Naomi Milthorpe

Date Published: Tuesday, 14 August 12   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  4 years, 9 months ago

Birthday Suit: The Genesis of Exhibitionist

So I just spent the last 20 minutes trying to think of a punning title for this piece. This might not sound like an explanation of the genesis of BMA’s EXHIBITIONIST section but it certainly indicates where a vast majority of the effort was expended. Pun (or ‘clever’) titles were generally my primary concern, with adequate coverage and advocacy of our town’s glorious arts activity coming in a puny second place.

Of course, I jest. Having publicly seethed about the paucity of column inches for local (and especially emerging) artists – first over pints of beer at The Phoenix and then, via the medium of my first BMA baby, the Theatre Column (2006-2009, R.I.P.), Exhibitionist was born in 2009 when Bossman Allan Sko asked me if I’d be interested in helming an eight-page lift-out arts section. I reproduce for you here my reply as an example of the self-possession and quiet joy that bubbled within me at the time:

From: Naomi Milthorpe

To: Allan Sko
Date: 31 March 2009 09:20
Subject: Re: Arts editor?

Holy crap. Yes. Yes please. I have been ranting secretly about how Beems should have an arts section for about four hundred years. I would be absolutely delighted. […]This is AMAZING!!!  Wow.

In other words, if there was such a thing as verbal jizzing, this would be it. You see, it might not seem all that bad now but back in my day (and yes, I am now ancient, toothless and wrinkled – a reminder to quit smoking while you’re young) there was a serious lack of decent arts coverage, particularly if you were young or unknown. As we all know, being young and unknown doesn’t mean your work isn’t exciting, it just means you maybe don’t have the muscle to flex around editors (who, trust me, are just fanboys and girls wanting to fawn over their idols). Compounding the problem was the sad closure of some of Canberra’s old school arts mags (Vale, Muse) and the repositioning of The Canberra Times editorial focus which, at the time, was making it a little bit tricky to get the word out there about local arts.

So when our little baby was born in early 2009, Exhibitionist was truly filling a gap, covering major arts events but also allowing the light to shine upon less prominent names. The mission was always to mix quality local coverage with an awareness of what was happening nationally; particularly in the ways that national arts events impacted upon the Canberra community.

In this, Exhibitionist was a quiet achiever from the start. My Exhi all-star team continually surprised me with their wit, dedication, and (importantly for an editor) punctuality. Yolande Norris, our visual arts expert (later to take a turn as Exhi editor before her duties as You Are Here co-pro became too all-encompassing) was continually in touch with the latest, hippest, most intriguing artists; reviews came thick and fast from Jemima Fort; theatre was gallantly covered by Emma Gibson and Ben Hermann; and I knew I could always count on Katherine Quinn to muscle in if I needed a spare hand.

Since Exhi’s first days, we’ve covered major arts news in Canberra: touring performances from the likes of Bell, the TCs (both S and M… and Q), OzOpera, Theatre Simple, and Druid Ireland; arts festivals like You Are Here, TINA and The Multicultural Festival; major exhibitions like the Vanity Fair Portraits, Masterpieces From Paris, Soft Sculpture, various Photographic Portrait Prizes and the amazing Nick Cave exhibition hosted by the NLA; plus anything out-of-the-box (poetry slam, roller derby, zine and craft fairs, cabaret, burlesque, stand-up, tableaux vivants). We covered the closure of the ANU Drama Department, the fostering of emerging and local artists through Canberra Youth Theatre’s The Seed and Open House programs and the Street Theatre’s incredible Made In Canberra and The Hive, the ongoing excellence of the local dance scene through bastions like QL2, the birth (and rebirth) of local theatre companies like Everyman, Centrepiece, and Boho Interactive (whose shows continue to surprise and exhilarate), and the coming and going of scores of talented artists, writers, actors, jazz flugelhornists and whatnot.

In this regard, one of the best ideas with which Exhi began– and continues to this day – is the Artist Profile. Here artists, both emerging and established, describe themselves in their own words and there is a space to place an image of themselves or their work. The Artist Profile is stridently democratic, profiling anyone who creates (whether it be in an emerging, professional, amateur or miscellaneous category) and in whatever weird, wonderful genre you can imagine. As the Exhi editor, I stalked artists for their profile, but artists also approached me to be featured – and this is the beauty of Exhibitionist; as a section, it’s always on the lookout for something fresh and innovative, something outside the box.

In all our efforts, we were whipped along by the enthusiasm, pizzazz, and all-round Top Aussie Babe-ness of BMA’s then-Editor, Julia Winterflood. I cannot express how much Exhibitionist would have failed without her: her encouragement, support and advice to a fledgling ed. was truly saintly. Over the years, we developed a short-hand for supportive bucking-up (lobster emoticons) and spurned each other on with ever-greater pun titles, of which the better include:

  • A piece on the opening of the NGA’s Nolan Gallery in May 2010 by Yolande Norris: ‘Don’t Lose Your Ned,’
  • Emma Gibson’s story on TheatreSimple’s adaptation of The Snow Queen: ‘Snow Country For Old Men,’
  • ‘Afternoon Delight’, a piece by Shailla van Raad about Tobias Manderson-Galvin’s Open House Residency, Afternoon of the Faun,


  • Ben Hermann’s cover story for The Walworth Farce, brought to the CTC in March 2010 by Druid Ireland: ‘WALWORTH A LOOK AND BETTER THAN A SLAP IN THE FARCE.’

If I’m remembered for anything in this lifetime, I want it to be that. Again, I jest. Exhibitionist was born from a furious desire to profile the distinct culture and community of artists working in Canberra. Julia Winterflood and I are Canberra arts apologists of old and our mission was to go beyond the mere assertion that there is, indeed, life in this old town yet. We wanted to show it off; dress it with some fancy-pants peacock feathers, and push it into the spotlight. The fact that the section has thrived so brilliantly is testament to just how much Canberra deserves it.

All Ages
Date Published: Tuesday, 24 April 12   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 1 month ago

With enough exciting events coming up to suit all tastes, you are left with no excuse to be glued to the patch of floor in front of your heater as the cold weather sets in. Get out there and move!

Before touring the country with Simple Plan and We The Kings later in the year, Sydney pop-punk five-piece The Never Ever are embarking on their very own national tour, Remember to Breathe. We Canberrans will have the delight of sampling their newest material live at the Woden Youth Centre on Friday April 27. Tickets cost just $16.60 + bf and can be bought on the door on the night or through any Moshtix outlet.

On Friday May 4 you are being presented with a rare opportunity to bear witness to the musical skill of one of the world’s finest electro-house artists, French DJ and producer David Guetta. Local masters Timomatic, Bombs Away, Jared De Veer and Rawson will join the legend on Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park for a spectacular night of tunes in the appropriately chilled autumn air. The music starts at 7pm. First round tickets have already sold out, however the second release tickets, though selling extremely fast, can still be bought through Moshtix for $79.95 + bf. Get ready to dance your hearts out! It’s not often that we get an opportunity to see an internationally recognised DJ play a licensed all ages event.

It’s coming up quickly so don’t forget to buy your tickets for Groovin the Moo. This day-long entertainment extravaganza will feature a mind-blowing line-up of local and international artists including Purple Sneakers DJs, Bluejuice, Public Enemy (USA), City and Colour (Canada), The Getaway Plan, Parkway Drive, Kaiser Chiefs (UK), Hilltop Hoods and Adrian Lux, to name just a few. For the full line-up visit The action will take place at The Meadows of the University of Canberra on Sunday May 13. The music begins at 10.30am and goes late into the night. Tickets cost $99.90 + bf through the Groovin the Moo website or any Moshtix or Ticketek outlet. This is one of the most highly anticipated all ages events of the year, so get your tickets before they all disappear.

Prized Sydney six-piece Buried In Verona are to be shaking down the capital on The Notorious Tour. Supporting their launch across the country will be The Plot In You from the US and In Hearts Wake and Silent Screams from the UK. It’s a fair way off but this event at the Tuggeranong Youth Centre on Wednesday June 20 is worth booking ahead for. Tickets are available through Moshtix outlets for just $20 + bf. Doors open at 6pm.

I am also sad to announce that this issue of the All Ages column will be the last that I will have the joy of writing. I trust that this column will continue to bring good news to the all ages scene. Thank you, eager readers. It has been a great couple of years and a real pleasure writing this column. I wish you all a fun and entertainment filled 2012.

All the best!

(All the best to you too Naomi dear. You’re a treasure and BMA’s favourite work experience kid of all time! Much love from Julz and Al - Ed.)

You Are Here
Date Published: Tuesday, 6 December 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 5 months ago


In March this year Canberrans trundling through Civic were privy to something a little different happening around the city centre: ART. The old Dick Smith shopfront in the bus interchange was the hub of activity (rebranded as SmithDick), but events were happening everywhere – in disused shopfronts as well as at established locales like Smiths, Lonsdale St Roasters, The Street, and the CTC. There were performances, dance jams, exhibitions, weirdnesses without name – all happening as part of YOU ARE HERE, a multi-arts festival funded for three years in the lead up to the Centenary of Canberra in 2013.

Last year’s festival was co-curated by Yolande Norris, independent curator and a co-director of TINA’s Critical Animals this year, and Boho Interactive’s David Finnigan. For the 2012 You Are Here, Norris is back, this time with Mr Fibby frontman Hadley as co-curator. Finnigan, fresh from a stint at the UK’s Battersea Arts Centre, moves behind the scenes as a festival producer.

The three of them have, as Hadley says, “a lot of shared experience” but, as three people under 30, also haven’t had time for their brains to ossify. Which means that what you can expect from You Are Here is a bunch of interesting stuff, presented in locations and at times that maybe you wouldn’t have thought were ‘right’ for art, because essentially, You Are Here is about making arts and culture accessible.

The 2011 festival was a blast. The theatre component – in particular Max Barker’s piece Tom, Bob and Me and Tom Doig’s Selling Ice To the Remains of the Eskimos – was compelling, and thrilling to see in the dimly lit caverns of SmithDick. It was this part that was the best innovation of the festival – to see a bunch of strangeness happening where there’s usually void. It’s a feature of the festival which is largely thanks to the very generous support of Canberra CBD Ltd. With their help, You Are Here gives audiences new opportunities to experience art, and to meet, observe and create in the heart of a city that has an unfair reputation as a cultural desert.

“Canberra has a very vibrant arts scene,” says Hadley, and to prove his point, while last year’s festival had a heavy loading of interstate imports, this year’s is going to be much more locally flavoured. “We’ve been talking to great local theatre makers, the local poetry scene, the drag king and queen scene and performance art scene,” says Hadley. While they can’t reveal much of next year’s program, the curators have also been working at bringing ex-Can artists home for the festival, “as a way of saying that there is life after Canberra, but also that there still is life in Canberra.”

You Are Here 2012 will be happening in various venues around Civic from Thursday-Sunday March 8-18. Details on the festival can be found closer to the time at .

Jumbly Jumbly: Poetry & Sound
Date Published: Monday, 3 October 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 7 months ago

I’ve been thinking a lot about poetry in the past few months – the logical outcome of lecturing on the stuff – and about the ways in which poets and artists respond to or recreate or creatively misread other work, in ways that lead to transformation and renewal of their chosen art form. Keats, per example, with his spectacular use of the poetic ode in addressing the idea of pleasure and transience (“She dwells with beauty – beauty that must die”), which is then retransformed by Tony Harrison in “A Kumquat for John Keats” (my students will be familiar with this riff). While Keats found both joy and melancholy bursting from a grape crushed inside the mouth, Harrison soliloquizes on the most unlikely of fruits, the kumquat:




A fruit an older poet might substitute
for the grape John Keats thought to be Joy's fruit,
when, two years before he died, he tried to write
how Melancholy dwelled inside Delight […].

It’s not only the toffier of art forms in which this renewal through creative misreading occurs, either. I’m forever encountering artists bowerbirding jewels from other works, creating fresh spangled worlds from the pickings of yesteryear. Keats again popped up the other day in an email from current London resident David Finnigan, who emailed me ‘Profit Killer’, a track from producer Cleptoclectics. Says Finnigan:

“What I like about this is the lushness – it’s really cinematic, but it sounds like two or three film scores thrown together into a bag, and all jumbled around. And then the Keats […] that overflowing of imagery seems present here in the overflowing of samples and signifiers of lushness.”

Cleptoclectics is the nom-de-performance of Sydneysider Tom Smith. To quote: “Cleptoclectics channels sonic detritus, plays various instruments, and extrapolates via granular synthesis to create dense, idiosyncratic music. Warm textures, a distinctive tonal range, and staggered rhythms develop into a subtle form of reverie.”

I don’t really know what that means, because I’m no expert on electronica. Nevertheless, if you can get your hands on ‘Profit Killer’ (its not on the myspace, but maybe if you ask him nicely he’ll send it your way) there seems to be something there, something that revivifies both the music and the poem, that in yoking together different aural ideas enables the creation of something new. And isn’t that what art is about?

Date Published: Tuesday, 13 September 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 8 months ago

22 SHORT PLAYS by David Finnigan has had a long life for a series of shorts. Picked up for a play reading in 2010, and drawn out of itself over the last year by MKA Richmond’s head honcho Tobias Manderson-Galvin (last seen here as part of CYT’s Open House in 2010, doing Afternoon of the Faun), the performance comprises 22 bite-sized plays from Finnigan’s breviary of unperformed scripts. “Having drawn a few millilitres of vivid blood from the veins of a whole army of cankered scripts, 22 Short Plays mixes them together in an actual mix,” says Finnigan. “Not a sketch show format where one show follows the next, but in a complete arc, courtesy of Tobias Manderson-Galvin’s brilliant editing and oversight."

22 Short Plays reflects a growing interest in stretching the boundaries of collaboration and challenges assumptions about what theatre ‘is’. The following is a necessarily truncated version of an email interview with Finnigan and Manderson-Galvin.

How much of the plays’ structure was up to you, and how much of it is the work of the other? Is Tobias the Pound to Finig’s Waste Land-era Eliot?

TMG: What a luxury it is to collaborate on a play like this. MKA peeked into the Finnigan brain vault and 28 plays surfaced from which to make a selection. Some real talent made the squad whilst others sat on the bench patiently waiting for their shot in the big league. […] Does 22 Short Plays end in us chanting Shantih shantih shantih? Absolutely. All plays should. And all credit should go to the author who gave us the opportunity to make Shantih Shantih Shantih.

DF: …There’s a school of thought behind the well-made short play – I believe the Short and Sweet cats even provide lessons on the topic. None of the plays in 22 Short Plays qualify in that regard. None of them have gags, or if they do have gags they’re accidental. This is not a highbrow collection of well-formed nuggets honed into pearlescence and then lined up in order from start to finish. These are the highlight snapshots from nine years of failure. These are not handsome short plays, they are fragments – and in that sense, they are amenable to being molded and reworked into something greater than their component parts.

Enter Toby. […] The way he structured [the plays] had something in common with the way an electronic musician might structure a DJ set. There are recurring themes, motifs, there is a continued thread and a pulse that runs like a spine through the whole thing, but things segue one to another, overlap, intercut, weave in and out, and build. 

How much ego do you have to sacrifice to allow someone else to edit and evolve your work?

DF: […] My scripts sit at the intersection of a huge scope of creative collaboration across all disciplines within the performing arts. As a playwright, I’m less a creative auteur who generates something new than I am the owner of a venue which hosts the coming together of an extraordinary collaborative venture. A play script is not a work of art in itself - even 22 play scripts together do not equate to art - it is the starting point for the rad shit. Put another way, a script is not interesting or worthwhile until it’s covered in the director, designer and actors’ scribbled notes.

Tobias: What are the challenges involved in performance? What drew you to Finnigan’s work?

TMG: The challenges are many and the rewards few but I knew on reading the work of David Finnigan that he was just like himself which is a lot like you and a bit like me too. For example he was enquiring into what makes the tilting upper-lip of a series of rock’n’roll singers so violently alluring. He was contemplating why we don’t use Discmans anymore. He was contemplating the mortality of his closest relatives. And at one point he’d read a TV programming guide with sentence long description attachments. Do you have a short attention span? We do.

Can you talk through MKA’s raison d’etre for those Canberrans who may not be aware of your stuff?

TMG: MKA is about the playwright. Based on the successful model presented by companies like the Royal Court, the SOHO Writers Theatre (London) and Instant Cafe Theatre (KL) […] we stage work that’s bold, urgent and we’re not afraid of time travel.

On MKA, David: what do you think of these cats?

DF: One of my favourite things about the Canberra indie theatre scene is the fear, the fever and the desperation that drives companies. You can work all day and all night and make stunning work after stunning work, but you’re always just a few minutes away from complete failure. Every show could be your last […] and everyone knows it and everyone can feel it and so people create and create with a furious energy and passion that wants to scorch some kind of mark before your fire goes out.

[…] in Melbourne, MKA are scrabbling at the walls of the scene with that same mad hunger that looks like they’ve got nothing left to lose and nowhere to go but out, so they’re risking basically everything and aiming for the top of the heap. A lot of guts, a lot of skill and a lot of ambition, and it’s paying off in a really crazy way. 

MKA Richmond present 22 Short Plays by David Finnigan at The Street Theatre, Thursday September 15 to Saturday September 17 at 8pm, Sunday September 18 at 6pm. Tickets and bookings are through, and for more on the genesis of 22 Short Plays, check out David Finnigan’s blog at .



Linkety Link!
Date Published: Tuesday, 23 August 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 9 months ago

Just a quick one for those of a procrastinatory bent.

If you haven't stopped by (former Exhi editor) Yolande Norris's Useless Lines blog, do. It's a wealth of info, considered opinion, and cool pitchers. Most recently, a piece about glass exhibition Tour de Force (which you, like me, have already missed if you haven't already seen, but there's links to online material about the exhibition which is nice).

Here's a review of mine recently published at M/C Reviews. M/C Reviews is an online review site for which I've been writing book reviews for about a year now, but they also have film, theatre, art and restaurant reviews as well as related cultural material through the academic journal leg of their publication, Media Culture.

A student sent me a link to For Better For Verse (god knows, I love me a pun), an online interactive site that is designed to help you get at the heart of poetic meter. I guess it's strictly for the poetically inclined (or those looking for a crib sheet) but still, if you like that sort of thing, HOURS OF FUN!

Speaking of poetry, I spent way too much time watching this on youtube: Larry Jordan's 1977 experimental film of 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', with Orson Welles reading Coleridge's verse, using animated Gustave Dore engravings. Golly gosh. If this ain't art, I don't know what is.

Remember to come see Panic - last week for modern American verse drama about financial collapse and personal tragedy!

Date Published: Tuesday, 16 August 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 9 months ago

What is home? Is it a place, or a state of mind? Do you find a home, or do you make it? And what if you leave your home – can you find another? These are questions posed, but not necessarily answered, by the artists behind DESTINATION HOME, a performance-by-conversation coming to the Street Theatre from August 23 to 28.

Destination Home is the work of four performers known as the Threads Collective: Camilla Blunden, Liliana Bogatko, Raoul Craemer, and Noonee Doronila. Each is in their own way a migrant, yet each calls Canberra home. Blunden is originally from Cornwall, while Craemer grew up in Germany and India and lived in England before migrating to Australia. Bogatko and Doronila both fled their home countries, Poland and the Philippines, making their way to Australia as refugees. From verbatim conversations originally held two years back, Threads have devised a show that seeks to make a personal connection between the performers and the audience on issues of home, memory, and cultural difference.

Through three distinct sections – revolving around first impressions, search for identity, and finding home – the performers meditate upon their own experience while connecting with the experiences of the audience. Everyone’s idea of home is different – and it’s through its focus on conversation, on connection, and on dialogue with its audience that Destination Home aims to show just how individual and personal home is. It’s the diversity of these stories that makes the show, says director barb barnett: “while all four are migrants, it’s not the be-all and end-all of their existence.”

The show could not be more timely, following closely as it does the announcement of the 2011 Multicultural Policy. Destination Home offers the experiences and insight of four ‘new’ Australians on what it means to live in Australia and to be ‘Australian’. These are insights born of conversations between each one, and shaped over the course of two years as part of the Street Theatre’s Hive program, with dramaturgy from Peter Matheson and barnett’s directorial eye lending a shaping hand.

The show is “a conversation with an audience” says barnett. It seeks to show “similarities and disparities” between the performers’ experience and those of the audience. While questions of home and belonging – particularly when it comes to migration and refugees – are hotly debated by pundits and extremists on left and right, barnett says that the show has not been devised as a soapbox. Instead, each performer offers insight of a personal, individual nature, opening up the possibility for intimacy and connection with the audience. “Sometimes in a sea of faceless migrants the individual stories are lost,” says barnett. Destination Home seeks to place the individual experience at the heart of the show’s conversation about home and belonging.

But how performative can a conversation be? And how conversational can a performance be? These are central concerns within the show, says barnett, who has sought to create an experiential totality for the audience, dismantling the traditional divide between audience and performer. Before the show the audience and actors mingle in the foyer, before being separated and guided in groups by a performer whose entry into The Street Two space is influenced by their character and experiences: some will be let in immediately, while some will have to wait. Some will get in through the outside doors, while some will be left stranded by their performer.

Audience and actor will likewise share a sensory experience in the space, which is being transformed by designer Gillian Schwab. Schwab and barnett have worked together several times now, looking for ways to transform the performance space from the usual black box into a new environment. Their collaboration on 2008’s oceans all boiled into sky showed just what could be done in Street Two’s intimate studio space – for that show, the duo turned the space into a lounge-den-radio-listening-party, with cushions and sofas crowding around a post-apocalyptic radio-play set.

For Destination Home – a show far removed from such baroque stylistics – Schwab has “Christo-wrapped” Street Two, says barnett, creating an installation that mimics the inside of a packing case, built of recycled card, paper, and old travel materials. The idea is one that echoes the provisional nature of recent migrant experience, Schwab suggests: “using what you’ve got […], cobbling together your environment.” Not just the stage but the walls, windows, and doors of Street Two will be covered, creating the impression of being packed inside, stashed with the actors’ memories alongside trinkets and mementos. There are also hints of transition, with lounges that call up ideas of airports and bus stations.

“It’s half packing box, half arrivals-departure lounge,” says Schwab, who has conceived the set as a remaking of the idea of home that is both literal and figurative. Similarly, “intricate, suggestive” sound design by ex-Canberran Nick McCorriston supports and interweaves with the performers’ stories, foreshadowing and accentuating the experience of arriving in a foreign place and remembering a lost home.

In this way Destination Home isn’t simply a play about migration, or a didactic issues-based performance, though it deals with those issues. Instead, its focus is “the stories, and the humanness” of the experience of home. It’s a conversation, which allows “spaces for exchange” about what it means to live in and belong to a community.

Destination Home will perform at Street Two, The Street Theatre, from Tuesday-Sunday August 23-28. For information and bookings call 6247 1223 or head to .

Don't Panic
Date Published: Monday, 15 August 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 9 months ago

Quick update:

I've been so silent of late in part because I've been pouring all my energy into lecture writing for my lovely first years, who deserve more than the mindless flailing and endless segues I usually subject students to. The other part of silence is that I'M IN A PLAY.


It's called PANIC and is being performed at the ANU Arts Centre this week and next - we open Thursday and run Thursday Friday Saturday this week and next. And it's interesting!

1) because it is in poetry and I LOVE POETRY

2) because it is about the closing of the banks during the Depression in America and seems to have a dilly of a lot of insight into the kinds of ways and means by which the financial sector screws up the world, vis GFC etc, and the social and human impact of financial ruin.

anyway. It's a very very interesting play which has been covered in BMA in recent weeks (see here) and which is UTTERLY FREE OF CHARGE FOR PUNTERS. Nice thing, a play about financial ruin not causing any to the man on the street, eh?

Anyway, if you enjoy mindless flailing you won't get any in this play, but might afterwards, from me, at the bar, as I rant about how amazing this play is.



Panic by Archibald MacLeish

ANU Arts Centre Main Stage

Thursday 18 August - Saturday 27 August @ 8pm

Free entry


Opportunity Knocks
Date Published: Monday, 18 July 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 10 months ago

Hello lovelies!

Just a couple of sweet opportunities for creative types out there... and a couple of delightful plugs.


Firstly, the always radical Mel Tait (of ABC666 fame) is sending round a call out for the next Now Hear This storytelling night at The Street Theatre. Mel writes:

"It’s time to get ready for our next “Now Hear This” [...]. I’m not sure if you made it to the last one, but it was the most incredibly special night we’ve had of storytelling yet! We had stories from all over the world, we had stomachs hurting from laughing and the less steely of us had runny noses from a few tears."

Now Hear This has been a resounding success, with sell out crowds and a doozy of an emotional response. Now it's your turn to wow the crowds. Mel is looking for anyone who has a story of "Changes" (Now Hear This takes its cues from song titles and this round it's Bowie bring the inspiration). If you have a tale to tell, bring it to the table! They're 'auditioning' storytellers in the week of August 23, with workshops around September 5 ready for the performance on September 14. 

Here’s the entry form. And here is one of the great stories from “Love is a Four Letter Word” to get some inspiration from. It's by Christine Gascoyne. Enjoy - and get writing!



Sadly there's no Bill Pullman here... but maybe something a leetle more useful. Canberra Youth Theatre have emailed with news of a fantastic workshop series for emerging and independent artists looking to get their work to the stage.

Artistic Director Karla Conway writes:

"We have formulated a series of workshops called the INDEPENDENT ARTIST SERIES, which is designed to teach emerging and independent artists how to survive in the industry – training them in the business and legal ends of producing theatre independently.

There are 3 programs on offer this semester and now with our new website, all enrolments can be completed online – its never been easier!"

CYT are offering 1) a workshop on grantwriting, 2) one on producing independent work, and 3) one for working actors needing tips on getting jobs in the biz. For more info on the workshops click here. For information on CYT and the opportunities they have going there, head to their website. Huzzah!



Improvention - Impro ACT's annual fiesta del improvisatione - is opening tonight with Unprepared, an amazing double bill of impro theatre:

"In Act I, some of the greatest improvisers from around Australia and the globe, are paired-up for the first time to see what happens when great minds meet. Each pair will pitch to you their right to continue playing or not. You decide in “Sink or Swim”.

In Act II, see the landmark Canberra-produced longform, “The Displaced”. Have you ever been shown the door? Have you ever been displaced from your home, your family, your work. The answers will tug at your heartstrings."

Bookings: 6247 1223 or


Clippety Clip!

Clip of the week: Mel Tait (golly she's got a lot on!) wrote and produced this lovely little film last summer, now up on YouTube. Directed by Felix Barbalet, the film's called Refresh, and features the charms of many a delightful person and music by lovely Canberra musos. Check it out!!!

Til next time, peeps.


BMA2.0: Uninhibited enters the blogosphere.
Date Published: Wednesday, 13 July 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 10 months ago

I realise that for most people blogging does not equal some kind of terrifying shift in the space-time continuum, but for this ludditical doofus, it does. Mr Bossman sent me the instructions for how to access the “back end” (huh huh huh) but I’m still typing this on, like, Microsoft Word 2003 and querulously pondering the number of systems I’m going to crash before I actually upload this. So if you’re reading this it means one of two things:

1. You’re me

2. The benevolent rays of Future God shone down upon me and granted me the will and strength to navigate the rocky paths of the BMA website.




It came at a nice moment, when Al invited me to contribute to the virtual BMA world. I’ve just finished up at one job and started on a new – can I say Dream Job without sounding like a tool? Probably not – job which is infinitely cooler. TBH, I haven’t thought deeply and actively about the performing arts scene for a while (at least two months) as I’ve started reviewing books 'seriously' (I’ll linky link in good time) and, furthermore, enmeshed myself in self-directed crash course in The History of English Poetry.

But I missed the cosy hug of a regular forum in which to vent my spleen, and the fuzzy feeling that comes with the knowledge that (even if no one is reading it) I mostly do my bit in getting the word out about Cool Stuff And People That Aren’t Getting Enough Play. And when Al phoned, I’d just gotten an email from the new director of Crack Festival – the theatre arm of the venerable Novocastrian fringe arts festival This Is Not Art. What it said wasn’t pretty. And I wanted to get the word out.


A lot of you might know the sitch already, but if you don’t, Here Tis:

Established in 1998, This Is Not Art (TINA) is a multidisciplinary arts festival held annually in Newcastle, Australia. TINA was established to support the development of experimental and emerging artists practice in Australia, and is the umbrella for four deliciously diverse sub-festivals: Crack Theatre Festival, ElectroFringe, National Young Writers’ Festival and Critical Animals. Every event at TINA2011 will be free, making it an open and accessible festival free from socio-economic constraints. Boo ya, mofos. It’s da bomb.


But sadly, this year, TINA was notified that its triennial funding would not be renewed for 2011-2013, meaning that the festival is $18, 000 short of its 2011 financial need.


Luckily the cyberverse has flipped its silvery gears into action: the organisers have started a fundraising campaign through Pozible (an amazing crowdfunding platform and community for creative projects and ideas), and have (at the time of writing) raised over $7000. This, as one might say in the language of the streets, is radical.

But there's always more to be done - and still $11000 to go before TINA can breathe easy once again. So how can we help? And why should we? Well, head to and check out TINA's page. While you're there, flip through some of the other amazing projects that are being funded by people power and marvel at the generosity of spirit (and pocket) of your fellow humans.

To quote Crack Theatre Festival director Gareth Hart:


“If you have ever been to TINA....
If you support the Arts....
If you believe that emerging artists are vital....

Then please donate to this national cause, and invest in the future development of Australian art.”


Do it. Now.


And til next time: peace out. 



To help keep the lights on at TINA, go here:

Much Ado About Nothing
Date Published: Tuesday, 14 June 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  5 years, 11 months ago

Bell Shakespeare
The Playhouse
Thursday May 19 - Saturday June 4 

Bell Shakespeare has become a byword in my household for shows of an unpredictable quality. Last year’s King Lear was a tragedy of epically dull proportions – but Lee Lewis’ Twelfth Night was astonishingly good. And Bell is divisive. Some audiences appreciate the directness of the company’s performances, lauding the ‘Shakespeare for the people’ approach; others are frequently enraged by the apparent reliance on glossy design in favour of challenging interpretative decisions. Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Bell himself, seems to capture in a nutshell this schizo performance spirit.

On the plus side:

1.       It’s a gas: Much Ado… is uncomplicated, witty, and blessed with two darned charming leads, and as Beatrice and Benedick, Blazey Best and Toby Schmitz have oodles of personal charisma. They’re supported in their turn with notable performances from Nathan Lovejoy as Borachio and Sean O’Shea as Don John providing excellent stage villainy.

2.       It’s schmick: such a toothsome lot! Such luxe costuming! Such a good-looking set! Props to designer Stephen Curtis, whose lush set and clothes pay homage to the decaying splendour of post-war Italy.

3.       It’s easy: Bell always approaches the Bard with an eye to ensuring everything you see on stage (word, voice, idea, or image) is abundantly clear.

Having said that...

1.       It’s gimmicky: Bell frequently makes use of celebrities in what one can only assume is an attempt to bring in audiences. Sometimes it works, as with Max Cullen in last year’s Twelfth Night. This year’s spot is filled by another Max – Gillies – who on an ordinary day is a hoot. As Dogberry, though, Gillies bombs, and the scenes that should receive the most laughs got naught more than a polite titter.

2.       It’s uneven: sometimes you just can’t predict what Shakespeare you’re getting with Bell. Is it edgy, rip-shit-up Shakes (Titus Fall of Rome)? Teen-dream Shakes (Romeo and Juliet)? Strine Shakes (Twelfth Night)? With Much Ado About Nothing, it seems like Bell didn’t know which version he wanted to use – and nor did any of the actors. Everyone did a different kind of Bard. And that’s pretty annoying, to be honest.

3.       It’s facile: Why set the play in 1950s Italy? Here’s why: because it’s an era and a culture in which one can safely box the play’s tendency towards paternalism and sexual archaism (viz: everything that happens to Hero) as quaint things of the past, rather than as problems that continue to plague human relationships and which need addressing in a mature manner. Memo: Man up, John.

Hell, though, it’s always Bell Shakespeare’s shows that remind me why I, and so many people, have a continuing love affair with the theatre. It’d just be nice if Bell Shakespeare was a bit more consistent in loving us back.

A Commercial Farce
Date Published: Tuesday, 29 March 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 2 months ago

There’s a list of Rules of Farce on the Malthouse Theatre website, on the page listing for A COMMERCIAL FARCE, touring to the Canberra Theatre in April. “1: The banana peel is not your enemy. Your mind is your enemy. Trust in the peel and ignore your instincts. 2: The audience want to laugh. If they don’t laugh at the joke, try violence. Violence is funny.” It’s a given in farce that doors will be slammed (in people’s faces), furniture will be run into, and characters will do irremediable violence to themselves or others. And the audience loves it.

“As the Australian critic said – ‘nothing is as funny as another person’s pain’… Until of course the other person is you,” says Peter Houghton, writer and lead actor of the show. Houghton plays Bill, a middle-aged theatre veteran investing his savings in a make-or-break production of a classic farce, who is having a few difficulties with his co-star, Jules (Tim Potter). Jules is the star of a hit TV crime show and the one driving ticket sales. But Jules won’t play nice. Insisting on finding his ‘character’, he does not understand the rules of farce. So, with less than 24 hours to go before curtain up, and suffering from the nervous tension every theatre luvvy recognises, Bill attempts to teach Jules a lesson in farce.

If this sounds familiar, it should. There are plenty of works of farce which are intimately concerned with the theatre – Michael Frayn’s Noises Off being the most notable example. Perhaps it’s because performing a play, especially a comedy, is so mechanical.

“Theatre is a technical medium,” says Houghton. “The best theatre actors master technique… the mechanism of the play. And then they bring themselves to it, their own charm or charisma. But it’s a workout,” says Houghton. Actors are required to perform the same thing over and over again, bringing the same energy or emotion to it every night. They have to walk the same paths over and over again; the slightest deviation can spell utter devastation to the performance. Knock-on dangers are even more amplified in farce, where everything (especially characters) is more thing than human.

“It’s a tightrope walk between being in the moment with the other actor and sticking to the form. I think perhaps all good art works on that tension.”

In this instance, it’s Jules’ desire to be ‘in the moment’ more than necessary that unhinges so much in Bill. And this is perhaps as much to do with generational difference as with the fact that, as A Commercial Farce’s Rule No. 3 states, “an idiot can never play an idiot”.

“Jules is initially quite unlikeable but his motivation becomes apparent. And the play revolves around two generations of men in a pitched battle. In a way Jules is emblematic of all the perceived worst features of Gen Y and Bill, of Gen X or even Boomers.

“The initial portrait of Jules is the cliché Gen Y. Morally free, unhindered by the harsh politics of the ‘60s and ‘70s – the cold war, feminism, understandings of racial politics. [... But] Bill is also emblematic of his generation – angst ridden and trapped in an unhappy relationship, he is driven by greed and duty,” says Houghton. Bill and Jules’s inability to see eye to eye (and their utter conformity to the clichés of their respective generations) makes them perfect fodder for farce. But, just because they’re clichés doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of truth to their relationship, says Houghton.

“I wanted to tick all the boxes of comedy, but I also wanted to show that behind comedy there’s always something else. A laugh only occurs out of recognition. In the moment of laughter the truth has been told. I love that. Drama can take ages to reach a truth. Comedy is like a laser, it finds it quickly and leaves it quickly.

“Good comedy is underlined by real pain. Fawlty Towers is funny to look at and the jokes are brilliant as are the situations and the characters. But behind Basil is a tragic relationship, unfulfilled and lonely…. And that leads to Basil’s desperation. Because it’s comedy he perseveres. He keeps going whatever happens.”

Which brings us to Rule No. 4: “Good drama is like a good meal. Good farce is like breaking wind. Relax and let go.” It’s the farce character’s inability to let go (or their inability to control what happens when they do) that leads to much of the humour. It is a humour based, as Houghton says, in experienced pain, in violence, and in blindly and mechanically persevering even in the face of utter chaos.

“My character Bill is like that. He’s so out of his depth but he never surrenders, which is touching and very funny.

“I suppose we laugh at violence in farce because the victim is rarely badly hurt, which makes it different to life,” says Houghton. But here, Houghton says, A Commercial Farce subverts the tradition. As Rule No. 5 states, “Drama is how life could be. Farce is how it is.” Making devastating alterations to an existing model is one of the standard techniques of comedy. Farce, in a way, invites it.

“Satire and parody in particular but really most comedy needs a blueprint,” says Houghton. “The play they’re rehearsing here is a standard English bedroom farce. [...] So yes, we sort of know the jokes. So it’s the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ that we’re interested in. And this play actually pulls apart some of those old jokes. And then puts them back together. They’re indestructible, most of them.”

Malthouse Theatre presents A Commercial Farce at the Canberra Theatre Centre April 14-16. Tickets through Canberra Ticketing.

Tom Doig Selling Ice
Date Published: Wednesday, 16 March 11   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 2 months ago

Selling Ice to the Remains of the Eskimos is a show about climate change. Are you an optimist or a pessimist when it comes to the future of the earth?

In the future, the earth itself will be fine, but I am deeply pessimistic about anything trying to live on the surface of it. From all the books I've been reading, the future is likely to contain a hell of a lot of extinctions, leaving us with a much smaller variety of animals, and far fewer humans – just the great-grandchildren of the very rich, living in armed compounds in Siberia, Alaska, New Zealand and Patagonia (having killed off the current residents). Life will go on, but behind high walls with plenty of razor wire. Civilisation as we know it will be a baffling memory.

How did you come to be interested in climate change?

Well, spending years living in leaky sharehouses with hippies and environmental science students sure didn't make me interested in it! Hanging out on the fringes of enviro-activist scenes made me aware of climate change, but not hugely excited about it – it seemed important, but boring, abstract, too earnest. Watching An Inconvenient Truth helped, a lot. Writing a play called Hitlerhoff and finding out a lot about the Nazi Holocaust changed my thinking; it made me start thinking of climate change as our generation's Holocaust, both slower-moving and more devastating than anything the world has ever seen.

And then in 2009 my friend Steve Mushin suggested we do some bad taste climate change comedy skits. We dressed up in black garbage bags with Green Bag undies – sentient “Skull Bags”, the future of humanity.

What are the aesthetic possibilities offered by human challenges such as climate change?

The aesthetic possibilities of climate change? Gosh, I'm used to thinking of the aesthetic challenges! Okay – the possibilities are almost endless, because the subject encompasses almost every aspect of human behaviour. You can explore everyday lifestyle choices (consumption, shopping, Green Bags, Flying On Planes); you can look at human interest / documentary / personal narratives (my friend who almost got burned to death in the Marysville fires, my friend who lost both her parents in the fires, my brother in Queensland with a garage full of flood-sludge, docos like The Age of Stupid); you can think about what myths and stories already exist in popular culture that now seem like they might be about climate change, and retrofit them with weird climate change resonances (like The Road); you can experiment with public art / land art … I'd love to make sculptural images to represent climate change, like a giant block of dark red ice, frozen in the shape of Uluru, left to melt in the desert just by Alice Springs – and a bunch of people sitting around in deckchairs watching it happen, letting off party poppers. I'd like to make little frozen ice-penguins and leave them at beaches in Bondi, St Kilda, places like that.

What are the challenges of working with ice?

Ice is hard, cold (especially if you put in down your pants), the refrigeration process is expensive, ice-melt is dangerous. In this Canberra iteration of Selling Ice to the Remains of the Eskimos, I wanted to build an igloo out of servo icebags, and have the igloo collapse over the course of the show – beautiful image, no? - but it would short out all the electrics in SmithDick, set the place on fire, that would be great for the show but quite bad for the audience and the festival and the venue. And the environment.

And big ideas with ice (like a bloody Uluru) are very expensive, beyond my budgets, for now at least.

What are the challenges of doing a one-man show?

It's hard to do “theatre” in a one-man show – you can't do dialogue (unless you change characters really quickly), and you can't get that electric sense of interpersonal conflict going onstage. To hold the audience's attention, you have to be doing something all the time, or find ways of filling the pauses (music, fart noises, spandex bodysuits) – or make the kind of pauses that audiences can settle into and enjoy. Which is increasingly rare these days. What the one-man show format encourages, is a direct address to the audience, and this leads towards storytelling, speech-making, observational stand-up comedy – or all three.

I saw your reading of Spalding Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia at Crack last year, and this show is partly inspired by the same book. What is it about that work that is, for you, so fascinating?

Spalding Gray is a fucking genius. He is just so great, Swimming to Cambodia is so many kinds of wonderful … I think it is a perfect illustration of some of the fundamental rules of writing: write what you know, in your own voice – and be an phenomenally interesting person. This is something that doesn't get stressed enough in creative writing classes – write what you know, sure, but only show it to other people if your life is interesting. Swimming to Cambodia also manages to move from the intensely personal, all the way across the spectrum to the big “P” political, and back again, with astonishing dexterity and grace. Spalding's New York eccentricities sit right up against Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, Year Zero, and the effect is startling. One moment, Spalding is saying shit like “every time I'm in a country where the marijuana is supposed to be really good, I've always felt that I should try it”, the next he's talking about the killing fields, human livers on sticks, fifteen year-old soldiers “tearing apart little children like fresh bread in front of their mothers”.

