A choir and conductor
Choral, Fringe World, Music, News, Performing arts

For the love of indie tunes

With over 100 members, Perth indie-pop choir Menagerie has no trouble filling an auditorium with harmonies. But what does it take to muster so many voices into a cohesive whole?

Ahead of the choir’s sixth Fringe World show, Odes to the (In)significant, Seesaw chatted to Menagerie director Sally Banyard, AKA Zookeeper 3.0, to find out.

Sally Banyard. Photo: Ian Crimp Photography.

Seesaw: Tell us about Menagerie choir
Sally Banyard: Menagerie was created by our legendary original Zookeeper Claire Coleman in mid 2013.  Anyone was (and still is) welcome – no auditions and no experience necessary – just a love for singing indie tunes! Our philosophy is more-or-less centred around loving indie songs, being enthusiastic, being supportive of one another… and cake! (We do quite like cake.)

One of the best things about Menagerie is that we write our own arrangements, which means we can basically sing whatever we want to sing, and tailor it to suit the choir.  (It also leads to some very amusing score instructions!)

S: How did you come to be the director of Menagerie?
SB: I joined the choir in mid-2015 as a humble alto, after being super-jealous of my friends who had joined the previous season and completely regretting my decision not to join when they did! After my first season, I started writing arrangements – Silverchair’s “Freak” and Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” from for 2016 Fringe show Sounds Like Teen Spirit were my arranging debuts. In my third season I picked up a little conducting, and then when the time came  for Zookeeper 2.0, Kate Newell, to have baby 2.0, I was chosen by the choir and its “control panel” (committee) to be Zookeeper 3.0!

S: What is involved in being the director of Menagerie?
SB: Quite a lot… but I love it! It’s a couple of roles in one – musical director plus administrator – I run rehearsals, conduct, write and edit arrangements, organise stuff and keep the choir informed about what’s happening, amongst other bits and pieces.

Fortunately (and necessarily) I have a lot of help! Throughout the year I work with our “control panel” to run the choir – this group manages the day-to-day choir operations (like money, membership, media and parties…) and plans our non-Fringe shows. From about July to February of each year I work with an additional “creative panel” who create our Fringe show.

S: What do you like most about directing Menagerie?
SB: Rehearsals are always very fun, and satisfying – everyone is there to sing, learn and have a good time,  and I love working together with the choir to make progress on our songs and sound each week. Gigs are also exciting – having it all come together and seeing the thrill of performing on everyone’s faces! Also, as a musician I feel very lucky to have a job where I have a lot of control over the music!

S: And what’s the biggest challenge?
SB: Balancing Menagerie and life… and sometimes remembering that Menagerie is not life! (Hm, who am I kidding?!)

S: Funniest moment?
SB: When I manage to find the worst way to express myself during rehearsal, for example, “Finish loud with a short man!”

S: What is the theme of your 2019 Fringe show Odes to the (In)significant?
SB: Menagerie Choir’s Odes to the (In)significant celebrates tiny things that have a big impact on our lives. From small decisions made decades ago, to everyday subversions, these little things tend to accumulate and reverberate throughout our lives – often giving us courage, or speaking to who we are. For this show we have collected eight songs and paired them with little stories from within the choir – each exploring this idea in different ways.

S: Can you give us any hints about the set list?
SB: Maybe I should say different things each time I am interviewed and make this a “collect all eight”! Our set list is jam-packed  with indie goodness, including favourites from Ben Folds Five, Regina Spektor and The Whitlams. In terms of the original recordings, there are five songs sung by female vocalists and at least four different nationalities, including 2.5 Australian artists… we’re slightly claiming Ben Folds but I’m not sure how he’d feel about that!

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
SB: The slide (because we like glissandi).

Menagerie Choir’s Odes to the (In)significant plays at Teatro at the Woodside Pleasure Garden from 11 – 16 February.

Want to join Menagerie? There is a wait list – to add your name, use the website contact form

Pictured top: Sally Banyard conducting Menagerie Choir at Fringe World in 2018. Photo: Anthony Tran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Calendar, Fringe World, News, Performing arts

Cabaret from the heart

The name Coober Pedy conjures up images of the Australian outback, of heat, mines and, of course, opals. It’s not a name you’d normally associate with cabaret.

But cabaret artist Michaela Burger takes audience to that famed Australian town, when she tells a tale that’s close to her heart. Written and performed by Burger, A Migrant’s Son is about her father, but also about the challenges faced by all migrants.

Seesaw chatted with Burger about her life, work and the new show inspired by her dad.

Seesaw: Describe your artistic practice…
Michaela Burger: Cabaret artist, singer, actress…

S: When did you first know that you wanted to be a performer?
MB: My earliest memory is of wanting to be a performer. Perhaps I was three or four. I have sung since I could talk and always knew that my life would be in the arts.

