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PARADE: Theatre People

  • September 16, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Allison Hilbig for Theatre People.

The real life mystery of Parade: was Leo Frank innocent or guilty?

With book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Parade tells the true story of the trial of Jewish factory worker, Leo Frank, who was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a 13 year old employee in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913.

Luigi Lucente (Rocky Horror Show, Pippin, The Last 5 Years, Assassins, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Guys and Dolls) plays the lead role of Leo Frank. In preparation for this role, Lucente undertook extensive research: reading books, searching the internet, watching documentaries and mini series. What he discovered was that 100 years later, this story is still a hotly debated topic with people fiercely divided about what they thought really happened. As Lucente says, “The first casualty of Parade, in my mind, is the truth.”

Certain elements of the story have been extrapolated for dramatic effect but these are minor details within the show. What remains is a fairly true depiction of what actually took place – something Lucente refers to as “hauntingly scary.”

During the first rehearsals the cast spent some time sifting through all their research to understand what really took place. Lucente described it as a very collaborative process, with everyone submitting ideas from  their individual research. While the cast need to be true to the text, the research helped to inform them of the differing opinions and assisted in the establishment of their characters.

Lucente describes the show as an incredibly rich tapestry of mystery, lies and secrets. The writing is crafted in such a way that the audience (and even the performers) are not necessarily certain if Leo Frank is indeed guilty or innocent. Intrigued, I asked Lucente how the show will leave audiences – is there a resolution? Lucente expects the show will linger with audiences for some time. Parade does not attempt to resolve this true story – there still remains divided speculation about whether Leo Frank was indeed innocent or guilty.

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DREAMERS: The Age- Treading the Boards

  • September 16, 2014
  • news

Read article in its original context here by John Bailey for The Age Dream team of Daniel Keene and Ariette Taylor reunite for Dreamers The creative collaborations by playwright Daniel Keene and director Ariette Taylor that went under the moniker of…

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★★★★ ArtsHub review: Waking Up Dead

  • September 9, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Mark Brandi for ArtsHub.

Trudy Hellier builds the reality of a fragile life and loves, and in doing so creates a sympathy bordering on kinship.

The swingers’ scene. A secret double-life. A tryst that ended in murder.

In Waking Up Dead, writer Trudy Hellier goes behind the headlines to expose the tragedy of those left behind.

A successful businessman inexplicably vanishes following a business trip, leaving a wife bereft and police scrambling. A business deal gone wrong? Revenge? An affair? The truth, however, was more shocking than anyone imagined.

Caroline Lee (Bell Shakespeare, MTC) is the widow, poring over the fragments of the life she shared. Lee embodies a brittle tenacity as she grieves not just for a lost husband, but for a life they had created together – a life now rendered a fraud.

Lee is outstanding. She delivers a searing but measured one-hour monologue spanning twenty-five years. Sparsely staged on a large sheet of white paper, Lee retraces their past and illustrates the icons of her memories: the cheap furnishings of a share house; the window of their first apartment; the office they shared as business flourished and their family grew.

The use of illustrated outlines in the set is reminiscent of Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. This sparse environment cleverly focuses the audience on the intensity of the storytelling.

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★★★★ THE HERALD SUN review: Waking Up Dead

  • September 9, 2014
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See review in its original context here by Kate Herbert for The Herald Sun.

IMAGINE waking up one day to discover that your partner has died in mysterious circumstances and that he was living a secret and disturbing double life.

Such is the distressing and poignant experience of the woman in Waking Up Dead, written by Trudy Hellier and developed with imagination and vision by collaborators Susie Dee (director), Caroline Lee (actor) and Ian Moorhead (sound designer).

Lee is quietly compelling as this reserved, conservative woman, playing her with a haunted and bewildered quality that epitomises her grief and masks her repressed but seething rage.

She is confined to a cell-like space that is framed by a white paper wall and floor that create an atmosphere of entrapment, but also a sense of privacy as the woman struggles to make sense of her life and her grief.

