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Performance Arts

The world of Performance Arts

The world of performance arts has many facets, from mime to dance it can be quite a different expereince.

Pile Of Bones

From darkness, they emerge as a twisting sensation of bodies curled. As the lights slowly rise, so too does this performance unfurl.

There’s something maleficent,  rhythmic and disruptive to the choreography. Brash and unapologetic, the performance continues. Repeated moments that allude to the more classic are elbowed aside. Dancers shift from character to object  and from lucid vision to solid form Through various scenes a loose but clear narrative established. Stephanie Lake Company’s Pile Of Bones, is a direct and all together personal meditation upon themes of genesis, desire and the human condition. 

Each dancer, commands the respect of audience. The detail and precision of which they apply here, incredible. The choreography forms a detailed and intrinsic language that is beautiful and loaded, bringing you inwardly to a place that is realised and authentic. Here we see a display of the way in which we can mould, train and teach the human body to communicate without words.

But amid the refinement, the creators have also allowed room for each dancer’s own personality to feature. There is a cheeky and playful element that rebuts the darker and more pressing subject matter being examined; an intelligent choice that brings further shade. 

Pile Of Bones works intelligently with lighting and owns a keen sense of spatial awareness. Choices made in terms of the soundtrack do border on the cliche, but the unique and altogether contemporary approach taken here manages to just skirt this outcome, for its production values the performance, made all the more refreshing. 

Some scenes do detract from the performance as a whole, whether due to the introduction of props, or a need for more time in development, a question to be asked. But for all the detraction that these brief moments introduce, they also achieve something else, bringing audience into a new place and introduce new trains of thought, to an already heady and cluttered mix of ideas.

Dance work, such as Pile of Bones, is electric, white hot and of universal appeal. It presents the perfect example of dance and its form, in the here and now. Thought provoking, and highly recommended, it’s playing this week at Arts House, North Melbourne. For tickets or more info click here

Tina Del Twist Gold Class

Tina Del Twist, a gin soaked pickle of a woman, well past her prime, a washed up has been in the most endearing of ways. Though she maybe in serious need of a permanent stint at The Betty Ford Clinic she can still belt out a number like few can, and her show is still the most enjoyable kind of late night, boozey cabaret.

From the moment Del Twist steps onto the stage, her audience are involved with little they can do to escape. As the performance continues we are let privy to more of her story, her retelling is nothing short of crass and dirty, sporting the greatest kind of vulgarity, Her command of the space and way in which the whole venue is utilised, simply brilliant. Mid show, she stumbles through the audience and off into the dark, then only to bring the last row of empty seats, crashing to the floor proudly proclaiming, a sell out show. 

Tina del Twist is the creative makings of Wes Snelling, a man who has a long standing relationship with the Melbourne cabaret scene. Tina del Twist: Gold Class really pulls together the most recognised of Tina’s repertoire from the past decade or so. Testament to his comic genius, the material remains fresh and delivers big on belly laughs. Joined on stage by Twist (Stephen Weir) who accompanies on guitar, matching Tina’s voice should be a challenge, but his playing is brilliant and these two are equally as awe inspiring. The connection between each performer is evident and this really does bring joy.

The work doesn’t try to go to deeply into any particular line of conversation. Though it is slightly ocker, it doesn’t really tap into political or social issues, it’s pure entertainment, a great late night foray. Vocally bang on, tightly composed, we need more of this and we need it now.

This performance took place at Map57 in St Kilda, to keep up to breast with  the work of Del Twist click here

Cashing In On Queer Culture?

There has been some negative comment circulating in regards to Melbourne Festivals listed ticket price for Taylor Mac. Mac is a performer or more-so true embodiment of queer reverence, with a career forged through the bars and night clubs of New York. A narrative many can relate to, but Mac has achieved the kind of international recognition for their tireless pursuit of creative expression and visibility, that most only dream of.  Collaborator of prominent Melbourne theatre company, MKA and queer identifying performance artist Kerith Manderson-Galvin spoke with TAGG on the issue;

“I guess I just think there are already a lot of opportunities that queer people miss out on or are left out of.”- Continuing, Manderson-Galvin says “The festival website says it looks back on rebellions and revolutions- and I wonder what a financially inaccessible show offers us for revolution now, and what future we have to look forward to.”
 
