Interview: Tom Walker / Jonathan Pie

“No, no, no, absolutely not.” Tom Walker’s just broken my heart. I’ve put to him that he could consider taking his character Jonathan Pie to Westminster, or maybe even Number 10. Personally, I think he’d be better suited to Canberra, where he could potentially form a heavyweight tag-team of Australian politics with Penny Wong. “No, I’ve got this tour, and that wraps up in a few months, and then the diary is free.” Right in time for the 2020 US Elections, I tell him. “Oh god yeah, you’re right.”

Thing is though, he’s a bit sick of the constant supply of box office gold that keeps getting served up. “I’d really like it to level off a bit now. I’ve had my fun. When I started out the world wasn’t so strange and now we’ve got Trump and Brexit, and it’s time to swing back towards a bit of normality, you’d hope. Trump sort of set the standard where he can now seemingly get away with anything and everyone looks at him and tries to emulate him. It’s worked, our politics is now full of lies, it’s madness, isn’t it? And it’s really difficult to satirise Trump, he does it for you! All you have to do is read out his tweets, he can’t even spell!” Walker sounds resigned when he glumly predicts another term for Trump, but at least the source material will still be top shelf.

One thing that he’s loving is ‘Scotty from Marketing’. “It’s such a great insult. It’s so to the point, isn’t it? It’s great.” Allegedly Morrison utterly detests this nickname. “Good! I’m glad.” The topic of politicians giving themselves nicknames irks him, though. “It’s mad, isn’t it, we’ve got BoJo, but we’ve always just called him Boris, instead of Mr. Johnson, and it makes him seem friendly, and nice, when he’s far from it. I mean, Boris is a prick, isn’t he? He’s this bumbling bloody affable idiot, when he’s anything but. He’s a dangerous right-wing populist.”

Walker as Pie doesn’t mince words, he’s quite happy to make sure everyone knows about the elephant failing to wear a lampshade in the corner – regardless of whether the elephant is left or right, liberal or conservative – and so the degree of separation between him and Pie is welcome. “It’s quite nice to have that. The majority of people come up to me and say, ‘Hey Jonathan!’ it’s absolutely fine, I quite like it. I find it a bit weird when people go ‘Hey Tom’, like, how do you know my name?” plus it gives him a bit of freedom, he’s always got that ‘it’s not me, it’s Jonathan – he’s a character’ get-out-of-jail-free card, but you can tell that he knows his words carry some weight; 600,000 subscribers on YouTube, over 67 million views, a few live tours, but everything has a shelf life. He admits he’s yet to make that solid jump to mainstream though, and so Pie might be taking a sabbatical. In a field where making it to prime-time is pretty rare, a self-described underdog punching above his weight deserves a title fight.

 


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jonathan Pie: The Fake News Tour, February 24th at the Royalty Theatre, Angas Street

For more information and to book tickets, click here

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

Graduated, Now What? The Post-University Blues…

When I remember thinking three to four years was so far from my immediate future. It seems that before I knew it, graduation had come and gone.

When I hear the word “graduate” or “graduation,” I associate it with success, excitement, a period of transition, and most importantly, an overwhelming sense of fulfilment. I feel as though there is this belief that graduating from university should evoke feelings of pride and success. Unfortunately, my experience, and I’m not alone here in saying this, hasn’t been anything like that and I’ve got a terrible case of the post-university blues.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly proud of all I’ve achieved during my time. I’m graduating with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 6.00 and I’ve been a scholarship recipient despite coming from a disadvantaged background. But do I feel excited? Am I overwhelmed by the fulfilment and success with this qualification to my name? The simple answer is no.

Did I set myself up to feel let down? Potentially. Perhaps it was my own overly naive view that if you put in more than the effort required. I completed work experience with a local newspaper, even though it was not a prerequisite and that as soon as you complete your undergraduate degree, that piece of paper is your one-way ticket to full-time employment straight out of university. I don’t know if it is just me, but I feel increased pressure to secure full-time employment prior to attending my graduation ceremony.  For the fear of being viewed a “failure,” or “unsuccessful.”  (Side note: That’s EXACTLY how I feel.)

