1995-08-01, English, Article, Journal or magazine article edition: Fat time (1 August 1995)

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Fat time (1 August 1995)
 
Bookmark: https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/264495922
Physical Description
  • 1760 words
  • article
  • Journals
  • Magazines
Published
  • xna, Open City Inc., 1995-08-01
Language
  • English

Edition details

Title
  • Fat time (1 August 1995)
Appears In
  • Realtime., no.Issue 8, 1995-08-01 (ISSN: 1321-4799)
Other Contributors
  • Keith Gallasch
Published
  • xna, Open City Inc., 1995-08-01
Physical Description
  • 1760 words
  • article
  • Journals
  • Magazines
Part Of
  • Realtime.
  • Issue 8 (Aug-Sep 1995)
Subjects
Summary
  • Fat time Keith Gallasch picks out the currents in the Canberra and Melbourne festival puddings Check your brochures, count your coins, dream on. The festival season is about to commence - in Canberra and Melbourne in October, followed in a relatively minor but significant key by Greenmill Dance Festival in Melbourne in January. Then there’s the Perth Festival in February and the Adelaide Festival in March. It is also the season of appointments - Robyn Archer gets the Adelaide Festivals of 1998 and 2000, a rare double dip, and Rob Brookman takes up the Canberra National Festival of Australian Theatre. With Anthony Steel (ex-Adelaide Festival, ex-Brisbane Biennial) in Sydney, Archer moving from Canberra to Adelaide, and Brookman (ex-Adelaide and Auckland) to Canberra, the musical chairs of festival directorships is alive and well. The Cultural Olympiad has gone to Jonah Jones for which many an artist will be provisionally grateful - Jones’ interest in visual and aboriginal arts and performance is rare among Australia’s festival directors. (However the narrow range of arts representation on the Cultural Olympiad committee is typical of current inclination to hierarchies in arts policies around the country. It seems the committee was set up before Jones’ arrival, hopefully he’ll expand its parameters.) For Melbourne, Leo Schofield has lined up another largely innocuous event (pleasing to the press and the Melbourne middlebrow) with only the Bill T. Jones Dance Company and a few other events warranting a ticket to Melbourne, plus the curio of a Japanese theatre company performing John Romeril’s The Floating World and Playbox’s already programmed Japanese play The Head of Mary. The lack of originality in Schofield’s festival is confirmed by his trotting out two-time (or is it three-time?) Perth Festival favourites Cheek by Jowl and two-time Sydney favourites Theatre Complicite, both progressive English theatre companies with a mildly European feel. Kosky’s Adelaide Festival remains the stronger contender for audiences that want a festival distinctively programmed and expanding the notions of what a festival can offer. Kosky’s complete program has yet to be announced and is anticipated to include what is so obviously missing, yet again, from Schofield’s festival, a major commitment to local talent. Let’s hope Kosky lives up to his vision. Robyn Archer has embraced Australian talent with a passion over her three modest Canberra festivals and will doubtless transport that passion into her vision for Adelaide. Not that she has engaged the tougher, darker more demanding aspects of contemporary performance, but at least hers is a recognition that a whole new body of work has emerged over the last decade with ‘the body’ often at its centre. Adelaide’s Red Shed Theatre Company has been programmed by Archer to present Daniel Keene’s Because You Are Mine, originally presented by the company last year for a brief season in Brave New Works at the Festival Centre. The Red Shed Company commissioned the work, their third association with Keene (one received work and two commissions plus another coming up). Red Shed’s ongoing commitment to writers is well known and fruitful - their fourth work from Melissa Reeves, the musical Storming Heaven, comes up later this year. Tim Maddocks, co-artistic director with Cath McKinnon of Red Shed and director of Because You Are Mine, says that when Keene was working with the company on All Souls he discussed the idea of a play about Bosnia, about the rape camps, was offered a commission and subsequently submitted the play. Although amenable to changes to the script, Keene is not one for extensive workshopping (unlike Reeves whose Storming Heaven has been through a five-week development period and presentation by student performers.' Changes were made to every one of the three performances). Maddock says that Keene’s work has become part of the Red Shed house style and that there’s a good feeling of mutual development between company and writer. Asked about the play’s texture, Maddock says, “It’s not nearly as poetic as All Souls. It works with a simplicity of language and scenario, taking a situation hyped up by the media, a situation where you can fall into the hyperbole of ‘tragedy’, the aggrandisement of ‘human nature and war’. This play makes it all very ordinary. That’s why designer Mary Moore has set it in something like an underground carpark. It ruthlessly undermines anything that might seem to be ennobling. The characters are just trying to conduct normal lives. A lot of it is conducted around a dripping tap with people trying to understand what is happening at the very beginning of the conflict. It covers a very short period of time, but events rapidly escalate into brutality. Daniel’s play was a response to the media - he’d read that a picture of a wounded girl had been doctored to make it tolerable for use in the western press. We’ve done a lot of research with people who’d been there or who have been trying to bring the rape camps to public attention. There’s an ‘any place, any time’ feel about it, and audiences will read their own specificity into