Interview with Australian Writer Zenobia Frost

Blogger Geosi Gyasi interviewed me for his blog, Geosi Reads:

Geosi Reads

Credit: Raw Bones Credit: Raw Bones

Brief Biography: Zenobia Frost is an Australian writer and editor whose debut poetry collection, The Voyage, was released in 2009. Zenobia (Brisbane) is the assistant editor of Cordite Poetry Review. Her work has been published in Voiceworks, Overland, Southerly, The Lifted Brow and Rave Magazine. Zenobia was shortlisted in the 2013 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize and won second place in the 2013 John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers. Her debut collection, Salt and Bone, is forthcoming from Walleah Press.

Geosi Gyasi: Between Page and Stage, which one is your first love?

Zenobia Frost: Page, I think. Writing poetry was how I learned to be happy with my own company. I can fiddle with one line or one piece of punctuation for hours on end. Sometimes, when I write a new poem, I’m excited to wake up the next morning just to see it with fresh…

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Interview: BRISBANE (A DOING WORD)

Writer David Burton and director Claire Christian team up for Vena Cava’s latest production, BRISBANE (A DOING WORD). I caught up with David and Claire to find out more.

 

ZENOBIA FROST: People like to denigrate Brisbane as a place to live or make art, but it sounds like this play identifies the ways in which Brisbane has much to offer. Is that correct? Tell me about the play’s relationship to Brisbane.

DAVID BURTON: The play’s relationship to Brisbane is complex. Every artist I know has a complex relationship with this city. I’m a big Brisbane fan too, and a large part of this play is showing that Brisbane has a lot to offer but that it also has a lot to overcome. Brisbane’s main challenge is the relationship it holds with its artists, many of whom are looking to book a flight to Melbourne or Sydney! I was interested in why that it is — not on a political level, because that’s discussed enough — but on a personal, emotional, creative level. That’s what the play explores.

CLAIRE CHRISTIAN: I like to think that the play metaphorically high-fives Brisbane in a way too. And that by the very making of the work, Brisbane artists are doing their thing in Brisbane and loving on Brisbane.

 

ZF: Tell me about the play’s protagonist, Matty. What sets his story apart from your average coming-of-age?

DB: We’ve all met Matty. He’s the hopelessly ambitious, idealistic artist who believes theatre can change the world. He’s loved, funny, and imaginative, but he’s sadly lacking some sensitivity. I think he’s an interesting protagonist because he’s recognisable, and not necessarily likeable. Not likeable, but loveable. I’ve been Matty, I’ve been friends with a lot of Mattys, and I’ve watched many grow up, and many stagnate in a Matty-state. It’s funny and interesting to me.

CC: I think those of us in the arts all have an inner Matty at some point of our career: the people in our lives loving us, us hating ourselves, being a wanker about our art — perhaps that’s part of the process.

 BRISBANE (a doing word)


ZF: Matty explores comedy, slam, theatre, therapy and Jesus. Which part of his adventure is most memorable/resonant for you as writer and director, respectively?

CC: Matty’s overall journey, but the people around him are also on a journey because of him and his impact on their lives. He’s a pretty blissfully unaware of the ripple effect he causes. I hope audiences just wanna give him a hug — and tell him he’s okay. I think all artists need that. Scrap that, I think everyone needs that.

 

ZF: JWC is a distinctly Brisbane venue (and definitely a doing-wordy place). How does “Brisbane (a doing word)” use the space?

CC: We’re in the shopfront space, which has its challenges and limitations, but is also forcing us to be creative. I’ve done a show in this space before — I love the intimacy it forces, the proximity of the actors to the audience. Plus, I think it’s fantastic that Vena Cava are getting away from their home turf and spreading their wings. I think it makes a great comment about how they see themselves within the Brisbane landscape and about the work they want to make.

 

ZF: Vena Cava is a student theatre company; have the play’s themes resonated with the cast? In what ways?