Since the completion of my degree, I have applied for over one-hundred jobs. I’ve been asked to attend an interview for only one of these applications, and that was a fill-in position for maternity leave. I’ve lost count on the number of hours I’ve spent polishing my cover letters and pouring over my answers to Key Selection Criteria making sure they address exactly what is asked. It was an obsession. Every morning I’d sit down with my cup of coffee and engage autopilot. Apply, polish and pour. Apply, polish and pour. I’ve never been one to fear rejection in the past, but after enduring this vicious cycle repetitively, my soul was scathed. A sense of dread would fill my lungs the more I would click “submit application”.

Eventually, this fear transpired to feelings of self-loathing and a resentment for tertiary education. An investment of both time and money had equated to this. A blank space. One I was trying, ever so desperately to fill.

But I am not alone. The 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) results outline that one in five university graduates were unhappily working part-time in 2017.

In this day and age, graduates are experiencing a much slower transition rate to full-time employment since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) took its toll on the economy in 2008. The overall rate of undergraduates working full-time has remained on a steady decline. In 2008, the full-time employment rate for undergraduates was 85.6 % compared to 71.8 % in 2017.

Was it my course of choice? The 2017 findings from the GOS demonstrate that graduates with a degree in communications scored within the bottom five, with 60.3% of graduates securing full-time employment. This leaves 39.7 % working part-time or unemployed. Graduates in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and rehabilitation experienced the highest full-time employment rate of 95.9, 95.2, 86.8 and 85.7% respectively. This could correlate with the fact that with these degrees, graduates meet professional registration requirements and experience a higher employment rate as a result.

On the contrary, coursework postgraduates experience a much higher employment rate in comparison with their undergraduate counterparts. 86.1% of postgraduates reported being in full-time employment in 2017. This is a one percent increase from 85.1 % in 2016.

So, with that in mind, whilst I am feeling incredibly disheartened in the lack of employment prospects for my study area, there is a glimmer of hope shining brightly on the horizon. I can happily say that I have been accepted and am undertaking the Master of Teaching (Secondary) course to utilise the skills I have learnt in my undergraduate degree as a writing and media major to teach English and media to secondary students. These statistics alone are a promising indicator that I will gain full-time employment and encourages me to think that I’ve made a step in the right direction for my future.


Words by Dakota Powell

Dakota Powell is a postgraduate Master of Teaching (Secondary) student with an undergraduate arts degree majoring in writing and in minor media studies. When she is not working hard to achieve her dream of becoming an English/Media Teacher, she is often found savouring the very last sip of her vanilla latte or completely immersed in a game of AFL Football, and tragically dons the red white and black wherever she goes. To keep up to date, you can follow her @kotastrophes (Instagram) and @kota_powell (Twitter).

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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.

Meet Your Local NaNoWriMo MLs (Adelaide)

Recently, Tulpa Magazine sat down with Alexander Barratt, Caitlin O’Callaghan and Simone Corletto, Adelaide’s municipal liaisons for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). They talked about their personal experiences writing 50,000 words in a month, and gave some advice for aspiring writers looking to try NaNoWriMo for the first time this November.

 

How long have you been doing NaNoWriMo?

Simone: I think I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for about six years. I’ve completed five times, I’ve won five times.

Alex: This will be my sixth time with in the Adelaide NaNoWriMo community. The first two I just tried it by myself. So this will be my eighth time and I’ve won it three times.

Caitlin: I am reasonably certain I joined the NaNoWriMo website a couple of days before Alex. I didn’t properly compete until last year, when I won Camp NaNo and then NaNoWriMo, because I didn’t know anyone and I was too scared to do it by myself.

 

What made you start doing NaNoWriMo and what keeps you coming back?

