Archive for the 'Books' Category

25
May
19

Boy Swallows Universe takes to the stage

 

 

Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival to produce the world premiere season of Trent Dalton’s breakout mega-hit novel

 

In a huge coup, Queensland Theatre has secured the rights for the world premiere of the stage version of Brisbane-born Australian author Trent Dalton’s breakout mega-hit novel, Boy Swallows Universe.

Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director Sam Strong will direct an adaptation by Tim McGarry in a co-production between Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival. The stage version of Boy Swallows Universe will have its world premiere as part of Brisbane Festival in September 2020, in the 50th year of Queensland Theatre, Sam Strong’s final season as Artistic Director and Louise Bezzina’s first season as Artistic Director of Brisbane Festival.

The announcement comes on the back of a record-breaking four-prize win for Dalton at the Australian Book Industry Awards, with the novel officially becoming Australia’s number 1 book overall, and number 1 fiction book, as measured by Nielsen BookScan last week. On Wednesday Dalton was included in the 2019 longlist for the Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious writing accolade.

“We’re thrilled to announce that in 2020, Queensland Theatre in partnership with Brisbane Festival will produce a theatrical version of Trent Dalton’s extraordinary novel, Boy Swallows Universe. The novel is the hottest property in Australian storytelling, deserving every ounce of the praise that has been lavished on it and all of the incredible success it has achieved,” said Strong.

“Moreover, Trent’s book is absolutely ripe for adapting to the stage: featuring larger-than-life characters, an effortless combination of magic realism and crime-thriller, unforgettable set pieces written with a cinematic visual flair, and dialogue that just leaps off the page.

“Boy Swallows Universe has captivated hundreds of thousands of Australians with its arresting portrait of growing up in 80s Brisbane. It has captured the hearts of us all through its story of love’s triumph over the darkest of circumstances. I am more excited about the theatrical version of Boy Swallows Universe than any of the 30 odd shows I have directed for the Australian mainstage. I cannot wait to direct this landmark Brisbane story on a Queensland Theatre stage.”

Trent Dalton said the announcement of Boy Swallows Universe coming to the Queensland Theatre stage was absolutely perfect.

“Everything about this production is perfect. It had to be staged here. This glorious, complex, sweltering city is in my blood and my blood is in that book. It was the people of Brisbane who took that wild, strange book and ran with it first and that book belongs to them now and this production will belong to them, too.”

He said never in a million years did he believe the story would go from the page, to the stage.

“My goal was a simple one: to see that story put into a hard copy book so I could hand just one copy to my mum, who still lives in the outer northern suburbs of Brisbane, and I could say, “This is why I love you so much”. Now I can take that early-60s warrior woman grandma to a play in the city and she can see some incredible performers under lights telling some of her story and I can lean over to her in the theatre and whisper, “This is why I love you so much.”

 

 

He said he saw the theatre as a magical, dark, wondrous place. “I love theatre so much and I love Queensland Theatre,” he said. “Sam Strong is a theatre genius and I’ve told him he has my blessing to go as big and as ambitious and as creative as his big brain can take him. I’ll be Matty Bowen to his Johnathan Thurston, supporting him all the way. But, like any good Queensland fullback, I’ll know exactly when to step out of the way,” he said.

He said he can imagine the opening night feeling already.

“Brisbane will be in full sunshine glory, purple jacarandas will be blowing in spring breezes, the Broncos will be in the finals and I’ll be somewhere in that beautiful theatre with a packet of barbecue Samboys saying, ‘How the hell did I ever get so lucky?’.

“Just to see these so often overlooked Brisbane places that are so dear and connected to me – Bracken Ridge, Darra, old Boggo Road Gaol – put up there on stage is deeply moving to me. There are countless people that I love, heart and soul, out there in those suburbs who might be able to come to that play and say, ‘Yeah, that’s my world, that’s my Brisbane’, and I’ll be right there beside them screaming, ‘Hell yes, ain’t it glorious’.

Sam Strong said adaptor Tim McGarry was the first playwright out of the blocks for the book based on his passion and affinity for the story.

“Tim McGarry brings his impressive experience with creating new Australian stories and especially adaptations of novels to the task of adapting Trent’s book. Tim has already written an incredible adaptation of Trent’s extraordinary novel and I can’t wait to work with them both to bring Boy Swallows Universe to life in the theatre.”

McGarry said he read the book in less than 24 hours while on holidays in far North Queensland.

