Author Archive for Xanthe Coward


Job’s Right – The Second Coat comes to the Sunshine Coast

Job’s Right – The Second Coat

It’s a cult of a play…

job's right1

Wanna know what REALLY happens on a job site?!

When Job’s Right pulled the curtain at The J in March 2008 over 4700 people on the Sunshine Coast had witnessed what could only be described as “a cult of a play”.

Perfectly described by one of the hundreds of local tradies who saw it as “Raw .. real .. earthy … and funny!”, the original play was centred around a gang of house painters led by work-weary Rick. Along with his offsiders, the politically incorrect Murph and the lovable larrakin Wally, the fellas stumbled and bumbled from one disaster to another. Somehow they survived to paint another day.

Well, it’s seven years later and they’re back! Rick, Murph, Wally and their social conscience, Spanner. Writers, Brett Klease and Simon Denver, have penned a brand new script. And has anything changed? No! It’s another day … another site … another client … another stuff up!

Same dog. Different fleas.

job's right2

The client, Mrs Hunt, wants a shrine to her late husband built so she can communicate with the spirit world. She is backed by Nathaniel, her Designer / Colour Therapist / Feng Shui expert. If you add to this mix a feisty female carpenter, Potty, and Mrs Hunt’s belligerent son, Michael, the fur is gonna’ fly. If it can go wrong it will go wrong!

Warning: This play doesn’t not contain bad language. It contains HEAPS of bad language. It doesn’t contain men behaving badly. It contains men behaving VERY badly. This play is not funny. This play is REALLY, REALLY funny. It has all the right laughs for all the wrong reasons.

Featuring some of the Sunshine Coast’s top talent, Job’s Right – The Second Coat is hardcore comedy at it’s best! Remember, it’s NOT for kids, but it’s for everybody else! Don’t miss it!

Book online or call the venue nearest you.

The Events Centre, Caloundra May 14, 15 & 16 (Bookings: call 549 10702)

Nambour Civic Centre May 28, 29 & 30 (Bookings: call 5457 777)

The J, Noosa June 3, 4 & 6 (Bookings: 5329 6560)

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Stories From the Sky


Stories From the Sky

Flipside Circus

Judith Wright Centre

April 14 – 18 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


Fresh-faced, fit and FEARLESS!





Flipside Circus is always great holiday entertainment. We love that the performers are young (aged between 11 and 18) and they are indeed, fearless. Stories From the Sky is testament to the solid training and high level of confidence that translates on stage as zero hesitation when it comes to aerial or wheel apparatus tricks, and no concern about tumbling, leaping and climbing all over each other to create an interesting, challenging and entertaining show for the whole family.


There’s a sense of discovery; of natural exuberance and simple joy in a Flipside show, making it an ideal first circus show for kids and an enjoyable repeat experience.




Poppy and I often take one of her friends to the circus but we had committed to an airport run right after the performance so this time it was a mama-daughter date. Our homestay student’s flight was delayed so we were able to stay and play after the curtain call before meeting her at the domestic terminal. (She went for a week up north, doing all those lovely touristy things that we forget to do because we live here). Poppy leapt at the opportunity to join other young audience members in the Shopfront to have some fun hula hooping and plate spinning. She’s no stranger to the circus, but unlike the performers we saw in the show, she doesn’t practice the tricks for hours each week! In fact, she probably shows vague discipline three times a year: at Flipside, at Circa and at Woodford Folk Festival! Our philosophy is clearly, “No pressure. Keep it fun.”




The loose thread running through this production is the notion that we all have our own stories and we are each our own story. Each performer has their story, which they share with us at various intervals throughout the show. A microphone descends from above and there is opportunity for comedy as it is raised and lowered and the kids contort their bodies to speak into it. The stories are simple and lovely and funny, and it’s good to hear confident, natural voices. It’s easy to forget that our bodies and voices are connected!





don't forget to play

Before the show we were given the opportunity to fold paper airplanes, which we were told we would need during the performance. When the time came I heard kids who didn’t want to give up their planes, and kids who wanted to run down to the stage and retrieve their planes. Poppy proudly launched hers and laughed when it twirled and turned back to us, landing in the lap of a mum sitting in the row in front. Tonight we’re off to see Matthew Ryan’s new play, Brisbane. (Another mama-daughter date to coincide with the adventures of #niciinthecity). Watching Stories From the Sky I thought of the hero shot for Brisbane; Dash Kruck gleefully “flying” a wooden plane and of the playwright’s note, “We all want back what is lost.” (You can read the program online thanks to QTC’s greenification of the company’s operations). It strikes me that Stories From the Sky is a gentle reminder that it doesn’t take much to get back a bit of what is lost.






