Sunday, October 22, 2006

7 Days in a Sentra

Conceptul artist Marc Horowitz, who shot to fame doing his National Dinner Tour of America, is now featured in a new marketing campaign by Nissan in the US. Aiming to appeal to 20 and 30 somethings who, supposedly, use their cars as second homes, Horowitz has spent seven days living in his Nissan Sentra. In addition, he set himself the following rules. He,
  • Must live 7 straight days out of the Sentra. I am free to come and go from the Sentra.
  • Must not return to his apartment at any point during the 7 days.
  • Must assume his normal day-to-day responsibilities, including work and scheduled meetings.
  • Must personally prepare at least 4 meals within the immediate vicinity of the Sentra.
  • Must go on at least one date. Hopefully more.
  • Must not let anyone else drive his car during the 7 days.
  • Must sleep in a different location each night. Once the location is chosen he must not move.
  • Must not set foot outside of the car for any reason from 12am 5am.
  • Must host at least one social function in the Sentra.
  • Must maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene.
View the resulting short film and Nissan advertisements here.

View his blog here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a Difference a Few Words Make

The 2007 Company B Belvoir Subscription booklet arrived in the mail this week. There's a particularly interesting range of offerings available next year including Howard Brenton's Paul which supposedly "provoked an evangelical backlash" in London last year. Oh those beastly evangelicals ...

What interested me most, however, in this year's booklet is the way Company B has subtly changed the way it represents itself. Over the years Company B has used its advertising - printed words and carefully arranged images - to forcefully tell its own story and articulate a very particular definition of what makes good theatre. Indeed, in an attempt to account for its success and dominant position within the field of Australian theatre, and to maintain that position, Company B has continually represented itself as a company that benefits from a unique origin. That origin is the communal action that resulted in the purchase of the Belvoir Street building in the mid 1980's, thus saving it from demolition:

The originality and energy of Company B productions arose out of the
unique action taken to save the Nimrod Theatre building from demolition
in 1984. Rather than lose a performance space in inner city Sydney, more
than 600 arts, entertainment and media professionals formed a syndicate to
buy the building. The syndicate included nearly every successful person in
Australian show business.

[From the 2003 Company B Subscription Booklet]

This short statement has appeared in numerous Company B publications. Subscription booklets, production programmes and media releases have almost always included this statement as the opening paragraph for any public account of what Company B is and does. Indeed, the action to purchase the building has received more upfront attention than the artistic priorities that the founders of Company B originally articulated. Instead, the artistic success, and the ‘originality and energy’ of Company B, have been represented as coming from a direct community action that involved Australian show business people who were already successful in their own right. In this way, by explicitly locating its origins in the community action to purchase the Belvoir Street building, Company B has sought to position itself as the inheritor of the artistic legacy of the 'New Wave' of the 1970's.

This year, in the wake of the Belvoir Street building's renovation, the wording has changed. Company B's discourse of origin has shifted from one where it "arose out of the unique action" to one where it "sprang into being out of the unique action". 'Sprang into being' is a particularly strong phrase! The rhetoric has been ramped up, hinting perhaps that Company B leapt, fully formed, into the field of theatre to take up its rightful place. Now, too, the building's two stages are described as "artistic watering holes", a particularly resonant metaphor in a land parched by meterological (and artistic) drought. A 'watering hole' is also a distinctly Australian form of oasis too, and importantly, a naturally occurring feature of the landscape.

Given that the Sydney Theatre Company has received a boost to its status through its full-time acting ensemble 'The Actor's Company', it seems to me that Company B is now re-asserting its position in the field of Sydney theatre. Company B is representing itself as a part of the theatrical landscape. It is energetic and inevitable. It offers theatrical performance that is inspired and fed by an architectural edifice once saved via a mythically unique community action and now rejuvinated through renovation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Famous Filmers to the Fore ...

Never being one overly beset by retiscence may I proudly introduce to you my (in)famous ancestor Sir Robert Filmer of Kent (b. 1588, d. 1653)!

No doubt a thoroughly charming man ... he unfortunately is usually only remembered for his rather preposterous belief that the English monarchy had a divine right to rule, handed down to them by God, via Adam and the patriarchs of the Old Testament. See Sir Bob's delightful Patriarcha for details! In his defence, Sir Bob did point out that others who saw political power as contractual were inconsistent in their practices by, on the one hand proclaiming that all were free and equal, and yet still claiming that they had supremacy over their wives and children. You could also argue that he inspired John Locke in his thinking (as in, Locke thought that Sir Bob was such a twit he simply had to write something in response).

Sir Robert Filmer ... now there's a legacy!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

T.S. Eliot

I've been reading (and tutoring on) Murder in the Cathedral this week, a text I haven't given sufficient attention to in the past. Pending a further post, here's a section from the Chorus' final speech that caught my attention:

Forgive us, O Lord, we acknowledge ourselves as type of
the common man,
Of the men and women who shut the door and sit by the fire;
Who fear the blessing of God, the loneliness of the night of
God, the surrender required, the deprivation inflicted;
Who fear the injustice of men less than the justice of God;
Who fear the hand at the window, the fire in the thatch, the
fist in the tavern, the push into the canal,
Less than we fear the love of God.

Chorus, from Murder in the Cathedral, lines 637 - 645

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wayward & Absconding

This week I've been reflecting back on the end of a project in the Southern Highlands of NSW called Wayward & Absconding. The project was a partnership between PACT Youth Theatre in Sydney and the Wingecarribee Shire Council and involved the five members of the performance collective falling32 (of which I'm a part) working with young people from the Wingecarribee Shire (the Mittagong/Bowral/Moss Vale area) over ten Saturdays to create a public performance.

Only seven participants from the area committed to the whole process and so, having expected a larger turn out, we were initially disappointed. But, the privilege of working with a small and enthusiastic group soon overcame that. As facilitators we offered a process of making performance based on games, together with physical and textual improvisation. Thematically we worked with contemporary and historical experiences of being a young person in the area. There was naturally a degree of negotiation involved in the process as we attempted to explain and demonstrate the value of our approach to making performance, but the participants increasingly engaged with us and the material with eagerness, enthusiasm and generosity.

A few observations from this process have remained with me: Firstly, I've learnt that where performance is involved (and you could extend this into other spheres too) people's first and relatively spontaneous reactions to stimuli and situations are often the most engaging, interesting and honest. Given the opportunity to premeditate their actions, the desire to fit in and produce a socially appropriate (ie: funny/insightful) response seemed to lead to predictability and cliche. Given that we were working with teenaged participants, this was an issue. Much of the process involved stripping back the offers the participants made, asking them to do less and to commit to the actions and tasks that each exercise demanded rather than to worry about performing.

Secondly, the practical experience of being involved in 'youth theatre' has also convinced me of its value. Allowing the participants to express and articulate their concerns within the context of the work gave them such a sense of agency. Teaching them performance skills and encouraging them in their efforts led to a growth of confidence amongs many of the individuals. As a group they developed a real solidarity and a pride in what they were putting together. I could also see the benefit to the participants of having people a few years older than they take time to provide them with skills, attention and encouragement.

The final performance took place outdoors on Sunday evening. 70 people attended and the performers guided them through a plaza outside the Bowral Library, negotiating the hedges, trees, broad steps and narrow passageways of the site.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Blackstump Comedy Debate

Yes, well some photos of me have surfaced on the net ... perhaps I should have attempted a pre-emptive post explaining the third one ...

As I noted in an earlier post, I spoke as part of the Blackstump Comedy Debate over the October long weekend. The topic was 'That Celebrities Make Great Role Models'. I was 1st speaker for the negative, with Andrew Palmer as 2nd speaker and James Scott as 3rd speaker and team captain. We might have lost the debate, but I got enough laughs and the opportunity to strip down a bit onstage (in a Janet Jackson-esque 'wardrobe malfunction'), so that made up for the loss.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Andrew Beeston

A line from Memento (a gentle film accurately depicting the experience of doing a PhD - do watch it if considering a postgraduate degree by research) will suffice to describe this man:

"... do not believe his lies ..."

I do not endorse his derivative blog in any way, shape or form!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Habitual Prefaces ...

I habitually preface my statements with:

"At least ..."

Anth habitually prefaces her statements with:

"The thing is ..."

Do you have any habitual prefaces?