If being put in the spotlight along with your parents and a few ferocious topics sounds like a living nightmare, well, then welcome to the jungle. Melbourne-based theatremaker Bron Batten has done just that as part two of her Guns n Roses trilogy, inviting Ma and Pa on-stage with her to nut out theatre, performance, and the point of art in general. It really takes your garden variety awkward family gathering to a whole new level.
Batten tells us the idea came from having asked her parents to read her part in a play she co-produced for The Last Tuesday Society (a collective in Melbourne), and finding they were such good sports at it.
From there, it wasn’t too hard to convince them to take the next step to a fully-fledged theatrical family affair.
“Mum, yes, but Dad not so much – he´s always been a frustrated extrovert so really I was just giving him a more public forum than family 21sts. He´s a pretty classic ‘Dad’, that´s why he’s such a natural performer!”
The first instalment in the trilogy went down a different, but equally bizarre path. “The first show was called Welcome to the Jungle and it was a live nature documentary. Basically I collected all these real life stories from the animal kingdom about animals with emotional problems and then developed characters around the stories. Like I played a lonely whale, and a deluded swan who was in love with a paddle boat. Which actually happened in Germany.”
It’s fitting that one of the subjects the Batten clan canvasses is: what is the point of art? “We get close I think – I´m not sure if anyone is ever going to figure that one out… But we give it a good go!”
If that doesn’t tempt you, a night of unadulterated Dad jokes disguised as Art might. When asked her favourite in the repertoire, Batten supplies this pearler: “What do you call a parrot with an umbrella? Polly Unsaturated… I promise the show is a lot funnier than that joke!”
Sweet Child of Mine is part of the performance double bill (along with Impossible Plays) for 2012’s Tiny Stadiums Festival.
May 31-Jun 9, PACT Theatre, 107 Railway Pde, Erskineville, $15-25, pact.net.au