The white environment also provides her with blank surfaces upon which to sketch her memories of her past life with the man she no longer recognises as her husband.

She starts her story in 1980, then moves forward chronologically by increments to 2007, scribbling dates, notes and quotes, and sketching furniture that identifies locations and conjures a black and white landscape of her murky past.

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Waking Up Dead: Theatre Press – review

  • September 9, 2014
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See review in its original context here by Myron My for Theatre Press.

A blank sheet and a black crayon

In Waking Up Dead, writer Trudy Hellier explores what happens to a woman when her husband dies in an unexpected and shocking way, only then to discover he was also leading a double life.

With direction from Susie DeeCaroline Lee succeeds in captivating our attention with her portrayal of the grieving woman. Her fragility is evident throughout and you can see her slowly unraveling as she recalls moments of her life with her husband, leading up to that fatal moment and beyond.

Her dialogue is delivered earnestly and from the heart, and Hellier has created a script that really captures the emotions and reactions a person feels when not only someone they love dies, but also someone they love turns out to not be who they thought they were. Ian Moorhead’s sound design is used effectively with interspersed sound bites throughout Waking Up Dead. TV news reports and police interviews all point to the inevitable and add more despair to Lee’s character’s story.

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The Decorated Kate

  • September 9, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Amy Campbell for Melbourne. Arts. Fashion.

Kate Durham in her studio - Photo by Amy Campbell

An invitation to sip tea and talk trinkets with Kate Durham is not something one stumbles across everyday.

But if you ever find yourself ringing the doorbell to her eclectic home, notebook in hand and excitement uncontainable, I can promise you it will be an afternoon well spent.

Jewellery designer, Co-founder of the Fashion Design Council, Refugee Advocate and charming soul, Durham’s accolades and charisma are just as decorated as the treasures she creates. Thus, it makes perfect sense her upcoming exhibition is titled The Decorated Self. A collation of her most recent work, the show embraces age, femininity and the socially subdued freedom to indulge in ‘a little dressing up’.

“In a sense, I’ve taken up where I left off in the ‘80s,” Durham explains, “but my early jewellery was much brasher, more overtly funny… I think this jewellery still contains little jokes, but it’s a bit wiser… more muted. Less judgemental, perhaps.”

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Waking Up Dead: The Age – review

  • September 9, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Cameron Woodhead for The Age.

Waking Up Dead appears to be inspired by the Herman Rockefeller murder. The successful Melbourne businessman led a sordid double life, and his grisly killing at the hands of swingers unearthed it for all to see, leaving his family to cope not only with sudden loss but also the humiliation of the sensational circumstances around his death.

Trudy Hellier’s play represents an empathic engagement with what a wife thrust into such a horrific situation might feel, how she might reflect on and reassess the course of her life, and her marriage.

The prime visual gambit in this one-woman show is to use blank paper for the set, which is drawn on with charcoal, ex tempore, as the story emerges. It’s a winning device, adding a contingent, cartoonish dimension to the act of remembrance.

The script and Caroline Lee’s performance are both at their best in describing the contours of love, from youthful infatuation in a student house in the early ’80s to raising a family. And later, in presenting the wife’s gradually acquired habit of turning a blind eye to her husband’s infidelity.

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Durham seeks refuge in her jewellery

  • September 9, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Suzanne Carbone for The Age.

Kate Durham with some of her latest work. Photo: Luis Ascui

There is no minimalist art for Kate Durham, the maximalist aesthete with distinctive spectacles. While doing a post-graduate diploma of fine art at the VCA, the rebel with a cause winced at the austere preaching that blank was best. “I’m not interested in single-statement art,” she said.

Walking through her magnificent Hawthorn home, the wife of Julian Burnside, QC, points out the art: Bill Henson, Juan Davila, contemporary Chinese embroidery and a framed relief she made of John Howard drowning on a boat.

