What Can I Say?
The Press has said it all. It was so great to run into an-ex theatrical mentor the other night outside The Maj. I should have known it being a Cam Mac production you would be in town Robbo, but since being away from the ABC mic I am out of touch. You were correct dear man, I did adore the production despite the cycnic in me thinking it would be just for families with kids.
The cycnic arrived looking at the House Full signs and seeing the usually under-dressed theatre goers and I caught myself wishing for the days when the glitter and glamour crossed the footlights into the stalls also. By house lights down I was ready to kill 50% of audience. If there was one more flash bulb go off or mobile phone camera snapping the scrim with logo... I would have screamed! Why do these people NOT READ the large signs above the door... and who the bloody hell are they to think that it applies to EVERYONE OTHER THAN THEM!!
I'll bet they don't sit at home staking digital pics of the movie title screens on Foxtel (but I'll bet they are downloading illegal copies on their pcs). So much for the recognition that the live arts are special and performers, producers and technical crews should have their IP honoured!
Don't even get me started on that one....
Thank you anyway dearest Michael Tyack for finally raising the Baton after the interminable wait for the Grand Circle. When the show began I felt that it really was all a bit 1960s in staging but I soon got over those reservations and realised that with so many scenes the good old revolving house and trucks would be the easiest techniques to use. So whereas the design was practical and functional at first, the cast was STELLAR.
How easy it is to have horrid little stage darlings when children play leads but these kids were great. Well directed, sang and danced proficiently and were right into character (no sugray sweetness there, nore over-the-top Von Trapp nastiness!).
Verity Hunt-Ballard proves again that WAAPA is this Country'e Julliard for the Music Theatre. Her voice pure and pitch perfect. She is also beautiful on stage but to my surprise I was blown away by (and still am) Matt Lee.
All I know is that he is a judge on Australia's Got Talent. Do not watch it, do not read about it or him... so I missed his credentials until I got home and read the program. Dein Perry's Tap Dogs, worked with David Atkins, was in Bootmen etc etc. This guy is the goods as a dancer but WAIT THERE'S MORE. HE HAS THE WHOLE SET OF STEAK KNIVES!
The Dick Van Dyck performance as Bert is embarassingly bad in comparison. This boy can sign and act... and his dancing. Well for those of us who adored Wayne Scott Kermond in Singing in the Rain and a young bloke called Todd McKenny in Song and Dance... well this guy is just soooo strong... tapping upside down on the proscenium arch... you gotta be kidding!
And as for the appaling flying in Witches of Eastwick... forget it. The freed Lark is a very special moment as is the kite flying. I will not even compare the chandelier from Phantom to Poppin's exit... OMG technology has come so far in so few years. As expected the audience began screaming in delight... and rightly so.
Directorially the production ticked all the boxes. Every nuance was received by the audience as it was designed, illiciting the applause, ovations and general excitement only a live audience can add.
Choreographically, how could I have expected any less than perfection when someone like Mathew Bourne has his head... Supacalifragilisticexpialicious.... particularly in that ensemble work, and the very special Step in Time.
The traditional ballet form used for the staues in the Park was at once a throw back to earlier music theatre and very apt for a modern staging also.
I loved seeing the magnificent Phillip Quast on a Melbourne stage and am grateful that both he and Marina Prior have been given new songs... but they are a tad less than spectacular... and in each instance function to add to the book. Oh well, not everybody can have show stoppers can they Judi Connelli?
My fondest memories of many of these leads are not in the big name productions that the Publicists and Marketing people are highlighting in the program bios. Whilst Phil's Javert is one of the greatest stage performances of all times, my particular favourite is on the Comedy stage as Candide... and Judi Connelli... not the Opera stages of the State Theatre as Katisha but in her cabaret shows, particularly Pack of Women.
As for Marina... her Cosette is perhaps her best (original Sydney season)... and what a production that was. (She was also magnificent and definitive as Christine opposite Anthony Warlow in Phantom). I am still thrilled that I was privileged enough to see the Sydney opening night of Les Mis.... I can never thank you enough Mark Gogol!
Debra Byrne... how to describe her Fantine alongside Normie Rowe's Valjean... amazing. And her performance as Grizabella was worth sitting through the whole production of Cats to witness... as you can guess I am not a huge fan.
This brings me to the point of this blog. There are very special moments of magic for creative artists. Debra Byrne wove such a moment last Friday night. Her Feed the Birds was just perfect... and that is something I have never said as a professional reviewer ... not ever. My dear friend, and many regular theatre-goers always have a go at performers who they perceive to be tall poppies. One such comment on Friday was "at least I hope she does all the shows this time".... well I am sorry I do not think that matters... what makes Debbie the magnificent performer is her fragility. Whilst we can all stand and admire the technicians and leading ladies such as Marina... it is the destructive divas that make the theatre what it is.
