Thursday, November 4, 2010


Bangara Dance Theatre
Theatre Royal

November 3
rd 2010

It is fascinating how the story of Mathinna has become so emblematic, holding the appalling treatment of the Tasmanian aboriginals before our conscience. Fascinating, especially, given that Mathinna's life was so unusual. Adopted by Lady Jane Franklin, only to be abandoned when the Governor, Sir John, was recalled to England, the story gives us a powerful sense of betrayal, of outrage at the treatment of Tasmania's indigenous population.

The beauty of Bangara Dance Theatre's adaptation lies in its ability to tell her life anew in a superb marriage of dance, music and technical elements; a tremendously engaging performance with a strong narrative thread.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Golden Age

The Golden Age
Old Nick
The Peacock Theatre
15 – 30 October

This production is disturbing on a number of levels – many of them just as they should be, but some the fault of an imperfect script.

On one hand, I wholeheartedly recommend that you get along to the show. It deserves support: it is challenging and worthwhile, and performed with strength and commitment. Set primarily in Tasmania during the Second World War, the play has at its heart the fate of an isolated, perhaps genetically compromised, tribe discovered in the wilderness by two young men struggling with their own place in Australia at this point in history; Louis Nowra’s preoccupation with ‘otherness’ is evident.

Despite its powerful choices and intentions, I find the script profoundly problematic.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

Hobart 17 September 
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg has stayed with me but not allowed me to write until now. I have indulged my thoughts, reflecting on the familiar stories that resonate with this strange and difficult to digest play.

Without question this is a play that audiences must see. This production is beautifully staged and realised by a dynamic and committed cast who, through humour, take us to the raw grit of pain and despair of lives unrealised.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Primed – New Painting in Tasmania

Academy Gallery, UTAS
Curated by Catherine Wolfhagen
By Anneliese Milk

Following the straightforward premise of Tasmanian artists and their latest journey with paint, Primed is anything but simple. Curated by Catherine Wolfhagen, Primed brings together complex new works by diverse artists: Amanda Davies, Annika Koops, Jonathan Kimberley, Richard Wastell, Catherine Woo, Neil Haddon and Megan Walch. Beyond the common ground of Tasmania and the medium of paint, these works find a symbiosis that is at once surprising, challenging, and alienating.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Map of a Dream of the Future

Lead artist: Nicholas Low
Tram Shed Function Centre, 4 Invermay Rd, Inveresk

By Anneliese Milk

Slipping behind a black curtain into the cold, dark shed, I try to adjust my eyes while simultaneously lurching forward across a narrow path of stepping stones. Strategically laid out in a cross-axis, the stones are surrounded by glistening water – an ankle-deep black pond. As I shuffle and sway my way through, I pray not to be the girl who lost her footing and ended up in the water.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sex, Death and a Cup of Tea

The Tasmanian Theatre Company
The Backspace
2-25 September

By Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

This program comprises Sue Smith’s The Seagull, Debra Oswald’s Bull Kelp, Adam Grossetti’s Sex, Death and Fly Fishing and Finegan Kruckemeyer’s The Exceptional Beauty of the First and the Last. The playwrights were commissioned for a week’s residence in remote Tasmanian towns, producing four plays describing (sometimes circumscribing) place as a way of framing narrative.

Monday, September 6, 2010

KP11: producing communities

The Academy Gallery at the School of Visual and Performing Arts is currently host to four outstanding exhibitions, one of which is KP11: producing communities. There is diversity here in both medium and message.
KP11 is deals with the cultural hearts beating within communities across mainland Australia. The work (some of which dates back to the inception of the project in 2007) has been realised by 11 Australian art and cultural development organisations.

Each of the pieces in this exhibition are as unique as the communities they came from; however, this isn’t a tourism showcase. The art has been developed to complement the work being done by the organisations themselves, developing artistic cultural exchanges. Evident in every community are the challenges facing the people who are creating it. The exhibition encompasses social issues surrounding youth, the elderly, disability, life, death and ethnic background – to name but a few.

A Map of a Dream of the Future

Imagine how climate change will affect our life eighty years in the future. What will happen? How will we deal with it?

In fact, the question needs to be asked, can we deal with it? Eighty years from now will see the issues being tackled by another generation. It is the children of today who will build upon ideas and formulate solutions to ensure our survival through a changing world. Having said that, how do our children feel about climate change?

A Map of a Dream of the Future will give you the answer.

In an incredibly immersive experience, artist Nicolas Low with the University of Tasmania’s School of Environment and Geography’s Associate Professor Elaine Stratford have brought together a contemporary art installation that represents data collected from one hundred Tasmanian students from grades five and six. The students were provided with an education kit and then given the opportunity to respond to questions about climate change.

Data of any kind can have a stigma attached: we expect dots on a page or numbers on a chart. The beautiful thing about this data is that it is represented in the form of a three-dimensional living graph suspended in space. A hanging garden made entirely from Tasmanian native species that accurately pinpoints the thinking of each individual child. Even the plants themselves have been specifically chosen based on their resilience and then assigned accordingly to the respective data.

As I moved through the dimly light space, treading carefully across the axis, it became clear how many of our children are optimistic, how many are pessimistic, how many will rely on technology and how many feel that the solutions lay in a return to nature.

Powerful, beautiful, surreal and factual.

A must-see.