Simone: I heard about NaNoWriMo like nine years ago but it was during my science degree so I had exams during November, which meant I could never do it. I’ve always loved writing since high school and when I started (studying) creative writing I was like, ‘this is the year, I’m gonna actually do NaNo’. It was like a really great way to meet other writers and the write-ins were so fantastic for focus and getting so much done. I was able to write more than I’d written in the entire year leading up to NaNoWriMo, so yeah, I just fell in love with the atmosphere and the people.

Alex: I first heard about it online somewhere. I honestly don’t remember where. Why do I keep coming back? I think the people. I wrote 15,000 words in my first NaNo in the Adelaide community and that’s more than I had ever written ever before on anything. And then I just kept coming back. The following year I won, so I got my 50,000 and kept going.

Caitlin: Yeah, definitely the people is what keeps me going. I think I found a link to NaNo somewhere online and then proceeded to freak out and not do it for the next seven years. I met some really cool people out one night and they said, ‘you should do Camp NaNoWriMo’, and I was like ‘what’s that?’. And yeah, here I am.

 

As Municipal Liaisons (MLs), what do you do?

Simone: We basically run and organise a lot of the events leading up to and during November and also a little bit afterwards. We’re kind of like the social secretaries of the community. I’ve just started doing it this year and so far it’s been a lot of brainstorming dates, finding times when we’re free.

Alex: This is my third year being an ML. It’s mainly organising events, having opportunities for people to get together and write and engage with each other in the real world. Making sure the regional forum stays civil, and any other digital platforms that we may be running for the region. Having lots of different events, write-ins, plot-ins, and social events to keep people sane during NaNo, because it is stressful at times.

Caitlin: A lot of emails, and pretty much what the others have said, where we’re there to organise things and keep them running.

 

Adelaide has a pretty strong NaNoWriMo community, what are its best features?

Simone: I’ve been told that Adelaide has a really great writing community in general. There’s a lot of people that are really passionate about writing and writing professionally, and even writing just for fun. I think things like the Writer’s Centre, and also just NaNoWriMo, is such a big hand at bringing people together. And you know, the more people there are, the funner it is. I feel like we’re good at the people side and cause we’re a small ML team, we’re good at mobilising. Some larger regions may have a lot more area to cover, so it’s hard to bring everyone in to the one place, whereas Adelaide’s fairly centralised. Unless you’re living very far out north or south it’s probably easy to get to the city. I feel that helps.

Alex: I agree. Adelaide’s relatively small so it allows us to keep people in the region. I know of people who have left the physical region, but they’re still in our digital region and they contribute from elsewhere, because they still love the community.

Simone: We do try to keep a digital presence as much as we can for the more remote NaNoers, with the live chat and stuff. And we’re doing virtual write-ins as well this year. So people can watch a live-stream and chat in the comments, in partnership with the YA Jungle.

Caitlin: And we don’t judge what you’re going to write. If you want to write and you’ve got the passion for it we’re here to support you with that. If someone wants to write fan fiction, we’re here for that. As long as you’ve got the drive and the passion for words, we want to support. We’re not going to be like, ‘ugh, that’s not real writing’. Because all writing is real writing. And we’d rather promote the love for that instead of trying to pigeonhole people or turn them away.

Simone: In fact, the weirder you write, probably the better it is, the more fun you’ll have. Don’t feel like you have to be super literary. We had a weird chicken erotica in space going on. It was hilarious. If it’s a weird idea, go for it.

 

What are the benefits of being part of a writing community?

(In unison): Accountability.

Caitlin: The accountability. When I was writing by myself there was no one there to be like, ‘you should finish that’. Except my mum. Having friends who write and knowing other people who write. When you’re having a bad writing day they’ll suggest other ways to do it, or they’ll celebrate the day you wrote 5000 words in two hours. It’s good to know you’re not alone.

