7 July, 14 July @ Victoria Park Centre for the Arts ·
Presented by Rachel Watts ·
Creative Writing takes practice! Join writer Rachel Watts these school holidays and learn how to prepare for the end of year exams, improve your writing skills and have some fun. These workshops are specifically designed to give you tools to help in ATAR English creative writing exercises.
With practical tips, feedback and time to practice – as well as plenty of good times – these workshops are an easy and fun way to prepare yourself for the second half of the year.
Past high school workshop attendees have said:
“Really enjoyed today’s workshop and found every exercise really thought provoking and will be using your tips in my future writing. Thank you.”
“Really cool activities, great extracts! Great presenting.”
“Really good workshop, learnt a lot about writing, well worth coming.”
Screening daily on the Perth Cultural Centre screen from 28 June ·
From film-maker Fionn Muholland:
Matt Dewson came to me wanting to make a film about parkour. My mind ran to the dramatic, extreme, slow motion videos you find online. But Matt wanted to go a few layers deeper. He talked to me about the sense of purpose and satisfaction he gets from the movement practice of parkour.
Skilful, choreographed routines make it onto our screens, but the hours spent training with like minded people, lost in movement, is the guts of parkour you don’t get to see.
Getting lost in pursuit is something common to every discipline. Even ones you don’t enjoy! As this is something that everyone has experience of, I knew this film idea had a high chance of resonating with viewers and was also just something I was excited to explore. So I was all in! Practice, and getting lost in it, is something we all do.
From parkour practitioner Matt Dewson:
Last year, I came to Fionn (filmmaker and friend) and Matt (Parkour practitioner and friend) with an idea for a Parkour video that would attempt to convey the feeling of my Parkour practice, more so than the movement – identity over spectacle.
While in the planning phase of this project, my heart was abruptly and entirely broken. A five-year relationship ended and I blamed only myself. I took time off work and retreated away to my parents’ house a few hours away, where I spent 10 days not speaking to anyone and barely functioning. I had never known grief so profound in all my life. I was no longer whole, not even close. During my time away, some friends from work heard what had happened and offered me a place to stay until I figured everything out. I graciously accepted and tried to resume my life.
I revisited the project with a childish and misdirected sense of resolve and optimism, the kind that you get when you try to convince yourself that things will be fine. We forged ahead and filmed almost everything in one day. All-in-all, it was a damn good way to spend a day, making art with friends. But I was still carrying something heavy and I felt it physically.
The arm-jump you see Matt do towards the end of the video was supposed to be the crescendo. Matt goes, then I go, cue big musical flourish. I hadn’t done the jump before because I had wanted to do it for the first time on-film for this video. But that wasn’t going to be a problem – I knew beyond any doubt that I could do it.
No matter how long I stared at this fucking jump, I could not commit. My head was somewhere else, with someone else. It was a frustration that I couldn’t stand, but couldn’t stand to resolve. Even when Fionn and I came back the next day to film some more footage, I couldn’t do the jump, still drunk and tired and guilty and sorry as I was from the night before. Fionn edited the video that you see today, incomplete.
For over a year, I couldn’t bring myself to release this video. It became a very sharp reminder of a time in my life that I was actively trying to forget. There in the frames, both a metaphorical and literal capturing of what I couldn’t do.
I want you to see it now because I don’t want to be trapped or defined by what I didn’t do. I want to show that sometimes parallels aren’t just parallels. I want to show how emotions can manifest physically and that it’s fine and that you’ll be fine.
In a sense, we did capture how Parkour feels to me, just not in the way I expected. And it’s only now that I can say that I’m done beating myself up for what I didn’t do. Instead, I’m celebrating what we did.
