Melbourne’s theatre scene has become richer for hosting the Poppy Seed Festival, this year being its third year on.
Featuring five festival shows, all of which are world premieres this year, offers huge diversity in its works. Providing a broad spectrum of neuro-diversity and socio-economic issues, the festival has shown discussing: autism (Alexithymia), a modern-day rom-com (Romeo is not the only Fruit), a retelling of fairtytale ‘Hansel and Gretel’ (Bread Crumbs), homelessness (Lost: 5 by Daniel Keen), and an interactive game performance (Tandem).
Festival co-founder and director, Philip Hayden, says it works hard at achieving specific aims when choosing the theatre productions it will host.
“We see [Poppy Seed] as the only festival for mid-career and emerging artists. We supply some of the assistance they need to stay in the sector and have designed it so as to give performers the skills and support needed, like budgeting and marketing experience, to keep them working in the sector.”
One person to know first-hand the varied nature of these shows is Kineisha Nottle, a performer in Lost: 5 by Daniel Keen. Working with Illumi-Nation Theatre, a group dedicated to covering social justice issues, this show has works with acclaimed playwright, Daniel Keene, who has established himself as ‘one of Europe’s most notable contemporary playwrights.
Kineisha says the five stories show the different existence that homeless people experience. “I love working and playing a person that is so different from who I am. The other actors are so excited and in all monologues, I cover the range of human experience.”
“Lost is a unique take on Homelessness – either by being lost in family to domestic violence or in mental health problems – we can try to improve for people by coming to see and experience issues that are different and uncomfortable to talk about – and how to help the most vulnerable and getting deep in conversation,” Kineisha says
Kineisha says she is aware the conversation does not fix the problem but Lost does work towards identifying the contributing factors like domestic violence and substance abuse that cause or lead to homelessness.
Ambitious in its aims as a festival, Philip says Poppy Seed’s main role is clear. “We have very strong grassroots support and aim to keep the 30 to 40 crowd [working], especially after some may have felt burnout or dropouts in their careers. We are working to help the performers put out the best show possible and then supporting them to put them on other platforms and sustain their longevity.”
The Poppy Seed Festival is on from the 8 Nov to 9 December 2017!
Dates: 8 November - 9 December 2017
Times: Multiple times (Check website for details)
Location: Multiple locations (Meat Market, The Butterfly Club, Irene Mitchell Studio, and Chapel Off Chapel.)