News

Right in the engine room of Penrith Performing & Visual Arts you’ll find Dave Garner, our Business Manager, keeping the wheels turning on the business, people and logistics side of both The Joan and Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest. We caught up with Dave to shoot the breeze on his day-to-day and daydreams.

Describe a day in your working life…

Well every day is different but I generally get to the office, check how we are tracking for ticket sales for each upcoming show and then my team and I have a discussion around what each day holds for us. I then go about working through the priorities of the moment which could involve meetings with other parts of the business, Council, a regular trip to the Lewers Gallery and on the fly troubleshoot any number of issues that crop up day to day.

What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?

For a long time in my youth I harboured great ambitions to be a journalist. Actually studying journalism made me realise it wasn’t what I thought it would be…but I had a good grounding in writing and storytelling that went on to help my songwriting. For a little while I thought being a shepherd would pretty much be a dream job…sitting on a hill overlooking the sheep, gently playing a lute…are there shepherds anymore?

What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?

Hard to pick. Some of the great moments for me have been really well performed work by small theatre groups. Twelfth Night in a tiny theatre in Canberra comes to mind. And most recently seeing Q Theatre’s Teacup In A Storm was a great experience as I was lucky enough to see a peek into its development. To see it grow into an amazing production was something special.

And your favourite / most memorable musical moments?

So many to choose from. Bruce Springsteen solo at the Capital Theatre was amazing, Emmylou Harris with Buddy Miller on guitar is a biggie, Chris Whitely, Chris Wilson, Peter Green, Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Lucinda Williams, Prince…all would rate very very highly

If I could see anyone perform at The Joan it would be

Paul Kelly and Renee Geyer performing together would be pretty special…

Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.

My gorgeous wife Carrie could help me cook dinner and throw in some well-timed funny remarks. Frank Sinatra would be there to bring the classiness and Jagger for the swagger…I’m a cricket tragic so Merv Hughes would have a tale or two and he could keep the glasses topped up. We could all laugh along with Billy Connolly and by the end of the night we would have all fallen in love with Audrey Hepburn…

Catherine Alcorn

What do you most want people to know about The Divine Miss Bette?
I want folks to know what a faaaabulous night out it will be. Lots of laughs, great music and plenty of foul behaviour. What’s not to love!

What’s your favourite Bette Midler moment?
It would have to be the ‘blood clot’ moment in her film Big Business. Fans will know what I mean!

How has it evolved and what have been the biggest highlights of the show so far?

The show is constantly evolving which keeps it fresh for our returning audiences and us!  The biggest evolution each show comes from the audience which, for me, is the most exciting part.

Describe a day in your working life…
No two days are the same and that’s what I love about my job. I’m taking my other stage show Go Your Own Way: The story of Christine McVie to the Tamworth Country Music Festival this weekend, so this week is being spent rehearsals with my cast, liaising with venue management, technicians, publicisist…..and on it goes!

What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?
Exactly what I’m doing now. I’m living the dream.

What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?
There have been so many. Being sung happy birthday to by an audience of 300 when we performed The Divine Miss Bette on my birthday at the Noosa Long Weekend Festival in 2012 was pretty special. Playing the role of Lulie Stanwyck in the Australian premiere of the Off Broadway hit 5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche last year was thrilling. Launching my album at Glenn Street Theatre in August last year was a huge deal. Many of my industry friends smashed it last year either producing shows or being cast in lead roles for major musicals or both, so it’s been wonderful seeing them succeed at their endeavours too.

And your favourite / most memorable musical moments?
Being invited up onto the Sydney Opera House stage with Chris Botti was very memorable. He has one of the most incredible bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. Lisa Fischer was on tour with him that year too so it was extra special. If you’ve never seen Chris live in concert, GO! 

Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.
Jennifer Saunders
Ruby Wax
David Bowie
My partner Cameron
Patrick Brammall
Ricky Gervais

Jessica Foreman_Fast Five Profile

Jessica Foreman is a young musician who at age 10 is already composing beautiful pieces of music. Jessica composed a brilliant piece to be featured across our Kids at The Joan programs as part of the young composers project earlier in the year. We caught up with Jessica and gained some insight into her everyday life.

Describe a normal day in your life.
I go to school, then come home and look after the rabbit. Next I practice the piano or saxophone, and feed my fish before bedtime.

What would you like to do as a job when you grow up?
For a job when I grow up I want to be an author for kids and maybe adults. Also, I want to breed and sell horses on a horse ranch.

What is your favourite music or theatre performance you’ve seen?

My favourite is a performance I saw of ‘The Magic Pudding’.

If you could see anyone perform at The Joan who would it be…?

I would like to see a good amount of different people perform.

