RT talk

Leslie Clark, Australia Ad Lib Project, ABC

Leslie Clark, Australia Ad Lib Project, ABC

How come we’re not talking about….

…the Melbourne Herald Sun’s revelations that Cinemedia industry development manager Julie Marlow had misused her company credit card and that creative director Ross Gibson had funded a project involving his partner? This is the question that the new media community was belatedly asking itself: where was it during the assault on Cinemedia, the Victorian government’s film, screen culture and digital media body? As Premier Steve Bracks and Arts Minister Mary Delahunty took up the ‘scandal’ with indecent haste, there was more than a suspicion that it was a prelude to the dissolution of Cinemedia and the revivification of Film Victoria. This has been something long sought by the film industry lobby as it enviously watched the NSW sector speed ahead over the last 5 years. It accused Cinemedia of being inflexible and was hostile to former Premier Jeff Kennett’s preoccupation with investment in new media. The guilty were proven innocent—a small oversight on the credit card, the grant process had always been transparent—but damage had been done, to reputations and possibly to screen culture (already embattled across the nation) and new media. How will the funds be allocated between Film Victoria and what’s left of Cinemedia? As per the lobby push, the latter will be re-named Screen Culture Victoria. Presumably the very word Cinemedia had too many postmodern connotations of a multiplicity of forms and technlogies. So where will new media fit? At a moment in history when the digitalising of film technology and the emergence of new forms (with popular as well as artistic potentials) are already with us, it’s important not to see new media as a mere sideshow. It requires investment, production facilities and an infrastructure body where it can show its name. Federation Square’s Centre for the Moving Image, a major investment in screen culture and new media, will be looked after by Screen Culture Victoria, but what does that really mean for the development of new media outside of exhibiting it?

Kosky moves in on Vienna

Congratulations to Barrie Kosky. You might not have caught up with the news of March 6 that theatre and opera director Kosky has been appointed Co-Artistic Director (with Airan Berg) of the 300-seater Schauspielhaus Theatre, Vienna, with government funding of $2.5m Australian per year and a 3 year contract. In press reports he says has no intention of cutting ties with Australia with projects still to be realised here. It’s already rumoured that he’ll be taking some of his favorite performers to Vienna for particular shows.

Have you got it?

Throughout this country’s history much of the music heard in theatre, dance-hall, cinema and club was home-made and improvised. The Australia Ad Lib Project wants to find out if such music still thrives within the communities of multicultural Australia. ABC Radio is making a countrywide survey and archive of this wild, weird and vernacular music alternative. A wide selection will be broadcast on The Listening Room, on ABC Classic FM, on Radio National’s Radio Eye and on the web later this year. The archive will also become part of the National Library and The Australian Music Centre collections. Co-ordinator Jon Rose says, “We’re talking about the whole tapestry of non-mainstream music action. We’re calling for extreme or unusual club acts, street musicians with attitude, improvising pipe organists, computer hackers with smart ears, karaoke performers with glass shattering voices, disenfranchised toilet wall poets, building workers with high decibel whistles…Examples already documented include Leslie Clark, the man who can play hundreds of tunes by clicking his fingers at the correct pitches; the disturbing sounds of Toydeath; the spacey telephone wire recordings of Dr Alan Lamb; the legendary Chain Saw Orchestra of Fremantle and Ron West’s Majestic Theatre Organ improvisations for silent movies. Contact Jon Rose or Sherre DeLys, GPO Box 9994 in your capital city. Tel 02 93331308 or ozadlib@abc.net.au

A winner

Congratulations to playwright and RealTime writer Christine Evans whose new short play Mothergun was one of 3 winners at Perishable Theatre’s International Women Playwriting Festival—it means full production, $US500 and publication in a book of the 3 works.

