The Blank Page with Eddie Perfect.
The Banquet Room. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 11 2023
Part panel discussion and part performance, Eddie Perfect’s The Blank Page was an intriguing and illuminating insight into the process of writing for cabaret, comedy and musical theatre as well as being demonstrated by some of Australia’s creative artists who are forging new horizons in the world of cabaret and musicals As facilitator Eddie Perfect points out that every work began as an original idea and inspiration. To reveal many of the secrets that contribute to the development of new work, Perfect invited a panel of creatives and performers to describe their processes with examples of their work.
Dean Bryant and Matthew Frank have written a number of highly successful musicals and are currently working on an adaptation of My Brilliant Career, They met at the West Australian Academy of Perfoming Arts and produced their first musical Prodigal there. Dean directs and Matthew composes and writes lyrics and their work is original and highly successful and has enjoyed rave reviews in Australia and New York. Michelle Brazier is appearing in her own show at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Reform,a cautionary tale of an online scam. Time Out have said “She’ll have you cackling and clapping and wishing the show was twice as long” When asked by Perfect what she thought was the most important element of the work that she wrote she answered “Surprise,” American visitors Leah Sprecher and Brad Stevens are the couple behind the riotously successful Broadway Barbara. Theirs is a life partnership that works together professionally with defined roles. Leah is the actress. Brad is the writer with a talent for jokes. The inimitable Virginia Gay goes against convention as witnessed with her adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac with a female Cyrano and when writing her own pantomime with songs by Eddie Perfect. There is nothing conventional here. They happily parody that old panto cry of “He or She’s behind you” in a song. Gillian Cosgriff is a multitalented actor, musician and lyricist. Her new musical The Fig Tree is having a work in progress viewin over five days at this year’s Cabaret Festival. It is described as “The Magic Faraway Tree for adults exploring relationships, choice, indecision, monogamy, figs, parallel universes and love.”
|Gillian Cosgriff sings a song from The Fig Tree|
Gradually the perceptive Perfect teases out processes, inspirations and journeys and a common thread emerges. Everybody wants to create original work and see their ideas, music, scripts and songs come to fruition in a new and exciting project. Bryant and Frank discarded their Jack the Ripper musical. “It was far too gruesome.” Brazier has learnt not to fear not being funny.. Perfect has not been without self doubt. They are all familiar with rejection but they have all come through. Gay remembers a teacher who told her to “sit in the shit” after a clowning routine went wrong. “Don’t struggle to get out. Let the audience love you and then when the time is right find a way.” When one door closes another will open. Collaboration and the respect for talent are the key to success they all agree.
Moments of insight, pearls of wisdom and honest confessions were revealed during the fascinating session. The conversation was accompanied by their songs like Proud To Be A Millennial by Brazier ,Behind You from Gay’s Boom Cat Panto, Taking out the garbage from Perfect’s satire on suburbia Vivid White, Bryant and Frank’s song about unexpected attraction from My Brilliant Career and Cosgriff’s rendition of a song from The Fig Tree
For an hour audiences sit attentively fascinated by the journeys and creative processes that the panelists apply to their imaginative ideas and passionate love for their art . If this is the future and these are the flagbearers, then cabaret and musical theatre will rise from the blank page to excite, inspire and entertain audiences far into the future.