Spalding manages to connect the personal and the political, he manages to find a personal lens through which we can see the almost unimaginable horrors of the Cambodian genocide.

Part of the problem with climate change is that it's not personal (yet) – it's too big, too slow, too far away, it's not happening to us yet, it's only happening to other people, the Bangladeshis, sure they're drowning now, but Bangladesh has always been fucked, we only hear about it when disaster strikes. So Swimming to Cambodia is a huge inspiration in terms of a successful example of breathing life, heart, immediacy into an otherwise abstract situation.

And I guess Swimming to Cambodia is also about one guy's journey, from not knowing or caring about something (Cambodia), to knowing and caring a huge amount, and telling the world about it. You've gotta remember that when Spalding started doing his show, the Khmer Rouge were still in power, still getting arms from the US government and aid from Red Cross – so it was a pretty powerful political statement at the time too. And a fun one! A statement bursting with pleasure!

Just on Swimming to Cambodia, I wanted to ask you at the time: what kind of prep did you do to get ready to read aloud for that long? Was it a bigger task than you initially envisioned?

It was actually easier than I was expecting. I knew it used to take Spalding 2 nights, and 4 hours in total, but when I got to halfway, I didn't want to stop! The narrative had me, it was much easier to keep going than to stop, I would've wandered around stuck in that world. I'm keen to do some longer readings soon, short awesome novels like A Clockwork Orange, Heart of Darkness, because people seem to like being read to – indirect forms of storytelling seem to activate the imagination more than emptily total experiences like Avatar 3D, and I like that.

Reading about your show Hitlerhoff, I was struck by your aim to use ‘“irresponsible” comedy to act as a potent catalyst for “responsible”, ethically engaged discussions.’ How important do you think it is that art engages with ethical or moral problems of this world? How do you go about making a show that poses ethical dilemmas without being preachy or episode-of-the-week-ish?

Ah, responsibility, that old hoary chestnut! Well I wrote Hitlerhoff as part of an MA on Creative Writing, so partly I had to write a bunch of theory to justify to the academy why the hell I was on a postgrad scholarship, mashing up David Hasselhoff with Adolf Hitler when I should've been, I don't know, writing about the postcolonial homoerotic subtexts in Harry Potter's Big Black Broomstick. Me and my supervisor were pretty anxious that I'd get a shit mark, because the project wasn't “serious” enough. So there's the anxiety that comedy isn't “serious”, I sometimes feel that – but when I did research on Hitler comedies, all the analysis was so dry, and by focusing on the “serious” content and intention, it totally missed the point – comedy is fun! It gives you pleasure, it feels good to laugh! And that's sometimes an end in itself, you know, with things like Buster Keaton or The Mighty Boosh or Zoolander or whatever you think is great comedy.

It gets tricky when you try to be silly and serious at the same time – or one right after the other. The joking/not joking/joking/not joking form creates tension, as well as relieving it. With “political comedies” or “black comedies” like Borat, Brecht, Dr Strangelove, these artworks don't tell you what to think – but they tell you what to think about. They set agendas, but hopefully leave the conclusion a bit open. That, hopefully, is how you pose ethical dilemnas without boring people to tears. And yes I do think it's important for art to engage with serious ethical and moral issues. I think it's absurd for art to presume to solve these problems – if you could solve the problem in a play or song or whatever, surely you could solve it in the world as well? But things aren't that simple.

With climate change, a huge part of the problem right now is that people just aren't thinking about it – it feels like old news, already. But unfortunately it's not like a flood in Pakistan or a war in Afghanistan, it's not going away any time soon. We need to find ways to get interested, and stay interested. Really we all need to quit our day jobs and go back to uni and study climate science, study agriculture, dedicate our lives to changing the world, so we don't end up in a bunker in Tasmania fighting off Queenslanders and complaining about the carbon tax.

And how do you feel about art for art's sake - is that concept dead?

Art for art's sake is alive and well – how else do you explain Charlie Sheen? (oh yeah, coke psychosis). Personally, I would like it if the concept was dead – because I'm obsessed with climate change – but people just LOVE art about art. And it's much easier to make clever art about clever art about clever art about (… Chekhov), because there's so much to draw on. Making art about “real-world” issues is hard, cold, expensive and dangerous (hang on, that's ice) – it's very hard to do well. Issues-art, activist-art, it just puts so many people off, myself included. If someone lectures at me, and even I agree with their point of view, if their argument isn't perfect I'll start disagreeing, out of principle, because bad arguments hurt your brain. And sometimes it's great to escape into art world, film world, theatre world, TV world … I actually think part of the reason that social media like Twitter and Facebook are so huge right now is because they are a nice safe cyber-haven from reality – they are a sweet little world where you can control the parameters of what you think about, and that's similar to art-for-arts-sake. If you logged into Facebook and you had to be friends with 65 million drowning Bangladeshis, it wouldn't be so much fun. But luckily the Bangladeshis only have dial-up.

Why the spandex bodysuit?

Isn't spandex its own answer? I think spandex is its own reward. I might not believe in art-for-art's-sake, but I do believe in spandex for spandex's sake.

Given the show, and the times, I may as well ask this question: what are your thoughts on the carbon tax?

Bring on the carbon tax! The whole world needs one, Australia needs one, it's criminal that we don't have one. Burning carbon is actually is a crime against humanity – it didn't used to be at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but it is now. All human behaviour needs to be priced according to how much damage it does to the atmosphere, and lots of behaviours need to be banned. That sounds pretty extreme, and I guess it is, but I actually think we need to be entertaining much more extreme measures than just a carbon tax, which is disastrously cautious – that’s why I created the Apocalypse Now Party before last year’s election, to make the Greens look conservative (it didn’t do very well). But that doesn’t change the facts – recreational plane travel is no longer justifiable. Eating meat that isn't kangaroo – delicious, nutritious, unjustifiable. I don't know how the hell any of us are going to explain our behaviour to our grandkids –

“Yes Billy, we knew flying on planes was causing the icecaps to melt and was triggering runaway warming that turned this planet into a bad Kevin Costner film, but – I really felt like going to Thailand, again. And Tony Abbott told me it was okay for 'ordinary Australians' to want things like that.”

Billy: “Fuck you, granddad. Tony Abbott was a dangerous idiot, every 6 year-old knows that. If he hadn't been lynched back in 2015 I'd tie him to a 737 by his beefy neck and fly him straight to Phuket, business class.”

So, that's why I'm cycling to Canberra, not flying. I really wish I could fly – I love flying on planes, it's one of my favourite things in the whole world – but I need to put my money where my mouth is. It's not as easy, or as quick, but it's actually not that hard – and luckily I enjoy cycling. I just hope it doesn't rain, because there have been some pretty crazy floods this year, and something tells me it's not over ...

Tom Doig’s Selling Ice to the Remains of the Eskimos is playing as part of You Are Here Festival. Wed March 16 to Friday March 18, various times. For details head to the You Are Here website:

Judy Horacek
Date Published: Tuesday, 7 December 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 5 months ago

Judy Horacek is something of an icon in Oz. Her drawings adorn tea towels, greeting cards, and fridge doors across the country. She’s published seven collections of cartoons for adults, from 1994’s Unrequited Love Nos. 1 – 100 to her latest book, If you can’t stand the heat. With her signature focus on the absurdity and minutiae of contemporary life, Horacek has become the oracle of the harried modern human.

Horacek’s influences range from Peanuts to Michael Leunig’s bittersweet drawings, but she has said that it wasn’t a particular artist so much as “the idea of cartoons – that there were people in the world drawing pictures to make other people laugh or exclaim or think.” Horacek does all three, often simultaneously, in If you can’t stand the heat dipping into the realities of the modern world, from overwork to global warming to globalisation.

“Shortly after I named this collection, Masterchef Australia went into full swing, and every second person on the show was saying ‘If you can’t stand the heat…’,” Horacek describes.

“More recently, with the strange Federal election just held in Australia, lots of politicians and political commentators have been saying it. And that’s why I love it as a cliché, you can apply it all the way from popular culture to politics – just like the cartoons in the book free-range across these areas.”

The best cartoons in the collection work through the combination of the gentleness of the ink and watercolour images, with verbal directness. In one, a tangerine parrot reads to its green-feathered child before bedtime. The melting sorbet colours of the cartoon underscore the conversation between the parrots:

“And they all lived happily ever after”

“They didn’t become extinct?”

“It’s a fairy story darling”

Humour of this sort is particularly unsettling in that it manages to hit at the heart of the terrible dilemmas facing the earth, dilemmas that Horacek wisely shows are created by human beings.

While many of the cartoons focus on the destruction of animal habitats, Horacek never loses sight of the human cost, or cause, of global problems. One cartoon, all the more eloquent for its wordlessness, shows a suited white man drinking a cocktail on a banana lounge, balanced on an Earth carried by a struggling black woman. The smilingness of the man celebrating his dominion over the earth is reversed in the desperate downturn of the woman’s mouth.

If you can’t stand the heat contains some of the best commentary around on the dilemmas facing the world today. Even better: it’s funny, and witty, and wise, and beautiful.

If you can’t stand the heat is published by Scribe. You can find more Horacek at her website:

The Blue Marquessa
Date Published: Tuesday, 9 November 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 6 months ago

Tell us about The Blue Marquessa. The Blue Marquessa came about when applications for the Street Theatre's Made In Canberra program opened. I hadn't done a theatre show in a while, so I was keen to apply, but didn't really have a show in mind. So I took a different angle, and decided that rather than pitching an idea for a show I would bring together the artists that I would be the most excited to work with, and see what we would create together. I loved the idea of picking artists who I thought were doing great work, but across any art form.

What have been some of the challenges of working with such a diverse group of artists? The main challenge has been the different angles that we've all been coming from. We work in different mediums, but more than that, we work in different styles, looks and we like different things. However early in the process we brought up director and dramaturge Gail Kelly from Melbourne, and she has been amazing at keeping us on track and helping us collate our ideas into something that really reflects us all.

How is the show structured? The show is based on a cabaret or variety performance, with an MC running the show and a “band” playing all the music live, and a series of different acts. However it is more than a variety performance, it is a cohesive ensemble show, with ensemble numbers, characters interacting within other people's acts, and interrupting or helping out. It's also very interactive and hands on. It's okay - no audience volunteers, but the action is happening around, on top of, above the audience, so it will be a very immersive experience.

For the uninitiated, what is multi-art or cross-art performance? The beauty in this kind of performance for the audience is that you get everything a variety show has to offer: the spectacle of circus, the beauty of dance, the entertainment of comedy and banter and the emotional journey that music offers.

How do you classify your work as an artist? With circus in particular that’s a question we often ask ourselves - are we artists, or entertainers? Often I would classify the work I do as entertainment - thrills, spectacle - but it's shows like this where I get to do work that I think of as art. […] I like my performance with a bit of dark comedy, a hint of the macabre but with real old-fashioned spectacle and at least a moment of real honest beauty. If I can make a performance with each of these components then I think that’s a great work. 

Highwire Entertainment presents The Blue Marquessa at the Street Theatre from Thursday December 2 to Saturday 4 at 7pm & 9pm nightly, as part of Made In Canberra 2010.

In Review Exhibitionist La Traviata and Hello You
Date Published: Tuesday, 12 October 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 7 months ago

La Traviata
OzOpera, Canberra Theatre
23 – 25 September

Hello You
Crack Theatre Festival, This Is Not Art
30 September & 1 October

A couple of weeks ago Marcus Westbury, founder of Newcastle’s This Is Not Art festival, blogged about where Australia Council funding goes, in response to “recent scare campaigns” suggesting that “heritage arts” (like opera, for instance) were in financial danger from the influx of avant-garde projects. The horror! In fact, as any struggling artist knows, most of the funding goes to Key Arts Orgs and opera gets a flipping enormous slice of the pie.

So it’s apposite, I think, to compare what would seem to be apples and oranges – OzOpera’s lavish La Traviata vs. Hello You, performed as part of This Is Not Art, to see if your hard earned tax dollars are going to the best place possible.

OzOpera’s stated purpose is “to inspire and engage with adult and student audiences in Australia” through “a national tour of a fully staged opera that performs in metropolitan, regional and remote communities.” This year, it’s Verdi’s La Traviata.

La Traviata is a tragic tale of doomed love: consumptive courtesan Violetta (Annabelle Chaffey) and romantic Alfredo (Benjamin Rasheed) fall for each other at a decadent demi-monde party. They make a go of it, but his father asks her to leave him for the sake of his family, she does, she gets sicker, and it’s all downhill from there.

Now, if OzOpera’s aim is to “inspire and engage” with audiences, and if it’s doing so at the expense of other projects (and you can certainly see the money in it), then one would hope that it would, in fact, inspire or engage. Sadly, it was all a bit, well, sad.

The design by Jo Briscoe and Genevieve Dugard, referencing Toulouse-Lautrec and Aubrey Beardsley by way of Tim Burton, was glamorous but intellectually wilted, some of the staging seemed contrived or blockish, the performances were solid but not exactly soul-catching, and the whole thing was pretty bloody yawnsome.

In contrast we have Hello You, a “kamikaze cabaret” performed as part of TINA’s Crack Theatre Festival. In a bare hour, vocalist Emily Taylor and pianist Quinn Stacpoole guided the audience on a path through desire and joy in an endearingly original take on cabaret. A mini-trampoline, some icy poles, a blue spangled dress and a spray gun were all Taylor needed to hook her audience completely, showing just what one could do with approximately $100 and a brainful of fresh ideas. In fact, the whole weekend at Crack was like that; young performers making amusing, engrossing, gross-outing, and generally fascinating theatre art with nothing but their starving bodies and teeming minds.

Seeing these two shows barely a week apart showed up the morbidly crusted-on attitude of the major press outlets (who have praised La Traviata to the skies) and funding bodies.

I’d like to say that it’s ironic young artists are starving in order to make something original, while Opera Australia makes ever-more-lavish and ever-more-boring productions of old classics, but it isn’t. It’s a tragedy.

Note: Naomi was a volunteer panel facilitator at the 2010 Crack Theatre Festival.

In Review Lady Windermere’s Fan, Canberra Repertory Society
Date Published: Tuesday, 28 September 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 8 months ago

When Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan first premiered in the last decade of the nineteenth century, the things it explored would have been quite risqué. Infidelity and sexuality were (at least in the common understanding of Victorian society) things not to be spoken of. His characters – the painfully young and puritanical Lady Windermere (Zoë Tuffin) and her stitched-up husband Lord Windermere (Ross Walker) – tiptoe around all but the cleanest of subjects, allowing the audience and the more dynamic characters Lord Darlington (Adrian Flor), Mrs Erlynne (Christa de Jager) and the Duchess of Berwick (Liz Bradley) to smile archly, twitter knowingly, and generally feel superior.

Wilde’s fin-de-siecle comedy of manners, in which the gauche Lady Windermere is led to believe that: a) her husband is having an affair with the fallen woman Mrs Erlynne, and b) that the appropriate response to such news is to elope with Lord Darlington rather than to tell Lord W to foot it, is in this version updated by Tony Turner and the folks at Rep – but not totally.

Turner is cognizant of the play’s general outmodedness; the manners and mores of Victorian society do not fully mesh with our own. (Having said that, if I found out that my spouse was giving large sums of money to women of dubious repute, who he then insisted I invite to my own birthday party, I’d probably chuck a tizzy, too). Turner does not, however, simply plant Lady Windermere et al in 21st Century London, along with F-book, Twitter, and iPhones. To bridge the gap between Wilde’s world and our own, Turner has set the show in the entre deux guerres period, complete with bobs and dropped waists on the ladies and a monolithic modernist set done in sorbet colours.

The cast do a fine job of capturing the moral ambiguities of Wilde’s script. I confess I enjoyed the bad characters far more than I enjoyed the good ones: Bradley’s Duchess was zestfully delicious, while de Jager’s Mrs Erlynne combined complicity and sass in a winning performance. Jerry Hearn was another delight as the crusty, baffled Lord Augustus. I must also confess that, having retained the upper-class English setting, I do wish that Turner had made a bit of extra effort with his actors in retaining the upper-class English accent, but this is a minor quibble. The costumes are sumptuous, the players attractive, and the audience has a grand old time - which makes me think of Wilde’s words after the first performance:

“Ladies and Gentlemen. I have enjoyed this evening immensely. The actors have given us a charming rendition of a delightful play, and your appreciation has been most intelligent. I congratulate you on the great success of your performance, which persuades me that you think almost as highly of the play as I do myself.”

In Review ANU Arts Revue
Date Published: Tuesday, 28 September 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 8 months ago

Canberra Theatre Centre Courtyard Studio
September 18-20

Producing the first ever ANU Arts Revue was never going to be a simple task. Other faculties - Law, for example - have relatively smaller and more close-knit student communities, allowing them the benefit not only of a student base with more faculty 'spirit' (I did choke a little bit when I wrote that), but also the luxury of knowing that their target audience will have shared virtually identical faculty-related experiences and therefore will be able to comprehend what would otherwise be niche, gratuitous comedy (ha ha, JP Fonteyne's accent sure does crack me up! Oh wait, there I go…). 

The Arts faculty, by contrast, is notoriously dispersed, with most students unaware of which 'schools', 'centres' or other various sub-stratum of subject specification actually come within the monolithic umbrella of 'Arts', let alone having the desire or ability to capture a common 'Arts' experience and perform it live, to music, over the course of two hours.

So it's no small accomplishment then, that in its inaugural year, the ANU Arts Revue succeeded in creating a show that was brilliantly witty, original and entertaining, and which at the same time struck the perfect balance between Arts-centric comedy and comedy that could be appreciated by your regular, off-the-street Canberran. Under the directorship of Meg O'Connell - herself a former director of the ANU Law Revue - and supported by a group of stupidly talented actors and musicians, the Revue explored the vast spectrum of theatrical styles, moving constantly (yet seamlessly) between simple sketch comedy routines, full-cast big band musical numbers, and a large amount of everything that comes between. The obvious targets - the 'usefulness' of an Arts degree, Market Day, efforts to gain extensions from unsympathetic tutors, the pretension of International Relations students, the 'usefulness' of ANUSA - were all given good servings, alongside a healthy dose of political satire, public servant-bashing and pop culture spoofs (Gemma Nourse and Carl Reinecke's depiction of Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton was particularly veracious).

However, like much theatre, it wasn't so much the subject matter of the production, but its execution, that made the Revue so entertaining. Whether it was denouncing the homogeneity of policies between Gillard and Abbott by way of a parody of My Fair Lady's The Rain in Spain ("It's such a shame, our policies were the same" - outstanding), lambasting Canberra's lack of romance via Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, performing an ultra-summary (with pirate ending!) of The Sound of Music, or exploring every Arts students' arch enemy - procrastination - by way of Simon and Garfunkel's The Sounds of Silence, it was undoubtedly the sharp song-writing, polished musicianship, and amazing performance of the Revue's musical numbers that helped maintain its momentum (and with the audience's undivided attention) over the course of two staggering acts. 

If this performance is an indication of what we can expect in years to come, then we are all well in for a treat. 

Date Published: Tuesday, 17 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

There’s been a phrase rolling around in my brain for a couple of weeks now: to everything there is a season. (And yes, it’s generally followed by sixties-era folk singers warbling TURN TURN TURN. I defy you not to get it stuck in your head.) It started because I’ve been directing a play whose theme turns, in part, on the change between youth and maturity – the eternal, inexorable, and utterly natural cycle best symbolised by the changing of the seasons.

The significance of that idea didn’t hit me until quite recently, as a couple of things happened at once: my house was infested with mould and a girl at my work quit. Pretty innocuous events, you say. But they set in motion a chain of events which have suddenly caused my life to shudder into a new place.

One: the mould. Having rented for what seems like an age, and having only recently moved into my first cohabitation situation, and being anally retentive, I was cleaning the other day and discovered our flat rotting from the bottom up. I have to say that it’s pretty hard to shriek and gag simultaneously, but that’s what happened when I found the black spread a-sprouting below my bed, a sound followed by our swift departure from the infected place.

The creeping decay of our rental property caused me to take stock – I began to think that, after several years of lining the pockets of realty investors to pay for the privilege of living in their crummy shitboxes, I’d rather own my own crummy shitbox. At least then I could firebomb the place if it gets mouldy. This is an extremely grown up notion.

Two: the resignation. It’s meant that I’ve had to step up to the plate and, after several years of being a student and working a panoply of part time jobs, I’ve had to condense. From beginning the year with six jobs (surely too many?), I’ve whittled my work down to two.

What has this to do with symbolic change, you ask? Well, it’s all about growth – not just mould either, but growth in terms of maturing, and coming to a new, inescapable stage in life.

To cut rather lengthily to the chase: this will be the final Uninhibited, and my final issue as editor of Exhibitionist.

And it’s not just because, with my newfound old fogeyness, I can no longer find the vim to drag finger to keyboard in the dispiriting task of squashing ideas into words that only vaguely approximate one’s meaning. Quite the opposite. It’s just that it’s time for new things.

It’s been a giddy ride as Exhibitionist editor – a fortnightly rollercoaster through the arts local, national and international – shared, luckily, with a group of wonderful writers. I am, and will be, eternally grateful to the Exhi team for their dedication and golden-cadenced writing. Similarly, working with the brilliant and beautiful Julia Winterflood as Ed-Extraordinaire, and the humourous cheek of our awesome bossman Allan Sko, has been a joy.

When you pick up the next issue of Exhi, it’ll be an issue steered by the new and improved Exhibitionist-in-Chief Yolande Norris. Under Yolande’s exceptional hand, Exhibitionist will continue to provide high-quality arts coverage for Canberra, with a special focus on local arts events and work by emerging practitioners – and if this is you, you should let us know! If you have upcoming events or news about your organisation, please let her know at .

Finally: many, deep thanks to you, dear reader. It’s been delightful.

Barb Barnett
Date Published: Tuesday, 17 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

What do you do? Having moved away from performing over the past few years, I’ve found more opportunities to direct and dramaturg.

When did you get into it? I was a Canberra Youth Theatre kid!  My first professional show was in 1999.

Who or what influences you as an artist? Poor Theatre. I’m a collaborator by nature, so creatives who are capable of profound artistic insight, inspiration and revelation, yet are also skilled communicators float my boat.

What’s your biggest achievement so far? The show I produced and performed in five years ago, all-mother, has huge personal significance. My proudest achievement as a director is trickier to isolate.

What are your plans for the future? To continue directing and dramaturgy. 

What makes you laugh? People. Animals. No. Yes… People + animals.

What pisses you off? Ignorance.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?

Every year I add another set or lighting design, performer or production to my ‘this made me smile’ list. Heaps of talented, dedicated types in Canberra; artists need to continue to be courageous and collaborate! 

What are your upcoming performances? I am currently directing the touring season of Boho Interactive’s True Logic of the Future, which moves to Sydney for a one-week season at The Powerhouse Museum next Thursday August 19 for a performance season from August 21 - 28. .

Contact information:

Canberra Philharmonic
Date Published: Tuesday, 3 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: The Boy From Oz
WHEN: August 13 – September 4
WHERE: Erindale Theatre

The Boy From Oz tells the dazzling, funny and heart-breaking story of the great entertainer Peter Allen, from his humble beginnings growing up in the Australian outback through a meteoric rise to fame as an international star who would go on to sell out week-long engagements at Radio City Music Hall. Singing in country pubs from age 11, Peter Allen survived family tragedy to become a local TV star at age 16. Discovered by Judy Garland, he married her daughter Liza Minnelli and went on to become a beloved performer and an Oscar-winning songwriter.” This is the first time it’s been performed in Canberra, and with a cast Canberra's most talented singers and dancers, is sure to be a hit with Philophiles everywhere. For bookings and more information check out

The Twilight Girls
Date Published: Tuesday, 3 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: The Dead Sea
WHEN: Until August 14
WHERE: CCAS Gorman House

To quote from the website: “The Twilight Girls, Helen Hyatt-Johnston and Jane Polkinghorne, have been collaborating since 1990, working in various media including photography, sculpture/installation and video. Working alongside their individual art practices The Twilight Girls take on a humorous and sometimes dark interpretation of their own bodies and the world in which they exist. A fixation on the ridiculousness of the female experience has been a touchstone across many works that reveal pervasive elements of humour, revolt and disgust.” And it’s FREE, FREE AS A BIRD!

Musical nutbags
Date Published: Tuesday, 3 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: Sing-A-Long –A Sound of Music
WHEN: Saturday 21 August 2010 @ 7:30pm
WHERE: Canberra Theatre

Crazy people unite in the singing along to musical numbers! Or, as the press release would have it: “join in an unforgettable interactive experience and tribute to the film that continues to have millions of hearts swelling. […] frock up for the ultimate musical affirmation; a celebration of nature, spirituality, love, family, patriotism, and goodness, combined with perfectly pitched songs, and the screen presence of feisty feminist, Julie Andrews. Round up your favourite friends, take your vows, and tear down the curtains as you the audience take over as the star of the show. Almost anything can happen!” Doh. A deer. 6275 2700 for tickets.

Lovers and fighters. From New Zealand!
Date Published: Tuesday, 3 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: Romeo & Juliet
WHEN: Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 August @ 7.30pm
WHERE: Canberra Theatre

I won’t patronize you with retellings of the plot of Romeo & Juliet. That would be crass. I won’t even bore you with my personal interpretation of R&J as Shakespeare’s critique of intemperate emotion (an interpretation, mind you, that caused the most recent wine-related blackout as I argued well into the night with a friend of mine). HOWEVER I will suggest that the ballet offers things most people don’t usually get from the play (dance, being one; Prokofiev’s awesome score being the other) and that this one, from the Royal New Zealand Ballet has been nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Production in 2005. Bite your thumb at that, homies. Tix on 6275 2700.

Sarit Cohen
Date Published: Tuesday, 3 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: New Works – China
WHEN: Wednesday 11 – Sunday 29 August
WHERE: Belconnen Arts Centre

To paraphrase: Following a recent residency in Jingdezhen China, Australian-based and Israeli-born artist Sarit Cohen explores the identity, role and relevance of Jewish culture and the possibility of free flowing debate, storytelling and cultural exchange in her exhibition of new works. Cohen uses the malleable properties of porcelain, and the techniques of hand building, pouring, rolling, carving and casting to achieve her results. A small story or a poem from a folk legend, memories of growing up in Israel as a teenage girl, may be inscribed into the skin of an object. Best of all? It’s totally free.

Free Rain and Tennessee Williams
Date Published: Tuesday, 3 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: A Streetcar Named Desire
WHEN: August 12 - 21
WHERE: ANU Arts Centre

It’s spawned a thousand booners trying to be witty when ordering beer. Yes, it’s Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer-winning paean to New Orleans, public transportation, and domestic abuse, A Streetcar Named Desire, and it’s getting the N.C. treatment this month at the hands of our good friends Free Rain Theatre. Directed by Fiona Atkin and featuring Jordan Best as Blanche, Steph Roberts as Stella, and Chris Zuber as Stanley, it’s sure to light a fire in the pants of theatre types the town over. For bookings phone Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700. Just don’t yell Stella.

Alison McGregor
Date Published: Tuesday, 3 August 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 9 months ago

What do you do? I am an actor, writer and occasional director

When did you get into it? I did a little at school, but didn’t really do it properly till I was 22.

Who or what influences you as an artist? The world of fairytale and myth (especially when it’s bent around backwards), delicious black comedy, ridiculous action or horror films, physical theatre (especially Butoh) and the wonderful, talented people I get to work and collaborate with.

What’s your biggest achievement so far? Working and performing with Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre last year as one of their Company Interns, getting $14 550 to make a show for National Science Week, my production of The Trees as part of CYT’s Artist’s Unite program, winning Best Actress at Canberra’s Short and Sweet last year . . . I keep having great adventures that make me really proud.

What are your plans for the future? Keep making work, try and get paid . . . make my own company with equally passionate collaborators and generate excellent professional work here in Canberra . . . keep travelling the world and training my craft.

What makes you laugh? My friends. The Misfits. Stupid Youtube memes.  Monty Python. Whiskey. My imagination. Jason Stackhouse in True Blood. The Muppets from when Jim Henson was still alive. The Boys. Monkey Island. The show I’m working on – Intellectual Self Defence.

What pisses you off? People who don’t listen and are closed to new ideas. The news – I have a tendency to yell at the television. Pedestrians who don’t walk on the left and freak out when I ring my bicycle bell. Having to get up in the morning. People who complain about their lot in life and then refuse try and solve the problem.

What’s your opinion of the local scene? Canberra is a fertile breeding ground for passionate, talented artists. There are lots of opportunities when you’re starting out. Unfortunately, it is far more difficult to sustain yourself as a professional practitioner, and I see more and more people leaving Canberra for Sydney or Melbourne. We need more professional opportunities here so we can keep the wonderful talent we generate.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions? I am about to go to Japan to do a one-week Butoh intensive with Dairakudakan. From August 16 to 21 I am producing and performing in the 70’s kung fu epic Intellectual Self Defence as part of National Science Week. I’ll also be in Short and Sweet later in the year.

Contact info: phone 0422 932 918 or email

Lan Nguyen-hoan
Date Published: Wednesday, 21 July 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 10 months ago

What do you do? I call myself an artist/metalsmith/designer; currently the focus of my practice is on fusing metalsmithing (jewellery and object design) with animation. Even though I mostly work with metals, I also use different materials such as timbers and synthetics.

When did you get into it? I started studying gold and silversmithing at the ANU School of Art in 2005. During my honours year (2007) I created pieces of jewellery that transformed into robots, which I stop-motion animated. This was the beginning of my interest in combining animation with wearable objects.

Who or what influences you as an artist? I’m influenced by a number of artistically rich sub-cultures such as Japanese anime as well as Western cartoons, comics/graphic novel and graffiti. I guess in the case of the anime, cartoons and comic I’m drawn to the narratives, but overall I’m quite compelled by strong graphic styles and line work.

What’s your biggest achievement? In 2008 I received a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts to undertake a four-month residency at the University of Applied Sciences, Düsseldorf in Germany. This was an excellent opportunity for the development of my art practice. I was also really excited about getting into this year’s Splendid Arts Lab and look forward to collaborating with the other participants.

What are your plans for the future? My plans for the future are to keep making art, continue exhibiting my work and maybe undertake post-graduate studies.

What makes you laugh? Lots of things, but for now I’ll say The Venture Brothers, which is my all time favourite cartoon.

What pisses you off? Again, lots of things, but recently it has been bad drivers and a lack of decent public transport.

What’s your opinion of the local scene? It’s good, there are a lot of opportunities out there for artists, you just have to look for them. For instance at the beginning of 2007, a couple of friends and I got permission from Urban Services to hold an exhibition called Tunnel Vision in one of Canberra’s underpasses.

Upcoming exhibitions: New Jewels from July 24 – September 18 at Workshop Bilk in Queanbeyan.

Contact info:

Atlantis Awaits
Date Published: Wednesday, 21 July 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 10 months ago

Being one of the most determined, motivated and quickly accelerating bands in the state, hardcore/alternative five-piece ATLANTIS AWAITS after only one year since their formation are already making a name for themselves. I had the pleasure of an interview with not just one member, but almost the entire band (unfortunately lacking only the presence of guitarist Jimmy).

The band spent months trotting from one studio to the next perfecting their soon to be launched five track self-titled EP. “We started off thinking we’d get a rough demo out,” shares guitarist Tommy, “then we began thinking, if we’re going to do this, that we may as well do it right.” The entirety of the band agree that in the process of recording, much of the identity they now possess was discovered. “Before we went into recording we didn’t really have 100% of the songs complete. It was more that we were trying to find our sound, and we kept building on that until the EP was completely finished,” drummer Robbie admits. “The next CD or EP we do will definitely be the pinnacle. We’re getting very close to where we want to be.”

The EP will be launched on Saturday July 24 at The Holy Grail, promising a great lineup and a great night of live music. All four band members that I spoke to agreed on one particular favourite performance song, Deeper Than Me, which vocalist Alice assures “has every ingredient to suck an audience in.”

What makes their music and their lyrics primarily so spectacular is the fact that in every way possible their music is a product of the entire band. “In terms of how we write songs, it’s not about who gets to say ‘I’m the songwriter,’” confirms Alice. “We’re more driven by the fact that we want to write honest music and we want something that fits well with all of us.” Although uniquely enough it is the band’s drummer who is writing the most at present in the way of lyrics. “Robbie’s just got a really quick mind. He comes up with pictures in his head, and he can just build on a theme and build on a theme,” she compliments.

What is most admirable about this group of people in particular is the self motivation and passion that pours out upon even the mention of their band or their music. It is those qualities along with their undying determination that has brought them so far in so little time. “Right now, this is what we’re all doing and what we’re all living for,” says Tommy. “As a group we’re so motivated that it’s getting to the point that it’s obsessive. This band is definitely a DIY, do it yourself kind of group.” Bassist and screamer Steve continues on, “everyday is just another way to get closer to where we need to be.”

Check out Atlantis Awaits live at their EP launch, along with supports Retraspec and Hands Like Houses, at the Holy Grail on Saturday July 24. Tickets through Moshtix.

True Logic of the Future
Date Published: Thursday, 8 July 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 10 months ago

It seems an age since Canberra first saw the likes of Boho Interactive. This July, almost ten years after their first forays into the theatre, they bring their latest show, True Logic of the Future, to the Belconnen Theatre stage before a season installed at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. It seems appropriate, in order to understand Boho’s Future, to take a trip into their past.

Way back at the dawn of the millennium Mick Bailey, David Finnigan, Nick Johnson and Jack Lloyd, precocious youngsters fresh from the upper-middle-class high school gauntlet, launched themselves on the scene as Bohemian Productions. Touting themselves as “Canberra’s least professional theatre company”, Bohemian brought to the stage a mix of classics (Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus) and new work by local playwrights, most often Finnigan himself. Their shows were branded with the raffish, backalley humour that fuelled their dual aims:

1. Make Plays. 2. Don’t Go Broke.

Fast forward several years, skirting around degrees, jobs, funding grants and curated performance seasons, and the company has reformed with new interests and new ideas.

“In 2006, when Mick and Jack and I and Muttley [David Shaw] ‘reformed’ as an ensemble after a long time working on separate projects, we each brought an element we wanted to focus on,” Finnigan relates. “I wanted us to use science as a focus, Mick wanted to produce live music, Mutt wanted to include hi/lo-fi media devices, and Jack was interested in pursuing interactivity.”

Supported by the 2007 Multicultural Fringe, Boho produced the first of their interactive science-theatre performances, A Prisoner’s Dilemma. Combining interactive theatre, lo-fi electronics and live music performance from trombonist Bailey, the play – based around Game Theory and the show’s eponymous thought experiment – was impressive, compelling, engrossing.

And though interactivity can be a thorny (and irritating) element in theatre, Boho seem to have made it work for them, partly because of their shared understanding of it. “We all had a very clear shared aesthetic about how interactivity onstage should work - what is and is not cool,” says Finnigan.

Since A Prisoner’s Dilemma, the group has performed their cross-artform work at festivals, theatres, science conferences and schools around the country, from local theatres to bigger forums including the Brisbane Under The Radar Festival, the Asia-Pacific Complex Systems Conference, and the Adelaide Fringe. The nose-thumbing sensibility of the original Bohemian seems to have been absorbed into a more responsible approach to the job of theatre making (which makes the company sound like douches wearing lab coats – most definitely not the case).

In 2009 they held a residency at Manning Clark House, producing the interactive installation performance Food for the Great Hungers, which used “techniques from Complex Systems science to create a simulated re-imagining of Australian history since 1901 under the audience’s control.” The show was hauntingly compelling, once again proving what can be achieved with great brains, thoughtful use of space, a healthy enjoyment of the absurd, and a clear-eyed sense of humans in the world.

This year, the group - now minus Shaw – has taken that understanding of the mutability of human history explored in Food for the Great Hungers and the variety of human reactions prompted in A Prisoner’s Dilemma and, as part of National Science Week, dressed it in “nineteenth century period costume” in True Logic of the Future.

The show, developed in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum and in collaboration with director barb barnett, designer Gillian Schwab, and performer Cathy Petocz, takes on the interdisciplinary ideas of nineteenth century scientist-economist-musician-logician William Stanley Jevons “without ever actually mentioning him” in order to create a political thriller that integrates science theory, strong narrative, and meaningful audience interaction, explains Bailey.

Drawing upon Jevons’s experiences in Sydney, the play is set, says Bailey, in a “pseudo-Australian city state” in a not-too-distant, steampunk future. Beset by the several catastrophes of climate change and population increase – flood, drought, famine, and housing crisis – the city is, says Finnigan, “starting to give way”. Humanity has reached the point of a “last-ditch attempt” to stop the world from “going completely off the rails.”

Enter three unlikely characters: ethically questionable journalist Jen Howe (Petocz), statistician Alex Moore (Lloyd) and assayer at the mint, Will Sands (Finnigan). Within the confines of a computer simulation, Sands, Howe, and Moore “must activate an array of bizarre artifacts” in order to “determine the future of their society”.

These bizarre artifacts include interactive replicas of Jevons’s inventions – such as the cloud chamber and the logic piano – constructed by the Powerhouse and controlled, in the show, by the audience.

“The city [in the play] is facing runaway problems […] that aren’t wildly different from the problems facing the whole world”. Informed by “modeling of global change and economic flows”, Finngian explains, the show explores the possibilities of what those problems are going to look like when they hit our shores.

Like the dystopic sci-fi classics the play is inspired by – Blade RunnerCube (and a little bit of the humour of Red DwarfTrue Logic of the Future asks difficult questions of the human world in the twenty-first century: how much would you sacrifice for the greater good? What is expendable? And, when faced with the possible collapse of the planet, are the things that Western society holds dear – personal freedom, individual rights – as important as we suppose?

It seems a long journey from Bohemian’s skuzzy beginnings to the lofty themes of True Logic of the Future, but the group have, in one definitive sense, fulfilled their aims: they’ve made some splendid plays. And not, apparently, gone broke.

True Logic of the Future plays at Belconnen Arts Centre from Tuesday 13 – Saturday 17 July at 8pm & Sunday 18 July at 6pm before moving to the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Tickets $25 / $18, bookings and enquiries 6173 3300.

Hanna Cormick
Date Published: Thursday, 8 July 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 10 months ago

What do you do?
Actress and founding member of cross-art group, Last Man to Die

When did you get into it?
First play age 14, started working professionally in 2002, went to acting school mid 2003.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
The pedagogy of Jacques Lecoq, Keith Johnstone, Margaret Cameron, Italo Calvino, the RSC actors, the beautiful artists I work with – and a horrible, desperate need to perform. My current work is being heavily influenced by Aubrey de Grey and Craig Venter. I sometimes wish I was John Hurt, this week I want to be Matt Smith.

What’s your proudest moment so far?
Being interstate for an amazing huge production with Griffith Theatre, and getting a text that Last Man To Die had received government funding for 2010 – I did a dance around my hotel room. Going to my first feature film premiere. Being invited to sit in on an international panel of Mask practitioners at the MasQue Festival in Helsinki. Working with my partner, writer/filmmaker Pete Butz.

What are your plans for the future?
Last Man To Die goes transcontinental, study acting (again) in Paris. Some more screen time would be nice, too.

What makes you laugh?
The IT Crowd

What pisses you off?
Running late.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
All those who make a living of their art in Canberra have to work their ass off to get there, which has created an amazing core of dedicated, hard-working, and brilliant artists – the works made here have a really unique perspective.

What are your upcoming performances?
Last Man To Die
on July 7 & 8, an interactive interdisciplinary art pilot showing before national touring later in the year, and The Girls, from July 28 – 31, an unadulterated cabaret co-starring Dianna Nixon, Leah Baulch and Hannah Ley.

Both shows are playing at The Street Theatre.

Contact Info

Date Published: Thursday, 8 July 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 10 months ago

It’s been a while – in relative terms – since Uninhibited has been flat-out stoked about a music event. We get emails and updates on gigs, festivals, whatev, and mostly the reaction chez Uninhibited is “meh”. Don’t get us wrong. We’ll go. We just don’t get all that excited.

Not so with the theatre, as you may expect, and since the surprise upswing in our financial fortunes, we’ve been able to see a few more of the blockbuster professional shows offered to Australians. As with many other things, when doling out hundreds of bucks, Uninhibited is staunchly middlebrow. Nothing but blue-ribbon reliability, you understand. So this past couple of weeks has seen us venture out from under the damp-ridden doonas of Chez Uninhibited and, in the spirit of the proverbial giggling schoolgirl, don frocks and heels for Big Ticket Theatre, first for Sir Ian’s touring show of Waiting for Godot at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House; the second and most recent was Joey McKneely’s restaging of West Side Story at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney. They were wildly different shows, but both moving and highly entertaining.

