Confessions Of A 59 Year-Old Fringe Virgin

Hello. My name is WeeStu Campbell and I am a stand-up comedian.

If the rhythm and cadence of that sentence rings familiar, it is no coincidence. Both it, and the more familiar AA introduction, points to a deep-seated addiction.

Stand up comedy is the hard stuff. Once it gets into your system it is hard to shake. For 59 years I was abstinent, sober if you will, from stand up. Until that is, one fateful Monday night in July 2019 when, at the urging of my pushers, I got up on stage at OneMic Stand open mic comedy at the Rhino Room in Adelaide. The stage lights blinded me, the laughter intoxicated me and from that moment I was hooked. Now, if I go more than three days without a fix I am in withdrawal. Believe me, it’s no laughing matter.

Now I’m about to take my addiction to a new, higher level. I’m hitting up new pushers and suppliers, sorry promoters and venues. I’m upping the frequency and intensity of my doses. I’m going to run with a much bigger, far wilder crew of performance addicts. I’m seeking the mainline, the purest shit. I’m about to embark on my first ever Adelaide Fringe as a true user: a registered artist.

I write this on Monday February 10. Opening night still four sleeps away. But, today the journey begins. FringeWorks, the administrative hub of the Fringe is open, in the Fringe Club building on the corner of Frome and Grenfell. That means I can get my hand on the ticket to all my Fringe rushes. The artist’s pass.

For the moment FringeWorks, like any good dealer, is hidden from prying eyes. The club doesn’t open until Friday. No one advertises FringeWorks. It’s a secret for us performance junkies. The Fringe signs aren’t out yet. I enter the building cautiously, surreptitiously. It’s a building site, still being fabricated. There are no signs to guide me. Luckily three magicians come down a staircase, as if floating. They recognize me; I’ve worked with them in numerous variety shows. I’ve found my dealers den.

Upstairs the dealer’s hub that is FringeWorks is also in a state of flux. Workstations, printers the other necessities of an artist’s mobile office, still being put together. Again, I’m recognised. Being called WeeStu and wearing outrageous t-shirts has some advantages. Matt, Supplier, Artist and Venue Coordinator beckons me over. He sees the desperate hunger in my eyes and gives me what I need. The good stuff, the key to magic journeys. The Adelaide Fringe Artist Pass. With one of my aliases, Wee Stu, on it. This will give me access to the 25 nightly hits of stage time I’ve already secured, and hopefully many more.

I leave elated. A little drunk maybe. I pass another comic on the stairs; I recognise the cravings in his eyes.

By evening, however the hunger has returned. I’m back at Rhino Room OneMic stand begging for another hit of five. They give it to me. Third act in the first session. The routine works. The laughter fixes me. Very briefly I own a piece of stage real estate. Now I only have to wait until the next open mic at the Goody Hotel on Tuesday, BRKLYN Bar on Thursday and then, at last, my Fringe debut. Love 2 Laugh, Brompton Hotel Friday 14th February, 9pm.  Come along. Join me for the ride. Share the highs, the lows, the empty rooms, the deaths on stage, the behinds the scenes, the coffee (oh the coffee) and the confessions of a 59 year-old Fringe virgin.


 

Words by Stuart Campbell

Inside the Indie Games Room at AVCon

A sneak peek into some new and upcoming games that appeared at AVCon.


Now in its eighth year, the Indie Games Room (IGR) is the prime area to check out new and upcoming games by local developers at the Adelaide Anime and Video Game Convention (AVCon). In previous years IGR has hosted many great local titles, including the popular 2D platformer Hollow Knight. Here are some standout games that on display in the IGR this year.

Cardboard Carnage by Cardboard Kids

Making its debut in 2019, Cardboard Carnage is a game developed by Cardboard Kids, a development team made of TAFE SA students. The game was made using Unreal Engine and is inspired by games like Psychonauts and similar games from the original Xbox – early Xbox 360 era (2003-2007). There is currently no release date for Cardboard Carnage.

Homeowner by Birdrun

Developed by William Newman and Ashleigh Hanson, Homeowner is a 2D top down survival game developed during a Global Game Jam. The premise of the game is trying to survive the daily life of being a homeowner. This is explored through maintaining your character through basic needs, like income, sleep, food and entertainment, similar to a Sim. Its pixel art style and colour palette are inspired by games created for the Commodore 64 in the 1980s. While Homeowner made its AVCon debut in 2019, Newman and Hanson have previously made appearances in IGR before. The game can be downloaded for free here.

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The team at Manatech in IGR.

Little Reaper by Little Reaper Games

Little Reaper is a 2.5D platformer that follows Ollie, the assistant to the Grim Reaper. Other titles like Ducktales and Hollow Knight have been listed as inspirations for this title. The game has been developed in the Unity game engine alongside C# coding. Little Reaper Games’ debuted at AVCon this year, but Little Reaper has appeared at Australian PAX, bar one, during its six-year development. Developer Adam Robertson says they hope to release the game on PC later in 2019. There are plans to port the game for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Check out their website here.

