This makes me uncomfortable

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About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog post called ‘Being comfortable is not the same as success‘. It came out of my ponderings on finding my niche after reading Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element and watching Bloc Party be awesome live. I wondered, do we have to be uncomfortable to succeed? Are we wrongly taught to seek comfort over personal growth? For example, we’re taught to prefer a career that will let us live comfortably in a nice house etc. over a career that might be personally rewarding but more difficult. Counter-culture tells us not to “sell out” and to go for the more difficult path. Is it right? Is there a virtue in discomfort?

Now I wonder if there are different kinds of “comfortable”. Like, say, there’s that feeling of being in the ‘flow state’, when you have found the thing you love and doing it connects you to the floor and the ceiling. Then there’s that feeling of curling up on the couch and watching your old favourite TV show – you know all the words, there are no surprises, and you relax into the safe familiarity. Are these different? I feel that one must be more productive than the other, but then I worry that my attachment of value to productivity is a product of my cultural conditioning to always be productive. Gah. It is hell inside my head right now.

I feel like there must be a bunch of philosophers who have already covered this topic; Plato wrote about different types of love, so surely someone must have written about different types of comfort. If there are any philosophy students out there who can point me towards some reading, I’d love to hear about it! Gimme some juice in the comments below.

In the past, I’ve let myself stay in relationships and circumstances that made me deeply uncomfortable because I had become so divorced from my feelings that I couldn’t use them as signposts anymore. Sometimes discomfort is a good sign that you should run far, far away. Otherwise, what are our instincts for? But learning to separate instinct from conditioned discomfort is difficult, at least for me. How can I tell whether I’m uncomfortable because this is a bad scene, or because I am stepping outside a culturally mandated ‘comfort zone’?

Talking about all this makes me uncomfortable, too. Yeesh, life is just uncomfortable. Thank goodness I have M*A*S*H and this deep sofa to help deal with it.

Take me to your money

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Being an artist in Australia feels a lot like that time I was a tourist in Pompeii: none of the fucking maps look alike. Seriously, there’s a road marked here on this one, but it’s not on any of the others. And I’m standing in a courtyard that eight out of the ten maps claim does not exist. Where the hell am I? How do I get back to the food court? (I swear I remember a food court in Pompeii. In Pompeii. Under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, among one of the most remarkable archeological finds ever, I ate a dodgy parma.)

ABOVE: Pompeii postcard, made thanks to art

Pompeii postcard, made thanks to art

Aside from the fact that I rarely get heckled in Italian during tech rehearsal, the Pompeii metaphor stands up pretty well. I entered the creative industries the same way I entered that ancient Roman city: in awe, seeking culture and history and something bigger than myself. Then two street dogs started fighting near my leg and I got scared. But this is not a rant against life as an artist, or Pompeii (one of the coolest historical sites ever). This is more of a generalised puzzling. I’m that lost idiot wearing a bathers top as clothes because my campsite doesn’t include a laundromat, gesturing emphatically at my street map and saying “HELP? WHERE GO?”

Basically, in artist, all of this translates to: my project didn’t get funded.

Bummer.

OK, so, if you’ve seen my bio, you may know that I am one of the three Hack Residents at The Edge, State Library of Queensland. I started my residency in January and I have to say, The Edge is awesome. One of Brisbane’s better kept secrets. I actually resent telling people about my residency because then I’ll have to tell them about The Edge, and I want to keep all of its wonderful resources for MYSELF, ME, JUST MEEEE HAHAHAARR. Other Brisbane artists I’ve spoken to have expressed a similar annoyance that people are starting to know where that cave-like corridor between the Art Gallery and SLQ leads. It’s like Fight Club: it’s an open secret now. We used to just find each other by chanting “His name is Daniel Flood”* until someone else knew what you were talking about. (*That is a very specific Fight Club reference that only makes sense if you’re familiar with The Edge’s programming staff, so sorry to everyone except the three people who laughed at that.)

ABOVE: Yes, this is that concrete hallway you’ve been avoiding because you weren’t sure if you were allowed down there. YOU ARE. DON’T TELL ANYONE.

