FRINGE SPOTLIGHT: Getting to Know Brisbane's Backyard Theatre Collective
Brisbane-based theatre company Backyard Theatre Collective are bringing their award-winning comedy Boys Taste Better with Nutella to Fringe World Festival 2019. I spoke to Caitlin Hill, Kristen Maloney, and Peter Wood ahead of the Perth season to get all the details about their show, dance tastes, creative process and of course, snack choices.
What is your show about and what are you hoping audiences will take away from it?
KM: Boys Taste Better with Nutella is an award-winning comedy that uses hilarious observations, kitsch dance moves and hazelnut spread to explore the best (and worst) moments of relationships. We hope people recognise themselves in the characters onstage and realise they are not alone in being shit people.
Would you care to expand on your background as theatre-makers and artists?
Peter Wood is an Australasian actor, dancer and performance-maker, and creates work that focuses on LGBTQ+ issues with Asian-Australian influences. Caitlin Hill is a theatre, television and film actor, and one of Australia's first YouTubers. Her work focuses on themes of equality and empowering women, inspired by spending too much time on Tumblr. Kristen Maloney is a director, writer and producer and is completing her PhD at the Queensland University of Technology. Her company, Backyard Theatre Collective, is focused on providing opportunities for Queensland talent to team up and make great art!
What inspired you to make it and what were the provocations that led to its creation?
CH: It is weird how ideas for a show come about, and for Boys Taste Better with Nutella, it started with an image: a woman standing on stage with her arms covered in poop (I’m not going to explain why that image came into my head). However, I realised no one would want to watch that show and thought, “What if that poop… was actually Nutella?”. This started a conversation with my collaborator, Peter Wood, reflecting on our experiences of binge eating and fat-shaming in the gay community. From there, we created the characters Aggy and Frederick, who may be self-loathing, socially anxious and addicted to food, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Describe the process of writing, rehearsing and collaborating together on Boys Taste Better With Nutella.
CH: I invited Peter Wood to develop the male voice within the show, and to develop the narrative of the character’s relationship. The first public reading of one of the monologues within the script was at the 2015 Festival of Australian Student Theatre. In winning ‘Best Overall Production’ for Short+Sweet Festival in 2016, we received a five-week intensive development to expand our ten-minute work into a full-length production, which we found really difficult. It was actually easier to improve this work after we spent some time away from it. It premiered at the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2017 to audience and critical acclaim. In 2018, Peter and I then invited Kristen Maloney, artistic director of Backyard Theatre Collective, to produce and co-direct the next development of the work, which has been a lot more fun. I think we enjoy rehearsing together because we make each other laugh and we can be really sassy with each other without getting offended, something which is really special.
KM: None of the characters in Boys Taste Better with Nutella are particularly happy. They are all defeated and broken, and expend so much energy deflecting life with food, memes or terrible boyfriends (which is hilarious, obviously). Caitlin and Peter are so funny and so genuine as performers that, in rehearsal, I am laughing one minute and crying another.
Tell us, what does 2019 hold for Backyard Theatre Collective?
KM: Boys Taste Better with Nutella is supported by Creative Partnerships Australia through MATCH Lab. MATCH Lab is a matched funding program for independent artists and groups. They will support our project by matching the amount we raise during our crowdfunding dollar-for-dollar! Backyard Theatre Collective aim to raise $6,600 through crowdfunding, which MATCH Lab will double up to the target of $13,200. Funding is paying for production and touring costs to Fringe World; however, if we do really, really well in our funding we will tour the work further, perhaps even internationally.
Choice of mid-Fringe snack?
KM: Truffle cheese and champagne. Nothing says Fringe Artist more than truffle cheese and champagne.
PW: Sushe ka-bushe. I am obsessed with salmon sushi.
CH: Midnight pancakes, my favourite post-performance snack. Do you know where I can get midnight pancakes in Perth? Otherwise, Northbridge has some of the friendliest café owners… so anything there really.
Favourite song for a good boogie?
PW: ’Secret’ by WJSN (Cosmic Girls). It is a K-Pop song and I know all the choreography, and all words and the names of all 13 group members. I like to think I am a good amount of obsessed but not too much.
CH: Last time we were at Fringe, ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie came on at the Artist Bar and so many people got up and danced, and the moon was shining, so that song!
Are there any other shows you’re looking forward to seeing at Fringe this year?
There are so many shows we are excited to see throughout Fringe World Festival 2019! Do we need to sleep? No, sleep is for the weak! We are keen to catch Silence My Ladyhead presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and FUGUE; The Big City presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and Louis Spencer; and Dancing in the Driveway presented by Evelyn Snook. We can’t wait!