Presented by Australian Institute of Comedy In association with the Alex Theatre
Open Media team had the opportunity to film and photograph renowned comedic archeologist Professor Beverly Attenborough outside an actual dig site, situated in the bowels of the Espy Hotel in St Kilda.
Extraordinarily well-preserved fossils have been excavated and will be on show at the Alex Theatre 1/135 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda on the 29th February 2020 at 7pm.
Melbourne’s beloved all rounder Brian Nankervis will host this comedic event, the rarest in Australian history.
Other legendary comics include Flacco, Raymond J Bartholomeuz, Ethel Chop, Con Marasco, Elliot Goblet, Elle McFeast, Slim Whittle, Pate Biscuit, Bev Killick and special guest Professor Beverly Attenborough.
“Love is a many splendored thing, until it’s not… in which case it just plain sucks. Whether we fall out of love, experience unrequited love, or lose the love of our life, heartbreak is a pretty universal feeling for most people. I personally love a little heartache, but I do believe that there’s something to be said for what a little heart-wrenching despair can do for the creative mind. I’m not alone in this sentiment. Whether reeling from the discovery of an unfaithful husband, like Frida Kahlo, or capturing the death of a beloved wife on canvas, like Claude Monet, many artists have experienced their greatest artworks after love has been lost.”
This quote made me reflect on an interview I did with artist Robert Scholten (aka Robobop) in front of a live audience at Chapel Off Chapel back in 2014. Scholten had his artwork projected on a large screen and spoke eloquently about his relationship between his art and his marriage breakdown. It was certainly a memorable interview. The packed audience were entranced, moved by Scholten’s tender and creative voice. Audiences talked about the interview for weeks later.
I first met Scholten fleetingly at “Collective Momentum” exhibition at the Carlisle Street ArtSpace in St. Kilda. The first thing that I noticed was this huge smile, white teeth like something out of a toothpaste ad and this shock of black spiky hair. He was surrounded by a crowd of women all vying for his attention, which I am sure thrilled him. Some where along the way we became good friends working on a few projects together – some successful and some not successful.
I was most curious about this prolific artist’s life and career, so I asked:
What did you do before you became an artist?
I’m not sure there was ever a “before,” but here goes. Growing up, I was always known as the shy kid in the corner who’s good at drawing. My job was to fill the other boys school organisers with drawings of sexy women to get them through maths class. After high school, I did a year of biotechnology but was deeply unhappy – and totally obsessed with making art and devouring every art book in the library! With the encouragement of my worldly interior design student and girlfriend at the time, I left to study art and become a real artist. After declaring my ambition to the world, arguing with my family and friends, I was rejected from every art school. It really sucked. So I found myself studying Information Systems instead, which led to technology being a big part of my practice. After that, I decided to go and live in Japan. I was lucky enough to paint theatre backdrops and murals there. Japan really opened my eyes to art, in the sense that I felt art can be everywhere, not just in galleries. I returned to Melbourne, studied graphic design and worked in that field for a while. After a tough period where my marriage broke up and I lost my job, I found myself doing art full time ever since. However, I always felt I was an artist, it’s more like, so it’s hard to say “before”, as I always created art, rented studios.
How did you become an artist?
I like to joke that I’ve tried everything I could to not be an artist. In the end, I just gave up and accepted my fate. There’s an element of truth there. One of the earliest times where I really felt connection as an artist, it was on Hirado, a small Japanese island near Nagasaki. All I had was a sketchbook, markers, ink and cheap book of Van Gogh drawings. For weeks I wandered around the island drawing.
Why do you do the work that you do?
I don’t know how to answer this question. There is no real why, just do. It feels right and it feels good so I do it. I suspect if you’d ask a child the same question, they’d have the same answer. Maybe I remained a child in that sense. If anything, my goal is to be as authentic as possible – this also means knowing and accepting yourself, which is a lifelong journey.
Which people or what inspires you to work in the arts?Your work seems to span all kinds of mediums – film, painting, installation, can you tell us about these different mediums and why you chose to do this?
Art is something I just really love doing. Even the boring parts. From this passion comes a desire to create, improve and learn. So I look a lot. Inspiration is hard to pinpoint as it comes from so many different sources, changing on a regular basis. I love art history, from all across the world and across time. I like organic surfaces with a feeling of time ravaging it. I like nature. I guess the short answer is anything could be inspiring at any given time. Growing up, I didn’t come from an artistic family so a lot of my art exposure came from pop culture and self study in libraries. I met some artists growing up, which provided inspiration and guidance. My friend asked me the other day why I do many different mediums and I joked that I’m a hustler! In the sense that to make money and survive as an artist, I do many different types of jobs. But the flip side of that is that I enjoy the challenge of working in different media. It’s just fun. It keeps you fresh, as I think it’s dangerous to be too comfortable – you risk repetition. Also, today’s world makes it easier for artists to cross between different mediums as there are less barriers – better tech, cheaper equipment and accessible knowledge.
