This Charming Man, the very affable Matt Stewart draws in a full house as he gives a ‘Dry’ dose of ‘Very Dry’ at The Chinese Museum in Chinatown. He has taken his routine out of The Fringe and into the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, for a fresh round of laughs.
Getting to the venue is half the adventure, up the street hustle of Chinatown and into the historic site that sets the tone for the nights event. Stewart is unassuming, able to ‘break your guard’ whist never pouncing..
The key to his art is his unflinching delivery as he stares into the bright lights that veil the audience. He promises to give ‘A pretty Good Show ‘ It’s most likely one of the top ‘Pretty Good Shows’ on the circuit.
Even though Matt’s not your mate, he could be. With comic cool he creates a friendly rapport as he spins absurd Aussie tales and butters it with wacky wisdom. He is edgy with a blunt delivery. ,
As a Caped Crusader, Stewarts superpower is to engage, indulge and transfix.
The MICF Show is in town and Three Course Comedy is the show-bag of comic treats. Each night 3 Comedians take the stage to give you a sample size dish of their material. It’s a great way to be exposed to a range of comic styles, with a line up that changes each night.
James Bowen Gallery director
Fort Delta Gallery
MP went to the very ambient Fort Delta Gallery in Howey Place to be amused by Tim Hewitt, Adam Knox and Michael Shafer
Tim Hewitt warms up the Crowd, as first up in ‘Three Course’ line-up.
Hewitt is soaking in the City culture of MICF after doing the ‘hard yards’ in the parochial wilderness of Pokies Den’s and Greyhounds. The comics life may be rich in experience but it may not afford holidays to remote islands with Supermodels. There are compromises.
Hewitt has a personal warmth that endears the crowd, his suburban tales ‘touch a nerve’ and there are outbursts of laughter throughout the room.
With two comedians to follow, the routine manoeuvres speedily through his visual landscapes.
Also performing ‘Comedy Zone’ on the MICF circuit.
‘Knoxie’ is next
Knox brings a mix of cultural anomalies to his performance wrapping his clever wit around some pearls of insight. He wavers between action, concern and an offhand remarks. He establishes an instant rapport with the audience before entering his comfort zone, once there, he opens up to the deeper issues that concern him, like a mate does.
Knox is also a part of Chimp Cop Forever
Shafer breaks away from his sellout solo performance Jewis-ish to join his mates in this 3 course round-up. His routine is a bite sized, sped up sample of what audiences can expect to hear at the full show. Shafer continues to polish his work with diligent effort, comedy is not a vacation it’s his vocation.
Shafer manages to lead the course through the choppy waves of perception and throws out a line to the women in the audience, those that may be floundering in the male shallows.
Michael Shafar held his own at the momentous Trades Hall, that scrubbed up nicely, awash in neon for the MICF 2017.
Shafar is an eclectic blend of cultural experiences that have shaped and unshaped him. He is sorta Jewish, sorta Aussie,sorta cool, sorta nerd, sorta serious but definitely funny. His shows are selling out because the word is out, Shafar ‘nailed it’ this year.
Shafar examines his Jew-ish-ness with perplexed wonder. His grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and its more the ‘religousness’ than the faith that is up for review. He has a wealth of material to draw from that keeps the audience in stiches through out the performance. The crowd loved him and there was a reluctance for the show to end
MICHAEL SHAFAR is Jewish-ish at TRADES HALL Mar 30-Apr 23 8.30pm (no Wed & 7.30 on Sun)
Entry Stairs to Show
An interview with Michael Shafar
“I used to encounter a lot of anti-Semitism when I was playing football for my Jewish school. I played from the ages of 12-16 and it was interesting and sad to encounter kids making anti-Semitic comments. I’m interested in whether those kids actually understood what they were saying, or if they were just repeating taunts that they had heard from their surroundings.”
How do you feel about your performance this year?
So far I’ve been really happy with the shows. I’ve changed up a lot of the content since I last performed it in Perth and have also changed the overall structure to make the theme about being culturally Jewish a lot stronger. I think it’s definitely working better now.
What type of reaction have you experienced from Jewish-ish?
So far the reactions have been great. A lot of people have messaged me to let me know they enjoyed the show. It’s interesting to me how different people tweet different jokes to me from the show, so it’s nice that there are a lot of different jokes in there that people remember and relate to.
What has been your most profound experience? MP
“The Comedians I met in the US were young, emerging comics who taught me a lot about work ethic. In the US, comedians are often gigging 15 times per week, which is why their development is accelerated. I tried to absorb that work ethic as much as possible so I try to gig as much as possible around Melbourne.”
Do Comedians support each other?
“Whenever there is a controversy about something that a comedian has said or done, comedians tend to help each other through it.”
Is MICF different for you this year?