Alex: A couple of years ago I was sort of mentoring someone. This was, I think, my second year involved in the community, and it was her first year. She wrote 9000 words on the last day just to finish the 50,000. We were cheering her all the way. It’s why I decided to become an ML. Just so I could help other people get through that, or suggest ways through things.

Simone: Yeah, I think it’s one of the best bits because you’re all achieving the same thing regardless of your skill level. We’re all cheerleaders for each other. We want everyone to do the best they can. And I think everyone’s got a really positive attitude towards it, so even if you don’t get to 50,000 words, any words you do in NaNoWriMo is words you didn’t have before. That’s still an achievement and we’ll still celebrate you. But if you want that extra cheer squad to get you over the line we’ll also do that. Everyone’s just really community minded.

 

What are your thoughts on being writers in Adelaide, as opposed to one of the ‘big’ cities like Melbourne or Sydney?

Simone: I feel like we’re a lot more genre friendly. I know there’s a big literary scene in Melbourne and I think not everyone is into that, and that’s okay. I think people feel more free to just write the things they truly enjoy, regardless of how crazy they are.

Alex: I’ve never really written with the intention of publishing anything. I have literally never finished any work of fiction that I’ve done in the last ten years. So, I write for fun. I enjoy doing NaNo, I don’t normally write much throughout the rest of the year, other than occasionally trying Camp NaNos. I save all my creativity for NaNo and then fill the month. So when it comes to other places, I don’t know.

Caitlin: One of the really good things about the size of Adelaide versus somewhere like Melbourne or Sydney, is that there is a focus on the arts within the state. The writers aren’t really gatekeepers. You can talk to any other South Australian author, whether you’re published or not, and they’re happy to talk to you. They’re happy to share their experiences and they’re not going to tell you that you can’t do it.They’re all really welcoming, which is lovely.

 

Any advice for newcomers/prospective NaNo’ers this year?

Alex: First of all, work out if you’re a planner or a pantser. Or a plantser, if you’re a hybrid. Because, if you’re a planner and you haven’t planned, you may find it difficult. I did.

Simone: Just remember that the only real rule in NaNoWriMo is that you have to write 50,000 words during the month of NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t mean that if you get really keen for your idea that you can’t start beforehand and count the words from that point. That’s okay. If you handwrite, that’s okay. It’s your own work, you can do whatever you want. Sure, the intention is to start a novel, but if you’d rather write the next 50,000 words of a thing that you’re working on, or fan fiction, like that’s all fine. It’s okay. Write what you want to write. As long as it’s the numbers in the timeframe.

Caitlin: Have fun. Don’t worry about the quality of your words, it’s the quantity. I remember the first few times I got paralysed by fear because I was like, ‘oh this sentence isn’t good enough, it’s a terrible sentence’. Yes, it was a terrible sentence, but just get the words down. Don’t worry about how polished they are, just get them down and you can fix them later.

Alex: If you get stuck just write ‘ninjas attack’ and write the ninjas attacking. And then keep writing. Don’t stop writing when you hit the wall. Just keep writing. Find something to write about.

Simone: You don’t have to be chronological either. If there are scenes you’re looking forward to, and you’re really struggling where you currently are, just skip ahead. Making things in order is what the next draft is for.

Caitlin: Working full time you can still write a novel, you just do have to prioritise your writing over your TV watching, or whatever the vice you’ve got. But you can do it, you may just need to rearrange something for a month.

 

What are the best places to write in Adelaide?

Simone: I think my favourite is Cibo Espresso on Rundle street. It’s really great because upstairs it’s usually pretty quiet and there are power points so you can plug in your laptop. They don’t care how long you stay as long as you buy a couple of coffees. It’s my favourite place to go. Plus it’s pretty close to buses and car parking.

Alex: In 2014 I made a plan to myself to write in as many places outside of my house as possible. I wrote in fifteen other places other than my house, including various write-ins. I found that writing in parks is kind of fun. I did a day when I went to Bonython Park and just sat there on a bench. And somehow connected to the Adelaide free Wi-Fi. I assume there was like a router in the tree, because I was literally under a tree nowhere near anything that looked like a router. I quite like writing in parks, if it’s a nice day.