You have suffered a number of personal setbacks. Do you think these are explored subconsciously in your work?
I feel like all our experiences shape us, and as an artist these will definitely come through. Uninvited or not and especially subconsciously. Our individuality will always come through including sadness and despair. But overall I’ve been quite lucky. My setbacks are relatively minor to other people I know and I’ve been able to turn them around into positives. If anything, they’ve made me stronger and gave me greater persistence!
What do you think have been some of the negatives and positives in your work do you think?
My philosophy has always been to keep working. I can look back and connect the dots later. The best thing I can do in my work is to be as honest as possible, which is quite hard to do! Positives and negatives are momentary perceptions, subject to change. Especially from my brain. Some of the things in my work that I hated before, I love now for the reason that I hated them!
What’s been your favourite achievements up to this point?
I don’t really have massive achievements but I’ve been fortunate to work with different communities of people and have a positive impact on them. I’m grateful to do art everyday and I always try to improve. I just take it day by day, though it’s nice to look back at various projects.
What are you currently working on?
I have a few different projects on at the moment – Murals (one involves a peacock, one involved Poseidon, and another involves a girl drinking coffee, Spice Girls magazine illustration, Children’s book illustration, painting and decorating a Dr Seuss city with a primary school, paintings for an upcoming exhibition, corporate art workshop, Illustrations for a printer company, planning some etching prints for an upcoming residency in Chiang Mai and short animation and some short film docos.
If you couldn’t do this anymore, what career path do you think you would have followed Robert?
I don’t know the exact career but I feel like I would like to do something that has a positive effect with people and culture, like helping with poorer communities for needs like education. Or in a completely different direction, maybe a detective, because I like solving puzzles and thinking about peoples’ personal stories and motivations. I would also rather work for myself.
Tell us a funny story or joke that involves your work or life.
One time I had a coffee meeting with a guy I once did a job for. He wanted to discuss a new project. I went to the cafe and sat down with him. He seemed a bit grumpy that day, so I tried to make small talk. He didn’t talk much, so I ordered a coffee and played a bit with his dog and waited for him to finish his breakfast. After 40, 45 minutes, it got awkward – it was supposed to be a work meeting, after all. So I decided to push the subject of the work, and he gave me a blank look. Didn’t know what I was talking about. That’s when I realised. I was supposed to be in the cafe two doors down! I quickly apologised, paid for my coffee and exited with a red face.
The ghost of Dick Gross (played by Dick Gross, Mayor, City of Port Phillip) shares the stage with actor Alec Gilbert who actually plays Dick Gross. Both Dick Grosses engage in a robust conversation about his life in public office, his fears of past failures, frustrations, love of family and his hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future.
Beachside Stories is described as a series of duologues by Clare Mendes, Producer and Company Manager of Melbourne Writers Theatre; commissioned by Gasworks to create, write and produce this highly entertaining window into the lives, loves, successes and vulnerabilities of five extra ordinary local community Stars.
Rev. Coralie Ling joins the stage with her much younger resonation in Emma Cox. We learn about Coralie’s relentless and successful battles with the establishment regarding her ambitions in becoming the first women to be ordained as a minister in the Methodist Church in 1969.
We find out about the struggles that community activist Peter Logan has endured since 1996 with regards to Save Albert Park group along with proven deceptions by the Grand Prix and government officials.
15-year-old Albert Park College student Melisand Box (right) totally embraces the opportunity to show us just how talented, ambitious and naturally confident she is in her role as a conniving savant surgeon who operates on American actress, and her personal idol, Ann Hathaway played by Karissa Taylor.
Last but definitely not least was the touching story of Tony Manago played by Sarah Hamilton & Tony Adams. Known as the ‘ The Singing Butcher’ of South Melbourne Market. Tony’s life took an amazing turn at age 38 when he was approached by an Italian maestro whilst, singing at the market, to eventually become a professional Opera singer touring Rome and Sicily.
The grand finale sees the real Tony Manago singing an Italian Opera, Pavarotti style.
Elizabeth Walley, Resident Director at Melbourne Writers Theatre directed this collaboration which features plays written by five MWT writers who first interviewed and then wrote scripts for the Local Stars: Bruce Shearer for ‘Only Ghosts Can Second-Guess’ (Uncovering Dick Gross); Clare Mendes ‘Rhapsody in Purple’ (Pondering Coralie Ling); Alison Knight ‘Logan’s Run’ (Reliving Peter Logan); Brooke Fairley ‘The True Imaginings of Melisand Box’ (Exploring Melisand Box); and Adele Shelley ‘The Singing Butcher’ (Celebrating Tony Manago).
Beachside Stories is a heartwarming and entertaining showcase about real community activists; their loves, ambitions, desires, insecurities and courage.
