INTERVIEW: Fetish Fridays

Fetish Fridays celebrate their second successful year of bringing kinky shenanigans to the Brisbane stage. This Friday, Brisbane Leather Pride’s vice president, Lucero, clues me in on next Friday’s big playdate.

ZENOBIA FROST: Last year’s Fetish Fridays series were a great success, blending performance and play. What has changed as the event’s concept has developed through 2014?
LUCERO: The success of last year’s Fetish Fridays meant that we didn’t want to change much about the events themselves. What we’ve done is have the events at three different venues including holding one on the Gold Coast to make them more accessible to those living outside of Brisbane.

ZF: FFs are developed in collaboration with Brisbane Leather Pride. How important has it been to create a wholly inclusive space?
L: Incredibly important. Part of the Brisbane Leather Pride mandate is to be inclusive of all genders, orientations, lifestyles, etc. We aim for these events to be entertaining, educational and sometimes challenging but we endeavour most of all in making them accessible to everyone.

ZF: What will make even newbies feel at home?
L: The Fetish Fridays events are a great introduction due to the performance nature of the events. Many kink related events are promoted solely as ‘play’ parties, which implies that you must be an active participant to attend. While I know from experience that this is not the case, it certainly can make people nervous about attending. What you will get with Fetish Fridays #3 is a night of entertainment that will show a newcomer to the scene some of the things possible in the kink world — a showcase if you will. The BLP committee members in attendance will also be available to answer any questions people may have.

BLPZF: Tell me about the performances planned for FF #3. What will be your highlights?
L: Redbear and his beautiful partner Namaiki are seasoned performers who will no doubt put on a very moving rope performance. Dolly de Ville is spectacular on pole and fresh from competing in Miss Pole Australia. Reigning ‘Miss Burleque Brisbane’ Magnolia Knife will add some sass, while you can expect something dark from self-proclaimed Old Guard Goths Rex and Ruby.
I will be doing a suspension piece with the amazing Nix, but the highlight — for me at least — will be Master Pierre, who has something very special indeed planned with his pup Jolt. I do not want to give the game away before the night, but Master Pierre’s show will be both entertaining and challenging.

ZF: Your speciality is rope — though it’s not your only area of expertise. How do you make rope-play performative?
L: Honestly? By having an amazing rope bottom, Nix, who does all the hard work and makes me look good. Match this with some theatre, great music and costuming, and I find it is possible to transform a fairly simple rope suspension into something that will take the audience on a journey. Like most performance-based art I truly believe it is about telling a story and having the audience engage.

ZF: Tell me about FF’s newest space. How will it transform from performance to play space?
L: For the final Fetish Friday of 2014 we have chosen a secret location in the heart of Milton. Due to the successful nature of the shows last year, the chosen venue was practically at capacity, so this year we picked a bigger venue with plenty of space.
As the performances come to a close the lighting will dim and the music will start to change the atmosphere of the venue into something of a more underground club feel. As with all kink events, it is the people that make the most prevalent changes and I would expect to see the kinky regulars to start playing almost straight away. Non-active participants are encouraged to stay, watch and ask questions or if they feel comfortable get involved in a safe environment under the watchful eyes of staff and dungeon monitors.

ZF: The event also has a charitable side. Tell me about FF’s support of the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC).
L: Proceeds from the event will go to support Brisbane Leather Pride this year, as we have just applied to become incorporated after our Inaugural General Meeting in May. While BLP is a not-for-profit venture and all non-performers donate their time voluntarily, there are of course some costs involved. That said, we have a long running association with QuAC and so we donate all monies raised from the excellent raffles held at each Fetish Friday to them. So far, over the first two events, we have raised over $500 for QuAC.

ZF: What’s the number-one thing that makes Fetish Fridays a highlight of Brisbane’s kinky calendar?
L: The kink scene is by its very nature is a somewhat underground place and still taboo in many people’s minds. This is one of the few times that the kink-curious can meet with the experienced and ask real people real questions in a safe and well-managed space.

FETISH FRIDAYS #3 runs from 7pm – 2am on 5 September 2014 in Milton, with the show itself starting at 8pm. (The exact location is sent with your ticket confirmation, but it’s close to Milton train station.) Tickets $30.

