Kate Tempest is a playwright, poet, novelist and spoken word artist. She began performing when she left school at the age of 16. As a teenager was support act to various key cultural figures including Benjamin Zephaniah and Billy Bragg. She has since emerged as one of the U.K.’s most recognised performance artists, drawing large crowds at Glastonbury and Leeds Festivals. Her influences range from Wu-Tang Clan, to modernist poetry, to Tracey Emin. Tempest was visiting fellow at University College London in 2015. Neil McCormick has described her as ‘Britain’s most acclaimed young performance poet, Tempest can dazzle with scansion and flow, cadence and rhymes, but crucially employs her verbal skills in the service of big ideas – about poverty, identity, consumerism – and strong emotions.’
Kate Tempest works across the shrinking gaps of a steadily converging media industry. Equally at home within the genres of theatre, performance, poetry and music, her name now appears on album covers, poetry books, and billboard hoardings. It is fitting then, that her individual works blend elements of oral, sonic, visual and written culture. As a commentator in the Guardian wrote in 2013:
'Her spoken-word performances have the metre and craft of traditional poetry, the kinetic agitation of hip-hop and the intimacy of a whispered heart-to-heart… drawing on ancient mythology and sermonic cadence to tell stories of the everyday.'
Her 2016 work, Let Them Eat Chaos, was published by Picador, composed for live performance and released as an album of the same name. It sits somewhere between sermon and epic poem and like much of her work to date, experiments with voice, vocality, and multiple points of view. It is an apocalyptic narrative, describing a world falling apart through words that (in the print version) float free on the page:
'Picture a vacuum
An endless and unmoving blackness
Or the absence, at least
Moving between the global and the local, Let Them Eat Chaos revolves around the lives of seven neighbours who live on the same London street. They appear as atomised as the fragmenting world that sustains them: strangers to each other even though they share the same experiences of powerlessness, alienation and despair. But when a storm of biblical proportions wakes them in the early hours, they are forced together and the chance to unite suggests the faint possibility of a new dawn.
Tempest’s big themes, or perhaps targets is a better word, are global inequality, capitalism, celebrity culture, environmentalism, the failure of politicians, urban gentrification. The predicaments facing the characters of Let Them Eat Chaos are in this sense the same as those facing the characters of her debut play, Wasted (2013). Wasted captures a day in the life of three twenty-somethings, friends who are gathered to mark the death of a friend. Already, the lives of these characters are scarred by a sense of inertia, of being wasted. For Danny, Ted and Charlotte, wasted has progressed from being a verb- something you do from time to time- to being an ontological state, a way of being. But their coming together in order to mark the wasted life of their friend also provides the opportunity for retrospection and with that comes the possibility of change.
Some critics have dismissed Tempest’s work as the hollow posturing of a white rapper (see Lloyd Evans’ damning review in TheSpectator). Others, such as Alexis Peditris, have argued there is more to Tempest’s oeuvre than mere worthiness: ‘You could argue that it offers a pretty well-thumbed checklist of liberal woes, but as Tempest’s voice gradually rises in anger over the clanking rhythm track midway through Europe Is Lost, it’s hard not to get carried along with it. That’s partly because, however unsurprising her targets, her writing is often brilliantly acute, not least on the solipsism of latter day pop culture: "Saccharine ballads and selfies and selfies and selfies and here’s me outside the palace of me."’
The cultural establishment seem to agree: commissioned by the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company, fated by the Arts Council and asked to curate the 2017 Brighton Festival: the country’ biggest multi-arts event, Tempest’s work has struck a wider chord. In 2013 her book Brand New Ancients won the Ted Hughes prize. An epic poem, ‘written to be read aloud’, BrandNew Ancients is as oxymoronic as its title suggests. The book is a lament for our modern day disconnection from classical myth: 'In the old stories, the gods walked among us./ Fought with each other to save us, ‘cos they loved us, […] But now we have distant pin-ups, untouchable, shining,/advertisements lying with their hands on their hearts while we gaze up smiling.’
