Crack 2010 program launched


Crack 2009. Image by Talsit.

Crack is a national festival and forum for independent and emerging performing artists, taking place annually as a part of This Is Not Art in Newcastle. Gillian Schwab, Ben Packer and I co-direct the festival, with the support of our extraordinary tech coordinator Anthony Arblaster and a raft of radical volunteers.

Crack has grown a lot in its brief lifetime. After breaking into the This Is Not Art scene in 2007 as a series of interventions designed to interrupt the National Young Writers Festival, Crack sprouted arms, legs and teeth. In 2009 the NYWF kicked it out of the nest to become its own independent festival under the direction of Gillian and myself.

This year, the festival is finding hair growing in funny places and feeling emotions it’s never felt before. Assailed by strange urges and desires, feeling like a freak in the company of its fellow festivals and too awkward to talk to the opposite sex, it seems as if no-one understands what Crack is going through. There’s only one way to express these feelings: anti-social behaviour. So no-one knows what it’s like being an emerging / experimental Australian theatre artist at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century: well, we’ll show them. We’ll show them all.

Queer DIY-theatre duo Sisters Grimm premiere their new show The Rimming Club as part of Crack 2010

Over four days (Thursday 30 September – Sunday 3 October) from its base in Newcastle’s old Masonic Lodge, Crack will unleash a blistering program of performances, gigs, panels, forums, workshops and interventions by an array of Australia’s most creative and accomplished theatre artists, including Sisters Grimm, The Last Tuesday Society, Shh, and The Masters of Space and Time.

This year’s festival concludes on Sunday 3rd with our very own Year 12 Formal, a free-for-all participatory performance in which audience becomes performer, performer becomes audience and the hormones flow as freely as spiked punch. Curated by famed deviant Hadley and featuring light, sound, music and chaos by the Spill Collective, Svelt, Dead DJ Joke and YOU. Don’t hold back: turn a nightmare into a night out!

Check out the full schedule of events on the Program page, or have a butcher’s at this year’s lineup on the Artists page. Do it all, do it right now!

Shh‘s Genty-inspired physical theatre / puppetry performance Blind, As You See It features as part of Crack 2010

rich, gluey veins of blindsound

Thanks to the pleasures of Increased Storage Space (thanks to Mick Bailey, aka The Man Who Hates Fun), I have recently done a sweeping clean-out and update of the blind sounds section of this website, dividing it into some more coherent categories and planting a swathe more music up online for your listening power.

First and foremost, the Finnigan and Brother page now features more than twenty tracks for you to download, from the epic 2008 radio/guitar jam Not Face to our recent live set on Sydney’s FBI Radio. As well as audio, you can view footage of the lo-fi psychedelic light and sound jams from our 2009 EP Golden Globe.

I have also uploaded a battery of my solo audio work, including a selection of pieces created with the FM/AM radio, and four extended mixes of spoken-word/music.

For those that prefer the music in their life Sauropod-flavoured, the Dinosaur Concept Album can now be downloaded in its entirety. This record features a range of skilled collaborators, lending their prowess to this homage to the Thecodont and the Thecodont’s lesser-known cousin, the Dinosaur. And if songs such as Protoceratops (with Reuben Ingall) and Pachycephalosaurus (with Grahame Thompson) simply excite your desire for further Saurian music adventures, you can download tracks by Diplodocus (myself, Chris Finnigan and Paul Heslin), from our EPs You are KGB, aren’t you? and First Handshake in Space.

The Collaborations page features a selection of one-off creative experiments with a variety of awesome musicians/sound artists. The Fight Fire With Knives page includes a selection of audio, images and words from the brief lifespan of this gloriously chaotic music/sound/art/theatre/cooking experiment. Lastly, the Donut Gringo Avenger Boys page includes a swathe of interviews, reviews and selected recordings from this longstanding duo of Mick Bailey (The Man Who Hates Fun) and myself (The Fun Who Hates Man). Get amongst.

True Logic of the Future Lowdown review

Campbell’s Wharf’. Pictorialisation courtesy: Mr William Stanley Jevons (deceased)

We were hit last night by a bolt out of the blue when we stumbled upon Peter Wilkins’ just-published review of True Logic for Lowdown (the national magazine for youth performing arts in Australia). Go to the website to check it out, or read a sample of the text below:

Cathy Petocz as Jen Howe. Image by Mick Bailey.

How to unravel the riddle? That is the puzzle. What has brought an assayer, a data processor and a journalist together in a 19th century study? Why are they obviously modern day characters and yet are dressed in Victorian clothes? Why do they appear disoriented, confused, scrambled and bewildered by recurrent loops in their dialogue, interfacing with voice overs of their real persona’s existing in an outside world? Trapped within the virtual reality of a computer construct, the mystery slowly unravels, revealing the reason for their existence, their relationship to each other and their mission to serve a robot government in order to solve the major social, political and economic problems of their world at a time in the not too distant future.