Review: Intercurrent, “Sensory Horizons”, programmed by Tura New Music ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 19 June ·
Review by Tiffany Ha ·
Intercurrent is an exciting new music ensemble based in Perth. The initiative came from some of the best local conservatory-trained musicians: composer Lachlan Skipworth, percussionist Louise Devenish, pianist Emily Green-Armytage and clarinettist Ashley Smith. They’re supported by Tura New Music – a small but distinguished organisation that emerged, thirty years ago, from the somewhat shrouded world of contemporary-classical and experimental art music. As with any other niche, there is a small community of diehard followers who will attend anything – rain, hail or shine. In my days as an eager composition student, I probably would have considered myself among the enlightened few. But in recent years I stopped going to these sorts of concerts. I stopped connecting with what I was hearing; I couldn’t tell if I actually enjoyed myself – was I just pretending? I became disheartened by the small, selective audiences. And becoming a composer seemed to me a hopeless, pointless, spurious endeavour. That is to say, I came to “Sensory Horizons” with my own baggage.
The evening began with a casual pre-concert talk on stage, facilitated by musicologist Sarah Collins. She spoke with Smith and Devenish about the origins and intentions of Intercurrent. The two musicians admitted, with a slight hint of sheepishness, that they were all “closet minimalists” – that they admired composers such as Philip Glass, whose distinctive style (emerging from New York in the latter part of the twentieth century) continues to influence today’s film composers, electronic music producers, math rock bands and a whole host of artists across various disciplines. Minimalism (in music) is something most people have heard without having heard of. It’s characterised by simple motifs, repetition, layering, and a harmonic clarity that makes it far more accessible than other forms of art music. Both the listener and the performer become acutely aware of the medium of music itself: time.
Intercurrent decided to name this particular concert “Sensory Horizons” because the pieces they programmed showcased the horizontal aspect of music more than the traditional vertical aspect. This kind of music comes to life like a Bob Ross painting, where plain backgrounds – flat, meaningless, washes of colour – transform into majestic landscapes with each stroke. Figures within the composition are always suggestive and never imposing. Such is the exquisitely paced multi-media work by John Supko, This Window Makes Me Feel (2005). The piece begins with a tape recording of incomprehensible whispers and shuffling. Above the stage, there’s a video projection: we seem to be looking through the eyes of somebody walking through Manhattan. Their gaze darts around and their perspective is always obscured – by rain drops, by diffused glass – so that nothing is seen clearly. On top of the whispering, which sounds like the internal monologue of an anxious introvert (takes one to know one), we hear stirrings of piano, vibraphone, muffled bell chimes and bass clarinet. The sounds build and fade over a length of time that at first feels tiresome, then revelatory. The juxtaposition between the emotionally unsettling audio-visual elements and the calmly persistent instrumental lines was profound.
It was a treat to see the core members of Intercurrent joined by some special musical guests: violinist Akiko Miyazawa, cellist Jon Tooby and Michael Howell on flute. They featured on the last three pieces of the program: Subito, an energetic violin piece by Witold Lutosławski; and two exciting pieces by Perth composer Lachlan Skipworth, The Crossing II and The Crossing I. It’s not often you get to see classically-trained musicians performing works with which they have such a strong personal connection. Skipworth conducted his own pieces with precision and intense, brow-furrowing concentration – most likely to navigate the frequent and hectic changes in time signature. His works feature waves of restless arpeggios – oscillating, weaving, reversing, blurring the boundary between acoustic and electronic sound. As my partner put it, Skipworth’s pieces sound “like Jaga Jazzist but more refined”. It’s a good example of the kind of music that gets labelled these days as “Classical-Crossover” – it’ll impress your arty friends; it won’t alienate your normie friends.
As for my own baggage, I left “Sensory Horizons” with unexpected feelings of optimism and self- acceptance. I realised there was no shame in admitting that, for several years, the programming of new music in Perth just didn’t strike a chord with me. I felt great respect for Intercurrent – not just for being exceptionally talented musicians, but for initiating this passion project of theirs, for seeing a gap and filling it. And I’m grateful that they inadvertently validated my own musical tastes; I have always been a (not-so-closeted) minimalist myself.
