The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'theatre'


Australian playwright Ron Elisha has written a play about Julian Assange and the Wikileaks affair. The play, Stainless Steel Rat (named after an anarchist antihero devised by scifi author Harry Harrison, whose name Assange chose as his OKCupid and Couchsurfing pseudonym), is playing at the Seymour Centre in Sydney, and seems to be more about Assange-the-cipher than Assange-as-known-to-his-friends:

One problem for Elisha and for the director, Wayne Harrison, comes when big international figures make their entrances. Dmitry Medvedev, for example, who wants to give Assange the Nobel peace prize for exposing America's secrets, comes across as an overpowering Russian oligarch figure. While it works in terms of the comedy, his character seems more like Vladimir Putin than Medvedev.
Elisha's pithy one-liners are delivered with brilliant timing. At one point the Assange character is in Wandsworth prison, once also home to Oscar Wilde. "This cell is reserved for people who have been careless with their genitals," his character says.
It is not clear whether the play will be performed outside of Sydney.

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Here's one for the next edition of the Book of Heroic Failures: a West End musical adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask, written by a 72-year-old aerospace engineer and funded with his own money, closed early, after some of the most damning reviews in recent memory:

Staging it was the last wish of his late wife, Shirley Ann. As she lay dying of cancer, she made him promise that he would present his show in a West End theatre.
The Times wrote: "The lyrics are mostly vile . . . The twists of behaviour would take platoons of psychologists to unravel." Others suggested that the only member of the three-strong cast to emerge with any dignity intact was the central character, and only because he spent the evening with a bent saucepan on his head and would therefore be unrecognisable at auditions for future work.

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This weekend, I travelled to Aberystwyth, paying a visit to Jim and Catrin (whom I last saw in 2002). It was good to catch up with them again.

On Saturday night, I went to see the Castaway Theatre Company's performance of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Enchained. It was fittingly anarchic; they had five people each playing Pa Ubu and Ma Ubu, mostly attired in vaguely punky combinations of random clothes, and a lot going on on stage, most of it rather absurd. It reminded me a lot of the Doug Anthony Allstars, in particular DAAS Kapital. The music played in/between various sequences included a lot of guitar punk and several Half Man Half Biscuit songs, which worked rather well. Anyway, there are some photos here.

The journey to/from Aberystwyth involved a stopover in Birmingham, and a bus between there and Telford, due to railway works. On the way back, I spent some time wandering around Birmingham, raiding the local Music & Video Exchange and taking a stroll around the pedestrianised neo-brutalist cityscapes of the Bullring. For some reason, Birmingham reminded me a little of Brisbane.

The London-Birmingham leg of the journey was on a Virgin Trains Pendolino train, which was fairly nifty. For one, they come with laptop power points, even in cattle-class. (Now that's one thing I can't see ever being installed on the Melbourne-Sydney XPT, partly because rurals and bikies generally don't carry laptops.) Also, the way they tilt when they round a corner is pretty nifty.

(Note to self: make more excuses to get out of London; by which I mean far enough out to get out of London's reality distortion field. Living in London, it's too easy to start thinking of everything in terms of Tube lines, N|W|E|[NS][EW]|[EW]C postcodes and relative position to the Thames, and to forget that there is life and activity in Britain that's not in relation to London.)

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The Church of Scientology has been scrambling to shut down an unauthorised theatrical show about its beliefs and history, with all the parts played by children.

They also have a chance to witness a wide-eyed, straight-faced, scrappy and touching telling of the story of L Ron set to a cheesy electro-pop score. See the great man, clad in a white Polyphonic Spree-style gown, wander from inquisitive soul to wounded war veteran to writer of pulp science fiction to leader of world religion. Sort of. Actually, the chorus, in the form of Angelic Girl, played by Katherine Ellis, puts it better. She recites the litany "teacher, author, explorer, atomic physicist, nautical engineer, choreographer and horticulturist", each time L Ron's name is mentioned at the beginning of the 50-minute play.

A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant (whose website is here) is presented by "punk post-modernist theatre company" Les Freres Corbusier, and opened in New York last year. The Church ignored it and hoped it would go away, until it moved to the Clam Jerusalem of Los Angeles, and the big guns came out.

"The parents of one of the kids in the cast were called by members of the entertainment industry that were Scientologists," says Timbers. "They were told that if they were to continue with the show that it might be bad for their future career."

(I'm hoping that this opens in London at some stage...)

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Today's Onion: Hey, Everybody, we'll stop Banker Mudge from tearing down our clubhouse by putting on an avant-garde show:

Who will write this play, you ask? None other than yours truly, Mickey McCune, natch! Aw, don't worry, I've seen lots of these kind of shows—cabaret, poetry recitals, performance art, you name it. It'll be a cinch! I think I'll call my work Meat Play . It will be the story of the aforementioned fetus, who survives a premature birth and eventually ascends to the throne of an obscure Eastern European kingdom. There will be a waltzing skeleton, a murderous clown, an enormously fat industrialist who sits atop a large glass toilet and defecates money, and a lecherous bishop who covets his own sister but can't act on his impulses because he's buried up to his chest in dirt. Ain't that a peach?

And then there's also "Man Bitten By Radioactive Sloth Does The Lying-Around-All-Day Of 10 Normal Men":

CENTRAL CITY—Laboratory assistant Brent Barker, bitten by a radioactive sloth last week in a freak lab accident, now possesses the relative loafing powers of 10 men. "Could someone pass me some more crackers?" asked the media-dubbed "Crimson Lump," speaking from his titanium sofa, the only known object that can withstand his superhuman lethargy. "I can't reach them from here." Scientists are likewise baffled at Barker's uncanny ability to remain motionless while watching amounts of television that would kill an ordinary mortal.

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Last night I went to the Fringe Festival performance of Anorak of Fire, a one-actor play about a Northern English chap named Gus Gascoigne, and his lifelong passion for spotting trains. The actor playing Gascoigne was Richie Akers, who had played him two years earlier; he went on attired in an anorak and a woolen hat and talked about how he got the passion for trainspotting and about the particularly English subculture of trainspotters and their traditions, capturing the tone of wild-eyed enthusiasm quite well. It was very funny. The play was performed at the North Melbourne Town Hall; not a bad space, except for the lack of real trains passing (as they had two years ago at the Yarraville café). Highly recommended. (Tomorrow (Sunday) is the last night, though, so you'll have to be quick.)

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A piece on Sarah Kane, who was sort of the Ian Curtis of contemporary British theatre. Apparently a collected edition of her plays is coming out soon too.

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Whilst reenacting the crucifiction of Jesus, a 23-year-old Italian man got a little carried away with his role as Judas, and hanged himself. (Reuters)

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Sarah Kane: a theatrical Ian Curtis?

Her last work ``4:48 Psychosis'' -- was completed only a week before Kane took an overdose and then hanged herself in hospital with her own shoelaces.
She wrote at night in intense bursts, confessing: ``I hate it. I get no pleasure from writing. It kills me.''
``Being in love was like being in Auschwitz,'' she said of the play's theme.

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