Manatech by Drunk Galah

Manatech is a top down fantasy twin stick shooter for PC. The game has players selecting characters to pit against each other in an arena during a time limit. Developer Peter Cowen said its art style was inspired by World of Warcraft (circa 2010) and Battlerite. Developed in Unreal Engine and this is the third time Manatech has been featured in the IGR at AVCon. While there is no release date so far, the developers plan on releasing to Steam Early Access within the next year with console ports coming later on. Check out Drunk Galah’s website here.

Rooftop Renegade by Melonhead Games

Returning for their second AVCon, Rooftop Renegade is a 2D side scrolling platformer set in a futuristic city. The game was developed using Unreal Engine and its art style is described by the developers as “Pixar meets sci-fi”. Melonhead Games held several competitions over the weekend around the game and were selling stickers of the game, which were designed by local artist Kayla Woods. They are hoping to sell Rooftop Renegade at the next AVCon.  For more information on Melonhead Games, check out our Spotlight feature here and their website here.

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Rooftop Renegade on display.

Tinker & Spell by Anthony Robinson

Developed in Unity, Tinker & Spell is a 2D Metroidvania side scrolling platformer made its AVCon debut in 2019. The game has been worked on by its developers for the last six months and has an anime-inspired art style. Its primary narrative focus is around a collapsed civilisation and magic working alongside robot tech. There is currently no release date for this game, but you can check out their The Rookies page here.

 


These are only some of the games on display in the IGR during AVCon in 2019. For a full list of the games present check out the link to the IGR website here.

Words and images by Cameron Lowe

 

An Overview of AVCon 2019

The weekend where Anime and Video Games rule Adelaide’s CBD.

The Adelaide Anime and Video Game Convention (AVCon) has been uniting a community of pop culture fans for sixteen years. It has also become the prime convention to try out upcoming local games and sample the latest anime series. There was a little bit of everything for everyone there, from gaming and anime, to indie art and cosplay.

Gaming Goodness

Gamers were spoiled for choice throughout the event. Nintendo were back again, giving the wider public a chance to try out their latest and greatest first-party games for the Nintendo Switch. StreetGeek returned, offering an old-fashioned LAN (Local Area Network) experience with games like CounterStrike: Global Offensive and StarCraft. Retrospekt offered a free chance to experience classic consoles like the Commodore 64 and Super Nintendo, as well as gaming magazines from the late 1990s-early 2000s. Numerous speed-runners and tournaments also took place for some extra fun. Games that could be played in tournaments included old favourites like Super Smash Bros. and League of Legends. Tabletop gamers were covered too, with a number of roleplaying and board games on offer to play, like Call of Cthulhu and Settlers of Catan.

 

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The Nintendo Switch stand

Anime Galore

Anime lovers were spoilt for choice as well. Madman’s stall was full of manga, anime and J-Pop artists. Some interesting things on sale at this stall were artbooks from the Studio Ghibli films. Animeworks sold a variety of Japanese anime figurines and toys. If shopping isn’t your thing, there are always plenty of screenings by Madman and Hannabee. Special guests this year included Paul St. Peter, the voice actor for Punch in Cowboy BeBop: The Movie and Kurama in Naruto, and a livestreaming event with Spike Spencer (Shinji Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion).

Indies Assemble

Indie artists has become one of the fastest growing areas of AVCon. Artist’s Alley is the place to go for fan made art to pick up something unique. One standout stall was The Bee’s Knees, where one could purchase a Splatoon heat-pack or select stickers and badges*. Conventions like AVCon are one of the few places where you can check out these artists with their work on display. The Indie Games Room (IGR) was the other main indie zone at the event. It is where Australian game developer’s community came to show off their latest projects. Games like Melonhead GamesRooftop Renegade and Drunk Galah’s Manatech were available to try out and offer feedback to the developers.

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Artist’s Alley

Cosplayer Paradise

The AVCon experience would not be complete without the almost endless number of cosplayers. All over the event, people came dressed as their favourite anime or video game characters. A personal favourite was a cosplayer dressed as Malon from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The places to check out the best of the best were in the Cosplay Competition and parades which occurred throughout the event. Anyone interested in Lolita also had a chance to learn more about the fashion or participate in a Lolita parade.

Verdict

AVCon is one of the prime pop culture conventions in Adelaide. With many great games to try out and pop culture goods to pick up, AVCon proved once again to be a success. If you haven’t been but love games and anime, definitely check it out when it returns next year. It is one of the many friendly places where you can check out pop culture in Adelaide.