If there is a certain nostalgia here for a golden age long gone, Tempest’s faith in the ‘everyday odysseys’ to which we have grown blind, registers a universe in which the past lives on, precariously. The gods in this brave new world do not occupy Buckingham Palace, or 10 Downing Street, but the ‘betting shops’, ‘the caff’, ‘the office blocks’. Tempest plays the part of muse to those other gods (people like Kevin, Brian, Jane, Tommy and Glory) with ‘no oracles to translate’ their desires and fears: ‘Yes, the gods are on the park bench, the gods are on the bus,/ The gods are all here, the gods are in us’.
Published a year later, Tempest’s Hold your own (2014) continues to explore Greek myth for the ways it sheds light on modern day experience. In this collection it is Tiresias, the blind prophet perhaps best remembered from TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, that provides the framing lens. In Eliot’s poem gods offered no salvation, but Tempest presents us with more than a heap of broken images for the twenty-first century. As the poem’s title suggests, resistance remains an alternative.
Tempest’s first novel, The Bricks That Build Houses (2016) resonates with the themes of all of her previous work, while specifically reworking the lyrics of her debut album, 'Everybody Down'. The book’s built environment is squarely south London. Like Brand New Ancients, which also opens with an epigraph from Blake, The Bricks That Build Houses is dedicated not just to people but the places from which they hail.
The story unfolds in the inner-city streets of Lewisham, New Cross, Brixton and Deptford, environs that throng and pulse through the veins of its central characters: ‘It gets into your bones. You don’t even realise it, until you’re driving through it, watching all the things you’ve always known and leaving them behind. They’re driving past the streets, the shops, the corners where they made themselves. Every ghost is out there, staring. Bad skin and sunken eyes, grinning madly at them from the past. It’s in their bones. Bread and booze and concrete…’ The novel’s multi-generational plot captures the ghosts and ancestral memories of the streets in a narrative that sees Lewisham emerge as unlikely alternative to Zadie Smith’s Willesden.
The city is the locus classicus for Tempest’s central themes. It is here that the extremes of capital produce unprecedented waste and ruins, and where alternative energies and forms of wisdom can be found. As Tempest puts it in interview: 'The pace that it gives us, the teachings, the ancientness of all of these layers of time and life being built on top of the other. London especially, it goes deep, you know? The souls of the city are everywhere, living and dead. Especially if you’re the kind of person that’s hungry for life, in a city: there it is.'
James Procter, 2017
Elsie Edgerton-Till has worked in Aotearoa and Australia as a director and actor.
Her extensive theatre experience includes professional directing engagements for Sydney Conservatorium of Music, New Zealand Playhouse, National Institute of Dramatic Arts, The Court Theatre, World Busker’s Festival and The Forge. As assistant director she has worked for Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia, Auckland Theatre Company and Sydney Chamber Opera.
Directing credits for the stage include The Fairy Queen [Sydney Conservatorium of Music], a national tour of Phone A Friend [New Zealand Playhouse], Book of Days [The New Theatre], Moira MacKenzie’s Wheel of Fortune [The World Busker’s Festival,The Great Piratical Rumbustification, Antarctic Adventure, Goldilocks, The Elves and the Shoemaker, [The Court Theatre], Boys, The Red Shoes [National Institute of Dramatic Arts], A Midsummer Night’s Dream [The Canterbury Young Shakespeare Company], co–directing a devised work L.O.V.E. [The Court Jesters], and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf [Canterbury Repertory Society]. She is currently collaborating with writer Kate McDowell to develop her one-woman show with LaBoite and NORPA. Elsie has worked in Australia and New Zealand as a script assessor and a dramaturge on new work and lead script developments for a number of theatre companies. In 2014 she was an affiliate director with Griffin Theatre, Sydney.
In her time spent working in professional theatre as an actor, Elsie has appeared widely in productions of new New Zealand works, contemporary comedy, musicals and classics. For many years she was a member of The Court Theatre’s ‘Court Jesters’, the longest running professional improvisational theatre troupe in Australasia.
In a seaside suburb of Auckland New Zealand Isabella began her artistic career playing “Pirates” on a piece of 2x4 with a sheet of tarpaulin. This imaginative inspiration pushed her forth into the world of theatre. With a leap across the ditch she landed herself a place at Actors Centre Australia. At ACA Isabella was directed by some the top artist of the Sydney industry including Sam Chester, Lyn Pierse, Anthony Skuze and Kevin Jackson.