I love the joy of the duo work and the strength and trust of the ensemble work. The tissu is (once again) Poppy’s favourite act, and we are both blown away by the balance, focus, power and promise of vibrant fifteen-year-old gymnast/contortionist/aerialist, Riley. What an entertainer! Riley is a wonder and it will be no wonder to see him featured in professional circus in this country. Circus is clearly his THING.




Cirque du Soleil is renowned for offering exquisite art, athleticism and escapism at an elite level but it’s from within the ranks of dedicated companies such as Flipside that it begins.


Flipside Circus offers full training and school holiday workshops just for fun. The Performance Program offers 8 – 18 year olds the chance to develop advanced circus skills and perform in the annual production.


Stories From the Sky must finish Saturday. Book here.








Cirque du Soleil

Under the Big Top at Northshore, Hamilton

April 10 – May 24 1015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


We are the primeval waters from which we have emerged…


There’s always a buzz around a Cirque premiere, but this time is different; the atmosphere is electric! Thanks to Brisbane Publicist, Kath Rose (she is perpetually awake and working; you will have seen her as a dazzling, brightly dressed BLUR at all the best events in the city) Poppy and I were invited to join a pre-show “behind the seams” backstage tour. See what they did there? You can see our behind the scenes pics on InstagramTotem’s Tour Publicist, Francis Jalbert (equally as dazzling, perfectly suited to the role, raising the bar by Olympic standards as far as male publicists go. Impressive casting hiring there…) talked about the creative process, with Director Robert LePage at the helm, shaping the show and bringing in the disciplines to best “fit” the production concept.



Each unique act in Totem takes us through a particular aspect of the evolution of the human body or of civilization or the experience of a human life.






“It’s all about evocation… It’s art. Everybody can have their own interpretation.”


Francis Jalbert, Totem Tour Publicist



Cirque du Soleil TOTEM Dress Rehearsal



The opening of the show sees Crystal Man (David Resnick from the USA) descend in rich beams of light that make a human disco ball of him; he’s a legitimate living work of art in this transient state. He unlocks the ancient secret of sacred ritual in a variation of Indonesia’s Kecak “fire and trance” Dance. The dance stems from sanghyang, the notion that during the performance, spiritual entities known as hyangs will take possession of the dancers’ bodies. I was fifteen, mesmerized, when I saw this dance for the first time in Bali. In Totem, we enjoy the ritual for just a few moments as it’s performed inside a giant tortoise shell structure (the tortoise is an age-old symbol of creation and wisdom – think of The Neverending Story!), which lifts into the air. Is this the sun rising, rather than setting? The Kecak Dance is traditionally performed before sunset. It doesn’t matter; there is acrobatic action beneath it!



This is a beautifully measured and entirely unexpected opening to a show exploring evolution, connection and beauty. It’s as if Crystal Man has been created to embody a new – or revived – Cirque spirit.



Poppy and I have seen the ecosystem, the little city created by the hardworking Cirque crew before. Whenever my sister does a stint as Stage Manager for a Cirque show she takes us on a similar tour to meet all those folk clad in “blacks”; the people behind the people we see on stage. It’s a very intimate experience to see first hand, the training and warm up areas, the artists training and warming up (and sometimes practicing acts that are not even a part of the show because Cirque supports all aspects of the development of their discipline), to hold a costume and feel its weight (Crystal Man’s bodysuit with its 4 500 Swarovski crystals!), and gaze upon the MAC makeup drawers (ooh!), and masks (ahhh!) and headpieces (wow!) and props (oh migod!). Of course this insight allows another level of understanding when we see the show. Simultaneously, I appreciate that we’re watching with new awe and admiration, and I have the knowledge that there is a crystal or two missing from the costume! Don’t worry, it’s all about running repairs – nobody backstage actually appears to stop working, ever – and every costume is replaced every 6 months.






I love Kym Barrett’s designs for this show. Barrett’s a Brisbane girl (known for her contribution to The Matrix trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man and Jupiter Ascendingand her combination of sparkles, glow-in-the-dark Australian Indigenous traditional patterns and natural elements is truly inspired. You might never have considered it but the hard, crushable features sewn into some of the costumes, such as the cowrie shells, are actually necessarily silicon, because CIRCUS.


