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 CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN AND PROKOFIEV

 

A most glorious concert full of superb playing by the ACO under the guest leadership of Lorenza Borrani who was very stylish in elegant black culottes.

What was interesting to note is that all three works were not originally written for a string orchestra.

First we heard PROKOFIEV’s Violin Sonata No.1 in F minor, arranged for violin and strings by Borrani. It was given a powerful, passionate performance. The cellos and basses generally took the piano parts, with the violas acting as the middle of the keyboard, the violins on top.

The first movement opened sombrely and sorrowfully and featured an eloquent, almost heartbreaking solo by Borrani. The cellos and double bass rumbled in agreement with Borrani’s anguished statement, the violins then joined the discussion. The music became shimmering and floating yet sharp and spiky. This then changed to a somewhat lighter mood and melody that swirled and pulsated.

The second movement had a very energetic opening by the cellos and double bass, with a rather ominous march like tempo.
Borrani was fiery and defiant with sharp, spiky flurries. An angry discussion developed between the two sections of the Orchestra with Borrani attempting to be a peacemaker. A relentless driven rhythm took us to the dramatic ending. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN AND PROKOFIEV

GIRL : ONE OF THE GEMS AT THIS YEAR’S FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

It is hard to believe that this is Lukas Dhont’s debut feature film. It is beautifully photographed, terrifically acted and raises important issues .

It looks not just at the hard work, daily grind and obsessiveness needed in order to become a professional ballet dancer but also the generally hidden physically and emotionally difficult world of being a transgender teen. Body image is also most important both in the ballet world and generally. GIRL is about both Lara’s gender-changing journey and her all-consuming relentless passion to be a great dancer — to the exclusion of all other desires.

Cross gender actor Victor Polster plays Lara, a teenage girl now living in an apartment in Brussels with her father Matthias (Arieh Worthalter )and younger brother Milo. (Oliver Bodart) Lara has just transferred to a new dance school where she dreams of becoming a ballerina. Lara was, however, born with a male body, so she has been undergoing hormone treatments while eagerly awaiting confirmation for a sex-reassignment operation. The people in her life, for the most part, are very caring and supportive.In the eyes of her accepting father, Mathias, Lara is already a girl, and as her Flemish-speaking psychiatrist puts it, “The only thing we can do is confirm and support that.”

Dhont develops Lara’s story with the awkward growing-up moments everyone can relate to: the lunchroom on the first day of school, a tentative first sexual encounter, the gap between young people and parents at adolescence and so on. It is not clear whether Lara’s classmates know her secret, but it appears she’s trying to keep it hidden (though she uses the girls’ locker room, she comes already dressed and makes excuses so as not to shower with the others after). We see ghastly peer pressure when Lara is extremely embarrassed at a friend’s birthday party.

What could have be yet another highly awkward moment, when a teacher asks Lara to close her eyes and the rest of the female students are asked to raise their hand to indicate whether they are ok with Lara being in their dressing room, is shown in a brief, rather casual way.

And at school, a teacher discomfits Lara by drawing attention to her in the ‘what I did over the holidays’ round. We see Lara using white tape to flatten her crotch before ballet class – and that area becomes painfully infected and bleeding – which is also compared to the tape on all the girl’s feet to try and keep their feet surviving during pointe work (but still become a horrendous bloody wreck) .Both are used in the search for the image of perfection.

On the other hand Lara beams, delightedly when she drops off Milo at his school and a teacher asks if she is the boy’s sister.

Both Matthias and her therapist ask about the kind of boys she likes, but Lara hasn’t given it much thought and would prefer to leave it until after The Operation. And you get the feeling Lara is not really much of a talker , with awkward conversations between Lara and Matthias. Matthias is worried about the operation. Lara on the other hand counting the hours.

A dance student at the Royal Ballet School Antwerp who makes his screen acting debut here, Polster as Lara is amazing giving an incredibly assured performance and he sure can dance brilliantly .

Another issue is the film’s unflurried approach to nudity, which is very frank at times with Lara staring at the mirror wondering when her breasts will start to grow and how long before her ‘ male equipment ‘ can be removed. It is also perhaps typical of the dance and art world in general .

The supporting cast is very strong and Worthalter (Sympathy for the Devil) in particular is brilliant as Matthias, but the film really belongs to Polster as Lara.The startling ending is sure to provoke lots of discussion.

This was a  powerful, thought provoking film .

GIRL is playing  as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival which is screening until the 10th April, 2019.

