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Wednesday, 24 April 2013 06:01

Food: Theatre In Review

‘Food', a play written by Steve Rodgers and starring Kate Box, Emma Jackson and Fayssal Bazzi, is a warm, delicious and tantalising experience. Food itself is integral to the play and to the events in the play with the audience invited to partake of the food (people in the audience were literally eating bread, soup and drinking wine).

The play is set in a small family takeaway shop, perched on the roadside of the great Australian highway in the late '70s/ early '80s. Based around the sisters Nancy (Jackson) and Elma (Box), who are like chalk and cheese, the play progresses and the underlying current of tension and resentment between them flows to the surface. Nancy has been away for 15 years — she escaped after a traumatic event and turned to travel and sex — whereas Elma stayed on at home and became focussed on food and order.

Everything changes when they take on Hakan, a sexy Turkish traveller, as a kitchen hand. Like a cat among the pigeons, Hakan stirs up emotions and the sisters are tested — can the girls forgive, forget and forge a new bond?

The mix of dancing, acting, cooking and cleaning was a delight and beautifully showcased the talented cast. The stage design was perfect with the backdrop of large pots dotted on the back wall simple yet dazzlingly effective. More pots are used to great effect as stools, steps, cooking utensils, and to catch the water leaking from the ceiling. The play has some laugh-out-loud moments which provided relief from the tension and heartache as layers of past hurts are slowly exposed and finally allowed to heal. Don't miss this — 'Food' is a nourishing night of theatre.

'Food' is playing a limited season at La Boite until April 27.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013 20:04

Trivia: Theatre In Preview

Brisbane Arts Theatre has a cracking collection of productions lined up for 2013 and the latest, 'Trivia' looks hilarious.

The play, written by local Brisbane author Stephen Vagg ('All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane'), is a laugh-out-loud comedy that has its own Trivia Master. Directed by veteran Ali Kerr, the story revolves around Michaela, who decides to get a team to enter a trivia competition. What happens next will change their lives. Two members of the cast — Cindy Nelson and Francesca Gasteen explain more.

Describe this show in 5 words?
CN: Funny, Charming, Honest - like me!
FG: Love. Life. Loss. Laughter.... and the friends that get you through (more than five words, sorry!)

What part do you play?
CN: I play Michaela, who gets the trivia team together.
FG: My role is AJ, the loveable and slightly neurotic best friend to Cindy Nelson's Michaela.

How did you become involved in this production?
FG: Cindy and I had the amazing opportunity of being in the original production, along with Steven Vagg, the writer, which played to sold out crowds at the Metro Arts in 2006. We've always had a particular soft spot for this play and when we heard the Arts Theatre had included it in their 2013 season and that the wonderful Ali Kerr was directing, we had to audition!
Your best line from the play?
CN: “Fell off a roof, did she?"
FG: “Australians don't give up, unless it's really, really hard”

What's your favourite trivia moment from your life?
CN: Playing trivia with my mum and step dad in a small English village for my mum's 50th birthday
FG: I get a little too competitive in pub trivia surrounds (it's something I don't like to talk about). So it'd have to be that feeling when you're playing Trivial Pursuit and you get all of the pieces of the pie.

Why should audiences come see this?
CN: They'll laugh. They'll cry. They'll wish they could shout out the answers.
FG: Primarily to have a good time - to laugh and maybe shed a tear with these highly relatable characters and situations.
Any crazy/ weird/ funny behind-the-scenes stories?
FG: There was a particular afternoon when Ali & Kym, our assistant director, took us to a pub to soak up the atmosphere so we could replicate it on stage and it turned into the best rehearsal of any production, ever. Especially with the addition of some unlikely cohorts in the shape of backpackers on a pub crawl!
CN: Yes! That rehearsal really tested the resolve of the actors to keep straight faces.

What's your top trivia tip?
CN: Go with your first answer. Then see if anyone else has the right one.
FG: Refrain from taking your smart phone to a trivia night. It can prove too tempting!
What do you want audiences to say as they leave?
FG: That they had fun — and that they'll tell all their friends to come along!
CN:   Awwww.

Anything else readers should know?
CN: See it. You'll regret missing out when your mates tell you how good it was!
FG: If you've ever wanted to feel a part of a team, if you've ever laughed and cried with your mates, you'll love 'Trivia'.

'Trivia' is playing at the Brisbane Arts Theatre from March 23 – April 20.

This year marks the 24th annual Alliance Française French Film Festival and there is a smorgasbord of delicious films, events and offerings. The team behind the festival has concocted  a mouth-watering selection of Gallic fare which incorporates 43 new films and documentaries.

