Category Archives: Melbourne Reviews

Captain Australia

Melbourne Fringe 2016

Matt Stewart is ‘DRY’ at the Courthouse.

In the small ‘Attic’ of the Courthouse Hotel, Stewart warms up the crowd with off-beat humour and cultural observations.

He quickly builds a strong rapport with the audience. The jokes are uniquely Australian and as the room laughed loudly throughout the performance; a couple of overseas visitors looked on perplexed. His humour  is based on shared experiences that create a ‘party’ experience, as everybody ‘is in’ on the joke.

Stewart’s ‘lay-back’ demeanour and monotone delivery puts the crowd at ease, as his eyes search out his next sidekick. He opens the floor and allows a degree of improv, exacting sharp timing as he tosses a clever slip of irony back into the fold.

No Aussie performance can ignore the ‘heart of darkness’ of our vast continent and he does touch of some uncomfortable satire which is inserted between playful wit. He is a genuine comic, the type that other comedians would go to watch.

You will laugh so hard that your face will ache.

 

“I like him in general; his tone, the dryness, the way he comes across…his delivery” Mike Barnes Comedian*

 

Matt Stewart ; 2014 Raw Comedy Winner            At the Courthouse Hotel, Nth Melb

Sept 26 -Oct 2

Review by A Forward

*Mike Barnes; Comedian and Manager of The Tickle Pit (Melbourne Fringe) @ Fancy Hank’s  

Paperless Office

“The whole of life is an artwork, we are just going through the stages of it.”  Coleman  

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Xan Coleman is the Director of a Durational Action Artwork that is currently being held at the Meat Market in North Melbourne.

“We are digitizing and destroying the entire company archives of A is for Atlas, as it turns 10 at the end of this week. We are reflecting..” Coleman

When MP arrived Coleman was shredding the play ‘No Exit’ that was staged in 2012.It is a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. It consists of three characters that bring out the worse in each other and are doomed to spend eternity together, this is their hell. Ironically, the play was held in an underground space, next to the Vic Market that has since been entombed under concrete, hindering it without an exit.

Theatre chairs are in place, if you want to grab a coffee and view the work of Yuhui Ng-Rodriguez as she scans, or Coleman as he shreds. Toni Main’s sewing machine creates a ‘musical’ background as Julie Renton creates soft furniture on the floor. The public are invited to participate in the making of soft office toys that will be given away at the end of the week.

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The mundane in this Happening, becomes the intersection of destruction and transformation,  public are generally invited to such rites of passage. For ‘A is for Atlas’ the cultural past has been kept in storage for a decade. In this installation the past is physically destroyed and sent into a cloud.

Ritual, regardless of its simplicity, marks change and unity. A marriage is more than a couple ‘hooking up’; eating fish on Good Friday or kissing strangers on New Years Eve, marks a profound event or change. The shredding of the emotional and creative achievement’s of this company, is significant.

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Childs drawing saved from the shredder

Each of the players have rewarding discoveries in the sorting; Coleman saved some children’s drawings and mounted them on the wall, Ng-Rodriguez connected with some architectural drawings of the Powerhouse; Main found it exhilarating to cut into an old animal print costume and Renton, left only with the shreds, creates soft furniture.

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On Friday night the bar is open, the musicians arrive and the ‘post-it’ party begins to cap off the week.

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Ends July 29

Article by A Forward

We cross over Smith Street to the end of the Line

Gertrude Street Projection Festival

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’.

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Gertrude Hotel

 

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

Photographs and article by A Forward

https://www.instagram.com/melbourne_press/

Psychosis, the lonely poet

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Sarah Kane wrote the play 4:48 Psychosis as she plummeted deeper into her despair. This is her final curtain fall, the finale of her creative life. Ironically she digs her lonely days of dirt with words that are crafted with epic beauty.

‘Love keeps me a slave in a cage of tears’

Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar or Shakespeare’s Othello are fitting comparisons to a raw but majestic construction of words. Kane is a natural poet capable of building a visual palace out off the darkest recesses of her mind.  Director Kendall-Jane Rundle chose a naked space to adorn the language.

Kane is terrified of banality.

‘Don’t shut off my mind’

‘Theres not a drug on Earth that can make this life meaningful’

The drug that Kane aches for is Hope.

‘I am charging toward my death.’

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Despite the dark subject matter, it is a strong script, tailored direction and an absorbing performance.

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Kendall-Jane Rundle

The Director and principle Actor Kendall-Jane Rundle responded to the tiredness of Kane by using furniture that was muted rather than white to create the worn-out feel that the writer expresses. She toned down the delivery to create a realistic feel to the drama. On Thursday night an audience that suffered the affliction viewed the performance and claimed that it was an accurate portrayal of the condition.

Jeff Wortman played the Doctor and love interest of Kane’s character. In the performance his professional position kept him aloof from the desperation of his patient, she tries to pull him in and he tries to pull away. As an actor it was just as difficult to ‘turn off’ to the confronting content.

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Jeff Wortman

Without wanting to take her pain

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Shane Grant

Shane Grant created the lighting for the episodic depiction of Kane; rather than being a light that shines from above his lights chase her through the darkness and allows the audience to fold into the deeper layers of the script.

Overall it was perfectly complete.

“At the end she was calm” Rundle

 

 

Review & Photography by A Forward

A Suspicious Mind

Class Act theatre updates an ancient play, The Winters Tale, by dressing the actors within a modern context. The audience are informed of the rank and occupation of the players through chiffon gowns,well cut suits and the Louis Vuitton luggage of the privileged class. The Mariner and shepherds are more roughly attired.

Katherine Innes role as Hermoine morphs her lines into this century with an Aussie twang and everyday gestures, which translates the material with natural ease. The strong cast dig into the tragedy, of a leader who has fallen victim to his own mind. The repercussions of his suspicions, spiels  the leading class into the task of damage control.It takes fate to heal the wounds and bring back order.

MP spoke to The Designer, Jaz Wickson and The Director , Stephen Lee before the show.

Jaz Wickson     

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Jaz Wickson Designer

“The show has wonderful feminist undertones. The three main women are Paulina (Angelique Malcom) the wise woman; Hermione (Katharinne Innes) who is the mother figure and goes through a terrible time,losing her daughter, her son,and then her own life; and there is Perdita (Ivy Latimer). There are many men but the women are stars.”

“With this production we’ve tried to keep it timeless. Think fairytale today, an Australian Fairytale. We have a very Australian Bohemia when we go there, with all of the accents.Design wise,its very ‘man from snowy river’ and the Court are dressed like they’re at a wedding, as this doesn’t change much.

