I put a shorter version of this post up on Facebook initially where I thought more people might read it immediately. It is here now for the record. If you want more on details about the show, go to this website ‘A View From Moving Windows’. It will tell you who has been involved in this production for the 2012 True West season production currently playing at Riverside Parramatta (for one more week only): production people, the writers, actors etc. In fact it tells you a lot more than that: there’s a blog on process, lots of photos – and all the stuff younger-than-me people can do on a website. And if you go it after you’ve read what’s here, you should have an even better idea of why I liked this show so much. Below belongs to no great tradition in critical commentary – it is more a love letter to a friend climbing the early steep peaks of a great life as a theatre-maker. I have added a few sentences here and there for extra detail.
Everyone knows Augusta Supple and I have formed a mighty friendship and it’s not just coz we like each other as people and share a lot of values. Augusta is a player and I am a watcher – and I have followed her creative journey closely over past four years – and not missed much. Occasionally I have offered back-up when the rest of the world seemed to be somewhat confused or intimidated by her talent. A View from Moving Windows is not a show that suggests promise: it’s a lot better than that. Augusta’s Joan-of-Art commitment to new theatre writing craft has been to swim against the current current. Some have been either troubled or confused by her multi-skilling – is she a bloggist, a producer, administrator, Board member, a writer and/or director – or what? In her case these are not endeavours pulling her apart. Let’s just say she is a theatre-maker first and foremost – and she is carving a space out for herself (a bit like Scott Rankin did in the early years of Big hArt) in a tight little theatre world where if you don’t fit into an pre-existing box you will find it very difficult to even make a start. Augusta’s unique gift is to make larger artistically uncompromising work (thus far on the smell of an oil rag) whilst never failing to treat her co-workers with affection, loyalty and respect.
Here we have an elevation of the idea that spurred on Stories from the 428 where a group of talented writers wrote short pieces to a theme: taking the bus from Circular Quay to Marrickville. That project involved a large number of writers, actors AND directors. The separate pieces then combined to fit into a single evening, contained within an over-arching shape by August Supple who had directed a few of the pieces herself. There was a unity of feel, but the ride at times was a bit bumpy. Here Augusta Supple goes one step further and directs all the works, with a little help on the choreographic side by Chloe Fournier. What I found astonishing here, despite my familiarity with so many aspects of Augusta’s work, is the quality of the directing. The action is light and springy, we range deftly over vast seas of emotion – in solos, duets and big (overcrowded train) scenes. The writers on this project – since it is the writer Augusta privileges as the primary theatre-making creator – are: Donna Abela, Vanessa Bates, Jessica Bellamy, John AD Fraser, Noelle Janaczewska, Nick Parsons, Teil-Kim Pok, Emrys Quin and Alison Rooke. If you don’t know these names than you’re not paying attention. Here is the fountain source of future playwriting in Australia. And butting against the system in this city Augusta is giving them all a chance to grow their craft.
I found all the writing good here and some of it fabulous. Little of it you would call truly naturalistic – it feels like that at times along way. But in almost all cases, somewhere, you sense the gears change. A subtle shift that suggests these writers are also actually experimenting with form (as our writers so need to if they are ever going to get back to significance as culture contributors) As someone who has had the odd encounter with a train I found these so many different views on/experiences of train exciting and freeing. There are many different kinds of people traveling on these trains – some hurt, some a little mad, some a little annoying, others funny: yet all are good people. And that’s the shows gift to its audience. Its aura of civilised compassion.
As for directorial skills: this is a very artfully composed work. Nifty, smooth, a light touch – never bringing attention to the fact that Augusta’s directorial skills are formidable. It’s not Ariane Mnouchkine or Peter Brook who have millions of dollars to spend on every show, years of experience, and years and months to make a show. But you know ‘A View From Moving Windows’ stands up for itself, without qualification, for what it is. Augusta calls on the highest standards from herself and her people – so let’s just call this the finest little show seen in Sydney for a long time. And if you have ever wondered exactly who Augusta Supple is – and what can she do – then do go see this.