Unpredictable: Belvoir's Conversation Piece

The prospect is tantalising. “A group of actors and dancers meet on stage and begin the show with a short conversation about… Well, we don’t know yet. Each night it will be a different conversation – just an ordinary pre-show chat like [the audience themselves might have] – and this conversation will form the basis of the rather surprising performance that follows.”
Conversation Piece is a mad idea by any standard. By its very nature, every single performance of its three-week run is going to be different, unique, irreplicable; the very best example of an act of theatre – lost into the ether, contained only within the memories of its participants.
It’s also a wonderful show.


Like Me - thoughts for an as-yet-unmade film

This is an edited version of a document prepared in November 2011, prior to starting work on the project.

Like Me is, simply, As You Like It without the politics, the explicitly philosophical debates or the ‘clowns.’ In other words, it focuses squarely on the six ‘kids’ – Rosie, Cecelia, Orlando, Oliver, Silvius and Phoebe – and takes them to a farm out near Dubbo for a couple of days, long weekend maybe, and throws them all in it together. Over the course of the long weekend, relationships develop and blossom, truths are learnt, feelings made known and affections made clear. In the end, though, who gets who? It’s not as simple as it once seemed, not now anyway.
Before the film starts, Rosie is in a fight at school with Charlie who said she was a guy. (We may or may not see this). So she and Charlie were suspended, as was Cecelia by association. Four friends – Rosie, Cecelia (Cee), and their friends Oliver and Orlando (Oliver’s brother) – had long planned to go on a road trip together, and now that the long weekend is upon them, now seems as good a time as ever to get away and find themselves, discover each other. Silvius and Phoebe are also invited along for good measure; the more the merrier, or so they say.
As we meet them – Rosie and Cee, then Orlando, Oliver, Silvius and Phoebe (arguing, lost) – they find themselves on Orlando’s family farm, a slowly shrinking sheep run still pulling itself out of the recent drought. Besides the sheep, there is a forest that runs down and along the border of the farm and it seems the perfect location to set up camp… To paraphrase Chekhov, ‘it’s a comedy – three women’s parts, three men’s – and is set in a forest (on a sheep farm) with a great deal of conversation about Being and relationships, and five tons of love.’


On Reading, Part Five

August has been a slow month. Time seems to have elongated itself, gone backwards almost. Chronic time distortion syndrome, it’s called, at least I think so. Each day seems like a week, weeks turn into moths and they fly into lightbulbs. I read to escape, pretty much always have done so, and the only bad thing about it is when the experience is not worth it, is not worth the days and pages you’ve invested in it, when the author is condescending to the point of patronising, when they treat the reader like an idiot. When the reverse happens, when the book is as much a gem as it can be, when reading it feels like flying, when the characters seem to be your best friends, then it’s the most wonderful thing in the world. This month has seen both these cases, and if anything else, it confirms what I already suspected – that writing stories (anything, really) is one of the hardest and most rewarding things is to share it with people and see the smile on their faces when they’ve finished.

So. First up, I want to talk about David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. If you’re eagerly awaiting the Wachowski siblings’ new film (co-directed with Tom Tykwer) adapted from the same book, now would be a good time to stop reading and join us again after the break. And perhaps not; I don’t know what the film is like.
The main problem is the book’s structure, both its physical construction and in its nature. It is, in its most simple form, a set of six interconnected albeit truncated stories which, upon reaching the middle of the sixth story, reverse their order and conclude their respective narrative fragments. I don’t know if that’s such a good thing.


“Let me introduce to you:” How I met The Beatles

If you wanted to, you can pinpoint the day I started listening to music and looking at films. I mean really listening to music, obsessively, the same way I read books – trying to decode its mysteries and secrets, trying to work out why it makes me feel the way it does, trying to make sense of its sounds and melodies. Likewise with films, the way meaning and shots work together, how the disparate elements add to form the total (or not), how a film is made; how it all works.
July 2007, and I was meant to be writing an essay at school in study hall when I found out about Across The Universe, and… well, one thing led to another, and I found a trailer for it and fell in love with it – its colours, music, visuals, scope, diversity, sprawl. When it opened in Australia in November, I asked my two best friends if they’d like to see it with me, knowing they were huge Beatles fans, and so we went, and ‘everything changed’ that day, or so they say. From the film’s opening shot – a slow zoom in to Jude sitting on an empty windswept beach, as the waves fell upon the screen, intercut with archival images of protests and violence and revolutions; as the all frenetic agitated guitar of ‘Helter Skelter’ cut across it all, I remember thinking ‘so this is what it’s all about.’ The ‘it’ in question was the Beatles – their music, their lyrics, personas; their magic, their mystery, the phenomenon; their legacy. The film picked you up on “a wave of terrific Beatles songs” and catapulted you head-first through the decade of the Sixties – from the youthful innocence of the early days, to the experimentation and exuberance of the psychedelic era, to the violence and protests of Vietnam, to its ambiguous end. Two hours later, as the final strains of ‘All You Need Is Love’ faded over a girl standing on a rooftop, smiling amongst her tears, ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ played and the credits rolled, it was hard not to sing along. There was one point, I think, when the three of us were singing along, and we left the cinema grinning like maniacs, bouncing on the tide of energy and music that was the film.
‘Do you have any of the Beatles’ music?’ he asked.
‘No,’ I replied, immediately ashamed of the fact.
‘Right,’ he said. ‘We’re about to remedy that.’