In Conversation: Stone Table Books

Stone Table Books is an imprint of the independent Morningstar Publications. Based in Melbourne with contacts in Adelaide, it is primarily a speculative fiction imprint with a focus on fantasy for all ages. This focus on fantasy goes right to their name, which was inspired by C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The WardrobeTulpa Magazine’s Cameron Lowe spoke with Mark Worthing, one of the founders of Stone Table Books, to find out what it’s like being a small-time publisher in Australia.

Stone Table Books began in 2016, after Mark Worthing was contacted by Morningstar Publications.

“Ben Morton (fellow co-founder) and myself are long-time fantasy and sci-fans,” says Worthing. “We co-taught a course on fantasy and science-fiction literature some years back and also have both published fiction pieces in these genres.”

Right from its inception, Stone Table Books has had an Australian focus. They have primarily remained Australian-focused, to give voice to local indie authors. Beginning from next year, they will begin publishing international authors, particularly from the United States. This is now possible after they recently entered a partnership with an American-based publisher. Despite this overseas expansion, Worthing said, “We will continue to be an Australian-based imprint, seek out Australian talent, and publish our Australian authors using Australian standard spelling and grammar.”

 

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Mark Worthing (left) and Ben Morton (right) at Adelaide Supanova, 2018

 

Beginning a small press in Australia is not easy. Finding and maintaining high-quality authors and cover artists on a tight budget is challenging to say the least. Worthing call their survival in this industry one of their greatest achievements. There are a lot of challenges in this industry, one being that there is little room for error. Cover art, for example, must not contain any errors as it can increase expenses. Another challenge they have faced is being able to get their books stocked in major book stores. This is due to them having to compete with larger publishers, who can print more books and offer lower Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

Even with their challenges, Stone Table Books has continued to attract new readers and authors since its launch. Their position as a small press has allowed them to take risks on many exciting, quirky and risky projects. One of these is Wendy Noble’s Young Adult Beast-Speaker trilogy, which deals with children becoming soldiers. Worthing said that this is a theme some large publishers did not want to touch, but Stone Table Books was eager to take on. He said it was a risky theme, one which is what he looks for in stories.

When asked for advice to give to potential writers to submit their work, Worthing said, “Writers should make sure that what they submit is well-written and well-edited before they send it in, and they should make sure that the story engages the reader from the start.” He says a writer only gets one chance with each publisher and they must do what they can to catch the editor’s attention early on. Not following this or the guidelines, he says, “equates to a missed opportunity.”


For those interested in Stone Table Books, check out the link to their website here. Follow them on Facebook for updates and their latest releases. You can also check out a review of Playing God by Morton Benning here.

Words by Cameron Lowe

Header image: Steampunk Festival 2017

In Conversation With: Alison Paradoxx

Floral Peroxide is a personal account of my own journey through the medical system, and navigating society as a whole, in a chronically unwell body,’ says 2016 Poetry Slam Championship Alison Bennett, explaining her debut Fringe 2019 performance: Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide.

Floral Peroxide explores disability using performance poetry, sound art, and dance to tell her story. ‘As a disabled and chronically ill artist,’ says Bennett, ‘I explore the paradoxes of disability, and the societal desire to ‘fix’ the broken self. My work articulates injury, and trauma through metaphor, sound, and visual theatre.’

Floral Peroxide is based primarily on Bennett’s final diagnosis: Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), which she’s had since birth but wasn’t diagnosed until she was 40.

‘It was my chance to reclaim my identity and construct my own narrative of how I see myself in the world around me. I was sick of other people’s narratives for my life, and, as a poet, naturally began to ‘write what I know’, for me – what started with a lot of anger, and resentment, ended in a journey of acceptance, and understanding.’

Bennett has collaborated with other artists like 5000AD (sound artist), Ian Gibbins (video artist) and Angelique Joy (costume designer) to bring a multimedia experience to Floral Peroxide. The multimedia experience of the performance was ‘motivated by this desire to create performance art that is inclusive, and accessible to all, regardless of ability.’ She also said it came from events she’s performed at which are inaccessible to a number of people with disabilities.

In the media release for Floral Peroxide, Bennett says there is a societal desire to ‘fix’ the broken self. This is to represent society’s view that someone who is ‘broken’ can be mended. She also says it comes from years of trying to explain her pains and disabilities, which have included severe spinal scoliosis and surviving a house fire with second-degree burns. ‘The western world has a majority viewpoint of disability as being a flaw that needs to be corrected, rather than a society that needs to adapt to change!’

When asked about what she thinks about the representation of disability at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe, Bennett said, ‘I feel that 2019 has been a stand-out year, in regard to forging forward with better access for artists, and audience members by Fringe as whole, and I can only see that this will be a positive in enabling other disabled artists to create work, with the Fringe festival in mind.’

She is happy with the inclusion of the Accessibility Champions, an Accessibility guide, and the work by the Fringe’s Access and Inclusion Officer. However, she says it still has a long way to go in giving disabled artists the required needs to be part of any large festival. She would love to see a bigger representation of disability at the Fringe in future years.


If you are interested in seeing Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide, it will be at The Libertine by Louis on February 23-24. For those interested in learning more about health/disability at the Fringe, be sure to also check out the Social Change Guide to the Fringe by the Don Dunstan Foundation. A link to the signup page can be found here.

Interview by Cameron Lowe

One Year On: Deviant Women Gear Up For Fringe 2019

Last year we talked to Alicia Carter and Lauren Butterworth, creators of the podcast Deviant Women in the lead up to their knock-out Fringe debut. One year on, and they’re getting ready to bring Deviant Women to the stage again, this time exploring the lives and legends of the infamous female pirate duo Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

On the opening night of Fringe 2019, Tulpa’s Lisandra Linde caught up with Alicia and Lauren to talk about the experience of bringing Deviant Women to the stage and their upcoming show Pirate Ladies Give No F*cks.

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Last year you did two different stage shows – Julie D’Aubigny and Madame Blavatsky – how did that go?

Alicia: Really, really well.

Lauren: Surprisingly well received. I say surprisingly well received as though we were expecting it to be poorly received, but I think it did exceed our expectations.

Alicia: Yeah, definitely. We did two entirely different shows about a week and a half apart. For the first show [Julie D’Aubigny] we were going in blind. We didn’t have any idea what it was going to be like and we were really amazed that within the first five minutes of the show the audience was responding, like, audibly.

Lauren: I remember a moment a few minutes into the show where we could see the front row really well and their faces were just very smiley and there were these big body laughs and I was just like – ‘oh wow, this is going well’.

Alicia: If something bad happened to a character that they liked, the audience would just automatically boo, or something good would happen and they would just automatically cheer. There was actually a moment standing on the stage where I was like, ‘wow, you guys are really enthusiastic’.

Lauren: We fed off their energy and I think they fed off of our energy, so by the end of the night we came off the stage and we were totally on another planet.

