Review: Festival of Australian Youth Student Theatre

“This year I have decided to push our national festival closer to the future - to tomorrow. It’s a bit of a cheesy line: “A Year with More Tomorrow”. But hey, a little cheese never hurt anyone who wasn’t lactose intolerant.” — Lia Stark, Artistic Director.

 

Over three days in November 17th - 19th the Festival of Australian Student Theatre (FAST) was held across different Brisbane venues.The film festival has been in operation since the 1960s and is a well known festival that has garnered recognition here in Australia, and overseas. It showcases emerging actors, directors, artists and creatives with works that will push the boundaries of societal norms. FAST had a hiatus between 1980 - 2009, but after receiving tremendous support and encouragement from the student theatre community, FAST was established as a non-profit association and was launched at La Boite in 2010. In 2017, the Festival and a dedicated company of theatre buffs are thrilled to present a strong bill of eccentric, new works from around the country, created by who-will-be Australia’s next generation of theatre industry professionals.

I was astounded to find out that the creator of a self devised one-woman show titled An Exploration of Sorts: Human was a Year 11 theatre student/

“Welcome to the world of what it means it to be human. An exploration of sorts. Humans? I have 25 minutes to make an authentic connection with you and discover what makes us, us. This piece will transport you into lonely nights, self love, teary toothpaste dribbles and the universal fear of oblivion. I will lay stripped bare, naked (poetically) using your confessions and submissions as my vessel for finding authenticity. So all you mother bloopers, get ready for an experience you’ve never had before. So are you ready? to be challenged and embrace what makes you fundamentally human? The good, the bad and the bitter sweet ugly? “ - Bella Abraham.

The performance took place at QUT’s Roundhouse Theatre, an awesome venue for theatre due to the intricate staging and blocking. The room was pitch black as she read the script above out loud in a robot-like tone, giving the impression that we had suddenly joined her in her dystopian world and the atmosphere felt as an audience we were on a journey together. Straight away I could feel the intensity of the show, and her being a single performer on-stage only increases that - a specific choice that I believe allowed her to resonate with the audience on a personal level.

This piece was interactive, and had the audience contribute by anonymously revealing hidden truths and vulnerabilities to the entire room, Bella Abraham also (not-so-anonymously) laid her flaws and shortcomings out bare for the room to critique. To my surprise there were plenty of punters who wanted to contribute to the exercise, and by the end of it the room was buzzing full of different emotions from seeing one woman be the vessel for people to show their true selves through.

By Brianna Denmeade