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Wednesday, 03 June 2009 14:51

World Press Photo 2009

Mark Dadswell

The World Press Photo Awards is an annual celebration of the most striking images from photojournalists around the world. The winning entries are exhibited in over 100 locations internationally and categories across sports, art and nature ensure that it attracts some the most breathtaking moments captured by the press in the last 12 months. 

Wednesday, 03 March 2010 11:39

Tokyo Shock Boys Interview

Theatre In Preview

A long time ago before ‘Jackass’, before the ancient art of self-inflicted pain was dragged through the MTV mud, there was the brilliance of the Tokyo Shock Boys.

Leaders of a movement of pube-curling-pain sideshows, they were famous in the 90s for smashing lightbulbs on their heads and the old ‘snap the cactus in your undies’ trick. And now they’re coming back to Oz for their 20th anniversary tour.

The last time TSB were down under was 2004, and their new show promises the same level of insanity with plenty of new stunts.

“We really want the audience to laugh and have a good time,” says TSB member Nambu San. “Half of the stunts will be the old ones - drumhead, milkman and others.”

Drumhead speaks for itself, but milkman is the much-copied stunt of squirting milk out of the eye socket. As well as the old favourites, The Tokyo Shock Boys have been dreaming up some new stunts to keep us entertained.

“One of the new stunts I will use milk bottles and put them on my balls. At school, in biology, we did an experiment with an egg to try to put it inside of the beaker. It’s the same theory, except I use a milk bottle and my balls.”

Having spent two decades causing themselves intense physical pain in every imaginable way, there are bound to be some interesting scars.

“We have done many different stunts over the years, hurting ourselves (in the process). We still have some scars. Danna has abalone stuck in his back. He has a bad scar from that. We have lost many teeth. We prefer not do rehearsal much because we don’t want to hurt ourselves. I particularly prefer to play poker before a show.”

Nambu San and his compadres have a colourful list of onstage mishaps. “Onstage once, I had a piranha, I was holding the fish in my stomach. I told the other members to get it out and when it came up there was a lot of blood and I wasn’t sure if it was my blood or the piranha’s blood. Danna, he has this stunt with fireworks. Once he actually burned his nipple off, there was no pink! But it has grown back now.”

The Tokyo Shock Boys’ 20th anniversary tour comes to the Tivoli March 4- 5.

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 12:34

Hamlet Interview

Theatre In Preview

There is no shortage of great theatre on offer this season, but yet again we look to La Boite to carve out some of Brisbane’s foremost live entertainment. The company is welcoming some new faces this year and not shying from a challenge with new Artistic Director David Bertlot busily preparing his actors for a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2009 14:09

Up Jumped The Devil Interview

Theatre In Preview

In the shadowy alleys of Brisbane’s theatre district, a handful of thespians are cooking up something a little dark, and a little unusual: a neo-gothic musical set to the songs of Nick Cave. ‘Up Jumped the Devil’ is an exploration of sin and salvation. It tells the tale of Walker on a last minute quest to redeem his turbid soul.

Ozfrank Theatre Company Co-Director and actor John Nobbs is one of the team that has set about translating Cave’s songs for the theatre. One of the themes at the centre of the production is Cave’s fascination with biblical imagery. “It’s certainly a great stimulus to the whole idea of the production,” says John. “(Director) Jacqui Carrol and I are very interested in the fact that in this age of post 911 Islamo-fascism, Cave has become incredibly popular and shall we say a hardcore early Christian attitude, like a biblical rockstar. It’s very interesting that a lot of people love his work, but say, I am not a Christian. What he has done is overleap the good news, suburban, Uniting Church Christianity to something much harder and much deeper and more profound. That’s a kickoff point.” John plays the role of the Dark Angel, who serves as a Dickensian guide on Walker’s turbulent journey into his past.

“We have a guy called Walker who is the singer, he is the reverse pilgrims progress, and he is going backwards into death rather than going upwards and outwards. We are not calling him a bad man; we are calling him a lost man  - a lost soul flapping in a black wind. He is a lost soul who has had dark experiences and these unfold and as he pays the final price.”

