Saturday, December 15, 2012


QL2 Dance - Gorman House
25th November 2012

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

 This is the 14th year QL2 dance has presented “Hot to Trot”.  The "Hot to Trot" program provides the opportunity for young first-time choreographers to undertake a short dance work, under the watchful eye of Ruth Osborne and with the mentorship of Adelina Larsson.

As QL2 Artistic Director,  Ruth Osborne,  explains in her program notes..”These choreographers need to take responsibility for their dancers’ well-being, source costumes and music, consider lighting design, write program notes and work to a timeline to have their piece rehearsed and performance ready in time”.

This year 12 young choreographers stepped up to the challenge, some in collaborations and others alone. They produced 8 short works for a diverting, never-less-than-interesting program.

Each choreographer introduced their work to a packed house in the QL2 studios at Gorman House. The program commenced with one of the more successful works, a playful piece for four dancers, choreographed by Amanda Lee.  Entitled “You May Hate Gravity, But Gravity Doesn’t Care” this work featured delightfully quirky music and colourful costumes. The clever choreography was very well danced by Georgia Holgate, Alice Brown, Darcy Read and Ryan Stone, who had obviously invested a lot of work to polish the gymnastic-based unison sections devised by Lee.

Georgia Crow and Kayla Smurthwaite danced their own collaboration “Derailed”.  Making good use of their attractive dark red split skirts worn over black leotards, which were an integral part of the dance work, “Derailed” was danced to thoughtfully chosen music and featured effective use of unison movement and well-executed floor work.

Using a silent protest by a group of Chilean women as her inspiration, Ashleigh Simpson created a dramatic work for three dancers, Alana Stenning, Portia Lawson and Indigo Trail, entitled “Dancing Alone”. Notable for the lovely open movement of the choreography, this work made good use of narration and dramatic lighting to produce a series of powerful images.

Darcy Read made imaginative use of the windows at the back of the stage in her exquisite little work “Who do You Rely On” which she danced with her brother Simon, and in which she explored sibling relationships using words, well-chosen images and muscular movement to produce a work that was both touching and entertaining.

Tamar Peacock, Amy Peacock and Melissa Markos collaborated on a piece called “Stepping into the Shower”, which they also danced. Utilising a large dance vocabulary, thoughtfully-chosen music and sound effects  and incorporating wet hair in the manner of Meryl Tankard, this piece was interesting but did not really solve, in choreographic terms, the task they had set themselves of producing a work which suggested being in a world of their own in a shower.

For his hip-hop-inspired piece, “Equality Doesn’t Cannot Exist”, Jack Riley incorporated dramatic projections and spoken narration (excellently delivered by Ryan Stone) to produce an arresting and memorable piece. The four dancers, Alex Abbott, Amanda Lee, Darcy Read and Ryan Stone managed the demanding floor work with considerable élan.

Wearing black hoodies, Luke Fryer and Nasim Patel performed their own choreography to present a powerful and effective piece called “Internal/External” exploring teenage angst and how people find ways to avoid contact with each other. While lacking the overall inventiveness of some of the earlier works, it still contained many interesting passages.

Georgia Holgate chose the music of Phillip Glass for her piece, “The Drawn Line”, in which she made intriguing use of net to differentiate spaces in an intriguing work which was excellently danced by Madison Hegarty, Alice Brown, Amanda Lee, Ryan Stone and Nathan Rutups, and which also proved an excellent finale to an evening that was both entertaining and exhilarating.

Following the performance, the dancers and choreographers returned to the stage, with mentor Adelina Larsson, to discuss the process and their works. For dance enthusiasts this  session offered fascinating insights into the process of producing a dance work, in addition to the opportunity to watch young emerging choreographers grapple with the challenge of exploring and discovering a dance vocabulary.





Friday, December 14, 2012

Managing Carmen by David Williamson

Managing Carmen by David Williamson.  Ensemble Theatre, Sydney, directed by Mark Kilmurry, designer Steven Butler, choreographer Shondelle Pratt, hair and make-up Helen Thatcher, wardrobe Lisa Mimmocchi.  December 6, 2012 – January 26, 2013.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
December 13
Photo: Queensland Theatre Company

The background to the production of this new play by David Williamson, in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, is complicated.  I have not been in a position to see the Wesley Enoch version at QTC and Black Swan, but I suggest you read Frank Hatherley’s article in Stage Whispers at
to fill in details.

Mark Kilmurry has done a brilliant job at the Ensemble, possibly, from Enoch’s comments in that article, with more economy and perhaps more clarity as a result.  This play is so good that I’d be pleased to see comments on my review from readers in Queensland and WA.

First, praise to the now septuagenarian author from this reviewer of the same generation.  This play’s message is simple, clear and bloody necessary.  It’s as up-to-date Aussie as all get out.  And that phrase obliquely introduces Carmen, dressed to more than the nines.

That’s as much as I prefer to give away, because it’s the surprises that make this play one of Williamson’s best.  If you prefer to be surprised, and so laugh even more than you expect, then read the Hatherley and other articles only after you’ve taken a trip to the Ensemble. 