What can one say about Godot? Well, mostly, that matinee-going middle-aged ladies have a lot to learn about theatre etiquette, especially vis a viz the Golden Rule: One Must Not Talk In The Theatre. The crowd at this performance was particularly lively, extremely engaged (especially with McKellen) and, quite unexpectedly, alive to the gallows humour that ignites Beckett’s absurdist classic. Unfortunately for this audience member, the old biddies sitting next to us didn’t appreciate the audience’s enthusiastic response. “It’s not a comedy,” they hissed, repeatedly, whenever the crowd erupted into laughter. “Maybe they should read the play,” they growled. “It’s not Home and Away.”

Their talk was so frequent, aggressive, and of such a pitch, in fact, that the girls on the opposite side – good Canberra girls, let it be known – let them have it at interval to the extent that the turtle trouts decided not to come back. Good riddance, says Uninhibited. And ladies – word to the wise? Waiting For Godot? Actually quite funny. Intentionally so.

The audience at West Side Story wasn’t plagued in quite the same way with disagreements over intention. It was pretty darn obvious how we were meant to react at the end of each number – namely, with whooping, riotous applause. Golly was it good! Uninhibited regards itself as quite the West Side buff, and was joyously pleased with McKneely’s Australian production. The ensemble cast was fantastic (big props to Alinta Chidzey as Anita), the dancers (in this case crucial to the success of the show) superlative, and the young stars – Josh Piterman as Tony and Julie Goodwin as Maria – possessed the talent necessary to ensure their characters weren’t as irritating as they can be. Goodwin especially – with a voice divine and charm to spare – stole the show over and again, demonstrating just how captivating Leonard Bernstein’s score can be. The only niggling complaint was the dullness of lighting design, a damned shame in a show replete with celestial imagery to engage with.

Anyway. Most of BMA is given over to music... But Uninhibited’s knickers get twisted over an entirely different species. British India? The Beautiful Girls? Nah... Give us Beckett or Bernstein any day.


Date Published: Friday, 18 June 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 11 months ago

What do you do?
I am a stencil artist.

When did you get into it?
Early to mid noughties.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
There is a whole international community of stencil artists on the internet. Interacting with and seeing the amazing work some of these guys come up with is a definite motivation and influence. I also try to challenge myself with each new piece, raising the bar slightly from the last.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?
I won most popular piece at the Melbourne Stencil Festival in 2008. Just had a nice write up in Art Monthly Australia too, pretty stoked about that. I recently started showing my work internationally, which kind of makes me feel like the hard work is starting to pay off.

What are your plans for the future?
Not too distant, I want to setup a warehouse art space in Mitchell/Fyshwick with 2 or 3 other likeminded artists, Melbourne style (anyone interested hit me up at term I just want to make my art, show it, and hopefully sell it (for heaps of cash).

What makes you laugh?
Bill Hicks, the American comedian. He’s been dead for nearly 20 years but every word he said is totally relevant to the mess we’re in today. That and when dogs get stuck together during sex.

What pisses you off?
John Stanhope spending money on public art. It’s the political equivalent of your mum buying clothes for you when you’re a kid: you just tolerate it because you don't have a say in it.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.

What are your upcoming exhibitions?
I have a solo show opening at the Front Gallery in Lyneham on the 9th of July. I also have a group show opening in August at the Crewest gallery in LA, and then a solo show at the Vincent Michael Gallery in Philadelphia pencilled in for later in the year, no time to rest.

Contact info: or 0404945714

ACT Writers Centre Annual Zine Fair
Date Published: Friday, 18 June 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 11 months ago

A couple of years ago I got a curious little thing in my letterbox: a dozen or so photocopied pages of drawings, poems, jokes, photographs, and recipes assembled by a group of teenage girls. It was handmade, stapled together, completely original, and entirely charming. It was a zine.

“Zines aren’t new, they’ve been around for decades,” explains Yolande Norris, administrator at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, holding in collaboration with the ACT Writers Centre their annual Zine Fair on July 3. “[But] there are still a lot of people who don’t know what zines are,”

To the uninitiated, zines are handmade, self published ‘magazines’ (hence the name), published in extremely small editions. Their heyday was the nineties, when artists and writers moved into self-publication as a means of protest against hegemonic culture.

“They were deeply rooted in DIY and punk culture, and were usually free,” Norris explains, adding also that zine culture has “an uneasy relationship” with money. The culture was anti-establishment and anti-economics, rooted in a desire to make and possess something untrammelled by commercial culture – something totally individual.

“A lot of people give them status as art objects. Often they’re unique, there’s no two the same,” says Norris, adding that they can vary from the DIY photocopy-style with a heavy emphasis on content, to elaborately bound and numbered artists books. “It’s the same as people buying records still […] wanting the object to have and to hold,”

“That often happens when people have a technological backlash.”

But, adds Norris, the zine is a different beast to the traditional artist’s book.

“Mnay artist’s books are these pristine, beautifully made objects, but […] sometimes you can’t even touch them.

“[Zines] are a more free and easy and relaxed way of approaching art.”

The zine occupies an odd, liminal position – both aesthetic object and locus for alternative ideas and fringe culture, the zine is a strange idea in capitalist Western culture. They’re often left on street corners or in cafes for readers to simply pick up, and that element of anonymity, coupled with the intimacy and immediacy of the handmade, makes the zine something quite special, like a secret shared between friends.

Since the advent of the internet, many of the original zines (such as Boing Boing, for instance) moved into the blogosphere, because what they aimed towards was not an object but an idea – a place for alternative opinions to find a voice. Sometimes, like blogs, they are about particular subjects – politics, tattoos, rollerskating. Sometimes they operate as a confessional. And, as Norris points out, the zine still has a power, both tactile and emotional, that can’t be equalled by a blog.

“If you set up a blog, it’s sometimes hard for people to find it. [Zines] are in people’s faces, and they pick them up. [People] truly believe something if it’s in print,”

Australia has a particularly strong zine culture, typified by the existence of specialist zine stores such as Bird in the Hand. Huge annual zine fairs such as those held at This Is Not Art and at the MCA attract hundreds of stallholders and thousands of punters, testament to the zine’s continuing attraction.

“We noticed last year and the year previously that there was a particular Saturday where there were heaps of people around asking where the Zine Fair was. [We thought], Zine Fair? That sounds cool.”

The ACT Writers Centre has been holding their Zine Fair for a few years now, and this year have joined forces with CCAS Gorman House to provide a bigger space for distributors and collectors to gather.

The ACT Writers Centre have been doing “headhunting” of stallholders, but have also tried to involve artists who are interested in making zines and artists books. And, rather than just being a place for people to sell zines, the fair will have a “market atmosphere with zines at the root of it,” says Norris. Stallholders sell zines, but also offer other handmade and craft objects. Sometimes the zines aren’t ‘sold’ as such, but are free – exemplifying the zine’s status as an object which can’t be squared with the normative expectations of capitalist exchange.

The Zine Fair is the latest in CCAS’s public or performance program, in which CCAS “made a bit of extra room so we can have an empty gallery […] to do non-exhibition type things,” Norris explains. The performance program had its first run in 2009 with a collaboration with tableaux artist Min Mae’s ‘I Die’ and performances from Mr Fibby. This year’s collaboration on the Zine Fair is a natural pairing, given the zine’s status as both aesthetic object and portal for different voices.

It’s a form of expression that is “challenging or ephemeral”.  But it’s also exciting, unique, and very often beautiful.

“That whole aesthetic resonates really well with CCAS because we show and display art that does exist outside the commercial sphere,” says Norris. “It makes sense that we support it.”

The Annual ACT Writers Centre Zine Fair will be held at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Gorman House, on Saturday July 3 between 11am and 4pm. Entry is free.


Date Published: Friday, 18 June 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  6 years, 11 months ago

A couple of my friends and I have a joke that we occasionally share, that buying flowers makes us feel like Mrs Dalloway. It’s been a few years since I last read that novel but the power of that image still holds. Buying flowers equals Mrs Dalloway. A friend of mine once told me, as we were waiting for a train in Sydney, that trains always made her think of Anna Karenina (a revelation slightly alarming at the time. I suggested, only half-joking, that we move back from the edge). Similarly, I can’t think about peaches without remembering Eliot’s ‘Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’. It’s a phenomenon maybe shared only by a particular class of suggestible English students, but one that leads to a charming sort of intimacy with an author. It’s a bit like the memories triggered by a particular song or scent, but in this case the object causes a series of literary recollections that lead to strange places.

I recently reread Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Bliss’, a story incredibly powerful in its evocation of emotion through objects (in this case, fruit – and most particularly, the pear tree). In it, in preparation for a dinner party, the protagonist Bertha buys certain types of fruit to arrange in a bowl on the dinner table in order to bring out the colours of her carpet. It’s a strange act, one that she herself recognises as half-ridiculous – but it’s also one that brings her a peculiar feeling of happiness. The synthesis of certain objects in a room seems, for some reason, to create contentment.

Why is that? And why do certain objects – peaches, flowers, trains – hold a significance that is at once both personal and collective? On looking over at my sideboard, I see the pile of fruit in the fruit bowl, a pile that is topped by several pale green and speckled pears, whose colours chime with the framed mock-Picasso portrait drawn by my niece when she was in kindergarten. Neither the pears nor the picture are what one would traditionally group as art, but – like Bertha with her purple grapes and her silvery pear tree – the arrangement of them is both pleasing and strangely evocative.

Memory is a powerful and a dangerous thing. My own memory, particularly for the mundane, is pretty lousy. I forget to buy milk, what day it is, friend’s birthday parties, dates, people’s names… and yet there are certain things that stay fixed in the brain. The first time I saw a painting by Goya, or the rich brilliance of Yves Klein blue – both of which were so captivating in their different ways I must have sat and stared for at least an hour. Sitting in my kitchen in Lyons when I was 21, reading a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins and crying – yes, crying – because it was so intensely beautiful I couldn’t help but cry. Reading Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall for the first time and not being able to go to sleep from laughing, the book was so originally and devastatingly funny. They’re experiences that can’t be replicated – and maybe that’s why they stay, and the ordinary diurnal business of milk-buying and dinner and parties and what particular day it is gets pushed out so easily. All that stuff is so easy to recreate.

Of course, what writers like Mansfield and Woolf and Eliot show is that that stuff – buying flowers or putting fruit in a bowl, eating a peach – can be immense and illuminating and powerful, that these are the moments in which the world seems to chime together with a breathtaking clarity.

I guess I should probably pay more attention.


Comedy Club at Civic Pub
Date Published: Wednesday, 26 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

WHAT: First Birthday Gig with Brett Nichols, Jay Sullivan and Greg Kimball
WHEN: Wednesday June 2 at 8pm
WHERE: Civic Pub

Comedy ACT’s Comedy Club at Civic Pub will be celebrating its first birthday in June, having hosted 12 months of successful shows. Comedy Club is held on the first Wednesday of every month upstairs at Civic Pub in Braddon. Headlining the first birthday gig on Wednesday 2 June will be Sydney comedian Brett Nichols, 2003 Green Faces winner, and a regular act on the Sydney and National comedy circuits. Joining Nichols on stage will be locals Jay Sullivan and Greg Kimball, along with a couple of surprise special guests. Entry fee is $10 at the door, show starts at 8pm.

Party By Jake and Aviary
Date Published: Wednesday, 26 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

WHAT: Party By Jake: A Royal Affair
WHEN: Sunday June 13
WHERE: Transit Bar

Sunday June 13 of Queen's birthday long weekend will see Party By Jake’s next event, Party By Jake: A Royal Affair. The night will feature local label Aviary as the sponsor, providing giveaways including a limited amount of printed tees and hoodies in both men’s and women’s sizes. Aviary is an independent clothing label. From hand drawn designs, local founder Andy Gallagher screen-prints guys and girls t-shirts, hoodies and sweats. Inspired by a passion for birds, Aviary is colourful, fun and fresh. Featuring Mingle DJs and Party By Jake DJs behind the decks, an indie dance/nu disco showdown will fire up the warm belly of Transit Bar for this stylish Sunday night party. Free entry. For info on Aviary visit

QL2 and Maya Dance Theatre
Date Published: Wednesday, 26 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

WHAT: Standing in line in order of height
WHEN: June 10 - 12
WHERE: QL2 Studios, Gorman House Arts Centre

QL2, in collaboration with Singapore’s Maya Dance Theatre, present Standing in line in order of height, a new dance work exploring conformity and individualism in Singaporean and Australian culture, and which aims to develop cross-cultural links and choreographic skills in young dancers. QL2 Artistic Director Ruth Osborne says the partnership between QL2 and Maya “exemplifies a developing new model of dance education in Australia, where university study forms part of a continuum of development for a dance artist, with other strands building strong educational connections between students and the wider ecology of dance.”  Word. Get tickets and info through the QL2 website at

Sandy Evans Trio
Date Published: Wednesday, 26 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

WHAT: Jazz, fools!
WHEN: Wednesday June 2, 8pm
WHERE: Band Room, Peter Karmel Building, School of Music

The Adelaide Advertiser says of Sandy Evans: “ a few seconds Sandy Evans has established she’s fully in command, with a galaxy of musical ideas, both for her numerous compositions and to drive her inspired solos, either on tenor or soprano saxophone. ...She couldn’t ask for better backing than the bass and drums supplied by Brett Hirst and Toby Hall. These two work a magical dialogue of bass skins and cymbals as they punctuate, embellish and reinforce Evans’ inventive lines... This is world class contemporary music performed by some of the very best exponents in this country.” Must be good of they like it in Radelaide! Tix at the door: $20/$15/ANU students & child $10.

Old blokes
Date Published: Wednesday, 26 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

WHAT: Codgers
WHEN: June 1 - 5
WHERE: The Street Theatre

En route around regional Australia and opening at the Street Theatre on June 1 is Don Reid’s award-winning Codgers. Six ‘distinguished’ gentlemen – some of them mates since war service – sweat it out at the gym every week. They exercise together, chew the fat about their families, laugh, tease and sing. They solve the problems of the world, agreeing to disagree. Featuring a cast of six very distinguished Australian actors - Ronald Falk, Ron Haddrick, Edwin Hodgeman, Jon Lam, Russell Newman and Shane Porteous – Codgers has played to critical and audience acclaim throughout Australia. Tickets and info on 6247 1223 or head to the website at

Singers, guitarists, song-writers
Date Published: Wednesday, 26 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

WHAT: Workshops with The Hottentots
WHEN: June 4 - 6
WHERE: Music For Everyone, Ainslie Arts Centre Braddon

To quote: “Music For Everyone brings two of Australia’s finest musicians to Canberra for three days of exhilarating and inspiring workshops in singing, song-writing and guitar. As folk/world music duo, The Hottentots, Flemish-born guitarist and songwriter Carl Cleves and Greek-Australian songbird Parissa Bouas have headlined at all major Australian folk festivals and toured internationally to Europe, Latin America and Madagascar.” The duo will bring their expertise to workshops on singing, guitar, and songwriting. At between $40 and $60 a pop for each workshop, it’s pretty reasonable - and MFE are offering special prices for booking all three workshops together. Bargain! For more information and to download your workshop registration form, visit and go to Special Events. 

Date Published: Wednesday, 26 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

“Holy artwank!  BMA’s newest baby is birthed into the world, an eight page editorial indecent exposure of all the wacky, trad, underground, overground artforms you can handle.  Yes, Exhibitionist is long overdue in a town which has in the past few years defenestrated local arts coverage.  Anyone’d think, from reading the rags, that nothing arty happens in this town.  Well, Uninhibited is here to say that anyone is wrong.”

So began the very first Uninhibited in the very first edition of Exhibitionist, all the way back in April 15 2009. That’s right, Exhibitionist recently turned one year old, and this issue we’re celebrating with a bumper artstravaganza edition. There’s our interview with William Zappa, coming to town in June with a double-barrel theatre threat with Honour at the CTC and Winter’s Discontent at the Street. Also at the CTC this month is Rasta Thomas, bringing his blue-blood-bogan artform mash-up Rock the Ballet to town. Across the ridge, Belconnen Arts Centre are getting environmental with Earth Connections, while over the bridge the NPG present their redletter exhibition for 2010, Present Tense. Local lad David Finnigan makes good with his commissioned work, Underage House Party Play, while we profile prodigal daughter Sara Black, returning to her home town with dance pioneers Chunky Move’s “biotech fiction” Glow.

There is a lot on in our little town. And it’s appropriate that we take the time to trip down memory lane for a moment or two, to recall just how much has gone on in our city over the past twelve months. Because Exhibitionist (and BMA as a whole) is tangible, chip-wrapperble proof against the charge that nothing happens in Canberra.

On the theatrical front we’ve had stellar stuff from local companies Boho, Moonlight, papermoon, Canberra Repertory, Everyman, Jigsaw, the Street Theatre, CYT, and more; visits from national companies – Bell Shakespeare, Company B Belvoir, Circus Oz, Finucane & Smith, STC, MTC, and QTC; as well as international tours that showcase amazing work and artists – Les 7 Doigts de le Main with Traces, theater simple with The Snow Queen, and most recently, the jaw-gaping beauty of Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce.

Musically, we’ve had cabaret artistes like Paul Capsis and Caroline Nin visit, amazing concerts served up to us by the ANU School of Music, the Canberra International Music Festival, and opera and musical theatre aplenty from Co-Opera, OzOpera, and the like, while in dance, we have a local scene well worth boasting about, with companies like QL2, Canberra Dance Theatre, Mirramu and DNA leading the charge in both performance and education.

And on the visual front, we have a ripping local scene supported by galleries at CCAS, ANCA, Belconnen and Tuggeranong Arts Centres, and more, as well as the luck of the national institutions, bringing blockbusters like the NPG’s Vanity Fair and the NGA’s Masterpieces from Paris straight to our doorstep.

We have a local music scene that’s too multifarious for venues to cope with; we have a culture of participation as well as attendance, both in visual and theatrical culture; there are companies that create and companies that educate, and festivals to make your mouth water. Our very first edition we featured the nascent poetry slam night Bad!Slam! No!Biscuit! – and, one year on, it’s still going strong.

What we at Uninhibited always say – and will continue to, as long as anyone will read – is that there’s plenty going on here.

Artwank indeed.

Naomi Milthorpe

Andrew Holmes
Date Published: Tuesday, 11 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

What do you do?
I direct or act in theatre shows and play guitar in local band Kempsey

When did you get into it?
I got into theatre way back in college as I did with playing music. So since around 2001-2002. Ughh, I’m old…

Who or what influences you as an artist?
Musically, Ryan Adams. Good theatre influences me in drama. Whenever I see a really amazing production, no matter if its pro, pro-am or amateur, and whatever genre, I get really moved and excited about theatre as an art form and what it can achieve. And Federico Garcia Lorca. 

What’s your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far?
I once stood at a urinal in between Mark Taylor and Eddie McGuire - does it get any better than that? I was really proud of my Theatre Honours Production last year. I felt myself, the cast, and techs all created the vision that I had.

What are your plans for the future?
are about to go into a studio in Melb to record some new tracks. Exciting times! Also, I’m currently working on my PhD in Drama, so that should eat up…well…at least the next three years of my life. 

What makes you laugh?
The Office (I love you Ricky Gervais), Absurdist humour, nudity and toilet jokes, my girlfriend, and, I know I’m going to regret telling him this, but Flynn Wheeler.

What pisses you off?
How much room do I have? And in what context? I suppose wasted talent (not in the David Brent scenario). Seriously, I am surrounded by so many talented people in many aspects of my life, and it pisses me off that they’re not getting what they deserve. That and flared jeans… I don’t understand why jeans companies are still making them.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
In the theatre, there are so many talents around. There are heaps of young writers, actors and directors who are going to have long, prosperous careers.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions?
Coming up, I’m directing After The Fact, a season of three short comedies written by David Travers for the National University Theatre Society. May 27-29, 8pm at the ANU Arts Centre. If you fancy male nudity, immature humour, absurdist remarks about creative authorship and religion, and theatre jokes, then the show is for you! Kempsey are playing on June 16 at Gangbusters as part of our Good Times Tour with two other awesome bands, The Retreat and Jonesez. 

Contact info:, check out the band at

Date Published: Tuesday, 11 May 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years ago

This morning Uninhibited greeted the day in our customary fashion, tautological as it may be, with a coffee and a slice of middlebrow breakfast served up by the delightful folk at Channel 7. Yes, Sunrise is our diurnal ritual, more important even than toast, and preferred method of stimulating the workings of the bile ducts, so crucial to the work of a harried editor. It retains pride of place in our heart not only because its major rival breakfast program (which shall remain nameless) seems populated entirely by misogynists and fembots, but because of the frequent humour (intentional or not) generated by the newsbar.

Favourite newsbars over the years have included:



and the best ever, from December 2007:


We’d be here forever listing all the chestnuts that flash across the screen each morning, but to get to the point of this incredibly long opening digression, this morning’s newsbar:


Which, as newsbars go, is pretty special.

McKellen is, of course, in Oz playing Estragon in Waiting For Godot (sadly without his costar in the English production, Patrick Stewart) and was outside, when a kindly Australian, who apparently didn’t recognize Gandalf, threw a buck in his upturned bowler hat.

Sir Ian tweeted the news (the tweet being, of course, the personal equivalent of the newsbar): “During the dress rehearsal of Godot, I crouched by the stage door of the Comedy Theatre, getting some air, my bowler hat at my feet (and) seeing an unkempt old man down on his luck, a passer-by said, ‘Need some help, brother?’ and put a dollar in my hat.”



In more local news, there are a lot of performances being produced by Canberrans (or former Canberrans) which you can read about in these pages: the Small Poppies’ show at the Street; After The Fact, the first NUTS show of the year; The Laramie Project from Everyman Productions; and Rafe Morris’s A Show To Make You Smile.

What’s even more exciting, there are shows that we haven’t been able to fit in, like Spamalot from SUPA, and Fame, from the Queanbeyan Players. And that’s just the theatre arts. We haven’t even begun talking about music, visual arts, dance…

People complain that there’s no life in Canberra - nothing to be done. They’d be wrong.

At Exhibitionist we’re coming up for a big bumper anniversary edition, and the problem isn’t that there’s nothing on – but that there’s too much to fit in.

That’s a good problem to wake up to.

Naomi Milthorpe

Gary France and DRUMatiX
Date Published: Wednesday, 28 April 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 1 month ago

The ANU School of Music’s Gary France is talking through what possible ways Swedish percussionist Anders Åstrand could make an ice instrument. Within the space of thirty seconds, France – a percussion impresario and passionate performer – rattles off half-a-dozen options, from creating a sonorous ice guitar to carving out an ice bowl and covering it with a skin to make a drum. The mind, as they say, is boggling.

“He’s from Sweden!” laughs France. “If you live in the land of the midnight sun, that’s just what happens,”

“We’re not doing any of that here. This is not the land of ice.”

The possibilities for performance, as I soon discover, are in no way ruled out by the seeming improbability of the material. Besides ice, Åstrand has composed percussion works for fighter aircraft and tractors, as well as music for fire sculptures. 

Anders Åstrand (sadly without his ice sculptures) is coming to Canberra as part of the ANU School of Music’s Premier Concert series, “a special selection of concerts that have been chosen to showcase [the School of Music’s] staff, elite student performers, and featured guest artists,” France explains.

The series premiered in March, with a jazz double bill featuring performances from the inimitable Mike Price Trio and jazz quartet Vertical, and will continue throughout the year, providing opportunities for the ANU School of Music students to perform with world-class musicians. It also provides audiences with an affordable opportunity to access great music. At twenty bucks a pop for student tickets, it’s “a super accessible concert,” says France.

The next concert on May 5 will see France – Head of Percussion at the School of Music – leading the DRUMatiX percussion group as they perform a program of jazz, fusion and world music infused compositions for percussion with Åstrand and fellow percussion maestro Dave Samuels.

Samuels – one of the world’s leading vibraphone players and a mentor of France’s – has performed at jazz festivals around the world. Jazz enthusiasts will know him from his work with jazz supergroup Spyro Gyra, as well as his current, Grammy-winning jazz-Latin music ensemble, The Caribbean Jazz Project.

“I’m fans of both of these guys. I studied with Dave in 1977 […] so it’s a particular treat to have him here with us,”

France is particularly excited about the fantastic opportunity the performance will give ANU percussion students in DRUMatiX, who will act as “a percussion orchestra,” that will support the performances of Åstrand and Samuels. “The students are actually performing with these guys. They’re performing compositions that both of these guys have composed,”

On the issue of performance versus theory in artistic education, France is passionate and articulate.

“It’s extremely important. It’s quintessential. You can quote me on that. It’s quintessential for young musicians to interact musically with artists and educators who are examples of world’s best practice,”

France, a native of Syracuse, New York, originally came to Australia to teach at WAAPA in Perth, and has much to say about the role of performance in creative arts education.

“Students can improve dramatically when allowed the opportunity to interact in this way,”

“This is nothing new to Australia, as conservatoriums were established in Australia along this model. The ANU School of Music, formerly the Canberra School of Music, is an example of this research and performance practice-led teaching,”

“There’s no question that out of these elite training institutions come outstanding performers.”

The ANU is certainly producing outstanding performers – and performances. In the same month, France will perform in a concert at Llewellyn Hall celebrating the Bicentennial Year of the Argentine Republic, paying homage to Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera with a performance of Ginastera’s Cantata Para America Magica.

The Cantata is “a gigantic, monumental work for percussion, two grand pianos, a gigantic work, and I think only ever performed in Australia once,”

“[It’s an] absolutely amazing work,” says France. “The fact that we’re doing these two concerts in one month is unbelievable,”

Bringing world-class performances, with opportunities for students, performers, and audiences to catch a glimpse of excellence, is of paramount importance, says France – and, he suggests, it makes for a better experience of life all round, which is why he continues, enthusiastically and passionately, with the often “daunting” task of mammoth performances as well as teaching.

“We have to continue to do good deeds for our young people and our art […]. All those people who spend all their time complaining about the state of the world, if they actually spent some time doing something about it, we’d have a better world!”

Gary France and DRUMatiX will perform with Anders Åstrand and Dave Samuels at Llewellyn Hall as part of the ANU Premier Concert on Wed May 5 at 7.30pm. For info on the Premier Series head to Bookings through Ticketek.

Date Published: Wednesday, 28 April 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 1 month ago

Some bright, unknown spark once quipped that a painting contains any number of meanings, including the correct one. A source of amazement to the tubthumping critic within Uninhibited is that the correct meaning of a work of art (ie, ours) is, on occasion, unclear to even the most apparently intelligent people around.

Take, for instance, King Lear. The play is one of the great sublime wonders of English drama, full of guts and blood and madness and hatred and love and raw, messy emotion; emotion that bursts with the gouging of Gloucester’s eye and finally spews over the containing wall of strict iambic meter with Lear’s heart-wrenching “Howl! Howl! Howl! Howl!” in Act 5 Scene 3. Or so we believed before going to Bell Shakespeare’s production, directed by Marion Potts, which opened at the Playhouse on April 15.

The way Uninhibited reads it, Lear’s complex meaning is bound up in the maddening extremities the play explores, which reach a sublime manifestation in Act 3’s terrible storm. Part of the difficulty in mounting a stage production (for the modern theatre at least) is that the play embodies subjectivity to a terrifying extreme; Regan and Goneril are as justified in their tyrannical rejection of Lear as Lear is in banishing Kent (that is, not very). For some reason we sympathize with Lear: why? He is a fool, and a madman, and a tyrant, and a bad father. We should reject him as we reject Richard III or Macbeth. But we don’t, because the terrible beauty of his torment overwhelms our judgment. 

These are all prefatory remarks to the purpose of this rant, which is that, as viewed by Uninhibited, the sublime conjunction of aesthetic and emotional experience embodied within the text of King Lear was sadly lacking in Potts’s production.

The fault is mostly Bell’s. He is such a powerful presence in himself that he is never forced – and never bothers to try – to launch himself out of the measured cadences that have made him famous, and unfortunately that particular brand of honeyed, confident clarity doesn’t sit well with the chaos that eventually overwhelms Lear.

The supporting players don’t do much to help, especially Susan Prior’s pallid Cordelia and Tim Walter’s preening Edmund – but then, all their performances hinge so crucially on how Lear is played. It’s not that they are bad, but that the whole thing is so clipped and clean and confident and solidly, godforsakenly dull that they may as well have been.

Instead of a tremendous aesthetic Sturm und Drang that leaves the audience breathless, Potts and Bell spend three hours sucking the colour, fury, and madness out of King Lear with the result that what is presented is less circling typhoon, more Lazy Susan.

To get back to the beginning: art is subjective. Of course it is. Although Uninhibited was infuriated by the performance, a quick survey of some respected friends during intermission revealed that reactions ranged from mild irritation to grudging admiration to shrugging enjoyment. On the BMA website we’ve published our official In Review of the production, a mostly positive appraisal from regular contributor Emma Gibson. We at Uninhibited recognize that not everyone shares our opinion.

We just wish they would.


Erica Hurrell
Date Published: Wednesday, 28 April 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 1 month ago

What do you do?
I’m a photographer. I take documentary/photojournalism style photos - my camera is pretty much always with me. I spend a lot of my spare time on my photos just for fun and because I’m a little bit obsessed! At the moment I’m also studying film at the Australian Film, TV & Radio School in Sydney. I want to be able to make documentaries/videos as well as photography – in a similar style to the photos I take now. 

When did you get into it?
I’ve taken photos for as long as I can remember. I remember the first time Mum let me use her camera to take a photo, and we’ve still got that photo somewhere. I’ve been pretty obsessed ever since. I take photos all the time of my friends and family, they’re pretty used to it so mostly they ignore the camera now. I like photos that aren’t posed. Usually if I try to set shots up they don’t work out so well, I like the natural ones when people aren’t paying attention to the camera.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
I’m influenced by real life - my family & friends. I don’t like trying to create stories because most of the times real ones are more interesting than any I could make up. I am also influenced by music, tattoos/tattoo art & injuries & scars & the stories behind them.

What’s your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far?
Having my video ‘Idle Hands’ reviewed in the entertainment section of The Age & having photos in a subculture slide night at the Australian Centre for Photography this year.

What are your plans for the future?
To get a job I love where I get to be creative. And I will keep on taking more photos & hopefully have work in some more shows soon.

What makes you laugh?
My niece, bad TV & my classmates.

What pisses you off?
Bad drivers, rude people, when someone says they’ll do something & they don’t!

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
There are lots of really great art & artists in Canberra and there is usually always a good exhibition on somewhere to check out.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions?
My solo show at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space in Manuka June 17 – 27.

Contact Info

Jarrad West
Date Published: Wednesday, 14 April 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 1 month ago

What do you do?
Co-Artistic Director of Everyman Theatre, also I write and act and direct and shit.

When did you get into it?
When I was eight years old, my mother was heavily involved in theatre in WA, and therefore I was the obnoxious child giving my opinion to everyone during the rehearsals where she couldn’t find a babysitter.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
I have no idea. Does television count as an influence? And is that good? I take bit and pieces from everywhere, visual arts, music, so I guess that makes me a pastiche. I like that word. 

What’s your proudest moment so far?
Two things – completely nailing the reprise of ‘I’ll Cover You’ in RENT 12 nights in a row (I got a tattoo for that) and getting both parts of Angels in America to the Canberra stage in 2008 (I got a tattoo for that one too).

What are your plans for the future?
Everyman Theatre is building on it successes, and I’m excited about seeing it going from strength to strength this year and into the future. Oh, and maybe a Sondheim musical.

What makes you laugh?
Any number of things. Jessica Brent at rehearsals, Duncan Ley doing an American accent, Sue Sylvester, boobs.

What pisses you off?
People who assume they’re in charge.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
It’s growing, developing and changing, and I love being part of that.

What are your upcoming performances?
I’m directing The Laramie Project, Everyman’s next show. It’s on at the Courtyard Studio from the May 20. Bookings and info from Canberra Ticketing – 6275 2700

Contact Info
My email address is I haven’t had a date in nearly a year, so hit me up. No, seriously.

TJ Phillipson
Date Published: Wednesday, 31 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 1 month ago

What do you do (ie, in the arts)?
Photography/Video/make things

When did you get into it?
2002. I discovered the joys being in a darkroom and went from there.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
I find I’m influenced mostly by culture. A YouTube video with a kitten in a box, or a bad 80s movie, or Today Tonight… real life often gives me the most ridiculous ideas.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?
Being awarded a Canberra Contemporary Art Space Residency.

What are your plans for the future?
Moving to London at the end of 2010. See how that goes, then maybe onto Berlin or Paris to live the bohemian dream.

What makes you laugh?
Bike Stacks on Funniest Home Videos, things that have been shrunk in ovens, Cake Wrecks (it’s the best blog ever -, it always cheers me up.

What pisses you off?
Bad coffee and dickheads at gigs who buy two drinks at once and think it’s funny to push people over. You know the type.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
Canberra always surprises me - one minute everything is happening and its great, other times it’s a ghost town. But overall, for its size, it’s a pretty exciting place.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions?
I am in a group show called ‘Musk’ with two other Canberra artists at M16 Artspace in Kingston. Opens April 15 at 6pm.

Contact Info

Date Published: Wednesday, 31 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 1 month ago

Here at Uninhibited we’ve been thinking a lot about acquisitions recently, both personal and national. Par example, we went to Blaze #4 at CCAS the other day while on an innocent Gorman House shopping experience and wandered out madly texting our art world contacts to try to buy some of the pieces on show there (Erica Hurrell, if you’re reading this, we’d really like some of your trashily decadent party images. Call us.).
Our interest was further piqued by the recent announcement of the National Gallery’s acquisition of an 1892 five-colour lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Toulouse-Lautrec is, of course, our favourite dwarfish absinthe-and-whore addicted artist and the news that his piece Eldorado was bought by the Gallery prompted both glee and envy: glee that there will be another of his gorgeously coloured pictures to gaze at, and envy that we at Uninhibited don’t have the possible 300K needed to pony up for personal ownership.
We have never acquired a serious work of art before (apart from inheritance and gifts – unless you count the amazing life-sized portrait of Jesus picked up from out back of Menzies library one night). With the calendar year clocking through our 29th year on this earth, we think perhaps its time to do so - for the good of our walls and eyes and hearts and egos… and so we can say we own at least one asset apart from a massive cedar chest of drawers and a mouldering handful of first edition Evelyn Waughs.
Yes, Uninhibited (or the writer thereof) recently turned 28. It’s a terrifyingly old age to be when one has no super, no house, no ceiling lining on one’s rapidly dilapidating car, and an employment history as varied and relevant to the current economic climate as those old Target pick-a-mix sweet stands.
It’s not all bad – we have a healthy variety of experiences and anecdotes with which to entertain and instruct: like the time we saw Alice Cooper in the Canberra Centre, and about how we aren’t going to the Masterpieces exhibition because we “went to the Musee Dorsay not that long ago, and it’s not that good anyway”. About how The Waste Land becomes much less opaque on the forty-second reading, or how WE remember grunge the FIRST time around and it wasn’t about the flippin’ haircuts, man.
It’s always good to take stock at these times – to pause and reflect upon what one has (see above) and what one would like to have when the next anniversary of one’s birth rears its increasingly crows-nested head. What Uninhibited would like, apart from world peace, a cure for cancer, the timely death of Tony Abbott, and a first edition of Cold Comfort Farm and/or a new car (the first three being glorious dreams and the latter two of which would set you back around about the same amount) is a more orderly, mature life. The ability to talk politely on the telephone, and to return movies to the video store on time. Less nights waking up in a cold sweat because we didn’t put the bins out for the third week in a row.
A working knowledge of money.
And maybe, just maybe, a nice series of decadent photographs by Erica Hurrell, to remind Uninhibited of life before maturity.

Date Published: Tuesday, 16 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

According to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. In Alan Ayckbourn’s Flatspin, it’s not a rose, but a Rosie, who changes names – and with amusing, if not necessarily surprising, results.

In Canberra Repertory’s production directed by Geoffrey Borny, Rosie (Lainie Hart) is having a very bad day. An out-of-work actress, Rosie takes on the job of cleaner and plant-waterer for a trendy Docklands apartment block whose residents are often out of town. Rosie is watering plants in one of the flats when the doorbell rings: enter toothsome neighbour Sam (Ross Walker). Rosie, wishing she were somebody else, pretends to be. She introduces herself as the flat’s owner, Joanna Rupleford. Sam asks ‘Joanna’ to share dinner with him that night, in ‘her’ flat. Oh, as they say, dear.

Hart and Walker have great stage presence and the gentle back-and-forth between them fizzles along nicely throughout Act 1. Just before they close the deal (and the Act), Maurice (Jerry Hearn) enters, the play gets a lot more complicated, and this reviewer can no longer mention any plot points because that would spoil the whole thing.

Borny has directed his players with supreme confidence. Hart is excellent as Rosie, while Walker turns in a fine performance in what is a rather thankless role. The English accents are somewhat patchy - disappointing in an otherwise-solid production. The real treats, as always, come from the supporting players – Rob de Vries as the testosterone-fuelled Tommy and Steph Roberts as the awful Annette run away with all the best laughs.

A simple case of assumed identity is the basis for many a romantic comedy – and the enjoyment comes from the audience’s recognition of a shared impulse. We’ve all wanted to be somebody else, just for a change – more glamorous, more successful, more mysterious. Ayckbourn’s play works like many a rom-com before it – will they get together? Will Rosie give the game away? Why do the saucepans still have their tags on them?

It is, as the tagline suggests, very much like Bridget Jones’ Diary (the film. The book, I might say, is a great deal sharper in its comedy and its depiction of relationships). Good, if not exactly ground-breaking stuff. Flatspin won’t change the world – but it offers an enjoyable night out with some good, old-fashioned, English comic writing.

Aedan Whyatt
Date Published: Tuesday, 16 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

What do you do?
I’m a playwright, currently working as an Affiliate Writer with the Street Theatre.

When did you get into it?
I majored in script- and screen-writing as part of a Theatre Studies degree but didn’t really start writing plays until 2003, when I was the recipient of a mentorship funded by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
My work has tended to focus on international issues, particularly conflicts in places such as Rwanda and Israel/Palestine, and draw on the styles of British writers like David Hare and Howard Brenton.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?
Getting my work produced overseas (a festival in Northern Israel).

What are your plans for the future?
I’d love to work and travel abroad, and focus on getting more of my existing work produced in Australia and internationally.

What makes you laugh?
Watching classic re-runs of Seinfeld.

What pisses you off?

What’s your opinion of the local scene?

What are your upcoming performances?
The Back of Beyond has been chosen as the Street Theatre’s major commissioned work for 2010.

Contact info:

Date Published: Tuesday, 16 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

This week has been a bit of a blow at chez-Uninhibited thanks to a nasty bout with The Dreaded Lurgy. If you’ve never encountered The DL before, well – you are lucky. It causes even the most rational of arts writers to drop their voice to Kathleen Turner levels, curl up in a shivering, lung-hocking ball, erupt with phlegm every two-three minutes, and cry out for bizarre things like lemonade, hot water bottles, and aspirational magazines. The desire to attend opening nights, gigs, and street art performances vanishes to be replaced by the desire to watch the entirety of Season One of The Tudors, never mind the terror induced by Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s mannequin skin.

Gone is the impetus to review, critique, or even report on arts activity in our sweet autumnal town. A sad thing, considering the amount that has happened thanks to the Canberra Festival – CYT’s Battlefield, exhibitions by Ruth Waller and Jude Rae at CMAG, Flipart, Lights! Canberra! Action!, and the Balloon Spectacular… sniff, sniff.

No, that’s not Uninhibited tearing up – it’s just the snot.

From the view of bed, there seems to be a heap of stuff on everywhere – for instance, Everyman’s latest, Richard III. One of the bloodier plays in the Bard’s canon, the hunchback Richard has traditionally been a showcase for the finest acting talents in the world (Olivier! McKellen!). Now, Canberra’s own Duncan Ley is taking on the bottled spider, against a cast of the Can’s most hardworkingest actors – Hannah Ley, Jim Adamik, Adrian Flor and the ubiquitous Ian Croker. The winter of our discontent, indeed…

The Alliance Française French Film Festival is opening this week with a screening of Micmacs, the latest film from Uninhibited’s favourite frog, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. More to the point, there’s special events galore throughout the festival – including a screening of Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, with a Q&A with the director Jan Kounen on March 31. Zut! Too bad we’re feeling poorly (or as they would say in France, merde).

Then there’s the new exhibition at CCAS Manuka from rising art star TJ Phillipson, There is Fire Down Below. It’s playing til March 21, so Uninhibited probably could go… but we wouldn’t want to risk a relapse. For the same reason, we won’t be attending Stopera’s Autumn concert at Tuggeranong Arts Centre on March 21. Even with the promise of coffee and cake. Nor, for that matter, Wildest Dreams - a photo and video exhibition detailing the nine-week journey from idea to public performance for a group of creative people living with and without disability. It’s playing at the Belconnen Arts Centre from March 19-21 – so if you go, you won’t see us there.