The performance negotiates Walker’s inner turmoil set in a bizarre carnival landscape. “The production itself is set in the moment before the switch is flicked and the guy’s electrocuted for all his misdeeds. It takes that moment where his life passes before him, that’s what the show is.  So it’s an explosion of the instant before the switch.”

Such a dark and intimate performance is being approached by the Ozfrank team with particular reverence. “We believe that the theatre is a spiritual arena, not a socio-political arena, and in that sense we are talking about creating a work which gives a theatrical landscape to Nick’s songs, like a theatrical mise-en-scene for them, so it’s actually setting the songs in a space rather than setting them in air. What we are negotiating is how the collective unconscious is engaging with Nick’s archetypical biblical narrative and so in that sense what we believe as performers is that the performers are shaman. Therefore by going through a transformational experience generated by his or her unconscious, the audience then has a their own transformational experience by witnessing that.”

John explains that they are not so much using Cave’s songs as a soundtrack, but rather reinterpreting the songs in synergy with the performance. “We are playing the song per se. We are not copying his band even though we have got a fair bit of rock n roll in there. There are a lot of ballads in there – ‘Lucy’, ‘Ship Song’, ‘Weeping Song’. The band is very adept, they can rock n roll but they can also do avant garde fusion and they can do classical percussion, so it’s spreading his aesthetic a bit and widening it a little bit, so it’s pushing the walls out.”

The performance is designed to pull the audience into the world of Walker’s mind and drag them on the jagged journey through the transgressions of his past. “The first introduction to the character of Walker he is going down into the underworld with all these underworld characters. They are aspects of his personality, they are called demons, and they are spirits of Walker himself. And they baptise him and initiate him into the place he is going to be and they emerge as carnival people. So their personas amplify into surreal carnival characters.” Of the eight Cave songs chosen to accompany the piece, one in particular inspired the strange gothic landscape of the carnival. “There is a song called ‘The Carny’, it is the quintessential surrealist heart of what we are doing. So these characters come to life and take him through these journeys. Scary journeys, but it’s about that moment before you die when your life kaleidoscopes past your eyes, moments good and bad, and that’s what the piece is.”

Up Jumped the Devil, Cremorne Theatre, 23rd – 31st of October 2009. Bookings through qtix (136 246 or www.qtix.com.au)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:36

25 Down - In Preview

THEATRE IN PREVIEW

The word 'generation' separates the old from the young; it gives people something to identify with and goes someway to justifying the fickle whorings of pop culture from one trend to the next.

Wednesday, 06 May 2009 15:48

Gatz

NOVEL APPROACH: GATZ

A theatre company from New York is bringing a very unique show to Brisbane next month. The Elevator Repair Service's ‘Gatz’ is a creative staging of F. Scott Fitzgerald's ‘The Great

Gatsby’. Running seven and a half hours the performance includes every word of the novel. It has captivated audiences across the US and Europe so Scene caught up with Scott Sheperd from ERS to find out more about this marathon play.

“We had just done a piece about Andy Kaufman and we knew that one of his stunts was to go into a county club and read ‘The Great Gatsby’, start reading from the first page and just keep reading it until he got booed off the stage. With Andy Kaufman it was just a joke but we were interested in making a viable experience for the audience, not by adapting a piece of literature for the stage but to somehow try and make an experience in the theatre that is like reading a book.” Scott plays the character of Nick and has been involved in the production since it was first rehearsed by Director John Collins in 1999.
The play took shape in a small office space above another theatre company in Soho, New York. “The central idea of Gatz came from rehearsing upstairs in that little cluttered theatre office and that idea is just that: it all takes place in a crummy, small office and it’s just some guy who is a little bit crazy; he comes into work, his computer won’t start, he can’t work so he starts reading The Great Gatsby and he can’t stop - he is reading out loud and that's essentially the idea of ‘Gatz’.
While the play is certainly a tribute to Fitzgerald's killer prose, there is occasion for a bit of cheekiness. “We are always interested in that line between earnest and satirical, we are always trying to straddle that line ‘is it a joke or is it serious?’ and that's where we like to live. With this book there are places where you might feel like the show distances itself from the writing or from something that is dated about the morality or the people in the text. It starts out frivolous with a hint of irreverence and by the end the irreverence isn't gone but you feel the show has aligned itself with the novel and is delivering the same message.”

‘Gatz' is playing at The Brisbane Powerhouse May 8 - 10. Duration 7hrs and 30mins, including three intervals (totalling 90 mins). Tickets from Brisbane Powerhouse Box Office.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010 15:40

44 Inch Chest Interview

Film In Preview

Over the years, the English gangster film has lured cinema-goers with its gritty humour and uncurbed violence.

Films like ‘Snatch’ and ‘The Long Good Friday’ have endeared us to the roughneck ways of the British underbelly.  The latest in the genre, from debutant director Malcolm Venville, is less about diamonds and ‘big f**k off knives’ and more about the fragile heart that beats beneath the thick chest of an East London gangster.

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 10:21

The Bertie Page Clinic Interview

Broads and Basslines

When most of us think of burlesque, we picture a tiny piano and guys in boater hats smoking pipes. Even though burlesque and cabaret have endured a rocky path these many years, there is a staunch revival happening in Brisbane, led by four likely ladies from The Rock n Roll Revue.

Bertie Page and her scantily clad cohorts, along with full rock backing from The Bertie Page Clinic, are bringing together a unique fusion of old world naughtiness and slammin rock and roll.

“Well, this is the first band I’ve ever been in, and it’s quite amazing to be there with people who are so experienced,” Bertie pipes. “They all have at least 20 years of rock and roll behind them on the Brisbane band scene. It’s really perfect. They know their music inside out, and I just have to focus on the singing and (the) entertaining end of things.”

The Bertie Page Clinic boast ex-members of perennial Brisbane bands like Blowhard, SixFtHick and Safari Krishnas. Twisted and bitter from years of pounding their instruments, they’re fast becoming known as the grumpiest band in Brisbane. But hey, being pissed off is very rock and roll. “But it goes much further,” Bertie insists. “(It’s) more mature than being pissed off, grumpiness is a whole other level. It’s the nirvana of angry.”

And while some may think this is simply a well-crafted stage persona, Bertie insists it goes much deeper than that. “I’d like to say that it’s all staged, but we have had some genuine hissy-fits. I think that’s an enticement for people to come the show, because this is for real men. There is drumstick throwing, and there is the constant use of the phrase, ‘this song’s shit, I’m not playing it!’”

But it’s not all tantrums and storm clouds; “It does very much have that cabaret vibe and some of the bawdiness of burlesque humour. And then we have all the boys being in outrageous bands like Blowhard and with a pretty crazy sense of humour with things like the Safari Krishnas.”

Bertie promises the The Bertie Page Clinic album is but “a bee’s dick away from being released”. “Phil Wilson - as the main co-writer with myself - he has an amazing musical knowledge, and not only does he write rock and roll but he is a classical composer, so it gives the music a very exotic feel and it has influences from all over the world.”

It’s safe to assume that most of the power behind the band is held in the live show - a combination of cabaret, big riffs and some interesting sideshow antics.

“There is going to be a pin-up competition. We already have quite a few girls, and perhaps some boys entering. Prizes for that include some dance classes from BB le Buff, and Viola Vixen, they are both well-heeled burlesque ladies and they have been teaching other ladies how to shimmy and shake for quite some time.“

The Rock n Roll Revue promises a refreshing alternative to The Clinic’s grizzly, wheezing constituents. “The Revue is very separate from The Clinic; there is a distinct absence of grumpiness from the Rock n Roll Revue; it’s a very nurturing and feminine atmosphere, it’s all about sharing as girls, and for this show we are hooking up with Captain Twilight and the Six Shooters, so they will be singing songs while the girls dance.“

Bertie Page is a seasoned burlesque dancer, and it has only been in recent years that she has turned her attention to fronting the band. The songs she has conjured are inevitably coloured with tales of her unusual adventures.

“The songs certainly are comedic in the their nature, and most of them have turned out to be biographical. The song ‘Glitter Johnny’ is based on my experiences as a teenager and – hmm – you know, years beyond the realm of the teenage years fancying some very lovely boys, who turned out to be not so into girls.”

Catch The Rock n Roll Burlesque Show, including The Bertie Page Clinic and The Rock n Roll Revue with Captain Twilight and the Six Shooters at The Zoo Friday December 4.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009 14:28

20th Century Dog Interview

Jazz Mutt

Queensland’s premiere jazz event the Brisbane Jazz Festival is on again, and top acts from around the country and around the world will converge on the Brisbane Powerhouse to bring us their scatting, bebopping best. Sydney quartet 20th Century Dog have been fleshing out some new grooves and are chomping at the bit road test their new sounds.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009 09:30

Interview: Decoder Ring

Full Circle

'Musical journey' is a term that has earned a place in the bile-conjuring annals of cliche and redundant metaphors. But perhaps it's time we dusted off this rather dubious term and gave it a second glance. In today's culture of digital whoring and $1 singles, the cohesive album is becoming a lost art - like samurai or permed hair.

Since disappearing from the live circuit after the 2006 Splendour in the Grass, Decoder Ring, have been quietly tooling their new album. Three years on, what Matt Fitzgerald describes as the definitive Decoder Ring album, is finally ready for public consumption.

“Our aim for this album was always, that it was going to take years and not months, and we certainly lived up to that,” says guitarist Matt, chuckling with a hint of relief to be at the end of such a mammoth project.

“We didn't record until we were completely happy with it, and then each step of the process we waited and only kept going when we had done what we set out to do. Thankfully we have got to the end of it, and we are incredibly happy with it.”

The two-disc album, entitled 'They Blind the Stars, And the Wild Team' is an ethereal soundscape that captures everything Decoder Ring is about. “I think this is the first one that encapsulates everything that we have tried to do. 'Somersaults' was the prettier, gentle and 'Fractions' is the more poppy and electronic. They were components of us. We wanted to do an album that was not only going to cover all the things we were trying to cover in the content, but also that could explore every part of who we are as a band, and I think we have achieved that.”

After a year and half of writing, Decoder Ring had over 110 tracks to sift through and shortlist.

“Going through that and distilling it down in terms of what we were trying to do and then sort of moulding that, shaping it into the album it is today was as much a challenge as creating the sounds.

“Creating the sounds was a massive challenge because we wanted to make the sounds for us fresh and new and make the way the instruments interact to be completely different to the way it had been before. So guitar sounds like keyboards, and keyboards that sound like guitar.”

The release is lyrically sparse, and is filled with eerie melodies and sonic landscapes that have the ability to unsettle, uplift, and displace the listener. Matt admits that creating an album over a long period wasn't always easy.

“It had its moments, at times you wonder if you can put all the pieces together but that's part of the process, you have to push yourself that hard if you want to make something that is more than you thought you were capable of doing.”

In order to create a cohesive album that can, for lack of a better term, take you on a journey, Decoder Ring tied each song to the next with themes both broad and slight.

“I suppose the overarching concept was not being constrained by film and not being constrained by things that a lot of other bands are. Since there were no constraints we really wanted to make an album that was - it's hard to say this but - about everything.

“It's sort of trying to cover the feelings you have in life, and not just focus on one, and to do something as expansive as to cross that range and be very personal, but also be informed by things on a larger scale that are happening in the world as well.”

The Sydney four piece are undoubtedly pleased with the uncompromised fruit of their labour, and are eager to unleash it on the waiting ears of the public.

“I think it's us a rock band more than any other record, I think it's probably the least conventional, in terms of contemporary notions of records, it's further out there. We are a rock band, and playing live it's at the heart of where we are, so we wanted a record that ultimately sounds like a band playing. You can get that emotion and intensity out of it.”

'They Blind the Stars, And the Wild Team' is out now through Inertia. Decoder Ring play The Great Northern August 20, The Sound Lounge August 21 and The Zoo, August 22.

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