Monday, 19 August 2019

Creatures Lost - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Winners of Best Cabaret at the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Picked Last For Sport are back with a brand new show on animals and the environment. Moving away from the ocean theme of their original show, Creatures of the Deep, Creatures Lost focuses on highlighting the impact that humans have had on extinct animals and the need to look after and respect them as much as we do each other. 

Founded by Ryan Smith and Sarah Wall, Picked Last For Sport's exploration of sustainability and environmental issues extends beyond their content. The company only sources their costumes and props from recyclables and up-cycled materials, which has given them more freedom and creativity with their productions. "We pride ourselves on producing sustainable theatre so all our props and costumes come from recyclables and upcycled materials. It can be challenging at times when it would be easier to head to Kmart, but problem solving and figuring out how to make something out of what you’ve got is half the fun," they tell me. "It forces us to think outside the box and be more inventive in the way we represent the animals. In a lot of ways the restrictions make the show so much better by forcing you to consider things you never would have thought of. A director once told me that if you could have everything you wanted for your show with no compromises it would probably not be very good, and there’s a lot of truth in that. Also, Savers is a life saver!"

Indeed the way that animals were presented in Creatures of the Deep were a constant surprise, particularly in how well they managed to convey the individual personalities of the sea creatures. While audiences can expect to be impressed once again by the costumes, the company are not revealing much on what animals we will meet in Creatures Lost. "I guess the only definitive clue we’ll give is that we will discuss animals that are either extinct or could one day go extinct, so it is only animals that have ever lived on Earth at one point or another. We’re looking at a completely different range of animals. We are also experimenting further with puppets and puppetry, which is exciting. Guess that narrows it down quite a bit doesn’t it? "

The creative process for Picked Last For Sport is shared between the ensemble members with all of them providing input into its construction. "Generally we have a big brainstorm about the animals we’d like to write about. In this instance, we wanted to work in a timeline so naturally we started with the dinosaurs. We also think about the feel or the character of that animal to help shape the song," they explain. "For example, we knew we wanted a dodo song and after researching them discovered they were kind of dopey, friendly birds and wanted to convey that in the song. That was actually the first song we wrote for Creatures Lost and is still the silliest and funniest one we have".

"One of our other cast members - Sean Sully - is an amazing song writer so we will often handball an idea to him, like the raptor rap that Ryan wrote that Sean then added the beat and music to. It is a team effort and we encourage all members to contribute. Once all the songs are written we start piecing them with the connecting material and interludes and that's when it all begins to come together."

The company ensures their work is of the highest possible calibre with a sure-fire way of knowing when their show is ready for an audience. "It's usually when we’re sick of it! When we have rehearsed it so much that we’re ready to move on, that's when it’s done," they say. "But definitely when the songs start running through your head day and night that they’re driving you crazy you know you need to share them with others before you go mad."

Even with the critical acclaim received for their debut show, the nerves remain for the company as the Creatures Lost opening night nears. "It’s always nerve wracking putting out new content and not knowing how it will be received. But building an audience is about riding on the back of the last thing you created and saying “the same people who brought you this awesome experience you enjoyed are back with a new one”," they tell me. "One great thing about reviews be it positive or negative feedback is that you can use that to decipher what is working and what isn’t. We got so much positive feedback on our vocal arrangements and harmonies in Creature of the Deep, so you can bet that will be a constant going forward with any new cabaret we create. But we hope we will have also created something new and exciting that people haven’t seen before." 

FIVE QUICKIES

1.    If you had to name your child after a vegetable what would it be?
Asparagus.
2.    Which reality TV show would you most like to appear/compete on?
Anything narrated by David Attenborough (that’s kind of reality TV).
3.    A movie that sums up my life is ... at the moment I would say Land before Time. We’re a bit too cute to be Jurassic Park.
4.    What's the one thing that happened during a show you were involved with that you wish you could forget?
I think when the Age Newspaper wrote in a review that whilst we sing beautifully “we’re not much to look at”.
5.    Art is a form of education and communication.

SHOW DETAILS

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season:
16 - 22 September | 7:00pm 
Length:
60 minutes 
Tickets:
$35 Full | $31 Conc | $28 Group 6+
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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