That’s a bold symbol of her campaign for refugees that began in 2001 when the Tampa freighter was refused entry after carrying 438 Afghani refugees. The human-rights campaigning of “Burnside” – as his wife calls him – is public knowledge but as a private reminder, on their wall is a postcard of Jesus, the word “Refugee” and his heart surrounded by thorns.

The artist and jeweller, who calls herself a “wild child”, was expelled at 16 for “political activity” and incensed during the Vietnam War. The Tampa incident spurred the proud Labor voter to drop her creative tools and establish Spare Rooms for Refugees, a project to provide community accommodation. She opened her door to several refugees.

Afghani refugee, Mosa, 21 has lived with the couple for 11 years as their foster son and is studying nursing and paramedics. “He loves fashion, too,” Ms Durham said.

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MASTER CLASS: Theatre Press – review

  • August 23, 2014
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See review in its original context here by Bradley Storer for Theatre Press.

Intimate and involving theatre

Terrence McNally’s Master Class, a play about the life of Greek opera singer Maria Callas whose artistry and career revolutionised the landscape of 20th century opera, comes to fortyfivedownstairs with the brilliant Maria Mercedes as the tragic diva.

The intimate theatre space at fortyfivedownstairs is perfect for the play set as a masterclass in the twilight of Callas’s career, the era signalled effectively by the 70’s fashion worn by the cast. Mercedes enters the room with an air of quiet authority, an iron fist wrapped in silk, taking charge of the stage and the accompanist (Cameron Thomas) in short order. Mercedes is the embodiment of the word ‘diva’ – narcissistic, commanding and uncompromising but with such charisma and a depth of artistic integrity that it is easier to see how this figure still fascinates today. Mercedes manages to find the undercurrents of charm, self-deprecation and kindness in the character which also make her surprisingly likeable.

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MASTER CLASS: Australian Stage – review

  • August 23, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Lee Bemrose for Australian Stage.

Initially, I confused Maria Callas with Diamanda Galas. The latter, I thought, would be a great subject for a play. When I realised my mistake I was a little disappointed because although Maria Callas did indeed lead an eventful life and was obviously worthy of celebrating in the form of a play, I don’t really like opera. And after reading the press release properly, Master Class was going to contain some singing. Oh Dear. I wasn’t sure about this. I mean, opera, really?

Right from the start, however, this play cast a spell. It’s a loving tribute to La Divina, very funny, warm, and gives great insight into what it takes to be a great performer, to really excel at any creative vocation. I loved the writing, the acting, the structure of the story and – get this – the singing. Not ever having been to a live opera performance I have no idea why I thought I didn’t like opera. The power of this kind of singing is extraordinary, and I do believe I’ll be following up on this epiphany.

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MASTER CLASS: Limelight Magazine – Review

  • August 23, 2014
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See review in its original context here by Sascha Kelly for Limelight Magazine.

A private invitation into the mind of the world’s most influential diva.

A reimagining of a diva in her twilight years, Masterclass is a play based on the renowned 1970s masterclasses given by Maria Callas at the Julliard School. Callas enters, still possessing the towering presence that crowned her ‘La Divina’. Over the two-hour production, Masterclass offers a real-time snapshot of Callas as she works with three very different students. In turn, each incites the tempestuous Callas to recall private memories of her own past.

Maria Mercedes has obviously spent much time studying the gestures and idiosyncratic accent of the singer, as she is eerily reminiscent of the late diva.  The stage is bare save for a grand piano and a cushionless stool. The houselights remained on as Callas warmly greeted the audience as witness to the afternoon’s masterclass. She urged no one to applaud, but reveled in the attention. Callas’ banter was quicksilver and turbulent, striking a stunned silence at one moment, and eliciting a rolling laugh in the very next breath. Cameron Thomas was warm and likeable as the obliging accompanist Manny Weinstock.

