Writer, Director and Actor: Gemma Flannery

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We asked Gemma Flannery some questions about her upcoming show at the Gasworks Theatre for the Melbourne Fringe and her course Devising Drama.


  • Tell us about yourself?

I am originally from the North of England and have always had a passion for the stage, from my first-weekend drama class to commit to the degree at University!

I studied on a fabulous course that specialised in Devising Theatre and was lucky enough to work with some fantastic practitioners and artists, all our teachers were working in the industry or had been, including one from the Wooster Group, an experimental theatre company out of the states were Willem Dafoe and Steve Buscemi started out in a garage!

We studied different techniques, from Stanislavski to Grotowski and looking at different performance strategies, devising techniques, contemporary texts of which there is a wealth of in the UK with the Sarah Kane’s to the Mike Bartlett’s as well as worldwide texts.

From this we learnt how to structure and create our own work, we learnt everything from lighting to set design and creating immersive performances and learning how to function as a theatre company, and we started nowhere else but the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with our first show as 13Theatre.

Since graduating, I have continued to work as an Actor for a while, based in Manchester and then went back to writing. I missed the creative part, and although I worked on some fabulous shows giving me opportunities in the USA, London and Manchester, I still had the need for expression!

I started to write short pieces, I learnt and performed my own stand up comedy (that was scary!)

And I eventually entered my work to competitions, which led me to develop my first one-act play Digging Deep, this toured in the UK just before I left for Australia and I performed and produced it in Perth as part of Fringe world.

In Australia, my path led me to… The Bush! I ended up in the Kimberly region at a resort very Faraway and to ensure my visa to stay I became the Manager, Chef and Tour guide including becoming a trained skipper!

This was truly amazing and has given me great inspiration, however, was a slight detour, so now, firmly based in Melbourne, I am raring to get back to my roots.

I have developed my skills in Film and working on camera for the industry here and am developing a web series as well as pursuing my theatrical passions.

  • Tell us a bit about your latest project?

This is my Devising Drama Course, this is such an exciting process for artists and one that not everyone gets to experience depending on what path they go down, as to find a group to work with, come up with ideas and get it all together can be difficult.

Therefore, I would like to pass on what I learnt, and work as the Teacher and Director to facilitate actors in their abilities to be creative with their ideas and chose how to showcase themselves.

This is talked about non-stop in the industry – know your brand, be creative!

As we continue into the digital era, self-tapes are now the norm, in these tapes which actors now record and send in, Casting directors are looking for actors who know themselves, who know how to make choices and interesting ones.

They can do as many takes as they like, so they really should play and explore, but some of us are just not confident or in the know of how to do that!

  • Was there an inspiration behind it?

The title for the show – Make your Move, is about ceasing the day, making those bold choices and sometimes taking a leap of faith into the unknown and you never know where that might take you.

If you had told me 10 years ago that this girl from Blackburn who was auditioning for Coronation Street would be taking people fishing in the Kimberley and then living in Melbourne – I couldn’t have believed it!

I am an emotional soul, I love to laugh, I love to cry, I believe a piece of theatre, or film or Tv that stands out, is something that can do all of these, I like to find those gems in life that celebrate the highs and lows.

A beautiful film moment for me and one of the inspirational actors of our time is the scene in The Bridges over Madison County, where Meryl Streep “Francesca” has her hand on the car door, debating whether to leave…

  • Is there a particular ode/maxim/principle that you reference when creating?

Speak from your truth, we are so unique as individuals, so use this!

Our life stories and personal experiences are usually enough drama in our everyday lives. In regards to performance, I like to explore a few different ways to approach work, however, I believe this is down to the individual, and all I need as an audience member is to believe you and to be engaged, however you got there, is your journey.

There are so many methods and practices out there, it can be confusing, I have never followed one method, however, I have undertaken a lot of training in which I can take from each one.

  • If you could collaborate with any artist, who’d it be?

Oooh collaborate – it would probably be an amazing writer, and there are so many, as much as I love my playwrights, I love the writing that is coming out on these amazing dramas like West Wing, the Sopranos and Breaking Bad, those that use the writers room theory – which is like the devising process, why use one brain when you can have 10? In that process they discuss, what happens next, and they go through so many options until they find the gold.

