REVIEW: The Audience Is Present by Belinda Anderson-Hunt

On the Friday the 14th of October ‘The Audience is Present’ a new work by performance artist Belinda Anderson-Hunt was presented as part of Verge festival at the Cellar Theatre. In ‘The Artist is Present’, Marina Abramović’s game changing work of performance art, Abramović invited spectators to sit opposite her for 5 minutes or less with her full attention and direct eye contact, leaving them to sit comfortably or uncomfortably in her gaze.

Similarly in Anderson-Hunt’s work ‘The Audience Is Present’ the audience is shifted from their position as safe spectator and left feeling exposed. When I arrive at the Cellar Theatre we are instructed to turn off our phones and led into a darkened space. There Anderson-Hunt performs a series of stretches. Then one by one she takes spectators by hand and leads them into a second space with two seating banks opposite to each other. Anderson-Hunt leads each person to a seat one by one and then leaves.

uno

The spectators are left for 30 minutes and the results are intriguing. Each audience member is left to sit uncomfortably in each others presence. Some refrain from direct eye contact, preferring to stare directly at their shoes. The eyes of a whole seating bank is intrusive, some audience members embrace the eye contact with welcome while other eyes dart away from the intimacy. The duration of the work is certainly what made it so powerful, as noone is quite sure how long the piece will go for. Without phones, without distractions and without any indicator of time, there is nothing left to distract us but the fact that we are in presence of other people. How often are we left to socialise without any of the social cruxes we cling to: a drink, a joke, polite banter, a phone?

A comfortable silence, is often thought of as something that can only be achieved with a true friend. Surrounded by this wall of strangers, constrained to silence, I felt that we were forced into such a friendship. No talking, no excuses, no laughing, the audience was only able to drink each other in. The long duration led, me at least, to take in every detail of the audience, to construct their personalities by only what I could see. We so often stalk each other online. Hours are spent staring at someones pictures, making guesses at who they truly are, but in civilised society we are never allowed to just stare, to purely take someone in without fear of being labeled a creep.

By the end of the performance I felt like I knew a little about each person; the one who adverts their gaze; the one who smiles; the performer; the one who shifts in their skin. A study conducted in 1989 by Kellerman, Lewis, and Laird posited that with enough direct eye contact anyone can fall in love. It was this strange thought that lingered in my mind, as I walked out of the performance and heard these people’s voices for the first time. The experience was one of isolation and intimacy, and one I was glad to have caught.

I’m excited to see what Belinda Anderson-Hunt comes up with next.

Advertisements

Luke Lloyd Alienoid @ ATYP

Luke Llyod Alienoid

Luke Llyod isn’t like other boys at school but luckily he knows exactly why he doesn’t fit in: he’s half alien. Being half alien comes with many benefits: he can talk to animals and can become invisible. But when the school ‘fathers vs students game’ comes up, the school bully insists on meeting Llyod’s father. However, contacting aliens is never easy.

Luke Llyod is a great twist on classic story of a boy who is struggling to fit in. While the story is definitely geared to younger audiences, it’s a production that anyone can take something away from. The acting is great, especially from such a young cast and stand out performances are made by the Bully and Luke Llyod. The production uses three projectors that are seamlessly integrated, for a production that feels entirely modern in both themes and technology. I recommend it.

Tickets
Full: $20
Earlybird tickets: $15

Times
Wed-Sat 7:00pm
Sun: 5:00pm
Matinee: Wed and Fri 11:30am

Bookings
atyp.com.au or 02 9270 2400

Venue
ATYP Studio 1 – The Whair
Pier 4/5 Hickson Road

‘Tiny Furniture’ By Lena Dunham

After I reviewed Lena Dunham’s first film ‘Creative Nonfiction‘ (2009), I knew I wanted to review Lena Dunham’s break out film ‘Tiny Furniture’ (2010). It has been said that the high praise received for ‘Tiny Furniture’, led the Creative Writing graduate to receive the notoriety needed to grab the attention of HBO (producer of GIRLS). The film premiered at South by Southwest, which led to it being awarded Best Narrative Feature.

The bildungsroman follows twenty-two-year-old Aura during her ‘post graduate delirium’. Aura returns after studying film studies at a Midwest liberal arts college to her New York family home.

The film shows considerable growth from ‘Creative Nonfiction’, released only one year earlier. Many similarities, as with lots of Dunham’s work, arise. Again Dunham includes a great deal of nudity, a central character who is (we can only assume) similar to Dunham, a focus on sexual relationships and ‘coming of age’ themes. Many of these factors are present in  ‘GIRLS’, ‘Tiny Furniture’ and ‘Creative Nonfiction’.

