Thursday, December 8, 2011
With over forty feature films, six masterclasses, two Big Ideas debates, fifteen shortlisted films in the digital SLR short competition, three award winners, one major photography and film exhibition, six opening-, during- and after- parties, a ten by ten metre outdoor screen, a Tassie food and wine festival, a red carpet opening and twelve of Australia's leading directors and producers sharing their expertise over five days of film festival, BOFA lived up to every expectation of providing "new horizons and food for thought".
Sunday, November 27, 2011
“How can you know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve come from?” Jonathan auf der Heide
It’s been two years since Jonathan auf der Heide’s first feature film Van Dieman’s Land screened and he’s still paying off the debt. Now the 32-year old Director is working on a horror film shot in Tassie, “a sort of zombie film with Tasmanian devils. It sounds tacky, but it will sell to Americans.”
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Winner – 2010 San Francisco United Film Festival – Best Feature
“I told you not to promise adventure.”
Broke would-be novelist Alan Mangold (Peter Bodgood) is about to drive 2,813 miles over five days in an old bomb of a car with his girlfriend, Amanda (Alexis Raben), whom he doesn’t know is pregnant, and an obnoxious 30-something year old student, who isn’t what he appears to be, to get to his grandmother’s funeral. What could possibly go wrong?
Friday, November 25, 2011
Written by Jonathan auf der Heide and Oscar Redding
"Hunger is a strong silence."
If Jonathan auf der Heide wasn't such an incredibly brilliant film-maker, Van Dieman's Land would be a much easier film to watch. To say that it is confronting is an understatement and I have to admit upfront to leaving the cinema after the fifth killing because I found it too disturbing to watch. Well, I knew it was going to end badly, in any case.
Los Angeles. Once upon a time.
Can storytelling save your life?
The Fall is set in a 1920s Californian hospital where movie stuntman Roy Walker is recovering from a fall that has left him paraplegic. Fellow patient Alexandria, a young girl who is also recovering from a fall, befriends him, and Roy begins to tell her the story of six mythical heroes on a quest to kill their common enemy, the hideous Governor Odious. Through Alexandria’s vivid imagination we are transported to exotic worlds and surreal encounters as the six comrades-in-arms begin their heroes’ journey for salvation.
But whose lives are the heroes really saving?
Written and Directed by John McDonagh
There are times when one reaches a fork in the road at BOFA. Both destinations are equally enticing but ultimately a decision has to be made about which road one will take to get where they need to go. One way or the other, I was going to a film. My problem was that they were both playing at the same time. As you can imagine this presents a number of challenges and after making my decision I am now faced with a whole new set of challenges. I want to write so much but give away so little.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
Spring is fluttering her wings as I head towards the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk for the BOFA Opening Night Party. Ahead in the warm afternoon glow and sea of people I glimpse red carpet, black tie, a white marquee and a woman in an iconic backless green dress, alchemical colours that are transforming the grassland of the familiar industrial site into a celebration with the magic of party favours.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Written by Finegan Kruckemeyer
Produced by Tasmania Performs
Directed by Robert Jarman
I have been reliably told that when you lose your child you never get over it, you just get on with it.
A simple black stage with a lone cellist opened This Uncharted Hour by Finegan Kruckemeyer and the characteristically melancholy notes issued a warning to the audience – this is not going to be light and breezy. The story of a still-born child and the lingering grief of both parents led the audience through the rugged territory of pain and loss that cuts keenly long after the event. The performances by Jane Longhurst and Ben Winspear deftly conveyed the damaged beings that emerge from the fog of grieving, going on to have another child who is forced to carry that burden through his own life. It is a tough subject and Kruckemeyer shows an uncanny level of empathy in conjuring up that great black hole that death presents.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
There are many boundaries in life, real and imagined. There are personal boundaries, relationship boundaries, divides between the genders, the mind and body, between maker and viewer. The arts love to play with these boundaries, to test them, to cross them, to highlight them, to create and eliminate them, because artists intuitively understand that there is reward in moving through them.