Tonight, and I’m sure every night, the (I shouldn’t say it) typical North Shore audience, a large proportion of whom were also of my generation or nearly so, were literally dancing in the aisles at interval.  It’s so good to see a play with a straight-into-the-action first half.  No wasting time setting the scene – it’s life and we’re in it.

But then, almost unbelievably, the second half boosts the energy and the laughter (and the message) to the point of a metaphorical explosion.  I think the last time I laughed so much at a Williamson play  was in The Coming of Stork at the Old Tote Theatre (in about 1970, just to show how old we are) at the oyster up the nose party trick.  Just as in the Ensemble, the very close proximity of the actor to us watching intensifies our response.

I’m also sure that Managing Carmen will have the same effect on a modern young audience.  It’s Australian comedy across the ages, and I can only say I’m jealous that Williamson can produce such another brilliant gem more than 40 years after Stork.

You will have noticed that I’ve listed the team (nowadays known as ‘creatives’).  That’s because, in this case, Kilmurry’s direction, Pratt’s choreography, Butler’s design – especially the integration of video and sound – and Thatcher’s hair and make-up, with Mimmocchi’s costumes absolutely matched the brilliance of the script.  The actors – Rachel Gordon (Jessica), Glenn Hazeldine (Rohan Swift), David Hynes (Max), Morgana O’Reilly (Clara) and Leigh Scully (in the central role of AFL footballer, Brent Lyall) – enjoyed every scene as their expressive movement and voice skills were extended to the max.  The final scene brought a great burst of applause from the whole audience, everyone in the circle of the in-the-round theatre space emotionally linked in the joy of the moment.

Managing Carmen isn’t listed for Canberra next year, unless The Street Theatre could pick it up, so I have to say a trip to the Ensemble (right next to Kirribilli House) would be more than justified this summer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, until 6th January 2013

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

What a great holiday treat this deliciously wicked production of one of Stephen Sondheim’s earliest musicals proves to be.   First presented on Broadway in 1963, “A Funny Thing on the Way to the Forum” still sparkles brighter than Christmas lights in a production brimming with clever performances and delightful directorial flourishes.  

Taking advantage of a twelve-week window-of-opportunity in Geoffrey Rush’s availability, John Frost has mounted an affectionate, stylish production which allows Rush plenty of opportunity to flash his renowned theatrical brilliance. From the moment he hits the stage in “A Comedy Tonight”  Geoffrey Rush happily grasps every one of those opportunities to deliver a performance which is not only excruciatingly funny but also technically brilliant.

As the wily slave, Pseudolus, who attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door, Rush utilises his scrawny physique to great comic effect, effortlessly dashing off Andrew Hallsworth’s tricky choreography, extracting every nuance from Sondheim’s witty lyrics, and flashing his underpants at every opportunity. His comic timing is masterly as he revels in the bawdiness of his character, expending an incredible amount of energy along the way, but finishing the show looking as fresh as he began it.

As good as he is Geoffrey Rush is not the only reason to see this production. Director Simon Phillips has pulled out every trick in the bag to insure that the wonderfully convoluted plot, crammed with all the classic elements of good farce;  puns, slamming doors, mistaken identity, malapropisms, and mad chases, hurtles along.  Phillips teams again with Gabriela Tylesova, fresh from her dazzling success with the design of “Love Never Dies”, who has again come up with beautiful, witty costumes and a set which is cheeky, clever and picture-book pretty, especially as lit by lighting designer Nick Schlieper. Guy Simpson has also gilded the lilly with some fresh new musical arrangements.
Geoffrey Rush and Mitchell Butel
Photo: Jeff Busby

Typically, Phillips has meticulously cast the show and every person on stage knows exactly why they are there. Helpmann Award winner, Mitchell Butel chews up the scenery as  Hysterium, the head slave in the house of Senex,  providing an excellent foil for Rush,  especially in their act-two duet, “I’m Lovely”,  where their inventive stage business has the audience gurgling with deligh

Christie Whelan-Browne and Hugh Sheridan
Photo: Jeff Busby

Hugh Sheridan displays a fine singing voice and plays the handsome Hero with just the right degree of bemused earnestness. Christie Whelan-Browne as Philia the virgin courtesan and the object of his affections, is drop-dead gorgeous and deliciously ditsy. Together they are an attractive pair.

Shane Bourne plays an opportunistic Roman nobleman,  Senex, whose absence at war provides that catalyst for Pseudolus to create havoc, and although she doesn’t have a lot to do,  Magda Szubanski as his imposing wife,Domina,  makes the most of every stage moment.   

Gerry Connolly is gloriously sleazy as Marcus Lycus, the buyer and seller of beautiful women, while Adam Murphy is impressive as the impossibly fierce and funny warrior, Miles Gloriosus.

Bob Hornery as Erronius
Photo: Jeff Busby

A special delight is the presence in the cast of veteran actor, Bob Hornery, who played Marcus Lycus in the original 1964 J.C.Williamsons production, and who in this production plays the gullible Erronius, demonstrating  that he has lost known of his stage skills,and  managing to garner a round of applause every time he trots across the stage.

