I think it will be difficult for me to describe how very, very much I have been enjoying the ahem sights and sounds of Botborg. This is an Austrian duo who create live improvised audio-visual performances using a ‘feedback web’ of audio and video mixers, screens and camera. Utterly eye-shredding and absolutely and completely gorgeous. Go to their website and watch, it is the thing you have to do.

image from a Botborg performance in Auckland, New Zealand, December 2005

My other related addiction is the work of ‘erikM‘.

image from ErikM‘s Les Goudes Song’s, an installation from 1997 (ingredients: stone, loud-speakers, motion-sensor + sequential recording of life in the neighbourhood)

Who knows who erikM is, or how he feels about the world, or what his artistic philosophy he is, or if he is in fact a he. I haven’t read any of the text on his website (or even browsed deeply enough to be sure there is any text), but I have been religiously watching every single one of his animations. After the first 60 seconds of corner (2007) I was weirdly entranced. If a glitch plague creeps out from the machinery and on to the streets, it’s going to look like this, I swear.

Much of what I’ve done in the last 14 months has been the direct result of my 2006 residency with Tanghalang Pilipino in the Philippines. My writing, theatre-making and general practices have all improved thanks to working with directors such as Issa Lopez, Tess Jamias and Herbie Go, and writers like Rogelio Bragas.

Alongside Tanghalang, one major source of inspiration was the work of Anino Shadowplay, a collective of multi-media artists who use a variety of lo and hi-tech techniques to create amazing shadowplay performances. Anino recently appeared in Australia to collaborate with playwright (and one of my mentors) Paschal Berry on The Folding Wife for Urban Theatre Projects.

Bakunawa, from Anino Shadowplay‘s website

I was totally floored by Anino‘s process and results, and since my return I’ve managed to wrangle myself an overhead projector to start recreating some of their simpler devices. The result was the visual animation side of fight fire with knives, which was well-received but doesn’t scratch the surface of what I saw Anino create.

my low-end version of Anino‘s work – an overhead projector, a container of water, some drops of food colouring and a slow squeeze of dishwashing detergent…

Anyway, the reason I bring this up now is that I recently stumbled on the webpage of Anino member Don Salubayba, and I have to point out that he is a phenomenal artist. Check out his online gallery for the rich, gluttonous colourimagemeaningsymboldrip… does my heart good.

image by Don Salubayba

An entrance is a hard thing to fuck up. Your first entrance as an arch-villain is an opportunity for total grandstanding and excitement – provided the story has built you up enough, you can do virtually nothing and still command a reader’s/audience’s attention*. Still, there are degrees of success. The best ever entrance of an arch-villain (I was going to say one of the best, but then I realised that I am an idiot and this is of course the best) is hands-down the work of Roald Dahl in The Witches.

Setting – a hotel function room, packed with about 1,000 well-dressed, middle-to-upper class British women, and one ten year old boy hidden behind a fabric screen. An elegant young woman walks on to the stage in a long black ballgown. She calmly takes off her face to reveals a writhing festering corpse-face underneath.

image by Quentin Blake from roalddahlfans.com

Then these immortal opening lines:

‘The doors – are they chained and bolted?

You may remove your gloves! You may remove your shoes! You may remove your wigs! Remove your wigs and get some fresh air into your spotty scalps!

Witches of England! Witches of England! Miserable witches! Useless lazy witches! Feeble fribbling witches! You are a heap of idle good for nothing worms!

I am having my breakfast this morning and I am looking out the window at the beach, and what am I seeing? I am asking you, what am I seeing? I am seeing a repulsive sight! I am seeing hundreds, I am seeing thousands of rotten repulsive little children playing on the sand! it is putting me right off my food! Why have you not got rid of them? Why have you not rubbed them all out, these filthy smelly children? I am asking you: why?

Children smell! They stink out the world! One child a week is no good to me! Is that the best you can do? I demand maximum results! So here are my orders! My orders are that every single child in this country shall be rubbed out, squashed, squirted, squittered and frittered out before I come here again in one year’s time! Do I make myself clear?’

(For the record, she follows up by using her laser-eyesight on a heckling woman in the third row and fries her to death in the middle of the crowd before explaining her plan to poison every child in Britain.)

