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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Orange and pink background, white dots and words Kiddo Kaos
Calendar, Children, Fringe World

Children: Aaaand Now For MORE … Kiddo Kaos!!

31 Jan – 2 Feb @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
9 – 10 February @ De Parel Spiegeltent ·
Presented by Flash in the Can ·

Fringe World favourites, members of British improv comedy superstars Racing Minds and Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes, bring a mad mash of improv games, all with different crazy twists and all driven by suggestions from the young ‘uns.  Runner up: Best Children’s Event Fringe World 2016 with (Aaaand Now For … Kiddo Kaos!),  2019’s show will have MORE Kaos with new cast members: Vicki Hawley, Caitlin Campbell and  Tom GK, joining Racing Minds members Tom Skelton and Daniel Nils Roberts.

Stuffed with hilarious characters and LOTS of daft jokes, this mischievous show is whatever the kids want it to be! Expect improvised mayhem, physical comedy, music and merriment for  ages 7 – 12 and adults too! With the help of their junior conspirators, these dashing adventurers  create a show that is just as entertaining for adults in 2 venues: Subiaco Arts Centre (31 Jan, 1-2 Feb, 2:30pm) and De Parel Spiegeltent, The Woodside Pleasure Garden (9-10 Feb at 1:45pm)

Two shows at Subiaco Arts Centre (31 Jan and 1 Feb ) will be AUSLAN interpreted for the hearing impaired.

“My six-year-old son and I were both in hysterics at the show we attended which was entirely  due to the talent of the ensemble rather than any luck or divine intervention. So, whilst no  two shows could possibly bare the same outcomes, I’d find it impossible to conceive that each performance would be anything less than hilarious (playandgo.com.au Australia)

“Impressive improvisational talent … fast-paced, inventive, jolly good fun” (The West Australian)

“Script-less brilliance, crowd captivated from start to finish” (Three Weeks, Edinburgh)

More info:
www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/aaaand-now-for-more-kiddo-kaos-fw2019

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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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2 comedians in garbage bins , one leapfrogging
Calendar, Children, Circus, Comedy, Fringe World, Performing arts, Physical theatre

Children: Circus: Trash Test Dummies

18 Jan- 3 Feb @ Big Top @ The Woodside Pleasure Garden ·
Presented by Dummies Corp ·

Everyone put your bins out, tonight’s bin night and the Trash Test Dummies are on duty! This award winning, sidesplitting, slapstick comedy, circus routine takes the household wheelie bin to new heights, and delivers a dump-truck full of hilarity!

“Dungeree’d Dummies from down under create an adventure playground out of dustbins.” The Herald Scotland ★★★★

More info
W: https://www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/trash-test-dummies-fw2019
E:  producer@dummiescorp.com

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A woman holding an avocado with googly eyes
Comedy, Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Seriously funny

Fringe World review ·
Elizabeth Davie, Super Woman Money Program · 
The Shambles in the Woodside Pleasure Gardens, January 22 ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

Sometimes comedy is best when the laughing stops.

When Elizabeth Davie stops with the funnies (she gives us plenty) she sits down and reads journalist Jane Gilmore’s unsettling story of the divergent economic and life paths of a man, John, and his wife, Mary, after their divorce.

It’s quite long, often quite dry and it’s no joke.

It’s a damning indictment of the systemic barriers raised against women who find themselves “financially independent” – either by their own choosing or by the actions of others.

As Davie puts it – and she’s not joking – she “has to raise an extra $350,000 for her retirement just because she has a vagina”.

Don’t be intimidated by all this; Davie won the Best Comedy award at last year’s Fringe World, and there’s a good reason why.

She’s got manic expressiveness, a body with a mind of its own and a voice that could break glass. (When she “sings” along to Shirley Bassey’s My Life I was glad my drink was in one of those hideous plastic cups).

She also does some rubbish glove-puppetry, a fair bit of staggering slapstick (the whole gamut of stand-up, really), says some really funny things – and then sits and tells us about John and Mary.

“I felt like I had cold water running down my back,” says Davie.

And, sometimes, that’s exactly what comedy needs to be.

Super Woman Money Program plays at The Shambles in the Woodside Pleasure Gardens until January 26.

Pictured top: Elizabeth Davie. Photo: Nayt Housman.

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7 performers
Calendar, Fringe World, Music, Performing arts, Theatre

Music: STYX

26 – 30 January @ De Parel Spiegeltent,
The Woodside Pleasure Garden ·
Presented by Second Body ·

STYX is a theatre concert about memory, neuroscience and the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. Performed by a 7-piece band, STYX fuses recorded interviews, storytelling and original songs to take you on a journey to the underworld and back.