We thrill to watch the Debra Byrnes of this world perform. It is like holding our breath as a titerope walker traverses the wire. We know they are trained and have the skill to do it... but it is the fear they might just fall that brings the frisom of excitement and expectation.
That is my response to the performances of Debra Bryne. She commands the stage and holds the audience spellbound, breathing only as she does, and listening so intently. We live the moment with her. This she did again on Friday night... held the Maj audience silent whilst she communicated the pathos. What a star turn. I am privileged to have seen her... again.
These are the things that made Poppins special. Yes there is all the Cam Mac glitz and extravagance but it is the special ensemble moments and great performances that lift a musical to its highest art form. This is what this Aussie Poppins offers Melbournians. Maybe this was not there in the Broadway production... a respected friend of mine told me he was a tad underwhelmed... I doubt he would say the same of this one. (Do you JMH?)
Lastly, in case anyone reads this who knows him... give my love to Jack Webster. Still treading the boards... and tapping!! How long now Jack... over 30 years I would have thought between gigs at the Maj?You too are inspirational... and to think... dear old Peter Casey is with the Production Company too.... where are the other ex-Ireners? Many would be working I'll bet.
Thank you Betty Pounder for this training and legacy... and thank you Robbo. Long may you reign at CAM MAC Australia!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
It is so great to drive across the Mornington Peninsula countryside. Everywhere one looks the grassland is emerald green and glistening with dew. It is so tranquil and pleasant. The air is clean and crisp on my face. I adore looking through the morning fog to the rising sun casting a pink hue behind the low level moisture. Behind me over the Southern tip of the land the full moon is setting and stars are slowly fading from view. It is only 6.30am but the day is beginning down here. There are cars on the road headlights switched on, beginning the commute to work. Those City dwellers are not as privileged as I am living down here. Everywhere I look I see beauty. The sea is a greyed hue as the sky begins to show hints of the blue to come later in the morning. The car radio blares the Melbourne morning train cancellations and the car crashes on the freeways and main arterial roads to the City. I listen waiting to hear of the occasionally necessary diversion to my usual route to Lilydale. Eastlink is rarely a disappointment, "25 minutes in each direction" is the report. Pity that Frankston is 45 minutes away from the Toll Road but I really wouldn't swap this beauty for the traffic hell that is the 40 minute trip from Ringwood to Lilydale out the annoying Maroondah Highway. What about this Road is a highway.... complete with traffic lights , suburban street turn offs and pedestrian crossings every 200 metres?
It is horrid. Who are all these people living out here? Where are they going to? Where do they work? They can't all work in schools and shops in the outer East surely? And why don't kids ride bikes or catch buses to school these days? I really hate all the four-wheel drives ferrying dear little ones to and from schools. I always become distressed as I reflect on the seeming shallowness of suburban life... I want to sing "Is that all there is?".
Do these people know passion?
I get to work and the same theme repeats in my head all day long. The women and men talking about and living through their children's lives.The sheer repetition of working then heading 'home' to the domestic drudge. A night out is often at the 'local pub'... OMG... how can they consider this overpriced badly cooked counter meals and mass-produced mediocre wines, a night out?
Passion... where is it? Not for the food (on either side... patron or cooks), not for the wines... it is alcohol pure and simple... not a product of a skilled craftsperson or artisan. The Pub itself, reaking of stale beer, decorated with thread-bare carpet, poor colour schemes and horrid garish Poker Machines commanding the robots at their stools pouring coins and notes in as impelled by the jangly tinny muzac and flashing lights. Think Roy Orbison... "Step Up and Play the Machines Seem to Say"... but this has no romance of the old Penny Arcades. This is commerce and revenue generation at its purest and stripped back. How is this an enjoyable or pleasant experience?
Turn off your cynicism, turn off your brain, become a zombie... react to the lights... swig on the bad wine and then drive home spouting what a great night out was had. Please if this is my future, let me die now. Where is the beauty? Not here. Not for me.
Get me back to my bay and mountains, the wattle and daffodils, the fog and mists, foghorns of the pilot boats and the waking birdsong.
Why am I doing this to myself? What do I actually want from life? Is the PhD it? Is the outer suburban University a place I want to be? Are these staff members the people I want in my life in five or ten years time? My fear is that the answer to all these questions is a big fat "NO"...
So what now CAC?
Would changing or pulling out be self-sabotage?
Or would it be salvation?
Saturday, July 24, 2010
What is it about me?
I know I suffer BMD but that can't be the ONLY reason my daily existence is such an emotional roller coaster. I seem to care TOO MUCH about everything ALL THE TIME.
