Tuesday, January 31, 2023

CULTURE CRUISE - Australian Dance Party.


Yolanda Lowatta at Reconciliation Place

 Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

AN invitation from Australian Dance Party to spend half a day “a spectacular art tour and cruise to make your senses dance” on Lake Burley Griffin was too good to refuse.

The  ADP is an  innovative activist dance company which specialises in creating site-specific performances around Canberra and its environs.

I’ve enjoyed performances by ADP at Mt. Majura Solar Farm (freezing), Mt. Stromlo Observatory (charming), a secret warehouse in Fyshwick (sublime) and the Australian National Botanic Gardens (memorable).

The company’s newest venture, “Culture Cruise” is the brainchild of its leader and director, Alison Plevey, who together with her co-director, Sara Black, developed the concept in which, although dance is integral to the concept, the cruise is not strictly a dance work but rather  an innovative attempt to create a unique experience weaving together elements of the city’s visual art, architecture, live performance, food and wine.

Stefani Lekkas welcomes guest on to the Gull

After being checked off and issued with bright orange identity badges, our group was greeted by host and storyteller, Stefanie Lekkas, who ushered us on to The Gull and introduced us to the skipper, Captain Jim, who  explained that the Gull had been originally built by its first owner as a fishing vessel, circa 1921 then been converted to a comfortable 28 seat passenger vessel, powered by electric motors.

Lekkas, in mystical story-teller mode, focussed attention on the beauty of the  surroundings while Captain Jim proffered additional prosaic and entertaining details about the national institutions we encounter along the journey, including  the Braille tiles on the walls of the National Museum, the renovations to the Captain Cook water fountain, and those additional bells installed in the National Carillon.

Once on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin we disembarked to begin a short stroll to Reconciliation Place, where the first performance artist, former Bangarra dancer Yolanda Lowatta, costumed in dazzling orange, focussed attention on the significance and purpose of Reconciliation Place then  beckoned us to follow her through the series of artworks depicting significant events in First Nations history which surround the central mound.

On arrival at the National Portrait Gallery, we were treated to an abstract performance by sound artist, Liam Budge, and dancers Ryan Douglas Stone and Lowatta, this time clad in subtle costume designs by Aislinn King. This simple but effective design device neatly connected all the participants. Remember your badge?

Ryan Stone and Stefanie Lekkas outside the High Court.

After a 40-minute viewing of the portrait exhibition “Who Are You”, Stone again captivated with his athletic dance interpretations, firstly of the High Court and later of the  National Gallery’s Calder sculpture, before leading us into with one more dance performance to the Water’s Edge Restaurant for a leisurely lunch.

Back at the Gull, Captain Jim welcomed us on board before ferrying us back to the National Museum where Budge was waiting to serenade us. Following some final farewell remarks from   Lekkas, we headed into the museum for an  exploration of the “Great Southern Land” exhibition.

Liam Budge entertains guest at the National Museum

So does the Cultural Cruise live up to its promise?   Judging on my own experience, it does. Memorable features included the meticulous attention to detail,  providing chairs at the performance points, and allowing sufficient time to savour the exhibitions.

The performances themselves were skilful and varied as were the narrations by Lekkas which were informative, uncluttered, often poetical, and promoting a sense of inquiry rather than providing answers.

Australian Dance Party has cleverly subverted a familiar activity into a unique and satisfying artistic experience perfect for savouring as a personal indulgence, or as something to share with a friend or fastidious visitor.    

             More tours scheduled : 25th Feb - 4th Mar.- 11th Mar.-18th Mar. Visit website.

                                                         Images Bill Stephens

      This review first published in CITY NEWS digital edition of 30th January 2023.


Sunday, January 29, 2023

DOGFIGHT - Dramatic Productions


Directed by:  Grant Pegg and Kelly Roberts. Musical Direction by: Caleb Campbell

Choreographed by: Nathan Rutups – Set Designed by: Chris Zuber

Costumes Designed by:  Jennie Norberry – Sound Design by: James McPherson

Lighting Design by: Craig Muller & Grant Pegg.