Total Eclipse of the Zen

Well! I’m about to go undercover (read: do a lot of poem-writing and grant-applying in bed) to prepare for upcoming festivals and new work. Salt and Bone is ready to launch (!) and I’m ready to zoom up and down the east coast (including a Lushie work retreat in Sydney). Here’s some of what’s coming up:

  • Queensland Poetry Festival: Celestial Monsters, 31 Aug @ 11am
    Judith Wright Centre shopfront space (FREE): Rachael Briggs and Zenobia Frost have been places humans shouldn’t tread. And they’ve returned with poems, song cycles and the lingering smell of graveyard dirt.
  • Queensland Poetry Festival: Into the Warmth, 31 Aug @ 1.45pm
    Judith Wright Centre performance space (FREE): Poetry can be sung from the rafters, and it can be an intimate act between strangers. Join us for this very special Sunday Poetry Yum Cha session – come in, find a seat, grab a snack, open your ears and your heart. Featuring Candy Royalle, Max Ryan, Cyril Wong, Zenobia Frost and Adam Hadley
  • Wunderkammer: The launch of Salt and Bone and Curio, 18 Sept @ 6pm
    Avid Reader (FREE): Kristin Hannaford and Zenobia Frost co-launch their new WALLEAH PRESS poetry collections. Join us for drinks and nibbles as we celebrate confluence, quolls and possums — and send Hannaford’s CURIO and Frost’s SALT AND BONE into the world. Bookings essential.
  • National Young Writers Festival: Newcastle, 2–5 Oct
    Program launched soon — watch this space. Basically lots of this:
    212dance
  • Salt and Bone: Melbourne launch, 7 Oct
    Salt and Bone launches in good company at Hares & Hyenas. Details TBC.
  • Sleep: Oct–Nov

 

At last: SALT AND BONE

It’s here! It’s real! It’s got a spine and an ISBN!

Salt and Bone (Walleah Press) will be available for sneaky pre-sales at Queensland Poetry Festival, with a Brisbane launch in mid-September. Then, if I’m lucky, a little touring!

Melbourne-based artist Bettina Marson designed the beautiful front and back covers (and tolerated me emailing her about 340 million photos of curlews being weirdos). I think this cover is about as Brisbane as it gets:

SALT AND BONE

Here are some very nice things that Cordite Poetry Review‘s Kent MacCarter said about Salt and Bone:

“Frost’s are fearless poems, engaging with and confronting the intricacies of our sex-then-life-then-death eddy. Treacle, black pepper and clove, the weight of Atlas: these are poems Bertolt Brecht would delay his first morning coffee or crossword to consume … Their alchemic moods forge a contemporary age of bronze, one that, somehow, already sports your fingerprint embossed into its folds. Salt and Bone is her own Epic Theatre.”

If you’re super-duper keen, you can preorder the collection from Walleah.

THEATRE REVIEW: 1984

Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
17 July 2014

Photos by Dylan Evans

In the intimate (even stuffy) Cremorne, we are blinded by roaming searchlights. A huge screen looks down upon us from the bleak stage. Shake & Stir immerse their audience in George Orwell’s 1984 — a draconian future where “war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.” Here, the past is malleable and even private thought is public property.

Bryan Probets is compelling as Winston Smith, the quietly sharp, nervous dissident who works in the Ministry of Truth rewriting records of the past. The telescreen — a two-way television that both broadcasts and monitors — dominates his home and life. Winston’s internal struggle against Big Brother is broadcast to us even while, in person, he hides from prying cameras. His monologues induce doublethink in the audience: we know this is private; we know we are watching.

Set designer Josh McIntosh has stashed the past in crevices and under floorboards. The unfolding of a secret, museum-like room is a special delight. But it’s Optikal Bloc’s visuals that are at the heart of this production. (Ironically, they edited 2013’s season of Big Brother for Nine Network.) Matched with Guy Webster’s suitably overwhelming sound design and Jason Glenright’s always-clever lighting, Optikal Blok evokes a claustrophobic sense of constant surveillance.

1984 — photo by Dylan Evans

Unfortunately, the cast can’t quite maintain this sense of dread. Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee Julia and Nick Skubij — company co-artistic directors — each seem miscast as cartoonist iterations of their characters: keen patriot Parsons, secret rebel Julia and elderly antiques-peddler Charrington respectively. David Whitney as O’Brien brings a gravity essential to the double-agent role; he is the production’s much-needed metronome, keeping the pace even.

There’s a particular bleak resonance in Orwell’s vision: in 2014, we enact doublethink every day; we willingly cling to the devices that monitor and data-mine us. Michael Futcher makes note of these phenomena in his director’s notes. Yet scenes in 1984 that ought to remind the audience of its role in its own panopticon are often played lightly enough for laughs. Winston’s prison experience is at one point reduced to toilet humour. And, significantly, there’s a bitter-sweetness lacking from his frantic connection with Julia. Even the live rats meant to signify terror are, well, really cute.

