27 November 2017

What Melbourne Loved in 2017, part 4

Part 4 is artists to keep a keep eye on.

Jean Tong

Jean Tong selfie.
(Send me pet pics and I will always use them.)

Favourite moments in 2017
So many people are going to say this (as they should, too), but Hannah Gadsby's Nanette tops any performance experience I've had this year. I sat by myself in a packed room and wept for an hour at MICF. Never before and not since have I felt myself so thoroughly torn apart, seen and loved at the same time in a work. I was a wreck for the next week; it's an astonishing work for its truths and the skill with which it presents those truths. It was incredible to see comedy opened up in that way and sweep the floor of... basically any work ever made.

The only other show that came close to being as intelligent, as well-made, and as heart-crushing was Joel Bray's Biladurang at Melbourne Fringe. The performance was gorgeous, and the gentleness with which it opened up the space between audience, performer, city and story was just so absolutely stunning. The extremely limited capacity meant not many people managed to get to it, but fingers crossed it returns because I want everyone to see it.

Looking forward to in 2018
post's Ich Nibber Dibber at Malthouse. They're so funny and irreverent and clever and I love everything they do solo/together.

Not a specific show, but I'm very excited to see what MTC Next Stage program will bring. Benjamin Law, Leah Purcell and Patricia Cornelius all on commission at the same time? Local fave Natesha Somasundaram a resident? It's all too much good at the same time, the industry might break.

SM: Every moment of Jean's Romeo is Not the Only Fruit. This new work has just finished it's Poppyseed Festival run at The Butterfly Club. Can someone please make sure that Jean and this show get some serious development money and another huge season (with the same cast). It's the subversive satirical lesbian musical we need. So many new works disappear; this one has to be helped only bigger stages. And I'm really looking forward to seeing her Hungry Ghosts at MTC next year.

Bradley Storer
Cabaret performer/future DILF

Bradley Storer

Favourite moments in 2017
In terms of sheer shock, one of my favourite moments from theatre this year was the now infamous opening night of Cabaret where during the title number Chelsea Gibb’s microphone cut out and she was forced to leave and re-enter the stage – chaos with the director of the show Gale Edwards yelling instructions from the audience and Paul Capsis forced to vamp until microphone adjustments could be made. Only for Gibb to re-enter and have the microphone start cutting out again! The audience was on its feet roaring and cheering in full support, and it was one of those rare moments where the entire audience was deeply, viscerally connected to a performer valiantly struggling onstage. Gibb not only rose above but knocked it out of the park, and I don’t think I’ll ever hear that song the same way ever again.

I’m sure so many will mention the incredible 24-Decade History of Popular Music with Taylor Mac, and there were too many mind-blowing moments to recount here. Although bursting into unexpected tears after 40 minutes of being forced to wear a blindfold was a highlight, the moment I cling to came in the very last chapter at the edge of the seventies. After we’d survived an orgasmic Cold War between two gigantic phalluses, and celebrated with a joyful and rapturous backroom orgy to Prince’s "Purple Rain", we were called to imagine us all collapsed in post-coital bliss on the floor of the backroom, our exhausted breaths climbing into the air to create the opening strains of Laurie Anderson’s classic "O Superman" – a post-modern jumble of images and confusion, strange voices calling out prophecies in the darkness of planes coming, tender and pained cries to be held by a mechanized and distant mother with "petrochemical arms". A giant spot light seared through the audience as though it was piercing directly into our souls. And I started crying so uncontrollably hard I had the poor unfortunate people around me asking if I was alright.

Looking forward to in 2018
All I’m hoping to see in theatre next year is things that surprise me!

SM: I saw Bradley every night at Taylor Mac and we've talk about it every time we've seen each other since.  One day, we may be able to explain all the tears; if we ever really undersatnd them ourselves.

John Collopy
Lighting designer 

John Collopy. Photo by Stephen Amos

Favourite moments in 2017
This is hard as a lot of them have been shows I have been lucky enough to be working and learning on. I loved The Rabble's Joan even more for being privy to such a fulfilling and exciting creative process, and Little Ones Theatre's Merciless Gods consistently broke me, even though I would have seen it dozens of times. Learning from designers and creatives at the top of their game was a personal highlight and a great privilege.

That said, the standout moment for me was watching Away at Malthouse. When the massive transition began, the Year 12 Drama students around me gasped, turned to each other, and collectively went “faaarrrkkkkk”, and then giggled with pure excitement as the stage was completely transformed (which was, I think, a ‘faaarrrkkkkk-worthy’ moment). I think it’s such a key moment in a creative’s life, to be awed by something; and it was wonderful to know that they had just had that moment.

Looking forward to in 2018
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, at MTC, for its telling of neurodiverse stories (even if the author won’t admit or label it). Melancholia, at Malthouse, because the film is so beautifully cinematic and seeing how that will happen on stage fills me with many feelings, but mostly those events that will happen which haven’t been announced yet, that are urgent responses to other events which haven’t happened yet.

SM: My favourite moment was getting a favourite from someone I didn't know, but it took me a moment realise that I do know John and have seen his lighting at MUST shows and his beautiful and sharp light for The Nose at this year's Fringe.

part 3
part 2
part 1

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