A bevy of long-legged, beautiful courtesans inhabit the house of Marcus Lycus, and three very funny Proteans, who all double hilariously in a number of roles, each more ridiculous than the last, round out a brilliant cast.

It’s a shame that this production will only be seen in Melbourne, but if you’re looking for an excuse for a trip to Melbourne before the 6th January. This is it.


Friday, December 7, 2012


Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Everyman Theatre
Directed by Jarrad West
December 6 to 22, Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre

Reviewed by Len Power

‘Rent’, the musical, was a phenomenal success on Broadway for 12 years.  It had a short professional season in Sydney and one previous local production in Canberra.  The original Broadway production gained some unfortunate publicity when the show’s writer, composer and lyricist, Jonathan Larson, died shortly before the show’s premiere.

Based loosely on Puccini’s opera, ‘La Boheme’, ‘Rent’ tells an updated story of a group of friends living in poverty in New York City’s Greenwich Village with the shadow of AIDS hanging over them.

It’s a curious musical, one minute following the traditions of a Broadway musical and then at other times making its own rules, for example, abrupt endings to songs and scenes giving them an oddly unfinished feel.

Jarrad West, the director, who also performs the role of Tom Collins, has given us a solid, enjoyable production with deep characterisations from the cast of about twenty.  Everyone onstage has their moment to shine but particularly noteworthy was Adrian Flor in the transgender role of Angel – his solo, ‘Today for You – Tomorrow For Me’ was exceptionally well sung and danced.  Vanessa De Jager as Mimi, Jarrad West as Tom Collins and Mathew Chardon O’Dea as Mark also impressed with their strong performances.  The songs, ‘La Vie Boheme’ and ‘Seasons Of Love’ are superbly sung by the entire company.

Jordan Kelly has outdone himself with his masterful choreography for this show, particularly in ‘La Vie Boheme’.  Everyone in the cast has been given individual movements during this song that suit their characters and the total effect is breath-taking.

Nick Valois’ set successfully creates a down-and-out, ugly environment using scaffolding.  It has some awkwardness with an acting space in one corner which seemed a bit lost and underlit.  Some staging choices by the director also didn’t work, especially where one of Vanessa De Jager’s songs had to compete with the distraction of three dancing girls on a platform.

The music director and keyboard player, Nick Griffin, achieved the right sound for the show from the band of six players.  However, the sound level of the band swamped the singers so much that the lyrics were unintelligible for much of the show.  Whatever the cause of this, it’s a major problem and a great pity when all other elements of the show have come together so well.  Hopefully it can be fixed for the remainder of the season.

Apart from the sound level problem, this is a very enjoyable, visually exciting, moving and memorable production.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Polyphonic Bard: Music And Shakespeare In Our Time

The Street Theatre November 30 to December 2
Directed by Tamzin Nugent
Review by Len Power

It was customary in Tudor and Stuart drama to include at least one song in every play. Only the most profound tragedies contained no music except for the sounds of trumpets and drums. In his later tragedies, William Shakespeare defied this custom and used songs startlingly and movingly, particularly in Othello, King Lear, and Hamlet.  So, an evening of mostly Elizabethan period music sung by The Pocket Score Company interspersed with scenes from Shakespeare’s plays was a very appealing idea.

On a nicely atmospheric set designed and lit by Gillian Schwab, the five men of The Pocket Score Company thrilled with their intricate harmonies and choice of music.  Commencing with ‘If Music Be The Food Of Love’ from ‘Twelfth Night’, set to music by Henry Purcell, they followed with works by Thomas Tallis, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Palestrina, Thomas Morley and others.  The music for ‘Bryng Home The Good Ale’, the words dating from the 15th century, was beautifully composed and arranged by The Pocket Score Company member, David Yardley.  Thomas Tallis’s, ‘Spem in alium’ or ‘Hope In Any Other’, by Thomas Tallis was sung to an accompanying recording, providing a spectacular range of harmonies.  It was electrifying and a perfect finale to the production.

Interspersed with the singers, students from the Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art played scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and recited sonnets.  The pieces were well chosen to complement the music and, while the performances were uneven, you could see the underlying talent in these students which will be strengthened with more experience.  I was particularly impressed with the staging and performance of the physical action between Petruchio and Kate from ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ and Brendan Kelly’s confident delivery and understanding of the words in his performance as Benedick from ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.

Directed by Tamzin Nugent, there was a nice flow from one scene to the next with imaginative use of the set and Aaron King’s audiovisuals.  I would have preferred to see the cast of actors and singers in, at least, simple period costumes, rather than modern day dress with no uniformity.  If this was to give it a contemporary feeling, it didn’t work, especially as the female actor alone was mysteriously in period costume.  Also, if the singers had had period-looking covers over their basic K-mart black music folders, it would have added to the atmosphere created by the show.

This was a charming and stimulating evening of good music and fine words.

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ program on Sunday 2 December 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Polyphonic Bard

The Polyphonic Bard – Music and Shakespeare in our time The Pocket Score Company and Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art, directed by Tamzin Nugent.  Made in Canberra Season at The Street Theatre, November 30 – December 2, 2012.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
November 30

My reference for this review just has to be the Bach Guild / Vanguard recording BG-606 by the Deller Consort (Alfred Deller (countertenor), Wenzinger Consort of viols - August Wenzinger, dir., April Cantelo (soprano), Eileen McLoughlin (soprano), Desmond Dupré (lute), Taylor Recorder Consort, Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord), Ambrosian Singers) titled A Musical Panorama of Shakespeare’s England.

