Jaq Avery and Alice Daly are set to launch into the independent theatre scene with their company One Little Room Theatre at the upcoming Melbourne Fringe Festival.
The duo graduated from the 2015 NIDA Open Actors Studio with something pretty rare: an ensemble that not only gets along, but works extremely well together. They thought that was too good to pass up so within that camaraderie grew the seed to begin their own theatre company. Their hope for One Little Room Theatre is that it becomes a platform to provide opportunities to other emerging artists as well.
Avery is primarily interested in the creation of site-specific theatre. “Melbourne has an incredibly varied landscape that has so much to offer, and we do ourselves a disservice as theatre-makers to perform only in purpose built theatres,” she says. “Site-specific theatre gives us the opportunity to break away from the norm, and engage with audiences in new and exciting ways.”
Daly is fascinated by physical theatre, particularly where it’s brought to bear on traditional theatrical texts. “As an audience member, I find it gives me a different way into a production, another way of being moved. I hope that One Little Room can make a contribution to this kind of work,” she says.
Their inaugural play, Breathing Corpses, was chosen because the team was looking for a play they would enjoy working on, would be a good fit for the group and would allow them to put the skills they had learned last year into practice. Daly loves the way it combines horror and comedy as well as having seven beautifully realized roles, so each of them has had something challenging to work on.
They are using Fringe as their platform because even though they are opening with the work of an established playwright, they didn’t want to be predictable. “We’re challenging Breathing Corpses by pushing it outside of how you might expect it to be performed,” says Avery. “Fringe is the best place to push at those boundaries and to reach audiences that are open and willing to be challenged.
The staging will be avant-garde. “Working in a non-traditional space allows us to be creative with our staging,” says Daly. “The play is set across five locations, which we will establish along the length of our performance space. As the play progresses the action, and the actors, move along the stage.” The play will be staged in traverse, with audience members on either side of the stage. “It’s really exciting to us that each audience member will have a different perspective on the show,” Avery adds.
The new kids on the theatrical block are excited by their partnership, says Avery: “Well, it’s pretty rare to come across another actor who can work capably and passionately as a producer- so I guess when I found Alice I clung on for dear life!”
Daly admits that Avery was always the most organized person in their course. “She was the one who would arrange for us to see plays as a group or book rooms for additional rehearsals and make people turn up on time,” says Daly. ” So when the chance to work with her for Fringe came up, it was a no-brainer. It’s worked really well: I’m the pessimist and she’s the optimist and together we balance each other out and get things done!”
“Yeah, together we’re a realist! She’s stuck with me now,” says Avery
Both Daly and Avery are proud to say that they are producing something very special in Breathing Corpses. A play where Amy keeps finding bodies in the hotel bedrooms she cleans while Jim’s been trying to ignore the smell coming from one of his self storage units, and Kate’s annoyed she had to waste her whole day talking to the police.
“It’s a funny and very moving play, and we’ve brought together an exciting new ensemble, a great director and very talented designers to work on it,” says Avery. “We hope that coming to be the show will be an experience: there’ll be food, drinks, and quality theatre. Personally, I’m dying to be there. ”
September 15 – October 1