All posts by Mark Pigott

A memorable part of Mark’s childhood, in Sydney in the sixties, was spent queuing up in George Street to watch the latest movies. Mark remains an avid cinema and theatre goer, and believe that the essentials of great drama remain the same in both ‘'genres'’. Mark’s other interests are photography, cricket and rugby. He is happy to discuss the finer points of swing bowling at any time.

ZELA MARGOSSIAN QUINTET @ THE FOUNDRY 616

 

We are in Foundry 616 on Valentine’s Day and being serenaded by the ZELA MARGOSSIAN QUINTET with its heady mix of jazz, classical and Armenian influences. Drums and percussion are duelling away. The tenor sax is wailing like a snake charmer, the double bass drives the jazz rhythms and Zela’s piano permeates the room with passion.

Zela was born in Beirut of Armenian heritage, studied classical piano and then made her way to Sydney and became immersed in jazz. These diverse influences meld together seamlessly as the band played a mixture of original compositions, and covers of some classical Armenian pieces.

The band opened with a bright and punchy original composition, Aleeq, followed by Dreams by Arno Babajanian. Arno was a classical composer & pianist from Armenia who studied in Russia and played throughout the Soviet Union and Europe  late in the last century. He took Armenian folk tunes and moulded them into classical pieces. Continue reading ZELA MARGOSSIAN QUINTET @ THE FOUNDRY 616

THE REST I MAKE UP : A CHARMING AND INTERESTING FILM

 

“Being an artist you have to abandon any notion of things making sense.” Maria Irene Fornes makes this comment late in the film despite living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is fascinating to observe Fornes’ openness, thoughtful insights and observations and this is despite of her severely diminished memory. Her sister observes that she may have diminished memory capacity but her feelings are intact and her personality exists in these feelings.

Maria Irene Fornes is either described as “the greatest writer you’ve never heard of” or dismissed as “Susan Sontag’s ex-lover”. A founder of Off-Off-Broadway experimental theatre, Fornes is known as ‘Mother Avant garde’ in the Off-Off-Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre world.

When writer and director Michelle Memran realised dementia was causing the once-prolific playwright’s faltering productivity, she began filming their time together. She asks Fornes about no longer writing and she replies that talking to camera is like writing. This film is recorded over several years and is really a collaboration between Memran and Fornes, one mostly holding a camera and asking questions and the other creating stories and making wonderful playful observations. One of Memran’s frequent lines is “tell me a story.” On one occasion Memran uses this line as two small boats pass by and Fornes launches into a simple and charming tale. On another occasion Fornes confuses her original meeting with Memran to the time she first met Susan Sontag. Continue reading THE REST I MAKE UP : A CHARMING AND INTERESTING FILM

TUESDAY : FUNNY, WRY AND INSIGHTFUL

 

TUESDAY is funny, wry and insightful. Its astute observations of four slightly malfunctioning characters make this a worthwhile reason to visit Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre.

There are four characters delivering a series of brief monologues. They reveal their thoughts and make observations about their lives and occurrences on this reasonably mundane Tuesday. All the characters have a fascinating discord between their view of themselves and their actual behaviours that they reveal as they go about their day. It is the classic inconsistency between the view from within and the view from without and it is brilliantly observed by playwright Louris van de Geer. Continue reading TUESDAY : FUNNY, WRY AND INSIGHTFUL

LUCIBELA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Lucibela © N’Krumah Lawson Daku 2017

Lucibela has a powerful but mellow voice and used it to great effect in her Sydney Festival show at City Recital Hall. Lucibela is from Cape Verde, an island country off the coast of Africa and a former Portuguese colony. In the tradition of the great Cape Verde singer Cesaria Evora. Lucibela started her career singing Cesaria Evora, Titina and Bana songs for tourists in the hotels of Cape Verde and has taken that background into her own concerts at festivals and venues around the world.

