Test Fest Adelaide

Friday the 11th the Victoria Theatre transformed into a pop-up cinema for Adelaide’s new film festival, Test-Fest. 2019 is the first year of this festival which allows filmmakers to come and receive feedback on their works-in-progress. 

The Victoria Theatre is a mixture between a haunted Gothic setting and a dystopian hideout. Cold concrete floors were decorated with small tables and chairs, with wooden bleachers and wooden seats off to the side. Roof scaffolding lay open to the elements. Dim lights hanging from a single cord. 

Free food. Music. A pop up bar. Film. All the ingredients for a good night. 

People milled about, drinking, talking, watching. Children ran around the open space, flopping down on beanbags becoming distracted by short films playing on two large flat screen televisions in the corner of the theatre.

All of these shorts have been entered in film festivals and showcase the talent Australia has on offer. Test-Fest provided the opportunity for the average Adelaidean to see what’s been created over the past couple of years. Everything from animation about a nine-year-old girl who enters the world of sumo wrestling, a claymation adaptation of Frankenstein, and an examination of lost love with the recurring motif of rock, paper, scissors.    

Sitting in a beanbag as gracefully as one can sit on a beanbag, I watched Australian short after short, marvelling at the sheer talent and creativity we have. Now I can say I have officially cried in three movies: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Les Miserables and The Sandpit, by Matt Pearson, a seven-minute film about a girl finding rocks in a sandpit. 

On the main screen films which are still being workshopped were played. They were broken up by twenty- minute intervals to allow the audience the opportunity to give feedback through a short answer survey. Volunteers in high-vis vests walked around handing out clipboards and pens. As someone who is well versed in literary metaphors and techniques, visual and filmic techniques are a challenge for me to wrap my head around. Although this didn’t matter when getting feedback. Directors guided their viewers with the questions surrounding what they were most concerned about asking about everything from ‘was the music distracting’ to ‘what do you think about my main character?’

It was like an extended focus group, a chance for attendees to voice their views and for filmmakers to test their work. A safe space to show friends and family what they have been working on.

Test-Fest gave burgeoning filmmakers a chance to hear from their audiences, with the aim of “demystifying the filmmaking process” before the final product is revealed. It’s peering back to the curtain and having a peek into the inner workings of an artist’s mind, seeing the role of the director and their filmmaking process, to witness the work that goes into the creation of film. 

The suburban Gothic film, Carrie is Great by Bryce Kraehenbuehl, Alex Salkicevic and Lauren Koopowitz and the Cormac McCarthy-esque, and On The Road to Old Man’s Town by Andrew Ilicic are definitely some new Australian projects that are worth keeping an eye out for. 

Attending Test-Fest opened my eyes to the amount of local, South Australian talent there is, and allowed attendees to have an opportunity to give opinions and gain an insight into the often confusing and mystifying filmmaking process. It was definitely a night to remember and a showcase of our best talent.

 


For more information on Test Fest and to keep up with any future events check out their website or follow them via Facebook.

Review by Georgina Banfield

Header image: Test Fest Adelaide

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: Anthony Christou

 

During AVCon 2018, I had the pleasure of meeting fantasy artist, Anthony Christou. He had a wide variety of work on sale: all his original art, as well as his comic series, Luminous Ages, and card games in addition to the series. Recently, I was able to catch up with Christou to talk about his work and extensive successes as a working artist and illustrator.

Christou is a very driven person with a vibrant creative spark. He started off with a Bachelor of Visual Art before going on to do a Masters in Illustration at Uni SA. Christou soon after decided to follow his passion in game art and illustration. Christou began freelance work in the games industry and in 2012 decided to fully devote himself to this career. Christou worked with mentors such as Rob C. Richardson and Simon Scales, who encouraged him to further develop his work. Through exhibiting with Adelaide Illustrators, Christou secured enough freelance work to support himself.