Shake & Stir’s production faithfully follows the plot and text of Orwell’s 1948 novel (I did my homework and read it last week), yet something is missing. No amount of audio-visual saturation can stand in for genuinely felt fear. Opening night, if I understand correctly, was the 101st showing of this particular adaptation; after 124 days on the road, perhaps 1984 is going through the motions. Still, Orwell’s inventive language alone reminds of our tenuous grasp on memory; our disconnection from inconvenient histories; and how easily we might be complicit in our own enslavement.

“If you want a picture of the future,” says O’Brien, “imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.” Shake & Stir has long since found its feet; during 1984’s QPAC run, I hope it’ll find its steel-capped boots.

1984 plays until 2 August 2014 at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC.

Poems and Possums

July is here; we’re at the halfway mark of 2014 already.

I had a great time last week reading new poems at Ruckus! Slam and a few of 2014 Arts Queensland poet-in-residence Warsan Shire‘s poems at Riverbend Books. And today Scum Mag has published one of the poems I debuted that night: “Blood Spells“.

Lots of projects will come to fruition in the year’s second half: Rachael Briggs and I will trouble you with two-voiced monster-poems at Queensland Poetry Festival; my friend Kit Loke will launch the poetry blog we’ve been working away at together; and Walleah Press will launch my book Salt and Bone.

Here’s a sneaky preview some of Bettina Marson‘s cover art for Salt and Bone, partly to celebrate the half-year and partly because I can’t wait to share Bettina’s amazing work:

by Bettina Marson

by Bettina Marson

Stay tuned for launch deets — coming soon!

Ruckus! (and a poem)

Ruckus! Slam, having left its beloved Hideaway, has found rad new digs at the New Globe Theatre. The Whitny Kapa Band and I feature — and there are 16 coveted open mic spots. See you there at 7pm, 25 June.

In the meantime, I’ve chucked a new recording up on soundcloud for your listening amusement: “Cimetière Des Innocents, 1786” (previously published in Ricochet Magazine). No, I have no idea if I’m pronouncing the French bit right. But the gory details therein are a true story. Human-fat soap. Good times.

REVIEW: a library for the end of the world


sonder
, n. “the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own” (The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)

Vena Cava presents an unusual work-in-development devised by Brisbane’s own Sarah Winter.

a library for the end of the world is a interactive work that challenges each solitary participant to explore memory and theory of mind. Through headphones, a guiding voice asks us some big questions — amongst them: if the world were ending today, what one memory would you leave behind?

Each half-hour session­­­ takes one traveller on something of a treasure hunt, guided by audio, to the library’s hidden location. The Anywhere Theatre Festival event page shrouds the library in mystery, but in doing so excludes important accessibility information: the production’s first half is a walking tour, with stairs.

This show embodies the spirit of ATF. Winter (disembodied) stages her performance outside of a traditional space — with the participant at the centre of the experience. West End is made strange and new through its frame as theatre. I am hypnotised: a great lover of audio books and spoken word, I follow Winter’s voice down the rabbit hole. It is simultaneously a meditative and thrilling experience to be led by someone unseen into unknown places.

a library for the end of the world

The library itself, once you find it, is an enchanting space. Its design hints at an outside-of-time otherworldliness — with the sensation that whoever works there may return at any moment. I can’t help but finger through curios and ephemera while listening to the library’s growing collection of memories. The analogue crackle of audiotapes is at once ghostly and fire-warm.

Throughout the show, I search through my own memories for the right one to leave behind. But when the time comes to hit record, my brain decides to tell another. That sudden memory seems as revealing as a tarot card. I leave the library pensive — even melancholy; I want more time alone within that experience to consider all the questions I’ve been asked.

A day on — at the time of writing — and the memory of the library has taken on the surreal, ephemeral glow of a dream.

Anywhere Theatre Festival runs from 7 to 17 May. Due to popular demand, a library for the end of the world’s season has been extended until 24 May.

YOOF ARTS NEWS

I nearly called this YOOF ARTZ NYOOZ and I’m sorry. Maybe it should have been “They Have It Coming”. Anyway. It’s been a fortnight of arts-work by the young and the restless. This is definitely more of a discussion than a series of reviews. I especially welcome input from others who’ve seen or are involved in these shows.

BRISBANE (A DOING WORD)

Brisbane (a doing word)

Vena Cava has outgrown QUT’s Woodward Theatre; the student theatre company launches its new season in the Judith Wright Centre’s intimate Shopfront space. Here, we meet Matty (Patrick Hayes) and his share-housing frenemies, negotiating their place and purpose as 20-somethings in Brisbane. This coming-of-age story unfolds in pieces, benefiting from writer David Burton’s structural experimentation.