Gungahlin Theatre 27th January – 4th February 2023.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens.

The premise is unsavoury ; the language often coarse and confronting; yet directors, Grant Pegg and Kelly Roberts , have achieved a poetic, pitch-perfect production which grabs attention from the very  first moments and doesn’t let go until the final affecting denouement.

The musical concerns three young marines who on their final night in town before being shipped off to fight in Vietnam enter a pact in which the winner will be the one who brings the ugliest date to a party known as a dogfight, a practice apparently encouraged by the American Marines as an informal exercise in dehumanization to make it emotionally simpler for them to carry out their violent orders.

Alexander Clubb (Eddie) - Taylor Paliaga (Rose) in "Dogfight"

Anchoring the production, in the central role as Eddie, the young marine who finds himself juggling his confusion over his loyalty to his mates and his growing feelings for Rose, the naïve young waitress he’s convinced to be his date, Alexander Club is riveting.  He’s matched every inch of the way by Taylor Paliaga’s charismatic portrayal as Rose in which her every move and reaction feels totally believable and authentic, making it impossible not to become invested in the outcome of their story.

Supporting these two remarkable performances in this tightly focussed production is a strong ensemble of experienced performers led by Will Collett and Grayson Woodham as Eddie’s mates, Boland and Bernstein.  Distinguishing themselves in critical character roles, Kit Berry is a standout as the goodtime girl, Marcy, Kirrily Cornwell is totally believable as Rose’s concerned mother, Liam Downing makes a strong impression as Fector, and Pippin Carrol scores with his sly cameo as the worldly lounge singer.


Alexander Clubb - Taylor Paliaga - Grayson Woodham - Rachel Thornton - Kit Berry
Pippin Carrol (back to audience) in "Dog Fight"

Charlotte Gearside brings flair to her cameo as the patient restaurateur while Luke Ferdinands, Kara Murphy, Rachel Seo, Frank Shanahan and Rachel Thornton all impress with their totally on-song contributions. Interestingly this production is the last opportunity Canberra audiences will have for a while to see Pippin Carroll and Rachel Seo on stage, as both are heading off to commence studies at  WAAPA during 2023.

A particularly impressive feature of this production is the choreography of Nathan Rutups . Rutups clearly understands that there is more to choreographing contemporary musicals than inventing clever dance steps. For this production Rutups has created a dreamlike movement vocabulary for his cast of predominantly non-dancers who all participate in elegant scene changes in which furniture swirls around the stage and mysterious figures suddenly flit through Chris Zuber’s quite beautiful abstract setting, enhanced as it is by the atmospheric lighting design achieved by Craig Muller and Grant Pegg .

Equally impressive is the musical direction of Caleb Campbell who, from his keyboard, confidently guided his orchestra and cast through the complexities of the Pasek and Paul score achieving, with the assistance of James McPherson’s sensitive sound design, an excellent balance between the singers and his excellent on-stage orchestra.

Kara Murphy - Charlotte Gearside - Taylor Paliaga - Rachel Seo -Kirrily Cornwell
in "Dogfight".

“Dog Fight” is the latest in a long line of impressive productions presented by Richard Block with his Dramatic Productions which he created specifically to present musicals in the Gungahlin Theatre. This production of “Dog Fight” with its superb combination of polished direction, musical direction, choreography,   excellent set and costume design supported with superb sound and lighting design is a production which would  grace any professional stage, and as such, despite its comparatively brief season, is one which should not be missed by anyone with even a passing interest in the art of musical theatre.

                                                Images by  Janelle McMenamin

                  This review first published in CITY NEWS on 28th January 2023.