S: Tell us about your training – formal, on-the-job or both?
MB: My initial training was as an actor, when I was very young and still at school. Next I studied for a Bachelor of Music, majoring in classical voice, at the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music, for three years. I then furthered my studies in London at the Mountview Academy of Music for one year, where I obtained a Masters in Musical Theatre. But in saying all of this, I do believe that most of what I have learnt to date has been on the job – especially observing other incredible artists with whom I have been lucky enough to work.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
MB: The freedom with working hours. I love the fact that I can go visit my friends at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon for a cup of tea… or that my husband and I can go on holiday whenever we want for as long as we want (granted I don’t have shows). This freedom makes up for the fact that I don’t get holiday pay!

S: Career highlight so far?
MB: I have just returned from a season at Southbank Centre London, with Rumpelstiltskin – a co-production of Windmill Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia. It was a total thrill to perform 30 shows in an auditorium with 900 seats! I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity and will never forget it. Another highlight was being nominated for a Helpmann Academy Award, along with my co-writer and colleague Greg Wain, for our show Exposing Edith.

S: Career lowlight?
MB: Well, I would say that each time I have no work it could be considered a lowlight… but then again, this is when I begin to create more and when most of my good ideas come! So in the end… possibly a lowlight becomes high…

S: Funniest career moment so far?
MB: It’s hard to pinpoint one moment. Each time something goes wrong on stage, I find it quite hilarious and find that that’s where the joy is – in the mistakes! The audience has no idea what is happening, and for us performers it’s a moment of togetherness that binds us and gives us the feeling of being in it as a team. It is these moments that pull us out when we are feeling like it’s impossible to continue.

S: This is your second time at Fringe World. What drew you back?
MB: I LOVE Fringe World. Last year we worked with Jay Emmanuel at St Georges Cathedral and had the support of Ali Welburn from Limelight Consulting, and I honestly think that it’s because of their generosity and support that I have decided to return. Without them, it would be a hard slog.

S: Tell us about your Fringe World show, A Migrant’s Son
MB: The best way to tell you about the show is with a review quote : )
“A far-reaching generational story that crosses divides, ignites memories and pulls at your heart-strings” – Stage Whispers

The show explores one of the most colourful times in Australian history, the arrival of the Greeks! Brought to life through original compositions, a live musician and a community choir led by Carol Young, this unique and touching account is both hard-hitting and hilarious.

The show tells the story of a poor Greek migrant, my dad, who defied all odds and rose above adversity. From deliveries for the family bakery at age seven to opal mines in Coober Pedy, he is an unstoppable force willing to sacrifice everything for family.

S: What’s your favourite part of the playground?
MB: Definitely a swing! I still stop at a playground if I see a swing and have a swing!

A Migrant’s Son plays at Upper Burt Hall, Cathedral Square, 13 – 16 February.

Pictured top is Michaela Burger in “A Migrant’s Son”. Photo: Anne-Laure Marie.

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Cabaret, Fringe World, News, Performing arts

Filling in the blanks with Dolly

With celebrity panellists pitted against contestants,  running jokes and a backdrop of double entendre comments,  TV game show Blankety Blanks (and other versions) played to audiences in  Australia, the UK and USA in the 1970s and 80s.

Now Melbourne-based cabaret artist Dolly Diamond is bringing her own version, Dolly Di*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks, to Fringe World. Seesaw caught up with Dolly to fill in some of the blanks.

Dolly Diamond

Seesaw: When did you first know you wanted to be a performer?
Dolly Diamond: I grew up performing and was lucky enough to play the title role of Annie, in the musical Annie (when I would sing “The sun’ll come out tomorrow”, you knew it bloody would. I grew up in London and moved to Australia ten years ago. I feel as if I’ve spent most of my working life on stage, or at the bar.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
DD: It’s a remarkable job really… not many people receive applause when they’re at work. I really love the laughter, it’s my drug of choice (also Valium) I used to try and get a laugh at any cost but as you mature as a performer you learn to work with an audience, not against them. I’m so comfortable on stage these days…  but I do like to make people squirm a little.

S: Career highlight?
DD: I recently celebrated a 15 Year Anniversary Gala at the Atheneum theatre in Melbourne and it was  such a magical evening. I had an array of special guests: Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Choir, Footscray and Yarraville City Band, the Phones and many more. It feels like such an achievement if you can sustain a  career in this business we call show.

S: Career lowlight?
DD: I tend not to dwell on the low points of this job. I certainly couldn’t name names. I work really hard to make a quiet or dull audience enjoy themselves, that’s my job. However, I’ve learnt over the years that not everyone is going to love you, not every gig can be a fiesta and you can’t push shit up hill. *Fact.