As reviewers, we slip between the boundary of viewer and maker, ferrymen between worlds, our passage, story, our trade, ink. But there are moments in productions when we lose our place, when the performances are so powerful and sublimely believable that we don't want to cross over. Elbow Room's There was one of those productions for me. It has stayed with me (or perhaps I have stayed with it) as a striking piece of original work.
Monday, August 29, 2011
In fact, an unmentioned colleague of mine went specifically to view the installation by Margaret Barlow and other local artists and came back disappointed because “they weren’t there”. (Mind you, the same unmentioned colleague also insists that Barry Morgan is an organ salesman and actually has an organ superstore in Adelaide. But that’s for another review.)
But a second glance and you’ll notice gran’s woven shopper made out of recycled sweetie wrappers displaying its twinkling boxes of Turkish delight and 1950s biscuits, jars of knitted crocheted truffles and a knitted mug of hot chocolate with its woolly marshmallows. Taking pride of place next to them is an Alice-in-Wonderland three-layered cake stand (which you wouldn’t dream of being anything other than red with white polka-dots) flaunting its white, milk and dark felted bonbons with embroidery for piping, sparkly beads for sprinkles and frilly multi-coloured paper-cases.
Nannas is the perfect setting for this pop-art virtual reality installation. With its vintage clothing, quirky objets trouves and all things polyester, melamine and formica, the crocheted sweets sit happily next to Nannas’ real treats of coconut slice, raspberry bites and choc peanut biccies.
Crocheted Chocolate is reminiscent of one of my favourite installations of Junction 2010, The Knitting Room, albeit on a micro level. Both projects are participatory and collaborative, involving the community in arts that historically have been just that. It’s rich and whimsical and, well, sweet, and one of the delights of this year’s Festival.
Perfect, even if you don’t have a sweet-tooth.
And I pretty much got what I expected.
The “Magician of Tuition” and “Musician with a Mission” played to a capacity crowd of ‘shoppers’ Friday night in Launceston’s Town Hall Reception Room, which had been theatrically transformed into a somewhat sleazy jazz lounge, thanks to some clever staging and lighting.
There, in front of the black velveteen curtains and spotlight, Morgan, with his trademark safari-suit, man-wave, 1970s moustache and cheesy over-the-shoulder smile demonstrated the versatility and joy of his Hammond Elegante organ - which was also for sale at a “never repeated price”.
And there is the hook of his comedic performance. The flamboyant, big-smiling (yet slightly creepy) organ salesman with the turtle-neck and tacky jewellery mixes up a skilled musical performance of original, honky tonk, classical and theme music with his pitch to sell you his organ – and much of that includes some rather tired innuendo. (If one of the shoppers takes home his organ tonight, Morgan will throw in a year’s membership to the Organ Lovers League of Australia, an organisation that gets together each year to play with their own and each other‘s organs.)
As a character, Barry Morgan is funny and loveable in the way Mark Trevorrow’s Bob Downe or TV’s Kath and Kim are, and he certainly kept the family crowd entertained throughout the hour performance. There was also some delightful engagement with the audience, as Morgan’s discerning salesman eye selected shoppers who might be persuaded to take his organ – and ubiquitous steak knives - home for the special price of $9,999. However for me, disappointingly, Morgan’s one-pony trick-and-shtick humour wore a little thin after awhile.
If you’re going to Barry Morgan you know what you’re going to get. Is that a bad thing? Not if you consider the arts are as much about entertainment as anything else. While I like to be surprised by a performance and taken somewhere I can’t find or imagine myself ever going, some people just like to know what they’re getting for their money. For those people, Barry Morgan’s World of Organs is definitely a deal never to be repeated.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Sometimes when you are sitting in the dark waiting for something extraordinary to happen, it does. To try to explain There would be almost impossible. I am still trying to piece it together, but the more I try to gather the threads the more they are pulled from my hands leaving me with a lovely afterglow. And, believe me, that’s a great thing.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The Lazlo Steigenberger Project: You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is
The earth is in peril from an insidious misconception that threatens our very species, but don't panic! Lazlo with his planet motion simulator and ten-minute full-bodied sixteen-stage workshop has all the facts, messages and reassurances - and all you need to bring with you is your imagination.
