Adelaide Fringe: The Institute of Invisible Things and Glittery Clittery

The Institute of Invisible Things

We genuinely stumbled across this one, in Adelaide Central Markets. We happened to arrive 15 minutes before the Institute opened, so we grabbed piroshkis and waited with Karen, the installation’s gatekeeper.

The Institute of Invisible Things is a free, pop-up experience open only three hours a day during Fringe Festival. It’s also my favourite encounter this week. The show is a 10–15 minute miniature – the haiku of theatre, perhaps – which you enter alone, leaving your bags (and baggage) at the door.

Presented in three “chapters”, The Institute of Invisible Things asks you to contemplate nothingness, light, and connection. Creators Sarah John and Emma Beech guide you through this experience, set in a tiny gallery in a quiet corner of the Adelaide Market, the bustle of vendors just outside.

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The Institute makes powerful, tender use of very little: strong, concise writing; resonant imagery; and gentle participation. Sensory touches – a warm bowl of tea placed in my hands – are grounding and genuinely meditative.

The show’s epilogue asks you to contemplate sonder – both the loneliness and unity of realising that everyone who passes by is living their own complex life, with its own. For this moment, you’re the solo audience member at the Institute’s front window, looking into the theatre of the living market.

The Institute of Invisible Things runs until 3 March at Adelaide Fringe 2018.

 

 

Glittery Clittery: A Consensual Party

The Fringe Wives Club seem to be an institution at Adelaide Fringe – several friends and colleagues recommended their cabaret show at the Garden of Unearthly Delights. Glittery Clittery is part musical, part stand-up, part game show and all feminist comedy. They call it performance activism – “for the greater, glittery good.”

Playing at 10pm, this is a party worth staying up for. Tessa Waters, Rowena Hutson and Victoria Falconer sparkle – both literally and figuratively – as they sing about the sexism of pockets (and their absence) in women’s clothing, mactivist men, and how feminism is so hot right now. In all the fun, the Fringe Wives also acknowledge the show’s limitations – but there’s enough patriarchy-fucking in the show to get the audience very fired up indeed.

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For the game show Lagoon of Mystery, named for Carrie Fischer’s euphemism for the vag, Hutson appears dressed a huge, plush vulva. Three audience members compete to answer anatomical trivia. (My inner Hermione kicks in as I regret not volunteering and stick my arm up anyway to answer how many nerve endings a clit has (8000, cheers).) It’s edutainment at its finest, but also a gloomy reminder of how bad our sex ed. is. (Folks, it’s not too late to learn!)

Glittery Clittery is such a joy that I nearly bought a glittery bum-bag. I’d definitely buy a soundtrack. Tessa Waters and Victoria Falconer each has a solo shows running at Fringe, too – check them out if you can. Fellow critic Jane Howard has been tweeting about the disproportionate representation of male comedians at Fringe. Help address the imbalance while also learning more about the lagoon of mystery or, as I prefer, breakfast of champions.

Glittery Clittery: A Consenusal Party has recently been nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Ensemble. It runs until 18 March 2018 at Le Cascadeur at The Garden of Unearthly Delights as part of Adelaide Fringe Festival.

First Thunder Spoke (then, other voices)

A curious thing: we moved into our new digs in January, and suddenly summer’s swinging around again (interrupting spring — how rude!), yet we still haven’t had a housewarming. The year has been pulled out from under our feet. Also it’s hard to leave this library:

Marlinspike Library

We all have to leave the books alone now and then — and there are a bunch of things coming up I’ll even put pants on for.

This weekend, the Queensland Poetry Festival stirs up the Judith Wright Centre, with three days’ worth of poetry and spoken word over two stages. I’m joining Rob Morris to give voice to Ynes Sanz‘s poems (along with Ynes herself) at First Thunder Spoke: 10.30am, Saturday 24 August.

Then, on Sunday, I’m playing a little trumpet at Lady Marlene‘s wonderful cabaret burlesque (Disney-themed, this time!) at The Loft:

Finally, I’m super excited to announce the return of the Ruby Fizz Society in October, hosted and supported by the wonderful Bird Gallery and Studios (who share space with Bean.) You can tell us you’re coming here, but I’ll tell you all about the Ruby Fizz Salon in another post soon. It’s gonna be so spiffy.

It’s all go at the moment — lots of work, writing and über-rehearsals for The Ragtag Band. But I’m finally recovering from whooping cough (whaaaaa — I don’t even!); my singing voice is coming back; I’ve had two poems accepted this week in two different Aussie journals; I just opened a brand new malty Assam blend; and there’s a friendly cat paw obscuring my keyboard.

See you on the flipside — or hopefully at some of these events!

Lucifer

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.

REVIEW: Briefs (Theatre People)

Brisbane is very proud of our Briefs boys, who are off to Melbourne and the UK next with their Second Coming. Follow the links to read my five-star Theatre People review:

It’s been a long time coming. Two years have passed since Brisbane’s own cabaret burlesque boys played on a home stage — not that they’ve abandoned us. The Briefs troupe has been all over Europe and Australia, getting the good word out: Brisbane is not — never was — the “cultural black hole of Australia.” We’re the circus capital.

