Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hamer Hall Reopens in Glittering Style

No expense was spared for the glittering opening concerts at the newly refurbished Hamer Hall in Melbourne this week.

Over two nights patrons were treated to a wonderfully eclectic program. Opening with the Welcome to Country, the aroma of smoking eucalyptus pervaded the performance space, and was followed by the wonderful IDJA Dance Theatre and Jack Charles, Barerungar ngargee (coming together to celebrate our land). 

The contemporary dance told the stories of three ancestral spirits: Bunjil (the eagle) protector and creator of man, Balang (his brother the bat) creator of woman, and Waa (the crow) protector of the waterways. Continue reading

Friday, July 27, 2012

10 Party Ideas for Olympics Gatherings

Every four years the sport-crazed Australian population become sleep-deprived tv-addicts thanks to the Olympics games. Suddenly every second person is an expert on a sport you've never heard of, and people everywhere have formed incredibly strong opinions about strategy, technique, scoring and outfits. For instance, every four years without fail, my dad will indicate to all who will listen, that the amount of splash produced by a diver is directly attributable to the score card. Perhaps he is right. 

There is something liberating about the world coming to play games for 10 days or so. And so, in my quest to eventually provide party game ideas for every conceivable event, come my suggestions for the Olympics gathering at your place. 

Have fun and party safe!

1. So you think you know the Olympics
Compile a series of questions about the Olympic games. Use these in whatever way suits your gathering as guest is pitted against guest.

2. Refreshments
Eating is a feature of any party. You can choose any numbers of angles. Perhaps all your food will be the colour of your country flag, or you might opt for ring shaped foods such as cheezels and donuts after the Olympics rings. Then again, the Olympic host has a certain culinary reparation which may be represented. Food presentation may include a winners podium, mini cocktail flags and/or stadium shaped platters.

3. Dress Code
Guests should come dressed appropriately as an olympics personality, official, athlete, media character, or in country colours or national dress. "Official" all-access lanyards may be issued on arrival. 

4.  Air(ial)Ping-Pong
Competitors are each given a straw and a ping pong ball. Ping pong balls are moved only by blowing them along by use of the straw. Set up a starting and finishing line over a 2 metre distance on floorboards or similar hard, smooth surface.

5. Not-The-Olympic-Torch Relay
You will need a stopwatch and as many standard torches as you can find - make sure they have plenty of battery life. Prepare the game by hiding the torches around the garden backyard, or wherever you are meeting. Divide party-goers into two teams. When the starting gun fires, competitors race (individually or in pairs) to retrieve the hidden torches which will be seen because you have left them on. The team with the greatest number of torches win the gold.

6. Lolly-lympics
Two teams compete to separate flag colours of their designated country from a bag of multicoloured lollies. Lollies that may befit this activity include jellies beans, smarties, M&Ms. When the starting gun fires, teams have one minute to open their bag and rummage to find the correct colours which should be deposited them in an appropriate container. Ideas for containers may include sporting trophies and mini basketball hoops.

7. Medal Haul
This activity is an ongoing one throughout your gathering. As people arrive issue them with 5 gold coins (e.g.: play money or foil covered chocolates will work well) Choose a couple of choice cliched expressions that are often heard in the Olympics context. Examples include "its a dream come true" or "her mother must be so proud right now". Each time any of the chosen phrases are used in general conversation, the speaker can claim a medal from the person to which they are talking. If a person uses the phrases out of context, they must give a medal to those they are speaking to. The person with the most medals at the end of the party wins.

8. Junky Javelin
This is a activity in which teams or pairs compete to create the best new technology in javelin construction. Provide a range of materials and give competitors 3 minutes only to create a javelin. Materials may include plastic straws, toothpicks, cotton wool, tape, newspaper, polystyrene balls, pipe-cleaners etc... The team whose javelin travels the greatest distance takes out the gold medal.

