Thursday, May 20, 2010


The Sydney Biennale opened last week and came to my attention via a strange bit of correspondence I had with someone involved.

Mieskuoro Huutajat (The Shouting Men Choir) is a Finnish ensemble that formed in 1987. They've gained an international reputation for their performances, which usually involve traditional or national songs made strange by being shouted and howled by a gang of several dozen guys in suits. It's an interesting project – firstly in the way the harsh chanting strips away melody while foregrounding the affective potential of pure rhythm, and secondly in the choice of songs, which take on new aspects when delivered in an almost militaristic, aggressively masculine fashion.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: Private Dances


So, last week I was in a small room in North Melbourne sitting astride an oversized rocking horse while wearing a red crushed-velvet robe and being urged to spank “the mind worm” – a giant white phallic thing dangling in front of my face – by a trio of near-naked cultists writhing in front of a bank of bright flashing video screens to a soundtrack of soft-porn moaning and the kind of music usually accompanied by album art featuring men with broadswords and ladies cuddling up to dragons, and I thought: “Oh right, I see.” This mightn't have been the kind of enlightenment sought after by the experience but I'd heard a lot about it already and was pleased to finally understand why everyone was urging me to try it on myself.

“The happy Pony Club come in” was one of more than a dozen dance works that made up Next Wave's Private Dances. Choreographer Natalie Cursio invited a swag of emerging artists to create intimate pieces for audiences of one (or sometimes two or three) and the range of dance styles represented was broad – traditional Indian dance, krumping, contortionism, live art and lots of film. In one moment I was slow dancing with a gorilla to Bob Marley, in the next I was sitting in a van while three headbangers rocked out to Alice Cooper's “Poison”. One of the most satisfying numbers was a tiny number named “The Mint Thief” which created a complete experience akin to a movie trailer, cutting together a story of crime and pursuit at an astonishingly rapid pace (and complemented by a heady aroma of mint). And most of the works took place in camping tents barely tall enough to stand up in.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review-ish: 24 Hours

24 HRS

At Dancehouse.

I don't think I could be accused of sensationalism for suggesting that 24 HRS may spell the end of art as we know it. The brief is simple: four choreographers and some dancers have 24 hours to create a new dance work from scratch. But like most catalysts of the apocalypse (germs, asteroids, Hey Hey) it is this apparent simplicity that masks the real threat. Because really: if this godless experiment results in something truly dazzling, where will that leave all of the dance works that take weeks, months, years to gestate? And more importantly, where will it leave all the funding that goes towards those lengthy development periods that we all know involve staring moodily out of gabled windows while keeping a roaring fire fuelled by the wads of cash handed out by government bodies? (I don't mean that literally – plastic Australian money doesn't burn at all well and most artists are forced to spend it on easily-flammable first editions of rare books to throw in the hearth).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Review: The Persistence of Dreams: The Sandman


By IRAA Theatre.

If we'd seen that show in a theatre, notes a fellow audience member, we wouldn't still be sitting here talking about it. This is an hour after Roberta Bosetti and Renato Cuocolo have left the building and the building in question is the home of a friend. We'd had a big meal and some wine and talked a bunch of crap while waiting the arrival of The Italians who, at the appointed hour, knocked on the door and took over the house. Nobody knew much about what to expect of the pair and since the piece will undoubtedly have a future life I won't go into too much detail about exactly what they pull off here. It becomes clear early on, however, that to invite strangers into your home means giving up a certain amount of power which we take for granted in the safety of our living spaces and, indeed, our theatre.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Review: Cageling

By The Rabble.

The Rabble's production of Cageling at fortyfivedownstairs has sold out which is great news for independent theatre in Melbourne (is it me or has there been an unusual number of similar sellout seasons in 2010?) It's a reimagining of Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba with some pretty bold imagery and directorial choices, but for me it was marred for a few reasons I'll get to eventually.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Twitter and Censorship

I've been really quite disturbed since I heard about Catherine Deveny's sacking from her position as an Age columnist yesterday. I'm not sure why it's left me so unsettled – well, I am, but it's the number of issues that overlap here which is getting to me. I'm going to offer some thoughts on just two of these.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Malthouse Theatre's Season 2, 2010 launch

Hey you guys! Malthouse Theatre launched the second half of its 2010 season last night and various things were learnt (obv. not regarding the feckless deployment of the passive voice in opening paragraphs). THESE INCLUDED:

The CUB Malthouse is this month celebrating 20 years since the first production was staged there.

Michael Kantor can recover well after accidentally saying “incest” instead of “insect”.

Michael Kantor can turn that stumble into another joke when he is later required to actually say “incest”.

The notion of inadvertently eating your children after they have been baked into a pie will draw audible and repeated responses from an intrigued audience.

People who go to Malthouse launches really dig the catering and will yell at you if you cut the queue (this didn't happen to me but I have it on decent authority).

But enough of this flimflam. What's on the calendar for the rest of the year?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Review: When Will You Be Home?


By Forty Forty Home

In a review of this double bill Neandellus noted that both pieces would probably work just as well in the form of short stories and this is something we really need to address, colleagues, because it's affecting productivity and for the sake of clear-thinking and right-speaking we need to table some issues that have been ongoing and endemic in our organisation. I can't count the number of times I've heard comments like this in the tea room and the gym and that weird converted chimney where the mandrill hangs out (does HR even know about that?) and yes, in the interests of transparency I'll openly admit that I've frequently put similar sentiments out there, whether in writing or just emanated from my faintly luminescent body during the weekly deep-sea aquarobics outings. But what do we really mean when we say this?

Both halves of When Will You Be Home? are half-hour monologues which might explain things a bit. They're not especially physical – that is, there's no blocking which is indispensable to the experience and the bodily presence of the actors is also secondary. I suppose you could say that they're primarily focused on language or at least linguistic play. And though there is dialogue within each, locating these exchanges within the same performer might make the experience closer to reading, in which various roles are filled out by the one imagination. Again, this makes the drama internal to the language rather than arising from the possibility of real conflict between onstage agents (this isn't categorically stating that the individual can't contain multitudes, but I hope you get what I mean).