Settling myself down on the pavement in the middle of Charles Street is not something I would normally do on a Friday afternoon but I felt I had a valid excuse. And so did the crowd gathering around me. We were there for Pane.
The large shopfront windows of established retailer Jessups Retravison became host to a delightful yet surprisingly complex performance. Set against the huge fifties-era photographic backdrops of Nicole Robson, seven middle-aged women began the first cycle of dance choreographed by Glen Murray.

What is so interesting about
Pane is that this is essentially a two part performance; one show during the day and one during the evening. Though catching one or the other will not lessen the experience, Pane addresses a different perception with both. During the day, reflection is everything. The onlooking crowd become aware of their own voyeurism through the transparent mirror of glass. The dancers move behind and while we can see them, they can see us and we can also see ourselves. Without being directly an interactive experience the audience are collaborators in this performance and add to the complexity of the piece. At one point I was looking at the reflection of myself when a shift in light allowed the dancer more illumination and she came to the fore. A look of agony trapped on a female face was superimposed over mine.

Expressions of pain, joy, and at times playfulness are all evident as the dancers move skilfully throughout their routine. A return to the evening performance will see the same thing, however the internal lighting and atmosphere - not to mention the stunning backdrops and costumes - become more apparent and the true sense of entrapment in a suburban domestic lifestyle resonates with music and movement. This piece disguises itself in an era, yet I feel the underlying emotions are still very present in contemporary times.

The shopfront provides the aspect of looking in. However this isn’t perhaps the idyllic lifestyle that one would normally associate with the marketing used by shopfront displays.
Pane is a clever, beautifully performed piece and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Both times!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


By Lucy Wilson Magnus

There are a gazillion hours of YouTube. Too many for anyone to see if they devoted their life to it. Yet, Stompin’s WeTubeLIVE had me walking into a vast fantasy of live solo clips, where I felt so immersed and saturated, I had the impression I’d walked into the brain of YouTube and taken a dozen slippery slides down its pulsing cells.

Haircuts by Children

By Lucy Wilson Magnus

“Hair cuts by kids, free of charge,” they trumpeted in their blue and yellow uniforms outside the Studio Hair and Beauty in Charles Street, Launceston.

Can you imagine the incredulity on pedestrians’ faces: what? A strange child with scissors, with my hair, and near my ears?! No way.

What a crazy idea.

Did I tell you the one about…?

Presented by Only Human Communication
Presenter: Moya Sayer-Jones
Friday 27 August, 9:00 am

By Anneliese Milk

There is something infinitely arresting about watching an unknown individual on film: imparting the quotidian, the tragic, the intimate details of their lives to the camera. It becomes both a forum for, and a record of, a person’s story – a validation of their self-worth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jane Franklin: An Examined Life

Presented by Silkweed
Albert Hall, Thursday 26th August

Lady Jane Franklin serves as a figure of fascination as much as anyone in Tasmanian history. Unlike the fondly remembered bushrangers, she was a member of the establishment, but her reforming instincts have endeared her to a wide range of Tasmanians.

Zero Project

I speak to Tina, who is busy stripping leaves from lengths of Phragmites Australis, the common reed. Now that I know what they are, I see just how common they are, upright and swaying in the cool westerly wind gusting at the foot of the Tamar River. A few reeds hang from string and click away like knitting needles. Something she prepared earlier.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sex, Death and a Cup of Tea

Four playwrights were immersed in four of the most regional of Tasmanian communities, - Zeehan, Swansea, Miena and King Island - and four very different plays address the dilemmas of transient populations, of people who leave and never come back, of people who settle down to die.The strongest of the plays Sex, Death and Fly-fishing, is a powerful depiction of the relationship between a young visitor to a freezing highland community and a dying, elderly man who has found his rest in fishing. Carefully balanced between narration and dialogue, Adam Grossetti's short play is an affecting vision of a lake's apotheosis in quiet, willing eyes.

The other plays have their strengths: an easy command of vernacular in Swansea; the humour of an overly-enthusiastic swimmer (or is he a seal?) who sets a relationship back on track on King Island; but one doesn't feel they quite inhabit the towns as members of the local population. They may be passing through, spending some time, but they're not quite locals yet.

Poetry Wall

Six poets have reacted in wildly different ways to the phrase ‘Open Camouflage’. Tim Thorne’s bleak treatise on modern warfare; Joy Elizabeth’s chilling true account of the abuse of female international students; North Hobart’s football oval on an autumn afternoon…

Saturday, August 21, 2010

She Had Immortal Longings

Australian Shakespeare Festival
(A collaboration between Michael Campbell, Helen Noonan, Alison Bauld and William Shakespeare)
Peacock Theatre
August 19 & 21, 2010
By Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

This is an ambitious and challenging work for both performers and audience. It combines dense text (largely, but not exclusively, Shakespearean), a sparse contemporary operatic score, and a relentless live video projection of the action on stage. It also demands an intense engagement with the most emotionally and dramatically extreme points in the lives of five Shakespearean women – moments usually embedded in the full length of a production. It’s a lot to ask in an hour.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Special Delivery

Theatre Royal
11 August 2010
Also playing Theatre Royal 12 Aug at 5.30pm, and continuing its national tour
By Lucy Wilson Magnus

Special Delivery by Patch Theatre was like being an enchanted child eating a triple scoop ice cream in a cone. I knew the score and relished every mouthful.

