Monday, June 30, 2008

La Mama reaches halfway mark

La Mama is a little over half way to reaching its fundraising target of $1.7 million required to secure the purchase of their Faraday St home in Carlton after receiving generous donations of $350,000 from Jeanne Pratt of The Pratt Foundation and $250,000 from the Sidney Myer Fund.

La Mama’s Artistic Director Liz Jones said, “We are absolutely thrilled to receive such generous contributions from two of Melbourne’s leading philanthropic Funds. These financial contributions provide us with more hope that we will reach our target at this crucial time however we still need to raise another $700,000 to secure the purchase of our Faraday St home by settlement day Tuesday 2nd September 2008. A lot of people in the community think that La Mama has already been saved but we unfortunately still have quite a way to go.”

The Minister for the Arts, Lynne Kosky MP, recently announced that the Victorian State Government will contribute $150,000 to La Mama’s cause. With the generosity of over 300 friends of La Mama and industry members, the deposit of $170,000 was raised and paid on May 27, 2008.

La Mama has also received very promising responses following discussions with The Melbourne City Council and a number of other philanthropic organisations and is still optimistic of receiving significant contributions from these sources.

However, as there remains a considerable shortfall to reach the target required within a short timeframe, La Mama still requires all the financial help available.

La Mama, has occupied the iconic building in Faraday St in the heart of Carlton since 1967. For the last 40 years the building has been rented from a local Melbourne family. The matriarch (and much-loved La Mama supporter) Rose died late last year and the Executors of her Estate notified La Mama that they wanted to sell the building offering La Mama first option. Recently the Executors of the Estate accepted La Mama’s offer of $1.7 million.

Founded in 1967 by Betty Burstall after she visited La Mama in New York, La Mama has been an incubator for many big names in Australian theatre with its alumni including national treasures such as Jack Hibberd, David Williamson, Cate Blanchett and Richard Frankland to name a few.

To make a donation or for more information on how you can help secure La Mama’s future please contact Liz Jones on tel. 03 9347 6948, mobile 0412 909 077 or Donations are fully tax deductible.

And in other cinema news

According to his page on the Internet Movie Database, Scottish actor James McAvoy is set to play Bilbo Baggins in the screen adaptation of The Hobbit to be directed by Guillermo del Toro. Anyone heard anything more concrete on this?

Why I want to see THE DARK KNIGHT more than ever

Why? This review by Peter Travers in Rolling Stone:

"The haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination. It's full of surprises you don't see coming. And just try to get it out of your dreams."

That's why.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Look: Who's back

Under the guidance of writer/producer Russell T Davies, Doctor Who is queerer than ever, says Richard Watts.

In 2003, when the BBC announced that Russell T Davies, the creator of Queer as Folk, was to be put in charge of a new series of Doctor Who, few would have expected that the revived science fiction series about an alien wanderer in time and space would become one of the most lauded television programmes of the 21st century.

But not only did the new Doctor Who become a runaway success – inspiring two spin-off series to date in the child-friendly The Sarah Jane Adventures and the far darker, adult-oriented Torchwood; as well as generating critical and popular acclaim – it’s also become one of the most inclusive television programmes ever made in terms of representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and gender-fluid characters on-screen.

Anyone who has watched the last three seasons of Doctor Who will be familiar with some of the elements Davies has brought to the show; most notably the roguish, sexually-omnivorous Captain Jack Harkness, a Time Agent turned conman from the 51st Century, played by openly gay actor John Barrowman.

According to Davies, the inclusion of Captain Jack (first introduced in the 2005 story ‘The Empty Child’) was a deliberate attempt to subvert the usual depiction of bisexuality on television.

“I thought: ‘It’s time you introduce bisexuals properly into mainstream television,’” he recently told the New York Times. “The most boring drama would be – ‘Oh, I’m bisexual, oh my bleeding heart’ night-time drama. Tedious, dull. But if you say it’s a bisexual space pirate swaggering in with guns and attitude and cheek and humour into primetime family viewing - that was enormously attractive to me.”

Such characters aside, what’s the attraction of a programme like Doctor Who for lesbian and gay viewers? According to occasional MCV contributor and Sensis film critic Tim Hunter, it’s the titular character’s outsider status.

“It’s about the fact that he seems like an outsider from the rest of society. As a 13 year old boy who hadn’t quite come to terms with his sexuality yet, I just found that quite appealing,” Hunter says.

“The reason Doctor Who as a character has gay appeal is because he doesn’t necessarily identify with regular people; and I think a lot of gay men growing up tend to identify with that, because they too, including myself, feel like we’re outside of society; not quite the same as everyone else. The Doctor is like that too, but he embraces it … and I think there’s a lesson there for gay men; that being different isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And I think that’s become even more [pronounced] in this new series that Russell T Davies has been doing,” he concludes.

As well as introducing queer characters such as the omnisexual Captain Jack and the transgendered ‘last human’, the Lady Cassandra, Davies has also injected a gay sensibility into the programme; typified by the 2007 Christmas special, Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned.