Saturday, January 28, 2023





Written and directed by Joachim Matschoss. Performed by Isabel Knight, Amalia Krueger, Sasha Leong, Isabella Anderson, Giacinta Squires, Nikki Green, Verity Wood, Breanna Milliken, Florensia Andarini. Lighting design by Shane Grant. Movement direction by Nikki Green. Sound design/Music by Michelle Eddington. Visual design by Philip Roberts. Stage Management/ Production assistance by Ben Jameison.  Back Yard Theatre Ensemble. Midsumma Festival. La Mama Theatre January 17-25 2023.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

It has been some years since I have been to La Mama , Melbourne’s iconic home of theatrical experimentation and creative opportunity. Established in 1957 by the visionary Betty Burstall and after her  continued under the artistic leadership of the recently retired Liz Jones, La Mama has been a  lighthouse for independent theatre, theatrical innovation and a launching pad for emerging directors, actors and theatre workers. The theatre has been restored since a devastating fire some years ago threatened its closure. It remains a very small space and its current production, Shadowfall, written and directed by prolific playwright, poet, director and producer Joachim Mattschoss was played with about twenty people on either side of a traverse staging. This is intimate theatre at its most involving and engaging when directed with such sensibility and performed with such intensity and intelligence as in this Midsumma  Festival production.

Isabel Knight as Jazz in Shadowfall
 Nine women in white occupy the space. Some trace the outlines of shadowy lines swirling across the floor. Among them a dancer appears to float through the air, the body turning and falling. Another passes the audience carrying a Wayang Kulit shadow puppet, warding off ill spirits. In the centre of the stage a woman’s arm reaches towards the sky.” I am Woman” she cries out, in affirmation of identity. The bearer of portent, the carrier of the Wayang , intones the pain and longing of the spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child.  Images flash through Matschoss’s poetic text. Broken glass is the woman’s fragility while the shaft of light offers hope for release from the pain. Jazz (Isabel Knight) caught in the vortex of confused identity reaches out to women for acceptance, understanding and hope. The singer (Florensia Andarini) echoes her search for release with Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters. She follows Jazz, her haunting note prophesying the tormented shadows of Jazz’s mind.  Mattschoss directs his highly focused ensemble of actors with purposeful intensity. The dancer (Nikki Green) bends and rotates as if high upon a building with perilous foreboding. In the midst of her anguish Jazz is one woman, trapped like many, subject to bullying, harassment and a domestic abuse that she even hides from her friend. She rejects their offer, with Mattschoss’s evocative imagery of “wet leaves on slippery stairs” to explain the markings on her face.

  The final image is one of hopelessness and submission as Jazz climbs the stairs in the theatre towards the top of the building, lured by the image of the dancer on the roof. Matschoss offers a bleak aspect of the devastating impact of tortured mental health and domestic violence. His cast respond with visually striking physical theatre, a choreographed dance of shared suffering. Shadowfall appears to offer little hope until a feather floats down from high above, a symbol of transformation, promising hope.

Nikki Green  as the Dancer in Shadowfall
 Shadowfall is a riveting and at times disturbing reminder of the struggles that women continue to face.  Knight’s performance is at times painful to watch as she reminds us so powerfully of the force of individual fear and the dangers that lie in the dark shadows of silence. Matschoss’s symbolic ball of wax in the characters’ hands may provide some relief to the pervasive doom. Brittle and strong, able to withstand the injustices, the physical abuse and the threat to confidence and identity may offer the hope that the floating feather gently suggests.

  Matschoss’s text is at times elusive and the symbols and poetic metaphors invite a probing and curious interpretation. Nikki Green’s movement direction is expressive and specific . Shadowfall has the impression of having been created from workshop. This gives the production a feeling of collaborative commitment. The elements of performance, song, dance and visuals lend it a unity that punctuates its themes and message with physical and intellectual effect. 

Florensia Andarini as The Singer in Shadowfall

 True to La Mama’s mission, Shadowfall satisfied my interest in experimental, original and independent work that has something to say and says it in an entertaining and intellectually challenging theatrical work.



