Thursday, December 8, 2011

BOFA 2011: That's a wrap!

This is a striking ensemble piece, executed brilliantly through slick production, magical storytelling and the love of cinema…

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

Masterclasses: The challenges of writing for Tasmania; and Tasmania, the perfect location

Jonathan auf der Heide, Vicki Madden and Stephen Dando-Collins; Vincent Sheehan and Bradley Patrick
BOFA 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

Burning In The Sun

Directed by Cambria Matlow
BOFA 2011

I would like to think that there is something within us, within all of us; a sense of purpose to our lives that ensures we could make the world a better place. A simple idea that suggests that we can contribute something with our lives that will be built upon and learned from to ensure the peace and prosperity of those who will be born into what we leave behind. This kind of idea of course has one direction; forward.
Simple. Or at least it should be.
But for reasons too numerous and too complex to mention there are still places in the world where clean drinking water is scarce, where education is, at best, an opportunity, and electricity to power a single light bulb is a fantasy beyond reach.

Jeffie Was Here

Director Todd Edwards
Winner – 2010 San Francisco United Film Festival – Best Feature
BOFA 2011

“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

Van Dieman's Land

Directed by Jonathan auf der Heide
Written by Jonathan auf der Heide and Oscar Redding
BOFA 2011

"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.

The Fall

Directed by Tarsem Singh
BOFA 2011

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?

The Guard

The Guard
Written and Directed by John McDonagh
BOFA 2011

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

Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Opening Night Party

5.30pm Wednesday 23 November 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

This Unchartered Hour

Theatre Royal
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

Death by Television

I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book. – Groucho Marx

In a week where mass media reported on the authenticity of Beyonce’s baby bump along with the imprisonment and lashing of an Iranian actress for her role in an Australian film, Death by Television was a reminder of the absurd and dehumanising nature of television. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the 96% of Australians who own at least one television, but it’s a bit like that third or fourth glass of wine; you know that it’s bad for you but you still partake.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Terrapin Puppet Theatre ,
The Theatre Royal , Hobart.
Sept 16-18
Terrapin's new show Love is an amazingly multi-layered piece of visual theatre. It could even be one of those rare shows that burn brightly forever in the memorys of the young children who are lucky enough to see it, for there is much here that is memorable.
Packed full to bursting with wacky larger-than-life-characters, stories and imagery, Love weaves between moments of scintillating live action, transformative physical and digital animation, and concise puppetry.
Beginning in the kitchen of puppet-narrator Oslo and his wacky, community-minded, storytelling Mum, the strikingly simple retro, domestic set expands and transforms before our eyes; from city-scape to countryside, from small town to graveyard and more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


“I’m here, you’re there. What does that make me?”

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

Crocheted Chocolate: sweet as

It’s easy to miss the sweet offering in the window of Nannas Coffee + Vintage because they look so deliciously real.

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.

Wendy Newton

Barry Morgan’s World of Organs

I should start this review by admitting that after seeing Barry Morgan perform on the ABC’s music quiz-show “Spicks and Specks”, this show was high on my list of must-see performances for this year’s Festival.

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.

Wendy Newton

That's a Rap!

When reviewing artwork of any kind, often the biggest dilemma is that you think of so much more after you have posted your article. It’s a bit like ordering off the menu, looking at what someone else has ordered and wishing you had made a different choice. But it’s too late to change your order.

Festivals such as Junction provide access to so much art in only a few days. For the general punter this is paradise; meandering from exhibitions to shows, to interactive experiences to the bar, back to a show... experiencing the excitement and diversity that is a festival.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Chordwainers

In the closing hours of the festival The Chordwainers assembled on stage, under the canopy of JAF’s vibrant heart, The Junc Room. Every time I have seen these wonderful players I can’t help but feel as though these are privileged individuals, the chosen ones. Naturally curious of not only performance but also audience, I scanned the room. Over there, some heads nodding; a bit closer, the index finger of one half of a conversation subconsciously drawing the air as he points and explains to his partner, while a cluster of friends shuffle for a spare plastic seat in the D around the stage.
To the best of my observation, there are three things commanding attention here. Firstly, the musicians, secondly the magnificent leather instruments, and thirdly the unique and delightfully surreal music produced. I say surreal, because to me, there is a familiarity to the sound but something is decidedly different. These instruments of course are the exquisite sculptural leather creations by the late great Garry Greenwood. Formed from imagination, passion, and masterful artistry The Chordwainers wield Greenwood’s creations that would not be out of place leaning up against the wall of a muso’s home in Hobbiton. Simply said, they are gorgeous.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

ABC Open Air Cinema

Nestled on the edge of Civic Square overlooking the Launceston Town Hall, the distinct orange canvas of the ABC Open tent provided us with another festival gem; the Open Air Cinema. A chilly evening breeze wasn’t enough to deter me from taking a seat (mind you at the chime of half-six I wished I had allowed enough time to grab a warm Wild Willow coffee). It was freezing, but it didn’t matter because the collection of short ABC Open film projects had my attention and I was determined to tough it out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Talking Skirt (Prototype)

