Numinous Asylum

Numinous: Descriptive of persons, things or situations having a deep emotional resonance, psychologically associated with experiences of the self.

Wandering through the Hamilton Theatres, I was greeted by a man with electric blue eyes in a long white coat. The Numinous Asylum logo on the coats and the medical face masks lets me know that I will be experiencing something different for this Fringe show.

Greeted, I was ushered into the theatre on the wishes of a swift recovery. Handed a clipboard with information about the residential asylum patients before my entry, I familiarised myself with what was to come.

The act followed four patients and their stay in the asylum and introduced to audience their histories, explaining why they were in hospital. What were once normal people, the patients were effected by isolated, or not so isolated, traumatic events. The heavy hitting point of the show – that people are people, deep down, and they just desire connection.

Creepy and dark, Numinous Asylum was something that made me both curious and uncomfortable at the same time.

Numinous Asylum continuously broke the fourth wall during the performance. Being treated like one of the patients from the very first moment, the actors made us feel a part of the act itself. Lighting was projected into the seating to further include the audience into the show. To add another sensory layer to the performance, sound and loud noises were used to create a shock effect.

I was grateful for company that night, as I would not want to be alone in this Numinous Asylum.

I would recommend this show for people who would like to explore their darker side in a macabrely playful scenario. I would suggest there be a trigger warning for those who do suffer from some of the issues addressed in this performance, as it touched on many sensitive topics. I’d recommend bringing a friend.

I give this show four stars for the raw emotional performance. Well done.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham

Numinous Asylum’s season has concluded

For more information visit their website

Comedy Hypnotist Matt Hale’s Feelgood Factory

If you’re planning on going to Comedy Hypnotist Matt Hale’s Feelgood Factory in Gluttony this Fringe, bring someone gutsy with you, someone who likes to perform, and nudge them toward the stage when volunteers are asked to climb on up.

As Hale tells his audience at the beginning of his ‘Feelgood Factory’ show, hypnotism isn’t not mind-control or magic and he, as the hypnotist, really hasn’t any power at all. Hale is simply a guide. It’s the volunteers from the audience who have the authority to make the night a success. As a former ‘Crap Elvis’ impersonator travelling around the world and man-who-was-tied-to-the-bonnet-of-a-car-and-driven-through-fire and as a DJ in Ibiza for a six-month stint, Hale knows just how far enthusiasm to have a crack at things can get you.

No doubt that understanding what hypnosis really is takes the childlike wonder out of it because, honestly, it’s rather mundane. People fall in and out of various states of hypnosis every day. We ‘zone out’ while we drive a common route to work then suddenly ask ourselves, ‘How did I just get here?’ We meditate while doing yoga and sometimes, if we consider ourselves experts at self-hypnosis, we can get ourselves into a transitive state, preferably in places like an Ashram in India if we have heaps of money.

So what about the people we’ve seen on television or even on stage who, at the snap of a finger, can turn into an ape or an opera singer then, at another snap of the finger, will be asleep standing up? They’re either trained to do so for the audience, hence the whole thing is fake, or they’re really game participants.

Our show had people giving orders in screechy voices and singing Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ and substituting ‘prayer’ for a fruit or vegetable. They weren’t faking. They were in ultra-relaxed states when given the instructions and then, when they were ‘snapped out of it’ they were the friends and family members we know and love who don’t really mind being the centre of attention. Could this be you or someone you know? Then you need to join Matt Hale in the Empire Tent for Fringe. He’ll be the one cracking up, getting his body right into it and making sure a stage-full of people join him. It’s what you want from Fringe: a sixty-minute party.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Heather Taylor Johnson

Comedy Hypnotist Matt Hale’s Feelgood Factory is showing in the Empire Tent at Gluttony until 15 March

For more information and to book tickets click here

The World Was Whole

The World Was Whole
Fiona Wright

I found out about this book during the hazy final days of editing my thesis, a body of work all about Fiona Wright’s first essay collection Small Acts of Disappearance (2015). My first thought was, ‘Oh no, now I have to go back and mention a book I haven’t read so my research is up to date’. It wasn’t until this year that I felt ready to tackle another essay collection, especially one by an author I’d studied so intensively for a year. Boy am I glad I did. Nonfiction lovers: this is a must-read.

In many ways The World Was Whole acts as a sort of sequel to Small Acts, though the two can still be enjoyed on their own.  At the centre of both books is Wright’s personal experiences living with anorexia nervosa and anxiety. In The World Was Whole, Wright uses her personal experiences to explore the modern world’s relationship with the home. She doesn’t look at the home as just the physical buildings we live in, or the spaces we interact with, but also the bodies we inhabit and how they can represent both sanctuary and uncertainty.

Throughout the essays in The World Was Whole, Wright examines her own life, which is built heavily upon repetition and routine, both of which are upset constantly by the circumstances of her health and finances. Like many millennials, particularly those with unstable financial situations, Wright rents. This means she is almost always on the move from house to house, from space to space. Forever trying to settle in and make these spaces her own, only to be flung elsewhere by circumstances beyond her control. She gets to the heart of the constant anxiety and uncertainty of renting when she writes: ‘I want to be able to get attached to a place, without knowing that my presence there is always subject to someone else’s needs or whims’.

Another strong aspect of Wright’s writing is her exploration of her own experiences of chronic illness. Within literature there is a tendency towards stereotyping the sick, particularly the mentally ill and female, as helpless victims or self-obsessed attention-seekers. Wright brings a strong current of humanity to her writing, showing what her lived experience of anorexia nervosa is like. She isn’t afraid to critique the limitations of Australia’s healthcare system, which often causes a great deal of grief and frustration for people struggling with chronic conditions. Importantly, Wright describes her illness in terms of the constant shift back and forth between getting better and getting worse, and the anxiety and fear that comes with this flux. ‘On the first day in the hospital,’ Wright writes, ‘I curl on my bed and cry for a full hour after every meal, and I keep thinking, I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I don’t think I can do this. I panic at the piece of meat that’s on my plate for dinner, I gulp for breath, great ragged gasps that hurt my sternum and then I sob outside the dining room because I hadn’t realised, somehow, that I’d gotten quite this sick. I’m so afraid of what I’ve done and of who I have become.’

There is a rawness, a brutal honesty, to how Wright writes about her illness that is so important. It’s the kind of writing that gets under your skin, touches something familiar within you and forces you to experience, even for just a moment, what it is like to live with such an illness. The rawness isn’t always shown through pain. There’s also joy. Wright shows the complexity of her life in all its facets, both difficult and special.

Wright’s essays are a delight to read. Often painful, always beautiful, they represent the growing skill and relevance of Australian essayists today. Personal essays like these allow for engaging discussions of issues that affect contemporary society: from poverty to racism and the need for change on a government level. Wright is only one of many Australian essayists using the essay to spark conversation and give readers a new way of looking at these issues by engaging them through the personal, as well as the purely factual. To avid essay readers and newcomers alike, this is a book worth putting on your list this year.


Words and photography by Lisandra Linde

‘Laura’- By David Faber

I saw her immediately,

quietly self-possessed,

reading her novel

tranquilly in

the waiting room,

a patient day

tripper like us,

observing her out

of the corner of my

eye on the bus,

until she came to

my elbow in the

dining room of

the paddle steamer,

her Dutch peroxide

locks, sensual and

mature, drawn back

to reveal her swan

like neck, strong

and supple and

sensitive like

herself. I asked

if she was enjoying

the trip and her green

eyes danced a little

minuet of affirmative

pleasure. I introduced

myself and she firmly

took my hand,

telling me her name.

After lunch I

joined her on the

foredeck, chatting

and enjoying the

balmy breeze gliding

over the grey water,

telling her the story

of Petrarca and his Laura,

which she liked. The

birds of prey wheeled

above on the currents,

and echelons of ducks

landed on the river

as shags looked on

individualistically.

At journey’s end

we said `arrivederci’.

 


Words by David Faber

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

‘Wild Welsh Woman’- By David Faber

 

A daughter

of far off

primeval,

proletarian

Pontypridd,

unaware of

Mark Twain’s

dictum that

age doesn’t matter

if you don’t mind,

she hated with a

passion like

Dylan Thomas

the idea of aging

with gentle grace;

it went against

the grain of

one who had

seized the day

of youth with

romantic zest

in Swinging London.

She felt depressed

by a volume of

poems on aging,

its joys and ills

distressed her.

But she kept

her figure `til

the day she fell.

Lulled by the

sweet, sedate

rhythms of a

passionate

friendship four

decades long,

I only found out,

after her funeral,

as you do,

just how very

much I had

loved

her.


Words by David Faber

Photo by Henry Paul on Unsplash

Adelaide Writers Week: The Garden of Literary Delights

Adelaide Writers Week is an institution in this city. It is the largest celebration of literature in Adelaide. Every year authors and readers are brought together for six glorious days of thrilling panels and discussions, Q & A’s and signings, with writers from a wide range of genres, both locally and internationally. This year I was lucky enough to get a first-hand look of what it really takes to run such an event, working as an assistant.