It’s different because it’s my first solo show, so it’s definitely a lot busier than any other year. I also need to manage my time a bit better than previous years, making sure I still get enough sleep, eat well and exercise (which I have failed to do for the first few nights, so hopefully I get more disciplined!)
The Australian Ballet presents new original work from current Choreographers that explore dance within our contemporary setting. The three acts are Faster,Squander and Glory and Infra.
There are no tutu’s , all are stripped down, very physical performances with strong male leads and a sense of urgency.
” I love the story telling and its ability for anyone to create their own interpretation and take away a unique experience.”Kevin Ho
The richness and pain of life takes place behind closed doors in our most intimate spaces. The drama of being unfolds, between the gaps of daily life. The ‘must do’s’ have no time for the intimate condition. The ‘must do’, is the daily travel to the daily toil. The other stuff is the real us.
English Choreographer Wayne Mc Gregor of the The Royal Ballet, explores the intimate in contrast to the business of life. As rich and deep as our lives are or are not, we dwell within a larger context . Those that fall out of the ‘infra’-structure, fall alone.
The ballet explores social and political content in dance, yet it is deeply sensual. There is a tribal call away from the world into the instinct. The male soloist that stands in for that call, is memorable in its power.
SQUANDER AND GLORY
Both Australia and Melbourne can be glad to boast of a choreographer as creative and insightful as Tim Harbour. Like INFRA, Harbour seems to be exploring the complexity of intimacy and power. Kevin Ho’s structure appears like a sculpture but looms as much more. The dancers sway to the cult of obedience as though the monument dominates them.
“The negative spaces that surround me…an instinct to carve out those shapes” Harbour
Visually every aspect of the work is sculptural, even the music seems to be in the act of carving. Every muscle in the dancers bodies seems to have been used to create texture, using light and shadow to enhance the effect.
Faster opens the triple bill, created in 2012, the year of the London Olympic Games, choreographer David Bintley recreates the drama.The Games are the ultimate statement of giving up everything to be first. To place it last rewinds us to how we got there. Faster, Greater and Better? How much personal ambition does it take to be a winner.
The dancers within Bintley’s work interchange into human and non-human parts. They may be a spinning disc or an abstraction of an ego. It explores the outer and inner world of the athlete, the frustration and self-abasement to the harmony of the work coming together within a united self.
This Triple Bill offers contemporary Ballet lovers, a physical. emotional and creative journey. They are raw and sensual Ballet’s that allow the dancers to explore new physical boundaries of space and movement.
Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre Mar 17-27
Sydney Opera House, Joan Sutherland Theatre Apr 7-26
Ironically, it is a storm that opens the tale of The Tempest, but here on the banks of the Maribyrnong River it is a brewing storm that ends it. Melbourne’s fickle weather has once again cast its cold spell on an outdoor event. It has ‘undid’, subverted and prevented the ambition of this ‘goodly’ play. The stunning performance that was on Friday and Saturday was ‘naught’ on Sunday.
What could have been is; Prospero, performed by Brendon Ewing, dark with revenge and drawing his past into the currents of his macabre island home, seeking familiar company with unkindly aims, that give way to kindness sway. This tale untold, due to weather, it had to fold, so the cast did the next best thing, they sang.
Sly Rat Theatre Co.’s artistic directors Alan Chambers and Andy Harmsen have created a unique vision for The Tempest, inspired by science-fiction classics. The Pipework’s Natural Museum is a beautiful outdoor space, rich in atmosphere and a perfect setting for a summer picnic, weather permitting.
“It’s a Rock and Roll version of Shakespeare, it’s very loud and very big”Director Andy Harmsen
Within the warm hub of the group, a buzz with laughter, singing and the smell of burnt sausage, it is easy to forget that the cancellation of a show could be disappointing, they are taking it so well. It’s a chance to catch up with some of the actors and chat about their role’s, the few that aren’t belting out a tune.
First up is Todd Levi
“We like to push the boundaries but still tell a great story.. it’s Shakespeare, how he would like it done today…Its bawdy, its real and it is entertainment first and foremost. Prospero has been marooned on a magical island, betrayed by his sister and he’s been there for 12 years. He spies the evildoers sailing by and raises a tempest, a storm that shipwrecks them on the island where he prepares to take his revenge. It’s the search for redemption the final words of the play are; ‘As you from crimes would pardon’d be, let you indulgence set me free’
What made you choose this venue? MP
“It’s a magical place, it’s a place where the community comes and we played here last year to over 2000 people … most of them had not seen live theatre before, let alone Shakespeare, and playing to an audience like that and seeing them fall in love with it”
Did you factor in the weather? MP
“You don’t expect to have nine shows of good weather every-time, hopefully this is our one and only cancellation.”
Next up is Tara Hauton
“Steph and I play the clowns, technically it’s the Court Jester but Andy and Alan have re-invented it to be two women who have been to the races all day long and have arrived at the play. We exist outside the world of the play and that’s where the comedy of the role happens…we are very drunk.
and Ty Holdsworth
It’s a play about weather, most Melbournians can relate to that.