S: You’re no stranger to Fringe World. What made you decide to return this year?
DD: It’s my third Fringe appearance and I feel like my audience is growing. It’s not easy when you’re not as well known in a different state but I’m not afraid of a challenge (or an altered state). I feel like this show has such a broad appeal as it’s such a well known game show. It’s been a part of our lives for so many years, here in Australia with Graham Kennedy and in the UK with Lily Savage. There’s even a current version on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, with the Snatch Game.

S: Tell us about your 2019 Fringe World show, Dolly D*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*anks
SS: Our version of Blankety Blanks relies on the various Perthonalities we’ve lined up… and they’re all really special.  We have two audience members as our contestants and, of course, we have no idea what they’re going to say, or what they’re going to add to the mayhem. So it’s really my job to hold it all together and that’s the part I love the most.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe World?
DD: I can’t wait to get over to Perth Fringe. It’s always such a breath of fresh air to be in the West. I feel like it’s such a relaxed way of living and thinking; there’s a lot to be said for being away from all the other capital cities. Perth people enjoy life and don’t have anything to prove and I admire that… it’s how I live my life. I’ve booked tickets for Feminah and La Soiree

You can catch Dolly Di*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks Downstairs at his Maj from 12 – 16 February. 

 

 

 

 

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Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Theatre

If Shakespeare could turn back time

What do you get when you send Shakespeare to Ancient Rome?

In Kieran Bullock’s new play The Ides of March, William Shakespeare prepares to write Julius Caesar by travelling back in time… only to find himself witnessing the assassination of his subject and becoming the chief suspect in the ensuing investigation.

Ahead of the show’s Fringe World season, Seesaw caught Melbourne’s Kieran Bullock in this century, for a quick Q&A.

Kieran Bullock

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?
Kieran Bullock: I caught the performing bug very young. My dad used to watch a lot of BBC comedy, particularly The Two Ronnies. I would study my favourite sketches and perform them at family events.

S: Tell us about your training…
KB: I have a Bachelor of Creative Arts from Melbourne University, majoring in creative writing and minoring in a few other faffy arts. I performed with university improv. and theatre groups on the side and soon realised that being a writer and performer could easily go hand in hand. I have combined formal with on-the-job training.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
KB: Simply put, I love telling stories, whether that’s down at the pub with a pint in hand or writing a short story, film or play. Most of my  work is heavy on narrative and character, and I find that the form (play, short story, novel) tends to be embedded within the idea itself. With The Ides of March I knew right away that it would be a play, despite having never written for the stage before.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
KB: The thrill of making people laugh is hard to beat.

S: Career highlight so far?
KB: I had a bit of an epiphany in London a few years ago when I saw the West End production of The 39 Steps – a comedy play based on the Hitchcock thriller. I’d been dabbling in stand-up comedy with limited success, and seeing that show made me realise THAT was what I should be doing – high energy, character-driven comedy theatre. I returned to Melbourne and immediately went about staging a production of The 39 Steps for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which was a big success. Taking the stage as Richard Hannay for those ten shows will always rank as one of the biggest thrills in my life.

S: Career lowlight?
KB: Probably the night I gave up stand-up. I had a horrible gig in a horrible venue and I realised I genuinely didn’t have a passion to succeed in that industry. I felt deflated and lost. Going to London a few months later changed all that.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
KB: On the preview night of The 39 Steps I knocked over a prop, a bottle of scotch. In spite of a hasty black-out mop, I slipped in the next scene, going head over heels and cracking my head on the stage. I bounced straight back up – the show must go on! But I couldn’t proceed because the audience (gleefully wise to the unscripted sequence of mishaps) were in thunderous hysterics.

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
KB: We were mad keen to start touring the show, and you can’t argue with Perth in the summer! First stop Perth, next stop Edinburgh?!

S: Tell us about your Fringe World show, The Ides of March
KB: It’s a four-person play about William Shakespeare time-travelling to ancient Rome to witness the assassination of Julius Caesar. Shakespeare is immediately set upon by the local constabulary, and the villainous Brutus, who’s desperate to pin the murder on the suspicious foreigner. It’s stylistically inspired by The 39 Steps, with the four actors using a handful of props and costumes to bring Caesar’s Rome and its crazy inhabitants to life.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
KB: I am very keen to explore more of Perth – I’ve been once before, but spent all my time at the WACA watching cricket. Fringe-wise, always keen to catch some local stuff – you never know when you’ll be back. I’ll be definitely checking out the Big HOO-HAA the brilliant Perth improv group whose continued success spawned a Melbourne chapter, of which I’m a member!

S: What is your favourite part of the playground
KB: Hard to go past a good swing – you’re basically flying!

