Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Campaign - Midsumma Festival preview

Australia may have recently celebrated two years since marriage between same-sex couples became legal in this country, but it's important to remember the struggle faced by the LGBTQ community to get there, and this fight goes way back further than 2017. Roughly 30 years ago, being gay was considered a crime in Tasmania and it wasn't until the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group defied a ban on a stall to decriminalise sexual activity between consenting adults that progress began. Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival, Campion Decent's The Campaign traces the events from that day, where over 100 people were arrested, and the changes this group brought. 

Decent spending considerable time researching and interviewing figures who were involved with the gay law reform and writing the play, which had its first performance in 2018. "I was approached with the idea at the beginning of 2016 by the director Matt Scholten who operates If Theatre, and we spent the next two and a half years developing it and building partnerships. We were hoping to premiere the work in October 2018 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first arrests at Salamanca Market and with the assistance of Playwriting Australia, Tasmanian Theatre Company, Blue Cow Theatre and Salamanca Arts Centre – and the blessing from key stakeholders – this became a reality," he says.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Love By The Hour - Midsumma Festival preview

Darwent & Gray are known for creating musical comedies exploring sex, sexuality and gender. Their previous outing, The Rest Is Drag, looked at the labels we place on ourselves and the complexity of building relationships based on those labels. For the 2020 Midsumma Festival, the company is yet again tackling labels and relationships but in a theatrical drama without their trademark music and songs.

Love By The Hour investigates the boundaries of friendship when one discovers his friend is a sex worker and decides to book them for an evening. Writer Caleb Darwent drew from a number of events and moments in their life that subsequently released a Pandora's box of ideas to navigate through. "The central concept sprung from a conversation with a friend of mine who had recently been offered money for sex by a Grindr Daddy. They were contemplating accepting his offer and start to do sex work. My first thought was how awkward and inappropriate it would be if I were to hire them, considering our pre-existing non-sexual friendship. The more I considered this, the more ethically complicated I realised it was," they tell me.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Sick review

Mention the word hospital or being sick and the memories that most people will have will be negative. But NICA's third year students from the Bachelor of Circus Arts are here to change that with their final showcase performance, SICK. Directed by Gavin Marshall, the show is inspired by Marshall's two month hospital stay where doctors tried to determine why his body was falling apart on him.

With this personal experience, Marshall captures the mundaneness, the ridiculousness and the gravity of hospital life. Taking place over 24 hours at St. Nowhere Hospital, the show opens with a number of patients passing time in the waiting room as they keep themselves occupied. On the other side of this wall we observe doctors and nurses in the staff room, tired, overworked and hurriedly getting themselves prepared for the onslaught of what is behind those doors.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

You & I - Midsumma Festival preview

Formed in Brisbane, circus troupe Casus has always been proud of the diversity of its company and the performances they created. It is this vision that has led them to become internationally recognised as leaders in contemporary circus. With five works unders their belt, this summer two of its performers hit the Midsumma Festival with You & I, a touching and intimate exploration of a relationship between two men in love.

"You & I is a glimpse into these mens' lives," performer and co-founder of Casus, Jesse Scott says. "They are in a yurt in a subtropical rainforest of northern NSW. As they spend their time together, they perform a number of circus and dance acts, from trapeze to chair balances, from tango to hula hooping, and from acrobatics to a bit of silly magic but it all expresses the love, affection and joy felt by these people."

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Adam - Midsumma Festival preview

Adam Kashmiry risked being killed in order to live his life. The Egyptian born transgender man left his home and country at the age of 19 to seek asylum in Scotland for the opportunity to be himself. This extraordinary journey of resilience and strength was first performed at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is now making its Australian premiere this Midsumma Festival.

It took director Jacob Thomas less than a second after they read the script to know they had to put this on. “Adam’s story is an experience you can easily disregard through one’s privilege, which is exactly why it's vital for our communities to hear this story, particularly as seeking asylum is still incredibly difficult for LGBTIQA+ people," they explain. "White, Western queers - myself included - can forget, perhaps conveniently, how our communities abroad are surviving. They’re getting by without pride parades, support systems and events such as Midsumma. That’s not to say we’re without struggle here in Australia, but more that we can’t ignore the realities of our global queer families. We can hold both our struggles and the struggle of others at the same time."

Monday, 25 November 2019

Queen Bette - Midsumma Festival preview

Visit Bette Davis’ grave and you’ll see the inscription on her tombstone reads: “she did it the hard way”, and indeed she did. During a Hollywood career that spanned 60 years, Davis made a name for herself as being a fiercely outspoken and independent woman at a time when Hollywood preferred their female stars to be demure and complaisant. Davis was quoted as saying “I survived because I was tougher than anyone else” and in Queen Bette, Jeanette Cronin retraces the life of the Hollywood icon and screen legend in a tribute performance to the woman who was regarded as the biggest bitch in Hollywood.

Apart from an uncanny resemblance to Davis, Cronin’s channeling of the Hollywood star in the 2015 premiere of Queen Bette was met with critical acclaim in her inimitable portrayal of Davis. However, before she felt comfortable becoming Davis, Cronin spent a substantial amount of time understanding her by reading books, interviews, stories and film viewings, to get as much insight as possible into Davis. “I suppose we had a mini Bette Festival in preparing for this show. The first volume of her autobiography, The Lonely Life, played a huge part in its creation, as did the many interviews she gave over her entire career,” Cronin tells me. “There is a wealth of material in the public domain and she was a great raconteur, very entertaining and articulate. A very bright lady. A lot of the dialogue is verbatim but there are also original speeches inspired by true events which I have penned.”

Trapped Inside a Fat Old Lady review

Forming the artistic portion of her PhD, Pauline Sherlock's Trapped Inside a Fat Old Lady is the auto-ethnographic ruminations of a middle-aged woman ranging on topics such as body image, mental health, intimacy and menopause. Through storytelling, stand-up and singing, Sherlock opens up on these and the impact they have had towards her journey of self-acceptance and self-love.

The show plays like a TED talk with Sherlock hooked up to a mic, pacing around the stage with small gesticulations and pausing between sentences as she smiles and looks out to the audience. This cool and calm demeanour puts her in a position of authority, which is particularly fitting as this is the story of her life, so we are swiftly drawn in and eager to hear all that she has to say.