‘Tiny Furniture’ illustrates considerable finesse in the cinematography. No longer are we subjected to bad lighting and the wavy hand held camera of ‘Creative Nonfiction’. The shots are often wide and there is impressive framing of interior space. Scenes within Aura’s slick TriBeCa apartment are powerful. The costuming emphasizes Auras black sheep status within her household. The mis-en-scene places Aura, often shown without pants and with unkempt hair, against a slick, white, modernist apartment. This juxtaposition of clean and derelict, demonstrates how Aura is seen in the household; as disruption of order and bringer of chaos to an otherwise idyllic household.

Tiny Furniture is filmed in a mumble core style. Dunham often chooses to cast from her inner circle and use non-actors. Within this film it definitely works. There are strong performances made by both Aura’s sister and mother, played by Dunham’s real life sister (Grace Dunham) and mother (Laurie Simmons). The scenes between the family are natural and organic. Their lack of acting training is unnoticeable, which is either a testament to their innate acting abilities or Dunham’s directing prowess. The ability to get great, natural performances out of non-actors is no feat to be laughed at. Additionally, the physical resemblance of both Grace Dunham and Laurie Dunham (they are both tall, thin and clean) in comparison to Aura further reifies Aura’s otherness in the family context.

Alex Karpovsky and Jemima Kirke from GIRLS are featured in the film. Karpovsky (Ray Ploshansky in GIRLS) plays Jed, a YouTube celebrity called the ‘Nietzchian Cowboy’ who stays with Aura. Jemima Kirke (Jessa from GIRLS) plays Charlotte, plays Aura’s friend since birth. Charlotte is a very similar character and displays very similar mannerisms to Jessa. Interestingly however Charlotte is portrayed as an annoying overbearingly friend, while Jessa is more of an aloof flaneur.

In terms of storytelling, I feel what really ties the movie together thematically is Dunham’s discovery and reading of her mothers diaries, written at the same age. It is through these diaries that we see that no matter what generation, the twenties are somewhat lost, meaningless and yet meaningful discovery years.

The films ending is poignant and solidifies an otherwise character driven narrative. Aura and her mother lie in her mother’s bed, a contested space that symbolizes her mothers approval.

Aura recants the tale of how she has earlier had unprotected sex with a man in a pipe on the street. Aura’s mother shows concern about her lifestyle choices. Aura questions her mother about the people who she wrote about in her diaries. The mother, who has often been shown as harsh and unsympathetic to Auras choices, hardly remembers them but when provoked begins to tell of strange encounters with sometimes toxic friends.

What I suppose I’m most attracted to in Dunham’s work is her complete lack of vanity in her storytelling. Every character is both glamourized and reduced to there most annoying trivial form. Although her characters are clearly self-obsessed, there self-obsession isn’t exaggerated and they make no apologies for it. What comes through in all Dunham’s films is a lively mind and a great creative capacity.

Tiny Furniture is a film that is well worth a watch.

Have you seen Tiny Furniture? What did you think? How do you see it in the larger context of her other work?

Australian Directors Guild Awards

On Friday the 2nd of May the Australian Directors Guild Awards were celebrated at the Powerhouse Museum. The black tie event is held annually to honour the exceptional work of Australian directors. The awards were hosted by writer and comedian Claire Hooper.

IMG_4411

Australian Directors Guild Awards

Best Direction in a Music Video went to David Barker for Nightingale Floor. The music video, featuring Kate Miller-Heidke, was created to bring attention to the destruction of orangutan habitats due to Palm Oil.

Best Direction in a Student Film went to Melissa Anastasi’s By This River.

Best Direction in a TV Comedy went to Mathew Saville for his episode ‘Portuguese Custard Tarts’ in series 1 of Please Like Me.

Best Direction in a TV Mini Series went to Khoa Do for Episode 4 of Better Man. 

Best Direction in a TV Drama Series was won by Rachel Perkins for her work in Series 2, Episode 2, ‘Starting Over’ in Redfern Now.

Daniel Nettheim took home the Esben Storm Award for Best Direction in a Children’s TV Program for his direction in Dance Academy, Series 3, Episode 12, ‘A Perfect Storm’.

Best Direction in a Documentary (Stand Alone) went to Corrie Chen for her direction in Suicide and Me. 

Best Direction in a Telemovie went to Rowan Woods for his work in The Broken Shore. 

Nick Robinson won the Best Direction in a Documentary Series for his work on Kakadu, Episode 4.

Best Direction in a Documentary Feature went to Sophia Turkiewicz for Once My Mother. 

Best Direction in a Feature Film went to Kim Mordaunt for his work in The Rocket. 

 

BITE ME

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 1.19.06 PM

My monologue ‘Facon’ is being performed in an amazing show called ‘Bite Me’. There are only four more chances for you to see it! Make sure you get down to Australian Theatre for Young People before it’s gone forever!

Check out some of the great reviews for Bite Me:

…”this is a production that fascinates and impresses. It is thoroughly original.” Suzy Goes See

…”is a delightful picaresque performance centring on food.” Australian Stage

…”a flowing, varied and physically interesting showcase for the Australian Theatre for Young People’s fourth instalment of its Voices Project. It is the best to date.” Jason Blake, The Sydney Morning Herald

…”Bite Me brings quite a lot to the table.” Lloyd Bradford-Sykes, The Daily Review

It’s a great show that has a huge team of creatives behind it. Support Australian writing and young people in theatre!

To buy tickets just click here.

Work-Shop – Introduction to Street Art

IMG_3858 - Version 2

Street Art classes held at Work-Shop in Chippendale

Straight off the bat Work-Shop is a creative space that intrigues. Snuggled between the Abercrombie and the ultra modern Central Park, the Chippendale located workshop appears like a modern day curiosity shop, with eclectic mix of cacti, motorbikes and guitars on display.

Work-Shop's snappily designed logo.

Work-Shop’s snappily designed logo.

The brain child of Matt Branagan and Chester Garcia, Work-Shop hopes to engage the community in a range of new skills. The concept fills a niche demand, providing whimsical, fun and affordable lessons in life skills and alternative art.

Classes on offer refuse to be predictable, with a smorgasbord of ways to get ya’ quirk on. The workshops change throughout the year and have been determined organically with close collaboration with local artists. Past classes include flirting workshops, crotchet lessons and terrarium-making.

I attended the ‘Introduction to Street Art’ class. The availability of VB stubbies sets the night in a casual tone. We begin with an introductory talk with street artist, and our instructor for the night, Sidney Tapia. Sidney explains how often the illegal nature of street art leads many to under-develop their style, since at any minute they might have to bolt. Sidney is the owner and director of label Crown St, a skateboarder, a graffiti artist, and a damn fascinating man.

IMG_3900

The canvas.

Rough sketches and ideas are mapped out in the main space, then we head to the back garden. The noise and banter of the Abercrombie over flows into the space, giving the class an easy-going buzz. We find our metre of canvas and begin to spray. 

It’s a bit of a high to spray paint legally, like smoking weed in Amsterdam you feel like you’re going to get in trouble at any minute and just can’t quite come to terms with the normalcy. Sid talks to each participant personally and gives them notes on the finer touches of spray painting; how to get thin lines, how to add depth.

IMG_3892

Learning the finer techniques of street art.

IMG_3875

A participant getting a handle of the can.

IMG_3900 - Version 2

Sidney Tapia, our instructor for the night, giving some advice.

IMG_3896 - Version 2

Tomfoolery.

After swapping cans, discussing each others works, and a little tomfoolery, Sid brings the class together. He encourages all to find spaces to spray paint legally in Sydney and continue the craft.

‘Introduction to Street Art’ would be perfect present for the badass that’s always been afraid to get out the spray paint and go for it. The crowd was university student types and young professionals, but I think any demographic would find it a thrill. I would recommend it as a Christmas present for someone you can’t quite find something for, or for an off-beat date option. Gift certificates are available for those who like to give ‘experiences’, and at the price range offered (this class was $35), I think it’s a steal.

IMG_3902

Getting tips on where to spray paint legally.

For more information about the classes on offer at Work-Shop, check out their website, add them on facebook or follow them on twitter.

Word Travels Festival – Push – Rocks Walk – Stories

Madelaine Lucas performing.

Madelaine Lucas performing.

Push – Rocks Walk – Stories was held on the 12th and 13th of October as part of the Word Travels Festival. The tour, presented by Penguin Plays Rough, involved audience members being led throughout The Rocks to find writers hiding in nooks and crannies, ready with words.

A medley of literary delights were on offer with readings made by Patrick Lenton, Cait Harris, Phil Spencer and Madelaine Lucas. First to be discovered on my guided tour was actor Libby Ahearn who performed a whimsical parody of Sydney socialites, written by Cait Harris.

After a short walk through the markets, it was Phil Spencer who entertained us next with the tale of his first, last and only shift working in a bar in The Rocks.

After a walk through a windy tunnel we were given the privilege of seeing Madelaine Lucas perform. Accompanied by soft mesmeric guitar, Lucas spoke in a breathy voice of heartbreak and poetic memory, the wind only heightening the experience.

To round off the tour, Patrick Lenton told us a humorous tale of survival in Australia. The entire event was exciting and unique. The readings were filled with distinctly Australian voices, and exposed the public to the literary talent of a new generation of writers.