Happy birthday Performing Lines

Congrats also to Performing Lines and to its General Manager Wendy Blacklock for 10 years of hard slog practically singlehandedly touring challenging acts around this difficult country. At the RealTime-Performance space Vision Thing forum, Wendy spoke with great optimism of the future of Australia’s innovative arts. Never before, she said, had she sensed such genuine interest from audiences here and internationally. It makes you think what might be done with more money to promote the vision, not to mention a team of helpers to expand on it. This year Performing Lines will tour over 10 productions to more than 15 cities including William Yang’s Blood Links to America, Europe and throughout Australia; Crying in Public Places’ Skin round Australia; Arena Theatre Company’s Eat Your Young to Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra; Ranters Theatre to the Porto Festival in Portugal and Nigel Jamieson and Paul Grabowsky’s The Theft of Sita to Sydney, New York and London. For more see Performing Line’s brand new website: www.performinglines.org.au

Dance results

We hadn’t caught sight of the Australia Council’s New Media Arts and Theatre funding results before going to print, but the dance results reveal, amongst other things, a commitment to cultural diversity with support for Wu Lin Dance Theatre’s (VIC) Journey of the Northern Tiger; Rakini Devi (WA), a 2 year fellowship which will enable her to work with key collaborators, Rosalind Crisp and Nigel Kellaway; and Hirano (VIC) for LADEN (Little Asia Dance Exchange Network) on a 5 week international tour of contemporary dance performance workshops and forums in partner cities including Melbourne, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo and Seoul. Also evident in the selection is a fair number of cross-artform and multimedia collaborations. The Gilgamesh Project (WA) involves performers and design artists from Australia and India, and musicians from Australia and Indonesia. Lisa O’Neill and Caroline Dunphy (QLD) are developing a movement/text performance piece (Rodin’s Kiss). In the Dark Productions (NSW) will work with 5 Australian performers to develop video material for a project involving UK director Wendy Houstoun. Susan Peacock (WA) will continue development of her dance theatre works Near Enemies and Crossing the Line. And it was good to see Sydney’s One Extra getting some real support for 2 projects involving Michael Whaites (see page 30).

NQ never had it so good

On January 23, Queensland Minister for the Arts Matt Foley made the much anticipated announcement that the joint accommodation submission for a purpose built facility to house both JUTE Theatre Ensemble and Kick Arts Collective had been successful. For a number of years both organisations have separately identified appropriate accommodation in the heart of Cairns CBD as their greatest need. Now, as a result of the $2.7million grant from the Millennium Fund, both can look forward to an exciting period of growth and development. The new facility will include a 200-seat theatre and rehearsal space as well as climate-controlled gallery and exhibition spaces, a digital media laboratory, meeting areas as well as much needed storage and handling areas. Both organisations are now required to prepare feasibility studies which among other things will determine the actual site for the Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA). This will involve consultation and discussion with the many other arts organisations located around Cairns.

the road to Singapore

And while we’re up north, NQ artists Rebecca Youdell and Russell Milledge (Bonemap) have scored the first combined Asialink visual and performing arts residency. It’s hosted by The Substation Centre for the Arts in Singapore from April to July this year. Another exciting component of the 4 month residency will be the presentation of New Image – New Ways an exhibition of Australian contemporary art in Singapore featuring many of the Cairns region’s finest artists. www.bonemap.com

Rare Murphet

Richard Murphet’s innovative Dolores in the Department Store was first produced in a brief season at the VCA last year. The college is remounting the work, April 6 – 11, so don’t miss it. Performance, design and production is by students from the School of Drama, direction by Leisa Shelton and Richard Murphet.

New venue hits stride

Imperial Slacks is establishing itself as a regular Sydney venue for out-there performance. A brief description of their “non-house style” for April: a lifesize fullscale yellow horse becomes a rocking toy; an allgirl boy band drags through the city with the top down baby; a bumper to bumper salon of paintings; watch as a 3D animated business man’s head explodes; panorama painting morphs through grid to graffiti cityscape; interact with a portaloo in a way that Duchamp could only hope for. 2/111 Campbell Street Surry Hills. 02-92811150 islacks@projectroom.com; www.projectroom.com/islacks

UTP gets doco-ed

Routledge has recently published Eugene van Erven’s book Community Theatre Global Perspectives which features a case study of Urban Theatre Project’s Trackwork conceived and produced by artists in Sydney’s western suburbs as well as 5 other projects around the world—Peta in the Philippines, Stut Theater in Utrecht, Teatro de la Realidad in LA, Aguamarina in Costa Rica and Kawuonda Women’s Theatre in Kenya. The book is not widely available at Australian bookshops but can be ordered from Amazon and there’s an accompanying video which is even harder to come by.

