Monday, 5 October 2009

The Beginning of October

The Beginning of October is an Artistic Wonderland... The Beginning of October shows Melbourne’s Artistic Side... Melbourne is Creative in October... Melbourne’s Creativity Shines in October... When the footy’s gone the Artists come out to play...

This is a funny post; it is two tense; current and past. Edited too many times and too long to read. Just read the bit concerning Hamlet (Thursday) if you wish, or any other titbit or topsy-turvy, or look at the coffee (singular, not plural)...


I don’t visit many Art Galleries, I don’t know why. Perhaps I’m lazy. There is a Salvador Dali exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria titled “Liquid Desire” ( It has been there for three months and is about to close, and I have not yet scene it.

There is a lovely YouTube clip of the show “What’s My Line?” where Dali is a guest and four contestants are blind folded and trying to guess who he is, by asking questions. It is available at: ( if you are interested.

The Age columnist Danny Katz, wrote a rather humorous article about attending the Dali Exhibition with his inner Dali. Available at: (
''Let me show yoo a proper surrealist exhibition right here in your own city.'' And he led me down to Swanston Street. ''Look! It izz neither for cars nor for people. Thiz izz absurdo road.''
- Danny Katz in The Age – September 24, 2009

Anyway I finished work at Bundoora, drove down Plenty Road, caught a traffic report which listed accidents down three of my fastest routes into the city, made quick adjustments and forty minutes later I was in Melbourne, running the kilometre and a half from my car to the NGV. I had about an hour and a half to see the exhibition before I had to leave, but the line of people was so large, I couldn’t risk entering.

But I did buy a Dali book from a happy retail assistant who seemed happy to be talking to a happy person which will make a good Christmas/Birthday present. That is, the book will make a good present, not the retail assistant – I try not to participate in slavery. I assured the retail assistant that the only reason I was happy at 5:30pm was that I didn’t see any reason not to be unhappy and that I was happy at 9:00 as well, but 5:30am can be a different story. The only downside to the day was not seeing Dali, but I will try again!


Jane has been writing, directing, composing, a play about fashion. Erin is in charge of marketing and I know about a third of the cast. I enjoy Jane’s writing and with excitement I head into the city to watch ‘Retail’. ( Having lots of rehearsals for Titus, this is the only day I can make it, and will be joined by Erin, Lynne and possibly the Tamoras. Retail’s tagline is: “The cuntsomer is always right”

The story is set in a street with two shops, one that sells high quality suits and one that sells wedding dresses. An empty mirror frame faces part of the audience which gives you a good view of the action. You sat in rows looking over the performance space and past that windows looking out over the QV square where further action was performed, lines delivered through radio mics.

Jane’s play was amazing. The two hours zoomed by, your emotions and feelings going out to Jennifer, Fleur and Bernadette whilst the play builds up to a dramatic surreal interpretive dance scene. Not everything is resolved, and why should everything get resolved, life doesn’t get resolved. But a humorous epilogue with Jen made the audience content and honoured to see Jane’s story.

TW played Mark and Young Man and did a superb job. TW is a very very pleasant, poetical, intelligent person to talk to and we said “going to the theatre is healing” which is something I tend to forget. I really respect and honour TW’s point of view, he doesn’t dismiss anything as not being worthwhile, his smallest acting parts are just as important as others including listing in his bio “man dressed as poodle in The Stupid Play”. The cliché/saying that belongs here is “there are no small parts, only small actors” sometimes attributed to Milan Kundera and sometimes attributed to Konstantin Stanislavsky. I wish I could have caught up with E2 as well.

It is as fun being Firs in “The Cherry Orchard” as Bad Bart in “How the West was Warped”. I feel with acting, you see your part, no matter what size, as a bit that is essential, that the other parts play off and are made ‘richer’ because of you. Otherwise why would the writer have created your character? Creating something where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Damn clichés, I can’t avoid them.

You feel special when you leave when the director, the actors and the marketer all thank you for coming. And while I went to support them, I left feeling supported (and happy in me).

(hot chocolate at Max Brenner's in QV, because someone arrived a little bit early)


I am not needed at rehearsals for Titus Andronicus. I wonder if Lynne has found another actor to do my part? It would have to be someone tall to fit into the costumes… What a piece of work is man… I’ve lost my Billy Book, and I’m in the middle of Hamlet, which is slightly annoying.

I’ve booked a ticket to see “The Hamlet Apocalypse” ( The play is about a group of actors who are staging Hamlet on the eve of the apocalypse. But to go or not to go that is the question. It can sometimes feel weird, very weird when you go to a play on your own. Especially in such an intimate space as La Mama. And I have been very very tired, To sleep: perchance to dream.

Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
“I’ll do a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use,
2B or not 2B?”
- Spike Milligan

I went. And I’m very glad that I went and I’m glad that I’m re-reading Hamlet as it made it easier to tell when the actors were being ‘people’ and when they were performing Hamlet. The performance of Hamlet was brilliant, told within an hour, with six actors.

M - Hamlet
F - Queen Gertrude
M - King Claudius
F - Polonius Laertes
M - Ghost of King Hamlet
F - Ophelia

There was no Rosencrantz and Guildenstern but they were not needed. But they have their own play so I am sure that they wouldn’t have minded missing out.
“Heads” - Tom Stoppard (1966)

It was amazing to see the character’s reaction to the upcoming apocalypse and also their reaction to each other’s reactions “I love you” “that’s not your line” “do the scene properly” “restart”.
The characters breaking in and out of their Hamlet personalities sometimes overflowed, sometimes juxtaposes, sometimes sat alongside, or complemented, or fought against the story of the play.

It was excellent how the Ghost of King Hamlet was present throughout the play, when in Hamlet he is only in small bits throughout. And he was ‘killed’ in the most beautiful manner. He stood in front of the LaMama stair and his brother Claudius standing half way up the stair gently poured sand onto his head. The sand covered him, giving him an unearthly look, and further grains of sand refracted off his head and spiralled around him, catching the light, like fairy dust, and slowly spiralled to the ground.

"My Lord, I have Remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to redeliver.
I pray you now, receive them"

Early in the play, Ophelia tries to give Hamlet’s love letters back to him which Hamlet refuses to take back. Ophelia sits down and gently folds and turns and twists the papers into flowers, wherefore she smells them and carefully places them around the stage saying:

“There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts … There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you …”
Ophelia - (Act IV Scene V)

She does this, ignoring everything on the stage, dancing through the other scenes, dancing through the dialogue. And as she is walking she is so smoothly picked up by the ghost of the King and is gently, smoothly, spun around until they are both calmly lying on the flour signifying her descent into madness and her death.

It was so beautiful. And there was such beautiful and magnificent imagery and ideas and execution throughout. My words can not do the play justice.

(Melbourne Exhibition Building - when walking home)

(hot chocolate in borders, because someone arrived too early - is there a theme here?)


Julian, Nell and I decided to head off to see Matt and Richard in “The List Operators for Kids”. ( This is a show only for kids, however as we generally act our shoe size and not our age, we should have fun. If they don’t let us in, we will kidnap someone… Ewan and Elspeth, are you busy… If Matt or Richard are in a play near you, go and see it – or else… “or else what?”… Or else you will miss out on an entertaining evening (or afternoon).

For my Yarrawongian and Canberrian friends, “The List Operators” make up lists, sometimes with and sometimes without audience participation and have fun doing so. Here is a list that Richard and Matt prepared earlier:

Eight Lesser Known Roald Dahl Books.
1. James and The Medium Sized Peach
2. The Whiches (which which is which?)
3. The MCG
4. Charlie and The Potato Factory
5. The Twitters
6. Bouye
7. Danny Champion of Dingley!
8. George's Perscription Medicine

The show was very good! And we didn’t need to kidnap anyone. We three adults sat at the back and laughed so very hard, I nearly wet myself. “How do you wake Lady Gaga? Poke her face”. “All Nans are ninjas”. I picked up one or two references to Lynne’s Kid’s Shows.

J, N, E and I had Thai for lunch at Lemon something. Lemon Bistro it ended up being called. It was beautiful food and great conversations. I recommend it. Lemon Bistro is on the North side of Little Bourke Street between Swanston and Russel.


"And you ask me why I love her
Through wars, death and despair
She is the constant, we who don't care
And you wonder will I leave her - but how?
I cross over borders but I'm still there now"
- Anthem from Chess, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson

Julian and I have been singing Anthem from Chess at nearly every rehearsal. I played clarinet in the Healesville town band, and the music is so full of emotion it is beautiful. When I sing it, and play it, I am feeling the notes, the music, swelling up, crescendo-ing, into a huge climax of love and musicality.


“I’ll find a day to massacre them all, and raze their faction and their family, the cruel father, and his traitorous sons, to whom I sued for my dear son’s life; And make them know what ‘tis to let a queen kneel in the streets and beg for grace in vain.”
- Tamora in Titus Andronicus (Act I, Scene I)

With the director busy with other scenes for hours on end, we run through the lines (and actions) once or twice and then stop, and go off track. I would be happy to go through them a thousand times but it seems to me that the others aren’t as fanatical. Home at midnight. Dead!


Missed it. Slept and slept and slept. Read a book about a goblin and tin cans and tyrants. It had a lot of references to Jane Austen and William Shakespeare.


Today is a special day; today there are five time zones in Australia. Rehearsals are due to start at:

11:00 Melbourne Time (Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time) NSW, VIC and TAS
10:30 South Australia (ACDT)
10:00 Queensland (AEST)
9:30 Northern Territory (ACST)
8:00 Western Australia (AWST)


We started a bit slow and unfortunately on of the Tamoras fainted but we did a run starting at 7:00ish which went well. Which was a huge relief! Titus has a huge role and needs to fix up three little bits and other people have some trouble with other difficult bits, but opening night should be good. I am feeling more and more confident.

For one scene I read Lucius’s lines, which included: “But who comes here with this lusty goth” (Act V, Scene I). I wonder if anyone will notice that it is not one of Shakespeare’s original lines.

Victoria, Nell and I went to get ice-cream and toasted summer. Chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch, yum.

Spring has sprung, the grass was wiz,
I wonder where the birdies iz?
People say the bird is on the wing,
But that’s absurd
Because the wing of cause is on the bird

Afterwards we went to the Groovy Train where I had a coffee. And we found an interesting thing about the play: Chiron and Demetrius change costumes and accents in each of the seven scenes that they are in. Five actresses play Tamora and change costumes, including hats in every scene. Five actresses play Lavinia who also change costumes in every scene. While Nell plays five characters without changing costumes or accent – We enjoy messing with the audience’s mind.

We were talking and something was said which made me think that EK doesn’t hate my guts, which is good as EK is great person. EK said something a while ago which I obviously took the wrong way (and had a good cry about it), but all seems fine now, which is a huge relief.

(Mitch's elbow)


Theatre and songs, remind me of other theatre and songs. Driving home listening to Monty Python and the song “sit on my face and tell me that you love me” came on the CD, which these days always makes me smile as when I did a small monologue there were a number of actors who I had previously seen perform “Richard the Third”, which was the most amazing Shakespeare that I have seen. And we all sang “sit on my face” together.

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