The glue of this performance was the very palpable chemistry between Maria Mercedes and the three young singers (in order of appearance), Georgia Wilkinson (playing Sophie De Palma), Robert Barbaro (Tony Condolino) and Anna Louise Cole (Sharon Graham).  All three have developing, but charming voices. One by one they came ready to work, but one by one Callas found them lacking. Each possessed individual faults found universally in young singers. Most of all, Callas probes them to connect with the emotional lifeblood of their operatic counterparts, a skill that Callas was peerless in achieving herself. In her eagerness to demonstrate this submersion in a role, Callas hallucinates scenes from her own past.

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Simon Parris reviews MASTER CLASS

  • August 21, 2014
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See review in its original context here by Simon Parris.

The planets have aligned for an extraordinarily synergistic match of artist and material, as Maria Mercedes channels the very essence of Maria Callas in this riveting presentation of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class.

Produced on a modest budget, the passion and skill involved eclipse many a main stage production. What fortyfivedownstairs lacks in similarity to the Juillard School setting it makes up for in atmosphere and intimacy. The textured windows and walls of the space take on ghostly shadows as Callas is haunted by her past demons. This is a very rare chance to hear this play unamplified, and the effect is electrifying. The combination of McNally’s ear for natural dialogue, Mercedes’ utter immersion in the role and the intimate setting creates a presentation so real that it is very hard to forget we are not at an actual master class.

Director Daniel Lammin has used the minimal staging elements as an asset to allow full focus on the text. Blessed with a highly talented company of five (plus associate director Cameron Lukey as the surly stagehand), Lammin has meticulously brought out rich nuances of vocal and physical expression. Best of all, Lammin plays the humour completely straight, thus expertly maximising its impact; some laughs were so good they received applause.

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THE SEAFARER: TimeOut Melbourne – review

  • August 11, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Tim Byrne for TimeOut Melbourne.

Nominated for multiple Tony Awards, the acclaimed play arrives in Melbourne with its wicked Irish doom-and-gloom charm – just in time for the wintriest months

fortyfivedownstairs has been experiencing some luck of the Irish recently, with the triumph of Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy followed hard upon by this flinty play by Conor McPherson. While not quite in the same league as McDonagh, The Seafarer still puts forward a convincing argument for the current strength of Irish playwriting.

The play opens on Christmas Eve and James ‘Sharky’ Harkin [Barry Mitchell] is two days into his sobriety, a tough gig given he is staying with his alcoholic brother Richard [Geoff Hickey] in a house that is constantly set upon by drunken mates. One of them, Ivan [Adam Rafferty], is already there, having slept on the bathroom floor after a massive drinking session the night before.

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MASTER CLASS: The Age/Sydney Morning Herald

  • August 9, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Sonia Harford for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald.

Mercedes does Callas in a masterclass

Actress Maria Mercedes poses for a photo at the Hellenic Museum

Actress Maria Mercedes poses for a photo at the Hellenic Museum

When does an actor ever stop performing? Even off-stage, Maria Mercedes is an instinctive storyteller.

Leaning forward, eyes alight, hoop earrings swinging, she’ll set the scene. Places hold meaning and memory for her. She’ll tell you about the spot down the road in the inner north where her father once had a milk bar. Or the time she demanded her cats accompany her on a national tour of the musical Chicago.

“I had it in my contract … so in Paddington, Sydney, I had the three cats living with me at the apartment. They were lounging by the pool every day. The guests loved them!”

Lively raconteur she may be, but you can also sense the emotional depths she’ll draw on for her next stage role. Terrence McNally’s 1995 play Master Class portrays opera legend Maria Callas towards the end of her career. The setting is a Juilliard School class in which the imperious singer collides with her past – young students on the brink of success who know little of the sacrifices Callas made for her art.

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THE SEAFARER: Tinteán Magazine – REVIEW

  • August 7, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Renée Leen Huish for Tinteán Magazine.