In 2013, Christou worked on a New Zealand Kickstarter game called Path of Exile. It was here that he learned more about the games industry. For Path of Exile Christou worked on a number of aspects including illustration, 3D modelling, concept art, assets, and in-game artwork.  It was during this year that Christou began his convention work, attended Adelaide Supernova for the first time, and achieved insane sales for his original fantasy art. Christou now attends up to eighteen conventions a year, earning a profit large enough to make a comfortable living. Since then he has given talks at both Supanova and Comic-Con. The best part about conventions, he says, is that you get to leave the house and make new friends.

While much of his work is digital, Christou still works with traditional mediums as well. His piece ‘Dangerous Seas’ became the cover art for The Path Less Travelled’s album ‘Cast Out the Crowds’. Christou spoke about being approached by a lady who told him that every time she feels sad she looks at ‘Dangerous Seas’ and it reminds her she can make it through the storm. He was surprised to find that his work could have such an impact on people.

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Anthony Christou, ‘Dangerous Seas’

In 2014, Christou decided to explore his interest in making a comic series. Luminous Ages is now four issues in and remains the second highest funded comic Kickstarter in Australia with only 180 backers and a pledge of around $17,000. Thanks to this funding, Christou is able to hire freelance artists and editors to help bring his project to life. Rob C Richardson, Anthony Earl, Elena Lukina, and Christy Butt worked closely with Christou on this project.

Luminous Ages itself is a series set in a surreal world where dreams can become reality. Thirteen dragon gods are fighting for control of both the dream and real world plane. It is up to the main character, Thrakos, and a cast of dream mages to keep them at bay. The series blends cultures and mythologies together to create a multi-cultural fantasy which addresses environmental issues.

A mixture of cultures and mythologies, Luminous Ages presents a story which heralds both multiculturalism and environmentalism. The series gives Christou not only the opportunity to explore his interests but his artistic potential. Contrary to the American style comics which we are most familiar with, Christou works in a style which is very similar to French or Italian, providing richly detailed illustrations in a comic format.

As well as game design and illustration, Christou has also worked with a number of film companies including Disney, Two-tone Studios, and Wolf Creek Productions.

Christou recommends exploring your artistic freedom and not to work for free too much. He says, ‘creativity can be blocked when you work with the wrong people.’ He notes that there are lots of opportunities within Australia, plenty more than when he started out. He also stresses the importance of taking a break, saying he usually gives himself one day off a week and a couple of weeks each year. Without breaks you can’t generate new ideas.

Being an artist is an endurance race. You need to spend a lot of time developing your work and looking after yourself. And it needs to be sustainable.

He reminds us that artists and writers are a business, and you need to understand creative business. You can’t have everything for nothing and you can’t expect it to be easy. We don’t live in an age like DaVinci and Michaelangelo whose artistic development was sponsored by the church and the military respectively.

When asked about the most difficult aspects of being a working artist, Christou said it was the financial side, business, and the sacrifices you have to make for your passion. His favourite things about working full time as an artist are, of course, sleeping and travelling, but also creating images from his mind, he loves being able to “bring his imagination to life.”

Christou’s next major project is a Kickstarer for theme decks of his card game Dragon Dreams. The Kickstarter is due to launch at 5:30pm Adelaide time today. That’s in just a few hours! You can find it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/luminousages/

Christou is also on Youtube and Patreon.

Check out his website here!

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Images property of Anthony Christou

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

Viewpoint at Light Square Gallery

Ann Podzuweit: Torrens Reflections.


When we think of Adelaide’s River Torrens, vivid colour and bright lights isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. However, the ‘Viewpoint’ exhibition currently showing at the Adelaide College of the Arts was full of playful splashes of colour and movement that captured the life and movement that occurs in and around the Torrens every day.

The River Torrens is a significant icon of Adelaide, one that the artists from Viewpoint thought appropriate to choose as their focus for the exhibition. Last week at Adelaide’s Light Square Gallery, nine artists displayed their wondrous works for everyone to see. The artists included Annelise Forster, Bernadette Freeman, Jane Heron-Kirkmoe, Nica Kukolj, Kylie Nichols, Sophie Mahoney-Longford, Thea Nicole Paulmitan, Ann Podzuweit, and Natasha Todino. All recent graduates, they have come together to host their very own exhibition. Talking to one of the feature artists, Nica Kukolij, she told us that the exhibition was planned during their lunch breaks between classes: an astounding effort during their final year of study.