C: I think so, yeah. I think it is spinning a few of them into an existential art related crisis. It’s a little confronting in that Matty’s essentially on their path, in their classes, possibly them — even though I think they all hope not. It’s probably inspired a whole lot of reflection about why they do what they do, and how they talk about what they do. I think it’s nice to be reminded not to be a dickhead. I think they get that now.

 

ZF: Does the play reveal anything unexpected about Brisbane?

DB: I don’t know what people’s expectations are of our city! I think we all have different perspectives on our town, and the play looks at that. None of the characters have the same relationship with this place.

CC: I don’t know, I’d like to think the play speaks more about being a young, confused twenty something — which could be applicable in any town. I think what makes the play speak of Brisbane is the ‘plight’ of artists here and their questions about where to place themselves for success. Maybe it speaks about the perception of success as an artist and how place and space contribute to that.

 

BRISBANE (A DOING WORD) plays at the Judith Wright Centre from 20 to 22 March.

 

WTF: Wedhus Gembel

Part II of our  World Theatre Festival interviews series brings us into conversation with ANDY FREER of Snuff Puppets.

Wedhus Gembel

OFFSTREET: Describe your show in under 25 words.
ANDY FREER: Wedhus Gembel explores the tensions between traditional and contemporary Indonesian life. It is a parable about the cycle of life and duality; from destruction there is creation, from chaos there is harmony.

OS: What stands out for you about the festival’s aims and programming in 2014?
AF: WTF’s commitment to presenting irreverent, cross-cultural, globally relevant programming matches Snuff Puppets’ company ethos to push boundaries and create entertaining, experimental and culturally diverse performances that challenge the possibilities of theatre today.

OS: Wedhus Gembel is an Australian-Indonesian collaboration. What have cast members learned from one another during this extended collaboration, especially in travelling to India and Peru?
AF: Collaboration is key to this work; it was how it was created and it is how it continues to run and be presented. Wherever we tour the show we run a free two-day performance-making workshop with people from the local community. The work created over those days is then presented within the show. Sharing and learning from each other within new groups of people and cultures gives everyone an amazingly diverse place to learn and discover.
Having toured throughout Java, Indonesia and been presented in Melbourne, Australia and Lima, Peru, the cultural diversity of these places has impacted this collaboration, creating an endlessly rich and fascinating learning experience for everyone involved. Wedhus Gembel is essentially a visual spectacle that transcends language barriers and covers universal themes.
The form lends itself to being a cross-fertilisation of cultures primarily because of the Australian/Indonesian collaboration, but also because it includes a performance-making workshop in whatever country we are presenting. Inherently we absorb the culture, living and performing with the people of these new places.

OS: What are the challenges and benefits of telling a story with puppets of such epic proportions?
AF: The challenges technically are often transporting and storing our giant puppets. Interestingly, the solving of this problem became a benefit. We were able to pack the whole show into our luggage quota; now a five-metre mountain-volcano plus all the puppets and props travel with us in our luggage. The scale of our puppets, all being bigger than an average human, give a sense for the audience of being in a transgressive space. It is in this place that audiences are disarmed and perspectives shifted.
The puppets play in the realm of mythology and dreams, creating a joyously chaotic and transformative outdoor spectacle of epic proportions.

OS: What will Wedhus Gembel leave its audiences feeling?
AF: Our aim is to give our audiences an insight into an amazingly rich and exotic Javanese culture. They will be swept up in a story of love and nature, superstition, chaos, magic and mythology. There is also some very cool music and we invite the audience onto and into the performance . . . it must be seen to be believed.

WEDHUS GEMBEL runs from Feb 18 to 22 for World Theatre Festival.

WTF14: Solpadeine Is My Boyfriend

Throughout my life as an arts reviewer, World Theatre Festival at Brisbane Powerhouse has been my favourite Brissie festival. You’ll see work you’d never otherwise have a chance to see — and you’ll never know what to expect from each year’s diverse program. To kick off our series of WTF14 interviews, I asked STEFANIE PREISSNER about bringing her black comedy from Ireland to Australia.