In keeping with the food-related introduction, the acclaimed gastronomic delight, 'Haute Cuisine (Les Saveurs du Palais)', will launch the Festival. It is a film which tells the story of Hortense Laborie who, upon her appointment as personal chef to the President at the Elysée Palace, is faced with the challenge of creating culinary art in a world of political intrigue. And at the end of it all, for closing night, audiences will get the chance to experience a classic. Marcel Carné’s 1945 film 'Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis)' is a sweeping, period romance generally acknowledged as the greatest French film of all time, which has been meticulously restored from the original camera negative. Artistic Director, Emmanuelle Denavit-Feller, has again selected the most critically acclaimed and entertaining films to emerge from France’s thriving movie industry showcased across eight categories and include themes such as the universality of love, art and cinema, suspense, tales from our past, stories beyond fiction, inspiring women, laughter and tales for budding cinephiles.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2013 is on from March 14 – April 4 at the Palace Barracks and Palace Centro Cinemas.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 12:57

Clancestry 2013: Cultural In Preview

Clancestry is a festival at QPAC which celebrates the arts and cultural practices of the world's First Nation's Peoples.

In its first year, the major focus will be on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. In following years, Clancestry will invite participation from around the globe.The festival will draw on spiritual culture and aims to provide a space to connect with other clan groups across the country and the globe. There will be performances, workshops, free events and it aims to entertain, educate and connect people. Rhoda Roberts, one of the organisers, explains more.

Describe this event in 5 words?
Clancestry: a celebration of country.

What role do you play?
QPAC Guest Curator for the exciting new festival Clancestry.

What is the driving aim of this festival and how did it all come about?
QPAC wants to encourage all communities to come and gather at their site and experience the unique and the moving. It's also a great opportunity for our artists to highlight the work and new projects they are undertaking and creating.
What makes it different to other festivals? It’s simply fun, engaging and  celebrates the oldest living culture. From ancient weaving practices to contemporary voices, it really is a weekend to kick back and just gather, hear some great music, witness and participate in dance and conversations.

Who is involved and what can audiences expect?
We have an amazing line-up with festival treats such as Troy Cassar-Daly and Archie Roach but joining them on the Clancestry stage one of Australia’s favourite, adopted son Jimmy Barnes and the Black Arm Band. If you would rather bring a picnic and sit with the kids then there is weaving, stories, dance and perhaps you might want to dig your feet into the sand and learn few steps. Or simply grab a drink and listen to a variety of music from the Torres Straits in the north or the latest country rockabilly with QMUSIC awardwinner Sue Ray to at the Cascade Court.

Why should people come and check it out when MasterChef is on TV?
Because you can watch the repeats the following day and or simply record the series. Cooking will always be there but it's not everyday you see the YouTube phenomena from Arnhem Land — the Chooky dancers up close and personal.
What are your picks and highlights? What is unmissable? The opening Ceremony is a special time for me as it’s about experiencing or witnessing a modern day corroboree. The continuance of age-old protocols and the knowledge is what keeps the Opening ceremony going and it will include participants from local schools and colleges. The Brisbane community joins our artist and crafts people, with representations from the Torres Straits to Arnhem land. Plus the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts teachers and students are truly continuing intergenerational exchange which for me is an incredible legacy. In years to come I think most students will want to be part of the unity of our communities through song, dance and chant. You really get to see how large Australia is and the diverse languages, movement and dance that is our celebration of country.

Any challenges or struggles making this festival happen?
Selecting specific artists was the only challenge as seriously there is so much new talent across Australia. Although while selecting the artists, we wanted to make sure we had some national highlights that would attract everyone as we begin to create an annual destination for gathering with the local artist and community.

Anything else readers should know?
QPAC celebrates 25 years and what a great birthday present for them to have a new destination event that will only get better. So come and visit us, give us your critique so we can capture what you would like as you come back to gather at Clancestry in 2014. We are all family in one way or another and everyone has clans after all.

Clancesty 2013 Is On For One Day Only Saturday March 2 At The Qpac Cultural Centre.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:16

Brazil Film Festival: In Preview

The Brazil Film Festival brings to Australia the images, sounds, scents and flavours of Brazil through cinema. Now in its fourth year, the Festival is coming to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and bringing 11 of the best and most awarded Brazilian film productions. As well as cinema, the Festival also offers a wide range of cultural and artistic expressions — including music, dance, fine arts and food. Festival Director Andre Levy and Brisbane Festival manager Ana Cristina Moore share some ideas of what to expect.