  • Do you have any strange practices to help you create – music, mood, superstitions?

Watching inspirational Film, Tv and Theatre help – I want to write so fast sometimes that I can’t even read my own writing! And music, this is such an instant connection that people can make in just a few minutes that taps them into an emotion or back to a place and that is a very powerful tool.

Wine can help too – I remember a workshop with Writer and Actor Kate Mulvany in which she was once advised to do a rewrite after a glass of wine!

  • What would you change about the industry?

Well – it is changing, I would say, open the doors a little more, but it is great to see that more and more actors, are becoming writers and producers and making their own work and getting that recognised, there have been a few successes’ recently in Melbourne that are now on Netflix and getting recognised by the TV channels.

What I would like is for people to not take advantage of actors – it happens less and less now, but is hard for people starting out when its daunting and they are not sure what they need to do.

The Biz Book created by Casting director Mel Mackintosh is a great example of a casting director becoming approachable and offering advice. She created an awesome online industry resource directory for actors which is a fantastic place to get all your industry info!

  • Where can we see your show?

It will be on at the Gasworks Theatre for the Melbourne Fringe – this is a fantastic venue, I performed there last year as part of Play six Festival, they are very supportive of artists and its close to the city and beautiful studio with all new dressing rooms!

INFORMATION TO POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS

I am so excited to be launching this, being part of a festival is a great experience, and devising and creating your own work, is extra special to feel an ownership as an Artist.

About Me

I am working on a few projects this year and am excited to be directing Cracked Smiles at Chapel off Chapel as well as this exciting course!

Although I am still working as a writer and actor, I am so passionate about my teaching and directing and I love working with actors or non-actors and being able to draw out the creative mind and talents that are there waiting to be explored!

Outcomes

For this course, is to work on group work skills and ensemble performance of collaborative ideas under a director, advancing individual performance skills and identifying the key brands and characters that you lend your self well to, learning logistics on how to produce and create work for Fringe and building confidence in performing on stage by exploring the variety of performance strategies and what works best for each individuals.

Approach

We will be using contemporary texts and styles of writing to learn how to create our own dialogues and characters, there will also be opportunities for one to one

I studied a variety of practitioners and acting methods and still continue to study, these will be introduced in the classes, however I feel this is very selective to the individual and will use these as offerings and examples of how to explore working in different ways to find what is right for you.

The Show – MAKE YOUR MOVE

The concept for this is to look at those Life defining moments.

When you wanted to hand in your notice, walk out of the relationship that you just couldn’t take anymore, walk back in a door with hope that your dreams can come true.

When have we experienced those moments? Did we take Action? What are the consequences?

Taking a leap of faith can be the hardest thing we do, but also the most life changing inspirational moment in our life.

In the process we will explore stories and create characters on journeys that will make us laugh or cry as we provide our audience with those inspirational heart-wrenching moments – making them question, is it time to Make your Move?

Fringe Blurb

It’s pouring with rain, the lights on green, but no one moves, Francesca has her hand on the car door, does she stay, or does she go? Let us decide…

It’s those heart wrenching defining moments that could change your life forever.

Watch a variety of stories unfold that will inspire, delight, and ask yourself…Is it time to Make your Move?

 

When and Where

The classes take place at Blank Canvas Working Space, 82 Acland St, St Kilda, Tuesdays 7:30 – 9:30pm.

1st Block: 5th June – 10th July (6 Weeks) 

2nd Block: 24th July – 28th August (6 Weeks) 

3rd Block – Directing Intensive 

September: 16 hours, days to be confirmed W/C  – 3rd and 10th September

DRESS REHEARSAL/TECH – Monday 17th September 1 – 5pm

PERFORMANCE DATES 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd September – 7pm Onwards

https://www.facebook.com/events/227337034683283/

Check out the event on Facebook and get in touch for information on how to sign up.

Immersedrama@outlook.com

Gemma Flannery 

TEL 045609071

 


 

 

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