This is children’s theatre that has them in stitches. The story by Greg Cousins and Jane Leicester is set in a dingy alleyway where a stock-standard deliveryman tries to fulfil the duties on his clipboard. But when nobody’s there to receive his trolley of boxes, one opens itself up with a dramatic tree-cutting saw, and out pops a look-a-like deliverywoman who hijacks his day in a playful, fantastical, magical way.

Special Delivery

Patch Theatre Company
Theatre Royal
Wednesday August 11 2010

by Stephenie Cahalan

Patch Theatre Company have an excellent track record of making engaging, intelligent theatre for children. Productions such as Sharon, keep your hair on and Emily loves to bounce have been highly successful in captivating children and adults alike, while also introducing young people to theatre.

And let's face it, theatre is such a valuable experience for children who are constantly surrounded by the world of digital images, short, sharp sequences and a maelstrom of visual and aural input. The steady pace and logical sequence of events in theatre is almost a relief for small people who don’t need as many trappings as us grown–ups to transport them to another world.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Theatre Royal
5 August 2010

By Lucy Wilson Magnus

Fox is a story about an injured magpie, a one-eyed dog and a seductive wolf, based on the classic picture book by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks This slick one-hour adaptation by Monkey Baa (in association with Siren Theatre Co) is pitched for “eight to 108 year olds”.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Monkey Baa in Association with Siren Theatre Co.
Theatre Royal , Hobart 5-7 August
Earl Arts Centre, Launceston 10-12 August
by Kylie Elizabeth Eastley

An intimate audience both young and old gathered at the Theatre Royal to experience FOX, a theatrical work adapted from a picture book by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks. It’s the story of an injured magpie that is rescued by a one-eyed dog, the friendship that transpires and the ‘three’s a crowd’ interloping Fox, who manipulates the situation for his own gain.There was so much about this performance that was effective. The cast of Jane Phegan (Magpie), Jay Gallagher (Fox), David Buckley (Dog) and Sarah Jones (Soprano) portrayed their characters well, and the costumes and stage elements suited the narrative perfectly.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Heart Matters

Theatre Royal
Friday 23 July 2010

By Lucy Wilson Magnus

The heart of Tasdance’s premier, heart matters, beats from the orchestra pit, where the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Young, sat in relative darkness. It’s no surprise that Artistic Director Annie Greig’s dream to collaborate with the TSO was the seed for this production.

Heart Matters

Theatre Royal
Friday, July 23 2010
by Stephenie Cahalan

The Theatre Royal was abuzz on Friday night. Regular subscribing patrons who had not realised this was a special night looked a bit bemused by the fully-packed foyer. ‘What’s so special about tonight?’ was one overheard query.

The answer could have been a number of things; the opening night of a new work by Tasdance, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra departing the main stage and squeezing itself into the orchestra pit or that Graeme Murphy had come home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Festival of Voices

Grand finale – Concert Hall, Sunday July 11, 2010
Big Sing – Salamanca, Saturday July 10 2010
Pilgrim’s Choir – Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Friday July 9 2010

By Stephenie Cahalan

Oklahoma. What an awesome number that is. Exuberance, animation, a beautiful arrangement of voices in all their ranges… I had forgotten what a classic piece of music that is until I heard it sung as part of the Grand Finale of the 2010 Festival of Voices at the Federation Concert Hall. And it if weren’t for this festival it is highly likely it would be another ten years until I would hear it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Age I'm In

Force Majeure
Theatre Royal, Hobart
Thursday 3 June 2010
By Anneliese Milk

‘It’s not about how old you are, but how you are old.’
At twenty-five I panic! I fret! I should have done this, been there, seen that and have one of those. Age is intrinsic to our perceptions of one another. We impose a different set of expectations on someone who is thirteen than on someone who is thirty. Age alters our bodies. It is physical. It is ephemeral. It is definitive. But as The Age I’m In illustrates: it is also meaningless.

The Age I’m In

Force Majeure
Theatre Royal

June 3 & 4, 2010
By Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

I’m linguistically opposed to the word ‘vignette’ – it is nonchalantly overused and often carries negative connotations of being superficial or somehow nominal.

However, vignette should also carry connotations of embellishment, elegance, delicacy, and evocative detail. My beloved Oxford dictionary defines photographic portrait vignettes as images with ‘...the edges of the print shading off into the background’. How poetic.

It is with conscious allusion to both the superficiality and the lovely poetry of the word, then, that I say The Age I’m In comprises a series of vignettes which are each a melange of voice-over, soundscape, dance, theatre, gesture, humour, digital illustration, intimacy, and humanity. The cast of ten navigate their way through a series of relationships, narratives, and encounters, encompassing topics as diverse as religion, cancer, adolescence, disability, and motherhood.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't Think Twice

A Double Bill:
Partly It’s About Love... Partly It’s About Massacre (Fiona Sprott) and
Andrew Corder Thinks Twice (Finegan Kruckemeyer)
Tasmanian Theatre Company
Backspace Theatre
May 27, 2010
by Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

If you think you can’t make fantastic theatre out of one actor in one small theatre, then think again. Think twice, if you will excuse the cheap pun.