This was my introduction, in 1963, to the fascinating strange harmonies of Renaissance songs, beginning with the ironic humour of “We Be Soldiers Three” included in this Pocket Score show.  One song not included, which I would have loved to hear and see performed, is Ben Jonson’s “Have You Seen But A Whyte Lily Grow”, a great deflator of the conventions of romantic love which would have fitted so well in this program.

And what an odd but interesting program this is.  It certainly fulfils the Made in Canberra description of diverse works mixing up new ideas in theatre, music, dance, opera, and interdisciplinary work in live performance.

I saw The Polyphonic Bard as having two purposes.  It is an “entertainment”, which means a lot more than being merely entertaining.  There are light-hearted episodes here, but set among themes concerning the nature of love, life and even death.

For the young students of the Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art, the top-quality 5-part singing of the Pocket Score team – David Yardley (countertenor), Paul Eldon (tenor), John Virgoe (tenor), Daniel Sanderson (baritone) and Ian Blake (bass) – provides a model for them to aspire to.  They have a long way to go at this point in their quest, but this public performance is an important step along the way.

Once upon a time, when I trained young people for tertiary training auditions, requiring a Shakespeare piece, of course, I used to explain how 5- or even 8-part singing took place in the pubs of London in Shakespeare’s day, and how those complexities of rhythm, harmony and stress patterns underlie the poetry of Shakespeare’s words.  These CADA students are lucky enough to learn in practice, from the Pocket Score Company, what I could only explain to my trainees.  But, of course, in today’s theatre world, all professional actors must be able to sing well.

Though the show is indeed “diverse” and a “mixing up”, the audiovisual and photographic work of Aaron King and Danielle Osomanski – not exactly of Shakespeare’s time – often added images to the speaking and singing.  Particularly effective, I thought, was video of (I assume) swirling drops of coloured inks, which metaphorically represented ideas in the words, especially when red seemed to show the blood of warfare.  This brought the experiences of Shakespeare’s period of history into the present – artfully, rather than as a blunt instrument, in keeping with the choice of sonnets and comedy in the spoken word.

I wasn’t so sure of the success of the use of hanging ropes – literally with hangman’s nooses – which provided something for the actors, and sometimes even the singers, to hang on to.  It is a simple idea (that means a good idea) and certainly raised thoughts of dangers, social strictures and death, behind words of comedy and love, but a choreographer was needed to work up a movement design which could have lifted the actors’ performances more “artfully” to match the video.

So, once again I have to thank the recently announced Artist of the Year, Caroline Stacey, for instituting the Made in Canberra program which “through partnership relationships...puts a spotlight on independent artistic activity in the ACT and has continued to evolve in response to artists’ needs and Canberra’s creative context”.  It does indeed, and The Polyphonic Bard is a good example.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Critics Circle hosts the 22nd ACT Arts Awards Night at CMAG

Artist of the Year Caroline Stacey, photo Silas Brown
 On Tuesday, November 27, the Canberra Critics Circle hosted the 22nd ACT Arts Awards Night at the Canberra Museum and Gallery.

The 2012 Canberra Critics’ Circle consists of Meredith Hinchliffe, Kerry-Anne Cousins, Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak, Bill Stephens, Samara Purnell, Michelle Potter, Len Power, Alanna Maclean, Frank McKone, Joe Woodward, Simone Penkethman, Glenn Burns, Malcolm Miller, Peter Wilkins, Clinton White, Ian McLean, Helen Musa, Kelli-Anne Moore, Cris Kennedy, Simon Weaving and Stella Wilkie

As the convener, I reminded those present that the Circle, which expands and contracts according to whoever the practising critics in print and broadcast media at that time. I also spoke of the spirit in which the awards are made—not by fixed category, though unlike other critics’ circles, which focus on performing arts, we award artists in literature, film, musicals, dance, visual art, music and theatre.

The principle is that the critics of the day will “spot” something outstanding in the previous year, always 30 September to 30 September—something original, creative, inspiration or technically brilliant.

During the ceremony, organised by the circle with the generous support of hosts The Canberra Museum and Gallery, MC Peter Robinson spoke with tongue in cheek admiration about the acuity of our critical judgements, putting the large crowd of key artists and arts community members at ease.

Evidence of that acuity can be seen in the following complete list of awards and citations.

The 2012 Canberra Critics’ Circle Awards were as follows:


For Blue World Order, a futuristic action film largely shot at Yarralumla Woolshed, where a quintessentially Australian location was invested with sinister tension.

Presented to

Dallas Bland


For Always the Son, a seven-minute short film made with an iPhone camera and an additional lens. For their creative use of Canberra Institute of Technology media staff and students, Canberra actors Ian Croker and Dallas Bland and Canberra musician Aaron Peacey.