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Nica Kukolj: Reflect & Ripple, Immersed, Twilight Torrens, Sunset Stroll, Soft Dewdrops, Festive Flora, and Dusty Dawn.


The name of the exhibition, ‘Viewpoint’, conveyed the variety of the artist’s differing interpretations of the river. Layered oil paintings, manipulated photography, wire sculptures and bamboo boats all express the same intense connection to this sacred place.

Rich in history and vital to the location on which Adelaide now stands, the Torrens was the perfect muse. The river is, and always has been, a crucial part of our city that is essential to the original land owners and the early European settlers’ survival. The artists of Viewpoint have displayed this in their exhibition as an icon for creativity, showcasing its natural beauty and prolific wildlife through a variety of mediums.

Proudly displaying our festival state, some pieces incorporated small bursts of colour to show the artistic side of Adelaide in full swing. Artist Natasha Todino used oil, acrylic and glitter to present the beauty and glamour of our state. Thea Nicole Paulmitan used manipulated photography to depict a surreal dreaminess around central Adelaide, which was a reflection of bustling ‘Mad March’ and the bright lights of the Fringe.

Apart from these, one particular piece that stood out was the beautifully serene oil on paper paintings by Sophie Mahoney-Longford. The careful placing of the minimal objects in the painting draws the eye around the soft, murky background. This was really resounding with the audience because, while others had used colour to capture Adelaide’s festival side, this really felt like the every-day Torrens, quiet and peaceful.

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Sophie Mahoney-Longford: Riverbank, Ripple, and Reeds.


The exhibition also reiterates the artistic touch that women have in our community. The exhibits created a textual experience, expressing an inner monologue of not only the flora and fauna in Adelaide’s center but our city’s renowned festival nature.

Being at opening night was a pleasure. The artists were absolutely glowing with pride. Surrounded by family, friends and adoring fans, they were completely awash with the happiness of creation and contribution to society. The atmosphere of excitement inside the exhibition just added to the ambience of the whole experience. Both of us would highly recommend attending this exhibition is you wish to bask in the pride of living in such a beautiful city.

 

Viewpoint will be on show until May 31 at Adelaide’s Light Square Gallery and all pieces are available to purchase.

 


Words by Sarah Ingham and Kayla Gaskell

 

Neverland

Margot McGovern

Random House 2011

Everyone knows Peter Pan; it’s the tale of a young boy who finds his way to a magical land, full of adventure and pirates, and as long as he remains there he will never grow up. It speaks to our sense of existential dread about aging and having to leave behind the care-free days of childhood for serious and tedious ones of adulthood. It’s a story about arrested development. Add in a traumatic childhood and a boarding school for mentally ill teenagers and you have Margot Mcgovern’s beautiful debut novel, Neverland.

Kit Learmonth is the orphaned daughter of a famous writer, whose fantastical stories about their island home filled her childhood with a sense of magic and wonder. But her parents deaths in a boat accident when she was twelve continues to haunt Kit. After an attempt to take her own life while at boarding school, Doc, her psychiatrist uncle and guardian, brings her back to her childhood home, which she has dubbed Neverland. However, it’s not the same as it once was, and as the magic starts to fade, she’s forced to re-examine her memories, revealing a darker reality.

This book extends far beyond simply a ‘Peter Pan’ retelling. Mixed in we have heavy references to Greek mythology with a healthy dose of modern day literary references, sex, drugs, romance, and a very important boat race.

Recently there has been a rise in YA novels which address mental illness and self-harm, and as issues that many young people struggle with. It’s always great when a book manages to depict these themes in a way that doesn’t dangerously romanticise mental illness, or trigger those who may already suffer. Neverland handles its self-harm and trauma in a measured and sympathetic way. In fact, all of the student-patients of the island are treated sensitively.