Stoppard meets Beckett in an Orwellian world in Boho Interactive’s science fiction thriller, True Logic of the Future. Canberra’s science theatre collective has already established an enviable reputation for incisive, conceptual exploration of scientific and technological experimentation in previous productions, such as the highly acclaimed A Prisoner’s Dilemma, based on Game Theory probability; and Food for the Great Hungers, which examined the notion of historical consequence, performed as an interactive journey through the Canberra home of late historian, Manning Clark.

True Logic of the Future, although appearing complex in its dramatic structure, is deceptively simple and strikingly relevant. Society faces a complex, scrambled and incoherent network of natural, humanitarian and political problems. What logical paradigm needs to be employed to construct rational and affirmative solutions?

True Logic of the Future seeks to offer no didactically driven solutions. But it does strive to empower the audience through interactive participation or intellectual confrontation to construct informed answers to the essential premise. How can we solve this problem?

Throughout the performance, the action is interspersed with digital on-screen instructions, operated by Michael Bailey who also provides a sonorous trombone accompaniment to the characters’ search for reason in an apparently illogical environment. At intervals, the audience is asked to break the incoherent loops of simultaneous or overlapping dialogue by stamping their feet; determining a sequence of scenes; or plunging into chaos as they urgently attempt to keep an increasing number of balloons afloat while Sands exhorts them to imagine they are a government, charged to solve problems such as the refugee crisis, the erosion of the soil, tidal surges that destroy coastal communities, the creation of social problems leading to the employment of martial law, which in turn leads to the destruction of social order and the emergence of uncontrollable anarchy.

Boho Interactive’s theatre challenges and provokes. It demands rational explanation of irrational logic, and compels audiences to understand responsible commitment to direct action. Theatrically, True Logic of the Future is compelling, confronting and intellectually challenging in its relentless analysis of human complexity. It is a theatre of ideas, intriguing in its construct, imaginative in its staging, and prophetic in its pronouncement of the global and national issues that will determine the future prosperity and security of the nation.

– Peter Wilkins, 9 August 2010, Lowdown Magazine

finnigan and brother – solar system (live on FBI Radio)

This is what happened. On Sunday 1 August, my brother Chris and my self, aka Finnigan and Brother, clambered into a car and drove north through the winter rain for a few hundred kilometres until Sydney appeared. Drove to Alexandria to find FBI Radio, and got there early enough for a quick bite to eat at a pub. There was no-one in the pub but the two of us, our two dinner plates and two televisions, one broadcasting a David Attenborough documentary about reptiles (5 Komodo Dragons lying in the rapids of a river, their mouths open to the flowing water, forming an invisible and impassable wall of teeth) and the other playing a 60 Minutes special on extreme skiers (‘Are you afraid of avalanches?’ ‘They’re one of the worst things that can happen to you, yeah.’ ‘Would you say avalanches are your enemy?’).

At 9pm we rambled in to the studio and met Brooke Olsen, producer and presenter for FBI’s ‘weekly journey into the nether regions of sound’, Sunday Night at the Movies. Clambered around the studio for a few minutes plugging in cables and moving microphones, then launched into a short live version of The Goddamn Kings of Leon, Finnigan and Brother’s loving re-enactment of the Kings of Leon’s spectacular onstage meltdown at the Reading Festival last year.

Some conversation with Brooke about our work (short summary – we steal shit from everywhere and staple it together in a mad rush before racing off to steal the next thing), then we kicked into the reason for our trip, the premier performance of our new 20 minute work Solar System.

Solar System is a prison-break story in which the Earth breaks free of its orbit and runs from the sun out into the dark. It’s a dense, tangled journey through an array of fragmentary songs and stories, from natural history lesson (how did the moon come to be orbiting the earth?) to language-deconstructing sound poems to bileful music video critiques to religious propaganda pop songs (‘…if the Orthodox Coptics know what’s what, your number’s up and you fucked up…’) to high-speed action sequences (breaking into the aquarium and punching the fish!). All of which is shadowed, tailed, lifted, carried, turned inside out and spun in circles by the music, a frayed tapestry of glitching soundscapes, punchy riffs, psych solos and eerie melodies, bleeding and dissolving into one another in constantly shifting shapes orbiting around Chris’ loop-station and FX pedal.

This performance was fun. Of the three headphones in the studio, only one worked, and Brooke generously lent it to Chris. That meant that only one of the three of us could hear the music, and it wasn’t the show’s producer. Without any sense of the sounds Chris was making, I performed the whole piece on instinct, following Chris’ facial cues and getting timing from the movement of his hands. It was intense, and once or twice we could feel the piece nearly slipping out of our hands, but the needle stayed in the groove and we made it home before 2am, listening to Burial and an early live recording of the Verve. Rain on Lake George in the dark.


Finnigan and Brother – Solar System (live on FBI radio 2010).mp3 (12.6mb)

Finnigan and Brother – Goddamn Kings of Leon / Interview (FBI radio 2010).mp3 (6.1mb)