More info
W: http://Www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/styx-fw2019
E:  esulley@gmail.com

Pictured: STYX, credit: Emma Sulley

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A man sitting at a piano holding up two albums by Kylie Minogue
Cabaret, Features, Fringe World, News, Performing arts

He should be so lucky

It all started with Madonna, says Michael Griffiths. The award-winning Australian cabaret performer has been touring Fringe festivals with his tribute acts since 2014. His new show Songs by Kylie traces the pop princess’s rise from Neighbours to music superstardom, and it’s coming to Fringe World 2019.

Ahead of the show, Griffiths took some time to answer Seesaw’s Q&A.

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
Michael Griffiths: I fell in love with pop music at a very early age and grew up playing the piano by ear. Music has always been my first love but actually being on stage came a little later, more in my late teens when I started doing amateur musicals for fun, in my hometown Adelaide.

S: Tell us about your training…
MG: I trained in music composition in Adelaide first, before deciding that being in musicals looked like a far more glamorous means of employment. So I made the big move West to study at WAAPA in the late 90s. I then worked solidly in musicals for about 15 years, in a string of jukebox musicals – SHOUT!, We Will Rock You!, Priscilla and Jersey Boys – and that’s where I really developed my skills.

Cabaret is a newer venture and one which I’ve learned strictly on the job. The best part about it is being reunited with the piano after many years of neglect. There were about ten years where I barely touched one and decided I could no longer play.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
MG: I’m a travelling cabaret performer with a bunch of shows under my belt and have been on the Fringe circuit for over six years now. It all started with a Madonna tribute which I performed in Perth in 2014, followed by tributes to Annie Lennox, Cole Porter and Peter Allen. I’m inclined to steal Barry Humphries’ line and say that I’m “in the business of cheering people up”.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
MG: I love arriving in an old theatre with charm and history. They are very special places and I never tire of them. But at the risk of sounding super corny, making people happy is the best part about what I do.

S: Career highlight so far?
MG: Performing at London’s Royal Albert Hall, on Elton John’s piano with a mirror ball from Kylie Minogue’s Christmas party,  wins hands down.

S: Career lowlight?
MG: Corporate gigs sometimes don’t go so well and I usually try to avoid them. I sang at a car yard launch – why on earth did I say yes to that? – a few years ago and it was like pulling teeth.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
MG: I’ve been Carlotta’s music director the last couple of years and have never laughed so much on stage. She’s a living legend and gets away with absolute murder.

S: What made you decide to come back to Fringe World?
MG: I’ve been coming to Fringe World since 2014 and it’s always such a treat to be back in Perth. I lived on Beaufort St, Mt Lawley in the 90s before it was “zhuzhy” and Perth has been a second home to me ever since. Summer is the best time of year and I adore Perth audiences – they’re very generous and always up for a good time.

S: Tell us about “Songs by Kylie”
MG: I explore the back catalogue of Kylie Minogue, starting out with her time on Neighbours doing the “Locomotion”, teaming up with “hit factory” Stock, Aitken and Waterman, going it alone to find her own voice and her rebirth as the ultimate disco diva. The early songs are such guilty pleasures and so much fun to sing; they always put a big smile on my face. I re-imagine quite a few familiar songs too, so if you’re a Kylie fan like me, there’s some surprises in store. Some songs, such as “Better The Devil You Know”, are pop perfection and you don’t mess with them.

S: What’s your favourite part of the playground?
MG: I love a big long slippery dip 🙂

You can catch Michael Griffiths: Songs by Kylie at De Parel Spiegeltent @ The Woodside Pleasure Garden, January 29 – February 3.

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Children, Circus, News, Reviews

Young performers weather wild temps

Fringe World review: Odds and Ends Circus, Let’s Get Wild ·
Big Top at the Woodside Pleasure Garden, 20 January ·
Review by Rosalind Appleby ·

It was the Holy Grail of juggling batons, shimmering gold in the distance. The two performers ran slow-mo through the audience to grab it. They then juggled and squabbled over it, but not before an entertaining Indiana Jones boulder chase around the stage while the soundtrack gave the impression the whole circus tent was collapsing.

It’s hard to put into words and that’s the gift Bede Nash and Leigh Rhodes bring to the stage. Their circus act Let’s Get Wild transforms ordinary things like a juggling baton, rubber gloves or a skipping rope into a high energy adventure. The young Victorian-based performers are graduates from the National Institute of Circus Arts and founders of Odds and Ends Circus group. Their polished show, loosely based around an explorers theme, includes a range of stunts from juggling, acrobatics, hula hoops, bounce juggling and tumbling.

Backed by a well-chosen soundtrack (everything from Ride of the Valkyrie’s to the Wedding March) they grinned and goofed their way through some spectacular and genuinely funny stunts. Skipping while seated, dancing the tango with inflated rubber glove chickens, one handed balances on the other’s head; their energy lit up the Big Top in the Woodside Pleasure Gardens, drawing cheers from children and adults alike. The favourites from our crew were the back flips, juggling and hoops, while the adults appreciated the Raiders of the Lost Ark references. Nash’s lean flexibility and expressive face gave him a Dick Van Dyke charisma, while Rhodes was a mix of playful exuberance and comic timing. I’m putting the occasional drops and second attempts down to the scorching 42′ temperature. Given the heat and the sweat pouring from them the fact Nash and Rhodes completed the routine without passing out was a feat in itself!

