Words by Nathan King
Ahead of what will be a busy Fringe season starhearART Theatre founder Laura Colella spoke about their new show ‘After Dinner’ as well as the production of their debut feature film.
So what is the back story to starhearART Theatre?
Well I started starhearART Theatre back in 2015 and I just began it to give opportunities to up and coming artists, because I didn’t want to wait for opportunities to come to me I guess.
How has it been so far?
Really good so far. We have been able to give jobs to about 15 students within the art field, both on and off stage, last year we had a sell-out season during the Fringe with our show, which was our first Fringe as well. We managed to tour it and take it to the Melbourne Fringe festival as well, and now we are putting on a comedy for this year's Fringe, because last year’s show was quite dark.
So for the new show ‘After Dinner’ what was your role in its construction?
Well ‘After Dinner was in fact written by a South Australian playwright called Andrew Bovell and I play one of the leads called Paula, so I’m acting and producing the play. I’m also in charge of much of the admin as well.
What was the initial spark to get the production happening?
Well after our last show ‘The Boys’, which was based on the Anita Cobby murder in New South Wales, we wanted to show that we could do a range of different things. We wanted to show we could do more than just dramatic acting, that we could also venture into comedy as well. A couple of the original members and I were just looking around for plays and then ‘After Dinner’ came up, we still needed another actor so we put up a casting call and we have a 18 year old whom is the youngest actor we have ever had at starhearART Theatre. He has so much talent as well, so we were thinking we need to give him the chance so he can showcase what he can really do. Obviously everyone who has been involved with starhearART Theatre could not be involved with the show because it’s impossible to have that many people. So we did casting, held auditions and now we are in the late stages of rehearsal and finalising things. We have two new directors for this show and it’s also their directorial debut, so it’s all happening.
In regards to the show, how does it feel creatively in comparison to previous productions of starhearART?
Well I would say both shows have been great to be a part of, it’s a great environment to be in when everyone involved wants to be there, wants to be in the industry and looking for experience. This show, apart from being a comedy and thus it’s not bringing you down every rehearsal, is also set in the 80’s - so it’s good to experience another era that none of us were alive for. So being an actor we had to do copious amounts of research into the 80’s so that we can fully amerce and make our characters as realistic as possible. That’s been a challenge, but it’s also been quite a creatively fun thing to research.
How is it running a show during Fringe time compared to out of season shows?
Fringe is such a great facility for South Australia because our Fringe is the second biggest Fringe in the world and the biggest in the southern hemisphere. So it’s a great opportunity to take part in because usually throughout the year, unless you do regularly see theatre, not as many people with go see your show. During Fringe people are looking for something new, their happy with spending a bit more money especially around the Garden. Plus who doesn’t love going out, seeing friends and heading down to a show. It’s such a great format for artists of any type to take advantage of as it is one of Adelaide’s biggest attractions. We much prefer to put on shows during Fringe time in Adelaide, whilst when we go to Melbourne there doesn't seem to be as much of a Fringe scene, though perhaps that's because they do have a larger art scene all year 'round.
I believe starhearART Theatre is also in the production stages of your first film, what could you tell me about that endeavour?
It is a horror film and the reasoning behind that is because a horror film is probably one of the easiest films to produce on a small budget, we are hoping to crowd fund so fingers crossed on that. We have someone creating an original score for the film, so that will showcase him and what he can do. We are trying to get as many people involved as possible so each person can not only learn how to work with themselves and a team, but also to get people out there as artists. Everyone that’s on board including our camera team, behind the scenes staff and others are all volunteers, they are people who are or have been students who go for these kinds of jobs, but they are turned down because they require experience. It’s one of those dead end things where you need experience, but you can’t get experience. Even our script writer has never written a film before so this is a way to give these people a chance to present their talents as artists and to also create something entertaining and scary for the audience.
There seems to be a rise in independent ‘slasher’ genre cinema in Australia, would this film fit into this genre of film-making?
If we were to put it in any category it would be a ‘cleaver slasher’ as it’s not just about a psychopath going crazy and killing a bunch of people. There is something thought out and logical behind every single move. I’m a big fan of horror movies and I don’t get scared easily, so I told our script writer to make this scary enough that I’m afraid so that it has meaning, rather than just mindless mayhem. Without giving much of the plot away it’s a very clever film, not to compare it to this film, but it’s similar in tone to Shutter Island in how everything leads to one moment.
After Dinner with be performed on February 23 till 26 at 7:30pm with a matinee at 2pm on the 26 February at the Blind Tyger Bar at The Ambassadors Hotel.