 


Words by Cameron Lowe

 

* Connect with The Bees Knees through facebook, instagram, or etsy.

Classy Bogan Studios

Michael Matthews is the leading designer and programmer at Classy Bogan Studios, a local developer specialising in Virtual Reality (VR). Together with his team of developers, Matthews creates VR titles from Gameplus, a sharespace for game developers. I had the opportunity to speak to Matthews about Classy Bogan Studios and some of their creations. Here is what I discovered.

“Classy Bogan Studios began when Daniel Booker, my artist and very close friend, and I were talking to our boss at our retail job,” says Matthews. “In the conversation, it was brought up that we were game developers and that we had dabbled in VR in our study. When he heard that he suggested that we come up with a VR Training Simulation for our workplace. This was sort of our first big interview.”

The name Classy Bogan originates from their first client meeting, when Brooker arrived wearing his ‘good’ trackies and a jumper full of holes. The name stuck on after this and it is now symbolic to them as trackies are seen as comfort clothes. The company is currently made up of eight members, each specialising in a certain area of digital media, such as 2D artists, 3D artists, and programmers. They tend to use Unity as their primary game engine. Unity is “the engine the team is the most familiar with and its currently the engine that has the best and most thorough documentation”.

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Classy Bogan have done a fair amount since their first project and just last year their work was featured on the water projection at Hybrid World Adelaide. The team also held a VR fishing competition in Port Victoria on the Yorke Peninsula earlier this year. This has been one of the few community events they have attended. Perhaps one of their greatest achievements has been the release of their VR game, Virtual Skydiving, on Steam. Virtual Skydiving, created for Virtual Reality Adelaide is one of their most challenging yet rewarding creations to date. When it was uploaded, Matthews said it was “a major achievement as we hadn’t done anything like that in the past.”

As for the future, Matthews says they have many upcoming projects. Currently they are working on a Gamified Virtual Tour for the geology department at Uni SA and updating Virtual Skydiving to improve the user experience. They are also working on a game developed during a game jam called Screeming Cheeses.

 

For those who wish to find out more about Classy Bogan Studios, check out their website here.


Words by Cameron Lowe

café auslan: Not Just an Ordinary Café

A new café has thrown open its doors in Battery Point in Hobart, Tasmania. But it’s not an ordinary café.

It’s called café auslan, and it officially opened on 28th May 2019. It combines a love of coffee with a passion for opening people’s minds to the benefits of sign language.

Rachel Freeman is co-owner of café auslan, and she is Deaf. She’s a quiet achiever but is also extroverted, friendly, confident, and fiercely ambitious. She loves cooking, entertaining, and reading.

I love inspiring entrepreneurs, and love a good article to read with a cup of coffee.”

She’s also a strong advocate for equality in the Deaf community.

“I’ve been bullied and discriminated. I’ve been manipulated and taken advantage of. There are too many situations to mention or explain in detail. I’ve had to try harder than the average person to succeed. But I’ve learned a lot from these experiences. I won’t accept or stand for mistreatment now. I won’t tolerate being made fun of anymore.”

Rachel loves being Deaf.

I belong to a rich culture, a vibrant community, and know amazing languages,” she says.

I’m so lucky. #deafgain is a thing! I am profoundly Deaf in my right ear, and severe-to-profound in my left. I don’t have very much hearing left. I have a very rare condition/disability called Mondini’s Dysplasia [also known as Mondini’s Syndrome]. It’s a type of inner ear malformation that develops in the seventh week of gestation that causes the cochlea in the ears to be one-and-a-half turns (coil) rather than two-and-a-half turns. It unfortunately affects my balance, and puts me at higher risk of meningitis.”

Despite growing up deaf, she didn’t see herself as different from others.

I was a regular, normal child who did everything that other children did,” she explains.

I sign and speak by choice,” she adds. “When I was young, I actually thought being able to sign was my superpower!”

She was taught how to sign by Deaf teachers and teacher aides, as well as by members of the Deaf community.

It takes seven years to be fluent in sign language,” Rachel explains, “but when you learn as a young child, you naturally sponge every aspect of it. It didn’t take long! But I’m still learning. Sign language is a living language that continues to change and evolve, and it’s becoming more linguistically sophisticated too. I actually learnt a new sign the other day!”

Learning to speak was Rachel’s biggest challenge growing up.

I was speaking naturally from birth,” she says, “but when I was diagnosed, I had to have regular speech therapy to learn how to pronounce letters and words. I still struggle with some words and ask how to say them, especially if I have never heard or used the word before. Words that have silent letters are tricky, or are pronounced differently than what they are spelled like, are a challenge.”

But she doesn’t lip-read.