The Ides of March will be performed nightly, February 8 – 13 , at Lazy Susan’s Comedy Den at the Brisbane Hotel.

Pictured top: The cast of ‘The Ides of March’.

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Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, News, Performing arts, Theatre

Ghosts and dolls

New Ghosts Theatre Company’s founder and director, Lucy Clements, has been busy since graduating from WAAPA just three years ago. Under her guidance, the Sydney-based independent theatre ensemble has produced and presented four works, including The Wind in the Underground, which played Fringe World last year.

This year, New Ghosts Theatre returns to Fringe World with Paper Doll, written by Katy Warner in response to Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, and directed by Clements. Ahead of the show’s WA premiere, Clements squeezed in Seesaw’s Fringe Session Q&A.

Lucy Clements

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?
Lucy Clements: It certainly wasn’t a childhood dream of mine, though my mother and sisters are involved in theatre so maybe it was inevitable. Thinking back to high school, I really loved biology, drama, literature and visual art, but even when I graduated I had no idea which career path to follow. I took a gap year aiming to figure out what I missed and it was acting! I joined the WA Youth Theatre Company and scoured open audition sites, seeking opportunities in other projects. At the end of that year, I actually enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing at Notre Dame University, so thought that sealed my fate . And then I got the call from WAAPA. It wasn’t until I accepted the place there that it really became clear that this is what I was going to do.

S: As founder and director of New Ghosts Theatre Company, your roles include writing, producing and directing – did you cover those skills at WAAPA or did you also learn on-the-job?
LC: Both. My formal training during my three years at WAAPA was mainly in performance.  The course dabbled in directing, but my main experience in this
didn’t come until I moved to Sydney, where I  got an awesome opportunity as assistant director for a show at the Australian Theatre for Young People. Then I was really lucky to have the Old Fitz take a chance on me by letting me direct a work I’d written in one of their late-night slots later that year. In 2017 I travelled to New York for three months and worked as an assistant director under a really wonderful director named John Gould Rubin. I consider that period  of time to be real self-directed training that shaped my craft and the personal philosophies by which I now work.

S: Career highlight?
LC: Last year New Ghosts Theatre Company brought Yen, by Anna Jordan, to the stage at Kings Cross Theatre. I discovered the script while I was working in New York. Being able to bring it home and mount my own production of it eighteen months later was a huge accomplishment for me. I couldn’t have been more proud of what we created and it really set a new standard for us as a company.

S: Career lowlight?
LC: Every Fringe World artist knows how to run a technical rehearsal quickly. The tech. is our one rehearsal in the theatre, where we get to plot the lights and sound and actors get to rehearse on the stage. In a typical show, this might happen over a day or two, and at Fringe World you’re given about four hours.

Last year I had the pleasure of directing a work in an Australian festival that will remain unnamed. It wasn’t until the day itself that I was informed that the tech. rehearsal would take place from 3pm-6pm – with the show itself starting at 6pm! The previous show’s rehearsal ran late, so we proceeded at lightening speed.  During our last scene, a poor actor bumped the prop bar on stage and all the glass bottles, filled with liquid, smashed… everywhere. There was broken glass and fruit juice as far as the eye could see. The venue manager was very unimpressed, particularly because we were being followed by a dance show performed barefoot. Thanks to a bloody wonderful team, the show went on and we had a great response. But it still doesn’t make for a fond memory.

S : You’re no stranger to Fringe World. Tell us about your previous brushes with Fringe…
LC: I first appeared in Fringe as a performer while I was at WAAPA , and later in their “600 second” program as a  director/writer. Last year my company brought The Wind in the Underground  to the State Theatre Centre. Having  trained in Perth, it was a real dream come true to have a show in that amazing venue!

S: And tell us about your 2019 Fringe World show, Paper Doll
LC: Paper Doll is one of the best shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. It was made in 2017 in the  inaugural “New Fitz” program at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney. This company commissioned ten Australian playwrights to write ten new one-act plays in response to one of the shows they were producing in their mainstage season. The  resulting shows were then presented in tandem with the mainstage show which inspired them.

I was paired with the amazing Katy Warner (who, coincidentally, is also Perth born and bred!), who wrote in response to Arthur Miller’s  A View from a Bridge. Katy took the inappropriate relationship between Eddie and Catherine as the underlying seed  of inspiration for Paper Doll, and the result is an extremely dark and intense whirlwind of a work, which is performed  by two world-class actors, Martin Ashley Jones and Hayley Pearl. Both these actors have recently returned to Australia after a long time working in the US, and I can’t wait for them to make their Perth debut with Paper Doll.

New Ghosts Theatre Company’s production of Paper Doll plays nightly from 12 – 16 February at the Blue Room Theatre.