Is he a consultant? Government plant? Motivational speaker? Or the man most likely to save the world since Arthur Dent…
After pushing my way past the crowds of adoring fans clamouring for my autograph, and the paparazzi competing to get the best photo of me outside Fresh on Charles, I was quickly ushered into the green room (with its distinct lack of Perrier, note to Manager!) with the other VIP judges who were greatly impressed to be working with me.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I follow the long line of dreadlocks, fros, coifs, feathers-in-hair into the outrageously colourful big top of the Junc Room where artists, sponsors, politicians, volunteers and eager participants (like me) are rubbing shoulders; figuratively, literally. The formality is there, the speeches, the acknowledgements and thanks, but we're here to welcome in the festival, to experience the entertainment, and to feel a part of something bigger than we do in our everyday lives.
The Willow Cafe is already set up and attracting onlookers with its range of intriguing willow creations. A crew of Junctioners are busy putting the final touches to the Junc Room while the aroma of freshly brewed coffee is pumped out of the Two Hands Coffee stand. The ABC Online Producers are wrestling with their tent that will play host to a photobooth and voxpox of favourite places, while punters are already lining up to buy tickets for Barry Morgan’s World of Organs; a favourite for many from last year’s festival.
There is undoubtedly a sense of anticipation that makes me say ‘don’t you just love a festival?’ This excitement began the moment I sat down with a cup of tea to peruse the program, marking the events at the top of my list. Ping pong, Lazlo, Talking Skirts and Mr Happy all vie for my attention, and my aim is to do it all. After all, there is plenty of time for sleep later.
Each year off the coast of southwest Victoria, a natural event known as the Bonney Upwelling occurs in which changes in wind and ocean currents draw in a feast of krill attracted by their primary food source, phytoplankton. In turn, the tiny krill attract the magnificent and mammoth blue whale, and, if you are lucky enough, you can catch a glimpse as they feed tens-of-kilometers off-shore.
It is fair to say that a great many of us who live comfortably on dry land rarely experience the opportunity to see the awesome sight of a blue whale, let alone up close - however, if you happen to be wandering around Launceston during the Junction Arts Festival, I guarantee that will change.
First created as part of the Portland Upwelling Festival in 2009, Mark Cuthbertson’s inflatable whale has now migrated to Launceston to the delight of anyone who should encounter her. I must admit, this full-sized whale is hard to miss; at 27 meters in length, Cuthbertson’s whale appears to swim on the spot as it sits in Launceston's Prince’s Square. The whale’s tail, towering high above, rises and falls as if propelling itself through an invisible ocean, its eye curiously peering back at those looking up at it. Crafted from parachute material and beautifully finished, the darkened flesh subtly draws breath as the discrete air-pump nearby keeps the scale of this majestic creature true.
Not only existing as a work of art, a project of this execution and accuracy simply begs to attract the curious of all ages. As I sat nearby and observed, children were playfully interacting with the blue whale while the Mums and Dads dutifully attempted to keep at least one eye on their children, while the other inevitably scanned the length, breadth and height of the whale - no doubt lost in their own awe of the fact that the average blue whale really is that big.
The easily transportable properties of the inflatable whale (I was assured that it fits inside a modest bag) will see it travel to four locations around the city during the Junction Festival, all of which, I am sure will add new points of reference in which to appreciate the size and beauty of this magnificent creature.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
While the program is certainly smaller than last year there are some favourites along with some interesting assortments. Check out the reviews throughout the festival, listen in to ABC Radio and go to ABC Open to find out what's hot and what's a little less so...