Just as the acts themselves pay homage to the cultures that have inspired them, the costumes honour where they’ve come from. It’s the most exquisite collection we’ve seen here.






Once the glittering green amphibious creatures have emerged from the primordial mud, we’re introduced to primates and Cro-Magnons. We see the evolutionary stages in one succinct scene, which ultimately suggests that perhaps we’ve not come quite so far as we like to think! More familiar looking Neanderthals (France’s Gael Ouisse & Yann Arnaud, and Finland’s Olli Torkkel) make their way down to the beach to impress whatever passes by, which happens to be the most beautiful muscle-bound woman on the planet! Holy! In an awesome display of strength and grace, Ukranian Alevtyna Titarenko reverses the traditional seduction scene, deftly steals it with her superb performance on the rings and takes off with an Italian clown (Jon Monastero from the USA)!



It was spectacular. They were STRONG.

Henry Long



The clowns don’t miss a mention; their acts are the short, sweet and very funny transitions between the more physical acts. These guys also provide the pre-show entertainment, mixing with the crowd and – this is new since our last Cirque experience, when even before the show I’m sure photography was not encouraged – happily posing for selfies with audience members. Obviously, as you see from their Insta gallery and Twitter & Facebook footprints, Cirque is another company who totally get the value of their social media presence, and the advantage of their audience doing a large part of their marketing!


Just be sure to use the hashtags so they can include your stellar work on the social media wall at interval! #totem #cirquedusoleil






The traditional Amerindian Hoop Dance has seen some evolution itself. The hoops represent many things (snakes, the wings of eagles, butterflies etc), and unlike hula “hooping”, modesty is key; the dancer wears traditional dress. In Totem, of course the dance and the costumes are modified, with respect, to suit the creative concept of the show. These dances, performed by Shandien Sonwai Larance (USA) & Eric Hernandez (USA), are beautiful, soulful pieces with a steady heartbeat that reminds us to keep challenging every pre-conceived notion about cultures that are not our own.



Having said that, Poppy just loved the sensation of the drumming in her chest and told me she remembered seeing a Hoop Dance at The Dreaming one year “when I was just a kid and hadn’t seen all that many shows” #whatevs



Reaping abundant harvests, we sow seeds of gratitude.






The ultimate balancing act, five unicyclists (China’s Hao Yuting, He Xuedi, Wu Yurong, Yang Ji & Bai Xiangjie) kick and catch and balance brass bowls in perfect synchronization whilst cycling and SMILING. This is an incredible act, eliciting gasps from the opening night audience in Brisbane. It has to be seen to be believed!



We also marvel at the most elegant and athletic foot juggling ever (Marina & Svetlana Tsodikova from Belarus), LED lit vortex juggling (Chris Chiappini from the USA) and human juggling: the incredible, death defying Russian Bars. These acrobats, in their black lit bodysuits featuring Barrett’s take on those stunning Aboriginal designs, are the cosmonauts of the show, taking evolution to the next stage, daring to go where no acrobat has gone before.






As impressive as each act is, my favourite is the Lovebirds (French Guilhem Cauchois & Canadian Sarah Tessier). These two perform a fixed trapeze routine that goes far beyond traditional circus, bringing sky-high drama and simple, subtle, beautifully coy comedy to the story their characters share; a gorgeous young couple meet for the first time (in an extraordinarily beautiful golden wash! Never underestimate the value of a good lighting state!). And speaking of young and gorgeous, is this not the youngest, most runway-worthy Cirque company of all time?! Talk about inspiring! #orintimidating #putthemonacatwalkalready


That reminds me, when does Baz get a go at a Cirque show? #justasking





The dynamic between the trapeze duo was really interesting to watch. It seemed really playful.

Ayla Long





Extraordinary love knows no bounds.








Lovers – rollerskaters – disembark from a canoe in a projected land of ice and freezing, rushing water (the footage was shot in Iceland!), spinning together on a tiny platform until “they finally unite in the ultimate act of trust”! It’s exciting and terrifying and thrillifying to watch these two (Spain’s Denise Garcia-Sorta & Italy’s Massimiliano Medini). Not EVEN in Xanadu did we ever see such sexy freakin’ rollerskating, although we saw the spinning on the tiny platform. There will be a resurgence in rollerskate sales, let me tell you. (And while we’re here, let’s remember, how gorgeous is Olivia in all her Blondie-ness? And how good is ELO?! My dad will tell you! AND I never saw it so I’ve never understood…but how did the stage production fail? Perhaps Cirque could produce a winning version? Just a thought!).