My job comprised of two main tasks; creating the four-hundred odd signs for the Book Tent, where each guest and chairperson had their books for sale, and driving our guests to and from the airport. Both jobs presented different challenges and benefits. While the sign making was tedious at times (especially when it came to laminating all 400-odd signs one page at a time), I was able to develop a real sense of appreciation for booksellers and the difficulties they face in managing such a complex list of stock. And while driving, I learned just how difficult it can be to park an 8-seater Kia Carnival in the tiny Adelaide Airport parking lot. On the upside I got a solid 20 minutes of conversation with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, more if we were stuck in traffic.

But all of this pales in comparison to the hard and complex work performed by the rest of my team. Like many things in life, it takes a whole lot of effort to make something look so seamless. In all my years attending Adelaide Writers Week as a reader, I never quite appreciated just what went into putting on such an amazing event. It takes over six months to plan, to contact and organise the extensive list of guest authors and the chairs, to program the various panels to fill out the six days, and to arrange transport, accommodation and other details for each of these people. This year we were host to around 84 artists, some of who were travelling with friends or partners, just to illustrate just how extensive this can be. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the physical set up of the event, the stages, the book and food tents, and the overall running of the festival. Every element is carefully planned and fine-tuned down to the slightest detail, and the end result is, as a good number of people I personally spoke to about it attested, one of the best writers festivals in the country.

Adelaide Writers Week stands apart for being one of the largest non-ticketed festivals in the country. While there are certainly larger festivals in other states, Adelaide succeeds in being completely free for attendees. And having outdoor stages in the beautiful Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens means we are highly accessible for anyone to simply wander down and take a seat. Being a free event also encourages attendees to spend big in the Book Tent. And as a festival to promote writers and books, this is highly advantageous.

This event is also an important opportunity for readers to meet their heroes. After each panel, the guest authors sit at signing tables for long lines of eager fans hoping to get up and close to the people they admire. While author-meet events exist at Supanova and Comic Con – both rather expensive events which usually only host a small roster of authors – and while authors do travel down our way on occasion when touring a new book, some of these writers have never before been to Adelaide. This year one of the biggest headliners was Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisionwood Bible and other crime classics. If you’ve never heard of her, just ask your mother. Her audience for her sole panel spilled well out across the gardens, as over a thousand fans gathered just to hear her speak. And as this may well be the US author’s only tour of Australia, it was well worth the effort for those who did appear in droves to see her.

The real advantage to Writers Week, as an emerging writer, is inspiration. There’s just something about hearing other writers talk about their craft that makes you want to get up and work on your own project. And above all, these sessions banish the illusions that writing is some sort of magic only certain people can achieve. Every successful author is simply a writer who did not quit. Yes there’s also a measure of luck finding the right representation and publisher to help excel them into the spotlight, but at it’s heart writing is about hard work and perseverance. And seeing these authors, these ordinary people, demystify the process, is the most inspiring part of it all.

Adelaide needs Writers Week. Our writing community may be small compared to those in Melbourne or Sydney, but we’re just as passionate. And festivals like this are able to stand their own on the national stage because of our passion and patronage of the arts. This year was one of our biggest – especially in terms of coffee sales, as our director Laura Kroetsch kept exclaiming – and we’re not the only ones. With the Fringe Festival reaching record ticket sales, and the success of Adelaide Festival, our growing commitment to the arts is also growing our economy and our tourist industry. And in light of the recent elections, where we are now led by a party with little to no consideration for our industry, it’s more important than ever to turn out for the Arts and show just how vital these festivals are to our state and our communities. And with events like Writers Week being completely free to attend, we’re breaking down the class barriers to these cultural institutions. Books are for everyone, after all, and despite what any scaremongering mainstream media articles may have suggested, in Adelaide access to writers and their work will always be free at this festival.

Adelaide Writers Week truly is the highlight of my year, and if you missed out this time, I hope you’ll join us next year. It’s only going to get bigger and better.


Words by Simone Corletto (@SimCorWrites).

To find out more about Adelaide Writer’s Week make sure to check out the Adelaide Festival website or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

The Poetry Slam: An Insider’s View

When I say Slam Poetry, what do you think of? Beatniks in black turtlenecks and clicking hipsters? Or maybe you think of Neil Hilborn’s “OCD” – the spoken word poem that made the rounds on the internet circa 2013. Slam poetry – or spoken word poetry if you like – is experiencing something of a resurgence and for a good reason. If you’ve ever listened to a spoken word poem, then you know that it is a powerful gut-punch of a storytelling medium. More than that, it’s a highly diverse form as well; the content and structure of spoken word is open wide to innovation and interpretation. Highly personalised or highly politicised, spoken word is a glimmering oyster of diverse styles and poets, which makes it a pleasure to listen to every time. It also makes it highly enjoyable to write and to read – because above all, spoken word poetry is designed to be read aloud and heard. There are few better places for this than the ubiquitous poetry slam and it’s sister, the open mic poetry night. As a person who’s performed in several poetry slams, I can tell you the nitty-gritty of what it is like to be involved in one.