Alicia: And then, of course, we were worried about whether or not the second show would live up to the standards of the first show.

Lauren: Especially because we’d had less time to rehearse the second show because we’d been concentrating so much of our efforts on the first show.

Alicia: Also, with the success of the first show, we got some pretty great reviews, a lot of word-of-mouth, so the second show sold out.

Lauren: Because [Blavatsky] was such a different show – well I guess the tone was similar but – the tone of the humour was very similar but the theme of the shows were really opposite, so we weren’t sure if what worked in D’Aubigny would work in Blavatsky. D’Aubigny was so colourful and bright and energetic and quite sexy and tongue-in-cheek, whereas Blavatsky was more spooky.

Alicia: But no, it ended up being just as much of a success as the first show and, again, we got some excellent reviews – five-star reviews – and yeah, really good feedback. I think that when we say surprisingly well, it’s not because we expected them to be a flop but it’s just that they did a lot better than we’d hoped.

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You’re back again this year with a show about Anne Bonny and Mary Read called Pirate Ladies Give No F*cks. You’ve talked about both these swashbuckling ladies in your podcast in the past – what was it that made you choose to do a stage show about them?

Lauren: The thing that we learned from the last Fringe was that while we had an amazing time doing two different shows, there’s a reason why theatrical groups tend to do a show multiple times. Not two shows once each. We just wrecked ourselves doing that, so this time we wanted to do a show that had two primary characters. We didn’t just want one of us to be the main figure, and the other one of us to be the side characters like we did in the last shows. We wanted to choose a pair of women. We actually looked at a few different pairs of women from history but, to be honest, and I think that this is saying something, there weren’t that many stories that we came across of female duos. There are a lot of male duos, and every time you did find a female duo they were either just celebrity pairings or they were frenemies. You know, like the Joan Crawford and Betty Davis sort of frenemies. And we just really wanted to tell a story about female friendship as well, because that’s something that I think is really quite underrepresented.

Alicia: If you look up something like ‘best male duos’ there’s so many from history that you can find that were real men. Whereas with women, the majority of the results that we get are of fictional characters like Thelma and Louise. It wasn’t that we couldn’t find other examples, because we did find a few, but the information that was available to us about a lot of these other female duos was very limited. With Anne and Mary, where we’re lucky that we do have so much about their lives, that’s actually really quite uncommon. We loved their story as well, and we are both big fans of pirates. We like the aesthetic of being a pirate, so it didn’t take us long to decide that it was probably going to be a lot of fun and it was also going to be a lot of material that we could use.

Lauren: A lot of their exploits are quite outrageous. Their story is one that could be turned into a really fun romp, you know? It’s also a story that shows the various shades of these women as well. They’re not just pirates who were fighting alongside men on ships. They were best friends, they were potentially lovers, they had romances, they had heartbreak… They were so amazing in so many ways, but they are also full of contradictions and full of things that make people interesting. I think a big part of the Deviant Women project is trying to think of women as being three-dimensional creatures who are full of shades of light and dark – dare I say, human?

Alicia: I think that’s a part of the podcast as well as the stage show. A lot of what we do is celebrating women from history. Sometimes we think of celebrating in terms of uncovering and finding them and knowing that they exist. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re celebrating them because we’re holding them up as paragons of being amazingly wonderful people. Like, a lot of these women were quite bad people.

Lauren: To me, it’s just about breaking down those myths of femininity, breaking down those dualities and binaries that confine women to being one thing or another.

Alicia: It’s about finding that area where you don’t have to be a wonderful person in order for us to celebrate your existence.

Lauren: And these two women are really good examples of that.

Your shows mix a lot of elements, from sketch comedy to animation and even audience participation. How much work goes into creating a show with this much stuff going on?

Alicia: Actually, we’ve added a new element to this [year’s] show. We’ve branched out into the world of musicals.

Lauren: Song and dance numbers are now making their debut on the Deviant Women stage.

Alicia: We didn’t think we had enough crammed into the shows last year. So this time we thought we’d do a bit of a musical number.

Lauren: We were also really lucky this year to have another couple of artists approach us and want to get involved in the show as well so we’ve got two designers and animators who have come onboard to help us out with some of our visuals and animations this year – Levi George and Lisa Vertudaches – we’ve been able to work with them which has been really fun.

Alicia: They’ve been very generous with their time and they’ve given us some really awesome animations that we’ve thrown into the mix with some of our own crap animations.

Lauren: Of course, we couldn’t not try our hand at animation. A different form this time. So last year we had stop-motion claymation and shadow puppets. There’s a new one in the mix this year.

 

You obviously do a lot of historical research for every show (and podcast). How do you find the balance between the information you want to share about these women and the more comedic elements of the show?

Lauren: Okay, so this story, as with our two previous stories (D’Aubigny and Blavatsky), had historical facts about them that were verifiable in the historical record, but they were also both surrounded in myth and legend as well. I think it’s that space [between fact and myth] that allows us that creativity and a chance to play and have fun with their stories. We’re very upfront about the fact that A, B, and C is historical fact, and D and E are apocryphal stories. I think we’re both really interested in not simply the historical figures, but we’re interested in storytelling. We’re interested in the ways that stories about women are told, and the way that historical figures become mythologised.

Alicia: When we find gaps in the narrative, or we find interactions with other people that have been merely suggested or hinted at, it’s taking those other characters around them as well and then creating something out of it. So one of them might have a dalliance with a lover or something, and that’s about as much as you get. And that gives you so much freedom to make anything you like out of that lover because there’s nothing in the history books to tell you about them. We kind of create these characters that would have been around them as well.

Lauren: And those characters often become symbols for the feminist undercurrent of the show. Quite often we’re lampooning particular stereotypes. Particularly around things like toxic masculinity or sexual politics.

What’s your favourite part of bringing these shows to life? And what do you look forward to most in doing the show this year?

Alicia: I’m looking forward to it being over so that we can sleep [laughs]. No, my favourite part of the show is bringing to life the visual aspects. I love it when we get stuck into the costuming and the sets. What I like is the idea that you come along to the show and hopefully we can transport you to a different time. I really enjoy putting together those visual cues.

Lauren: I kind just live for that moment on stage. Performing transports you to a totally different dimension, you know? I’m a totally different person on stage than I am in face-to-face conversation. I’m really in love with the Lauren that comes out when she’s on stage. I wish she would come out more in everyday life because she is very confident, she’s very playful and she’s very over-the-top. I really love being her. Having the chance to really lean into the performing and feeding off of the energy of people, kind of getting that sense that you’re sharing an experience with people through this thing that you’re doing. That’s just such an enormous high, and I really love it.

Alicia: That’s why we came back and decided to do it again this year. That’s the thing about live performance in general, isn’t it? That you create something there in the moment that’s very ephemeral but that everyone in the room is sharing. So I think that’s what keeps us going.