Not only did I get the opportunity to experience Arj Barker’s ‘We Need To Talk’ show live at the beautiful Athenaeum Theatre on his Opening Night. I also get the honour of writing this review. Wow I say. This was the very first time in my life that I got to enjoy the very talented Mr Arj Barker.
One of our other very talented writers, who specifically requested to review Arj Barker because Arj, is his favourite comedian in the whole world, happened to arrive just after half time, due to unforeseen and extreme circumstances.
Opening night can often be a pain for not only the international artists, who could presumably be suffering a little jet lag; but when the show starts at 7pm, in Melbourne, on a Friday night, it can be a real challenge for the audience to not only arrive on time but also relax into it.
I’m pretty sure Arj, a stalwart professional and a working Comedian since he left school in 1989 picked up on these challenging set of circumstances.
Regardless, he did not miss a beat with his delivery of detailed comedic story telling in unison with animated body language. I’m telling you, it was a hard arsed Melbourne audience full of fans that wanted blood, his blood and by god he delivered.
My job was to capture the images. The man moved so consistently fast it was pretty hard to get the clarity that I so much want in a pic. Yet they say a picture says a thousand words so feel free to read the longer version of this review. The best picture of Arj Barler was taken by Arj, after the show, at his merchandise table, in the back alley on my iPhone, which for some reason decided to incorporate a 10 second delay. So, by that stage I looked like an embarrassed, recoiling version of myself. He was very patient and generous and even thanked me for giving him my business card…
Tickets: Adults $36.85, Concession $34.40. Artist Passes welcome
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019 has tapped into our Australian larakin laughter mechanism once again, by that I am referring to Australian’s ability to laugh at themselves.
And for those of you who love a little theatre with their laughs then look no further, as the production of UgLeigh at The Alex Theatre (Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda) is sure to shock and entertain you.
UgLeigh is a humorous and confronting look at the added pressures we all contend with in current life; brought about by the seemingly never ending technology allowing us to change ourselves physically to suit the fashion of the day, to be enhanced, and more appealing to ourselves, and our perception of what other’s may want to see in us – at least on the outside.
UgLeigh sets a good pace from the outset and, for the most part, continues this throughout the production with laughter attained within the first few lines.
The ensemble cast deliver Charlotte Watson and Shamita Sivabalan collaborative work ‘UgLeigh’; not only did these two capable women write UgLeigh, they also produced and directed its’ production.
The lead actor, Maia Absberg’s portrayal of the ugly duckling ‘Leigh’ was passionate; humorous; confronting; and believable, right down to genuine tears, snot, and dribble. And Ben Lindsay, Nikki Nespeca, and Andrew Burns all delivered hilariously and animated characters husband, boss and surgeon of Beauty respectively.
This multimedia production of clever design, wit and craft is minimalist and punchy and performed to a Full-House at The Alex Theatre last night, which was the opening night for UgLeigh.
I recommend you get in quickly for this production as there are only four nights left of it’s run ( Thu. 11th April through to Sun. 14th April ) at The Alex Theatre, St. Kilda, where this production takes bold strides on the intimate stage at 8:00pm .
UgLeigh is akin to ‘Selfies and Botox meets The Rocky Horror Show’…
The Alex Theatre, 135 Fitroy Street, St. Kilda is easily accessed by the Light Rail and Trams, with ample parking at the primary school car park and surrounds.
Think Attenborough, think Truman, think science lab, peep show, theatre, movie studio. Constructed in the studio space of the Alex Theatre, spectators follow a labyrinthine passageway past enclosed artist spaces where, through peepholes, they can anonymously observe artists engaged in a studio environment. Showcasing highly specialist art forms, chosen St. Kilda Artists will offer a rare and intimate view into their sacred creative space. A painter, performance artist, a letterpress printmaker, sculptor, an installation artist, a photographer, a ceramicist. The darkened labyrinth passageway will be covered but the studios not. The spectacle will be documented using multimedia from every conceivable angle.
GAS(Grid Art Space) is the dynamic collaboration of St Kilda based artist in residence, master printmaker and sculptor Adrian Spurr and media producer / publicist Kerrie Pacholli.
GAS champions artistic achievement that enriches the St Kilda community and welcomes the creative endeavours of film makers, visual artist, performing artists and art enthusiasts across the City of Port Phillip.
Over the last year GAS has successfully produced, curated and promoted several dynamic pop up art galleries showcasing the works of 18 St Kilda artists as part of the St Kilda Art Crawl incentive hosted by the St Kilda Arts Community Inc.
We are now bidding for your voting support for our next collaborative project ART LABYRINTH to be held at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda in January 2019 as part of the Pick My Project, a Victorian first community grants initiative.
Pick My Project is a Victorian-first community grants initiative, with at least $1 million in funding available in each metro and regional area.
Now It’s time to vote! Pick your three favourite project ideas in your local community and help make them a reality.
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