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Presented by the Salamanca Arts Centre
by Stephenie Cahalan
There is one deep flaw in the inclusion of The Harry Harlow Project in the Salamanca Arts Centre’s Mobile States Festival of New Australian Performance: it only runs for two performances. There should be at least ten.
Written and performed by Melbourne-based James Saunders, the performance is engrossing from the first second, drawing the audience into a slightly uncomfortable relationship with the lone, innocuous-looking character on stage. The house lights stay up for easily the first ten minutes of the performance, making the audience not just observers, but companions in the bland room that could be an office, could be a cell in an institution, or could be a bedroom.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Peacock Theatre, 4-6 August
Nancy Mauro-Flude sits at a laptop at a desk cluttered with papers, facing away from us; we’re watching over her shoulder, snooping as she fiddles around in chatrooms and semifunctional programs: playgrounds of code. The theatre’s dominated by the huge projection of the screen across the back wall, making the human figure on stage look almost incidental. The interface is dressed up in retro DOS style, the way someone much trendier than you wears hand-picked, op-shop-wrinkled 1940s twin sets.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Wednesday, August 3-Sunday August 7
By Stephenie Cahalan
In The Breath of Life by David Hare, two women meet to reconcile their feelings over the man they have both loved.
On a set cluttered with books we find professional, willful, aging Madeleine who has retired to the Isle of Wight to make her diminishing years pass more slowly. Frances visits ostensibly to write a memoir about the two women, but this thinly veils her true motivation for seeking out her former husband’s mistress; to learn more about the man she loved and find closure for her own failed relationship. The women circle each other as they settle into reveries around their relationships with the same man, the losses, the regret and bitterness they both harbour.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
The Backspace Theatre, Hobart .
As part of the Tasmanian Theatre Company’s Associate Program
Grief and the death of a small child are not easy subjects to broach at any time, and I must admit to sometimes feeling uncomfortable during the performance of Ross Muellers award winning play Construction of the Human Heart at the Backspace Theatre last Friday night (June 13). But while it was a brave choice of subject for this new Hobart-based ensemble it was also a delight to experience such a skilfully-directed and subtly-performed version of this cleverly-constructed very modern play.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The Peacock Theatre
Four dancers, four emerging choreographers, four points of the compass. The bafflingly-named Artery offers us four commissioned works shaped by direction: Adam Wheeler’s ‘North’, Solon Ulbrich’s ‘South’, Trisha Dunn’s ‘East’ and Alice Lee Holland’s ‘West’. Artery also incorporates a screening of Anna Smith’s dance video Momentary, an elegant though constricted portrait of age, youth, stillness, energy, eucalypts, and bodies which somehow reminds us how undemocratic it feels to be the audience of dance on film rather than dance on stage.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Sculptor Reuben Margolin
This is a richly layered work by Chunky Move’s Director/Choreographer Gideon Obarzanek in collaboration with Californian sculptor Reuben Margolin; a diptych in dance and theatre connected by the quiet unfolding of a ‘living’ sculpture and an electric score by Oren Ambarchi and Robin Fox that pounds with an almost physical narrative.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Artistic Director Annie Greig
Ten Days on the Island
Launceston, Earl Arts Centre, 7 & 8 April
Each of us has a map we live by, an internal compass. The body has a territory.
It is this territory that is explored in Tasdance’s fresh new work, Artery, as part of Ten Days on the Island. Given the task to create a work based on a compass point, four emerging choreographers navigate us through their individual creative territories – and it is a fourfold journey of heart.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Chunky Move’s latest production marries an exquisite installation by American sculptor Reuben Margolin with choreographer Gideon Obarzanek’s ‘installation’ of moving bodies.
Describing a work like this felt counterproductive.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
10 Days on the Island
It's called a 'manual animation', and as soon as Daniel Barrow's Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry begins, you can understand why. Using an old-fashioned overhead projector, Barrow animates his narrative by manipulating a series of two or three layers of hand-drawn screens. Visually, it's both touching and spellbinding. The precision and depth of creativity is constantly surprising as we are treated to his comic-style characters acting on the screen. Effects, symbolic elements and small visual jokes are spread throughout the story, leaving us now laughing, now sad and whimsical.