A trio of males gathered together in a North Dublin basement, celebrate Christmas the only way they know how, by playing cards and getting drunk. Conor McPherson’s  The Seafarer is a brilliant script that is hugely entertaining, engaging and funny. Conor McPherson is no stranger to alcoholism having spent much of his life fighting this demon and knowing first hand the pain of searching for meaning and drinking to dull this pain. Blindness, loss, condemnation, forgiveness and redemption are all knitted seamlessly into the tight uplifting script that deservedly won The Seafarer many awards. The theme of loss and blindness is all pervading suggesting that ‘there are none so blind as those who will not see’. Drunkenness is not the only demon in the play as is evident in the stakes in the card game.

It is obvious that Director Wayne Pearn is at home with this script and he displays a familiarity with, and an obvious admiration for McPherson’s work, and he has chosen a stellar cast and forged them into a tight ensemble. Fortyfivedownstairs (theatre) is the perfect setting for The Seafarer, immediately drawing the audience into the intimacy of the performing space. George Tranter’s set was well suited to the performance space and kept the intimacy between players and audience throughout. It was evident from the start that the décor was devoid of a woman’s hand, and the pub souvenirs added to the overall ambience.

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THE SEAFARER: Stage Whispers – review

  • August 5, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Michael Brindley for Stage Whispers.

10.30am on the day before Christmas.  A crummy basement flat in a Dublin suburb.  James ‘Sharkey’ Hardin has finished (or was he fired?) a job as a chauffeur down south.  He’s come ‘home’ to look after his now blind older brother, the irascible, aggressive and none-too-clean Richard.  As Sharkey’s past comes out, he’s revealed as a sad but angry and violent loser and even a murderer long ago.  An alcoholic, he’s trying to stay on the wagon – an enterprise his brother regards with skeptical contempt.  As he would.  Richard is pretty much an alcoholic too – as are the other characters here.  A central theme of the play is the deleterious effect of alcohol, symptom of a wider malaise.  Blotting out the world and one’s own insignificance in it is understandable given this world and these characters.

Richard and Sharkey’s friend, Ivan, has stayed overnight, too drunk to go home.  Now he’s head-splittingly hung-over, can’t find his glasses and worries that his wife is going to kill him.  Sharkey, already derided and much put-upon, discovers that Richard has invited one Nicky Glblin over for some Christmas cheer.  Nicky’s living with Sharkey’s ex and driving Sharkey’s car – and there’s not a thing Sharkey can do about that or the impending visit.  But first the trio must get a taxi into town to stock up on the Christmas cheer.  The shopping list is almost entirely made up of alcohol.

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THE SEAFARER: Theatre People – Review

  • August 5, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Stephanie Cochrane for Theatre People.

“I’m the son of the morning, Sharky. I’m the snake in the garden. I’ve come here for your soul this Christmas, and I’ve been looking for you all f**king day!”

On the coldest day of the year in Melbourne, the scene was well and truly set for Conor McPherson’s supernatural drama meets modern-day Dublin black comedy “The Seafarer”. Presented by Hoy Polloy theatre company, the play takes place on an ostensibly unexceptional Christmas Eve in Baldoyle, a coastal suburb north of Dublin. As a raffish, hard-drinking bevy of old “friends” gather for a game of poker, it soon becomes clear that they’re not just playing for money this time. Like the Anglo-Saxon poem of the same name, the real game McPherson is alluding to is the game of life, and the blundering choices we make that can render us, in some cases perpetually, lost at sea.

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THE SEAFARER: Melbourne.Arts.Fashion – review

  • August 3, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Lisa Romeo for Melbourne.Arts.Fashion.

5 stars

The Seafarer was written by Dublin born Conor McPherson in 2006.  He has been described as ‘one of the finest playwrights of his generation’ with his plays having been performed internationally (notably in the West End and on Broadway). Director Wayne Pearn has worked as an actor, director and producer for thirty years and brings to perfect fruition McPherson’s award winning story.