My residency project is a live event where people can interact with stories from marginalised communities. At the moment, I’m recording interviews with women who work in male-dominated industries – people who have ‘hacked’ (eh?) into workplaces where they would traditionally be excluded. It is fascinating work. I am a nerd for analysing work practices and gender studies and storytelling, so this is pretty great. But I have a problem: not enough funding.

The Edge is supporting my project with in-kind support, for which I am grateful and stoked. One of the wonderful things about the team there is their understanding that creative practice needs space and time for experimentation. The thing is, it also needs money. I was counting on additional streams of funding to make this project go. When two grant applications came back ‘negatory’, it was a blow. I’m not proud of how sad I got. Failing doesn’t come easy to me, as I’m sure it doesn’t to most. Plus, I had no idea what to do next. No map. Without funding, the project was stalled.

I am continuing anyway, because I love this project and I’m crazy-passionate about it, but I cannot afford all the hours of work, the resources, or the fees for additional artists without being paid for them. I will keep applying for further grants and funding avenues, but sometimes it seems like most of my life as an artist is spent writing applications rather than working on my art. And those applications need me to have already spent a lot of time figuring out the art part and getting really good at it and justifying why I should get the money to work on it further. I had hoped that this was just a symptom of me not managing my time properly, but from reading Justin Heazlewood‘s memoir/self-help book Funemployed: Life as an Artist in Australia, I gather that it’s not just me:

“Being an artist means running a business; a tiny one, sure, but as valid and high-maintenance as any other. Only when you are a few years into your practice does this dry reality begin to dawn. Like an extended practical joke, you look around from your desk to see if the cameras are rolling. All this time you’ve been a contestant on Admin Idol, duped into your own temping job by the faceless men at Officeworks.”
— From Funemployed (2014), p. 75. Seriously, buy it, read it, it’s good.

If I’m sounding a bit strident and self-justifying, it’s because I’m fighting against a lifelong conditioning that the arts are inessential. You don’t think about artists doing piles of admin for their art, because you don’t think of art as a job. Like, that sounds fun, but what do you really do?

This isn’t a hobby; this isn’t hanging out after work on the weekends. This is my career and I need to be paid at some point. It’s no coincidence that this period of reflection on my career path comes immediately after I filed my latest tax return. I’m barely treading water here. As a society, we can’t expect to benefit from everything that art brings to our culture and make artists pay for it all out of their own pockets. I was extremely gratified by Charlie Pickering getting shouty on The Project tonight, half-jokingly telling news outlets to stop covering art. Because, Pickering said, the news covers art and they talk about how much it will cost and then people get all “What’s the point of it” and – he yelled – “It’s ART! What’s the point of it? IT’S ART!” Cheering studio applause, echoed by my spraying of nachos at the TV: “Go Charlie!”

So, I’ve had my sulk, nailed my rejection letters to the wall and pulled myself up by my bootstraps. This project has hit a speed-bump but we’re still going to get there eventually. I don’t have a reliable map but I have the same things I had in Pompeii all those years ago: blind optimism and an unshakeable belief that I look awesome in this tankini swim top, no I don’t care that we’re standing in a museum, gimme another parma per favore.

Dawn of the patriarchy of the apes

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Yesterday I watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and presumed prequel to Day of the Dawn of the Consolidation of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I have some thoughts. If you are avoiding spoilers, please look away now.

Here be spoilers.

OK. So. HOW AWESOME WAS THAT?? Caesar totally rode a horse. He rode a horse and he totally told the humans off. He and the other apes built their own society. They taught each other sign language and spoken language and written language! Most humans don’t bother with all three. I loved the graphics (aside from one awkward establishing shot in a final battle scene where the apes look embarrassingly CGI, and my disbelief was entirely un-suspended). I particularly loved Caesar. What a babe. Hunkiest ape this side of the rise of the planet. And Caesar has a team of pretty cool, complex ape characters with which to interact. Overall, an impressive film.

