New play proves that beauty can indeed be difficult

beauty is difficultTolstoy, Ibsen, Racine, Flaubert, du Maurier – five of the most important writers the world has ever known created five of the most important beautiful and dangerous female characters ever written.

Enter Emma Bovary, Hedda Gabler, Anna Karenina, Phedre and Mrs Danvers for the first time ever on the same stage in this new production Beauty is Difficult by heartBeast – vicious theatre ensemble. Beauty is Difficult plays at Trinity Hall, Fortitude Valley from 6 – 28 July 2012.

At first the landscape looks like a large waiting room. Perhaps it is the runway of a Paris fashion show, or the plains of Purgatory? Or perhaps it is the mythic ballroom at Mandalay or a great salon in St Petersburg?

Four beautiful women arrive only to be greeted by a mysterious woman who controls the entire event. Who are they? Are they lost? Are they suffering from amnesia? Are they searching for their lover or a place to find shelter? But the space is already inhabited and a masquerade ball is about to begin.

What follows is a collision of memories, stories and characters – fragments of lives that end with a dance of death leading towards the inevitable, final brutal denouement that each woman must endure.

To find true beauty each woman discovers that such beauty comes at a cost. Beauty is dangerous. Beauty is difficult.

Through improvisation, devising, physical theatre, bi-lingual scripting, heightened scenography, site specificity, the exploration of concepts of ‘beauty’, critical interpretation of historical texts and reaction to existing readings/performances of those texts, heartBeast has created a hybridised manifestation of the characters of Phedre, Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, Hedda Gabler and Mrs Danvers thrust together on the stage for the first time.

At a ball at the beginning and the end of time, five of literature’s greatest female archetypes battle to regain their memory, their identity, their power and their beauty.

Beauty is Difficult is a new work developed by the heartBeast vicious theatre ensemble and inspired by the relevant texts of Tolstoy, Ibsen, Racine, Flaubert and du Maurier.

It is post-dramatic, heightened, physical and poetic in the performance style of Fantastic Realism. This style is based on the work of the Russian theatre director Evgeny Vakhtangov, from the early 20th century.

heartBeast has given this style their own interpretation which focuses on the expressive use of space, heightened vocals and lush costumes and sets. It’s theatre with a dash of high opera in the style and design.

As a not-for-profit theatre organisation heartBeast offers artists the opportunity to investigate and explore their performance philosophy and skills of artistry through an aesthetic prism that meshes heightened theatricality with the organic performance of archetypal, contemporary, local and world stories.

Through this investigation of style and subject matter, heartBeast synthesises and manifests image, voice and meaning to provoke, inform, entertain and educate audiences about life affecting issues and philosophies within our modern world.

The venue Trinity Hall has a significant history of being involved in professional theatre practice in Brisbane. It was a regular rehearsal venue for the Qld Theatre Company in the 1970s and for TN when they were across the road in Brookes St, in the early 1980s. The ghosts of those wonderful days linger in this beautiful, vintage brick building.
Beauty is Difficult is performed in English, accented with moments of French.

Featuring: Adrienne Costello, Karen Dinsdale, Jason Ward Kennedy, Hamish Nicholson, Anna O’Hara, Steven Pearton, Sherri Smith, Judith Turnbull.

  • Director/Designer: Michael Beh
  • Costume Designer: Janice Mandrusiak
  • Lighting Designer: Grant Morrison
  • Production Manager: Gregg Goriss
  • Stage Manager: Joanna Lam

heartBeastDevised by the heartBeast Vicious Theatre Ensemble. Beauty is Difficult is based on an original idea by Michael Beh.

Dates: 6 – 28 July 2012
Times: Thu, Fri and Sat 7.30pm, Sun 5pm
and Sat 14/7 2pm matinee
Venue: Trinity Hall Church, Fortitude Valley
Bookings: QTIX 136 246 or
Tickets: $33, $22 Concession, $22 Groups 10+

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