Libraries are amongst the most magical of places. Indeed, they have changed somewhat to incorporate the shifts in the way we access information, and the way we share it, evolving into information hubs and network centres; but they still have books; books that despite content, have dimension and weight. Evident in the minuscule mangling of pages and bindings lay the history of hundreds, if not thousands, of inquisitive, interested borrowers who unconsciously caressed each leaf corner with certain sensuality, until the words ran out and the page got flicked. Jilted maybe, returned most likely; the books I speak of are compressed into rank and file, but if we find what we want – we can reach out and touch it.


By Elbow Room

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

There's been a massive mistake and the Government has hired Lazlo Steigenberger to help.

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…


I admit that in preparing to write this, I am faced with a personal dilemma. On one hand I want to relate my Lazlo Steigenberger experience, and on the other hand I want to let you experience it for yourself. So, here is what I am going to do…

So you think you can judge

THE event of the Junction Arts Festival 2011 program, So You Think You Can Interpretive Dance, was lucky enough to secure me as their celebrity judge to give some credibility to Thursday night's performance.

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.


The streets of Launceston are transformed by art of every type thanks to the work of hundreds of school children and artists involved in the Streets Alive Junky to Funky Arts Trail.

This morning I was lucky enough to have a private showing of the Art Trail, which has transformed spaces within the city to house artworks created through recycling and upcycling. Recycling is something we should all be familiar with but maybe upcycling needs a little explaining. It is about taking something, shifting it and creating something of greater value.

Search Party vs Launceston

The familiar bells of Launceston’s iconic town clock rang to the tune of ten. A small but dedicated crowd began to close in on a seldom seen sight in the Brisbane Street Mall; a Table Tennis table. As I neared, I spotted the Mayor of our city, Alderman Albert van Zetten, decked out in a matching silver sports outfit ready to be the first opponent against Search Party’s Jodie Hawkes. After a rousing speech throwing down the gauntlet to the people of Launceston, Search Party’s co-creator, Pete Phillips, declared that the competition had begun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Something goin' on

The city is unfurling like early spring blossom as I head into the Junction Arts Festival (JAF) 2011 launch.

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.


Something a little special happened last night in the centre of Launceston and it all centred on a beautiful big circus tent smack-bang in the middle of Civic Square. It was opening night of Junction Arts Festival 2011: a chance for speeches, for celebration and some great entertainment. The tent was packed with an audience representing every demographic and the atmosphere was one of optimism and excitement.

A day of preparation

I begin my meandering on a sunny spring day to see what preparation is underway for Junction Arts Festival 2011 in Launceston. A Facebook message teases me with the prospect of seeing a huge inflatable whale in Princes Park, but instead I am drawn to Civic Square to see how preparations for opening night are progressing.

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.

Kylie Eastley

The Scale of the Whale

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


A team of three writers are hitting Launceston next week to check out and write about the performances, exhibitions and experiences of Junction Art Festival 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

The Harry Harlow Project

Written and performed by James Saunders
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

"Art is like a staple, like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter. Man's spirit grows hungry for art in the same way his stomach for food."
— Irving Stone, writer

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Salamanca Arts Centre / HyPe / Miss Despoina’s Hackspace
Peacock Theatre, 4-6 August

Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

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

The Breath of Life

LOCo Productions in association with the Salamanca Theatre Company
Backspace Theatre
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

Art On Legs 2011

Saturday 30 July 2011
By Kylie Eastley

ArtOnLegs began 10 years ago as Fashion Fantasia.   Hobart-based textile artist Rossy Roberts-Thomson wanted to provide textile artists and creative makers with the opportunity to showcase wearable art in Tasmania.
Its focus, as indicated on the website, is clear:

Fashion is taken to its limit into the area where the body is the canvas on which an installation, an idea, an aesthetic creation ….. is exhibited to an audience for their admiration, appreciation, inspiration and possible sale, whilst at the same time giving the maker/designer/creator an opportunity to make an impact as an artist in a legitimate sense. (

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Mudlark Theatre
By Kylie Eastley
13 July 2011

Beautiful is a dark, challenging and menacing production that is also riveting. Last night I sat in the Backspace Theatre to see this new work, written by Carrie McLean and directed by Kate Gaul. I am not going to detail the storyline too much, as I don't want to give anything away, but I will say it is a Tasmanian production that audiences should make the effort to see.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Construction of the Human Heart

fluidity of assemblage

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
April 14-16
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

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


Director Choreographer Gideon Obarzanek
Sculptor Reuben Margolin

It would be a mistake to believe the dancers are the only performers in Connected.

