Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20. Day 51. Bending over backwards

Drama Teen and I spend A LOT of time discussing the performing arts. Even though neither of us are big fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein (and that's an understatement) a quote from Richard Rodgers is often pulled out: "No-one leaves the theatre humming the scenery". Perhaps not, but a really dynamic set can and will make your heart sing. This is something I remind the teen of frequently. I love a good set. But the set is only the start of the non performance aspects of a production that make theatre what it is. The technical production - the lighting, the design, the sound, the costumes and that set really can lift a production - or indeed sink it. The good news is for those who create theatre in Brisbane is that those technical categories are now much better represented in the annual Matilda Awards with  best sound design/composition and best audio visual design being added to the award categories. The annual awards were presented at a sell out ceremony at the Powerhouse Theatre tonight. It was a fun-filled, loved filled evening with two Queensland Theatre productions each taking away a swag of awards. The Wider Earth, a piece of magic by Dead Puppet Society, was rewarded for its technical wizardry while the stunning performances in Switzerland saw it take out both the major acting categories and best mainstage production. As the mother about to send her "baby" to study Drama at Queensland University of Technology one name stood out. Emily Weir was still a QUT student when she auditioned for the role as the maid in Tartuffe. She was a stand out, a real show stealer and obviously the judges agreed. She won both the emerging talent award and the best female supporting actor award. You go girl.
Wins for independent theatre companies also reflected the strength of that sector.
And the notable omission? Not one single award for La Boite Theatre Company. It's not that I think any of last year's productions was hard done by. It's more that we all benefit when there are stand out performances across the board and across the city. Still I very much enjoyed Single Asian Female at La Boite last week so perhaps next year. We'll see.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19. Day 50. Things are hotting up

Almost unquestionably the biggest event in Brisbane in May is the annual Paniyri Festival.
For those counting down the days, you have 90 more sleeps until you can get your Greek on. But some things are worth waiting for and honey puffs, haloumi and calamari are among those things.
If the wait seems almost too much to bear, consider for a moment the Hellenic Dancers. This year's Paniyiri marks the 40th anniversary of the dance troop. At times in Musgrave Park this afternoon there must have been some dancers who wondered if this might be the last dance.
Those traditional costumes are really cool but really cool they are not.
If a day is a long time in our fast paced world, 90 days is an eternity especially in terms of the weather. February is probably the worst month in Brisbane's climate calendar. May is glorious. Let's be honest, you can eat haloumi in any weather but it's even better when not mixed with sweat.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 18. Day 49. A head rest

A picture never lies. As such I knew that dragonflies would land on the head of turtles because my wonderful friend and Project365 buddy Donna Weeks snapped the photograph that proved it a couple of years back. I love that photo. I love the university lakes where it was taken. I spend quite a bit of time at the lakes watching the turtles and I've never seen a dragonfly anywhere near them. Indeed there was no sign of the dragonflies there today either when I walked my little buddy Molly around the lakes to check out the turtles. She was very excited by what she saw so as soon as we got back to her parents on the other side of the lake she insisted we return with her mum. This visit was no more than 10 minutes after the first only this time the dragonflies had flown in. Right in front of me one landed on a turtle's head. So now I have a turtle versus dragonfly photo too. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17. Day 48. Just add water

It's POETS day, so one is almost obliged to Piss Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday. And so we did. The dogs and I headed Colmslie Recreation Reserve and the riverside dog park. It's an incredibly well equipped park with a load of agility equipment not often seen in other dog parks. All my dogs did on this equipment was pee. About a hundred metres further on there is a slither of sand along the foreshore. The second we arrived there their excitement levels hit fever pitch. There was sand. There was water. This was heaven. It wasn't much but it made all the difference. The water made the experience. The agility equipment just got in the way. I thought of that tonight at Act One Theatre's performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. The play is set in three locations: A London flat, in the garden of a country home and inside the country home. Each scene was created by an appropriate use of furnishings and props all of which created exactly the right feel. But then they'd added a projected image. It told me nothing not already conveyed through the traditional set. Seriously people. Theatre is not film. You don't need to use multimedia just because you can. Used well it can set mood, define place or add detail and context. But so often in community theatres it tells me nothing, or is distorted, not focused or just a distraction. Be ruthless. Ask yourself. Will this be like the river and it will make the audience's heart sing or will it be like the agility equipment that just sits there until some animal pees on it? Since man began to perform on stage, set designers have been able to create magic without a single projection. Don't let us lose that art.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16. Day 47. Social butterfly

