Posts Tagged ‘elbow room




Flowstate – What’s Flowstate?

No, it’s not the latest facial scan digital technology used to capture actors’ features for use in films requiring the actor’s face to appear on the bodies of her doubles to achieve the illusion of a perfect triple axel performed by the actor herself…



Flowstate is a 3000sqm interim-use, creative pop-up repurposing the Arbour View Café precinct in the heart of the South Bank Parklands, designed by specialist Australian architecture and performance design firm Stukel Stone.


Flowstate comprises three distinct zones: a grassy relaxation zone, immersive digital art installation JEM by award-winning design studio ENESS and an open-air performance pavilion. Launched on January 29, Flowstate boasts a year-long showcase program of free artistic experiences spanning circus, dance, theatre, music and visual installation. Queensland artists and performers will deliver 20+ free artistic experiences against a panoramic tree-lined skyline, inspiring audiences to contemplate a range of ideas underpinned by a focus on city form.


The year-long showcase program is South Bank Corporation’s contribution to the cultural activities happening during the year of the Commonwealth Games. Precinct partners include Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Griffith University, as well as broader partners including UPLIT, Festival 2018, CIRCA and Metro Arts.


Participating artists and companies include CIRCA, Dead Puppet Society, Little Match Productions, Elbow Room, The Good Room, Liesel Zink, and Polytoxic. Resident local DJs bring their energy to the precinct every Friday evening. Find them on the Flowstate Green 5.30pm – 7pm.


“South Bank Corporation is delighted to unveil Flowstate, and to launch a year-long multi-arts program of free creative experiences marking our contribution to the cultural activities happening across the state during the year of the Commonwealth Games,” South Bank Corporation Chair Dr Catherin Bull AM said. “As a place where ideas about what the city can and will be are explored, Flowstate aims to encourage a vibrant culture of exploration and exchange across the South Bank precinct.”



The addition of the 3000sqm interim-use site offers South Bank’s 11million+ annual visitors another engaging experience to enjoy in the precinct, famous for its awe-inspiring riverside parklands, Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach, award-winning restaurants and bars and world-class accommodation options. Set against the Parklands’ stunning subtropical backdrop, Flowstate invites both locals and visitors to collaborate with some of Queensland’s most compelling artists, witness new performance work in development, engage in workshops, participate in a robust program of public conversations and engage with a groundbreaking digital installation.


Free event highlights include Aura by Queensland’s world-leading performance company CIRCA (06–25 March); Dead Puppet Society’s roving installation Megafauna (04–08 April); Little Match Productions’ all-ages contemporary opera The Owl and the Pussycat (11–15 April); moonlit musical trek Song to the Earth by Corrina Bonshek (16–19 May); and These Frozen Moments by the inimitable The Good Room (21 November–02 December). Complementing Flowstate’s Pavilion performances is an inspiring speaker and workshop series, with special guests throughout the year including Magda Szubanski, Luke Ryan and Margi Brown Ash, plus a weekly resident DJ set every Friday evening on the Flowstate Green.


Professional Queensland-based artists are also invited to apply for one of two additional supported residencies, for public work-in-progress showings at Flowstate in December 2018. Submit an online application here


“Via Flowstate, we hope to stimulate ideas, questions and maybe even some more answers about what contemporary cities can and should be,” Dr Bull said. South Bank Corporation CEO Bill Delves said Flowstate capsured the ever-changing nature of the South Bank precinct, continuing its 25-year legacy as a “people’s place”. “With the team’s delivery of Flowstate, we continue to sculpt Brisbane’s beloved playground into a magnificent world-leading precinct where local, interstate and international visitors eat, work and play,” Mr Delves said.


Find out more about Flowstate here


We Get It

We Get It 

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

June 15 – 25 2016


Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris




After a critically acclaimed season at MTC’s NEON Festival, Elbow Room brings We Get It to Brisbane Powerhouse. In this fierce and witty new work, five classic heroines (and the actors playing them) take to the stage in a battle to win it all and to answer the question: can we imagine a world without sexism?


