Tag Archives: April Forward

Whiteley, Sydney ArtStar and Baldessin.

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“What it is to be human ……..Art really did matter, not to escape, but fundamentally to reflect and improve society.”   S. Grishin

Sydney heavy-weight, art star Brett Whitely is ‘put in the ring’ with an obscure Melbourne, printmaker and sculptor George Baldessin at the Ian Potter, Federation Square Gallery. The shared show is ‘Parallel Visions’, however apart from sharing a generation and meeting Francis Bacon, there is very little to link them. A fairer state rival for the brash Sydney-sider, may have been the dark and menacing Peter Booth. Despite the weak link it is an excellent exhibition and for Whitely fans, the collection of his work spanning his wanderings with line and continents, is intriguing and includes the English Christie series; the American Dream and hometown Bondi and the Harbour.

The exhibition resurrects the career of Baldessin that was cut short when the artist died young in a car accident. The prints are the highlight of his work and invite the viewer to linger over the subtle details. The NGV reminds locals of an artist that could have fallen into obscurity, his work remains relevant in our generation embracing the inward, awkward Melbournian disposition.

Whiteley’ bold and confident work reads like a visual autobiography, tracing the influences and mood of the time. The Christie murders reek of Bacon’s violet influence and remains as some of his strongest work in form and colour. The American Dream that  creates a (hotel) room within a room, is scarred with a haphazard spray of lipstick red, not typical of his earlier paintings. Although the area is cluttered with detail,  there is a startling emptiness in the work, that may have been why the Americans rejected it; maybe it struck to close into the New York bone.

When Whitely returns to Australia he is crushed, dispirited and convicted and in need of a BEX to sooth his aching head. Lazing on the beach and staring out into the harbour restores the man and the artist, bringing forth some of his most recognisable work such as ‘Evening coming in on Sydney Harbour’ 1975. Whitely travelled far and wide, to come home with fresh eyes.

 

 

by April Forward

 

Now Showing

Until Jan 28

Curator Sasha Grishin

The Man who United our Nation

The Lonely Hero

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Lionel Rose was unaware of the National Pride that he had evoked. When the plane landed back in Melbourne in 1968, thousands of well dressed white people cheered from the tarmac and balconies to welcome home the Aboriginal Star. A convertible was parked awaiting his arrival.

” Who are all these people waiting for ?” Rose asked the Air-hostess. He thought that maybe a The Beatles had arrived at Essendon Airport.

“You” she replied.

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Lionel Rose was a National Boxing Hero after he won the Bantamweight Title by beating Masahiko ‘Fighting’ Harada, the Japanese Champion in Tokyo.

People had sent gum leaves over to Japan in support of the young boxer.

Lionel Rose was propped up at the back of the convertible so that the roaring crowd could get a good look at him and shake his hand as he passed. A ticker-tape parade down Swanston Street had been arranged, and the street was lined with 100,000 Melbournians, cheering the Aboriginal man. He went on to become The Australian of the Year in 1968.

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Aboriginal people had been granted Australian Citizenship in 1967 which meant that Rose could obtain a passport, buy land and obtain legal rights. The constitutional Referendum, to allow Aboriginals rights, was voted in favour by 90.77 of the population, on the 27th of May. Rose won the Title on 26th of Feb, which meant that the 19-year-old had been an Australian Citizen for 9 months. Rose was a Celebrity for both Aboriginals and Caucasians, when the fight against racism was still on shaky turf.

Rose was the first Original Australian to be named Australian of the Year. When accepting the award, he said;

“One hundred and eighty-two years ago one of my mob would have been a dead cert for this.” (www.australianoftheyear.org.au)

RECONCILIATION WEEK May 27 – June 3

The play that created a storm

‘It’s foul weather in us all, good soul’

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Melbourne Sky

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.

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“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

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“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 

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“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.

 

 

Pipework’s Natural Museum Park on the banks of the Maribrynong River

 

 

by April Forward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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            

Review by A Forward

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

Coppelia in St Kilda

Coppelia may be as ‘pretty as a picture’ but she has no soul, to live she will need to suck the life out of Franz. Swanilda is his true love, but her passion startles the young man who would prefer his ideal. Fortunately she is persistent.

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It’s a dance off. Swanilda can out dance her peers and Franz is more talented than his, it’s a ‘match made in Heaven’ but fate has a turn. Before the two amazing movers are joined, (which could lead to a standing ovation) evil raises his ugly head in the guise of a mad magician.

It’s a three-part play, with a haunting centre. Some toys can be very intimidating, some boys can be very threatening and some girls can be very curious. It makes great drama, within a comic text. It was the ballet that saved itself.

‘ the plot reads like a modern horror movie, Saint-Leon’s production was a clever commentary on the dangers of infatuation. When the ballet finally opened in Paris in May 1870 it seemed. with its freshness and vitality, as if the art had been reborn in France.Judith Steeh

It was the ballet revival that kept the flame alight in Europe, until the Ballet Russes set it ablaze. Essentially it was designed to excel the ballerina for the delight of its male patrons (like Degas) but was modernised by Ogilvie. The male parts that were performed by ballerinas, were handed over to men and choreographed into the leaps and athleticism, that it is today. It is beautiful ballet with amazing dancing.

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Dimity Azoury as Swanilda & Jarryd Madden as Franz at Saturday Matinee

‘We are delighted to bring back this production, which has long been considered a jewel of The Australian Ballet’s repertoire,’ David McAllister ,Artistic Director

The Palais adds ambience of this period piece, it was first performed on its stage in 1962. The charm of another era resonates through the Saturday matinée, the wood paneling, marble columns, leather seats and ‘cash only’ bars and kiosks. It’s beautiful to walk out its doors and believe the world has not changed on the St Kilda Esplanade.

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Take the journey into enchantment.

 

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Sept 23- Oct 1

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/

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Photography & review by A Forward