Program: First Horn (23 – 27 June)
A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR
“Even Lucifer was beautiful, until the moment he fell.”
Yes, the title Morning Star is a reference to the devil. In some mythologies, it’s what he was called before he turned from goodness. In these mythologies, the devil’s goal isn’t to make us commit evil; that’s only a means to an end. His real goal is to make us suffer. Catherine of Siena called Satan the “old pick pocket”, because he sidled up to you as though he was a friend, and then stole your purse.
We’ve borrowed from mythologies like Catherine’s to facilitate the exploration of the seductive, the insidious, the pernicious. Our writers were briefed to each explore a “pernicious idea” of their choice. We defined a “pernicious idea” as a way of looking at the world that initially appeals to us because it appears helpful and positive, but which ultimately just adds to the sum of human misery.
Despite our borrowings, there’s nothing religious about this show; we simply hope it’s an entertaining invitation to examine the stories we tell ourselves and the ideas we hold. Because all that glitters……
NOTES FROM THE WRITERS
Shauntelle Benjamin - The Elephant
My piece is based on the somewhat (ha) turbulent experience of 2020 from the perspective of a black person. Inspired by two different conversations the playwright had in a short period of time with the same person; one suggested that the world simply is as it is while the other suggested the world is in flux (lucky us!). Since those are opposing statements that seem to be accepting of or tantamount to “there’s nothing we can do to change it”,
The Elephant aims to show, not change - after all, if we live in a time of change, we don’t need to do anything to make it so, do we?
Performed by Olivia Suleimon, Zachary Bush and the ensemble.
Mark Langham - Numb
In the UK, the 1979 General Election saw Thatcher take power. Fun times. It was also the first election in which I took part - I turned 18 three weeks prior. The starting point for this piece was my delayed reaction to my Mum, a smart, intelligent and fierce woman, telling me that she would wait to hear my Dad's thoughts before deciding how to cast her vote. I couldn't process that and still can't. It changed, as these things tend to do, into a look at what we are willing to give up for perceptions of safety. It seems to me, from Thatcher to Trump, the answer might be far more than we would imagine.
Performed by Zoë Crawford and Sarah Furnari.
Melita Rowston - The Golden Drop
A pernicious idea: There is no love as pure, unconditional and strong as a mother's love. We think of a mother’s love for her child as sacred. Social expectations that motherhood is natural and joyful can make a new mother feel she’s damaging her child. Isolation, poverty, violence, and substance abuse can nudge her over the edge... In 1894, Jeanne Weber was acquitted of murdering her three-month-old son Marcel Jean in Paris’s
La Goutte d'Or (The Golden Drop). The notion that a woman could murder her child was too difficult for 19th century Parisian law to bear. Jeanne would go on to kill ten more children. During my 2019 five-week residency in Paris, I became fascinated with Jeanne’s story and wrote responsively to my immersion in La Goutte d'Or. In embodying her story, I aimed to open up more questions than provide answers.
Performed by Sonya Kerr, Cormac Costello and the ensemble.
Peter Maple - (UNLESS YOU) PUKE, FAINT(, OR) DIE(…)
It's often not just the idea itself... It's often how the idea is framed or delivered too. Ultimately though, and perhaps most importantly, it's how the idea is processed or received. Welcome to a World of Sayings - that both Motivate and Attack - if you let them. "The most important thing in communication, is to hear what isn't being said"... CONSUME AT YOUR OWN PERIL...
Performed by Demitra Sealy, Michael Smith and Esther Williams.
Catherine Zimdahl - The Family Name
The Family Name focusses on the idea that capitalism is ever-evolving into a higher more humane force for good.
Performed by Cormac Costello, Demitra Sealy and Michael Smith.
ABOUT THE CAST
Zachary Bush is an actor, director, writer and producer. Born in Newcastle, he moved to Sydney to complete Law at UNSW. Whilst finishing, he became the President of the Theatre Society (NUTS) and hosted his own radio programme ‘Love Song Decimations.’ Training at ACA (Grad. 2020), he performed as Moritz in Spring Awakening (dir. Sarah Carradine), Ned in The Normal Heart (dir. Troy Harrison) Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost (dir. Jen West), Algernon in Earnest (dir. Maeliosa Stafford) and Jeff in Lobby Hero (dir. Anthony Gooley). In 2021 he performed as both Viola & Sebastian in Virginia Plain’s Twelfth Night. He made his directorial debut with 4:48 Psychosis (2019), and works as the producer of physical theatre group Ninefold, and queer musical theatre group Acoustic Theatre Troupe. Acoustic’s musical Ugly Love, will be shown at Flight Path this October.
