Archive for QPAC

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.)

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The Divas: Looking Back On The Dummy Spit Of The Century

Posted in Review, Theatre with tags , , , on April 25, 2010 by darthtanion

Dear people who read this blog,
How have you been?  Apologies for not writing for so long but I’ve had  <insert lame excuse here> so I hope you understand.   With a tremendous amount of thanks to the good folks at Harvest Rain Theatre Company, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to go to see a group of women who have advertised themselves as five of “the greatest singers in the universe.”  This is a pretty hefty statement to live up to.  Especially while Lea Salonga & Ruthie Henshall remain in this plane of existence.  Did they bring the goods?  The only way to find out is to read…

The Divas – One Night Only: The Review

Divas A La Shed Door

Executive Summary: LOL!

Review: First thing first.  I’m going to be honest & up front & say that, for those of you who don’t know, Harvest Rain, the theatre company which put this group of girls together, has recently cast me in their next production.  While they have in NO way endorsed my opinions (I don’t even know if anyone from there has ever actually read my blog) this obviously presents certain issues.  If I say anything bad about the show I run the risk of getting beaten to the ground & spat on during rehearsals but if I say all good stuff nobody will believe me due to my conflict of interest.  To remedy this I have devised a devilishly clever solution.  I’m going to write my honest opinion &, to quote the immortal words of Genghis Khan, “Y’all can bite me!”

It occurs to me that many of you may not know exactly what The Divas are.  I think the only way I can put it is to say they are the brain child of someone who was beaten around the head by an elephant.  The idea is insane.  Five girls playing massively over the top divas who think they are God’s gift to… well, everything & everyone.  Including God.  How can anyone make this work?  Five characters, which are essentially the same, constantly fighting & bickering & trying to outdo one another?  Surely the show would eventually descend into chaos, disorder & long stretches of pointless, poorly ad libbed dialogue.  Having said that, maybe my executive summary didn’t really give a truly accurate description of my feelings towards the evening’s entertainment.  To put it another way, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!  Seriously, I laughed so hard I think I sprained a lung.  It was funnier than that video of the kid getting kicked in the head with the soccer ball.  You know the one.  If I’m truly being honest I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the show as much as I did. (Sorry guys.)  I had seen some of the YouTube videos & while they made me chuckle, it really didn’t seem like a concept that could fill a two-hour show.  I knew I would love the singing because I have heard all of these women sing before but I was pretty certain I would want to stab out my ears whenever they made jokes.  I was so wrong & I’m not just saying that because they had a picture of me in the foyer.

I can't decide who's cuter, me or... me.

Yes, there were lots of jokes where they singers were declaring how lucky the audience was to be seeing them or stealing the lime light from one another but it never once got too much.  They managed to balance it perfectly with some very touching moments.  I really was absolutely stunned because it couldn’t have been easy.  The singing was every bit as brilliant as expected.  These girls blend so well & while the comedy in the show was quite slapstick they all obviously take their music very seriously.  A lot of work had gone into the songs which were beautifully arranged by the amazing Maitlohn Drew.  I guess it would be fair to say that a lot of work has gone into all aspects of the show.  The way it sounded, the way it felt & of course the way it looked.  My better half spent the entire evening complaining about how she wanted every dress that was paraded onto the QPAC Concert Hall stage & I have to say that these ladies are definitely as easy on the eyes as they are on the ears.  At one point, one of the girls (not saying which one) entered from the wings & was greeted with a very prompt & not so subtle “PHWOAR!” from yours truly.  My expression was greeted with a very stern look from my date.

Lastly, I have to mention the wonderful charity with which this group has aligned themselves.  The Divas have formed a partnership with She Rescue Home (<- Click here to show them love) in Cambodia.  This a group that fights for one of the worthiest causes I have ever heard of.  An estimated 45% of young girls in Cambodia are forced into prostitution or human trafficking.  That’s a statistic that made me fall out of my chair & those chairs at QPAC are quite secure so falling out is no easy task.  She Rescue Home is fighting to change this (the statistic, not the chairs) & The Divas donate proceeds from their concerts to the cause.  I really hope they made a packet tonight because I don’t think anyone can imagine the horror to which these young children are subjected & in today’s world such cruelty cannot be tolerated.

So in summary this was the best night of theatre I’ve had for some time.  Good singing, good laughs, good lookers & all for a good cause.  The Divas have another concert coming up soon which will also benefit She Rescue Home so I encourage everyone to jump online & head over to www.thedivas.com.au & await further instruction.  I strongly suggest you see these girls before you (or they) die.  You’ll be glad you did.

In case you missed them here are all of those links again:
www.harvestrain.com.au
www.thedivas.com.au
www.sherescuehome.org

Did you see the show?  Did you wish you saw the show?  Have you been robbed by one of the members of The Divas?  We’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment in the comment section.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye Forever.

