Posts Tagged ‘The Mystery Bus


Sunshine Coast Arts January 4 2014


So you know I have this little column in the local paper, right?


When Synda Turnbull asked me to take this on in 2013 (she helped keep the arts pages plump for the ten years prior), I had a moment of quiet indecision and debate about artists working for free, but decided pretty quickly that the column needed to continue regardless of whether or not the publication can afford to pay, which seems to be the most prominent current issue again in discussions online and amongst artists in foyers and coffee shops. I accepted the challenge to fit something else into my week gratis, because the value of the weekly exposure of the arts on the Sunshine Coast is worth more to me than say, $100 each week to write it. You know I don’t make money from blogging about the arts, either, despite inspirational writers and business heads all around me, like Styling You’s Nikki Parkinson, working to achieve just that ever since she left print media and logged on! Maybe this is the year, although up until July we’re pretty busy making actual theatre again – I can tell you more soon but there’s a bit of stuff embargoed for another week or so. If you’re following us on Twitter and Instagram you’ll be the first to know.


Are you an artist working for free in some capacity? How’s that working for you?


A number of people suggested I post the columns here, so here they are. A bit of catch up first, and then I’ll post the copy each weekend. If you can pick up the paper on a Saturday, I suggest you still do that because of course there are a heap of arts stories that I’m not able to cover…


If you’re a Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance member with some copy and fantastic images for me, email


SCD Arts Saturday January 4 2014

Xanthe Coward




In 2013 Sunshine Coast theatre got braver and bolder. Behind the scenes we saw some new systems put into place and some key people come and go. The Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival in August enjoyed its best ever attendance, and box office records were set for Noosa Arts Theatre. With Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance President, Sam Coward, at the helm for his third consecutive year, we enjoyed new confidence in untapped talent and in the rediscovery of some favourite performers, designers and technical operators. Noosa Arts Theatre’s acclaimed production of West Side Story, a September sell-out directed by Sam Coward, reminded us just how deep our local pool of talent is, and challenged preconceived notions surrounding community theatre, from its inception to its final curtain call.


The Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance Season Launch Soirée is your next opportunity to rub shoulders with local theatre types and find out how you can be involved. Join the makers and lovers of local theatre at Noosa Arts Theatre on Saturday February 8 from 6pm. Limited tickets available. Bookings online


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Take the kids to this entertaining panto and have just as much fun. This traditional version of the classic fairy tale is directed by Susan Dearnley and runs for a strictly limited season at Noosa Arts Theatre January 4 – 19. All tickets just $12. Bookings online or call 5449 9343



While Cinderella searches for her true love, enjoy cheering the goodies and booing the baddies along the way. Directed by Mary Newton, BATS’ panto runs January 11 – 19. All tickets $12. Bookings online or call 5445 2515


NT Live Screenings


Free Air Entertainment and Noosa Arts Theatre continue their screenings of Great Britain’s superb National Theatre productions with Othello January 10, Macbeth January 17 and The Habit of Art January 31. Bookings online or call 5443 9343





Images – Men In Black (MIB) for SRT’s The Mystery Bus at Woodford Folk Festival 2013-1014. Images by XS Entertainment




Woodford Folk Festival: Day 2

Hey! We’re back! Well, for a little while. So while I can, I’ll tell you what’s been happening out here. Day Two was HOT! DAMN HOT! Despite the oppressive heat and the sudden storm on Friday, the Woodford Spirit was – is – alive and well! The Mystery Bus is a busy little hive of activity and on Friday we were graced with the presence of some amazing artists.

Charlie Mgee

Penelope Swales

Emma Louise

The Good Ship

Hailey Calvert

Mustard Courage

Darren Percival

Penelope Swales told me a story about meeting Johnny Depp in the showers back at camp…that’s right! If you’re out here you will have seen him getting about, looking just like Captain Jack Sparrow. As it turns out, he’s on some team that comes to fix things. When Penelope reported a leak in the bathroom, as you do when you’re at Woodford because everyone is responsible for the state of the place, Penelope came face to face with Jack Sparrow, when he jumped off the back of a truck with tools at the ready! Is that not every girl’s dream come true?!

During the middle of the day, which is anytime after 8am and before 3pm, the heat is pretty harsh. For some, it’s unbearable and the best thing for those hippies to do is to hide away in a venue or in the shade with a cold drink. It’s useless heading back to camp during this time. Far better to enjoy a beer at Bill’s Bar – this year’s hottest new venue and after 5pm singles’ hang out – or grab a(nother) fresh fruit smoothie or rose slushie and head to the Village Green. Apart from the bank, The Mystery Bus is the only air conditioned spot so it’s a popular one, despite the un-knowingness surrounding it! As Rachael, from the Sydney Morning Herald has observed, The Mystery Bus is a lottery; it’s pot luck, with a host of headline acts and the audience queuing to see whoever it is on the bus. It’s been such a success for so many years now that it just keeps getting bigger and bigger!

In fact, The Mystery Bus is the favourite gig with so many punters that they come back time and time again. And so do the artists. Darren Percival says that The Mystery Bus IS Woodford Folk Festival. “And that’s all.” On Friday night, Darren rocked the bus with a 20 minute acoustic set. He traded his headdress for a wolf hat and sang, among others, The Mystery Bus song!


Earlier that afternoon, I took four children between the ages of 6 and 11 to do Mal Webb’s vocal workshop, From Lips to Lung. I met them in the Children’s Festival and with umbrellas held down against the wind and rain into which we walked, we made our way to the Joy Luck Club. Mal Webb is extraordinary and rates highly, fellow vocalists including Darren Percival and Stringmansassy’s Kacey Patrick, who appears in Linsey Pollack’s new show, The Dream of Zedkat Nabu. Mal’s workshops are always terrific fun, especially for the kids, who have been practicing their beat boxing since starting out with Mal.