I’m going to be real with you for a second. Getting on stage and performing your work to a crowd of strangers is nerve-wracking, especially when there are judges in the crowd who are giving points for your work. But at the same time, it’s also deeply satisfying to know that they’re sitting before you specially to hear slam. Here’s a fact; slam communities want new blood, specifically yours. If you’ve got a poem and a voice to tell it with, they want to hear you say it. They will even approach you afterwards to say they liked your work. It’s humbling and gratifying all at once. If you can get up there to read your poems, you have my respect as a fellow poet, especially if it’s your first time.

At my first poetry slam, I didn’t actually read any of my work. I wanted to suss out how it worked and then ghost out of there after enjoying a night of poetry. Instead I got randomly selected to be a judge (all the judges are randomly selected from the audience). No problem, I thought to myself. Except I had no clue about the standard of work to be expected at a poetry slam competition. Cue me scoring the first two people exceptionally harshly by mistake – I soon wised up, but not without escaping un-called-out. Poetry slams are friendly places with a great deal of camaraderie – expect call outs to people in the audience and call outs about judges who are overly harsh, as I had soon discovered.

My second poetry slam was the one I first performed at and, fortunately, I didn’t make a giant hash of it. I got up on stage, didn’t fall off the edge of it, spoke my piece without squealing feedback from the mic, and then got off the stage. All in all, a success. Since then, I’ve performed in a few and I’ve got ‘performing at a poetry slam’ down to a fine art.

Here’s how it goes:
I rock up to the event a good five minutes before the signup even opens (the signup usually opens about half-an-hour before the slam starts). I then hover like a vulture so I can be first, or second, or third to write my name down on the list. This ensures I’m definitely going to perform at the slam.If the slam is abiding by Australian Poetry Slam rules, there’s a maximum of 20 competitors. The first fifteen names on the signup sheet are guaranteed to be in – any number of people past that go into a lottery to see if they’re competing that night. This is the reason for the vulturing; when there’s a captive audience, I like to
know that they’re going to be my captive audience.

Once I’ve got my name down on the list, I buy myself a cider and claim a seat for myself and whoever has come with me. Some people come in a posse, others with one or two friends or family members. From there it’s only a matter of waiting somewhat nervously while I enjoy the other poets who are slamming that night. While I do this, I usually gnaw my fingers a bit wondering if I’m the next poet up or not – all of the performers are called up in a randomly drawn order, so you never know when you’re up next. I’ve got the luck of a mildly cursed witch; I’m almost always one of the last people to perform, and when I’m not, I’m definitely the first called up. This is what happened at the last slam I was in and I was not expecting it at all.

When I do get called up, I take myself and my poem up to the mic. Sometimes I memorise my poem, but you don’t have to. For poetry slams, the timer starts from the first word so intros aren’t particularly wise. Also, take this advice from someone who knows; pay attention to that timer. For Australian poetry slams, two minutes is your absolute maximum and if you go over, you lose one point every thirty seconds. Poem went for two minutes and ten seconds? That sweet little score of 9.3 has dropped to an 8.3, and with it your chance at placing. Am I speaking from bitter experience? Well, kinda. I’m not particularly bitter. Poetry slam judging is fair even if it’s reasonably unpredictable. There’s five judges, who are randomly selected, and the top and bottom scores are removed. Favouritism is pretty well eliminated but there’s an added element of unpredictability. Once I’ve been given my score, I sit back, drink cider, and enjoy the other poems before waiting to hear the final results. A round of applause to the victors and it’s all done and dusted.

Whether you’re up on the mic or in the audience, poetry slams are always a good time and they happen almost everywhere. If you’re unsure about where to start, a quick google or Facebook search will be able to point you in the direction of your local poetry slam event. If you’re in Adelaide, the Adelaide Poetry Gig Guide on Facebook has an updated list of regular open mic’s, slams, and one off events.

I’ll leave you with this pro tip I’ve learned from experience: don’t perform a poem about someone who’s in the audience unless you really want them to hear it. Otherwise, have fun and if you see me around in Adelaide’s slams, come and say hi.


Words by Taeghan Buggy 

Taeghan Buggy is a writer, a poet, and a performer. Her work tends towards emotional gut punches and dangerous words. Taeghan’s immersion within ‘Arts Culture’ includes the New Wave Audio Theatre project, Flinders’ Speakeasy Creative Readings, and Adelaide’s open-mic poetry scene.