With the set; Northcote Town Hall is an interesting space, its not a black box theatre, it has a hardwood floor so we integrated it.  We used chiffon drapes, that the actors walk in and out of, we’re not hiding the space but rather enhancing it.For the centre piece, it’s a tree, with changes of season.”

How did you get involved with the program? MP

“I’ve been a designer for a few years now, I work with Class Act theatre, they have just moved their base from Perth to Melbourne, I do the costumes and set.”

Is it a traditional Shakespeare script?

“Yes, Our Director Steven Lee has directed over 30 Shakespeare plays.”

Stephen Lee

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Stephen Lee Director

“This is probably my 35th Shakespeare play”

Where does that passion come from? MP

“When I was 18, I saw my first Shakespeare play and I was so captivated, it was nothing like I had done at school.”

What play was that? MP

“That was King Lear, it was with Donald Sinden, an actor people don’t know anymore. It was such a magical experience and I was transported. That was 40 odd years ago. I’ve probably directed a couple of hundred productions.”

What’s the shape of theatre in Australia? MP

“Theatre around the world is thin, it’s been overtaken by so many other forms of entertainment. Cinema is still hanging in there but television, video and the internet ….”

Why should people go to theatre? MP

“All these other forms of entertainment may be fine, but there is no immediacy like a direct performance for you. …That night is performed just for you and it will never be the same on any other night.

It’s a special one-off thing just for that audience. It’s incredible, you’re  joining with the actors , sharing in a unique experience.”

Tell me about Winters Tale. MP

” It’s about two Kings and one King starts to suspect the other  of having an affair with his wife. It’s totally ungrounded as they have grown up together, since they were kids. Suddenly he believes he is being cheated on.

He tries to bring down the other King, that fails, then he tries to put his wife on trial for adultery… It gets blacker and blacker and blacker and in the second half, the time and place switches into a mood of redemption and reconciliation. It becomes funny, heart-warming and it has one of the most moving endings, of any Shakespeare play.”

How does this relate to modern times? MP

” We wear different clothes and talk slightly differently but we are still driven by the same things and ideas, feeling jealous or insecure, not trusting other people is the same now as it was four Centuries ago.”

 

 

Until June 11

at Northcote Town Hall (a Licensed Venue)

 

 

Photography & review by A Forward

Flesh Eating Tiger

Flesh Eating Tiger by Amy Tofte

with brilliant performances by Amy Gubana and Marcus Molneux.

“I hate this f-king play”the actor roars; chaotic in self hate and desire. Its a vicious cycle, a play within a play.

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“I love you” she pleads, imagining her only reflection is through his eyes.

The stench of sweat and loves final battle breaks out in front of the audience that stare like children, watching the horror of substance fueled passion. Despite the abstract fury of the torn lovers, the play is built on a tight structure and examines the cult of alcoholism.

It is a brutal contemporary play, with a brilliant script and prize acting, the direction has an expanding boundary, webbed together with invisible threads.

Its not serious.

Its just physical.

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I can end it whenever I want.

WRONG!

“I want out!”

He is addicted to alcohol, and she is addicted to rejection.They want to be abused. They don’t want surface beauty, they want to wrestle the beast beneath.

“I heard about stupid people like this I didn’t know, I would be one.”

Love without a boundary, is life without rest.

This drama explores complex emotional themes that are part of the contemporary fabric of human life. It explores desire and it’s not pretty.

 

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The Owl and the Pussycat is the go to place for  serious artistic exploration.

imageThe Director Gabrielle Savrone, explains her involvement with the production.

“Flesh eating tiger is a bit of a beast, it’s an abstract art piece. I’m an Abstract painter so I see the play like that. There’s the words,the actors and the design…the concept is how things bleed between life and art. You create what you live and its a part of who you are.

She’s addicted to him and he’s addicted to alcohol.Its a tangled mess. What we are watching is their relationship, the play that they are creating about their relationship within a play. It’s quite fun.Essentially it’s a love story, a tragedy.”

How did you get involved in the project? MP 

“I met Amy (Tofte)at a conference in Alaska three years ago,we were room buddies. I went to watch her play reading, it was this and I fell in love with it. When I took over the theatre, nearly two years ago,  this was the first play we put on.”Savrone

Actor Braydon Lewtas extends himself to assist in the Direction of the production.

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Assistant Director Braydon Lewtas

“The Artistic Director, Thomas Doyle cast me in the two previous plays that were shown at the theatre; Paper and Boys Club. I always wanted to be a Director, so I expressed that to the owner of the theatre, Gabrielle”Lewtas

“I’d like to write and direct and put on my own play in the future.”

The small bohemian venue is a hub of creativity, the friendly barman is Doyle, the Artistic Director and struggling play writer. He wrote the script for Paper which took a stab at modern media and corrupt journalists. His play Riot went to The Last Frontier Conference in Alaska.

“I like provocative material, work that provokes people and is also entertaining. I wrote my first play when I was eight. I thought I wanted to be an actor but then I realised that playwriter’s have all the power. ” Doyle

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Artistic Director Braydon Lewtas

 Amy Tofte Playwriter of Flesh Eating Tiger

Amy was recently recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a 2015 Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting. Her plays have been semi-finalists for the nuVoices Festival (Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte), Kitchen Dog Theatre’s New Works Festival, The Source Festival and The Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship. Flesh Eating Tiger premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in Melbourne in 2015. Tiger was remounted at the Hollywood Fringe where it was named “Best of Fringe” and nominated for Best Play. Tofte is a founding member of the play development company Fierce Backbone in LA and is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild.

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Until June 4 at

The Owl and the Pussycat

Swan St.  Richmond

 

Review & photography by April Forward

 

 

 

 

I (honestly) love you.

I (honestly) Love You at The National 

REVIEW

Have you ever been on a date from Hell and loved it?

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There are three members in this relationship, him her and the ‘vicious truth’. The great accident of love has a few battles to get through, before the home run. The first awkward encounter is to meet the parents and then the friends. 

The show digs into the trenches, of love for the long-term, despite its personal cost. 

“She plays netball …I have to go to every F******* game”

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The play explores the sharp cut of truth in a dishonest world. How can we hold down a relationship or job, if the real shatters our delusions? It’s a clever script that breaks down the comfort zones, with large slaps of humour.

“It was very entertaining, the humour was quite witty and unpredictable….I laughed most of the way through it” John (audience)

“I loved the energy that the actors had, the sound effects, audience involvement and the six part bit.” Gilly (audience)  

“An interesting insight into relationships and how hard we try to make everyone around us happy when in doing so it actually makes everyone, including ourselves unhappy ……interesting.” Alannah (audience)


Interview with Damon Lockwood.