No Sirree Bob, Uninhibited has been so shot down with illness it is surprising we can even type.

In fact, the only thing Uninhibited desires after twelve rounds with the DL is to snuggle in bed and watch movies with Mr Uninhibited.

The NGA and some rockin’ stars
Date Published: Wednesday, 3 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

WHAT: Starry Nights
WHEN: Friday 5 – Saturday 13 March, 5.30-11pm
WHERE: National Gallery of Australia

To chime in with its Masterpieces from Paris exhibition, the NGA has created a sparkling series of 18+ musical events in the middling weeks of March, called Starry Nights. From Friday 5 to Saturday 13 March, the NGA will host a galaxy of stars, from Renee Geyer to Tim Rogers, performing exclusively in the Sculpture Garden. There’s also the uber-hip Pol Roger Sculpture Bar if you fancy some bubbles with your blues, plus late night viewing, and free guided tours, of the MFP exhibition. Tickets to each event cost $70 through Ticketek, and your ticket gets you 10% off at the Gallery shop. Check out the NGA site for more info:

Sparkly artists
Date Published: Wednesday, 3 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

WHAT: Shimmer
WHEN: Til May 30

While you’re at the NGA seeing the sparkle sparkle of Rogers et al, why not stop by the dazzling new exhibition from the permanent collection, Shimmer. To quote: “Shimmer examines the many ways artists have employed colour, pattern, line and materials to give their work a special energy in the eye of the viewer. Through a display of works from the national collection, this exhibition explores various interpretations of the power of patterns.” Cool.  Plus, it’s free!

You, ya Crackhead!
Date Published: Wednesday, 3 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

WHAT: Crack Theatre Festival
WHEN: September 30–October 4
WHERE: This Is Not Art, Newcastle

Crack is a national theatre festival held as part of This Is Not Art, Australia’s largest media arts festival. Every rad theatre person I know went to Crack last year. If you’d like to hit the Crack this year, applications are now being accepted. The good folk at Crack (namely, Gillian Schwab and David Finnigan) are now taking applications from theatre and performing artists who want to perform, hold workshops, presentations, panels, forums and all sorts of other fun. Applications close March 31. Details at

‘Pling, Silas Brown & Cole Bennetts
Date Published: Wednesday, 3 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

WHAT: Flare
WHEN: Until March 12th
WHERE: Belconnen Gallery, Belconnen Community Centre

Between 2004 and 2009 the beloved Multicultural Fringe Festival captivated audiences of Canberrans in what came to be known as one of the most eclectic, vibrant and deliciously debaucherous weeks in the whole of Canberra’s cultural calendar. Now, Cole Bennetts, Silas Brown and ‘Pling, the photographers who tirelessly documented this annual phenomenon, have pooled together to look back with love on the Fringe That Was. The exhibition Flare, at Belconnen Community Centre, will take you on a walk through memorable Fringe moments and make you all warm and fuzzy, with a side order of tears and nostalgia.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra
Date Published: Wednesday, 3 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

WHAT: ACO Soloists Series: Diana Doherty
WHEN: Saturday March 13 @ 8pm
WHERE: Llewellyn Hall, School of Music

Shameless how often this is just blatant quoting. Ho hum: “The Australian Chamber Orchestra is hailed as an orchestra of soloists. In this concert audiences have the rare opportunity to hear a number of these talented musicians perform as soloists in some of their favourite music, really showing you what they are made of. Also featuring guest oboist Diana Doherty in a reprisal of her ARIA Award-winning performance of the Bach Violin and Oboe Concerto.” For info on tix and the show, call the venue on 6125 5700.

Date Published: Wednesday, 3 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

WHAT: Theatre in the ACT Strategic Directions Statement 2010-2013
WHEN: Released now
WHERE: check it out at 

Two weeks ago ACT Chief Minister and Minister for the Arts and Heritage Jon Stanhope released an official statement outlining the proposed direction for theatre in the ACT.  The Theatre in the ACT Strategic Directions Statement 2010-2013 states a primary objective of creating “a dynamic and highly visible ACT theatre culture,” aiming to promote cultural and artistic diversity and foster the reputation of ACT theatre on a national scale.  "For 2010 the ACT Government has provided over $1 million in funding to ACT theatre artists and organisations through the ACT Arts Fund,” Jon Stanhope said.  “The Statement incorporates a vision and objectives, broad goals, long-term strategies, and practical actions that can be undertaken by both the ACT Government and the ACT theatre sector.”

Lainie Hart
Date Published: Tuesday, 2 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

What do you do?
I have the most wonderful hobby in the world – playing in the theatre. I would live in it if I could! I enjoy acting very much, and more recently, have taken on the director’s cap.

When did you get into it?
Like many, I imagine, I daydreamt about being on the stage when I was little, but in 1993 I was given the opportunity to be in my first major production – Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard with papermoon.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
Without wanting to seem unnecessarily deep and meaningful, I think I have to say, life influences you:  life, and gaining a greater understanding, and more honest insights into yourself and those about you.

What’s your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far?
In February I had the privilege of directing The Allen Key Collective’s production of The Department of Heaven, written by Andrew Hackwill. This was a completely original musical, written and produced by an extraordinarily talented and generous Canberran, and brought to life by our talented local cast and crew.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope that I might always stumble into opportunities to dive into scripts, play on stage, and bring stories and characters to life.

What makes you laugh?
Lots of things – Boston Legal, my boofy Labrador, my beautiful nephew, my best friend.

What pisses you off?
Stupidity, unnecessary complexity, mean-mindedness, and gossip.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
I think we are very fortunate in Canberra as performers and audiences. The amateur theatre scene seems healthy and robust, and offers frequent opportunities to be a part of all that theatre offers – socially and creatively.

What are your upcoming performances?
I am having a lovely time playing Rosie Seymore in Canberra Repertory’s upcoming production of the very funny, nail-biting comedy thriller FlatSpin, playing at Theatre 3 from March 5 to 20.

Contact info: for Flatspin call Rep on 6257 1950. 

Date Published: Tuesday, 2 March 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 2 months ago

Here at Uninhibited, as always, we been thinking about art, about its power to entertain and to divert, and (after watching Jeff Bridges’ mesmerizing performance in Crazy Heart), about its mysterious power to redeem the weary soul.

But first things first.

Entertainment and Diversion, see: Wicked

Boy oh boy, this was one entertaining show. We schlepped to Sydney to see it, we crammed our tootsies into high heels and downed three glasses of champagne waiting for it to go on, we can’t say much for its quality or possible staying power in the pantheon of creation - but heck was it fun. Two hours of solid gold pap, exploding with pyrotechnical doo dads and covered in a rich sauce of money and green face paint and Bert Newton’s liquor stash (if exploding gold can be covered in sauce, which it can, in this heady mix of metaphors). Rob Mills can’t sing, dance, or act, but what the hey – he wears tight pants and turns into a scarecrow. Uninhibited’s former housemate said it best: An amazing example of what can be done in the theatre with fifteen million dollars.


Last weekend was spent in a shuddering, sobbing mess. Never fear, however – the sobbing was of the glorious, golden variety – the kind of cathartic cleanse one needs every so often, and to which one can always turn to art to provide (fine examples of the type: Les Miserables, Sense and Sensibility, any Bright Eyes song, the episode of Buffy in season 2 where she kills Angel just after he gets his soul back…). The cause? Watching not one, but two heart-breaking films: Pixar’s Up (yes, I know, you’re like – “what? Only just now? That movie came out a bajillion years ago!” Shut up. We’ve been busy) and Scott Cooper’s love-song to country music, Crazy Heart.

Maybe we here at U-bit are overly sensitive to its particular wiles, but country music has always been the music of pain and suffering, of the broken-down and the down-and-out – and, on the flipside, the music of redemption. Bad Blake (Bridges) goes through it all – a working musician with a couple of back-catalogue hit records, Blake is alcoholic, broke, and alone. The music is the cause of his problems, of course – the lifestyle is ruining his health – but more importantly, Blake refuses – out of pride, out of fear, out of bile or sheer bloody mindedness - to allow music back into his life. It’s not that he can’t, just that he won’t, write. And that’s the real killer.

“This ain’t no place for the weary kind,” Blake sings, broken-voiced, towards the end of the film. And of course, he’s right: art, especially music, is a decadent killing field where so many good souls have foundered of their own accord. But there’s a shimmering light on the other side, that dedication and grit helps even the baddest of the Bad to struggle towards – those golden, heart-breaking notes that burst the straining canals of our hearts and open them up to beauty.

Pack up your crazy heart and give it one more try.

Date Published: Tuesday, 16 February 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 3 months ago

In the last few weeks the state of the performing arts in our nation’s capital suddenly became, if not front page, then at least fourth page news, with the long-expected, long-rumoured announcement following last year’s academic review, that the ANU will defenestrate the practical element from their undergraduate Drama course.

It’s worthwhile opinionating for a moment or two on the issues thrown up by the ANU’s decision: the value of theory versus praxis (and what constitutes ‘research’ in what can be a very practical field), the necessity or otherwise of participation as an adjunct to an education in performance, the influence of the ANU’s practical training on the local arts scene, and finally, the impact upon the local theatre community of the scrapping of theatre performance at the ANU.

On this last point, one of the issues that has emerged is that the ANU Drama production companies, Papermoon and Moonlight, will no longer program annual seasons as they have done in the past. The companies will now be the special preserve of ‘research’, meaning that… well, Uninhibited is not quite sure what it means, except that the understanding of ‘research’ is by no means universal and, to put it bluntly, fraught as hell, and that except by the broadest possible definitions, unlikely to result in a similar artistic output from either company. In layman’s terms, this means that from now on Canberra audiences (and Canberra theatre practitioners) could expect anything up to half-a-dozen fewer theatre productions per year.

We know that this doesn’t seem like much. “What’s six less shows per year?” you say. “I hardly get time to see any!”

One problem is diversity. The NC scene (and most scenes, in fact) suffers from a fatal familiarity: you tend to see the same things – faces, styles, accents - over and over again. The money comes from one source, that money has a particular way of doing things, and – hey presto – homogeneity. We all love The Importance of Being Earnest, but even Wilde’s sparkling gem gets a little dull from too much rubbing.

Another issue intimately tied up with the emerging news from the ANU, is that of practice itself and how, if we wish to have a vibrant performing arts culture, Canberra theatre makers can continue to practice (or, indeed, given the latest news, learn) their craft. I mean, it took Uninhibited several months of our misspent youf to learn how to raise each eyebrow separately, and that’s just one facial feature. What about something that requires technique?  Like an Irish accent? Can you perform lazzi at the drop of a hat? The basic question is: how can a performer know their stage lefts from their stage blacks without practice?

Perhaps Canberra doesn’t want a vibrant performing arts scene. Certainly the evidence from the last year, most especially the Government’s gleeful Fringe Festival bloodletting, suggests that we don’t. But it seems a shame to dismiss a culture which has fostered the development of scores of artists, and which seeks to bring joy to its community.




Liz Lea
Date Published: Wednesday, 3 February 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 3 months ago

What do you do?
I’m a choreographer, performer, teacher, and am now Artistic Director for Canberra Dance Theatre, and Artistic Associate for Ql2 Centre for Youth Dance

When did you get into it?
When I was 7, over 30 years ago. I began with ballet and we travelled widely as a family so I found an interest in other cultural dance forms. I began a degree at Macquarie Uni before going to London Contemporary Dance School. From there I worked with a number of cross cultural companies before beginning my own work.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
Other artists, travel travel travel, and the Indian forms I work with – Bharata Natyam, Kalariapayttu and Chauu.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?
A commission from the London Royal Opera House in 2007 and my solo tours.

What are your plans for the future?
I am looking forward to being based in Canberra this year and working with CDT and QL2. I am also continuing my work at the National Film and Sound Archive as I am developing a new work for premiere at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

What makes you laugh?
Funny moments in class and rehearsals. My nephews. Outrageous friends.

What pisses you off?
Bad manners. Small minded people. Bad use of space in class!

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
Exciting. Can’t wait to find out and see more of it. Some really exciting artists, some of whom I have been lucky enough to work with.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions?
Not sure as yet. But the Edinburgh Festival for the new work 120 Birds is all encompassing at present.

Contact Info For Canberra Dance Theatre: / 0435 025365

For QL2 Centre for Youth Dance: / 02 6247 3103

The Department of Heaven
Date Published: Wednesday, 3 February 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 3 months ago

A snappy beat, a jangly keyboard, a horn section, and an affable, fast-talking cabaret MC – it’s a classic beginning in musical theatre. But in Andrew Hackwill’s new musical opening at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre, there’s a twist: the host is St Peter, the holder of the keys to the pearly gates, and “things aren’t all that happy here in Heaven,”

The Department of Heaven is an entirely new and original musical written by Hackwill and directed by Lainie Hart. The conceit of the work is that Heaven is like a government department, and St Peter is the chief of staff. Unfortunately for us humans, God is getting pretty sick of us all – and of his job. He’s ready to retire, and is about to pull the pin on the “incredible experiment we call the human race,”

Meanwhile, St Peter has lost the keys to Heaven – inside of which, are a host of A-list historical figures, from Rasputin to Robin Hood.

The spark that ignited The Department of Heaven came from costume designer Christine Pawlicki. The idea was to put on a funny, intimate show, “loaded with historical figures” and “something that the audience could find familiar,” essentially so “she could go nuts with the costuming,” says Hackwill.

“Where do you set a show with figures spanning two thousand years?” asks Hackwill. “Well, the answer, of course, was Heaven,”

The result is a show with “instant appeal,” argues Hackwill. “There are seventeen very funny, very clever songs, and a very funny plot to connect them,”

“It’s a lovely opportunity,” says director Lainie Hart. “One of the opportunities is that you have these historical figures […] that people feel connected to. It’s the opportunity to make something a little bit unexpected, a bit more flamboyant,”

It’s also a show that is designed to appeal to it’s audience: we of the nation’s capital.

“It’s a language and a sense of humour that’s very Australian,” says Hart.

“One of the important things about this show […] it’s come from the perspective of a person who wants to be entertained,” says Hackwill, arguing that putting on a play from a foreign country that’s fifty years old seems pretty irrelevant to Canberran audiences.

Hence conflating Heaven with a government department.

“There’d be enough public servants to understand the departmental humour,”

One of the structural jokes of the show is that, in order to distract God from retiring, St Peter brings in a consultant to reorg the department. When you need to make a bang and a crash, who better than Thor – Norse God of Thunder?

“His plan is to turn the department into a cabaret venue,” says Hackwill, “to entertain God.” So the host of Heaven – Alexander the Great, Lady Godiva, Queen Bess – present a “chocolate box” of cabaret songs, says Hart, designed to entertain the Heavenly Father – and the show’s Canberran audiences.

“It’s outrageous, it’s controversial, and no, it had not been sanctioned by Rome,” says Hackwill. “Yet.”

The Department of Heaven plays at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre from February 10 to 13. For bookings and information call 6293 1443.

Date Published: Tuesday, 2 February 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 3 months ago

For some reason – new years’ resolutions of participation, involvement, or just plain “I have to do something or else I might shoot my own foot off” boredom, we at Exhibitionist have in the last few weeks come in for a carpet-bombing of submission requests. Not, mind you, from companies wanting to hock their wares, but from writers wanting to see their work in print.

And it takes us back to that auspicious day that we of Uninhibited first trepidatiously submitted a review to BMA, back in the salad days of 2001.

Oh, it was a glorious time! Pre-9/11, pre-GFC, pre-climate change according to Tony Abbott… the world was innocent, and so was Uninhibited. Back then, we were but a babe in playland, a chubby 19-year-old typing with fat fingers a review of a play performed by the then uber-fringe, uber-emerging company, Bohemian Productions.

The play was called The Mischief Sense, and was penned by some upstart rapscallion called David Finnigan. It was a crime caper, a bit Guy Ritchie-ish (back in the good old days before it became apparent that Guy Ritchie is what we like to call a “plonker” or, more often, a “douche”), and was being produced at the Currong Theatre at Gorman House.*

We submitted our review, and soon afterwards were welcomed into the bosom of BMA. We attended our first musical festival as a VIP, bumping into Brendan Cowell in line for the portaloos at Homebake. For years we wrote CD reviews and interviewed shooting stars of the 1988 Australian music scene, such as Steve Kilbey and Tim Finn. And every so often we’d sneak in an article about a local theatre show. And in the blink of an eye, it seemed, it was 2006 and BMA introduced Theatre Column.

Meanwhile, other media outlets were contracting. Magazines shut down. Newspapers changed their focus from local to global. Editors moved. Local artists hustled to get elusive editorial copy. And with Exhibitionist, BMA again opened its ever-loving arms.


Now, to unearth the buried point of this lengthy ramble down memory lane: that first review, the review that set us on the whirlwind course to editorial superstardom**, was never published. But the basic impetus that set us writing that review – the need to engage with the arts, and with our peers, in a direct (and public) way – was, in the end, worth it.

Even if, as we often used to say, it ends up wrapping your fish and chips, the review is a powerful thing. It can lead us down an unfamiliar path and guide us to a new place. It’s a map. And for Uninhibited, it’s been a hell of a journey.


*If you don’t know where the Currong Theatre is, it’s because several years ago it was invaded by the dames of the Embroiderer’s Guild. Bitches.

** Or rather, on course to frantically typing on a twelve-year old PC, for a column that should have been in seven days ago…

Date Published: Tuesday, 19 January 10   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 4 months ago

The title of the premiere 2010 Uninhibited might be something along the lines of the classic, 1995 post-Tarantino crime-caper Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (the memorably-named Andy Garcia vehicle featuring one of the more memorable Gabrielle Anwar performances saving, of course, for The Three Musketeers, Burn Notice, and that episode of 90210 where she’s an ice-skater and Brandon has that growth on his face):

Things To Do In Canberra When You’re Broke

Unfortunately, though I had a list of ten things I was going to do, I only got to three, because a day after I started compiling the list I got a temp job and had to drop all creative events and activities for some utterly crucial filing. But boo ya to me for getting a third done! I deserve a prize. Money, perhaps? Send your cheques to Exhibitionist, c/o BMA. And by cheques I mean non-sequential $20 notes.

  1. Go For A Walk Around The Lake

Yeah, yeah, I know. It sounds like since I quit smoking I’m on a crazy virtue kick where I talk about how my body is a temple and I only put pure foods into it, but seriously. It’s free. It burns at least an hour if you walk as slowly as I do, and even more if you take your friends with you and gossip about boys and makeup and pillow fights and mortgages and whatever girls do together. Like I would know.

  1. Hit the National Institutions on King Edward Terrace

Or ‘K.E.T. NatStuts’, as I’m trying to bring into common usage. If we get enough people to use the abbreviation, it COULD eventually make its way into the OED! Just like OED! Anyway. I headed – hid? – to the NPG. There you will find sweet free air-con, a flip-load of great portraits and perhaps – dare I say it? – some new facts to break through the après-New Years brainmelt. They have free parking and a big orange snot ball-lookin’ sculpture out the front, which I quite like. If you’re less poor than I am you could buy a coffee at the cafeteria. The cafeteria has chairs which look like they came from Ikea. IT’S LIKE HEAVEN.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to any of the other NatStuts, but you could also try the NLA, with their Ballets Russes exhibition on until the end of January, or if you feel like splurging, shell out the $2 to get into the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

While you’re doing all this you could take a turn about the Rose Gardens, throw eggs at unsuspecting public servants, or prankishly change the signage to confuse already confuse tourists trying to park… O, the possibilities!

CAUTION: K.E.T. surfing is not for the uninitiated. Beware of the lures of Questacon which is FLIPPIN’ $18 FOR ADULTS, and the NGA, where they charge you to see poxy ‘masterpieces’ from Paris (as if we care about hacks like Van Gogh)…

  1. Order The Ikea Catalogue And Dream Of What You Could Buy If Only You Had The Money.

No, seriously. It’s free. And it’s like crack. It’s like free crack! Only more addictive. See – that’s how I quit smoking.


Alexander Boynes
Date Published: Sunday, 13 December 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 5 months ago

What do you do?
I make electric drawings.

When did you get into it?
I studied gold & silversmithing, and finished in 2004. In my final year, I began making light-based pieces and working with imagery. I travelled to Munich the following year where these works exhibited in Talente, a contemporary craft exhibition.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
My whole family – my parents are both painters, and my sister Laura is a contemporary dancer, choreographer and filmmaker. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many creative, passionate and supportive people.

What’s your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far?
I’m really excited about having my first solo show – as a child of two artists, I have been going to art galleries since birth (literally, I recently discovered a photo of myself having a nappy change at The Louvre… Thanks Mum!) I’m really humbled to have come full circle like that.

What are your plans for the future?
Keep making! I want to experiment with the scale of my work, making some really huge pieces, and trying some new materials. This year has been really productive for me, so I hope to continue churning out new pieces for upcoming shows.

What makes you laugh?
The other day I saw two five-year-old kids racking up hundreds of dollars worth of toys at a well-known electronics store after stealing their Mum’s handbag… They literally dragged away four bags of stuff and the three guys behind the counter didn’t bat an eyelid. I mean, come on guys, when was the last time you saw a preschooler with a Prada bag the size of a milk crate and a gold Amex?? Ahh, Belco…

What pisses you off?
The GDE, the GFC and QIC…

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
There are so many great makers and performers in this city – the Canberra arts scene is seriously underrated. I’m always amazed at the talent coming out of this place.

What are your upcoming exhibitions?
My first solo show opens Friday 11 December at Canberra Contemporary Art Space at Gorman House, from 6pm. My show, After Dark, opens alongside two more solo shows, from Nicholas Folland and Lucy Quinn.

Contact info:

Date Published: Sunday, 13 December 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 5 months ago

It’s the last issue of the end of a very big year for Exhibitionist – our first year. Remember, way back when it was (when was it again? March?), we first came into the world, kicking and screaming and banging on about art and whatnot? Oh, those were our salad days. Now we’re old and cynical, and easily bought (two quadruple whiskies ought to do it), and look upon the year past with quiet weariness.

JUST KIDDING. This year has been tops!

Traditionally, the end of the year is the time to reflect and learn, and more importantly to celebrate. In Austin, it’s the time to give thanks at a quaint regional custom known as Thanksgiving, in which the chief pursuits consist of eating ‘yams’ and drinking Antipodean wine. Kinda like Christmas, but without the presents and wreaths.

Meanwhile, in Canberra recently, there has been much to celebrate for certain artistes gilded with laurels by the Canberra Critics Circle.

If you haven’t heard of the CCC, or ‘The Circle’ as it is known in certain… circles, it may be because in the combination of arcane seclusion and unflinching power they bear a passing resemblance to the Masons.*

Every year ‘The Circle’ (convened by purveyor of fine arts criticism and grand dame of the critical arts, Helen Musa), bestows awards for achievement in the arts. Unlike the CAT Awards, ‘The Circle’ politely declines the choking stringency of ‘categories’ (like Best Chub Fuddler, or Outstanding Achievement in Douchery) and instead awards for excellence within a certain field.

In 2009, David Finnigan and Gillian Schwab were rewarded for their work on 2008’s Made in Canberra piece …oceans all boiled into sky, in visual arts Geoffrey Farquhar-Still got a nod for his show Reflex, and Julian Fleetwood and Traverse Poetry got a writing gong for their efforts towards creating a scene in the Can.**

Meanwhile, the Big One is the annual Citynews ®™Artist of the Year. In 2009 the award happily went to one of Exhibitionist’s favourites, tableaux artiste and Radiance Dance choreographer Min Mae. To quote ‘The Circle’’s listing, the award was given “for insinuating her tableaux vivants into the collective psyche of creative Canberra. Unique in Australia, her challenging works cross genre and art form using the diverse environments of galleries, shops and the streets to generate stimulating unions between visual artists, dancers, actors, writers, musicians and their audiences.” Here, here.

Every silver lining, however, appears in the axilla of a cloud. Celebrating the award, Citynews featured Min on the cover of a recent issue starkers save for a artfully draped shawl; but the big scandal was the information that the mag had decided (without her consent, mind you) to digitally remove the hair from her one visible armpit. An odd method of veneration given the artist’s dedication to exploring and embracing all types, colours, sizes and textures of the human body.

In spite of what could (in some circles) be described as a ‘cock-up’, it is mighty nice to see an award going to an artist who contributes something pretty unique to the N.C., and whose achievements and efforts can only, we assume, increase.

Definitely a cause for celebration.


*Not actually true. They don’t even have a windowless building in which they make their inscrutable decisions.
** There are more. You can find them out for yourself (head to

Steph Roberts
Date Published: Wednesday, 25 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

What do you do?
I act with a few local companies, most recently with Rep, Moonlight (of which I am a founding member) and Papermoon.

When did you get into it?
I did a bit of drama in college but didn’t really get into it until I left school.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
The greatest influences on me as an actor are the people I am working with at the time. We have so many talented directors, designers, techies and actors in this town!

What’s your proudest moment so far?
In 2008 I played Harper in Papermoon’s production of Angels in America. […] Angels in America is a challenging, intelligent, sad, long, funny and important play and it was a real privilege to be able to have a part in it. And I got to wear the world’s most hideous wig and a dirty, dirty mo for one scene, so that’s always something to be proud of.

What are your plans for the future?
I would love to keep doing what I’m doing. It is such a joy!

What makes you laugh?
Slapstick, animals doing silly things,, Dr Who (when it’s not making me cry or hide behind a blanket), my family and friends.

What pisses you off?
Concession prices over $15. I get that people need to recoup their costs, but more students will come to see theatre if they can see theatre and still afford to eat.

What’s your opinion of the local scene?
I think we are incredibly fortunate to have such a big theatre scene in a city this small. It might be hard to making a living as an actor here, but the amateur scene provides creative opportunities for so many people who just want to act/direct/design for the love of it.

What are your upcoming performances?
At the moment I’m performing in It Runs In the Family at Canberra Rep, Theatre 3. It is a ludicrous farce full of delightfully cheap jokes. For tickets call 6257 1950.

Contact Info

Musical of Musicals
Date Published: Wednesday, 25 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

“I mean, you have songs like ‘Did I Put Out Enough?’ ‘Oh! What Beautiful Corn!’ ‘We’re All Going To Die’ ‘That Was Delicious Clam-Dip!’ and so on. You just know by their titles they’re going to be wonderfully silly.” Duncan Ley is talking about Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) , the latest show from local company Everyman – Ley and Duncan Driver, who share directing credits, and Jarrad West. “We ended last year with a cabaret-style show written by myself and Jarrad, and this year we wanted to again finish up with a holiday-style piece that people could laugh with,” explains Ley. “Jarrad had the soundtrack recording of [Musical of Musicals ] which he played for me in his car, on the way to the airport. I heard about two minutes of it before hopping on a plane to Brisbane and said ‘I love it, that’s what we should do.’ It just made me laugh from the first listen,” Musical of Musicals , by Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell, is an off-Broadway hit that lovingly spoofs the musical genre. June is behind on her rent and gets help from her beau Billy. It ain’t much of a plot, but the show works more on tapping into musical archetypes than on complexity of story. “In the show, there is the ingénue, the hero, the villain and the diva,” explains Jarrad West. “The ingénue (Hannah Ley) can’t pay her rent, the hero (Adrian Flor) may or may not pay it for her, the diva (Louiza Blomfeld) may or may not care, and the villain is of course the landlord who wants the rent, or at least something in lieu of payment.” Using this simple plot framework, the show parodies five of the musical world’s most recognizable: Rogers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and Kander & Ebb. “In each musical the story changes slightly to reflect the style of the composer,” explains West, who plays unforgiving landlord Jitter (or Judder, or Jüder, depending on which musical style you’re talking about). “No song is copied directly, but each musical unmistakably sounds as if it is from that particular composer’s catalogue,” says Ley. “It’s all a loving piss-take, and very, very funny.” “You’ll hear a musical phrase, and just before you realise where you’ve heard it before, it’ll be gone and we’ll be onto the next one,” explains West. “So if you love musical theatre and showtunes, you’ll love this show. If you hate musicals and like nothing more than mocking the overblown, overdone, overearnestness of it all, you’ll also love this show.” Ley agrees. “I think hardcore musical fans will really appreciate the cleverness of the parody (especially the spot-on musical riffs), but if they feel uncomfortable… well, perhaps they’re taking their own passion for musicals a little too seriously!” Everyman presents Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) at the Courtyard Studio, 3 – 12 December @ 8pm. Matinee 2pm 12 December. Bookings and info 6275 2700.

Date Published: Tuesday, 24 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

Well howdy! Uninhibited is at this point in time stuck in the Blue Heart of Red Texas, the Live Music Capital of the World™: Austin. This is the town whose motto is ‘Keep Austin Weird’, the town which invented the breakfast burrito, the town in which upon every street corner there is a bar inside of which is a real live musician playing real life music (and upon every street corner not graced with a bar is a real live homeless dude also playing real life music). Some things that have piqued Uninhibited’s transatlantic interests over the last few weeks here in Texas: The surprising (to me at least) revelation that John Ruskin – he of Modern Painters , he who in many ways invented art history as we know it – was, upon marriage, so revolted by his wife’s muff OR menstrual blood OR body odour (having no practical knowledge of women and assuming that they’d be like the pretty Attic statues he knew so much about) that he was rendered impotent. GO FIGURE. American television: IT’S TRULY BAD. We in Australia should feel privileged. The Yanks sift through all the shit and hand us the very best on a silver platter. This was revealed to me the other night as I watched a Hallmark telemovie called Flower Girl. Uninhibited has never before felt so much like it was necessary for health, happiness, satisfaction, spleen-venting, to vomit all over the screen. Rufus Wainwright’s song ‘Peach Trees’ from Want Two . I went to see the smashingly brilliant Rufus at Austin’s Paramount Theatre and GOLLY was he smashingly brilliant! A voice like clear honey and the most amazing pianist…. ANYWAY. A friend asked me recently who were my favourite lyricists, and I listed all the usual suspects – Dylan, Lou Reed, Patti Smith – but going to this concert reminded me of what a deft lyricist Rufus Wainwright is. My favourite line: “With a waiter with a face made for currency/ like a coin in ancient Rome”. ‘Peach Trees’ makes me remember the first time I ever heard a Rufus Wainwright song (the last time I was in Texas) and how when I hear ‘Peach Trees’ it reminds me of Austin, and public transport, and the rain. Like Proust’s madeleines, ‘Peach Trees’ – and music in general – calls up in me those lost moments in time. I guess I’ll be seein’ y’all next time for the last issue of the year. Until then, it’s been a treat. NAOMI MILTHORPE

You! In Belconnen Theatre!
Date Published: Tuesday, 24 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Whatever you want!
WHEN: 2010
WHERE: Belconnen Theatre. Durr!

Belconnen Theatre is inviting independent artists, community groups, and private organizations to book at THE CHEAPEST EQUIPPED THEATRE IN CANBERRA for performances, conferences, WHATEV in 2010. The theatre seats 148 and is fully kitted out with lighting and sound rig, disabled seating, curtains – all the accoutrements, in other words, that you want. While the theatre is getting pretty heavily booked, there are some sweet spaces in Feb, and at these prices - $150/day or just under $900/week, you aren’t going to get a better deal than this. Call Simone Penkethman at the Belconnen Community Centre on 6264 0235 for more info.

Theatrical – but possibly also practical – cats.*
Date Published: Tuesday, 24 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: The CAT Awards
WHEN: Nom party December 14 @ 5.30
WHERE: Teatro Vivaldi

It is time once more to get out your ballot forms and start making Melbourne Cup-style sweeps, for the pressingest issue of the Can Pro-Am Scene is yet again here: WHO WILL WIN THE GOLDEN CAT? The nomination party (certainly the social highlight of the Canberra and area theatrical scene in mid-December) will be held at Teatro Vivaldi, and $20 will get you your booklet and some booze. Meanwhile, the awards themselves – for which you can now procure tickets through the CTC website – will slink onto the CTC stage in February, hosted by TIM FERGUSON.

*By ‘cats’ I mean persons, as in ‘hepcat’, not actual felines. I mean, an award for kitties? That would just be weird.

ANU School of Art students
Date Published: Tuesday, 24 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: 2009 Graduate Exhibition
WHEN: 4 – 13 December
WHERE: ANU School of Art

In case you didn’t already know: the Summer party season officially begins with the opening of the ANU School of Art Graduate Exhibition. Every year the departing students take over the School of Art buildings, filling them with artworks in every imaginable medium, not a single wall or space spared. They’re tomorrow’s art superstars, Canberra’s crème de la crème. If you’re still wondering how to spend your tax return, the Graduate exhibition is also your chance to grab shit-hot artwork for a very pretty penny. Turn up at 6pm on Friday the 4th for the massive opening celebration, or visit before the 13th to take it all in.

Free Rain Theatre
Date Published: Tuesday, 24 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: 2010 Season
WHEN: See above
WHERE: Theatres Around Canberra...

Free Rain, that stalwart of the Can Pro-Am scene, has announced its 2010 season under the umbrella tagline of “a classic season of theatre”. Wonders! Featuring in this classic season will be such… classics… as Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire , to be directed by Fiona Atkin; Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , directed by Cate Clelland; and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest , directed by Liz Bradley. Onwards and upwards!

Australian artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
Date Published: Tuesday, 24 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Idle Hours
WHEN: Opens December 11
WHERE: National Portrait Gallery

Feeling the burn of long hours and late night shopping? Got your end-of-year frazzle on? Well, maybe you need to take a few minutes to chillax, care of the National Portrait Gallery. Their latest exhibition is Idle Hours , which meanders through a lazy day and night – full of reading, drawing, sleeping, bathing, cooking, sitting, and just kinda mooching about – as imagined by some of Oz art’s greatest. Idle Hours features works by Thea Proctor, Brett Whitely, Grace Cossington Smith, and John Brack among others, and is on at the NPG until February 2010.

Ausdance ACT
Date Published: Tuesday, 24 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Master School
WHEN: January 18–22
WHERE: Gorman House Arts Centre, Ainslie Ave, Braddon

Put yourself centre stage this summer with some of the dance industry’s most inspirational teachers. Ausdance ACT’s annual Master School includes classes in classical, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, tap and contact impro styles. It’s not just for students—working professional dancers, teachers, and tertiary dance graduates can attend company-level classes. Master School teachers include Lucy Chambers, Andrew Fee, Esther Just, Adelina Larsson, Marko Panzic, James Taylor and Solon Ulbrich. Email or call 6247 9103 for a registration brochure.

Tim dWYer
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

What do you do?
Make a holy mess... fool around with video. This year I got into opening the source code of image and video files and inserting quotes from The Exorcist. More recently, I just finished touring with motivational force, John Kilduff. 

When did you get into it?
When I really think about it, most of the stuff I have done has been fairly ad-hoc and really chaotic. I used to swing by on last minute plans, which eventually led me to be involved with a fairly confused and self-destructive noise outfit a few years ago. I'm fairly entrenched in video now... and I am working fairly hard to expand on it.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
Bad television, cheap satisfaction, VHS, Paul Sharits, John Kilduff, Paperrad, John Waters & Warhol's films, Jack Chambers, Dan Graham, Chris Burden, Jim Roche, TV carnage, magic eye, Bum Creek, Toecutter, Edward Bernays, portals, IKKO, Sam going fucking crazy and crashing Steven's car out by Goulburn... this could go on forever...

What's your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far?
Getting painter and performer John Kilduff out here has been a highlight for me. Actually, this year has been a pretty good year overall. I am making a lot of rubbish at the moment and it feels good. I am inclined to think that the dumbest and most naïve stuff I make is what I can be proudest of.

What are your plans for the future?
Mess around. I have some vague plans for travel, to skip town. That said I'm applying for residencies, so I will probably get locked down somewhere.

What makes you laugh?
Almost everything.

What pisses you off?
Too much already... But I'm tryin' real hard to let go.

What's your opinion of the local scene?
It depends on the angle you see it from. I think there is support for a lot weird stuff all around the place, and people are doing excellent things. However, most people can get a bit stiff... You gotta make your own fun in this town and make stuff for yourself... otherwise you are fucked.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions?
I am aiming to have a VHS album finished by the end of next year, a 7" vinyl released in the coming months, probably an exhibition or two, and some big trouble events along the way.

Contact Info

Canberra Youth Theatre’s Teen Ensemble
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Artists Unite
WHEN: November 20 - 22
WHERE: C Block Theatre, Gorman House

Artists Unite is the culmination of the work of CYT's 2009 Teen Ensemble, featuring three short plays written by young playwrights from across the land, and directed by emerging directors from CYT. The program for this year features 'X' by South Australian Sarah Dunn, 'The Trees' by fellow SAer Alysha Herrmann, and representing the ACT, 'The Man With No Funny Bones' by Edmund Hogan.  Artists Unite will play at C Block from Friday November 20 to Sunday November 22, tickets are $15/$10. For info on the shows, call CYT on 6248 5057.  

Canberra Symphony Orchestra
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Symphony for Kids
WHEN: November 22 @ 1.30pm and 3pm
WHERE: Canberra Theatre

Press releases all round this Bit Parts: "Now in its seventh year, Symphony for Kids still remains a popular favourite in the Playtime Season. Conducted by renowned musician Ian McLean and featuring the talents of Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Symphony for Kids is the perfect way to introduce little eats to the live sounds of the orchestra. During the concert, audience members will be introduced to each instrument and its sound and will be encouraged to interact and ask the musicians questions. Symphony for Kids was specially designed for children and features children's favourite music pieces." While the reference to children as consumables is slightly alarming, the basic thrust of the argument is sound. Call 6275 2700 for details and bookings.

Mirramu Dance Company with David Pereira
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: River
WHEN: November 21 @ 2.30pm and 8pm. November 22 @ 4pm
WHERE: The Street Theatre, Childers Street

Collaborating with sculptor Christine Simpson and cellist David Pereira, Mirramu Dance Company presents a topical and engaging performance that integrates dance, music and sculpture to express the silent voices of Australian waterways. To the sounds of the cello, sculpture fuses with contemporary dance as we witness the dying of the Darling River in this achingly beautiful work evoking the spirit of Henry Lawson's sickly salt-spring stream. Featuring cellist David Pereira, and dancers Albert David, Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, Holly Diggle and guest artists, it is dramatic, inspiring and readily accessible. Tix $29/$23/$17/$13. Call 6247 1223 for info and bookings.

Canberra playwrights
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: The Rep Logues Comp Booklet
WHEN: Limited edition available now!
WHERE: Theatre 3

Congrats are in order to Exhibitionist writer Emma Gibson, who picked up first place in the 2009 Rep Logues competition. Press release speaks volumes: "In 2009 Canberra Rep STUDIO presented a different take on its previous competitions, included both Monologues and Duologues. The winner was Emma Gibson with her entry Morally Bankrupt. Second prize was awarded to Marie Gordon for Molly Magee, with Peter Holland's Samuel awarded third place. [...] A limited edition booklet of the final scripts is available from Theatre 3 for $10 a copy." Call 6257 1950 or drop in during business hours Monday to Friday to pick up a copy!

New exhibitions at M16
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Dwell and Outlet
WHEN: til November 15
WHERE: M16 Artspace, 16 Mildura Street Fyshwick

Helpful press release information! How Exhibitionist loves to quote you! 1. "Dwell is an exhibition that explores what goes on behind the backlit curtain, the shut door at night and the transient, temporary inhabitation of public places to reveal the quiet tension that exists in suburbia.  With slight voyeuristic curiosity and her camera, Lauren Hewitt captures the inhabited spaces of our everyday lives." And... 2. "Zoo Group creatively and strategically solve clients' problems through creative thought and expression.  Zoo wants to redirect this creativity to showcase the personalities behind the pieces.  This is their creative outlet.  Featuring a diverse range of media [...], Outlet is sure to reveal the private faces of these public artists."

All the ladies!
Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: ACT Women's Grants program
WHEN: Applications close December 7
WHERE:, or email

The program is an initiative of the ACT governors to help improve the status of women in the ACT. The idea is all alright by me, but even better is the real juice: up to $100,000 in funding dosh to carry out programs, projects and events or to further capacity building for existing organizations. There are two pools, of which the niftiest for artists would prolly be the Special Projects pool. You can get funding of up to $15,000 per project to "support activities that progress one or more objectives of The ACT Women's Plan." But get crackin' on your applications: they're due at the start of December. For more deets and info call 6205 0515.

Date Published: Tuesday, 10 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

So many things are afoot in the Can right now. So it feels distinctly odd to be writing about them at a distance of approximately one bajillion kilometres away. Yes, dear reader, Uninhibited has traded the delights of the ACT in the Spring - the ACT Writer's Centre Poetry Festival, the end of the university term and concomitant upswing in student drunkenness, visiting tourists Bangarra, One Man Star Wars, and Tripod, and our personal favourite, maddeningly allergenic pollens - for the chilly home of our travelling cousins in the north, Canada. Or Vancouver, more precisely.