The performance begins with the men in the audience literally centre stage. The lights come up, the screen is lit and a booming voice helps us to imagine this world where sexism no longer exists – where women are granted the same rights, pay and opportunities as men. Understandably, the men on stage begin to look uncomfortable. In these opening moments we glimpse the bigger picture of this important work; we may “get” sexism, but there is still a long way to go before achieving gender equality.




From here we enter a glitzy glamorous game show complete with five contestants dancing ridiculously in hot pink lycra. It’s a familiar scene, but there’s something disturbing behind the laughter and the fun. As each of the five women are forced to order themselves according to their appearance, personal lives and categories that simply have nothing to do with the competition at hand, a system of institutionalized sexism (and racism) reveals itself.


The “message” of the work permeates through the actors’ video diary entries where they recount their experiences as women in an industry dominated by men. It is unclear whether these are the lived experiences of the actors, and in this way the line between the actor, the actor playing an actor, and the actor playing an actor playing a character (and it really does feel that convoluted) is blurred time and time again. In particular the line between reality and fiction is manipulated as the actors talk back to the host, argue their concerns and work to perfect their performance as one of the greatest heroines ever written. These powerful and magnetic moments bring to the fore the problematic portrayal of women through characters written by men hundreds of years ago. Progressively through the performance we see the actors fight back against the ridiculous expectations of the host and us, the audience.




It is clear that there is plenty of ground for We Get It to cover, but at times scenes feel too long and blatant declaration of the issue at hand becomes too much to handle. Personally I found the work difficult to connect with – while I empathised with the actors / characters, I struggled to play my own role as the alienated audience member. I wanted more space to come to my own conclusions, rather than being told what it all meant and who was at fault. In addition, I found the work to be exclusive in its use of in-jokes and terminology that only an industry audience would fully appreciate. As a work dealing with an issue relevant and important to all, I believe the work could be more accessible to a general audience that do not work within the Brisbane theatre industry.


We Get It is a vital piece of political theatre that is uncomfortable, confronting and sharp. It digs deep into the reality of women in an industry that I am just beginning to enter, and it’s frightening to say the least.


The Motion of Light In Water


The Motion of Light in Water

La Boite Indie

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

November 4 – 21 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 






“Science fiction isn’t just thinking about the world out there. It’s also thinking about how that world might be—a particularly important exercise for those who are oppressed, because if they’re going to change the world we live in, they—and all of us—have to be able to think about a world that works differently.”

Samuel R. Delany


About Hacker’s work, the poet Jan Heller Levi has said:

“I think of her magnificent virtuosity in the face of all the strictures to be silent, to name her fears and her desires, and in the process, to name ours. Let’s face it, no one writes about lust and lunch like Marilyn Hacker. No one can jump around in two, sometimes even three, languages and come up with poems that speak for those of us who sometimes barely think we can even communicate in one. And certainly no one has done more, particularly in the last decade of formalism, to demonstrate that form has nothing to do with formula. In villanelles, sestinas, and sonnets—not to mention a variety of forms whose names I can’t even pronounce—Marilyn Hacker can journey us on a single page through feelings as confusing as moral certainty to feelings as potentially empowering as unrequited passion.”




We know that anything penned by Marcel Dorney (Prehistoric, Fractions) is worth a look. The Motion of Light In Water, originally commissioned by Hothouse Theatre and Theatre Works, and inspired by Samuel Ray “Chip” Delany’s award winning speculative works and his memoir of the same name, is testament to Dorney’s intelligent approach to creating theatre that challenges and satisfies in equal measure.


The Motion of Light in Water is utterly surprising and affecting, highly intellectual and deeply challenging, and despite its slightly indulgent running time (110 minutes without interval), it’s incredibly entertaining. I come away from it wide-eyed, having never been a fan of Delany’s work or of science fiction generally and somehow overlooking, until now, Marilyn Hacker’s incredible writing. I know. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?


In this work, Dorney has captured a style of storytelling that feels genuinely new and fresh; it’s sci-fi manga live on stage. While it doesn’t purport to be a biopic or an adaptation of Delany’s groundbreaking Babel-17 there is so much truth to it, which comes at us – unforgivably – through a fictional account of events in the extraordinary ordinary lives of Delany and Hacker overlaid with the “what if…?” of Delany’s acclaimed books. It’s a work that William Gibson says, “captures the sense of courage and possibility that we took from these books, and the cultural and personal struggles that gave rise to them.”