 


Deviant Women will be performing at the Adelaide Fringe on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of February. You can grab your tickets here. You can learn more about Deviant Women and their podcast on their website, or listen on iTunes. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Tulpa thanks Deviant Women creators Alicia Carter and Lauren Butterworth for taking the time to speak with us. Interview conducted and transcribed by Lisandra Linde.

In Conversation: New Wave Audio Theatre (series two)

After New Wave’s successful first series last year, the team has come back together to formulate a second series. Before New Wave’s initial series, Tulpa Magazine sat down with the creatives behind it. This year’s series has begun and Tulpa once again caught up with New Wave’s Anita Sanders to discuss what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what went in to a second series.

 

How did you find the experience of the first series?
The first season was an excellent experience; over the creation process there was a strong sense of focussed energy and hope. Often scripts that are made for performance will go through a dramaturgical and workshop process to make them performance-ready. However, that script will then often miss being performed for a long time or at all. The first season and the second have had a clear journey to becoming a tangible experience for audiences from the start. I think it’s really brought out the best in our creatives.

How did the experiences of the first series shape how you approached the second?
A moment in season one that defined the second season was when I was sitting in the recording sessions and realised how strong our actors were. They demonstrated such skill in transforming and layering the characters they played. It made me think about how they would all thrive with a monologue because they’d have more time and material to showcase their skills within. That realisation set New Wave: Audio Theatre’s second season on the path to monologues instead of short plays.

What has changed in your approach, and in the result?
Since we, Connor (our director) and I decided to create a season of monologues, we wanted to ensure that the monologues that our writers created would align with our actors. We shifted the start of the creation process from a writers exclusive space to one that welcomed the actor and writers to connect with each other. This generated room for the writers to share story ideas and then have an actor add on their thoughts. I feel starting the process this way led to scripts that were theatrically rich and supported the actors’ methods.

Where do you see the series going from here?
We’re yet to start putting our minds to the next steps. Our focus will always be on generating opportunities for creatives to engage with each other and make great art.

You have some new personnel working on the second series – how much has this influenced the results?
In the first season we were a fairly small team that included three writers, six actors and a director. For the second season, the team has been expanded to twenty creatives: nine writers, nine actors, an audio engineer and a director. This means that there is one actor and one writer to every monologue in the season. It’s made more time for the writers and actors to explore what they are creating and thus develop work that pushes the boundaries of storytelling and the radio form. Having an audio engineer, Leah McKeown, has been a gift to the season. She’s given the audio a polished edge that we weren’t able to achieve before, which enhances the clarity of the performances.

What do you want the audience to get out of this? (and has the intended experience changed since last series)
Firstly, to just enjoy the experience and be entertained! And I hope the cream is that audiences discover a little slice of radio magic whilst being challenged by up-and-coming South Australian talent.

Why did you choose the stories you have chosen?
Unlike the traditional radio play production process, we don’t wait for scripts to be submitted to us. The whole process from writing the story to recording all happens in-house. So we haven’t really chosen the stories, we made a space for new stories to grow.
The most fascinating thing is through this process we have accidentally uncovered a kind of collective consciousness. Over the season, many stories return to similar ideas on mental health, women’s place in society and old decisions coming back to haunt you. So the season reflects some concerns and interests that are top of the mind, whilst offering a new window to see them through.

 


New Wave Audio Theatre can be found on Facebook here.

In Conversation with: Quart Shorts Collective

Recently, Tulpa Magazine had the chance to put a few to Janet, Ben, and Patrick, three members of the Quart Shorts collective.

Where did the idea for Quart Short come from?

Ben: The demise of the Spineless Wonders reading nights, something of an Adelaide institution that ran at the Wheatsheaf Hotel. I only ever attended one Spineless Wonders event, which I seem to remember was their last. I was impressed by the quality of the writing, and intrigued by the use of professional actors – something that immediately set them apart from other reading nights, more usually built around writers reading their own work, and not always very well! I was sad to see Spineless Wonders end, and initiated a conversation with founder Caroline Reid about whether it might be continued under a different team, perhaps even a different name. It seemed too good a concept to allow to disappear. For understandable reasons, though, Caroline was not interested, so the idea fell away again until one night, over a few too many glasses of red no doubt, Janet and I decided to bite the bullet and start our own reading night, borrowing the Spineless Wonders format – poetry and prose read by actors, and interspersed with live music – but giving it our own unique twist. We also felt that we had a chance to fill a niche in the Adelaide arts and cultural scene, which in 2016 seemed to have a paucity of live reading nights. How wrong we were! It’s extraordinary how vibrant the spoken word scene has become in Adelaide in the last few years. It was a beautiful surprise to suddenly find ourselves rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Hearth, Soul Lounge, Draw Your (S)words, and others, and even more amazing to find it wasn’t the same thirty people rocking up to each one – there seemed to be a genuine diversity of audiences hungry for live readings.

 

Janet: We are enormously indebted to Spineless Wonders and their initial concept, but we added the innovation of working as a collective and seeking original submissions from writers across Australia.

 

Patrick: We evolved from the readings staged by Spineless Wonders at the Wheatsheaf Hotel about 5 or 6 years ago. I was cast to read a few stories and sharing the experience with the other actors involved, I realised it was a rewarding experience for both actors and writers. We’re very grateful to Caroline Reid for her many hours volunteering to make these nights happen.

 

 

What makes Quart Short stand out from other spoken word/literary nights?

Ben: Our use of actors. Our focus on short stories rather than poems. Our use of live music, not just as background but as an integral part of the audience experience. I also think our openness and inclusivity – unlike some other reading nights, we don’t cater solely to young audiences or strongly appeal to those with academic backgrounds. In this regard, I think we’ve always been a little bit uncool next to some of our (friendly!) rivals, and perhaps a little old-fashioned in respect of our preference for solid, well-crafted pieces rather than innovation for its own sake. There is a confessional flavour to a lot of spoken word, which I think we’ve always tried to steer clear of, not because it’s not important  but because we feel it is just not for us.

 

Janet: The actors. Our ‘mission statement’ if you like is ‘good stories well told’. Patrick Frost has been a professional actor for over 40 years He also knows and has worked with actors with many years of experience. After Ben, Lisandra and I have selected the stories to be read on the night Patrick reads each story, decides which actor would suit the story, including the narrative voice, and then contacts that actor. He sends them a copy of the story, discusses the story with the actor, and what we might be looking for on the night and then, several days before the event the actors rehearse the story. Each actor is encouraged to bring their sense of what the story is trying to achieve, and say, to their reading. This intense collaboration makes for good literature and good ‘theatre’. Many of our writers are astonished when they hear the invariably nuanced, sensitive and professional readings of their stories.

 

Patrick: As Janet points out, we badged ourselves with ‘good stories, well told’ – so, our big point of difference is the actors’ voices, reading as narrators with character, nuance and sometimes, emotion to bring the stories to life. I’ve often described it as storytime for grown-ups!

