All posts by Lynne Lancaster

A passionate theatre person Lynne is originally from Sydney and holds a B.Ed (Art) - a postgraduate Diploma in Information Management (Librarianship) and an MA in Theatre. While living in London ( 2002 -2007 ) Lynne completed the dance criticism course at Sadlers Wells linked in with Chichester University. Lynne has worked for both Ticketek and Ticketmaster here in Australia and was involved with the original production of THE BOY FROM OZ An Ausdance member Lynne is passionate about dance and has studied ballet and Flamenco. Before moving to London she photographed the Sydney Dance Company and Australian Ballet among other companies and has exhibited internationally. Lynne is a SAMAG member and a volunteer at the Art Gallery of NSW. Currently Lynne writes for arthub, danceinforma and sydneyartsguide.

AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA PRESENTS HANDEL’S MESSIAH @ CITY RECITAL HALL

In the lead up to Lent and Easter we are very privileged to have the Brandenburg’s glorious performances of Handel’s THE MESSIAH, enthusiastically led and directed by Paul Dyer with the magnificent Brandenburg Choir, four soloists and a striking, very unusual and effective staging by Constantine Cosi.

Handel’s Oratorio on the life of Christ is divided into four ‘scenes’ : Darkness to Light , The Dream , Shame and Mourning, and Ecstatic Light.

THE MESSIAH follows the story of Christ from birth to crucifixion and resurrection, but it also examines Israelite history, exploring the prophets who preceded the Messiah (especially Isaiah) and looks forward to the birth of the Church. There is no single dominant narrative voice and little use is made of quoted speech.

The Orchestra, seated on a slightly raised platform, was in luminous form, and played with a warm, elegant tone on their period instruments – extra horns and drums were incorporated where necessary. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA PRESENTS HANDEL’S MESSIAH @ CITY RECITAL HALL

DAVID HARE’S ‘JUDAS KISS’ @ THE OLD FITZ

 

“Some love too little, some too long/Some sell, and others buy/Some do the deed with many tears/And some without a sigh/ For each man kills the thing he loves/Yet each man does not die.” – Oscar Wilde: The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

Sensitively directed by Iain Sinclair this production by Red Line Productions of David Hare’s play THE JUDAS KISS would have to be one of the best shows on in town at the moment.

This compelling production is part of the Mardi Gras Festival and looks at the tragic fall of the great author Oscar Wilde.

The play was written in 1998 and Neil Armfield directed a landmark version at Belvoir in 1999 and more recently an overseas production starring Rupert Everett as Wilde.

Hare is regarded as one of the great contemporary British playwrights writers and it is a huge pleasure to hear his magnificent use of language and observe the confident, secure construction of his  play.

In the tiny intimate theatre it is as if we are a fly on the wall observing events. Act 1 is set on the 5th of April, 1895, in a room of the Cadogan Hotel in London, the night on which Wilde must decide whether to stay in England, and face imprisonment, or flee.

The Cadogan Hotel, set is plush red velvet curtains, lamps, chairs and tables and crowded with paintings (pick out the Whistlers and St. Sebastian).

After interval, Act 2 is set two years later, on the 3rd December, 1897, after Wilde’s release from prison, in the Villa Guidice at Posillipo, near Naples. This set is minimalist featuring a white backdrop , a chair and a white slab on which Galileo reclines as we enter.

The production features terrific period costumes, designed by Antoinette Barbouttis . Continue reading DAVID HARE’S ‘JUDAS KISS’ @ THE OLD FITZ

PARIS OPERA BALLET MAGNIFICENT REVIVAL OF NUREYEV’S ‘SWAN LAKE’

If you want to see pure, dazzling, practically perfect classical ballet technique danced superbly then this screening is for you.

The Paris Opera Ballet’s revival of  Nureyev’s SWAN LAKE is superb. The production choreographed by Nureyev was first presented at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1984 and previously last seen in 2011.  This screening was of the performance that took place at the Opera Bastille in Paris on the 8th December 2016.

Nureyev’s rather Freudian version is presented as if it is the main characters Siegfried’s dying dream,  controlled by Wolfgang, his tutor, who in Siegfried’s mind becomes the mysterious, malevolent Rothbart. The orchestra, under maestro Vello Pahn, plays superbly .

For the scenes in the palace there are clean , elegant lines of doorways and for the lakeside ‘white’ scenes there is  a rather Turner like ominous landscape. Continue reading PARIS OPERA BALLET MAGNIFICENT REVIVAL OF NUREYEV’S ‘SWAN LAKE’

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : MURDER AND REDEMPTION @ CITY RECITAL HALL

 

Featured image – Guest violinist Pekka Kuusisto.

This was not your standard Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) concert, but as always it featured absolutely superb playing by the ACO who were in inspired form and dynamically led by the charismatic, bouncing, at times close to dancing guest violinist Pekka Kuusisto, who has taken the place of Richard Tognetti, who is currently in residence at the Barbican in London. (The ACO will play at the Barbican next month).

The concert was divided into two halves,as befits the concert’s title. There was a fascinating blend and contrast of blues grass folk songs sung and played on guitar and banjo by  guest artist Sam Amidon, with a turbulent, passionate Janacek piece (his first string quartet, The Kreutzer Sonata, as well as a dazzling version of a John Adams work entitled, Shaker Loops (1947) .

In the first half, Murder, the turbulent , at times quite spiky Janacek piece was magnificently played by the ACO. The wprk was inspired by the Tolstoy novella of the same name. At one time there was a stormy argument between sections of the orchestra tensely, breathlessly played, and this was contrasted with more melancholic and reflective sections .

Amidon’s folk songs, played in both halves, appeared at first to be simple tunes but then proved to be more complex. In the first half, in the work Way Go Lily, there were rippling flowing rhythms.  How Come That Blood featured a fluid, clip clop almost galloping rhythm – Amidon on banjo , the orchestra accompanying him, and there was an interesting use of pizzicato.

For the first half the songs were arranged by Nico Muhly.  Amidon’s rough hewn, sincere vocal style gave his retelling of these folk songs a powerful punch.  Amidon’s raw playing contrasted with the more refined tomes of the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

The Redemption set opening the second half was a selection of songs performed by Amidon and Kuusisto alone, in a delightfully intimate yet casual and relaxed manner. This contrasted with, and allowed some relief, from the darker subject matter of the program’s first half.

Kuusisto treated his violin more like a folk fiddler, and occasionally joined his voice to Amidon’s in a delightful performance that also included a showy violin solo.

This half also featured an acapella like, haunting and powerful version of Brackett’s Simple Gifts, (the most famous hymn of the Shaker sect) as sung by Amidon.

John Adams work Shaker Loops was rich and multi layered and featured an aching ‘centre’. At times, the piece evoked the ‘music of the spheres’, shimmering and delicate, at other the playing was strident, with bubbling violins and  cellos rumbling underneath.

This was a dazzling concert with a running time of two  hours and ten minutes.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s toured the concert  MURDER AND REDEMPTION nationally between the 2nd and 14th February.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra in Murder and Redemption was on national tour February 2 -14

https://www.aco.com.au

MELBOURNE BALLET COMPANY GETS PHILOSOPHICAL WITH ITS NEW WORK : BEING AND TIME

Simon Hoy is the resident choreographer and tour director of the Melbourne Ballet Company and up till now has created seventeen works for the Company.

Hoy studied at the Australian Ballet School and has worked in Europe, Asia and America before returning to Australia in 2007.

The Melbourne Ballet Company, established in 2007, is led by Alisa Finney, and has talented dancers from around the globe.

As part of a national tour, and the Company’s tenth anniversary celebration, they are bringing a triple bill entitled BEING AND TIME to the Concourse at Chatswood.

This is a world premiere production and will feature new works by Simon Hoy,  Lucas Jervies (who has worked with the Australian Ballet, Scapino Ballet, Expressions Dance Company , Sydney Dance Company and the Queensland Ballet, among others ) and Tim Podesta (who has worked with the South African Ballet Theatre, Queensland Ballet and Projection Dance, to name just a few).

Hoy described this new production, ” as  examining the belief that philosophical thinking begins with, and reflects, its human subjects, in their acting, feeling, and as recognisable, living human individuals. This existential understanding of being is ‘grounded in time’, or the more popular way of describing it, is ‘of living in the moment.”

Hoy has been inspired by reading the works of Martin Heidegger the German philosopher. “While the predominant value of existentialist thought is widely acknowledged to be its freedom, its intrinsic primary virtue lies in its authenticity. Being and Time seeks to explore the concept of authenticity and the meaning of life, striving to articulate the question of Being.

“Through the movements depicted , questions are raised, – where does this movement come from? what does it mean to be human?!”

Hoy said that with this new work he is, “attempting to ignore his knowledge and preconceived ideas about the Company’s dancers, and create something as new, fresh and challenging as possible.”

The company is very excited as Mara Galeazzi, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet – currently performing with them in Woolf Works – will be joining the Company for the production.

Hoy has worked with her previously on a gala, and has already met with her this year.and met her again earlier this year.

In other exciting news, Joseph Phillips , of the State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater in Vladivostok, and formerly of the American Ballet Theatre,  will also be part of the production.

The Melbourne Ballet Company is classically based but like almost all dance companies now performs a mix of a variety of styles including ‘neoclassical’ and contemporary, They have a loyal following and have developed enthusiastic audiences in not just Melbourne but in regional areas too.

Hoy said he  regards regional touring as very important and is excited that the Company  is touring widely including to Darwin, Alice Springs and Western  Australia.

The Melbourne ballet Company can be seen performing BEING AND TIME at the Chatswood Concourse on March 11 and 12.

The Company will return to the Concourse again at the end of June when it will stage another new work, Arche, based on Swan Lake.

 

BOTTICELLI INFERNO : BOTTICELLI’S PAINTING OF DANTE’S VISION OF HELL

Featured image – Director Ralph Loop at an event for the film.

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Dante

This is a  fascinating, intense examination of Sandro Botticelli’s (1445- 1510) famous work that jumps from the Vatican to Florence, Berlin, London and the Scottish lowlands.

The film is directed by Ralph Loop, who also has an expert, an Italian historian who knows the city of Florence in the Renaissance period to enthusiastically narrate part of the film. As well there are interviews with the Directors of the various galleries.

The film examines the history of one of Botticelli’s famous works : the illustrations he produced based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and particularly concentrates on The Inferno and his depiction of the nine levels of, and the map of the descent, into Hell, as described by Dante. In contrast, we also see his vision of Paradise. Continue reading BOTTICELLI INFERNO : BOTTICELLI’S PAINTING OF DANTE’S VISION OF HELL

SWEET SUMMERTIME CAPTURED IN THE NEW EXHIBITION @ TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES

Another way to escape the current seemingly endless scorching Sydney heatwave is to catch the delightful HARBOURING THE BEACH exhibition now showing at the Traffic Jam Galleries.

The exhibition features the works of Anakita Eskalante, Danielle McManus, Bruno Mota, Bronwen Newbury,  Rebecca Pierce and Sally West in a themed exhibition that embraces Summer, The Harbour,  beaches and positivity for this coming year. Don’t forget to check the gallery’s windows facing the street as they feature some of the works included.

Anakita Eskalante’s four works can perhaps be viewed as a group, perhaps companion pieces on the same theme. The texture of the huge rocks are vividly depicted and you can feel the dangerous sea crashing against them. In Walking Along the Edge (Bondi to Coogee) the sea appears to be in a happier mood but is it actually?!
Continue reading SWEET SUMMERTIME CAPTURED IN THE NEW EXHIBITION @ TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES

THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS ‘THE NUTCRACKER’ @ THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LONDON

Ballet lovers should take this opportunity to see this screening of the Royal Ballet’s production of Sir Peter Wright’s version of Tchaikovksy’s /Petipa’s THE NUTCRACKER. This Royal Ballet production was particularly special as it was part of Sir Peter Wright’s 90th birthday celebrations.

This is terrific family fare, a quite traditional and enchanting production with some technically AMAZING dancing, particularly in the second act.

Visually this production is stunning with opulent, lavish sets and costumes and features some wonderful special effects, including a Christmas tree that grows on stage. Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS ‘THE NUTCRACKER’ @ THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LONDON

A STREET CAT NAMED BOB

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode (who also directed Turner & Hooch), this film is based on the autobiographical books by James Bowen about a man and his cat which tells the story of how Bowen, portrayed by Luke Treadaway, a homeless, recovering drug addict, ekes out a rather edgy and skint existence busking on the streets of London.

His patient, sympathetic support worker Val (Joanne Froggatt) manages to find him accommodation. One evening Bowen discovers Bob the cat guzzling his cereal. At first Bowen shoos him, but then he notices that the cat is badly injured, after which he then makes contact with his  neighbour, animal lover and activist Bettie (Ruta Gedmintas). Between Val, Bob and Bettie, Bowen’s life will never be the same. Continue reading A STREET CAT NAMED BOB

NT LIVE PRESENTS HAROLD PINTER’S ‘NO MAN’S LAND’

 

Following their hit run on Broadway, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (they last appeared together in Waiting for Godot back in 2009) returned to the West End stage in Harold Pinter’s NO MAN’S LAND, captured live to cinemas from Wyndham’s Theatre, London as part of the wonderful NT Live series. The production ended its season at the Wyndham on December 17, 2016.

Pinter’s play transfers wonderfully from stage to screen , is clearly and thoughtfully shot with terrific use of close up at certain points ( for example when Patrick Stewart as Spooner crumbles in despair at one point in the first act, or the tension at his crawling exit. Or McKellan’s face when Hirst admits to seducing Spooner’s wife).

Superbly directed by Sean Mathias and with a stellar cast this is a magnificent, tense production. Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS HAROLD PINTER’S ‘NO MAN’S LAND’

CIRCA PRESENTS ‘HUMANS’ @ THE SPAGHETTI CIRCUS BIG TOP, PARRAMATTA

 

The young, fit, highly trained human body is capable of astonishing things.

Circa is a very exciting Brisbane based company.  HUMANS asks what it means to be human. How much weight do we carry? Who can we trust to support our load? It leads us to reflect on our lives, our loved ones, the burdens we carry and the physical and emotional strength it takes to overcome them.

Directed and created by Yaron Lifschitz, HUMANS, performed in the round at the Spaghetti Circus Big Top is a breathtaking combination of acrobatics, contortionism , tumbling, balancing, aerial trapeze, handstands and back flips.

Contact improvistaion, pyramid building, banquine and risley, and hand-to -hand partnering are also featured and strikingly blended with elements of contemporary dance.

At times the audience audibly gasps. There is no real narrative, rather a fluid sequence of various dazzling and surprising interactions combining various finely honed circus skills.

There is much use of haze and the lighting is delicately, warmly vibrant and atmospheric.

The scintillating cast of ten wear a uniform of autumn/russet coloured shorts/leotards and a semi -transparent black top. They wear ankle and/or wrist supports .Some have tattoos,

At the beginning the cast wear casual street clothes and have fun rolling acrobatically twisting in and out of them.

There is a fiercely tender and intimate sense of trust between the cast – some of the lifts, drops, throws ,twists and catches,  let alone the pyramid balancing, are extraordinary.

HUMANS is full of hot and sweaty bodies in explosive, movement , leaping, twisting ,twirling jumping, somersaulting ,precariously balancing , intimately entwined , swooping and swinging from a trapeze , dragged by the hair, sliding across the stage and  forming sculptural poses,

One hilarious sequence that had the audience in rapture was where the cast twisted and bent in almost impossible shapes attempting to lick their elbow. Floating balancing lifts in other sections are contrasted with this A breath, a clap, a bend of the knee,  a beautifully flexed and pointed foot or extended arm are all important .

With astonishing strength, grace, agility and integrity, each moment is seamlessly connected.

The relentless, pulsating soundscape varied from an assortment of popular songs to music theatre standards to techno thump to the sound of a single clap..

The almost hysterical standing ovation at the end was richly deserved.

Running time – 80 minutes without interval.

HUMANS, presented  by Circa, is playing atat the Spaghetti Circus Big Top,  Prince Alfred Square Parramatta up until 19th January.

PACKEMIN PRESENTS CATS @ THE CONCOURSE, CHATSWOOD

Production photography by Grant Leslie.

Meow. Aurilophiles rejoice! The Concourse at Chatswood at the moment is alive with cats – oozing rivers of them, exploring, crawling , stretching, entwining around your feet…

Yes, this is the much loved Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on TS Elliot’s poems in a very impressive staging. The cast perform with power, passion and commitment. Cameron Boxall and Kira Nelson’s choreography is based on and generally sticks to the original; snazzy, tight,  and demanding.

The production featured a HUGE cast of cats (and kittens. We saw the red cast opening night).  At a couple of points – especially for the mega production numbers – the stage was overcrowded, with cast even overflowing onto the side of the stage.

Packemin’s version, directed by Craig Stewart, is a vibrant production, subtly nuanced with delicately, joyous scenes contrasted with poignant, heart breaking ones.

The deceptively simple scaffolding set with its use of projections (a fabulous moon, trains for Skimbleshanks, a delightful major Asian harbour for Growltiger and Griddlebone) is not the standard dumpster site but is extremely effective.

The thrilling, atmospheric lighting by James Wallis was splendid.

The orchestra under the baton of maestros Peter Hayward and Alex Ash, hidden from the public eye, was in fine form.  There was no acknowledgement at the curtain call- a little disappointing.

Audrey Currie’s multi layered, variously textured costumes were very exciting.

Munkustrap, who In some ways acts as the show’s narrator, was excellently portrayed by the lean, lithe Noah Gill Mullins, 

Simon Price (yes, the Red Wiggle) is in excellent form as enchanting Old Deuteronomy, leader of the Jellicle cats, and showcases a fabulous voice.

Josh Ridge as the charismatic, ultra sexy Rum Tum Tugger, has glorious fun prowling and hogging the stage and making all his teen cat followers swoon and scream.  (I was pleased that this version returned to the old ‘standard’ version of his song and not the rap version that was performed in the recent version of Cats at the Capitol.

Skimbleshanks, the fussy Railway Cat, was delightfully portrayed by Daniel WIjngaarden.

The Cockney thieving team of Rumpleteazer and Mungojerrie was enchantingly portrayed by Laura Bunting and Jamie Smith in an acrobatic semi musical act.

Our Grizabella, in tattered purple satin, a red gash for a mouth and streaked eyes, was given a striking, poignant performance by Harmony Lovegrove. Her signature song Memory was sung  wistfully and brought the house down.

The Puccini tribute,  Growltiger’s Last Stand, was thrillingly performed,  and Growltiger, with his piratical eye patch, was wonderfully played by Cameron Barjaktarevic- Hayward.

The enchanting minx Griddlebonee was delightfully played by Kirralee Elliott (Is she as innocent and lovely as she seems, or is she in fact in league with Growltiger’s enemies?).

The battle of the Pekes and The Pollicles was much fun, as was Jennyanydots’ Beetle Tattoo as led by Lana Domeney.

Magical Mister Mistoffelees,  with his starry, spangly black jacket, was terrifically played by Noah Godsell.

The sultry trio of Jellylorm, (Katia van Hilten), Demeter(Giorgia Kennedy) and Bomburalina (Chloe Malek) was splendid, especially in the hot jazz/torch song number, the breathless Macavity (purr).

Overall, a splendid, delightful version that captivates and enchants.

Running time two hours thirty minutes including one interval.

CATS is playing at the Concourse at Chatswood till the 28th January 2017.

 

SIRO – A @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

 

This is madcap, exuberant fun, making for marvelous school holiday fare. It is a high energy dance, techno and visual spectacular direct from Japan and these shows in Sydney are their only Australian performances.

The award-winning dance troupe have taken the world by storm, attracting millions of views on YouTube following their appearances on America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent.

SIRO_A’s unique combination of energetic dance and ground-breaking video-mapping technology – alongside a pulsating techno beat – creating an audio-visual spectacle that appeals to audiences of all ages.

Their name SIRO-A (SIRO = White, colorless in Japanese) means “belonging to no group, impossible to define as anybody.” SIRO-A fuses mime, groundbreaking visual effects, and a techno soundtrack to create a whole new entertainment, “Technodelic & Visual Show. Continue reading SIRO – A @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

CATHERINE TRUMAN: TOUCHING DISTANCE

Featured image – Fish ForThe Fight (1993) by Catherine Truman.

