08 August 2011

The 2011 Revue Season

There’s no business like show business, and there’s no student show quite like a USU Revue. With the annual Revue season upon us, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk through the Revue process before taking a tour of each show. 

The online Oxford Dictionary defines Revue as ‘a light theatrical entertainment consisting of a series of short sketches, songs, and dances, typically dealing satirically with topical issues’. That seemed appropriately adequate, until I spoke to Ian ‘Pharaoh’ Ferrington the 2011 co-director of the Commerce Revue who put it much more deftly as ‘all the funny things 30 people wished they’d slipped into conversation over a whole year, combined with some absurd shit and the cast of hairspray on whatever recreational drugs the cast of rent didn’t finish’.

Since the 1930s Sydney University has played host to some of the most elaborate and infamous Revues Australia, nay, the world has seen. In fact, the 2007 Women’s Revue ended up touring the UK, whilst the 2006 Arts Revue headed to Melbourne. In a reality closer to home the USU Revue program has played host to the young upstarts that are now the Chaser, Project 52, Susan Boyle and the Axis of Awesome.*

On a personal note, whilst the Commerce Revue wasn’t my first taste of the USU it was my first real meal. ‘Nightmare on Wall Street’ played the York Theatre for three exceptionally successful nights and the friends I made in that show I now count as some of my closest. But, it was ‘Industryous Basterds’ that really opened my eyes to the wonder of the USU. Stepping late into the role of Co-Producer I was thrown into organising (alongside some very competent colleagues) a $20,000 show that taught me more lessons than any academic endeavour I’ve undertaken. Apart from the hassle of organising a stage, lighting, sound, props, costumes, a cast, apparel, ticketing, marketing and an after-party I was exposed to the intense challenges of working in a heavily time-constrained, demanding and stressful yet rewarding environment. The USU shouldered me genuine responsibility and gave me the opportunity for self-development and growth that was eye opening to say the least. Some say putting on a Revue is like parenting a really ugly red-headed child, ‘even if it looks like Ronald McDonald at 6 months old you love it just the same’. Needless to say I was an exceptionally proud parent.

So then, how is it done? Well Revues typically receive a significant grant from the USU. These grants of up to $8000 are often supplemented by faculty or external sponsorship and ticket sales to cover the hefty costs of a stage, costuming, lighting, props and a memorable after-party. Some Revues are content with just making ends meet but, some of the bigger players use their Revue as a charity fundraiser. The 2010 Medical Revue ‘Cadavatar’ raised over $43,000 for Cure Cancer Australia Foundation and the Milk Crate Theatre. The man hours that go into Revues are often unimaginable. A lot of effort goes into making your show thought-provoking, topical, funny and most of all entertaining.

But at the end of the day, Revues are about more than just entertainment and budget balancing. Alistair Oakes the 2011 co-producer of the Law Revue commented ‘as with many people involved in Revues, they have been a defining part of my university experience. Revues ... allow students to be students: light-hearted, vocal and pushing the boundaries in ways which you normally can’t get away with.’ Jo Twartz, USU Revue veteran reflects on her involvement and concludes that throughout the Revue process ‘you’ll find out you have the capability to do things you never knew you could. Revues are a great environment to just have a go, and when you try, you succeed!’

Revues drag you out of your comfort zone and throw you on stage being burned by lights and the glares of the community, your peers and your family. Whilst it may sound traumatic the truth is there is a huge safety net spread out below you and you always make it to the other side more confident, aware and proud of what you have achieved.

So, without further adieu:

Welcome monsieur sit yourself down, the twenty-eleven Revues are in town!

Medicine – Beauty and Deceased – 10/8-13/8, 7:30pm @ the Seymour Centre

Going by last year’s standards ‘Beauty and Deceased’ should be a killer (oh, come on, why can’t I have some fun too!) Med Revue buys into the storyline approach of a Revue, which can lose an audience if it isn’t done well. But, these are the gals and guys who undertake undisputedly the most challenging degree a University can offer. They also managed to raise $43,000 last year for charity. They can do anything (including operate on you!). This Revue is always well-polished, which to be frank is a little worrying. I’d prefer if these guys were less funny and spent more time learning how to solve your future illnesses.