Communicating by reading lips is one of the biggest misconceptions of Deaf people,” she explains. “We don’t. We look at your face, your movements, lip patterns, your expressions, your eyes, body language – the whole package. Did you know that we can only see 40% of information from lip reading? It’s quite a challenge. You don’t learn to read lips, though there used to be courses to do this. But it’s not effective because some people have accents, beards, or are quite inexpressive. Try this: say ‘Elephant shoes’ in front of a mirror. Then say ‘I love you’. They look exactly the same, don’t they? How would we know how to lip read or pronounce something if we have never heard the word before?”

Now married and raising a daughter, Rachel wears a hearing aid. She feels incredibly lucky to have it, though she doesn’t have to wear it all the time. It amplifies sound, so when she wears it, she can hear the general ‘noise’ of the world: people talking; music; TV; the tapping of keyboards.

Without my hearing aid,” she explains, “my world plunges into silence. So, I’m able to sleep well! The flipside is that unfortunately I experience tinnitus, and ringing in the ears.”

But there’s no way Rachel would trade one of her other senses.

I think being Deaf is like winning the lottery,” she says.

If I lost my sight, I’d be devastated because I wouldn’t be able to see the world around me.”

*

The Australian Deaf community is a diverse, cultural, and linguistic minority group. Auslan (Australian Sign Language) was recognised by the Australian government in 1991. It’s a visual and spatial language. It has its own grammar, structure, and syntax.

It’s a personal choice to identify with the Deaf community, and doesn’t depend on the degree of deafness. Instead, people identify with the cultural model of deafness. Deaf people see themselves as normal. They, and advocates of the cultural perspective of deafness, believe that Deaf people are not disabled, instead seeing themselves as a linguistic minority group.

Rachel’s advice for Deaf people who are struggling with the situation is this:

Keep going. Don’t give up, persist, and be your own advocate. The world needs more strong and positive Deaf people!”

Here’s a basic guide on how to communicate with Deaf people.

  • Gain the person’s attention by wave or touch. You can also use vibrations, either by thumping the table or stomping your foot on the floor.

  • Face the person throughout the whole conversation. Don’t obstruct your face, and make sure there’s enough light so that they can see you well.

  • Ask the Deaf person how they prefer to communicate (sign, lip-read, talk, or write). Whichever method you end up using, make sure the Deaf person is comfortable with it.

  • Explain clearly what’s happening or going to happen, so the Deaf person is not left out or left guessing.

  • Watch for indications of understanding: nods at appropriate moments, a negative shaking of the head, a questioning expression, or a slight frown.

  • If you’re not understood when you say something, rephrase your statement. Make sure you establish the topic before making comments or asking questions. Give visual cues and keep messages short.

  • Give the Deaf person time to answer.

  • Don’t hesitate to ask a Deaf person to slow down or to repeat his or her statement.

  • Do not pretend to understand.

In Rachel’s mind, the most important thing people should do when communicating with people who are deaf is respect and patience.

“Do not assume that one size-fits all with deaf people,” she says.

Some deaf people prefer to only sign, some like speaking, while others prefer to write to communicate. Just remember: if you are in a room full of Deaf people who are signing, how would you feel? Most deaf people have to ‘fit’ and immerse themselves in a speaking and hearing-dominant, culture every single day.”

*

café auslan is located where Bahr’s Chocolate Shop and Milk Bar, a lolly shop that was an institution in Battery Point for many years, used to be.

It’ll be Tasmania’s first sign language café, and it will operate differently than ‘normal’ cafes.

“Imagine stepping into the shoes of an Auslan user and experiencing different ways of ordering your coffee, without speech!” Rachel explains.

“Our café will be a social space for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing. It’ll also be safe place for anyone to come in, see what it’s all about, ask questions, and learn a sign or two. But we do not expect people to order in Auslan. There are some far more easier ways; but if you wish to communicate in your first language, we’ll work with that.”

Rachel adds: “At café auslan, we want to offer work experience, training and employment opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing people (as well as those proficient in Auslan), and bridge the language gap between communities.”

café auslan offers quality coffee and petite desserts and treats, incorporating the history of the lolly shop. There’s no doubt there it’ll be one of the premier places in Hobart to have coffee and cake!

*

Rachel and her business partner, Jane Hodgkinson, have been friends for nine years, and worked together for six. They both love their coffee!

Jane has full hearing, and she’s also fluent in Auslan. Auslan has been a part of her life since childhood. She studied the language in Melbourne full-time for two years. She’s spent twenty-five years working in the Deaf community.

The idea of opening a Deaf cafe was something they first thought of six years ago, when a café opened across the road from their work.

“We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be incredible if we opened an Auslan café?’” Rachel says.

“We thought it’d provide Auslan students a chance to socialise and immerse themselves in the language.”

But they didn’t take their Auslan café idea any further. That is, until Rachel saw a coffee van for sale on Facebook last year. She sent the link to Jane straight away.

“I said ‘Look at this!’, not taking it too seriously,” she explains.