As a rule, I don’t adore one-person shows. I find them hard work, and I get lonely: I crave interactions on stage. But with the Tasmanian Theatre Company’s latest offering, I am reminded that restriction is not always a negative, but rather can be the generator of great beauty and surprising moments.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Company I Keep

Performed by The Second Echo Ensemble
Peacock Theatre, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart
Thursday 20th May 2010
By Anneliese Milk
She loves me. She likes me. He is my son. She is my sister. He is my enemy. He catches the same bus as me. She has our mother’s eyes. She is our mother.- Finegan Kruckemeyer
Despite our many differences we all experience the same breadth of emotion and nurse the same desire to be loved. Although our relationships may be unique, complex and varied, we each form the nucleus of the ever-evolving company we keep. At the same time, we all experience times when we have no company at all.

Online (fishing)

Curated by John Vella
Plimsoll Gallery, Centre for the Arts, Hobart
Friday 21st May 2010

By Anneliese Milk

How long is a piece of fishing line? The answer depends on the artist using it. In Online (fishing) curator John Vella has reeled in a small and exciting group of contemporary Australian artists by using fishing line as ‘bait.’ Featuring the work of four artists and one artist collective, Online consists of five separate installations aligned solely by their use of fishing line.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Company I Keep

Performed by the Second Echo Ensemble
Tasmanian Theatre Company and Cosmos
Thursday May 20, Friday May 21, Saturday May 22
Peacock Theatre

by Stephenie Cahalan

Eleven actors on stage and many more on a screen, minimalist lighting, movement, soliloquies on love, nervousness, wanting to look and be our best. The need for approval. The need for love.

This is essentially what The Company I Keep explores, and does so artfully and engagingly. The story stands alone and would work for any cast, be they professionals or amateurs, from any background. This cast happens to include five people who might be considered intellectually disabled, yet are clearly emotionally intelligent performers and highly competent actors. Creator and director Finegan Krukemeyer has made a piece of theatre that makes the stage a level playing field for every person that occupies it; a liberating experience for performer and audience alike.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Rhonda Voo with the Croo

Exhibition /Installation/ Performance / Residue
Entrepot gallery, Hunter St, Hobart.
9-5 daily until May 20th

By Gai Anderson

If you have a chance this week, get down to the Entrepot Gallery where a group of artists continue to play together responding to the word ‘Rendezvous’ through performance and live art. They aim to keep the space “alive” and inhabited by changing artists on a daily basis. Following the “live “ creation in the gallery, a trace or residue of the work is left to accumulate over the weeks of the exhibition, leaving tantalising, exciting, and sometimes oblique traces of what has happened here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ArtRage 2009

Tasmanian School of Art, Centre for the Arts, Hobart
Friday 7th May 2010

By Anneliese Milk
When the work of eighty secondary school art students from across the state is brought together under the one roof, you can expect the atmosphere to be diverse and electric, with the occasional nuance of teen-angst. Presented by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, ArtRage 2009 encapsulates all of that and more. It is an engaging and sprawling exhibition representing every possible medium, theme, colour and emotion.
What is initially striking about these emerging artists is their evident mastery within their chosen mediums. A sweeping statement, perhaps, yet a large portion of the work on display is as technically sound as you would expect to encounter in the work of artists twice their age.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

XYZ Poetry #1

On a ‘school’ night, the likelihood of finding the time to listen to a Bach concerto, have a glass of red, and write some poetry is, for me, very slight. Admittedly, time isn’t really the issue, but rather the lack of energy and inspiration. Yet when Fullers’ reading and cultural community XYZ announced its inaugural writing event, Poetry #1, I began to see how it just might be possible to indulge in the aforementioned activities while still only three-quarters through my working week.

XYZ prides itself on being informal, unstructured, contemporary – and its poetry night is no exception. After a brief welcome and a reading of ‘Hens,’ a lovely lyrical poem by eminent Tasmanian poet Sarah Day, we were gently invited to pick up our ‘scribbling instruments’ and write some poetry of our own.

There was no topic, no time limit, and no obligation to share our work. Nevertheless, our small group quickly dispersed around the cafe and fell into a studious, albeit poetic silence as we focused on that rewarding task of putting pen to paper.

Despite its lack of structure, XYZ’s poetry night craftily puts poetry into your busy work schedule. With a free glass of wine in hand as you browse through Fullers’ books to the strains of Bach, casually jotting down a line of poetry or two, whoever said there wasn’t time for lofty cultural pursuits mid-week?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Art at the Brisbane

The Nook and Cranny Gallery @ The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Tuesday 4th May 2010
By Anneliese Milk

The Brisbane Hotel’s take on exhibiting artwork is as refreshing as a cold pint of cider. At the Nook and Cranny Gallery, there are no pretensions, and there are no rules. Requesting only your enthusiasm and the desire to have your work seen, Art at the Brisbane is an open invitation to all members of the community to make some art and put it out there. With a new show launched on the first Tuesday of every month, Art at the Brisbane is a constantly evolving, community-rich project.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


WriteResponse co-founder and blogger, Kylie Eastley is one of two bloggers, the other from North America, who has been selected by the Huffington Post to cover the World Social Enterprise Conference in San Francisco.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A city needs a composer

Dean Stevenson and the Arco Set
Friday April 16
Peacock Theatre

Presented by the Salamanca Arts Centre and Dean Stevenson

by Stephenie Cahalan

A city needs a composer to write its story in music. Be it the story of a suburban kitchen or a streetscape, a composer writes stories with music, like a photographer tells a story using light. They are like the playwrights that make work for local actors; the tailors that bespoke clothes of a place, era and climate or poets who capture the colours that cross their path.