I just, I have a little note. A small thing, really. You’ll probably laugh. But WHERE THE HELL were all the female characters? Female apes, female humans – missing! In the ape colony, we only meet one female ape – Caesar’s wife – who, I found out from the credits, was named Cornelia, although we are never given her name during the movie. In her brief on-screen time, Cornelia fulfills the female-movie-character trifecta of giving birth, providing motive for her man, and looking pretty while dying. Apparently she was played by Judy Greer. You wouldn’t know, since she doesn’t have any spoken lines and she mainly lays there looking ill. A waste of the vocal talent that brings us the unforgettable Cheryl Tunt on Archer. And yet I have read entertainment blogs actually heralding Greer as a “leading lady” in this film. Really? Silent, absent, and mostly uninvolved in the plot? But then, I guess this is what leading roles often look like for women.

There is one other female character in Dawn of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Dark of the Moon. She is a human woman, who – you guessed it – is the wife of the other leading man. The man who isn’t an ape. Good, so we’ve got one woman on each side of the human-ape war, and they each exist to show that the lead male has ‘something to fight for’. The human female (played by the way-underused Keri Russell – here you can see this leading lady describe her role in the film as “miniscule”) is named Ellie, and is listed on Wikipedia as a “former nurse” even though I had the impression she was a doctor, and she definitely performs surgery during the movie. During some staid exposition at the beginning of the film, we are casually informed that, before society crumbled, she worked at the Center for Disease Control. Sounds like Dr Disease-Expert Ellie would be pretty essential to establishing a new society in a post-Simian-Flu world. But instead we only see her administering hugs to Malcolm – the true leader – and asking him for permission to do things. (He denies her permission, by the way, because “I need you here” to care for his son from a previous marriage.) Why is Malcolm the preferential authority in the struggle to save humanity? Well, he’s an architect. And … tall? Have you heard how deep his voice is?

“Get behind me, Doctor, I have a degree in architecture.”

Yes, the gender imbalance in this movie greatly annoyed me. It is part of a larger problem with this film, where the human characters are not satisfactorily fleshed out (thus Malcolm’s role as leader of the humans is never adequately explained, while Caesar’s leadership status is easily established by his superior intellect, wisdom and physical strength). It annoyed me beyond all reason that the female apes were all wearing pretty, spangly, beaded headdresses that practically blinded them. I know this was probably intended as an aesthetic link to the 2001 reboot Planet of the Apes, but in that movie the male apes wore adornments as well. Giving only the female apes impractical jewelry just seemed to reinforce their status as decoration.

I don’t even know where the human females were. Apparently the human population had been thinned to near-extinction by the Simian Flu, while survivors of that were killed in post-apocalyptic wars. Surely, if we assume that men are usually responsible for wars and for fighting them (given all we know about history), there would be more women left than men. Even now, women represent a slight majority in the population. I’ve never understood why dystopian films have so much trouble imagining a landscape with women in it. Or why, with civilisation apparently dismantled and society being rebuilt, patriarchal structures have survived with ease. In the recent past, global wars have accidentally resulted in liberation for women, because with the dominant male class off killing each other, women have had to step into new roles. This is the kind of stuff that I find interesting about stories set in post-conflict societies: how new interpersonal dynamics emerge under unfamiliar circumstances.

We don’t get any such insights into the human world of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but the ape society has evolved beyond recognition. They have chopped down trees, built a permanent home, even set up literacy classes. However, they haven’t socially gone any further than “Get all the females and young to safety”. OK, in a battle situation, I could understand “Get all the mothers and their young to safety”. But all the females? I mean, the apes were off to fight humans, right? And as a human, I find female chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans pants-wettingly terrifying. Any one of them could rip my arm out of my socket – I know it, they know it. Why weren’t there female apes in the battle? You could tell me that, in real-life chimp society, it is the males who fight the wars. You could tell me that ape society appears to follow a patriarchal hierarchy. This is all true. But this is a science-fiction film in which chimps are living alongside gorillas and orangutans, have domesticated the horse, and can talk. Even though chimps do not have a vocal tract. They also fire assault rifles. You telling me we can’t stretch the imagination to a female second-in-command for Caesar?