 

 

What is the process for selecting stories?

Janet: I look for well-conceived, thoughtful, interesting narratives, a strong narrative voice and, because I am fussy about editing, material that’s free of grammatical and spelling errors.

 

Ben: The collective – Janet, Lisandra, and myself – each read the stories, and make comments and recommendations. I think there is a Quart Shorts-style piece (as our website has it: ‘we are looking for stories that surprise, delight, and challenge; themes, characters, and plots that make the mind whirl or the heart jump; and stories that will sound great when read aloud’) although personal preference – taste, dare I say it – can’t help but come into it. We robustly discuss our selections, and try to reach agreement. Sometimes this process is a joy, when our curatorial stars align, and sometimes it is painful, when, for example, we just don’t seem to be able to convince the others that we’ve found the next Raymond Carver or Alice Munro! I think curation is the right word here. It is not simply about the pieces in isolation, it is about crafting something like a journey for the audience to go on, and about getting the balance between different forms, styles, and themes, and between light and dark, funny and sad, and so on.

 

Patrick: I can leave the selection to Janet, Ben and Lisandra as they look for strong narratives or sometimes other aspects of story that will work well on the audience when read aloud. Sometimes they’ll ask me to read a story to see if I agree it will have resonance, be thought provoking, funny or perhaps controversial.

 

 

How do you feel Quart Short has grown over its lifetime?


Janet:
It’s hard, from my perspective inside the collective, to answer this. If it has grown it is because of the hard work of the four organisers.

 

Ben: We have been fortunate to have had big audiences from the beginning, and still average around fifty per night, and sometimes more, which amounts to a very full-feeling space when the venue’s capacity is only one hundred. Our brand recognition has increased hugely, and it’s been nice to have been recognised by, for example, the Salisbury Writers Festival, which had us on a panel on Adelaide’s spoken word scene last year alongside members of The Hearth and Soul Lounge. To be honest, though, we have never been great at promoting ourselves. I think if Quart Shorts had a personality type it would be an introvert, the shy eccentric in the corner who looks interesting to talk to. Most of our growth and recognition has come, I think, from word-of-mouth, which is very powerful in a city as small as Adelaide. Over time, I think we have come to feel increasingly valued within Adelaide’s arts scene, particularly by the actors who seem to relish getting up in front of large groups of strangers and potentially making fools of themselves – how strange!

 

Patrick: I think principally, our growth has been with audiences. People seem to want to share the experience with their friends as if there is some comfort in being read to. There’s always a long list of people tagging their friends below our posts announcing the next reading night. One thing I would like to do is survey our audiences to ascertain the frequency of their attendance, their interests, their connections to writing or performance.

Most of our growth has been organic, I think. Social media has helped us connect at low cost, the music we stage each night creates more following, the writers whose work is chosen often bring friends and family, too.

 

 

Why are the events organised around the seasons?

Janet: Personally, I cannot remember, but it might have been for convenience and to give the collective, who all have busy lives, a breather between readings. I think we decided four readings a year was a good number and the concept of seasonal readings, quarterly readings, led to the name ‘Quart Shorts’, i.e. short stories read every quarter!

 

Ben: I don’t think this was planned. My memory is that the name Quart Shorts came first and, with that in place, it seemed to logically follow that we would hold the event four times a year. It does seem to have caused some confusion, though, with people thinking our events are themed around the seasons.

 

Patrick:  The ‘salon’ idea seemed to lend itself to a seasonal approach, and hence, the name Quart Shorts to indicate short stories read quarterly.

 

 

 

Why Bibliotheca as a venue?

Ben: As well as being beautiful, intimate, and centrally located, the bar doubles as a book exchange so it made sense for lots of reasons. The owners, Marina and Roman, have always made us feel welcome, particularly I think because we drink a lot of whisky.

 

Janet: Bibliotheca has been outstandingly supportive and have never charged us for the venue. The proprietors have been marvellous and they seem to enjoy the readings as much as the public. It’s been a mutually satisfying and very productive relationship.

 

Patrick: As well as being a very cool little bar, Bibliotheca is a book exchange! It also creates a warm (or cool) atmosphere for each of our seasons. On a summer’s night the passing street traffic can even interact through the open window.

 

 

As an individual, what attracted you to Quart Short and what do you bring to the team? 

Janet: The idea, exemplified by Spineless Wonders, of having professional actors read short stories is what made me want to continue what Spineless started.

In addition, I have attended many ‘readings’ of both poetry and short stories over the years; some writers do a great job of reading their own work but, to be brutally honest, many do not. When I saw what an actor could do with a short story (or poem), the varied, nuanced, sensitive and thoughtfully paced readings that honoured both the author and the text, I was moved to try and keep alive what Spineless Wonders started in Adelaide.

I think I bring to the team is the idea choosing only polished, professional, carefully edited writing of a high standard – possibly too high! As a writer I understand the struggle to produce professional, high quality work. I can’t spell to save myself and I need to check and recheck the basic rules of grammar when I’m editing my own work. Editing and polishing is hard work but doing that work is what makes a writer a professional story teller and communicator.

I usually sit in on rehearsals – they are often held in my house – and I have learned that actors also have a ‘grammar’, not quite like the rules of written or spoken English, but a way of approaching a text, whether it be a play, poem or story, that involves certain conventions around how to use one’s body, one’s voice and ‘spirit’. Quart Shorts, ultimately, is about communication. If you are a writer or an actor and you want to communicate clearly, if you want to be understood, there are rules to help maximise communication and it’s best to learn and use them. So, yes, I am the ‘grammar Nazi’, but that’s only because I make so many mistakes myself!

 

Ben: Primarily, my love of the short story form. I have never understood the average reader’s aversion to it or its status as a sort of minor, bastard brother to the novel.   It’s great to see relatively new initiatives like the Short Story Festival celebrating the form but I still feel we have a way to go to recover and redeem the short story, and I hope in some small way Quart Shorts has been a part of that. In addition to my striking good looks and mordant wit , I bring to Quart Shorts a sharp, editor’s eye for good writing, a love of genre not necessarily shared by my colleagues, and an attentiveness to the relationship between form and content.

 

Patrick: I love reading out loud – it’s an ability every actor should be constantly refining. So, when Spineless Wonders was closed, I was very keen to join Ben, Janet and (initially) Annie Waters to make our version of a reading salon really come to life. Then, I discovered the casting of stories was a wonderful opportunity to share my love with other actors and give them an opportunity to shine!

 

What are your plans for the future of Quart Short?

Janet: At the moment things are up in the air, so watch this space.
Patrick: We’ll be taking some time out after Spring Shorts at the end of October to assess our ability to continue and, most likely stage at least one other specially focused salon in 2019.