From the perspective of a non-musician, the thing that seems to mark a composer is that they think beyond the instrument they are playing , to the layers of a composition that provide a platform for the talents of other musicians.

Dean Stevenson achieved this with the Arco Set, a group of young, skilled, local musicians who played on Friday night at the Peacock Theatre. The evening offered a repertoire of works written for both Stevenson as solo performer, the band and the Cloud Suite written for the small orchestra. There was something about the Peacock's intimate setting and the collection of strings that took me back ten years to a show by My Friend the Chocolate Cake. Like David Bridie, Stevenson neatly combined casual guitar with conventional orchestral arrangements to make music that was utterly original and captivating to the audience.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Perfect Circle

by Stephenie Cahalan

Studio Theatre, Mt Nelson

On the whole musicals are not sexy. Not exactly ‘now’ multi-media, not classical, yet not avant garde. Often, the lure of a musical lies in its rehashing of a favorite story, a stellar cast or phenomenal staging and effects accommodated by a monster budget.

And so, it is a tribute to the talent and determination of contemporary artists that they choose to work with a medium that does not always loom as the first choice of theatre- goers. The Perfect Circle – A New Musical is directed by Nicholas King, Charlea Edwards and Craig M Wood, who has also directed the music. As with all musicals, it manages to take the full spectrum of emotions and give them a place on the stage in a fashion that is so clearly not reality in its method (how many of us break into song mid-conversation?), but so evocative of the reality of life, love, loss… the whole deal.

The Perfect Circle

Preview: Studio Theatre, Mount Nelson
10 February 2010
by Janet Upcher

What is it that humans yearn for? What drives us on and what completes us?

This innovative musical drama, a thought-provoking series of interwoven narratives linked by the music and lyrics of Craig M. Wood and Nicholas King, suggests we’re all involved in a constant quest for the perfect relationship and a sense of eternity. Love seems a circular, often frustrating dance where misunderstandings and rejections occur and time mocks us with our own transience and separateness.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Eight Hands: Variations on the Theme ‘Piano’
John Cale, Paul Grabowsky, Andrew Legg, Gabriella Smart
Theatre Royal
January 22, 2010

Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

Despite the show’s title, there were never more than two hands on the piano at any one time – each artist performed solo. Although if you had your eyes closed, you could have been forgiven for assuming that there was more than one musician playing; such was the energy, musical intelligence and pure scope of notes.

Andrew Legg indulged his love of, and expertise in, American gospel music. His discussion between pieces was enlightening, though when he recited lyrics it did undermine his assertion that the music ‘speaks’ without vocals. Certainly the music was rich, full, and powerful, but we are so accustomed to gospel as a physically uplifting vocal experience, that listening from our formal theatre seats to those songs distilled into an instrumental essence felt odd. Fantastic, but leaving you aching a bit to hear Aretha.

Gabriella Smart presented a delicate collection of works by 20th and 21st century composers, including Alvin Curran’s ‘For Cornelius’ – a highlight of the evening. The second section of this work, an epic Philip-Glass-esque experience, is a sustained, repetitive, pulsing collection of very close chords which (under Smart’s sensitive performance) was simultaneously meditative, tense, agitated, mesmerising, exhilarating, and yet incredibly still. Smart’s performance embodied a desperation for release and resolution, and at the same time as a desire to be fully and eternally suspended in that sound.

After interval, we were treated to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, à la Grabowsky. Parts were beautiful; parts were surprising; parts were jarring and quite hard work for an audience; all was focussed and intense. It was as though someone had swallowed Bach whole – along with plenty of alcohol – then hiccupped some back up after dinner; had a long sleep filled with nightmares about the meal; woke with a strange aftertaste in the morning; then went out for a Sunday brunch and recounted the whole story to a dear friend in the warm autumn sun. Perplexing, challenging, and quite remarkable.

Finally, Cale performed two short improvised works which echoed the repetitive and hypnotic second half of the Curran. Both works were warm, melodic, strong, quite peaceful and somehow magnanimous as an end to the evening. A gorgeous parting gift.

Just as there were only two hands at a time, so there was only one piano – but under each pair of hands it became a completely different instrument (in Cale’s case, literally, as an electronic echo/delay was added to the standard amplification). The variety of relationships between performer and instrument was apparent not just in musical style but in physicality – Legg and the piano worked as a team; Smart’s body curved around the piano as though it were fragile; Grabowsky sometimes treated the instrument as a hazard; and Cale spoke through the piano as clearly as if it were a voice.

With no printed program, each pianist gave their own introduction to their pieces (Legg and Smart offered extensive historical backgrounds, Cale simply announced titles, and Grabowsky didn’t speak at all – though Brian Ritchie was on hand to offer an introduction). This added to the sense that the evening was a chance to eavesdrop on each musician’s individual relationship with their work and with the instrument: variations on the theme of ‘pianist’.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Grand Master Flash

Acumen Feat DJ Grotesque, Seth Sentry, Jack Viney
21 January 2010
Princes Wharf 1 Hobart

By Keith Churchill

An amateur sociological analysis from yours truly (MC Write Response) would hazard a guess that around 70% of those attending Grand Master Flash et al. would not have been conceived before the commercial release of “The Adventures of Grand Master Flash on The Wheels of Steel” in 1981. Given this “fact”, the healthy-sized crowd is testament to the legend and reputation that proceeds the man who (and he reminds us more than once) turned the turntable and vinyl record into an “instrument”.