Presented to

Christian Doran and John Frohlich


For Dancing Auschwitz, a short documentary film made in Australia and on location in Auschwitz. For his sensitive blend of scenes from ordinary suburban life with the grim imagery of the death camp to create a picture of a survivor's triumph over persecution.

Presented to

Kris Kerehona


For Coda for Shirley, a novella in verse which, as the sequel to his verse novel, Lawrie & Shirley: The Final Cadenza, achieves a sardonic yet moving tone through the demanding medium of elegantly turned rhyming verse.

Presented to

Geoff Page


For The Biggest Estate on Earth, an extraordinary, radical new look at the history of Australia that has the capacity to reorient our perception of pre-invasion Aboriginal society.

Presented to

Bill Gammage


For One False Move, a riveting, bestselling military history yarn, the story of a small team of Australians who specialised in defusing mines in and around Britain in World War II, based on previously secret RAN files in Canberra.


Presented to

Robert Macklin


For founding and editing Verity La, an online creative arts journal that publishes short fiction and poetry, cultural comment, photomedia, reviews, and interviews.

Presented to

Nigel Featherstone


For Through Splintered Walls, stories inspired by the beauty, danger, cruelty, emptiness and perfection of the Australian landscape.

Presented to

Kaaron Warren


For The Sea Glass Spiral, a story of two families brought together by the accidents of history and love, based on Gould's memories, on letters and diaries, and on information from the public record.

Presented to

Alan Gould


For her initiative in facilitating the development and performance of contemporary dance in Canberra, in particular for her work as director of the Short + Sweet Dance Festival, and in collaborating with independent artists from across Australia to bring a broad spectrum of contemporary dance to Canberra.

Presented to

Adelina Larsson


For his body of work as an outstanding dancer and consistent achievements as a talented choreographer, evidenced in a number of musicals throughout 2012.

Presented to

Jordan Kelly


For her exceptional performance as Tracy Turnblad in the Canberra Philharmonic Society Production of Hairspray. Singing, dancing and acting with exhilarating confidence, she gave a star performance which lit up the stage, and provided the heart-beat of the show.

Presented to

Krystle Innes


For his confident and imaginative direction of the Queanbeyan City Council’s production of Hair. His clear-sighted concept and ability to martial disparate resources including a large committed cast, impressive orchestra, excellent sound, lighting and costume design , resulted in a memorable production which successfully captured the life-affirming essence of the show.

Presented to

Stephen Pike


For her inspiring musical direction of the musicals Titanic for Supa Productions, and Hairspray for the Canberra Philharmonic Society. Both musicals had difficult, demanding scores requiring completely different interpretations. Her authoritative interpretations of both the richly dramatic Titanic score, and the jaunty, tuneful Hairspray score added significantly to the success of these two productions.

Presented to

Rose Shorney


For his superbly controlled and observed comic performance as the servant Arlecchino, in Canberra Repertory’s production of the Nick Enright and Terence Clarke musical, The Venetian Twins.

Presented to

Dick Goldberg


For the opportunity this event, produced by The Street Theatre and the ANU School of Music, provided for Canberra jazz students, musicians and enthusiasts to engage in concerts, workshops, artistic residencies and discussions, presented over 10 days by an extraordinary line-up of top-line local, national and international contemporary jazz musicians.

Presented to

The Capital Jazz Project


For the ongoing provision of opportunities for talented Canberra artists, particularly musicians, to gain substantial financial assistance to study in France; for raising funds to generate scholarships and travel fellowships by both providing public concert opportunities for young artists and developing a generous sponsorship arrangement with the Wig and Pen; and for allowing successful music fellows to advance their performance standards through master classes with world renowned teachers resident in France.

Presented to

Canberra Versailles Association


For its outstanding contribution to vocal music in Canberra through high standard appearances at many community and charity fund raising events, a wide array of Australian War Memorial ceremonial activities and all home games featuring the Brumbies rugby team; and for positively promoting Canberra nationally and internationally by performing with distinction at the Male Choir Association of Australia Congress in Melbourne and appearing with Bryn Terfel in the Wales Choir of the World concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London as a major attraction during festivities leading into the 2012 Olympic Games.

Presented to

The Australian Rugby Choir


For their outstanding contribution to music in Canberra in the writing and performance of documentary-cabaret, a particularly entertaining example of which was their enlightening production of Waxing Lyrical, which wittily explored the work of lyricists in song writing.

Presented to

John Shortis and Moya Simpson


For his work in extending the Canberra International Music Festival to become a nationally and internationally recognised event on Canberra’s music calendar; for his imaginative development of Canberra themes for the festival; and for his championship of the Ainslie Arts Centre as a new hub for music in the ACT.

Presented to

Christopher Latham


For his innovative guidance of the Griffyn Ensemble, especially the autumn concert at Mount Stromlo for which he re-arranged Southern Sky by composer-astronomer Urmas Sisask for the full ensemble; for his leadership as conductor of the Canberra Mandolin Orchestra and the Youth Music Society Boys’ Choir; for his new compositions and for his advocacy of music and through it Canberra, as chairman of the Australian Youth Music Council and the International Music Council for Youth.