The movie-length episode, which screens on ABC 1 this Sunday night, features gay icon Kylie Minogue in a story which references such camp delights as 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure and the 1997 film, Titanic, leavened with a healthy dash of science fiction.

“Kylie is probably my favourite guest we’ve had. Having her on the show was amazing. Just having her working with us was brilliant,” an enthusiastic Davies told Welsh newspaper the Swansea Evening Post earlier this month.

As well as La Minogue, Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned also stars out gay actor Russell Tovey (best known for his role as the sports-loving Rudge in the film The History Boys), and features a subplot involving marriage rights for androids: a clear reference to the on-going debate around same-sex marriage.

Gay and lesbian characters also feature regularly in the programme’s fourth season, which starts on the ABC next week; a situation which has some fans up in arms about what they describe as Davies’ “gay agenda”.

“[I]t’s completely over-egging the series to have throwaway gay references all over the place just to give the show a PC, all-inclusive feel,” rants poster ‘Spud McSpud’ on the pop-culture website Ain’ “[Davies] seems to want to portray in new Who the idea that there are gay/bi people in every walk of life, everywhere you go!”

Not everyone is so opposed to the regular representation of same-sex attracted characters on Doctor Who, however.

“[Davies] takes Doctor Who and pushes the envelope the whole time, not in terms of taste and decency but in terms of ideas and emotional intelligence, the size of feeling and epic stroke of narrative breadth,” Jane Tranter, the BBC’s head of fiction, told the New York Times last week.

No-one at the BBC had a problem with Captain Jack, or with any of Davies’s plotlines, she added.

“How ridiculous would it be that you would travel through time and space and only ever find heterosexual men?”

Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned screens on ABC 1 this Sunday June 29 at 7:30pm. Season Four of Doctor Who commences the following week.

This article originally appeared in MCV #390 on Thursday June 26.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Doctor Who Season Four Finale - SPOILERS!!!

This pic is a promo image for the final two-parter for the current season four of Doctor Who. Fanboy heaven or what?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Circus Oz 30th Birthday Bash

Last night saw saw the opening night of the 30th Birthday Bash for Circus Oz; the latest show under the company's Leunig-inspired big top in Birrarung Marr. A 30th birthday is no mean achievement for anyone, let alone a circus company which prides itself on its committment to social justice as much as daring and jaw-dropping physical feats, which is why last night's show was such a delight.

Even occasional first night nerves resulting in dropped juggling clubs and missed tumbles (of which, to be fair, there were only a few) and a couple of events that, placed back-to-back, saw the pace of the show drop off slightly, couldn't detract from the atmosphere or the spirit of the night, helped along by a jovial and noisy crowd packed under the canvas to witness an array of predominantly new acts.

Having spoken last week with Circus Oz's Artistic Director Mike Finch, I know the temptation was there to present a 'greatest hits' package; but instead, thanks to new funding which enables the company to now hold an extended circus lab development each year, there were heaps of new acts, brought to life by a range of new performers. There were also some spectacular old tricks slipped into the show as well; including the group bike, and a wonderfully-reworked contortion act, and a simply fantastic inverted routine in film noir style, in which a tough guy walks into a bar, sits at a table, pours himself a drink and soliliquizes - all performed suspended upside down from the roof.

Other highlights included some superb clowning and juggling routines; a breathtaking and beautiful Frankenstein-inspired act performed on aerial straps; a joyous jumble of kangaroo-clad acrobats aboard the teeterboard; the addition of inline skating for the first time in a Circus Oz show; and the most outstanding chair-balancing act which morphed into a magnificent, achingly beautiful static double trapeze routine: truly the highlight of the show.

If you've never seen Circus Oz before, this is definitely a production to see: a marvellous modern circus show that will thrill, amaze and entertain in equal measure. And if you have seen the company before, what better time to go back than for their 30th Birthday Bash?

Bravo, Circus Oz!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At last, I do

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

After a long legal battle, gay and lesbian couples in California were legally allowed to marry as of 5:01pm on Monday June 16.

Del Martin (pictured, left) and Phyllis Lyon, who have been together for 50 years, became the first couple to wed; and were married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (standing behind them) at City Hall.

Martin and Lyon were co-founders of the first major lesbian organisation in the USA, the Daughters of Bilitis, in 1955. The couple have a long and proud history of fighting for women’s rights.

“When we first got together, we were not really thinking about getting married, we were thinking about getting together,” Lyon told a crowd of cheering supporters as the pair cut their wedding cake. “I think it's a wonderful day.”

Of course, not everyone is happy about this, as the following media release from the Westboro Baptist Church makes abundantly clear:

You know, somehow I kinda think they've forgotten that bit in the Bible about 'God is love'...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What do we want? BRAINS! When do we want it? BRAINS!

