Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Sketch Pad: Both Sexy and Complete

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2013 by darthtanion

Hello and welcome back.  It’s been a while.  Before anybody gets excited this is not the triumphant return of The Ninja Chicken that the mainstream media has been speculating on for so long.  No, no.  I was fortunate enough to win tickets from Review Brisbane and as part of the deal I have to write a review.  Rather than writing one of those tiny 140 character reviews I thought I might take this chance to flex the old writing muscle and break the whole show down.  So without further kazoo I present

Sketch Pad: The Review

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Havergal Brian: The Wrap Up of the Gothic

Posted in Review, The Life & Times Of Me, Theatre, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by darthtanion

I have no witty entry to this blog.  My brain is fried.  I’m tired.  I’m… lost for words… completely.  That is of course excepting the ones I have thus far used to articulate the fact that my perspicacity has expired.  Why?  You may ask.  Because my poor tiny brain is yet to recover from the mammoth task of participating in the first production of Havergal Brian’s Symphony No. 1 in 30 years.  So, with that in mind, I cautiously begin…

The Gothic Symphony: The Wrap Up

The Gothic Symphony

OK, first things first.  What the hell is a Gothic Symphony?  Well, long, long ago a man named Havergal Brian decided he loved the Gothic era architecture but at the same time hated musicians & singers.  What to do, what to do?  Then, genius (& perhaps sadism) struck.  He would write the world’s most hardest-est piece of music that ever there was & hope when you listened to it you thought of gargoyles & big pillars.  The following 8 years gave rise to his first symphony, The Gothic Symphony, & is widely regarded as the world’s hardest piece of music to perform.  I have to admit that when you perform this piece you really don’t think of gargoyles all that much.  You more think of the devil himself sitting at a desk covered in manuscript saying to himself “ooooooh Luke is so going to regret not giving $2 to that armless, legless, homeless, hatless orphan last Christmas.”

Now that you know what we’re talking about, let’s talk about it.  When I first heard that we were doing a production of the hardest piece of music in existence I wasn’t particularly surprised.  I’ve known the chorusmaster for some time now (I’ll get to her later) & nothing she does is particularly surprising anymore.  I swear, if she had rocked up to rehearsal wearing a Woody the Cowboy costume with a squid for a hat I would have just assumed she couldn’t find her lederhosen.  That is to say, she isn’t one to back away from something just because nobody else seems to want to do it.  In all honesty I can’t say I know why I signed up to be in the chorus.  Perhaps it was because I was looking for a new project, perhaps it was just because it seemed like the thing to do.  All I know is that I never imagined myself not being part of it.  I love music & I love insanity so doing an insane piece of music was kind of a no brainer.

No brainer or not, I have to admit that when I was asked to be the tenor soloist I came out with the complete rainbow of colourful language.  I was terrified but how can you turn an opportunity like that down?  Thankfully, my fear was completely unwarranted.  The more I worked on the project the more I discovered that no individual part was really that difficult.  Yes every part was a challenge but not insurmountably so.  The only people who really had ridiculously impossible tasks were the chorusmaster (Alison Rogers), her assistant (Dane Leeson), the maestro (John Curro) & the répétiteur (David Mibus).  The thing about each of these jobs was the fact that they had to worry about everybody, not just themselves.  How they managed to keep going through it all I will never know but there is a quote I love:

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends It gives a lovely light! – Edna St. Vincent Millay

I think this is a statement that will always ring true of those four people, perhaps with the exception of the “it will not last the night” part.  Those guys partied much longer into the night than I after the show.  Perhaps we should amend it to “it will not last past 4am on a school night.”

A few days after the symphony I was thinking about how well it all went & where it would go from here.  It hasn’t been done for 30 years.  Would it be that long until it is done again?  To be honest, I don’t think so.  One of the biggest things we fought throughout the whole ordeal was ourselves & our attitude towards what we were doing.  Yes, we were all committed but almost everybody, myself included, started out with a defeated outlook & had to prove themselves wrong before they truly got onboard & I think that’s why it has been so long since anybody has attempted it.  (If that makes any sense.)  Now, however, it hasbeen done.  It’s no longer this impossible undertaking attempted only by the foolish & the damned.  I think the real curse of the Gothic is The Curse of The Gothic.  It has become a self fulfilling prophecy because the first thing everybody hears when someone mentions it is that this is the hardest piece of music in the world, it’s impossible & it’s cursed.  Hopefully, when people bring up The Gothic Symphony now, they will hear that it was done by a tiny group of committed music lovers just for the hell of it.

I guess that’s it.  Nothing more to say except that I hope everybody had a great Christmas & I’m sorry for not blogging for so long.  (I’ve been a little pre-occupied.)  Farewell for now & always remember, if at first you don’t succeed, kill everybody who knew you were involved & deny, deny, deny.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Half-Baked Ideas Merchant
(Half-microwaved ideas available for those on the go.)