Presented to

Michael Sollis


For his inspirational work with Guitar Trek over 25 years, culminating in their anniversary concert on 15 September 2012; for his inspirational guidance of young guitarists; and for his work in building the popularity of classical guitar, both in education and in public performance.

Presented to

Timothy Kain

Visual Arts

For her exhibition in June 2012 at ANCA, Sum of Parts, which continued her investigation of transference and transformation - a collection of objects and the relationships between them exploring the trace of an event or the marking of time. Using simple materials she expressed profound concepts and welcomed her audience to participate.

Presented to

Trish Roan

Visual Arts

For his exhibition Transition- A Captured Moment at the Canberra Glassworks in March 2012. His work exemplifies the brilliance of glass and explores the boundaries of its making.

Presented to

Masahiro Asaka

Visual Arts

For her exhibition Urban Forest at Craft ACT in September 2012, that successfully brought together her two areas of interest, her textile practice and her profession as a landscape architect, in a well crafted, thoughtful body of work that engaged with the Canberra urban landscape.

Presented to

Dianne Firth

Visual Arts

For his original and thought-provoking public art project in September 2012, Xtreme stuff that dropped 20,000 satirically humorous catalogues into Canberra letterboxes, highlighting the links between advertising, desire and anxiety.

Presented to

Bernie Slater

Visual Arts

For his eponymously-titled exhibition at Beaver Galleries in August 2012, in particular the exceptional, found-object multi-component sculptural work 76 J.C.s continue the big charade.

Presented to

Alex Asch

Visual Arts

For her exhibition Reside, at Canberra Contemporary Art Space in May 2012 that blended exquisite workmanship with life-sized sculptured wall works to stunning effect; a witty and startling re-visioning of domestic objects.

Presented to

Rachel Bowak

Visual Arts

For his ambitious and wildly successful exhibition/event at Canberra Contemporary Art Space in March 2012, Concluding Art-is-an Bread Art Auction, and its pertinent reminder that art is indivisibly tied to life.

Presented to

Robert Guth


For displaying genuine boldness and a solid grasp of theatrical potential as a company, particularly in pool (no water) by Mark Ravenhill, directed by Duncan Ley.

Presented to

Everyman Theatre


For their convincing and powerful performances in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, directed by Cate Clelland for Free Rain Theatre.

Presented to

Hannah McCann, Jarrad West, Ronnie Flor and Naone Carrel


For its beautifully realised production of Lost in Yonkers. Direction, design and performances combined to reveal the emotional heart of Neil Simon’s evocative and sensitive play.

Presented to

Canberra Repertory Society


For her artistic directorship of The Street Theatre. For making The Street ‘hum’ through programs like the Hive, Made in Canberra, First Seen, and “Solo at the Street”, which focus on encouraging, developing and bringing work by local theatre artists to performance level. For commissioning significant new works that create opportunities for local practitioners. And for her imaginative and eclectic programming of productions and concerts that are drawing in new audiences in Canberra.

Presented to

Caroline Stacey


For her performance in Geoff Page’s Lawrie and Shirley, directed by PJ Williams at The Street Theatre, playing an insightful mature role and revelling in it.

Presented to

Chrissie Shaw


For the conception and execution of serious theatre’s Void without Void at The Street Theatre, a whimsical, sensual outer space adventure, fusing stunning light, sound and set design with physical theatre and puppetry to explore the universal human experience of isolation.

Presented to

barb barnett and Gillian Schwab.

After the Critics’ Circle certificates had been presented, Robinson handed over to Andrea Close from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the MEAA, who announced two awards.

The 2012 MEAA Green Room Award went to Raoul Craemer for his strong theatrical work this year, especially for his role in “Kabir” and for his consistent dedication to the craft of theatre practice

The 2012 Peer Recognition Award went to Stella Wilkie for her total dedication to theatre in Canberra; its performers, its productions and its companies

Composer Professor Larry Sitsky then took the podium, commenting on the total dedication that drives artists, who create because they cannot do otherwise, before announcing that theatre director Caroline Stacey was the Citynews Artist of the Year and handing over a cheque for $1,000 and certificate.

Stacey’s response covered her own trajectory as an “outsider” coming into Canberra and the much creative collaboration that the crowd around her called to mind.

Martin and Susie Beaver, representing the Beaver Galleries, presented her with a glass paperweight sculpted by glass artist Hilary Crawford as an accompanying gift to the Artist of the Year.

Robinson wound up the evening by thanking CMAG and Cultural Facilities Corporation for their hospitality, Artist of the Year award sponsor Ian Meikle from Citynews, Beaver Galleries and graphic artist Brett Wiencke and printer Rick Cochran from Geon Print for the beautiful Critics Circle certificates.

Helen Musa

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Glory Box by Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith

Glory Box by Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith at The Street Theatre, Canberra, November 28 – December 8, 2012.
Reviewed by Frank McKone
November 28

Glory Box is the latest version of The Burlesque Hour which I reviewed in February 2009 in the Canberra Times.  Some items, like strawberries and blood-red soup, are still part of the show, but this show generally did not have the same bite as before.  Only the last major scene – “Miss Finucane’s collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria (Get Wet for Art!)” – reached something like the satire of the Hour

Even so it was Yumi Umiumare, with her expertise in Butoh, who had been the standout in 2009.  She was missing in this action, and there was no-one to match her this time.

