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March 7, 2021

From the Heart

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My Radio Heart is NORPA’s new homegrown play coproduced with Sydney’s Urban Theatre Projects, featuring Tralala Blip, a northern rivers-based mixed-abilities electronic music ensemble. Show director Rose Dennis spoke with The Echo. 

Can you tell me a little about the concept for My Radio Heart ?

On the one hand it’s a show about a young man who’s lost his entire family and recreates a virtual world, replete with avatars with individual missions, as a kind of escape. The audience is never told explicitly how he lost his family – but it is clear that he is on his own.

On another level the show is a social comment on our fascination with the virtual space as a space to connect and form relationships.

On another level it’s about waiting for someone to love.

It’s nonlinear, so audiences are invited and encouraged to form their interpretations of the work.

Why have you chosen to explore love?

When I joined the project my first creative conversation with Tralala Blip band members was about how we meet someone to love.

Can you tell me how you have integrated the work of Lawrence English, Randolf Reimann and Sam James in the show?

For My Radio Heart Sam and I have worked quite closely developing the visual worlds that manifest as a three-channel video projection surrounding the stage and performers. The visuals are integral to the storytelling of the show, so we have been back and forth on and off for about nine months to get the right aesthetic.

All the music/sound used in the show has somehow been sparked by Tralala Blip. Randolf has worked with the band to compose melodies for the songs in the show and Lawrence has been key in bringing the sound together.

How have the students from Wilson Park School in Lismore contributed?

We ran a number of workshops at Wilson Park Public School in 2013 that culminated in an intensive blue-screen film shoot. A number of the students appear in one of the character’s virtual reality worlds.

As a director how do you manage to weave a cohesive piece with so many contributors – is this multimedia theatre?

From the outset I wanted this show to be a sensorial experience for an audience, so sound and visuals were really important. It hasn’t felt like a lot of contributors as we have all been working towards a common goal.

How have you constructed the narrative? I imagine you’ve dispensed with the linear format as we access from so many platforms these days!

There is a narrative of sorts – definitely each character has some journey in the show; however, it’s not linear or time specific.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Greatest challenge? I don’t really think there have been too many challenges. There have definitely been some days that are harder than others, but on the whole I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with the band and Claudie Frock.

As a director, how do you manage that nagging doubt that things won’t be alright on the night? Is this a constant anxiety of the creative process?

I try not too think too much about that; instead I focus on the work and what else I/we need to do to tell the story we are trying to tell. I trust our creative process.

The show has two seasons, running Thursday to Saturday at 7.30pm at Lismore City Hall with matinees on Friday and Saturday at 11am.

Tickets are $20–39. Bookings 1300 066 772. The Sydney season will run at the Bankstown Arts Centre 9–12 April.

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