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Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:56

June Film Reviews

Beautiful Lies (De Vrais Mensonges)
Audrey Tautou, Sami Bouajila, Nathalie Baye. Directed by Pierre Salvadori.

Wednesday, 08 June 2011 14:30

Jennifer Coolidge

Comedian Profile

Known worldwide as Stifler's mum in the original 'American Pie', comedian Jennifer Coolidge is about to embark on a national tour of Australia. Bringing her stand-up show 'Yours for the Night' to Brisbane for one night only, the lady renowned for pouty pursed lips and a husky throaty voice, is here to talk about sex. Ok not just sex. She will also be spouting her views on pop culture, show business and men and she doesn't hold back. Touted as "shockingly funny and outrageously hilarious", she IS the original MILF and isn't afraid to shake it in your face.

'Yours for the Night' is at The Tivoli Theatre June 15.

Wednesday, 01 June 2011 14:15

Wunderkammer


Circus in Preview

In performance circles, when Cate Blanchett thinks you’re hot stuff, then you are flaming red indeed. Brisbane’s own Circa has not only been praised highly and widely by Ms. Blanchett, but is also just about to jet off to beacon-city-for-all-things-artistic, Berlin. There they will perform their latest work ‘Wunderkammer’ for a lengthy season at the renowned Chamaeleon Theatre.

Therefore, Brisbanites who didn’t catch this show during the 2010 Brisbane Festival should be racing to down to the Judith Wright Centre to see ‘Wunderkammer’ during the very short four day season this month before Circa head off overseas for the foreseeable future.

‘Wunderkammer’, translating to “Cabinet of Wonders”, is a mixture of all things surprising and unique, incorporating neon lights, electronic music and infra-red movement sensors creating sounds with body parts. “I think audiences can expect something a little bit different from this production,” predicts Jessica Connell, one of the performers in the seven-person ensemble and a talented woman who was formerly a member of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus (her specialty was hula hoops and aerials).

She then spent five years performing with the Fruit Fly Circus around Australia, plus was part of the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the Sydney Hoopla Festival. Bringing those experiences to the show, she muses on performing in this production, “It’s really quite different from traditional circus. It’s actually a fusion of dance, circus and new ideas, with a bit of a burlesque and a cabaret feel to it.  So audiences can expect to see a little bit of everything in this production really.”

The creator and Circa Artistic Director, Yaron Lifschitz is in agreement, describing Wunderkammer as an “…exquisite blend of music, song, light and circus that will delight the senses. It is a show that combines new circus, cabaret and vaudeville, with sideways glances to sideshow and burlesque.” Did we mention that at 19 years of age, Lifschitz was the youngest director to be accepted into NIDA and has directed the likes of Toni Collette and Cate Blanchett before he turned to the world of circus?

This production features no famous Aussie faces but rather showcases a new crop of skilled performers. Throughout the production the whole ensemble is onstage, although each artist has a ‘feature act’ in which they are the main performer. Jessica explains, “currently Circa has two main ensembles, the ensemble I am working in has seven performers and we train from nine until five everyday.  In training we try to do a bit of everything with everyone so you work with everybody and then we can all work well together on stage.”

As much as she loves performing for Australian audiences, Jessica is highly anticipating working in Berlin, seeing it as an amazing professional experience. “I haven’t been to Berlin, this will actually be the first time I have been overseas,” squeals Jessica. “The Chamaeleon Theatre is new for Circa too and we’re there for a pretty long time. It’s actually a seven and a half month season which is really quite a long season, and I think one of our longest ever done in the one place.”

The ensemble will be performing ‘Wunderkammer’ for seven shows each week in the Chamaeleon which is quite an intense workload, but Jessica is still hoping to experience some more of Berlin. “We are all really hoping to see some other artists over there, because Berlin is just such an amazing cultural city, but I think we’ll be pretty busy.”

In addition to Cate Blanchett’s enthusiastic praise, Circa has received wide-ranging rave reviews in recent years, and is viewed as one of the leading performance companies in the country.  Jessica believes this is in part due to the unique and comprehensive training and the development of a mix of skills amongst all the Circa performers. “We don’t just do one thing for an act and then go offstage, we are all involved in the whole production.
“It all starts for Circa in the training room and development and as we all really love what we are doing, and are passionate about it, I think we have a way of approaching our work that is quite different. We do this work for the love of it, and for the love of performing to an audience, and I think that definitely comes through in our work,” muses Jessica.
“I also think it’s because we have a raw approach to our work, we don’t have big sets or huge elaborate costumes. We just do it all with the human body, showing what the body can do and how you can express yourself.”

‘Wunderkammer’ Plays the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts June 14-18.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:09

Tim Watts

Q&A

Described by the New York Times “as a theatrical 'Wall-E”, Tim Watts’ one man show features animation, mime, puppetry and music.

Q: Describe your show in 5 words?
Epic adventure under the sea.

Q: How did the show come about?
I wanted to make a fun, visual, one-man show that could cheaply and easily tour around the world. I had made the puppet in a workshop about a year and a half before, and some friends had been bugging me to make a show with him. Also I wanted to make a show about the whole environmental situation that looms over us all so menacingly, but I didn't want it to be an educational show, or one that makes the audience feel guilty.

Q: How realistic is this show?
Not very - the main character is a Styrofoam ball and a glove. It’s very much an imaginative journey for the audience, a whimsical extension of reality. It’s set in a world where the sea levels have risen to ridiculous heights, higher than scientifically possible so it’s more in the realm of Greek myth, than scientific journal.

Q: What does puppetry and animation add to the show?
The puppetry gets people emotionally involved in the show and the puppet is so adorable and lovable (although is just a white glove and a buoy). It sucks people in, and it can feel so alive. The animation is primarily there to visually narrate, to advance the plot in an interesting and engaging way.

Q: Any awkward stage moments?
Once in Delhi, India, there was a power failure in the venue (apparently they happen a lot in India) so the projector switched off, and we had to wait for about 10 minutes to get the show started again. I just played some songs on the ukulele while we all waited.

Q: Best audience reaction?
Best reaction from an individual was from a really sweet man in Sydney, whose eyes were full of tears, and he came up to me and took my hand, stared into my eyes for a few moments then said "you have so much heart", then hugged me.

Tim Watts stars in  ‘The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik – Deep Sea Explorer‘ at the Judith Wright Centre from May 17-21.

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 14:59

Grease

Musical in Preview

Resisting the urge to start this story with any one of the countless quotes from ‘Grease’ was tough - as was dismissing the idea that chewing gum and twirling my hair around my finger while I wrote this (on a typewriter of course) would not make it more interesting. The fact that I could have opened with any snappy line, and you dear readers, would have either gasped with delight or groaned out loud, shows how pervasive and ingrained ‘Grease’ is into our cultural subconscious.

Sounds deep doesn’t it for a musical about high school dramas like teen crushes, dancing, drinking milkshakes and racing cars but it is this multi-layered appeal that made ‘Grease’ a cult phenomenon in the first place. The latest incarnation of the show is presented by Harvest Rain Theatre Company, and Naomi Price is holding firmly onto the director reins, having admitted her Grease-aholic status before the world (mostly her new cast). It will be her job to ensure the show remains both adorably airy yet still grapples with the heavy issues. Accordingly to some, she is very excited about the job ahead.

Tom Oliver and Kristen Barros are part of the Grease team and like everyone else at Rydell High, can’t wait to see what Naomi comes up with. Tom explains, “Everybody knows that Naomi was born a Grease-aholic and will always be a Grease-aholic. But I love that even though ‘Grease’ is such fun and sing-along sort of show, Naomi has turned this musical into a tale that truthfully follows the hopes and dreams of these teenage kids of the 50s and done it in such a stylised way.”


These two performers were asked to describe the musical in five words and both used ‘energetic’ which implies to an innocent interviewer that there will probably be lots and lots of dancing. Practically out of breath when describing the rehearsals, it was Tom who painted the picture of behind the scenes. “Being my first show with Harvest Rain, I didn't know what to expect going into this production, but I must say - I've had a blast!
The highs are definitely rehearsing all of the massive musical numbers that Callum has choreographed for this show, all have an amazing amount of energy in them. The lows would probably be the pain after a big day of choreography.” Kristen adds, “It's been a pretty intense rehearsal period but we're still given so much room to play with and explore our characters and their relationships. Sometimes such a large, young cast can present issues but so far it's been totally fine. I guess the most challenging thing about this production is giving the audience what they want but also making it our own.”


And therein lies one of the biggest obstacles when remaking a classic – the expectations of the audience. Not only the audience but the cast itself have memories of the musical and the film which can colour their performance. Luckily for these two, both have always loved the musical and couldn’t wait to jump on board.

Tom realized his dream of T-bird status, “I remember Mum and Dad buying me the movie when I was really young. I watched it for weeks on end and have loved it ever since. I always dreamed of being a T - Bird!”

Kristen’s dreams were even bigger, “I loved everything about Grease growing up especially the fashion and the music. I wanted my graduation to include a carnival and a flying car!” A perfectly normal aspiration but alas one that wasn’t achieved, instead she gets to take that infamous toothpaste commercial scene and make it her own. “I was a lot like Jan at high school; loving food, confident around my friends and a little awkward around guys. I guess not much has changed now that I think about it! I purposefully haven't watched the movie since auditioning for ‘Grease’ so as not to mimic Jamie Donnelly, who plays this character so well especially the Ipana toothpaste commercial. That's probably the one part I really want to make my own while still staying somewhat true to the ‘brusha, brusha, brusha’ the audience are expecting!”

If you need a reason to see ‘Grease’, Tom quite succinctly (and modestly) recites a list, “There are endless big musical numbers, each performer in this show is hilarious in one way or another, ‘Grease’ is a classic musical that everyone knows the words to, I'm in it (minor detail… but I think still valid yes?), you hear world class singers performing all of your favourites from the movie including Luke Kennedy singing a soul version of ‘Beauty School Dropout’ and the set and costumes are amazing!”

Grease is the word.

‘Grease’ is on at the Playhouse QPAC from May 6.

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 14:54

Iiro Rantala

Jazz Musician Interview

The Brisbane Powerhouse has created Planet - a program of shows to celebrate world music and dance - with the next installment in this series being ‘Pekka and Iiro in Concert’. This internationally renowned duo are coming to play for one night only and will showcase their astonishing skills and passion on violin and piano. Iiro is at the forefront of pianism and is considered one of the best jazz pianists in the world.

Q: What does music mean to you?
Music is my life. I have played piano since I was ten years old. Everything has happened through music - I met my wife playing the piano, all my friendships began through music. I think music is the most brilliant way for people to express themselves. Speaking, dancing, acting, literature, architecture are important too but music is the greatest.

Q: How did you start playing jazz?
When I got involved with jazz at the age of 13 it was the freedom that struck me. It felt very liberating to play what ever comes to mind and it still does. But I couldn’t do it without a classical back ground. Both styles are important to me.

Q: Something we don't know about you?
I can cook and Thai curries are my speciality. I’m also married to Pekka’s sister so we are relatives! Just recently I have taken a huge interest in Yoga. I had a back problem last year and it turned out that Yoga helps. I’m learning Yoga at the moment and it doesn´t seem to do any harm to my piano playing either.

Q: Craziest/ weirdest/ most awkward moment on stage?
Once I was playing a piano solo with my trio in a jazz concert in Lapland. I had my eyes closed as usual. People started laughing in the middle of the solo. I was wondering why and opened my eyes. It turned out that my puppy boxer dog Börje has escaped from back stage and had joined me on stage. He was sitting behind my back and staring  at the audience with his funny face.

Q: When you play jazz - how do you describe the feeling in five words?
Freedom, risk, base jump, rapid.

Catch ‘Pekka and Iiro in Concert’ Thursday May 5 at Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Planet series.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011 15:36

Statespeare

Theatre In Preview

Let's begin with a question - what is cool these days? It's quite possible the answer that popped into your head wasn't Shakespeare or anything Bard-related. But La Boite and Shake & Stir Theatre Company would like to persuade you otherwise. In fact, so convincing are they, post-show we could all be getting inked with pictures of Julius Caesar and speaking in verse.

Judy Hainsworth is part of this movement and has so far converted countless fans to the power of the giant S. Ok truthfully there is no actual record of how many people have jumped aboard the Shakespeare ship because of Hainsworth but what can be proven is how excited she is to be part of this production. “I think Shakespeare is cool! His work is still relevant today and endures because of its universal themes, beautiful poetry, iconic characters and unforgettable stories. BUT it has to be done the right way. Shakespeare is not cool when it is read sitting down in a classroom. It is not cool when it is recited like a sermon. It is not cool when treated like a historical artifact (although it does offer fascinating insights into the past).”

An eloquent woman of many long words, she was however quite succinct when describing the show - "fast, funny, clever, random, touching", obviously wanting to keep it real for the people. She was also nursing an injury from rehearsals (note - Shakespeare is not for the weak), which may have influenced her disyllabic choices. Apparently she wasn't in as much pain as her castmates upon seeing her in costume for the first time. She painted a picture of the most awkward moment in rehearsals so far. "In our most tragic Shakespeare scene, the rest of the cast broke into hysterics upon seeing me in my costume for the first time. Think body condom." We're thinking hilarious but understandably for Judy, she would prefer to make the audience laugh with her comic timing rather than the unfortunate (for her) stage attire. But she laughs off any talk of psychological scarring, instead using words like "inspired, chuffed, pumped" to describe being part of the show.

The premise of the show is quite simple and when Judy describes it, sounds like it should be snapped up by a network ASAP. “The show is like Shakespeare meets Chris Lilley meets Glee. Bite-sized Bard!” Basically there are four drama students – two nerds, two slackers – who must complete an assignment proving Shakespeare is still relevant today. By exploring different scenes, they make important discoveries about the plays, life, and each other.

As she puts it, “If this were a movie, it would be called Shakespeare High. And my character would be played by Lea Michelle.” As with any production, the show is only as strong as the cast. Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee, Nick Skubij and our Judy are all accomplished actors learning about each other in rehearsals. “Rehearsals are fun, inspiring, energetic and physical (I’m covered with bruises and scrapes!). Shake & Stir encourage a collaborative environment and I feel like I really get to contribute with shaping the show.

“I studied acting at USQ with Nelle and she is one of my best friends. We have wanted to do a show together ever since uni so we are stoked to finally get the chance. Nelle is the funniest person I know. Unfortunately, she also has a gift for improv and making me corpse onstage. I have to imagine really horrible things to stop myself laughing…like grandparents having sex, or watching ‘Good News Week’.”

Taking a moment to recover from those uncomfortable thoughts, Judy goes on to gush about her castmates, “I am blown away by all three of them. Not only are they performing in ‘Statespeare’, but they are producing it, directing it, marketing it and of course, Nelle wrote it. They work their butts off and are so passionate about what they do and Shake & Stir’s growing success is a testament to that.”

This lady is no stranger to Shakespeare, performing roles including Lady Macbeth, Viola, Desdemona and Juliet, as well as studying sonnets giving her a solid grounding in his plays and speaking verse. Her best line in this production? ‘Great, now we have to run around the theatre three times, then twice backwards then drink a thimble full of lamb’s blood before going to bed tonight, and I’m a vegetarian!’. It’s time to get your Bard on.

‘Statespeare’ presented by La Boite and Shake & Stir Theatre Company is staged from April 28 – May 6.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011 15:32

Florence Broadhurst

Art Design in Preview

Her prints are pervasive and populate all corners of the world, from walls and dresses to matchboxes and lampshades.

 


Iconic designer Florence Broadhurst is still captivating us even after her passing with the release of the biography ‘Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives’ by Helen O’Neill. It is a beautiful coffee table book with never before seen prints and exclusive photographs of interiors.

Q: Who will this book appeal to? This book is perfect for anyone who loves beauty, design and surprises and it will appeal to anybody who is interested in art and design and who also loves a strong story. Florence’ appeal is two-fold. There’s the incredible drama of a woman who lived her life like a spy, changing her appearance, personal history, even her accent as she travelled around the world – and the mystery surrounding her brutal, unsolved murder.

Q: Describe Florence and her style in 5 words. Witty. Glamorous. Beautiful. Flamboyant. Unforgettable.

Q: How has Florence changed the world of design and illustration and interiors? Florence Broadhurst has fuelled the international renaissance of big, bold wallpaper design. She is a powerful trendsetting force across the world, which is why her big, bold prints sell to over 20 countries. Loved at home since being rediscovered just a few years ago, she is now one of Australia’s most famous designers.

Q: From researching her life, what have you learnt from Florence? How important it is to take life as it comes, and to rise – not fall – when challenge hits. Florence started her defining venture when she was almost 60 years old. Her marriage had broken down, her husband having left her for a woman younger than their son, and she needed money badly. Many would retreat to lick their wounds but not Florence. She decided to very publicly reinvent herself yet again – and this time did it in a way that would ultimately see her become an Australian icon.

Q: Weirdest place you have seen a Florence print? The strangest place I’ve seen a Florence Broadhurst image was tattooed onto the left shoulder blade of a young intern at Signature Prints, the Sydney business that holds Broadhurst’s design library and produces her work. Other unusual sightings include a designer jacket made for a dog, and cookies baked by a Japanese fan who recreate the shapes from Japanese Floral and Horses Stampede.

 

‘Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives’ will be in bookstores in May.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 15:48

Trine Dyrholm

Actor Interview

With singer, songwriter and acclaimed actress ticked-off her list of accomplishments, it's hard to imagine Trine Dyrholm in any better world.

On the brink of divorce, heartbroken and left to raise two sons in the idyllic Danish countryside, Dyrholm plays Marianne, a woman teetering on the brink of mental exhaustion. Directed by Susanne Bier, Dyrholm's performance directly contributed to the runaway success of 'In a Better World' which picked up both the 2011 Oscar and Golden Globe awards for Best Foreign Picture. â€œWe are so overwhelmed and honoured. It's just been a fantastic ride,” Dyrholm said. “Susanne's films have such a fantastic audience, especially here in Denmark. I never thought it would go so far. Never!” 

“I think it was the script that really had something great. What I liked about my character was that she was struggling with normal problems, then everything escalated. The problems became so huge that she actually crosses the line between right and wrong. I think that's what makes a character, where you have one scene where you completely step over the line, contradictory to everything the character believes in,” Dyrholm explained.

Cleverly set in the contrasting environments of countryside Denmark and a Sudanese refugee camp, the film delves into the philosophy behind violence and forgiveness - from its lowest levels of schoolyard bullying to extreme circumstances, like dictatorship in Africa. â€œThe film is about the safe western world, where you have the 'good life' as opposed to a situation where you don't even have enough food,” Dyrholm said. “It's a way of showing that what we could call a normal family could also end up in tragedy. We live in a global world and we have to realise that. Life is complex and it doesn't matter where you live, life can always find a way to be dark and difficult.”

After this success, it's a safe bet we’ll be seeing Dyrholm across the international film marketplace. So let’s all hope for a co-Denmark/ Australia production. “I've had so many good projects in Denmark and I've been able to develop as an actress here. But I want to try and get out in the world. Maybe they will call me to come to Australia!”

‘In A Better World’ is in cinemas.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 15:45

A View From the Sixth Row

Photography in Preview

How often do you see an amazing image of a show, a moment captured to marvel at, and then the next thing you know, you're buying tickets and deciding what to wear?

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