Honk if you are Jesus

by Peter Goldsworthy

Three weekends from Friday September 7, 2012 – Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 5pm.

The stage adaptation of Honk If You Are Jesus was commissioned by the State Theatre Company of South Australia for the 2006 Adelaide Arts Festival, and was directed by Martin Laud Gray in conjunction with the author, noted Australian novelist, Peter Goldsworthy. Honk If You Are Jesus is a comedy about the big ethical issues around science, religion and cloning; a story weaving ambition, animal-attraction, future-shock and resurrection, and where the moralities of its characters are very, very blurry. It is a razor-sharp satire with immediacy and anarchic energy; an Australian and a global story with themes that are universal and battle-lines that are inter-cultural. In 2006 Honk If You Are Jesus won the ‘Ruby’ Award for Best New Work; The Advertiser ‘Oscart’ Award for Best Play; the ‘Curtain Call’ Award for Best Comedy; and was nominated for ‘Helpmann’ awards in two categories.

Honk If You Are Jesus is essentially the story of Mara Fox’s responses when she is inadvertently tricked into assisting with the cloning of a very famous, historical character. It is about her deeply personal journey along an uneasy ethical road, in a landscape full of inconsistencies and dilemmas and strewn with romantic temptations and apparent betrayals. It’s a serious comedy that, beneath its comic overtones, asks some important questions about our future in the ‘technological age’; who should have the right to determine it; and whether, as a species and as individuals, we still want to use our capacity to think and feel, rather than simply act by default or disengage and take the consequences.

The Drill Hall Theatre Company presented “Honk If You Are Jesus” at the Drill Hall Theatre, Mullumbimby, for three weekends from Friday September 7; directed by Mike Russo with a cast featuring Robynn Goddard, Greg Aitken, Sam Hemphill, Eva Robinson, Jasper Wilson, Jennie Hicks and Kasadevi Curtis.

Peter Goldsworthy has impressed at more than one Byron Bay Writers’ Festival by his deeply felt and beautifully expressed humanity. If you have read the novel you will want to see how well it has been adapted to the theatre and, whether you have read the book or not, you will not want to miss the chance to see a modern Australian masterpiece by one of our most noted current authors.

REVIEW

by Ray Moynihan, Byron Shire Echo, 18th September 2012

 

For lovers of theatre, the play closing this weekend at Mullumbimby’s Drill Hall is a godsend. Adapted from a best-selling novel Honk if you are Jesus this irreverent and timely production is as intelligent and engaging as it is enjoyable.

The hilarious story is set in a private Christian university on the Gold Coast, run by a bible-bashing Reverend Schultz, whose dramatic sermons are performed with panache by Greg Aitken and whose young third wife, Mary-Beth, is brought to life ably by Eva Robinson.

Traversing the minefields of science and religion, sex and fertility, the play’s narrative is intimate, fresh and surprising. As the characters seduce and beguile each other, the play exposes a religion that looks more like a shonky business, and an ethically-challenged science that looks more like a shonky religion.

While the direction and acting is solid, the blazing performance of the red-headed lead Robynn Goddard is outstanding. Playing Mara Fox, the ambitious and frank IVF professor, Goddard brings a sensual magic to the stage, reminding the audience of the intense physical power of live theatre.

Watching Goddard and her colleagues perform last Friday night, there was a palpable sense of theatre’s renaissance in the northern rivers – a local growth industry that doesn’t kill koala habitat or further poison stressed waterways, and still provides a great night out.

Director Mike Russo is also optimistic, both short and long term. He says every performance of Honk if you are Jesus is getting better, and he thinks the closing shows this weekend will be ‘really something’.

Rod Gibson – A Retrospective

11, 12, 13 May;  18, 19, 20 May 2012

and a special performance in Grafton on 27th May 2012

… a selection of plays and poetry by local playwright, poet and performer, Rod Gibson who passed away in 2011.

 

Rod won the Jean Stone Poetry award, the Nicholas Shand Memorial Poetry Slam, was short listed for the Angus and Robertson National Short Play Competition and has had sixteen of his plays produced in the Northern Rivers region.

To quote fellow playwright Paula Williams :
“Rod never fails to surprise us all by exploring a totally different slant in his writings, he takes us to strange and wonderful places we have never considered going.”

Rod’s writing has been described as a swirling, evocative maelstrom of images, characters and bedevilment, a rich mix of scintillating sarcasm, reminiscence, storytelling, and ironic self-observation.

The evening was a compilation of Rod’s short plays and poetry with a bit of music, a smidgen of multimedia and a few surprises.

Directed by Michael Borenstein

Cast: Greg Aitken, Sonia Borenstein, Mike Russo, Janet Gibson, Georgia Martin and Stirling Nougher.

Including video: of Rod Gibson    … and

The Beatification of Mary McCullen

featuring Julie Tweedie, Carol Garcia & Anthony Llord.  directed by Sandesh Gibney.

Fishermen at Brunswick Heads directed by John Campbell

Crew:

Stage Manager: Jill Benham                                   Sound & Video: Alex Benham

Lights: Sunita Bailey                                               Publicity: Marion Russo

Front of House: Jan Blanch

Review

by Michael McDonald in Byron Shire Echo 13/05/2012

An affectionate tribute to a local writer

 

Michael McDonald

In the 80s and 90s, when I got out more, writer Rod Gibson was a familiar face at Byron Shire bars, plays and art gallery openings. Many of the plays would be his own; at many of the bars he would be performing his own poems – animated, ironic, satirical and sometimes downright silly.

Our paths crossed a little: a friendly hello, a joke or two. A ciggie in one hand, a drink in the other, the demon of schizophrenia in his head, Rod mostly inspired affection and some amazement at the delicious turns his writing could take.

He was no pushover, however. He was a stout defender of local theatre and Rod would lucidly lacerate in the letters to the editor any review of mine with which he disagreed. I suppose our minds mostly met in the pages of The Echo, where as then-editor I published his poems and reviewed his work.

And I suppose his work reminded me most of Richard O’Brien’s, the man who electrified the stage with The Rocky Horror Show. Nostalgic tributes to the past mix with cutting satire and a sense of the absurd – sometimes terrifying, sometimes playful.

So when Rod shuffled off this mortal coil last year, I was sad to hear of the untimely death at age 60 of the ‘Poet Lorikeet of the North Coast’. Writing is a tough gig to make a freelance living from but Rod gave it his best shot and was rewarded episodically on the way and with a deserving obit by Geoff Helisma in the Sydney Morning Herald.

A lot of people who knew Rod well were also saddened. Among them local theatre director Michael Borenstein, who has staged Gibson’s work over the last 25 years, including the first production of the notedThe Fine Art Of Kissing The Ground. It is only fitting that Michael is the man to bring together the tribute, Rod Gibson: A Retrospective, for the Drill Hall Theatre Company.

Michael has eschewed many of Rod’s longer, better-known plays and offered up a buffet of short plays, poems and stories. It works well. The Drill Hall actors – who on this occasion include Rod’s sister, Janet – are very strong and clear in their performances and attack each piece with enthusiasm and skill. Borenstein makes clever use of sound and video, including performances by Rod himself, and a stunning piece of acting by Julie Tweedie in The Beatification Of Mary McCullen.

The night is an exuberant expression of Rod’s unique insight into the vicissitudes and joys of life. Unlike some local theatre over the years, it is also of a refreshingly bearable length. Fans of Rod will renew their friendship with the man and his work. Those new to his work, and/or poultry lovers, cannot fail to be charmed by his ‘Ghost Chickens’.