Ah, travelling. Dontcha love it? 20 hours or more in transit; walking off the plane smelling like a mixture of old cheese and new vomit; communal breakfasts in the hostel kitchen, trying not to make eye contact with thirty other smelly tourists; writing an overdue arts column from the safety of your room...

Uninhibited will be uninhabited for around 6 weeks - first a tour of Vancouver and its perfections - punctuated by some much-needed (for us) academe in the form of an 'interdisciplinary conference'. Then to Austin, Texas where, in between some crucial and history-altering research on marginalia, we will nibble daintily from the smorgasbord of country music on offer in the Live Music Capital Of The WorldTM. And maybe have a breakfast burrito or two.*

Anyway. To where we currently sit. Vancouver seems a wonderful place. There is a bar across the road. A bar! Which sells beer! And there's another bar one block away! And one in between! It's like what we imagine Heaven to be. And luckily for Uninhibited - as we are anticipating 5 weeks in America - Canadians do good beer.

More to the point, there's the allure of some interesting arts activity. For one, Granville Street's Walk of Fame, which has stars - a la Hollywood Boulevarde - for all of Canadia's brightest talents. Sarah McLachlan! Michael Buble! BRYAN ADAMS!

For second, and the excitement generated by these words can perhaps only truly be felt by Uninhibited, and a certain duo of cosmic monkeys known in our circle: EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL.

Now, far be it for Uninhibited to dictate what you all should watch and enjoy in the arts. But, like the famous dictum that all men look better with beards, it's a well-known fact that all works of art with zombies are better than those without. Evil Dead taking over the musical genre can only lead to awesome.

Canberra seems inordinately lacking in zombies, which is odd, considering the countrywide vilification we receive for munching on the achievements of the rest of Oz - and the look my public servant friends usually had after a day at the office... Holy rotten flesh! There's a new angle for a zombie movie. We'll call it Graduate Pogrom. It'll centre on a streetsmart young whippersnapper, fresh from university, who takes a grad position in a government department in Canberra, only to find that the incantation 'policy, minutes, meeting', said three times, followed by four incomprehensible acronyms, leads to the entire department craving grey-matter. It'll be a smash hit of the summer!

Peace oot, ey!


* A delicacy we believe was invited in 'the blue heart of red Texas'. Think burrito, but replace meat and beans and veges with eggs and bacon. Yee har!

Various artists
Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Figuration
WHEN: Til 8 November, 11am-5pm daily
WHERE: Paintbox Fine Art Gallery

Figuration is a group show, at Paintbox Fine Art on Braddon's Lonsdale Street, featuring figurative work from five established artists. Featured in the exhibition are beautiful, delicate fantasies by Maki Horanai, whose work has been strongly influenced by the nature of her childhood in snowy villages along the sea coast in northern Japan, the bold, dark representations by Melbourne portraitist Norma Bailey-Ramsay, and the creamy figures of Archibald finalist Fu Hong. Figuration runs til November 8 and is completely free.

Tempo Theatre
Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: John Chapman's Kindly Leave the Stage
WHEN: November 5 - 14
WHERE: Belconnen Theatre

Tempo grace Belconnen's stages once again, with their latest production, English comedy Kindly Leave The Stage. The rather ingenuous press release states: "This comedy set in the flat of Rupert and Sarah is great fun from start to finish with twists that will delight audiences. Tempo has assembled a cast of talented actors who bring Chapman's script to life. Join Rupert and Sarah as they host a dinner party that does not go according to plan." Hmmm. I think I will. Tickets are $25/$20 and can be purchased through Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700.

Various artists
Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Exhibition I Forget To Forget
WHEN: Until November 21st
WHERE: Canberra Contemporary Art Space Gorman House

I Forget To Forget, put together by National Gallery of Victoria curator Stephen Gilchrist for Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces in Melbourne, has now arrived for a very welcome Canberra jaunt. The exhibition assembles eye-popping artworks from some of the country's hottest young artists. The gallery houses such wonders as a giant knitted nana blanket by Helen Johnson and a formidable collection of 'Aboriginalia' - artist Tony Albert's collection of reclaimed objects depicting dubious representations of Indigenous Australians. Other artists included are Daniel Boyd, Reko Rennie, Jonathan Jones and Andrea Fisher. I forget To Forget is not to be missed if you want to know what's happening in Australian contemporary art right now.

Woody Allen and Larry David
Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Whatever Works
WHEN: Til it closes
WHERE: Dendy Canberra Centre

It's not often that an artist can straddle the two worlds of popular success and arthouse cred. Woody Allen seems capable of this delicate balance, and his latest picture, Whatever Works, is a treat. Larry David plays genius Boris Yelnikoff, whose gargantuan intellect has rendered him incapable of conducting a pleasant conversation with the vast majority of humanity. The film is peppered - both liberally sprinkled and made all the more savoury - by Boris's hilarious, bombastic tirades against the 'inchworm' humanity whose ignorance is a daily plague. Enter Melodie (Evan Rachel Wood), a Southern belle whose innocence (and ignorance), coupled with her sunny attractions, foils Boris's liberal misanthropy. Highly recommended.

New York based artist James Angus
Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

WHAT: Geo Face Distribitor
WHEN: Now and forever
WHERE: The entrance to the National Portrait Gallery

Geo Face Distribitor was commissioned by the NPG as part of the design for its new premises. NYC-based artist James Angus was commissioned in 2008 and the sculpture has now been unveiled. On discussing the sculpture design James Angus said "I want people to be able to see faces. When viewing the sculpture, the faces emerge: cavities link up to form pairs of eyes and mouths, protrusions start to look like noses. And then they might equally disappear and the whole thing collapses back into something unnameable." Oo er. See it now, or the next time you head to the NPG.

Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

EX: Why Porcelain? What is it about Chay Yew's play that speaks to you?

BO: It's a play about being Asian and gay in a Westernised country where you're very much in the minority [...]. To that extent it mirrors my own experience. More importantly though it's a deeply personal and passionate work by a young playwright. The emotions contained within it are raw but they ring true. It's this quality that the audience responds to and it's this selfsame resonance that speaks to me as a director.

EX: The play centres on the killing of a man by his gay lover in a toilet block.  How does Porcelain give the protagonist, John Lee, a 'fair trial'?

BO: John Lee's trial doesn't feature in the script. The play is rather concerned with the reasons or the pathology behind the murder.  We follow the efforts of a criminal psychologist trying to get to the heart of the matter whilst a journalist grapples with the larger social issues.

EX: How does the play depict or challenge issues of racism and homophobia?

BO: It's a racial drama, not a love story. [...] Racism and homophobia are givens in the play.  They're not dramatised but, like gravity, they have a profound impact on events and characters. Chay Yew, the writer, uses a documentary-style approach paired with the central narrative to tackle these issues, injecting a fair amount of humour into the mix as he goes along.

EX: What made you decide to direct Porcelain at this time?

BO: I've waited a long time to direct Porcelain. [...] In 1996 I directed a reading of it for Outcast Theatre, a gay and lesbian theatre company in Melbourne. It was clear even within the constraints of a rehearsed reading that this was a remarkable play both in its subject matter and its candour. [...] Finally in 2007 everything fell into place and we staged the Australian premiere of the play at La Mama. We had a warm reception and a sold-out season and were determined to revive the production, hence the return season this year.

EX: How do you think Canberra audiences will take the show?

BO: [...] It's hard for me to anticipate what Canberra audiences will make of Porcelain. It's a funny and tragic play that speaks to both straight and gay audiences. It can be intense, but like all good tragedy it's ultimately a stimulating and hopefully entertaining experience.

EX: Why do stories like Porcelain need to be told?

BO: Dramatising stories like Porcelain validates experience. Things that are hidden are by definition rarely seen and never acknowledged. Racism, homophobia, sex in toilets, all these things still exist. Theatre is one forum in which these issues are addressed and imaginatively dealt with. If nothing else it opens up a debate.

Chay Yew's Porcelain directed by Beng Oh plays at the Street Theatre from Tuesday 3 to Friday 6 November @ 8pm, & Saturday November 7 @ 4pm & 9pm. Tix $29/$23. Bookings 6247 1223.

Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

"You don't often get the opportunity to see Lorca on Australian stages," says actor Sam Hannan-Morrow, before checking himself: "except, of course, for this year." Hannan-Morrow has taken on the role of the stolid, indifferent husband Juan in Yerma, the final installment in Moonlight's season of tragedies by Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca.

Yerma is a story of desire and longing, of the yearning of a childless peasant woman to have a child with her husband. The play centres on the eponymous character Yerma, trapped in a sterile marriage to Juan.

"She's a really powerful force but incredibly sad," says actor Catherine Hagarty, who has taken on the role. "You sympathise with her, you can understand why she behaves the way she does."

Yerma is tortured by her desire for a child, and by her husband Juan's indifference to desire. She flirts briefly with a childhood sweetheart, Victor (Sam Lavery) but turns away from sexual desire in the name of honour.

In terms of narrative and character Lorca's drama, like that of Chekhov or Ibsen, seems plain. But the power and tragedy of the play lie most forcefully in Lorca's beautiful, imagistic writing.

Through the intensity of his language, Lorca transforms Yerma's personal struggle into a heart-wrenching tragedy. It's beautiful to read and incredibly powerful to watch. In performing in Yerma, Hannan-Morrow says he has found a "new appreciation for Lorca's writing,"

"It's very lyrical," says Hagarty.

As audiences have seen in Moonlight's two other shows for 2009 - The House of Bernarda Alba and Blood Wedding - Lorca can create tragedy from the ordinary struggles of ordinary people who, by the constraints of a rigid society are driven to desperate acts.

Yerma, indeed, is an exquisitely rendered character, whose emotional journey is explored through powerful language as well as song; one of the beauties of Lorca is that he provides artists with a spectrum of media - word, image, and song - to use.

Director Carol Whitman, currently completing her honours degree in Drama at the ANU, has worked to incorporate these aspects within her production. The play integrates music by Ellen Kimball and a stunning red-and-white set by designer Erin Pugh, to create "a beautiful experience from start to finish."

"It's a serious, heart-wrenching, full-on play," says Whitman.

And one that, after this year, you may not get to see again for a long time.

Moonlight presents Federico García Lorca's Yerma at the ANU Arts Centre Drama Lab from Thursday October 29 to Saturday November 7 @ 8pm. Tickets at the door: $15 or $5 for ANU students.

Julian Fleetwood
Date Published: Wednesday, 4 November 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 6 months ago

What do you do?
Edit. Write and perform poetry and run poetry gigs. Dabble in zine making.

When did you get into it?
A bit during Year 11 and 12 but mainly at the end of uni - around 2006.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
Old video games. Cheesy horror movies. Local poets Hadley and Seung Baek.

What's your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far?
Editing The Sex Mook for Vignette Press.

What are your plans for the future?
Lots more poetry slams at The Front. Trying to get more of my writing in print/recorded.

What makes you laugh?
Dad jokes.

What pisses you off?
People whingeing about something without engaging in making it better.

What's your opinion of the local scene?
Canberra's got a tonne of exciting things going on but they can be a little hidden away. Once you find the right people you can't possibly be bored.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions?
Halloween Poetry Slam (30 October at The Front), MCing the ACT heat of the Australian Poetry Slam (6 November at the National Library of Australia) and running a special exhibition launch slam at the National Museum of Australia (12 December).

Contact Info

Young Filmmakers
Date Published: Wednesday, 14 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

WHAT: The Leonid Film Awards 2009
WHEN: Entries due November 9
WHERE: Tuggers Arts Centre

Press release: 'Last year Tuggeranong Arts Centre created the Young Independent Filmmakers Award to recognise talented young college filmmakers in the Canberra area, giving them the opportunity to have their films screened publicly. The awards are back with a bright new outlook on life!  This November, the Leonid Film Awards, named for the meteor showers that will light up the sky while the finalists light up the screen, will blaze their way on to the Canberra filmmaking scene.' For more info head to the Tuggers Arts Centre website:

Val Johnson
Date Published: Wednesday, 14 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

WHAT: Me, Myself and Others: A Journey In Portraiture
WHEN: 23 October - 8 November
WHERE: Belconnen Arts Centre

Says Johnson of this retrospective exhibition: 'The selected works in this exhibition will show how my painting has changed from tonal and traditional to being much more expressive. I like to explore colour shape and pattern. My self portraits are influenced by what is going on in my life at that moment. Because drawing forms an important part of my art practice, I am also including some works on paper.' There will be an artist's talk with Johnson on October 31 - for details head to the Belco website at and follow the links to What's On.

NUTS (National University Theatre Society)
Date Published: Wednesday, 14 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

WHAT: Having Fun With Cement
WHEN: Thursday 22 - Saturday 24 October
WHERE: ANU Drama Lab, Union Court ANU

Having Fun with Cement is a night of short plays by local playwrights, produced by NUTS. Hadley's 'Sock Yeti', directed by Will Coward, and 'Zara and the Sea', directed by Duncan Ragg, are paired with David Finnigan's 'Hate Restaurants', directed by Tasman Vaughan. Rounding off the night is the hilarious product of NUTS's 24 Hours of Theatre Festival: 'Slow News Day' written by Will Coward, Peter Dabro and Sam Power. Tix at the door.

Date Published: Wednesday, 14 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

WHAT: Lavazza Italian Film Festival
WHEN: Until Sunday October 25
WHERE: Arc Cinema, National Film and Sound Archive

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is one of Oz's major national touring cinema showcases. Proudly showing off the best in new Italian cinema (and Italy is arty shwank cinema what it is to coffee: the first and last word), the Lavazza festival will screen new films by directors such as Marco Bellccohio, Pupi Avati, and Maria Sole Tognazzi. Tickets to opening night are $20, and afterwards $16/$13.50. Call 1800 067 274 for info and bookings. Bella!

Geoffrey Borny and Bill Boyd
Date Published: Wednesday, 14 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

WHAT: Ron Blair's The Christian Brothers
WHEN: October 15 - 24
WHERE: Tuggeranong Arts Centre

From the press release: 'Ron Blair's enormously successful play The Christian Brothers, written in 1975 and set in the 1950s, might at first sight appear to be a period piece with little relevance to audiences living at the beginning of the 21st century. Nothing could be further from the truth. [...]Blair's play is a satirical picture of the limited skills of some of the Christian Brothers who taught him in the 1950s, but it is also an affectionate and sympathetic depiction of a flawed human being undergoing a deeply moving crisis of faith.' Call 6293 1443 for more info.

Architects and Portraitists
Date Published: Wednesday, 14 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

WHAT: Portraits + Architecture
WHEN: Until November 15
WHERE: National Portrait Gallery

The NPG has always aimed to be more than just a collection of images of faces. Having gained a new lease on life thanks to a swanky new building the NPG has begun to push the definition of portraiture more than ever before. The recently opened exhibition Portraits + Architecture is perhaps the first real evidence of this push. Portraits + Architecture not only gives you a peek into the mind of an architect, but opens your  eyes to the ever-present art of designing the buildings which we inhabit every day, an art we may not often stop to think about.

Sam Floyd
Date Published: Wednesday, 14 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

What do you do?
I'm a comedy writer and actor who often falls into the role of producer/director. Every so often I perform music under the alias Sammy Conscious.

When did you get into it?
I co-wrote a script for the Dickson College Drama Prize, and based on that decided I was good enough at it. Last year Remy Coll and I founded Freshly Ground Theatre to produce my plays.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
The audience. With live theatre it's unavoidable. Particularly with comedy, the feedback is instant and clear cut - laughter or silence. And when you're charging them to get in... Human beings and the way they behave are also the best source of humour.

What's your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far?
Hearing a large group of people laughing at jokes that I remember laughing at when I wrote them is the pay off of the huge amounts of work and the whole reason I do any of it. The fact that the audience gets bigger with every production is what makes me most proud. And we scooped the prize pool at the one act play festival last year.

What are your plans for the future?
The next theatre project will be a touring one. To use the same material for longer will mean I have to write less. Then television, then hopefully fame. That's as far ahead as I've thought.

What makes you laugh?
It's the most serious situations that most need to be diffused with humour. So the more serious something is the more I feel the need to laugh at it. This can come across as callous, and arguably is. But you don't need to make fun of a clown, cos clowns are already funny (they're often not, but the point remains).

What pisses you off?
Small things that I blow out of proportion. Thankfully this helps with the comedy writing. "Sharp eye, wild mind" as somebody once said. Certain neuroses and social hang ups are a significant advantage.

What's your opinion of the local scene?
It needs more confidence in itself! Canberra's "scene" is outstanding comparative to its size, even while leaking so profusely. Artists evacuate this place at an alarming rate.

What are your upcoming performances?
Freshly Ground Theatre's Not Axel Harrison, Nov 26 - Dec 5, at the Street Theatre. A guy has to impersonate a hit man after he kills the real hit man in self defence... with Tom Watson as Axel Harrison.

Contact Info

0432 106 915

Date Published: Tuesday, 13 October 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 7 months ago

Last week (or so) the STC announced their 2010 season. Accompanying much guff "from Cate and Andrew" (a bit like reading celebrities' tweets, the 'personalized' direct address-style from the Upton-Blanchetts gave Uninhibited a touch of the shudders) was the real meat, fresh and tasty and full of Vitamin A(wesome).

Sydney's 2010 season promises theatrical treats. There are reworkings of classics - see Tom Wright's new adaptation of the Oresteia, and Upton's new translation of Uncle Vanya with Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh and John Bell in the cast. There are blue-ribbon imports doing blue-ribbon moderns: Phillip Seymour Hoffman directing Wayne Blair in True West! William Hurt and Robyn Nevin in A Long Day's Journey Into Night! Steppenwolf Theatre doing August: Osage County! O my!

It seems like a dream season, offering something to tickle every theatregoer's fancy. Bell have also announced their 2010 season, with a twisted reworking of Twelfth Night, and the wondrous Marion Potts directing John Bell in King Lear.

All this got us to thinking about a fantasy arts festival - something along the lines of the Triple J Impossible Music festival. Oh, the possibilities!

I'd do Hamlet, and invite Sarah Bernhardt and Richard Burbage to alternate as the gloomy Dane. Maybe get Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison to do a matinee performance of My Fair Lady before moving next door to catch Glenda Jackson do Charlotte Corday in Marat/Sade.

In the lobby Yves Klein would be trapezing a dozen naked blue-painted Ballet Russes ballerinas into blank canvas; afterwards Picasso would wrap them in cardboard to dance in Parade.

Dylan Thomas would perform drunken poetry readings before being politely ejected by some toughs hired by T.S. Eliot to safeguard poetic tradition. Some bright young thing would organise a secret performance of Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa.

Kenneth Patchen and John Cage would do a live performance of their radio play The City Wears A Slouch Hat and The Velvet Underground would perform with Andy Warhol.

The reason why so many of these performances are on my Impossible Arts list is that so many of them are just that: impossible. You can't go back in time and see Parade as it was originally performed, and while there is a silent film of Bernhardt playing Hamlet, it's not really the same thing as hearing the Divine Sarah tearing up the Bard, and there's no way of knowing anything about what Burbage was like except through history books and a vivid imagination.

Whether the STC's 2010 season go down in performing art history the way some of these performances have, we cannot tell. But unlike these delicious impossibilities, at least we can go and see for ourselves. For details on the STC 2010 season head to and for Bell go to

You know Uninhibited would like for Christmas...


Date Published: Wednesday, 30 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

Here at Uninhibited we do sometimes enjoy a shameless paddle in the shallow end of the pompous pool, splashing around, covering ourselves in our own wank, unable to pull our finger out of our own fundament, etcetera etcetera. Such occasional lapses are unavoidable in this line of work.

But last week, feeling somewhat guilty over the previous column's fiesta del onanismo, I got to talking with playwright and artsmaker David Finnigan about this line of work - most specifically, its responsibilities.

Finnigan is one of the organizers of the Crack Theatre Festival at this year's This Is Not Art. He had invited Uninhibited to take part in a Crack forum called The Review Review, to discuss the place of the reviewer in arts culture. After my initial elation at being one of the chosen, I realised I wouldn't be able to go. Poo. But we had the discussion anyway, just Finig and I, while I changed the poster display at work.

F: How do you approach reviewing?
N: The way I see it is that the reviewer reaps many benefits. We get free art, our eyes opened to new and exciting creations and creators; to see lithe, attractive young bodies moving around on stages; free wine and canapés; the chance to meet interesting people who also enjoy free wine, canapés, and lithe bodies. Despite our collective unsavouriness, both physically and emotionally, creative people much more intelligent and hot than we hang around and on our latest judgment and occasionally bone us. Tis a good life.

F: I'm sure.
N: But as a sage once said, with great power comes great responsibility.

F: ...?!

N:  Who are you writing the review for? The artist or the audience? Ideally, the aim of both in making or enjoying art is the same - but sometimes it isn't, which is where you get into pickles.
F: Hmm...

N: What is the purpose of your review? To recommend, to instruct, to chastise? Is it simply to entertain - or worse, to distract - to fill the columnspace of a newspaper or blog which in turn fuels the capitalist system by allowing advertisements to be necessary?
F: Uhh...

N: You have to consider the (not to be patronising) -
F: Not at all
N: - level of the artist. Are they just starting out, and should therefore be encouraged in their efforts (even if they fall short of perfect)? Are they older, wiser, and should therefore know better? And the work: is it something entirely new or is it a reinterpretation of someone else's? Where are you publishing it? Who is your readership, and what is their level of engagement with the work about which you are writing? Is it your job to disseminate the latest developments, or simply to judge? There are so many ramifications...

F: [walks off, yawning]


This Is Not Art
Date Published: Wednesday, 16 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

What do you think art is?

Electronic experimentation? Micro-theatre? Live installation? Sixties gatherings? Zines?

Well, this is it. Or it's not. It's This Is Not Art, Newcastle's annual festival of the not-arts, on during the October long-weekend.

For ten years running, This Is Not Art (TINA) has defined the snot-nosed defiance that you can see in all great independent, emerging and experimental art - a crackling passion and chortling wit that the fringe-dwellers of Canberra trek up to Newcastle to enjoy on an annual basis. This year, festival-goers can enjoy a selection of short films about zombies, a DIY pinhole camera workshop, a Great Gatsby Ball, and several ventures by emerging Canberra and ex-Canberra arts makers.

One such venture is the Crack Theatre Festival. Along with Sound Summit (electro and hip-hop music), the National Young Writers Festival, Critical Animals (academes), and Electrofringe (electronic art), Crack is one of five separate festivals which enjoy the protective shade of the This Is Not Art umbrella.

Crack came about two or so years ago, after a National Young Writers Festival coordinator "decided to introduce a performance stream", says David Finnigan, co-curator of Crack 2009. The idea was to "shake up the structure", says Finnigan, of the NYWF. Crack did this by staging "interventions" - raids on events, with performers breaking into conferences and venues to striptease confreres or drink cups of wee.

"That was Crack," says Finnigan.

This year, the NYWF have handed over control of Crack, allowing it to emerge as a festival in its own right. Finnigan and co-curator Gillian Schwab have kept Crack's original aim of staging interventions into the highbrow, but have added further depth (and perhaps a little more gravitas) to the festival - there are workshops, forums and panels on theatre and performance arts, skits, guerilla performances, and several fully-staged performance pieces including a few showcase performances, including Canberran Cathy Petocz's installation The Booth, gypsy band Mr Fibby's Little Girl Lost In The Devil's Black Beard and Sydney group the DeConverters's Witness in the Wall.

Canberra audiences are familiar with Mr Fibby but may not have heard of the DeConverters, a Sydney-based ensemble that combines video and sound art with physical performance. Their latest work Witness in the Wall is an hour long "exploration of surveillance," explains Finnigan, a lush, cinematic playscape that delves into what happens when, as with Google Earth, everyone can be tracked.

Fifty artists will participate in around 45 events over the four days of the festival - no mean feat for an event with no funding apart from TINA's in-kind support.

"No artist is getting paid," says Finnigan. "No one is getting anything from it except what they put in."

What these artists put in seems to be quite a lot. One of the big events of Crack is Playground, a performance party curated by Mr Fibby frontman Hadley and Thomas Henning of Melbourne's The Black Lung Theatre. Playground has been imagined like "a 1960s gathering," a "chaos party" where every single one of the Crack participants will perform. Ex-Canberra muso and former BMA scribe Nick McCorriston is providing sound installation while the other performers - from ex-Canberra theatre company MOSAT to gender-dance-battle-collective SNAG to Finnigan himself will provide capsule performances.

"There'll be moments when everything focuses on one event, and then everything will explode out [...] it'll become looser and looser as the night goes on."

Crack encapsulates the multiplicity of art - an acceptance that art occurs on all levels, from emetic Judy Garland tributes to the "highbrow, poetic, post-dramatic" Revelation or Bust by Anna Barnes.

Tim Dwyer is another Canberra arts maker heading up to TINA who embraces this notion wholeheartedly. While finishing his honours year at the ANU School of Art Dwyer, who has exhibited work at M16 recently, stumbled across cult US public access telly show, Let's Paint TV - and its host John Kilduff.

If you haven't seen LPTV (And you can see clips on YouTube), the show revolves around a distinctly modern DIY aesthetic: when it comes to art - just like making over your house or backyard - "you can actually just do it." Kilduff's schtick is that he paints while doing all manner of other things - making lunch, on the telephone, running on a treadmill - he has "full body involvement" in painting.

"It doesn't carry all the hoity-toity pretentiousness of the art world," says Dwyer. "He engages with a lot of high-end theoretical stuff," but in the end, "the message is the medium."

"He's a motivational force."

Kilduff was so inspiring that Dwyer got in contact with him and invited him out to Australia, to participate in TINA and in a separate show at Canberra Contemporary Art Space later in October. Like Crack's Playground, Dwyer's TINA venture is visioned like a chaos party, a "weird synaesthesia happening" in a small performance space, over two days of the festival.

Kilduff will perform "almost side-by-side, at the same time" with a variety of Oz artists including Melbourne electronic artist Opticalize. There will be group painting sessions led by Kilduff, "almost like a gym class, motivating people into painting."

"We want an overwhelming sensory experience," says Dwyer.

That seems to be the name of the game at This Is Not Art - to overload your senses and your aesthetic, to push beyond the everyday conception of What Art Is. Mostly, what these Canberra artmakers show is that art is exactly what you make it.

This Is Not Art hits Newcastle on the October long weekend (1st to 5th, to be exact). For info about TINA head to

For info about Crack Theatre Festival, head to

John Kilduff will also be in Canberra Wed 7 Oct @ CCAS Gorman House with a host of other local and interstate performers.

Cathy Petocz
Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

Cathy Petocz

What do you do?
I am a science show performer, a musician and a theatre-maker.

When did you get into it?
I was obsessed with puppetry when I was a kid. I would write elaborate scripts and make my neighbours perform shows with me at the school fete. I liked doing everything.

Who or what influences you as an artist?
Art! The best kind of art makes me want to make art. It's not a desire to replicate, but when I see some life, I want to make my own.

What's your biggest achievement/ proudest moment so far?
I get pretty emotional, so everything feels like the greatest thing at the time. Right now, I have just finished a Suzuki Method/Viewpoints workshop in Chicago, so that's THE moment right now.

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to stay anchored in Canberra, making art and learning as much as possible. I think I'll definitely travel overseas for more training, but I feel strongly about bringing that back to Canberra.

What makes you laugh?
Ken Nordine's word jazz, specifically My Baby.

What pisses you off?
This may piss you off, dear artists, but I am vexed when I see the annual exodus to cities more exciting.

What's your opinion of the local scene?
There are many great things happening! Come on out and see something new: opera, dance portraiture, noise music, holga photography! I think there is a lot of support and openness in Canberra. I would like to see more dedication and hard work.

What are your upcoming performances?
I will be performing in Little Dove Theatre Arts' Six Women Standing Against A White Wall at the Melbourne Fringe Festival from September 23. It's a Butoh-inspired interactive piece, and I am very excited about it! I will also be performing my own creation, The Booth, at the Crack Theatre Festival, part of This Is Not Art, from October 1 - 4. I've been developing an installation performance, describing it as 'micro-theatre', paring my notion of theatre right down, and making one-person theatres out of cardboard.


Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

Here at Uninhibited, we pride ourselves on our critical and arts cred. Like, we have sooooo much cred, dude.

1. We [this is the royal we, mind you - that is, meaning I] work at an 'arts house'.
2. We teach literature to undergrads and have suitably impressive qualifications with which to pull rank on the snot-nosed little buggers.
3. We sing in not one, but two bands (one of which is predicated on a punky defiance of 'the rules' viz a viz appropriate language and content; the other of which is both types of music, country AND western).
4. We use predicated and punky in the same sentence and frequently substitute French or Latin phrases for perfectly adequate English ones, viz: 'viz'.
5. We drink a lot.
6. We were reading 90210 novelizations before the readers of Vice magazine even knew anything about them.
7. We have our own arts column.

And what is an arts column but an excuse to occasionally show off about how awesome one is? In Uninhibited's understanding, it's nothing but.

Having said that, it's meet to occasionally take stock of the things one hears, watches, reads, etcetera, to see if, in fact, one is, in fact, all that awesome.

STARTING AWESOME SCORE: -2 for excessive use of commas

1. Basil Bunting's verse-autobiography Briggflatts: +3 points because cranky critic Hugh Kenner loves Bunting more than any other poet of the 20th century, but no one else seems to have heard of him.
2. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows. +2 points for irony; -1 for ruining innocent enjoyment with said irony.

Baby Animals, Baby Animals. +4 points for obscure Australian 90s rock band with awesome lead vocalist. -4 for owning the album on cassette in 1992 and throwing it away.

Telly: Season 6 of One Tree Hill.
Film: District 9
Theatre: Capital

+5 points for catholicity of taste, viz: middlebrow American TV with delusions of literary grandeur/ politically allegorical sci-fi/ new local opera. -2 for middlebrow American TV with delusions of grandeur.


So, on this heady spring afternoon we leave you to ponder the significance of that score while we go listen to some electronically manipulated Japanese songform while looking at slutty American Apparel ads and googling the phrase 'condom minefield'. And if that phrase alone isn't awesome enough, we don't know what is.


The Oriana Chorale, The Resonants and the Handel Band
Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Handel's Dixit Dominus
WHEN: Sat Sep 26 @ 7pm and Sun Sep 27 @ 2pm
WHERE: St Christopher's Church, Manuka

The anniversaries of Purcell and Handel are being celebrated in choral style this September. Purcell's Dido and Aeneas tells the story of Dido, the legendary Queen of Carthage (not the early-noughties warbler), who falls head over heels for Trojan adventurer Aeneas, whose callous abandonment causes her to chuck herself into a fire. Meanwhile, Dixit Dominus is based on Psalm 110 and said to be Handel's "most exciting work". The whole will be conducted by "charismatic" composer Tobias Cole. Tix: $35/$25/$15, from Canberra Ticketing.

Antal Szalai & His Hungarian Gypsy Band
Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Gypsy Fire
WHEN: September 24
WHERE: Southern Cross Club

Gypsies are a peripatetic bunch, always here, always there; the traditional travellers of the world. Canberra is beneficiary of this peripatetic urge, with another group of gypsy musicians coming through to play the SCC. Led by gypsy violinist Antal Szalai and featuring virtuoso musicians and singers, Gypsy Fire "celebrates romance, passion and fire of the Gypsies' unique repertoire. Their sublime musical menu ranges from traditional flavours of Gypsy, Csardas, Verbunk, Roma and Hungarian Folk music - the Australian audiences will be treated to a night of exciting World music you will not want to miss."

Freshly Ground Theatre
Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Auditions for Not Axel Harrison
WHEN: September 23
WHERE: The Street Theatre

Sam Floyd is one of Canberra's hardest working new writers and his latest play, Not Axel Harrison, will feature as part of the Street Theatre's Made In Canberra season. The play is a fast-paced, one act satire on the gangster genre, and Freshly Ground are casting this fortnight. There are parts for hoods and molls, loan sharks, scapegoats and crooked cops.  Auditions are at the Street on Wednesday September 23 - call or email Sam on 0432 106 915 or for information and/or the script.

Imperial Russian Ballet Company
Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Swan Lake
WHEN: Sunday October 4 @ 3pm and 8pm
WHERE: Canberra Theatre

As part of their first ever tour to Australia, the Imperial Russian Ballet Company is coming to Canberra for one day only to perform "the most loved classical ballet of them all", Swan Lake. Now, the story is: boy meets girl. Girl is swan. Evil sorcerer mocks their love. Sadness ensues. This time around, the company will be performing the 'original' 'happy ending' decreed under Stalinist rule, where "the virtues of love and forgiveness in the end conquer evil and betrayal." Sweet. Tix go for between $70 and $80, call the CTC on 6275 2700 for more deets.

Antonia Aitken
Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Printmaking exhibition
WHEN: Until Sunday September 20
WHERE: ANCA Gallery, Rosevear Place

Local printmaker Antonia Aitken is exhibiting a series of new intaglio and relief prints that are part of her ongoing exploration into the human relationship with the land. Aitken utilizes a range of traditional printmaking techniques including woodblock and etching, focussing on the land around the Murrumbidgee and Namadgi National Park. Running til September 20 at ANCA, the exhibition is free of charge.

University of Canberra Creative Writers
Date Published: Tuesday, 15 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Undertow: FIRST 2009 launch
WHEN:  Wednesday September 30 1.15pm
WHERE: UC Co-op Bookshop

For fifteen years, students at the University of Canberra have been submitting their writing to FIRST, an annual anthology of creative work. On September 30, children's author Ingrid Jonach will launch Undertow, the collection of stories and word-worlds for 2009. The 29 works have been selected from almost 200 submissions, while the anthology has been designed and edited by students, under the guidance of editor Irma Gold. With a foreword by Steve Conte, the winner of the PM's Award for Fiction, Undertow packs a hefty literary punch. Pick it up at the UC Co-op from September 30.

Anne K. Brown
Date Published: Wednesday, 2 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Flora, Fauna and underwater
WHEN: September 3 - 27, Thurs to Sunday,10am to 5pm
WHERE: KIKU ARTs Gallery, 10 Gibraltar Street Bungendore

Showing until September 27 is this exhibition from Royal Arts Society of NSW member, Anne K. Brown, featuring gorgeous images of flowers, plants and animal life; on September 5 you can go to a Meet the Artist session between 1 and 2pm. KIKU ARTs was established in 2005 to help provide emerging artists with business, marketing and promotional skills; the gallery shows work by KIKU ARTs members. For more information on the gallery call 6238 1971 or 0409 368 814.

Musos and performers alike
Date Published: Wednesday, 2 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Applications for Corinbank 2010
WHEN: Get em in by September 14

If you're a muso in need of a stage then you should think about the lovely festival atmosphere of Corinbank. Performer applications are now due, with only a few weeks left until deadline on September 14. And now applications are easier for the electronically inclined - all you have to do is fill out the app online and copy in links to where on the interwebs your songs can be found. For all the details on the festival and on what you need to do to get there, head to the website. Questions? Too easy. 

Date Published: Wednesday, 2 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: 2009 National Capital Craft Beer Festival
WHEN: Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September
WHERE: Olims Hotel

Sots and soaks breathe freely, for the 2009 Beer Festival is here! September 26 and 27 will see Olims Hotel grounds covered in the trappings of all things beer, including 17 craft breweries showcasing up to 80 different types of beer. If that isn't enough for you (and how greedy are ya, anyway? THAT'S EIGHTY TYPES OF BEER) there are gourmet food stores, a Crafter Chef competition, and live entertainment including performances by Mental As Anything and Casual Projects. Hoorah! Your $25 entry includes a free commemorative tasting glass and ten tasting tickets. For information head to the website at

Canberra Contemporary Art Space
Date Published: Wednesday, 2 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: New work in both spaces
WHEN: This fortnight, various hours.
WHERE: CCAS Gorman House and CCAS Manuka.

This fortnight there are exhibitions of new work showing at both CCAS Gorman House and CCAS Manuka (on Furneaux Street). At the Manuka space is Peta Jones's exhibition of works titled Rock Paper Scissors, showing until September 6. Meanwhile, over at the Gorman House space is Borderlife, a group exhibition curated by Exhibitonist's Yolande Norris. The works shown in Borderlife, by artists Julia Boyd, Rachael Freeman, Rose Montebello, rea, and Tess Stewart-Moore "exude a creeping, nameless dread, revealing a built environment that is at odds with the country in which it exists". Oooh. Both exhibitions are free of charge. Check out the website for details:

Canberra Youth Theatre's 2008 commission, The Messenger
Date Published: Wednesday, 2 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHAT: Queensland Premier's Literary Award Shortlist
WHEN: The winner will be announced September 8

In 2008 Canberra Youth Theatre commissioned and held the premier performance of a new Australian work The Messenger, adapted by Ross Mueller from Markus Zusak's award winning novel. The production itself was a great success - but Artistic Director Pip Buining must be grinning in her seat with the news that Mueller's playscript has been shortlisted for the prestigious Queensland Premier's Literary Award, in the Drama Script (Stage) category. Mueller's script sits beside new works by Oz playwrights Lally Katz, Tony McNamara, Damien Millar and Paul Galloway. 

University Medallist Fiona Fraser
Date Published: Wednesday, 2 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

WHEN: Friday September 11 @ 8pm
WHERE: The Street Theatre, Childers Street

2008 University Medallist Fiona Fraser has written the libretto and music of this new Canberra opera, CAPITAL. Audiences can enjoy a semi-staged performance of this brand new work, playing for just one night on September 11. CAPITAL centres on two Canberra couples, exploring the work of Marion Burley-Griffin (wife of Walter) in the design and vision of Canberra, and its relevance for a modern day couple in the public service. The performance will feature a chamber orchestra, with musical direction from Dr David Kram. Tickets are only $15 - so be quick! 

Date Published: Wednesday, 2 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

One of Uninhibited's favourite phrases is, 'what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts'. It describes, I think, most of the experiences of modern/adult/young adult/young modern life. There is a certain 'o well, mustn't grumble' charm about it, an attitude to life that rolls with whatever punches life gives one. And Glory Be, as my Ma would say, doesn't life just keep on giving.

Although what I am about to narrate doesn't really relate to the phrase, because it involves two entirely separate phenomena which do not at all bear the one upon the other, instead of - as the phrase 'swings and roundabouts' implies, being in a causal or at least geographically close relation - I'll continue anyway, because... well, because I've already begun ranting and I've never learned how to stop.

The news that the ACT Government has, in its infinite and untrammeled wisdom, axed the Multicultural Fringe Festival and redirected the (severely reduced) funding to the National Folk Festival to stage a Folk Fringe has left a lot of hippies wailing this week, including (though I enjoy personal hygiene and loathe reggae) this one.

Although Fringe wasn't entirely a cutting edge Mecca of avant-garde experimentation, it certainly nodded (and sometimes positively staggered) in that general direction in a genuinely enjoyable way. One of my favourite Fringe events last year was seeing David and Chris Finnigan performing licks of leccy guitar with a spoken word reading of Roald Dahl's The Witches. Methinks you wouldn't see that elsewhere, mon frère.

I'm sure you'll all be wondering what the horses' mouth has to say, so here it is via its conduit, Minister for Multicultural Affairs John Hargreaves: "The decision to provide this support (i.e., $30,000 funding previously allocated to the Fringe) to the National Folk Festival was made in the context of providing a sharper focus on the purpose of the National Multicultural Festival and ensuring its financial viability going forward".

Of course, the budget of the Multicultural Festival proper was also slashed, so for 'financial viability' read 'cheapness', and listen to the sounds of sobbing as artists across the Can watch the rivers of arts funding dry up.

To my mind, the Multicultural Fringe was one of the best things ever to have developed in Canberra, a tiny little sign that our town isn't all pubes drinking lattes and caipiroskas or however you spell those fruity little drinks and whining about their mortgages while scoffing tapas.

Now. There is nothing wrong with giving more money to our beloved Folky. And yes, I understand in these difficult financial times there is less call for arts of even a moyen-garde variety.


The government has found a sweet $500,000 to throw the NGA's way to pay for the Masterpieces from Paris blockbuster exhibition that is coming to town in December. Surely even a leetle of that dough could be sidewaysed to the local, living arts scene? Then again, what would I know?

As J.Stan himself stated, "In the current economic climate, with economies across the world feeling the effects of the global downturn, (Masterpieces from Paris) will provide a boost to the ACT economy as well as giving locals and visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience this unique exhibition of post-impressionist art".

Note how the art comes second to the money.

I saw Alice Cooper in the Canberra Centre.


The Blues
Date Published: Tuesday, 1 September 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 8 months ago

"They're both about taking something negative, like being poor or getting cheated on, and turning it into something positive like music or laughter." So says Melbourne comedian and sometime-harmonica player Michael Connell about the unusual mash-up - stand-up comedy and blues music - of his new show, THE BLUES, touring to the Street Theatre in September.

