The 2016 Poppy Seed Festival is literally brimming with stunning creatives who are presenting fabulous work with little pomp and circumstance. They are committed and talented companies bringing what they love to the stage with a fresh approach that will certainly leave audiences wanting for more.
The second production to come to the Poppy Seed Festival main stage is Ladycake by Three Birds Theatre – a clever word play on the infamous last queen of France, Marie Antoinette.
The inspiration for the piece for creator, performer and co-founding member of Three Birds Theatre, Candace Miles, was to create a show that fleshes out a female character beyond one-dimensionality.
“The idea behind LadyCake began as the three of us (Madelaine Nunn, Anna Rodway and myself) thinking up a storm as to a strong female we could put on the stage and give a voice to,” says Miles. ” believe I was in the upstairs bathrooms at the Melbourne Theatre Company and I was admiring the mural artwork that had a certain renaissance feel… thus making a show about Marie Antoinette became the starting point!”
“Marie Antoinette is certainly an example of a complex woman who lived in times of extreme change and turmoil – we are curious as to whether the depiction of her can be trusted, or whether history has rewritten her to be a mythical villian.”
“As an ensemble of trained performers, we pride ourselves on the fact we take on the whole process as writers, directors, performers, and sometimes producers in our shows. This often means that a process can take months, with the last few weeks being an intensive process of script-writing and playing around.”
Miles and team were curious about the public life versus the private of the wife of Louis XVI: “Is what you hear about someone really the truth of who they are? How easy is it to tear a woman down from her throne?”
“If you know nothing of this piece… LadyCake is a modern re-fashioning of the myths surrounding the infamous last queen of France – Marie Antoinette – who lived like a rock star against the backdrop of a blood-thirsty revolution.”
The three first met whilst training at the Victorian College of the Arts. In their second year they were cast in Fewer Emergencies by Martin Crimp, directed by Lara Kerestes. The rest, as they say, is history. “We had such a brilliant time playing with our dynamic and we discovered we shared a strong work ethic so we thought, let’s start a company once we graduate,” says Miles.
“The name originated from our last show, Three Birds One Cock, a work we wrote and performed to critical acclaim, based on Hitchcock’s iconic blondes… the work we make is about putting girls on stage, and with our friends starting to call us the Birds – so Three Birds Theatre began!”
The company is committed to making visually striking work that finds the macabre in the comical and brims with an absurd poignancy. As an emerging company of independent theatre-makers (and women), their aim is to create theatre that puts the female voice at the forefront of their work.
“Melbourne has such a thriving and unique independent theatre scene, and we’re keen to see the arts community support itself by constantly challenging the work we see in the world around us,” says Miles
Miles describes the team as theatre makers: “I would say that we are silly, playful, committed and earnest. We love clever writing and goofing around – taking yourself too seriously is not helpful when creating theatre. The theatre we create as a trio is always born from physical play and sharp script-writing. Often the best of our dialogue comes out of joking around.”
Although still young, the Poppy Seed Festival has drawn interest from around the country and success is certainly not a given. For Three Birds Theatre, they initially sent in their application in April 2016. They heard back a few months later that they had been shortlisted to be one of twelve works to pitch to a panel of arts industry professionals. Then one week later they got the call to say they’d been picked as one of four works to take part in this year’s Festival.
“We are so thrilled to be part of four amazing new works being presented as part of this year’s Poppy Seed Festival,” says Miles. “The Festival gives us a space (we’re at the Trades Hall Ballroom, Carlton) and gives the four companies a chunk of money to cover the realisation of the work (set, costumes, lighting), marketing support and an amount to pay artists too.”
“To be such fresh graduates of the VCA in 2015 and be offered an opportunity to create a new work less than a year later is pretty ridiculous. We thank the Poppy Seed directors and panel for taking a chance on us!”
Ladycake is the story about a Queen who lived like a rock star against the backdrop of a blood-thirsty revolution. If more encouragement to attend is needed then do heed Miles’ words: “Party! Revolt! Girls! Pink! Three Birds Theatre take on Marie Antoinette the infamous last queen of France. A teen icon, loving mother, draconian villain and a murdered queen. There will be laughs! There will be horror! There will be drinks across the road, at the John Curtin Hotel!”
November 15 – 27