The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.


Empire Star’s narrator, Jewel (Emily Tomlins), invites us to take a look inside the imagined world of Delany (Ray Chong-Nee) and Hacker (Olivia Monticciolo) as they live and love and work and fuck and rage right through the 60s and 70s, simultaneously taking us by the hand for a trip into the future. We find ourselves in front row seats at an intergalactic battle of epic proportions, the unlikely space crew fighting against evil, led by Babel-17’s protagonist, poet & captain of the craft, Rydra Wong (Ngoc Phan). The historical and futuristic aspects are cleverly interwoven, and while there’s possibly another play just in the intriguing Delany/Hacker relationship, it wouldn’t have the same impact without the intricacies (and complexity! And adventure!) of the other.


I love the straight-up, naturalistic approach to the NYC scenes, giving us insight into the challenges and delights of existing in 1960s and1970s America as a black bi-sexual man (and as an extraordinarily talented, tolerant, lesbian Jew not so much – Hacker is integral to the string of events but she plays a supporting role in this version of Delany’s story), and a bi-racial couple that brings between them for several weeks – what seems like a lifetime – a married, displaced man, who has the same basic needs and desires as their own (Tom Dent).


The more stylised futuristic scenes keep the dense text real for those of us who may be familiar with Tolkien’s imagined ancient tongue and Orwell’s “newspeak” but not with the brilliantly created codes of the future, which in this case have the power to destroy humankind. Within both plots we get our past, present and possible future, with vibrant discussion on social norms, political constraints, three-person parties and linguistic relativity (that language determines our perception of reality), however; during the final discourse it seems to take an exorbitantly long time for Captain Wong and The Butcher (Tom Dent) to satisfactorily explore the notion of empathy. There is lovely comedy in it, but it’s at this point that we begin to get restless…


The context changes but the rhetoric remains the same.

– Samuel Ray “Chip” Delany


In the role of Delany Ray Chong-Nee has been given room to create a delightfully disarming character that we immediately adore, and with whom it’s easy to empathise. His embodiment of this quirky, incredibly brilliant man is captivating. When I read interviews with the actual Delany I can imagine he’d be pretty chuffed with Chong-Nee’s work in this production. In fact, I like to think that he and Hacker would be as intrigued and as entertained as I am by this production. (Professor Delany gets a thank you in the program for his generosity, support and insight during the process).


Dorney’s direction is careful, as precise as his language is; he’s so attentive to the quieter moments, which are vital if we are to process the complexities of the storytelling, and at the same time, with gusto and mischief, he plays with the physicality of the actors, their bodies in the space, and the more technical elements of the louder, brighter, comic book bits. All the elements come together magnificently – comically, boldly – for example, when Captain Wong takes control of the space battle in a Wii styled solo effort to save the world. (AV Designer Andre Vanderwer, Lighting Designer Kris Chainey and Composition & Sound Design THE SWEATS). Only it’s taken the power and navigational skills of the crew to get her there. In the fine tradition of Romeo and Juliet and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this bizarre meeting of minds and bodily bits required to power the spacecraft happens symbolically (or really, this way, in the future. What if…?), as hands meet and move as one. All of this within the cold confines of an austere set designed by Matthew Adey, which serves as the spacecraft as well as separating various city spaces. Zoe Rouse has rejigged the costumes since the original Melbourne run and may need to rethink the ill-fitting futuristic white leggings here, which simply detract from the overall aesthetic and keep us, unfortunately, squarely in “indie” theatre territory. The current obsession with awesome looking active wear, which relies on superior textiles and advanced technology to lift and shape and flatter, means it’s just not plausible that such a style crime would be committed by anyone in authority in the future.


The Motion of Light In Water is Dorney’s most detailed and entertaining work to date, exploding with vivid reflections on the darkest, most threatening aspects of life and love and power, and at the same time tenderly embracing and celebrating the best of every day. This is a play that will itself be embraced and celebrated by audiences who are craving all the feels and something more to think about.


Between us on our wide bed we cuddle an incubus

whom we have filled with voyages. We wake

more apart than before, with open hands.

