My Radio Heart
Inspired by the Marvel comic book series X-Men and arcade video games, My Radio Heart is a love story for the 21st Century. Immersed in a breathtaking fantasy world, audiences are treated to cinematic audio-visuals and an original soundtrack of rock, pop and electronica music.
Co-produced by NORPA and Urban Theatre Projects (UTP), and commissioned by NORPA, My Radio Heart features the internationally renowned Tralala Blip – a mixed-abilities experimental sound ensemble – as both actors and composers.
My Radio Heart is theatre up-close and personal.
My Radio Heart premiered as part of NORPA’s 2014 Season, at Lismore City Hall, before touring to Sydney for a season presented by UTP at Bankstown Arts Centre.
Creative team and cast
Director/Writer Rosie Dennis
Cast Mathew Daymond, Lydian Dunbar, Claudie Frock, Zac Misfud, Randolf Reimann & Phoebe Rose
Sound Design Lawrence English
Co-sound Design Randolf Reimann
Video Design Samuel James
Production Manager Phil Downing
Producer (NORPA) Bethwynn Hackett
Producer (UTP) Bibi Serafim
Costumes Bridget Barker and Phoebe Rose
Builder Gerd Sonntag
Stage Manager Andy Stewart
Video art made with students of Wilson Park Public School, a My Radio Heart project partner.
School Workshop Facilitator Phil Blackman
Rosie Dennis is a Sydney-based performer, writer and director. Her work has been presented at more than 25 festivals across Central Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. From 2009-2011 Rosie worked as the Live Art Curator at Campbelltown Arts Centre, curating the award winning MINTO:LIVE (Sydney Festival 2011) and facilitating the research and development artist laboratory SITELab (2010 & 2011). She was recently awarded an Australian Council Cultural Leadership Grant which allowed her to extend her research on participatory contemporary performance models.
Photo: Kirra Pendergast
Lawrence English is composer, media artist and curator based in Brisbane. Working across an eclectic array of aesthetic investigations, Lawrence’s work prompts questions of field, perception and memory. Lawrence utilises a variety of approaches including live performance and installation to create works that ponder subtle transformations of space and ask audiences to become aware of that which exists at the edge of perception.
Photo: Kirra Pendergast
Randolf Reimann commenced his musical journey in 1985 as lead vocalist for Sydney hardcore punk outfit Massappeal. Inspired by hardcore’s visceral energy and post punk’s disregard for rock and roll’s bloated, formulaic structures, Randy set out at an early age with open ears, taking in the sounds from Sydney and Melbourne’s underground music scenes. In 1998 Randolf moved to Bangalow in Northern NSW and soon after formed the electro/folk outfit Kolliope. It was during his time as programmer for this band that he developed his electronic music practice that led to the formation of Tralala Blip in 2007.
Photo: Kirra Pendergast
Sam James has worked as a video artist and filmmaker for performance since 1995. He has been a designer and collaborator on over 200 performance works developing paradoxical languages between performance and projection. He has been a video artist with Performance Space and many other theatre and dance companies. In 2012 he completed an MFA Research at COFA, UNSW on Digital Animism. He is interested in where the phenomenology of artifice intersects with real space and in the re-animation of inanimate forms. He has been commissioned to make video works for Campbelltown Arts Centre, Performance Space, Artspace and Reeldance Festival of Dance on Screen. Although he spends most of his time working on small, independent developments he has regularly contributed to the major festivals in Australia, from Adelaide to Perth to Alice Springs.
Photo: Kirra Pendergast
Frostwave SpaceBeam, kaoss Pad, harmonica and vocals.
Zac Misfud joined Tralala Blip in May 2011. Zac likes action adventure and war movies. Halo is his favourite Xbox game. He also likes getting out in nature, sailing with his family and hanging out at his sister’s house. Zac’s music taste includes Michael Jackson, R&B, country and electronic music. Zac dislikes lots of rainy days in a row, real violence, tangled audio cables and any food that involves cooked or uncooked spiders.
Photo: Kirra Pendergast
Rhythmic samples, beats, kaossilator, iPad and vocals.
Lydian Dunbar joined Tralala Blip in October 2010. Lydian likes action and drama movies (Bad Boys is a favourite),Friends (the TV show), Xbox and PS3 shoot-em-up games, fast cars, seeing live music at the Beach Hotel (Byron Bay), parties and girls. His music taste include Eminem, Roots Manuva, Pixies, Butthole Surfers, Lawn Cigar and Shit Robot. Lydian dislikes Haters and negative people, spicy food and bugs.
Photo: Donatella Parisini
Sine wave synth, white noise machine, audio cubes and vocals.
Mathew Daymond joined Tralala Blip in January 2008. Mat likes horror, sci-fi and fantasy movies, PS and Xbox games, drawing, designing t-shirts, posters and record covers for Tralala Blip, travelling, touring and doing Tralala Blip workshops. Mat also likes R&B and electro music, some sound art and some rock. Mat dislikes war and violence and really spicy food.
Photo: Kirra Pendergast
Claudie Frock has worked for Roundabout Theatre for 7 years as a performer and co-conspirator in creative development. She has worked as a Clown Doctor for three years as Doctor Freckles in hospitals throughout Australia. She has BA in Visual Arts with Honours and Diploma of Education from Southern Cross University.
Claudie has a broad performance background and works within the realms of clowning, improvisation, music (vocal and ukulele), puppetry, street theatre, educational performance and visual arts.
Claudie is currently employed as the Learning Officer for the Lismore Regional Gallery, NSW, where she was commissioned to develop Peggy Popart, a performative tour guide character. Peggy Popart takes young people on fun educational tours of the gallery.
Photo: Kirra Pendergast
The making of My Radio Heart
Q&A with My Radio Heart creative team
ROSIE DENNIS – Director/Writer
How did the project come about?
