Mardi Gras 2019

‘CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY’. BUSY AND BRASH BUT TERRIBLY SAD.

CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY is very theatrically presented.  A theatricality that is informed by the bible-thump of proselyting and the leftover shame of “unholy, impure practices”.   You can hurl the boy out of the Mormons but that eager-to-please-ness is still there in the performance and it takes a bit of a leap of faith to enjoy Steven Fales extraordinary story.

Born into a Mormon family and a junior true believer, as witnessed by his own 7 year old voice singing on the audio track as the show begins,  Fales enters with the smile and false laugh that has been styled by his experiences in rote delivery.  His story takes his audience through his upbringing, his youth mission to Portugal, a seriously in-denial hopeful marriage and a coming out that is far from typical.  All with an honesty and truthful text that gives the audience insights into what, how and why.

It’s an energetic performance from Fales, directed by Jack Hofsiss, who uses the whole stage with a dynamism related to the place in the story.  He also changes clothes occasionally and has well timed moments of stillness and direct address.   Though the show has quite a bit of discussion around sex practices, the humour and humanity is available to the female audience equally with the many men who nod with recognition.  Fales doesn’t spare the detail … no more “Mormon modesty”, nor does he skip over his failings and hopes.  And those of the church, family and those around him are expressed with insight and big hits of pathos as we learn what the church, his family and those around him mean in his life.

He can present it all with a flash and a smile and a very nice low baritone, perfect for show tunes, but the swagger of the performance blusters a bit much and it requires effort from the watcher to get to the emotional content, until the final sequences where Fales does lose the persona and the work reaches out successfully.

CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY is a polished show, bordering on slick, which gives a human and genuine story a place to be at home with its gay family.  It continues at Giant Dwarf until March 9.

FEARLESS AT FAIR DAY: THE MARDI GRAS FESTIVAL NOW ON

Tired feet and rainbows everywhere that’s Mardi Gras FAIR DAY. With over 200 stalls, Fair Day is a free event spread out through Victoria Park and it is a joyous start to Mardi Gras Season.  This year’s theme is ‘Fearless’ and there is so much to love about the day.

Sports of all shapes and kinds:

Continue reading FEARLESS AT FAIR DAY: THE MARDI GRAS FESTIVAL NOW ON

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

BRIELLE FLYNN INTERVIEWED ABOUT THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED PRODUCTION ‘THE MOORS’

This image: Brielle Flynn
Featured image: Brielle and Enya Daly in rehearsal for THE MOORS. Photo credit – Clare Hawley

The Sydney premiere of THE MOORS by Jen Silverman and directed by Kate Gaul, looms darkly through the fog before its opening to previews on February 7.

After being lured by mysterious letters, Emilie takes the position of governess in a household on the forbidding moors. Upon arriving, she finds two sisters – the stern and domineering Agatha, and the needy and flighty Hudley – a dog, and a glowering maid who isn’t always who or what she seems. Emilie’s arrival sets this odd assembly on a strange and increasingly bizarre path.

Inspired by the lives of the Brontë sisters, THE MOORS is a black comedy about love, desperation, and the way women are seen.

We had the opportunity to annoy cast member Brielle Flynn, who plays the hapless Emilie, while she was fog-deep in production week.

SAG:              Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.  So, there are 4 women and a dog in the cast?  I’m assuming The Moors passes the Bechdel test?

BRIELLE:      Make that 4 women, a dog and a moor-hen! I think the great thing about this play is that it highlights a universal need for connection, happiness, independence and visibility – a need that goes beyond human relationships, but also one’s connection to their sense of place. Continue reading BRIELLE FLYNN INTERVIEWED ABOUT THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED PRODUCTION ‘THE MOORS’

SNAPSHOTS – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FILM FESTIVAL

This image: Piper Laurie as Rose
Featured image: Brooke Adams, Piper Laurie, and Emily Baldoni in SNAPSHOTS

As the three generations of women meet for the weekend there are obviously some topics that are “forbidden”.  ‘What ifs’ is right up there. Along with the perils of too much drinking, smoking and wallowing in grief and betrayal.  And that’s just the mother.  Daughter has issues aplenty too.  But this is a ‘what if’ story, a wistful peek back, precipitated by the square photos lately developed from the grandmother Rose’s long forgotten box brownie.  What follows is a quality film of considerable appeal, in which the excellent cast bring to life a story rooted in truth.  A truth to sit beautifully in Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras program.