Burton’s characters are painfully relatable but never sterotypes. Claire Christian directs a strong cast; we’ve all lived or studied with these eager, energetic, argumentative people. We’ve probably been them. Overall, a little more polish and restraint will allow Brisbane (a doing word) to deftly handle the sensitive topics it tackles without losing its sense of absurd humour.

BRISBANE (A DOING WORD) ran at the Judith Wright Centre from 20 to 22 March 2014.

PERSPECTIVE/WOOLF PACK

Khalid Warsame at Brisbane's VOICEWORKS Launch

Express Media (or its Queensland representative … me) launched Voiceworks #96, the Perspective issue, at Avid Reader. Voiceworks Mag publishes and offers professional development of the work of Australian writers under 25. This was such a great night with superb readers (pictured: Khalid Warsame). Avid put on the ritz for us — what a wonderful venue. Wine all round! We also launched Woolf Pack, a new feminist zine edited by super-cool Brisbane ladies. Good times.

VOICEWORKS and WOOLF PACK launched at Avid Reader on 28 March 2014.

HOMOS IN KIMONOS

Homos in Kimonos

James Halloran and Will Hannagan’s double-bill cabaret (Melbourne Festival Comedy) has come under fire this week regarding its title, which some feel appropriates Japanese culture in a way that is racist. I’m hesitant to weigh in personally — as a white person I realise my privilege means I have blind spots — but I felt the creative team gave a measured, respectful public response in which they apologised and clarified their intentions. It was disappointing to see uncritical responses on both sides of the fence (personal attacks on the young performers and, on the flipside, tiresome attacks on “the PC brigade”).

I rarely feel qualified to comment, but I think there’s space right now in Australia for lots of context-based, critical discussion on cultural intersection in art. I hope that the show’s run stimulates more thoughtful, respectful discussion and fewer facebook shitstorms.

HOMOS IN KIMONOS runs at Melbourne Comedy Festival until 13 April 2014.

BOY&GIRL

Boy&Girl by Oscar Theatre Company

Oscar Theatre Company presents “a steamy cabaret of musical theatre, contemporary and pop where gender is bent and rules are broken” at Brisbane Powerhouse, after a season at Lightspace. Boy&Girl features 25 talented and diverse cast members with a Broadway/contemporary jazz vibe. Jason Glenwright’s moody lighting sets the right tone for a trip down the Weimar rabbit hole.

Now, I can’t call these thoughts a review, as I did not stay for the full show. For me, the highlight of the first half was a 40s wartime swing rendition of “Call Me Maybe” by three charismatic male performers, followed by an emotive solo covering Rizzo’s “That’s the Worst Thing I Could Do” from Grease. Overall, though, Boy&Girl only flirted with the idea of gender-bending: pronouns were swapped, sure, and the boys (but, curiously, not really the girls) dabbled in drag. The jokes were about as cheap as the lingerie. All up, a pretty conservative affair, with the cast unable to nail the sense of sexy-grotesque integral, in my opinion, to queered cabaret.

But none of this would be a fair reason to walk out. Generally, I think it’s pretty poor form to leave a show’s opening night midway. However, just before the interval, 10 men (plus the male host and four men in the onstage band) performed Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango”. This is a song that deliberately subverts language used against female victims of intimate and sexual violence; its power, humour and sense of the uncanny succeeds because, in the context of the song, women have what is normally masculine power. In Boy&Girl, “Cell Block Tango” becomes a deeply unsettling song about domestic violence. In Australia, where one woman a week is murdered by an intimate partner, loosely “gender-bending” the song puts the power back in the hands of those who already have it. I left because I couldn’t sit with an audience that found that funny.

BOY&GIRL runs at the Visy Theatre at Brisbane Powerhouse until 19 April 2014.

Voiceworks launch: Brisbane edition

 

A rare Brisbane Voiceworks shindig — in one week’s time! Helllls yeah! This is editor Kat Muscat‘s and designer Elwyn Murray‘s final issue — and my final spin on the editorial committee — so make sure you come along to raise a toast to the end of an era and the start of a glorious new one. Welcome VW’s new ed, Elizabeth Flux.

Features: VW Perspective contributors James Butler, Sophie Overett, Emily O’GradyKhalid Warsame and Zenobia Frost; John Marsden Prize-winner, Jeremy Poxon; and the launch of new FREE Brisbane femmo zine, WOOLF PACK.

When: 6pm for 6.30pm, Friday 28 March 2014
Where: Avid Reader, West End
Tickets: Bookings essential online or on (07) 3846 3422. $7.50 entry fee includes a free drink.
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