Solpadeine Is My Boyfriend

OFFSTREET: Describe your show in under 25 words.
STEFANIE PREISSNER: It’s an Irish girl’s experience of trying to maintain relationships with people who keep emigrating to Australia. Basically.

OS: I reckon WTF is one of Australia’s most diverse and dynamic festivals. What stands out for you about the festival’s aims?
SP: Having the opportunity to be part of a festival that programmes such varied and diverse work is something that doesn’t happen often. The stakes are high and that’s always scary but I’m excited to stand up there with the best of them.

OS: Have you visited Brisbane before? If no, what are you expecting?
SP: I’m looking forward to seeing a city that I have only heard about on Facebook from my friends who have moved there. It’s a place that is idealised and sensationalised in Ireland as a destination where all the things that are awful about Ireland and the life of an Irish 20-something are answered. Also: Steve Irwin’s zoo.

OS: The entirety of the show is told in verse. What were the benefits and the challenges of incorporating poetry into contemporary theatre?
SP: I think there’s a risk of autobiographical work becoming a bit indulgent or overly sentimental and putting restrictions on the writing opens up a whole other part of my brain and stops me saying the things that I have to re-read through my hands because they are so totally cringe-worthy. So challenging myself to write in verse makes me far more creative. Also on a very basic level, I can write in rhyme and not many people can, so I think it’s a skill worth using, practising and honing.

OS: How do you think the show’s themes will resonate with audiences on the other side of the world?
SP: I’m scared. I’m not sure. There’s a chance that people will be offended at the message of the show. I’m hoping that a discussion might start on Twitter with people’s opinions on it, but I am not expecting everyone to love it or agree with it. It’s a challenging piece.

Start the conversation with Stef on Twitter: @stefpreissner. SOLAPADEINE IS MY BOYFRIEND runs from Feb 12 to 16 at Brisbane Powerhouse for World Theatre Festival.

INTERVIEW: Fetish Fridays

Much more fun than Casual Fridays, Frankie Vandellous (curator of Alchemy) has collaborated with HazyinSeptember (from Brisbane Leather Pride) to run a trio of evenings celebrating Brisbane’s kink communities: Fetish Fridays. Over three consecutive weeks, Number 29 Club has been home to all sorts of playtimes for public consumption. The final show is coming up — this Friday, 6 September. I spoke with Ms Vandellous herself (on the night of the second show) to find out a little more.

Words: Zenobia Frost
Photos: Stuart Hirth

ZF: Take me on a tour of the venue on Fetish Fridays; walk me through that front door and describe the atmosphere you wanted to create.
FV: Fetish Fridays is being held on the lower level of the Number 29 Club, a male-only club — so already, we are staging a revolution! An open-air courtyard leads to a dark room with a small stage at the other end. It feels like a “back room” performance: alternative, underground, where anything could happen (and does)!

Photo by Stuart Hirth

ZF: It sounds like FF#1 was an electrifying success with audiences. Tell me about your goal: to create a safe space to blend fetish with theatre.
FV: With established Doms, burlesque dancers, and drag performers in our program, we turned kink into performance. My aim was to provide an opportunity for the “kinky and the curious” to celebrate Brisbane’s vibrant kink community, showcase its diversity, and to show how technique can be elevated into artistry. I hoped to provide a launching pad for discussion and a desire to engage further in the community.

ZF: Do you think FF#1 was successful in those goals — did it educate and titillate?
FV: I walked away from FF Part I feeling that this event was one of the best I have worked on in a long while. There was not a single heteronormative performance on the first night, and the energy of the room was one of celebration and community. I know that some audience members walked away feeling a renewed interest or hunger. I hope that they find satisfaction.

ZF: Tell me about the crowd — I bet they were a well-dressed bunch.
FV: There was such diversity! There were corsets and fetish-wear, suits and sweatpants — even leather harnesses and jock straps! We also had a diversity of ages and experiences with kink. We had attendees who had never even attended a burlesque show sharing the room with established members of the kink community. This was a truly inclusive event.