You could ask me why any of this matters, if it’s just a work of fiction. I’m tired of fielding that question. It matters. I’m over watching films where there are hardly any people who look like me, and all they do is hug the men and tell them they’re brave. There’s more to my life than that, and I’d like to see women in movies have more to their lives than that, too. Even the ape ones.

On dream jobs

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I have been sitting at my laptop for the last few hours, staring at a script, calculating syllables and syntax and subtexts. I savour every word changed, every minute I spend thinking about the craft of saying things. Sometimes it seems crazy that I get to do the same thing my heroes have done for years. This work somehow brings me closer to them.

I keep thinking about how it is a pleasure and a privilege to work on something you love. I feel very lucky indeed, but I do hesitate over the word “privileged”: it feels like a dangerous allowance, a concession to those who look upon creative careers as a luxury. In an Australia where our Prime Minister says that if you do not currently have a job, you have “no right to hold out for the job of [your] dreams“, yeah, I feel nervous about doing work I love. Enjoying my work somehow makes it feel illegitimate, unless I were making heaps of money from it (… I’m not).

Privilege is a peculiar benefit which is given to some people and not others. I feel privileged to be working as a writer and performer because I know that some people are not able to do this. Sometimes I am one of those people. When I’ve been too poor and sick to buy groceries or to get down the stairs, I’ve asked myself: “Who do you think you are, to want to make art? What gives you the right? You’re struggling to make ends meet and you want to write poetry?”

ABOVE: Pro-tip – having the State Library as your office is free and gets you dream views.

The Prime Minister is purportedly only targeting unemployed and underemployed Australians with his exhortations to stop “holding out” for a dream job, but we’re all only one piece of bad news away from unemployment, right? One dismissal letter, one crisis, one Budget axing our funding, and it could be us queuing at Centrelink. Then we, too, would have to stop “holding out” – holding out, as if we’re in a negotiation. Is Abbott saying that we don’t have the right to negotiate the terms of our own employment?

The problem with the phrase “dream job” is that its meaning is negligible. I would guess that Abbott means it as “one’s most ideal job”. But most of us know that we have to do many other jobs on the way up to the ideal. In the creative industries, it’s generally accepted that you’ll have to put in hours of study, training, practice, unpaid internships, portfolio-building, work experience – none of which pays the bills. If we, as a culture, only value the hours for which you’re being paid, then we dismiss all those hours you have to put in to become skilled. And research shows that these hours are definitely not wasted, as an article published at The Conversation yesterday demonstrated – although people in the creative industries struggle initially to find employment post-graduation, they go on to earn very comfortably later in their careers and report high levels of career satisfaction.

When the Government talks about unemployment, it sounds like it is imagining the worst possible version of un(der)employed people – spoiled, entitled brats. People who will avoid lifting a finger wherever possible (perhaps preferring to be “leaners”). The Government’s paradigm seems to be, “It’s easy to tell if what you’re doing is worthwhile: if it is, someone will be paying you a living wage for it.” By this mode of thinking, I was contributing more to society when I was handing out Haribo samples in the Woolies confectionery aisle than when I was writing a show about gender and identity in Australia. Lollies are an important part of a balanced diet (the very top of the pyramid, indeed), but the people ignoring me and going over to the Lindt lady instead didn’t seem to appreciate my civic duty.

What is my ideal job, anyway? Am I doing it now? I don’t know. In high school I told people my dream job was to “somehow monetize blinking”, whether in a salaried position or paid blink-by-blink. Now that I’m 28 and (only slightly) less of a smart-aleck, I would say that my ideal job is one that gives me opportunities for autonomy, mastery and purpose. (This Dan Pink talk really had an impact on me.) I would like enough income to be comfortable and to do the things I enjoy. I would like to feel that I am contributing to society in a way for which I am particularly equipped. That is, I would like to make full use of my strengths. You could put me in a field picking strawberries, and I guess I’d be superficially contributing to our nation’s agricultural industry, but I’d be freaking horrible at it. First of all, I’m over six feet tall, and I understand that the strawberries are quite close to the ground. But most of all, I’m physically the equivalent of a sentient noodle. There are other things that I’m much better at, and I think I could be put to better use than being shoved into any job going.

