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A caffeinated kick-start to 2020 at the Phee

Clare and Andree on stage with piano and coffee jugs and cups.

Come and see the Bach-inspired Cafe Cantata in February and enjoy the delicious combination of musical theatre, drama and comedy.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Local playwright, performer, producer and ‘pundit of staged amusement’, Mark Penzak kicks off the 2020 Phee Broadway Theatre At Home creative residency program with Cafe Cantata, an off-beat, contemporary reply to J.S. Bach's mini-opera, Coffee Cantata written in 1735.

Mark was awarded the very first At Home residency back in March 2018, producing The Starship Stowaway, a science-fiction play aimed at primary school children and addressing environmental themes. Cafe Cantata, which is a collaboration with musician Andrée Cozens and a cast of local performers, will be Mark’s second original work for the At Home program.

As the inspiration for Cafe Cantata, Bach’s mini-opera focusses on a father begging his daughter Lieschen to give up her three-cup-a-day coffee habit or lose his permission to marry. While Lieschen refuses her father in the original, in Mark’s reinterpretation we find a more amenable daughter who denies her own needs.

Bach performed his work in a coffeehouse so Mark is converting the Phee Broadway Theatre into a café, with the audience seated at cozy tables and served delicious coffee or wine, along with other treats.

Mark is clear on his intentions for the audience experience, saying “as they slurp, a musical double espresso of synth pop and opera will propel audiences back to scenes in Lieschen’s life where decisions that seemed inconsequential reveal their consequences.”

“As the pressure builds, the barista explodes in a cloud of steam accompanied by an orchestra of mobile phones, hissing coffeemakers and the distant echo of Bach,” said Mark.

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Cultural Development Officer Vicki Anderson is encouraging audiences to come and witness what the program is all about.

“At Home encourages our incredibly talented community to take creative risks in a supportive environment. We can’t wait to see what Mark and Andrée serve up,” said Vicki.

Applications for the next round are currently open. Successful recipients will receive a three-week residency at the Phee, $3,500 in seed funding and promotional and technical support.

Café Cantata public performances:

When: Saturday 1 February – 10:30am; 11.30am; 7:30pm; and 8:30pm
Sunday 2 February – 10:30am; 11.30am; and 3:30pm
Cost: $20/$15 includes coffee or wine
Bookings: www.trybooking.com/BHRBN

For more information about Café Cantata or the At Home program visit www.pheebroadwaytheatre.com.au.

Image: Clare Shamier and Andrée Cozens in Café Cantata – Credit Leonie Van Eyke.

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