Contact! A netball opera
Contact! has a young, multi-talented cast including some of Melbourne’s most exciting operatic talent from Opera Australia, Victorian Opera and the VCA.
University of Melbourne graduate Georgia Brooks says although she does dance in Contact!, and also teaches swing dancing, she definitely sees herself foremost as a singer.
“Dance is more important in musical theatre. In the world of opera it’s more important to be a singer, but with a good sense of movement and rhythm,” she says.
In the lead-up to rehearsals the cast played what Ms Brooks describes as an hilarious game of netball together, first as themselves, then in character.
“We’ve found during the course of rehearsals it’s really important to remember the movement enacts a sport, not a dance, so we have to keep the game of netball alive in our mind’s eye, or it just looks like bland choreography”.
Ms Brooks says organised sport is interesting because it “puts people in situations where they want to succeed and triumph personally, but they have to rely on others – who generally aren’t chosen by them – to get there. This is particularly apparent in a game like netball, where the roles are so regimented.”
Fundamentally, Ms Brooks thinks a show like Contact! is important because although it’s about netball, anyone who has ever played team sports will relate to it.
“Contact! hopefully will show audiences new to opera what the artform is really about, that it’s not all pomposity and foreign language, but a way of communicating a spectrum of emotions through music.
“And that opera can be really funny.”
Other University alumna among the cast include VCA graduates Janet Todd, and Frederica Cunningham.
Creator Angus Grant says the show centres on formidable coach Bev and the under-21 team from the Hyatt Park Rangers, who are gearing up for the big game against their long-time rivals.
“Who will win the day and who is playing for keeps are the question raised,” Mr Grant says. “Bev’s son Bevan is a football star who harbours a secret passion for netball and Bev’s timid daughter, Wendy, is happiest on the bench. Then newcomer Daisy turns up to mess with Bev’s tightly ordered game plan.
“Contact! uses the most popular Australian women’s sport to explore suburban life, the claustrophobia and the comfort of staying within your boundaries, the dynamics of all-female organisations and the danger and rewards of contact,” he says.
“Opera and netball may at first seem strange playmates, but it is a subject that seemed to me to be brimming with dramatic potential. I have tried in the music to create a sense of the movement and energy of the netball court and explore Australians’ sometimes unhealthy passion for their sport.”
Following the premiere season in the Fairfax Studio, Contact! will also be touring regionally throughout Victoria.
11 – 29 April, 7pm, Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio