Wednesday, 16 October 2013 15:36

2high Festival Pre-Event: Live Review

The recently opened Rabbit Hole Ideation Café in Fortitude Valley was a perfect setting to display all aspects of what goes into the 2High Festival.

Trying to combine such a vast range of talents could have been a cluttered mess.

However, between the art displayed around the upstairs area and musicians performing periodically downstairs, it managed to showcase all the aspects without any impact being lost from the individual pieces. Every person there was impressively articulate and passionate about their role with the festival, whether it was one of the music coordinators, the troupe of physical theatre actresses or a set designer.

Kitty Gatling, aka The Gatling Gun, was at her dynamic best, proving that ‘90s music can start any party, especially when she dropped Will Smith’s ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ to an incredibly loud squeal of delight from the crowd.

Looking strikingly like Tom Odell, singer Jackson James Smith set an enchanting atmosphere among the fairy lights dripping from the trees. His melodic voice weaved superbly with the music and had captured the attention of nearly the entire crowd by the time he finished his set to a thunder of cheers.

Putting a group of young emerging artists and art producers in one room for the 2High pre-event could have been a night of self-congratulatory pretension. Instead it was an entertaining and thought-provoking insight into Brisbane’s up and coming artists and what they have to offer.

2High Festival Pre-event was held at the Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe Oct 11.

Click here for photos from the night.

Published in Events Arts
Thursday, 10 October 2013 08:44

Play Dead: Festival In Preview

‘Play Dead’, a theatrical investigation into death, will debut at this year’s 2high Festival. Loss and grief is universal, which is why ‘Play Dead’ could be for any audience.

“When we go into the rehearsal room we don't sit down and say, ‘Who are we making this for?’ That normally comes later in the production process. We're not quite sure exactly what group this will hit but we have a feeling it will be quite universal because we have all experienced loss at some point in our lives. We're not targeting any specific niche,” co-creator Thomas Hutchins explains.

'Play Dead' is the collaborative effort of two young artists, Michael Whittred and Thomas Hutchins, and the duo incorporate musical elements as well as standard theatre practices to create their works. This particular play has been described as 'physical music theatre'.

“Michael Whittred is a musician and I'm also a musician but I am more theatre-inclined. Michael writes a lot of the music and the lyrics. I pull all that together inside a theatrical realm and play with theatrical text, movement and choreography around these musical compositions that Michael creates.

“We're not musical theatre because we don't share the storyline through songs and we're not physical theatre. I guess 'physical music theatre' is a combination of words that describe us best. Or maybe a 'play with songs' is the best description for the work we do because the songs in our work, they tell another story. They step outside the narrative and they tell something else which really opens up the world of the play and explodes all the theatrical meanings,” Thomas says.

Aside from the abstract construction of the play through the use of music, Thomas says 'Play Dead' also toys with a dark narrative which could unhinge its audience.

“‘Play Dead’ is an investigation into the idea of death and what society believes death is and our attraction to it and our confusion by it and our complete unknowing towards it. 'Play Dead' is an investigation into what life is with death and what life is without death. It's an idea that Michael had but both of us have experienced loss like everyone has and we didn't want to run away from the idea of grieving, we wanted to question the idea of what grieving really is. We wanted to question what death is, we wanted to deal with it. If everyone stopped questioning then we might as well just play dead.”

This contemporary narrative, created by two young artists, couldn't have found a more appropriate format to debut the work. 2high Festival is celebrating its 21st year as an arts festival, dedicated to unearthing Australia's artistic youth.

“Well this is my second year at the festival so it's a great privilege to be able to be able to perform a new work at the Brisbane Powerhouse, which is such a renowned venue. It's so great and I'm very appreciative of those who came before me and made it possible for me to put a show on at one of Australia's best venues.”

Having showcased his work at last year's 2high Festival, Thomas understands the importance of youth-oriented events like 2high and the impact they can have on the artistic youth of Australia.

“I think [youth arts festivalsare] important because they are one of the only ways that people like me can show off our work, can put it on, can try it out, can fail, can succeed. It's one of the few ways that we can do that at this level. There's a few places around like Metro Arts in the city but apart from that, there's nowhere that will let us fail.”

‘Play Dead’ can be seen at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of 2high Festival on Saturday November 2. 


Published in Theatre
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 15:08

2High Festival: Artist Profile

As part of 2high Festival this year is a work called 'flow[er]' and it's an interactive flower made completely of recycled materials that responds to movement.

flow[er] senses your presence and blossoms. It represents the cycles and flow of energy of creation and destruction in cities. The ‘flow[er]’ team is made up of Vidhi Shah and Jeniffer Heng. They are both Interactive and Visual Design students at QUT with a keen eye for animation and games.

How did you get started?
We met at QUT in our first year frantically submitting our assignment minutes before it was due and we helped each other out. University is a great place to meet people from different disciplines and with combined backgrounds in animation, games, marketing and illustration.

What made you want to get involved in 2high?
Studying at QUT most of my friends are from different disciplines of the creative industries. Over the years I have had a number of friends who have exhibited their work at 2high and it has become a reputable status for upcoming artists. It’s a great chance to showcase our work on such a diverse platform that is quickly gaining more and more popularity.

What do you think of the Brisbane contemporary arts scene right now?
It’s an exciting time to be a contemporary artist in Brisbane. There are so many inspirational artists out there to collaborate with and admire. There are a number of arts collectives that have been opening up in the last few years and smaller, independent galleries popping up.

2high Festival has a history of having artists on the bill that have gone on to be at the forefront of the contemporary arts. Why?
I do believe that 2high has a great impact on the future of emerging artists as it provides opportunities for artists to exhibit their work outside of a safe and controlled university environment and provides the exposure that young artists need. It’s so easy to get lost in the wave of new, amazingly talented artists that come out every year and 2high has a great eye for artists with potential.

2High Festival is on at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday November 2.

Published in Events Arts
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 15:29


Babies And Clubs

After two years on the scene, Brisbane four-piece The Baby Seals Club have dropped the babies and club memberships, sporting a brand new name.

Freshly titled, Seals came together with three boys and later added one lucky lady - Dimity Elson - who was, ironically in-step with the female form, their boss. “Euan came to Australia from Scotland about two years ago... He found Nick and Andy.  I joined about a year and a half later. I met the boys through Andy, I was more or less Andy's boss and a fan of the band.”

Throwing together whatever instruments they could get their hands on, the band pumped out their first EP, 'Paradise', producing a sweet upbeat electronic pop style. “Some of our songs are psychedelic-pop, some electro-funk. A recent review called us quirky indie popsters… I like that. I have three keyboards that all do different things, and a melodium.  Andy has various electronic drum things and we have a drum machine. Euan is a gun on the harmonica.”

Jamming it out in an old Kennards storage shed, the band decided to keep making new music but kick out the old name. “There were a few other bands with the name 'Baby Seals Club' and the hilarity of the pun wore off. We wanted to go with something similar so that people would still recognise us.”

With a shiny new name, the band started tweaking their sound and ending up with their second EP, 'Castaways'. “I think there is a lot more variety of sounds in ‘Castaways’, particularly more in the keys. 'Castaways' is distinctly sunny, while 'Paradise' gives you the vibe of three guys in a dirty bar - which I still love. 'Castaways' is more like a drive to the beach with the windows down.”

Despite the album title the band remain firmly on the shore, launching a 15-stop international tour, before returning to Brisbane to play the 2high Festival. “The Powerhouse is an unparalleled venue and we're really looking forward to playing there for the first time. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the other performers. What else would you be doing on a Saturday?”


Published in Rock
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 12:49

2High Festival 2009 Interview

Festival In Preview

You've heard of Edinburgh Fringe; you've heard of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, but have you heard of Brisbane's 2high Festival?

It began back in 1993 when Susan Richer, then Artistic Director of Backbone Youth Arts, decided that there needed to be more opportunities for women in the arts.

Indeed, it was only two years ago that men were first allowed to participate in the festival. Now it is open to any young and emerging artists aged between 18 and 26. The beauty of 2high is that it's not solely about the final showcase of performances, rather, the developmental process is just as important. Participants are able to perfect their art with guidance from mentors who have considerable experience in the industry.

However, it's not only the artists themselves who are young and emerging - the festival organisers are as well. Alanna Hankey, for instance, had little experience in event management when she was chosen to be the festival's manager at the end of last year.

It has been a steep learning curve, particularly getting the balance between offering enough guidance and allowing others freedom to make their own choices.

“It's like juggling water,” Hankey says, “which sometimes isn't possible, but when it works, it's a beautiful thing.”

This year the 2high Festival aims to challenge the conservative, passive way in which we experience the arts. Forget the 'sit still, be quiet, applaud at the end' stuffiness we are all accustomed to. Instead of only engaging two of our senses (sight and hearing), audiences are encouraged to be engaged in a tactile way as well.

The idea being that the art you encounter will be both touchable and touching. To this end, a lot of this year's pieces are interactive. There is art you can touch, discussion forums with the performers and one of the headlining acts is 'Six Women Standing In Front Of A White Wall'. This piece of installation-theatre comes with fabulous reviews and several awards from both the Edinburgh and Melbourne Fringe Festivals. It explores our innate need for human touch, so it encapsulates this year's theme perfectly.

The rest of the festival programme is extremely varied, which means there's bound to be something to delight people of all ages and tastes. There will be paintings, music, installation art, theatre, dance, roving performers. Name an art form and it will more than likely be represented at 2high.

2high Festival runs at the Brisbane Powerhouse November 13-14. For further enquires visit

Published in Events Arts


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