Caitlin: I’ve done a surprising amount of writing in either cafes or bars. By myself– because it’s not sad when you have a beer and a book. Basically, I find anywhere with a bit of background noise, I find the ambient noise is very productive.

 

Anything you want to add?

Simone: Join the local group. We’re really friendly and we’ll try to connect with you any way we can. Online or in person.

Alex: If you ever wanted to write something, just start.

 


Logo Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Background image by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Thanks to Alex, Caitlin and Simone for taking the time to speak to us.

 

Alexander Barratt

You can find Alex on Instagram

 

Caitlin O’Callaghan

You can find Caitlin on Twitter and Instagram

 

Simone Corletto

You can find Simone on Twitter and Instagram. You can also read her Beginner’s Guide to NaNoWriMo here.

 

If you would like to get involved with NaNoWriMo in Adelaide you can connect and find out about upcoming events on the Australia :: Adelaide region page (https://nanowrimo.org/regions/australia-adelaide).

Interview conducted and transcribed by Lisandra Linde

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.

‘The Photographer’- By Callum J. Jones

Part One: The Death of Harmony

The funeral of well-known Australian photographer Harmony Carter was held on a cold day in the middle of July, in a little funeral home in the outer suburbs of Adelaide. About fifty people were in attendance, mostly close friends and family. More people would’ve come, but Harmony’s drug habit drove them too far away to care.

Julian Reese was one of the people who did come. He and Harmony were lifelong best friends. Her death struck him a hard, devastating blow.

On the day Harmony died, Julian had been couped up in his office at the law firm at which he worked, going over documents in preparation for an upcoming court case. He then got a call on his personal mobile from Harmony’s brother, Brennon.

“Julian,” Brennen said, his voice breaking. “Harmony’s dead. From a heroin overdose.”

Julian’s heart started beating wildly, and his lungs, it seemed, began refusing oxygen. Harmony, one of the most well-known landscape photographers in Australia, was dead. He managed to pass his condolences to Brennon and the rest of the Carter family. But as soon as the call ended, Julian let out a cry of anguish. He leaned back in his chair, peeled off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes, as though trying to stop tears escaping.

He and Harmony met each other on the first day of high school, when the teacher assigned class seats. They bonded straight away. They shared common interests in books, movies, art – the list goes on! They told each other everything.

Well, almost everything.

There was something Julian never told Harmony, and it was that he loved her.

He planned to tell her, but before he had enough confidence to do so, she came out to her close friends and family as gay.

Telling her he loved her was pointless, and he eventually moved on. He went on to have a string of partners before marrying, but his wife divorced him because he was a workaholic. But he and Harmony remained close.

*

The funeral was one of the saddest Julian had ever been to. He wasn’t sure if that was because he’d lost a close friend, or because the service and burial was gloomy.

Maybe it was a combination of both.

All he knew was that he felt immense grief. He knew Harmony’s family, as well as her partner, Keira (who also attended the funeral), felt the same way.

He got home late after the funeral, still feeling numb. He wanted – needed – a distraction, so he took out his phone and checked his emails.

He refreshed the inbox, and a new email popped up.


From: Amy Smith <a.smith@gmail.com>

To: Julian Reese <julianreese@gmail.com>

Date: 30th June, 2018

Subject: An Interview?

Hi Julian,

I’m sorry to hear about Harmony.

I’m just wondering if you’d be comfortable with me interviewing you for an article about Harmony. I understand if you don’t want to do it. Just let me know.

All the best,

Amy


Amy was an old friend he’d met at university. She was studying journalism while he was studying law. They met each other through the university magazine, to which they both contributed articles. She was now a journalist with The Advertiser.

He honestly didn’t know if he could manage being interviewed about Harmony. He could start sobbing mid-sentence, become lost for words and fall silent for minutes, he just didn’t know. And he didn’t want to embarrass himself.