Connell has been performing as a stand-up comic for over eight years, touring around Australia and New Zealand and performing everywhere from the Melbourne Comedy Festival to live on Rove. And, after picking up the harmonica four years ago, Connell has performed at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues and the Australian Blues Music Festival in Goulburn.  But The Blues is the first time he's mixed his harp with his ha-ha.

"I've always kept my comedy and music very separate," Connell explains. "They're two very separate sorts of worlds (but) there're parallels there.

You don't want to watch a comedy show where the guy's like, 'my life's super!' And the blues is written like a punch line.  Both of them are taking pain and making them into something that makes you feel good."

The show mixes jokes and music, with Connell performing bluesy harmonica versions of tunes from Muddy Waters to Rage Against the Machine.

"I know there are some hardcore blues traditionalists out there who don't like anything written after the Second World War. I'm not one of them. I'm a big fan of harmonica players like Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf, who became great because they were innovators and broke from tradition."

Joining him in The Blues are Canberra supports from both sides:  music-comedy duo The Stevenson Experience, blues guitarist Jonno Zilber, and stand-ups Tom Gibson and Jay Sullivan, the winner of last year's Green Faces.

"In a recent article it was suggested that I was arguably Canberra's most successful comedian," says Sullivan. "Which is bullshit." Sullivan does have a few fingers in the comedy pie, however, running the Canberra Comedy nights at Civic Pub as well as working on his own shows.

"He's Canberra's comedy mogul - the Puff Daddy," jokes Connell.

Meanwhile, a brief chat with guitarist Jonno Zilber - whose style, "sinister swing", is music based on the idea of "why have a wife when your neighbour's got one?" - shows that blues does indeed have a funny bone.

"It's hard getting away with the blues when you're white and 26," says Zilber,

"And living in Weston Creek," quips Sullivan.

"This is a big part of the show," says Connell. "You can't be the dude from Mississippi if you're 26 and from Melbourne. You have to find your own blues."

The Blues plays from September 17 to 19 @ the Street Theatre, 8pm. Tix $18/$16. Call the B.O. on 6247 1223 or jump to the website at

Date Published: Thursday, 20 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: OzCo's ArtStart initiative
WHEN: Closing date early October 2009
WHERE: Info through:

Ozco are starting up a new scheme to help kick-start the careers of artists around Oz. ArtStart will provide grants of $10,000 to recent arts training graduates as a contribution towards the costs of establishing a practice as a professional artist. Says Kathy Keele, CEO of OzCo: "This program will kick-start the careers of hundreds of artists who have recently graduated from arts courses at tertiary institutions. We are very excited to offer this opportunity to newly graduated artists and encourage applications from all the artform areas". It's still in the planning stages so deets are forthcoming, but if you want more info email

Josh Thomas
Date Published: Thursday, 20 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: Stand-up at The Street
WHEN: Tuesday 25 - Sunday 30 August @ 7 & 8.30pm; Sunday 5pm
WHERE: The Street Theatre

He's appeared on Talkin' 'bout Your Generation and The Age has called him "fiercely funny" - and if you can't trust a politically moderate Melburnian newspaper on the subject of yucks, then who can you trust, we ask? Now Josh Thomas makes his way to The Street Theatre with his stand-up show, More Josh Than You Can Handle. If that isn't enough (even though his show does suggest that it should be), The Street is offering plenty of chuckles, with Rod Quantock's Bugger the Polar Bears playing the exact same dates. Meanwhile, tickets to Thomas are $28/$24, or $20 for the Tuesday preview. Call 6247 1223 for info and bookings.

Music For Everyone
Date Published: Thursday, 20 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: Winter Warm Up Open Day
WHEN: Sunday August 30
WHERE: Ainslie Arts Centre, Elouera St Braddon

MFE is the ACT's premier community music organisation and their annual Winter Open Day is an opportunity to check out performances from their programs... and for some hands-on fun. Woot. There are free 'Come And Try' sessions for some of their programs, refreshments will be on sale, and - ta da! - entry is free. For more info on the Winter Warm Up or on any of MFE's activities or programs, check out

Date Published: Thursday, 20 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: Flying Colours at Belco!
WHEN: Applications close August 28
WHERE: Belconnen Theatre

Belconnen Theatre has HEEEEEAPS of stuff on at the moment, whether you like seeing, singing, making, doing, or playing. Per example, the Flying Colours youth variety night, which is seeking musos, comics, performers, artistes - and very importantly, budding technicians and backstage crew - to strut their stuff on stage on October 13, 14 and 15. Applications for Flying Colours close Friday August 28. For an application form please email: or phone 6264 0235.

Jessie Adams
Date Published: Thursday, 20 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: CUBE3 Opening as part of Women's Well Being Week
WHEN: Wednesday August 26, 6-8pm
WHERE: Teatro Vivaldi, ANU

CUBE3 is an initiative of ANU Students Association proudly supported by Canberra Contemporary Art Space; a portable exhibition space with a brief to expose young, emerging artists. Launched in February, CUBE3 has had many adventures at ANU, Garema Place, Corinbank Festival, New Acton and the Sustainable Careers Expo. For this event, CUBE3 will feature photograms by ANU art student Jessie Adams meditating on the female body as a vessel of strength and defiance, but also as a site for danger and violence. There'll be $3.50 beers until 7, live music from Ah, Pandita! and Lady Grey and fire twirling! Contact Jacquie on 0400 252 612 or Courtney on 0419 129 512.

Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh... y’know, those hacks.
Date Published: Thursday, 20 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

WHAT: Masterpieces from Paris
WHEN: December 2009

The Musee D'Orsay is one of the most amazing museums in the world - but if you, like most people, can't afford the plane ticket to gay Paree, then you are in luck. The NGA has snagged this blockbuster exhibition for the Oz summer, showcasing the Musee D'Orsay's collection of Post Impressionist masterpieces - including the iPhone-hijacked The Starry Night by van Gogh. "We are renovating our Post-Impressionist Galleries at the Musée d'Orsay which means we are able to lend these works together for the first time," said Guy Cogeval, president of the Musée d'Orsay.  "Australia will be the first country to see these works outside France." Oooh la la.

Short + Sweet
Date Published: Wednesday, 19 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

Nine or so years ago, the biggest little play festival in the world was born: Short + Sweet. Since it crawled into the light in Sydney's Newtown Theare, Short + Sweet has grown - or more accurately, multiplied - with parallel theatre events in Melbourne, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as mutations in cabaret, song, and dance. This year, the play festival has expanded to include Brisbane, Adelaide - and Canberra.

Short + Sweet has a tried and true formula: ten plays, ten directors, ten minutes. Writers submit their plays to a rigorous three-stage selection process, in which the S+S directors assess their quality. And with over 2,000 submissions to the festival each year, the competition is tough.

Canberra's first year in the festival sees some tested N.C. playwrights and directors rubbing up against emerging talent. Twenty plays will be performed throughout the Canberra festival, with the Judges' Top Ten playing at the CTC and ten wildcard entries playing at the Street Theatre.

"Because this is the first year it's been run in Canberra, entry was limited to writers from Canberra and the surrounding region," explains occasional Exhibitionist Emma Gibson, whose piece Snowflakes has won a place in the top ten. Other well-trod berra scribes, like Hadley, Bruce Hoogendorn, and Hal Judge have also made the cut.

"It's a nice showcase of local talent," says Gibson.

Among the directors can be found theatrical stalwarts Camilla Blunden, PJ Williams, Catherine Langman, Jordan Best and Fiona Atkin.

"It's a great way to get to work with new scripts, and to be able to involve the playwright in the production process, which is a bit of a luxury," says Atkin, the director of Gibson's play Snowflakes.

Snowflakes is "a story told through letters," explains Gibson. "Ed and Gina became friends as teenagers, but haven't seen one another in the decades since. They reconnect and start writing letters to each other, and it's slowly revealed that while life is good for Gina, Ed is in prison."

While it seems simple enough a story, Atkin is reminded of the challenges that face a director.

"The two characters can't really interact, at least not physically, so we need to find ways of making the text work without just having them both sitting at desks writing or some such. Directing as part of a festival offers a special set of challenges, too," says Atkin. "You're quite limited in terms of set, lighting, plot etc, so it requires a particular type of creativity. You have to be very clear about what story you're telling - there's just not time for multiple narratives in ten minutes. Having said that, ten minutes is really quite a lot of stage time, so you need to be sure that what you're producing is a complete play - not just a scene."

Luckily, the plays in the festival have offered directors a lot to work with. While Snowflakes is a "challenging piece" about coming to terms with "how a good person can also be a monster" says Gibson; there is lightness to counteract the dark. Canberra playwright, poet and Mr Fibby frontman Hadley has a new work in the top ten, Wheelbarrow, Stoat & Mountain Man, Attourneys at Law. Atkin, who was involved in the selection process, says Hadley's latest is "up there with his insane best."

The selection process showed a few common themes: "sci-fi or speculative drama... lots of aliens, robots, possible futures, that sort of thing," says Atkin. "But looking at the top ten, there's obviously a very healthy diversity amongst our emerging playwrights."

One such emerging playwright is Joel Barcham, whose play Brain Crabs has been selected for the top ten.

"(It's) a satirical piece about easy quick-fix answers to difficult problems that may not actually always be problems at all, even though sometimes they are problems, but not always, however when they are indeed problems they are difficult problems and not the kind of problems that should have quick-fixes to them... and it's about love."

If that sounds confounding, it may be deliberate.

"When writing a short play you are forced to think very carefully about what exactly you want to say and the most efficient and entertaining way of saying it," explains Barcham.

"The time limit of shorter plays really forces you to focus and try and be as efficient as possible with your words and story. There's also the risk of being too direct and just outright saying what your play is about, instead of letting it come out naturally."

Although Barcham has had work performed in BKu's annual Damned if you Duo play festival, like many Canberra artists, has always had to take the responsibility of producing the work as well as writing it.

"I've never actually had work of mine performed without being personally involved in the production of the piece. The idea of the script turning into a play behind my back then suddenly being in front of me on opening night is exciting," says Barcham. Gibson agrees.

"I'm really excited to see what would happen. It feels a bit like giving your baby away to a stranger. Really it comes to down to trusting your director, and also hoping that as a writer, you've done the best job you can.

I think the best part about Short + Sweet is being able to see your work performed," says Gibson. "That's what I'm really looking forward to."

Short + Sweet will run from Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5 September. The Top Ten perform at the Courtyard Studio, CTC, at 7.30 each night, while the Wildcards play at the Street Theatre for one performance only, on Saturday September 5 at 4pm. Bookings 6275 2700 for Top 10 and 6247 1223 for Wildcard.

Date Published: Tuesday, 18 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

Two questions:
1. "What traces will you leave behind?"
2. "What is there to say about someone who did nothing all his life but sit on his bottom and write reviews?"

The first was asked by one of the performers in Canadian post-circus troupe, Les 7 Doigts des la Mains, during their show Traces. The question was asked of an audience member and the audience member replied: "I dunno... write a book?"

The second was posed by my favourite dandified critic, Cyril Connolly, editor of the wartime literary magazine Horizon, on the subject of his favourite dandified critic, French writer Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve.

These two questions have been floating about in my mind all week. Nay, longer; because every fortnight, as the black mist of writer's block descends, I ponder the meaning, relevance, point - whatevs - of being a critic of the arts. Every fortnight I am able only to provide a stop-gap, never a satisfactory, satiating answer.

What traces will you leave behind? A pile of reviews? And what can one say of someone who does that all their life? Connolly leaves the question comfortably unanswered.

I think I also have to leave the question unanswered, despite reflecting on it for hours since seeing Traces (a dazzling display of skill and strength and, winningly, wit and freshness), and since reading that passage in Connolly's biography.

But the question came up again - like a bad prawn - after too many wines at the launch for Nick Cave: The Exhibition at the NLA (and then too much schnitty and beer at the Ainslie Football Club afterwards). The exhibition, touring here from Melbourne's Performing Arts Centre, was fascinating, a bower bird's hoard of papers and scraps, scribbled lyrics, figurines, statues, posters, notebooks, sound recordings and photographs; ephemeral fragments accumulated, by accident or design, through thirty years' worth of great acts of creation and destruction. The man that emerged is one that, paradoxically, only becomes one after an extended period of time living a divided existence, as a polite individual, a workaholic artist, and - onstage at least - a divine, astonishing madman.

But Cave is still only an ordinary human being. The bits and bobs collected by the curators, while fascinating, are mere scraps, really. Bits of paper and nothing more. One spark on a hot day and the whole shebang would be up in flames. And while they tell us who he is, they give no real indication of why it is that we care.

But then again, the answer stares out at us, from the gig posters and album covers and hardback novels flung amongst the rest of life's detritus. They are what make Cave a figure of worth; they have a heaviness that weighs down the clutter, that stops the traces from scattering in a high wind.

Naomi Milthorpe

Date Published: Tuesday, 4 August 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 9 months ago

In the last few weeks Uninhibited has seen a few things that have really tickled our fancies, making the long cold winter months seem slightly less cold and slightly less long. Usually, in Uninhibited’s experience, that has been achieved by wine – but as they say, you find out something new every day.

One. At the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, while every man and his melting dog was grudgingly lining up to see Liquid Desire (snore), Uninhibited merrily tripped through the almost-empty space of the printmaking gallery to see The Satirical Eye, an exhibition of 17th to 19th century satirical prints and etchings from the gallery’s collection.

Grotesque, hilarious, sickening, and wrenching; caricatures and satires from artists like England’s Hogarth and Cruikshank, Spain’s Goya, and France’s Daumier, mercilessly pin their targets on the page in crisp, clear lines, exposing vice and folly in their societies (which, as Thomas Rowlandson’s paired drawings of obese fashionistas from 1790, A little tighter and A little bigger show, are often the same as our own). The exhibition was hilarious, free, and easy to navigate. I pitied the sods in line for Salvador.

Two: OzOpera’s production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, directed by John Bell, which satisfied all the desires of the born-again opera-virgin. OzOpera are touring this show across something ridiculous like 50 locations across Australia over the coming months, a feat by no means mean when you consider the precision turn-out of the performance.

Sumptuous costumes – beautiful kimono prints, gorgeous silk obis and intricate hairpieces – were backgrounded by a set characterised by simplicity and lit with subtle beauty. More to the point, the teeny touring chamber orchestra actually pumped out quite a lovely sound, perfectly offsetting the glorious highs of Elisa Wilson’s stunning turn as Cio-Cio San.

Three. Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love documents the highs and lows of Uninhibited’s favourite ranting grunge icon (Billy Corgan is a whinging grunge icon: different species of the same seductive genus). Courtney spills from every page with drawings, childhood reports and scrawlings, scraps of juvenilia, torn photographs, lyrics, gig posters, and prescriptions; the woman that appears is intelligent, outspoken, perceptive, glamorous, and charmingly insane.

The best: a list titled ‘Things That Interest Me: (and everything else bores me)’, including amphora vases, ‘only 2 marriages no more’, Old Blue Bottles and Tin Cans, Monty Python, sex, and in huge lettering, ‘SELF GLORIFICATION’.
Right on, Courtney.


Quantum Leap
Date Published: Wednesday, 22 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

WHAT: Select Option
WHEN: Wednesday 29 July - Saturday, 1 August @ 7pm, and Saturday 1 August @ 2pm.
WHERE: The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre

"Select Option looks at choice and consequence, with the unique ideas of each dancer contributing to a collaborative work with the choreographers." The dancers are talented youngsters from Canberra and the ACT Region, while the choreographers are such bigwigs as Marko Panzic from So You Think You Can Dance and the Sydney Dance Company's Reed Luplau. Local production company Bearcage will create a video set which envelops the action. Tix $22/$18. Call Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700 for info and bookings.

Peter Wilkins and you!
Date Published: Wednesday, 22 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

WHAT: Little Red Riding Hood Adult Theatre Workshop
WHEN: Saturday August 1, 10am - 4.30pm
WHERE: National Museum of Australia

Local theatre practitioner and Exhibitionist's personal favourite C-Times reviewer Peter Wilkins is running a workshop exploring the multiple stories behind the NMA's Little Red Riding Hood quilt, embroidered by Olga Basylewycz at a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany in 1945/6. Bookings are essential - call 6208 5021. The workshop costs $40, or $20 for students or friends of the museum.

Date Published: Wednesday, 22 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

The middle of the year brings many things that, paradoxically, indicate ends: the bitter chill wind of winter (and if I learned nothing else from Northrop Frye it is that winter is the symbolic death of the world); Christmas in July (the last time - promise - Uninhibited will drink egg nog during the day); and the end of the financial year and its concomitant sales, cueing excitement from Uninhibited as we trip from shop to shop, lured by shoes and crockery in neat rows, followed by disappointment/shopper's remorse as we realise that shoes, like cheerleaders, are always more attractive in groups and that we've just spent the last of our hard-earned dole money on clogs.

So in the spirit of beginnings, middles, and ends, Uninhibited is taking stock of the last six months in the heady N.C. theatre world, and giving out our first ever End of the Middle of the Year Awards.

The More Tear-Jerking Than the Season Finale of Grey's Anatomy But Instead of Being Mawkish and Lame, Was Awesome Award: The Seed (Company B)
Kate Mulvaney-penned play about the effect of war across three generations. Beautiful writing was carried over by powerful performances from Mulvaney, Pip Miller and Ralph Cotterill, and nuanced direction from former Canberran Iain Sinclair.

The More Disappointing Than The End of Gossip Girl Award: The Alchemist (Bell Shakespeare)
Bell's treatment of Ben Jonson's scathing satire of Jacobean society unfortunately induced more yawns than laughs. The best part was the awesome set, literalising the Swiftian mirror, and the amount that I got to wank on 'knowledgably' (read: self-importantly) about satire.

The Fanning-Barrymore-Osmont Awesomely Promising, Hopefully Won't Get Addicted to Diet Pills Award: Freshly Ground Theatre
Freshly Ground's second ever show, Every Base Covered, gave plenty of yucks and lots of fun with a very no-frills attitude. While the staging and production values left a lot to the imagination, this season of shorts barrelled along powered by writer Sam Floyd's vital wit.

The Shoulda Stayed At Home To Shave My Eyeballs Award: Amy's View (Canberra Repertory)
I'm not sure how, but with this production Rep managed the impossible: to make David Hare boring.

The Star "Thought It'd Be Shit But It Was Actually Great" Trek Award: Steel Magnolias (Blackbird Productions)
Robert Harling's strong, funny script was supported by a cast of Fine Aussie Ladies, including knockout hilarious performances from grand dames Geraldine Turner and Jennifer Hagan.

Naomi Milthorpe

Second In Line
Date Published: Tuesday, 21 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

"What is the role of the painting - is it just to hang on the wall?" asks Canberra painter Linzie Ellis. "[Then] it becomes an art-object rather than a painting,"

Ellis has recently graduated from the School of Art and, with fellow painter Shakira Longmore, sat down to talk to Exhibitionist about their show at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space in Manuka, Second In Line.

Ellis and Longmore have teamed up with fellow graduate painters Sarah Faline and Rose Allen to create Second In Line specifically for the Manuka gallery space.

"The actual themes of our work aren't collaborative," says Longmore, "but we do collaborate in terms of support and feedback. That support is really important."

Ellis and Longmore both explore painting through abstract "design... rather than representational" work, says Longmore, while Allen and Faline both paint from photographs in order to explore the images of popular culture. But the painters all share an interest in "different ways of applying paint," says Longmore.

The painters eagerly discuss the meaning of art over coffee at The Street Theatre.

"Who are you making your art for, and what do you want it to say?" asks Longmore.

"For me the viewer is very important," says Ellis. "I want other people to take something from it. I'm not just making it for myself."

 "You want that engagement, you want discussion," agrees Longmore. "To stimulate a response, to shock them."

The exhibition has allowed Ellis and Longmore to hone their skills and to work creatively for a common goal. These young women both possess amazing passion for their work, work which - in the absence of the eternally-yearned-for-yet-elusive studio space, or even simply "a quiet space where you can think about art", as Longmore puts it - they conduct in garages and living rooms. "That's the struggle at the moment," says Ellis.

And if the end product is then simply bought to be hung on a wall as mere decoration, then certain questions need to be asked.

"It comes down to: why do you do it?" says Ellis.

For Longmore, the process of creating a painting is the important part, trying to work "intuitively", developing new techniques of laying down the paint, while Ellis enjoys the sheer grit of "making something". Both painters relish the opportunity to create work for an established exhibition space like CCAS, which has "a community,"

"We've realised how important that is, that there is a place for emerging artists," says Ellis.

Longmore chimes in, echoing the dream of every emerging artist: "A place for art, and about art."

Second In Line opens at CCAS Manuka, Furneaux Street, on Thursday July 30 at 6pm, and runs til August 9. The gallery is open Wed - Sun, 11am til 5pm. Entry is free.

Date Published: Tuesday, 21 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

Corille Fraser is a Canberra Repertory stalwart. Her next directing gig for Rep is Deathtrap by Ira Levin, playing at Theatre 3 this fortnight.

EX: What happens in the play? Who is involved in the action?

CF: I can't give too much of that away! The situation is that a writer of murder plays who has not had a real success in 18 years, is in the midst of a complete writer's block when a student's script arrives through the post. It is a brilliant thriller, 'highly commercial' and he is sorely tempted. The story of Deathtrap is what he does about it. There is a cast of five: the writer, his wife, the student, his solicitor and a strange neighbour.

EX:Deathtrap has been described as 'comedy/murder mystery/thriller'. How do you walk the line between these three quite different genres?

CF: [Ira] Levin has done most of that! My aim has been to keep the balance he has built in. I have read about some versions that have gone overboard on one or other aspect, trying to make it all comedy or all scream and gore.

EX: What are the challenges you face as a director of this blend of theatrical genres?

CF: Bringing all the bits together and stopping some of them getting out of hand. A major concern is to keep the cast members alive and injury-free. No production is ever a one-person job and this one has an unusual lot of unfamiliar challenges. So the first and most important thing I did was assemble the best possible team. Russell Brown and Hazel Taylor have acquired or manufactured some extraordinary props and were assisted graphically by Don Fraser. Anne Kay has designed a functional but imaginative set based on the idea of a deathtrap.

EX: What sort of design aesthetic have you used with this production?

CF: The idea of a trap, which is easy to get into but, once in, almost impossible to escape. Every effort to do so just draws you further in. The design must be functional, but should have an ambience of threat. Hence the idea of the Venus Flytrap which appear on the poster and flyer and which Anne has echoed in her set design.

EX: Have you enjoyed working with the cast?

CF: Hugely. They are a healthy mix of familiar Rep actors and some more often seen on other stages around town. Old hands Ian Croker and Helen Vaughan-Roberts are joined by James O'Connell, Kerrie Roberts and Pat Gallagher. They have all had to learn some new and quite unusual skills. So have I.

Canberra Repertory presents Ira Levin's Deathtrap, directed by Corille Fraser, at Theatre 3, Thursday July 23 to Saturday August 15 @ 8pm. Matinee performances 2pm Saturday 1, 8 and 15 August, twilight performances 2 and 9 August @ 4pm. Tix $35/$27. Call 6257 1950 for info and bookings.

Soft Sculpture Fashion Parade
Date Published: Wednesday, 8 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

Soft Sculpture Fashion Parade
Sculpture Garden Restaurant, NGA
Thursday July 2

I've always read the NGA Members' Events calendar with great relish, thinking 'oooh that looks interesting'; but somehow, throughout the entirety of my no-longer-young adult life and despite my best intentions, I have never gotten along to any of them. Luckily, I finally broke my Members' cherry last week, at the Soft Sculpture Fashion Parade presented in collaboration with über-swank Manuka boutique Department of the Exterior.

Members were first ushered through the oddball, unconventional sculptures in the exhibition before wending their way through descending mists to the Sculpture Garden restaurant. There, Susan Taylor of Department of the Exterior had assembled a melange of designs, which models sashayed down the catwalk accompanied by music from Hippo regular DJ Bucky.

The parade exhibited, in Taylor's words, "ideas based design". Pieces from established brands such as Munk and Dogstar were shown alongside some amazing work from new design labels handpicked from Taylor's 'all-star cast' of CIT design graduates. The outstanding piece of the night was the asymmetric padded collar top from Sebastian's Sister, the label of CIT grad Francesca Altenberg - a beautifully draped, patterned black and white piece reminiscent of Yohji Yamamoto.

The most consistently desirable and (for this unadventurous fashionista) wearable pieces, however, were from accessory label Yellow Mule, whose Radius neckpieces and brooches dramatically set off the sculptural shapes of the paraded designs.

Date Published: Wednesday, 8 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

A few things have happened recently which got me to thinking about inheritance. The first was, I finally got my doctorate. Yes, you heard right, ye loyal reader of the late Theatre Column - that mammoth behemoth monster of a brute, my PhD on satire, was handed in and passed. How does that relate to inheritance, you punningly ask? Well.

I come from a family of academes. My grandfather, my father, and my uncle: all doctors (and not the medical kind). My elder brother just started his doctorate. My cousin is considering enrolling in one. When I was young I just assumed that everyone had a family as nerdstrommy as mine - in which the words Encyclopaedia Britannica constituted a divine invocation, in which a question, whether a word's spelling or how planes fly* or what was the capital of Venezuela found an inevitable response with 'Why don't you go and look it up yourself?' I am the third generation academic on my father's side.

Yesterday my parents brought my most recent inheritance home for me - my nan's old dresser. It's a big old mammoth behemoth walnut tallboy, with a bevelled mirror with little decorative jewel drawers on either side, originally owned by my mother's gramma. So I am the fourth generation on my mother's side to own this dresser.

I know what you're thinking now. How does any of this have anything to do with a column space that is meant to be devoted to the arts?

Theatre, gallery exhibitions, performance - these are cruelly transient art forms. I could collect my programmes, sure, but the experience of seeing the show - the feelings and thoughts that a piece of art excites - can only be experienced by the audience at the time. They can never be revisited, never inherited. But the tradition of the arts can be inherited - it can be passed down. And it should be.**

I recently got invited to participate in a festival discussion panel, on the role of reviewing in theatre arts in Australia.*** And it got me to thinking, that (apart from the obvious blarney that the review engages the artist and audience in a dialogue from which both can learn about themselves and their artform - ha!) a review is tangible, concrete evidence of what a show represents to an audience member. The written word, especially in a form so delicate as a fortnightly magazine, is delicate, to be sure, but there is a hope - a tiny thread - that may be preserved and passed on, and it is not merely a memory, but a record, however subjective, of the work itself.

And that's gotta count for something.


*This was particularly irritating since my father is a frickin' aeronautical engineer. Geez.
** For more information, consult T.S. Eliot. He knows.
***More on that in columns to come. Oo er.

Madame Butterfly
Date Published: Wednesday, 8 July 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 10 months ago

To you, 'Cio-Cio San' might just be another of Rivers Cuomo's unintelligible 'El Scorcho' lyrics, but to bluebloods around the world she's the tragic heroine of Puccini's 1904 opera MADAME BUTTERFLY. This year OzOpera are bringing this classic opera to Canberra as part of a national tour, with Perth-born soprano Elisa Wilson singing the role of Cio-Cio San (Butterfly).

Madame Butterfly tells the story of American lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, stationed in Nagasaki, who marries 15 year old Geisha girl Cio-Cio San. Cio-Cio San falls head over heels for Pinkerton, converting to 'the American God', but Pinkerton only marries 'in the Japanese style: for 999 years, but with the right to cancel the marriage each month'. He leaves Japan for three years, abandoning Butterfly and their child. Butterfly remains faithful to her husband, but when he returns she discovers that he has not been so. Tragedy, as they say, ensues.

"The music of Puccini is just so beautiful," says Wilson, adding that Butterfly "is one of opera's great heroines. She sacrifices everything for love and for honour."

"It's really a role that you have to grow into. Even though Cio-Cio San starts at fifteen years old, emotionally she is so deep, there's so many layers to her, that you've got to have a lot of life experience," says Wilson. "As a young singer, you're scared of [Butterfly]."

And Cio-Cio San is one of the hardest roles for a soprano - themselves the kamikazes of the opera world.

"Sopranos lay it on the line, and so do tenors. It's the glory notes, the dollar notes, that people want to hear. You can sing beautifully through the whole opera but if you mess up the top notes you have failed!" laughs Wilson.

"There's a certain element of bravery or stupidity in what we set ourselves up as."

Wilson discovered opera by way of professional jealousy.

"I used to be a violinist in my early days as a student in high school, and I was playing in the orchestra one day for some dude who was singing up on stage, and I went home to my mother and I said 'I can sing better than that!'," says Wilson. "I pretty soon gave up the violin and turned to singing because I loved it.  Having said that, I come from a very musical family: my parents were both singers, I have six siblings and they're all singers, and I married a singer,"

"It's always cacophonous in our household!" laughs Wilson. "I think that's why we all became singers because with so many children, whoever spoke the loudest or the highest got heard!"

Opera is, to many people (myself embarrassingly included), one of the harder 'high-art' forms to get into, but this production is designed for "the people" says Wilson.

"I think all of us in the opera feel very strongly that if you've got an opera for the people, a company called Opera Australia, it should be opera for all Australians, not just for people in Melbourne and Sydney."

"There's no reason why taxpayers who are funding these companies shouldn't see what the product is, and have the opportunity to enjoy really high-quality performances,"

"It's one thing to put on a show in a theatre that's set up for it, and quite another to devise a show that can be moved around 50 different theatres,"

Opera is "heightened emotions" explains Wilson. "It gives me the opportunity to play out onstage emotions or situations that of course I would never be in, in real life [...] the prostitutes or the perennial virgins or the murderesses,"

OzOpera's production has been directed by National Living Treasure John Bell, whose approach to staging the play has been "completely traditional," say Wilson. "To work with a director of his calibre was [...] very attractive."

"He lets the character of each person, of each actor, shine through in the role."

"We didn't know what to expect," says Wilson of working with Bell. "He was keen to point out that opera isn't his natural [...] idiom or style, so he wanted to know what we had to offer,"

"He would work with what we gave him."

Bell's inclusive directorial style was initially "intimidating,"

"We expected to be told exactly [...] what shape he wanted a scene to be," says Wilson, "but then as we realised what he was doing, how he was just gently tweaking this little thread, to make it match up with that thread that he had in mind from a previous scene, there's this little gentle pull [...] on the fabric of the show."

The cast sing in English, with a modern translation originally performed by the Welsh National Opera, and the story has been updated to be set in 1945, "just after the bomb."

But Wilson maintains that it's "honest production" of Puccini's opera. The aesthetic of the late Jennie Tate's production design is "so beautiful and so authentic, down to the last little ribbon and little bit of rope on the obis," says Wilson. Bell's traditional staging - in these days of radical interpretations of the text - has a point, says Wilson.

"A lot of people might never ever see Madame Butterfly again in their lives, and they really should be given the chance to see Madame Butterfly in its proper state without being fiddled with, [so] give them Butterfly, give them the proper story!"

OzOpera's Madame Butterfly tours to the Canberra Theatre Centre on July 23 for three nights only, til July 25. Tix $64-$75, U27 $45-$50. Info and bookings 6275 2700.

Date Published: Wednesday, 24 June 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 11 months ago

A lot of my friends are (or like to think they are) artists, so when we get together for dinner parties we inevitably end up arguing about art – whether music, theatre, painting, literature, or the relative merits of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. One such dinner party was held Chez Uninhibited recently which resulted in several such arguments. Unfortunately the relative dipsomania of the participants resulted in something rather less than coherence – but golly was it entertaining.

Transcript: Argument, Art, Point Thereof. Saturday p.m. (or perhaps a.m.)
Drunk #1: Who is the most important person in art?
Drunk #2: Me.
Drunk #3: WHAT? WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ‘ME’? [Drunk #3 possibly identifiable as author of column. Author possibly identifiable as more drunk than others.]
Drunk #1: Hmmm. I’m not sure I agree. I think the audience is the most important person, for they are the final destination of the work, wouldn’t you agree?
Drunk #3: YEAH. [swills wine and chomps on half-smoked fag-end]
Drunk #1: When you say you are the most important person, what do you mean?
Drunk #2: I mean, my intentions in making a work of art are not impacted by the expectation of a paying audience. I make art without recourse to what the audience will think.
Drunk #3: RUBBISH. [hiccups]
Drunk #1: Hmmm. Interesting. What then is your understanding of the purpose of art?
Drunk #2: To communicate.
Drunk #3: EXACTLY. PILLOCK. [vomits]
Drunk #1: Surely, if the purpose of art is to communicate, then the most important figure in an artwork’s life is the receiver of that work?
Drunk #2: But without me, or the artist if you wish, then there is no work.
Drunk #1: The same goes for the audience. A play, or a painting, or a piece of music is not a work of art until it has been seen or heard by an audience. As the saying goes, if a tree falls in the forest…
Drunk #3: A BEAR SHITS IN THE WOODS! [passes out]

And so on. The argument was circular, nonsensical, passionate, divisive, and could have ended in blows were it not for the fact that we’re all pansy artist types who wouldn’t know which end of our own fists was up.


What came out, for me (or more accurately, for my boyfriend, who far more accurately and dispassionately encapsulated the argument while we discussed it this morning over coffee, especially seeing as he was sober at the time while I sweated booze all weekend) was the intense, ineradicable, and ultimately inconclusive subjectivity of art, and one’s participation in it. Art can be therapeutic; art can be entertaining; it is uniquely personal and yet broadly universal. The question of why one creates, why one performs – and why one consumes – art is, in the end, entirely up to you.

Date Published: Wednesday, 10 June 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 11 months ago

Around about this time last year I met a one-eyed man named Michael. He walked into The Phoenix (apparently half-drunk already), sat down next to me and said:

“God, Canberra’s a shithole, but sometimes you find good things.”

I disagreed with the idea that my beloved Can is, in fact, a can, but was intrigued. As evidence of the good, Michael pulled out a book from his backpack, his wild hair covering the empty socket where his right eye once was. It was a book of reproductions of Marcel Duchamp, the cover featuring the dadaist’s famous Fountain. We got to talking, discovered a mutual love of satirical fiction, and over the course of a few hours and several pints, a platonic love story was played out in miniature. I think he was impressed that a young woman could be interested in a mode of fiction that is so inherently male and so inherently horrid, and I was impressed that a man who looked (to be frank) like he’d slept in the gutter could quote whole slabs of Journey to the End of the Night verbatim. Anyway.

Michael left me with two things. The first was a scrap of paper on which he’d scrawled the name of a poet he thought I’d like. The second was what he said to me as he tottered off into the night. What he said was:
“Thank you. You’ve made me think twice about Canberra.”

Now, this all sounds completely self-serving, which of course it is, and I like retelling it because I come out cooler than I actually am (and who wouldn’t, in a story involving beer and a one-eyed man?). Really though, I’m retelling it because I’ve been trying to write this column for the last fortnight with nothing, nada, zilch. I have, in fact, been suffering from writer’s block, and it’s something that you can’t control at all: sometimes the inspiration just will not come.

But then, just a moment ago, after I finished watching an episode of One Tree Hill and flicked my iPod to You Can Call Me Al and pondered rolling a cigarette, I remembered Michael, and his scrap of paper, and the poet whose name he’d scrawled on it, and something crystallised, and inspiration came.

What Michael gave me in that moment he wrote the poet’s name on the piece of paper (and because, like the dutiful literature student I am, I searched for months until I found a collection of his poems) was the best gift anyone can give. Just as I am thankful to the beautiful boy who got me hooked on One Tree* and to my mother for dancing to Graceland in our living room when I was a child, and to my university lecturer for introducing me to satire, and to the numberless people whose work in theatre has inspired, comforted, baffled, enraged, or enriched me, I am thankful to Michael, for even though he didn’t know me from Eve he cared enough to give me art.**


* yes, dammit, One Tree Hill is art. I won’t hear anything against it.

** In case you’re wondering, the poet’s name is Kenneth Patchen. If you find a book of his poems, I’d recommend them.

Date Published: Wednesday, 10 June 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  7 years, 11 months ago

“The bitter pill is the one that is going to make you better,” says actor Noel Hodda, explaining the power and the purpose of The Street Theatre’s production of David Harrower’s play BLACKBIRD.

The play is sandwiched between two David Williamson plays as part of The Street’s Drama Stimulus Package, and while Harrower’s controversial play seems the odd one out, the creative team behind it – director David Atfield, actors Hodda and Nell Shipley, and Street Theatre Artistic Director Caroline Stacey – hope that Canberra audiences will respond to the troubling questions Blackbird asks.

The play, which won the Olivier in 2007, beating out blue-ribbon stalwart Tom Stoppard’s offering, Rock’N’Roll, is a real-time meeting between Ray (Hodda) and Una (Shipley), who fifteen years ago ran away together.

The story is “in the present,” says Hodda, but Ray and Una are “caught in the past. One of the issues that is raised is how things can be seen differently when you look back on them.” Shipley agrees. “Because there’s been such a gap, 15 years… inevitably there’s a recalibrating of the memories, there’s differences of opinion that have festered. What actually happened can only be known by these two people.

“So where does reality sit? What was real?” asks Shipley.

The ambiguity of “what was real”, and the festering memories uncovered during the play, turn on the “inappropriate relationship” between Ray and Una, for although the two are now both adults, their relationship began when Una was only 12-years-old. In the age of Bill Henson and increasing hysteria – whether justified or no – over child pornography, Blackbird asks questions not only of what was real but “what was wrong”, as Shipley says. These questions are “brave… and timely,” says director David Atfield.

“I do think people are going to find this quite confronting, even offensive, mainly because of how it treats the male character.”
“It doesn’t take the stereotypical goody-baddy, victim-villain scenario that a lot of plays and films about this subject do. These are two very complex individuals… both with problems and faults,” explains Atfield. “It’s not a simple black and white piece.”
Harrower’s grey-scale ambiguity will be compounded by the production’s staging. Atfield and designer Imogen Keen will be presenting the play in the round, breaking the easy divide between audience and performer. Such a staging will, by necessity, give each audience member a different perspective – a different interpretation – of the events of the play. Shipley agrees that the performance space is “a confrontational arena”, but that it works with the play’s ambivalences.

“There is an awareness of the outside,” says Shipley, “of other people’s opinions and interpretations layered on top.”

What comes through most clearly in talking to the Blackbird creative team is this metaphorical language of layers and levels, and of the idea that what seems wrong or right is not necessarily, or not only, what seems to be so on the surface.

“This play is on one level a very disturbing story of an inappropriate relationship,” says Hodda, but “on another level it’s a love story.”

The complexity of Ray and Una, and of their relationship, means that simple questions of right and wrong need to be shelved in order to come to an understanding of the individual stories and struggles. In a fundamentalist world such as ours, that can be confronting.

“It’s not easy, it’s not simple,” says Shipley. Hodda realises that such radical ambiguity that Ray and Una’s relationship entails means that the play is “not going to be easy to watch.”

“It’s much easier to paint things in black and white, to try to fit things into patterns,” says Atfield, who hopes that this production of Blackbird will “break people’s expectations on all sorts of issues, including that very radical issue of child sexual abuse.”
Atfield cites recent films like 2006’s Little Children, which “looked at people who had committed sex crimes, but painted them as full individuals, not just as villains. I think society needs to do that too, if we want to actually resolve this problem,” says Atfield.

“If we don’t look at the underlying reasons of why they’re doing it, we’ll never actually get rid of the problem.”
So why, in a town where it’s hard enough to get audiences to front up to any live theatre show, program such a difficult and confronting play? Artistic Director Caroline Stacey explains the impetus behind The Street Theatre’s 2009 season.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do here is build a drama, text-based programme, that there’s a loyal and interested audience for. “Nationally you’ll find that it’s one of the hardest genres to develop an audience for, and yet it’s one of the places where stories are told, and current issues are addressed.”

Which is what makes Blackbird “an important work to do,” says Stacey.

The moral and ethical questions it raises are “completely and totally at the heart of not just cultural practice… with all of the stuff around Bill Henson,” but also relate to issues raised about child sexual abuse in the Catholic and Anglican churches. The play addresses “moral and ethical dilemmas that are very much at the heart of our concerns. It asks a lot of questions but doesn’t have any easy answers.”

The play should “promote discussion”, says Hodda, but Shipley adds that it is also entertaining. “But it’s got to be both, that’s the challenge. People want reality and solidity,” says Hodda, adding that this play, rather than some cream-puff piece of pure entertainment, is “the popular success of the world. It touches right on the zeitgeist.”

Part of what the Blackbird creatives hope for is that responsibility for answering Blackbird’s troubling questions will “continue out the door, [with] arguments in cars on the way home,” says Hodda.
“And if theatre isn’t doing that, then we’ve got a problem.”

The Street Theatre presents David Harrower’s Blackbird at Street 2 from June 19 to July 4 @ 8pm. Tix from $15 to $29. Phone The Street box office on 6247 1223 for details on how to book.