While Kit and her friends suffer a range of conditions, none of the characters are defined by their ailments. Their portrayals are free from stereotypes; the resident psychopath doesn’t come with a backstory of animal abuse and seems fairly capable of maintaining his friendships quite successfully, and the main drama for the bulimic character comes from her love life as opposed to an obsession with food. Most importantly, you’re never made to feel like these characters are intrinsically lesser beings because of psychiatric help.

In fact, every character in this book feels so layered and complex; even Kit’s dead parents come to life in her memories and the stories other people tell. You feel like you’re stepping into a fully formed world with history and presence and that’s not an easy feat.

I refuse to say that the Island is a character, because that’s the most cliché line in any piece of criticism, but Neverland does indeed feel like fully realised landscape of cliffs, secret bays, giant underwater sinkholes and the mystic depictions of this setting definitely add to what makes this story work.

Finally, this book is simply captivating. I read it all in two sessions – which would have been one of I hadn’t been forced to stop to go to work. Margot Mcgovern is a brilliant writer, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

4.5 stars


Words by Simone Corletto

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.

Adelaide Songs – Director’s Cut

I went to see Adelaide Songs at the 2016 Fringe and hoped then that they would prove to be fixture of our city’s festival scene. It seems my hope has been granted as here they are again for their third straight Fringe and I couldn’t resist checking in to see how things have changed.

Selecting from their bank of songs, the performers gave the audience a generous fourteen songs. Six I’d heard last time, and eight new. The six older songs were welcome returns including a rousing tribute to our state’s ‘best premier’ Don Dunstan in “Politics of Love”, and a song dedicated to the patchy nature of Hindley Street in “Hindley Street Waltz”.

The new songs included the very timely “Battery Powered Premier” and to discuss the changing face of Adelaide, “City of Towers”.

The song list charts South Australia’s long history, through its ups and downs, from arrival of Colonel Light to the present – while still paying due attention to all that went before Light. The performance celebrates South Australia without ignoring the less pleasant elements of our history. It’s not without an understanding of the questionable times in our past.

Adelaide Songs is educational, enjoyable, and a worthwhile show. Any member of the audience is sure to go home having learned something and possessing a greater appreciation for our state’s unique history. The show does not sacrifice entertainment for its educational elements, though, as it maintains a light touch and sense of fun throughout, except for when dealing with the more serious corners of our state’s past.

It is an unrepentant celebration of our city which sits in stark contrast to the popular view of looking down on Adelaide. The performance and the artists invested in it show a willingness to buck the trend of cultural cringe in favour taking time to celebrate the vast range our state’s past, present, and future takes in.

It’s well worth having a show in the Adelaide Fringe that puts Adelaide so much at the centre. Where Adelaide might be the canvas, Adelaide Songs makes our city (the fifth most liveable in the world, apparently!) the artwork itself.

 


Words by Liam McNally

4 stars.

Adelaide Songs – Director’s Cut is playing at The Jade on March 10 at 2pm and 5pm. Tickets available here.

Cirque Nocturne

Cirque Nocturne has us stepping back into the 1940s as crime noir and circus come together. While the story-line is pun-tastic and features a Private Investigator’s (PI) murder investigation, the real show is, of course, that of the performers. Cirque Nocturne features a variety of local talent which serves to simultaneously entrance, impress, and inspire the audience.

 

Featuring an assortment of acts, there is something for everyone. With each act a new femme fatal or shady figure is uncovered, and both the audience and PI are one step closer to solving the crime. Glamourous and dark, we see the “hidden” talents of each new character as they take to the stage to wow us with their skills. A trapeze artist, an aerialist, a juggler (or two), acrobats, and even a fire twirler, as each new suspect performs both raising and placating the PI’s suspicions.

 

While the performance on Wednesday was not entirely seamless, the performers on stage were incredibly skilled and certainly worth seeing.  From juggling to fire twirling and hoops to aerial skills you are sure to be entertained.

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell.

Three and a half stars.

Cirque Nocturne is playing at the Empyrean in Gluttony at 9:50pm nightly until the 4th. Tickets available here.

The Poetry Slam: An Insider’s View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Words by Taeghan Buggy 

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