She was joined on stage by a marvellous band featuring drums, an electric guitar, a seven string bass and a cavaquinho. A cavaquinho is a small four stringed instrument from the guitar family. The band was very skilled, passionate and played in a variety of styles. Continue reading LUCIBELA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT ‘ICONS’ : A FANTASTIC SHOW

From his dramatic entry from the rear of the Magic Mirror Spiegeltent to his closing with a singalong version of Whitney Houston’s HOW WILL I KNOW, Le Chateau Chocolat comes up  with a fantastic show. Admittedly, in the singalong he didn’t think the Sydney audience was up to reaching the high notes so he said that he would take it from there. This and similar asides during the concert were performed with charm and humour.

He performs a variety of songs from his musical heroes and links them with stories about his life. Madonna is his number one icon but he also plays loving tributes to various disco artists, David Bowie, Meatloaf, Pavarotti and a few fairly eclectic performers. His interpretations are heartfelt, innovative and make full use of his wide ranging powerful voice.

Le Gateau Chocolat entertains us with his soundtrack from when he completed the London marathon. When the audience laughs at his finishing time he takes them to task, explaining what a herculean task it was and the similarities he now has with Usain Bolt! Continue reading LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT ‘ICONS’ : A FANTASTIC SHOW

JULIA HOLTER @ THE SPIEGELTENT

Pic by Tonje Thilesen

Performing in the spectacular Spiegeltent, Julia Holter’s ambitious post-rock music reflects on the turmoil and disharmony of a post truth world. There are moments of extraordinary beauty in her and the band’s performance but she is quick to subvert the melody and introduce tension and discordance. The overall sound is an intriguing mixture of pop, classical and dissonant music.

Her ethereal voice is employed as another instrument and often soars with Dina Maccabee’s violin and Sarah Belle Reid’s trumpet or flugelhorn. Her voice is at times reminiscent of Regina Spektor, Nico or Kate Bush but she has her own style and is quite happy to let her vocals blend in with the other instruments to achieve the sound she is creating.

Julia’s music has been described as melding influences from classical music and baroque to post-rock, 70s pop and folk, and found sound, all held together by her electronic keyboard and delicate vocals. There are also Eastern European folk influences, especially when Tashi Wada is playing the bagpipes. Continue reading JULIA HOLTER @ THE SPIEGELTENT

THE NUTCRACKER AND I : A SUBLIME AND ENCHANTING EXPERIENCE

 

The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu, with ballerina Désirée Ballantyne, animations by Yeast Culture, and choreography by Jenna Lee. Photo by Mark Allen

Blending a piano rendition of Tchaikovky’s romantic melodies with 35,000 digital images and a live ballerina THE NUTCRACKER AND I produces a purely enjoyable and magical creation. Having both a world renowned concert pianist and ballerina performing against constantly changing colourful backgrounds and characters is a sublime and enchanting experience.

The production of THE NUTCRACKER AND I is quite beautiful but an unusual format. Images are projected onto a see-through black gauze screen at the front of the stage. Pianist Alexandra Dariescu and ballerina Désirée Ballantyne are illuminated behind the screen. The images tell the classical Nutcracker story. Snow is falling as the Silberhaus family decorates their Christmas tree. The magician and toymaker Drosselmeyer arrives. Presents are exchanged including a nutcracker. Clara’s dream that night includes the nutcracker fighting with the Mouse King before being transformed into a prince. The familiar story continues with matching images, both static and dynamic, on screen. Continue reading THE NUTCRACKER AND I : A SUBLIME AND ENCHANTING EXPERIENCE

THE WEEKEND @ CARRIAGEWORKS

 

Shakira Clanton is outstanding In Henrietta Baird’s harrowing one-woman play, THE WEEKEND. She dances, swears, laughs and cries as she tells Lara’s story of her search, in various pockets of Redfern, for her wayward husband. She embodies the voices of a variety of women, men and children. These various characters are full of personality and contrasts. Drug use is prevalent in this community and Shakira captures the different levels of degradation apparent in their voices as she searches through some decrepit drug dens in the towers of Redfern. Her performance as Lara captures her humanity, foibles, humour and determination of this wonderfully written character.