Arts – How We Learnt to Love Again – 17/8-19/8, 7pm @ the Seymour Centre 

Where to even begin! This Revue has had a tumultuous history. They used to be small, but now they are big. They are always hilarious particularly if you have a wacky sense of humour. They’re not renowned for their commentary on current affairs but they have the ability to make the most mundane ridiculously funny. They’re Arts! Unlike their Med counterparts these students definitely have the time to polish their show and are a very talented bunch.

Law – The Socially Awkward Network – 17/8-20/8, 8pm @ the Seymour Centre 

It frustrates me how good these guys are. Law students believe they’re more intelligent, knowledgeable, attractive and funnier than you. The sad thing is that even if they’re not as naturally gifted they’ll work harder to make sure they are better. The worst part about the Law Revue is that they are naturally gifted. The Law Revue is an efficient humour making, dance choreographing, song-singing machine. They may lose a little innovation along the way but they are by self-acclamation the best Revue.

Education and Social Work – GladiATAR – 18/8-20/8, 7:30pm @ the Seymour Centre 

When you watch this Revue remember that the creepy looking guy with the beard who made an inappropriate sex joke will one day teach your 7 year old son. These guys had their opening last year and did a great job. Their cell block tango was l’maze. They are bound to be even better this year.

Architecture - Nineteen Eighty Floor - 25/8-26/8, 27/8, 7:30pm, 2pm @ the Seymour Centre 

Firstly, their title is a reference to an infamous novel by George Doorwell. Secondly, they build amazing sets. This Revue is always ‘solid’.

Engineering – James Blonde: The Man with the Golden Ale – 25/8-27/8, Manning Bar 

Rumours exist that they reside at Manning because the Seymour Centre wouldn’t let them back. Needless to say the show is outrageous. Their title has for as long as I can remember been a reference to alcohol. Take from that what you will.

Science – NASAblanca – 25/8-27/8, 7pm @ the Seymour Centre 

Who would’ve thought science students were funny. Their show last year was superb. To top it all off, they are lovely, diligent, sweet, friendly science kids. Their cast is big and fun and their title is about space! Apparently they were approached to star in a reality Glee TV show**. This Revue is a must see it is always wonderful!

Commerce – The Economy of Errors - 1/8 – 2/9, 7:30pm @ the Seymour Centre

Unequivocally the best Revue! In their fourth year the Commerce Revue cleverly blends absurd humour with witty and satirical commentary on the events of the world to produce an outstanding show. Flying in the face of popular belief, the Commerce Revue is made up of a mismatch of (exceptionally attractive) students from all faculties. Last year saw them start with The Lion King, elegantly and beautifully weave in nudity before ending the show with a dramatically powerful Boy Band medley (a special shout-out to the NSync guy, who was hoooootttt!). By acclaim this year it is expected to be even better. Commerce Revue’s direction team is dashing, their producers wonderful and their choreographer is heaps cute! This is a must see!

Queer – The Queen – 31/8-3/9, 8pm @ the Seymour Centre 

I cried when I didn’t get to see this show last year. They premiered to adoring audiences and it wasn’t just their parents. By all accounts they were cutting-edge, outlandish, ground-breaking and hilarious. And squaring that final nail into the coffin this year it will feature Board Directors Dave and Ben.

Book your tickets at the Access Desk, Manning House or by calling 9563 6000.

Oh by God, with all this Revue talk... why, why, well! I got chills, they’re multiplyin’ and I’m losin’ control, the Revues they’re supplyin’ and they’re electrifying.

Rhys Pogonoski
Board Director

* To the best of my knowledge Susan Boyle did not star or even appear in a USU Revue.
** This one is actually true.

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