Just let's examine my movement on the moo- scales over the past 48 hours. It would look visually, like a heart monitor screen whilst the heart is undergoing shocks from defibrillation! Up, down, massive ups, massive plummets and then dead straight.... before beginning the patterns again.
I was very happy with getting down to the business of writing my Exegesis finally. I have stopped procrastinating and am no longer going back to the safety net of 're-reading articles or book chapters'. I have closed the books and am getting out of my head everything that has stuck in the deep recesses of my brain over the last forty months. The Dr Rowena Wallace method of focused writing seems to be just what I need at this moment.
It seems productive and a step in the right direction; forward for a change. I feel that I have actually worked (intellectually) over this period and despite the obvious structural and stylistic omissions at this stage in the draft it is a reasonably strong base to work on in the coming days.
I have also been jotting journal notes on plot additions and deletions for my artefact and am really looking forward to giving this 100% of my attention in the next few weeks.
BUT.... (here comes the but...)
Everytime I begin to feel under control and even healthy... some voice from somewhere (outside my head) comes along to destabilise me.
My supervisor implied last Thursday that when I sat a seat apart from her on the couch I was trying to avoid her. Wrong!
I'm the bloody one who flew home from my holiday in Sydney just to catch up for a meeting about how stuck I actually was. She was the one too busy to fit me into her busy schedule... after all she needed to leave at a certain hour to ensure she could meet her family/mothering responsibilities. What about mine? Let alone the issue of how much I spent to fly down and return back again to Sydney! My money of course, never University funds.
She also had a go at me for wanting to attend an annual Conference where most of my networking occurs and where I just might have a hope of getting some respect from a future employer. This University Which Shall Not be Named...(my alma mater) will not touch me with a proverbial barge pole now that I have seen the insecurities and hidden agendas at play, keeping it disfunctional (at least at my home Campus).
My future at age 54 hangs on this stuff.
I am not privileged enough to have had a husband and supportive family to ensure that I did not need twenty years out of my academic career and subsistence on Welfare.
These were not bad choices or things I regret... just how the cards fell.
I am only pissed off NOW when people refuse to understand or empathise and put their own emotional and career needs first AT MY EXPENSE.
Hence I am angry and this takes so much energy.
I pay a heavy price for this anger. I turn the emotion inside as I cannot vent (apart from here days later), and I end up crying and self-sabotaging my academic (and health) progress.
Need to regain balance and stability... again.
To take my mind off things, I decide that I need to think of someone other than myself to gain some perspective.
So in a very positive frame of mind I take myself off to important academic "Show Cause" (for continuning to be enrolled in a Course of study) Hearings as the Student Consultative Network representative at a different Campus in a different Discipline... see how protective of myself I can actually be?
This was a great learning experience and opportunity to read character... that of the fellow academic panel members and the students presenting.
Without breaching any confidences or professional ethics let's just say that when faced with cultural pressures unknown to us Aussie-born students: wars, political instability in homelands, extreme poverty, employment victimisation, workplace inflexibility, illness and homeless insecurity... my little issues seem like proverbial mole hills.
It was a humbling experience. And a timely one wit a reminder that I need to re-focus and regroup emotionally.
Next, I have to reach out for some beauty somewhere; this time around the leafy Acland Street and bright shiny wet streets of St Kilda and her wintry sea.
Then, up again to normal scale... move on and write again. Good stuff....
Only to be brought crashing down again by a 'friend'/co-scholar. A return of a missed phone call sees me being asked to 'fix' some computer program issues THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE ARISEN if this bloody person had listened in the training classes or re-read the notes. Nor would it be my problem if he had run the expert trainer herself PRIOR TO NOW....
...Why would anyone at this stage of a PhD completion have moved the main document several times, onto several machines and hard drives... I can understand having backups ... but changing the machine that holds the ACTUAL document and attached library files... geee how dumb?
The complete lack of understanding of I.T. by MOST academics is staggering. Why do they assume any computer or program can fix EBEKAC? (error between keyboard and chair!)
Jesus... how is this a problem needing MY TIME or energy?
Our scheduled meeting had been about agreeing on a final draft of a journal article (co-written, then re-written by me to meet referees concerns... which academically were quite startling in their response.... a complete lack of research rigour on the part of my co-author stating blatant factual errors)... not a joint let's problem solve YOUR PhD issues session. This self-centeredness is staggering... and INSULTING to me! This from the PhD candidate of the Year!!!
Now this colleague needs to be sure his second journal article flows and doesn't regurgitate this joint paper. (I too have a paper for final submission also).... yet the next scheduled meeting is to FIX COMPUTER PROGRAM ISSUES.... I think not!