A lot of our Government’s rhetoric is underpinned by the idea that work is inherently moral. I’m not necessarily refuting that – it is an idea I’m still unpacking – and the American blood in me fervently believes in the value of hard work. But what type of work – that is what interests me. The harsh unemployment policies and their supporters are saying that any work is better than “no work”. (By the way, anyone who has been unemployed (and unpaid) for an extended period knows that it is not “no work”.) But what do we want for Australia? Do we just want a country where every single citizen (abled or otherwise) is toiling somewhere, anywhere? Personally, I want more for my country. I dream bigger for us. And I think the Government does, too, since they’ve proposed to invest billions of dollars in a Medical Research Future Fund, to make sure that Australia will “advance world leading medical research projects“. They want Australia to achieve autonomy and mastery in the medical research field, and all this in the midst of a “budget emergency“. Clearly it’s not enough for Australia’s medical bodies just to work – they must be globally competitive.

If more people in Australia were able to work towards their “dream job” (read: dream lifestyle), I have little doubt that we would have the kind of culture that other countries hold up as an example. We could be one of those smug Scandinavian countries! Do we want work satisfaction to be a peculiar benefit only afforded to a few? Or could we all dream of a job where we are employed to the best of our abilities?

I will continue to feel lucky doing work that I love. But I wonder whether it should be considered a privilege rather than a right.

BELOW: Following some dreams.

 

 

Something to tell you

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I’m happy to say that I’ll be presenting a two-week season of Not Much To Tell You at Brisbane’s Metro Arts!

It is wonderful to be presenting the performance at the very home where it was nurtured and developed. I was selected for Metro Arts’ Creative Development program during their July-December block last year, and they were warmly supportive and critically helpful in developing my first solo show. Not Much To Tell You had its first season in Perth earlier this year, co-presented by Fringe World and The Blue Room Theatre. Since then, some people have been asking “Are we ever going to see it in Brisbane?” Yep! This one’s for you, Brisbabes.

This show was developed with financial support from the awesome people who contributed to my Pozible campaign last year. I want to thank you all again: Ashley, Mark Cottman-Fields, Rae White, Amy Fletcher, David Vincent Smith, Kate Zahnleiter, Sam Vaughn, Larry Cox, Alexis Malinkowski, Sandy Torode, Tom Hogan, and many more anonymous supporters.

It was nice of Metro Arts to have me back even though this is what I do when they leave me alone in their performance space:

Not Much To Tell You opens on 27 August and runs through the Queensland Poetry Festival, until 6 September. Tickets go on sale soon – more info at the Metro Arts website.

KP_NMTTY

Blog hop hooray, ho, hey, ho

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Twitter friend and author Chris White has invited me to take part in the #MyWritingProcess blog hop. It’s kind of the blog equivalent of a chain letter, and I get to chat to myself about writing. How it works: you get an invitation from a writer-blogger to answer four questions about your writing process, then pass the torch along by asking other writer-bloggers to answer four questions about themselves. I’m looking forward to peeking into the lives of other writers and hopefully finding out that they, too, make death noises into the keyboard.

I’ve been given the chance to participate by Chris White, whose work spans, among others, two of my favourite genres: magical realism and science fiction. He blogs at chriswhitewrites, and you should definitely check out his tweets because he curates a pretty great Twitter feed. I always learn stuff.

OK. On to my answers to the blog hop questions:

1. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing my next solo show, the format of which is inspired by the lecture as performance. I’m a big fan of TED Talks and the like; I’ve seen a few comedy and poetry performances that used slides as props to great effect. I’m still in the early stages of the concept, but I’ve found that applying for grants to develop the show has really helped me focus my ideas. Limitations usually help me be more creative, so if I have to create the work by a deadline or fit it to specifications (i.e. touring on a budget, justifying it to funding panels) it is easier to put my head down and write.

2. How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?

Hmm, this is a tough question, mostly because I’m not sure what my genre is. I mostly write for performance, sometimes page poetry, and very infrequently opinion articles. I guess my work differs from that of other writers in my genre(s) because my collection of interests is going to be different to theirs. I admire the scientific process, reason, and logic; I try to employ them when I’m writing a poem. (I use my work to explore social and political issues; it’s my way of trying to figure out the world. It’s important to me that I can justify each choice I make in my poetry.) When I’m trying to put a feeling into words, I pretend I’m a forensic scientist looking for the most accurate words (I wanted to be a scientist or a poet when I grew up, so this is a nice compromise). I’ve definitely stopped performing some poems because new information showed me that their internal logic wasn’t sound. Got to make sure all the ideas add up.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Because I can’t write anything else? Haha. Through a process of elimination, I have found that writing poetry suits: (a) my perfectionist fear of lengthy projects (novels are my Everest); (b) my passion for language and aesthetics; and (c) my love for an audience. I’ve found that performing poetry suspends the audience’s reality for a while and they’ll let me get away with heaps more earnest flights of fancy than if I was telling a joke or a story.

I write opinion when I can, because getting paid for my opinions is pretty much 15-year-old-me’s dream job, and damn, I owe her a lot (she discovered Harry Potter for us).

4. What’s your writing process, and how does it work?

I’ve been writing and dating all my writing/ideas in journals since I was 10. I often write down ideas for conceits, or a few lines, to go back to them later. They usually marinate in my journal for a few months, maybe a couple years. Then I go back to them and smash out the rest. The super-personal stuff takes the longest to marinate. I get out all the self-indulgent, cliched stuff in my journal, then rewrite it with fresh eyes. Edit, edit, edit. When I think I’ve got the shape of the thing, it goes into a Word doc on my computer for more editing.

I started writing for theatre last year, and that process has required more formal organisation. I’ve started using Scrivener. After I’ve thought of a show idea, I spend a few months pumping research and thoughts into a Scriv doc, setting myself inquiry questions. I do a lot of background reading. I think of my solo shows as research projects, and the final work is my thesis … Except, the kind of thesis where I don’t have to show any of my research. And I can be totally subjective. And I can revise it every time I perform. OK so they’re the funnest research projects in the world.

 

That’s it for my blog post! Thanks for sitting through me nerding out about my own writing, haha. Next week, please check out the ruminations of these fine writer-bloggers …

1. Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson

kwpoet.blogspot.com.au

Kate Wilson lives in Bunbury, Western Australia, where she writes and performs poetry that’s designed to entertain and inspire. Kate started writing poetry at the age of 7 while sitting on her garage roof. At the end of her Speech and Drama studies in 2008, Kate entered and won her first poetry slam, and has kept writing and performing ever since. Kate has appeared at dozens of events and festivals in WA, sharing her words and teaching poetry, voice and performance workshops.

 

2. Zenobia Frost

zenobiafrost.wordpress.com

Zenobia FrostZenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based writer and editor whose debut poetry collection, The Voyage, was released in 2009. Her work has been published in The Guardian Australia, Southerly, The Lifted Brow, Overland, Going Down Swinging, Voiceworks and QWeekend Magazine. She is fond of graveyards, incisive verse, theatre and tea.

Finding Eygpt in the weirdest places

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Ever lose track of where you are? You’re walking along, face in the breeze, and the matter of which city you’re in becomes momentarily academic? This happens to me kind of frequently. It’s a bit worrying, actually – when I can’t remember if I’m in Perth (where I spent most of my life), or in Brisbane, the place I’ve made my home. They both feel like home to me now. Sometimes I think I’m going to turn a corner and see my friend Alexis peering through the window of a vintage clothing shop, or run into Daryl going for a coffee. But they live 4336km away (I looked it up) (this is a factually accurate blog).