Photos by Brendan Bonsack


WE ARE ONE - The First XI

Photography | Brian Rope

WE ARE ONE - The First XI Claire Letitia Reynolds and Sasha Parlett

PhotoAccess | 20 Jan – 10 Feb 2023

Everyone should see this exhibition. All indigenous people, because it is about a significant event in their history. Cricketers and cricket lovers, as it’s a significant cricket story. Historians, since it’s a historical event. Photographers and everyone interested in the medium. And everyone else, as it’s a fascinating and important story.

The portraits in WE ARE ONE - The First XI were produced by artist Claire Letitia Reynolds, the filmed interviews by Sasha Parlett. Reynolds discovered her love of photography at 14. She is known for capturing subjects at their most familiar moments. Parlett is the proud descendant of the first Indigenous woman to break in horses, was born on Darumbal country and educated and raised in Kabi Kabi ways. Together, the two artists are aiming to champion this epic piece of Australian history.

Parlett’s two videos are a series of vignette interviews providing a documentary style look into the verbal history of cricket in Australia. Through discussions with descendants of The First XI, past and current First Nations Cricketers, a

light is shed on the truths and triumphs such cricketers have faced since The First XI. Highlighting a forgotten history of this colonial sport turning stockmen into athletes and becoming an iconic sport within First Nations communities. The exhibition aims to uplift and contribute to reconciliation in Australia.

Still from Part 1 - WE ARE ONE –The First XI -
Uncle Adrian, Mununjalli, Goreng Goreng Nations, QLD © Sasha Parlett

Still of title page of Part 2 – WE ARE ONE – First Nations Cricket © Sasha Parlett

Reynolds’ artworks, created utilising analogue and digital processes, comprise twenty-two portraits and three landscapes referencing the unique connection between Australian Indigenous people, culture and Country. The First XI included men from tribes in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. The portraits are of current and past Indigenous Australian cricketers, direct descendants of the First XI, and Elders. 

Incredibly, this indigenous team of thirteen athletes undertook Australia’s first ever international tour. It is a story of strength, triumph and, sadly, tragedy. Several players suffered severe illness. Some were sent home early; others lost their lives. Despite the tragic incidents, the ledger was 14 apiece at the end of the England-wide tournament.

This exhibition seeks to square up the Australian identity ledger, with these pioneering men providing impetus for progress. Their story of courage, resilience, and identity is celebrated with pride. The beautifully printed artworks from hand-developed films are mostly on fine art paper using handcrafted dyes from various trees, bark, leaves, and sap. 

Rosie, Gubbi Gubbi Nation, QLD, 2022 photographic print on fine art paper
with narrow-leaved Red Gum bark hand crafted dye © Claire Letitia Reynolds

Aunty Betty, Bundjalung Nation, NSW, 2022 photographic print on fine art paper
with Brown Bloodwood bark hand crafted dye © Claire Letitia Reynolds

Uncle Mickey AM, Yawuru Nation, WA, 2022 photographic print on fine art paper
with Brown Bloodwood bark hand crafted dye © Claire Letitia Reynolds

One large portrait, of Aunty Fiona Clarke, is printed on 100% pure mulberry silk and displayed hung on a found Eucalyptus branch. 

Aunty Fiona Clarke, Gudintjimara, Kirre Whurrong Nations, VIC photographic print on 100% pure mulberry silk © Claire Letitia Reynolds (Installation view)

Three landscapes showing black swans are hung close together in a row alongside each other on an end wall of the gallery.

Black Swans of Gunaduyen, Home of The First XI, Parts 1,2,3 photographic prints on fine art paper with Grey Ironbark hand crafted dye © Claire Letitia Reynolds (Installation View)

Below each portrait are quotes from  ‘Cricket walkabout : the Australian Aboriginal cricketers on tour, 1867-8 / D.J. Mulvaney’. Part of one reads “Yanggendyinadyuk/Dick-a-Dick challenged all comers to stand 15 or 20 yards distant and pelting with cricket balls….protected his body with a [narrow wooden parrying shield]….during his displays he often called out to the throwers ‘Can’t you do better than that?’….His wooden club is now in Lord’s Cricket Museum.”