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“I wondered if being able to tell the truth to your partner at all times would be the answer to the perfect relationship, and this play is the result.”

What keeps you honest (honestly)? MP

‘The new app that allows my partner to know where I am at all times, by where my phone is at. Once again, thank you technology.’

Why did you choose this show? What’s the story behind it?

‘I didn’t go to the best of schools as a child, so when I ran into an old school friend and he reminded me of a truly filthy joke we used to tell each other in Grade 4, something about Pinocchio being honest in the toy box, the idea for the play sprang into my head and the script flowed out of me. Crappy education has given me so much…’

What is your main talent? MP

‘I keep striving to make my main talent writing …you can’t polish a turd’… delightful, but so apt when it comes to creating great theatre. So I am saying I would like writing to be my main talent but it really is a life-long path.

Also, I make a seriously good omelette.

What are the ingredients to a great show?

A good script helps a lot, like, a lot. For me, a show that deeply considers the audience’s enjoyment and not just their ‘luck’ at witnessing some supposed brilliance on stage I feel is also important. Great actors don’t hurt either, and did I say a great script I think is really important?’

What impressed you about the Edinburgh Festival?

‘The sheer scale of the thing was redonkulous, but the Perth Fringe Guide is beginning to have eerily similar weight and look to it as the Edinburgh one.

The energy on the back streets is electrifying. The main press event was hilarious, where you line up for an hour and a half to speak to a journalist for three minutes who already has tickets to La Soiree on the one night they might have been able to come to your show.

It’s true, Scottish people truly are waterproof – they can stand in the rain and simply not get wet! Survival mutation born from centuries of damp weather, I guess.

What do you imagine your future to be? MP

Man, that is a heck of a question! Seeing as there are no jobs in the theatre in Perth … then I’m pretty excited about a long career in bus driving. And I’ll always write, I think, I do love the endless bloody tangle with the blank page and those concrete words that sometimes glow.

What keeps you motivated? MP

‘I think the joy I receive creating work that allows audiences to witness other great actors ply their trade is very rewarding. There are so many talented actors out there who through bad timing or sheer dire fate don’t get the opportunities they deserve. At least this way I am able to give them an impressive 11% cut of the door takings’

What are the ingredients for a great relationship?

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‘… in all extreme  likelihood I will never be a relationships counsellor, I would say… who knows?

Maybe a couple that complement each other perhaps, so that between the two of you there’s a fighting chance you may have all the aspects of this life thing somewhat covered (like I do all the cooking and cleaning and gardening and my partner can answer the door when there’s some delivery guy there that I can’t handle making small talk with)?

And great sex. Oh, and honesty! Of course, yes, honesty, on all things… some things… on some most things… … … sometimes…’

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I (honestly) Love You has played at Edinburgh Fringe and New York Fringe achieving great reviews. The show has Melbourne actors, Jimmy James Eaton and George Gayler in the lead roles with Damon Lockwood is the playwright and director (his show HorseHead was on at La Mama in 2014).

Venue: The National Theatre

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13 – 16 April 2016
7.30pm
Tickets: $25
Bookings: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.au

 

 

 

 

 

Rich or Chic?

If given the choice, would you prefer to be Rich or Chic?

At the Melbourne French Film Festival, Marguerite played to an audience that was both humoured and pained, by the elite heroine.

“She is absolutely mad, I love it.”

Melbourne French Film Festival 2016, review.

The opening scene is of a young Parisian Opera Singer, Hazel (Christa Theret), arriving at an aristocratic Chateau, to perform at a singing party, where the hostess is the main act.Marguerite Dumont (Catherine Frot) arrives with splendour, after a feast of beautiful voices , she is completely tone death and splendidly off-key. The audience guard their laughter, behind their hands. Her wealth ensures a loud applause and flowers, as she remains ignorant of the farce.

“Did you see her eyes, the loneliness?”

Deceptive plots hatch around her as she stumbles on, in search of truth and love. Her life goes on a wild journey of fun mischief, with rebels that are ‘rich in spirit’.

“Aren’t we free to sing a song about freedom?”

The film is based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins. Money may buy praise but not talent.

“Money doesn’t matter, having it does!”

Lavishly shot (Glynn Speekaert), its a period drama set in the 20’s, directed by Xavier Ginnoli. Winner of Best Actress; Best Sound; Best Costume Design and Best Production Design at Cesar Awards.

‘It’s a gift; siting the ruin of unkindness’ MP ‘fabulous &  complete’

 

 

A Night with the Magician

The Mystica

David Stewart is the gentle observer looking into the mystic, the place outside of us. It’s a blend of science and intuition. He tunes into the mind waves of the audience and has a high success rate of accuracy.

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The highlight of the show was when he asked three people to sit down if his was able to decipher the words they held and projected with their minds. They all sat down.

Before the show at the Butterfly Club, Melbourne Press talked to Stewart next to an ornamental bar in a corridor. As we chatted a line started to form and people were handing over tickets. As a joke we collected the tickets, and then handed them back. It was an uncanny display of perception.

It was the death of a family member that sparked his interest in the unknown. Many can move on, but others linger and wonder. Stewart attends many festivals, once for some alone time,  he ventured up a hill and was confronted with the spirit of the person he was missing. This reassured him that his life was on the right path.

“Do you trust me?” he asks an audience member.

Why should we trust you? MP
‘Knowing what makes other people tick, you probably shouldn’t… But hopefully my honesty is trustworthy’. Stewart.

Trust is not easily won but when authenticity is involved, the guard does drop. Stewart is on tour from England, he is interested in the ground work of Ancient Mediums and adds Psychology and Hypnosis into the mix.

“Dreams are extremely significant it’s where we spend eight hours of our waking life, we’re still conscious in our dream state and they tell us valuable lessons, where we are supposed to go in the future and even predict our future and give us guidance….Its more than writing them down, it’s taking an active role, being part of themStewart

Stewart emphasises the need to be an active participant in your creation of life. Each of us is given a blank canvas and its up to us what we create. It begins in our subconscious, it requires all our roaring energy (don’t subdued it with alcohol or drugs), think it, believe it, push your energy forward and ‘hickory dock’ “POW! Here comes your manifestation, your future!

What are your dreams? MP
‘I want to see the world; creating, making, everywhere I go’ Stewart

Life is an important place to explore; get on with it.

 

For those born in the 80’s, Annie’s time warp.

PEE STICK, performed at the Butterfly Club

REVIEW

Annie is 50% pregnant, she is in the marginal world of maybe and maybe not. There is nothing to do but wait the 45 minutes for the Pee Stick verdict. The audience waits with her.

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It is the human drama that most women have had to consider. Am I pregnant?

