Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sydney Bus Theatre

Poster for Stories from the 428Last night I attended "Stories from the 428" at the Sidetrack Theatre,, Sydney. The work is a series of vignettes on and around the NSW State Transit Authority, STA number 428 bus route. The route starts at Circular Quay, in the heart of Sydney and through Sydney's Newtown university student areas, then past the Sidetrack Theatre. The bus stops outside the Addison Road Centre, Marrickville where the performance was held and many of the audience were able to relate to the characters and situations portrayed (some of the characters being based on them).

The stage is set up to evoke a STA bus stop and bus (but will be familiar to any city commuter). The bills for the performance, program and cards are all cleverly designed with the same theme looking like Sydney bus tickets. The pay starts with a line of commuters wating for a bus and all reading the Metro free newspaper in synchronism. This opening reminded me of a recent production of short plays at the New Theatre, in its ballet of paper folding, as did the overall format of the production.

The vignettes are funny, insightful and in some cases confronting and frightening. One in which an obsessive character places rubber bands on his writs and describes in clinical detail the effect on his hand was very worrying. However, overall this is a warm celebration of community amongst the city.

This was week one of the show and in week two (until the 4th April, 2010) a new team of directors and writers take over exploring the same theme, so I might get back on the bus for another ride.

If attending a performance, take time to explore the Addison Road Centre,with its assortment of community and arts organisations. Also drop into Glow Worm Bicycles down the road.

You can take the 428 bus from Circular Quay to the Theatre. While the theatre pays homage to the bus, this is not reciprocated. When I tried to plan this route with the NSW travel planner, I found that the system did not know where the Addison centre was and when I tried the street address, the system wanted to send me to Goulburn, in southern NSW.

ps: Perhaps next we need some stories from Istanbul bus, tram, ferry, train to Thessaloniki. Sitting on a ferry heading under the Galata Bridge in Instanbul, the old man sitting next to me filled his chest with pride and swept his hand out in an expansive gesture to the view and said something in Turkish. I don't speak Turkish, but it was something like: "Look at My Magnificent City". In Thessaloniki, home to the original "Young Turks", plotters and spies, I happened to met an agent of a foreign government and take them for a ride on the local bus (while they were an expert international arms smuggling, they could not work out the local bus tickets).

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