This play focuses on the conflicts of a mother who loves her children and goes interstate for three weeks work so that she can provide for them. She leaves them in the care of her partner Simon, the children’s father, but his drug addiction leads him to abandoning the children. She has seen many admirable aspects of Simon but as she discovers the drug houses he frequents and the women he has relationships with she begins to realise more about the situation and about herself. Continue reading THE WEEKEND @ CARRIAGEWORKS

PAMELA SHAW PRESENTS : NAUGHTY…WITH A BAND

 

Pamela always wanted to be a performer. She wanted ballet lessons when she was six years old but her mother, a former model, disdainfully rejected that idea. Ballet dancers get fat legs. She eventually found her people by a fairly meandering path and became a performer, and in Naughty, Pamela tells the story of the some of highs and lows of her show business life. The joys and sorrows are linked by a selection of songs that lend insight into her remarkable life. Her voice is well suited to the show tunes that make up a considerable part of this show.

Pamela has been inspired by Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Matilda’s strength and intelligence and her ability to reject negativity are some of Matilda’s inspiring characteristics. Pamela sees Matilda’s willingness to take risks as a creed to live your life by. After opening with It’s Possible (In McElligot’s Pool) by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty from the musical Seussical she jumps into Tim Minchin’s Naughty, from Matilda The Musical. These lyrics from Naughty give us significant insight into Pamela’s life. She set out to climb the hill to show business, ran into various difficulties and in the end decided you have to take risks and make your own way. Continue reading PAMELA SHAW PRESENTS : NAUGHTY…WITH A BAND

ELEANOR AND MARY ALICE @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

 

Petra Kalive and Adu Sappir in Eleanor and Mary Alice

What happens behind the scenes at major points in world history? Are the men who are world leaders discussing sport and are their wives discussing catering? In Peta Tait’s play, ELEANOR AND MARY ALICE, we discover that these are some of the peripheral elements of world events 70 years ago. Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Alice Evatt, respectively the wives of the President of the United States and of the Minister for External Affairs, met several times and this play presents one meeting in Sydney during World War II and a second meeting in Paris in 1948. They discuss modern art, writing, speech making, morale boosting, diplomacy, refugees and the burden of catering.

The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 10th December 2018. ELEANOR AND MARY ALICE celebrates and examines this significant occasion. Peta Tait’s play is both an intimate exploration of the relationship of these two fascinating women and a wider look at equality, refugees, the roles of women and world history.

Sarah McNeill plays Eleanor and nicely captures her as a privileged patrician. Petra Kalive has a complex character to portray and strikes a good balance as she explores Mary Alice’s artistic and painting background and her Australian homeliness and her role as a politician’s wife.

A highlight of the performance is the cello playing of Adi Sappir. The music supports the text and adds wonderful atmosphere and commentary to the drama. Adi’s singing is fascinating and adds to the evening’s sublime music. She sits on stage with her cello and the dramatic lighting makes a striking image.

Director Deborah Leiser-Moore draws excellent intimate performances from Sarah McNeill & Petra Kalive. She mostly has them right in the middle of the room between the two halves of the audience. The two halves of the audience are facing each other. We feel like we are listening in to private conversations. The disadvantage of this format is one has to twist around to see the images projected on a side wall. The projections are mostly of paintings being discussed and are partially obscured by the audience.

ELEANOR AND MARY ALICE reminds us of the origins of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As human rights are deteriorating in Australia and around the world this Declaration should not be taken for granted. ELEANOR AND MARY ALICE has a brief run at the Seymour Centre until 8th December. Other events that reflect on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are a public address on ‘The Decline of Human Rights Protection in Australia by Gillian Triggs on 9th December and a public forum on ‘The Next 70 Years at the University of Sydney on 10th December.

Petra Kalive in . Eleanor and Mary Alice

CHARENEE WADE @ FOUNDRY 616

 

Jazz singer Charenée Wade used her dynamic voice and her considerable performance skills to entertain the full house at Foundry 616 for the second last night of the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival.

The evening opened with an instrumental featuring the outstanding pianist Oscar Perez. His energetic and embodied performance drew on both his Cuban roots and his New York background. Local musicians Brett Hirst on double bass and Paul Derricott on drums supported and complemented this world class pianist. Continue reading CHARENEE WADE @ FOUNDRY 616