25 May 2015


Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith and everyone who works and has worked with them are bloody marvellous people and remarkable artists.

As the last week has been a kick in to guts to the independent artists and companies that make us want to see, make and be art, F&S want to give something back to the community.

I want George Brandis to be my date for the Glory Box La Revolucion.

I want him to sit in room full of people who know how to think, who know how important it is to always question and confront what we know is wrong, and who know how to celebrate difference.

I want to see his face when Moira blows smoke into it.

I want him to tell me why it isn't the most "excellent" night of his life.


Moira posted this on Facebook today:


Because of a profound lack of support and good visionary leadership. Because of a consistent denial of human rights. Because of a lack of generosity and humanity. We here at Finucane & Smith are going to do some positive role modelling. ALL ARTISTS are invited to our coming season of Glory Box la Revolucion FOR FREE. And if you have been an independant artist for more than 10 years, we'll give you a little charm ( god knows you need one). There are limited tickets per night, and after they are gone, we'll make $25 tickets available for everyone who's missed out. If you are paid for your art, then pay us. If you have friends that earn money bring them. This season isn't funded. But let's share a generous joyful moment. ‪#‎FREEFORARISTS‬. Because we think artists are ace. And necessary. So PM us, comment below, email us at info@moirafinucane.com. Grab a ticket share the joy.

We'll also be raising money for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre during the season for the exact same reason.

Share the joy. Spread the word.

Glory Box La Revolucion
20 August to 13 September 2015
The Melba Spiegeltent
email info@moirafinucane.com for artust tix tickets or buy some here.

24 May 2015

Mini review: Lifeboat

The Amanda & Jess Fan Club
17 May 2015
Facebook event

Amanda Good & Jess Leadbeatter

Amanda Goode and Jess Leadbeatter know that there must have been far more fascinating stories happening on board Titanic than Rose and Jack, so are saving audiences from that dreariness with their new cabaret Lifeboat.

Combining cabaret, sketch, character and double act, Lifeboat is what else was happening on that movie version of the ship, as five character duos, who were never at the Captain's table, come across that necklace.

Created and written by Goode and Leadbeatter, with Luke Hutton (composer and band) and Emily Goode (director), they made the perfect choice to try it out to a small supportive audience over a couple of weeks. This lets them see and feel what really works in the show and gives them time to experiment without risk. If more independent shows started like this instead of diving straight into a full season, there'd be fewer drownings.

Lifeboat needs some development, outside eye advice and financial support, but its original take, genuine and fresh performances, and delightfully outrageous characters have put it well on the way to being seen and loved at future Fringe, Cabaret and/or Comedy festivals.

I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

16 May 2015

Review: One suitcase: four stories

One suitcase: four stories
Barking Spider
14 May 2015
Northcote Town Hall
to 17 May

Linda Catalano. Photo by Sarah Walker

Linda Catalano's family live in and around Northcote and share family meals that are still based on the recipes many of them brought in their hearts from Italy. They brought them at a time when only way to come to the other side of the world was on a three-month sea journey and at time when Australia encouraged and welcomed the arrival of boats of people who wanted to start a new life.

In One suitcase: four stories, Linda welcomes everyone at the back door of the Northcote Town Hall in her red apron and tells stories of her beloved Nonno and Nonna, who were were only apart when her grandfather came to Australia to earn enough money to bring his wife and baby (Linda's mother) to Melbourne, and the stories of her aunts, her zias, who at different times arrived at Port Melbourne with a small suitcase and the hope of love.

Their stories are grand and romantic, full of hand-written letters, disappointment, unexpected happiness and the secret of a perfect sugo, or sauce. Linda's still working on perfecting her own sugo and romantic story.

Linda's audience are now family and friends who sit around shared tables, where the antipasto is waiting and the stories begin.

As part of the Darebin Homemade Food and Wine Festival, our first lesson is that passata is not the sauce, it's just the tomatoes that are locally grown, minced by hand and boiled in bottles in backyards.

Barking Spider let us find the stories and the love in the mundane and familiar, and the family kitchen is like home, even if you didn't grow up in an Italian family in Melbourne's north. It's full of black and white framed wedding photos and treasures and standards that have been in Linda's families' kitchens from the the 1950s to now. And her family are such a part of her kitchen that they become the likes of a block of mozarella, a wilting cucumber, a pastry crimper and an espresso maker.

Naturally, each table helps to make fresh pasta – by hand; no pasta makers or Thermomixes – like Nonna used in every lasagne she made, with no bechamel sauce, the pasta layered so there are no gaps and an egg drizzled in a zig-zag pattern.

And, naturally, it could never be as good as the real thing, so trays of lasagne have already been made for us. There was even made a vegetarian version that I'm going to try myself; just don't tell the zias that I used passata from the shop and dried lasagne sheets.

As the night finishes with ricotta cannoli – they are from the south of Italy where the northern custard variation is never seen – we celebrate a suburb, a city and a country that still welcomes and shares custard, ricotta and every filling, and remember that the stories that really matter are the ones that are so close to us that we sometimes forget that they made us who we are.