I often say I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do when I grow up. Clearly I have a bit of work to do to get to that stage. Think about it. I still have afternoon naps. I frequently manage to put my clothes on inside out or back the front. I can't tell my left from my right. Trained slugs would have more developed balance and coordination. And I am completely capable of wearing as much food as I manage to shovel into my mouth. Tragic. But while I sometimes wish I could behave a little more like a functioning adult, I don't mind those occasions where I have retained my childlike wonder. As far as I know spending a large amount of time watching bugs and slugs is something "normal" people grow out of. Well good luck to them. I may no longer have a Bug Catcher or a jam jar with holes in the lid but my fascination with creepy crawlies remains. In the words of Monty Python: All things dull and ugly, all creatures short ad squat, Call things rude and nasty, The Lord God made the lot.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15. Day 46. Food for thought

Pelicans are awesome.
I love that wide-eyed amazement look they rock pretty much all the time.
I love their ability to own a space with no real effort.
Just being there is enough to make a statement.
Also their colour palette is black and white with a splash of pink. That's pretty much the sort of accessorizing I love.
But of I'm honest that's not the big thing. The big thing is the beak. How can you not love a creature that can shovel so much into it's mouth? That's my attitude to life to.
At the University of Queensland lakes this afternoon the pelicans were putting on a show.
Actually, they were just being themselves. That in itself is a show of awesome.
What made it so special was that they decided to do it right in front of me and my camera caring not at all about my two fur friends also enjoying the display. Love it

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 14. Day 45. This one goes out to the ones I love

Valentine's Day. The Hallmark occasion to end all Hallmark occasions (if anyone actually sends greeting cards any more). This is the day for love but love comes in many forms. Sure February 14 is the red letter day for the romantic kind of love. But my husband is in Melbourne for a Superannuation conference (what could be more romantic than that?) so this Valentine's Day I shall honour the only other beings invited to share my bed - my dogs. The joy that those two bring into our home is impossible to quantify. They are quite simple hilarious. Rumple is so solid, so loving so dependable. Winkle is as mad as a cut snake, silly and playful. Together the antics this canine odd couple get up to would bring a smile to anyone's face. What's not to love about that? So after days of house arrest due to conditions not favourable for walking when you are covered in fur, it was time to reward my bed buddies with an adventure. We went to the off leash area along Kedron Brook. It was glorious after yesterday's cleansing storms and clearly just about every dog owner in the district had the same idea. At one point there was a great big playful canine cluster. My dogs looked but showed no interest. Like a couple on a Valentine's Day date, they only have eyes for each other all the while making sure I was never out of sight. That's love in my eyes.

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13. Day 44. The early bird

It's no secret that communication technology advances have changed how when and where we can do just about anything. Which is great for those of us with phones in our pockets and computers on our laps. My neighbour Margaret is not one of those people. She rises before the sun, goes to bed when it's dark, watches TV according to the program guide and uses a phone plugged into the wall. An alien would have more hope of fully grasping how different the way my household operates as she does. So this morning one of the screws on her hearing aid broke. She waited until a "decent" hour to phone me. It was 6.15am.  I'd been working on something until after 3. I'm pretty sure that in her mind there is probably only one profession you can do at home in your bedroom in the middle of the night and she knows that's not how I earn my income. She was dressed ready for me to take her to the hearing aid specialists. She likes to be organised early. I don't think I've ever been ready that early for anything. Actually I know I haven't. I'm a journalist. I don't finish anything much before a deadline. I gently suggested that perhaps I might just take it into the city myself. She was having none of it. After all she already had her shoes on and we could make a day of it and have lunch. Because after all I've been home all day lately so obviously I can just do that. I could have argued but in the end a girl does have to eat. And it ensured I tackled all the projects that needed tackling before the afternoon storms blew in. Plus I was given a very detailed update on who was doing what on The Bold and the Beautiful Margaret's guilty pleasure. And then I had a nap because a flexible work day means you can.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 12. Day 43. Starry, starry night

From the time he was a little, little boy, Oliver always knew he wanted to be an actor. He was never in any doubt on that point. Honestly my Drama Teen was born to be on stage and/or screen. I've seen him on many, many stages across the city since he was five but until tonight screen as been a missing link. Tonight was the graduating showcase for his one year Professional Acting for Television program through Film and Television Studio International. He had the best time last year and tonight we had the chance to see the fruits of his labours. I've never been prouder, and let's face it I'm a great, big proud mumma. His scene was from the 2010 American romantic comedy She's Out of My League. It was a perfect choice (although naturally no woman will ever be out of my boy's league. Just the opposite ... isn't it every mother's duty to think that about her son?) And in a couple of weeks he's off to start the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama) at QUT. After that, the world's his oyster. It better be. This is my retirement plan...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 11. Day 42. If you can't stand the heat ...