There is a huge but not often discussed class divide within the GLBTIQ community, on one hand you have a select group of often white, cis gender males who have progressed through life to land in a moderate place of comfort. On the other end of the spectrum we have our trans brothers and sisters as example; who often still face difficulty and rejection from those both inside and out of our community. So it’s a grand gesture that speaks of more than the artistic integrity of Melbourne Festival that they bring to us the work of this artist. Not only as an opportunity for the GLBTIQ community to come together but also granting us a highly visible and public queer figure to be present at a time where topics such as marriage equality are still hotly contested. 

 

Speaking with Richard Watts on 3RRR’s SmartArts yesterday Jonathan Holloway Melbourne  Festival Director, responded to the issue by explaining.

 
“It is a work about inclusion that starts at 39 dollars with cheaper tickets discounted for people under 30 or in the industry for Taylor’s work. Of which you can see a one and half hour performance, a whistle stop tour for about forty bucks. Which i think is fairly good for a Hamer Hall or Forum Show.”
 
“Yes if you then want to see the full 24 hour marathon of which there are a 850 seats, the very top ticket price is 699 dollars. It is 150 performers and 50 crew members working for two weeks just on this piece one piece of work. And nobody is doing it for nothing, we pay absolutely everyone who is involved.”
 
“Once you start saying 200 people, of which 33 of them are flying in from New York. Doing something and telling a story that will be incredible; you get to the point where actually the level of subsidy that goes on top of that is absolutely worth it. And when you just work out the economics, there was no way to do it without that top ticket price.”
 
“But for me the 100 something people that are from the community who are performing and who are involved, that’s where the inclusion also is, aside from the audience.”
 
So there are compelling arguments being put forward by both sides, but is enough being done, and what will the final response be from Melbourne’s QLBTIQ and arts communities? For Melbourne Festival, its perhaps a moment of opportunity for them to further cement their relations with these communities instead of ostracising individuals whom are already forced to exist on the margins. 

Djuki Mala are Fabulous

What a marvellous show at Map 57, Djuki Mala is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had at any show this year.

The dancers from NE Arnhem land, Yolngu people, are also known as the ‘Chooky Dancers’ the comedic energy they bring to their dance when crossing cultural styles, their Zorba the Greek brings the house down.

It is an inspired meshing of traditional dance and modern concoctions, lending their talents to the various forms of dance dating back to the ‘70’s.

The show is backdropped with a huge screen that connects us to the story behind Djuki Mala, elder women explaining how dance was used as a diversion from drugs and alcohol and general misbehaviour on Elcho Island off Arnhem Land. Not only was the idea effective but now Djuki Mala tour the world showing their talents and exposing the world to the culture of their people and their communication with the broader community.

The entrancement of the traditional songs to highly ridiculous piss take humour this mob provide is so well supported by the audio visual, sound, lighting and effects in a seamless roller coaster ride of entertainment that leaves you feeling real good for such a long time, I am still cracking up at some of the poses for instance…

It is a wonderful story about how a simple and powerful idea can change peoples lives and end up a world wide sensation.

Djuki Mala play at Map 57 on the St Kilda Triangle site until Friday July 28, so if you want a great time and a huge belly laugh, get along to this show!

Mothers Ruin at Map57

Mother’s Ruin is Gin 

Gin. Specifically, the alcohol beverage of Gin was called mother’s ruin because in the mid eighteenth century the effects of gin on the family and economy were disastrous. Considered the poor man’s drink due to its affordability, gin drinking had started out as medicine but due to its easy availability, men became impotent while women became sterile causing the London birth rate to decline drastically.  

 Mother’s Ruin is a deliciously entertaining cabaret that takes us through a Gin laced journey transporting us to 18th century London, to the prohibition, to the Peruvian jungle and even the Australian outback, with the common denominator being: Gin! In fact everything in Mother’s Ruin is about the Gin. 

The gorgeous, talented and appropriately voluptuous Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood are the creators and stars of the show and share the stage with Tom Dickins on the piano. The duo’s angelically seductive voices fill our ears with sublime vocals and tickle our senses with their hilarious stories while the piano man completes the act with his jazzy cabaret sound and style. 

Mothers Ruin is a collage of Impressions that travels the audience to smoke filled bars, naughty women, drunken sailors and witty humour that intoxicates the audience like Gin taking effect in their bloodstream. Beautiful renditions of songs by Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, and Pretenders amongst others are woven into stories of Gin, creating an atmosphere of decadence, giving an even more integrated insight to the subject: Gin. In this unique cabaret the audience can taste, hear, see and even feel the Gin.  

A lot of Gin, Oompah-Pah, laughter and good old fashioned entertainment. Mother’s Ruin intoxicates your senses with this decadently indulgent Gin cocktail of pure, potent, quality entertainment. Bottoms up! 

Rob Tannion a Model Citizen

On World Circus Day 2016. TAGG interviewed Rob Tannion, who at the time was on the eve of taking on his new role as artistic director of Circus Oz, we spoke about his childhood in Queensland, his career as it progressed across Europe, then coming full circle with his return to Australia.

A year later he has made his directorial debut for Circus Oz storming the east coast then triumphantly premiering in Melbourne last month with Model Citizens. A performance as much about the individual returning home, as it is about the collective dealing with their identity. It keeps the trademark showmanship of the company in play, but brings them very much into the present moment- timely, as the company celebrates four long decades in the game next year. 

Rob took time out from the companies busy schedule to talk once more with TAGG, reflecting on the year that was, the genesis for this latest work, fluidity in performance and how Australia has changed in recent years.

Rob lets kick things off, how has the past year treated you? 

It’s been a tough first year, I have had to propose a lot of big changes in the company, but they have been well embraced. Personally, I got fatter, I have put on weight because i am less physically active, which is unusual for me. It’s been really interesting to come into a company that does have a great history and trying to understand it has been interesting and challenging for me a big learning curve, and you know reconnecting with my nasal Australian roots. It also comes with a big sense of loss, I guess I spent the last twenty years of my professional career in Europe, so it feels like I have had to start a new.

You have a strong background in dance, which is very much evident in Model Citizens, how was it introducing dance into the world of circus? 

I felt that I couldn’t negate my past experience, so you hit the nail on the head, it’s a choreographic eye, more attention to detail and timing. And timing that sits with the musicality, there a lot of details that some people wouldn’t notice but would drive me absolutely nuts. I’m definitely interested in there being more of a choreographic eye but elements of physical theatre and musicals too, depending on what show and whether is relevant.

The majority of this cast who were in this ensemble were new to Circus Oz and not been involved in the Circus Oz process before. I believe sometimes its difficult when you are offering up different things that people except them, and part of that challenge is how you want your aesthetic vision to be implemented on stage. At the beginning of the process we did do dance classes, the performers where all really hungry for it. But then we kind of got to a point when we realised, ok we got to get the circus happening now.

One of the first choice you made, was to tour the work before opening here in Melbourne, how did this come about?

So I was interested in making sure the show was as strong as it could be, before it hit Melbourne. I think Melbourne is a really important season so its vital to come in with a strong show and it was a really robust decision. The show has really benefited from three months of modification and tweaking along the way.

There are some darker moments that are found in Model Citizens, lets talk more about them,

We all unpack certain things, and there are certain things that unpack themselves, a show lives and breathes its own life really. We didn’t want to shy away from dark moments in the show, it gives it light and texture. There has been a moment when someone asked if domestic violence was an issue, but in the creative process it was never something we talked about nor commented on. But then perhaps a moment in the juggling could be read as (being about) domestic violence.

On the flip side, all though it wad not an intentional thing to talk about things like domestic violence, if it provokes a conversation then we are in a great place.

Circus Oz have a long history of performance, what traditions are you wishing to see continue and how would you like to see the company evolve? 

So things I really love, I love the flexibility of live music on stage, but not just the flexibility  its also visual to see, hear and feel some one playing music. How we choose to do this can be dressed in many ways, so I’m keen on maintaining that into the future. Things to expect are different shows both in size and in tone. Later this year I will be directing a show a called The Strange and Unusual Lives of Otto and Astrid and thats a collaboration and we are going to make a small five person ensemble. The show is a biographical look at their lives from being two children in Germany through to becoming the greatest band in the world; if you want to put a frame on it,  its a silly dark and gothic journey. With tonnes of live music and people playing multiple characters it will be vastly different from what you would see in the big top format. What i would like is to expect the unexpected, yes it will be Circus Oz but it won’t be formulatic, and I’m not saying the shows are fumaltic but in terms of a big top show with the expiation that it is a two hour show with and interval. This is a punk rock opera more suited to a smaller venue.

Getting back to Model Citizens, what was your inspiration?

So the inspiration for the show, as with all things, was quite complex, but it was very inspired by me wanting to look at what it means to be a model citizen. After being away from Australia for so long there is a moment of self reflection questioning “do I fit in” but I was also really interested in looking for a world that was quite visual and interesting, and with the oversized props, I didn’t want to reinvent but re-look at circus props.

I asked how can we could play with scale and perception, because in a way that was an underlying  theme that runs through the show; when we question how we fit in, we also question scale and proportion. I am really interested in those things as a spring board.

Being out of Australia and coming back and trying to fit in really gave me an insight into what its like to be an outsider. I’ve spent twenty years being an outsider in other peoples cultures and being a foreigner, and I wanted to convey a little bit of that in show. But definitely coming back and reconnecting with Australian humour the ludicrousness of it and how it’s a little self deprecating. I thought that (our humour) was never understood when I have been overseas and made shows, people think its funny, but don’t quite get it. Returning has been a bit of a moment of just breathing out, knowing that people understand what I am trying to get at here.

And has Australia changed all that much since you left? 

It’s an interesting question, because its not just the country that has changes its you as well. There has been a lot of development in terms of talking about and recognising how we treat and care for our First Nations People, the Welcome to Country that happens on our gala never existed when I left. Im really proud that has begun, but I’m sad that more hasn’t been done in that area of Australian culture.

I also thought it would have been bigger, I forgot that there are so few people in Australia. Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia and you think there is a lot happening, but then you realise that there’s not that much happening at all. In Europe on an hours flight you can be in London or Berlin, there is so much happening  and there are so many people. There is a sense that we are on the other side of the world, and with that is also a sense of isolation, but thats a good thing, like “fuck it we can do what we want”.

Australia, in the circus world, is renowned for our strength and the work that we create, I’m really happy to be a part of this and to be carrying on a bit of that legacy with Circus Oz.

Indeed there are some exciting times ahead for Circus Oz as their focus broadens and they continue to challenge the status quo through performance that should continue to further blur the lines between form and function. Model Citizens is currently playing at Birrarung Mar under the Circus Oz Big Top, it’s a thrilling experience and one that comes highly recommended, for more info or to book your tickets click here

 

 

The Butterfly Club Seek Expressions of Interest

The Butterfly Club are seeking Expressions Of Interest (EOIs) from producers and artists who wish to be a part of their 2017 /18 Curated Spring and Summer programs. Successful applicants will produce a one-week season of their work between September 2017 and February 2018. The Butterfly Club will consider independent works including theatre, cabaret, comedy, sketch, vaudeville, burlesque and live music.

Now in their 19th year of operation, The Butterfly Club are renowned for supporting independent performing artists by presenting their work, and by working with producers on audience development and marketing identity. The curated season will provide an opportunity for independent artists and producers to launch new works and to further develop established productions.

We launched our curated programs last year as a way of highlighting some of the finest examples of independent theatre, cabaret, burlesque, music, comedy and vaudeville” says Alexander Woollard, Artistic Director of The Butterfly Club. “Shows featured in last year’s Spring and Summer programs received wide critical acclaim, festival awards and touring opportunities.”

As with all productions at The Butterfly Club, show durations must be no longer than 60 minutes and must comply with all relevant OHS requirements.

Successful applicants will be offered a season of 6 performances at 8.30pm for a week during Spring or Summer. Expressions of Interest should be submitted via The Butterfly Club website here by 5pm on Monday the 17th of July.

Expressions of Interest: Curated Spring and Summer Programs

Dates: September 2017 – February 2018

Deadline: 5pm, Monday the 17th of July

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne

Tickets: thebutterflyclub.com

The Big HOO-HAA Turns Seven!

 

For seven whole earth years The Big HOO-HAA! has been Melbourne’s most beloved, longest running and best smelling weekly improv night. Armed with nothing except quick wits, cut-rate props and desperate desire to be loved, The Big Hoo-Haa ensemble has been making audiences laugh and cry (mostly with laughter) every Friday night.

Now the team is returning to Bella Union for another all-in, power-packed birthday show extravaganza. The best players, the best games, some questionable choreography. This time, for their seventh birthday, The Big HOO-HAA is tackling the deadliest challenge of all: the Seven Deadly Sins!
 
Gluttony! Greed! Lust! 
(SO much Lust!). Rudolph! Grumpy! The Rest! 

No sin is safe from the improv comedy stylings. Packed with quick-fire games, songs and scenes guaranteed to send you to seventh heaven (not the TV show), this show will feature the best of the best of the best improvisers Melbourne has to offer. Se7en! (not the movie).