If you could invite anyone over for dinner who would it be?

The Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Hear Jessica’s music featured in The Joan’s trailer for the upcoming performance of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, presented by JWR Productions Australia & Michael Sieders Presents. We love it!

For more info and to book tickets to The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show click here

The Joan’s Todd Hawken helps create the worlds you enter when you step through those theatre doors. He’s a master of staging, building atmosphere through sound and lighting. We caught up with Todd to learn more about what makes him tick – from initial studies in medical science and history, to performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the London Proms opening night, a career in the performing arts and his dream dinner party.

Describe a day in your working life…

My days are as different as the shows the Joan presents. I might spend one day bumping in a touring theatre production. The following day I might find myself placing microphones, tuning a PA, and mixing sound for a music act. And the next day I might have to improvise a light show for a community dance concert.

What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?

I studied medical science and history at university, but music, theatre, and dance were always a big part of my life. Somewhere along the way I decided to make a career of them.

What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?

The Black Rider – a music theatre piece created by Robert Wilson, Tom Waits, and William S. Burroughs – stormed the Sydney Festival in 2005. It still stands out in my memory. It had everything: transportive music, spectacular design, an alchemical mix of performance styles, and the devil as its star.

And your favourite / most memorable musical moments?

Singing Mahler’s 8th Symphony on the opening night of the London Proms in Royal Albert Hall was an experience that will be hard to beat.

If I could see anyone perform at The Joan it would be…

Do I have to be realistic? Nick Cave please. If Nick’s otherwise busy, C. W. Stoneking puts on a fine show. And get Jungle to throw a dance party in the foyer – with the dancers from their music videos, of course.

Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.

I’d invite Oscar Wilde, for his razor wit and perhaps a peerless fairy tale; Serge Gainsbourg, for some sexy music and a few dating tips; Jessie J, for some sultry songs with Serge and some conversation-starting fashion; Geoffrey Robertson, for a penetrating political confab and plenty of provocative questions; Marco Polo, because nothing’s more interesting than a great travel story; and Anne Bonny, because I’m writing a teleplay about her piratical exploits. If she’d only promise not to slit my throat, I’d like to get to know her.

 

NickAtkins_WHL1 MediaNick Atkins is The Joan’s Producer, New Work; spearheading the activities of The Q – a contemporary theatre production program based at The Joan. He’s a theatre and performance maker whose play A Boy and a Bean was awarded Best Performing Arts event at Sydney Mardi Gras and was later presented at the New Theatre, Dublin. Nick shared some stories with us, so we could share them with you…

Describe a day in your working life…

My day tends to start with a big chunk of writing. This is usually project proposals or funding applications for possible new shows. It involves trying to find ways to describe the ideas, images, sounds and stories that are growing in and around the centre. Writing on the train to work tends to be the most productive place for this. Then I have to start sharing this with the people around me. These are all the people that will need to be on board to see it become something you end up seeing on the stage. I have to negotiate the space it will be on, technical demands that will pop up as a result, the way we are going to sell it to a potential audience, the money it’s going to take to start the wheels moving and most of all I have to find a way to get people excited by the what it could be.

What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?

I went from wanting to be a teacher, to an archaeologist and then to a theatre director. I’m lucky I get to do most of these things. Except the archaeology bit. I keep a spade close by in case we have an urgent need for an excavation around The Joan.

What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?

I’ve got lots but the most relevant one would have been at the Old Q Theatre. I was in year 11 and went to ‘Through the Wire’ with a few friends from my drama class. It was my first live experience of an Australian contemporary verbatim work and afterwards I was hooked. I’ve been coming back to the Q ever since.

And your favourite / most memorable musical moments?

My favourite music moment would have been at Justin VivIan Bond’s Mx America gig for Mardi Gras in 2012. After an hour or so V told the audience the gig was supposed to end but all they had to go home to were the pale walls of their hotel room so the band played on for an extra hour or so. It was bawdy, rough around the edges and half of the audience walked out but the stories were bold and the sounds full of heart. Those that stayed till the bitter sweet end were deeply grateful.

If I could see anyone perform at The Joan it would be…

Local artists. Maybe that’s a kill joy answer. Famous people are great but the best theatre I’ve ever seen has been from people with a lot at stake, sharing an urgent story in the place that means the most to them. Watching performers play on their home turf is always exciting.

Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.

I have two nephews and one niece. I’d be keen for them to come. Along with Beyonce, Katy Perry’s Left Shark and Diane Keaton.

 

 

 

Nathan SheensNathan Sheens is in residence at The Joan right now with his talented tapping crew, working on BPM – beatsperminute, which is on 8 & 9 May (don’t miss it).

