Homelessness is an ongoing and urgent issue throughout Australia. In Victoria alone, around 22,800 people are experiencing homelessness. It’s the topic at the heart of Lost:5 by Daniel Keene, performed by Illumi-Nation as part of this year’s Poppy Seed Theatre Festival. Illumi-Nation specialise in bringing to life productions that challenge audiences about issues of social justice, and Keene is often considered one of Australia’s most thought-provoking and emotionally honest playwrights.
Kineisha Nottle is performing ‘Getting Shelter’ as part of Lost:5 by Daniel Keene. Kineisha has an impressive CV, having spent time at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, graduating from the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Art, and performing comedy and theatre throughout Victoria. Advocacy and support for the homeless is also a trait that runs in the family; Kineisha’s father is Mayor Brendan Nottle, Salvation Army. Kineisha was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the production.
What drew you to Lost: 5 by Daniel Keene?
I was drawn to be involved in the production of Lost: 5 by Daniel Keene firstly because I really wanted to work with Illumi-Nation Theatre. I love their collaborative performance process I was drawn to that. Secondly, after reading the words of Daniel Keene I knew this was an important work to be a part of. With such beautiful and captivating writing there was no way I wanted to turn up this opportunity to tell these stories.
What do you feel collaborating with sound designer MBYRO adds to the production?
MBRYO is such a crucial part of the success of Lost: 5 by Daniel Keene. He collaborates with our director to find ways to express the themes of the play through music. His work is captivating and adds such a vital energy to the work we put forward. The sound scape he has created for this production is innovative and edgy and has added layer of emotionality and storytelling. We are extremely lucky to have him on board in this production.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this production?
I hope audiences will come to this show and be moved to continue the conversation about homelessness. It presents many of the contributing factors that lead to homelessness, including mental illness, domestic abuse and addiction. It’s sometimes difficult to connect to this issue because not everyone knows someone directly who is homeless, however almost everyone can connect to someone who presents the contributing risks toward ending up homeless.
Illumi-Nation is a company built around bringing light to the difficult, often ignored social justice issues. What role do you think theatre, and art more generally, plays in discussing these issues? Does art have a responsibility to address these topics?
Art absolutely has a role in addressing these uncomfortable topics. Plays specifically, are most successful when they not only create conversation on a particular topic, but they spur action to be taken. The theatre is made to be enjoyed and to entertain, but I believe when an audience is captivated enough to utilise their experience to better the world around them that is when it has successfully executed its purpose. Illumi-Nation is a company that at its core focuses on producing theatre that is meaningful and vital to spotlighting a variety of social justice issues.
What has been the most difficult part of Lost: 5 by Daniel Keene for you?
The most difficult part of Lost: 5 by Daniel Keene has been the exploration into these contributing factors for homelessness. It is ugly and raw and reminds me of people that I know or used to know and makes me worry about whether we are doing enough to help those most vulnerable and most in need in our society.
What’s it like performing in the Irene Mitchell Studio?
It’s a great black box space perfect for this production as it allows us to maintain a close actor-audience relationship.
hat has been the main difference between performing a monologue and performing in a full production?
The main difference is in the rehearsal process. Performing a two-hander or doing scene-work is different to that of performing solo in that the cast acts in response to the other actors on stage and what they are delivering as opposed to responding solely off the audience and their reaction to what the solo actor is delivering in a monologue.
Can you recommend any charities to donate to or actions audience members can take to help address homelessness in Melbourne?
Yes, I can! The Salvation Army Melbourne does amazing work in delivering a variety of programs that help homeless people receive the need they require. Whether that is getting them off the streets and into a home, job search assistance, food, clothes, a community and people to have a chat with. I would recommend supporting the work they do by visiting the Salvation Army website.
Lost:5 by Daniel Keene is on at the Irene Mitchell Studio at 44 St Martins Lane, South Yarra from 22 November until 3 December 2017. Tickets are available online via the Poppy Seed Theatre Festival website.