There is one other rather special exhibit - The First XI Didge-Bat, with the names of The First XI inscribed.

The project was previously exhibited briefly on the Sunshine Coast (where Reynolds is based). It opened here as a big bash cricket fixture next door attracted a huge crowd by comparison. Its run includes the contentious 26 January date. It will be going to the home of The First XI - Harrow, Victoria and elsewhere. It is hoped to show it at Lord’s. And, more importantly, I was pleased to learn there are folk seeking to have items such as the previously mentioned club returned to Country.

This review was first published by The Canberra Times here and in its print edition of 28/1/23. It is also available on the author's blog here.



Book by Peter Duchan

Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Directed by Grant Pegg and Kelly Roberts

Dramatic Productions

Gunghalin College Theatre to 4 February


Reviewed by Len Power 27 January 2023

A movie in 1991, ‘Dogfight’, the musical, opened off-Broadway in 2012.  It’s an early show by music and lyric writers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who would go on to have a big success with the movies, ‘La La Land’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’ and the hit Broadway musical, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’.

The first thing to say about ‘Dogfight’ is that, though you may doubt if it’s the show for you, given its unsavoury central idea – a marine in 1963 takes a girl to a party just to compete in a competition to see who has brought the ugliest date – it does not celebrate this appalling situation and the aftermath is handled with great sensitivity.

Much of the success of the production is due to the performances of the two leads – Alexander Clubb as the marine, Eddie, and Taylor Paliaca as the girl, Rose.

Alexander Clubb and Taylor Paliaca

Clubb captures the essence of the part of the marine who is young, inexperienced and full of bravado in front of his foul-mouthed buddies, but with a streak of sensitivity that makes him understand the hurt he has caused.  He sings the role very well, especially his final song, ‘Come Back’.

Taylor Paliaca is very real as Rose.  There is a great depth to her characterization and she is particularly touching in her songs, ‘Pretty Funny’ and ‘Before It’s Over’.  Hers is an excellent and memorable performance in a difficult role.

Kit Berry also scores as the very street-wise Marcy.  Her song, ‘Dogfight’, is a true highlight of the show.

Alexander Clubb as Eddie (seated) with his marine buddies

The actors playing the marines have been cast very well.  There are believable performances from all of them.  Pippin Carroll makes a charismatic impression with his secondary role of the Lounge Singer.  The ensemble sings and dances very well.

The clever choreography by Nathan Rutups suits the period and helps to cover the numerous scene changes.  Music direction by Caleb Campbell is masterful and the members of the small orchestra play the score very well.

The set design by Chris Zuber suggests the locale of San Francisco with elements of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was an inspired idea that is simple and attractive and works very well.  Lighting and sound successfully add considerable atmosphere to the show.

The directors, Grant Pegg and Kelly Roberts have more than achieved their vision and concept for this show.  In the wrong hands it might not have worked so well.

Photos by Janelle McMenamin

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/



Friday, January 27, 2023




Adelaide Fringe. 

Artistic director and CEO Heather Croall. Adelaide and State regions. February 17 – March 25. Programme and bookings: www.adelaide fringe.com.au and  1300621255