Review: Black Swan Theatre Company, Assassins ·
State Theatre Centre of WA , June 20 ·
Review by Xan Ashbury ·
Created by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman in 1991, Assassins tells the stories of nine people who committed or attempted to commit political murder in the US over the past two centuries.
It is a giddy, mind-warping ride on a time-machine. Alternative history meets magic realism, perfect in this disturbing age of “alternative facts”.
I gave birth to my youngest son, Carter, in California a decade ago. And while I am desperate to return on holiday, my little American (he was 10 weeks old when we left the country) is reluctant, on the basis of “Trump and guns”. When fear and loathing of America’s president and gun culture plagues even a West Australian pre-teen, you can safely say Assassins has contemporary resonance.
John Wilkes Booth (Brendan Hanson) tries to rationalise his assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the Ford Theatre, blaming him for the Civil War and destruction of the South. Leon Czolgosz (Cameron Steens) rants about the plight of the downtrodden working class. Charles Guiteau (played to comedic perfection by Will O’Mahony) really, really wants to sell copies of his book.
The musical, masterfully directed by Roger Hodgman, with musical direction by Jangoo Chapkhana, moves through various times and places with imagined meetings between the assassins. They rub shoulders at a fairground and a bar. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (Mackenzie Dunn) extols the “virtues” of her lover Charles Manson to Sara Jane Moore (Caitlin Beresford-Ord) before the pair gleefully shoot at a bucket of KFC. All of the assassins appear before Lee Harvey Oswald (Finn Alexander) in the Texas School Book Depository, egging him on to shoot JFK.
The result is stunning, thanks to Weidman’s innovative narrative structure and thought-provoking characterisation, and Lawrie Cullen-Tait’s impressive set, onto which are projected photographs and archival footage.
The production invites reflection about the quiet (and not so quiet) desperation of the marginalised, disenfranchised and, perhaps, the mentally ill. It cleverly humanises these names from history without moralising or condoning their crimes.
And as I sat savouring the quirky genius of Sondheim’s music and lyrics and the flawless performances by the Black Swan cast, I had one of those Connectedness-Of-All-Things moments.
You see, I did not name my son after former US president Jimmy Carter, as friends often assume (Trump’s opposite in so many respects); I named him after a San Franciscan showman. While pregnant, I read Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold, a fictionalised biography of the magician known as Carter the Great. Much of the novel centres on the mysterious assassination of President Harding, who dies shortly after taking part in Carter’s stage show in 1923.
Harding is not among presidents featured in Assassins, though. There’s Lincoln, McKinley, Roosevelt, Nixon, Kennedy, Ford and Reagan. But no Harding. I had to Google it later: Turns out Harding died of pneumonia after a bout of food poisoning. Gold had simply invented the assassination as a plot device.
So here’s my theory/alternative history: The seed was planted when Gold attended a production of Assassins in New York 1991. He was inspired by the story of Lincoln’s assassination at the theatre in 1865. He loved the musical’s unabashed blending of fact and fiction. After years of labour, his homage to Assassins, his novel/baby, was born in 2001.
Gold’s gift to the world is a novel all about a great escape and a little bit of magic. Watching a musical about political assassinations mightn’t sound very upbeat but somehow Assassins was a great escape from our collective anxiety about what Carter sums up as “Trump and guns”. Even while staring down the barrel of a gun.
Review: Rorschach Beast, Bus Boy and Static Drive Co, Tissue ·
Subiaco Arts Centre, 20 June ·
Review by Steven Cohen ·
The frailty of human connection haunts both Rorschach Beast’s Bus Boy and Static Drive Co’s Tissue. Written and produced by two sets of talented local writers and production companies and staged for the Subiaco Theatre Festival, this back-to-back billing works to contrast the nuances of friendship with the intensity of sex.
With characters positioned on stage as the audience entered the auditorium, and disembowelled bicycle parts hanging from above, it seemed likely from the outset that Bus Boy would be an immersive experience. And so it was.