What a useless piece of advice that is. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. As though the living room, bedrooms, bathroom or great outdoors are going to be any cooler. It's hot, hot, hot and it's only going to get hotter. We are in the middle of a heatwave, a tropical heatwave. There's no escaping it unless you happen to be in my neighbour Margaret's house. She insists it is cool s a cucumber. Our health authorities are specifically advising us to check on elderly people. Get them into air conditioning for at least part of the day, the warnings say. So I did the right thing. I went over. Big no to air conditioning. Big no to borrowing a large fan because of her fixed belief that these things blow away the breeze. The only concession I got was an agreement to buy fruit ice blocks. So I left hot and bothered. The temperature of her fibro hotbox had me in a lather of sweat and the conversation left me hot under the collar. But what can you do? I went back with the ice blocks and there was zero sign that she was going to change her mind. She did, however, tell me to make sure I kept the dogs cool. No worries there. Our hot dogs spend their day sleeping in air con.

Friday, February 10, 2017

February 10. Day 41. In a flap

Very often it is the little things that send me into a flap. The biggest flap-indusing thing is being late. I hate being late and yet I am particularly good at it. Still as an expert in this space I did spectacularly well today. I've been looking forward to Rent at the Powerhouse all week. I went to find and print the tickets tonight and realised the only matinee was last Saturday. I missed it by almost a week. Drama Teen, a Rent tragic, was remarkably calm about it. But I wasn't - at least not on the inside which is the worst place to be not calm. It's not the money, although that's annoying. It's being an idiot. I like to be in control and I hate it when I'm not. Let's be honest, there are worse things but it still gives me the sh*ts ....

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 9. Day 40. You have to laugh

My niece, whose father is fifth generation Chinese Australian, studied what is jokingly known as "vege maths" at school. Her school friends would tease that she was the only Asian they knew who was dumb at maths. It's funny because it is true. It's not that stereotypes are bad as such. It's just that they aren't the full picture. That was pretty much one of the take home messages of the Single Asian Female play briefing at La Boite tonight. The play is set in a Chinese restaurant in Nambour with the story centred on two sisters and their mum. The comedy is by Michelle Law and tonight's panel was chaired by her equally talented brother Benjamin. The cast say that a play with not a single straight white male is pretty much revolutionary, although it shouldn't be. A play that represents a modern multicultural Australia is still, unfortunately a rarity. This is a piece of realism, going behind the stereotypes to find the truth - the truth about being single. The truth about being female and a mother, a daughter or a sister. And the truth about being Asian. The set looks great but there is a warning. Don't attempt to see this on an empty stomach. Sitting in a Chinese restaurant for the duration might be more than you can take.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 8. Day 39. Ruffling my feathers

I try to be patient and understanding but there are times when I let my elderly neighbour Margaret ruffle my feathers. Take the fact that her house is stinking hot but she will take no steps to do anything about it. There is a Bonair Evaporative Cooler in her house which acts as a pot plant stand so I assumed it was broken. I asked her about it. Apparently we get a nice breeze (yeah, like a fan forced oven) and the cooler just blows the breeze out the window. How do you even respond to that? She does my head in. I do all her grocery shopping but I am always in trouble. The apples were hideous. Don't buy Woolies mince (the birds don't like it), there are too many almonds in home brand mixed nuts and so it goes. I sometimes wonder if she actually gets I'm doing her a huge favour. But deep down I know she is incredibly grateful even if her way of showing it is somewhat unconventional. I also know that without the help she gets from me and the other neighbours she would be in a nursing home and it would kill her. Feeding the birds, watching the street, receiving visits from my dogs are her life. I won't let a few ruffled feathers stop me from doing the right thing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February 7. Day 38. Eye, Eye, Eye

Buying new glasses is insanely difficult. For starters you need to remove your glasses to try on glasses which makes actually seeing your purchase a trifle difficult. Plus you have the problem of choosing an accessory that will go with everything you wear every day - and night - for about two years. That's a big ask especially as I am a person who changes accessories more often than I change undies (note. This is not a confession about poor personal hygiene. It's a confession about obsessive over accessorizing). But when you reach a stage that you can see without your glasses off better than with them on and not in a good way, you know it's time. Unfortunately if there's one thing I'm better at than changing accessories, it's looking at the rack of glasses and being drawn to the really, really expensive ones. Fortunately I can't read the price tag which makes it okay, right? So this time I went for  little understated model - that pair at the top. They are apparently a limited edition by Australian designer Jono Hennessy. Perhaps that's because only a person with limited vision would choose them. They are a statement piece, that's for sure. Exactly what that statement is, I can't say. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see...

Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6. Day 36. Life saver

I hadn't even walked into this morning's CPR training when I thought I might need first aid. My phone rang with my neighbour announcing both my dogs had escaped and they were heading around the block. Anyone who knows me knows my dogs are family. When your family is under threat, so are you. I started to head home knowing that by the time I got there they would probably have been recaptured or run over. Fortunately it was option one. I was back in the training room before the course kicked off. I suspect the trainer looked at me and began eyeing off the defibrillator in case I needed it. Less than four hours later I was out of the training room with my CPR training certificate successfully renewed. I always find CPR provides scares and comfort in equal measure. It's comforting to know you could help. It's terrifying when you hold an infant mannequin in your arms and imagine having to deal with a limp baby in real life. And then I was home my lips raw, swollen and bruised. Great CPR could kill me due to a previously unrecognised latex allergy. My mother always warned me about kissing dummies. Seems she was right.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 5. Day 36. Let me let you in on a secret

Don't you just hate that person who can not resist spoiling a movie, TV show or book by telling you the ending? Isn't the joy in watching the plot unfold and then the surprise when the killer punch is delivered in the end? Well that's the theory. Yet the in the prologue of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare tells us "A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life". Now there's the ultimate spoiler and no-one is going to accuse The Bard of being a crap writer. Willy Russell's Blood Brothers does much the same thing. "Never knowing that they shared one name, Till the day they died, when a mother cried My own dear sons lie slain."
Perhaps the two Wills (Shakespeare and Russell) were actually journalists. We're trained to start with punchline. It could be helpful to the audience. At least you know to stock up on tissues at intermission if your handbag is lacking.
I was forewarned. The tissue box was handed over with my tickets to the preview of Beenleigh Theatre Group's production of Blood Brothers tonight. While this is probably required under occupational health and safety regulations, I have seen Blood Brothers before so I knew what I was letting myself in for. At least I thought I did. I remembered how it ended but I forgot how emotional the ride was getting there. I was also genuinely taken aback by just how good this production was for a smallish community theatre group. Blood Brothers is not exactly original in concept. Tales of twins separated at birth with one raised in rags and one in riches are not exactly new. But there's more than a nature/nurture debate going on here. It is also a commentary on the desperation of socially disadvantaged youth, here in Thatcher's England. It's this desperation that leads to people take extreme and often stupid choices. Why is this all sounding so familiar right now? There may be some resonance but it is still no easy thing to have the same actors play themselves at seven, seventeen and 27 or there abouts. This cast did it with conviction. And there were some amazing voices. But don't expect to leave the theatre with a song in your head. You are more likely to feel like there's a dagger in your heart and a soggy tissue in your hand. Don't say you weren't warned. Blood Brothers by Beenleigh Theatre Group opens at the Crete Street Theatre on Friday and runs until February 15.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

February 4. Day 35. Sign of the times

Given that my son is 19 it has been some years since I have seen a Wiggle live on concert. But still I retain a huge degree of affection for the entertainers in skivvies. So when invited by my little friend Molly to see Lachy and Emma Wiggle in the Logan Entertainment Centre I was there. Toto, we ain't in Kansas any more. I mean, I knew only one of the original four remains and I knew there was a Female Wiggle but this was a whole new ball game. Apart from generic children's songs such as Twinkle, Twinkle I recognised just one tune. Thank goodness I can still punch out all the moves to Rock-a-bye-your bear.  But there were other changes too. An Auslan interpreter signed the whole show and Emma Wiggle signed both her name and the Alphabet. This is good. Every child deserves to enjoy The Wiggles. And just to make an old generation Wiggles fan feel right at home, the Blue Wiggle put in a guest appearance in the band. Anthony retains a special Wiggily place in my heart. The line-up may have changed but the joy on the children's faces and the huge range of merchandise remains. 
Later in the day, yet more evidence that the times they are a changin'.
Drama Teen and I joined Spencer and Nikki Howson at the launch of House Conspiracy in West End. This community arts space is in a classic old cottage that is sandwiched between the units and shops in Mollison Street in West End. The building the developers forgot has now found a new life and today a party marked the new beginning. The festivities included a welcome to country, a didgeridoo performance and a smoking ceremony. But wait. That didgeridoo is made from PVC and has key markings on it. Turns out it's a Didjeribone, an instrument that allows an ancient art to meet contemporary music. And were sticks rubbed together to get the fire started for the smoking ceremony? No they were not. Look closely. That's a Bic lighter. The smoke and the lemon myrtle leaves may be needed for good luck. How that comes about is less crucial.
In any event good will and the blessings of an enthusiastic crowd as well as the smoke filled the air and the building. Long may the sweet smell of success follow this building in its new life.