Photo by Stuart Hirth

ZF: How has the BDSM community in Brisbane taken to these gigs? What kind of feedback have you received?
FV: Both the performers and the audience have given me great feedback; there is a lot of excitement about this project, and I have heard that it has been spoken about extensively in the BDSM community over the weeks leading up to it. As our first attempt, we are improving each week, and certainly looking to enhance the viewers’ experience in the future. The team involved in this project are already planning our next step… Stay tuned…

ZF: FF#2 focused on gender-bending, drag and burlesque. What were the highlights?
FV: There were so many performers that I was excited to watch last night. I love Vivienne VSassy’s burlesque performances and appreciate RedBear’s passion for rope. I knew that Miss Gen had been working extensively on her rope routine and she is a true rope artist, and I was excited to see Tara Raboom Deay perform her drag strip routine. I was also very excited to see Labrys perform — the last show of the night. She blew me away with her aesthetic vision, safety precautions, attention to detail, and performance. I will just say that it involved a hospital bed, needle play, a violet wand, a camera projecting live onto a television screen, a Whitney Houston song, and an actual female orgasm.

Photo by Stuart Hirth

ZF: Each FF has raffled prizes in support of QAHC — a damn good cause. Do you feel it’s perhaps time for Brisbane’s queer and kinky folks to rally together against potential consequences of the coming election?
FV: It is always the time to rally together. That is the short answer. Certainly, events such as Leather Pride are perfect expressions of the interplay between the kink and queer communities. However there are a number of aspects to this issue that Brisbanites will need to negotiate in order for there to be consolidation allowing for political action. It is my hope that FF can create a place for intersection and good-will.
My reasoning in creating a raffle for QAHC was the concept of what constitutes a “healthy community”. I truly believe that a healthy city has both a vibrant creative culture and sexual culture, where participants can express themselves in dymanic and healthy ways. QAHC has a history of supporting the kink community. For example, they have allowed Peer Rope to utilise the QAHC space for monthly workshops.

ZF: The final event samples kinky delights. What kind of advice would you give a curious beginner.
FV: Have an open mind. We are offering an event in the spirit of community building, fundraising, and hospitality. Everyone is welcome. Certainly, elements of the evening may be shocking for some viewers. It is vital to understand that those involved in the show are rehearsed, and experienced individuals versed in Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK), they know exactly what they are engaging in, and have the ability to stop at any time. Not all performances will be on that side of the spectrum, however; we have moments of comedy, dance, and lots of fun as well.

The final FETISH FRIDAY, Part III, takes place on 6 September, 2013. Tickets are $15 on the door.

THEATRE: The Lady of the House of Love

SANDRO COLARELLI stars in THE LADY OF THE HOUSE OF LOVE, a one-man show adapted by DAN EVANS from Angela Carter’s short story of the same name. Under DAVID FENTON‘s direction, The Lady is a slick, dark restaging of a show that was a Brisbane Festival Under the Radar hit back in 2008. On the day-of-opening-night (26 July), I spoke with the very eloquent Colarelli — a mainstay of Brisbane stage and cabaret — to find out more.

In its early days, [cabaret] always had an element of danger and surprise.

ZF: The Lady of the House of Love arises from cabaret’s “darkest roots”. Tell me, where do those roots lie, for you?
SC: Cabaret in its early years in Europe, was underground, edgy, provocative and subversive, using art and performance in a way that was both entertaining, free and experimental. Almost anything could be said and done and the audience entered the space knowing this underworld of performance was not going to be a night at the opera or ballet. It always had an element of danger and surprise, not least because there was a very real danger in those days that both performers and audience could be arrested by the law and locked up if what was being presented was deemed as morally inappropriate. I’ve tried to use some of those elements to preface the performance of The Lady of the House of Love to signal that I am about to take the audience into a world where anything could happen. It’s an invitation to come on a journey, and this case it happens to be a rather strange one.