Running time – with cinema ads allow 2 hours no interval

https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/girl/

WATER LILLIES BY MONET – THE MAGIC OF WATER AND LIGHT

Brought to us by the team who produced Florence and the Uffizi Gallery and Caravaggio: The Soul and The Blood this is a journey through the life and times of Claude Monet ( 1840-1926) the obsessive Impressionist . An art-world disruptor at the turn of the 20th century whose obsession with capturing light and water broke all convention, Monet revolutionised Modern Art with his timeless masterpieces. His intention was to try and transfer onto canvas the “first, pure impression” of forms and objects as they appear to the eye as if they have never been seen before.

Monet was always trying to capture in paint Water,Light and Air. He lived most of his life near the River Seine . Like Turner and Constable ( for example) he painted in all kinds of weather. The term ‘ Impressionism ‘ comes from the title of his 1874 work Impression Sunrise included in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his colleagues as an alternative to the Paris Salon. In his famous gardens at Giverny (where he lived from 1883) he set himself the challenge to create the nature he wanted to paint, creating the striking way the garden was designed and the way the plants were organised in the garden, for example. Continue reading WATER LILLIES BY MONET – THE MAGIC OF WATER AND LIGHT

UNTITLED : THE NEW EXHIBITION @ TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES

 

Yvonne Maloney-Law Glasshouse Country

The current vibrant and exciting exhibition at Traffic Jam Galleries , UNTITLED , features guest artists foreign to the gallery space. This particular exhibition has been curated from local and interstate practitioners at varying stages of their artistic journeys .

These works may challenge, inspire and excite, with diversity being a key factor, reflected through the multiplicity of practice, subject matter and medium ranging from wood and bronze to various types of paint and methods of printing and including butterflies and gold leaf. The whole of the Gallery space is used for this particular exhibition and don’t forget to check both sides of the windows as some works are displayed facing the street.

In no particular order the artists are as follows JUDE HOTCHKISS . AL ROBERTS . TESS CHODAN . SIMONE READ . LEON LESTER. YVONNE MOLONEY-LAW . AYJAY . NIK UZUNOVSKI . ANNABEL SCANLEN and RICHARD CROSLAND.

TESS CHODAN is represented by some extraordinary beautiful and thought provoking butterflies and fauna in bell jars .They have quite a Victorian feel at first sight – and are sourced from antiques – but are very contemporary with the attention to detail and concern for the environment (look at the bees in Diaspora).

RICHARD CROSLAND has three striking wooden sculpture works on display – a thrumming speedy go kart, an amazingly finely detailed Engine with interlocking parts ( which works) and a huge representation of the London Eye. The detail is amazing , the craftsmanship and design sensational.

JUDE HOTCHKISS has several dynamically explosive thickly textured abstract paintings showing, full of tumbling brushstrokes and texture capturing the weather ( eg Stormbreak ) .

AYJAY is represented by three paintings with dynamic use of colour and composition commenting on religion and death

LEON LESTER ‘s swirling, cascading op art works – contrasted with ones that are full of cool straight lines – captivate and at times delight others calmly reflectively lead the eye.

YVONNE MALPNEY -LAW has provided some exquisite, seemingly fragile and delicate intaglio prints of various landscapes .They appear to be water colours but aren’t.

SIMONE READ ‘s series of aerial views of various rock pools around Sydney with their dynamic use of composition and outstanding use of texture are magnificent .The viewer could be in the water.

AL ROBERTS’s bronze sculptures are striking and challenging , including a fish , two sculptures of nude males and a strange John the Baptist like head( Adam’s Apple) .All commenting on the changing ageing human body.

ANNABEL SCANLEN has three subtle yet rather Surrealist like drawings included.

NIK UZUNOVSKI has several abstract bright bold and colourful swirling works showing as part of the exhibition.

A very arresting exhibition .

The present exhibition UNTITLED runs at the Traffic Jam Galleries Neutral Bay 8-29 March 2019

https://www.trafficjamgalleries.com/

 

EXIT THE KING @ CHIPPEN STREET THEATRE

Theatre Excentrique under the informed , thoughtful direction of Anna Jahjah have brought to Sydney a fresh , exciting and challenging production of Eugene Ionesco’s EXIT THE KING , a classic example of his ‘absurdist’ works , in an updated translation featuring the baroque music of cellist/vocalist extraordinaire Sister Ursuline, it is a metaphysical meditation on death and preparing to die.

