Last Friday (6th July), two of the masterminds behind Buzzing Productions presented a performance entitled A La Mad Nix at the C-Block Theatre.
la mad nix (Ali McGregor and Max Barker in bohemian productions’ Vampire Play, 2004)
Buzzing Productions was a Canberra collective of six movement and contact improvisers, which operated over 2005 and 2006 (which I were a member of). Alison McGregor and Max Barker were the worthy recipients of Canberra Youth Theatre‘s worthy Open House grant, which allowed them two weeks free access to the C-Block Theatre. The Mad Nix spent this time engaged in a variety of visual, musical and movement-based improvisations, leading to a twenty minute show which was more like being invited into the guts of a snake than watching a play. The space was broken up and the audience scattered throughout the room, which was decorated with scribbled chalked drawings and butchers’ paper. A La Mad Nix was a series of jagged and frantic scenes – stuttered recitations of poetry by Richard Wilbur and Robert Graves, desperate and stumbling movement pieces, rapid electronic drumbeats and feedback… The only moment of calm was Ali standing at a window repeating a line from Sei Shonagon’s Pillowbook while Max rhythmically raised and lowered the lights on her.
I was honoured that the Mad Nix used some of my words in the performance – an extract from a collection of short sketches I have written entitled Victory March. The piece they chose was called Jackie-O Motherfucker, named after an American band whose song Hello Mr Sky I was playing near constantly when I wrote it.
Joe Woodward is a Canberra writer, director and new media artist, and the man behind theatre company Shadowhouse PITS. In 2004 I was lucky enough to work with Joe on his production of Acting Artaud – a performance of Artaud’s 1925 play The Spurt of Blood, and his 1946 radio drama to have done with the judgment of God. Artaud gets a lot of praise in the theatre world that I’ve observed, and after performing in these plays, I’m not entirely sure how much of it he observes.
Apart from Spurt of Blood (the best 2 pages of theatre I have ever read), much of Artaud’s writing feels like standard surrealist imagery translated through the mind of someone battling a very serious mental illness – interesting and revealing, but not awe-inspiring. He reminds me of some of the crazed grafitti up around the city of Cancerra, in particular the masterful writings of Anthony Paul Lister (‘Thetans permanently possessed to kill! Lady Diana!). It’s engrossing, but there’s not much coherent philosophy behind it.
That said, I’m not an Artaud scholar, I’m just some chump that acted in a couple of his plays, so take everything I say with a caveat. But whether you like Artaud or not, you probably should check this out: Maldoror, written by the Comte de Lautreamont in 1868. Apparently this was a big influence on the Surrealist movement in the early 20th century. It was a big influence on me, because I’d never before encountered anyone as fantastically evil as Maldoror. Most especially, check out Stanza 13 where he has sex with a shark.
Returned from Queensland, a grand four day sweat of complex systems seminars, 5-star resort madness and the kind of weird creeping sensation that says I’m falling behind, way behind…
On the plus side, I took with me an mp3 player loaded with nothing but soundscapes. Field recordings of seal and penguin colonies, Indian train stations and spice markets, and Nurse With Wound‘s 2004 set of recordings from the islands of Lofoten, Norway. A combination of gorgeous and terrifying, and sandwiched amid the lot of it, a single song by Fred Smith – blue guitar.
Fred Smith is an Australian singer/songwriter who took off for Bougainville and the Solomon Islands in the late 90s on peace monitoring missions. While there he wrote and recorded a bundle of musics, including the aforementioned blue guitar: ‘a blues ballad set in a bar room in post-coup Honiara.’
these small Pacific towns start to look the same
missionaries, mercenaries, playing their little games
better bash them with a bible, or the butt of an SLR
so they say you lead the way, I’d rather play my blue guitar…
It’s available to download from Smith’s site – go to the albums sections and check out tracklisting.
Due to the vaguaries of what can only be described as MAGIC, myself and the other three soldiers of Bohemian Productions have wound up in the Gold Coast in a 5 star hotel entitled THE MARRIOTT RESORT with 2.5 acres of rock grottos and swimming pools and spas. We are here as part of the Australasian Complex ’07 Conference, the eighth in a series of complex systems conferences held in Australia and Japan. Bohemian’s show A Prisoner’s Dilemma is providing the social component of this conference, which is a fairly high-flying gig.