 

Ben: A minor scoop for you: sadly, Quart Shorts will not be continuing as a quarterly reading salon after our final event for this year, Spring Shorts. While we hope to bring you one or two events per year in the future, we have found it increasingly hard to commit as much time as we would like to Quart Shorts and would prefer to gracefully bow out than to produce events of a lesser quality. We make this decision with a heavy heart but feel it is best for all concerned. We are incredibly grateful to all of the writers, readers, and musicians who have contributed so much during the last three years. For now, though, we are looking forward to a bumper Spring Shorts – and a well-earned rest after that!

 


Thanks to Ben Brooker, Janet Thomas, and Patrick Frost.

Submissions for Spring Shorts close on October 8th. Spring Shorts will be at the Bibliotheca Bar and Book Exchange on October 30.

You can find out more about Quart Shorts at their website or their Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

In Conversation: Malaika Gilani

In 2016 Malaika Gilani published her first poetry collection: Untold Journeys. She was seventeen. This year she has been a part of the global anthology, I Bared My Chest, comprising of 21 phenomenal women telling their stories. Recently I had the chance to interview this Melbourne-based poet and talk about inspiration, writing advice, and poetry.  

 

Could you give us a brief overview of your current published poetic work? What are its themes and what would you like your audience to know before reading it?

 
Untold Journeys is about everyday life. Things we all experience: friendship, family, body issues, and so much more. There is at least one poem in there that you can connect with. If the poems aren’t giving advice then they are there to show you that whatever you are going through, you are not alone. Someone is going through the exact same thing too.

 
What was it like publishing a poetry collection at seventeen?

 
It was amazing to be doing something that not many people have done. However, there have been rejections because I am too young and inexperienced. But who cares, life is all about the good. If we start focusing on the negatives then we won’t be able to live at all. I’ve loved it. The support from my family and friends has been a huge part of how I got here. They help me stay humble and enjoy this experience at the same time.

 
What inspires you to create poetry?

 
People, their experiences, and their lives.

 

If you could sum up what you would like your poetry to evoke what would you say?

 
You are not alone. We are all going through the same things. In the end, it’s the things within us that make us more alike than we will ever know.

 

Could you tell me a bit about I Bared My Chest? What was it like working with and collaborating with other artists to create this anthology?

 

You could say it was an interview of 21 authors in book form. All participants were given a series of questions to answer, to show people someone else has gone through the same thing as you and to show people that artists are not [all] geniuses. We are [people] like everyone else, anyone can achieve what we have.

It was amazing to work with people who are so much more experienced than I am. I learnt so much from them and was in awe of how wonderful and cooperative they were. Most importantly, I realised we were all normal humans – we disagreed, we celebrated, we got sad and angry and happy.

 
Have there been any books/authors/poets that have deeply inspired you? If so, what are they?

 
Sue Lawson and Jackie French.

Sue came to my school once when I was in year nine and has been in contact with me since. And Jackie is such an amazing and inspiring lady. I contacted her to review Untold Journeys and she has been a huge part of my life since. I email her and she instantly replies, giving me advice and encouragement.

 
What advice would you give to other poets and writers?

 
Rejections make you want it more. It makes everything more meaningful too. I appreciate my work and others’ so much more now because I know what hardships we all have to go through.

 

What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

 
If we start focusing on the negatives then we won’t be able to live at all.

 
Are there any upcoming projects that we can be excited for?

 
For now, I am on hold. I am starting university, so I am going to focus on that for now. However, once I am done with my psychology degree I will think about whether or not I still want to focus on writing and continue my writing journey.

 


Gilani’s book is available for purchase on Amazon and you can follow her journey on both Facebook and Instagram.

 


Interview by Georgina Banfield.

In Coversation with: Anna Thomas of ‘How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker’

This past Fringe Festival saw the debut of Anna Thomas’s one-woman play, How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker. Met with praise and glowing reviews, this play returned for a limited run this July. The Treasury 1860 bar is once again the setting for one of 2018’s stand-out shows.

Arriving outside of the Fringe period, the show stood by itself for a time before Anna takes it to the biggest Fringe Festival on Earth, the Edinburgh Fringe, in August. With the show’s return and an exciting future beckoning, Tulpa sat down with Anna to discuss where the play came from, how it went, and where it will now go.

The story of how the show came to be is long and winding one. Anna explains that she always loved the arts and studied for a time at university before necessity taking her towards a more corporate path. Following her corporate life, Anna took up a role doing wine tours, although she fully admits to not having a huge amount of wine knowledge. She says it was her theatre skills that came to the fore in pretending she was so capable in her new job. It was also during this time that she met some of the “wine wankers” that would help inform her play. ‘I found myself, in the first six months, telling stories of the ridiculous wine wankers that I would meet’, she explains.

The play continued to change as she worked on it. ‘Initially, the idea was going to be more comedic and silly but as I started writing it, it felt a little shallow and this far more serious narrative took over,’ says Anna of the performance’s tone. This play is a mixture of tones, with the blend of personal experience and absurdity of wine wankers. Anna acknowledges her concern the title could have appeared too whimsical or satirical – ‘fortunately lots of people took a chance and didn’t have that predisposed idea of what it was.’

Once the play was out in the wider world of the Adelaide Fringe, Anna says she found the response to be ‘really wonderful and really shocking’. She says that she had only truly performed the play a few days before the first show, even to her husband. At the third show, she got a standing ovation which  took her by surprise. Not long after, a review got out from The Advertiser, and within four days she had a sold out show. Suddenly, it ‘had this ridiculous momentum about it’. The response was not universal though; Anna recalls that a ‘couple of gentlemen didn’t like the show – they thought it was too feministic. Someone wrote a review saying there was too much discussion about the glass ceiling. But I quite enjoyed that too because it meant it pressed buttons for everyone’.

Across the play’s run at the Fringe, she explains that there was a bit of change. The content remained relatively unchanged, but the delivery was altered. One of the key changes she describes is that her initial intent for the play was to be more traditional,but gradually the fourth wall came down bit by bit. She says she ‘found that the intimacy grew over time, and by the end, what was really lovely was that I felt like I could throw away a few lines when I needed to lighten the mood and I felt so connected with the audience and by the end there was this really lovely experience where I almost knew how it was going to fall and I knew how the audience was going to react.’

Another change to the play came in the approach to the more emotional content, which Anna says she initially approached with more caution. ‘Because of that caution,’ she says, ‘it caught people off guard too much’. With a few performances complete, she let that ease in a bit more so ‘people felt more comfortable with their emotions’.

Several months after the initial, very successful, run of How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker, the show returned for July’s limited run. How does this change the situation? ‘I [was] a little more scared. I was running off the back of the Fringe [last time]. Everyone’s very willing to take risks at Fringe time.’ Anna explains that the more risk-accepting crowd of the Fringe is gone now and a show in July requires its audience to have a more determined intent to go to a show. ‘It’s a more conscious choice’, she says, rather than the audience simply picking from the Fringe’s offerings.