Boy Swallows Universe is a captivating coming-of-age story set in Brisbane’s violent working-class suburban fringe, inspired by the real-life events of journalist Trent Dalton’s complicated youth. It tells the story of twelve-year-old Eli Bell, who finds comfort in his extraordinary imagination as a means of escaping from his challenging life with a mute brother, a mother in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. Surrounded by chaos and with very little moral guidance from the adults around him, Eli sets out on an ambitious suburban odyssey that sees him meet the father he doesn’t remember, break into Boggo Road Gaol to rescue his mum, come face to face with the criminals who tore his world apart, and fall in love with the girl of his dreams. At its core, Boy Swallows Universe is a story of brotherhood and the spark of young love; it’s also the unlikely true story of the formative friendship Dalton shared with Arthur ‘Slim’ Halliday, the greatest escape artist ever confined to Brisbane’s Boggo Road Gaol.

“I could barely put it down. There were times I could barely breathe. I was completely captivated by Eli Bell, his journey, his charisma, his desperation to try and better understand the dark world he inhabited. I was captivated by the magic and wisdom of August. I found the characters so richly rendered. The complex world Trent created just leapt off the page. Collaborating with Sam Strong and his team on this particular work is mind-blowingly exciting for me.”

Strong said Queensland Theatre was thrilled to be partnering with Brisbane Festival. “Artistic Director Louise Bezzina has a passion for Brisbane stories and working with Brisbane companies, so it makes perfect sense that our two organisations come together to co-produce the most exciting Brisbane story in decades.”

Louise Bezzina said Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe was the quintessential Brisbane story.

“I am thrilled that as part of my first Festival as Artistic Director we will co-present the stage adaptation of this enormously celebrated and popular book in partnership with Queensland Theatre. Brisbane Festival is deeply committed to telling the stories of our great City and this new production will be a wonderful centrepiece of the 2020 program,” she said.

Published in July 2018, Boy Swallows Universe has now sold over 160,000 copies in Australia across all formats and has been awarded several of Australia’s top literary awards, including Book of the Year at both the Australian Book Industry Awards and the Indie Book Awards, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writer and People’s Choice Award, and the MUD Literary Prize. Rights to Boy Swallows Universe have been sold to 34 English language and translation territories.

 

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23
Mar
19

Hydra

 

Hydra

Queensland Theatre & State Theatre Company of South Australia

Bille Brown Theatre

March 15 – April 6 2019

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

There is this woman, Charmian Clift. And I have to dress up as her and go out and be her.

 

 

A sea change. A haven for creatives. Heaven on earth. Until it’s hell.

 

Sue Smith’s Hydra is the new work we’ve been aching for. More than a simple drama built around the words of one of our most under-appreciated female writers, Hydra is a haunting, unsung song cycle actually, the imagery so Australian in its detail yet so universal in its broader sense. Its glittering prose wakes something. Inner eyes flash open, inner ears tune in and we become aware again of that sleeping voice inside beginning to growl and hum and trill with possibility, and also of that other voice reminding us, be careful what you wish for.

 

On the Sunshine Coast, we are the sea change that others crave. We never wanted to feel as if we were stuck in the city without space and sea and sky all around. It’s a choice to stay here. It’s why we live here. But the lure of the Greek islands remains real to us too, just as it must have been to Charmian Clift and George Johnston then, in the fifties; an ideal expat island lifestyle promising escape from the uninspiring daily drudgery of Australia.

 

 

Smith writes about artists as fallible human beings and not as mythical creatures, capable of changing the world one word, one song, one picture at a time, although once they believed they could. These are the artists who support artists. The women who support their men. The addicts supporting, and enabling, the addicts. And the friends, like family, who make a choice to walk away, finally, after nothing more can be done for the ones we love. And what makes us love them, anyway? Do we even remember? When the end comes, did we ever really know what it was that caught our attention, our whole heart? Does it even matter, when a connection runs so deep, when there is so much scar tissue, when there are so many stories to tell, that the wounds won’t ever heal while we insist on retelling them?

 

It’s not a happy story, although there is joy, wonder and contentedness in the tiny moments.

 

 

Anna McGahan shares Clift’s wounds and words in a way that fills us with wonder, delight, and yes, some despair. Her precise vocal work and the cadence of her speech is naturally lilting and wonderfully poetic without being predictable or pointed or laboured, finding entries into Clift’s language and imagery as if she is opening doorways to a fairy realm. And perhaps she is, giving us a peak inside her bohemian faery bower. Bryan Probets breathes a full life into George Johnston, her famous husband (the author of My Brother Jack), even as the character’s breath fails him. On multiple occasions I wish him ill, hoping his breath will catch for the last time, long before it is destined to do so. At one stage I think he’ll stumble into the sea and drown. Good! No. He stays and lingers, and seethes and rages, and slowly, too slowly, he rots and Clift remains by him.