“In 2012 I was approached by Julian Louis to collaborate on a new work with Tralala Blip. I started working on My Radio Heart when I was a freelance artist. Part-way through the development process I was appointed Artistic Director of Urban Theatre Projects, based in western Sydney. Whilst it hasn’t changed our creative process, it has meant that we’re able to do a season in Bankstown immediately following the Lismore premiere. I think this is a really interesting model, making/creating/devising work in regional areas and then ‘exporting’ to the city, or in our case Western Sydney. So often it’s the reverse, work is made in the capital cities and toured to the regional areas.”
How has the show been made?
“As Tralala Blip had not performed in a live theatre performance prior to My Radio Heart, I decided to go back to basics and facilitate a series of workshops for the band. The workshops were focused on movement and building the ensemble’s performance stamina and concentration.
Performing in a theatre show for an hour is a different experience to performing on stage in a band so we needed to develop respect for each other’s practice and a common language. This took about 4 weeks part-time and included a few afternoons where a couple of ensemble members fell asleep.
Once we had built a language and a routine way of working we began to develop content for the show in intensive one-week blocks over an 18-month period. Outside of this process I’ve written a number of songs and shaped a ‘script’. Tralala Blip has recorded these songs as part of their weekly band session. Lawrence English (sound design) and Sam James (video design) have been working parallel to this process, mixing tracks and building visual landscapes respectively.
I have not worked in this way before and it is simultaneously exhilarating and un-grounding.”
What are the main themes in My Radio Heart?
“There are many themes depending on which way you chose to read it.
On the one hand it’s 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 about 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 non-linear, so audiences are invited and encouraged to form their interpretations of the work. We’ve tried to create a one-hour immersive experience for an audience using audiovisuals, sound and live performance. There’s not a lot of dialogue, there are five songs and there are at least three bad ‘dad’ jokes.”
JULIAN LOUIS – NORPA Artistic Director
“In 2011 I saw Tralala Blip do a gig at the Lismore Regional Gallery. There was about 40 people in a small room and these guys were all face down concentrating on their computers, key pads and strange musical contraptions. The music was complex, layered and heartfelt. Their lyrics were direct and performed with a brave masculine sensitivity – that could quickly shift to a kind of heavy metal style delivery within the beats, melodies and pulses of the music. I was a fan from that night.
I met with Tralala Blip’s founder Randolf Reimen. Randolph formed the group, developed the instruments and their way of working while he was working at Multi Task, a disability service provider based in Lismore. The band members, who have a range of disabilities, have worked together for several years and they have established national tours, overseas interest and created three albums. I wanted to know if we could create an installation work that would amplify the band’s music into a theatre experience. The music and the performers would be at the centre of the work.
I invited Rosie Dennis to direct the show having admired her approach when curating and creating MINTO:LIVE at Campbelltown Arts Centre. Now that a partnership has formed with UTP we are delighted that Sydney audiences can also experience this new work. The process has also involved lots of open workshops in dance and music making, video and performance for people with disabilities in the community here in the Northern Rivers.
The project now has a cast of performers with and without disabilities – Mat, Lydian, Pheobe, Zac and Randolf from Tralala Blip are joined by Claudie Frock, a Lismore-based performer and musician. The creative team also involves the visual wizardry of Sam James who has created the visual worlds that the cast inhabit. The work is ambitious, heartfelt and will really be something to experience!
With My Radio Heart NORPA continues its mission of creating contemporary works that put the audience close to the experience of theatre. Some of the recent works we’ve created include a circus show called Open House that took place in a residential house in Lismore, a show called Railway Wonderland that was performed on the platform of Lismore’s disused railway station, and a three year multi-disciplinary project called Home which last year held an event and artists-in-residencies in a local iconic pub which is now a homeless shelter.
NORPA works are as much events as they are theatre shows, where multiple art-forms combine to create a unique setting and language to express the stories of our community. My Radio Heart is very much a part of that vision.”
SAMUEL JAMES – Video Artist
“With My Radio Heart I was initially inspired by the melancholic sounds of Tralala Blip and to make video imagery that would suit this music but the videos have become very specifically connected with portraying each character’s state and point of view. Each video-world is a reminder of the different layers of reality in which we all live and wish to transgress in order to be with each other.”
LAWRENCE ENGLISH – Sound Designer
“Tralala Blip are one of the most creative electronic music ensembles in the country. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with them, helping them build structures and frames through which they can develop new ideas and approaches to their work. We’ve explored all manner of sound-making devices and recording techniques, seeking out new and exciting soundworlds the guys can bring into My Radio Heart.”
RANDOLF REIMANN – Co-sound Design & Founder Tralala Blip
“Creating new songs and sound for My Radio Heart has been a very fluid process and in some respects is not dissimilar to the way we usually work. My Radio Heart has been a work in progress for quite a while now and so it feels like a bit of a family situation, collaborating and exchanging ideas with Rosie, Lawrence and Claudie feels very natural. It’s like an extended Tralala Blip family to us. Tralala Blip has a pretty distinct aesthetic but taking on ideas from the other members of the My Radio Heart team is rewarding and challenging. Usually, Rosie will give us a basic idea for some music and we will go away, come up with some rough ideas and send them back to her and Lawrence. This back and forth is an ongoing, fluid process that has developed organically.”
My Radio Heart draws on material that came out of a series of 2013 workshops in dance, sound, improvisation and multi-media for up to 80 participants with a disability, from six to seventy-five years of age. The workshop phase was funded by Arts NSW and Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation & supported by Wilson Park School, Red Inc & Accessible Arts. Both the performance and workshops provide a crucial platform for exchange, dialogue and collaboration between groups living with a disability and a professional arts organisation.