The Playhouse Theatre, Hobart
It’s hard to pitch a show for family audiences – communicating your ideas to small children through to their adult companions is always a challenge- especially when you add the cross-cultural and language factors associated with Terrapin Puppet Theatre’s “When the Pictures Came “, which is a Hobart – Shanghai co-production.
Mim Suleiman sings like the sun – her voice shone, as she raised her arms out wide, sometimes flicking her black curly hair, dressed in a yellow African gown. Accompanied by Trio Rafiki Jazz, the sound had an ease and pureness of groove, which permeated throughout the City Hall among the smiling groups of ‘Rafiki’, which means friends in Swahili.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
29th March 8.30pm
10 Days on the Island
Our worlds are constituted by what we see and hear. Change the lights, modify the sounds and our worlds metamorphose into new and unexpected shapes. This is wonderfully effective at night, when the darkness frames the differences, leaving our focus on what is new and enthralling.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
6pm Sunday 27th March
10 Days on the Island
It's a dark pub, a simple, wooden elongated room and a minimal set, but the whole audience is with Liam Brennan as he lives the final moments of a doomed fisherman swimming in the freezing, hopeless ocean. We have the privilege of listening in on his last words, as, never more alone, he says what he needs to say before it's time for him to leave us for The Deep.
Performers Kristina Chan and Paul White
The symbolism of the mirror has long been used to explore and represent a variety of implicit themes in the arts: self-reflection; introversion; ego; vanity; illusion; duality; deception. In Glass by Choreographer Narelle Benjamin is a sublimely choreographed and exquisitely danced work that unfortunately suggests far more than it reveals.
Hobart Botanical Gardens
Saturday March 26th
Ten Days on the Island
The real star of Power Plant - the extensive, inspired and eclectic series of light and sound installations set amidst the Hobart Botanic Gardens - is the garden itself. Wandering along the stone paths amidst the ancient trees, flower-beds and ferns, it’s a real treat to be here on such an enchanted, still and star -studded night.
This is a charming collection of objects, projections, ambient- sound and endless combinations of spinning and twirling, electric- flouro-coloured- light piercing the darkness. And its quite a spectacle.
Ten Days on the island.
Friday March 25th
by Gai Anderson
Virtuosic performance builds to driving crescendo
The combination of virtuoso violinist DBR and DJ Scientific with Haitian vocalist Emeline Michel was an interesting choice for the opening night of the Dance Hall on Friday Night. Not because the somewhat subdued initial atmosphere in the beautifully tarted up City Hall transformed instantly into wild dancing when DBR began to play, but rather because the audience’ focus was drawn instantly to the amazing talent and performance of the artists on stage.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
It isn't every day you have the privilege of watching artists so influential and respected in their fields. But then, sometimes such reverence comes posthumously, and improvised dance is about being present in the moment, not creating Enduring Works of Sublime Art. Or possibly that's just my sparse and academic appreciation of this Thing called Dance Improvisation?
Friday, March 25, 2011
Now Now Now was my last experience at Dance Massive, and my third brush with improvisation. My first (Rosalind Crisp’s No one will tell us...) was characterised by, and fraught with, a philosophical anxiety about understanding improvised work; the second (Shaun McLeod’s The Weight of the Thing Left its Mark) saturated in a guilty pleasure at the comforts of structural, narrative, and aesthetic certainty; this third experience is still a bit of a mystery to me.
In Narelle Benjamin’s In Glass, Kristina Chan and Paul White are suspended in a space bordered by mirror, calling to mind the reflective and reflexive quietude of a rehearsal studio, but never particularly acknowledging this allusion. On the contrary, the work initially seems purely about organisms moving through space, sometimes impacting on each other, but rarely exploring the psychological, or the intersections of personality.