Arty genitals

Whereas there’ll be stacks of the new volume on genital origami, Puppetry of the Penis, a new book based on a cabaret show (now at the Melbourne Comedy Festival) in which Simon Morley and David Friend manipulate their genitals into various shapes, objects and landmarks. www.puppetryofthepenis.com

Chris Ryan and Rohan Thatcher, version 1.0, The second Last Supper

Chris Ryan and Rohan Thatcher, version 1.0, The second Last Supper

Chris Ryan and Rohan Thatcher, version 1.0, The second Last Supper

Performance Space at full force

There’s a buzz about a surge of new works at Performance Space over coming months at the very same time that it’s been announced it’s losing its home (see page 12). The April-May program kicks off off-site at Technology Park with Party Line’s steel fracture, a multilayered performance event which unravels the impact of steel on women’s bodies through history. Digital artist Justine Cooper works with steel artist Jam Dickson and the astonishing Party Line performers are directed by Gail Kelly. Text is by Shane Rowlands. Back at the Space, Version 1.0’s The second Last Supper promises “Australian identity, Australian corporate ethics and new Australian cuisine—the seriously playful politics of the personal, the global and the local.” Also in April, Frumpus star in Crazed. In May, Andrew Morrish and Tony Osborne do Relentlessly On. In Tess de Quincey’s Nerve 9 the dancer weaves between the work of 3 of Australia’s finest contemporary artists—provocative poet Amanda Stewart and digital artists Debra Petrovitch and Francesca da Rimini. De Quincey focuses on feminine space which she describes as “an environment where body and textuality coexist.”

Also in May at Performance Space, there’s El Inocente “an incredible and sad tale of innocence and heartlessness” by Nigel Kellaway’s The opera Project. Asked what he’s really on about, Nigel wrote back: “Our task has been to draw attention to the discrete components that make up the performative act, eschewing the illusion of ‘reality’ or (more accurately) ‘totality’ that has been a concern of much of western theatre since the Renaissance. Like the dramaturgy, the music collides many styles and genres as one would find in opera or feature film. It has its genesis in specific Handel operatic arias, but now original music by Richard Vella interacts, complements, ignores or collides with Handel’s music creating a complex musical web. We are simultaneously experiencing a Baroque opera based on Handel’s music and a more contemporary approach to music theatre making. In a certain sense, the music is similar to that found in a road movie. It is neither pastiche nor parody, but is multi-referential—placing the listener into strangely familiar contexts, enabling the work to have multiple layers for interpretation.” And it’ll be wild!

Martin Hibble festschrift

Now, there was a talker. Music broadcaster Martin Hibble was a passionate collector of stage and film music. He regularly raided his vast collection for rare repertoire for ABC Classic FM’s Sunday Bon Bons and other programs. Martin died suddenly late last year and friends and colleagues plan to celebrate the life of this influential and passionate music advocate with a memorial volume. Did you ever meet Martin Hibble? Even if you didn’t, do you have some reminiscence of a particular program he presented, lecture he gave or review he wrote? if so, editors of this memorial volume would be interested to hear from you. Contributions can be emailed to James McCarthy at mccarthy@active-media.com.au or John Baxter on genet@noos.fr

Talking of criticism

Criticism in dance is the focus of the latest Ausdance publication featuring papers by Sarah Miller, Hilary Crampton, Shaaron Boughen and Lee Christofis from a forum held to coincide with the Ausdance Awards in January. The discussion continues on the RealTime website with Keith Gallasch’s contribution to the forum, “Dancing with words: the future of dance reviewing.” Some forms of criticism can be disturbing with artists often feeling work is not adequately accounted for. While praising Company in Space’s previous work in her review in The Age, Hilary Crampton couldn’t connect with their new work, Incarnate. Company in Space’s Hellen Sky wrote to us that, “Basic responses that seemed to be missing, even in terms of a conventional review, were anything about what the show looked or felt like, what the dancers were doing, what the screens were doing, what the images were, what the score was, what the camera shots were, what were the real time effects of the computer vision mixing, what the animations were…the dancers were not just doing tortured gestures, nor were they unaware of the real audience, nor were they restricted by the live camera performer; rather he was moving with them and in fact, therefore very much a live performer, another dancer. To me this is also choreography, the work is not just about a critique of steps, rather the vocabularies of all the elements, visual, design, live, virtual, real space, projection space, sound etc…”

RealTime issue #42 April-May 2001 pg. 11

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 April 2001