 

Incredibly, Clift helps her husband to write the great Australian novel in lieu of her own, finally physically placing a canvas cover over her typewriter at one end of the table. The metaphor is plain, as she dulls her light to allow his to shine. And so it is in creative partnerships. Yet her turn will never come. Not really.

 

Narrated by Martin, the couple’s omnipresent Greek Chorus son ( a gentle, patient and emotional performance from Nathan O’Keefe), this tragedy of quite ordinary proportions – excepting the proportion of gin consumed, which is quite extraordinary indeed – is elevated by its language and the intensity of the relationships at stake. Vic, better known as painter, Sidney Nolan (Hugh Parker) and wife, Ursula (Tiffany Lyndall-Knight) are the best buddies who become distant friends, opting for sanity and a life beyond the heady days and nights on Hydra, rather than a sad extension of that period, which is impossible to transfer. The romantic artist’s existence becomes the nightmare of every waking hour; the mythical, miserly struggle just to survive, even in Australia, the lucky country. Let’s leave the discussion surrounding the inexplicable miscasting of the French and Greek roles until another time. Let’s simply agree that it’s always a delight to see Ray Chong Nee.

 

 

Director, Sam Strong, breathes gentle, respectful life into this version of events, crafting each of Smith’s scenes to stand alone in the storytelling, as well as adding, piece by piece, the detail that will urge us to look more closely at our own lives, our choices, our commitments…our worth. Almost in three parts, the journey for which we join these characters traverses oceans and years, and delves into their heaving, sighing, cracking, crumbling hearts. While it takes almost a third of the performance for the actors to settle and simply share their story, this is (unfortunately for first audiences everywhere) a bit typical of opening nights. The last couple of chapters of the story, set in Australia once the couple are perceived to have achieved a modicum of success, offers the most real, raw and honest performances of the evening. It’s almost as if we suddenly reach the real story. These are breath-holding, heartbreaking moments, and there are tears. It’s the women in the audience who are visibly affected. And McGahan’s gin-drunk dancing and weeping and collapsing will be mentioned in our Women in Theatre Bridge Club and various book clubs and other women’s circles, going down in Australian theatre history as one of those, “I was there. I saw her do that” moments.   

 

 

Vilma Mattila’s simple and elegant white design is a dream, so pleasing to those who have been to the islands of Greece and seen it before them, as much as to those who have not, and still long to. Nigel Leving’s darkness, creating the purity and peacefulness – and longing – of nights on the island, and sparkling white daylight, despite the perfectly timed thunderstorm outside in real life, which acts like a footnote from the gods at a crucial moment. Quentin Grant’s composition and sound design lures us into the dream before startling us out of it.

 

These words, though. These words of Clift’s, stitched seamlessly into the text by Smith, are like pieces of glass worn smooth by the sea. The memories of jagged edges are so distant that the gems they’ve become might never even have existed in that form, like somebody else’s version of past events.

 

There’s a deeply felt need here for the woman to exist on her own in order to create, just as Virginia Woolf wrote. For a woman’s most authentic work to be conceived and completed, she must exist in space and time for some time, supported, and utterly alone.

 

There is a sort of dreamlike quality in returning to a place where one was young. Memory is as tricky as a flawed window glass that distorts the view beyond according to the way one turns one’s head. Charmian Clift.

 

01
Sep
15

Brisbane Writers Festival – Minds Wide Open

 

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We’re challenged this year to keep our minds wide open at Brisbane Writers Festival! #bwf15

 

Bright, curious minds will be connected for a city wide conversation. Festival Director/CEO Julie Berveridge said, “BWF continues its proud history of connecting writers, artists, thinkers and innovators this year.

 

“BWF will create a vibrant forum, along with the time and space to deep-dive for ideas.”

 

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The Brisbane Writers Festival has held the place of Queensland’s premier literary event for over a decade. It brings the world of writing and ideas to Brisbane, and showcases the best of local, national and international writing to Brisbane, and to the world. For five days in September each year the festival takes over the spectacularly re-developed State Library of Queensland (next to the iconic Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery) in the South Bank cultural precinct alongside the Brisbane River. Book for all ticketed events here. Don’t forget the many FREE events. There is truly something for everyone at this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival.

 

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Possum Magic cupcakes by Megan Daly childrensbooksdaily.com

 

 

Alphabet Zoo is back! BWF’s program for young children and families is back!