For a single girl in the 80’s, it’s a scandal; a proactive modern girls entitlement; a workplace misfit or life on the park bench. Annie chooses to rise above the difficulties and doubts. There is no going home. This timid soul  is about to embark on a life journey.

Carly Milroy handles the subject matter in a comic but gracious performance. The little girl attitude of the young woman she plays, fits the 80’s mould of women, that have gained meagre progress, and ‘bit off more than they can chew’.

The Artist tackles a historic piece and succeeds in capturing a time before she was born. The working woman, that time juggles children in the our modern climate, and takes up kick boxing; is a far cry away from the 80’s girl, that protested for basic rights.

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“There is nothing I wont get right as a parent ….. I have no idea what I am doing …. but we’ll work it out.”

It was a fun journey, and she has a beautiful singing voice.

3 Course Comedy

Three Comics, Michael Shafar,  Sam Taunton and Tim Hewitt fought it out for top laughs, from the high-spirited audience at the Butterfly Club. Their latest serving, 3 Course Comedy, was a solid bill of entertainment.

Sam

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Gave a stoic monologue of rich comic content that evoked waves of laughter. Like a conjurer with a steady glance, he drew soul out of his poor experiences. With an unshakable confidence, he held the crowd and watched the sets come in.

Michael

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Poked the audience with the long arm of justice, pointing out the absurd and ridiculous. The crowd shared the intimacy of humanity and laughed in unison. The night was  hotting up.

Tim

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Hewitt burst forth with frenzied energy, as he bore through the tatters of his desperate existence. He takes the full crowd on an emotional journey and binds tragedy with hysterical farce.

Shoot from the Hip

‘The concept was so fascinating and unexpected.’

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Set up like an ‘old school’ radio show, Shoot from the Hip is an original work with actors playing multiple characters and reading directly from scripts. It was like sitting in a radio station and watching the show as it goes to air. It even included a band and advertisements from sponsors, sung like jingles.

‘The voice is an actor’s greatest tool and these three definitely used theirs to the best of their ability! Very impressive to witness!’

The actors did a fabulous job, playing multiple characters and using a range of voices. These weren’t subtle alterations, there were sex changes, smooth accents and rich tonal textures. The talent and work required to manipulate the voice in such a way is highly impressive.

‘They reached a large and varied audience with great success’

An age range from 13 to 40+enjoyed the show, it was great to see teenagers laughing at sophisticated jokes .

‘It just goes to show how great the writing and performances were.’ 

Starring: Ivy Latimer, Charlie Sturgeon and Cassie Vagliviello
Written by Justin Cheek
Designed by Sarah Tulloch
Songs composed by Ashleigh Southam
Directed by Jeremy Rice

REVIEW BY Alannah Woods

A Snippet of the Fringe

Three Artists, three stages, 3 fabulous hours

‘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.’

THE PERFORMANCE

SAUCE

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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.

 GENDER SPANNER

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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.”

DEAR DIARY

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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.

Jake Webb’s incredible vocal range

“A great vibe from everyone present.”

Melbourne Press sent musically (classical) trained, Alannah Woods to review Methyl Ethel at their sold out, album launch of OH INHUMAN SPECTACLE, at Shebeen. Woods will cringe and give poor ratings to bad tones and flat notes, in this instance she was enthralled.

‘The band made everyone feel so at ease, they chatted to the crowd and made jokes about sleeping on couches and befriending fans. They connected with their audience and made them part of the show, which kept it personal.

Lead singer, Jake Webb’s unique voice, has a great high register, that not many men can boast of. The tone was so clear and strong, I could have listened to it all night!

Each song varied, it was great to hear something new being played, rather than the same style over and over again, which tends to happen with some bands. Each song had its own style and mood.’

Standing Ovations

In The Upper Room

Miranda Caney & Tim Harbour, Photograph by Jeff Busby
Miranda Caney & Tim Harbour, Photograph by Jeff Busby

The Australian Ballet’s 20:21 wowed audiences with a Triple Bill of modern and contemporary dance, that moved the audience to their feet. The costumes and the sets were minimal so the production relied heavily on the skill of the dancers and the talent of the choreographers.

If the dancers felt exposed by their limited artifice, they did not show it, in fact, they embraced it.The dancers were un-caged flying freely though the score and exploring modern motifs. The zeal of the dancers slapped the audience awake as they were witnessing their living time and their Art. It was beyond fable, it was flesh and blood, it embraced our moment.

The third and final ballet of the triple bill was Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room, it was reminiscent of ‘The Red Shoes’ but with a twist. Those that dance beyond a dalliance, are not outcasts, doomed to roam alone, but rather the front-runners of fashion. The audience may have been on the bench but they had gone to the party.

Costume designer Norma Kamall has to be congratulated for telling it all, by disclosing less.

Do you fear the Dark?

Do You Fear The Dark begins with the poignant short play Perhaps, in which a despairing mother envisages increasingly unnerving and outlandish scenarios for her runaway daughters.

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Following a vibrant musical number that links the two plays, we are thrust into the dark heart of fantasy with the chilling and modern ‘fairy tale’ Tom Tat

Award winning Dramatic Pause was initiated by writer Hayley Lawson-Smith and her husband David Lawson-Smith, a director. Together, they have entered various one act play festivals and Short & Sweet competitions. ‘Do You Fear the Dark?’ is their new and exciting venture comprising of two plays, ‘Perhaps’ and ‘Tom Tat’, both of which incorporate music and movement.

‘Perhaps’ was created at Sherbrooke Theatre Company’s Play in a Day event. Written in one night, this fantasy received excellent audience, response after only a day’s rehearsal.

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‘Tom Tat’, the story of a modern-day Rumpelstiltskin and Pandora was first performed at the annual PlaySix Festival in 2014 as a 20-minute play. Director Natasha Broadstock who had met Hayley earlier that year, when they both acted in the Midsummer Festival. She loved its quirky darkness so much that she requested Hayley explore the script further, with the goal of producing it for a longer season.’Perhaps’ and ‘Tom Tat’, now a far more substantial play of 40 minutes, they complement each other beautifully.

The director and all the performers were part of the ensemble cast of Mockingbird Theatres 2014 production of ‘Quills’. Each brings with them personal talents which highlight the fairy-tale qualities of the production.

The cast includes, Shae O’Reilly who has a singing, dance theatre background, and uses her striking skills beautifully in several scenes; Zak Zavod’s powerful stage presence has created a compelling Tom Tat. His talent with accents has helped created multiple, colourful characters in ‘Perhaps’. Victoria Haslam’s training in dance brings unique physicality (and beautiful costume design) to the production whist Ariel Simone’s experience in live theatre gives her characters remarkable realism. Playing the bassoon and percussion, Natasha has crafted a vivid, live soundscape.