ZF: Tell me more about why Angela Carter’s short story so resonated with you. 
SC: I discovered the collection of short stories that “The Lady of the House of Love” came from in a book sale when I was 15. I was intrigued by the title, The Bloody Chamber, and soon became enamoured of all the stories in the collection, but particularly of “The Lady of the House of Love”, because of my teenage fascination with vampires. The central character is basically a freak, she knows it, and she has no control over it, but she longs to be something other than what she is. She’s brave enough to even want death than to linger in the world of ‘eternal life’ she is stuck in. Carter’s quite matter-of-fact approach towards the romantic notion of vampirism and those who never die was both intriguing and humorous to me at the same time.

ZF: Angela Carter’s short story translates to the stage in such a way that, you’ve said, it provides an “irresistible theatrical playground to examine the human condition.” In a one-man show, how is the stage set for such an exploration?
SC: The first thing that struck me about the story, and Angela Carter’s writing in general, are the fantastic, mythical worlds she sets her stories in, masterfully balanced with a mundane reality that acts as a touchstone to our world and daily lives. Mixing fantasy with the domestic. The wonderfully descriptive, rich and poetic prose that she uses is irresistible; she conjures up these worlds of her imagination with a wry and dry humour. This balance really hit the spot with me. The setting of the story, which is fairly contained and features two characters, was perfect fodder for a theatrical adaption into a one-man show. The vampire bride’s power of singing her victims to her gave licence for an intrinsic musical element to be woven into the story with relative ease. The theatrical and musical elements are both equal parts of what I specialise in as a performer.

Sandro Colarelli (photo by Nat Lynn)

ZF: This production ran to rave reviews back in 2008. Last year you featured in another much-loved play to return to Brisbane after some years: Vikram and the Vampire. How does it feel to revisit works such as these?
SC: I love revisiting works. It provides an opportunity to further explore and develop the work in a more rich and satisfying manner. Your enter the rehearsal room knowing what the work is, and therefore can immediately experiment and take more risks. I am an obsessive perfectionist and am always grateful for an opportunity to perfect and try out different ways of approaching nuances in delivering lines, attitudes in character work, and playing with the music.

ZF: Nat Lynn’s gorgeous image (above) seems to have you coiled, ready to spring from your throne. Is there an element of potential energy coiled in the show as well?
SC: Absolutely — the vampire bride at the centre of the piece gives the illusion of a frail and vulnerable aristocratic girl trapped in her no-man’s land between life and death, sleep and wake. Her terrible hunger for blood manifests itself as a deadly predator ready to jump and kill her prey in a second. The image represents this potent and potential energy.

ZF: I recently re-stumbled across Theatre People‘s review of Zen Zen Zo’s Cabaret. Brent Downes wasn’t the only reviewer to describe you (as the Emcee) as the glue of that show — the performer with the most experience across both physical theatre and musicianship. What are the distinct challenges and delights of collaborating on ensemble work and performing a one-man show?
SC: I love collaborating with other people and being able to work relationships and chemistry with other performers. There is a wonderful camaraderie between colleagues when a performing dynamic is working. Its very satisfying. However, I also love doing a one-man show, because I can let my imagination fully embrace the world as I see it and lose myself completely in the story and characters. Particularly when you are doing a story like The Lady of the House of Love, which is close to your heart. Of course, there really is no such thing as a one-man show because the director, writer, composer, musician, designer, choreographer are all there contributing as well.

ZF: You’re right. And there’s is a seriously cool team involved with Lady of the House of Love: Jake Diefenbach, Neridah Waters, Dan Evans, Josh McIntosh and David Fenton. How have you enjoyed working with these talented folks?
SC: I was very lucky to be able too wrangle this group of monstrous talent together for this project. It’s a dream team and I am very grateful that all of them had the time and will to come and play with me, exploring this story I have loved for so many years.

ZF: How are you feeling about opening night?
SC: Nervous, excited, full of anticipation…

THE LADY OF THE HOUSE OF LOVE runs at METRO ARTS from 26 Jul to 3 Aug. The production’s soundtrack will be available for purchase at Sue Benner Theatre.

