Workbook: Sextet

Six of the very best, playing together in one, perfect ensemble. Upper left, Bruce Dow, centre, Laura Condlln, upper right, Rebecca Northan, lower left Damien Atkins, centre, Jordan Pettle, and lower right, Matt Edison.  Below left, Schoenberg, whose Sextet for Strings was an inspiration for the piece. A string sextet, below; actually the Stanislas Quartet and two others, but you can add. Right, Egon Schiele portrait of Schoenberg.

Sextet takes place in a motel in some small unnamed town. The musicians are about to put on a show; Brahms and Schubert, but there are soon to be program changes. Left, Kens plan view for the motel has six rooms, although only four are occupied. At first we thought these rooms would be empty, but we quickly realized in rehearsal that by shifting lights we could make six rooms into four, each with what appears to be a double bed.

In our minds, the hotel is one of these 70s style two storey affairs that you often see by the side of the highway. We tired many colours before we settled on blue

Above, Ken creates art for the rooms. Right, Rebecca

Kens whimsical drawings come to life in the fitting room where actors try out their looks. Sextet is not a big build show because its set now, more or less, and contemporary costumes are easier and cheaper to buy than to make. The exception is Bruce Dow, upper left, whose costumes had to be constructed because they are very particular to the character and his affliction. Klinefelters Syndrome has never looked so good. Clockwise from the top, Rebecca, Damien, Jordan, Laura and Matt, in day clothes and concert gear

Left, Ken fashions a floor plan for tiled floor, which doubles as a hallway and an indoor swimming pool. Its up to Kim Purtell, far right, our lighting designer, to let us know which is which. Although Kim has designed hundreds of shows and won many awards, this is our first show with her and we could not be happier


Production photos by Cylla Von Tiedemann. Right, Damien Atkins as Harry, Bruce Dow as Gerard, meet in the hallway for a creepy encounter, involving some pointed questions about sexuality and a bit of bum slapping. Far right, Harry (Damien) repairs to Sylvias room (Laura Condlln) for some need reflection and planning. The rooms work remarkably well as double rooms even though the original design was six rooms each with its own bed but with Purtells clever lighting we could have both.

Left and right, Rebecca Northan, as Mavis, and Bruce Dow as Gerard, spent many scenes, locked in their room and locked in battle over the nature of love, sex, and marriage, which dont always go together the way one thinks they should or might, and what makes marriage, really, so great

More photos from the production. Upper left, Dirk (Matt Edison) exposes himself, inadvertantly, to Harry (Damien) in a complicated series of towel moves, Above, Dirk, and Sylvia (Laura) meet up at the dirty indoor pool to reflect on their situation. The scene is set at the edge of the stage. Left, Sylvia points a bow at Otto, played by Jordan Pettle, in attempt to pin down some kind of defining truth, on a cold winter night. Below, the striking, innovative, and flexible space designed by Ken an built by a remarkable team at the Tarragon shop. For those who could notice, all the clocks in the rooms are set to different times as a kind of homage to Samuel Beckett. The attempt to reflect reality through an absurd lens is, here, made into a motel room, where individuality collides with received ideas about love, life, and human sexuality.