‘Natasha and Hayley share a mystical, slightly dark vision for the production that will spark your imagination.’

REVIEW

Hayley and David Lawson-Smith live up to their claims.

imageBoth plays were rich with dramatic overlaying of primal concepts,with captivating performances. Passion and security are at war with each other in Perhaps, they are co-dependent enemies. Experience and innocence are pulling in opposing directions and are becoming mutually exclusive, much to the delight of the predator. This theme is also explored in Tom Tat.

Universal themes, with historic metaphors, dash across the stage with muted rage. There are always desperate moments in one’s life, when impulsive deals are made and later regretted. The intensity of Tom Tat, bewitched the audience. The narrow theatre of The Butterfly Club, became a lens into a microscopic tragedy, that drew in the inquiring mind and turned it into a world.

Hope is the only thing left, and one has to battle off the demons of doubt. It was a large story, destined for a large stage, with Actors fit for the journey.

Tim Harbours ‘Filigree and Shadow’ is a Turbulent Shrill

Curtains parted for the opening of 20:21, Melbourne Press attended the dress rehearsal of Filigree and Shadow.

To triumph over fear, when mere mortals run and hide.

A wild festival of sound and performance, ignited by Tim Harbours vision and the troops intuitive expression, creates a dramatic dance, executed with precision whist appearing to be passionate and spontaneous.IMG_4516

The artists burst through the turbulent score with a shrill that showcases their skill. They are in their natural habitat and the forces that challenge them, invigorate them. Harbour’s choreography has lit a fire in the dancers and they are intoxicated in a cult of Art.

Kelvin Ho, the Set Architect, has created a theatre within a theatre.The clean minimal design effortlessly divides the space, allowing shafts of light and a wall for the shadows. It seems as though the audience is spying an event, like a natural phenomena ; birds in a hurricane, steering into its calm eye or dolphins in a storm that are performing tricks on crashing waves.

“I’ve gone to that vicious, angry,frustrated place – what better place to exorcise yourself” Harbour explains.

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There are no dull moments, it is absorbing and riveting, from beginning to end.

Filigree and Shadow are one of the three performances of 20:21 which also include Symphony In Three Movements (1946) by Choreographer George Balanchine and In The Upper Room (1986) by Twyla Tharp

Article by A Forward

The journey to recovery

The Heroes Journey

Artwork by Tamar Delov. Struggle , Depth, Empowerment
Artwork by Tamar Delov.
Struggle , Depth, Empowerment

Review 

Directors Natalie Rozen and Paz Loyola-Blanco are strong and inspiring women.

Rozen has worked through undermining conditions and become a captivating person that charges your soul as you speak to her.

It’s a paradox that them that did not destroy you, made you, the powerful one.

As we look at the alarming rise of slavery, worse than it ever was, we hope that those that survive will become internal warriors, returning home, an asset to themselves and those around them. Not destroyed, although deeply harmed.

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Speakeasy in South Yarra rolled out the red carpet for a glamour night of Art and Theatre by those that have suffered with dignity and pride.

The lovely nibbles and organic wine did not distract one from the important issues. Information about Slavery was projected onto the wall.

The Performers and Artworks were examples of people who have suffered from various issues and made friends with their pain through Art therapy. The money raised goes to helping,educating and empowering very vulnerable people in Nepal that are victims of human trafficking.

You are not a loser, you are not a victim, you are a human being that has met fear and anxiety and recruited it into ones life as a friend, as something that made you strong.

Melbourne Press spoke to the performers Cathrine Pourreau and Svetlana Bykovec, they have been through their own personal journeys and see the cause as universal.

“Something comes from within, that just rises from it” Pourreau claims.

Paz and Natalie with cast
Paz and Natalie with cast

“It’s about where you come from and where you are now and appreciating what you have turned into, if it wasn’t for those hardships .. the world has opened .” Bykovek explains

“When you dare to go there, you are tapping into what it means to be human.”Pourreau adds.

They embrace the dark days, those lonely times and appreciate where they are today.

Its was a performance that the eye and heart enjoyed. It was genuine.

An interview with Natalie Rozen.

Art2Healing Project

Natalie Rozen believes in the healing power of Art Therapy and directs survivors as they empower their spirit and transform the ugly into a quest within ones self.

Atira Tan the founder of Art2Healing and Carla Van Laar the Senior Advisor, have done some incredible work. To me they are Masters of Art Therapy.

In my own experience Art Therapy has been a powerful modality to not only heal psychological wounds, but help me deal with physical ailments as well. The funds we make at the exhibition are going directly to victims (of human trafficking) in Nepal.

Our artists have been taken through an in-depth processes within the last couple of months, prior to the event. They aren’t characters or actors, they are people sharing their diverse real life experiences with the audience. Asking our Artists to step back into a difficult time of their lives is certainly going to be an emotional experience.

The Hero’s Journey is a concept used by many therapists. It is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell , it appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype, known as The Hero, who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the tribe.

Our artists are sharing their journey through Art and Moving Sculpture (like a performance). There are three parts of their journey ; the Call, the Initiation and the Return. “The inner strength of the individual serves the greater good of the community on their return.

Paintings by N.Rozen
Paintings by N.Rozen

By raising awareness what do you hope to achieve? MP

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” Joseph Campbell 

“If we really explore the underlying causes of our issues, we get a greater understanding of ourselves and don’t need to suffer anymore. We become the hero of our own story.

This is what the Art2Healing Project is about. They are dedicated to assisting and empowering individuals at risk. They provide psychological support , education and growth through  Art Therapy.

After suffering chronic anxiety and some agoraphobia for 20 years I found that the field of Art Therapy is a powerful means of personal transformation for emotional and spiritual healing.

Raising funds is one thing but where it goes is another. Giving people the opportunity to build personal power and prevent future traumas is a blessing.”

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What support (any type) has the production received? MP
“We have had endless support throughout this project. From University lecturers to co – workers who have come on board. We have over 20 sponsors and many volunteers. We couldn’t be more grateful for the help we’ve received in making this production expand to what it’s is now.

It just shows how many heart centred people there are. It has been a Hero’s Journey in itself and next week we will be celebrating The Return, at the exhibition.”

What brought you together? MP
Paz approached me at the start of the year with her vision and asked whether we could Co-Direct for The Hero’s Journey Collective and Exhibition. We both studied counselling together and are qualified psychotherapists, which is originally why I became involved.

We  realised that we had a love for the creative arts and wanted to organise a production by correlating this with psychotherapy. We then interviewed artists that had some connection with the therapeutic field.

We were very clear on safety when bringing in people; we chose those that were able to hold themselves together through the deep internal work. These artists have been incredible and I  look forward to working with each of them in the future, whatever form it may take.

 

Banner and Event Photos by A Forward

Review by A Forward

refer to: http://www.theherosjourneycollective.com

Artwork and Slave-Trade Photos supplied by N Rozen

 

Songs & Legends

27 Club

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Five minutes into the 27 Club and pure pleasure has melted the cold and tired, of the winter night. Zack Anthony Curran, Keane Fletcher and Andrew Kroenert are a trio of unearthly talent. Each rising star is gifted with a voice that resonates with the complexities unique to Joplin, Winehouse, Cobain, Hendrix and Morrison. Even ‘Jimi’ plays a mean guitar.

IMG_3802The lighting is low to blur the division of space and time. Music greats are resurrected for a final concert at the Butterfly Club. The full audience cheer through the dark atmosphere and there is a vitality within the gloom of deaths dreary fate.

We are taken on a tour into the past through layers of visual and sound texture. The vocal range is staggering and those privileged to see the show were treated to a fully packed hour of entertainment. Although the songs showcased their voices, it seemed that there was still ‘more in the tank’.

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Mackenzie Spencer & Andrew Strano

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“I’m a story junkie, I think it’s the way that we communicate our experience as humans.”

Before heading to London, Australian songwriters  Strano and  McKenzie Spencer showcased their concert at Chapel off Chapel with a line up of singers including, Fem Belling (West End) , Mike McLeish (Keating) and backing musicians.

Next stop is The Edinburgh Fringe to perform and then onto clown school at École de Gaulier in Paris. As a writer and lyricist  Andrew Strano did a cabaret double act for a few years, parodying existing musical theatre numbers.

“He churned them out about once a week for a year for a live TV spot. That his boot camp”.

Strano enjoys the feed back of a team. His contemporary style of slapping down the lyrics with artistic haste and intuition before polishing it, into a tight, clear honest work allows him to play writer and editor.IMG_3832

“People only get to hear a lyrics once. It’s not like poetry, where you can take another sip of your cognac and swill the words around in your mouth as you read and re-read them. They have to be understood on the first listen.”

The audience chuckle and giggle, the line up and presentation would appear formal and professional, if the sound was turned off one would imagine the audience to be listening to the classics. In truth, it’s a tale about a cheap ticket on Tiger Airlines that comes with unlimited complications, all of them hysterical and relatable.

‘There is no need to join the mile high club because they will f### you right here, on the ground’ (sung beautifully)

“My favourite bit of writing is that initial rush after having the idea where you beat out the song, knowing where it starts and where you want to finish, placing the building blocks. Where you put the puzzle in place – plotting all of the boxes running down and across. After that, you start building up the clues for your crossword puzzle – brainstorming. Every single idea should go down on paper free and easy with no desire for perfection.IMG_3827

The hard bit comes after that. The nitty-gritty of actually fitting the clues you brainstormed into the structure you created

I go nuts for the structure! I love it!”

The show is a tasty serve of life told with heart and humour, very Monty Python,

‘Always look on the bright side of Life’.

Legends

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‘Legends is a rolling comedy medley, juxtaposing traditional themes and stories with modern day realities, highlighting the irony that is human behaviour and beliefs.It was an eclectic performance that perfectly suited its venue with a smooth transition from skit to skit, character to character”

Jess Terry

‘Lets find 50 reasons to stay with your lover.

Do you support each other? Laugh at eachothers jokes? Create children? Enjoy a gourmet breakfast? (very Melbourne) Borrow a kidney? Co-write books?

Not enough you need 50!’

The show is a wacky look and our beliefs and myths in everyday life through playful comic interactions that are clever and insightful.

An interview with the creator Harley H Hefford

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“Earlier this year, a few different people expressed interest to me about making a sketch show and I realized that I knew enough talented people to put a show together. I called my friend Carly Milroy, with whom I’ve done several comedy shows and know I will have a great time making theatre with. Carly and I called an official meeting of comedians! It was quite a serious meeting.

From there, we ended up capturing the interest of Chris, Tom and Elliot three other enthusiastic comic minds. From the beginning, one of the exciting things about this show is that all five of us bring quite a different perspective and skill set to the table.

We began by working out what united us, and that was probably a desire to create sketches which put character first .The audience forms a relationship with the characters and learns about their motivation and worldview, rather than them just being vessels for a premise or punchline.

On the other hand, it’s been a nice compromise between some of us with more avant-garde ideals and some with more presentational comic backgrounds. I sincerely feel that we’ve ended up with the best of both worlds, the intrigue of the former and the presence of the latter.The theme is myths and legends, yet the show has a contemporary flavour and touches upon the current climate of the world.

Insomnia, A play by Natasha Moszenin

The Insomnia Project

The Insomnia Project by composer, writer and director, Natasha Moszenin, is a dramatic piece on the troublesome disorder of insomnia brought to life on the stage.

1 in 3 Australians suffer mild to extreme sleep deprivation and in our 24/7 lives we are increasingly becoming a ‘sleep-sick’ society. Insomnia and up to 70 other diagnosable sleep disorders underlie up to 70% of visits to GPs in Australia.

Natasha has been living with insomnia since she was a teenager. Having tried psychotherapy, herbs, restrictive diets, and meditation, she decided to create a music-theatre work about sleeplessness and the related conditions that surround it; anxiety and depression.

“ When a night can feel like a lifetime”

Review

The play can be best understood by night stalkers that wait for day with both anxiety and relief. Anxiety because sleep deprivation undermines ones ability to function and relief because the long lonely hours are over. 

“However vast the darkness we must supply our own light” Stanley Kubrick

Four actors shared the stage but remained in isolation. In a Kubrick style, the crowd were dragged through the condition and if they didn’t understand what insomniacs go through, they were not paying attention.

The Director and the Writer Natasha Moszenin provided the score, she played the piano as she watched the actors lumber, sleepless through the night. For insomniacs in the full audience it was a bonding into a community, when they thought they were alone.

Ballet Dreaming

Alexei Ratmansky’s

Cinderella

When clothes do matter! Cinderella is the ‘It girl’ of the season. Even without a mother, there is the godmother to provide a night out on the town. The wicked sisters may lack the talent, taste and kindness of their rival sister but their comic timing is perfect.

Halaina Hills & Ingrid Gow. Photography by Jeff Busby
Halaina Hills & Ingrid Gow. Photography by Jeff Busby

The costumes are a remarkable stroke of insight. They communicate a large hunk of the tale. Ballet has no voice; the palette is made up of dance, drama, costume, score and set. The show is catchy with a surrealistic bite, re-told with a modern edge.