Date Published: Tuesday, 19 May 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years ago

One of the biggest accusations that is levelled at arts makers (and audiences) is that they (or we) are a bunch of lily-livered, heads-up-own-arsed, rarefied-atmosphered bourgeois pigs, complacently patting each other on the back whilst quaffing wine and eating cake, Marie Antoinette-style. And unfortunately the nature of ‘the beast’ that is, for example, theatre, is that it is a rich man’s luxury. It’s expensive to put on and therefore expensive to enjoy. People need to be paid (and let’s be thankful that they still can be) and unlike film, costs can’t be offset by worldwide distribution. Generally speaking, only the moderately wealthy (or the moderately insane arts writer) can even think of affording a seat to the theatre on a regular basis.

So it’s nice when occasionally one can point to companies or shows that, to use the phrase from one of Haley Joel Osmont’s lesser efforts, pays it forward. The other night at the opening of The Alchemist as I was, in my rarefied bourgeois manner, enjoying free wine and canapés and snootily remarking on my fellow punters’ shoes, I was reminded of the great things that the arts can do: like Bell’s Hearts in a Row initiative.

Hearts in a Row is a programme in which money and theatre seats are donated to charity orgs, disadvantaged schools, et cetera. Essentially, this is a way for charitable folk to give the less fortunate a chance to see some top-shelf art, sometimes for the first time in their lives. You can read about it on the Bell website but what struck me most was that another of the primary accusations levelled at theatre, that it isn’t a form of art that appeals to ‘the people’ (whoever they are), was pretty much quashed by the responses of the recipients. A student from Airds High School in Campbelltown (surely a place of ‘the people’?) said after seeing Hamlet (surely a play of the hoity-toit?): “I want to watch it again and again...watching the play is way better than reading it.”

Now, the Hearts in a Row initiative asks the philanthropically-inclined for donations of $10,000, so it may not be a possibility for you or me. But another conversation I had the other day reminded me that we can all do a little bit to give backwards or forwards.

I was at The Street Theatre talking to an arts maker and she said something that I had, in my quaffy-cakey-bourgeois way, never considered: that when she gets an invitation to the theatre she likes to take someone who would ordinarily never go, either because it’s not their thing or because they can’t afford it. I’ve always taken my fellow theatre wankers, but her point was that those people - the dyed-in-the-wool arts people - will always go, will always find a way to afford it. Now, I don’t have $10,000 to donate and probably neither do you (unless you are an eccentric millionaire, in which case you should check out Hearts in a Row on the Bell website, But maybe you can afford to sock a penurious mate $15 to see a locally-produced play, or the gold coin donation to the next Music at Midday concert co-run by the CTC and the RMC band (next one Tuesday June 2, proceeds go to local charities, see for details) or maybe even just buy them a coffee after going to a free exhibition at CCAS or ANCA. It’ll make you feel better, it’ll make your mate feel better, and it’ll make the artists glow with pleasure that someone out there is enjoying their work.

A Capsis Experience
Date Published: Tuesday, 19 May 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years ago

Paul Capsis has never performed in Canberra before, but he’s been to Queanbeyan. The mind boggles at this fabulous cabaret character even setting foot in Q-Town, but apparently the audience was responsive – so responsive that “they were urging me to be more political.” And did Capsis take that advice on, I ask? “Not really,” he admits. But, he replies, “sometimes just standing there singing is political.”

Capsis will be “standing there singing” in the Can this fortnight, performing his cabaret show, A Capsis Experience, at The Street Theatre. And he’s thrilled to be playing a city he’s never been to before. “I’m really, really excited.”

A Capsis Experience will give the audience a “quintessential cabaret show,” says the artist. “I’m going to present a mixture of work I’ve been performing for the last ten years,” including original songs, material by Lou Reed, Kate Bush and Paul Kelly, and what Capsis calls “channelling, presenting the dead divas” – exploring the work and lives of unique women like Janis Joplin, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, and Billie Holiday. Capsis explains that it is these women who he constantly turns back to for inspiration. “Performers are different today, in terms of how they’re packaged, and how they’re put out there. There’s something about those women that’s unique; their story, the particular way they performed, their history. I feel like [the act] is tributing them, tributing what they contributed to entertainment.”

Capsis explains the strength that he gets from channelling the power of “fascinating women and fascinating men” like Reed and Joplin, whose most enduring contribution – what makes art and entertainment great, in the end – was their individuality. “How does someone like Lou Reed get out there now, because he’s so against everything that is supposed to be talented and interesting now. And it’s just thank god for an era that was just so different. People like Janis Joplin and Lou Reed could get out there and be themselves.”

Luckily, Capsis has been granted that privilege in his own career. From creating original work in his cabaret shows and recording with Tim Freedman on his 2007 album, Everybody Wants to Touch Me, to performing as Riff Raff in the Gale Edwards-directed Rocky Horror Picture Show, Capsis has been able to mark out his own artistic path. “You can [get bored] if you keep doing the same thing, after a while the challenge isn’t there,” Capsis says. Luckily, he’s been able to find the right balance, of “working with different people, working in theatre and films and my own stuff.”

He was AFI-nominated for his supporting role in Ana Kokkinos’ Head On and has Helpmann and Green Room awards enough to sink a small boat. But the experience of working with artists like Edwards, Barrie Kosky, Jim Sharman and Marion Potts has been the greatest reward. “I’ve been very fortunate, incredibly blessed… I’ve worked with the best of our time,” says Capsis. “They’re great teachers and great brave artists, they don’t compromise their work.” Neither, luckily, does Capsis himself.

Paul Capsis brings A Capsis Experience to the Street Theatre on Saturday May 30 @ 8pm and Monday June 1 @ 7.30pm. Tickets $35. Call 6247 1223 to book.

Date Published: Tuesday, 12 May 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years ago

To paraphrase Conor Oberst, I’m hunched over this Macbook Pro – I guess you’d call that painting in a cave. The close relation between arts writers and Cro-Magnon Man hasn’t been extensively explored, but it’s analogous enough – the long nights huddled over a faint glow, frantic in the attempt to appease the gods (theatrical, musical, or paintbrushy) with feeble, scratched-out likenesses, offering supplication and adoration if they meet one’s needs or, if not, curses… plus there’s all the grunting, consumption of raw meat and general tendency to be hirsute.

Luckily for this Neanderthal, the gods more often than not offer enlightenment. This fortnight there’s plenty of creative illumination to spark interest, with cabaret, blue-ribbon indy theatre, a smorgasbord of music, exhibitions small and large, and tableaux vivants. And to paraphrase Lou Reed, I’m beginning to see the light.

This issue of Exhibitionist has tried to cover all bases but as usual in the Can, there’s so much on that it’s well-nigh impossible to fit everything in. But you’ll find cabaret in the form of Hayden Tee’s Generation whY?, part of the Street Theatre’s Cabaret Crème 2009 series and Moya Simpson’s Big Voice, also playing at the Street. There’s theatre big and small, from local company Freshly Ground’s showcase of one-acters, Every Base Covered to Company B Belvoir’s The Seed, directed by prodigal N.C. son Iain Sinclair. Profiled tableauxeuse Min Mae tells us why she got into displaying naked, motionless bodies, while dance pro Cadi McCarthy explains moving ones. And as usual there’re opportunities for creatives around the place to get stuck into with the Street Theatre’s Made In Canberra initiative.

As for what isn’t covered in these sparing pages, to paraphrase Snow Patrol (!), open your eyes. From Fyshwick’s M16 Gallery’s drawing prize exhibition running ’til May 31, to house dance classes at DNA (starting May 1, get your socks on at, the Splendid artlab operating in conjunction with Splendour in the Grass and the regular Poetry Slam night at The Front (last Friday of every month), there’s something on in Canberra, or something you can contribute to, every day and night of the week. You just need to take a look around.

Someone recently asked me rhetorically, ‘Why do we do it? Why is the arts important?’ For creatives the cynical answer could be that nothing is better than adulation and applause, but I think for arts makers and audiences alike there’s something (hopefully at least) a little deeper than the lure of adoring and being adored (and for Uninhibited, the hope of free booze and canapés). What we hope to get from and achieve with the art forms that we turn to – whether it’s music, performing arts or the NGA’s Soft Sculpture exhibition, featured next issue – is that lightbulb moment in our heads and hearts. Art – of whatever form – has the ability to cause in us a transformation, from grunting club-wielding unwaxed savages to something hopefully better (and if anything, a lot wankier). And the first step, just like ol’ Bright Eyes tells us, is to knuckle down in our caves and start painting.

Date Published: Thursday, 5 February 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 3 months ago

Multicultural Fringe is upon us! I would go in for a massive rambling introduction, detailing not only all the awesome awesomeness but also WHY said awesomeness is awesome, with footnotes and an annotated bibliography and cross-references to other fringe festivals around the world, but that would be leading me in for way more work, wouldn’t it?* And, to boot, it’d be dull as hell.**  So instead, here’s a list of my picks for the Fringe.***

1. Mr Fibby in Little Girl Lost in the Devil’s Black Beard. Courtyard Studio, Saturday 7 – Monday 9 February @ 9pm. Tix $15/$12 at the door or through Canberra Ticketing.

Anyone who has seen Mr Fibby perform knows that these cats are the theatrical music mash-up to end all mash-ups. To quote, they are ‘eighteenth century Ukraine’s musical answer to Voltron’.  Their fringe show about the ugliest girl ever to have lived and her search for her lost violin should be primo.
2. Centrepiece Theatre’s Hot Audio Wallpaper. Courtyard Studio, Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 February @ 7pm and 9pm. Tix $15/$12 as above.

If you missed it last year, here’s a second chance to see Jordan Best directing Stuart Roberts’ play about muzak. It’s great. Just see it.

3. Six Billion Love. Courtyard Studio, Saturday 7 – Monday 9 February @ 7pm. Tix $15/$12, just like before.

If you’re heading to Mr Fibby’s show, why not just pop in a couple of hours earlier so you can catch Six Billion Love, a butoh-inspired live art piece conceived by CYT’s Pip Buining, directed by Chenoeh Miller and performed by members of CYT. Looks like a physical theatre treat.

4. Le Petite Sideshow. Courtyard Studio, Friday 13 and Saturday 14 February @ 7pm and 9pm.  Tix $15/$12.

Circus Freaks. Sideshows. The simple words fill Theatre Column with wistful memories to the ‘good’ old days before Siamese twins were routinely separated and unnecessary facial hair on dames could be treated with hormone therapy. Whether they smell like cabbage or not, Theatre Column loves a carnie.

Other Shi – I mean, Other Stuff
Don’t forget the Multicultural Festival proper, featuring shows like Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatorio (Street 2 from Feb 11 to 14) or Valentino at Canberra Theatre Feb 13 and 14, the latest ‘blockbuster musical’ about a dead celebrity, in this case Rudolph Valentino.

TC thinks ‘biographical blockbuster musical’ should be compounded into the generic descriptor ‘blockbiocal’, or perhaps ‘musibiobuster’.

Apart from the MF, there is Bohemian’s residency show at Manning Clark House, titled Hungers, which runs from February 3 to 8. Seats are limited and hard to come by, so if you want a spot you need to get in contact with the Boho men through their facebook fan page. Search for Boho Interactive.

*For a list of Fringe Festivals around the world see
** Rather like the opening paragraph of this column, in many ways.  For other instances of dull opening paragraphs to Theatre Column see Issues 279 to 315.
*** The observant reader will notice that Theatre Column’s picks are all playing at the Courtyard Studio. The speculative reader will posit, based on this fact, that Theatre Column simply went to the Canberra Theatre website and looked at all the Fringe shows in the Courtyard Studio. The paranoid reader will assume Theatre Column is in the pay of both the Fringe Festival and the Canberra Theatre. The latter can be categorically denied.

Date Published: Thursday, 22 January 09   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 4 months ago

New Year, New You. At least that’s what all the magazines tell us. Theatre Column doesn’t know: it feels the same. Same gearing up for a year of ranting fruitlessly to the silent witnesses of these pages, same fear of retribution and rage from fevered egos offended by pointless pot-shots, the same inexplicable third-person voice, the same sallies into the sordid world of the berra pro-am scene…

Speaking of sordid, we should mention the nominations for the CAT Awards, announced oh-so-long ago at the end of 2008. I know that you, like me, are on tenterhooks wondering who got noticed. Well. Let’s have a look. How interesting. It seems that the judges have once again given a golly-gosh-large number of nominations to Free Rain Productions, begging the question: if your founder is on the board of judges, does it help your chances at getting a nod?  Theatre Column doesn’t want to enter into some kind of Frost/Nixon fracas, but we are committed to asking the hard questions.

Free Rain got their notices for Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Shape of Things, with design, acting, and directing noms spread liberally over the two. In terms of individual achievement, Soren Jensen cleaned up with nominations for his role as Lewis in Rep’s Cosi, and direction for the aforementioned Shape of Things. Jess Brent and Jerry Hearn earned noms each for their leading performances in Rep’s Pygmalion, which they most definitely deserved, as did Hannah Meredith for her supporting role in The Shape of Things. Other than that, none of the nominations thrilled Theatre Column to the core. But then, you can take that how you will. The ceremony is held on February 21, and you can, as always, buy your tickets through the Canberra Theatre website. If, you know, you want to.

Fringe 09
It’s my favourite time of the year, when all the theatre and art and music and beer and gozleme one could possibly desire is lumped in the one tiny tent in front of the Legislative Assembly: that’s right, it’s the Multicultural Fringe Festival! Fringe is included in the Multicultural Festival proper, running from February 6 to 15. News HOT OFF THE FRINGE PRESS is the appointment of devil-may-care songstress Alice Cottee to the role of Creative Producer.  More HOT PRESSED NEWS is the inclusion of A Stacked Deck, a massive burlesque night hosted by Liberte Bell. I know there are more theatre shows on in Fringe (because I know someone who is directing one) but the website is oddly silent (or I’m reading it wrong). Stay tuned for more HOT NEWS PRESSES from the Multicultural Fringe (or head to the site yaself.

Hungry like the…
Ickle Pickle are almost pretty much first cab off the rank this year with their production of Peter and the Wolf, adapted and directed by Wayne Shepherd and running at Belco Theatre til January 28. I can only assume that it tells the classic story of Peter and the Wolf. And is probably for kids.

Ickle Pickle presents Peter and the Wolf at Belconnen Theatre, til January 28.  Various times (mostly matinee).  Tix $14.  For bookings and info call 6262 6977.

Happy new and all that.  You’ll be hearing from me.

Date Published: Thursday, 11 December 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 5 months ago

Minutes of meeting re: Last column of the year.
Theme discussed: Christmas.
Proposed theme thrown out due to columnist’s unwavering atheism.
Further proposals include: Yule. Saturnalia. Festivus.
Further proposals vetoed due to religious associations, also irrelevance to theatrical world of Canberra.
Veto questioned due to high ratio of festive-themed shows in December, viz: Shortis and Simpson, and… um…
Questioning of veto laughed out of boardroom.
End meeting.

So the end of the year has rolled around again. The tinsel rash that plagues the world throughout December is adding to my allergies (though I must admit it’s more of a philosophical, Grinchy allergy than actual physical intolerance) and theatrical ventures are… well, they ain’t venturing, by and large. Christmas is the time in the theatre world in which the accepted wisdom is to stay well away. Punters are too busy attending Getting Sauced At Work Functions to bother with art, and quite frankly, so are practitioners. But still, there’s a few things on the horizon.

1.  Remember to get in to see Centrepiece’s 8 Women, playing at the ANU Arts Centre and Teatro Vivaldi until December 18. Book now on 6257 2718!

2.  The Street Theatre are providing crowds with Escape from Xmastraz fun every Friday night til December 19. Exile on Childers Street, curated by Julia Johnson (of The Deep Sea Sirens, music aficionados), will bring you live music from 5.30 to 8. Best of all, it’s free. Even better of all, there’s a bar.

The Street Theatre presents Exile on Childers Street, every Friday night til December 19, 5.30-8pm at The Street.

3.  It’s the end of the year and that means… yes, drumrolls and everything… the CAT Awards nominations are ready for announcement. The announcements will be held at Teatro Vivaldi on December 15, and if you want to go it’s $20 a head for adults, $15 for kidlets. If you want tix, give CAT Grand Dame Coralie Wood a call on 6281 0250 or email to book. My picks for the year? Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until January 22 to find those out. But you can be guaranteed that they won’t be on the CAT list. And you can take that how you will.

And finally, Review Within Column #400: Oceans all boiled into sky.

Serious Theatre’s show was… Awesome. Director Barb Barnett took David Finnigan’s po-mo dystopia by its fractured, multi-voiced horns to create a live radio play that ticked all the boxes of compelling, original theatre. Five actors (Lloyd Allison-Young, Hannah Cormick, Raoul Craemer, Chris Lloyd and Virginia Savage) stood essentially still for 90 minutes as, through their different voices, they played out the story of seventeen year old Mack Finch, trying to take his driving test in a post-apocalyptic Canberra. Behind them, Gillian Schwab’s set sketched the broken bones of Canberra, a world dominated by steam and decay and monstrous things. Oceans all boiled into sky is what we hope for in theatre: every move, every change of the eerie light, every sound effect, every decision made by Barnett and her talented cast, contributed to the creation of a new world.

Happy Capitalist Buying Season To One And All! I’m off to wash down my gall with some eggnog flavoured whisky. Catch you all when the calendar clocks over.

Date Published: Wednesday, 26 November 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 6 months ago

I feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland: I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. And that date is deadline. Again. Protestations of innocence are beginning to fall on deaf ears, with Our Gracious Leader waiting, I’m sure, to pummel me with a sock filled with alarm clocks [Ed - or Lego] the next time I fob him off with the word ‘thesis’ [Ed - or 'drunk']. Anyway. It’s almost done. I’m sure you’re all breathing sighs of relief that they’ll be no more of this ‘satire, Evelyn Waugh, twentieth century’ lah di dah infecting Theatre Column. And hopefully next year’s columns will be signed with the title of DOCTOR.

The Messenger
CYT’s major production of the year is The Messenger, an adaptation by Ross Mueller of Markus Zusak’s award-winning Australian novel. The story follows 19-year old cabbie Ed Kennedy as he stops a bank robbery and begins to receive mysterious messages which change his life as his views of his friends and family evolve. But who is sending the messages? Ooooh… Canberra Youth Theatre presents The Messenger at C Block Theatre, Gorman House, from November 26 to December 6. Tix $20/$15. For info and bookings phone 6248 5057.

Eight Women
It’s the time of year to start thinking about Christmas shows, especially if you are of the ‘public-service-group-entertainment-terrors-and-horrors-of-organising-functions’ persuasion. If you are, then look no further! Centrepiece is back with a Chrissie dinner & show extravaganza in conjunction with Teatro Vivaldi: an adaptation of Francois Ozon’s hilarious French cabaret-farce, 8 Women.
Centrepiece and Teatro Vivaldi Restaurant present 8 Women at the ANU Arts Centre from December 10 to 18 @ 7pm. Dinner and show $70; discounts for group bookings. To book, phone Vivaldi on 6257 2718.

Princess Prissy Pants
Joanne Brookfield’s incredibly popular, awesomely titled show is back in town: Princess Prissy Pants The Greedy Cheese Eating Bitch and Other Naughty Dog Tales will perform in the CTC Courtyard Studio once (or more accurately, thrice) more for your delectation on December 4, 5 and 6. Go to it. Go on. Joanne Brookfield in Princess Prissy Pants at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, from December 4 to 6 @ 7pm. Bookings and info can be got thru the CTC website or by phoning Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700.

The Red Shoes
Prokofiev. Ballet. Strange choreographic loves and enchanted shoes. If this ain’t your cup of tea (and let’s face it, most of you probably rolled your eyes at the second word. Heathens) then don’t go to see the West Australian Ballet’s The Red Shoes. If it is, see it. And give yourself a pat on the back. You are of the elite (and yes, I’m turning up my nose. Right. Now.).

The West Australian Ballet presents The Red Shoes, choreographed by Simon Dow. The Playhouse, December 3 to 6 @ 7.30pm. Matinee Saturday December 6 @ 1.30pm. Tix $50/$43. U27 $30. Ye crème de la crème may call Canberra Ticketing to make your bookings: 6275 2700.

Just making sure you’re all well aware that Serious Theatre’s Oceans all boiled into sky (The Street) and Rep’s Cosi (Theatre 3). I’m sure I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one holding the wine.

Date Published: Wednesday, 12 November 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 6 months ago

While my excuses for lateness are beginning to resemble the proverbial broken record (Argh Thesis! OMG Gigs! Eeep Men Are Crap!), please know that my commitment to providing the best in dipsomaniacal theatrical reportage has not waned. Last night I attended the Canberra Theatre Centre’s 2009 Subscription Season Launch and, in between downing glasses of Classic Dry White, paid some attention to next year’s shows in a season titled Electrify Your Life.

My tips for the good-lookin’: the STC’s Elling, a translation of the Norwegian Comedy Smash directed by the fantastically alluring and slightly alarming Oz Acting Legend Pamela Rabe and starring the awesome Darren Gilshenan. All superlatives aside, it should be a treat. Traces, a pre-apocalyptic movement piece from Canadian circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main involving a basketball and some highly toothsome gents, piqued my interest, as did the Olivier-winning comedy The 39 Steps, a high-speed adaptation of Hitchcock’s noir classic. Bell, as always, is doing exciting things, including mounting Jonson’s The Alchemist (nothin’ like a bit of Jacobean satire to dull the pain, I always say) and Marion Pott’s all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew. Throw in Bangarra’s 20th anniversary show, Fire, some radness of the Sydney Dance Company variety in Sid’s Waltzing Masquerade, and silliness of the boobtacular new musical Breast Wishes (any show which opens with the line, “Let’s have no more talk about vaginas” gets my vote), and you have a pretty exciting 2009 season. If you want to subscribe, check out the CTC website at

Onwards and upwards (or afterwards) with Andrew Bovell’s After Dinner, the new show from ’Berra stalwarts Tempo Theatre. The black comedy from He Who Wrote Lantana fame features five thirtysomething singles, booze, hallucinations, bitchiness and mental breakdowns. It’s directed by Matt Ashton and features Francesca Gugliotta, Morna Bassi, Vela Cardel, Simon Tolhurst and Robert Costa. Bookings call Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700. There’s also an After Dinner website at
Tempo presents After Dinner by Andrew Bovell at Belconnen Theatre. November 21 – 29 @ 8pm. Matinees November 22 & 29 @ 2pm, Sunday arvo show November 23 @ 4pm. Tix $22/$18.

Really, really afterwards is Serious Theatre’s new production of local maestro David Finnigan’s play, Oceans all boiled into sky. Set in a post-apocalyptic Canberra after the earth has suffered a serious case of over-cooking, the play follows Mack Finch, kidnapped by renegades and forced to drive a do-or-die mission into Canberra’s fog-shrouded ruins. Directed by First Lady of Awesome Barb Barnett and featuring a cast of actors, animators, foley artists and visual artists, Oceans all boiled into sky invites the audience to sit down, make themselves comfortable, and enjoy the wild ride into Canberra’s ruined future.

Serious Theatre presents Oceans all boiled into sky, written by David Finnigan and directed by barb barnett, at the Street Theatre from November 26 to 29 @ 7.30pm. Tix $20/$15. To book phone the B.O. on 6247 1223.

That’s it for the week, me hearties. I’m off to quench my thirst with a pint of rum and a relaxing round of copy-proofing a 100,000 word thesis on satire. Whee

Thom Pain @ The Street Theatre, September 30 – October 11 and Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome @ The Playhouse, October 8 – 18
Date Published: Wednesday, 12 November 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 6 months ago

Two absorbing and powerful tourists came into town in the early weeks of October, shows that questioned the traditional humanist assumptions of the saving power of art. The MTC’s production of Will Eno’s Thom Pain (based on nothing) featured Neil Pigot as the title character, a stripped-bare performance filled with awful solitude. Thom Pain is blue-ribbon contemporary theatre, a one-man play exploring ‘the human condition’ (apologies for the cliché) in wry, dry, Beckettian-existentialist style. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Pulitzer, and you can see why. The language is witty, precise, and devastating, with enough Childe Harold jokes to keep the literati chuckling.

Pigot as Pain, grave and po-faced, talked his way through stories, building a delicate portrait of a man broken by his memories and driven to exorcise them. Ultimately, though, Thom is constrained by the limits of language: “They’re all dirty words, if you think about it the right way…”

Bell Shakespeare’s collaboration with the QTC, Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome is about as far from Thom Pain as you could get, theatrically. Titus had all the bloody, grandiose spectacle of Shakespeare’s most violent play, rewritten in a contemporary meditation by Heiner Muller and directed by Michael Gow that challenges the aestheticising of violence in theatre, literature, and art. A bucket of blood sits centre stage, into which hands and books were dipped and soaked throughout the show, the walls painted in Bacon-esque violence with these tools of humanist art.

John Bell moved his Titus from detached patrician to demented paterfamilias as his family is slaughtered in the bloodbath that sweeps the Roman nobility, but the play is so filled with distance and alienation that the audience is never allowed the comfort of sympathy with the characters. And with good cause, for Muller’s play is a challenge to the smug assumptions of middle-class humanists (like, admittedly, me) who believe that art can save. In Anatomy Titus, art is responsible for the mess that we’re in.

Date Published: Thursday, 30 October 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 7 months ago

Well, with Titus behind us, there’s not much on the horizon of Big Ticket Drama coming to the ’Berra – that is unless you, like me, look forward to a spot of Soviet in the silly season. If that’s the case, get in quick for tickets to The Red Shoes, the Prokofiev-scored ballet getting a rerun from the West Australian Ballet this December. With a story adapted from Theatre Column’s favourite Grimm tale, choreography by Simon Dow, and music from the great Sergei, it’s going to be a cracker.* Pretty cheap too, with U27 tix going for just $30. Check out the CTC Website for more details.

Tutte, tutte
Nothing says Australian Classic like a bit of Louis Nowra, and nothing says Louis Nowra like Cosi. Yes, Rep are giving this Oz stalwart a once-over, with a cast of some of Canberra’s pro-am finest: Soren Jensen, Ian Croker, and my personal favourite, my mate Carly Jacobs.** Nowra-persona Lewis, a young director, is working in a mental institution and decides to mount a production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Crazies and creativity go hand in hand in Nowra’s comedic examination of reality, relationships and… all that big stuff.
Canberra Repertory presents Cosi directed by Jim McMullen at Theatre 3. Preview November 20. Season Thursday November 21 to Saturday December 13 @ 8pm. Matinees and twilight shows on Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 5pm. Tix $33/$27. For bookings and info phone 6257 1950 or head to the Rep website at

Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
Again with the crazies – must be something in the air. The final NUTS show for the year is an adaptation of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Don’t go thinking you’re going to get Jack-manque, because this adaptation is more faithful to the original novel than the Nicholson vehicle. Featuring a cast of young’n’emergings from the NUTS stable and directed by Cara Irvine, it’s sure to entertain.
NUTS presents One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at ANU Arts Centre November 5 to 8. I assume it starts at 8. The theatre always starts at 8!*** Tickets at the door.

This city has been itching for another Hadley production, and thanks to Erindale College, now we have it. BAD JoY HAPPY PANiC! has been directed by Ben Sticpewich, penned by the notorious Hads, and has live music by local songsmiths Please To Jive You. The production tells the tale of pube Sam Sevenandahalf and his travails with Charlotte, who has an alter-ego named Dr Monsoon who has escaped from an insane asylum (again with the crazies!). The two have to battle a ‘brace of creepy dentists’ while on a quest to the moon. I’m not making this up. Hadley is.

Erindale College presents BAD JoY HAPPY PANiC! at Erindale Theatre, TODAY OCTOBER 30 at 11am and 2pm for $5, and Friday 31 and Saturday November 1 @ 7pm for $10. Bookings phone 6205 8111.

* Yes, that horrible pun was totally intentional. What’s it to ya?
** Yes, this column is cronyistic. What’s it to ya?
*** Yes, I’ve been wrong on this before, but I refuse to do any more work [viz: actually *calling* the people involved to check the details] because, let’s face it, I’m lazy. WHAT’S IT TO YA?

Date Published: Thursday, 16 October 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 7 months ago

Oh for a time machine! I’d find a Sports Almanac, go back in time, give it to my past self to make my future self rich, and at the same time I’d write Theatre Column so it would actually be in by deadline. [ Ed - Damn right! ]

Shoot to Kill
The second Hunting Season show raises its sights on Street audiences THIS WEEK ONLY. The double-bill performances, under the umbrella care of the Street’s Made in Canberra project, features two shows specifically devised for the Hunting Season. COGnition is a sound and sightscape exploring the human body and the rapid evolution of technology, while Papyrophobia, In Yellow, is a one-act play drawing on writing by T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Peter Schaffer, and the wonderful Charlotte Perkins Gilman story, The Yellow Wallpaper.
The Street Theatre presents Made in Canberra: The Hunting Season’s We Come in Peace Shoot To Kill. At Street 1, now until Saturday October 18 @ 7.30pm. Matinee Saturday October 18 @ 2pm. Tickets $8, bargain! Phone the BO on 6247 1223 for info and bookings.

Aaja Nachle
No, it’s not one of the preposterously-named starlets on the sadly canned new 90210, but the end of year show from dance school Bollywood Dimensions. Aaja Nachle – literally ‘Come and Dance’ – takes the audience on a trip on the emotional rollercoaster that is Bollywood dancing.

It’s a Christmas show so this may seem pre-emptive, but tickets sold fast for last year’s show, Enter My Heart, so you may want to book. For info on Bollywood Dimensions (especially if you think you’d like to have a crack at dancing) check out the website at The show will be on at the Street Theatre on Sunday December 14, so get to the BO on 62471223, or check out the website at .

Again at the Street – do they not draw breath over there? – is another Made in Canberra initiative.  The performance of the 2008 Playground Young Playwrights Competition, a venture set up by Naomi Brouwer’s Shanks Pony in conjunction with Canberra Youth Theatre, will feature two one act plays by young’n’emergings: I’ll See Your Heart And Raise You Mine  by Patrick J. Mullins, and Rose Petals by Farnoush Parsiavashi.
The Street presents Made in Canberra: Playground 2008, from Wednesday October 29 to Saturday November 1 @ 7.30pm.  Tix $18.  You know the number to call.

Notes to future self
Remember: Rep’s Cosi, up at the end of November. Also Picnic at Hanging Rock, Free Rain’s show from October 30 to November 15. The next NUTS production, an adaptation of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Also the NUTS Ball, sometime around October (maybe check out the NUTS Facebook page for more info?). Remember all these, current self, so that future self doesn’t look like an ass. Again.

Date Published: Thursday, 2 October 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 7 months ago

Drama has been afoot in the ’Berra!  From the sad fracas of the cancellation of moonlight’s Oleanna to the landing of La Berkoff on our Dark Plutonian Shores (alright, he was doing The Tell-Tale Heart but you get my drift), from the launch of the Hunting Season to the new 90210 (Wait. That ain’t theatre. That’s just my life)… it’s been a heady coupla weeks. As Jessica Walter said on last night’s episode, when the theatre is in pain, I come to mend the wound. And how!

Perfect Cowboys in Action
Undaunted by dramatic disappointments, moonlight steers toward the final show in its season of Modern Americans with three short plays: the triple bill amalgam of Perfect Cowboys in Action.  Comprising Cowboys # 2 and Action by Sam Shepard, along with David Mamet’s A Perfect Mermaid, this show is designed to have theatre junkies slapping their veins in preparation. These shorts are (and I’m making a gross assumption here) NEVER performed in the Nation’s Capital, so it should be a treat.

Moonlight presents Perfect Cowboys in Action directed by Fiona Atkin, October 2 – 4 and 8 – 11 @ 8pm. Tix $15/$12 at the door, or get a Vivaldi dinner and show package on 6257 2718.

Money-grubbin’ hacks Is NOT what you’d call the 2008 artsACT theatre funding recipients. While it seems like the bulk of the moolah went to cabaret-mafioso juggernaut Shortis and Simpson (Seriously. How much does a piano cost? According to artsACT: $36,962. I wish *I* could play the piano - Hell, I’d be happy with a piano stool these days- Pub. ), some of the shrappers was leftover for Greg Lissaman to stage The Long Time ’til Tea, local wordsmith Bruce Hoogendorn to write and develop a new work, and circus dame El Kirschbaum to do some training. Looking forward to them all.

At the Street
Get in quicksmart NOW to see the MTC’s touring show Thom Pain (based on nothing) at the Street. This play won a bunch of awards and is apparently awesome. What more can I say?  Nothing.
Melbourne Theatre Company and the Street Theatre present Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno. From September 30 to October 11 @ 8pm, with Sunday October 5 @ 4pm. Tix $29/$25/$19, and you can get ’em thru the B.O. on 6247 1223.

At the CTC
A unique Australian Illusionist by the name of Cosentino will land on October 10 and 11 with his show Threshold. There’s creepy masks and fork-bending amongst other things (straightjackets, drowning himself, the usual Houdini-hoohah).

In more, let’s say… salubrious (if only for the sake of using the word) theatrical ventures, Bell Shakespeare hit the Playhouse with Heiner Müller’s ‘commentary’ adaptation of Shakespeare’s bloodbathaganza Titus Andronicus. Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome sees John Bell as the titular Titus with Oz legend Michael Gow directing.
Cosentino in Threshold at the Canberra Theatre, Friday 10 October at 11am and 6.30pm, and Saturday 11 October at 12pm and 7.30pm. Tix $25 or $80 for a family ticket.

Bell Shakespeare and the QTC presents Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome at the Playhouse from Wednesday October 8 to Saturday October 18 @ 7.30pm. Tix $30 for U27, or else anywhere between $35 and $60 depending on dates/level of employment/prettiness.

For full info and details on booking for both these shows head to the CTC Website or call Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700.

Date Published: Thursday, 18 September 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 8 months ago

It’s been a big week for Theatre Column, with the result that not a lot of theatre has been seen. But mercy me! The times they are a-gettin’ hectic, what with Rep’s Pygmalion, moonlight’s Oleanna, The Hunting Season and the new Bell looming on the horizon. How are we to get to them all?

Mainly on the Plain
Shavians everywhere should be creaming themselves, because the favourite creepy Svengali GBS is making its way to the pro-am stage. That’s right, it’s Pygmalion, directed by Tony Turner, with the lovely Jess Brent and the lovelier Jerry Hearn in the sculpted/sculptor roles of Eliza and Higgins. Rep generally do a good show of blue-ribbon toffee classics so get yourself a ticket. Yes, it would be luvverly.

Canberra Repertory presents Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. On now until Saturday October 4 @ 8pm. Matinees September 20 & 27 and October 4 @ 2pm.  Twilights September 21 & 28 @ 5pm.  Info and bookings phone 6257 1950.

Moonlight’s third show in its season of modern American greats is David Mamet’s ‘classically structured tragedy’, Oleanna. A student (Rachel Battams) accuses her professor (Mark Bunnett) of sexual harassment and all hell breaks loose. It’s got everything: lies, power play, political correctness, the blurred boundaries of right and wrong in a postmodern world, university curricula… hell yeah. Moonlight presents David Mamet’s Oleanna directed by Cara Irvine. ANU Arts Centre Drama Lab, September 18-20 & 24-27 @ 8pm. Tix $15/$12 at the door, or you can get Vivaldi dinner and show packages – call 6257 2718.

Night at the Improv
Impro Theatre ACT has been kicking around the N.C. for a goodly while now, doin’ their impro thing. Now, they’re bringing imported impro to the Canberra stage for one night only. Strap on ya seatbelts, people: LA stars Dan O’Connor and Edi-Patterson O’Connor, widely regarded as the best improv performers on the planet (so sez the press release, anyways), will feature in Law & Disorder, a night of improvised criminal investigations. Theatre Column doesn’t know quite how to describe the event, but is sure it will be ‘arresting’. Ha. Impro Theatre ACT presents Law & Disorder at Street 2, Sunday September 28 @ 7.30pm. Tix $18/$15, to book and get more info call the B.O. on 6247 1223.

Take a shot
Still waiting on more info about what is happening with The Hunting Season but let it be known that there is a website, there will be performances happening SOON at Belconnen Theatre of the ‘double-bill of awesome’ variety, and you should find your way there when it’s on. Watch this space.

Fall of Rome
Lastly, Bell will be back in the ’Berra in mid October with Anatomy: Titus Fall of Rome. It’s a reworking of the Bard’s ultra-violent bloodbath, Titus Andronicus, adapted by German playwright Heiner Muller, directed by Ozlegend Michael Gow, and starring Bell himself as the revenge-serving Titus. It’s on at the Playhouse, check out the Canberra Theatre website for more info: .

Rock on, Canberra.

Lands End, Compagnie Philippe Genty @ The Playhouse, August 20 – 23 + The Red Shoe, Jigsaw Theatre Company @ The Street Theatre, August 28 – Sept 6
Date Published: Thursday, 4 September 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 8 months ago

They wouldn’t often be mentioned in the same breath, but France’s Compagnie Philippe Genty and Canberra’s Jigsaw Theatre both recently served up eye-popping productions for the ‘berra stage, challenging audiences visually, thematically, theatrically.

Descriptive clichés abound in trying to describe Lands End, from French master Philippe Genty. Sumptuous is one over-used adjective that seems particularly appropriate. The dancers, black against a ground of changing colours, moved hyperbolically in their quest for identity in a world of aimless change. Genty’s use of shape and colour is superb, and the company effortlessly created unexpected and astonishingly beautiful tableaux. Having said that, I did have reservations, one – the question of story - based on my own prejudice for words which is maybe possibly irrelevant when discussing visual theatre; the other, the issue of technical and performance lapses (the synchronicity of the dancers, for instance, which occasionally left something to be desired) were, I think, unconscionable for a company of this level of status and prestige.

But it was pretty.

Jigsaw Theatre fulfilled their aims better, I think, with The Red Shoe, their adaptation of Ursula Dubosarsky’s novel. The Red Shoe explores family and secrets, the imaginary vistas that spring from the real world, and the effect of history on individual lives. Director Kate Shearer, with video designer Rolando Ramos and designer Jo Briscoe, created a splendid, multidimensional world seeped in childhood imagination and noir-ish mystery. Kate Sherman’s performance as six-year-old Matilda, comedic and charming, stole the show (an opinion not at all intended to underrate the performances by seasoned cast members Andrea Close, PJ Williams, Caroline O’Brien, and Naomi Brouwer, who all brought a touching solidity to their characters). And although this is, technically, a show for young people, The Red Shoe’s maturity and gravitas certainly appeals to older audiences.  Simply wonderful.

Date Published: Thursday, 4 September 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 8 months ago

Well, having been stupefied (and terrified in parts) by Philippe Genty’s amazing wordless visual theatre FEAST, Lands End, I’ve been feeling rather overwhelmed. The spatial beauty! The ambiguity of identity! The puppets (eeek)! Yes, Genty is a master. But I couldn’t help thinking that a tiny lil’ spot of story wouldn’t have gone astray. Such is the opinion of this philistine. Shake your fists at me if you want. I can’t see them.

Nothing. Again, Nothing
Lots of hoo-hah about it, that is: yes, Papermoon is partway through its run of the Bard’s romantic comedy classic Much Ado About Nothing. Pros: a cast of ’berra stalwarts (Steph Brewster, Jamie O’Connell, Jim Adamik, Cam Thomas, et al), direction from The Lesson’s Bec Clifford, delightful malapropisms. Cons: no Nanu Reeves hamming it up as Don John. Sigh. Anyway, get down to the ANU Arts Centre before it finishes. There’s Vivaldi dinner packages as well, as always.

Papermoon presents William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Bec Clifford.  Now until Saturday September 6 @ 8pm. Tix $25/$20 at the door. For Vivaldi dinner and show packages:  6257 2718.

Steven Berkoff
The big scary Nosferatu-lookin’ theatrical master, Berkoff, Steven Berkoff, STEVEN BERKOFF (OMG) is coming HERE to pour awe into the hearts of the N.C.’s theatrekinds with One Man.  The show consists of him, The Berkoff, performing two pieces: 1. an adaptation of Poe’s classic tale of gnawing guilt, The Tell-Tale Heart, and 2. Dog, an original Berkoffian piece in which Stevie B. plays both man and dog. Holy sheet.

Steven Berkoff in One Man at the Playhouse, Tuesday September 16 to Saturday September 20 @ 8pm.  Tix $44 for U27, or $69/$62.50.  Tix thru Canberra Ticketing, 6275 2700 or head to the CTC website .

Hunting Season
We’ve mentioned it before in these pages (what? You don’t remember? Shame on you!) but we’ll mention it again because it’s about to kick off in a big way. The Hunting Season, the massive major initiative of awesome made by and for young’n’emergings, is coming to Belconnen Theatre from September til November. Stay tuned for more details, or head to The Hunting Season’s website .

