first pick of the festival

The launch of the 2010 Perth International Arts Festival Program was celebrated at the Perth Concert Hall with a full-house.

Attendance at the Program launch is a must. From receiving the festival brochure in the morning post, poring over the offerings, attempting to set a budget, confirming and adding more choices during the launch, to meeting up with friends and colleagues that we may not have seen since the last festival.

Our first picks from the brochure were:

After attending the launch celebrations, we would like to add:

Added to that are the Festival Films, Perth Writers Festival, and Visual Arts.

Phew! Now just have to get the money out and book.

The queues were long at the program launch, so having read that we could book online we enjoyed the refreshments and mingled.

I was unsuccessful at booking online as I hoped :( I persevered and attempted to work around issues as they arose, but finally hit the Contact Us button to view a HTTP Error 500 – Internal server error. Because friends said that we would not be able to choose our seats, I gave up with H promising that he would go into town to get them first thing in the morning.

the festival has started

The 2009 Perth International Arts Festival programme launch on Wednesday marks the beginning of the festival for me. Not only do we get to experience a glimpse of the festival, but the excitement of the events and activities to come is shared with some enthusiasm.

Throughout the evening, I found myself talking to complete strangers about the festival. Topics included: Welcome To Country, amazing didgeridoo playing, insights into the programme, presentations, and of course what tickets were you going to buy? Like the programme launch last year, BOCs set up terminals so that Friends of the Festival could purchase tickets then and there.

The formal part of the evening was held in the Octagon Theatre and the programme launch party was held in the Somerville Auditorium which was in a huge marquee surrounded by vintage cars, dance floor (with dancers), and live music. Food and wine were plentiful, but because the weather was cold and wet, those that wanted elbow room headed for the perimeter. The waitpersons all wore wigs to suit the theme, so they were easy to spot, but they too experienced difficulty making their way through the crowd.

We received our programme in the mail on the day, so it was already earmarked to take along to the programme launch. I got tickets for all that we planned, but I may get some more having seen the presentations.

Tickets so far:

Festival Films are on from 1 December, so still plenty of time to get our ticket pack to start the season.

Beauty in Trouble

With only four films left to see, Beauty in Trouble is the first film from the Perth International Arts Festival 2008 that has stood out from the rest that we have seen for being rather ‘ho hum’.

Apart from the music, it was a bit like Home and Away: The Film. This was one drama that was tedious and drawn out to 110 minutes.

The best that it has going for it, is that we can say that we saw (or will have seen) all the festival films. Yes, we stayed to see the end.

A memorable scene is Evzen (Josef Abrhám) demonstrating that even nice guys have a finite limit to the amount of empathy and tolerance shown to others, especially when their generosity is assumed as a given. Perhaps ‘Beauty in Trouble II’ will be realising that Evzen is still too nice.

five artists five songs

This request was sent to me by anxiolytic.

1. List your five favourite artists
2. List your five favourite songs by those artists
3. Tag five other people to do it

I struggled with ‘favourite’ as a qualifier, as I tend to go for songs and albums, rather than artists. But I narrowed the list down by thinking of the songs that I would be happy to play over and over. In no particular order.

White Stripes
– Fell in Love With a Girl
– Icky Thump
– My Doorbell
– Conquest
– You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)

Led Zeppelin
– Black Dog
– Stairway To Heaven
– The Song Remains the Same
– All My Love
– Dazed and Confused

Jimi Hendrix
– Red House
– Are You Experienced
– Foxy Lady
– The Wind Cries Mary
– Purple Haze

Lee Sappho
– It’s None of My Business (What You Think about Me)
– Glad To Be Alive
– Stop Sniffin’ ‘Round My Patch
– Mister Mean
– Nobody Loves Me (Like My Old Man)

Ed Kuepper
– Real Wild Life
– Hang Jean Lee
– Yellow Dog
– The Way I Made You Feel
– If I Had A Ticket

Tagging trs80, Celeste, Teri, Anne, and Zanchey.

unreserved standing

For us, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings was the last Perth International Arts Festival music concert.