The 3rd annual Melbourne Zombie Shuffle was held today, and what a fantastic day it was! Big shout-outs to the lovely Ms Clem (pictured to my left, above, and also below) who got the whole rotting ball rolling, and whose company made for a great day out in the company of an undead horde that was at least 500 strong.

We came; we saw; we shambled, drooled, moaned, lurched and generally had a ball. Next year we'll be back, bigger and more cadaverous than ever!

You can read all about it on - and even see a video featuring Clem and yours truly! And yes, more photos coming soon...

Friday, June 13, 2008


I am all a-quiver with excitement about the program for this year's Melbourne International Arts Festival, having attended a media briefing at the festival office on Wednesday, but unfortunately I am bound to secrecy and cannot, nay, must not blog about its contents for another month.

Suffice to say that Kristy's final festival program, her fourth, looks fantastic; with an array of local and international guests that already has me salivating. Sadly I'll have to miss the festival's last five days, as I'll be jaunting off to Morocco, but I reckon I'll be able to squeeze in a fair bit of fun before I go!

Melbourne International Arts Festival: October 9 - 25 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease

Since I dislike blog posts that start as apologies for not posting much lately (and why should I apologise? This is, after all, a blog kept primarily for my own amusement.) I won't start this post like that.

Instead, I might start it by sulking over the fact that I didn't get the Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria I applied for earlier this year. I suspect I won't receive the Arts Victoria grant I've applied for either, being a pesemistic sort; which kind of throws a spanner in the works as far as my plans for the second half of the year go.

The grant and the Fellowship were all part of my plan to quit my job and refocus, at long last, on my creative writing, prior to my Morocco trip in October, but it looks like I'll have to come up with another plan instead. Bugger it.

On the plus side, I'm slowly re-adjusting to living on my own, and have started breaking a number of bad habits that I fell into during the last few years; ie, I've rediscovered my kitchen and have actually cooked regularly over the last couple of weeks since Mike moved out, instead of spending all my money on takeaway from the local Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Italian restaurants. I'm also drinking and drugging less.

God, don't tell my I'm finally starting to act my age?

Oh yes, I've also been out on a singular, uneventful, and certainly not leading anywhere date, but as it was, frankly, a bit of a non-event, I fail to see the point in blogging about it. Besides, I don't kiss and tell: not unless there's actually something worth telling, that is...

I've also seen a few movies in recent weeks that I haven't posted about: Iron Man, which was pretty dull; Prince Caspian, which was a definite improvement on The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, but still lacked any real zest, imagination or passion (I direct the blame squarely at director Andrew Adamson, who also co-wrote the screenplay for both Chronicles of Narnia films to date: thankfully Michael Apted is directing the third film in the franchise, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so it may actually be a decent film); and today, The Orphanage, which was actually scary, subtle and intelligent. Of course, an American studio will probably re-make it, and spoil it in the process, but such is life...

You'll note I haven't seen any theatre of late. (Apologies to anyone who's come here from the Malthouse Theatre Company's website expecting plentiful and detailed theatre reviews. Try Theatrenotes instead.) I'm not quite sure why. Possibly I became rather performanced-out post Comedy Festival? Not sure. There may be other reasons. Whatever the case, the last couple of months have seen me staying in a great deal, and watching a lot of old Doctor Who episodes on DVD, in between weekly installments of the latest series.

So, in summary, I've been rather introspective of late, but don't worry: I have no plans to do a Ms Fits and kill this blog off. But until such time as I find the enthusiasm to write in detail about things I've seen and done again, I suspect posts will continue in the recent vein: brief, sporadic and indicative of my current preoccupations and old obsessions.

That said, should by some freakish accident I actually manage to fall in love, or at the very least get laid, I'll blog about that, too. I promise!

Friday, June 06, 2008


In case you haven't already seen it, here's the new film clip for my favourite band in the world, Sigur Ros, for the song 'Gobbledigook', from their forthcoming album, með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The return of Captain Jack

He's rumoured to be making a return in the current UK series (season four) of Doctor Who, along with Rose (a "harder... sadder" version of her character, actor Billie Piper confirmed in a recent BBC interview) but it's now also confirmed that the dashing, devilish Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) will be back for the third season of Torchwood in 2008. No definite news yet on who is to flesh out the team following the tragic end of season two, however, though Mickey Smith and Martha Jones are both said to be possibilities.

According to this website, however, at this stage the BBC has only green-lit five one-hour specials of Torchwood, with no word yet on whether we can expect more episodes after that. This makes sense, in a way, as it parallels the current plans for Doctor Who in 2009, which will also see only a limited number of one-off episodes produced, in order to allow David Tennant time off to play Hamlet; with season five not scheduled to screen until 2010 (sob!).

Meanwhile in other Who news, the ABC has confirmed season four, starting with the Christmas special starting Kylie Minogue, Voyage of the Damned, will screen on Sunday June 29.

For the most up-to-date page of Who news around, you may like to visit Sylvester McCoy's site (yes, the seventh Doctor) but beware: spoilers abound!