We enter a topsy turvy and shattered world where time is bent , fluid and changeable. King Bérenger the First is dying after an extremely long life. His kingdom is disintegrating . He no longer can head his army, tell the rain to fall, nor the trees to grow. He is dying and there is nothing he can do to prevent it. He has lived from moment to moment but now there is no more time .His first wife, Queen Marguerite , is obsessively keeping track of time. “You will die in 1 hour and 30 minutes!” she informs him. And the doctor agrees. But King Bereneger refuses to listen. He chooses instead to bask in the love of his second wife, Queen Marie. Suddenly there are just “1 hour and 13 minutes left!” .Or is it fifteen ?The clock is ticking… Surrounded by his two wives, his cleaning lady, his doctor and a guard, Bérenger has to learn to accept the inevitable .He struggles and rages against it but to no avail. Continue reading EXIT THE KING @ CHIPPEN STREET THEATRE

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY GALA CONCERT @ THE CONCOURSE

This spectacular opening concert for 2019 brought together the combined forces of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, the Choir and Pacific Opera in a delightful performance with an Austrian/Viennese theme with music by Mozart and Strauss . The hall was decorated with huge glorious garlands of flowers in celebratory mode.

Energetically and enthusiastically conducted by Dr Nicholas Milton , the concert began dynamically with the crashing, flurried Polka Schnell Op 324 “ Unter Bonner und Blitz” ( Thunder and Lightning ) by Johan Strauss.

Then we heard a selection of four pieces from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro , the Orchestra with artists from Pacific Opera .During the brisk overture the singers arrive ( dressed as if for a very posh party , the men in tuxedos the ladies in elegant evening gowns ) and make their way to the balconies .Sull’aria , che soave zeffretto ( the Countess Almavira dictating a note for Susanna to take to the Count) was an exquisite duet sung by Emma Nightingale and Michelle Ryan. Porgi , Amor , qualche ristoro another of the Countess’ arias was passionately sung by Hannah Greenshields from her balcony seat .( yes for each piece we had a different Countess) . Deh Vieni non tardar , Susanna’s aria, was splendidly sung by Emily Turner – on stage – with a glittering mask. It was lyrical and reflective. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY GALA CONCERT @ THE CONCOURSE

THE SHORT STORY OF YOU AND I

Richard James Allen

 

Hot off the press from the University of Western Australia Publishing comes this wonderful book, THE SHORT STORY OF YOU AND I, the latest by Richard James Allen .

Allen is an Australian born poet whose writing has appeared widely in journals, anthologies, and online over many years. Former Artistic Director of the Poets Union, Inc., he has written ten books of poetry and edited a national anthology of writing for performance. Richard is also well known for his multi-award-winning career as a filmmaker and choreographer with The Physical TV Company and as a performer in a range of media and contexts.                   Continue reading THE SHORT STORY OF YOU AND I

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA

Joe Kalou as Jesus

Neil Gooding and Packemin Productions have brought a sensational version of this ‘rock opera’ to Parramatta Riverside Theatres. The strong, powerful production is fresh and vibrant and simultaneously full of great attention to detail and yes respectful too even though perhaps a touch controversial in a couple of aspects.          Continue reading JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA

VINCENT VAN GOGH : A NEW WAY OF SEEING

Beautifully photographed, proceeding at a rather leisurely pace, this film directed by David Bickerstaff examines the life and times of Vincent van Gogh using the amazing resources of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum .We are granted privileged access behind the scenes . We see how the various works are hung in the Museum and some of the directors and curators analyse van Gogh’s works and life.
Some of the works are examined in extreme close up detail and van Gogh’s approach to his work minutely analysed. It attempts to analyse his creative process.

The film is roughly organised chronologically, following Van Gogh’s short, turbulent life. It is a blend of voiceover narration (often Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo) talking heads segments with the curators etc, footage of the museum display and rostrum shots of paintings and letters, and Jamie de Courcey as a brooding, intense Vincent . Contemporary artists currently working, such as Lachlan Goudie, express their admiration for Van Gogh There’s also commentary from Theo’s great-grandson, Vincent Willem van Gogh, about the family history. We see not only the Museum but other important places in Vincent’s life – the asylum at Saint-Remy where he stayed at one point, the house at Auvers Sur Oise, his last bedroom and more.

Bickerstaff’s film reminds us that van Gogh, having created almost 2100 works which included 820 oil paintings and more than 1300 watercolours, was relentlessly driven by his artistic inspiration. Today, perhaps his ‘madness’ would be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

Born in 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands, van Gogh’s life was heavily influenced by Protestant ideologies of selflessness and an impassioned will to work The film follows his life, Beginning as an art dealer in Goupil & Cie, van Gogh came in close proximity to the trends and works of modern artists and began understanding ‘art’. A shift to the company’s London headquarters within a few years left van Gogh sad and rather disenchanted. At one point Van Gogh even attempted his own ministry, but his sermons were most unpopular so he discontinued.