And to fix his citation issues when these could be researched on our own library website or in the Australian Government Publication Stytle Guide 2010.... why me? I guess I am easier to blame when things go wrong than to actually do the blooody work oneself. NO WAY JOSE. Been there had that just last September/October with same individual, and hospitalised again in February by same issues with a trusted superior/employer and male PhD scholar...
Patterns repeating. Can I be strong and do/say what I must?
I am feeling used and abused again... Remember friendly fire?
So again what was to be a really productive writing day has dissintegrated over night with me getting angry, then keeping it inside, then lashing out on the keyboard again. So much for actual academic writing progress... I need to vent again.
This 'dear' scholar also inferred that I am responsible for my supervisors extreme stress and anger at 'my' lack of progress!!! How dare he. And if that is actually what she thinks... how dare she? Her stress is not my issue, nor should it be... that's what her job is and why she is paid at that level... deal with it. I am trying to deal with my stress at $11.80 or whatever an hour... and I am managing to inch forward and stay well.
GRRRRR angry again....or rather, still.
Just when my world seems about to totter right down towards hospitalisation yesterday, my 21 year old son decides to watch a bad movie on the TV with me last night. I can't say "No, too busy", as this request doesn't happen often and has actually been years in coming.
I am so glad I put the bloody PhD on hold for this. We have had an amazingly tough last ten years. He has had to deal with so much trauma, stress and crises for someone his age that I am proud of him actually having survived it.
He decided last night to finally reconnect with me, as a parent and trusted friend.
We were able to re-trace all our emotional injuries to each other and share the innermost fears and insecurities (both of us). The years of fights, assaults, deaths, illnesses, drug use, car crashes, legal problems, financial crises, gangs and guns are finally all out in the metaphorical cold hard light of day.
The pain is not gone but it can be dealt with at last.
My son confessed to not a day going by without some 'nightmare' haunting him for a moment or two or preventing him from sleeping. He understandably has emotionally disconnected (superfically) just to get through at present.
Who can blame him? I now understand where he is at... finally.
I would be in the same place myself.. and probably a worse place were I his age. I am so proud of this young man. He has had to grow up so hard and so fast.
For the first time in years I KNOW he will survive and I can begin to relax. I am so overcome with relief that this also needs capturing on paper/screen.
Now I can move on and roll the dice again for myself. This has been a major movement in my stability.
When people read this, perhaps they can see how my PhD may be the most visibly important thing in my life but really there has always been more important domestic issues that have sapped so much energy, emotional strength and will to succeed on my part.
I am proud of where I am now... for the first time in years.
And F.... anybody else's expectations.
I am going to stay well, keep a strong relationship with my son and finish what I have started in my own time... so everyone else can just deal with that.
Sorry guys... my turn.
The tears are flowing now.. but they are tears of release.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Had a wonderful evening at Theatreworks in St Kilda last night. I needed a social night! A colleague's husband, Bill starred in the play An Elephant in the Room. It is a good small piece, but surprisingly not a two hander as I had expected from the reviews. The two leads needed the support of the multi-role players to convey the plot and interpersonal relations which become the focus of the plot. I enjoyed seeing younger unrecognised (by me) actors on the stage. It is always heartening to see how many very talented professionals the Melbourne scene nurtures. What does dismay me, however, is that the big commercial companies seem to have a blind spot for using only a 'select' group of mature actors, therby excluding talent such as US trained Bill.
This is perhaps the actual metaphorical 'elephant' that is in my life at present, the inability of sheer, talent, guts and determination is not enough for mature workers. Despite continued rhetoric of skills shortages, elongated working lives, need for recognition of mature workers knowledges and experiences... and in the Academy a hysteria with respect to under-supply of qulaified staff, it remains networking and nepotism that ensures a painless transition into the workplace at an older age. I would hasten to add that the very nature of our workplace experience is a factor actually mobilised systemically to disciminate against our employment. Despite the EO legislation there is no way to ensure that systemic and attitudinal discrimination is not the determining factor of employability.
Why are there so many overseas-born, Australian trained newly qualified Doctors (PhDs) employed at our Universities? Is it that with youth comes an ignorance of reasonable workplace demands? Is it the awareness that passion, coupled with the fear (of the newly settled employee) that any requirement and expectation from the employer is unquestioningly complied with?
Is it the very work-life balance that mature workers seek which is the 'elephant' standing in the way of employment? Can knowledge and experience ever be valued equally with willingness to be exploited?