“But Jane replied, ‘Let’s do it. Want to go into business?’ I thought she was joking! From that point on, we began to formulate our business plan.”

It took Rachel and Jane three months to find a premise that was fit for what they wanted to do. Once they secured the old lolly shop building, they had plans drawn up by a planner while liaising with the Council, a building surveyor, and various tradespeople. They applied for permits, which were eventually accepted, and then the café was fitted out. It was a process that took four months.

“It wasn’t always easy,” Rachel says.

“There was delay after delay. But we are finally here, and I have to say we’ve learnt to adopt an extraordinary, unreal amount of patience!”

She continues: “There’s been an incredible amount of hard yakka, spending day after day at the café, painting and doing other DIY jobs. We’ve become experts at renovating!”

Rachel is beyond excited (but also nervous) to see how café auslan will go.

“But it’s now more overwhelming and exciting since we’ve gone live!” she declares.

Rachel’s advice to those who are thinking of setting up their own business is this:

It takes a lot of courage, and often ruffled feathers. Find stuff you love doing and go do it. Life is too short! You have to have passion, commitment, patience, continued curiosity for learning, and a healthy dose of madness and obsession. You also have to tap into any and all available resources, and network around you. Your calling often comes out of difficult experiences. Setting up your own business takes time, taking risks, and being ballsy. But most importantly believing in it, your product or service, and doing everything you possibly can (and often making huge sacrifices) to make it a reality. Choose your purpose. It’s about service, not status. It’s about contribution, and certainly not significance.”


Words and photo by Callum J Jones

Spotlight: Melonhead Games

Three years ago, game developers Patrick Webb and Sam Frost were classmates in TAFE SA. They had just finished a student project for AVCon and were exhausted but eager begin another project. This was the beginning of Melonhead Games, an Adelaide-based independent game developer. Now, three years later, they are in the process of creating Rooftop Renegade in their office at Gameplus, a sharespace for game developers on Pirie Street.

Melonhead Games’ name originates from “quit your daydreaming melonhead”, a quote by Abraham Simpson from The Simpsons. Once a team of nine, it currently has four members: Webb (Designer and Producer), Frost (Character and Technical Artist), George Martin (Blueprint Scripter), and Alex Ferrabetta (Environmental and Graphic Artist). Their game, Rooftop Renegade, is a fast-paced side-scrolling action platformer. Developed in Unreal Engine 4, it is heavily inspired from game series like Trials and Sonic the Hedgehog, while its Pixar meet Stars Wars aesthetics are drawn from Ferrabetta’s love of sci-fi.

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The team at Melonhead Games. Alex Ferrabetta, Sam Frost, George Martin, and Patrick Webb.

Since beginning development, Melonhead Games have done a number of public playtests of Rooftop Renegade at AVCon in the past. Their most recent being during April at Greenlight Comics. Webb has said the feedback from the public has been generally very positive and has inspired them to create new features for Rooftop Renegade, allowing the player experience to improve with each playtest they do.

“Being your own boss” is what Webb considers both a benefit and a challenge being an independent game developer. “It’s a great feeling to have the exact job you’ve always wanted, but there is a ton of responsibility attached with no safety net, and it’s very easy to ignore your own deadlines. Like any start-up, it’s a tough ride but incredibly rewarding.”

Melonhead Games are hoping to release Rooftop Renegade on both PC and console. While they don’t have a set release date as of writing this, they have a number of playtests coming up. Adelaide gamers can check them out at a second playtest at Greenlight Comics on June 8 and AVCon in July. For fans outside of Adelaide, they are hoping to make PAX AUS in Melbourne later in 2019.


Words by Cameron Lowe

In Conversation with Lynette Washington

To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme is a children’s book of poetry by Kristin Martin and Joanne Knott. It is also the first publication of Lynette Washington’s new South Australia-based Glimmer Press publishing house. In the week before the launch of To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme, I caught up to chat with Lynette about the ins and outs of her huge new venture.

Martin’s manuscript would eventually become To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme, a set of thirty rhyming and another thirty non-rhyming poems aimed at children. The poems are all nature based and are accompanied by the beautiful work of Joanne Knott reading the manuscript, Washington tried to help Martin place the work at more established publishing houses. Impulsively, she promised Martin if no one else would take it, Washington herself would publish the work.

LW: I wasn’t really thinking about what that meant too much! Kristen thought the offer over and came back to Lynette a few days later, wanting to publish with her long-time friend. Well, once I said I’d do it, I had to follow through.

RK: Yeah, well, I suppose publishing someone’s manuscript is not something you can back out lightly.

It’s obvious that Washington loves what she does. It’s clearly a nerve-wracking project but you can hear excitement and passion when she talks about her role as publisher.