Sly Rat Perfomance
Tempest in the park
Fri,Sat & Sunday nights at 6.30 until March 5
Pipework’s Natural Museum Park on the banks of the Maribrynong River
One doesn’t need an excuse to head to Fitzroy. Melbourne’s old bohemia and the new swank of money have morphed the district into the cutting edge of style and art. Even Charcoal Lane has had a makeover and looks like a cool Club.
I’m heading up Smith Street to the Gertrude Street Projection Festival. The cafes, restaurants, barbers and bars are a light show, each establishment competing to win ‘the most ambient award’. It’s a feast of visual splendour and I haven’t yet arrived at ‘Gertrude’.
The Builders Arms hotel, on the corner, is awash with Kate Geck’s gay colours and crisp designs of her composition Apeiron, exploring decay’s victory over the force of materialism.It’s the gateway into the creative heartland, flanked over the road is the Gertrude Hotel also vividly lit, with the design Imaginary Atlas by Sean Capone. Within the festival there are a diverse display of styles; the bright, subtle,intriguing and the sublime.
Luzon Adams sensual work Reverie, was utterly captivating, in a liquid dance by underwater videographer Peter Bucknell, she explores the mystery and epic power of the red-haired character. For the viewer it appears as though a woman is emerging, like new life out of the building exterior.
The most charming display was the neon light on the Housing Commission building that read ‘HOME’. In its simplicity it encourages a non threatening view of the estate and reminds us of the sacred spaces where we all live. Its is no longer a block.
Banner Photo: Gloss by Petrina Hicks
Title from the Lyric’s of Charcoal Lane by Archie Roach
Crowds gathered around NGV International on the crisp cool Saturday night, to enjoy the White Night projections. The mood was relaxed as the audience waited for the remains of the day, to become night.
The projection used the entire space of the facade, a perfect blank canvas for award-winning artist Josh Muir. Emma Donovan and James Henry provided the haunting soundscape, it was a flawless collaboration. Still Here was a visual feast with a political edge.
It began with a bird flying peacefully across the building, followed by an eruption of circular abstract formations, representing creation. The new scene was of Aboriginal men on the beach, with a catch, as the women sat in circles, chatting.
On the horizon, crosses that symbolised the coming of a new culture, draw closer and a storm thunders down, closing the curtains on that era.
In the new scene ,the landscape is less sympathetic, however the newly clothed Aboriginal people continue on with family life. A white van drives down a road to a family sitting together. A white man comes out of the van and pulls the child away, the parents fight the intruder but they are over powered. The child is put into the van and driven off. The mother wails as the father collapses with despair.
There is a shocked murmur in the audience.
“They are taking the kids” is voiced throughout the large gathering.
In the next scene City life has taken over, trams ‘ding’ and cars roar by. It was a blatant statement. Muir was evoking the viewer through the power of Art. It was stunning.
‘I am a proud Yorta Yorta/ Gunditjmara man, born and living in Ballarat, Victoria. I hold my culture strong to my heart – it gives me a voice and a great sense of my identity. When I look around, I see empires built on aboriginal land. I cannot physically change or shift this, though I can make the most of my culture in a contemporary setting and use my art projects to address current issues of reconciliation.’ WhiteNightMelbourne
If you saw no other projection, White Night Melbourne was a great success.
Other Aboriginal Artists represented on White Night Melbourne were Reko Reno at Federation Square and Pitch Makin Fellas, a group work at The Exhibition Buildings.
The annual Movember Pub Crawl was in full swing, in Richmond. The fund raiser, released a burst of color and fun onto the streets, with 200 adults peddling bikes that are meant for 5 year olds. The shoppers come to a stand still as the parade swirled around them. It is a joyful event with an aim to raise money and awareness for mens health.
Brent & Hayley rode on Mo Crawler, a construction that they built themselves and won the Grand Prize, for having the best stead.
“It’s a great cause and we need a lot more people to donate.”
Fun and Movement are the objectives of the campaign in an effort to encourage mental and physical health. Currently three out of four suicides are men and on average five men each day take their life through suicide in Australia
The Movember Foundation is a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $685 million and funding over 1,000 programs focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity.
For activities men & women can be involved in go to Movember Foundation website.
White Ribbon Ambassadors are men who recognise the importance of taking responsibility and playing a leadership role in preventing men’s violence against women. They are formal representatives who have the knowledge, skills, attributes and determination to influence Australian men to critically evaluate their attitudes and behaviours toward women.
Brent Howard, a White Ribbon Ambassador, ran the Medibank Melbourne Marathon to raise money and awareness for the prevention of violence towards women. He is a young father and committed to the it’s objectives.