But he’d probably get closure from doing it. To avoid embarrassing himself, he could spend some time preparing for it, like he usually did for court.

He typed and sent a response to Amy’s email.


From: Julian Reese <julianreese@gmail.com>

To: Amy Smith <a.smith@gmail.com>

Date: 30th June, 2018

Subject: Re: An Interview?

Hi Amy,

Nice to hear from you! Hope all’s well.

Yes, you can interview me. Just let me know where and when.

Cheers,

Julian.


From: Amy Smith <a.smith@gmail.com>

To: Julian Reese <julianreese@gmail.com>

Date: 30th June, 2018

Subject: Re: An Interview?

Thanks so much!

How about noon tomorrow at the Exiles Club?


Part Two: The Interview

As planned, Julian and Amy met the next day at the Exiles Club, one of Julian’s favourite coffee shops. Located in a building that was constructed in the 1930s, the coffee shop was elegantly furnished with an abundance of varnished wooden surfaces and furniture. It had French doors at its entrance, which today had been opened up all the way to let in fresh air. The staff always made great coffee, and you could get excellent homemade sandwiches and cheesecake. Newspapers were always on wooden racks, ready to be picked up and read.

Julian and Amy reminisced about their time at university as they ordered their coffees. But the interview began as soon as they sat down at a table for two, located in front of a window that looked out onto the street.

Amy held up her iPhone and asked, “Is it okay if I record the interview?”

“Go ahead,” Julian replied.

“Thanks.”

Amy opened up the voice recorder app, pressed record, and placed the phone on the table between them.

She then took a piece of folded paper out of her jacket pocket. As she unfolded it, Julian caught a glimpse of handwritten questions on it.

“Okay, so,” Amy began, glancing at the first question on the piece of paper. “How would you describe Harmony as a person?”

Julian looked down for a moment as he thought about his answer.

“I’d describe her as outgoing and observant. She was the sort of person to think two steps ahead. She didn’t like to take risks unless she saw a likeable outcome.”

“What were her strengths?”

“She always stood her ground, and was confident to voice her own opinions. She never followed the crowd in regards to interests, hobbies, and opinions.”

“What do you think her weaknesses were?”

“She was always over-thinking situations. She was also too honest for her own good.”

“What made her happy?”

“Seeing her friends and family. Spending time with her loved ones on a personal and intrinsic level always made her happy.”

As he said this, memories flashed across his mind of Harmony, happily talking and laughing with him and her other friends at high school.

But she told me once that it was really hard for her to feel happiness when the people you care for most in life are unhappy or miserable. She also loved summer nights, chocolate, coffee, and the beach. Also leopard-print clothing.”

She always wore leopard-print clothing. She also owned leopard-print blankets and pillows. Leopards were her favourite animal. Not only did she like their coat patterns, she was deeply interested in their evolution and behaviour, and was also had an extreme dislike for people who hunted them illegally. She once travelled to Africa and went on a safari venture to shoot photos of leopards in their natural habitat. She had a handful of her photos printed and hung them in frames around her house.

“What pissed her off the most?

“Dishonesty, and people who take advantage of others in order to make themselves feel superior or to assert superiority. She believed everyone is equal and has the right to be heard, seen, and to simply be the fullest and most natural form of themselves. She also didn’t like it when people feel pressured to conform to something they are not because others have deemed them as different, unusual, or not preferred.”

Another memory flashed across Julian’s mind, one he remembers fondly. A couple of years ago, Harmony called him up and asked him to come over to her place and help her sort through her clothes. She wanted to donate some to Vinnies. She hated the fact that people were living in poverty.

Amy glanced at her next question and took a deep breath. The next question, Julian thought, was going to be more heavy and serious. He’d better be careful in his answer.

“There’s been rumours about Harmony’s sexuality during her entire career,” Amy said. “Did she ever talk to you about her sexuality? Are you able to confirm it?”