it.” Peter Wilson, formerly of Melbourne’s puppetry-based Handspan, is now director of Company Skylark and is living in Canberra where he finds he has more creative space in which to conceive his works, and where he’s had the on-going support of Robyn Archer and her festival. Mum’s the Word, a premiere for the festival, “is about adoption, separation and reunion. I was an adoptee. The story is a bit about my own life, but I’ve tried to make it inclusive for others in a similar situation giving equal weight to all three parties - the adoptee, the mother who relinquishes the child and the adopting family. The character is only loosely based on me. I don’t want to attribute blame. It’s my viewpoint but I have to acknowledge the pain of the relinquishing mother and the pain of the adopting family when they have to tell the child of the adoption. Then the child wants to find its own history. “I have met my mother, but it was important to tell her I was grateful. I wasn’t judging her. We’ve all been promiscuous some time in our lives. And there was so little in the way of protection then. I haven’t been angry, but I have felt rejected. That was the first thing I had to deal with and I found out that it wasn’t rejection as such. The dynamic of the work doesn’t come from external conflict, it’s internal. “I believe we all have some form of guidance, I call it a guardian angel so I have an angel fly into the play to begin it. The angel departs, revealing a child. There’s a lot of magic in the play. Then we follow the child’s growth and the realisation that it doesn’t fit in. There are humorous scenes, fantasies. I always imagined I was chosen like a puppy-dog in a pet shop. You’re told you were chosen especially, but in fact the adopting parents get a phone call saying we’ve got a child we think will be right for your family. “The child (a puppet) becomes an adult male actor for the search and the reunion. Some reunions are terrific, some are shocking. But, rejected or not, we still have a life to get on with.” Richard Jeziorny is the designer, Cathy O’Sullivan the composer, and writer Mary Hutchison has developed the script with Wilson. Also on Archer’s program are Bangarra Dance theatre with Ochres, Meryl Tankard Australian Dance Theatre’s Furioso, Stalker’s angels ex machina, Somebody’s Daughter Theatre (originally from the Fairlea Prison Women’s Theatre Group) in Call My Name, Maree Cunnington’s biography in song, The Secret Fire, Adelaide’s Magpie with Verona, the Kailish Dance Company’s Ramayana, a contemporary Indian dance work, and Pablo Percusso, “a three-piece band who use found objects from flower pots to mobile phones to create their own mix of high-energy junk-percussion.” Schofield’s Melbourne Festival has Pacific Northwest Ballet from Seattle with a mix of Balanchine and current American choreography including a crowd-pulling Carmina Burana. Bill T. Jones presents his Still/​Here a multimedia dance about responses to AIDS, with video artist Gretchen Bender, composer Kenneth Frazelle, composer/​guitarist Vernon Reid and folk singer Odetta. A second program of Jones’ repertory works is a real bonus (though Melbournites are warned: “contains some nudity”). Yan Pascal Tortelier, one of the finest of a new wave of European conductors, will lead the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, choirs and soloists in Berlioz’ The Damnation of Faust. Save for the David Chesworth Ensemble and the Safri Duo percussionists (surely time for something more challenging from Steve Reich than his Clapping Music, please!) the major music program only gets as contemporary as Australian pianist Michael Kiernan Harvey playing Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur I’Enfant Jesus - but, like Kosky’s programming of the Scriabin sonatas in Adelaide, a major treat. The China Beijing Opera Troupe will doubtless present one of their not too demanding evenings of spectacular excerpts - too much to ask, I suppose, for a complete opera. There’s plenty of chamber music (Ravel, Poulenc, Barber, Carter, Shostakovich, Schnittke for moderns) but only at sunset; a celebration of the counter tenor, and a semi-staged version of Charpentier’s rendering of Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid by Les Arts Florissants. Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook (second visit) will celebrate the work of American composers from Gershwin to Sondheim. The Australian contingent is led by Michael Kiernan Harvey, IHOS Opera and in smaller print the David Chesworth Ensemble, Playbox’s The Head of Mary by Chikao Tanaka, Sarah Cathcart’s eagerly awaited Tiger Country, created with Andrea Lemon, and (this is interesting) the premiere performances by Gideon Obarzanek’s Chunky Moves dance company. Novelty items include a lecture by Robert Hughes, but will words be a substitute for the real thing? Will Hughes snarl at the bitty visual arts program in small galleries and foyers across the city? Where is Australian music, a comprehensive look at the visual arts, the works of leading playwrights or indigenous performance companies? The one large scale Australian work is IHOS Opera’s To Traverse Water. You can only yearn for Jim Sharman’s 1982 Adelaide Festival and Anthony Steel’s risky 1984 commissionings, again for Adelaide. Visiting artists in Melbourne will find themselves pretty much at any festival anywhere in the western world. The exchange of works and ideas will be minimal. This is 1995? Tony Strachan is programming the outdoor festival again, with a decent budget this time. Perhaps you’ll have to look to the streets for real thing. Melbourne Festival October 19 - November 4, 1995. National Australian Theatre Festival October 6 -21, 1995.
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Language
  • English
Identifier
  • 790.2099405 (DDC)

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