One time, I actually did see a Perth amigo on George Street, while I was on the phone at a bus stop. She was strolling with a colleague, in Brisbane for the day on business. But I didn’t know that. So, at the bus stop, next to a Pie Face, while my bus squealed into the stop next to me, I had a very delicate meltdown. “Oi!!” I shrieked at her, pinwheeling my arms, while yelling down the phone, “HOLD ON, DAD,” and instructing the bus driver to “WAIT JUST A MINUTE! HOLY SHIT”. Internally, my mind was all jigsawed: “WHERE ARE WE? EAST OR WEST? I WAS SO SURE THIS WAS BRISBANE: THERE’S SO MANY BATS!!”

In case you’re wondering, yes, it probably was my proudest moment.

Brisbane must really be ‘Australia’s New World City’, because I come geographically unstuck here quite a bit. (Side note about the ‘New World City’ thing – are we talking Pocahontas New World? Is Brisbane claiming Queensland as some kind of wild frontier? I guess it pretty much is, I mean, Bob Katter, right? Or is this a freshly minted World City? Hasn’t Brisbane been in the World for a while? I guess if we’re continuing with the Queensland satire, then the answer is ‘no’. Nya ha ha.) Brisbane City reminds me of a lot of other cities (I guess metropolitan life’ll do that to you).

I wrote a poem about this kind of feeling, and the lovely editorial staff at The Suburban Review published it: ‘There’s Cairo In This City’ appears in Volume II of their gorgeous zine. My copy came yesterday!

Zine mail is the best kind of mail (after Harry Potter merch).

Zine mail is the best kind of mail (after Harry Potter merch).

I’ve also recorded myself reading it out, because yolo. It’s up on my SoundCloud (I had to put something on there eventually).

I had a great experience working with the editors at The Suburban Review – and they pay for print submissions! – so I can recommend submitting to them if you’re a writer/artist/photographer. Between figuring out which city you’re in, of course (is it just me??).

Oh Fringe World!

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It’s the final week of Fringe World and I am having more fun than a hipster at Bogan Bingo. We had a great season of Not Much To Tell You at The Blue Room Theatre, and although I very much enjoyed the show run, it was a relief to wake up on the final morning and not have to wonder about ticket sales.

instagram_nmtty_sold-out

After bumping out my final show, I needed to find a way to unwind after a week of shows. I left The Blue Room Theatre thinking, food? Eat everything in Northbridge? Or maybe collapse onto one of my friends? Then, we walked past robot busker guy, and I had my answer.

In my downtime after Not Much To Tell You finished, I have been soaking up everything Fringe has to offer. Most particularly, many shows by many very fine and talented artists. I’ve just come from Brian Finkelstein’s First Day Off In A Long Time, which was a masterful example of honest, vulnerable storytelling, and pretty damn brutal. I guess any story that takes place on a suicide hotline is going to be brutal. But Brian’s a master at keeping the tension just bearable – and he’s bloody funny.

Last night I caught the Lords of Luxury and had my biggest laughs so far this Fringe. These four suited-up gentlemen had me gripping my sides like an idiot. It turns out what I really like in my sketch comedy is absurdist pop culture references, deadpanning, and wigs (see: Slumber Party Time Travel).

Adam Peter Scott’s Book Fight was an education in Stephen King’s back catalogue. Ostensibly a game show where panel guests answer questions about books, it was really a competition to see who could bring the most snark. To my mind, the night’s winner was burlesque performer Sugar du Joure for her handling of Adam Peter Scott, who kept groping (word choice intentional) for jokes about her ample neckline. (Scott, staring: “My mind’s gone blank.” Sugar: “It’s always like that.”)

A sweetly absurd adventure through dystopia was She Was Probably Not A Robot. Delightful, silly, and shot through with an unexpected vein of poetry. Stuart Bowden had the audience on side from the start, and pulled us into his cartoonish, faintly threatening world with ease. I’m a heart-fan of dystopian storytelling anyway, but Bowden’s spandex antics won me over the rest of the way. Also, great beard.

Fringe World, you are the bomb.

instagram_pleasure-garden_fringe-world

Week 2 of Fringe World!

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Well it’s the second week of Fringe World and this is my busy week. Not Much To Tell You opens tomorrow night – woop! I’m doing a five-show run from Tuesday to Saturday. Pretty pumped to get in the theatre and meet some new audiences.