It’s true that rumours existed about Harmony’s sexuality. She never spoke about it publicly. The reason for this interesting choice was that she regarded her sexual orientation an aspect of her private life. Having said this, she’d been seen more than once at high-end restaurants with another woman (Keira). This obviously led to speculation that she was a lesbian. Only her friends and family knew this was true. Harmony asked those who knew, including Julian, to stay silent about it. They all obliged, and Julian was not about to break his silence now.

“No, she never spoke about it to me.”

“Surely she did. You were her best friend.”

“Doesn’t mean she told me everything.”

Well, she did.

Amy got the impression Julian wasn’t going to budge, so she moved onto the next question.

“Harmony died of a heroin overdose,” she said. “Did she have a drug problem?”

She did, ever since she left college. She’d struggled with depression and anxiety all her life, and she suffered a mental breakdown after she left college. She dealt with this breakdown by snorting and then injecting heroin. She continued doing so for the rest of her life until, one day, she overdosed. She’d also smoked up to two packs of cigarettes a day and drank a lot of alcohol. Whenever she temporarily ran out of alcohol, she drank copious amounts of coffee. She obviously didn’t take good care of her health. Those close to her, Julian included, tried persuading her to go sober; they once even held an intervention for her. But she never listened, and continued living her unhealthy lifestyle. Julian hated it, and Keira and her family did too, but there was only so much they could do.

But there was no way in hell Julian was going to say all this. Harmony’s drug and alcohol problem was another thing she didn’t want strangers knowing about.

“She didn’t have a problem with drugs as far as I know,” he lied.

“Okay,” Amy replied, giving a nod. “How would you describe her career?”

“She was one of the most talented photographers I knew,” Julian replied. “Her photos were majestic. No other Australian photographer has come close to matching her talent, in my opinion. I think she’s the finest photographer Australia’s ever produced.”

Her photos were, indeed, majestic. She’d capture so much emotion and meaning in scenes that would appear ordinary to other people. One of her landscape shots depicted an old, abandoned wooden shed sitting in the middle of a flat field of grass, with mountainous hills beyond it. The shed and the field sat next to a road in rural Tasmania, and people would’ve driven past without even glancing at them. But the photo made you aware of the fact that nature ultimately prevails over manmade structures, because the shed (the centrepiece of the shot) was falling apart due to wind, rain, heat, and coldness. It still haunted Julian to this day.

“Well, I think I understand Harmony a bit better now,” Amy said. “Thanks for answering my questions so candidly.

“Not a problem.”

Amy picked up her phone and ended the recording.

*

Julian got home later feeling exhausted. It had taken a lot of energy to not get emotional while talking about Harmony with Amy.

He walked into his office, turned on his computer, and checked his emails. There was a new one from Amy.


From: Amy Smith <a.smith@gmail.com>

To: Julian Reese <julianreese@gmail.com>

Date: 6th July, 2018

Subject: Thank You

Hi Julian,

Thanks for letting me interview you today. I’m going to write the tribute tonight. It’s scheduled to be published in tomorrow’s edition of The Advertiser.

Cheers,

Amy.


Julian didn’t reply; he didn’t have the energy.

He shut the computer down and walked out of the office to watch TV. He fell onto the couch after turning on the TV and thought about whether he’d read Amy’s article about Harmony tomorrow. Wasn’t sure he could bring himself to read it. He hadn’t read any of Harmony’s obituaries; he’d avoided the death notices section of the classifieds since her death.

He decided he’d wait till the morning, to see how he felt.

Part Three: A Tribute to Harmony

The next day’s edition of The Advertiser landed on his doorstep in the morning, rolled up in plastic.

Julian brought it inside, unwrapped it, and laid it in front of him on his dining table to read while he drank his morning coffee.

He wasn’t sure why, but he was feeling much more positive today and he felt he’d be comfortable reading Amy’s tribute to Harmony. If he started reading it, he thought, and found it too much, he’d just stop reading.

He flicked through the paper until he got to the tribute.

