What Reviewers Are Saying About Songs For Europe: Two Short Plays About Eurovision

September 24, 2013

carnation revolution 4

There’s one week left of our new play Songs For Europe, so what are people saying? Well, stuff like this:

“Don’t think Fringe at all… just think great theatre. These two short plays, linked together by Eurovision song contests of years gone by, are refeshingly original – the writing is crisp and multi-layered and the performances terrific. …there isn’t a single weakness in casting in either play… …you should consider this an absolute must-see of the Fringe.”

Stage Whispers

Full review: http://www.stagewhispers.com.au/reviews/songs-europe

“…fabulous, intelligent, funny and moving… Whether you are a fan of Eurovision or not, this is definitely worth hunting through the back streets of Brunswick for.”

Squirrel Comedy

Full review: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4879

“The performers are consistently terrific and the writing surprises at every turn… Full of heart, it’s a work that has a spike under every joke, gently questions its audience far more than the singer, and remembers that there are real people behind our wittiest mocking.”

Sometimes Melbourne

Full review: http://sometimesmelbourne.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/fringe-songs-for-europe.html

“Go see this people! I was expecting campy fluff. What I got was two thought provoking, intelligent pieces laced with humour, intelligence and heart.”

Chris Baldock, Artistic Director of Mockingbird Theatre

“Best Of The Melbourne Fringe”

Aussie Theatre

http://aussietheatre.com.au/reviews/melbourne-fringe-best-part-2

nothing 5

We’re thrilled people have connected to it and are getting so much out of it. You have only four more chances to see Songs For Europe, so book now!

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Songs For Europe: Two Short Plays About Eurovision

September 3, 2013

songs for europe poster

Mark Twain once said “God created war so that Americans would learn geography” and this is how I feel about Eurovision. I’d never heard of Azerbaijan before their end-credits-on-an-80s-rom-com number “Running Scared” won in 2011, yet now I can tell you about their location, their exports, their time-zone and even their human rights abuses. They also have one gay man, apparently. And he’s a hairdresser (I wish I was making this up – he was mentioned by an official as a rebuff to the idea the country was homophobic).

Eurovision was, in part, created out of war. In the 1950s the countries of Western Europe were developing television technology and wanted to experiment with multi-country live events, while also hopefully uniting countries that had recently been bombing each other. As it was an international exercise they needed something that transcended spoken language so their first thought was – I kid you not – a circus skills extravaganza! It’s hard to imagine the Eurovision Juggling Contest would be going 50 years later, although it’s nice to think the UK may still have used it as a comeback opportunity for faded artists. Who wouldn’t want to see Bonnie Tyler on a trapeze? Or the members of Blue forming a oddly-shaped human pyramid?

Second choice was singing, and a legend was born. But suffering still infuses through the contest. As Europe has fought, and healed, and changed, Eurovision has been there. Seven countries competed in the first competition in 1956 – thirty-nine in 2013. Our concept of Europe has changed, and Eurovision has changed with it.

And at this year’s Melbourne International Fringe Festival I have a play about it! Co-written with The Bazura Project’s Lee Zachariah, Songs For Europe is two short pieces exploring the Eurovision legacy. In the first half a young journalist comes to interview an aging singer about her nul points performance and gets more than he bargained for; and then in 1974 Portuguese activists gather in a café awaiting the Eurovision song that will trigger the revolution (again, a true story – there’s a Eurovision song that started an uprising. Even Pink can’t claim that).

It has a great cast, including Marta Kaczmarek (The Circuit, Shine, Offspring) and Nick Colla (Neighbours, Blue Heelers, Wicked Science) and has been brilliantly directed by Lucas Testro (Neighbours, Winners & Losers, All Saints). My Splendid Chaps colleagues are all involved too, Ben McKenzie is producing, Petra Elliott is appearing as a Portuguese bar owner – the role she was born to play! – and our tech wizard David Ashton is creating both the sound design and our brand new 1982 Eurovision entry. You can see the whole fabulous cast listed below.

It’s 8 shows only, September 19 – 29, Thursday through Sunday at 7.45pm (6.45pm on the Sundays) at Broken Mirror in Brunswick. I’m really excited about it, and I’d love you to see it. Tickets are on sale now!

So I leave you with the song that started a revolution – Paulo de Carvalho with “E Depois Do Adeus”. And remind you that the real winner here… is music. Au revoir mon Ami!

Songs For Europe: Two Short Plays About Eurovision

Marta Kaczmarek: Sonja
Nick Colla: Patrick
Angus Brown: Alejandro
Noah Moon: Braulio
Jack Beeby : Carlos
Chris Broadstock: Diego
Petra Elliott: Eva

Interview: Alan Brough

August 27, 2009

alan 2

For the seventh episode of the Outland Institute Radio Show we were joined by comedian, actor, musician and New Zealander Alan Brough. It was a pleasure to have him in the studio, as we chatted about Spicks & Specks, growing up, acting, terrible stories, and Alan’s pearls of wisdom such as “What day isn’t made better by Haysi Fantayzee?”. You can hear the full interview by downloading it from here, but here are some highlights:

Every time I mentioned you were coming in, people would say “That Alan Brough, I’d like to hug him”. Are you Australia’s most huggable comedian?