INTERVIEW: Short + Sweet Theatre Festival

SHORT+SWEET THEATRE FESTIVAL, now a global affair, returns to Brisbane with a program of snappy plays. I caught up with SEAN DENNEHY, festival director, for a short+sweet Q&A.

ZF: S+S Festival brings us 40 different plays from 40 different writers. How short is the shortest?
SD: In real time, about 6 and a half minutes. In your mind,it could be a lifetime or the blink of an eye.

ZF: And, of course, which play is the sweetest?
SD: A play that includes the shadows of life and non-human actors has got to be sweet innovation: Jennifer Bismire’s Doll’s House.

ZF: A short novel is a novella and a short short story is flash fiction — invent a fitting new name for the “short play”, if there isn’t one already.
SD: There isn’t and i’m going to say bite-size.

ZF: Tell me a short, sweet or surprising fact about one of the artists you’ve been working with for the festival.
SD: Caterina Hibberd directed for the mainstage Queensland Theatre Company season in 2012.

ZF: Short+Sweet welcomes a number of independent companies this year. What do they bring to the festival?
SD: Independent theatre companies are the lifeblood of innovation and experimentation in the performing arts. They bring an edge to Short+Sweet as they try new ways to wow their audiences

Short+Sweet

ZF: From drama to comedy to puppetry, is there one genre that you feel best fits the short form?
SD: Each genre brings its own challenges; to make the audience care about the characters in a 10-minute drama requires total engagement from the writer, director and actors. Comedy can be so subjective — the three creatives involved have to commit to perfect comedic timing. So no there is no one genre.

ZF: What’s the best thing about an evening of short plays?
SD: If you don’t like one play, you only have 10 minutes to wait for the next one. It’s also like having all your senses bombarded at once!

ZF: What’s the biggest challenge in directing a festival of little plays?
SD: The number of artists involved! A community event like this can involve up to 200 artists!

ZF: What about Queensland talent does S+S represent for you?
SD: It represents the wealth and depth of talent in Qld — talent that can be world-class, or talent that is happy to stay and enrich this state from the inside out

ZF: If S+S Festival were a dessert, what would it be?
SD:
de8f33b1-26bc-4d43-a77c-aea61e6d395e

SHORT+SWEET FESTIVAL runs at QUT’s The Loft from 18 to 25 Aug. If you live down the coast or want to start your bite-sized theatre feast early, S+S Gold Coast runs at the Arts Centre Gold Coast from 30 Jul to 3 Aug.

Reader-in-Residence: David Stavanger

The human half of the Holy Ghostboy, David Stavanger is Brisbane Square Library’s new Reader-in-Residence. I spoke to David to find out what this spoken word explorer has in store for our central Biblioteca.

ZENOBIA FROST: What was the book your forced your parents/babysitters/fairy godmother to read to you over and over as a child?
DAVID STAVANGER: The Story of Bip by Marcel Marceau. It is only lately I have realised what a subliminal influence it has been on the development of my alter-ego / other-self Ghostboy . . . not just in the look but even more so in the sense of play and absurdity of sadness. I also really loved Where the Wild Things Are and Green Eggs and Ham — again, both poetic, dealing in surreal imagery / other worlds and a sense of the outsider and their abandonment.

ZF: Can you name one book change you’d say changed your life or outlook when you read it?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I was in my late teens and it is just brimming with sex and the nature of desire, the way we ingest the world and what that does to us. I love its take on vanity and society too, and (later in life) these as a metaphor of self-doubt and the ongoing gratuitous need to be validated, noticed and loved by others. All artists should read it, then keep lying to themselves. [I stole Dorian Gray from the school library before it was remaindered and it had the same effect on me. — Z.]

Also, got to thank Mum for leaving the collected works and Bratsk Station by Yvengy Yevtushenko around at home. “Waiting” and “Colours” are two of my favourite love poems and “Weddings” still resonates as a great war poem for me.