Harmony Carter: Australia’s Finest Photographer

Amy Smith

Renowned Australian landscape photographer Harmony Carter died of a drug overdose last week, aged 40.

Having grown up in the suburbs of Adelaide, Harmony achieved national fame when she won numerous national photography awards for her first exhibition, titled “The Circle of Life”.

She went on to win more awards and prizes for her landscape photographs, which are widely regarded as the best in Australia.

She had a great commitment to her work. She frequently worked 18- to 20-hour days without any breaks, and did not seem to have any leisure activities.

Though hundreds of thousands of Australians have seen at least one of her photographs, Harmony herself is hardly known at all. She stood against all aspects of celebrity. She made her biographer leave out all personal details. Even her close friends and family refuse to reveal personal details.

Her best friend, local barrister Julian Reese, is one of them. He refused to comment on Harmony’s sexuality, her rumoured drug addiction, or any other aspect of her personal life.

But he did talk extensively to me about Harmony as a person.

He described her as outgoing and observant.

Something suddenly struck him: Harmony was observant, yet she never picked up that he had feelings for her. Even though he never had the confidence to tell her, he felt sure that his feelings must’ve shown through his actions and behaviour when he was around her. But she was completely oblivious; or maybe she twigged on to it but didn’t bring it up with him.

He looked up from the article for a moment, feeling as though he should’ve told her how he felt, just to save himself from silently pushing his feelings aside and forcing himself to move on.

But she was dead now. Unless time travel was invented before his own death (which he thought was unlikely), there was no way Julian could let her know that he once loved her.

After sighing heavily, he continued reading.

She was the sort of person to think two steps ahead. She didn’t like to take risks unless she saw a likeable outcome.”

He said she always stood her ground and was not afraid to voice her opinions.

She never followed the crowd in regards to interests, hobbies, and opinions,” he said.

She savoured the time she spent with her friends and family.

She also loved summer nights, chocolate, coffee, and the beach.”

She loved coffee a little too much, Julian thought.

According to Mr. Reese, a few of her weaknesses were over-thinking, and that she was always too honest for her own good.

She hated dishonesty, and people who take advantage of others in order to make themselves feel superior or to assert superiority,” Mr. Reese said.

Another thing struck Julian at this point. Harmony hated – hated – lying and dishonesty. Yet she lied about her sexuality and other aspects of her personal life when asked by journalists. He understood her reasoning to keep personal stuff private: he didn’t want other people to know the details of his divorce, so he never mentioned any it to anyone.

She believed everyone is equal and has the right to be heard, seen, and to simply be the fullest and most natural form of themselves.”

Mr. Reese added that Harmony also disliked it when people feel pressured to conform to something they are not because others have deemed them as different, unusual, or not preferred.

Another contradiction that Julian understood. Harmony consistently portrayed herself as a heterosexual woman who didn’t have any problems whatsoever. Though she never felt pressured to conform to this portrayal, she felt it was necessary to hide her true lifestyle to protect her privacy.

Mr. Reese believes Harmony is the finest photographer Australia’s ever produced.

Her photos were majestic,” he said.

No other Australian photographer has come close to matching her talent, in my opinion.”

Julian finished the article feeling satisfied. Amy had done a good job with the tribute. The piece provided Julian with a sense of closure.

But should he have told Amy the truth about Harmony? No, he decided. That would’ve been a betrayal to her, even though she wasn’t around anymore.

Harmony was gone. He couldn’t bring her back. He didn’t believe in the afterlife, so there was no point thinking he’d see her again.

He’d always remember her, but he must go forward into the future, not get bogged down in the past.


Words by Callum J. Jones

Image by Mia Domenico on Unsplash

IMG_0080Creative, honest, and reliable, Callum J. Jones loves writing fiction and non-fiction. In his spare time, he likes to read, watch movies and TV shows, and go on walks.

You can follow him on Facebook (@callum.j.jones.writer) and Twitter

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.