 

Explore Mem Fox’s world of Possum Magic in the arts and crafts play-scape!

 

 

WED 2 – SUN 6 SEPTEMBER
10.00AM – 4.00PM
STATE LIBRARY OF QUEENSLAND
FREE

 

 

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Are you a Young Adult fiction fan? Dress the part! Get Lily Collins’ Shadowhunter style.

 

Celebrating all things YA, Love YA! brings together fans, readers and writers of YA fiction to talk about love, community and Shadowhunters. From how to be happy to how to get published, Love YA! has you covered. Cosplay encouraged!

 

SAT 5 SEPTEMBER
12.00 – 7.00PM
BRISBANE SQUARE LIBRARY
FREE

 

David-Burton

 

Tuesday September 2 (9:45am – 10:30am)

& Sunday September 6 (1pm – 2pm)

David Burton’s funny, sad and serious memoir of his journey through adolescence, How To Be Happy, tackles the big teen topics and shows young people that even if they feel different or awkward during high school, everyone can find their true self, follow their dreams and be happy!

 

 

Check out where we’ll be during the festival via Twitter and Instagram – follow @BrisWritersFest & @xsentertainment #bwf15

 

 

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Thursday September 3 – Opening Address

Jon Ronson is a curious man. Here he investigates festivals, and their audiences. What it means to engage and the dizzying highs and sobering lows of entering a conversation with your mind wide open.

Author of The Psychopath Test, Men Who Stare At Goats, and most recently So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon opens this year’s festival with his trademark investigative satire, taking a can opener to the brain, he tilts the lid in a bit to disguard and strain its juice.

 

 

 

RamonaKoval

 

Friday September 4 (3:30pm – 4:30pm)

Imagine waiting for your parents to pass away in order to investigate a suspicion that the man who raised you wasn’t your biological father. Ramona Koval did just that. She talks with Fiona Stager about her quest to find the truth about her parentage and what she discovered about herself in the process.

 

 

 

 

lauriepenny

Friday September 4 (5pm – 6pm)

It’s a tough time to be a woman on the internet. Over the past two generations, the political map of human relations has been redrawn by feminism and by changes in technology. In this brave new world, old-style sexism is making itself felt in new and frightening ways. In Cybersexism, Laurie Penny goes to the dark heart of the matter and asks why threats of rape and violence are being used to try to silence female voices, analyses the structure of online misogyny, and makes a case for real freedom of speech – for everyone.

 

 

 

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Friday September 4 (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

Ever made a joke on Twitter that came out wrong and as a consequence been torn apart by a crazed mob? Or been part of a crazed mob tearing someone apart for telling a joke on Twitter? Jon Ronsonhas spent the past three years with people who have, and now he’s ready to tell the tale. Hilarious and powerful, this is an illustrated one-man show about the renaissance of public shaming, and our very scary part in it. Following Jon’s wildly successful book The Psychopath Test, this time around we are the crazy people.

 

 

abdiaden

 

Saturday September 5 (10am – 12pm)

Barbara Arrowsmith Young defied all odds and changed her brain. Abdi Aden arrived in Australia with no family, no money, no education and overcame. Li Cunxin believes that if we strive, we will succeed. Be inspired by three very different stories that show us if we want change our lives, the power is within us.

 

 

 

 

Sarah-Waters

Saturday September 5 (11:30am – 12:30am)

From Jane Eyre and Hester Prynn to Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen, literature has known some fine leading ladies. Who are the greatest heroines of all time, and how do their contemporaries stack up today?

Sarah Waters, Jane Caro, Kate Grenville and Sophie Hannah debate the women we’ve grown to love, laud, obsess over and idolise, and how characters and writers can help us be the heroines of our own lives.

 

 

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Saturday September 5 (1pm – 2pm)

What makes sex in fiction so sexy? What is the difference between romance and erotica, erotica and porn? Anne Buist, Krissy Kneen and Susan Johnson explore experiences of human connection and discuss representations of relationships and sex in literature.

 

 

 

 

JESSICA-ROWE

 

Saturday September 5 (2pm – 3:30pm)

Naomi Alderman created Zombie Run, an app for people who struggle to engage with exercise, Jessica Rowe has endured a career in the spotlight and Andy Jackson was born with Marfan’s Syndrome. What do these three have in common? They all love their body.

 

 

 

 

JESSICA-ROWE

Sunday September 6 (11:30am – 12:30pm)

Journalist, celebrity, television presenter, author, ambassador for beyondblue, Member of the Order of Australia, passionate mother and wife, Jessica Rowe is an extraordinary woman. Jessica Rowe discuss her memoir Is this My Beautiful Life?, love, motherhood, career, and the idea of ‘having it all’.