Luke Venables
Lord Of The Flies’ Dance Partner

Richard Dawkins Does Brisbane

Posted in Rants, The Life & Times Of Me with tags , , on March 5, 2010 by darthtanion

Last night (Thursday 4th March 2010) I had the distinct pleasure of being able to sit in on a talk by the one & only Richard Dawkins.  He was in Brisbane promoting his latest book The Greatest Show On Earth.  I would like to give a special thanks to my good friend Brad Ashwood who, without even having to be asked, informed me when tickets became available again so I could get in nice & early.  This event sold out faster than I could dial QPAC’s number so without him the whole experience would have been impossible.

Who is Richard Dawkins?
The fact that I have to include this section in my post makes me a little sad but believe it or not many people actually don’t know who he is.  In a nut shell Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist.  In a science lab he is also a biologist but he just looks cuter when he is in his nut shell.  He is perhaps more famous to most people for his crusade against religion.  He has hosted his own documentaries such as The Genius of Charles Darwin & The Root of All Evil & he spends a large portion of his time today supporting atheism throughout the world.  Here’s a clip.

How The Night Went
In spite of the fact that many people find it odd that a Catholic man would not only want to go & see such an anti-religious icon but be genuinely excited about it, last night I suited up & headed in to QPAC.  Although I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a Richard Dawkins crowd I don’t think I was expecting it to be as young as it was.  There were several older persons there but I’d guess the majority of the crowd was probably younger than me.

I have never been to a book promotion before so I was a little unsure of how the evening would flow.  Rest assured however, I was not disappointed.  They started out with the mandatory boring people waxing poetic about how amazing it was to have someone of Professor Dawkins’ stature at QPAC then made some jokes about praying the plane didn’t crash on the way over.  (They really weren’t boring at all.  I was just there to see someone else.)  Dawkins came out immediately after & talked for about an hour about his book.  It was a little weird sitting listening to him essentially give a sales pitch for a book I had already read.  I found myself thinking “oh yes I remember that part… now explain the next part.  I liked that part.”  Yes that’s right.  Silently in my mind I was telling a former lecturer from Oxford & best-selling author how he should promote his own book.  Define over opinionated.

Dawkins is not the best public speaker I have ever encountered but he is a very long way from the worst.  As anyone who has seen his documentaries & interviews can confirm, he is very direct.  He has the benefit of having positioned himself as someone who almost always speaks from a scientific point of view so for the most part when he is right he is right & there is just no two ways about it which leaves very little need for mincing words.

After his hour-long promotion of his book there was a very brief question time.  Unfortunately there was no real way of qualifying the questions before people spoke so while most of the questions were fine & all of the answers were very interesting a couple of times people tried to lead his answers in the direction of their point of view.  The first “question” wasn’t even a question!  Some guy just criticised Dawkins for being too harsh on religious people.  As a general rule all sentences have to end with a ? before they are considered questions.

The Book Signing
Finally the best part of the night arrived.  The book signing.  I have to take my hat off to Dawkins here.  He stuck around for well over an hour having a chat with everyone & signing their books.  I know a lot of people would criticise him for only signing books he wrote & not things like autograph books or cleavage but if you saw the size of the line I think you would agree they had to limit the numbers somehow.

Finally after about an hour of waiting I got to meet the man himself

Me meeting Richard Dawkins

I'm the guy with the black hair.

& get his John Hancock on my crisp new copy of The Ancestor’s Tale.

My autographed book

One of the more awesome autographs in my collection.

As an autograph collector this rates pretty high in my list of awesome things I own.  Perhaps not as high as my autographed picture of Nat King Cole but certainly higher than some others I have but don’t want to mention because those people were nice enough to sign things for me & don’t deserve to be put down.  As you would expect, I didn’t really get to have a conversation with Dawkins.  He would have been there all night if he’d allowed that but I did tell him what a big fan of his I am & he thanked me & smiled.  To be honest his sincerity was quite amazing after so many autographs.

The Final Question
As I mentioned earlier, some people must find it odd that someone who believes in God as strongly as I do would be so excited about meeting a man who actively goes around trying to quash one of the beliefs I hold dearest in my heart.   Aside from the fact that I most admire Dawkins for his work in the fields of biology & evolution I still have great respect for someone who stands up for what he believes in even though it has won him countless enemies.  In the words of Douglas Adams:

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? – Douglas Adams

Yes, perhaps I do believe in fairies (not exactly but you catch my drift) & Richard Dawkins obviously doesn’t but I think we both agree that the garden is truly beautiful & for me that will always be enough.

What do you think?  Love him?  Hate him?  Leave a comment to let me know.

Unless there is a next time
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Cloud Miner

Edit: Special thanks to Ryan Mayhead for taking the photo of me with Richard Dawkins.  Bonus apology for messing your photo up so badly.  (Seriously, I tried to take a photo of him when he got his new book signed & it looks like it was taken in the middle of an earthquake.)