If creation is borne of vibration, then music is life’s ultimate form.



A Cirque show is nothing without its musical score and Totem sounds fantastic. Yes, we bought the CD (we still buy CDs). From a lush bamboo forest, which becomes grass and later, with the changes in lighting states, reeds, the vocalists (the UK’s Esi Kwesiwa Acquaah-Harrison & Canada’s Christian Leveau) and musicians come into view from time to time, offering pure magic throughout, from Composers BOB & BILL (Guy Dubuc & Marc Lessard with additional lyrics by Christian Laveau).



Often, an opening night audience is a little more reserved than those that follow and I wonder whether or not the finale – a joyous Bollywood style celebration of cultures – will get people to their feet and dancing for the rest of the season. As you would expect, my Bollywood fairy princess party animal Poppy leapt up at the first opportunity (having discovered three acts into the show that her wooden heels made an awesome sound on the floor beneath our feet!), and stomped and showered everyone with her own shimmering love and radiant smile. This was a fitting finale; vibrant, contagious, unadulterated joy. Clearly, we all need more Bollywood (and Cirque du Soleil!) in our lives!



It’s impossible to choose which act was the best!

Ayla Long






Totem is the most evocative of the Cirque shows we’ve seen in this country since Quidam. And I’ll be honest; Quidam was my first. You never forget your first! Totem has more substance than Ovo and is as much fun as Saltimbanco, never actually bombarding us with a particularly profound or heavy message but rather, painting a picture and implying it, allowing us to peer into its world of heightened natural beauty and history and humour and wonder, from which we can then take what we need. JUST LIKE REAL LIFE. It’s light and gentle and playful and lovely in every aspect, from its ingenious design solutions to its unique acts. It will feed your soul and lift your spirits. I would LOVE to see this one again. (Poppy’s birthday coincides with closing night so you never know…).



If you need to disappear for an afternoon or a night, unwind and relax at a show, or entertain family members, friends or special guests, or if you’re simply weighing up what to spend the play money on this month, don’t hesitate… get thee to Totem. A Cirque du Soleil show is an experience you’ll cherish. And Totem is exceptional entertainment. Take a break from this weary one and lose yourself in Cirque’s world for a night!



Totem is about life.




Guy Laliberte – Guide & Founder


Robert LePage – Writer & Director


Gilles Ste-Croiz – Artistic Guide


Neilson Vignola – Director of Creation


Luc Tremblay – Senior Director


Neelanthi Vadivel – Artistic Director


Kym Barrett – Costume Designer


Nathalie J. Simard – Makeup designer


Carl Fillion – Set & props Designer


Etienne Boucher – Lighting designer


Pedro Pires – Projection Content Designer


Jacques Boucher – Sound Designer


Jeffrey Hall – Choreographer


Florence Pot – Acrobatic Performance Designer



Leigh Buchanan’s designs on cabaret




Brisbane’s favourite sharp-tongued socialite, Leigh Buchanan, returns in his hysterical hit cabaret that celebrates celebrity and his love of a good stiletto.


Hey Leigh, so your cabaret show The Devil Wears Leigh Buchanan returns by popular demand next week to Brisbane Powerhouse. We understand it’s not a One Direction tribute, but the story of your rags-to-Swarovski crystal life?


How very dare you…designer rags thank you very much!


Of course. How long has performing been a part of your life?


I think fashion was my first love, all the matriarchs of my family were very stylish women, my mother was a home economics and art teacher, my grandmother a hairdresser and amazing sewer, and I had a favourite aunt who had beautiful frocks made every ‘ball season’ and took me to the theatre…I think the performing blossomed from there…as a wee boy I used to dress up (making ball gowns out of bed linen and I’d mince up and down the street giving the neighbors fashion parades…in Ipswich!!!


How did your alter ego Barbra Winsor Woo appear?