The Seafarer is set in the disheveled home of hard drinking Irish man Richard, (played by Geoff Hickey), who presumably has lost his eyesight at work.  His brother James ‘Sharky’ Harkin, (played by Barry Mitchell) having just given up the drink after battling alcoholism returns to live with his elderly, demanding brother.

It’s the morning of Christmas Eve and the lounge room is covered with empty beer cans, half eaten food and old newspapers. Richard is found asleep on the floor and Ivan (played by Adam Rafferty), a goofy looking mate of the brothers, staggers downstairs, too drunk to make it home last night.

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THE SEAFARER- Simon Parris: Man in Chair (review)

  • August 2, 2014
  • news

See review in its original context here by Simon Parris.

Melbourne turned on a suitably blustery, rainy night for the opening of Hoy Polloy Theatre’s The Seafarer, with the howling from the weather and the sound effects being indistinguishable at times.

In the intimate space of fortyfivedownstairs, the audience feels like a sixth player at the table with the motley clutch of Irishmen spending Christmas Eve drinking, cussing and playing poker with deadly stakes.

Acclaimed Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s 2006 work is the star attraction here, its script a mixture of comic blarney and raw drama, with a touch of supernatural magic for good measure. McPherson’s skill at sketching characters, both those on the stage and those in the wider story, is uncanny, and his keen observation of the foibles human nature guarantees that viewers will find plenty to recognise and identify with in the play.

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Arts Review: On the Couch with Wayne Pearn

  • August 1, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by the Arts Review.

Who is Wayne Pearn?
Inner city dweller, co ‘parent’ of two dogs, Leo, director, actor, producer.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Absolutely nothing. Wouldn’t change a thing!

Who inspires you and why?
I have to say my Mum, Gaynor. She is just a tremendous life force who instills you with self-belief. She may not have always agreed with decisions I’ve made but once made she gives you nothing but 100% support.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Try to be better today than what I was yesterday.

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5 minutes with the Artist: Michael Prideaux

  • July 29, 2014
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Photographer Michael Prideaux in front of his work 'Total Solar Eclipse'.

Michael Prideaux has been photographing Port Phillip Bay for over 40 years and uses a variety of digital cameras to produce images that he minimally manipulates to enhance tone and colour. His exhibition Sea & Sky runs from 22 July till 2 August 2014.

What is the inspiration behind your current body of work? The inspiration behind my current work which is photographs of Port Phillip Bay is partly the opportunity to observe the bay in all kinds of weather and lighting conditions as I live close to it.  A coule of the photos were taken while I was walking my dogs,one of whom makes a cameo appearance in one of the photos.

How do you create these works, what is your process? The works were created with a variety of digital cameras and post processed fairly minimally in Photoshop.  Polarising filters were used in the daytime shots to increase cloud contrast and a small aperture (F11 or greater) was used to increase depth of field. The photos were printed by me on Museo Silver Rag paper using an Epson Pro 4800 printer.

What is your background, education, experience or how did you evolve into being an artist? I have had a lifelong interest in photography but have had no formal training.  Over a decade ago I switched from film to digital at about the same time that I retired from practice as a barrister.  Both were positive moves.

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5 minutes with the Artist: David Frazer

  • July 29, 2014
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Artist David Frazer signing the book 'Little Aches & Pains' he collaborated on with Paul Kelly

David Frazer is an artist who uses linocut, wood engraving, painting and letterpress to create his detailed and frank iconic Aussie works. His exhibition HUG is in our large gallery from 22 July – 2 August 2014. View his works here: http://www.dfrazer.com/

What is the inspiration behind your current body of work? As well as the artist book the main themes of my work is the exploration and glorification of confused, bewildered and discontented men.  Dreams and yearning for love and stability matched to the desire to run away and escape, to be somewhere more exciting and to be someone more exciting.