Describe the Brazil Film Festival in 5 words?
Andre: Sensual, Exquisite, Passionate, Festive, BRAZIL!
Ana: Soulful, Independent, Open-minded, Contemporary, Diverse.

What is your role?
Ana: I am the Festival Manager in Brisbane and Social Sustainability coordinator nationally. Here in Brisbane I do a bit of everything from coordinating with the venues and suppliers to going to the local businesses to drop off marketing material. There is a great deal of multitasking.

What makes Brazilian film different to other countries?
Andre: Each country's cinema reflects its dreams, its values, its pains and its ambitions. Brazil's cinema is no different. For a while the Brazilian film industry concentrated on depicting the urban violence that afflicts the country. Now the industry is diversifying and portraying other aspects of Brazilian society. On this Festival's edition we have two films from Brazil's gaucho south, the drama 'Less than Nothing' and the road movie 'Last Road to the Beach'. We also have a beautiful documentary on the Amazon rainforest, 'Amazonia Eterna'. This also reflects Brazilians' growing concern with protecting the natural endowment of their country.
Ana: The complexity of the Brazilian society reflects on its cinematography. Further of being a country of continental proportions and the fifth most populated in the world, Brazil is a truly multicultural society — we have the largest Japanese colony outside Japan, the Italians and the Jewish communities are substantial as well. Plus we have more Lebanese nationals living in Brazil than in Lebanon and we have the largest population of Afro-descendants outside of Africa. There are country towns in South Brazil where the population only speak German and we've had French invasions and Dutch invasions. In this developing country, scared by poverty, slavery and violence, there is a fusion of cultures of no precedents. We are so mixed that is impossible to tell where some traditions come from.

Any surprises tucked up your sleeve?
Ana: Of course, this will not only be a film festival but also a cultural experience and it is the chance to understand a bit of this complex country. We will have a discussion panel chaired by Mara Bun from Green Cross Australia with our goal to trace a parallel between Brazil and Australia and to show that in fact we face very similar issues regarding sustainable development and indigenous rights. We want people not only to watch a movie we want to make them think.

What makes a good film?
Andre: What makes a good wine? There are technical requirements, of course, but at the end of the day, a good wine is a wine you like. A good film is a film you like.
Ana: Soul

Who are some Brazilian filmmakers that we should keep our eyes on?
Andre:  Brazil's top cinema brass include...
Walter Salles ('Motorcycle Diaries', 'On the Road', 'Central Station')
Fernando Meirelles ('City of God', 'Blindness', 'The Constant Gardener')
Hector Babenco ('Carandiru', 'At Play in the Fields of The Lord')
José Padilha ('Elite Squad I and II')
The Festival brings the best of the new crop, especially...
Afonso Poyart ('Two Rabbits')
Jose Henrique Fonseca ('Heleno')
Márcio de Lemos ('Imperfect Love')
Belisario Franca ('Amazônia Eterna')

Why should audiences come along rather than staying at home on their couch?
Ana: We will have it all from classical music to street-style carnival. We have a great selection of movies and good Brazilian movies are still really hard to access in Australia. If you miss one of our movies, it is very unlikely you will have the chance to rent it from your nearest video shop.

Anything else readers should know?
Ana: Brisbane has been taken over by commercial cinemas, when you go and watch one of our movies you are contributing to keep one of the few independent cinema theatres in Brisbane. Brazil Film Festival does not have the sponsorship and government support of the major international film festivals. Thanks to places like Schonell Theatre we can keep independent film festivals like this one alive.

The Brazil Film Festival Runs Feb 23 – March 3 At The Schonell Cinemas. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:00

Expressions Dance Company

Two of Australia’s most exciting emerging choreographers, Leisel Zink and Lucas Jervies, will each create a new dance work with the full support of Expressions Dance Company in its brand new initiative 'Propel (the next step)'.

The dance works form the second in a series of platforms created by EDC Artistic Director Natalie Weir to help emerging, independent choreographers create new pieces.
Presented since 2010, the first series 'Launch Pad' saw rising stars, including Mr Jervies and Ms Zink, create a 10-minute piece with two company dancers.

For  'Propel (the next step)' they will each develop a new, 30-minute work for the full EDC ensemble.

Fresh from the success of her performance 'fifteen' at Brisbane Festival 2012, Leisel’s piece 'Synapse' will look at body language in communication.

Intrigued by the energy a certain posture or gesture can give and the difficulties experienced when communicating and connecting with others, Leisel will collaborate with Mike Willmett, of Triple J Unearthed band My Fiction, to create a soundscape for 'Synapse'. Audience members can get involved with the creative process online at expressionsdancecompany.wordpress.com as the two choreographers blog about rehearsals, post photos of the dancers in the studio and share their thoughts and ideas as they develop. Leisel explains more:

What's your greatest inspiration as a choreographer?
I am inspired by artists that respond to the complicated world that we live in.