First week of Fringe was pretty hectic, too. Almost as soon as I landed in Perth I was off to PICA to watch Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd’s lo-fi puppetry spectacular, BRUCE. It was pure entertainment, all managed with one bit of sponge for a puppet and some homespun genius. I took one of my besties with me, and it is always a joy to introduce another person to Watts’ plays. We both bought our own little Brucies to take home with us: Little Bruce sleeps in my socks.

I also caught the puzzlingly obscure What A Joy To Be Alive at The Blue Room Theatre. I won’t pretend to know what it was about, but sometimes I like to see a show I don’t understand. Gets the ol’ mind grapes going. My friend and I had a great time sharing our notes afterwards and finding out we’d both guessed completely differently about the show’s meaning. There were some haunting uses of lighting and performer Tom Davies’ physicality that will stay with me.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of watching old mate Ella Bennett and her partner in comedy Marnie Allen (both ex-Pelican crew) present their “balls-out” adventure through time and space, Slumber Party Time TravelI think Bennett is one of the most promising new comedy writers coming up at the moment, and in combination with Allen she is just ridiculous. The one-liners kept coming, as sharp as the flick-knives they casually pulled from their bras. When Allen donned a beard and wig and became the future, rat-burger-selling version of Bennett’s high school crush, I nearly busted a rib. Bennett and Allen form Slow Loris Productions, and I very much hope to see more from them in the future (even at the risk of my ribs).

Another highlight of last weekend was going down to Cottesloe Beach to protest WA’s shark cull. Seven people have been killed by sharks in Western Australia in the last three years (which I would argue is a pretty slim number considering the thousands of people who enter the water every year), and the Barnett government has responded with a bait-and-kill policy. Sharks are now being caught and shot in the head, without having attacked a human. Around 6,000 people turned out on Saturday to protest the policy. It was a pretty impressive sight (see gallery below).

On to more frivolous news – my Twitter account reach 600 followers yesterday. I am continuing my tradition of recording a special message for each hundredth follower. This time it was Sarah Breheny, for whom I will be singing a special poem from an undisclosed Fringe World location. I’ll be recording it tomorrow, so check my Twitter feed if you like watching me embarrass myself (apparently the prospect was quite popular with my existing followers … thanks fronds).

EDIT: Here be a link to the video! For @ladybface, my 600th Twitter follower.

Dear Minister Hunt

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This is a letter I have just emailed to Environment Minister Greg Hunt, regarding the news that he has approved a massive dredging project at Abbot Point – putting the Great Barrier Reef in danger. I contacted him via GetUp! – see here for more information.

 

Dear Minister Hunt,

I grew up in Cairns, QLD, and played on the Great Barrier Reef as a child. We were always so careful not to touch the coral, to respect the wildlife, because we knew how important it was to protect our Reef.

My father has always working in the mining industry, and it was he who instilled in me a deep love and respect for the environment. This is not a “mining vs. the environment” issue – this is a short-term thinking vs. long-term thinking issue.

Humankind has been fervently mining fossil fuels for only around three hundred years, and we’ve burned through those fuels at an alarming rate. The world’s population has grown by a billion just while I’ve been alive. How long do you think the profits from this dredging project will last? A couple decades? One lifetime? The Great Barrier Reef has been around for 6,000 years and will continue for thousands more if we just let it.

I know you’re probably under immense pressure from the mining industry to let them “develop” this World Heritage Area. (To be frank, I find that word “develop” suspect – it smacks of “terra nullius”, of the assumption that this space is a static void just waiting for us to intervene. If you’ve swum on the Reef, you know that it is anything but static and void.)

Please remember who the government is meant to serve. No doubt there’s an argument that the profits from this dredging project would trickle down through the mining industry and benefit many Australians. But surely this argument is outweighed when the Australians in question are specifically asking you not to do this. Please listen to us. We know what we want. We want you to protect our Reef.

I look forward to hearing that the decision to dredge at Abbott Point has been revoked.

Yours sincerely,

Kaitlyn Plyley

 

If you, too, feel strongly about this, you can find Minister Hunt’s contact details on the GetUp! website.