“Eva (his daughter) is why programs like White Ribbon are so important. I for one, don’t want my daughter to grow up in a country where Domestic Violence is a common occurrence. When she grows up I want to be able to look her in the eye and say I didn’t stand by, I did something to make her world a better place.
Howard was the grandson of a caring woman who was a victim of domestic violence.
The person I think of most when I run is my Nan. My Nan was subjected to domestic abuse by the man she married. He died long before she did and with it so did the abuse. But what he left behind was a wife and 6 kids. My Nan was the most determined, caring and courageous woman I’ve known. She earned the nick name Sadie as she worked 3 cleaning jobs to keep a roof over her children’s heads. Growing up my Nan was an avid runner, but I never knew her as a runner. This along with many other things is something you have to give up when left to pay the bills and look after a house full of kids.
I run for White Ribbon, for those like my Nan. – for those who can’t”
“Men’s violence against women is a serious social issue in Australia and has been for decades. Now this issue has a more focused spotlight, it is a critical opportunity for government and services to better work together, to create real social change”claims Libby Davies, CEO of White Ribbon Australia
Ms. Davies also called on governments to increase support for violence prevention:
“There is evidence that prevention is working. We have data showing that White Ribbon programs are driving the attitudinal and behavioral change needed to stop men’s violence against women.
Brent Howard raised $5,792.32 for the protection of women
“I use my love of running to raise awareness and funds for White Ribbon Australia.”
The West have had a ‘hell of a time’ getting here.
Airfares have skyrocketed to the point that it is cheaper to go to Europe from Perth, than to Melbourne.Word on the street is that one of the airlines held back ticket sales for 2 weeks untill the final outcome was decided and then, the price hike. What to do?
There is talk that many booked to go to New Zealand, because it was cheaper, got off at Melbourne and did not return to the flight.
Some flew via Bali and Singapore,they had a mini break and then arrived in Melbourne. It was cheaper than flying direct.
There are those that flew via Adelaide and Sydney, but the airlines caught on. Prices went up.
The rest drove. The Nullarbor Plain, not an interesting landscape, for 2 days it is as flat as a dead liner (and still another day to go).
Its a long way to come, to watch the West Coast Eagles lose bitterly to Hawthorns, Hawks.
‘Existentialism the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.’
Simon Godfrey’s Dadaistic comedy is a complex ,high energy, minimalist work, marked by the absurd.
“Let us take the rest of Ukraine”
There are over a dozen characters in Simon Godfrey’s ‘Sauce’, each distinctive and brilliantly performed, in his one-man show. He needs nothing more than his imagination to bewitch. Godfrey turns a condiment into a high stakes adventure. He is a force.
If you can fix a pipe are you an old man or a little girl? Jessica McKerlie ‘throws a spanner’ into gender prejudice. What defines our sexuality, is it our body or our mind? Can a woman who believes she is a man become a transsexual? McKerlie challenges the status quo of being, in a solo show. It’s an exploration into our humanity, told with tricks and slips.
“Don’t confuse my sex with my gender”
Her eyes flash into the souls of the audience as she keeps them tittering on the edge.
“Thank you for letting me label you.”
Andi Snelling got a standing applause for her solo performance, as a girl growing through the banal experiences that ‘rocked her world’. The witty script compounded a couple of decades with multi-media and song, whist exploring the philosophy of time and self. Snelling mocked the self-indulgence of the autobiography, that the audience related to, with bursts of laughter.
“Guess what? I found four dollars at Timezone!”
It was a beautifully crafted work, packed with clever charm and brilliant timing.
Milliners, Kim Fletcher and Kerrie Stanley claim that occasional dressing is part of the fun of going to events like the Melbourne Cup. This is their accessory forecast for racegoers this season. They want to see less fluff on the ends of combs; they want more substance and structure.
“We’ve grown up,” claims Ms. Fletcher
There are more materials available for them to develop their craft and to be more experimental. They are looking for non-traditional millinery items. They would like to see Melbournian women distinguish themselves by being more adventurous in head fashion. Their aim is for our Cup to be a unique fashion statement.
“Using stuff ‘outside the square’ and making them more modern.” Ms. Fletcher adds.
The women agree that Melbourne has some of the best milliners in the world and claims that the industry has stood the test of time due to the Melbourne Cup.
“We have a more casual lifestyle that’s why dressing up for the racers is such a big deal, even some weddings are quite casual in reference to their dress code.” Ms. Fletcher points out.
The primping and priming that Kim and Kerry agree on, is a major incentive for attending the event. The economic flow-on affects a myriad of other industries such as hairdressers, manicurists; make up artists and so forth. We are given a Public Holiday to attend and play our role in its success.
Kim Fletchers headpiece that she dons sprouts red flowers that move whimsically in the breeze. In contrast Kerrie Stanley wears perky bud ariels reminiscing pixie ears.