Produced by local theatre company Rorschach Beast, and written by and starring Izzy McDonald with a marvellous performance by Sean Guastavino, Bus Boy explores themes such as coming of age, sexual abuse and human connection through the lens of Bus Boy (Guastavino), a young man with Asperger’s syndrome, and a slightly manipulative “older” woman, Gerry (McDonald).
The play is set on Rottnest and local theatre goers will be aware of the juxtaposition of the island’s long and dark history with its reputation as a summer playground. This sits neatly with Gerry’s wild abandon and the super-laced restraint of Bus Boy.
An intense and personal affair, the play carefully treads the line between banal platitude and common cliché. With subtlety and nuance aplenty, the work allows the audience to walk away with all kinds of lessons, from the fragility and danger of youth to the importance of growing up and embracing what it means to be an adult.
Isn’t that what the theatre is for?
The second play, aptly named Tissue, and written by two WAAPA graduates, Timothy Green and Samantha Nerida, differentiated itself from the austere seductiveness of Bus Boy with its overt drama, making for an effective evening’s programming.
Originally staged in 2016 at Perth’s Blue Room Theatre, Tissue borrows from seventeenth century theatre to brazenly confront the themes of contemporary love and sex.
In this gratuitous but sometimes tender and funny exposition of the lives of a young couple, we are greeted by two protagonists (Samjey Hayes and Jess Moyle), and also a fifth business*, played by the talented Ann-Marie Biagioni.
Using sex and relationships, Biagoni’s character probes both protagonists by engaging them in a chorus dialogue. This technique blends old with new, to construct an intense and fertile philosophical disquisition on our enjoyment of pornography, its relationship to our own sexual selves and the inherent instincts to keep these thoughts secret.
Sex and love are on full display. Tissue examines so many affairs of the heart that the play gains a giddy momentum, climaxing in a frenzied amalgam of broken hearts and sweaty bodies. By the end you may feel dizzy and over-sensitized to the whirlpool that is young romance. Although there are only three characters on stage, the play is bursting with humanity, making it appear much larger than it is, and illustrating our own delicate sexuality.
The play charts Alex (Hayes) and Zoe’s (Moyle) romantic relationship. Taking a course that neither intended, the play morphs into a hotbed (no pun intended) of frayed lives. Spanning about twelve months, at a time when youth permits such infinite change, the characters explore the possibility of being someone other than themselves.
From the rapture of love, to the dissonance of porn, Tissue takes us on a wild ride. You can’t help but feel compassion for the characters as they bumble about fearlessly searching for loving attachments, but coming up empty handed.
Two wonderfully synchronistic performances, well worth seeing.
* A “fifth business” is an old theatrical term, used to describe a character who is neither hero nor villain, but nonetheless crucial for revealing the plot.
20-23 June @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Static Drive Co ·
We’re overstimulated, oversexed and oversexualised: We’re completely under prepared. From the minds of Timothy Green and Samantha Nerida comes this invitation to join two lovers as they navigate this fraught path of sex, lies and camera phones.
Tissue confronts secrecy vs privacy and intimacy vs entertainment with an explosive chorus of Perth actors and red-hot energy. It’s a love story, it’s a tragedy, it’s a challenge, and we’re not afraid to show a little skin.
But focus, folks. We want you to watch with your brains as well as your bits. This show is an interrogation of shame culture, intimacy and communication, questioning the effect porn has on young Australians. If we strip away stigma, does the ‘sin’ lie in the products themselves, or the way we talk about them?
Premiering at The Blue Room Theatre in 2016 to rave reviews, Tissue is back and bolder than ever. The latest work from Static Drive Co, Tissue is a sexy show with a spotlight pointed right at your browser history.
26 – 30 JUNE, West Australian Ballet Centre, 134 Whatley Crescent, Maylands·
Presented by West Australian Ballet ·
Pure imagination and raw talent comes to full fruition as our dancers release their creative flair and exceptional skill in our invigorating mini-season of short works. Be evoked. Be delighted. Be truly entertained during this rare opportunity to be up close and personal with the dancers in the intimate setting of the West Australian Ballet Centre.