Sharon Jones can ‘move’ and the songs together with the Dap-Kings, well you can’t but help but move too :)

We decided that rather than sit on the couches at the back of the dance floor that we would go and stand between the stacks. The sound was not super good here, but it was great atmosphere for dancing and watching the band up close. The only thing that spoilt it was the Paris Hilton wannabees, or princessess and pornstars [1] as Emily Maguire calls them. I had a couple push in front of me and stand right in front so that I no longer had room to sway never mind dance. They moved on eventually as the people who were dancing next to me were very indignant on my behalf and called them out and didn’t give way to them. I must admit I thought ‘unreserved standing’ was like ‘unreserved seating’, i.e. once you had your seat or standing room, it was yours until you gave it up.

The non-stop musical performance by the Dap-Kings and Sharon Jones singing and strutting was energetic, and they appeared to be able to do this with little effort. It was only very much later that the Dap-Kings started to look a bit hot in their suits. The brass section was great, trumpet and two sax (tenor and baritone).

The concert was part of the 100 Days, 100 Nights tour, and it was great to see this song performed live having seen it on YouTube. Another song that I thought was cool that I have been able to find online is Answer Me. Other tracks are on the Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings MySpace.

We didn’t stay for the After Party, there was enough crap on the dance floor to make it positively revolting if not dangerous. There was quite a queue to go into the venue, so with us going out a couple more could go in already barefoot and holding their strappy sandals. Interestingly, as we walked up St Georges Tce to catch the bus, there were a lot of young things making their way down to the Music Box. I found out later that they had come from the Future Music Festival. One of which asked for directions who had become separated from her friends and stated that she was afraid of being ‘mugged’. As H said, this is Perth not New York, and if anything similar is going to happen on St Georges Tce then it would be ‘assault’. Some were rather worse for wear (alcohol must have been cheaper at Future Music), and some carrying water bottles so that they could stay moist.

I think I’ll give festivals a miss for a while. I feel that the tickets are overpriced for what you get. Not sure about the Music Box, but other venues such as the Fremantle Arts Centre do not allow passouts, and there is a limited variety of fastfood and drinks (depending on sponsors). If you were going to an all day or weekend concert, such as the Blues ‘n’ Roots festival, you have to have a certain level of festival fitness.

[1] Princessess and Pornstars, Life Matters, ABC (25.4MB MP3, start 28:12 in)

devotion in black and white

The Tero Saarinen Company and Boston Camerata‘s collaboration and production of Borrowed Light was austere but enthralling.

The inspiration for the choreography and music are drawn from the Shakers, with some of the songs transcribed from original manuscripts. The programme explains that these songs had not been performed for 150 years and until Borrowed Light, outside the Shaker community.

When one of the Boston Camerata began to sing the hairs on my arms prickled. I have never been able to comfortably listen to soprano. Fortunately, for the rest of the 70 minute performance the singers did not utilise the high soprano notes. Some of the songs were simple chanting, others were pretty, and others were almost manic and disturbing.

The Tero Saarinen Company dancers performed a number of dancing styles, but mostly it appeared to be in character with the Shaker songs. They sometimes used their costumes as props, for example, their thick brown leather looking belts were used to support and lift each other. The swirling frenzied dancing reminded me of the dervishes, or spinning tops – until they dropped using different levels to great effect.

The stage consisted of a bare dancing floor surrounded by matt black walls. Two of the walls allowed the dancers and music ensemble to climb and stand on platforms on different levels. This added to the atmosphere, particularly when there was activity on the dance floor and movement and sound enamating from the high and low platforms. The light was often on the singer or dancer, but the others were always on stage and appeared as silhouettes.

Although I didn’t listen to the words all the time, some of the songs I found uncomfortable to disturbing. Especially when danced to with such ferocity. It reminded me of the story of The Red Shoes.

I’m pleased that I chose to see the performance of Borrowed Light (programme) although I did not come away with feelings of being entertained. More that I had witnessed a special moment, the amazing result of a collaboration between singers and dancers of an historical event.