Language no barrier to art
DIRECTORS of the Mt Molloy-based Centre for Australasian Theatre (CfAT), Catherine ‘Cat’ Hassall and Guillaume ‘Willem’ Brugman, have an affinity with the Far North.
Late last decade, Willem and Cat were invited to establish a theatrical ensemble by Diane Cilento at her Karnak Playhouse just north of Mossman. This venture had barely got off the ground when their patron took sick and subsequently passed away.
Prior to this introduction to this region, Cat and Willem had worked in Sydney and regional New South Wales and Victoria, helping the development of theatrical groups in their quest for discovery and growth.
“After leading a somewhat nomadic existence along the east coast of Australia, and spending some time at Karnak, we knew that this area was where we could enjoy the values of the land, giving us and our audiences emancipation from the city – and vice versa,” Willem said.
The style of performance presented by CfAT is called Devised Theatre where the script originates more from the actors than from a writer.
“Through this type of performance we provide the opportunity for young actors to train with experienced performers,” he said.
The company has staged a range of shows over recent years in Cairns, and their Cargo Club cabaret was performed at Julatten two weeks ago.
“We were invited to put Cargo Club on in Brisbane earlier this year and we were humbled by the excellent reviews,” Willem said. “Because it is a devised show, each performance is different but always entertaining.”
CfAT draws talent from all cultures and often some of the dialogue is spoken in other languages.
“We include actors from Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, PNG and of course from our own indigenous community,” Willem said.
“And even though some of the dialogue is in a foreign language, the audience pretty well knows what is being said.”
Costumes for CfAT are created by one of Australia’s most renowned fashion designers, Linda Jackson.
“When we settled in Far North Queensland, many of our associates said why not move back to Sydney or Melbourne,” Willem said, “but we asked ourselves why would we do that with all the theatrical politics, noise and people.
“We believe we can have an impact on theatre right here – with new formats and subject matter with a synthesis of occidental, oriental and indigenous traditions.
“We are planning to build a studio and production centre in Mt Molloy for study in intercultural theatre,” Willem said.
Cargo Club cabaret was performed in Julatten recently