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
Dance Massive
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

Hidden Republic

The Black Arm Band & Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Wrest Point Entertainment Centre
Ten Days
Sat 2 April 2011
Sitting in the packed audience I was struck by the enormity of it all. What we, the audience and performers, were experiencing: The history. The growth. The death. And again the unstoppable growth, of everything that’s taken place to create the musical gestalt of Hidden Republic.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry

8.30pm Friday 1st April
Peacock Theatre
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.


Terrapin Puppet Theatre and The Children’s Art Theatre of China Welfare Institute
The Playhouse Theatre, Hobart
April 1st
Gai Anderson

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 & Trio Rafiki Jazz

City Hall
Fri 1 April 2011
Ten Days on the Island

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.


The Tasmanian Theatre Company
Ten Days on The Island Festival
Backspace Theatre, Hobart
From April 1st
By Gai Anderson

The true story of Lady Mary Montague, a strong, independent 18th century woman who bravely pioneered the vaccination of children against smallpox, is a certainly fascinating one. However I was greatly underwhelmed and frustrated by the Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production of Stella Kent’s play at the Backspace on Saturday night. For that strong and strident woman and her dramatic story were almost lost amongst the endless details of petty argument and gossip of a group of self indulgent and largely uninteresting characters.

Chronicles of Long Kesh

Theatre Royal
Thurs 31 March
Ten Days

“The only time you get to see the sun is when you fall asleep and dream.” (Prisoner Oscar)
“How do the fuck do you fly?” (Prisoner Toot talking to the birds)
“There is freedom in laughter” (Prisoner)

Such was life in Long Kesh/The Maze in Northern Island throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, when members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were imprisoned because of their fight against the `iron rule’ of Margaret Thatcher.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Power Plant

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
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

Djupid (The Deep)

Campania Tavern, showing at various locations around the state
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.

In Glass

Choreographer Narelle Benjamin
Performers Kristina Chan and Paul White
Dance Massive

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.

Fantastic Fun in our Enchanted Garden!

Hobart Botanical Gardens
Saturday March 26th
Ten Days on the Island
Gai Anderson
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.

DBR and DJ Scientific with Emeline Michel

City Hall, Hobart
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.

Animal Farm

Singapore – Ivan Heng & W!ld Rice
Theatre Royal Sat 26 March 2.30pm
Ten Days on the Island
From the island of Singapore, whose history like Tasmania’s charts a familiar path of colonisation, comes a stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1945 classic political tale, Animal Farm. This zappy, hoof-prodding production deftly exposes the unfortunate universal trait of pig-faced hypocrisy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

No one will tell us...

Rosalind Crisp with Andrew Morrish and Hansueli Tischhauser
Dance Massive
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

Luke George
Dance Massive
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 Glass

Narelle Benjamin
Dance Massive
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.

The Weight of the Thing Left its Mark

Shaun McLeod
Dance Massive
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.

DBR and DJ Scientific: Dance Hall

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

The Revery Alone

Billy Cowie
Dance Massive

Perhaps the clue is in the misspelled title of this melodic work.

‘The Revery Alone’ is one of three 3D installations from Stereoscopic Director/choreographer/composer Billy Cowie in the Dance on Film program at Arts House, and it is fascinating in both its abstraction and illusion.

From the comfort of strategically placed mats around a darkened room, we watch as a naked dancer appears to hang from the ceiling above, her hands and feet gripping handles as if she is fighting the gravitational pull to fall. Performer Eleonore Ansari mesmerises with her slow, controlled movements and feline postures. The screen is her stage, confining her range of movement in both breadth and depth, almost claustrophobically, as hands and feet pass from hold to hold, and her body sways and stretches to its absolute muscular limit.

The background score is soothing, repetitive, mellifluous, and it lulls like a cradlesong. This is not music from this time or this place; perhaps it is something played in deep space and the dancer is truly moving through another dimension or gravity. Maybe it is a chimera, after all, and the music is something only dreamed.

‘The Revery Alone’ is a study in movement, in grace, in the corporeality of dance on film. But the question remains…is the dancer really hanging there or is this a trick of the camera? She bends backwards, her face upside down, her eyes looking directly into mine and there is a slow understanding that passes between us: the only important thing is, the body must move.

Wendy Newton

Attendance at Dance Massive (Melbourne) was made possible through the arts@work Critical Acclaim program. Critical Acclaim is an arts@work (Arts Tasmania) professional development program aimed at increasing the breadth of critical discourse and discussion in both the arts industry and the public arena.


Helen Herbertson/Ben Cobham
Dance Massive

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.

Dance on Film

Various artists
Dance Massive

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?

Music for Imagined Dances

Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey
Dance Massive

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
Dance Massive

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

The Cauliflower Homicide: A Love Story

Mainstage Theatre Company
Peacock Theatre
February 9-12

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

La Casa di Signori

Peacock Theatre
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.