No one has moves like the Prince (Ty King Wall). The magnetic duo are drawn together when Cinderella (Lana Jones) ‘steals the show’ and sets the tone at the ball. The twisted sisters are deliciously offbeat.

There is nothing like a dance story told by a dance company, frock them up and send them to a Ball. This is why you should go! The dancing and Alexei Ratmansky’s choreography  is a visual delight.

Cinderella is an interesting fairytale to re-visit; it carries life lessons in a purse of simple context. Jealousy is unable to suppress the hopeful soul. When humans fail, the stars align to aid her journey and her destiny.

The Dream

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As the full moon hangs heavy over Melbourne skies, another moon and another season, the ‘Midsummer Night’, takes flight in the deep chambers of the Art Centre, on the opening night of The Dream.

Enter into the enchanted forest where mischief casts spells on the unaware and leads them into late night folly, only to awake with a hangover of regret. Does it sound familiar? Of course it does. One can always rely on Shakespeare to understand the human heart.

“How can these things come to pass? O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!”

One does not need to read the play, to love The Dream. The magical blend of music and ballet lead the audience through the drama. The audience chuckled spontaneously through the performance, it’s bewitching and it’s funny. They cheered and applauded.

The visual beauty of the set and performance is unworldly; it’s easy for us to be tripped into its spell. The music and the dance are fused into one. The poetry of our slumber awakens to newer world, an alternative, and a deviation from the probable path into a fantastic alternative that leads us safely back, to our destination.

Ballet of this calibre is a sublime experience.

Puck, (Chengwu Guo) the mischievous fairy, is a tad liberal with his love potions, which leads to squabbles and confrontations. His dance is super-imposed with thrill and adventure whereas the ‘labourers’ trod a heavy step. It’s the unique combination of dance that binds multiple styles and creates a visual texture to the play that is echoed by the score. Kevin Jackson is mesmerising as Oberon.

Chief Conductor Nicolette Fraillon leads the orchestra gently into the play with the strings and piano opening the drama, she builds the momentum with the wind instruments that tantalise the audience into a heightened state of expectation.

David Walkers set is magnificent, enriched by the lighting techniques of John B Read. It’s a sensory feast. The evening begins with the abstract dance of Symphonic Variations and Monotones 11, which showcases the talent of Frederick Ashton and the skill and grace of the dancers. This clears the pallet to make way for the rich, full-bodied production of the Dream.

Perfection!

The menagerie of hope, work and desire

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To be a victim of crime is a long road to recovery. To return to the just world and hang on dearly to the laws that make our society safe, is a tonic. How hard is it for the innocent to be destroyed and murdered by the Law. Where do they go to recover, if they can?

Ironically it is the free that are in danger of incarceration, the hippy, the ‘happy go lucky negro’, the hillbilly; bohemian to some, misfits to others, and ironically these trapped and injured souls bring beauty and faith to death row in Texas. IMG_2950 It’s a difficult topic to portray, un-fair executions of innocent people in a play.

They succeeded. They warmed the audience, and brought them thoughtfully through the menagerie of  tortured innocence, without bombarding them. This tight-rope of entertainment and serious consideration, was handled remarkably well. The audience smiled and laughed, as their empathy rose to the occasion.

“I wish you a long and happy life” the murdered girl from Peter Jackson’s movie, Lonely Bones claims sweetly.

It’s the sentiment of this beautiful play, I have suffered (so much) but I wish you well. There is a faith within the heart of the wrongfully accused, who are marked for death. IMG_2962The full attendance at the Chapel off Chapel clapped with vigour at the closing scene. Dig deep, life is not a luxury or an accessory it is the road to the infinite.

Performance Management

IMG_2787According to the Ringmaster Scott Hollingsworth there are four key worker traits; the acrobat who is the worker that jumps from task to task, the juggler often known as the multi-tasker, the CEO who takes charge and an appendage known as the clown. IMG_2806 The diplomatic play between manager and clown is a slippery slope of comic proportions, trying to work the unworkable in a PC office. Comedian Hollingsworth has the answer; it’s a whip and a little tune.

It’s a Brilliant performance. The Artists day job is ballooned into a seriously funny show at the Butterfly Club,it’s a must see.

IMG_2815How does a manager cope with the unmovable employee suffering from chronic hypochondria and tennis elbow from endless handballing?

“It wasn’t my fault alright” the clown proclaims.

The recruiting phase is a Mr Hyde and Dr Jekyll routine where what you see is all you wont get. The resume, the training, and availability LIES LIES and more LIES. Ode to the trainer, glory to the paid untrained. As in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one has to weed out the brats. It’s a fabulously funny show,

Lady Liberty

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Amelia Ryan packs a case full of neurosis, hope and sex, which she unloads, by exploding into song. She has been searching for Liberty from Vegas to Adelaide.

“Who feels Alive?”

She is busting at the seams with life. Her show is sexy, smart and warm; the audience is charmed by her Bombo glam.

“Express yourself bitches!’

Amelia stares down controversy, to her Lady Liberty is a brave bold leader.

It’s a musical affair with Matthew Carey gracing the piano, as Amelia spouts cutting edge rhetoric, with a superb voice.IMG_3262

“Every time I hit the high notes an Angel falls”

She gels firmly with her audience singing pop songs that she has rewritten into comic lyrics. They  sing along with happiness that she has poked and evoked.

She wants to abandon her wild ways and find peace, it’s hard work so she succumbs to the weekend binge that spirals into guilt and remorse. She is fighting for truth, with all of her shadows. She wants it all and she wants it now !

Beau Heartbreaker

She’s a really nice bloke.

IMG_3446Selina Jenkins animates her character through expression, tales and song.

There is no fire, but it feels like there should be, there is an intimacy. The strumming guitar and heart-felt tunes told in a beautiful voice add to an outback ambiance. The audience laughter is triggered by subtle and poignant lyrics, we could be here for days.

There is a happy balance of country logic and wacky nuances. He is country through and through and she is cutting edge.

“Certainty is…I’m not quite sure anymore”

IMG_3439Beau takes us through the world with new eyes. It is an intelligent conversation with the audience with endless trap-doors of humour. The laughter is contagious, it spreads and spares no-one.

Turn off computers, the phones, T.Vs and radio, then come to the fireside and listen to yarns told by Beau Heartbreaker a dairy farmer.

 

Chinese Palace treasures in Melbourne

The life of a Chinese Emperor was that of extreme wealth and power, his role was to govern and unite the country. He was known as the ‘Son of Heaven’ and expected to have spiritual influence over the elements. Confucius ideology influenced the aristocratic place of the ruler; historically the roles had been degraded by a series of abusive and debauch rulers. Confucius believed in the feudal system however he intended that the leader would be honourable and exemplify the finer qualities of leadership. Parental care of the autocrat would aim to establish order amongst the obedient subjects.