Of course, age may be wearying me, but Glory Box was more like a ritualised karaoke, broken by minimum (but well done) items on the trapeze and hula hoops.  And, though I had warned people back in 2009, I still forgot to take my earplugs.  The sound volume and oomph, oomph was perhaps even more penetrating this time around.

There was more nudity, too, but more nudity is less titillating, unless that’s just my age showing again.  Lots of other men in the audience cheered the swinging bits, though the women had no comparable male bits to cheer, since Paul Cordeiro was nude only for a brief discreet backside-to-the-audience exit.

The show is still funny and enjoyable, but in my view just not as engaging or thought-provoking as the original Burlesque Hour.  There were still plenty in the audience standing, stomping, clapping and dancing in what would have been a mosh pit in a larger venue – and buying Burlesque Underpants from the Glory Box on their way out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012



On the 8th November 2012 The Cultural Facilities Corporation celebrated the 15th years of its establishment, with a function at the Canberra Museum and Gallery. At that function Ms Harriet Elvin, who has been C.E.O. of the Corporation since its formation, gave a speech in which she recalled some of her personal highlights of those fifteen years. Her speech is reprinted here, with her kind permission, for the interest of members and readers of the CCC blog.

We were created almost exactly 15 years ago, on 1 November 1997, when the Cultural Facilities Corporation Act came into operation. Very few ACT agencies have remained in existence for this length of time.
Our first year was a very busy one, with the completion and opening of two major new cultural assets: the Canberra Museum and Gallery – or CMAG, as we call it - in February 1998, followed by The Playhouse, which had its Gala Opening in May that year.
By the following year, 1999, both new facilities were achieving their role of proving high quality cultural experiences to the community, with programming highlights including The Judas Kiss and Salome at The Playhouse. CMAG’s program included an exhibition celebrating a decade of ACT self government; an exhibition featuring the work of major Canberra artist Jorg Schmeisser who sadly died earlier this year; and a display of snow domes as part of CMAG’s popular Open Collection series, which features the collections of individuals.
As we approached the Year 2000, we were told our computers might crash and planes might fall out of the sky.  Well, I recall we had to have “Year 2000 contingency plans” for each of our sites.  Our rather tongue in cheek plan for Lanyon said “If the electricity fails, we will revert to candles”.
The year 2000 was, of course, the year of the Sydney Olympics.  The CFC was involved in the celebrations in a number of ways, including through an exhibition at CMAG about the history of sport in the ACT region – the exhibition opened to coincide with the arrival of the Olympic torch in Civic Square. Another highlight of the year was Lanyon celebrating its 20th anniversary as a house museum.  The birthday celebrations included a garden party for Lanyon volunteers.
The year 2000 also saw the CFC attract its largest ever sponsorship, with Westpac Bank.  The Chief Minister of the day, Kate Carnell, launched the new partnership in the “Westpac” foyer of The Playhouse.
The Olympic year was followed by the Centenary of Federation in 2001.  The CFC joined in the celebrations with four major exhibitions at CMAG, and with events at Lanyon that looked back to its own history a century earlier, in 1901, including an Edwardian Garden Party.
Also in 2001 a new children’s theatre season, Playtime Theatre Treats, was launched at the Canberra Theatre Centre, and Canberra Ticketing relocated to the North Building in preparation for the Civic Library and Link Project.
In the following year, 2002, Calthorpes'  House celebrated its 75th birthday with a range of birthday events that include the launch of a book by Dawn Waterhouse about her childhood at Calthorpes'  House, called  Chortles, Chores and Chilblains.
This year also saw the start of a long-term donation program whereby ACTTAB funded a major acquisition each year for eight years, for the CMAG Collection.  The first work of art acquired, in 2002, was a Keith Looby work called The Quality Controller.
2003 started with the terrible Canberra bushfires that destroyed so much of the western edge of our city.  Lanyon and the Nolan Gallery were evacuated on the 13th of January 2003. I remember seeing a photo of a table set up for a wedding celebration at Lanyon that day: the table abandoned and chairs cast aside as the guests quickly departed the scene. I always hoped that married life improved from that point for the couple who were celebrating their wedding!
The CFC responded to the bushfire crisis in a number of ways, including by helping to mount a bushfire relief concert; recording objects, images and personal accounts of the bushfire; providing free emergency care programs for children; and accepting into the CMAG Collection a range of objects associated with the bushfire.  One of these, a burned-out dishwasher, has become an emblem of the loss suffered by the Canberra community in the 2003 firestorm, and is on display in Gallery 1 as we approach the 10th anniversary of that terrible day in Canberra’s history.
But there were many brighter aspects of 2003.  For the CFC these included the launch of a new series of cutting edge productions at the Canberra Theatre Centre called Director’s Cut; and the inaugural Great Lanyon Easter Egg Hunt, now a popular event each Easter Sunday.
At Mugga Mugga, the first Sylvia Curley Oration was held in 2003, in honour of the remarkable woman who donated this, her former family home, to the people of Canberra.  Our first “orator” was former Senior Curator of House Museums Lainie Lawson, who did so much to establish Mugga Mugga as a house museum and indeed Lanyon and Calthorpes’ House as well.  With the support of a dedicated group of volunteers, the opening hours at Mugga Mugga were extended from once a month to every weekend from March 2003.