Last Friday we presented the show in Canberra at the CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems Laboratory, as part of their Friday seminar series. It was our first chance trying out some of the new material, including a re-tooled version of Abbot, the scene based around two groups of criminals bribing their way into a monastery. The performance seemed to go well, and the scientists (unsurprisingly) were one of the best audiences we’ve had in terms of game-playing.
Also on Saturday I gathered with seven other madmen, including two guitarists, a keyboardist, a bass player, a chef and a special effects guru, to embark upon a performance/music/delicious food project which will bear its ugly fruit this August and September. The collective has no name, but Nickamc has put some preliminary records of the event on his and Reuben’s myspace page, static.sound.silence. Dig.
I’ve planted a heap more gear in the scripts page. There is now:
Scraps and fragments of script and prose gathered under the loose heading of The North Sea. There are three short plays set up in the northernmost reaches of the North sea, where the humans are at war with heaven. The plays follow a small group of characters in the attempt to find a human soldier who has dropped out of heaven on to a distant iceberg. Not very polished but I’m very happy with it.
And most epically, I’ve finally begun the uploading of the Vampire Play script. The key reason behind getting this website was being able to build a huge web of interconnecting short scenes and alternate pathways through the brutal undead gang warfare that is Vampire Play. I’m not very far into it but I’m very happy.
Thank you for coming and reading this, whoever you are. Send I an email if you stumble across this site, let me know what is good and what is FAILED. Also if you have a request or wish to contribute to/borrow any of the material here, please feel free – just give me an email and I’m a happy cat.
Also: production shots from the 2005 Canberra Youth Theatre season of Hate Restaurants – dig –
While I’m transferring all the content from my old website to this new, slightly less cool looking WordPress site, all the scripts and stories are still online at the old site. Just be warned, I can’t be bothered linking to this new site from the old site, so if you follow either of these links, chances are I’ll never see you again.
Here for my prose writings and illustrated stories.
Back from South Australia after three weeks touring for Jigsaw Theatre Company and the Come Out Festival. This coming Wednesday (6th June) BKu’s production of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist opens at Belconnen Theatre as part of the 2007 Wet Season.
In four weeks’ time I’m joining the three other members of Bohemian Productions (Jack, Mick and Mutt) for a trip up to the Gold Coast to perform A Prisoner’s Dilemma as part of CSIRO’s Complex ’07 Complex Systems Conference (July 2-3). We’re also doing a show in Canberra at 3pm on Friday June 29 as part of the seminar series at Gungahlin CSE Complex Systems Laboratory.
I don’t know what this is. Part of me is convinced I’m on the path to a new and better way of writing scripts, most of me thinks I’m an idiot. There’s no part of me that thinks this script is anything other than a weird exercise in incomprehensibility, but I have to confess I like it all the same. There are no characters marked, and the story shifts from scene to scene with no breaks. Sometimes scenes overlap, sometimes the characters in one scene start enacting other characters and a scene develops out of that. There are some bits that flow between scenes which sort of half work, and big sections which are just rubbish (sad threesomes jumps to mind).
The stories, so far as I can follow them, include:
a group of teenagers at a house party waiting for liquor to be delivered, designing a set of playing cards based on the people in their school year. Every card has a set of statistics and a special skill that represents its real-life counterpart. Each player gets dealt two cards, and combines their two characters to reveal what the outcome of the party will be for them. (the story moves in and around this house party a lot – if there is a linking thread, this is it.)
a group of drowned bodies floating in the waves are about to be washed up on the beach – they discuss their prospects and debate the idea that God will be waiting for them.
there is a holy pimp, whose religious idealism sits uneasily with his depraved lifestyle.
a threesome in a car is interrupted by a camera-crew. One of the participants in the threesome is God, and he escapes being filmed in an incriminating position by travelling back in time with one of his two sex-partners.
one of the young party-goers is in the shower after someone vomited on her skirt when God appears. God helps her get dressed and they go out to the party together.