How has the experience been working with EDC?
It is an absolute honour to work with these dancers — they are so highly skilled it seems the possibilities are endless. I’ve found them to be incredibly open and willing to jump into the beautiful mess of a choreographic process.

Do you like to direct your dancers or allow them freedom to interpret your choreography? 
As a choreographer, I enjoy seeing how each new individual moulds and shapes my own choreography so I like to meet the dancers half way. I give a direction, they interpret it, then I bounce off their interpretation and so on and so forth. However, I am a perfectionist! It may have been choreographed on your external body, however when performed, it has to come from somewhere honest.

What can we expect next week, when 'Propel' opens?
I am still not certain of what the overall work will look like. It is nerve-wracking not having a set structure, but you also have no limits and you give the work permission to go new places you didn't think it would go. 

What’s next for you?
I am beginning a solo work where I will be collaborating with a psychology researcher in the investigation of 'love'. I am usually either inside a work as a performer, or sitting outside a work as a choreographer, so I believe combining the two in the creation of a solo work will be incredibly challenging for me.

'Propel (The Next Step)' is on at The Bille Brown Studio from February 28 – March 2.
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 15:29

The Pitch & The China Incident: Theatre In Review

Warning: Do not see this if you don’t enjoy laughing, cringing, squealing and holding your breath. Because there was all that and more on opening night of ‘The Pitch and The China Incident’, a double act of one-person plays written by Peter Houghton.

Queensland Theatre Company have opened their 2013 season with a bang, with their production bringing together hilarity, vulgarity and sneaky insightfulness. ‘The Pitch’ starred Hugh Parker, all pent-up frenetic appeal delivering witty one-liners and pause-for-effect quips. Parker plays Walter Weinermann, a screenwriter facing the biggest pitch of his life. His audience? Producers with the actual money to fund his movie. He is in the midst of his last minute preparations and we watch as he finesses and fleshes out his plot, adding in special effects, casting choices, soundtrack options all while pacing and prowling around the tiny office on the stage.

‘The China Incident’ stars Barbara Lowing as Bea Pontivec, a publicist/ diplomat / illicit lover / mother / ex-wife / closet alcoholic and smoker who somehow manages to be simultaneously abhorrent and appealing. As we watch her juggle calls from the President of the United States, a dictator in Africa, her ex-husband, her son, her daughter, her daughter’s partner and her secret lover who happens to be part of the United Nations, the hidden layers of the character start to shine through.

Barbara is astounding, remembering a ridiculous amount of fast-paced lines and which phone to pick at which moment, all while building a character that evolves. Vile and vacuous at the beginning, Bea Pontivec somehow worms her way into your affections (or at least earns your grudging admiration).

The pair of plays were fantastic entertainment, with laugh-out-loud and feel-good moments. Not to be missed.

‘The Pitch and The China Incident’ play at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC until March 9.

Wednesday, 06 February 2013 15:19

World Theatre Festival: Theatre In Preview

There is so much new, exciting, innovative and experimental theatre being created locally and around the world and the Brisbane Powerhouse want to bring it to you. The inaugural WTF program defies traditional theatre conventions with works that demand audience engagement. Check out productions from Ireland, the UK and Australia as well as intriguing installations and artist-run workshops. Zohar Spatz, a producer for WTF 2013, shares the must-see picks.

Q: Describe WTF in 5 words?
Come down and find out.

Q: What is it all about and how did it start?
WTF is about building audiences for performance in Brisbane by exposing artists and audiences to a broad range of experiences. The festival pushes new technologies, new forms, and participatory theatre.

Q: What is your role in WTF?
My role is as the producer of WTF which is a curated program with a team of Brisbane Powerhouse programmers behind it.

Q: Highlights of the festival include...?
Don’t miss Gob Squad’s 'Kitchen'! Four performers attempt to reconstruct Andy Warhol's films 'Kitchen', 'Sleep' and 'Screen Test'. During the show, members of the audience are recruited one by one to replace the performers while they receive text and stage directions via headphones. By the end of the show all four performers have been replaced.

Q: Which show is absolutely unmissable and why?
'Parah' is a Malaysian play written by Singaporean Alfian Sa'at, it reflects on current day Malaysia and circles around four friends still at high school. I think people will be surprised at how similar Malaysia and Australia are.