Qianlong, fourth Emperor of the Quing dynasty (1644-1911), was one of Chinas most successful leaders and ruled for over 60 years (1736–1795). He brought prosperity and peace to the region, although he came from a military background. He was a descendant of the Manchu, which was a small ethnic group. Qianlong adopted Chinese manners and followed the guidelines of Confucius ethics, to influence the 150 million Han Chinese that he ruled. The treasures of this royal court are currently on display at the National Gallery of Victoria.

“The Victorian Government is grateful to the Palace Museum for entrusting the NGV with its treasures as part of a ground-breaking partnership between the two institutions.” Mr. Foley said.

Dr Mae Anna Pang, Senior Curator of Asian Art, NGV and Curator of A Golden Age of China very generously gave time to the Melbourne Press and revealed details that are hidden within the beautiful objects, of the Forbidden City. She explained the Emperors interest in art. He employed artists to depict royal life, he collected art from around the world and he also practiced drawing and calligraphy.

There were two types of artwork in Imperial China, one that was to be shown and the other for private meditation. Some of Dr. Pang’s favorite pieces in the exhibition are Qianlong’s private drawings and his poetry. Private drawings were to aid inner contemplation, not to impress the viewer. She remarked that the exhibit is less grand than the surrounding works and could be overlooked, however the drawings give us insight into the state and mind of the Emperor.

The Emperors landscape scrolls are encased in a glass cabinet, they depict nature and the favorite places that he had visited. Dr. Pang explained that he was a determined traveler at a time when the task was a difficult one. When he was fascinated by a place he would attempt to recreate an aspect of it in his drawing or have its feature installed, in the palace gardens.

The visually beautiful characters of the Chinese language are an esteemed part of its literature. Although the language develops and changes, its intrinsic core meaning can still be understood in modern China. The Emperor was a prolific poet and wrote over 40,000 poems and 1300 pieces of prose. Dr Pang read the calligraphy of a large poem Poem about East Mountain Brush-rest peak that was written by Qianlong and is framed on the gallery wall. The poem elevates people that seek inner spiritual development over those that adorn themselves in jade and corals, who care only for outer appearances. Within the poem, he creates clever puns and plays on words to give them multiple meanings. This duality is represented in many of the works on display.

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“Everything is not as it seems” Dr Pang explains.

Symbols and color are used to portray status, longevity and luck. The yellow silk costumes that are used for ceremonies are rich in such detail. Yellow was the distinctive colour of the ruler; it was exclusive to the royal court. A death penalty would be the punishment of anyone who breached this code and incorporated the color in his or her garment.

Leadership entitled the Emperor to a vast array of wives and concubines for his pleasure and procreation, however it also required eunuchs to service them. To ensure a faithful court, many men forfeited their patriarchal rights. They were often sons of the poor who had been sold to the Palace. They were donned with red hats to distinguish their rank, as depicted in the composition, Imperial Banquet in the Garden of Ten Thousand Trees by Giuseppe Castiglione.

“One of his 41 wives was Moslem” Dr Pang adds

Dr. Pang discussed the details of a large work of coloured inks on silk, titled Envoys from vassal states and foreign countries presenting tribute to the Emperor

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The composition has a warped aerial perspective to show the viewer multiple angles. Walls, to ensure royal privacy, separate the private and public areas. At the entrance of the Palace, visitors are assembled from around the world. The flags depict the country that the ambassador is from and it includes European nations. Due to the successful leadership of Qianlong, China had become a great empire and was held in worldly renown.

Most of the items within the collection are adorned with symbols and references to good fortune. The Melbourne Press asked the Palace Museums Vice Director Song Jirong what the Chinese would regard as the most important ‘type of luck’.

“A long life” she replied.

Many symbols of the artwork promote longevity. The court women adorned themselves with hairpieces that have knots embellished within the design, to represent an extended life. They also wore extremely long nail protectors and the pair that is currently on display is made of fine gilt silver wires formed into symbols of happiness and a long life. Some of the items on display incorporate storks, dragons and the number 9; these are keystone symbols that perpetuate the life-force. Many of the symbols used are unique to eastern culture and can be overlooked by western visitors. At the hem of a semi formal robe for the Empress are waves of colour that represent the sky. Chinese artists represent the sky as having many colours, not just solo blue.

The final room of the exhibition is a slide show of the Forbidden City so the visitor gets an idea of the expanse of the Palace. It’s the size of a suburb, with magnificent engineering feats. It was built between 1406 and 1421 and involved a workforce of 10,000 craftsmen and 1,000,000 labourers. The Palace has 9000 rooms and the Forbidden City occupies a vast expanse of more than 72 hectares. The two dynasties of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) households and their 24 Emperors enjoyed this exclusive luxury. In 1925, the Palace Museum opened the heavy gates of the Forbidden City to the public.

One cannot underestimate the level of negotiations and the transport considerations of the exhibit. Valuable Chinese antique treasures are currently on loan at the NGV. Air China was given the task of the safe haul. Melbourne is in the entitled position of host to this important collection. It is an opportunity to view a cultural legacy in its prime.

Modern Art broke its ties to its European Masters and drew inspiration from the East. It is important to understand the influence that Chinese art has had on the West. It was exposure to these types of works that influenced artists such as Henri Matisse. Matisse worked extensively in the breaking down of image to essential form. Strong lines, negative spaces and flat dimensions became the new vision that the Modern Master employed.

Dr Pang remarked that the NGV and Melbourne reminded her of the Palace and prime places in China. She noted that both are very orderly and have garden areas that are reminiscent of Chinese aesthetics.

Rio Tinto is a major sponsor of The Golden Age of China; they have arranged free entry for all school children, to the exhibits. The Exhibition will be open to the public until June 21st. There will also be a series of talks and films for those that desire a deeper understanding of Chinese culture.

PHOTOS of ARTWORKS

QIANLONG EMPEROR Chinese 1711–99

Poem about East Mountain Brush-rest peak, calligraphy 弘历咏东山笔架峰贴落Qing dynasty, Qianlong period 1768

signed by Qianlong Emperor in the autumn of 1768 and with 2 seals of Qianlong Emperor

ink on paper 157.5 x 216.0 cm (image and sheet)The Palace Museum, Beijing

Envoys from vassal states and foreign countries presenting tribute to the Emperor 清人万国来朝图轴Qing dynasty, Qianlong period 1736–95

coloured inks on silk 365.0 x 219.5 cm The Palace Museum, Beijing