LW: Well, you know what it’s like – it means so much to writers to get published and to get acknowledged in that way.  I’ve known Kristen for so long and she’s such a good friend that I knew she would be cool with me finding my way through the process and figuring it out as I went. Although I worked for MidnightSun for years, I was really only involved in certain aspects of the business, so there were parts of publishing that I knew really nothing about. So it was nice to publish my friend’s book as my first book because I knew she’d forgive me any blunders.

RK: It’s kind of like a first pancake, isn’t it? You know how they’re always a bit iffy?

LW: Yeah, that’s so true, you always have to throw out the first pancake.

Given the relatively small size of Adelaide’s publishing community and Glimmer’s infancy, I was curious about the publication’s next steps, beyond To Rhyme or Not To Rhyme.

RK: Is Glimmer primarily interested in children’s books or are you a bit easy either way?

LW: Definitely not just interested in children’s books. I think the next book I publish will be a book for adults, although I don’t know what that will be yet. I’ve also got a particular interest in short stories and stories that really play with genre conventions.

RK: I suppose it makes sense with you being a short story-ist that you would want to publish those things. Short stories are also wonderful to sit and read and just kind of have piece meal.

LW: From your mouth to the world’s ears. I just wish more people thought that because there’s still a bit of reluctance, I think, for the reading public to pick up a short story collection. I would love to see that change. But then, it goes in cycles and there have been eras where short stories have been the preferred norm.

RK: That’s for sure. Charles Dickens seemed to have a good time with it.

LW: Yeah, it worked for him, didn’t it?

Washington’s desire to publish adult fiction next turns us briefly towards MidnightSun, another small SA-based press. Washington worked at the press for a time and some lessons stuck past her tenure at the publishing house.

LW: Anna (Solding) always used to say you publish something that you love and that’s true. When you work for a small publisher you invest a good twelve months or more in a book and unless you really passionately love that book there’s no reason to take it on. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into very little reward financially; there are other rewards of course, but I think you have to fall in love with something in order to take it on. And that’s really what happened with Kristin’s book. It’s so special and I knew that a lot of big publishers would run from something like this; [a project] that’s not going to make anyone lots and lots of money, but should be out there in the world. I guess that’s what I’m looking for: those little projects that should be out there in the world, but maybe other publishers would shy away from.

RK: I think it’s important in Adelaide specifically, because our publishing industry is so small, to have those pushing off places or catch alls for forgotten projects.

LW: Absolutely, and I think little publishing houses are definitely pushing off places for writers. I saw that happen a lot at MidnightSun. A writer would get their first break with them, have some degree of success, and then they’ve got a publication record and when they approached a bigger publisher, they’re more likely to be taken on. It definitely serves that purpose for emerging writers, which is good thing, a really valuable thing.

 

Glimmer Press can be found at their website glimmerpress.com.au, on Facebook as Glimmer Press and on twitter @glimmer_press.

 


Interview by Riana Kinlough

Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

In conversation with Two-Bit Villains

Recently, I had a chat with Liam Hughes and his mother, Leigh, owners of Adelaide’s iconic soda-bar Two-Bit Villains. The nifty little venue opened in 2011, originally as a clothing store. There was always the plan to add a food element to the business: Liam is a qualified chef, so it seemed fitting! Within six months of opening the store, the pair moved into a slightly bigger space in the Adelaide Arcade, allowing them to put in a kitchen – though it was a very small and simple kitchen –  where they produced some basic food and their legendary homemade soda.

As their food grew in popularity, Liam and Leigh decided to drop the clothing aspect of their business, allowing them to focus on expanding their menu.

In 2015, the Two-Bit Villains team opened in a new space, giving them more room to accommodate their growing demand. Oh boy, this space is really something! It truly is one of the most beautiful spaces in the Adelaide Arcade – high ceilings, character finishes, and a spectacular balcony overlooking Rundle Mall. Liam and Leigh adore it and describe themselves as very lucky to have it.

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What sets Two-Bit Villains apart from the other eateries in Adeiade is their 100% vegetarian and vegan menu. Interestingly, this is not something Two-Bit Villains push as a selling point, but it is a factor that slips under the radar. Liam and Leigh explain that they simply offer up “a restaurant that happens to not serve meat… The whole purpose was always to be a place where someone who is vegetarian or vegan can bring their friends and share a good meal.” These guys can proudly say that they have definitely contributed to the vegan boom in Adelaide, and they are very happy to be a part of it.

Two-Bit Villains are known for their sodas, which Liam proudly claims are his thing – so much his thing that he makes his own with the Two-Bit team.

I’ll let Liam’s words speak for themselves:

“We pretty much always have ten to twelve flavours on hand. Then we do summer specials – pineapple, watermelon and cucumber soda, and cherry over Christmas. It depends on what is seasonably available. The whole point was to make them the way they were originally made, with original fruit – the blueberry made with actual blueberries. There is no colouring!”