How do you create these works, what is your process? I listen to music, come up with ideas and titles and go from there.  I think of my work like a songwriter would produce an album.

What is your background, education, experience or how did you evolve into being an artist? I was good at art at school and had really good art teachers.  I wanted the life of an artist.  After high school I went straight to art school and pretty much wasted my time.  After art school I gave away art to pursue a life in showbiz which proved ridiculous and delusional.  Luckily I saw sense in my latye 20’s and went back to art school to do an honours year in printmaking.  I now had a subject, failed ambition etc and the discovery of printmaking really suited my desire for narrative.

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Printmaker creates romantic line of work

  • July 29, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Penny Webb for The Age.

CRAFT
DAVID FRAZER; MICHAEL PRIDEAUX
Fortyfivedownstairs, city, until August 2

A self-described romantic, printmaker David Frazer says he has one story to tell and it’s his own. Certainly, his likeness appears in works in this show. See, for example, the wonderfully named wood engraving, Shitfaced, of 2012.

Frazer was introduced to wood engraving by Tim Jones in the mid-1990s, having returned to art school after dreams of a career in show biz ended with his singing karaoke in a gorilla suit in a country town. It makes a good story: you may have heard it before.

He found that the exacting, repetitive nature of engraving suited his nature and his propensity for line work and patterning.

Is the limited-edition artist’s book a natural format for a printmaker? Frazer thinks so and, since 1996, has published 10 of them. Passing Through the Old World, 2006, an outsider’s view of European culture, remains as aesthetically powerful as it is poignant.

Certainly, gazing at an open book in your hands  promotes an intimate engagement with its contents. Frazer’s latest, comprised of wood engravings with letterpress captions and with a linocut image on the cover, bound by George Matoulas, is co-signed by singer song-writer Paul Kelly.

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Arts Review: The Seafarer

  • July 26, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Arts Review.

A supernatural drama that combines the folksy sensibilities of an Irish ghost story with the streetwise dialogue of modern day Dublin, Hoy Polloy presents the Victorian premiere of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer at fortyfivedownstairs for a limited season from 30 July.

Hoy Polloy founder and artistic director, Wayne Pearn, describes The Seafarer as “a really intimate observation of male dereliction – it’s about us needing darkness in our lives so we are able to grasp the light.”

Set in Baldoyle, a suburb on the coast north of Dublin on Christmas Eve, James ‘Sharky’ Harkin is battling alcoholism and has returned to live with his hard drinking older blind brother Richard.

As the night rolls on and the storm clouds gather the brothers are joined by an assortment of friends – one of whom brings an unfamiliar guest insisting on a game of poker. With two demons at play on this night – one of which is ‘the drink’ – the stakes in this card game could not come any higher.

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Stage Whispers: My Life in the Nude – Review

  • July 22, 2014
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See article in its original context here by Suzanne Sandow for Stage Whispers.

Wicked?  Goddess?

Whatever – Maude Davey is a legend!

This rich, curious, beguiling, camp and fun show is a memorable night of Melbourne Theatre history.  Don’t hesitate to book a ticket because you think you might feel awkward – everyone is probably thinking the same thing.  Davies unites the house by confidently asserting some ground rules, most particularly, she is to be the only one getting her gear off.  And with the disarming intimacy of her nudity, keen sensitivity and performed sincerity, bonds of shared experience are formed amongst the audience.  You can comfortably leave all prudery at home, relax and enjoy being thought-provokingly entertained.

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Aussie Theatre: My Life in the Nude

  • July 21, 2014
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See article in its original context here by Bethany Simons for Aussie Theatre.

Gear off, Brave face on – Maude Davey on ‘My Life in the Nude’

Maude Davey is a theatre maker and performance artist whose body is as recognisable as her face. This week Davey will once again perform her hit solo show My Life in the Nude as part of ENCORE – a new creative partnership between Melbourne’s La Mama theatre and fortyfivedownstairs.