What is going on here. On the one hand we have a Federal governent investing heavily in local- based PhD candidates, then not ensuring the employers are 'encouraged' to utilise the human capital and investment of the previous three-four years? This is a call for positive discrimination in the direction of
a) older workers, to ease the social security burdon on the State in years to come as the boomer generation is disproportionatley represented in the 'retired' workforce.
b) Australian-trained PhDers into tagged early career positions tied to the University who received the benefits of the federal funds to train these post-graduates.
c) recognition that older women's academic careers have often been delayed/interrupted by child-rearing, or family carer duties more often than their male colleagues. Queensland Unis seem to be the only Instiututions that recognise this form of systemic discrimination by tagging Post DOC fellowships and Academic positions... what's wrong with Victorian Institutions?
d) Finally, an overseas-based fellowship targetted to these Aussie PhDers so we can take advantage of the of the globalised higher education industry.
So, the 'elephant in my room'... why beat myself up to finish the doctorate in a timely completion schedule when there is ZERO encouragement to pursue and academic career, after so many years of study, personal commitment and private debt? How can younger women and men (academics) from two-income families with extended family support networks ever be able to empathise with those of us from the lower socio-economic groups (usually due to carer responsibilities and isolation) ? How can the establishment ever recognise how the accepted practices are actually gatekeping mechanisms to maintain privilege and power.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I found this fabulous graphic on Witchy Wisdom webpage. I wish I could 'not speak' through winter, and just think, reflect and regenerate. However, for those of you who know me if my verbal torrents ever do cease, then is the time to worry. My mind is never still and it is as if all those thoughts just have to burst forth into the cosmos. Not that they are earth shattering or anything, it is just that there are too many ideas to contain in my head.
After my dear friend's performance last Sunday, I allowed myself to actually stop.. but as is always the case after being on the move so much, I succumbed to a niggling head cold, I am assuming I collected courtesy of delightful fellow Virgin Blue travellers and the recycled airsystems on planes. It happens nearly every time I fly (well at least in Winter).
Stay home I hear you say. Hibernate, rug up and enjoy the peace of winter. I would if I could guarantee avoidance of SADS (seasonal adjustment disorder). Yep, you got it, I am one of those lucky few who were in the same mental health line when the divine being gave out this disorder also.
Not bad, huh... I am becoming and ACRONYM... I hear you laughing K & S.... "typical".
So I am BMDSADS afflicted or is that blessed? I guess it all depends on how my brain chemistry is settling.
At my wonderful unnamed University yesterday I catered for Xmas in July as a social event for the other Postgrads. It was a fun night with a sit down dinner for 14. Really, I am glad there were no more as I was literally run off my feet. Ever tried to cook vegetables on the third floor of one building (whilst bread rolls crisping in separate compartment), steamed vegetables and gravies on the second floor in a microwave, roast lamb in one oven keeping warm (opposite end of thrird floor) and in a completely separate building (ground floor), a roast turkey and roast pork keeping warm. Add to this plum pudding ice-cream in the third floor freezer (same end as roast lamb), then arrange and serve hot soups (one from that same third floor stove top) the other for the vegetarians in the microwave (second floor).
Add to this dips, chips and bickies, wheat-based and gluten free, cakes and mince tarts (wheat and gluten free) and vegetarian option for dessert. Add to this the ususla predilections for alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages.
I am still exhausted today. One friend, S said just think of all the excercise I was getting... but I defy even the fittest normal sized person to do all those stairs (plus getting the stuff there, claened up and packed away, room decorated etc) whilst still carrying an extra 35 - 40 kilos in body weight. (Well that's according to my idea of goal weight). It is exhausting. Like an Olympic marathon.
No-one can know what it is like without ever having been obese... not that pesky little 10ks you need to shift before summer but those pesky 90kg to shift before death!
Add to this that at every social event of this nature there is an accidental smuggness on the part of the marrieds. They know they have someone to go home to and have these occasions regularly with extended family.
I usually spend Christmas Day alone (a hospitality Industry widow). It is nice to have a lie in and watch crap DVDs over one or more bottles of sparkling... but just occasionally I get the twitch for the seemingly 'greener' grass on the other side of the fence.
It is also interesting when a person queries your morality... and you need to step back and look at things from another angle. I pride myslef on being a feminist, yet when questioned about whether or not one should sustain/partake in an affair with a married man, I am decidedly hypocritical. the received wisdom went something like this... what about the sisterhood? What about his wife?
I would like to know just when the sisterhood ever put the needs of another woman over the needs of an individual member? Some of my worst colleagues in the workplace have been self-proclaimed feminists.
I also argue that the nuclear family is a convenient patriarchal model of control exerted over women, much to the benefit of men and detriment of women. despite the fairytale happy-ever after imagery, it is simply a structure which allows men to feel confident of the DNA of their offspring by having a 'captive wife/breeder'. She of course has no such reassurance that hubby is not randomly 'sowing his seed' elsewhere, as primitive mankind is designed to do... after all why so many sperm if that is not the case?