This isn’t a reprimand: Chan and White move so fluidly together that, particularly in the early sections, they are eminently watchable and there is a certain liberation in observing a physicality without persona.
Improvised work by its very nature carries an ever-present sense of risk. There will often be failures, but those who embrace working in or watching improvised forms will recognise that those failures balance the intense successes – the times where things just come together magnificently. Those successes are inherently heightened by the presence, or at least the possibilities, of the failures.
Friday 25th March
Hobart City Hall
Ten Days on the Island
Is it an electric guitar, or a violin? Certainly, for the first set you may have been confused, as DBR arced about the centre of the stage, looking (and sounding) like a lead guitarist from the 1980s, channelling his six-stringed instrument and allowing it full reign.
Friday, March 18, 2011
You’re ushered carefully into a very dark space. You are offered sake (or tea, the choice is yours) in a small white cup. You are led to a seat in the circle of chairs in the centre of the dark space (or, if you are unlucky/lucky?, further away, in a line along the raised stage). You are seated. You are a part of a boundary, a threshold, a mark against the space. You are part of what might occur.
Upstairs at Arthouse, above the Sunstruck watchers, dancers on film loop over and over, not caring whether an audience is there. Are they different to ‘live’ dancers, or do audiences just want to believe that dancers mind whether we are there? We want the work to be about us, about communication with us, about connection, but what if it isn’t? What if it is only for the performers? And would we know/feel the difference anyway?
Some of these niggling questions are alleviated when we watch dance on film. We’re not confronted with breathing bodies, so it is perhaps easier to detach and to simply watch the work before us, and not to get caught up in the pseudophilosophical concerns about relationships between the performing bodies and watching bodies.
Other than this, what is the defining difference between dance on film and dance on a stage?
I love the idea behind this work. I love it so much I can barely express it. I’m obsessed with its poetry and its possibility.
There’s nothing cryptic about the title: Flynn and Humphrey fill an empty room with soundscape and lights, and invite you to people it with your own imagined dancers. This invitation is, for me, so overflowing with potential that I almost couldn’t breathe when I first sat down on the long, low, white bench in the white room.
But the execution of this idea is so poor that I left the experience feeling furious with disappointment.
Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham
The ephemeral can leave a lasting resonance. So it is with Sunstruck, a dance performance full of fleeting moments of exquisite beauty and infinite feeling.
This is dance stripped back to the moment, conjured from seemingly nothing: an empty stage; one light; two dancers; no costumes or props; a violin and cello for the score. The audience is seated in the round, containing the performance, holding it, strange silhouettes that perimeter the landscape and bound the empty space that both defines and restrains the performance.
The staging is deceptively empty, but it is the emptiness that first draws us in; the nothingness is alive with possibility.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Ever wondered what would happen if you took a giant cauliflower, a confessional, a CWA band, feet that kiss, a rooftop gift of love, and a selectively handicapped electro-funk keyboardist, and tossed them all together with a dash of funny and a pinch of poignant?
First-time writer Sarah Hodgetts manages to pack an awful lot into this script – it is consistently funny, frequently sweet, and enthusiastically wacky – and in this production for Mainstage, she also takes on the roles of actor and director. While her performance is amusing, sincere, and poised, and the direction sound, it is in the text that Hodgetts excels.
The script is well-structured and paced; for a first work, plot twists and complexities, comic timing, and dialogue are all handled with unexpected grace and confidence.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Salamanca Arts Centre
As part of the Taste of Tasmania
December 29th 2010
Great potential, but in need of more cooking
It is wonderful to see Salamanca Arts Centre supporting the creation of local theatre for inclusion in the Taste of Tasmania – a festival which offers such a huge potential audience.
Writer/performer Marisa Mastrocola’s re-enactment of an Italian family dinner, as the backdrop for the telling of her own family stories, is a great and fitting choice to offer within this annual food extravaganza.