Mal made an appearance on the bus on Day Three…


Woodford Folk Festival: Day 1

We’ve been at Woodfordia – the Woodford Folk Festival site – since 8am on Boxing Day. That’s right. While you were sleeping in after a massive Christmas Day, we were settling into our camp site and setting up our venue: The Mystery Bus. The Mystery Bus has never seen so many props, set pieces and bits and pieces of gadgetry so there was a lot to do before the punters were granted entry!

Congrats and thanks to Laura and the ticketing team for making our arrival a beautiful thing of smiling efficiency and good humour. The guys and girls out front have a mammoth job to do, welcoming artists and making sure we have everything we need before the production (and various other teams) check in. It’s the hard-working teams, under confident leadership, that make so many aspects of the Woodford Folk Festival so easily managed.

We arrived in rain so nothing unusual there, but I was hoping that was the extent of it! HA! Actually, I was hoping we’d be getting a lovely shower each afternoon, as we did last year; rain to settle the dust and cool us down. So far so good. Having said that, it’s continued to rain on and off throughout this evening’s major events: the welcome ceremony, our mate Darren Percival, and Angus Stone. Tip for the punters: Always come prepared for the rain! After some shopping today, Poppy has a waterproof cotton parasol, and Sam and I are grateful for our enormous rainbow bright umbrellas…The best twenty bucks you can spend at Woodford! We also seemed to somehow acquire –

– another Amsterdam skirt. I’d picked one up at Eumundi Markets and knew Monique intended to bring out a heap to the festival. The skirts are reversible and each has a detachable bag and belt. Perfect for trekking through Woodfordia.

– a felt hat from the beanie shop. Wesley, Jo says HI! She spoke so fondly of the fascinating process she was involved in during the research, writing and rehearsal stages of QTC’s A Head Full of Love. Poppy chose a beanie we both loved and I was happy to hand over our cash to help raise some extra dollars for new dialysis machines in remote areas of Australia.

– a Sea Shepherd dolphin necklace. I’m so proud of Poppy. She was determined to speak with the Sea Shepherd guy and give him some extra coins after she’d bought her necklace “for the turtles too”.

– feather earrings to match the Salita Matthews necklace. I know. The colours are perfect. I couldn’t help it!

Meanwhile, down at The Mystery Bus, which is next door to The Gremlins, whose show this year is directed by Hayden Spencer (you’ll also see Carita about; she’s hosting the Dancing with the Gremlins comp), and the Mutant Barnyard (don’t ask), we are having a ball! You know only the boys are involved in the show this year, don’t you? That leaves the girls to look after the photographic evidence, social media and the artists. The artists are a joy and they love coming to do The Mystery Bus. Many of them tell us it’s their fave gig of the festival! It’s such FUN! Of course, the whole mystery is that you don’t know which festival headline act you’ll get to see… See? FUN!

If you’re following us on Twitter and Instagram, you will have seen lots of festival images already.

Use the hashtags –

– #woodfordlove

– #woodford2012

– #mysterybus

And let us know if you’re at Woodfordia!

However, let me tell you that the Internet connection, or the lack of it, is a problem. If you’re here you know it. For those of you playing at home, you’ll understand why you’re seeing sporadic updates and suddenly a flurry of pics and comments! I’ve spoken with the media team today and as much as they are working on it, there’s little they can do to improve access this year. That means there are some things on the list for next year. In the meantime, even with 3G and 4G connection you’ll need to be patient. So many people give up their gadgets for the week but so many more are wanting to tweet and share images and comments. And that means that literally thousands of people out here are online. Try to avoid peak times and enjoy the festival – in real life – in between status updates! Serious! If you stop looking around you’ll start missing the magical moments. And there are MANY. What’s been your favourite event, experience, meal, music and venue so far?

Now, although we missed yoga today we did do Tai Chi, and we found Byron Bay doughnuts and Bill’s Bar; it’s new and it’s the fave hangout this Woodford! #FTW

That’s Day 1 done! Happy Woodford!



Woodford Folk Festival 2011-2012

So many wonderful moments (and interestingly, some not-so-wonderful moments too) to describe! I’m not quite back into writing…was I ever fully immersed in it? No. Too many things. This year I will make a concerted effort to write more often. I might even try to be A Writer. In the meantime, Poppy and I are off to Mary Poppins tonight and James and the Giant Peach tomorrow night, both of which I’ll write about. I’ll leave you for now with some beautiful images from Woodfordia, put together by browndog with music by Tibet2Timbuk2


Woodford 2011-12 from browndog on Vimeo.


If you missed the magic of Woodford this year – its music, its Mystery Bus, its amazing food, its incredible people and its beautiful weather – make sure you book early to go in 2012-2013. It truly is one of those life-changing experiences and you will LOVE it.

Next post: The Mystery Bus




Woodford Folk Festival 2011

We’ve had a big year!

We’ve had a lovely Christmas and we hope you have had too!


We’re off to Woodfordia!

You’ll find us on The Mystery Bus in the Hope Island Precinct.

I’m not at liberty to tell you more but it’s safe to say that this gig is a Woodford Folk Festival institution.

This year, for the first time, you can catch LACTATE‘s show!

It’s crazy. It’s fun. It’s a bus. And it’s a mystery. Make sure you don’t miss it!

I’ll try to blog in between gigs! In the meantime, you can follow our updates on Twitter

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