This year Isabella worked on ‘Chamber Pot Opera’ by Bontom Productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After coming back from a sell-out season in Edinburgh she went straight into a devised immersive show for the Sydney Fringe ‘The Library of Babel’ by kleine feinheiten.
In 2015 Isabella began collaborating with The Kings Collective as part f the core Collective. Wasted is the latest venture for her and the company where Isabella has been working as a producer and the assistant director.
CHARLOTTE // ELIZA SCOTT
Eliza Scott is an artist currently residing in Sydney.
She aims to create new work that is bold, uncompromising and moving. In September this year, Eliza performed her original one-woman show, Blackstrap Molasses at the Sydney Fringe.
In April 2016, she made her debut as a composer, composing a live soundscape for New Theatre’s production of The Cherry Orchad dir Clemence Williams.
The majority of 2016 was spent working with Bamboo Theatre, performing shows to pre-schools, primary schools and high schools all around Australia.
In October 2015, Eliza co-wrote and performed in her own show, PROJECT OUAHN, which was placed in Suzy Goes See’s top 5 ‘Bravest and most creative experimental works in 2015’. In July, 2015 she worked with international performance artist Marina Abromovic in the Kaldor Public Art Project #30: Marina Abromovic in Residence.
Her other theatre credits include: Unend dir Jessica Arthur, Orfeo ed Euridice dir Shannon Murphey & Samantha Chester, Zeroville dir Michael Dean, We are the Ghosts of the Future dir Harriet Gillies, Hunger, Dir Samantha Young.
DANNY // JACK CRUMLIN
Jack Crumlin is a 2015 graduate of Actors Centre Australia in Sydney.
Since Graduating, he has been involved with several theatre productions: A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Players, Activated Shakespeare (Bell Shakespeare), Journey’s End (ATYP), ‘LAVINIA, his Daughter’ (NIDA), Amongst Ruins (The Old Fitz). Several Short films including: ‘Little Sam’ (ISA), ‘Hate Dance’ (AFTRS), ‘Orgy’ (Dir. Tom Nauta), ‘Drag Mama’ (Dir. Ben Strum), ‘NOAH’ (Dir. Tel Benjamin).
Jack is also one of the central characters in the upcoming Australian feature film ‘The Casting Game’ directed by Pearl Tan.
TED // DAVID HARRISON
David is an Actor and the founder/Artistic Director of The Kings Collective.
David started his work as an actor at age 11 in Cameron Mackintosh/IMG's 'Oliver!' in Australia and Singapore.
Stage Credits include:
Camelot [The Production Company], Ben10: Power of the Omnitrix [MEI Worldwide touring Argentina, Thailand, Malayasia, Singapore & Dubai], The Aliens [Red Stitch Actor's Theatre], Pompeii, LA [Malthouse Theatre], Room of Regret [The Rabble], Out of Gas on Lover's Leap & Isolation [The Kings Collective]
Screen Credits include:
Neighbours, Tangled, Snake Tales [Television], Fatal Honeymoon, Stung, Remnant, How You Left Us & Iris Award Nominated Vis A Vis [Film].
David would like to dedicate WASTED to all those artists who have worked with and continue to help build The Kings Collective.
Tegan is Sydney-based sound designer, podcast producer and music maker working within theatre and radio.
Her soundscapes and original music have been heard in the recent stage productions Morgan Stern (Company of Rogues - with seasons at Belvoir St and Edinburgh Fringe Festival), The Clean House (New Theatre), This is Not Mills & Boon (Glorious Thing), Osama the Hero (Tooth & Sinew), The Angelica Complex (Invisible Circus). Tegan created the sound design for the AWGIE winning radio play Spirit (Donna Abela) and enjoys making documentaries for FBi Radio’s All The Best.
With degrees in Composition and Applied Linguistics, Tegan is particularly interested in the space where music and language coalesce, and enjoys exploring the communicative aspects of sound and the sonic qualities of languages in her work.
She is currently producing a new podcast series on spoken word poetry in partnership with the literary arts organisation Word Travels.
TYLER RAY HAWKINS
As a 2017 NIDA Masters of Fine Arts in Design Graduate, Tyler has already been fortunate enough to work with Romance was Born, Sass & Bide, Dollhouse Pictures, Belvior Theatre Co., Griffin Theatre Co., Opera Australia, Sydney Theatre Co., ATYP and Underbelly Arts.