This run in July served a few purposes for Anna as a performer. With the Edinburgh Fringe approaching, this allowed her to test the play on an audience in quite a different environment. It also helped in fundraising for the costs inherent in taking the show’s co-stars, the wines, over to Scotland.

Anna is adamant to acknowledge the aid of Arts SA and the Made in Adelaide grant she was awarded. ‘That has definitely afforded me this opportunity,’ she says. She was one of a select few to receive this support, and their involvement has been instrumental in getting the show to Edinburgh.

At the Edinburgh Fringe, Anna will be performing at ZOO Venues, in their cabaret bar which she says she has been to, ‘many Fringes ago’. She says she is conscious of the challenges in transporting her show across the world. Anna explains that in the UK, certain wines are appreciated differently. This necessitates a slightly different approach as the characteristics of the wines plays an important element in the performance. Merlot, for instance, the wine upon which she places ‘the pinnacle of the story’, is not so underappreciated in the UK as it is in Australia; ranking the second-highest selling wine in the UK.

The future beckons beyond the Edinburgh Fringe as Anna tells Tulpa she ‘definitely’ plans a season next year. She has also picked up a few regional tours that will see her take the show to McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Offers at the Brighton (UK) and Hollywood Fringes also being presented ensures the success of How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker has every opportunity to carry on further.

 


Words by Liam McNally

Spotlight: The Howling Owl, Urban Cow Studio, and The Rhino Room

Rhino Room, Howling Owl and Urban Cow Studio are a big trinity in the Adelaide arts and hospitality scene, and you can’t take one without the others. Mick Krieg, the man behind the magic, welcomed me into the Howling Owl – a café and gin den. Over a 10/10 latte, we had a good old yarn about music, comedy, visual arts, and everything in between.

The man owns all three businesses, so first port of call was to find out where to start.

 

Mick’s thoughts immediately went to his first venue, Urban Cow, which was opened as an opportunity to provide somewhere for local artists to sell their work.

It started with Urban Cow; and at the time I was with a girl who was a ceramicist and she was doing some stuff through Jam Factory. We really wanted to open our own place, so we started out with people just bringing stuff in and being able to sell it. And basically, when we broke up I took over and just kept running that. We were doing these massive exhibition openings at the time – an opportunity to have a bit of a party. Back in the old building [13 Frome Street, Adelaide] at this one really busy exhibition opening, we opened the doors to the new space next door because we were worried the floor of the old space was going fall in. And then everyone spilled in. We were all sitting around, sipping wine, and one of my friends, Charlie Hillsmith, who had a painting in the exhibition, looks around and he goes ‘this would be a good space to do some comedy, a stage down one end and a bar at the other’. We were always planning on doing something with a bar.

 

And in this new space, Rhino Room – bar, comedy, and dance club – was born.  

It very much started in the same way as Urban Cow offers the opportunity to visual artists.  It was always intended to be not only for comedy. We used to do a lot more with bands, and probably a lot more with live music, theatre, poetry; all the performing arts. It’s fallen away a little bit.  We do the odd theatre show still. At the time [of the opening], it was very much designed to be a bit like the old Fringe Club used to be, years ago. And I guess we were pretty lucky in the year we opened there was no Fringe Club so we sort of became the demi-Fringe Club, so all the artists would come along just to do snippets of their shows.

 

So following on from that, how do you find the artistic scene in Adelaide? Is it competitive?

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The Rhino Room: 1/131 Pirie St, Adelaide SA 5000

Comedy is amazing! I mean, it’s funny because you get the local comics who are often bagging the local scene and if you travel around Australia, the scene in Adelaide is probably only second to Melbourne. I mean we have the lowest population in Australia besides Hobart and the Northern Territory, but we bat well above our average for comedy. If you look at the winners of the Triple J Royal Comedy over the last 20 years, and look at how many South Australians have either been winner or runner up I think you will find the average, compared to how many other states are involved, is very high.

 

It does sort of come and go, and it is tough to survive when you don’t have a huge population. But you go back a couple of years and we were getting comments from famous interstate comedians like Will Anderson and Arj Barker who likened the scene we had in Adelaide to Sydney in the early 90s; which was the prime scene in Australia. And look, I don’t take credit for that either: Justin Hamilton is the one who got it all started here. He took Rhino Room a long way and gave us the credibility we’ve got by getting in all these people he knew from around the place. But as far as comedy goes, it’s still really unrecognised [in Adelaide]. The fact that we don’t have a comedy festival here is quite bizarre, so I think we are doing well. But I don’t think a lot of young comics realise how good the scene is in Adelaide.

 

And how does this compare for Visual Arts?

In the Visual Arts scene, look, I think we are still doing ok. Unfortunately, not having a contemporary gallery here in South Australia has seen us go backwards a lot over the years. Having said that, I think we still do some amazing stuff. You know SALA [South Australian Living Arts Festival] is a great visual arts festival. I think there are some really good things going on, but I also think some people have just become complacent [in how much they support the arts].

 

What about the music scene?

The music scene. We’ve got WOMAD; which is incredible. It’s a world-wide recognised festival. I think probably people don’t realise how good WOMAD is. I don’t think the State Government even realises how good it is because they put it amongst the other festivals. WOMAD needs to be given its own weekend, allowed to stand alone and really shine.

It could be the world-recognised event that it is, but it just needs to come away from the Festival of Arts, and the Fringe. As far as other music, like rock bands and other emerging individual performers, we clearly still produce good bands and performers [such as Sia and the Hilltop Hoods]. But if you want to go out at night and catch a good local band, it’s hard. I was far more into music than comedy, but I’ve sort of been lead down [the comedy] track now. With my love of live music, I would still love to do a lot more of that as well, but it’s just one of those things that will come with time.

 

Do you have an ethos? And how does that effect the vibe and the energy of your businesses?

We always try and maintain our ethos of promoting South Australia, so that started with Urban Cow promoting visual art in South Australia.

 

So this was always part of the vision?

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The Howling Owl: 10 Vaughan Place. Connected is Urban Cow Studios.

Oh yeah. Always. At times, or even in the early days, we used to get bombarded by other artists from other states and we probably got more kudos back then in some ways – even the tourist markets would say, ‘I wish we had something like this is the Eastern States’. In the early days, it was partly an economic decision as well because people are very parochial in South Australia, so by keeping it purely South Australian it did give us that edge. And similarly with the Rhino Room; we have always kept an eye on that. Craig Egen [who runs Adelaide Comedy] and I talk about it, and booking Fringe acts there provides opportunities for the locals to have spots on the side, even though it is generally interstate or overseas comedians that we feature. So when he books the late shows, there’s always locals that put in there as well. With the Howling Owl it’s always been to promote South Australia.