Preview feature by Peter Wilkins


Heather Croall Artistic Director of the Fringe


“Adelaide Fringe is back with gusto”. Artistic Director and CEO Heather Croall tells me. Australia’s largest open access arts festival is back with over 6000 performers bringing 1200 amazing shows, interactive performances and events to Adelaide from February 17th to March 25.  I have been attending the Fringe in my hometown for decades but this year the Fringe guide blows my mind. Only in Edinburgh is there a Fringe festival to rival it for its size, its scope, its amazing inclusivity and variety of experience from comedy to cabaret, theatre to interactive  performance, from dance to visual arts and much much more. Adelaide Fringe boasts something for everyone including clear Summer skies and balmy nights . Where else could you have the perfect conditions for Electric Fields to perform  the soundtrack for Electric Dreams with 500 drones lighting the firmament and  casting dazzling patterns across Adelaide’s night sky? Croall’s dream this year is to break a record and reach her target of one million tickets sales. Performers of every artistic persuasion and genre swarm like bees to a honey pot to lure audiences to experiences that are funny, thought-provoking, exciting and entertaining. Adelaide venues are transformed for five weeks of the year into a festive wonderland. Familiar venues such as the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony or smaller comedy venues like the Rhino Room and the home to innovative independent theatre like Holden Street Theatres have been expanded with the Yurt at the Migration Museum where comedy and clowning will meet innovative and edgy theatre and experimental work and the giant Pyramid at the Treasury Courtyard in Victoria Square which will feature the remarkable New Yorker Penny Arcade as a headliner.

The Adelaide Fringe acts as an artistic magnet, attracting visitors from South Australia, interstate and overseas. Some come to see their favourite comedians. Comedy legends like Will Anderson, Tom Ballard and Tim Ferguson are all doing shows. The irrepressible Ferguson, now confined to a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis will have you in fits of laughter with his insightful, thought provoking show Disability Rules. Wil Anderson can be found in the thriving Garden of Unearthly Delights with his new show Wiluminate. Cabaret bursts onto the scene with headliners like Velvet with another showbiz legend, Marcia Hines. Artists and producers are quick to credit the Fringe with launching their careers.  Billed as a love letter to disco, Velvet is such a show. What began as one of many entertaining cabaret acts at Gluttony has become an international sensation and returns to its beginning at the Fringe. It is but one of many that can boast an international reputation. So many of the international shows listed in the guide come from sell out seasons in London’s West End or at the Edinburgh Fringe. “You mustn’t miss Black is the Colour of My Voice” Croall tells me. Fringe First winner Apphia Campbell’s play has been inspired by the songs of Nina Simone and will be performed live at the Ngunyawayiti Theatre at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural institute. Hit of the 2021 Fringe, Nancy Wake The story of the White Mouse returns to the Goodwood Studio and Theatre. Theatre lovers could almost spend the entire Fringe visiting world class shows from Australia and overseas at Holden Street Theatres the Fringe’s award winning theatre hub.

Fringe Ambassador Penny Arcade

Since taking over as CEO of the Adelaide Fringe, Croall has devoted much of her indefatigable energy to ensuring that Adelaide’s major community festival is as inclusive as possible. New ticketing systems have facilitated greater ease in booking tickets and Community Partner Lumo Energy has assisted Fringe enthusiasts to limit paper use in a sustainable economic environment and book e- tickets on line that can be presented on their phones. Comedians like Tom Ballard, for example, who have been performing acts in the accessibly difficult Rhino Room have offered to do them as well in the Howling Crown with easy access for people with mobility issues. Donor seats where people are encouraged to purchase an extra seat that can be offered to people who can’t afford the price of tickets means that the principle of access allows audiences to see shows that they would ordinarily not be able to experience. Accessibility and inclusiveness underpin the Fringe’s mantra. As Penny Arcade says, “At a time when the world is becoming more narrow and exclusive, the open nature of the Fringe is more important than ever”. Croall, since her appointment as CEO of the Fringe, has done everything in her power to identify and overcome barriers that may prevent artists from coming to the Fringe and audiences from participating in the festival. “We want to make sure that the barriers are as low as possible for anyone with lived experience of disability.” Croall says.