Definitely worth checking out (especially now the forecast is looking more moderate!) with children aged 3-10.

Let’s Get Wild continues until January 26.

Pictured top: Bede Nash with hula hoops. Photo: Rosalind Appleby

 

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360 ALLSTARS
Calendar, Circus, Fringe World, Performing arts

Circus: 360 ALLSTARS

23 Jan – 10 Feb @ Teatro @ The Woodside Pleasure Garden ·
Presented by Urban Circus ·

Internationally-acclaimed 360 ALLSTARS is a phenomenal physical performance which explores all forms of rotation, connecting the street with the elite to deliver a supercharged urban circus. 360 ALLSTARS is a spectacularfusion of the extraordinary artistry that emerges from street culture.
“Mind boggling, awe-inspiring entertainment” ★★★★★
– All Over Adelaide

This production boasts a stellar international cast, including a two-time World Champion BMX Flatlander, two World Champion breakdancers, an internationally acclaimed basketball freestyler and Guinness World Record-holding roue cyr artist, Rowen Thomas, who hails from Western Australia. Add to this a stunning live soundtrack delivered by New Zealand’s ‘X Factor’ Winner, Beau Monga, and award-winning master musician, Gene Peterson, coupled with spectacular video projections, 360 ALLSTARS is as aurally exciting as it is visually astounding.

“A supercharged show… incredibly talented athletes and musicians”
– Theatermania, New York

A magnificent, colourful and astonishing expression of a generation that has reinvented public performance, 360 ALLSTARS is a revolutionary production that will leave you dizzy with excitement!

More info:
www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/360-allstars-fw2019

 

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Yalyalwuy Gondarra standing in front of an Aboriginal painting.
Dance, Fringe World, News, Performing arts

A steep learning curve

As returning Fringe World favourites, the Djuki Mala dancers need no introduction. The ensemble’s charismatic blend of choreography from both traditional and contemporary Yolngu culture has been a hit with audiences around the world.

Despite their global success, the group remains down-to-earth and unassuming, as this Q&A with Djuki Mala dancer Yalyalwuy Gondarra reveals.

Yalyalwuy Gondarra
Yalyalwuy Gondarra

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a dancer?
Yalyalwuy Gondarra : I didn’t always want to be a dancer; when I was younger I wanted to a professional chef. But Djuki Mala (when they were known as the Chooky Dancers) kept popping in and out of my life, with family dancing with them. Then they stuck in my mind. So the dancing found me and I am sticking with it.

S: Tell us about your early days with Djuki Mala…
YG: When I first became a Chooky dancer I had two weeks to learn the whole show. I learnt it in Sydney with the older dancers and choreographers, and I just followed the older boys… keeping up with them was hard but two weeks later I felt good. I loved it straight away.

First time I performed to a big audience was at Blues Festival with my cousin Baykali. I wasn’t even that nervous because growing up I was always dancing back at home in groups and performing to our family on the basketball court at disco. I loved looking out and seeing the big crowd – everyone clapping or dancing with us, just having fun.

S: Career highlight so far?
YG: My career highlight with Djuki Mala is hard to choose… I think for me it’s actually just always being with [the Djuki Mala team] and travelling the world with my best friends, family and now girlfriend.

Egypt is my favourite place we have toured, the pyramids and history of the place was so amazing. I took so many photos with those pyramids!

S: Career lowlight?
YG: The worst part about being an artist is getting homesick. Especially when sad things happen back at home, you just want to be with family not faking a smile on stage. But it’s my job and it’s what we do. It’s important to tell the story of my culture.

S: What made Djuki Mala decide to return to Fringe World?
YG: We have performed at Fringe World Perth three times now; some of our best and biggest fans are here! Sometimes we even get stopped in the street for a photo… I get shy though. It’s important to be humble.

S: And what do you, personally, enjoy about the Festival?
YG: My favourite thing about performing in Fringe World is meeting other people and making new friends… some of my best friends I met on tour. I also love seeing other shows and what other stories there are being told.

S: What’s your favourite part of the playground?
YG: Growing up, I just loved playing with sand. I am an Island boy, so I love anything to do with the beach. At playgrounds I would always look for the sandpit because it made me feel like I was at the beach.

You can catch Djuki Mala 18-25 Jan, 9-17 Feb at The West Australian Spiegeltent, The Woodside Pleasure Garden.

Read Jenny Scott’s review of Djuki Mala’s 2018 Fringe World Show.

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