ZF: Which letter in the alphabet is your favourite and why?
DS: I love V. Mainly because it was taken from my surname Stavanger, which had been truncated to Stanger in Australia back when. As Stavanger is a Viking name and that is my lineage, I decide to put it back via deed poll before I attacked any more villages. Also, villainous and vile and voluptuous rent in the same street.

Holy Ghostboy

ZF: The residency will deliver free workshops, competitions, events and performances. Tell me more!
DS: I came up with the idea based on a similar project that Edinburgh City Library in Scotland created about four years ago. I became good friends with Ryan Van Winkle, the poet behind the idea (we are bringing Ryan over to do a workshop, reading and installation as part of the project here). I went over and was mentored by Ryan in their program then spent months adapting and extending on it before pitching it to Brisbane Square Library as part of The Lord Mayor’s Writer-in-Residence initiative. And they said yes. The premise is kind of simple and direct — base a writer in a central library and get them to engage all library users with a chosen writing genre: in my case, poetry and spoken word.

I plan to use the Brisbane Square Library residency as a chance to spring poetry, in all its diverse forms, onto people. That includes me being a “live” reading and writing installation every Thursday, programmed and guerilla poetry performances throughout the building, workshops and collaborations with other local poets and artists, and even a poetry speed dating event so people can really get to know the poets in this town. We have some distinct voices and I have always been about poets getting more of their work out to people outside of the traditional poetry settings of the cafe reading or pub slam.

ZF: Where do you expect/hope to be (as a reader, as a writer, as a human, as a creature) at the end of the 12-month residency?
DS: Lots of things — I tend to start big then go bigger. Better to fall a long way than jump over the same picket fence. I am working on a number of possible legacy projects that are yet to get the green light but will involve a number of local poets; we will have given voice to the everyday poetry of the library via competitions and installations using text created by them; Brisbane Square will hopefully have one of the best poetry and spoken word collections in Australia; and more poets in Brisbane will not only see their work in Brisbane library catalogues but also borrow and read more poetry themselves (if poets aren’t, then why should anyone else?).

ZF: Which body part would you be willing to sell to fund your poetry? (Recently a Columbian poet announced he’d sell his testicles for $20000 to fund his upcoming tour.)
My kidney. I only have one and it is 90% fit, but man can it tell you some stories . . . plus, it would make for a great pie.

The year-long residency launches at Brisbane Square Library on 4 July, 2013, with live music from The Stress of Leisure and poetry from Eleanor Jackson and David Stavanger.

Judith Wright Centre: Salõn

Timothy Brown (Queensland Ballet, Expressions Dance Company) promises Judy audiences the exotic, the erotic and the sublime in The Salõn. He curates  seven physical performers — with backgrounds in circus and dance — in collaboration with musos Michelle Xen and the Neon Wild. It’s a showcase of local talent with international appeal; don’t miss out.

ZF: Salõn is an ambitious interdisciplinary work. How did you go about getting the balance just right, both in terms of aesthetic and the diverse cast?
TB: It was like creating a lavish yet unpredictable patchwork of acts, styles and artists genres.

ZF: With your dance background in mind, what were you looking for in your seven performers?
TB: The Salon performers are local independent artists who have proven to be outstanding in their fields while also creating their own unique niches within music, circus and dance.

Anthony Trojman — photo by Dylan Evans Photography, design by Blender

Anthony Trojman for Salōn (photo by Dylan Evans Photography, design by Blender)

ZF: Tell me one or two stunning, surprising or strange things about the character or talents of the performers.
TB: Travis Scott is a dancer come pole dancer come swinging pole dancer. This is very unique as there is only a small hand full of swinging pole artists around the world.
Former Expressions contemporary dance artist Anthony Trojman (pictured) is currently completing his honors in physiotherapy, with his last exam a day before we open!