Dani Girl: The Story of One Girl’s Quest for Cool Blonde Headgear

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by darthtanion

Greetings goosebumps & fairy winkles,
After an extended leave of absence to perform in a show I’m back & blogging again.  You’re welcome.  Once again those wonderful folks over at Review Brisbane have sent me off to another piece of local Brisbane theatre in the hope I will load my opinion into a shotgun & fire it at your head & by that I mean write a review about it.  You’re welcome.  And so without Feathers of Dew I give you…

Dani Girl: The Review

Executive Summary: Sometimes the only thing you can say is “Thank you”.

Review: To begin with I’d once again like to lay everything out on the line honestly.  The makers & some of the stars of this show are my friends so, naturally, there is a chance I’m going to have a bias.  If you have a problem with this fact then I’m going to need you to build a bridge & go jump.  If you are able to put that aside then let’s begin.

Before Harvest Rain‘s production I had never heard of Dani Girl.  I did a small amount of research on the show to find out the basic idea behind it.  Basically, the story is about a girl with leukemia who loses her hair & embarks upon an imaginary journey to get it back.  From this I knew two things for absolute certain:

  1. It was not going to be funny.
  2. It was not going to be funny.

After watching the show I learned one thing:

  1. It was funny.

Seriously, as morose as it sounds, Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond have managed to write a musical that delves into the horrific issue of childhood leukemia yet still keep it light-hearted enough so you don’t feel like slitting your wrists halfway through the first song.  You continually find yourself fighting back tears just seconds after laughing your head off.  Not all of the credit for this can go to the writers.  The cast does a wonderful job of delivering this work.  The four stars (& I use the term very deliberately) Juanita Ellis-Gloster, Heidi Enchelmaier, Shaun Kohlman & Tyson Stuetz are all part of Harvest Rain’s intern program (at least I think they all are.  I did less research on that fact than I do on most of my “facts”.) &, if I’m being completely honest, do lack a little in stage experience.  This is not to say they aren’t far advanced over many others of a similar age & with similar amounts of stage time under their belts, because they are.  The only real reason I mention their lack of experience is because of the positives it brings.  All of them are completely fearless on stage.  Many of the character choices they made could have gone really wrong if they were made by someone with just a little more experience who would have played things a little more safely.  In order for 18 year olds to convince the audience they are 9 they have to be as fearless &, well, inexperienced on stage as a 9 year old is in life.  This means that, in general, something that would normally be considered a weakness kind of works as a strength.

Before even stepping into the theatre tonight I was pretty sure this was going to be a bit of a tear jerker, or at least it was intended to be.  Just because something is intended to be sad doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to pluck the required heart-strings.  I really wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to pull it off but the second Enchelmaier sang her first notes I felt a lump rising in my throat.  I was amazed at how instantly I believed she was a child.  Exactly the same compliment can be made of Kohlman.  These two fill the stage with a beautiful chemistry that really provides a fantastic foundation on which the show builds itself.  Special mention must be made of Kohlman’s rendition of Why I Love The Movies.  Perhaps it’s just because I would love to sing the song myself but it simply tore my heart out.

Stuetz is hilarious as Raph.  He posses the amazing ability to look like an English butler when standing with the added bonus of being able to morph into an earthworm when needed.  His versatility is a real asset to the show & many of his laughs stemed not from his script but from his portrayal & for this he should be applauded.  Ellis-Gloster performed admirably in what I think is the hardest role of the show, the mother.  Amidst all the craziness & immaturity of the other characters she has to remind us that what we are seeing does have a realistic side.  She also has the un-enviable job of having to walk the fine line between being constantly worried without becoming whiny & annoying.  Her solo towards the end of the show was also one of the highlights.

Finally, a hearty congratulations has to go to debutant director Carmen Glanville & her production team.  Her direction shows wisdom beyond her years.  I loved basically everything about her vision for Dani Girl.  It was heartfelt, honest & raw.  In short, everything it needed to be.  The set design was beautiful in its simplicity & whoever did the lighting design needs an award.  It was really clever & made you complete forget you were sitting in shed.

Who Should See It:
-Those in the mood for a good cry
-Those in the mood for a good laugh
-Anyone wanting to support emerging artists

Who Shouldn’t See It:
-People looking for big lights & loud bangs
-People too young or immature to really get what it’s about
-Small, half-breed spider-goats who got lost on their way to the circus

I hope everyone goes along to see this show while it is still showing as these guys deserve packed houses.  Feel free to leave comments if you do.

26th – 29th May 2010
Wed to Sat 7.30pm

Mina Parade Warehouse
81 Mina Parade, Alderley QLD

All tickets $15.00

Unless there is ever a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Slightly Oversized, Indian Head Dress Shoveler