HIRO tells the true story of a man who did just that, swept out to sea, clinging to the roof of his house. Named after its protagonist, Hiromitsu Shinkawa, this devised theatrical work is by Samantha Chester in collaboration with Humphrey Bower and is adapted from the long form article “The man who sailed his house”, by American writer Michael Paterniti.
Seesaw’s Nina Levy was fascinated by the article and the decision to turn it into a work of theatre… so she caught up with Chester to find out more.
Nina Levy: You have a career of multiple strands, connected by performance… how do you describe what you do? Samantha Chester: I feel that I travel on a spectrum, from being able to work in dance and dance theatre into performance making and devising, and then into the more traditional theatre spaces. I think it has happened this way to enable me to survive in the arts as well as follow my interest in the stories I want to tell.
This work has also sat along my work as someone who has activated spaces for artists over the past 12 years. I still co-direct a space in Sydney called ReadyMade Works for independent dancers and I continue in my role as an educator at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). I have tried to hone my craft and my abilities to be adaptable and able to work across many forms. Being connected by performance and story is the priority – how to tell the story of our time.
I think performing and making live performance is unique because no two performances are the same and that’s the beauty of it. In live performance, only the ability to bring yourself fully to the NOW as a performer is what exists. It is very exciting, that charge between performer and audience.
So, in answer to your question… what I do is try and create conditions for creativity, to be able to support artists in this journey, as an educator, and to be able to make work well, with an interest in exploring a variety of different forms that start and end with the body… it’s a privilege.
NL: Your first tertiary qualification was a BA in dance but the work you make and do is multi-disciplinary. How did you come to move from conventional dance into the world of interdisciplinary performing arts? SC: I think it was a survival mechanism and the variety of opportunities that came my way, that meant that I worked across a variety of mediums. Sometimes you just have to say yes and work outside your comfort zone – some of the best experiences I have had have been in forms I am unfamiliar with, like doing the movement with director Shannon Murphy on a site-specific opera at the Art Gallery of NSW.
I think going to NIDA and doing the Movement Studies course also allowed me to integrate my love of movement and theatre – it was here that I first starting making work. Also, honestly, I don’t think I was a very good dancer – LOL – I think I had guts and courage but was not technically virtuosic. I had a great dancing spirit, one of ballet lecturers told me… so maybe that’s why… I loved the form, the way it could change you and that the body as a tool for expression has limitless potential to tell a story. I have been interested in this medium my whole life – so, although the work I do can be multi-disciplinary, it is the body that I return to.
HIRO, I guess, is one of the first pieces I have directed that has so much text and it is well and truly a collaboration with Humphrey Bower who is a co-creator, performer and adapted the text, Kylie Maree (performer and collaborator), Tim Green (collaborator and stage manager), Ekrem Eli Phoenix (composer), Phoebe Pilcher (lightning designer) and Rhys Morris (set designer).
NL: You are from Sydney and established yourself as a maker, director, performer and educator there. What brought you to Perth? SC: I came to take a job at WAAPA. I had been working at the Actors Centre in Sydney for seven years as the Head of Movement and later as the Associate Director. Andrew Lewis, Associate Professor at WAAPA, approached me to come on a one-year contract.
I work in the Acting department as a movement lecturer, and direct work and co-ordinate and curate their program. I also work for the Performance Making course, in Devising for Physical Performance and Solo Making. I was also lucky enough to make a work on the LINK dancers last year, which was a treat. It is a big job, very exhausting at times but very rewarding.
NL: “The man who sailed his house” is an incredible piece of writing, at once poetic but also so exact in its descriptions… how did the decision to adapt the piece into a devised theatrical work come about? SC: I have had this story for about five years. A student at the Actors Centre brought it in when we were making a work around 2012. I was struck by the intimacy of the story, set against the enormity of the disaster and felt it could be a wonderful piece of theatre. Then, moving to Perth, I met Humphrey Bower, who I had worked with on Overexposed with Danielle Micich. We starting talking about making something and I said what about this… I then went to the writer Michael Paterniti who gave us his blessing and off we went. Although Humphrey and I both adapted it, Humphrey’s work with the words has been amazing.