Our beer and wine list is purely South Australian, on our gin list we have 130-odd gins and 30% of them are South Australian, so that in itself is pretty amazing. The Howling Owl has got so much food because it’s all local produce that we get in and just plate up. It’s not like we do anything ultra-special with that. With the gin we have all the different garnishes and cocktails, and we create these tasting boards and we also allow people to build their own tasting boards together. These things are just a bit of fun. It’s not just like pouring a drink; that side of things provides its own entertainment as well. It was always set out to promote South Australian food and wine and produce.

So that’s been our ethos, and if that then translates to the vibe we want to create, I guess it is just about bringing in people who have a passion; not only for South Australia, but a passion for the industry. The people [whether it be the employees or the performers] have a passion for music and comedy at Rhino Room, people who work at Urban Cow have passion for the arts, people who work in the Howling Owl, they have a passion for what they do with gin. That’s always been our forte if you like: hiring the right people who create the vibe. Very much based around the people.

Yes, the people! So this is very important then?

“Oh very much. I think my ability has probably not been in the arts itself, but in bringing in people who love the arts. Bringing in the right people, and not just having a passion is one thing, but being able to convey that passion and, I don’t know, be a welcoming person who you can get the love of the particular industry across.”

Now the names of your venues…they are quirky! How did you come up with them? Was it just in the moment?

Pretty much! The first one was funny because my first wife from 25 years ago, who started Urban Cow with me along with a couple of other artists, just threw the name around and it sort of stuck after. We had all these older ladies come in and say ‘I know why it’s called [Urban Cow] because you are taking stuff from nature and turning it into city things, you know Urban Cow’, and you are just like, ‘whatever!’ In some ways, Urban Cow was a tricky one because people often thought the artwork revolved around cows. Then I guess because Urban Cow was such a popular name, then Rhino Room came out and stuck as well.  Then when me and my wife, Rachel, were up in Byron Bay, we were sitting trying to come up with a name for the Howling Owl, and we were actually sitting in a bar called ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’, so that’s where that one came from. The fact that Howl and Owl had the same sound, and that owls don’t howl but the word owl was in howl – we just thought it had a really nice ring to it. And we actually have another little bar we are opening underneath Rhino Room in the basement. We used it a bit during the Fringe, but a bit later in the year we will open it as a bar in its own right, as well that will more promote craft beer and that kind of thing. That will be called ‘Drama Lama’; to keep with the animal names. Once we started the animal theme, we thought we had better stick to it.

 

 

I spent a Saturday evening at the Howling Owl: the atmosphere was warm, and there was a real authenticity in regards to the food and beverages, and from the employees who were clearly enthusiastic about their work. Let me also say that the gin and tonic went down like water. I also attended a ‘One Mic Stand’ at the Rhino Room. This is a weekly event where local comedians come together and share their love for comedy. What a hoot it was! It is undeniable that these venues shed light on some uniquely wonderful pockets in Adelaide. And there is no way of excluding the Urban Cow Studio: it was riddled with precious South Australian artwork! I highly recommend it as a delightful location to take in the works of Adelaide, and as a place to buy yourselves a little something from the Urban Cow Shop!

 


Words by Michelle Wakim.

In Conversation With: Joel Martin- Speculate

A few months ago, in late April, I made the pilgrimage to Melbourne for an exciting new writers festival called Speculate. As a writer and reader of speculative fiction, it was everything I felt had been missing from my other festival experiences, which tended to focus rather heavily on Literature, with the occasional Genre fiction panel almost as an after-thought.

Speculate, a festival focused entirely on speculative science fiction and fantasy fiction, packed into a single day an amazing line up of informative sessions with some excellent big-name guests, including Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Michael Pryor, Laura E Goodin, Alison Arnold, Trudi Canavan and more. The sessions covered everything from setting, language, character development and futurism, with some often surprising discussions. I was incredibly impressed by the quality of this festival – in its inaugural event – and the work of the relatively small but passionate team who made it happen.

In light of this, I spoke to Festival Director Joel Martin about why he started Speculate and what it takes to create a writers’ festival.

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What made you want to start your own writers festival?

Speculate was started because we felt there needed to be more speculative fiction discussed in the literary circuit, especially focusing on the craft of writing.

 

How long did it take to go from conception to the festival?

Ian Laking (our comms manager and my co-host on [my literary podcast] The Morning Bell) and I had a coffee at Flinders Lane after hearing a talk by Vince Gilligan (of Breaking Bad fame). I think that’s about the first time I actually verbalized my desire to make Speculate happen. That would have been July 2017. In hindsight not a lot of time to set up the inaugural event in April 2018 but I think we pulled it off!

 

Did you have any pre-requisite knowledge, skills or connections that helped you? Do you have a background or day job in arts or publishing?

I work as a freelance editor and through that and the podcast [The Morning Bell], I’ve been really lucky to meet some amazing people, including some of the talented authors that were at Speculate. But I think the one thing I’d want to highlight for the question is the team behind Speculate. Ian Laking, Rachelle Dekker, Alex Fairhill and many more people put plenty of work into the festival, working volunteer hours while juggling home lives, full time jobs, studies & newborn babies to make it happen (they didn’t literally juggle babies).

 

What were your biggest challenges in this journey? Any triumphs you’re especially proud of?

One challenge (and it’s a great one to have) was how to feature so many great spec-fic voices in one day! We’re quite spoiled in Melbourne to have some of the best spec-fic writers in the country and it was a real struggle to have to focus down on just five sessions. I never like picking favourites, but I was very proud of showcasing Dungeons & Development: Characters Under Pressure. It was an absolute pleasure to put together and it was a joy to be in the audience watching those amazing folks make something wonderful of it. I think tabletop, pen and paper and video games have unlimited potential to deliver great narratives and I want to see more of that on the literary circuit. Indeed, we should be embracing it!

 

What have you learned from this experience that you’ll take into next year?

So many things! A lot of that is on the backend side, as you learn to implement systems a lot more effectively the second time over and streamline the entire planning process. And we’ll have more time, which should be a huge help!

 

Do you have any long-term goals for the future of Speculate? Any particular guests you want to host? Any special venues you want to run it in?

I like to take things one project at a time, but I often think just like predicting the future of Science Fiction is a risky business, I wouldn’t want to guess at what shape Speculate might take in the future. Honestly, I have so many guest names I want to throw out, but I think the wisest course of action [is] for me to remain silent on that. Just be assured that we plan to always aim for the sky! We were very lucky to have the wonderful venue of Gasworks Arts Park. It really suited the community focused vibe that we hope to encourage at Speculate. As much as I know the question of venue is a serious one, let’s fantasise for a moment. If I had my pick of any venue in the world I’d want to hold a Speculate opening, I’d be hard pressed to think of a more impressive setting than Italy’s Verona Arena. Speculative Fiction is big on wonder after all!

 

What’s the biggest piece of advice for anyone else looking to start their own festival?