Odd as it may sound, I met her while living in Dublin; she drunkenly stumbled out of the audience of a poetry evening I was hosting at my local pub. She, or he rather, was born on Duke of Edinburgh’s 10th birthday and as a tribute his family named him Charles, he went to Churchie and had ‘intimate nip-and-tuck surgery’ after meeting his, now deceased, Chinese husband Win-Chung Woo at the Brisbane premiere of Yentl. At the time Charles was working in Melbourne for Channel Nine in the hair and make-up department.


What has YouTube taught you?


Be careful what you let be filmed. Honestly guys, at least check the state of your bedroom!


What did Project Runway teach you?


That ‘reality television’ doesn’t mean it’s real life! Unfortunately all these shows focus on making good television, rather than finding or fostering amazing talent, such a shame really.


What did staging your own show teach you? Have you tweaked the show since the first run?


It taught me to believe in myself and my inner voice more, especially as it’s such a personal show and putting yourself out there on stage is really much more daunting than you’d expect.


There’ve been a few tweaks, and there’s bound to be a few more…often it’s the bits that go completely wrong that the punters end up loving the most!


We love an up-late show. What should we wear?!


Coco Chanel would have you take one item off before leaving the house (not your jocks!), but I go by the saying that you should always overdress and say you’ve got somewhere better to go next! (But I’d encourage anyone who owns some Leigh Buchanan to wear it – you’ll see why in the show).


What are your top style tips for opening nights?


Not just for opening nights, but all the time, you should always be comfortable – then you’ll always look good…unless you’re wearing stilettos and/or a corset – in which case, no pain no gain!


What’s next? Another cabaret?


I get to that at the end of the show…don’t want to give away too many secrets.


On whom would you like to see your designs?


I’ve loved dressing superstars like Penelope Cruz, Emmanuelle Beart and Tina Arena, but I still fantasise about getting to frock Cate Blanchett.




Favourite designers?


Ever since I first saw Christian Dior’s “New Look” I’ve had a thing for the Dior label, and all the subsequent designers, there’s something about the underlying feminine perfection that always shines through.


Listening to?


George Ezra’s Blame it on Me was the last track on my iTunes.




Quite a few fashion documentaries and French film festival movies at the moment



The Devil Wears Leigh Buchanan at Brisbane Powerhouse Friday April 17 & Saturday April 18 at 9pm. Book here.




Josh RH Daveta’s Teenage Dreams




You might know him from Oscar Theatre Co’s Boy&Girl and now Josh RH Daveta is back with his own show, a satirical bedroom romp of song and spooning adventures with Katy Perry, Jessie J, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera. At Brisbane Powerhouse for two nights only. Book here.


Josh, tell us about your show Teenage Dreams? How did it come about?


Teenage Dreams has been swimming around in my head for a little while now. All I knew is that I wanted to do some type of show that had Katy Perry’s catalogue intertwined with it. I was then approached by Troy Armstrong Management to do a cabaret and the brief was to make it about top 40 divas. Without even a second thought I said, “I already know what I want to do” and since then I’ve been choosing songs I love from the radio and seeing what topics arise from that. Shazam, we have ourselves a cabaret.


Was it your dream to be a performer? Can you tell us about your early stage experiences and training?


It was definitely my dream to be a performer. I feel like to this day I achieve a different part of that dream in different ways. You would never believe it, but I actually started out singing lead in my church choir and then when I was in my older teens I realised that I wanted a performing life outside of “the four walls” and that led me down the path of gigging regularly, acting, voice training at uni and even had a crack at Australian Idol.


Tell about your experience with Australian Idol. What did you learn about your voice? About yourself? What opportunities did it open up to you?


When I look back at my small 5 minutes on Idol, I think about how young and naive I was. I thought that this was the only way I was going to get a “break” in my industry.


It ended up not being the most positive experience but there are two main things I learnt.


  • I have to walk away from this knowing I am still a good singer without the approval from the judges.


  • There has to be a different path than a television competition.


The opportunities from that really arose from me realising if I’m going to do this then I have to be the driving force behind what I do and 7 years later I can safely say that the path that’s been set for me has been so rewarding. I love being an independent artist!


Tell us about working with Oscar Theatre Co.


Emily Gilhome (Director Oscar Theatre) is someone I have much respect and love for. She is creative, crazy and her business mind is actually inspiring. I’ve been so blessed to have worked with her twice now and I’ve learnt so much from her as a person and a performer, and will take that gold with me everywhere I go. She and her creative team really confirm for me that an independent arts sector can be an incredible road to go down and I love that she has the balls to do it!