The support act DJ Grotesque, with crew Acumen, illustrated just how far this musical genre has evolved from purpose built analogue mixing desks and diamond needles on vinyl records to mp3 music files on decks and laptops, scratching, mashing and mixing tunes set to a stunning video track on the big screen with some fine v-jay work. Eclectic would be an understatement when describing their source material ranging from prog-rock to pop to metal to soul including a nod to the festival curator in a Violent Femmes tune. Matching “Son of a preacher man” to a reggae beat was simply wrong but it worked!

Prior to Grand Master Flash’s arrival on stage a mini-documentary testified to his pioneering mixing skills providing a detailed description of his revolutionary handling of a vinyl record.

Initially Flash’s side-kick did some DJ work whilst Flash forcefully explained the three rules of the hip hop party that the audience were to abide by in order to have a good time. These included: 1. Make a noise when told to (generally roar), 2. Put your mother f@#*ing hands in the air when told to, and 3. Sing the song when told.

After Flash’s commandments had been handed down he and his side kick reversed roles and GM Flash launched us into that old chestnut “We Will Rock You”, with the bass-heavy mix literally vibrating my internal organs (thanks for the free earplugs MoFo).

Being a long term disciple of the punk rock genre, I was seriously concerned about my ability to deliver on commandments one to three, particularly as I have an aversion to anyone commanding me to do anything. However the seething mass around me up front were more than compliant for the next one and a half hours, moving like a single organism as Flash, with his signature old school scratching techniques, served up tunes that anyone having lived in an English speaking part of the planet with access to a radio over the last thirty years would know, including his signature tune “the Message”.

When reflecting on the night there is no doubt that Grand Master Flash’s reputation for being able to fire up and work a crowd is well deserved, but I can't help but see him as a museum piece trotting out the same old call and response routine (insert city name here…) over the same old tracks as though stuck in some sort of musical cul-de sac while the other DJs continue to evolve the art.

Friday, January 22, 2010

King Cale

John Cale and Band
Wednesday, January 20 2009
Hobart Town Hall

By Janet Upcher

Hobart’s sedate Town Hall was never so animated as on Wednesday evening, January 20, when John Cale – legendary classical and rock musician – and his band comprising guitar, percussion and bass, galvanised a capacity audience with a stunning performance.

Cale’s musicianship and virtuosity shone more brilliantly with every number and just as impressive were his energy and passion. Unlike many ageing former rock stars, he made no attempt at a trendy youthful image: he didn’t need to. Quite simply, John Cale is timeless, ageless and oh-so assured. The technical competence and genius of his accompanying musicians reflects the exacting nature of their maestro. The electronic acoustic effects produced powerful volume and, mostly, a good balance,although occasionally over-amplified.

Tentative for the first few minutes, the show subsequently never lost pace, with Cale moving seamlessly from piano to keyboard, from acoustic to electric guitar, all the while proving his amazing versatility, changing tempo and mood with each piece. His extensive vocal range sometimes evoked Leonard Cohen, sometimes Neil Young and beneath it all was the resonance of his Welsh voice and the backing of a great band.

For ninety minutes, they created an uninterrupted musical feast, entertaining fans aged from 17 to 70, all devotees of Cale’s unique brand of experimentation and innovation. From favourites like ‘Dying on the Vine’, ‘Style It Takes’, and the dreamy mood of ‘Buffalo Ballet’, he ventured into more surreal nightmarish distortions in ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, before culminating in Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, bringing cheers from the audience. Even this rather popularised piece seemed re-invented by Cale’s voice, enhanced by a great instrumental arrangement. After his exit, the entire audience stood clapping, clamouring for more – the reward was a stirring encore: ‘Paris 1919’.

After four decades of creativity across many genres, maybe the only predictable thing about John Cale is that he will never grow stale.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eclectic is the word!

MONA FOMA Festival
Thursday nights offerings
By Gai Anderson


The Bond Store at the Museum and Art Gallery, is an ancient Four - floored building of stone and hand hewn beams. The smell of the earth rises up from the lower ground to meet the furious piano sounds of Keiran Harveys “48 Fuges For Frank” - a musical homage to the life and work of Frank Zappa. Four different keyboards are played on four different levels during the performance, set amongst the varied and entertaining art and poetry of a group of local artist / Zappaphiles, as curated by Leigh Hobba.
As Harvey moves between the floors, the audience, seated by the grand piano, is linked to the performance by video screens.
Harveys intriguing and intense compositions were mostly performed on the grand piano, and played with amazing dexterity and focus. His hands furiously running back and forth across the keyboard were stunning. But I found the moments on the other keyboards the most interesting musically, an old pump organ, a portative pipe organ, and a Kawai electronic keyboard , (my personal favourite) ,- and to be honest most reminiscent of the earlier phases of doowop / rock / jazz inspired Zappa music that I love.
I must admit I am not conversant with the later works which inspired this concert, and so I found it a bit hard to penetrate, and wanting for some of the humour that is such a mark of Zappa . But perhaps I just don’t know how to read the musical jokes in this?
I would have loved Harvey to dance up and down the stairs between instruments but hey I did leave laughing at the “Hot Rats” of Matt Wards sculpture scurrying about on the top floor.

