to genuinely move audiences.

And isn’t that what we make art for?

Robbi James – Creative Producer

Journey to Edinburgh 1 – Goldele Rayment

When Graeme and I started rehearsing Morgan Stern we always knew we wanted to take this show further than just a 2 week season in a tiny, make-shift ‘indie’ space. In fact, we kept saying to each other “this is a preview season”.

At that stage the plan in my head was to spend 2018 networking and submitting the show to various venues for 2019. Going to Edinburgh hadn’t entered my head, until Kate Gaul did a call out for companies to share a venue with her and Siren Theatre Company. Knowing the quality of her work as a director and skill as a producer I knew we would be in good company. When I brought it to the team and asked if we should go I was surprised by the emphatic YES from everyone.

Still unsure I posted on Facebook, asking for other peoples’ experiences at Edinburgh. To my surprise I immediately got a private message from someone in the industry offering a couple thousand dollars seed money. Having already made a small profit last year, we took this a sign from the universe that we should proceed, and proceed we have!

I’ve never put so much time and energy into one production and I’m having a lot of firsts with Morgan Stern. I’ve never remounted a production before and I have never toured overseas.

Gina, Graeme and I spent quite a bit of time dramaturging the script before we started rehearsals this year.  I was unsure how much time we would need to remount or how much Graeme had retained from the last production. Graeme, being the consummate, hard working professional he is, was almost word perfect with the freshly edited version of the script at our first rehearsal.

It is such a complex and layered text that this period of rehearsal has allowed us to go deeper and keep refining the physical journey he takes through the story and his psychological arc as a character.

Goldele Rayement. Director, Morgan Stern.

Morgan Stern can be seen on stage at Belvoir Theatre (downstairs) on July 1 & 2, 2017. Tickets on sale now from www.belvoir.com.

Don’t miss the show in Edinburgh – C Venues Primo (Hill St Theatre) from August 6-28, 2017. Tickets on sale now at C The Festival.