What’s the best thing about cabaret and what IS it about cabaret that makes it so accessible to artists and audiences?


Cabaret reminds me of that iconic line from Fight Club – “The rules are, there are no rules…” and that is the PERFECT way to sum up cabaret! The artist gets to be creative and the audience gets to be a part of that journey. It sounds like “stereotypical theatre” but the audience really is the other character in this genre. They lead where the show takes itself and our job as the artists is to help steer it along a course that still makes sense! We don’t have to follow the 101s of theatre or acting. We just need to make sure our audiences feel something. I don’t know what that something is though. HAHA!




What’s the best thing about Queensland’s performing arts scene at the moment?


The best thing is that it is emerging. Queensland is getting hungry and excited for the arts again. The people are wanting to see entertainment that isn’t just in a nice venue.


Our community of artists are being encouraged to think outside the box and realise that their value as an artist increases the more they realise what their worth is.


You can feel a shift in the culture of our great state! It’s so exciting!


Where would you like to perform? And with whom?


I don’t really have a “dream venue” in mind. Just give me a space and we’ll just do it! Just make sure there’s an admission fee… I need to pay my phone bill still. I actually want to perform with Katy Perry. She’s sexy, sassy and our sense of humour is really similar. I could probably throw in a sick harmony underneath her as well.


Who were/are your greatest musical influences?
Besides the old gospel standards I am hugely inspired by Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera. All powerhouse performers, vocalists and true masters of their craft!


Who’s your favourite pop star? Diva?


Pop Star: Katy Perry Diva: Mariah Carey


Whose music do you love singing?


Oh my goodness. I’ll have to press shuffle on the iPod in my mind to find out. It changes all the time. At the moment, I’m all about Ariana Grande, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.


Will we see you in professional musical theatre sometime?


You most probably will! I’ve been lucky enough to have been in eight musicals in the past two years: Hair (Hud), Songs for a New World (Man 1), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mitch Mahoney), boy&girl and boy&girl2 (Oscar Theatre Company), Little Shop of Horrors (Voice of Audrey II) and Legally Blonde (Emmett). I’ve been bitten by the bug, I love it!


What’s next for you?


There are a couple of irons in the fire at the moment. I’m really passionate about new work so there will be a couple of creative developments in the ring of Brisbane soon and have been offered an opportunity to start producing shows as well. Watch this space, the independent artist business will increase again in 2015!



Teenage Dreams at Brisbane Powerhouse Friday April 17 & Saturday April 18 at 7:30pm. Book here.





Are you ready for Cirque du Soleil’s Totem?




Cirque du Soleil will raise the iconic blue and yellow big top TOMORROW at Northshore, Hamilton, ready for their spectacular touring production, TOTEM!



If you haven’t already done so, you know you’d better BOOK TIX NOW.



And for special VIP treatment before and after the show, book the new Big

Top Lounge experience.






The big top seats more than 2,600 people


The entire site set-up takes 8 days. This includes installation of entrance, hospitality and rehearsal tents, box office, administrative offices and kitchen.


The big top stands 19 metres high and is 51 metres in diameter.


The 4 masts each stand at 25 metres tall.


550 pegs are required to hold the big top firmly to 4,506 square metres of asphalt.


TOTEM travels via 85 containers carrying close to 2,000 tons of equipment





Written and directed by Robert Lepage, combining mesmerising acrobatic acts and stunning visual effects, TOTEM illustrates the evolutionary progress of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly, in an uplifting display of athleticism, comedy and pure beauty. The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations.


Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.





Since its World Premiere in 2010, more than three million people across 27 cities worldwide have been mesmerised by the intimacy and beauty of TOTEM, winner of the 2013 NYC Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. Featuring a cast of 46 acrobats, actors, musicians and singers, TOTEM is an uplifting array of athleticism, comedy, heartfelt emotions and surprising visual effects.








The 7 Stages of Grieving


The 7 Stages of Grieving

QTC and Grin & Tonic

Bille Brown Studio

March 17 – 31 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



Time is linear and irreversible.



Everything has its time…



Indigenous history has been a long and complicated grieving process since colonisation.

Wesley Enoch




The 7 Phases of Aboriginal History – The 5 Stages of Dying






















Self Determination







We cry together, we laugh together, and we tell our stories.