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Unpacking the vibe of Two-Bit Villains is a rather interesting task. The space is an eclectic mix of furniture and décor stemming from a 50s-60s home bar aesthetic – in one corner you have a horrendously fabulous floral couch, in another a retro radio, and on the wall a bamboo piece of décor finished off with a few life size cocktail umbrellas. I’m definitely all about their vibe: it sweeps you up in its quirkiness, and as you sit there with pals, the vibe allows you to easily forget about the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

Liam is very involved in the Adelaide music scene, or as he describes it “the ‘alternative indie pub stuff” which inspires Two-Bit’s exceptional playlist. The playlists include a lot of Liam’s friends’ music from all over the country, mixed in with his own music preferences. However, as he puts it, there is really no intentional theme: they are just going with the flow and seeing how it works. I have to say this relaxed approach to business must be linked to the ‘chilled’ experience customers have when visiting Two-Bit Villains. Although there may not have been specific intentions with the décor and the music, Liam and Leigh always hoped to provide a safe space for customers, where people can escape the pressures of outside society. Hats off to them: they have created a little oasis up above the hustle and bustle of the Mall.

T.B.V.Space.jpg

As an eatery, Two-Bit Villains have a massive following, possibly due to their incredibly groovy merch: everything from keep cups to t-shirts, tote bags to reusable straws. These products mean that the Two-Bit Villains name is no longer limited to Adelaide, with friends interstate or overseas wearing shirts and spreading the “Two-Bit” love. There is even a guy in Finland walking around with his Two-Bit cup.

Finally, I found myself wondering about the origins of iconic name of this business. Turns out the phrase ‘two-bit villains’ doesn’t really exist anymore, as ‘two-bit’ is an old word for 25c. Leigh explained that a Two-Bit Villain is someone who is chasing every dollar because they are so broke, or a poor person trying to do something with themselves. Liam and Leigh see it as a cute name that fits with the old time vibe of the place.

The parting message from Liam and Leigh for you Adelaideians is the team is forever grateful for the support they have received from the Adelaide community and that Two-Bit Villains is here to stay.

Check out all the socials for merch, sneak peaks from their menu, links to their in-house Spotify playlist, or just general info.

A massive thank you to Liam, Leigh and the crew at Two-Bit Villains!

 

Twitter: @TwoBit_Villains

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/twobitvillains/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twobitvillains/

 


Words by Michelle Wakim

The Raw Shakespeare Project: Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors

Raw Shakespeare Project

11th January 2019

McLaren Vale Visitor’s Centre

The Raw Shakespeare Project, previously Little Fish, opened their Summer Season on the 11th of January, with a performance of Comedy of Errors at the McLaren Vale Visitor’s centre. If you haven’t seen a show here, it’s certainly something to put on your bucket list. A Shakespeare company often found out of doors, The Raw Shakespeare Project, with director Damien White, has brought a number of the bard’s plays to life over recent years, showcasing the acting of a number of local and talented actors each sharing a passion for Shakespeare.

The McLaren Vale Visitors Centre is one of four venues to host this performance, three of which are located in the iconic wine region forty minutes from Adelaide. Stage-less, The Raw Shakespeare Project makes use of the open grass at the rear of the building, using the beautiful backdrop of local vineyards, hills, and forestry to contrast with the varied and vibrant settings of various Shakespearean works.

Beginning at seven, the show was designed to take place as dusk fell, fairy-lights and “stage” lights prepared for the evening to come. With one twenty-minute interval in the show, audience members were given the opportunity not only to refresh their drinks, but also to marvel at the changing sky behind the centre as the sun set.

Comedy of Errors follow the story of two identical sets of twins whose lives have been spent apart. Antipholus of Syracuse (Jabez Retallick) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Ognjen ‘Oggy’ Trisic) and their servants Dromio of Syracuse (Phoebe Shaw) and Dromio of Ephesus (Isabella Shaw) are interchangeably mistaken after Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant arrives in Ephesus. As the hilarity of mistaken identity ensues, is becomes “clear” to Adriana (Kate van der Horst) that her husband has gone mad. With the help of her sister Luciana (Heather Crawford) and the Duke Solinous (Damien White), Adriana intends to help her husband overcome his madness. But will Amelia (Shannon Gray) have something to say about that?

With the ready dynamic of the Shaw sisters as the Dromio sisters, and the cheerful antics of White as Solinous, Comedy of Errors was in set in motion. The similarities between the Shaw sisters gave the comedy a feeling of authenticity it might have otherwise lacked.

Despite a few extremely minor hiccups, the show was certainly entertaining and engaging. With much of the audience entranced, the Raw Shakespeare Project certainly paid tribute to the bard. I would recommend experiencing the Raw Shakespeare Company if not for their performance, then for the rich value of the experience: watching talented actors convey stories that aren’t just familiar but ingrained into our culture.