The show that has been hailed as the ‘next big thing to hit the stage’, BPM – beatsperminute intertwines tap, vocals, bass, guitar and drums, layering live rhythms to invent a new interpretation of the art of tap.

This sizzling show, which has toured internationally and enjoyed sell-out seasons at the Sydney Opera House, was created by Nathan, an original cast member, dance director and lead performer in the highly acclaimed and much-loved Tap Dogs. He also worked as assistant choreographer to Dein Perry on the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony and starred in the original Australian cast of Billy Elliott.

Nathan, along with dynamic performer and choreographer Glyn Gray – who appeared as a featured dancer in Baz Luhrmann’s movie Moulin Rouge – and established Australian musician Brett Canning (Missy Higgins, Ross Wilson, Ben Lee, Pete Murray, The Waifs), has created an electrifying fusion of physicality, pulsating beats and energetic sounds that will be sure to set hearts racing this May at The Joan.

We caught up with Nathan recently and he gave us some insights into the show, his working days and childhood daydreams, and performing with Stevie Wonder.

What do you most want people to know about BPM?  

BPM is a tap show full of life and is very uplifting. It has a cast of 7 creative and very unique artists with skills ranging from musicianship to vocals and tap dance. All elements within the show complement each other and take the audience on a musical journey. With a new and vibrant cast BPM is set to a new original score that will not disappoint.

How has it evolved and what have been the biggest highlights of the show so far?

BPM started out as a one night Jam session. Even from its early conception we knew that BPM was something special and needed to be shared with audiences around Australia. BPM always continues to evolve, with our season at The Joan we have made some changes to our original score choreography and conceptional ideas.. With a sell out season at the Sydney Opera House and our national tour we are very happy to bring the show to Penrith and show the locals our talent.

Describe a day in your working life…

Always creative and trying new and inventive things. Choreographing on a daily basis and keeping the toes tapping.

What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?

As child I always had the dream of performing in front of large crowds. I was given many opportunities through dance and for this I am very thankful.

What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?

Performing on the London’s West End and on Broadway New York City were two very big milestones.

And your favourite / most memorable musical moments?

Many moments to be shared, I have had many opportunities within my career. The most memorable musical moment would be performing with Stevie Wonder at the Quincy Jones Concert in California.

If I could see anyone perform at The Joan it would be…

PRINCE

Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.

Family – very large and always come first.

This is the first in our Fast Five profiles, a series designed to give a little insight into the people who make up The Joan.

We’ll begin with our CEO, Hania Radvan, who secretly hankers to write and illustrate children’s books and would love to see Paul Kelly or Paul Capsis at The Joan (perhaps even on stage together!).hania chesirecat

Describe a day in your working life…
Arrive at desk and work through the emails and urgents – deal with unexpected issues on the way! Catch up with staff and provide support/advice/approvals as needed. Try to shut door to think. Open door due to lack of air. Look at to do list and sigh. Add items to ‘to do’ list. Reprioritise ‘to do’ list due to extraordinary length. Start to work through items….

Actually no day is the same as any other – and I try to work from Gallery at least once a week – try to meet on and off site with stakeholders and potential partners – never get to the end of the to do list – a lot is writing/thinking/liaising with teams. It’s funny how a day gets hijacked – and how the best ideas come out of that detour rather than the plan.

What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?

Never really had an idea of ‘career’ as such – always knew I wanted to work in the creative arts in some way. In fact as a child I desperately wanted to be a children’s book illustrator and author. Secretly I still do.

 What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?

The unexpected ones when you get goose bumps – I love performances that take you out of yourself into another world and that challenge you – emotionally, aesthetically and intellectually. Sometimes it’s not the whole piece just a moment of it that you remember for years after. I love the intimacy of our studio – it’s almost like a private conversation…

 …and your favourite / most memorable musical moments?

The first time I saw the ACO at the opera house – they were so young and dashing in their groovy clothes – and played with such passion and precision. Oh that and my first ever pop concert XTC in Hammersmith – I am OLD!!

If I could see anyone perform at The Joan it would be……………………

Paul Capsis, Paul Kelly – I have a Paul thing going on… and lots of independent theatre artists!

Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.

Oscar Wilde and Stephen Fry (imagine the witty rivalry), Jane Austen, Chekhov, WA Senator Scott Ludlam and my friend Karla for support if that all got too much. Hmm more not living than living….

Hania Ravdan has been CEO of Penrith Performing & Visual Arts since April 2015, and prior to that she was Director of Arts NT. She’s worked in the arts for over 25 years across venue management, ticketing, audience development, marketing, touring support, arts program design, delivery and review, policy development and grants management.

provides a focal point for performing arts activity in the Western Sydney Region