I’m going to cheat and make it two pieces of the same whole.

Identify clear goals in order to find your niche, and bring in people with likeminded passion, who will support you but also challenge and refine your vision. The team behind Speculate 2018 was critical to its success, and that might seem like an obvious statement but I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good group of people behind an idea like this. Writing often seems like a lonely profession, but a celebration like this need not be.

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It was great having a chance to chat with Joel about his process and team, after experiencing such an excellent festival as Speculate. I definitely recommend you all sign up when tickets are released for 2019.

And while often literary events and festivals seem like the stuff of magic, at the heart you’ll always simply find dedicated, hard-working people with a vision and a passion for books, writers and writing. I hope more dedicated festivals pop up around the country – especially here in Adelaide where our writing scene really could use some activity outside of Mad March – and that we remember that a robust writing community is the most important thing to keep our industry flourishing. Aside from actually writing.

 


Words and photo by Simone Corletto

20170920_080752Simone Corletto is an Adelaide-based YA and Science-Fiction writer. She’s performed her work numerous times for Speakeasy and at the National Young Writers Festival. Her first co-edited anthology, Crush, was published by MidnightSun Publishing. Her work has also appeared in Empire Times, Double Helix, RiAus, and the 2017 Visible Ink anthology “The End”. She spends her spare time crocheting lumpy hats, writing about teenage superheroes, and telling people about her science degree. She tweets at @SimCorWrites

In Conversation with: Little Captain

Having seen Little Captain play the music of The Velvet Underground at the Grace Emily during the Fringe, Tulpa decided to catch up with the band to see what they have in store for the future. A residency at the Grace Emily throughout May will be first on their agenda. This time, however, it won’t be The Velvet Underground, they tell me, it will be their own music.

We’re sitting upstairs and outside at local bar Proof, where Grace Goodfellow, Todd Bennett, Kris Jaw-Moss, and Josh Pullinen let us at Tulpa in on the ideas they’re currently working on.

In the lead-up to their Fringe performance, Little Captain had been preparing since October and worrying about how many people the lure of The Velvet Underground would attract, eventually playing to a packed Grace Emily. The result was not just the old die-hard Velvet Underground fans coming along, but also others new to their musical offerings. As Grace Goodfellow recalls, some of the audience came up to them afterwards to say they didn’t really know the Velvet Underground but thought they’d check it out. All agree it was nice to do something a bit offbeat.

Covers will still be present in their May residency, alongside their own original offerings. What the covers will be is resolutely kept a surprise. Sadly, no exclusive here on that score. All I can get from them is it will be a bit more contemporary than The Velvet Underground.

With a host of support bands to compliment them during the May residency, the band look forward not just to taking the stage with their friends but also debuting a new song. The band expresses a shared fondness for the Grace Emily so the oncoming residency is an exciting prospect on their horizon. Little Captain consider the Grace Emily a champions of local artists and very supportive of local music. The free beers don’t hurt much either.

Beyond the May residency, what does the band have planned? As far as plans go, nothing concrete, but Little Captain have goals for more recording, the release of another single, and taking what comes next as it comes. Having played a lot last year, the band wishes to turn their focus towards recording and writing some new songs, as the experience of booking, planning, promoting, and playing was an exhausting one.

The band, having originated with Grace and Kris, has a number of songs, so the prospect of adding to their collection seems to be one they’re passionate to undertake this year. Or possibly going to Morocco for the year and returning tanned and possessing bongos, offers Josh.

How do they find the balance? There’s the one side of planning their gigs and getting everything ready, and the other side of the performance itself. The answer is it’s something of a work in progress. The band is playing every weekend this May, but they feel a residency is a better plan than being a band playing a pub somewhere in the city every weekend and risking the apathy of the crowd. It seems the band plays by the old adage to always leave the audience wanting more.

Asking what the audience of their Velvet Underground Fringe gig can expect to find different about their own shows, I learn it will probably not be quite so loud. Possibly fewer drug references. Though there’s no great consensus on that. There’ll also be just as many – if not more – guitar solos by Kris. Maybe a larger crowd too (the show is free).

The future, Little Captain hopes, also sees them playing further afield than the Grace Emily, much as they love the place, and a desire to grow their presence – being played on Triple J being a major goal.

They have already played plenty of other venues including Jive, the old Rhino Room (where they played in the last ever show), the Cranker [Crown & Anchor], and the Semaphore Music Festival. Little Captain has even played as far afield as Melbourne where they played at the Workers’ Club and The Old Bar in Fitzroy.

The Grace Emily has been their ‘constant’, though. They played their first performance as a whole band there. They also built their initial duo there. Grace [Goodfellow] was opening for musician Patrick James and Kris [Jaw-Moss] joined with guitar. After this, a reviewer wrote they considered the best part of the set to be the duet which led them to opening as a duo for others.

As new drinks arrive, we enter a deep discussion about the merits of mint and its importance in cocktails. It’s a conversation that slowly, and indirectly turns towards the origins of the name ‘Little Captain’ after the conclusion of an exhaustive list of mint-based band names. With two ideas for the new-born band’s name being ‘Little Silver’ and ‘Captain Gentleman’, the two proposals were merged, resulting in the eventual ‘Little Captain’.

The band discuss how the name Little Captain has, on occasion, led some to come to their gigs expecting a sweeter style than theirs (though they hasten to add they do offer some gentler songs), leaving the occasionally surprised punter. Across my hour with the band, I learn that what they lack in sweet songs, they more than make up for in ‘dad jokes’ as all band members offer their best (or worst) dad jokes.

During the residency at the Grace Emily, Little Captain will be supported by Elli Belle and Beyond the Picture on May 4, Georgy Rochow and Bromham on May 11, Ron the Ox and Ty Alexander on May 18, and to round the month out is Panacea and Hey Harriett. The band members have ties with many of their colleagues from being high school bandmates, to being neighbours, to playing in connection with them.

Should the audience come back week after week, I ask. With two different support bands, free entry, the unique nature of the Grace Emily, and of course, the talents of Little Captain, yes, is the answer. You can get told you’re a great audience every week, they say.

On a broader note, how is the current state of Adelaide’s music culture? The answers range from ‘brilliant!’ to ‘it’s pretty good’, so generally a good and hopeful view from the band. There’s more variety, and every night offers a good gig somewhere in the city, they tell me. It’s come a long way in the time they’ve seen it grow, resulting in the challenge of picking support bands due to the high quality of bands around the city.

With a good future predicted for Adelaide’s musical climate and Little Captain sailing towards broad and exciting horizons, I leave them, finding myself enthused for the future of Adelaide’s gigs and shows. At least until the May residency, when it seems the offering will be too good to turn down.

Perhaps we’ll see you there!

 


Words by Liam McNally

Thanks to the members of Little Captain.

Little Captain will be playing at 8pm at The Grace Emily every Friday during May.