I then rushed off the Princess Wharf 1, which has been transformed again with an astro turfed front lawn, and is pumping with (mostly)youngsters lounging on bean bags watching the video wall.
I found some delicious South American Inspired food , before I run back up to the Town Hall for …

The chandeliered Town Hall was filled to the max with yet another sort of crowd – mostly older – the symphony crowd I guess - all here for a pipe organ and oboe concert. The virtuosic performers present a variety of classical and more modern pieces .
I was totally transported by the combination of these two beautiful voices, the oboe looped around the room with such clarity above the more grounded sounds of the huge organ pipes, set into the back wall of this incredibly opulent space.
I realised how demanding an instrument can be as I watched the great effort of Kalous filling her lungs at the behest of her oboe, and the intense focus of Kahout at his multi voiced keyboard.
The crowd cheered and after a standing ovation and encore I rushed off with my head still full of divine sounds back to PW1 …

… to catch the very end of Helmet Head, and with just enough time to get a drink and watch the video wall for a moment...It was busy now, young and old together, filling up the bean bags in front of the stage waiting for the next band.

A group of young Melbourne musicians in space suits, who were instantly infectious. The crowd was up and dancing, whilst science fiction and jungle images flashed across the giant screen behind them. What a way to end the night!

It’s a great PARTY , wonderful music , fantastic performers, all sorts of great ART .
There is something for everyone and just about all of it is
So get into it – no excuses.

Gai Anderson is a Cygnet based writer and performer .


by Kylie Elizabeth Eastley
Sometimes the best thing is not to question or analyse, but to experience. TIMEART provided the perfect opportunity to do this as the four musicians captured the audience in a 30 minute performance at the Peacock Theatre.
On the darkened stage with only dim spotlights, artists from Germany, France and Norway improvised sounds amidst linear shards of light and scratchings projected onto the players and stage.
Described as the ‘the International Ensemble for Intermedial Improvisation’, the group are part of a larger collection of more than 30 musicians who perform in smaller groups at various festivals and events.
For MOFO audiences TIMEART provided an audio and visual indulgence.
A slide trombone, oboe, guitars combined with an array of other noise makers and electronic effects to create organised chaos.
With eyes closed, it could have been a singing kettle or the sounds of urban life. It was a case of shut your eyes and hear the world.
This was another exhilarating, witty and thoroughly enjoyable moment in a packed program. A great experience.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


By Kylie Elizabeth Eastley
MOFO 2010
Peacock Theatre
Wednesday 13th & Sunday 17th January

Throughout the MONA FOMA 2010 program there is a selection of tiny morsels that are accessible, interesting and challenging. DRIVE WEST TODAY is a collaboration between Hobart based musician and sound artist, Josh Santospirito and Melbourne audiovisual performer Anthony Magen that is well worth experiencing.
Individually, they improvise a range of unique sounds and images that collectively create a sense of harmony, rhythm and tranquility. The small audience who gathered in the Peacock Theatre to experience this collaboration was transfixed by Magen’s images projected onto the quarry rock face that is the backdrop of the intimate theatre.
Using a video camera affectionately known as ‘Elmo’, Magen projects fragile and intriguing images with the use of such ordinary objects as tea candles and beer glasses. Reminiscent of tadpoles, fish eggs or microscopic organisms they wriggle and twitch.
Santospirito responds to the images, improvising with his two electric guitars and a selection of effects pedals to loop, layer and mesh the pluckings, strums and sounds he draws from his instruments.
Never having worked or performed together the pair meld beautifully. Organic images and sounds emerged from both artists who linked musicianship with technology to create a strong cohesive piece of work.
The pair performs together in six shows, with the last three shows on Sunday 17th January.
Anthony Magen also appears alongside performing artist Rod Cooper in HELMETHEAD in a series of shows at the Peacock Theatre.

This festival is living up to its acronym

MOFO Wednesday night

by Stephenie Cahalan

MOFO has to be the festival of music, art and acronyms. At this event there is so much going on none of us have time to enunciate the first shortening of the name (MONA FOMA: for the Museum of Old and New Art Festival of Music and Art), hence the need for an even shorter one! Even the good old Princes Wharf has been glossed up and turned into PW1.

MOFO is the sum of its parts and each element alone is good, bad, excellent or rubbish according to who is watching. A bit like all beauty. And this is a festival of art and music that prompts comment traversing a broad spectrum of opinion.

I have decided that the festival is good in bite-sized pieces, but it is even better if you commit a chunk of time and just throw yourself in for the whole experience.
On Wednesday night, for example, I watched a ‘Pixel Pirate’ video that, like most on-screen colour and movement, offered great images and snippets of meaning for those with a short attention span.

Following that, I sat a few metres away from two artists who have occupied the stages and attention of members of the music community who, to many of our age and location, are purely the stuff of music documentaries. To say it is very cool to be within coo-ee of John Cale on the Hobart docks is a profound understatement. To discuss his role in modern music history is the stuff of PhD theses, for which this blog is not the place. And I don’t know why Brian Ritchie chose to make Hobart his home but I, for one, am reaping the benefits of his presence.

Watching ‘Dyddiau Du’ (‘Dark Days’) was a transformative 45 minutes reminding me that John Cale, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground pioneered what we know as multimedia. Decades on, the simplicity and sophistication of this five-screen video and music experience is the product of an old hand and master practitioner.