The Grin & Tonic Theatre Troupe has forged a brilliant relationship with our state theatre company, and testament to their determination to jointly bring Australian Indigenous stories to the stage; this production is a fine one. The 7 Stages of Grieving, penned by Deborah Mailman and QTC’s Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch, enjoys its 20th year in 2015. This strictly limited (very nearly sold out) GreenHouse season is followed by a tour, which takes the show on the road and into schools. I’m looking forward to seeing it again, at Matthew Flinders Anglican College. It will be interesting to hear from the students, who’ll be viewing it through Brecht coloured glasses, and who obviously didn’t see the original Kooemba Jdarra productions, directed by Enoch and starring Mailman, in 1994 (a 25-minute version for the Shock of the New festival at La Boite) and in 1995 (at Metro Arts as part of Warana, which became Brisbane Festival). The show then toured nationally and internationally.



I remember Mailman’s sweet, deep-seated sadness, and her wicked humour, cutting unforgivingly through deceptively simple episodic storytelling. History’s a sinister thing, isn’t it? Those who tell it create it, and we can be grateful that this play gives voice to some of the lesser-told stories. Or perhaps I should say, lesser heard. I’ll compare productions only so far as to say that it was simpler then – low-tech – and also, Mailman’s power on stage was already astonishing. We experienced her expansiveness, as if her spirit filled not only the intimate Metro Arts space, but also the entire universe. Experiencing Mailman’s performance in this show was like reaching that state of meditation that allows you to see without seeing, and understand more than you feel you’ve ever been allowed to know.



The only thing black at a funeral should be the colour of your skin.



Chenoa Deemal (Mother Courage and Her Children) is the Aboriginal Everywoman who brings a fresh, light approach to the storytelling; it’s a completely new take, as it should be. She studied acting at ACPA and QUT, but comes from the Thitharr Warra tribe in Hopevale, north of Cooktown in the Cape York Peninsula. The language we hear is Deemal’s language and the traditional elements of this production are her people’s traditions.



Deemal takes centre stage after emerging from the darkness to pour concentric circles of rainbow coloured sand, its phosphorescence glowing eerily, discomfortingly, around a mound of red earth (the land, the source, the spirit, the core of everything) and a suitcase containing the photos of family members who have died. It’s poignant, it’s ritualistic, and the irony and deep sorrow is never lost, only veiled in more comical moments throughout the show. Deemal’s casual comedy shines in Nana’s Story (no matter what you were having for dinner there was always rice), and in Murri Gets a Dress, delivered in stand up comedy style, complete with a hand held microphone. Audience members on opening night shriek with laughter.



Have you ever been black? You know when you wake up one morning and you’re black? …”Hey, nice hair, beautiful black skin, white shiny teeth … I’m BLACK!



… I go to bed thinking, “Tomorrow will be a better day”, snuggling up to my doona and pillow. Morning comes; I wake up, I go to the bathroom. I look in the mirror. Hey, nice hair, beautiful black skin, white shiny teeth. I’M STILL BLACK! AND DEADLY!



Not 20 minutes in something gets me, though I can’t for the life of me recall what it is that sparks the tears, which I blink back, not wanting to miss the next chapter in this stark, raw look at our First People’s mourning traditions and daily struggles. Despite some business as usual moments, which could just as easily be perceived as inspired acting/directing choices, Deemal offers a natural, vulnerable, very real performance. There is grief and there is joy, which wells up and spills over into fierce pride and exultation during a vivid retelling of Sorry Day celebrations.



Oi. Hey, you! Don’t you be waving back at me! Yeh, you with that hat! You can’t park here, eh! You’re taking up the whole bloody harbour! Just get in your boat and go. Go on, get! Bloody boat people.



Director (and Artistic Director of Grin & Tonic), Jason Klarwein, has manipulated mood and meaning beautifully, assembling a terrific creative team to bring this 20-year old show up to date in bold cinematic style. Jessica Ross (Designer), Daniel Anderson (Lighting Designer) and Justin Harrison (Sound & Projection Designer) have created a galaxy of stars and souls and memories and words and hopes and dreams, and a sense of place that is both new and ancient. With its updated political references, and a new ending to raise the stakes, The 7 Stages of Grieving strikes me as The Mountaintop of Australian plays, asking us to consider what really matters, and challenging us to make the changes we want to see in our world.



They’ve written sorry …



… They’ve written sorry across the sky.



Are you walking across bridges yet? The baton passes on …




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