As the mother of a son who I would not have, had it not been for an affair I cannot regret my decisions. Nor should I feel I need to justify them, yet here I am attempting to do so.
The old joke (of mine) goes something like this. At my age, the only single men are gay or living at home with Mother issues. If they are divorced (one or more times) I can guarantee the problem was on the side of the bloke. If they are married they are probably the genetically superior of the species. And if they are out to play... then seriously if the wife is that unaware the marriage is not on the strongest ground in the first place. Also who's to say that there isn't an open relationship at work? Without the freaky couples' sex play, how can anyone know what happens behind suburban fences.
Just how many marriages are marriages in name only. Convenience economically, easier on the kids, easier than starting again, easier than braving the world alone. What ever gets you through the night is what I say, and I'll be damned if I will buy into that all older single women are cougars, predators or whores. Nor are we Nuns either!
All of this is so uppermost in my mind. After recently spending time with a friend in Sydney, we passed the time doing the 'writer-thing' and spent the day couple-watching. It was a revelation, just how much one could tell about the two concerned. She, possessive and insecure constantly playing out ownership marking rituals, the tidying of fluff from the jacket, for him the hand lightly placed on the small of her back when another male approached. I could go on for hours. My journal is bulging with such observances.
Then let's add today... I actually had breakfast at a hotel restaurant. I wanted some good nourishment (all 250mls of it). Every table bar one (and mine) was a couple.
NONE spoke to each other. The men read the papers, the women ate in silence. Perhaps the silences were comfortable... but there were no shared smiles or eyes connecting furtively, and after all this is a tourist resort and 'holiday' destination.
Of my God... spare me this slow death by apathy... but spare me my last years flying totally solo also.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Today has been a wonderful day, filled with sadness and extreme happiness. The day began with a sweet/sour goodbye to my dear friend N in Sydney as i boarded a plane to make it back to another dear friend's big day. My friend Kerry was to perform her one -woman show at a local theatre in front of selected guests and a camera crew from the ABC's Australian story. For Kerry, a great stand-up but no trained actor this was a major event, despite it being somefour months prior to her scheduled opening at a Melbourne Fringe venue. To have a film crew in the audience was something a seasoned pro would find daunting, especially given the script was still in workshop stage.
I am proud to say she nailed it. The material is so strong. Everyone is caught up in the moment; a friend doing the extraordinary. I am proud of her, just conquering the nerves and having the strength to face her demons publicly, especially considering her nearest and dearest were hearing events from her perspective for the very first time. Emotionally this was a momentous occasion for Kerry, her daughters and her ex-husband. There were tears shed in the auditorium as complete strangers were given a privileged insight into the Victorian justice system.
Even Kerry and her director, underestimate the potential power of this piece. As my friends know only too well, the acting teacher/director/performer and professional theatre reviewer still cannot sit inside a theatre auditorium and shut down the critics voice. Yet, today I became the dramaturg... another role I am comfortable in. However, this was not the role expected of me. I was to be the friend, caterer and general support crew.
I just find this impossible to do. I cannot switch off the producer/marketing head space. I know Kerry is sitting on a hit. Big time! It could do a national run easily.
But how do you speak to people so invested in a project? My dear friend asked my opinion as everyone (and that is literally everyone... oh yes except one regular theatre goer) gave Kerry such glowing feed back. We were all caught up in the emotion and success of the achievement.
Stupid me. I managed to avoid giving feedback at the venue when I discovered her director had very set opinions about the style the piece should take. In one sense she is correct, especially if Kerry is the 'talent'. However, I know this is bigger than that and needs a professional hand guiding the tiller. How can you discuss a project objectively when everybody ibvolved is too invested (and amateur).
Later when all the 'normal' people, the non-theatre people had returned home to their comfy suburban existence, Kerry and I sat together toasting a successful event.
I state again here that I am so proud of her accomplishement.
But then I made the mistake of being honest when she asked for my input. I was very cautious, trying to explain my point of view, but the moment I even hinted that the piece needed a dramaturg and professional actor.... well I lost my friend. The whole ownership issue and creative products is a fraught issue. Only the most successful palywrights (like Joanne Murray-Smith) know that for the piece to 'fly' the mother has to let go.
Only then in workshop can the writer see just what a gem she has created. How many great works falter at this first hurdle because writers/performers think that they alone can make the work 'fly'. I would say this is true at every level of the Industry, from Melbourne fringe to Hollywood blockbusters.
I guess this is why I no longer work as a theatre critic. I have made too many enemies by trying to be faithful to the potential of the work rather than the individuals involved.
I learned many years ago that no matter how good I thought I was, there was always someone better than me.... even with my own stories. I have learned the skill of letting go. It is painful but a necessary severing for the art to happen.