Venue: Bella Union, Trades Hall

Time: 8pm

Link: http://www.hoohaamelbourne.com.au/shows/

Put The Blame on Mame

Chapel Off Chapel – June 24-25

 

Fresh-faced Willow Sizer swaggers on stage for her debut cabaret Put The Blame on Mame, a tribute to her favourite jazz artists of the 40s. Draped in a fur coat which she soon discards, she buzzes with excitable energy.

Sizer has a knack for impressions. She slips into different characters, from the brusque Jane Russell performing Big Bad Jane to the sultry Eartha Kitt, pausing occasionally to pour herself a drink from the bottle of wine on the small side table.

She keeps the mood light with dry, self-aware remarks, transitioning between artists and songs with a selection of her favourite stories and facts about the women to whom she pays homage.

The show is an insight into her own childhood as well as a brief tour through the 40s; she throws in quips about growing up in rural Victoria, rifling through the “big dubs” bargain bin and going on spirals through the depths of Youtube. Donning a headpiece adorned with plastic fruit, she tells of how she came across Carmen Miranda’s The Lady in the Tuttit Frutti Hat on one such spiral before launching into the song.

Thanking her “mumager” in the second row and the audience for indulging her, she manages to be both unapologetic and self-deprecating. Quirky, witty, and a little bit risque, Sizer’s Put The Blame on Mame is an evening filled with gorgeous vocals; it’s a pleasure to share her obvious passion for performing.

Of Mothers Milk

Storming back into town with their (nothing short of) triumphant piece of cabaret, Mothers Ruin are Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood. It traces the history of one of histories more notorious liquors back to it roots, through times of prohibition and protest. Make no mistake, this show packs it in, featuring an incredible eye for detail and songs that are here rebirthed in a salubrious and untoward fashion. TAGG once again spoke with the trio (well one half of) ahead of their second coming, this time at Map57 in the custom built space The Box down on the St Kilda Foreshore.

Maeve, Since it’s inception at Slide Bar, and through it’s further development and presentations, how has this work grown?

Oh gosh, it’s grown so much. We’ve added songs, changed the script, added stories, shifted focus on some sections. The beauty of performing cabaret is that it’s adaptable and it grows with us as we tour our work. We’ve also performed the show now in so many contexts – in a spiegeltent or two, distilleries, bars, theatres and so on. We are so comfortable with the material, it’s just a joy to go to work.

Has it started to feel at all stale to you both,  given it’s continuing life and be honest now, are you sick of each other yet?

Haha! No, we aren’t sick of each other. It doesn’t feel stale because we let it adapt with us over time. Also, the stories are meaningful to us and we love these characters. We find new things in the words and music all the time. We are also currently rehearsing with a different pianist, Tom Dickins; he brings a different energy and character so the show changes again. Libby and I are also lucky to have a friendship that is focused on creative collaboration; we became friends because we love working with each other, rather than the other way around. And we get breaks from each other when we’re not on tour!

What do you think it is about the show that people just love so god damn much?

People love gin? I mean, obviously gin is popular right now and people love to learn about the things they are interested in. Also, and this is an odd concept to explain, but I think people enjoy the effort of the show. Sometimes, in the search of ‘cool’ performers aim to be blasé and detached. There’s none of that with us. Our passion and work ethic is really evident and I think people appreciate the effort that has gone into the research, the storytelling, the musical arrangements. It’s also silly and fun and we aren’t the worst singers…

What should audiences expect of this new season of work, taking it from the butterfly club to this new venue?

The show has matured, I think. We’ve really relaxed into the story telling and we’re super comfortable with the material. The venue at Map 57 is bigger as well so there’ll be the energy of a bigger crowd.

What have been some of the more bizarre comments you have heard in response to the performance? 

Reviewers sometimes comment on our appearance in weird ways, finding odd ways to let potential audiences know that we’re fat. “Buxom,” “physically fulsome” etc. A lot of audience members want to tell us their own gin stories but we love that.

Do you still love gin, are you still throwing them back like there is no tomorrow?

Um, yes. If anything, performing this show makes us love gin more. People want us to try the new gin they just tasted, audience members bring us their home made sloe gin, distilleries invite us to tour their facilities and try their creative blends, bars offer us their best cocktails. This is a dream job for a gin lover!

So folks, it maybe winter, but shake of those blues, and head down South for a night that will be decidedly gin soaked, but so very very fabulous. For more info or to book your tickets click here