Pictured top: The cast of “Paper Doll”, Martin Ashley Jones and Hayley Pearl.

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Circus, Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, News, Performing arts

Feats for hands and feet

Perth-born juggler Jeromy Zwick and Finnish tightwire dancer Liisa Näykki are united by their love of circus… and each other. As circus duo Hands Some Feet they bring together their respective specialities alongside acrobatics, physical theatre,  skipping ropes and live music.

Ahead of their 2019 Fringe World season, Seesaw managed to catch Zwick and Näykki with their feet on the ground long enough for a quick Q&A.

A woman standing on a man's shoulders.
Jeromy Zwick & Liisa Näykki. Photo: Michael James.

Seesaw: Tell us about your training…
Jeromy Zwick: We both went to the National Circus School of Belgium in Brussels (E.S.A.C.) where we met each other, although it took another three years before we realised that we had fallen for one another. We completed an amazing yet very tough three-year Bachelor of Circus Arts program there. We didn’t just work with some of the best specialised circus teachers in the world but we were also trained in physical theatre, dance and many other skills, in order for us to graduate as professional circus artists. But we continue to learn something new every day as this job has such variety that goes beyond doing circus and being on stage.

S: Career highlight so far?
JZ: Well, there are many. For us both it would be being able to create our own show (this one) and have total artistic control of our own material, which is so great. We just love being on stage and performing this show.

S: Career lowlight?
JZ: For me  it would have be when I was told that my entire tour with another company had to be cancelled due to an injury within the group and I was suddenly out of work when I thought I would have steady work with them for at least the next three years. Liisa had a similar thing happen to her which just goes to show that an artistic profession can often be very unstable and unpredictable.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
JZ: Waking up in the morning and knowing that we are lucky enough to have fulfilled our dream of becoming professional circus artists. We don’t have to look back one day and think, “If only we took that hard road to really commit to our dream.” Now we can just be so happy that we did and we can start enjoying the benefits of all those years of hard work . Nothing beats the joy and pure pleasure of being on stage in front of an audience. The equal giving and receiving between the performer and the audience member is such a magical thing.

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
JZ: We once performed at a Finnish porridge party (yep, you read that right, a party with porridge). It’s like a pre-Christmas party where they serve a giant pot of rice porridge. Just after our performance Santa Claus made his appearance from Lapland.

S: You performed at Fringe World last year too. What drew you back?
JZ: Our first Fringe World experience was such a welcoming and heart-warming one that there was no question in our minds at all, when presented with the opportunity, that we would return with our updated and re-worked show.

S: Tell us about Hands Some Feet’s 2019 show 
JZ: Our show is a fresh, quirky and energetic contemporary circus show powered completely by our passion to create together. We combine our two specialised circus techniques of tightwire and juggling, hence the name “Hands some Feet” me being the hands as a juggler and Liisa being the feet as a tightwire dancer. The word “some” describes all that other “meat around the bones” making the show rich and full with pair acrobatics, physical theatre, skipping ropes and live music.

One of the biggest inspirations for the show comes from a special word found only in the Finnish language: Hepuli. Hepuli means to have a negative or positive burst of emotion, the kind that even the most civilised great ape cannot withstand. In our show we deliver a universal interpretation of young couples under the spell of hepuli.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
JZ: As I am a Perth boy, I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends during the time at Fringe, as most of them are also circus artists. It’s such a nice opportunity for many of us to return from all the four corners of the globe, find ourselves back together in Perth, watch each other perform and see how we’ve all developed as individual artists.

S:What is your favourite part of the playground
JZ: I do love a good swing from time to time, and I have a really strong urge to jump on any swing I pass by. I guess I’m held back by the fact that I’m an adult now, although to be honest that doesn’t usually stop me.
LN: I’ve always loved all the climbing parts on playgrounds, climbing frames, monkey bars etc.

Hands Some Feet plays at the Black Flamingo at Yagan Square, February 5 – 17

Pictured top: Liisa Näykki and Jeromy Zwick. Photo: Michael James.

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From sex worker to comedian

Bella Green has worked in brothels, strip clubs, peepshows, dungeons, massage parlours and adult shops… and she’s here to tell the tale. Her debut show Bella Green Is Charging for It combines stand up, sketch comedy and storytelling to provide a window into the world of sex work… and she’s got some surprising answers to the questions you didn’t know you had. Seesaw caught up with Green to find out more.

Bella Green on stage.
Bella Green

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a comedian?
Bella Green: I’ve wanted to be on stage for as long as I can remember, but I wasn’t sure how or why. I didn’t know I wanted to do comedy until I was about 30. I had no idea I was funny, I just knew my Facebook statuses were good.

S: Tell us about your training…
BG: I used to tell jokes to anyone who’d listen at the brothel where I work. When I realised I wanted to be a comic, I took some improv. classes for confidence and then I hit the open mic comedy circuit.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
BG: I don’t know that I have a creative practice! I just scrawl weird joke concepts into a notebook at 3am while eating gnocchi in bed.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
BG: I love destigmatising sex work. Showing audiences that sex workers are just regular people is so fulfilling.

S: Career highlight so far?
BG: Being nominated for Best Comedy at Melbourne Fringe 2018.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
BG: I opened a stand-up set with a joke about roller derby and a nice middle-aged man yelled out that his daughter played derby and did I know her? Turns out I do! I then moved into my sex work material and the poor guy was so horrified. I almost had to reassure him that his daughter isn’t out turning tricks.

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
BG: Perth is my hometown. To quote Kendrick Lamar “I was contemplatin’ gettin’ on stage / just to go back to the hood, see my enemy, and say where you when I was walkin’?”

S: Tell us about your show Bella Green is Charging For It
BG: Bella Green Is Charging For It is a journey of stand-up, storytelling and sketch through the surprisingly mundane but always hilarious world of sex work, where the heels are high, the carpet is sticky and the customer is probably wrong. I’ve worked in brothels and strip clubs, peepshows and dungeons, massage parlours and adult shops, but my most degrading job of all was the three months I spent in a call centre for a “Big Four” bank. The show will answer all the questions you never thought to ask about sex work. Like, why is paying for sex so similar to ordering a salad? What really goes on in a peepshow? And how can you get away with wearing uggs while being a cold, hard dominatrix?

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
BG: I can’t wait to hit up that silent disco.  I’m also very excited to see Two Girls, One CuckRose, Donna and Nick are all brilliant up-and-coming stand-ups.

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
BG: The swings! I used to launch myself off the swing set at the park as a kid and pretend to have broken my arm for any stranger that walked past. I was born to be on stage.

Bella Green Is Charging for It plays Deluxe at Yagan Square, 5 – 17 February. 

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Channelling the greats

Singer Ali Bodycoat will need no introduction to local jazz aficionados. A regular performer at Perth’s Ellington Jazz Club, she’s also a Fringe World veteran. This year she’s all about powerhouse women, performing solo in “From Bodycoat to Barbra” and joining forces with Jessie Gordon in “Peggy Lee and Judy Garland”.

Ahead of her back-to-back season, Bodycoat sat down with Seesaw for a Fringe Session Q&A.

Profile Headshot of Ali Bodycoat
Ali Bodycoat

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a singer?
Ali Bodycoat: I have always wanted to perform – for as long as I can remember I had a huge desire to be in the entertainment industry.

S: Tell us about your training…
AB: The most influential formal training I had came from three incredible women – Sandra Gorringe, my high school drama teacher, Janice Taylor-Warne my classical voice teacher at WAAPA and Helen Matthews, my private jazz voice teacher. To this day, the techniques that were taught to me by these marvellous three are a part of how I approach the stage in any genre. I completed a Certificate of Musical Theatre at WAAPA and literally “fell” into the jazz world in Perth. The greatest lessons are still continuing and these are and always have been, on the job!

S: Describe your artistic practice…
AB:
Remember why we are doing this, focus on the music and the reasons behind the song – not yourself, and never, ever break an audience’s pre-conceived notions of the fantasy of being entertained. Most importantly, develop your technique and routines early so you always have that strength to fall back on.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
AB: The joy of giving an experience to an audience – for just one tiny moment, you are their travel guide and you can take them anywhere to which their mind chooses to travel. There is also something incredibly special about making music with a group of musicians who are as behind the music as you are.

S: Career highlight so far?
AB: Performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and also the Proms New Years’ Eve Concert with Mark Coughlan at the Perth Concert Hall.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
AB: Oh so countless – each performance has its moments of hilarity – probably being naked onstage but that’s another story…!

S: Tell us about your two Fringe World shows, “From Bodycoat to Barbra” and “Peggy Lee & Judy Garland”
AB: The unforgettable Jessie Gordon and I perform together in “Peggy Lee & Judy Garland”. “From Bodycoat to Barbra” presents the music of Barbra Streisand. Both shows are at the Ellington Jazz Club and are one hour slots jam-packed with the legends of the women and their music!

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
AB: As much as possible… get out that programme and DIVE IN!

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
AB: Well I’ve always had a penchant for a trampoline…

You can catch Ali Bodycoat in 
“Peggy Lee & Judy Garland”, 6 – 10 February 
“Ali Bodycoat Presents – From Bodycoat to Barbra”, 13 – 17 February
at the Ellington Jazz Club on Beaufort Street.

Pictured top: Ali Bodycoat with Jessie Gordon.