It came about this week that I have been invited to perform at this evening’s Best of the Slams poetry night at the Front Café, whereby the winners of previous slams are invited back to do a longer set. I am the first act of the evening, so I’m going to perform a mix of pieces I’m calling sickness in the dark. It’s mostly very mellow stuff, built around one of my favourite stretches of J.R.R. Tolkein, namely Chapter 6 of The Hobbit; Riddles in the Dark (Bilbo Baggins and Gollum in a life and death riddle competition in a cave under a mountain), so I’m going to open with the Grand High Witch salvo quoted above and then cool it down. I especially want to finish with a short piece by Lew Welch entitle I saw myself. Welch were an American poet from the 50s and 60s in the outer satellites of the Beat Generation, and he wrote these few lines at the end of a ‘wine drunk’, a few days before a nervous breakdown.

I saw myself
a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it

and vowed
always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through

and then heard
“ring of bone” where
ring is what a

bell does

image by R. Grafkin

The Slam is on this Friday 16th November at the Front Café from 7:30pm, featuring Jules Fleetwood, Megan Munro, Seung Baek and Hal Judge, with Rafe Morris & Margaret Helen King providing kindly sounds. Also, word on the street is that the next TurboSlam is taking place on the 30th November, and I’m hoping like hell to scam a spot to perform God is a renegade again.

so according to a recent batch of mail, oceans all boiled into sky has been HIGHLY COMMENDED in the St Martins Youth Arts Centre Emerging Playwrights’ Competition. This is resoundingly good news (although I am embarrassed to confess I don’t know what the word ‘commended’ means), and it have made me chirpy. As ridiculous as it is, I actually kind of enjoy the script-what-used-to-be-car-play. There’s way too much going on and I never got a handle on any of it really, but it doesn’t get too stale (except for the last 6-10 pages – holy shit that’s some dross in need of cutting).

That puts Oceans‘ list of achievements well above any other script I’ve ever writted. To list:

  • funded in the 2005 Arts ACT project funding round to be written and professionally developed (with the aid of dramaturg Paschal Berry and director barb barnett)
  • one of 20 scripts worldwide accepted into the inaugural Interplay Online Festival (2006)
  • nominated for the national Max Afford Playwrights’ Award (2006) (according to one of the judges, it be a ‘sharp and witty comedy with Orwellian overtones‘)
  • now Highly Commended by the St Martins Emerging Playwrights Comp judges (2007)

The only way to respond is to actually post some of it online. I don’t really want to be responsible for transcribing and debugging the whole 53 page monstrosity on to the intertrons (but if you fancy a copy I’m happy to email it to you), but I do want to post a short snippet which in fact never made it into the final draft. Any of the final drafts. This is one of those moments where I got way too carried away with the setting…

image by frosty

tiny rivulets of water trickle out through the fog.
slow sounds of water

in the background a low scream
feedback rising gradually out of the dust in the air.

brown shapes moving in the clouds
the sun huge and dim and red
a terrifying disk of dull pulsing fire spread out across the sky

malkin: we are so many years into the future that thousands of years have no meaning.
we have travelled hundreds of thousands of years forward
then millions of years forward
then tens of millions
then billions of years. we are billions of years in the future

honest: but we aren’t still here we don’t still now want to be this isn’t our or any kind of human’s place!

malkin: I want to be here. I want to do more, explore more, see more of this hostile place and I want to keep breathing and keep absorbing the poison in the air and the poison in the noises but I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die
I want to find living creatures here and fight them.
I want to find living creatures here and fight them all the time.

through the dust and fog and the brown soiled light stumbles an old and wretched car. it is a box-shaped van and it is clattering and choking over the rocks and the ferns.

there is a grizzly assortment of sounds coming out of the van’s weak and tinny speaker. there is a soft and muddy fuzz and then if you strain your ears

the remains of an old song playing in the background.

So, constructing a mix cd. There is an art to it, it’s been often discussed, and most particularly when you need to make a mix cd for a particular purpose. So I constructed for Hadley a cd of music to hit animals to.

This is the music you want to be hearing when you’re smashing wildlife off the road late at night! And you’d better believe that this is what an animal wants to be hearing while a pair of headlights are raining down on top of it! Featuring artists such as Gomez, Four Tet, Jaga Jazzist, The Clash, Kid 606 and Tom Waits – this is what YOU ought to have on your stereo when you next go out driving at night! Here’s a sample:

And Liar hops out on to the road.
She starts to bound away from the headlights,

keeps carefully in the same lane as the approaching car,
the headlights growing massive behind her
and Liar turns around
faces the car full on


The rest is located here.