Piper Laurie plays the elder Rose with an easy and hard fought for wisdom and Laurie’s performance is mesmerising.  Her ability to express an in-concert exactness of mood as the film swiftly cuts from flashback to modern close-up is masterful storytelling.  Not unengaged, yet with a dispassion wrought by experience, Laurie is loving but measured.  In the flashbacks to younger Rose, played with a vibrating interiority by Shannon Collis, we see full force the reserve and fear that drove her choices.  Continue reading SNAPSHOTS – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FILM FESTIVAL

BUDDIES – A RAW AND RETRO PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF

As the list of the deceased keeps moving up the screen and the unmistakable sound of the dot matrix printer shows no signs of stopping, the strings double down on the emotional content in the confronting beginning of BUDDIES.  From 1985, this underground indie masterpiece has been remastered for a modern audience.  Both the audience who remembers and new generations who are urged into hear and know.

Filmed in less than a week in the dark days of blaming and hate before the American nation cared about the people who were dying of aids (I refuse to capitalize it), this film is not merely a document of its time.  It is a standalone film of drama and emotion with a watchability which never flags. Continue reading BUDDIES – A RAW AND RETRO PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF

QUEERSTORIES HEADS OUT TO RIVERSIDE THEATRES

On Saturday 9th February, the much-loved LGBTQI+ storytelling night, Queerstories, is heading West to Riverside Theatres for one night only as part of the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Writer, producer and theatremaker, Maeve Marsden, will host an eclectic line up of special guests presenting unmissable queer stories with a Western Sydney twist. Expect the unexpected with tales from lives well lived to battles fought, pride, prejudice, love and humour.

The program focuses on community heroes including young playwright Charles O’Grady, theatre maker and educator Felicity Nicol, former co-chair of Sydney Mardi Gras Brandon Bear, trans rights activist Dibs Barisic Spem and local public servant and writer Steven Lindsay Ross who also features in the Queerstories book published by Hachette Australia back in 2018.

Bringing storytellers from all walks of life to the stage, Queerstories has proved itself an undeniable success for the past two years with regular sold-out events now held across Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and regional towns. Continue reading QUEERSTORIES HEADS OUT TO RIVERSIDE THEATRES

POSTCARDS FROM LONDON – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF

POSTCARDS FROM LONDON. Harris Dickinson as Jim.

POSTCARDS FROM LONDON is stylish, smart and sexy.  It is also garish … but never Gaudi. The topic, you see, is art.  Paintings and literature and desire. With every frame a frameable image and beauty abounding in the environments and in the characters and in the matters to hand, this is a film to adorate.  Unless you are Jim, a country boy from Essex, drawn to London, who lands in a Soho of Director/Writer Steve McLean’s imagination.  A world which belongs to “writers, queers and whores”.

Jim will begin a life of sex work that is just right for a pretty, polite, eager to learn young man blessed with a passion for appreciating art and a nascent intellect.  Falling in with ‘The Raconteurs’, who are short their fifth member in mysterious circumstances, he will be schooled in post-coital conversation and musery. “intellectual debate – inspired and uplifting” Thus begins his escorted journey which will lead him to embrace both the arts and arts lovers.  Unfortunately he feels distinctly unwell around masterworks and is afflicted with a definite tendency towards inserting himself.  Continue reading POSTCARDS FROM LONDON – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF

I MISS YOU WHEN I SEE YOU – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF

I MISS YOU WHEN I SEE YOU is a marvellous film and my favourite so far of the offerings for Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival.  Sad and soulful and conflicted, it grips the viewer with a combination of empathy for the characters and an instinctive romantic desire for these men to be together.  It is shot with integrity and skill and the storytelling, over its 90 minutes, guides the audience to a fulsome understanding of the forces behind their active choices and their powerlessness over the passive.

Cowardice and self-destruction will roil in the two protagonists who we first see together in the second scene of the film.  At their Hong Kong school, these boys meet in the bathroom to discuss the latest manga because one is bullied and the other is too much of a coward to be seen with him in the open.  Flashbacks to Kevin and Jamie’s school days will inform the men who make up the contemporary story ten years later.  A situation where Jamie has a mercantile friendship with the men who were the boy bullies, a girlfriend and need to visit Kevin.  Kevin had been taken to Australia by his parents and he will return the visit by Jamie and begin a kind of half-life in his native country. Continue reading I MISS YOU WHEN I SEE YOU – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF

BELIEVER – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF

Dan Reynolds and Savannah Skyler in Believer (2018)

Outrage.  I was prepared to be outraged by this film … seeing LDS and LGBTQ in the same sentence enough to cause fear and a presentment of horrors.   Yes, there is plenty to be outraged by here if that’s what you need, but a calm analysis will give a much more reflective, intellectual response.  For BELIEVER is not just about us but about our allies and the choice they can make to walk beside us.

The film follows Dan Reynolds, front man of band ‘Imagine Dragons’, a Mormon on a different kind of mission.  With his consciousness raised by life events he sets out to ally with LGBTQ people by making this documentary about his journey and specifically by producing a music festival called LOVELOUD, in Utah in 2018.  His focus is the alarming rate of suicide in the Mormon community and the responsibility of the church, his church, toward LGBTQ youth. Continue reading BELIEVER – PART OF QUEER SCREEN’S MARDI GRAS FF