Cormac Costello is from Cork, Ireland and trained at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin. His most recent appearances on Sydney stage were in Minding Madness at the Big Dwarf, Next Fall at the Seymour Centre and The Big Meal at the Depot Theatre (now Flightpath). He previously worked with subtlenuance last year at the Old 505 Theatre as Michael in Paul Gilchrist’s Life is Impossible. He has appeared and toured Ireland many times for Cork Opera House, Everyman Theatre, Graffiti Theatre, Island theatre and the Gaiety Theatre amongst others. He toured the phenomenally successful Alone it Stands to Australia from Ireland in 2003. Film/TV credits: in Australia, Scottie in the award winning series on the Granville disaster, Day of the Roses, Kings in Grass Castles, Cody, Big Sky, Bordertown and for Paramount Pictures, Chameleon.
Zoë Crawford is originally from Victoria; Zoë completed a BA (Acting) at Ballarat Arts Academy, before going on to do further study in creative writing at the University of Melbourne. Her Victorian theatre credits include Killing Game (Baker’s Dozen), Morning Sacrifice (White Oak Theatre), Single Admissions (Milkbar Productions), and Love and Information (NIDA Open). After taking some time off to travel and teach drama in North America, Zoë has since become a Sydney local, and is loving being an active member of the NSW acting scene. Her NSW theatre credits include: The Ghost Train (Genesian Theatre), The Female of the Species (Lane Cove), A Delicate Balance (Sydney Classic Theatre), All’s Well That Ends Well / Julius Caesar (Bard on the Beach), and Animal Farm (New Theatre). Zoë is beyond thrilled that the theatre and performance industries are opening up again, and is very thankful to all those who support independent theatre at this time.
Sarah Furnari is a Sydney-based actor, singer, dancer and writer. Her recent theatre credits include Little Miss Sunshine as Miss California for New Theatre, A Midsummer Night's Dream as Hermia and Peta Quince for Fingerless Theatre, Pygmalion where she played the lead role of Eliza Doolittle for Riverside, and Not at the Dinner Table, which she co-created for Short Poppy Theatre and Sydney Fringe and performed to sold-out houses. She has also toured regional Australia extensively as a lead company member for Gibber Theatre in Education. Screen credits include Estelle in Australian Feature Film Chasing Comets, and a leading role in Sunday Night Takeaway's "Undercover" segment with Julia Morris. Sarah is a graduate of the University of Wollongong's Bachelor of Creative Arts (Performance) course and has studied with AMAW (Anthony Meindl Actor Workshop) Sydney and Improv Theatre Sydney (ITS).
Sonya Kerr is a professionally trained actress based in Sydney, Australia, and a proud member of MEAA. Some of her leading theatre roles include: Jeanne Christie (In Their Footsteps - Australian Premiere); WPC Parker/Hilary Creek (The Angry Brigade
Australian Premiere); Ivy Weston (August: Osage County); Titania (A Midsummer Night's Dream); Catherine Winslow (The Winslow Boy); Lady Macbeth (Macbeth); The Bride (Blood Wedding); Anna (Closer); and Annie (Wolfboy). She also had leading roles in the world premieres of Seed Bomb for subtlenuance and Appropriation for Fledgling Theatre Company. Sonya is proud to be working with subtlenuance once again to bring life to another new work. Sonya's love for screen performance has found an outlet through a broad range of short film projects and several feature films and she also had the privilege of working with Bus Stop Films on the award winning Work Mate and Heartbreak & Beauty.
Demitra Sealy is an award- winning actor, comedian & script doctor. She is best known for her work in feature film Debt Collectors (Netflix Trending Top 5), her sketch comedy collaboration (670k Subscribers) and five seasons as a host of Foxtel’s award-winning Meraki TV. One of her proudest achievements is the short film Euphoria which was shortlisted for The Horizon Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, in which she not only starred but also took on the roles of director, producer and editor. In the theatre, Demitra has worked as an actor and creative for Q Theatre, ATYP, the Hayes Theatre, Bell Shakespeare and an array independent Australian companies, as well as multiple off-Broadway productions and with the Actors Studio in New York. In 2020 Demitra was selected as a finalist for Warner Bros. TV's "Actors in Training" casting initiative from thousands of applicants worldwide. She has a bachelors from AADA and further training with The Actors Studio, Upright Citizens Brigade, Bell Shakespeare and Playwriting Australia.
Michael Smith is a Charles Sturt University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts – Acting (Screen & Stage) where he completed his studies with Distinction. Originally from Junee, Michael moved to Sydney in 2012 and has since worked consistently across film, television, commercial, and independent theatre. Michael has studied at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City, and also possesses a Masters of Teaching, which he occasionally uses to imbue in the next generation a hunger for acting or an analytical eye for dramatic text. Select theatre credits include Twelfth Night: Heads or Tails (Virginia Plain Theatre); Love + Information (SUDS); Three Days of Rain (SUDS); Shut Up and Drive; or Sex, Liberty and the Automobile (subtlenuance / KXT); The Voices Project: Between Us (ATYP); 1790 (Monkey Baa Theatre); Rebels with a Cause (NIDA); and Alarum (Sydney Fringe Festival).
Olivia Suleimon is a multidisciplinary actor, model, film-maker and DJ. Olivia is currently the resident DJ on ABC’s TV show The Set. In 2020, Olivia was the recipient for ABC’s Fresh Start fund, in which she made her debut as a Creator/Director on a digital series about Black hair and the African Australian experience titled, Rosaline’s Untaming. As a model Olivia has appeared in numerous TV commercials which soon sparked her interest in furthering her screen art skills and began studying The Meisner Technique at The Actors Door Studio, London in 2019. Olivia’s keen interest in all things film, led her to work for renowned documentarian Nick Broomfield as a researcher and production assistant on BBC films, My Father & Me and Last Man Standing: Suge Knight & the Murders of Biggie & Tupac. Since working for Broomfield, Olivia has gone on to produce, write and direct on projects for Lad Bible, about race in Australia, as well as festival content for the African Music & Cultural festival in Melbourne.
Esther Williams graduated from Excelsia College in 2020 with a Bachelor of Dramatic Art. She has taken on the role of Ariel in The Tempest (2018), Wendy in The Lost Boys (2018), Sarah in Clinchfield (2017) and has been cast in a number of roles in Excelsia College productions such as Shorts (2017), The Combined Show (2019) and her one-woman show The Colored Museum (2019), which she self-directed and staged. Her latest short film credit is Standby by Michael McLennan which won Best Drama Film in the European Awards. Esther has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of subtlenuance's production Morning Star and is thrilled to be another voice for diversity in this thought-provoking play.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
Shauntelle Benjamin (they/she) is a British born actor, writer, and singer. Spanning classical, devised and previously unperformed works, Shauntelle appeared in The Book of Mormon (GFO – Sydney and National Tour); Avenue Q (Monsta); the Bell Shakespeare Players (2014); Hero and Companion Piece (Glorious Thing), semi-biographical piece And Now To Bed (subtlenuance); How to Lose Sight (Shh.); A Quiet Night in Rangoon (subtlenuance); Rosalind in As You Like It (Siren Theatre Co.) and the title role in Antigone in London’s East End (Woodhouse Players).
In film, they appeared as one of the children of the Harry Potter world in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.). When not on stage, Shauntelle is a psychologist working towards a Clinical PhD (one clawing step at a time), a tabletop narrative writer and game designer, playwright and actual play roleplayer using games to tell impactful stories. She thanks her husband Liam and dog Puck for all their love and support. You can find examples of their narrative writing and musings on their site: www.wordswithcolour.com, and catch up with them on twitter @Shauntelleb
Originally from the UK, Mark has been acting professionally for almost 40 years. His first play Nothing won the 2011 National One Act Play competition and 2012 Dolphin Theatre, Auckland, One Act Play of the Year. His play, The Bench, won the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers One Act Play competition in September 2013. He won again in 2014 with Circus which was also shortlisted for the Write Angles/Southend International Writers Festival in UK. Mark’s play Amanda premiered by Old Monk Productions at the Tap Gallery in May 2014 and was re-staged by New Theatre as part of the Sydney Fringe in the same year. Life after Pablo was staged by RGP Productions, in 2015, underneath the State Theatre. He wrote for subtlenuance’s 2014 project High Windows Low Doorways and the 2015 sequel And Now to Bed. In 2017 Brave New Word Theatre Co. premiered his piece Big Crow at the Actor’s Pulse in Sydney. We are the Himalayas was the second of his works to be premiered by Brave New Word, at New Blood Theatre in July 2019. This play was shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwrighting Award, 2018. Most recently Mark’s play Water was staged at the New Blood Theatre by Where’s Harold? in November 2019. Both We are the Himalayas and Water were published by Australian Plays in 2019.
Peter is an award-winning writer, actor, producer, director working across film, TV, radio, stage, online, and for the written word. He holds a Bachelor of Performance from Theatre Nepean (Western Sydney University); and a Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance) from the National Institute of Dramatic Art. Based in Sydney’s Western Suburbs, Peter has particular expertise in exploring questions of (mental) health and society. His recent new Australian plays include: White Whales (Inner West Council’s Site and Sound Arts Festival Leichardt, development season and public Q&A sessions, 2017) Beast. Belly. Beast. (Old 505 Theatre’s FreshWorks program, directed by Kim Hardwick, 2018), Little Girl Lost (development, Company of Rogues, with support via an Inner West Council Art and Culture Grant and the City of Sydney’s Matching Grant and Venue Support initiatives, 2019) and most recently, GINGER. BLACK. BRUNETTE. BLONDE. (development residency EDGE Sydenham with the support of Inner West Council, produced new Fringe HQ – Level Up! directed by Simon Thomson, 2019) Other recent credits include the 2018 short film Parked, directed by Marcus Graham, as writer; the 2017 award-winning short film Legacy, as lead actor, writer, director, and producer; and the award-winning 2016 feature film Dead Sunrise, as lead actor, co-writer, and co-producer. See online www.petermaple.com
Melita is a writer, director, painter, and performer. She’s a graduate of UTS (MA-Creative Writing), NIDA (Grad Dip-Directing), VCA (BFA-Painting). Recent credits: Cockroach (Writer/Director, New Zealand Fringe ’20, Adelaide Fringe ’19, Melbourne Fringe ’18, Sydney Fringe ’18), Between the Streetlight and The Moon, (Writer, KXT ’17), Ljubicica: Wild Violet (Writer/Director, Casula Powerhouse ’17, Melbourne Cabaret Festival ’16, Winner BEST MUSIC Sydney Fringe ‘15), THE GIANT WORM SHOW! (Writer/Performer, Winner Adelaide Fringe Artist Fund Award, Adelaide Fringe ‘17, Sydney Fringe ‘16), 6 Degrees of Ned Kelly, (Writer/Performer, ‘This is About’ ABC RN ’17, Adelaide Fringe ‘16, Sydney Fringe ‘15, Melbourne Fringe ‘15), Canyonlands (High Windows Low Doorways, subtlenuance ‘14), Hey! Yeah! It’s Molly’s Travelling Worm Show! (Writer/Performer, Malthouse Theatre ’13). Her other produced plays include: Crushed (New Theatre-Spare Room), Sugarbomb (TRS), Solitude in Blue (Griffin),
Swing Girl (Griffin). She’s performed her poetry in London, Paris, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, and Byron. melitarowston.com
Catherine’s plays include The Cold Spell, Deviant Art for the Degenerate, A Day Too Great, HereNowThenThere, Clark in Sarajevo, Family Running for Mr Whippy, Left Breathless a Question, The Fox, A World into A Child, A Child into the World and Moonfleet. Her plays have been produced around Australia by the Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, the Griffin Theatre Company, Windmill National Children’s Theatre and ABC Radio, amongst others. Awards include Griffin Playwriting Award, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, New Dramatists Exchange and AACTA Awards for Best Short Film and Best Screenplay. Catherine studied screenwriting at the Australian, Film, Television and Radio School where she was the recipient of the Qantas Travel Award graduate prize. Her play Gifted has received dramaturgical and workshop support through Playwriting Australia’s Duologue Program. Catherine is also a visual artist currently at work on both her series of abstract paintings and
The Insomnia Experiment (installation).
ABOUT THE CREATIVES
Paul Gilchrist – Director
Paul is a writer and director, and co-founder of subtlenuance. The plays he has written and directed include Blind Tasting [Old 505, Ensemble, Canberra Theatre, Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Fringe]; All the Difference [Old 505]; Joan Again [Old Fitz]; Cristina in the Cupboard [TAP]; Life Is Impossible [Old 505 Theatre]; Live a Little [KXT PopUpstairs]; A Thing of Beauty [Old Fitz]; Catherine at Avignon [TAP]; and Shut Up And Drive (with Daniela Giorgi) [KXT]. He has also directed TickTickBoom by Melissa Lee Speyer [Actor’s Pulse]; Seed Bomb and The Poor Kitchen [Old 505] and Talc [TAP] by Daniela Giorgi; A Quiet Night in Rangoon by Katie Pollock [New Theatre]; Losing You (Twice) by Kate O’Keeffe [King Street Theatre]; and various multi-playwright projects including The Political Hearts of Children, High Windows Low Doorways and And Now To Bed.
Kate Wooden - Assistant Director
Kate is a developing director in Sydney and has loved the opportunity to work alongside Paul and shape these theatrically playful yet incredibly introspective pieces on the duality of storytelling. This year Kate has assisted Lights in the Park alongside Lucy Clements with Australian Theatre for Young People as well as directing One is Road a part of Short and Sweet 2021. She has also a member of the devising based Harness Ensemble at Shopfront Arts Co-Op, ATYPicals and the Upstage Club at Riverside Paramatta where she has had the opportunity to work alongside Sydney based directors and creatives. Kate has recently finished an internship at ATYP in Creative Arts Management and has had previous work experience with STC. Kate is currently enrolled in the BA at The University of Sydney majoring in Anthropology and Theatre Studies.
Artie Hotchkies - Lighting Designer
Artie is a third year university student undertaking a Bachelor of Communications (Theatre/Media) at CSU, with a focus on Lighting Design and Operation. She has a decade of acting and ensemble experience with Hunter Drama, and is co-founder of the multi-award winning production company the moon, the martyr, & the tree. Her most recent credits include Live a Little (subtlenuance) Life is Impossible (subtlenuance), WYRD: Season of the Witch (Ninefold), Plumberman 2519: The Musical (BrotherJack Productions), Duckpond (Thirty Five Square), forget me not (Paper Moon), Seed Bomb (subtlenuance), The Swanmaidens (Hunter & Sammler), and Tomorrow & Tomorrow & Tomorrow (When The Film Began) (the moon, the martyr, & the tree).
Tom Massey - Stage Manager
Tom trained at the Australian Academy of Dramatic Arts in the late 90's and at Atlantic Acting School in NYC in 2012, in addition to multiple short courses over the years. He has worked in all aspects of theatre both on and off stage. Tom appeared as Bridey in the Australian premiere of Parsley's adaptation of Brideshead Revisted for RGP. Recent stage appearances include Andrey in Three Sisters and Sir Walter in Persuasion for the Genesian Theatre. As a Stage Manager Tom has worked with a number of independent companies including subtlenuance, Sure Foot, Eclective, Pacific Opera, and the New Theatre. For the Genesian Theatre he has directed six productions including a highly successful Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) which toured to the Theatre Royal Hobart and the recent follow up earlier this year William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (Abridged). Tom is a member of MEAA / Equity.
A Special Thankyou to:
Kate Bookallil and Siobhan Lawless at Flight Path Theatre,
Kabuku PR, The Genesian Theatre, Susan Carveth, Maria Giorgi, SUDS
and a huge thanks to you, our audiences,
who make independent theatre possible.
And if you enjoyed the First Horn of Morning Star,
you might want to come back next week and see the Second Horn.
The plays are not connected except that they both explore a series of pernicious ideas.
Second Horn (30 June – 4 July)
Written by Donna Abela, John AD Fraser, Callum McLean, Roslyn Hicks and Kel Vance
Performed by Georgia Britt, Garreth Cruikshank, Nyssa Hamilton, Richard Holborn,
Simon Lee, Susie Lindeman, Linda Nicholls-Gidley, Eli Saad and Dominic Stone
Directed by Daniela Giorgi
Assistant Director Kobi Taylor-Forder
Stage Manager Tom Massey
Lighting Design Artie Hotchkies