 

 

 

 

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Sunday September 6 (1pm – 2pm)

With over 25 years experience in perinatal psychiatry, Anne Buist works with Australia’s legal services in real-life cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Join Anne in conversation about mothers who kill and her new psychological thriller, Medea’s Curse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sjon

Sunday September 6 (4pm – 5pm)

Some of the greatest stories ever told are from so far back we no longer know if they are fact, fiction, or something far more mysterious. Join authors Sjón, Holly Black, and Kelly Link, who bend genres and borrow from myth, as they talk with Angela Slatter about the tales that continue to enchant and haunt us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday September 6 (5:30pm – 6:30pm)

The Chaser’s Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen present an unsparing send-up of every earnest “In Conversation” you’ve ever had to sit through. The inept moderator, temperamental microphones, and inane audience questions… all this and more will greet the famously prickly genius Lionel Corn as he takes the stage to discuss his life’s work.

 

 

See you at Brisbane Writers Festival!

 

 

 

11
Aug
15

Luminaries on the Loose launches this weekend!

 

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The knowledge of the heart is in no book and not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth.

 

Red Book, Carl Jung

 

Experience the sunlit world of Your super-conscious self – living Your best life exactly as You would have it.

 

This is my quest…super-consciousness and living my best life exactly as I would have it. This is why I struggle sometimes with being told what to do or how to do it. When Nadine asked me to share a part of the journey, I contributed a chapter written one morning with the light of the moon still lighting the room…

 

 

Actors are practised in making their dreams reality.

 

 

Luminaries on the Loose is a book of transformational steps and stories to guide you along three ancient and time tested phases and twenty-two steps that make up the Archetypal Trail so that you can live your best life.

 

 

Nadine Love has written nine of the compelling chapters and invited thirteen luminaries – all Australian – to pen their stories to demonstrate archetypal themes that spoke to each author.

 

 

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You may recognise some of the fabulous faces above:  Dr John Cronin, Edgar Winter, Susan Marie Hill, Kim Taylor, Peter Barr, Amelia McLarnon, Lana Mayes, Diane Steed, Rachel O’Connor, Xanthe Coward, Alice Haemmerle and Nadine’s own magical daughter, one of Poppy’s besties, Mira Love. They’re all contributors to Luminaries on the Loose. 
Listen to the author interviews here.

 

 

12 of the 14 Authors will be at the Launch Event – we hope you can be there too!

 

 

The Bohemian Bungalow, 69 Memorial Drive, Eumundi on 15 August 2015 9.30 am – 11:30am. Book online.

 

 

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*Live Music

 

 *Author Talks

 

 *Delicious Nibbles

 

 *A Glass of Bubbly

 

*Your signed copy of Luminaries on the Loose

 

 *Access to 3 Online Classes so you can “Track Your Archetype Trail” with Nadine Love

 

Stay after the launch to enjoy the up-beat feel-good funk/rock/reggae vibe of Byron Bay’s Wandering Eyes.

 

 

Wandering Eyes

 

 

 

02
Mar
15

Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2015 Now On Sale!

 

Noosa Long Weekend Festival presents our most exciting program yet!

 

You know these events SELL OUT! In fact, many events have already sold well during the exclusive pre-sale for Friends & Patrons. Become a Friend or Patron this year so you don’t miss out again next year!

 

You won’t want to miss David Williamson’s DREAM HOME or CATHERINE ALCORN or ROB MILLS or DUSTY LIVE IN CONCERT or AN EVENING WITH THE QUEENSLAND BALLET or MELODY BECK & JOHANNA ALLEN or ROB MILLS or JULIAN GARGUILO or THE MAGIC FLUTE! GO ON. BOOK NOW.

 

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There are 3 easy ways for you to secure your festival event tickets:

1. Online

2. Telephone* (07) 5329 6560 – The J Theatre Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm.

* A transaction fee of $3.50 applies to all telephone ticket sales.

3. Counter sales The J Theatre Mon-Fri 9am 5pm.

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For the first time ever, Opera Australia will bring a fully staged production of its much loved Opera, The Magic Flute to the Sunshine Coast.

 

Direct from Melbourne, the professional cast and orchestra complete with an authentic Egyptian tomb set, lighting, costumes and wigs will perform one night only, on Tuesday July 14.

 

“It’s a magical way to kick off our 2015 festival” said an excited and proud Festival Director, Ian Mackellar. …“It couldn’t have happened without the wholehearted support of Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini AM and festival event sponsors, Settler’s Cove and Tourism Noosa.”