ZF: How was “living work of art” Marchesa Luisa Casati an inspiration for the show?
TB: Marchesa Luisa Casati has always been an icon for me. Although this work is not a biography of the great Marchesa, the concept of icons, divas, and muses being immortalised through art are themes among others the show has drawn inspiration from.

ZF: How important was the Fresh Ground program to the show’s development? (Salõn was part of our JWC’s Space program introduced this year.)
TB: Fresh Ground is a unique program that I think gives the Judy a very important role in the independent arts sector. Artists need to have access to government facilities and support without too much paper work and admin. Just a studio with a speaker can give an artist a chance to create magic for Brisbane audiences and potentially show the world how good we are and what we have to offer.

ZF: If you were to paint a tableau that represented Salōn, what would it look like?
We have quite a few in the show! Very colourful, very diverse with a mix of glamour, grace, rebellion and cheek!

SALŌN plays at the Judith Wright Centre from 22 to 29 June, 2013.

Emma Dean: Beyond the Imaginarium

Brisbanite Emma Dean is in her element in New York, where the difficult-to-define performer has flown to chase her dream of making it big in the Big Apple. She hasn’t had to wait long; with the release of her White EP, the first in a trilogy, she’s already turning all the right heads.

ZF: You’ve been in the Big Apple for a few months now. What’s your favourite New York New, York story from your adventures thus far?
EM:
My favourite New York story happened when I was opening for the delicious Courtney Act at The Laurie Beechman. You may remember her as being the sexy drag queen with the killer pegs who stole she show during Aussie Idol. Just before our last performance, Cheyenne Jackson tweeted about my new single, “Phoebe (With Her Whole Heart)”. I’m a huge 30 Rock fan so I knew him as the devilishly-good-looking Canadian from the show. He is also a big Broadway star and pop singer. That night we got word that Cheyenne was hopping off a plane and coming straight to see me play! He is just as charming off screen as he is on. Quite surreal.

ZF: What’s the biggest difference and most surprising similarity between performing in Brisbane and New York?
EM:
The biggest difference is that I have to give a thorough explanation of my song “Tall Poppy” before playing it. The most surprising similarity is that I still stick out like a sore thumb.

ZF: How has the White EP been received thus far?
EM: We’ll see when the royalty cheque comes through in August, won’t we? Ha ha! In all seriousness, I’ve been amazed at the response. I was a little nervous because this EP was so different to my other bodies of work. But I was pleasantly surprised, especially by the live session youtube clips, which collectively have almost 33,000 views in less than two months.

Emma Dean

ZF: What’s the plan with White/Red/Black trilogy?
EM:
Red will be coming out some time in July then Black will be towards the end of the year. Both EPs will be released digitally and independently and have been recorded and co-produced by the talented man in the bowler hat, Mr Fronz Arp. Red features epic songs about love, lust and heartbreak performed on a grand piano with lush strings and harmonies. Black features rhythmic, jazz-influenced songs from the underground performed on a klunky upright pianaaa, double bass and pots ‘n’ pans! Guest performers on the EPs are Indigo Keane, Fronz Arp, Tony Dean, Janey Mac and my housemates in Ashgrove who became my impromptu clapping ensemble!

ZF: Will you be touring your new work to Australia in the near future, or workin’ on that New York career for a while yet?
EM: I’m creating a new show called “Imaginarium”, which will be an extension of some of my other work. It will be MD’d by James Dobinson and will also feature physical theatre performer and actor, Kate Lee. We will work as a three-piece chamber-pop ensemble incorporating piano, cello, violin, glockenspiel, drum machines, live drums and physical theatre. It would be an absolute dream to come back to Australia with this work. I’ll keep you posted!

ZF: What’s your advice to up-and-coming performers in Brisbane?
EM:
If you are an up-and-coming ANYONE in Brisbane, make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get out and see the world, grow as a performer or artist, support your brothers and sisters and begin to create a community. There is often enough to go around. And when there’s not . . . think outside the box.

EMMA DEAN’s White EP is now available as a digital download from iTunes, Amazon Music or direct from Candyrat Records.