Your stomach and head begin to ache.

We cannot work. You are in pain. I cry.

The Navigators, Marilyn Hacker






Elbow Room & Metro Arts The Independents

Metro Arts Basement

20 November – 7 December 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Prehistoric is a story about Brisbane in the 11th year of the Bjelke-Petersen administration – a very different place from the Brisbane of 2013… OR IS IT?


In the late 1970s, the relationship of young Australians to culture, society, politics and technology went through changes that were quick, profound and – most importantly – intimately connected.  This era was the turning point in Brisbane – whether or not we realise it – becoming one of the most interesting cultural incubators, not just in Australia, but in the Anglophone world.

Purchase Prehistoric


Prehistoric Kathryn Marquet Image by Leesa Connelly


You live at the remote edge of a civilisation in economic free-fall, about to destroy itself in a nuclear war.

(Like anyone, you’d rather not think about that.)

You live in one of the most corrupt cities on the planet, under a state government elected by a minority who mostly live elsewhere.

Again, you’d rather be having fun. Maybe making some noise.

Except the government has significantly expanded the powers of the police to stop you.

Also, all the computers are owned by corporations, and all the phones are tied to the wall.

It’s 1979.

Love you, Brisbane.




Whether or not you come away thinking the title is apt, this is a play about Queensland that begs immediate viewing by Queenslanders. It’s a look inside the Bjelke-Peterson police state years and yet it’s all too familiar. What happens when police name badges become optional and officers detain a guy after dropping a tissue in Queen Street Mall? No, this is not ancient history, but recent events recorded in Brisbane.


Backbone Youth Arts originally developed Prehistoric, firstly via a commissioned draft and then in two successive creative developments in 2012 with Kathryn Marquet, Anthony Standish, Melanie Zanetti and Steve Toulmin. Writer and Director, Marcel Dorney notes, “We weren’t ‘there’ in 1979… So we formed our own band, and played our own music, because we could think of no better tribute.” Dorney asks the tough questions, and without providing all the answers, offers us multiple veiled (and not so) warnings about history repeating.


The band of which Dorney speaks comes together, as bands do, when a group of friends (or strangers) have something to say. Their message is loud, and if you can make out the lyrics, which are mostly shouted in an appropriately antiestablishment manner by Anna Straker, it’s pretty powerful. Joining Straker in her punk band are Kathryn Marquet, Anthony Standish and Steve Toulmin. The original music, by Toulmin and Dorney, might be for some the most challenging aspect of this production. But it shouldn’t be. There’s a whole heap of intelligent raging going on beneath the clanging, clashing sounds of amplified instruments and “Fuck yous”. It’s a play with punk and spunk! There are perhaps two songs too many – the show runs a little longer than it needs to (for me, without delving deeper into one particular story or another, ninety minutes would be ideal) – and by the last couple of songs I’m thinking, “Okay, I get it!” The action is well punctuated by the music though – and the climax counts on it – and it’s not to everyone’s taste, but nor was it when punk became popular in Brisbane…or anywhere else.




It’s a time of rebellion, despair and desperation, of “ministerial corruption, the demolition of our heritage architecture, stories of police brutality…” (Metro Arts Programming Manager Kieran Swann), and it’s an era that we’d rather not be reminded of. Unfortunately, many of the play’s issues are, once again, all too familiar. The actors bring their characters to life after they’ve entered the basement space to inform us that they weren’t there to witness events, but they can certainly share a version of what happened, so if when it happens again we can see it coming, and boy, do we see it!


Prehistoric is a strong ensemble piece, giving voice to each character and ultimately, giving many opportunities for the voices to join together in poignant protest. Characters are nicely drawn and intelligently realised.


Dorney has written and directed a vital play; I expect to see an adaptation of Prehistoric on our small screens at some stage, as well as on the main stages. It deserves a broader audience, and despite – or because of – its specific setting and political references, looks set to serve us as a contemporary example of the way good theatre has always recorded a version of historical events, and tested popular opinion and the establishment. A less-explicit (but does that make it less powerful?) adaptation for senior students would be an excellent resource for schools.


Whether you were there at the time or not, you should live through Prehistoric.