 

The logistics surrounding this ‘one performance only event’ equates to Noosa’s own G20 manoeuvres.

 

With no existing stage large enough, a 48 foot Semi will roll into town and transform the Noosa Leisure Centre into a major performance space capable of staging the full production of this Mozart masterpiece in front of 700 people.

 

The ability to pull off such an event, confirms the Noosa Long Weekend Festival as the major regional Arts Festival in the Country.

 

President Johanne Wright said “The collective vision of Opera Australia and our sponsors has enabled us to make this special performance accessible to as many people as possible and this will be reflected in the ticket price.”

 

Lyndon Terracini AM, Artistic Director of Opera Australia said “Opera Australia is thrilled to be bringing Mozart’s The Magic Flute to the Noosa Long Weekend Festival. I’m personally tremendously excited about this event and I know all the cast and of course the legendary director Michael Gow are just as excited as I am. It’s a wonderful production…”

 

23
Oct
14

Reality Bites Nonfiction Literary Festival

Reality Bites Nonfiction Literary Festival 2014

 

Now in its seventh year, Reality Bites brings Australia’s best minds and writers of literary nonfiction to the Noosa Hinterland. Presented by the Sunshine Hinterland Writers’ Centre, this festival is hand-crafted by a dedicated group of writers, readers and lovers of books and ideas.

 

This year the Festival is delighted to spread the word in Eumundi, taking weekend events to two new venues there. After the most successful ever event last year, it now offers a three day festival pass that includes a program of close-up sessions, panels and conversations with a brilliant lineup of local and interstate authors.

 

Feed your heart and mind at the Poet’s Speakeasy on Friday night, then on Saturday night celebrate the festival and welcome VIP guests.

 

Check out a workshop series for developing writers and programmed sessions covering a range of subjects for readers, thinkers and writers alike. And don’t forget the wildly popular pitching clinic where writers pitch their book ideas to a panel of industry experts.

 

Join writers and lovers of good writing for a feast of ‘food for thought’ in the REAL heart of the Hinterland.

 

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A message from Artistic Director, Melanie Myers

 

It’s been a year of changes for Reality Bites Festival – the most obvious being our change of dates and location. Having enjoyed great support in Eumundi – from the Eumundi Green magazine and the Eumundi Historical Association, which has sponsored our festival launch since the event began – the time seemed right to spread the word to out to the wider Hinterland. While our workshop program and community events will remain at the Cooroy Library, our home for the last two years, hosting the main program in Eumundi allows us to kick off events Friday afternoon, and continue right through Saturday and Sunday with two streams of panels, conversations and close-up sessions that showcase a diverse range of Australia’s best nonfiction writing and authors.

 

For a nonfiction writers’ festival, ‘Reality Bites’ is a fitting name, and has held us in good stead for seven years now. When planning the program for 2014, our name got me thinking about the term ‘reality’ and, more particularly, what we mean by ‘real’. Real is considered synonymous with truth. We understand real to be what is actual, rather than imaginary.

 

For a literary festival that specialises in showcasing Australia’s best nonfiction, concepts of what are actual, real and the truth, are the touchstones of our existence. That might suggest we are in the business of disseminating cold, hard facts, but the truth is, that’s rarely the case. What is real, or even what seems real, may be true only so far we, as individuals, communities and societies, perceive and feel things to be real – whether that be love, loss, deviancy, injustice, the workings of our own mind (as with mental illness), or our shared past. This idea of ‘real’ is the thematic thread that underpins this year’s program.

 

So often the prerogative of fiction, real love, for example, holds a prominent place in this year’s program. As well as launching Australian Love Stories – a new anthology of short stories and memoir – we’ll be discussing the use and abuse of the ‘L’ word in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in ‘Words of Love’. With proceeds going to the Morcombe foundation, both real love and real crime will be in focus, as author Lindsay Simpson talks about the process of co-writing Looking for Daniel with Bruce and Denise Morcombe, and their 10-year quest to find out what happened to their son. Real crime and real dirt turns on the agents of the law enforcement themselves with ‘Watching the Detectives’ − our police diaries conversation in two parts, while ‘Dirty Secrets’ looks into the ASIO files of well-known Australian activists.