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Fringe World, Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A pop-up in three part harmony

Instachoir is exactly what it sounds like… a pop-up gig, choir-style. It’s the choir for those who fear commitment but love to sing and it’s the brainchild of Claire Coleman, best-known in Fringe World circles as the founder of local indie-pop choir, Menagerie.

Based in Berlin since 2015, Coleman currently conducts not one but two choirs and says nothing beats sharing the joy of singing with others. Now she’s returning home, albeit briefly, to present Instachoir at Fringe World. Seesaw caught up with Coleman just before she boarded her flight to Perth, to talk about all things choral.

A woman sitting at a piano looking happy.
Claire Coleman

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
Claire Coleman: Arts life doesn’t have to come with thunderbolts and lightning (or, more likely, with glitter, a hot pink leotard and a set of false eyelashes). Sometimes it comes to inhabit you slowly, and this was my experience. More than a single big decision to pursue a creative life, my career developed from a series of small decisions that gradually led me here.

S: Tell us about training to be a conductor… was it formal, on-the-job or both?
CC: When I started my first choir, Menagerie, it was my first experience as a choral director. Sure, I had done a couple of choral pedagogy units during my Music Education degree at UWA, and I had casually conducted choirs here and there before. And, like many musicians, I had been training for what has become my professional practice since I was a child, even though at the time I probably wouldn’t have categorised my weekly piano and violin lessons as professional development. I had prior teaching experience, teaching class music in schools and giving piano lessons since I was 16. I’d had arts admin. experience from working in various community music organisations. And I had just started my doctorate in popular musicology, so was spending my days reading and thinking about the indie music that the choir was learning to sing in the evenings.

All the elements and skills I needed to be a conductor were there. But still, Menagerie was the first time I’d had an ensemble of my very own. It was a joyfully reciprocal development experience, where the choir took shape and learned how to be a choir alongside me, as I learned what they needed from me as their director.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
CC: My practice is a portfolio that combines music performance, music teaching, arranging, choral conducting and music research. For me, every element of my work has a strong creative component – even and especially the teaching! There are endless creative possibilities for approaching lessons and rehearsals.

S: What do you love most about being a choir conductor?
CC: When I’m working with a new group of choirlings, there is always a beautiful moment of arrival when they stop focusing on their individual singing and listen to what’s going on around them and suddenly realise: hey, this sounds amazing. Sometimes I see this knowledge dawning on their faces. There is nothing better than sharing these moments. Music has been my constant companion since I was a kid. It makes me happy in ways I can’t even fathom, let alone describe. And so, it also brings me great joy to pass that happiness around by enabling other people to make music too.

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
CC: I say a lot of dumb things in rehearsals, so there are a lot of laughs (even if sometimes I am the joke, rather than making the joke!) I can’t pick a funniest, but here’s a funny story.

It was my first time attending a Catch Music session. The session was finished, and I’d enjoyed it, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the large group of diverse strangers. Catch Music is a Perth community arts organisation running inclusive music sessions, so there were a number of participants with different disabilities, and I hadn’t been in a rehearsal that engaged such an extreme range of abilities before.

A participant called me over and asked me if I would like to see his tattoo. I was slightly nervous, if not a little suspicious. Where was this tattoo located?! This was not the nice-to-meet-you small talk to which I was accustomed. With a somewhat cheeky grin, the participant pulled up his shirt sleeve to reveal a glorious tattoo of Agnetha from ABBA emblazoned across the entirety of his upper arm. Like many moments in Catch Music sessions, it was funny because it was not what I was expecting, but it was exactly the right thing to happen at that moment. It also made me feel instantly welcome and at-ease in the new situation, and led to me taking more formal roles with Catch Music. (So thanks, Frank, if you’re reading!)

S: You’re no stranger to Fringe World – you conducted Menagerie through its first two Fringe seasons – but now you live on the other side of the world! What drew you back to Fringe World?
CC: As you say, I’ve been living in Berlin since 2015. This year, my partner Mike and I decided to make our annual-or-so trip home coincide with some friends’ wedding, and (best of all!) with Fringe! I’ve been running a monthly open choir rehearsal here in Berlin, and I felt like it was the kind of interactive fun that Fringe audiences love. I’m very happy to be combining a visit home with one of my favourite activities… choir!

S: Tell us about your Fringe show, Instachoir!
CC: In Instachoir you, and the rest of the audience, become a one-night-only choir! It’s a quick-and-dirty, three-part-harmony-singing extravaganza featuring a different pop hit each week. If you’ve never sung harmonies before (or even if you’ve never sung before!) this is a great way to try it out… in a big group of people, singing familiar songs, all learning by listening and copying what I demonstrate so there’s no special music skills needed. And if you have sung before, well, you already know how fun this is going to be!