‘Catherine Truman is medium agnostic. Although she is enduringly fond of intricately carving English lime wood, her oeuvre extends into contemporary jewellery, objects, performance, choreography, public sculpture, installation, photography & moving image. She is a holistic maker – acutely aware of her process, while continually evolving her inquiry. Truman’s curiosity takes her & her makings into the anatomically unfamiliar – probing thresholds of human ‘being’.’

Melinda Rackham 2015.

Treat yourself – grab this stunning book , beautifully brought to us by Wakefield Press . This publication is a visual feast, drawing on Rackham’s generous conversations with Truman and her extensive research into her archives, photographs, process documentation, journals, hard-drives and drawings. The book has been illustrated with ravishing, enticing images, predominantly by Grant Hancock. ( This book should receive awards for the photos alone, and Rackham’s insightful writing is thoughtful, clear and concise).

This publication made me want to book a plane trip to Adelaide  straight away and run to the Gray Street Workshop.

Catherine Truman is an established contemporary jeweller and object-maker whose works blur the disciplines of art and science. She is co-founder and current partner of the Gray Street Workshop – an internationally renowned artist-run workshop established in 1985 in Adelaide, South Australia, where she currently works and lives. Continue reading CATHERINE TRUMAN: TOUCHING DISTANCE

EGYPTIAN MUMMIES – EXPLORING ANCIENT LIVES @ THE POWERHOUSE

Allow plenty of time to explore in this huge, sprawling, fascinating exhibition that has just opened at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Elegantly designed, the exhibition is situated on the street level, right near the entrance.

The exhibition features six mummies from the British Museum’s collection, dating from 900 BC – 180 AD, all scanned using the latest CT technology. Interactive, 3D visualisations and allows visitors to explore the mummies, whilst displaying over 200 objects which help place each mummy in its historical context.

The exhibition asks – what lies beneath the wrappings of each mummy ? Who were they, how old were they when they died and what caused their death?! Continue reading EGYPTIAN MUMMIES – EXPLORING ANCIENT LIVES @ THE POWERHOUSE

THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : NOEL! NOEL! @ THE CITY RECITAL HALL

You can tell it’s Christmas with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) are performing this year’s version of Noel!Noel! their marvellous Christmas concert which is also touring to different cities and venues. Several performances have already sold out.

The atmosphere was as if we were transported to Europe and whisked to a huge Tudor mansion.  At others it was as if we were in a huge cathedral.

With the magnificent Brandenburg choir and stunning guest soloist delightful soprano Madison Nonoa from New Zealand, this was a terrific concert.

Established by Paul Dyer in 1999, the choir wows audiences performing both familiar Christmas favourites and rarely heard sacred works, ranging from the eleventh century through to the Baroque. Continue reading THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : NOEL! NOEL! @ THE CITY RECITAL HALL

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : THE CURIOUS WORLD OF HEIRONYMUS BOSCH

Who was Hieronymus Bosch? Why do his strange and fantastical paintings resonate with art lovers now more than ever? How does he bridge the medieval and Renaissance worlds and continue to influence artists even today?! Where did his unconventional and timeless creations come from? These and other questions were answered in this fascinating film.

The film is based on the critically acclaimed, once-only exhibition which brought together practically all Bosch’s major paintings and drawings from around the world to his home town of Den Bosch, Netherlands.

This is a striking exhibition that saw almost half a million visitors marveling at Bosch’s quirky creations and imagination. The Museum had to remain until after midnight every night. Continue reading EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : THE CURIOUS WORLD OF HEIRONYMUS BOSCH

DANCER : A DOCUMENTARY ON THE GREAT UKRAINIAN DANCER SERGEI POLUNIN

“ A theatre animal with an extraordinary natural sense of belonging on the stage.” Monica Mason, former director of the Royal Ballet

Controversial twenty seven year old Sergei Vladimirovich Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer who was formerly a principal dancer with the British Royal Ballet and is currently a principal dancer with the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre and the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Polunin continues to be one of the most sought-after male principals in the ballet world for his rare combination of charisma, athletic grace and authority. Continue reading DANCER : A DOCUMENTARY ON THE GREAT UKRAINIAN DANCER SERGEI POLUNIN

STANLEY SPENCER – A TWENTIETH CENTURY BRITISH MASTER

 

Exquisitely, beautifully illustrated this is a large coffee table book, a fascinating visual feast . It is linked in with the first major exhibition of the artist’s work in Australia which has just finished at Carrick Hill in Adelaide .It follows the story of Stanley Spencer’s various muses and the subjects that made him one of the greatest forces in British painting.

Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) is regarded as one of Britain’s most significant twentieth-century painters. Shortly after studying at the Slade School of Art, Spencer became well known for his paintings depicting Biblical scenes occurring as if in Cookham, the small village beside the River Thames where he was born and spent much of his life. Continue reading STANLEY SPENCER – A TWENTIETH CENTURY BRITISH MASTER

CULTURE CLUB DEBATES THE WHY AND WHEREFORE OF FESTIVALS

panel1

A very exciting and vibrant discussion chaired by Fenella Kernebone who led the panel of Rachel Healy (Adelaide Festival) and Wesley Enoch (Sydney Festival) and Fergus Linehan (Edinburgh International Festival) and asks why we put on festivals, what they offer artists and communities, and dives into future festival trends both locally and internationally.

To begin with, a bit of background in regards to each of the panellists.

Wesley Enoch has been a theatre director and writer for over 25 years specialising in Aboriginal Theatre and cultural stories. He has been the Artistic Director of companies including Queensland Theatre Company 2010-15, Ilbijerri 2003-06 and Kooemba Jdarra 1994-97, as well as the Festival of Pacific Arts – Australia in 2008 and 2012. Wesley has been appointed the Director of Sydney Festival for the period from 2017 to 2019.

Continue reading CULTURE CLUB DEBATES THE WHY AND WHEREFORE OF FESTIVALS

THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS ANASTASIA @ THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, LONDON

anastasia-3-1

A must see for balletomanes, this is completely Natalia Ospiova’s show as Anastasia and she is more than sensational.

The Royal Ballet has just completed the live performances of this production which took place at between the 26th October and the 12th November. We are privileged to see this amazing production via the filming of the performance which took place on the 2nd November which is being presented as part of the current Palace Opera and Ballet season.

The ballet’s subject is the mysterious woman, known as Anna Anderson, who was incarcerated in a mental hospital in Berlin from 1920 and claimed to be Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, who somehow escaped from the cellar where the imperial family had been murdered by the Bolsheviks. Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan explores the whole notion – Was she or wasn’t she?!   Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS ANASTASIA @ THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, LONDON

FRANZ KEMPF : ASPECTS OF A JOURNEY 1947- 2016

franz-kempf-book-cover

Celebrating Kempf’s 90th birthday, FRANZ KEMPF : ASPECTS OF A JOURNEY is the catalogue of the exhibition that was recently on show at the State Library of South Australia.

Melbourne born Kempf studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School and in Austria and Italy. While in the UK he worked as a film designer with Richard Macdonald and was associated with Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, Ceri Richards and Keith Vaughan.

From 1973 to 1981 Kempf was Senior Lecturer in printmaking at the University of South Australia and he has been a Guest Lecturer at the Slade School of Fine Art, the University of London, the Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland; Gloucester College of Art, United Kingdom and has participated in over 90 one man invitation exhibitions in America, China , Germany, Israel and Poland.

In 1964 Kempf was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society UK and in December 2002 he was awarded The Member of the Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the Arts. In 2006 he was the subject of a documentary film. Continue reading FRANZ KEMPF : ASPECTS OF A JOURNEY 1947- 2016

KENNETH BRANAGH THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘THE ENTERTAINER’

Filmed at the Garrick Theatre, this is an emotionally compelling, raw and gripping production that has just closed in London. It is the last of the season of the Kenneth Branagh Company performances.

Branagh follows yet again in the footsteps of Olivier in taking on the iconic role of Archie Rice, the fading ‘comic’ music hall star.

When Osborne’s THE ENTERTAINER was first produced in 1957, it had great impact, similar to another of his play’s, Look Back In Anger.  We see England, after the Suez crisis, a declining power, wistfully reflecting on its former Imperial glory. This now resonates with contemporary force with the Brexit debate.