 

For the ‘big issues’ this year we’re talking about women in politics, or the lack of, in ‘Dis-man-tling the Joint’, and the competing realities of compassion and the law in ‘Seeking Refuge’. In a special 90-minute session, ‘Forgotten War’, Steven Lang will discuss the ‘white washing’ of Australia’s real history with respect to the frontier wars with historian Henry Reynolds, and academics Nicholas Clements and Tony Birch. For our Saturday morning-tea event, Maxine McKew will talk about inequality in our education system, and real solutions to remedy the problem. These are but a sampling of the conversations I hope will generate real discussion, real ideas, and perhaps even, one day, real change.

 

Ultimately, as readers and writers we have the power to create our own realities, and I hope you find something that’s real to you at Reality Bites ’14. Enjoy!

 

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TODAY – Thursday October 23 2014

 

Berkelouw Books:

Early Bird Breakfast – free
THURS 23, 7.30 a.m.

AV Presentation by Raoul Slater of the new book Glimpses of Australian Birds
Croissants supplied by Berkelouw Cafe. Buy your own beverages.


Check website for details. http://www.berkelouw.com.au/events

 

Berkelouw Books Open Bookclub – free
THURS 23, 6 – 8:30pm
Join Eumundi Book Club for its discussion of Thomas Picketty’s Capitalism in the 21st Century.
Check website for details. http://www.berkelouw.com.au/events

 

(Book club attendees can attend Reality Bites session 24 AmalgaNations for free. Please register with Amanda at Berkeleow.)

 

School of Arts:

Beyond Fossil Fuels: Alternatives for a Clean Energy Future
THURS 23, 6:30 – 7:30pmIan Lowe, Drew Hutton and Tasmin Kerr
Tickets at door $5/$2
Tomorrow night – Friday October 24 – Katie Noonan presents Song Book at Eumundi School of Arts

 

Katie Noonan’s Song Book
FRI 24, 6 – 8:30pm

 

School of Arts

Katie NoonanLocal song-siren Katie Noonan hosts and performs with special guests in this annual community fundraiser. Profits go to Eumundi State School and School of Arts Hall.

Cash- only tickets available from Berkelouw Books Eumundi and Discover Eumundi Heritage and Visitor Centre.

 

 

See you there! (And before that, we’ll be at Words of Love with Anna Campbell, Annah Faulkner, Mandy Sayer & Ashley Hay).

 

 

Follow @xsentertainment on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with what’s happening at the Festival!

 

 

Download the PDF Program

 

 

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07
Oct
14

Wuthering Heights

 

Wuthering Heights

QPAC and shake & stir

QPAC Cremorne

October 1 – 18 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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Time stagnates here.

 

 

“…everything anyone other than an english professor knows about Wuthering Heights at all happens in the first half. Then it drags on and on, focusing mainly on how handsome AND EVIL Heathcliff is, and how twisted he is, and how he’s just going to keep on ruining the lives of basically everyone around him.”

 

From Krypton With Love

 

 

 

#ohheathcliff

 

If it’s a gorgeous, dark, desperate, thrilling thing you’re after don’t miss this Wuthering Heights.

 

One of my favourite companies, shake & stir, continues to come up with some of the most challenging and engaging original live theatre in Brisbane. Their adaptations of classic literature are all superb (1984, Animal Farm, Tequila Mockingbird), and their latest production, a new version of Emily Bronte’s classic gothic masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, is no exception.

 

Adapted and directed by Nick Skubij, this production has a slightly different feel to shake & stir’s previous works, which have been less subtle, and somehow lighter, though no less complex, confronting or shocking in terms of their themes and the impact of each on their audience. This time – it must be the moody design inspired by the eerie moors on which the story takes place – it’s a spectacular looking production and the drama follows suit.

 

 

Terror made me cruel.

 

 

We have come to expect extraordinary beauty from this brilliant creative team: shake & stir, optical bloc and – I’m sure I’ve said it before – Brisbane’s hottest design team comprising Josh McIntosh (Set Design), Jason Glenwright (Lighting Design) and Guy Webster (Sound Design). These guys seem to split up and flit about a bit, but every time they come together with shake & stir, theatre magic happens. It’s as if they come home to play at shake & stir, and out of pure joy and surrender comes their best work. Adding to the mix this time, Leigh Buchanan’s delicate-dramatic touch (Costume Design), makes Wuthering Heights a dark and stormy (yes, you can taste it), sexy and sumptuous production.

 

 

Although the pace lags at times due to Gerry Connolly’s stilted delivery (at times the pauses are effective and at other times, not so much), his characterisation of Nelly Dean and his/her oddly measured phrases remind me of my Aunty Lorna, who has seemed eternally elderly to me, and yet has always been the most lively and strongly opinionated of the relatives I visited with as a child, with the keenest powers of observation and the longest memory. It’s as if Connolly has studied Aunty Lorna’s conversation. I always remember though, in stark contrast to Connolly’s static state, Lorna’s hands shaking to match her voice as she talked about whichever book she was devouring at the time, or the latest horror on the news, or her favourite British TV crime series. She would always insist on pouring the tea for us, in her own kitchen, in her own house, for years and years, before finally moving to a high care facility. She’s ninety-something.