We learn the song of the night at The Moon over the course of a one-hour rehearsal, and then we pop down to one of the Fringe hub venues to surprise the unsuspecting punters with a spontaneous performance of what we’ve learned!

Hilarity and glory will ensue.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
CC: This Fringe season also means a visit home for me, so mostly I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends. And also my special friend the sun, who is rarely seen on Berlin winter days. But I’m also looking forward to being in the audience of my old choir, Menagerie, for the first time at their show Odes to the (In)significant, and I’m looking forward to catching some of the great dance shows on the program.

S: What’s your favourite part of the playground?
CC: Swings! As close to flying as you can get.

Instachoir takes place at The Moon, January 29 (The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian”), February 4 (The Spice Girls, “Stop”), and February 11 (The Beach Boys, Kokomo). Each session is stand-alone.

Pictured top: Claire Coleman conducting Menagerie Choir at Fringe World in 2015. Photo: Kim Anderson.

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Mr Gorski
Children, Circus, Comedy, Fringe World, Magic, News, Performing arts

Catch him if you can!

It may have started with a stutter, but Daniel Gorski’s career looks pretty smooth from this angle. His alter ego, Mr Gørski, has been touring arts festivals around Australia since 2014, with his blend of mime, slapstick, circus and magic, and he’s also known as Jango on ABC Kids’ Hoopla Doopla. He returns to 2019 Fringe World courtesy of Sydney Fringe Festival’s 2018 Perth Tour Ready Award.

In this Q&A, Daniel Gorski spills the beans on a career that began with a speech impediment…

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an entertainer?
Daniel Gorski:  From a very early age! I grew up on the stage. I was put into acting classes at the age of eight because of a debilitating stutter. I learnt to control my breathing, improved my confidence and developed a passion for vaudeville and comedy acts. I have a memory of my first show… skinny little Dan in a cave-man outfit with a papier mâché club saying, “This cave-man he wears skins, lots of muscles on his shins…” I remember doing a double take at my skinny little legs and hearing the laughter from the audience and thinking, “I did that.”

S: Tell us about your training…
DG: I have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing international trainers from as far afield as Russia, China, Argentina and Canada, prior to, during and after I attended both Circo-Arts in New Zealand and the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne. Over the three years I spent in formal training I acquired an amazing number of skills including the ability to teach myself.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
DG: I have a saying that the artist needs the Ps: Practice (do it regularly), Patience (it doesn’t happen over night), Persistence (don’t give up) and Pardon yourself (be prepared to be bad at it for a while)… and share your ideas with your friends as you never know who might have a different perspective. Allow for tangents when working on a show – you never know what will come from the creative process.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
DG: I love sharing an experience with the audience, seeing the amazement on people’s faces, making a connection: it’s happening right here and now and it’s magical.

S: Career highlights so far?
DG: I have performed at massive events and had people ignore me, but on the flip side, I’ve performed for three people in a fringe show, had an amazing experience and connected with the audience. In 2018 I had the privilege to work with the Clown Doctors, connecting and sharing some amazing moments with kids, parents and the staff on a very different level.

S: Career lowlight?
DG:  I was working in a cabaret show, my last act of the night and I felt on top of my game! I took my bow, stepped off the stage immediately rolled my ankle. My leg crumpled beneath me and I literally fell out of the spotlight and hobbled back stage.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
DG:  I was working for CIRCA in Brisbane performing in a show called 31 Circus Acts in 30 Minutes. It’s as simple as it sounds, such a fun show. In an acrobatic sequence I tore my pants right down the middle of crotch. I stopped the show and asked the audience if they’d mind allowing me the chance to change because it would be a little more difficult than usual to continue. The audience’s reaction was fantastic – they were laughing and cheering, then together they chorused as one with a comedic NOOO! So I had to continue the show with my knees together.

S: This isn’t your first appearance at Fringe World – what drew you back?
DG: I won a Sydney Fringe Festival award in 2018 that guaranteed me a spot in Fringe World this year, so I am pretty excited to come back.

S: Tell us about your Fringe World show, Mr Gørski!
DG:  Mr.Gørski is deemed dangerously entertaining, he’s almost caught! The show is about overcoming your inner demons, and about questioning the overwhelming voice of authority at a time when sometimes what you are told to believe and what is right in front of you don’t quite match up.

S: What’s your favourite part of the playground?
DG: I have a six year old niece and we spent quality time together over the New Year holiday. We are like two peas in pod. This visit we sat in a big circular swing reading each other silly jokes for hour, laughing until our faces hurt.

You can catch Mr Gørski at the Big Top at the Woodside Pleasure Garden from 27 January to 3 February at the child-friendly time of 4pm.

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