THE ENTERTAINER is at its strongest when the playwright vents his spleen. The family arguments have the piercing intensity of a Tennessee Williams or a Eugene O’Neill.

As designed by Christopher Oram we are in a bedraggled theatre. The halcyon past of a seaside resort are seen in one dimension, evoked by a fading travel poster. All the action is framed in a tarnished gilt proscenium arch; theatrical and domestic scenes fluidly interchange.

Branagh as Archie Rice gives a bravura performance. We see many sides to Archie; the suave sophisticated musical hall artiste on stage, the charming cad and serial womaniser, and  and the broken, tired and haunted man terrified of being a mediocre failure who is ‘dead behind the eyes’.

He is nimble in his light-footed tapping and twirling, in tuxedo and bow tie, with a flick of the wrist and his quicksilver tongue, he is full of vibrant, dangerous mischief. Some of the innuendo –laden gags performed with a determined smile now seem excruciatingly cringe worthy and verge on the offensive, including some misogynistic  lines, some blasts  against the Poles and the Irish and some jingoistic songs.

Archie can be seen as a Shakespearean anti hero character, aneathetising his slow spiritual death with nostalgia, drink and humour yet still full of distinctive aplomb and seedy magnetism. We do get to feel his hidden self loathing and desperation.

Sophie McSherra was excellent as Jean , Archie’s rather brittle idealistic daughter, strong willed, recently politicised and trying to make more of her life.

As her half brother, pacifist Frank, handsome Jonah Hauer-King, is tremendous. We see his confusion and pain, and his attempts to protect Archie.

Greta Scacchi plays Phoebe, Archie’s put upon wife, who is weary and is descending into a life of soddled drunkenness. She has been searching for something more from her life however circumstances intervened and she now sees herself as being past her best. A victim of class snobbery and infidelity she is now stuck in the provinces and looking after Billy Rice.

Billy Rice, Archie’s father, was magnificenly portrayed by John Hurt. He is now old, frail and doddery but still has a twinkle in his eye, and is wonderfully full of Edwardian staunch pride.

A socially and politically charged study of the mediocre middle class unraveling under the weight of their own failures, this is, atleast for the time being, the last Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company production  to take place at the Garrick Theatre, and the last play in which Branagh will star, for the time being.

Running time 2 hours 45 including one interval. There is a short documentary placing the show in context before the performance and an entertaining historical questions screen at interval.

THE ENTERTAINER screens at selected cinemas 17-21 November. Performances at the Garrick Theatre in London closed on November 12 .

CAT IN AN ALPHABET ENDGAME BY CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS

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This is the latest – and for the moment the last – of the marvellous series of Midnight Louie/Temple Barr feline detective novels that have wound their way from A to Z. There is as much fun as ever in this the 28th book in the series.

Multi-genre novelist Carole Nelson Douglas is the writer of of two bestselling series: the contemporary Midnight Louie feline PI mysteries, and the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, noir urban fantasies set in 2013.

Douglas has won more than thirty writing awards, including RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Awards for Mystery and Versatility. Her NYT Notable Book of the Year, Good Night, Mr. Holmes, launched a series following the adventures of the first Sherlockian woman protagonist, Irene Adler. Continue reading CAT IN AN ALPHABET ENDGAME BY CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN’S FAVOURITE

Featured pic – Lorenza Borrani. Pic by Edwina Pickles.

Under the excellent direction of guest director and violinist Lorenza Borrani, who clearly had a great rapport with the Orchestra, we were treated to a superb performance by the ACO.

The SCHNITTKE Sonata for violin and chamber orchestra was a striking, most unusual work in four movements that made us sit up and prick our ears.

The opening was questioning, sharp, spiky and emphatic. The second Allegretto movement was dance-like in atmosphere. The orchestral ensemble was very focused and driven. There was a use of pizzicatto. Sometimes the music felt like the whirling and turning of the spheres. The third movement was emphatic with ominous deep double bass.  Borrani was amazing in her solos, fiery and hypnotic yet tender and liquid as well.

In the fourth movement, Anthony Romaniuk’s harpsichord entered the piece at crucial moments, and he also performed  a short dazzling solo. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN’S FAVOURITE