Comedian  Tim Ferguson

Nancy Wake is one of many shows that has benefited from an Artist Fund that makes money available to companies to support their costs and their ability to bring their shows to the Fringe. This year the Fringe gave out $800,000 to 180 performances from the Community Fund and money donated by the Donor’s Circle. Over the years the Fringe has greatly expanded its philanthropic profile. The Fringe also enables producers and agents who participate in the highly success Honey Pot to see the work and often launch new and successful careers,  Major sponsor Bank SA and other sponsors all agree that they want the Fringe to be as inclusive as possible.

As the Fringe’s commitment to reconciliation, Croall and her team have expanded and programmed a host of First Nations events, commencing with a free Welcome Ceremony on the conifer lawns of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens on February 12th.The Welcome, Kumangka Palti Yarta on Kaurna country will amplify First Nations voices in the arts. Audiences will be able to hear stories about country told by aboriginal leaders.  A smoking ceremony will acknowledge ancestors and pay respect to the land on which the Fringe takes place. Fringe goers will not want to miss two unforgettable nights on February 24th and 25th when Electric Skies will come alive with an electrifying light show and music. Electric Fields will create a special soundtrack, woven with First Nations language and traditional songs. This multisensory spectacle will herald a vast number of First Nations events from Adelaide to Gawler and Glenelg to the Belair National Park.

More and more artists register with the Fringe and then take their performances on tour throughout the State. In 2023 artists will travel the length and breadth of South Australia from Adelaide as far as the Eyre Peninsula across to the Riverlands, the Murray and the Mallee, along the Limestone Coast to the Fleurieu Paninsula and the Adelaide Hills. It is truly a Fringe for everyone.

It was Oscar Wilde who proclaimed that “Success breeds success.” I ask Croall how much further the  Adelaide Fringe can grow its artists and performances. “We don’t target performers or shows” she says. “We target numbers and buns in seats” Croall’s aim is to always support the artists and ensure that every possible dollar goes into the artist’s pockets. One area of growth that she initiated as a result of her background running a digital film festival is interactive performance. “The immersive industry experience is booming and it is only going to grow. As soon as we introduced it into the Fringe many interactive producers and artists registered their interactive show.

One such show is the international collaboration Torrent, an immersive show with big screens, live dancers and with the audience amongst them. It is being presented as part of the Electric Dreams programme at The Lab. It reminds us how urgent it is to reshape our relationship with water. It is something we all need to be thinking about. Another immersive experience will be a collaboration between First Nations poet Ali Cobby Eckermann and dancers from Lewis Major projects with a big screen immersive show designed by a UK team. These are the arts’ new frontiers and experiences not to be missed

Finally, I ask Croall the impossible. Can you recommend any must see shows during the Fringe

Hung Dance from Taiwan

“There are so many must sees” she says. As well as those that she has already mentioned there is stunning dance from Taiwanese company Hung Dance presenting See You at AC Arts.. She also mentions some one on one shows; Lien at AC Arts and Temping at the Little Theatre in the University of Adelaide. At the beginning of the festival, disabled performer Diane Divine will be presenting her burlesque show Singin’ in the Pain in the Space Theatre at the Adelaide Festival Theatre.  -  While being guarded about recommending shows in what is a huge open access festival, Croall does suggest one that is definitely not to be missed. Award winning writer Casey Jay Andrews in collaboration with veteran award winning producer and actor Joanne Hartstone will present A Place That Belongs To Monsters in the Treasury Courtyard. The Fringe guide describes the show as “a beating heart of spoken word punctuating stories of fury and fear”

Buskers hawk their talents in Rundle Mall. Restaurants burst alive and tumble out onto the footpaths and into the lanes. Crowds jostle their way down Rundle Street and through the Garden of Unearthly Delights or Gluttony. 500 Drones illuminate the Electric Sky and in myriads of venues the artists display their wares to festival goers from around the world and across the country. Croall hopes that the pre Covid target of 850,000 individual ticket sales will be smashed as visitors, tourists and locals surge to savour the delights that Adelaide Fringe has to offer. With a programme that will thrill and amaze that Million Ticket Sales Milestone seems just within reach.  