Jorian Gardner’s monthly monologue evening at the Street Theatre, A Bunch of Fives, came to an end in December 2006. I was lucky enough to be invited to perform at the final show, so I gathered together all the monologues I’d considered performing over the years but rejected, and mashed them up into one gibbering trail of glue entitled: all the pieces that weren’t up to standards at a bunch of fives.
David Finnigan is a revelation. His piece, half-jokingly entitled ‘All the pieces that weren’t up to standard at a Bunch of Fives’, was delivered in a rapid-fire, spittle-enhanced machine gun rattle, a flow of words so quickly delivered that one was laughing at stuff half a (not present) page behind this probable savant.
Beginning with the lyrics of REM’s ‘The End of the World as we Know it’, Finnigan traversed a wide swathe of modernist verse and gonzoid ramblings, rushing from Hunter S Thompson (RIP) through Dylan, Brett Easton Ellis (and possibly others I missed) and back to Stipe with nary a pause, for breath or for anyone as uptake-challenged as I to catch up.
photo from loadedog.com
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed, tell me with the rapture and the reverent and the right – right – you vitriolic patriotic slam fight bright light feeling pretty psyched – it’s the end of the world as we know it…
…spending four days on the tarmac at Luton Airport on a five day package tour with nothing to eat but dried sandwiches and you can’t even get a drink of Watney’s Red Barrel because you’re still in England and the bloody bar closes every time you’re thirsty and the kids are crying and vomiting and breaking the plastic ash trays and they keep saying it’ll only be another hour, although your plane is still in Iceland and has to take a load of Swedes to Yugoslavia before it finally loads you up at 3 in the morning and you sit on the tarmac until 6 because of ‘unforeseen difficulties’ ie. the permanent strike of air traffic control in Paris…
…without any preliminary objective remarks: ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Where are you going?’ I immediately launched into a completely passionate, completely personal, completely subjective and so to speak, penetrating her core way of speech: to be shorter, by 2am I had her swearing eternal love, complete subjectivity to me and immediate satisfaction – I, anticipating even more satisfaction, wouldn’t allow her to blow me on the bus, instead we played, as they say, with each other…
Hunter S. Thompson
This is the main advantage of ether: it makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel… total loss of all basic motor skills: blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue – severance of all connection between the body and the brain. Which is interesting, because the brain continues to function more or less normally… you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can’t control it.
Johnny’s in the basement
mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
thinking bout the government
man in the trench coat
badge out, laid off
says he’s got a bad cough
wants to get it paid off
look out kid
it’s something you did
god knows when
but you’re doing it again
Bret Easton Ellis
…and I don’t know where I am but I’m in the middle of a major-league anxiety attack, and I’m reaching in my pockets for a spare Xanax or a Halcyon or a Valium, and I’m standing outside a jeans store and the music coming from inside is a Madonna single, and the lyrics: ‘Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone’ sober me up just long enough that I walk towards a nearby Corman’s to buy a teapot…
So. Since 2007, Chris Finnigan and myself have been jamming together as a duo: Chris on guitars, loops and FX, and myself on spoken word, FM/AM radio and found sounds. In mid-2008, we approached ACT musician and producer Paul Heslin and asked if he’d be willing to record a short EP. Paul agreed, but within an hour of our first recording session, we realised that Paul’s contribution would extend way beyond producing. Paul ran our guitar / vocal contributions through his laptop and used Max MS/P to process mine and Chris’ input (all live) and to supply a demented stream of beats. We were all very happy with what we’d discovered, and we began work as a three-piece.
We inaugurated our new collective and named ourselves Diplodocus, after the main character in Diplodocus’ signature song Diplodocus.
The idea of a sun god
The idea of a sun god opens with murmuring guitar notes and a quote from Ecologist Roger Bradbury’s 2007 paper ‘Event Horizon for Democracy’, exploring the long-term survival prospects for ideas such as Democracy, the divine right of kings and the (once-popular) idea of a sun god. Before too long, the music has swollen into a thick, heavy river of bass tangled with layers of twisted guitar and pulsing underneath with a crackling drumbeat. It reminds me of Animals-era Pink Floyd, and I totally enjoy getting lost in it.