Previous Theatre design work includes;
Watermelon (Underbelly Arts), Moth (ATYP), A Strategic Plan (Griffin Theatre), Hanging Gardens of Babylon (Opera Australia), Black Birds (Black Birds), Midsummer Nights Dream (Sydney Theatre Co), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Belvoir Theatre), I Hate you My Mother (Red Line Productions), #KillAllMen and The Olympians (NIDA), Out of Gas on Lover's Leap, This is Our Youth, Gruesome Playground Injuries and The Wonderful World of Dissocia (The Kings Collective).
Previous Screen Design work includes;
Brown Lips (Nakkiah Lui, Noble Savage Pictures), Saint Lo (Nick Waterman, Megan Washington), Eaglehawk (Shannon Murphy, Dollhouse Collective).
Prior to his study at NIDA, Tyler graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2008. Working as a professional contemporary dancer independently and for companies such as Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc and Opera Australia.
Nick is a Set, Costume and Lighting Designer specialising in Theatre, Film and Live Event Design.
Nick is currently studying a Masters of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) at NIDA. In 2016 Nick completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) at NIDA.
Nick’s Design Credits include; For NIDA: Lead Event Designer (NIDA Foundation Trust GALA–B–QUE); Lead Event Designer (NIDA Graduate School official opening event). Set and Costume Designer (There Will be A Climax); Set Designer (The Hypochondriac); Set and Costume Designer (Hello Again); Co- Production Designer (Lobster Paradise); Co- Event Designer (EXPONIDA 2016)For NIDA/Triple J:Production Designer (Midas.Gold- Work It Out); Production Designer (Lilt- Don't Tell Me) For Belvoir St: Lighting Design Assistant (Cain and Abel); Lighting Design Assistant (Twelfth Night). For Opera Australia: Lighting Design Assistant (The Elixir of Love). For Malthouse Theatre: Lighting/Set Design Assistant (The Fiery Maze). For Melbourne Festival/Speak Percussion: Lighting Design Assistant( The Black of the Star) For Hisense/Harvey Norman: Set Designer (2017 H-LIVE Expo)
Nick is a recipient for NIDA’s inaugural half fee scholarship for leadership and creative contribution.
Nick’s interest lies in the collision of set, costume and lighting design and how these design practices can inform and converse with each other in the creation of a work.
LINDA NICHOLLS GIDLEY
Linda is a voice, accents and dialect coach based in Sydney Australia. Her film and television credits include Jungle, Mary - The Making of a Princess, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2, The Death of George Montgomery, The Book Club part 1. Theatre credits include Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon - Arena Spectacular and the Australian National tours of The Bodyguard the Musical, We Will Rock You, Legends, The Rocky Horror Show, Dirty Dancing, Annie the Musical and Opera Australia's The Merry Widow.
She regularly coaches accents and dialects in the Sydney independent theatre scene, including productions of Birdland, She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange, Kindertransport, The Village Bike, Neighbourhood Watch, Thai-riffic, The Mysteries of Love and Sex, Journey’s End, The House of Ramon Iglesia, Deathtrap, Constellations, The God of Hell, Stop Kiss, On the Shore of the Wide World, 4000 Miles, The Knowledge and, the multiple award winning, Punk Rock.
She is the Associate Lecturer in Voice at NIDA, teaching across both the BFA and MFA programs. She runs regular classes at The Hub Studio and coaches actors right across the globe via Skype.
Jessica studied at Charles Sturt Universtity receiving a bachelor in Communications (Theatre/Media). She has been performing since 2011 her opening role as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. In 2015, Jess directed and performed in an original comedy as part of her own company Fresh Antics to Adelaide Fringe Festival and Anywhere Festival in Parramatta. Jess has interned with Bond Street Theatre company in New York City in 2016, a company devoted to using theatre as a means of healing and empowerment in conflict areas around the globe. She taught drama and circus skills as well as performed in several festivals around New York City. Jess had been working with The Kings Collective since 2015.
Jessica's training in theatre craft and performance took place through the University of Notre Dame, Australia and The Actors Assembly.
Recent stage management credits include After The End (The Kings Collective 2016), Notes from Underground (Sydney Chamber Opera 2016) and The Cherry Orchard (New Theatre 2016).