Comedy of Errors will be showing on Saturday January 18th at Beach Road Wines, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of February at Marion RSL, and concluding on Saturday 9th February at Fox Creek Wines.

Tickets for this limited time only show can be purchased online through their website: https://www.rawshakespeareproject.com.au/box-office

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell20181009_105310

Kayla Gaskell is one of the managing editors of Tulpa Magazine. She has a Creative Arts and Honours degree in Creative Writing from Flinders University. As well as working on Tulpa, Kayla writes for Fest, The Eye Creative, Readplus, and more.

 

Super Indie: Indie Fiction at Supanova

Indie fiction was the rising star at Adelaide’s Supanova convention in 2018. Indie fiction being a title self- published by the author rather than a house publisher. As part of Artist Alley’s Indie Press Zone, indie authors and publishers have become more prevalent at Supanova in recent years, and are now a part of the core experience. This prevalence has increased as the tools to self-publish have become more accessible. At the 2018 event I attended panels by local indie authors and had a chance to speak with some of them. Below are just some of the interesting discoveries I made about both indie fiction and the convention.

Kylie Leane, author of Chronicles of the Children series, is one of the longest exhibiting local indie authors at Supanova. She began selling her books at Supanova in 2013 and has seen the community and enthusiasm around indie fiction grow since then. She was only one of two indie authors in 2013 and only had half a booth in a very small Artist Alley. This began to grow slowly over the years, becoming four authors by her third year and now roughly 15-20 authors (fiction and comics included) as of 2018. Leane has also said she likes the enthusiasm the Supanova committee has for indie fiction. This support has been to the aligning of their interests and passion for the craft.

Kylie Leane Booth.jpg

Indie publishing appeals to some writers because of the opportunity for representing diversity Katie Fraser, author of Realm of the Lilies series, said indie fiction has given an outlet for people to tell their stories without gatekeepers, be it an agent or a head editor of a publishing company. This was a recurring criticism of traditional publishers, mentioned also in panels by authors like Maria Lewis, writer of The Witch Who Courted Death, who has been published both independently and traditionally. Even these authors have said self-publishing allows diverse voices to emerge, especially for stories traditional publishing may see as difficult to market even though they might be good. These diverse voices can be ones related to gender, disability, and minority voices to name a few.

This idea of gatekeeping makes indie fiction more appealing to some writers. Matt J. Pike, author the Apocalypse series, compared indie fiction to the Adelaide Fringe and traditional publishing to the Adelaide Festival of the Arts. The Adelaide Fringe offers a wide range of different performances where performers can experiment with their craft, compared to the Adelaide Festival, which has a more traditional arts and arts representation. Pike was encouraged to turn to indie publishing because of the long waits on hearing from agents and publishers. This frustration was also felt by Fraser, it would take months to hear from an agent and then even more time for a publisher to respond to a submission. This is what drove her to go indie with her first book, Through the Fig Tree, in 2016. However, aforementioned authors have said there is some hurdles that you will face by going indie. One of these is that you will be doing a lot of the hard work like advertising and hiring artists yourself. The authors have mentioned too that it is best to know or hire a great structural and line editor to help with your project.

KE Fraser Panel.jpg

Many indie authors mentioned the local indie community is a major benefit to them. Fraser said the indie community is amazing and they often catch up with each other, be it at Supanova or at dinners. Pike said that there is amazing support from within the community for each other.

When asked what advice they would give anyone interested in going indie, the aforementioned indie authors gave a similar response: “Just do it.” Both Fraser and Leane stressed the importance of knowing someone who is a good editor. Both were lucky to know good editors, but Fraser says you can also find good editors through Twitter as well. She also says to write what you know and that there’s no right or wrong in the indie world. The world of indie fiction offers a chance for all voices to be heard, regardless of genre or idea.

The genuine enthusiasm Supanova has for local indie fiction is undeniable looking at the schedule for 2018. Over the course of the weekend, there were at least three panels dedicated to indie authors. These were spread over comics and fiction, all headlined by local indie authors. This is a vast improvement compared to a few years ago, where an occasional indie author would join one of Supanova’s literary panels. It shows Supanova is eager to promote local indie fiction at their events and to give these authors more publicity.

Going indie allows you to get your stories out there, even if they’ve been rejected numerous times by traditional publishers. If your work is experimental then it can become a good place for you to showcase it to a niche audience. Indie publishing is a growing field, and certainly something to consider when delving into the publishing world.


Words and photography by Cameron Lowe.

Meet-the-Team-Cameron2Cameron Lowe is a horror and sci-fi writer, editor and student. He’s had fiction and articles featured in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times. He loves to read, play video games, and drink green tea. He’s one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times. He tweets at @cloweshadowking.