In launching the 2004 Subscription Season, the Canberra Theatre Centre also launched a series of access initiatives. These new programs led a major award and continue to be a strong demonstration of the Centre’s commitment to extending live theatre to all members of the community, including those with vision or hearing impairments. 
2004 also saw the ACT Government agree to a major extension of the area of land and buildings managed by the CFC at Lanyon, thereby keeping this expanded heritage precinct in public ownership into the future.
By this time, the CFC was publicising, through its Annual Report, the number of hours worked by its volunteers, including members of its advisory committees, who all contribute their services on a voluntary basis.  The CFC’s Annual Report for 2003-4 recorded those volunteers contributed an impressive 3,340 hours to the organisation.
 2005 saw a series of anniversaries across the organisation.  The Canberra Theatre Centre held its 40th anniversary - an event celebrated with special performances, open days and an exhibition at CMAG.  Lanyon and the Nolan Gallery celebrated their 25th anniversaries that year.
In 2006, after a long time in planning and construction, the new Link and the new Civic Library were each completed and launched, together with a major new public artwork in Civic Square, Fractal Weave by David Jensz. Highlights of this year also included CMAG sending a travelling exhibition of prints to Canberra’s sister city, Nara, as a key event in the Australia Japan Year of Exchange.  I was privileged to open this exhibition, together with the Mayor of Nara.
For the first time in many years, Opera Australia came to Canberra in November 2006 with a full mainstage production, The Pirates of Penzance, presented in a shared risk arrangement with the Canberra Theatre Centre. 
In February 2007, a severe hailstorm hit the Civic area, with major damage to many buildings, including the Canberra Theatre Centre and CMAG.  Storm damage and high humidity at Lanyon led to the Nolan Gallery being closed from the start of the year, with all works being relocated to CMAG.
Despite the challenges of the year there were many highlights, including a large donation of works of art to CMAG by senior ACT artist Jan Brown, leading to a major exhibition in the following year.
2008 saw another large-scale Opera Australia production come to Canberra, My Fair Lady.  Eight semi-trailers brought the set and costumes, including one semi trailer that was needed just to transport the wonderful hats worn for the Ascot scene!
Other highlights of that year included CMAG’s children’s programs being recognised in an award in Children's Week; and the acquisition of the Dawn Waterhouse Collection, an extensive array of Canberra souvenirs and memorabilia that is now a very popular part of CMAG’s permanent collection exhibition.
In May 2009, funding of nearly $4 million was announced in the ACT Budget for a major package of conservation works across all three historic sites managed by the CFC.  This is the largest investment ever made in these sites since they came under public ownership.  The four-year package of works is just reaching completion and will be celebrated with a champagne reception at Lanyon, on Saturday 17 November.
2010 saw the launch of the Nolan Collection Gallery @ CMAG – a new galley space dedicated to the permanent display of the Nolan Foundation Collection. 
Other highlights of the year included the launch of new websites and a new ticketing system at the Canberra Theatre Centre; the first Canberra Gold exhibition at CMAG; a Canberra Critics Circle Award for CMAG’s exhibition Something in the Air; and the Wharf Revue coming to Canberra for the first time – this first season in Canberra, Pennies From Kevin, was so popular that it sold out and came back for a return season.
Probably my worst day as CEO was in March 2011, when a major arson attack caused severe damage to the convict barn at Lanyon – now, thankfully, restored after painstaking work by specialised craftsmen.
On a more positive note, in 2011 CMAG’s King O’Malley exhibition attracted critical acclaim and generous sponsorship support from King O’Malley’s Irish Pub and CMAG’s award-winning series of children’s programs was extended by the introduction of a special program for the very young, T is for Toddler. 
So here we are, finally in 2012.  The early part of the year saw a focus on Lanyon, with a major community consultation project, a very successful Plant Fair with Open Gardens Australia, and a 2012-13 Budget announcement for new funding for community programs there.  The same Budget introduced a package of works valued at $3 million for the Canberra Theatre Centre, which will be rolled out over the new three years. 
The highlights I’ve mentioned are just a very small selection of all that we as an organisation have achieved over the past 15 years.
Along the way, we’ve welcomed around 300,000 visitors and patrons a year to our various sites – around 4.5 million in total - and held 132 Board meetings. I say this with feeling, as I’ve attended every single one of those!
Our record shows that we are a vibrant, resilient and successful organisation that provides a very high standard of cultural services to the community, which is sought after as an employer of choice, and which enjoys active volunteer involvement and philanthropic support.
As we celebrate the past, we can be proud of all that we have achieved, and can look ahead with confidence and ambition.  In particular, we look forward to Canberra’s Centenary year in 2013 with celebrations and events across each one of our sites.
Posted by Bill Stephens: member of CFC Performing Arts Advisory Committee and Canberra Critics Circle.