I want this piece to make its presence felt nationally, but I do not want my friend hurt or feeling inadequate. I am so conflicted. It really is none of my business... but basically I am still the woman prepared to mortgage her house to option a script, as I did in the eighties. I was defeated then... (Neil Armfield did the film, and unsuccessfully in box-office terms) but am too timid to take on the heartache again.
I guess I value my friendship with Kerry more... does that mean I am finally growing up?
Saturday, July 3, 2010
And I thought that Melbourne was unique with its Chocalholic walking tours! Sydney sets up quite a challenge by promoting it's 'chocolate bars'... that is cafes specialising in chocolates and chocolate beverages. Of course there is Max Brenner (one of my Melb faves), but they also offer a Guylian 'bar' in the Rocks and a Lindt 'bar' at Darling Harbour. What a pity that lap banding suits gooey melted hot chocolate drinks!
I would also like to visit that shop that was on Masterchef last week with the Belgian chocolates and expert chocolatier but my dear son didn't catch the guys name and I haven't googled Masterchef... I know I can and I probably will before I fly home for Tuesday!
(No nasty comments Melburnians but I am seriously toying with the idea of flying back on Thursday after supervision through until Saturday. My justification. The ASAL AGM is on Friday! Well that's the best I can do, if the cheap $48 virgin fares aren't enough justifucation, and I have a place to stay so no accommodation costs... There I've put it in writing... I think it is now confirmed.)
The only comfort is that Sydney needs lots of pavement pounding to get anywhere, if you are trying to see the sights, feel the vibe and avoid the ubiquitous underground stations, which I definitely am keen to miss. What's the point of sitting down all day in Uni rooms if I can't muster up enough energy to get out and about in the down times? As I have learned over the years I cannot absorb six or more papers a day. This is particularly true now when my entire waking consciousness is concerned with opening up my laptop and pounding out 30,000 words for my supervisor this week.
Yet, I am also aware of how perilously close I came to hospitalisation again days ago. I refuse to let stress drie me into feelings of worthlessness and clinical depression. I am here to enjoy living, even if that means the bloody PhD is delayed further. I want to be alive to rea the rewards, and they will come along... but just more slowly than the 'outsiders' want.
It is here I should thank my Sydney partner in crime, dearest N. Without you I would have forgotten that I am a person, a grown woman who can determine her own future no matter what happens at my Uni. I have a life to look forward to, an 'old' body being rediscovered and a sense that I do actually have intrinisc value as a human being.
Thus I can happily tuck in to the hot chocolate and champagne without guilt trips. How nice to be accepted by friends for what you are instead of judged by how you look. Why did I have to travel 800 ks to discover this? And why so late into the PhD journey?
So what does my Sunday's rebellion offer? The 17th Sydney biennale, of course. I have never been to Cockatoo Island, and have only glimpses sight of it from a ferry. So today with the sun peaking through for a warm day (17C... remember I am from Melbourne so this is mild winter weather), N and I have selected to brave the crowds and hope that the free entry doesn't bring Sydneysiders out in their thousands for the modern art installations. Of special interest to me is probably one that I am going to find discomforting, an Italian artist has literally hung a stuffed horse from the roof of one gallery. I am unsure what he is on about but will tell you after seeing Novacentro 'in the flesh', so to speak.
Speaking of artists penchant for hanging things from roofs, there is another artist who has dangling Ford motor vehicles from the roof, each pierced with some representations of light beams. And of course I want to see that warplane suspended as a crucifix... no explanation needed here.
Bring it on... and if the Island is too busy, the fall back plan is to go to the State Library to check out the winners from the world press photos for 2010, and then hopefully an evening performance of either Long Days Journey into Night, with William Hurt and Robyn Nevin, or god old Tony Warlow and Siggy Thornton in A Little Night Music. However, if these are sold out a trip to the fun Belvoir Street is on the table also.
Oh yeah, and I also have to do some writing today.
Friday, July 2, 2010
It seems so easy to keep in touch these days with Facebook and email giving us the pretence of deep relationships and friendships. We know such minituae about our daily lives but this is no substitute for a good old face to face talk.
Why is it that our lives have become so busy, or so filled with appointments and commitments we find it near impossible to schedule quality time with friends? I am in Sydney and know it would be a great opportunity to catch up with absent friends over a nice meal at the Rocks or glass of bubbly in the Cross late at night, but it just seems that such a simple little social event cannot happen if it hasn't been entered into filofaxes, ipad or iphone calendars, or on the physical kitchen calender weeks in advance.
We are all now of a 'certain age' when our children should be independent but here we remain at their beck and call well into adulthood. And that's not counting the ones who are expecting the hands-on grandparenting and free child care!