I never really thought about it before, but I’m willing to test that out. I do – after I’ve had a couple of glasses of red wine – and anyone who knows me will know that’s very seldom – I do like to hug people. Particularly small people. Just lifting them up, picking them up and holding on to them. Rove McManus is good for that. Not for name-dropping, but he was the first tiny person who sprung to mind. But that area of person. I love to pick them up. Cos they’re helpless. They can struggle all they like, but they’re like a salmon caught in the claw of a bear.

You and Myf Warhurst seem incredibly nice on Spicks & Specks, are you like that in real life?

If this is possible, Myf is even nicer in real life than she is on the telly. It’s quite difficult to understand. I thought it was physically impossible to be nicer than she comes across on the TV, but she is. I, on the other hand, am just sad. And when I’m not sad I’m fuelled with a rage that comes from an incalculable depth.

But that’s comedy, isn’t it? Many comedians seem to be bitter, nasty individuals who hide behind a thin veneer of humour…

My veneer is being redone at the moment, so it’s just pure rage for me.

Everyone on the show – bar me – is genuinely nice, and we do get on extremely well. And to be perfectly honest I don’t see the point in people being awful to each other on the television. You get enough of that in life, from your family, from people on the tram, in bars… I was reading about Masterchef, and someone said what they loved about it was that you wanted these people to be your friends. As opposed to a lot of reality shows where you want to find these people and kill them.

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What Gives… You… The Right? On Reviewing

October 10, 2008

Apologies for the lack of new material on The Outland Institute this week. We’ve been having the asbestos in the east wing of the Institute replaced – it was getting a bit worn out. Do you know how hard it is to find asbestos these days? Meanwhile – in between interviewing puppet squirrels – I’ve also had other work commitments, including my new regular gig on the tv-themed-podcast Boxcutters and I’ve been doing some Fringe reviewing for AussieTheatre.com.

Speaking of reviewing, Syms Covington has been having some fun at the expense of The Tender Hook recently – it’s an Australian film, so you won’t have heard of it. It was released on the 9th of October and set new box-office records, taking $4.55 and half-a-biscuit in its first week, before it was mercifully taken out the back of the cinema and shot repeatedly in the head. Which reminds me, it stars Rose Byrne. (Actually, to be fair, I’ve discovered I only hate Rose Byrne in Australian films, I think she’s pretty good in non-Australian films, and she is genuinely lovely in real-life).

Syms’ less-than-flattering comments about The Tender Hook led to this comment, from a person named “Anonymous”:

“Syms, I feel very sorry for you. It seems that you find enjoyment in belittling films you would never have the skill or imagination to make. Maybe if The Tender Hook was about a bitter, cynical nerd with a blog, you’d have liked it. Maybe if it spelt out every detail ad-naueseum you may have liked it. When was the last time you got laid Syms? I’m guessing its been a while. Seriously though, it’s your loss that you weren’t able to enjoy The Tender Hook.

It’s people like YOU that are the problem with Australian film industry… Get a life you miserable tiny little man.”

So people like Syms are the problem with the Australian film industry? And there I was, thinking it was the films…

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Interview: Terry The Squirrel

October 1, 2008

The hottest show at this year’s Fringe is Sammy J In The Forest Of Dreams. It won the hearts and minds of Melbourne audiences at the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, before going on to huge success at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. After the run at Melbourne Fringe (and the cultural mecca of Frankston), the company is planning to head back to the UK for a season in London.

While Sammy J In The Forest Of Dreams is ostensibly about a man named Sammy J and his new friend Farlo, there’s no doubt the show’s true star is Terry the Squirrel – there is no scene that Terry does not steal. The Outland Institute recently caught up with Terry for this surprisingly honest interview. (Warning: contains puppet swearing).

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Words, Words, Words: The World Of Blurbs

September 22, 2008

It’s festival time in Melbourne. Actually, it’s always festival time in Melbourne. Arts, Film, Comedy, Fashion, Writers, Design, Stencil, Cycling, Jazz, Brass, Animation, Fringe, Moomba, Tap, Travel Writing, Italian, Scarf, Funk… and that’s just the first five pages of Google results. Melbourne has a festival for everything. But how do you decide which film to see? Which comedy show? Which travel writer? Which scarf?

In most cases your guide will be the festival program, and the description of each event. 150 words need to convince you to commit your time and money, to get off the couch and turn off those old tapes of Chances – “The best kabuki puppet western you’ll see all year!” “I laughed so hard I mislaid my socks!” “Gong Li is the most beautiful woman on Earth!”

Anne-Marie Peard wrote about the launch of the Melbourne Fringe Festival program a couple of weeks ago, and we talked about blurbs during the Melbourne International Film Festival. But what makes a good blurb? What needs to be in that magic paragraph to pull in the punters and let the sun shine in?

The Outland Institute assembled a panel of experts to address this deeply important issue…

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