09 May 2015

Oedipus Shmoedipus diary

Oedipus Shmoedipus
9 May 2015
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
to 10 May
Saturday's ensemble. Photo by James Brown.

Friday night

On Saturday afternoon, five of Melbourne's favourite arts writers and critics are volunteer perfomers in post's Oedipus Shmoedipus at Arts House Melbourne. Each show needs 25 volunteers. All we know is that we'll be doing something about death. It was performed at Belvoir last year, so some people know what they are in for. I haven't read anything about it and am going in blind. But I trust post and if I can't put up my hand to be a part of an independent feminist theatre show, then what good am I as an arts writer!

Joining me will be Richard Watts from Arts Hub and RRR, Cameron Woodhead from The Age, Rohan Shearn from Australian Arts Review and Tim Byrne from Time Out.


12.35 am. I wish I were already asleep. Not looking forward to morning alarm but looking forward to whatever we're going to be doing. As long as I don't have to dance, I think I'll be fine. I haven't read any reviews and really don't know what to expect.

8.25. Shit, time to leave but I am awake! 

9.13 We're here. And our special guest surprise from Adelaide is Jane Howard from The Guardian.

 (clockwise) Tim, Myron, Cameron, Rohan, Jane, Me, Richard

4.04 pm You know that nightmare where you're backstage about to go on and you have no idea what you have to do? That's pretty much what performing in Oedipus Schmoedipus was like.

Except it was brilliant and I know that I'm not the only one who would love to do it again tonight.

Each performance uses 26 new volunteers as the chorus to an opus about great white plays about death. We're backstage and can only guess what it's all really about. But I get to see it tonight and understand it as more than nervous fear about my shoe breaking or my skirt being tucked into my knickers.

Our volunteers were a mix of performers and non-performers, but experience didn't seem to make the process any less nerve twitching. After a warm up, everyone was given a number and told to look at a screen above the stage that, we're promised, will tell us what to say and what to do. 

We ran though our parts in the show once, but that's it. 

During lunch, we all knew that few of us could remember much.

The first part of the show is post's Zoe Coombs Marr and Mish Grigor killing each other, many times. Sitting in numbered chairs backstage, all we could hear was the reactions of the audience as we watched the backstage crew getting buckets and mops ready to clean up what must have been litres of blood. 

The first time on stage was as a group, which made it safe and relatively easy, but I really am looking forward to seeing it tonight because two hours later and I'm not sure what we actually did.

Minutes later I had my first solo entrance and this was so like that dream. I really had NO IDEA what I had to do. 

I was fine. The screen told me what to say and then told me to leave. 

I wish I had a screen in real life.

From then on, it was so much fun. The very lovely stage managers told when we had to be ready and the screen told us what to do. It was a bit like karaoke, but more Shakespearean and with dance moves.

Oh yes, there was dancing, including a huge group number where we followed a video of Mish in a pink body suit. 

There was also a surprise for us all – something we weren't expecting – and that moment may have been the most genuine and gloriously wonderful one of the night. As there are still two shows to go, I don't want to give it away.

The last two shows are sold out, but I never believe that sold out means sold out. It's an amazing process and if watching Oedipus Schmoedipus is anywhere near as wonderful as being in it, then it's worth turning up and hoping for no-shows.

Zoe Coombs Marr & Mish Grigor. Photo by Ellis Parrinder

9.57 pm

Wow. WOW! It's impossible to know how powerful this show is from being on the stage.

So much of the volunteer performer process was developed to ensure that the vollies have a positive and fun time; which we did. What we're unaware of is just how these group performances are being made into something bigger and cohesive. The glorious clump of ghosts near the end is a reference to a discussion in the beginning, the lines we read are making a script that can't be see when you're in the middle of it.

And the results of the process are remarkable.

While it's a bit scary on that stage, from the audience side everyone looks like they know exactly what they are doing and that they know their part in the big picture. I heard people in the foyer after the show discussing how well rehearsed the group was; I know they wouldn't have believed me if I'd told them the truth.

Then there's Mish and Zoe's opening: it's confronting and shocking and very very bloody, but funny and somehow welcoming. They die and die and die and it's astonishing.

3.32 pm

For volunteers who still want to dance at home. (And perhaps cry a bit.)

Oedipus Schmoedipus is an opus on the great white writers and their words about death (not grief or loss, just the "there rust and let me die" moments), but it's really about the voices that are missing from that opus.

Watching last night, the scene that was a total hoot to perform but pinched a nerve while watching was the costumed dance. The performers are dressed in costumes – named backstage as "tiny pants", "big pants", "Hedda", "skeleton", "cow" etc – from productions of classics. On stage, as everyone dances and spasms, the laughs make it clear that we can't see ourselves anywhere on that stage – it's just people in costumes, which don't especially fit, reflect or suit them, doing what they are being told to do.

For all the delightful, good looking and extremely talented volunteers, this is a work told by young women – women who once might have hoped to play Juliet's nurse, in their 30s – who know they're not the women in these writings (even though they are works that they still love). So they slashed and bled the great white pages to show the silence and demand a voice for those who still struggle to be heard. And they welcome strangers – most of whom don't look or act like actors – onto their stage to let the sounds of those missing voices reach as far as they can.