Many of my women friends are struggling to work hard now that they are back on career track and that means not finishing work before 6pm at the earliest. Then for those with new or second partners, the push to ensure full emotional support seems to me a throw back to the 50s, when women would shower, change clothes and have dinner and slippers waiting for the 'husband' on his arrival home from work. Why do my professional female Sydneysider friends feel they have to do that as well as put in a 8+ hour day themselves? These second 'blokes' also seem to get quite possessive when confronted with a single female friend who knew their partner 'in the old days'.
What am I... the devil incarnate? Here to lure these (normally respectable and dutiful) females into sin and debauchery in 'sin city'? As if I would even know how, anymore. None of my theatrical friends are currently treading the boards so there can be none of those after show parties.
Also it isn't the 70s anymore... we have all slowed down!
It seems if I can subsitute a night on the town for a dinner during daylight/work hours my female friends feel more comfortable catching up.
Do I carry the 'singleton' disease or something?
Is this the related to the defect 'being welcome in a couple's home as long as I have a heterosexual male accompany me'?
Where at my age does the cultural script dictate husband predator? Too many jokes about beinga cougar one day... as if!
Sure I miss being in a committed realtionship, but hey if it is that constricting who would want it?
And I'm sorry to tell you my dearest girlfriends but it is also possible I don't find the love of your life to be Adonis in the flesh... Sorry they are never THAT Perfect Italiano cheese guy from the TV! Only then would you have to worry.
The other thing that seems to stick out in my mind, is that this was less of an issue 18 months (and 50kg) ago.
So dearest JG, I will catch up when you are performing somewhere (preferably in Melb) and DM we can arrange a proper scheduled luncheon. MK we can spend a nice weekend away when you decide this one wasn't quite Mr OK for now... I give you another six months... and a bottle of Cliquot on that one. I will be happy to pay up if I'm wrong (for a change).
Meanwhile keep the tacky email jokes flying and talk on FB real soon ya'll.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I could never live here but each time I set foot on Sydney soil I feel liberated and transported into a fantasy world. One should never blog drunk, but tonight I am breaking this rule. I am "merry" and high on the whole sensuality of this City. It may be grey and winter, and already I am sick of the smart arse comments about 'Melbourne weather' but Sydney has a special place in my heart. It is gauche, her people parochial to the extreme, but the City has a charm that delights both Aussies and overseas visitors alike.
Sydney is more than the picture postcard vistas, despite me using a shot from the harbour looking back over Bennelong Point. For me it is the MOMA shop, the Opera House playhouse theatre, The Warf and the STC, Belvoir Street and Company B, the Cross and her seedy in your face night life, and the quiet of the Tea Rooms in Darling Harbour. Add to this the intensity of the hawkers in Chinatown, the tackiness of Paddy's Market (pticularly its one tram), and the stately buildings fronting the Domain. Above all I love that the Unis are all so central (UTS, Sydney University and Uni of NSW). It feels like an intellectual capital city.
The hotel rooms is exactly the same as elsewhere, clean, neat unoffensive ultra-modrn lines, ubiquitous abstract art and 'tasteful' bathroom cosmetics and fluffy white towels. I think I was born for at least four star environments and room service.... this is my version of doing it on a budget. As one ages, a certain amount of comfort is necessary (heated pools, fitness and business centres and 24 hour room service). But I really hate the fact that now the bar fridge is computerised so there is no chance of guiltily devouring a chocolate bar as the munchies hit and replacing it with a Safeway special. How much do I crave that chocolate? I admit I would prefer Belgium to Cadbury's with palm oil, but there is something about that fridge with its temptation and feeling of transgression.
Ah transgression, that is the magic of being away from home. I am suddenly free. Free to do what I like, when I like and no explanations to anyone and NO GUILT. I am 'me' unencumbered and living for the moment.
The sensible me says I should attend all Conference sessions and take copious notes yet the practical me says that I am only here for the networking. It's not cheap but I think it is a good investment. Also Conferences bring out the liberated youth in all participants, away from all 'normal' constraints and responsibilities. You get to meet people at their most honest, raw and open. I adore these moments. I guess I live for these moments of liberation. How many Conferences can I justify each year? And how do I justify to myself my need to get in early and just experience being here, in the moment, before the actual dates of the talk-fest? Why do I have to? Why do I feel guilty?
This is exactly what I need to feel re-charged and motivated after a period of self-doubt and uncertaincy. Here I can be manic without people judging me and fearing for my well being. I can live my life in colour at last. I need this. I will return home ready to tackle the hard stuff. I will have been 'me' for a few days without fearing people's judgement or treading carefully because they fear that I am 'mad'. I can just be. I love being away from home.