06 December 2013

What Melbourne loved in 2013, part 6

Today we hear from sisters Declan Greene and Ash Flanders, actor Soren Jenson and composer Andree Greenwell.

Declan Greene and Ash Flanders
The Sisters Grimm
Photo by Claryssa Hummenyj-Jameson 

DEC and ASH: Even though we’re sisters, our taste in art is pretty different. Declan is likely to see a 36-hour throat-singing opera, while Ash would much prefer to watch every season of Survivor in chronological order. I guess in that sense, we’re both into painful, durational work.

That said, one thing we definitely both obsessed over this year was The Rabble’s Story of O (NEON). It was legitimately dangerous work: incisive, brutal, and fearless in its politics, but married with an incredible eye for startling imagery. And it was also shit-yer-dakkz funny, which was necessary, as we actually have no attention sp

SM: I'd so watch every episode of Survivor in chronological order; "The tribe has spoken."

How can I choose a favourite moment from The Sovereign Wife or Summertime in the Garden of Eden? How can anyone do that?! Maybe it's the first glimpse of their achingly perfect casting. Or seeing the set for Summertime and knowing that they'd found a designer (Marg Horwell) who created a world that looked like their brains had spilled onto the stage. 

Or this:

Whatever, this may be the last year that they're not obscenely famous (and famously obscene), so I should be glad that they still speak to me.

And see what the Sisters are looking forward to in 2014 at issimo.com.

Soren Jensen

SOREN: Probably the standout moment for me was the NEON festival. A sold out season of independent theatre in the Southbank Theatre. While I missed Schlusser's and Fraught Outfit's pieces (MenagerieOn the bodily education of women), I heard great responses and I was then blown away by Hayloft (By their own hands), Sisters Grimm (The Sovereign Wife) and The Rabble (Story of O).

The Story of O, especially, was imagistically beautiful, brave, confronting, torturous, erotic and funny, and the Wife was just far too much fun. And it was so great to see some of my favourite actors getting that sort of exposure.

But mostly it was the experience of seeing worlds blur, with many people coming to the Southbank Theatre for the first time and many MTC audiences being exposed to new companies and the amazing work being done on the independent scene.

At the Melbourne Fringe, MKA's Kids Killing Kids left the audiences, and the cast, with more questions than answers. But the fact that it created so much debate about not just the show but the purpose and responsibilities of artists and theatre itself still resonates within many of my circles of discussion. A brave, frantic, violent and reflective piece of theatre about making theatre. 

I combined this night of Fringe with They saw a Thycaline (a compelling piece of work from Sarah Hamilton and Justine Campbell) and Randy's (the purple guy) new show, which made for a very compelling and eclectic night of entertainment that I won't soon forget.

To top of it, at the start of the year I was lucky enough to be repeatedly mesmerised (ushering) by Camille O'Sullivan in The Rape of Lucrece, her solo piece from the RSC Haunting, devastating and ethereal, it left the audience with hearts broken by the beautifully delivered text and soulful singing. And although the text and subject matter were very confronting, especially performed by someone so pregnant, this just added to the beauty.

Other mentions: MTC's The Cherry Orchard, Karin Danger's Hot Box, Mockingbird Theatre's Kiss of theSpiderwoman, and the performances of Bert LaBonte and Zahra Newman in MTC's The Mountaintop.

SM: Firstly, I dare any dictionary to tell me that imagistically is not a brilliant word.

My moment with Soren was his performance in A Death in the Family, especially when his character wasn't speaking. No matter how well you say lines, they fall flat if a character doesn't really listen to others and watch what's going on. He made me like naturalism!

Andree Greenwell
composer, director

ANDREE: Sitting on the floor of the Salamanca wharf to experience Ryoji Ikeda's Datamatics at the fantastic Mona Foma music festival was a standout event of 2012 for me. What a knockout piece: real panelbeating composition – visual and aural! I love this festival in Hobart; you walk around and see artists from all over the country in a few blocks. It was a special time, sitting with artist Sonia Leber from Melbourne, improviser Jim Denley (NSW) and Rodney Berry who has returned to Hobart town after spending years working as a sound artist in Japan. And then there was the Chesworth Ensemble.

Then, at the Sydney Festival, there was an installation of Ikeda's at Carriageworks that my seven-year-old son loved. Top projections onto a massive white floor and I recall around 14 speakers. Great to see his work in such different spaces.

Andree's new show, The Hanging of Jean Lee, is on at Arts House this weekend (7–8 December). Details here.

SM: I'm still hoping to see The Hanging of Jean Lee, but it can only happen if there's an extra day between Saturday and Sunday.

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