 

In his Director’s Notes, Skubij reminds us that guilt doesn’t only lie with he who sinks the knife in. “Heathcliff has copped a lot of flack over the years and has been hailed as the personification of evil in this tale but what if the real devil wears a housemaid’s outfit?” It’s an excellent point and I feel like this aspect of evil, left to fester and subliminally feed the minds and hearts of others, although hinted at in this adaptation, remains largely unexplored. By Chapter 7 of Bronte’s novel Heathcliff is being advised by Nelly Dean. Sam thinks she is the mastermind and Heathcliff her pawn, though to what end he can’t say. (“Some people are just twisted!”).

 

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I love Connolly on the ivories, the accompaniment lends such a disturbing, penetrating, haunting air to proceedings, and his presence overall as Nelly Dean, particularly as her figure looms overhead, projected across fluttering silk curtains, is eerily omnipresent. (And to throw each character’s image, cleverly consumed by mist and fog early, and then later by curling flames against the flimsy fabric to demonstrate their downfall and their ultimate demise, is an inspired dramatic choice). Without the expertise and creative flair of Projection Designers, optikal bloc (and also, of Photographer, Dylan Evans), this version of Wuthering Heights would not be nearly as powerful.

 

Not quite as inspired, it has to be said, are the wigs selected for use in this production, but now that we’ve mentioned it we’ll just leave that one alone.

 

 

We cannot escape each other.

 

 

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I love Nelle saintly-blonde-bombshell Lee’s Isabella Linton, whose self destruction, in its naivety, is always so much sadder than mad, stubborn Catherine’s, isn’t it? And as Catherine AND Cathy, allow me to rave for a moment about Melanie Zanetti. I’m sure you don’t mind because, having seen her before, you know she is absolute perfection. If this is your first time with Zanetti, enjoy (and make sure it’s not just a one night stand!). She’s a wild, free heart (but not free at all, of course she’s not), like Charlotte Riley in Goky Giedroyc’s 2009 version for PBS. Zanetti transfixes her tall, dark, brooding, vicious vagabond Heathcliff (Ross Balbuziente) and also, every single member of the audience on opening night. What? Am I wrong? She’s absolutely captivating; in both roles emitting the essence of beautiful, alluring girl-child-grown-woman, like a heady fragrance worn lightly, of which we get a sense before the show even starts; I could be wrong but I feel it’s Marc Jacobs’ Oh Lola! (If so, thank you cosmetics training). If indeed it were deliberate, this subtle addition to the theatrical experience is absolute genius. On the other hand, perhaps it’s pure coincidence (if so, thank you unsuspecting audience member), but regardless, we get a sense of it at the beginning of the show, as the scent is carried on the cold wind in the created storm. And what a storm! The opening moments of Wuthering Heights are up there with The Lion King and Les Miserables for unforgettable entry points into the story. The final moments too are breathtaking, stunning, all the superlatives… Anyway, Zanetti’s ability to balance wide-eyed innocence with mad, obsessive passion makes me fear – and relish – having a daughter.

 

She burned too bright for this world.

 

 

In their debuts for shake & stir (though they are no strangers to the stage and screen), Anthony Standish and Julian Curtis are also impressive. This is most interesting and engaging work from Standish (Hindley/Hareton), and it’s the second time I’ve seen Curtis (Edgar). The first was in The Glass Menagerie and I hope there will be many more opportunities to see what he can do. Let’s keep him here a little longer, shall we?

 

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Ross Balbuziente – he of the poster, which has had high school girls and boys stopping in halls and swooning all year – presents a sultry, stormy Heathcliff straight from the pages of the book. I think it’s fair to say it’s likely we’ve never seen the full extent of this performer’s range, or perhaps it’s a lack of total surrender to each role, though what he’s doing always seems to be enough. Even so, there’s an electric undercurrent here that makes me want to slap him and say, “GO THERE” …er, see more from Balbuziente.

 

darlingbutwhatifyoufly

 

Oh, Heathcliff. Are you really as evil as all that? I’ve never believed it! (Save me right now). Let’s call you misunderstood, a product of your environment, and without the consciousness or awareness to meditate on your destructive hatred and your desperate revenge-seeking in order to realise an alternative path.