NL: HIRO is the second part of a three-part trilogy, that starts with your 2016 work The Astronaut. How does HIRO fit into this trilogy? SC: I am interested in loss and recovery of the human spirit. I think loss is what changes us the most and how and, if we recover as people, well that is the thing. The trilogy looks at three different experiences of loss and recovery, The Astronaut: domestic, HIRO: natural disaster… and, well, you will have to wait for the third.
This work, in particular, looks at hubris and the decisions we make it life – that at the flip of a coin our whole lives can be altered forever and perhaps points to the hubris of the human race and what we are blindly ignoring because of ego or our refusal to change – it will and is catching up to us.
NL: How do you find life in Perth? SC: I love Perth. I love the arts community and the support you feel. I think Perth is very supportive of makers and inventor in the arts. I also love, love, love the nature here, it is just so unique and beautiful.
My favourite thing is walking by the river listening to the frogs.
Review: Semiconductor, Brilliant Noise/Black Rain ·
Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Review by Phoebe Mulcahy ·
Despite it being one hundred-and-fifty million kilometres from the Earth and so bright we can’t even look directly at it for more than a few seconds, there’s no doubt our relationship to the Sun is both profound and fundamental. Like the God it was seen to be by so many ancient cultures, this “luminous disc in the sky” looms large in human life, seeming at once close and distant, and as life-threatening as it is life-giving. Such paradoxes as these are drawn out in an exhibition of solar-themed video works by UK artist duo Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt), on show at the Fremantle Arts Centre (FAC) until next month.
Brought to FAC as part of the Revelation Perth International Film Festival, the exhibition encompasses two video works, Brilliant Noise and Black Rain, both of which feature imagery sourced from solar observatories and satellites. Making use of scientific data, both to explore the interface between nature and technology and push the boundaries of the moving image, has become a feature of Semiconductor’s work.
Jarman and Gerhardt have been collaborating for nearly twenty years. It’s curious to note, however, that the two works selected for this show only seem to date from around halfway through their career (2006 and 2009 respectively), which, given the advances in technology witnessed since that time, lends an almost retro air to the works, as though they’ve been pulled out from archives that have only just begun to gather dust.
In fact, there is an oddly covert or classified feeling to the imagery in general. Brilliant Noise, in particular, with its unremittingly grainy and crackling scenes of energetic particles and solar wind, gives an impression not only of the extraordinary power at the surface of the Sun, but also, almost humorously, of CCTV footage on the largest scale imaginable.
Combined with a highly discordant and tense soundtrack, you keep waiting for something to jump out, or a crescendo that doesn’t quite arrive. After all, intensity like this is nothing out of the ordinary where one hundred billion nuclear explosions are taking place every second. Black Rain, though inescapably coloured by its counterpart’s soundtrack hissing through the dividing curtains, is much more meditative in nature, with gently cascading images that evoke the distance between Earth and the Sun. Together, the works offer an incredibly striking perspective on this most central of natural phenomena, and bring us as close to its explosive surface as one would ever want to get.
1 July @ Judith Cottier Theatre, Perth College ·
Presented by The Baden Street Singers ·
Join The Baden Street Singers and special guests as they take you on a journey through the seasons. With charming love songs, wintry choral pieces and heartwarming classics, this selection of captivating a cappella music will make you want to sing, dance and reminisce about seasons past. As your only chance to see the Baden Street Singers in concert before they compete nationally in Adelaide, Seasons of Love is not to be missed!
Three-time national gold medal-winning chorus The Baden Street Singers have enchanted audiences around Australia with their diverse repertoire and captivating performance style. This group combines the rich blend of high quality barbershop singing with the crispness of classical training. Seasons of Love will showcase the talent these dynamic young performers bring to the stage and the passion they all have for creating music together.