Crème de la…
Season 2 of Cabaret Crème, the Street’s monthly Monday lounge session, has begun already and here it lands with a bombshell-bang in the form of Jennifer Ward-Lealand. Ward-Lealand (who is staring sultrily at me from the webpage as we speak… oooh-er!) brings us The Look of Love, a celebration of love through song. THROUGH SONG! Check it out at Street 2 on Monday September 8 @ 7.30pm.  Tix $35 from the Street B.O. (6247 1223) or at the The Street Theatre website .

One Night Only – but what a night!
In what has to be the best development in theatrical nomenclature ever, Melbournian comedienne Joanne Brookfield is bringing her show, Princess Pissy Pants the Greedy Cheese Eating Bitch and Other Naughty Dog Tales to the CTC for, yes, one night only. The show was apparently declared a “must-see” by The Age, and consarnit if it ain’t true: Theatre Column certainly feels that we ‘must-see it’, if only for the name.

Joanne Brookfield in Princess Pissy Pants the Greedy Cheese Eating Bitch and Other Naughty Dog Tales, Canberra Theatre Courtyard Studio, Saturday September 6 @ 7pm. Tix thru Canberra Ticketing.  See above.

Ciao, la mia piccola parte di carne, il mio cuore.

Date Published: Thursday, 21 August 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 9 months ago

What’s on? Well the biggest thing at the moment is the fabulous Canberra Living Artists Week. Yes, CLAW has rolled around again and there’s a bunch of stuff to see and do round the NC. Theatre, art, photography, music… Juicy tidbits below but if you want to check out the programme, head to .

Comedy Gold!
Chuckles aplenty can be had in various locations round Canbs. First up, Hot 5, two nights of comedy associated with CLAW: the deal is, a bunch of Canberra comics will dish up their best five minutes of comedy gold. Featuring Tom Gibson, Emo Willis, Jay Sullivan, Kale Bogdanovs, Geoff Setty and Rick Meir, Hot 5 will serve up on August 25 and 26 from 8pm at the Cacophony Space in Manuka. $5 entry. Check it out on the CLAW programme.

Second, the Green Faces grand final will be held on September 4 so if you want to support your favourite local comedian, head to the CTC website for info on the show and to book your tickets! .

Tableaux Vellum
Also part of the CLAW programme is the next Tableaux Vivants, titled Vellum. Vellum uses human bodies as living manuscripts. Words created by local writers inscribe and describe elements of the relationship the Muses have with their bodies. And yes, there will be nudity, so no prudes allowed. Also no lechers.
Tableaux Vivants presents Vellum, at Smith’s Alternative Bookstore. Sunday August 24, 6.30 to 7pm and 7.30 to 8pm. $15 entry. Bookings are recommended so give ’em a buzz on 6247 4459.

8 Women Auditions
Centrepiece Theatre are returning to the Canberra stage and need eight women to stand on it. Auditions for their new show, 8 Women, based on the delightfully nutty Francois Ozon romp will be held on Saturday August 23. This show is particularly exciting for all you gals out there who, like me, are constantly frustrated by the lack of good female roles in the theatre. Email Centrepiece’s AD, Jordan Best, on jordan [dot] best [at] homemail [dot] com [dot] au for info and to book a slot.

Wicked Voice
The Street has announced the cast for their upcoming and incredibly exciting-sounding new show, The Wicked Voice. The premiere world exclusive show features four ‘melodramas’ created in collaborative awesomeness by Caroline Stacey, Dianna Nixon, ACT Australian of the Year Geoffrey Lancaster, legendary Oz composer Larry Sitsky, and acclaimed mezzo-soprano Angela Giblin. The cast includes Canbs stalwarts Raoul Craemer and Chrissie Shaw, plus debutantes Clare Blumer and Miriam Miley-Read.

The Street Theatre presents The Wicked Voice at Street 2. Friday August 29 and Saturday August 30 @ 8pm, Sunday August 31 @ 2pm and 6pm. Tickets $29/$25/$15.  Call the B.O. on 6247 1223 for info and to book.

A Tribute
Finally, though it seems unfit to eulogise in these pages that so often are the scene for mirth, Canberra has too soon lost one of the lights of the theatre community and we must pay our respects. On Friday 25 July Jan Wawrzynczak, theatre maker extraordinaire, former GM of Canberra Youth Theatre and Multicultural Arts Officer through artsACT, manager of Belconnen Theatre and their Community Arts and Culture Program, all-round legend and inspiration to us all, passed away. Our deepest sympathy to his loved ones. He will be sorely missed.

Date Published: Thursday, 24 July 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 10 months ago

While Theatre Column has been more than a little neglectful of the plenary responsibilities of criticism with regard to actually seeing shows (blame the thesis deadline looming like a hooded and bloodied executioner and/or the effect of gin on the cerebral cortex), there has been a delightful sprouting on the scene of late that would have been a treat to see.*

The Year of Magical Thinking breezed into town and out again like a blue-ribbon zephyr, Cathy Petocz’s Open House residency The Booth stormed CYT for one night only with theatrical-installation-originality, Ickle Pickle’s The Emperor’s New Clothes filled The Street with the shrieks of entertained sprogs-on-hols, while NUTS’s production of Brendan Cowell’s Bed (which I actually managed to get to) built from a base of solid performances to awesomeness of the proportions of, if not a heaven-scraping duomo, then at least a duplex.

From The Ground Up
There’s a new company putting their noses to the N.C. theatrical grindstone: Freshly Ground Theatre (right). The brainchild of Remy Coll and Sam Floyd, this embryo enterprise will be serving up their first production, an original piece titled A Fair Arrangement that has something to do with adultery. It’s on soon so get excited!

Freshly Ground Theatre presents A Fair Arrangement by Sam Floyd, directed by Remy Coll.  Featuring Bryony Stokes, Tom Watson, Jasmine De Martin and Sam Floyd. QL2 Theatre at the Gorman House Arts Centre from July 30 to August 9. Presumably at 8pm. There’s a charity preview on the 29th. Tix $11/ $9. What a bargain! For bookings and info call 0450 067 322 between 5 and 8pm.

Role Call
Speaking of originals and adultery, Canberran Bruce Hoogendoorn’s new play debuts at The Street this week. The Role Model centres on swimming wunderkind Scott Martin, who is forced to take desperate PR measures (ie., mentoring depressed urchins) after being caught in flagrante delicto with his best mate’s wife.  Should be a treat.

The Rude Mechanicals and The Street Theatre present The Role Model by Bruce Hoogendoorn, directed by Ian Hart. Running tonight ’til August 2, Wednesday to Saturday @ 8pm. Matinees Saturday July 26 and August 2 @ 2pm.  Tix $25/$21, student rush $15.  Info and bookings call the Street B.O. on 6247 1223.
My Sister, My Brother

Another newbie: Quantum Leap, that stalwart of youth dance radness, has a new show coming to the stage. Headed up by AD Ruth Osborne and dramaturged by CYT maestro Pip Buining, My Sister, My Brother brings together work and ideas of some of Oz’s top choreographers together with original music compositions and video design. QL usually put out top-hole stuff so if that’s what you’re into, get into it.

Quantum Leap presents My Sister, My Brother at The Playhouse from Wednesday July 30 to Saturday August 2 @ 7pm. Thursday and Friday performances also at 10.30am, and matinee Saturday at 2pm. Tix $22/$18/$15.  $60 for a family of 4.  Call Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700 or head to the website: .

What else?… Theatre Tidbits
Phoenix Players’ A Chorus Line is on at Theatre 3 ’til August 2, phone 6257 1950 for bookings… the ANU Mandarin Society is bringing Secret Love In Peach Blossom to The Street from July 31 to August 2…  Canberra Dramatics presents another original, Mrs Holt, at The Street from August 7 to 16…  AND… Free Rain hit the stage once more with Chekhov’s Three Sisters, opening mid-August at the Courtyard Studio.

*Had I actually gotten out of the office to see it. Natch.

Date Published: Thursday, 10 July 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 10 months ago

Finally, a couple of plays came along to knock the wind out of the sails of the Good Ship Ennui that had been threatening to transport Theatre Column to the Land of Nod. Moonlight has again come up trumps with their staggering production of Edward Albee’s The Goat. Directed with verve by Bridget Balodis and featuring impressive performances from Jerry Hearn and Christa de Jager as a married couple helplessly caught in a domestic maelstrom, The Goat steers the audience into a bleak, tragic storm only barely contained by Albee’s superb black humour and graceful writing. Powerhouse stuff. Compelling on a different scale was Bohemian’s A Prisoner’s Dilemma at The Street Theatre, which deservedly got a near-sellout season. This gripping exploration of game theory and manipulation cleverly invites the viewer into the play before it grasps them by the scruff and forces them to sit through the consequences of their decisions.

Let’s Go to Bed
NUTS, the National University Theatre Society, is bringing Bed, by Oz theatre darling Brendan Cowell, to the ANU stage. It’s on for three nights only, from tonight to Saturday July 12. Tickets are cheap as at only $10 for slackers and $15 for grown-ups. There’s no booking number – it’s a ‘first come, first served, at the door, on the night’ basis.  Get into it!

NUTS presents Brendan Cowell’s Bed directed by Lucy Hayes and Andrew Holmes.  ANU Arts Centre Drama Lab, Thursday July 10 – Saturday July 12 @ 8pm.

So You Think You Can Shakespeare?
No, it’s not Channel Ten’s latest grab for ratings (but imagine if it was: 40 pimply-faced wannabes reciting ‘Now is the winter of our discontent’ with back up dancers and body mikes while Natalie What’s-Her-Face-With-Too-Many-Letters-In-Her-Name simpers in the middle distance). It’s Bell Shakespeare putting out for the kids. Yes, Bell is offering the chance of a young’n’emerging’s lifetime with their Regional Performance Scholarship. High school students are invited to audition for the chance to attend a week of rehearsals, workshops and masterclasses with Bell Shakespeare. You need to prepare a 2 minute Bardologue and you have to register quicksmart before Friday August 1. Registration forms are available from Canberra Youth Theatre, who are also very helpfully co-hosting an audition workshop with B.S. the following week to help aspiring auditionees.  For info and to register, give CYT’s Pip Buining a call on 6248 5057, or email at pip [at] cytc [dot] net .

You Would Cry Too If It Happened To You (doo doo doo doo do)
Opening in a coupla weeks, It’s My Party (And I’ll Die If I Want To) is a black comedy which aims its barbs at the neuroses of your typical suburbanite familial disfunction.

Canberra Repertory presents It’s My Party (And I’ll Die If I Want To) by Elizabeth Coleman, directed by Catherine Hill. Thursday July 25 to Saturday August 16 at 8pm. Matinees at 2pm on August 2, 9 and 16 and twilight shows at 4pm on August 3 and 10.  To book tickets call Rep on 6257 1950.

A few of my favourite things
Wait, that’s the wrong musical. I guess I’m still bitter about Audrey. But don’t be deterred, and certainly don’t forget: Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady is coming to town from August 9 to 23.  This is big ticket musical theatre so grope under the couch for spare shrappers, rob an old lady, put everything on black… just get down to Canberra Ticketing and get yourself a seat. O wouldn’t it be… what’s the word?
Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady at the CTC. Check out for info and to book.

Date Published: Wednesday, 25 June 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 11 months ago

Holy dooley there’s a lot on! No more need for random biographical tidbits from your Theatre Columnist this ish, just good ol’fashunned news.

First up, NIDA is ‘on tour’ in July doing short courses for disaffected youf wanting to crack the theatre ice (or film, or TV, but we at Theatre Column don’t stand for those corruptible ‘art’ forms.  Just call us the H.J. of BMA.  Sieg heil!). There’s courses on ‘NIDA Acting Techniques’, ‘Acting Intensive’, ‘Screen Acting’ and ‘Acting to Camera’ (first caller to tell me the difference between the last two gets a gold star!), as well as directing and T.V. presenting workshops.  Most of the courses are for 16 plus but there are some for tackers 12 to 15 years. Check out or email them at open [at] nida [dot] edu [dot] au .

Canberra Youth Theatre has its own holiday workshops for liddle tykes. Heroes, a workshop aimed at 7 to 9 year olds where they get to create their own superhero, runs from July 7 to 11, while Kapow!, from July 14 to 18, explores storytelling through martial arts, body percussion, and Indonesian storytelling techniques. Check out the CYT website on or give Sharon a call on 6248 5057 for info and to book a place.
Meanwhile, at the Street: Shortis and Simpson are back with Three Nights at the Bleeding Heart, their Keating!-esque take on K-Rudd, while Bruce Hoogendorn’s The Role Model debuts in July.  Check out the website: .

Shortis and Simpson present Three Nights at the Bleeding Heart in Street 1 til June 28.  Tix $33/$28.
The Rude Mechanicals present The Role Model in Street 2 from July 23 to August 2. Tix $25/$21/$15. To book tix for either or both of these shows, call the B.O. on 6247 1223.

Also: the return of ‘hilarious’ dinner theatre at UC. Feel the excitement pulsing. The UC Players are teaming Noel Coward’s Fumed Oak with a play by Canberra writer Marya Glyn Daniel, The Balls Up, which as titles go is pretty good. But how they’re going to perform a play that from the press release seems to involve an onstage football match on UC Gallery Café ‘stage’ is beyond me.  I wait with baited breath.

U.C. Players presents Fumed Oak and The Balls Up, directed by Jasan Savage, at the UC Gallery Café from June 27 to July 26, Friday and Saturday nights only.  Tix $65 for a show and 3 course dinner.  Bookings, of course, are essential: 6201 2645.

Big (but short) guns on at the CTC: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre (eeek! Puppets!) presents an adaptation of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. Looks suitable for kiddies. It’s only performing on June 25 and 28. SERTO and Melbourne Opera’s La Boheme returns to the ‘berra stage for one night only after its sellout season. One Night Only. July 19. Get tickets if you like stories about consumptive bohemian grisettes who can inexplicably sing soprano. And finally, for blue-ribbon theatre junkies, the STC brings their Blanchett-Nevin-Didion powerhouse, The Year of Magical Thinking from July 2 to 5. Based on the novel by Joan Didion, this emotional knuckleduster sees Cate Blanchett in the director’s chair as theatre stalwart Robyn Nevin delivers Didion’s powerful prose “undiluted”.

Check out all these shows (plus more!) on the CTC website at or call Canberra ticketing on 6275 2700 to book ya tix.

Quickly: Rep’s next show, It’s My Party (And I’ll Die If I Want To) is on from July 24 to August 16. I’ll probably mention it again, but just in case, log it in your diaries if you like appellationally long winded satirico-theatrical cream-puffery.

Playscripting Australia - Stick to the script
Date Published: Wednesday, 25 June 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 11 months ago


On the eve of the launch of the National Script Workshop, Chris Mead, Artistic Director of PLAYWRITING AUSTRALIA , raises some thorny questions: “How do plays make it to the stage? How do writers get better at what they do? How do new plays get to where the decisions about programming theatre company seasons are made? Who writes plays anyway? And what about productions on Broadway, the West End or . . .???”  Luckily, since PWA was formed in 2006 after some papershuffling at the Australia Council, answering those
questions are his job.

“It’s a new organisation and we’ve been lucky enough to be given a blank canvas, and as a result we’ve crafted programmes and opportunities that respond to the problems and possibilities of our time.” One of these programmes is the National Script Workshop, which will be launched on June 29 at Theatre 3. The Workshop teams writers and their scripts with actors, dramaturgs and directors, to bridge “the gap from page to stage, and from individual to industry.”

“The Workshop is an opportunity for anyone with a script, or even someone with good ideas towards a new play, to see how it works on the floor. Creating a play is an intensely collaborative job. It’s crucial of course that the script is good. It’s just as important though for the rest of the team to get it right as well. How many plays, good plays, fail because the combination of writer, director, producer, dramaturg and actors was wrong?”

Despite the manifest terrors involved in making plays, Mead is enthusiastic about new works submitted to PWA. Theatre has shown itself to be vital creatively and politically, with new productions examining “drought, terrorism and global warming”, or with characters as diverse as “a boy on roller skates singing Spandau Ballet, a kid who talks to insects and a woman stuck in remote Tasmania.”

“Anything can happen on the stage. Writers can write anything. If they see a camel and an elephant building a go-kart, go for it. It’s our job to work out what happens next.”

The launch will also see the performance of PWA’s 48 Hour Play Generator, a “dangerous” idea, quips Mead.
“It was one of those ideas that seemed like a good idea at the time – give four writers some stimulus material, a cast and a weekend to write a new play from scratch – but now I’m looking at it again and realised that we’ve handed over all control to creative people and a stopwatch. What was I thinking?”

PlayWriting Australia’s National Script Workshop will be launched at Theatre 3, Ellery Crescent, on Sunday June 29 at 7.30pm in conjunction with the 48 Hour Play Generator performances. Tickets $10/$5 at the door, with a complimentary glass of booze. It is the theatre, darling.

Date Published: Thursday, 12 June 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 11 months ago

Theatre Column is back to the ho-hum-humdrum-daily-grind-stone plodwork of Canberra and postgraduate dissertations after the dizzying heights of country music and conference proceedings… but thankfully, the light that shines at the end of, and sometimes very faintly in the middle or two thirds of the way along, the tunnel is blinking slowly and surely.

O, Theatre!
Free Rain managed to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear with Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things, a vacuous “Pygmalion” rip-off disguising itself as a serious meditation on art/temptation/ truth. Director Soren Jensen paced the production, including integrated multimedia video elements, with precision, and Hannah Meredith and Pat Gordon sparkled in supporting roles. Shame about the script.

But theatrical goodies come and go ever so quickly it’s hard to feel anything but elation.

Keating! has passed by once again, leaving audiences feeling like an escort after a charity ball, drunk with rich, suave, out-of-your-league,-honey theatricality.

In a cocklewarming bit of news, Warehouse Circus president Steve Goodman has been named A.C.T. Arts and Heritage Volunteer of the Year for his commitment to the arts, to the survival of Warehouse, and to the support and encouragement of young humans. Big, hearty congratulations are due.
And there’s only a few sleeps until Moonlight’s second show of 2008…

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
Edward Albee (you know: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Zoo Story, all those famous ones. C’mon, you do.) won the Tony for this play. And while Big Name Awards are never entirely a guarantor of quality (Best New Artist Grammy Award Winner 2006: Carrie Underwood. Quoi?), Albee’s pedigree (see above) should be. Also take to heart the lovely group of theatricals involved: Bridget Balodis (The Eisteddfod) directing, with Jerry Hearn and Christa de Jager in lead roles. Now that this blurb has as many parentheses as it could (possibly) possess, here’s the details.

Moonlight presents Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, directed by Bridget Balodis. ANU Arts Centre Drama Lab, Thursday June 18 to Saturday June 28 @ 8pm. Tix $15/$12 at the door.

Cabaret Crème no.6
The date has changed but the show still goes on. The sixth in the Street’s Cabaret Crème series on Monday night cabaret is Steve Ross, the “Crown Prince of New York Cabaret”. Ross will perform songs from the likes of Cole Porter, Noel Coward, Lorenz Hart, et al. Originally scheduled for the first Monday of June, the show will now hit the Street on the 23rd.

The Street Theatre presents “Cabaret Crème No. 6: Steve Ross” at the Street Theatre, Monday June 23 @ 8.30pm. More info and ticket bookings can be gotten at the Street website or call the B.O. on 6247 1223.

Everyone Can See What’s Going On
Oooooh, it’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. Sadly no Sinead, just a good ol’ fashunned show-for-kids from perennial panto purveyors Ickle Pickle. Directed by maestro Jordan Best, I am assured it will be a “fun school holiday show”. Whee!

Ickle Pickle presents The Emperor’s New Clothes at the Street Theatre from July 4 to 19. For more info on the show or to book tickets, check out their website at or else you can book with the Street B.O. on 6247 1223.

Finally, it’s not ‘til August but if you want to hear songs about things that are “luvverly” and where the rain in Spain falls, you might want to consider booking your tickets for Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady. It’s at the CTC. It’s on the website . It’s gonna be big.

Date Published: Thursday, 29 May 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  8 years, 12 months ago

It’s Sunday. It’s sunny. It’s Austin. And, suffering from a bad night of badness after some ill-advised tequila with a bunch of Texans, I can safely say, it’s not the best time to be writing about theatre that’s happening 6,000 miles away. Yes, this Theatre Column is coming to you all the way from the Blue Heart of Red Texas.
But you don’t care about that! You care about theatre!

At least, you care more than I do at this stage. Ha, ha.

Word on the Street
What’s happening at our venerable Street in the coming weeks and months? Weellllll…
If you’re quick, you can get in for the final days of Canberra Dramatics’s (that seems like odd punctuation, but according to the Modern Humanities Research Association Style Guide, it is correct) latest piece, Clowns in Winter, a meditation on poverty, addiction and homelessness by local Joan MacGillivray which closes on the 31st.

For lovers of trad-folk-country-blues blends (and another indication of the branching out of the Street into different performance forms), Jeff Lang will be touring his new album, Half Seas Over at Street 1 on the 1st of June.

Later in the piece - or should I say, month - Bohemian’s fantastic, toured-to-Adelaide-Fringe and wowed-the-socks-off-audiences show, A Prisoner’s Dilemma will hit Street 2 for a short season, from June 17 to 21. YOU SHOULD SEE THIS SHOW. I saw it in rudimentary form during the development stages last year and it was - to put it bluntly - bloody interesting. Game theory, robots, live trombone/electronica, and extremely effective and affecting audience participation. See it. Please.

For info on all these shows and the other stuff that is continually on at the Street (the Cabaret Crème series, Improv ACT who seem to have set up camp in the foyer) check out the website on or call the B.O. on 6247 1223.

Something Nice to CTC?
Apologies. Yesterday I went to a Punning Championship and I’m waiting for the infection to subside. Anyway. At the CTC this fortnight:

Shorter + Sweeter – a selection of plays from the Newtown Theatre’s Short + Sweet festival. Tiny morsels of delicious theatre. June 3rd to 7th. I don’t have to continue with the food metaphor, do I? You get it.

Keating!, back for another lightning-quick, and I’m sure already sold-out, tour of the berra. They say it’s the final one, so if you haven’t seen it I’d adopt some kind of guerrilla tactics to steal tickets from unwitting passersby, because it is hell rad. From the 3rd to the 8th of June.

And if you have some tykes (and get this issue in time) you could take them to Garry Ginivan’s adaptation of the Mem Fox kid’s classic, Possum Magic, on the 31st of May.

Finally, Rep’s Old Time Music Hall is back again in the middle of June. It’s been on in June for the past bajillion years. Campy costumes, ‘how’s your father’ jokes and old-fashioned ditties abound. Audiences will be expected to sing along. June 12th to 21st.

Again, details on tickets and performance times for all these can be found at the website, , or call up Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700.

Love and roses to you all. I’m going to pass out now.

Date Published: Thursday, 15 May 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  9 years ago

Interesting movements at the ANU, with the getting-into-gear of the next Moonlight show and the second (already!) NUTS show of the year. Moonlight are currently in audition/rehearsal process for Edward Albee’s 2002 Tony triumph The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? which according to an Albee interview is “about four human beings and a goat… and it involves human relationships.” What those relationships are, and how they play out in Albee’s drama, ask tense questions of sexuality and taboo. More likely than not, Moonlight’s June production will bring something unseen and unsettling to the light of the NC stage. A (probably) more comfortable and enjoyable meditation on sexuality and relationships is Brendan Cowell’s Bed, which in July will form the second NUTS production of the year. Cowell (soon to be the melancholic prince in Bell’s Hamlet which if you want to see, you’ll need to go to Sydders ’cos it ain’t comin’ here, natch) draws the comedic sexual dilemma of the Modern Man with a deft hand and this kind of show is perfect material for the young ’n’ emergings of NUTS.

Speaking of Bell, their As You Like It was to my mind a spectacular return to form. Saskia Smith as Rosalind was at once funny, fragile, authoritative, beautiful, and jelly-legged-with-love, while Stephen Phillips’s gorgeous performance as Orlando commanded all the attention that I usually reserve for Father-Of-My-Unborn-Children-If-He’ll-Have-Me, Julian Garner. The late Jennie Tate’s diaphanous set was a beautiful realisation of the wonder and innocence of the Forest of Arden. My only gripe was with Lexi Freiman’s performance as Celia, which strained the beauties of the Bard in an attempted translation into modern Strine. As You Like It was, however, a strong, funny, top-shelf production. ’Twas a marked contrast to the other show I saw last week, Free Rain’s Rebel Without A Cause, of which the best that could be said is that it had strong performers (Jess Brent, Cameron Thomas, Adrian Flor) whose talents could be better utilised.

A Funny Thing
Stephen Sondheim’s modern classic, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum is being produced by Philo soon. Their website is uncharacteristically silent on the subject of dates but I think I can construe fairly accurately that it will play at the Southern Cross Club in some kind of dinner/theatre ménage. The ever-delightful and dramatically dextrous (try saying that three times fast) Geoffrey Borny is directing, so it should by rights entertain.

Hit the Wall
Musicals seem to be the order of the week, with the Supa production of Pink Floyd’s The Wall hitting the Arts Centre stage on May 9. It runs til the 24th so you still have time. Supa presents Pink Floyd’s The Wall at the ANU Arts Centre, May 9 – 24 @ 8pm. Bookings through Supa – head to their website at . You can also get dinner/show packages through Teatro Vivaldi – give ’em a bell on 6257 2718.

A final word: Whoops!
Last column I mistakenly informed the gentle reader that Rep were responsible for It Was That Way When I Got Here. I was wrong. The responsible party was Phoenix Players’ Phoenix Rising programme. Apologies to all for not giving credit where credit was due (tho, to be fair to me, the Rep website from whence I drew my info was ambiguously silent on the topic, so how was I to know? A lesson to all on the importance of informative publicity).

The National Folk Festival @ EPIC March 20 - 24
Date Published: Thursday, 1 May 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  9 years ago

You wander around, accosted by children busking with tin whistles stuck up their noses, guys on stilts, and guys dressed up as Irish Setters. There’s a wide variety of eco-friendly stalls selling knitted hats. The smell of hot kransky, hot orange, and hot hippies wafts through the air. It’s the National. The Nash. Folkies. Whatever you choose to call it, it always turns out to be a weekend to not remember very well because you’ve drunk too much alcoholic ginger beer.

Friday was a red-letter day for not paying much attention because I wrote myself off Thursday night. Still, I managed to drag myself to the Marquee to see Kate Burke and Ruth Hazelton play, and Thank Christ Who Died For Our Sins that I did. Their pure harmonies are the perfect antidote to sour head and sour breath (although their wrenching version of The Wreck of the Dandenong is perhaps a little too cry-making for a hungover lass to handle.

Saturday was Disappointment Day (viz: Klezmer Connection, who had no accordion, and The Duhks, who were the big news of the Festival but who were as interesting as a mash-up of the Dixie Chicks and lame fiddle music can be) which luckily bled into Night of Awesome Radness (CYT’s HiJinx, then The Counterfeit Gypsies, The Crooked Fiddle Band and Dahahoo one after the other at the Mallee, a line-up which sent everyone into paroxysms of spaz-dancing fun).

Sunday I schlepped around the Festival trying madly to make up lost time by catching the last 20 minutes of every band at the Fitzroy, seeing some Unidentified Bush Poetry at the Budawang, and slurping down caffeine in an effort to stay awake. The Spooky Men’s Chorale were enjoyable as always, and Rory McLeod played some mean harmonica, while Truckstop Honeymoon lived up to every expectation of K-rad awesome bluegrass-country. The pick of the festival. Or at least one of them. The other was Canberra’s own The Ellis Collective. These bloke-folkies take the crown for local talent and top-shelf festival performances. I caught two of their sets and, though I’ve seen them play before around town, I was blown away afresh by the beauty and honest wit of their songs.

T’was a good festival. I can’t remember much, but what I do remember is sheer fun, virtuoso musicianship, and a lot of delicious cider.

Date Published: Thursday, 1 May 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  9 years ago

Oooh it’s been a heady two weeks, what with all the activity at The Street (Berlin, The Eisteddfod) and also emerging developments over Belco way with The Hunting Season (read below). The Street should especially be commended for the visual feast that was Berlin.

Who would’ve thought that Street 1 would scrub up so beautifully? Designer Imogen Keen should win some kind of award. Justine Campbell again stood out from the crowd with her beautiful Piaf-esque performance. Not to be outstripped, Bridget Balodis’s professional directing debut The Eisteddfod lit fires of interest. While I wasn’t too keen on Lally Katz’s script, Balodis’s direction and the fine performances of Virginia Savage and Peter Cook made for a wondrous night at the Theeee Ayter. It’s on until May 3 so if you can get there, do. Exciting times!

The Hunt Is On
The Hunting Season is Belco’s new deal for young’n’emerging artistes de théâtre. Briefly, Belconnen Theatre, with the support of the Foundation for Young Australians, will this year be presenting a season of cross arts performance created by and for young people – The Hunting Season. The season will run from September to November, showing-off the talent of young people from all art forms. You can check out the website at . Overseen by The Hunting Party, a bratpack of emerging Canberran creatives (Ali McGregor, Ben Drysdale, and Michael Bailey), the Season will develop two new works that will incorporate a plenitude of art forms into theatrical performers. For this THEY NEED YOU! Actors, writers, directors, visual artists, video artists, circus freaks, musicians, dancers, designers, conceptual artists working in the medium of men’s hats… if you’re between the ages of 15 and 25 and like to call yourself an artiste, The Hunting Party want you to be involved in their cross-artform collaborative mash-up performance spectacular!
IF YOU WANT IN on said exciting cross-artform-collaborative-mash-up-spectacular, email The Hunting Party with this info: who you are, what you do, and how you think you can contribute to devising this spectacular new work. Remember, they’re interested in excitement, enthusiasm, and something interesting you can bring to the table. Like a salted herring. For more information on what they’re about, or to express interest in being involved, email The Hunting Party at callout [at] huntingseason [dot] com [dot] au . Get in quick!

Theatre Dossier #247
Name: It Was That Way When I Got Here. Category: Musical, Lighthearted and Hilarious. Theme: Thinly Disguised School, Attack of.

Parties Responsible: Hackwell, Andrew and Flack, Jonathan. Location: Theatre 3. Company: Canberra Repertory. Dates: May 8 – 11.

Pedigree: Local. Price: $33/$28. Likelihood of Show Being Good: Unknown.
Rebel Without A…

Free Rain are again pushing the dramatic envelope, with an adaptation to the stage of Rebel Without A Cause. I can totally see how Nicholas Ray’s 1955 classic movie would work wonders on the 2008 stage, especially the crucial, tense scene where Jim and Buzz are doing the chickie race on the edge of the cliff and Buzz gets caught on the car strap thing and plummets with the car over the edge of the cliff to his death… That kind of thing could really play well in the Courtyard Studio.

Free Rain presents Rebel Without A Cause at the Courtyard Studio, CTC, from May 1 to 17 @ 8pm. Wednesday shows @ 6.30pm. Sunday twilight show May 11 @ 5pm. Matinees on Saturdays @ 2pm. Tix $27/$22. ‘Pay what you can’ on the Wednesday performances. Call Canberra Ticketing to book or head to the website .

Date Published: Thursday, 17 April 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  9 years, 1 month ago

While opening night drinkies are always welcome to this theatre columnist, it might perhaps be sage to adhere to the following piece of wisdom: when going to a show, don’t consume the contents of a bottle of shiraz before you sit down, then another three or four glasses during interval. This is precisely what I did Thursday night when I went to Papermoon’s An Absurd Double Bill at the ’NU Arts Centre, and what happened was this: I enjoyed the show thoroughly, I snorted like a coke-fuelled donkey, and I can’t remember what happened. I vaguely recall the hilarious tension between Jim Adamik and Julia Lamb as the teacher and pupil in The Lesson, and the out-and-out absurdity of The Bald Soprano, especially Helen Tsongas’s beautifully clipped British housewife, but other than that…

Another piece of wisdom I’ve recently garnered about going to the theatre: don’t go at all if, suffering from allergen-induced asthma from renovations to your bathroom, you will be required to be quiet throughout a live recording of a Fourplay concert at the Street Theatre. Because unfortunately, it will mean paroxysming into your coat sleeve while you try desperately not to make noise and therefore not actually be able to enjoy the K-rad concert replete with awesome quartet covers of Killing in the Name and Sufjan Stevens and Cocteau Twins tracks. Mind my words, young apprentices. Now:

Blue Balls
NUTS is opening their year with a double bill of plays about that most glorious of subjects: sex.  Yay! Dario Fo’s The Open Couple has been paired with Van Badham’s Morning on a Rainy Day in a double-feature of sex, lust, infidelity, polygamy, betrayal… All Good Things. Featuring a cast and production team replete with BYTs of the local scene, it’s definitely one to look forward to.
NUTS presents The Open Couple and Morning on a Rainy Day at the ANU Arts Centre Drama Lab from April 24 to 26 @ 8pm. Tix $15/$10, or $5 if you’re a NUTS member. All payable at the door.  Get on it!

House of Play
I told you last fortnight about The Return Of Bell: As You Like It at the Playhouse from April 22 to May 3. Just makin’ sure you know good and proper, because with Saskia Smith as Rosalind (she was Ariel in Bell’s Tempest last year, and golly! was she good) this classic bit of Bard is likely to be a cracker.

Also coming soon to the Playhouse is Heath Franklin’s Chopper: Make Deadshits History, some terrifying experiment with automata (or, to be more precise, a ventriloquist’s muppet with a mo and a potty mouth). Apparently the show contains obscene language. Wouldn’t have guessed from the title. It’s on for one night only on April 20, so get your tickets ($32/$28) now.

Crème Your Pants
The third Cabaret Crème is on at The Street Theatre on April 21 (yes, that is a Monday). Elena Kats-Chernin is performing with Natsuko Yoshimoto, and the website’s description of the show is replete with mysterious brevity: “A composer who defies categorisation.” Put that in ya verbose pipe and smoke it.
The Street Theatre presents Cabaret Crème 3: Elena Kats-Chernin at Street 1, Monday April 21 @ 5.30 and 8.30pm.  Tix $30, phone 6247 1223.

Now that I’ve used replete thrice in one column, I’m going to go get a thesaurus. Chookas!

Date Published: Thursday, 3 April 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  9 years, 1 month ago

Goodness gracious me there is ever so much on, and with this theatre columnist only just recovering from the super weekend had at Folkies, the waves of new shows to see is somewhat overwhelming.

Let’s start with The Street, where a few things are of the type to tickle fancies. First up, there’s the Canberra premiere of Repercussions in Movement by Gary France and Kim O’Connell, a percussion-sculpture-audiovisual-spoken word-movement performance whose press release is nothing if not charmingly obtuse. Favourite phrases: “sonic harmonics”, “tectonic grindings”, “kaleidoscopic integration”. Oooh. Yes please.

Berlin: Cabaret of Desire is next up at Street 1, where rumour has it the auditorium is being transformed into a “haven of vice” ala the Kit Kat in order to bring you the musical stylings of the Weimar. With musical direction by Tim Hansen, directed by Naomi Brouwer, and set design by Imogen Keen (who made the awesome set for last year’s The Give and Take) and PJ Williams, Berlin should be a cracker of stylish, sonic debauchery. They’re booking tickets by tables so get some mates to go along with you and it’ll be cheaper. There may be some kind of bar.

Finally, there’s Lally Katz’s The Eisteddfod, directed by ANU-tyke-made-good, Bridget Balodis. The Eisteddfod is a magical, absurd, and uncomfortably real exploration of the relationship between Gerture and Abalone, orphaned siblings who create their own reality.

The Street Theatre presents:

Repercussions in Movement, Street 2 from Thursday April 3 to Saturday April 5 @ 8pm & Sunday April 6 @ 4pm. Tix $25/$21, $15 student rush.

Berlin: Cabaret of Desire, Street 1 from Friday April 11 to Saturday April 26 @ 8pm, Sunday April 6 and April 13 @ 4pm. Tix $35/$30 or table of four $120/$100.

The Eisteddfod, Street 2 from Wednesday April16 to Saturday May 3 @ 8pm, Sunday April 20 & 27 @ 4pm. Tix $25/$21, $15 student rush.

For more info or to book tickets for any of these shows, head to The Street’s fabulous website at , or phone 6247 1223.

Meanwhile, over at the CTC there are some exciting outta-towners coming including Queensland Theatre Company doing Tom Stoppard’s translation of Gerald Sibleyras’s Heroes, Puccini’s La Boheme for one night only, and Bell Shakespeare back in action with As You Like It. Primo theatre never looked so good.

QTC presents Heroes by Gerald Sibleyras, translated by Tom Stoppard, starring Robert Alexander, Max Gillies, Dennis Olsen. The Playhouse, Tuesday April 1 – Saturday April 5 @ 8pm, matinee Saturday April 5 @ 2pm. Tix $50/$43/$30/$22.

SERTO/Melbourne Opera presents Puccini’s La Boheme @ Canberra Theatre, Saturday April 5 @ 7.30pm. There are a bunch of ticket prices ranging from the mid-fifties for the Gainfully Employed to cheap-as $20 seats for U27 members.

Bell Shakespeare presents As You Like It @ The Playhouse, Tuesday April 22 – Saturday May 3 @ 7.30pm. Matinee Saturday April 26 & May 3 @ 1.30pm. Twilight Monday April 28 @ 6.30pm. Tix $60/$50/$30.
For info and to book tickets for these shows, check out the CTC’s website at or ring Canberra Ticketing on 6275 2700.

Finally, I know this won’t make it out in time to make a lick-o-difference, but Moonlight has started their 2008 season with a bang and a crash of awesome, moving, quality theatre. Sam Shepard’s True West is a masterpiece of Modern Americana, and the performance flourished in the assured hands of Fiona Atkin. Ben Williams and Jarrad West as rival/doppelganger brothers Austin and Lee were wonderful, while Cara Irvine’s set was a revelation. Top shelf, A1, primo.

That’s your lot for the fortnight. Now let me get some rest.

Date Published: Friday, 28 March 08   |  Author: Naomi Milthorpe   |     |  9 years, 2 months ago

Huh. Back again. I’m trying to get excited, but I guess the theatre shemozzle of 2008 is taking its time to make an imprint on my consciousness. Is this what the French would term ennui? Heavens forfend.

There’s so much on!

Go West
Sam Shepard’s True West is one of the classics of modern American theatre. I know this because I get ranted at about it fortnightly. Fiona Atkin, the new Artistic Director of ANU’s Moonlight Productions, is directing it as the first show in Moonlight’s 2008 season. And golly should it be a corker. Two brothers, a kitchen, and thirty toasters feature in this “darkly comic modern classic”. I’m just quoting from the facebook events page here.

Moonlight presents True West by Sam Shepard, directed by Fiona Atkin. Featuring Jarrad West, Ben Williams, Martin Searles and Fiona Atkin. Thursday March 20 to Saturday March 29, 8pm. Tix $15/$12 at the door. ANU Drama students only pay $5! You can also get dinner + show packages at Teatro Vivaldi. Give ‘em a bell on 625 72718. Moonlight is also on facebook so you can get all your info there.

Now go the other way
Also on at ANU in coming weeks is Papermoon’s An Absurd Double Bill, a - yes - double bill, of two hilarious plays by absurdist master Eugene Ionesco. The Lesson takes a look at language and power (but don’t worry, it’s funny), while The Bald Soprano sends up theatre, relationships, and meaning. Featuring a cast of Canberra’s finest actors and directed by Bec Clifford and Cathie Clelland, it’s an exciting opener to Papermoon’s season.

Papermoon presents An Absurd Double Bill: The Lesson and The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco. Thursday April 3 to Saturday April 13 @ 8pm. Wednesday April 9 at 6.30pm. Matinees on Saturdays at 2pm.
Tix $25/$20 at the door or get yourself a Teatro Vivaldi dinner/show package.

The Epistle of St. Paul
Actually, it’s Casey Bennetto’s hilarious cabaret Keating!, back in Canberra one last time. It’s in June which is a while away but tickets for this baby have been selling like pastry goods which are pretty darn warm, so maybe think about getting some now if you want to go. Probably one of the funniest shows I have seen in my life.
Company B Belvoir presents Keating!, directed by Neil Armfield. The Playhouse, June 3 to 7. Tix from $30 - $55 depending on the time you go and how old you are. Check it out on the CTC website or give Canberra Ticketing a call on 6275 2700.

Under Twenty Seven?
Well then, don’t pay full price for your CTC tickets! The CTC’s U27 tickets are available on their subscription season shows for all patrons between the ages of 16 and 27. Just flash your ID to prove your age and get cut-price (and they sometimes are practically half-price) tickets for their season shows. Sweet.

And, finally, for the snobs out there (and aren’t I just one of them?) the Kiev Ballet is coming to the CTC and is doing Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. K-rad. Check it out on the website; they’re here in May for four days only.

Peace out. I’m going for a gin.