Monday, January 23, 2023

Joyce Evans (Photographer)

Book Review | Brian Rope

Title: Joyce Evans

Author: Sasha Grishin

Publisher: National Library of Australia Publishing

It seems a little odd to review a book by a fellow reviewer, but this book is about the photographer, Joyce Evans, and her imagery - not its author, Sasha Grishin.

Reading the book I was quickly struck by Grishin’s observation “her work is neither widely known nor fully appreciated”. Why? Because I had no knowledge of Evans’ work. Curiously though, my wife knew Evans and typed a lot of her university essays when she worked for Evan’s husband.

I decided to contact a dozen folk who I expected would know of Evans because of their past art/photography studies, curatorial backgrounds, or key roles with important art museums. I asked whether they were aware of Evans’ work and whether or not they appreciated it. To my surprise, only one had any knowledge of Evans whatsoever. She had exhibited with Evans several times and been impressed with her photography.

A blogger I follow recently wrote a short personal appreciation of another photographer’s life and work. In it, he spoke of photographers who have made their major contributions early in their careers and over a relatively short period of time. He expressed enthusiasm for those who continue producing quality work throughout their lives. Evans owned and used a camera from the age of 16, albeit initially as an avid amateur. In her mid-40s she visited an international art fair in Basel and was excited by the photography scene. That led her to open a photography gallery in Melbourne, then to study photography. Evans was 50 when she began using photography as a serious art form. She had her first solo exhibition in 1986 which launched her career as a professional photographer. She remained active in photography for the remainder of her life.

The National Library of Australia holds an archive of Evans’ life work, containing around 30,000 analogue and 80,000 digital works, plus considerable associated documentation. It’s one of the largest archives of any contemporary Australian photographer in any public institution. In 2016, Evans herself invited Grishin to write this book and worked closely with him to achieve it, despite declining health. She approved the final text of all chapters but, sadly, died before publication.

So what do I think of Evans’ imagery? It is diverse. Some, not all, early amateur shots are, perhaps unsurprisingly, amateurish. One about a 1996 rally against racism is certainly about an important Australian story. 

Joyce Evans, Rally against Racism, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, 1996, nla.obj-143145840

Evans’ somewhat privileged life and good contacts (often portrait subjects) definitely assisted to get her professional career going. Federal Minister Clyde Holding’s invitation to join Aboriginal Affairs as an honorary documentary photographer was instrumental and resulted in her recognising the need to see photographs that should be taken. One book chapter is devoted to “finding the image”. Another to documentary shots of Australia, including roadkill on Australia’s “endless roads”. The latter caused me to think about Judith Nangala Crispin’s very different poetic artworks of such subject matter. Evans’ images such as Uluru, Northern Territory (featured on the book cover) are delightful renditions of our outback.

Joyce Evans, Portrait of Barbara Blackman, 1989, nla.obj-135941390

Joyce Evans, Uluru, Northern Territory, 1987, courtesy National Library of Australia

Joyce Evans, Desert Car on Gunbarrel Highway, Northern Territory, 1991, nla.obj-153485555

The book includes some  photos of places Canberrans know well – a windmill at lake George, the Niagara Café at Gundagai. Images taken a little further away include one of the start of Benalla’s Anzac Day march in 1994. 

Joyce Evans, Windmill on Lake George, New South Wales, 1983, nla.obj-153304178

There are some excellent art landscape images, including Eelgrass with Blades Coated in Algae, Mungo Tree, Dimboola Dreaming and two of Cotswold Farm. 

Joyce Evans, Eelgrass with Blades Coated in Algae, 2000–2001, courtesy National Library of Australia

Joyce Evans, Mungo Tree, 1990, courtesy National Library of Australia

I know of many folk who have substantial photography collections telling Australian stories which would be worthy additions to the NLA collections. You might even have a great collection. If so, check out https://www.nla.gov.au/support-us/giving-your-national-library/offer-us-collection-material.

This review is also available on the author's blog here.