9. Pin the Doping Charge on the Athlete
This is another perpetual game. To play you will need two or three ordinary household pegs. During the gathering secretly "plant" a peg on a guest to get the game started. The pegs (or pegs if yours is a large gathering) should have a note attached to it which reads: "You have taken an illegal substance. To avoid detection, secretly attach this peg to another party goer". At an appointed time the drug cheats will be exposed and a penalty of your choosing should be given.

10. Commentary Contest
Choose a three of four media clip of past olympic event.  Invite one person for each clip to try their hand at commentary sight unseen. Winner decided by the acclamation of party goers.

Want more game ideas?
For games with an equine flavour see 10 Party Games for Melbourne Cup Day
For games with a British flavour see 10 Party Games for the Royal Wedding.
Even more game compilations here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Grievous Angel - The Legend of Gram Parsons

A country music fan I’m not. Yet there is something magnetic about this musical tribute to Gram Parsons despite a prevalence of twang, yodel and pedal slide.

Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons is predominantly a biographical study in concert form. Constructed around thirty-three songs, it’s punctuated by scripted dialogue as the characters of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris are brought to life.

Jordie Lane gives an assured performance as Parsons, his voice runs like a honey-river over the lyrically intriguing melodies. Even if you are not a country fan, here’s a voice worthy of undivided attention, and a talent we simply must meet again. But it’s not only about the voice – this guy can really play up a guitar-storm. Continue reading.

You may also be interested in
Die Young and Have a Good-Looking Corpse (Jordie Lane talks about Gram Parsons)
Justin Burford: From Rock Band to Musical Theatre
More reviews and features

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Die Young and Have a Good-Looking Corpse

Jordie Lane refuses to be put in a box. After all, there is something irresistible about keeping your creative options open. 

Now in Melbourne, the 27 year-old Australian singer-songwriter has put his writing life in Los Angeles on hold to play legendary musician Gram Parsons in Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons.

Playing Parsons is close to Lane’s heart. Describing the opportunity as “an honour and privilege” Lane has taken inspiration from Parson’s refusal to let “musical stereotypes get in the way of making good music”.

Not only is Lane a year older than Gram Parson was when he overdosed on morphine and tequila, but much of his latest album was written in Room 8 of the hotel at the edge of the Mojave Desert, where Parsons died.

Gram Parsons’ life and death reads like a Greek tragedy. His father committed suicide when Gram was 12 years old, and his mother drank herself to death five years later. His stepfather, Bob Parsons, had Gram's younger sister, Avis, committed to a mental institution, and she was later killed in a boat crash. Bob died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Parsons was not a star in his lifetime, but the bizarre theft and burning of his body in the desert by his manager Phil Kaufmann made him an overnight sensation. It’s an angle that annoys Lane, but it's unavoidably part of the story.  Continue reading

You may also enjoy reading
Grievous Angel - The Legend of Gram Parsons (Australian Premiere review in Melbourne)
Justin Burford: From Rock Band to Music Theatre (Rock of Ages)
Behind the Phantom's Mask - Meet Ben Lewis (Love Never Dies)
More reviews and features

Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: Accidently Ugly (St Martins Youth Arts Centre)

Photo: Pia Johnson
What do you fear? 
Spiders? Witches? The Boogey Man? 

How closely are your fears associated with appearances? A warty nose, a hunched back, a gappy smile, eight hairy legs and way too many eyes?

Using Oscar Wilde’s tale, The Selfish Giant as its centrepiece, Accidently Ugly pursues the connections we make between what we find ugly and therefore fear. Perhaps looking closely at a creature we find to be ugly will reveal intricate detail, just as looking beyond a person’s appearance reveals deeper truths.

With a cast aged between 5 and 12 years, some hearing impaired and profoundly deaf, images of spooky trees, kids with torches in their tents, night sounds, and ghostly stories are brought to mind. Continue reading

More previews, reviews and features

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

wintery words

southerlies blow
blasting birds to toasty horizons 
warm as roast

winter complexion
flushed by icy Poles
blushed faces