Outside the Cale exhibition, in a circle of cymbals, the performance ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ left me unsure of its link to its namesake, but it was a interesting experience in sound, tone and cadence. I then had my heartbeat recorded for twenty seconds by Mary (not a doctor, as the white coast would suggest, but the MONA librarian) to be added to Christian Boltanski’s collection of 200,000 others to make into… music, history? It doesn’t matter… the waiting room was so much more pleasant than my GP’s.

If you don’t make it into Cale’s exhibitions, get to have a little dance to the Cumbia Cosmonauts or snooze in the beanbags (as one shirty man told me he was doing as I lounged against his beanbag. I mean really darling, it’s a festival for God’s sake!), then check out Ana Prvacki’s truly lovely Ananatural Production. Being an election junkie I was instantly drawn to the AEC cardboard polling booths, but this is an election with a difference. Check it out and don’t forget to vote!

There is so much going on at MOFO there will be something for everyone to like AND hate. But that’s good – it makes us talk, think and hang out with each other. I reckon that’s a worthy use of the Tasmanian (and sweet sponsors’) dollar.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This is definitely NOT the Taste !

Mona Foma.
Sat night Princess Warf Shed (PW1)

Any ghosts of lingering commercial mundanity or residual chip frying odours were certainly expelled from the Princess Wharf Shed on Saturday night. Once again it became the vessel for what promises to be another series of wild, weird and exhilarating MONA FOMA festival performances over the next 2 weeks .

PURSUIT – a spectacle of sound, speed and light, is the baby of sound artist Robin Fox, composer John Rose, and makers Rod Cooper and Paul Bryant , who have been workshopping with community members all week towards this performance.

The large murmuring crowd swells and mills in the semi darkness, wandering in front of the giant screens or lazing upon hot pink bean bags before the stage decked with what appears to be an array of bicycle / instrument mutants. The skeleton of the shed hangs above like some giant reptilian bird waiting to be released.

A simple request comes from the stage to be silent ….to listen!

And so the ritual begins as the first lone rider moves off around the figure-eight track to loop through the audience, his electronic horn squealing into life like some wild baby creature crying out in the darkness. He is soon followed by another slower rider, its guitar sound more subdued, a small wheel turning to scrape its strings. And then another rider, and another; all bicycles alive with sound- making, looming out of the darkness, slower or faster. Guitars singing, self - playing drums beating, spinning and clunking ; a violin screeches ;a metal kitchen sink clatters past; children’s toys tinkle; balloons burst; chains and metal bars clank and click; garbage can lids become wheels upon wheels to scrape across more strings; human voices moan; a lone bagpiper on a trishaw howls into the night and a rider balances with one hand and plays his trumpet with the other.

The sound moves around you, past you. You can hear it coming over there, and then it’s here, moving through you, as the faces of the riders loom out of the darkness. All are focussed, driving forward to disappear again.

They come singly, in clutches, then whole flocks - their machines are alive, calling to you, to each other, looming, ever circling and its seems that I have stumbled into the migratory path of some surreal mechanical animals, an insane orchestra of bicycle beings.

And all the while on stage, composer John Rose and sound - artist Robin Fox, feed their complex compositions of string, piano and wind into the mix – layering and building the sound scape. Sometimes they twiddle knobs on black boxes or ride their own bicycle instrument contraptions while videos flash and flicker on the giant screens behind. Close-ups of individuals on wheeled instruments mingle with live black and white footage from the bike-camera that speeds around the track, like some 1960s floodlit speedway or Twighlight Zone Tour De France.
After an hour it reduces to the lone bicycle again, the sound of rubber wheels on concrete, and the ritual is complete.

We sit in silence, I’m not really sure what I just experienced and that’s fine.
Thank you Mona Foma, I realise I have been waiting with bated breath since last year , and now I’m breathing in the sheer joy ,lunacy and excitement of it all again.
Great! Still 12 days to go.

Gai Anderson is a writer and performer based near Cygnet.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MONA FOMA opening night

Salamanca Place, Friday January 8 2010
by Stephenie Cahalan

It’s on! Another MOFO giving Hobartians a great excuse to get out and get into a big line-up of cool, cosmopolitan or downright quirky artists.

MOFO was blessed to be launching on an immaculate summer evening so that Salamanca was full of locals and visitors blissing out on great weather and company. And with the street closed to cars to allow for the opening event staging, it lent a little air of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas (on a tiny scale, that is).

Mountain Mocha Kilamanjaro gave us every reason to dance — a bunch of Japanese guys in natty three-piece suits making some very cool music, including a cover of a Led Zeppelin classic. As they wrapped up with solos by an exceptional bass player, true jazz trumpeter and keyboard wizz, the band politely asked the crowd to please buy one of their Australian tour t-shirts at the merchandise tent. How could you not do so after such a pleasant request from such spot-on musicians?

As an intro to a festival whose content is hard to summarise in a one-liner, the opening night gave us a good taste of what’s on offer over the next few weeks. Contemporary improvisation to make us think outside our usual musical mindset, and some fantastic, funky music to dance to. And lets face it, Hobartians love to dance, especially in the street. But some music will not be everyone’s cup of tea as many of the acts on the bill are possibly designed to make you listen, think and feel more than tap your toes. Some will be challenged by what is presented.

The knee-high members of my party forced my departure before Kim Myhr, Jim Denley, Mani Neumier and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. But the word on my street was that everyone kept dancing long after dark. Yay… sixteen more days to go!