Encouraged by his brother Theo to become a painter, Van Gogh became heavily influenced by the great painters such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Charles Blanc, Francois Millet and so on., attempting to capture scenes of nature and peasants working in the fields that became his signature early style, leading to his first major work The Potato Eaters (1885) ( which both Theo and van Gogh’s friend and fellow artist Anthon van Rappard heavily criticised , but is remarkable for its perspective, major control and accomplishment as a group portrait and it’s light and dark imagery.

Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 where he became influenced by Impressionism and Pointillism. He also discovered the bohemian avant-garde of Montmartre, in particular the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. ( Both painted working-class women who owned or worked in the cafes frequented by artists, a radical subject for the era) . Van Gogh also created paintings that show the influence of Japanese woodblock prints eg : the lyrical Flowering Plum Orchard (1887) .van Gogh’s friendship with Australian artist John Russell ( and Russell’s portrait of him as recently seen in the exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW) are briefly mentioned.

A move to the countryside – Arles – saw the start of Van Gogh’s most productive period, during which he completed 200 paintings, including the iconic Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers in 1888. Arles was where van Gogh lived with friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin for a short while, ending with the notorious argument in which van Gogh cut off a piece of his own ear, which eventually led to the more severe mental illness that saw him for a while being keptin a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Remy, France. It was there, in his studio-cell, that van Gogh rendered the famous swirling, tempestuous sky of The Starry Night in 1889, the year before his suicide aged 37, dying in Theo’s arms..Other famous paintings we see include The Irises and the iconic Sunflowers as well as The Wheatfields and portraits of Dr Gachet .

Van Gogh’s legacy is examined and we sadly ponder the torn, troubled artist’s life.

Runnng time is 90 minutes.

VINCENT VAN GOGH : A NEW WAY OF SEEING screens at selected cinemas from February 7 2019.

https://www.dendy.com.au/movies/vincent-van-gogh-a-new-way-of-seeing

 

BRETT AND WENDY : A LOVE STORY BOUND BY ART

Drumroll…… crash! Kim Carpenter has brought us a marvellous show about the life and times of controversial, larger than life famous Australian artist Brett Whiteley .I was fortunate enough to catch the last performance of the Riverside season . Brett was the bad boy genius of Australian art, Wendy his muse and wife. Together they dominated Sydney’s art world for over two decades.

They were charismatic,  convivial yet fractured and damaged. A Whiteley painting can fetch millions at auction but his life ended sadly in a cheap motel on the south coast.The pair’s legacy lives on in Brett’s work, his studio, and Wendy’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay. Whiteley would have celebrated his 80th birthday this year .This theatre piece is part of the retrospective, in conjunction with Brett Whiteley: Drawing is Everything, a major exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.

The show depicts their tumultuous relationship. Whiteley was just 17 when he first met Wendy Julius, then 15, the woman who would become his inspiration, wife, and the mother of their only child. Arkie Later in life she also became for a time his enemy when divorce , drugs and infidelity shattered their relationship. After Brett’s death, Wendy again emerged as his stalwart champion, honouring his creative genius and keeping his memory alive. Continue reading BRETT AND WENDY : A LOVE STORY BOUND BY ART

NT LIVE :  ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

This sensational, broad, swirling epic, filmed live from the National Theatre , is magnificently staged and acted with towering performances by Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the lead roles. Directed by Simon Godwin we see how the two worlds of Egypt and Rome collide and love blindly leads to tragedy.

The production has been transposed to now with mobiles, hi tech computer screens etc and contemporary speech patterns. But the poetry remains and is fresh and exciting ( eg Enobarbus’s “ purple barge “ speech ) .It begins with Caesar’s (Tunji Kasim) arrival at Cleopatra’s monument to discover she has just died and he issues order that she be buried alongside Antony. “No grave upon the earth shall clip in it ,A pair so famous.” We then look back on the great relationship between Antony and Cleopatra .

In Hildegard Bechtler’s set designs Egypt is represented by cool turquoise and water pools, Rome by stark polished offices and war rooms with precise hardness and neatness and displays of primitive masks ( Egyptian plunder? ) . Video footage of riot-shield clashes and a crescendo of mortar blasts in bombed-out streets put us bang in the middle of current middle-eastern clashes .There is a wonderful evocation of a submarine and The Monument uses tall simple lines. At times the use of the revolve is dizzying . Continue reading NT LIVE :  ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA