04 December 2013

What Melbourne loved in 2013, part 4

Today, Kerith Manderson-Galvin talks about queer art, Andy Freer from Snuff Puppets talks about what it means to show work in your home town, and Bron Batten reminds us why the funniest stuff makes us cry.

The question everyone is answering is: What was your favourite theatre moment of 2013? (Something you saw, experienced or did.)

Kerith Manderson-Galvin
playwright, performer, activist

KERITH: Mark Wilson. He made me feel like anything is possible. That's just Mark Wilson the person. His show Unsex Me made me feel that and more. And everything.

Queer is something that dismantles and rebuilds and never knows exactly where it's going to take you. Queer can be a body, an act, an action. It is unstill and complicated and complicates. It is funny and strange. Queer is a form of resistance and rebellion. Queer disturbs. It isn't always fun but it can be fucking joyous. It's not easy, it's not normal. That's the point.

One time during rehearsals of Savages, I was sad and Patricia Cornelius (who is mentoring me) held my hand and Susie Dee saw this happen and then I didn't feel quite as sad any more.

The Kreutzer Sonata: A Supple Beauty as performed by Mark Wilson, Tobias Manderson-Galvin and me at Naked Cabaret during the Adelaide Fringe.

When we talk about it we say, "Remember that time when we made genuine art".

We were all naked and so was everyone in the audience. We were probably the only people there that had seen the production we were referencing. I played out a long death scene as a voiceless woman/Miranda Otto, Mark read some rather insightful words and Tobi played Chris Brown and Rihanna songs – or something like that happened and it's a shame no one knew what we were talking about, but god it felt good.

SM: Adelaide, hey. We don't have Naked Cabaret at the Melbourne Fringe. Or I haven't been invited.

It's hard to choose a favourite moment with Kerith, but I think it's when she immediately picked me up for my use of the word "gay" in a review.

Andy Freer
artistic director, Snuff Puppets

ANDY:  I have been working with a number of Indonesian artists, over the past six year,s developing a new show, Wedhus Gembel, and, for the first time, we were able to bring the show to Melbourne.

Presented outside at Federation Square it was a highly visual, large-scale spectacle performance involving a giant erupting volcano, a monster that devoured the entire cast (not to mention a few audience members!), as well as magical singing, trances, mask theatre and classical and contemporary puppetry.

It explored the tensions between traditional and contemporary Indonesian life and is a parable about the cycle of life, the destructive power of nature and the nature of duality, from destruction there is creation, from chaos there is harmony. It was truly exciting to be able to share this genuine and unique cross-cultural collaboration with my home town and even more exciting to then take it to Peru in November!

SM: I really wish I'd seen this.

Bron Batten
theatre-maker, producer, performer, Last Tuesday Society cohort

Jim and Bron. Photo by Max Milne.

BRON: I can't really narrow it down to one show but I reckon The Sovereign Wife by Sisters Grimm would have to come really close. Great writing, super smart and very, very funny. Anyone who can work The Corrs's "Runaway" into a post colonial exploration of the settlement of Australia totally has my vote.

I also just saw Super Discount by Back to Back Theatre and was reminded why they're one of Australia's greatest theatre companies. The work has fantastic imagery, is subversive in a really clever and personal way and also is incredibly touching. I was wiping away a tear by the end – bloody good stuff.

What Bron is looking forward to in 2014 at issimomag.com.

SM: Bron's work is personal, subversive and hilarious; yet, she always reaches something personal, secret and real in her audience. Or maybe that's just me? Nah.

One of my favourite moments was reading a review of the Chicago season of Bron and Jim's Sweet Child of Mine. It was written by nine-year-old Ada Grey, who has been reviewing since she was four. Here's Ada's review. I love this so much. Reviewing isn't always about being a smarty pants, it's about sharing what you saw and how you felt.

And there was Bron's appearance in the Last Tuesday Society's Don's Party in July. She walked out naked and sang Bruce Springstein's "Red Headed Woman" –"it takes a red headed woman to get a dirty job done" – on behalf of every woman who was feeling like we'd been punched in the gut politically and were ready to give up. It was so powerful, as a response to our federal goverment's schoolyard pick embarrassment and as a response to everyone who only see women's worth by their naked bodies. I was crying from laughing, but I know there were real tears mixed in there as well.

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