Q: What makes a great piece of theatre?
A great piece of theatre is provocative in form and content, it should aim to push beyond the ordinary realms of theatre performance – it should be a totally new experience, one that keeps you talking well after the curtain has gone down

Q: How important is theatre to our society?
Incredibly important. It’s a form of storytelling — it should be a reflection of our world, past, present and future. It should be a platform to share our stories and be heard.

Q: How different is theatre around the globe?
Are you personally able to tell where a show has been made/ what country it was created in? (beyond the obvious of surtitles!). Every person has their own aesthetic, theatre isn’t defined or categorised by which country it was made in but rather by the people who make it.

Q: Any funny/ weird/ crazy behind-the-scenes stories?

A rubber chicken, latex gloves and a unicycle… that’s all I am allowed to say.

Q: Anything else readers should know?
Come down to Brisbane Powerhouse. If you’re not a regular theatre-goer, you will be surprised at how much theatre can move past your preconceived ideas of what happens inside of our four walls.

World Theatre Festival 2013 is at the Brisbane Powerhouse until February 13.

Wednesday, 06 February 2013 15:09

Mad Dance House: Anniversary Celebrations

Mad Dance House (MDH), a Queensland dance institution celebrates its 10th birthday and celebrates the significant contribution the company has made to the arts.

From humble beginnings of running classes from church halls in the suburbs, to operating a fully renovated two-level dance space with four studios in the heart of the city, MDH has come a long way. MDH principal Meg Cooper said she was honoured to have played a part in putting Queensland on both the national and international dance stage. “It is extremely satisfying to reflect on Mad Dance’s journey in a relatively short space of time,” Meg said.

“In addition to giving southeast Queenslanders the opportunity to learn from some of the best dancers this state has to offer, MDH dancers have represented Australia, by performing overseas and showing the rest of the world the quality of dancers we can produce.”

She added, “We’ve created a space at MDH where individuals — from the beginner to professional — have the chance to engage in a variety of dance styles, as well as learn from leading overseas dancers and choreographers.”

To celebrate this impressive milestone, MDH is offering a day of free classes so anyone and everyone can come and see what it is all about. Classes include jazz, ballet, hip hop and tramp cardio and as Meg points out, “You can ‘taste test’ different genres and see what appeals. There is no obligation, no commitment. The only requirement is a positive attitude and a willingness to have fun.”

MDH is offering free classes on Sunday February 10 and is located at Level 1-2, 43 Adelaide Street, Brisbane City. For class times and more information, check out maddance.com.au

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:38

Metro Arts: Call For Entrants

Metro Arts is seeking performance-makers who are brave and curious, and who are leading the way with asking ‘what next?’ If you have a new work that needs incubating, an idea or a concept that needs to grow, apply now to be supported across the various  program streams encourages Kieran Swann, the Programming Manager (Performance) at Metro Arts.

Q: How did this all come about?  
For 2013, Metro Arts is excited to engage with whole new communities of artists and audiences. That’s why the decision to make two calls for applications each year came about — and why we’re now looking for new projects to bring to life in the second half of 2013.

Q: What are Metro Arts looking for in new works and in new performance-makers?
We’re looking for new ideas, artists experimenting and pushing themselves to explore within their practice. That can mean artists at all stages of their careers, and across all types of performance.

Q: Is there anything to be avoided if you are a budding young  performance-maker?
We want to encourage young artists to always be curious, be brave, open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Be interested in collaborating with new partners, don’t be afraid to grow their practice and engage with their audience. Avoid being afraid to do all that. 

Q: What makes a work compelling?  
A well-investigated idea, with a well-considered execution, makes a work compelling. It understands and responds to its context and what it is trying to say. It has currency, and it engages its audience. It communicates. 

Q: Who have been involved in the past? Has anyone gone on to a glorified career?

Metro Arts has a very long history, and we’ve worked with many artists at different stages of their careers. Our artists have gone on to renowned work all around the country — and all around the world. It’s probably harder to find someone who hasn’t been in our building at some point.

Q: Why are the Arts so important and why should they be supported?
Because we want to live in a vibrant city! The arts fill a city with events, with activity, with a whole range of different voices articulating how they see the world.

Q: What is the talent like in Brisbane in regards to creatives?
Works made in Brisbane are travelling around Australia and the world. Our artists really are of international quality now — and you don’t have to travel outside the city to see them.

Q: Anything else readers should know?
Come and have a chat with us. Actually, come and SEE what we’re doing. 2013 is full of opportunities to check out what’s going on at Metro Arts. You could be part of it.

Applications close 5pm, February 22. Check out metroarts.com.au for all the details.

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