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THE KING'S PLAYER

Medieval Europe.

Plagues, death, squalor. 

The occasional disembowelment.

General unpleasantness.

For every great, tragic hero, there is an equally great, tragic, bit part.

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At least 16 characters. We think. 

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Against this backdrop a nutrition, luck and talent starved minstrel is suddenly and unexpectedly offered the holy of holies... a chance to become one of the elite. A King's Player... in the Danish court of Elsinore.

THE KING'S PLAYER

Writer/Performer: Tref Gare
Lighting Designer: Kris Chainey

Graphic Design: Chelsea Neate

Producer: Matthew Connell

The Alex Theatre: Studio Space

1/135 Fitzroy St, St Kilda VIC 3182.

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This venue is wheelchair accessible.

Public Transport: 3a/16/96 Tram.
Parking: Street.

Duration: 65 minutes

Full price $45.00
Concession $35.00

Near the venue - St Kilda

Food and drinks on Fitzroy St
The Banff Cafe
Great, affordable pizza.
Happy hour every day 3pm - 6pm & 8pm - 10pm.
Bistro Voliere
French cuisine & charcuterie. Daily menu specials.
St Kilda Grocery Bar
Coffee, wraps & toasties. Affordable vino & beer.

 

19 - 26 April, 2024

Alex Theatre

Written & Performed by Tref Gare

'The King's Player is one of the best hours you will ever have in a theatre'

What Did She Think?

'One of the most technically brilliant shows I've ever seen.'

What's On In London (pick of the week)

'A riotously funny romp... a wonderful demonstration of acting.'

Melbourne Weekly

'Innovative, exciting and new.'

Herald Sun

'walks tumbles falls and even sings along a fine line between stand-up comedy and theatre'

TNT London

Written and performed by Tref Gare - The King's Player debuted in London in 1992 and has been performed across the UK, NZ, India and Australia.

  • Friday 19th April, 8pm (Opening Night)

  • Saturday 20th April, 8pm

  • Wednesday 24th April, 8pm

  • Thursday 25th April, 8pm

  • Friday 26th April, 8pm

In 1986, as a somewhat callow 21 year old, I set off from Melbourne on a 6 week Euro holiday to visit my Italian relatives and checkout the UK, land of my birth in the swinging sixties (though I’d left by the time I was 3 months old so I can’t really claim any significant Britishness or swinging 60ness). This 6 week holiday would, through a variety of fates, eventually stretch out to 9 years during which time I retrained from a general ‘actor for hire’ into a hybrid form of physical theatre that incorporated mime, text, music, mask and visual theatre… basically anything that suited the purpose and seemed like a good idea at the time. I did lots of training and an encouraging but relatively tiny amount of actual performing, so like a lot of folks I started to explore the idea of making my own work, rather than waiting for someone to make it for me. I formed a small production company, Eclectic Pelican, which to be fully honest consisted of just me, with the aim to create and tour actor based works of hybrid theatre. The pelican eventually produced 5 plays which toured various corners of the world to varying levels of success. King’s Player was the first of those and by far the most successful, being performed across the UK, Australia, New Zealand and India. It is the comfortable old shoe of the pelican repertoire and seems to be the Freddy Kruegger of them (ie: it never actually seems to die). The play’s genesis began when, fresh out of mime school, I was fortunate enough to score a gig touring Britain with an indie British theatre company called The Medieval Players. They were famous for works of highly physical, multi disciplinary theatre inspired by medieval traditions in which the audience was a prime, present and very active participant in the show. Prior to this, I had only had a very superficial understanding of the medieval period but while exploring the medieval players’ back catalogue, I started to get fascinated by the parallels I saw between the life of a travelling player in the middle ages and the life of an often hungry and intermittently employed modern actor. I decided it would be fascinating to do a show about that and set off to spend a year in France and Italy, studying Commedia Dell'Arte and “writing my one man show”. It was going to be an insightful and moving tome about a medieval performer and his skeletal horse. It was to be performed in authentic medieval style, incorporating mummers, masks, mime and probably some mud. It was going to be great. After my year on the continent I returned to London in 1991 with my script in tow and presented it to various producer friends who all smiled politely and informed me that what I’d written was rather ostentatious, a bit pretentious and overall basically crudulous. Noone was remotely interested in presenting it and my pride took a significant knock. However one cinder of possibility remained just faintly alight. While researching my opus, I’d struggled to find good examples of royal/noble court based performances. One of my friends suggested I look at the play within a play in Hamlet. It struck me that it might be funny if my medieval performer had been part of that troupe… which became an idea that perhaps he was that troupe… which became the first glimpse of the thing that eventually became King’s Player. However to get there I had to throw away my somewhat overwrought script and start from scratch. I improvised some basic ideas in front of friends in their lounge rooms - they encouraged me enough that I booked a fringe theatre for a few nights and extended that improvisation out to 20 mins. This produced more encouragement, so I booked a full season at a fringe theatre in South East London called the White Bear, got a costume made up by the overly talented Louisa Ruthven and borrowed some workshop time from my director friend Joanna Weir and extended the piece out to around an hour. Another friend, Frank Gibson worked for an advertising agency and knew an art director who was bored of photographing breakfast cereal and keen to do a pro bono project which resulted in a very beautiful poster and marketing materials. I remember first seeing the poster image and being struck that now I had to at least match that level of quality (and it was a very beautiful poster - no pressure). I think I had to sell a kidney or two to cover the printing costs but it was worth it. The season was a roaring success, unless you count the box office receipts or actual attendance figures. Next to nobody came - but those who did were appreciative and it reviewed well, so I decided to try and tour it. I spent about a year cold calling all the small and mid sized touring circuit theatres of Britain, armed with that beautiful poster, some photos and a small clutch of reviews. I was cheap, the marketing material was good and the show had an accessible hook in that everyone with a theatrical bent had at least heard of Hamlet and could get the idea of a physical theatre stand up comedy mashup, so I was eventually able to book a decent tour covering some very interesting corners and crevices of the UK. I then returned to Aus in 1994 to do a season at the Universal Theatre in Carlton, from where it was booked for a follow on season at the Downstage Theatre in Wellington New Zealand. It was during this time that the beautiful backdrop (a labor of love from Jen Ellis Stevens) was added. Since then it has done more touring in the UK, across Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, and a scattering of seasons in Melbourne and Bangalore India.

- Tref Gare on making The King's Player

19 - 26 April, 2024

Alex Theatre

Written & Performed by Tref Gare

The King's Player

The King's Player

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