Briefs founders Fez “Shivannah” Faanana and Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill return to the Powerhouse with a fresh posse: Tom Flanagan, Dallas Dellaforce, Louis Biggs and Ben Lewis. Their chemistry… Read more.

Briefs: The Second Coming (photo by Sean Young)

Briefs: The Second Coming (photo by Sean Young)

Anywhere Fest: Overexposed!

Rosie Peaches, a multitalented belle of Brisbane Arts, runs popular cabaret-burlesque evenings at The Hideaway. For Anywhere Fest, she brings her one-woman cabaret to the Bell Brothers Building in Fortitude Valley.

Q. Describe your show/s in under 25 words.
A. A one-woman cabaret and international collaboration revealing the ridiculous in love and relationships. Or “The Failed Love Life of a 20-Something Brisbane Girl”.

Q. Anywhere Festival is about making art everywhere. What makes your venue unique?
A. Our venue is a foyer in a 1920s heritage-listed building, which really sets the scene of a romantic, vintage cabaret. We’re really using the space as it is, projecting video onto the walls, hanging lights from the balconettes and using the chandelier and wood panelling as part of our set design. Oh, and it’s opposite an adult store, so you can pick up something after the show … maybe?

Overexposed!

Q. If your show were a new My Little Pony, what would it look like? What would its superpower be?
It would be wearing a cardigan and drinking a glass of gin and tonic. Its superpower would be similar to Cupid’s: makin’ love and breakin’ hearts all with a nonchalant flick of the wrist [or hoof! — ed.].

Q. Tell us the story of your most awkward date, first or otherwise.
My most awkward date was … there’ve been so many! The one who moved to Australia after a summer fling in Europe, the ex who apologised at the end of the date for breaking up with me three years prior, the one where an ex arrived to crash our date, the boy who told me he’d take me on an adventure only to regale me with stories of his pet chickens…

Overexposed! runs in the foyer of the Bell Bros. Building from 10 to 19 May, 2013.

The Birdmann in The Events of Momentous Timing

“The queen of Highgate Hill,” Tigerlil opens for the Birdmann with The Unrehearsal, a show that revels in the art of practised incompetence. Tiger Lil falls, spins, tangles and trips with perfect comic timing through a series of routines: whip-cracking, hooping, and puppetry. Tigerlil is always a pleasure to watch; however, each segment of The Unrehearsal feels overlong — if only by a little. From hooping to hoop skirts, she brings us to her stunning finale: a dextrous, devilish puppet climbs the skeleton of her undergarment to the boneyard tune of Waits and Burroughs’ “‘T’ain’t No Sin”.

We refresh our wine glasses and it’s time for the Birdmann’s Events of Momentous Timing. Billed as a one-man mystery, we join the Birdmann — in tails, tie, and tight black pants, with a plastic bag sticking out of one pocket — as he awakens from unconsciousness. Just how did our hero find himself handcuffed to an ironing board, holding one gorgeous black stiletto?

The Birdmann

The show follows a loose narrative through several events that help the Birdmann recreate that fateful night of the blackout. His mannerisms — simultaneously awkward and suave, and indeed birdlike — are the key to his comedy. The Birdmann shifts between cabaret-style one-liners (in the Aussie-noir tradition of Paul McDermott, Flacco and friends) and comedic circus feats. He defines this stylistic divide by dragging his plinth — the ironing board — to and from stage right.

It’s hard to take your eyes off the Birdmann. There isn’t exactly one word to describe him — and even the ones I’ve had to settle for don’t quite suffice. He has an eerie command of the surreal, but combined with that, an endearing — almost heartrending — dorky lonesomeness. As an example, this singular artist manages to have us screeching with laughter as he serenades and face-mashes a cupcake — his favourite comfort food and dietary supplement — but he tugs at our heartstrings too.

I won’t spoil the show for those yet to see it. The Birdmann’s mysteries are better unravelled in person. But he brings together a tenuous narrative with surprising cohesion and concludes with what can only be described as a stage spectacular worthy of Cher.

The Events of Momentous Timing, supported by Tigerlil, ran at the Judith Wright Centre from 23 to 24 March 2013.

February Poetuary Mortuary Events…

I have two spectacular (and very different) events to kick off the year (since January was something of a write-off for many of us)…

Lady Marlene presents My Vicious Valentine

Shake off the sugar of the the Saint’s day itself with some vicious, vermicious Valentine’s venom at in West End on Feb 17. I’ll be performing some vile love poems — and even, perhaps, brandishing my singing voice — with the Ragtag Band and Lady Marlene’s bevy of burlesque belles. Consider it my cabaret debut. Bookings are essential — dine in or nab a seat at the bar. The Loft, Feb 17, 6.30pm.

Riverbend Poetry Series 1

On the deck at my favourite Brisbane bookshop, I’m very fortunate to be able to read alongside Anthony Lawrence and Vanessa Page. Julie Beveridge, Carmen Leigh Keates, Chris Lynch and Cindy Keong will also launch their Choose Your Own Poetry Adventure amplified e-book. I’ll be previewing poems from the manuscript I completed recently at Varuna, in the Blue Mountains. Bookings are essential. Riverbend Books, Feb. 19.