Aussie Theatre’s Bethany Simons took some time out with Davey and La Mama’s long-standing Artistic Director, Liz Jones, to talk about success, courage and nudity.

A new creative partnership between La Mama and fortyfivedownstairs, ENCORE will give audiences a chance to see some of La Mama’s finest 2013 productions for a return season at fortyfivedownstairs this July. One of these productions is Maude Davey’s burlesque dissection of her un-clothed career – My Life in the Nude. With nearly as many people turned away as were squeezed in during the original season, La Mama theatre is thrilled that this production will be given another life.

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Theatre People: The Seafarer

  • July 21, 2014
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See article in its original context here by K.E Weber for Theatre People.

Barry Mitchell Cruises On The Seafarer

Hoy Polloy presents the Victorian premiere of  Conor McPherson’s Olivier and Tony Award nominated play The Seafarer – A Christmas fable of despair and redemption where a drink is never far away for the five drunks inhabiting this shaky  world on a  Christmas Eve in Dublin.

Barry Mitchell plays  James “Sharky” Harkin, an alcoholic who has recently returned to live with his blind, aging brother, Richard Harkin and tension between the brothers is evident from the start. As Sharky attempts to stay off the bottle during the holidays, he contends with the hard-drinking, irascible Richard and his own haunted conscience.

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Limelight: Masterclass

  • July 21, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Ben Nielsen for Limelight Magazine.

Maria Callas brought to life in Master Class

In a role of a lifetime, Australian actress Maria Mercedes will portray the famous soprano in Terrence McNally’s award-winning play.

Maria Mercedes is no stranger to the Australian stage. She performed Norma Desmond in the original production of Sunset Boulevard, Luisa Contini in Nine, and most recently, Madame Giry in Love Never Dies. Considering her impressive career, it’s a wonder why Mercedes resumed the role of student at a master class held earlier this year.

The master class, which was instructed by Elizabeth Kemp of the esteemed Actors Studio in New York, required participants to devise and present a character-based performance. Mercedes chose soprano Maria Callas, and received overwhelming praise for her portrayal. Fast-forward several months, and Mercedes has been asked to play Callas again, this time in Terrence McNally’s Master Class.

“It was almost a life-changing experience working with Elizabeth Kemp and to really delve so deeply into Maria’s shadows, and my own shadows as a human being,” said Mercedes. “What came out of it was an extreme understanding, but also a deep respect for Maria and what she had achieved in her time. At the end of it, Elizabeth Kemp said to me ‘you must do Master Class’.”

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The Australian: My Life in the Nude – review

  • July 18, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Chris Boyd for The Australian.

Shock of the nude: Maude Davey’s mature body of work still awes audience

“FEMINISTS,” academic and art historian Anne Marsh wrote in 1994, “are lining up as either anti- or pro-pornography.”

Marsh’s art­icle on the “sex war” debate in the premiere edition of World Art magazine in March that year triggered a debate in inner-city Melbourne three months later. There, academics and artists politely slugged it out in front of a tiny audience.

When it was Maude Davey’s turn to speak, the 30-year-old performer moved her chair to a point midway between the panel and the audience and declared: “I’m not a pornographer, I’m an artist.”

After a pregnant pause, she told us she wasn’t wearing any undies and impishly flicked up her flouncy black skirt to prove it.

She then delivered an impassioned defence of the explicit and, simultaneously, demonstrated how she liked to masturbate.

For close to 25 years, Davey has managed to balance sex and discourse, mind and body. She aims to shock the intellect rather than merely shock our sensibilities. Remarkably, her performances have never degenerated into sideshow acts. They’re never lurid or tawdry or fake. On that score, she’s more Karen Finley than Annie Sprinkle.

My Life in the Nude is a retrospective of Davey’s most significant and most notorious routines, including the oft-performed My C … and the rarely revived act that earned her the Strawberry Girl moniker in 1991 (let’s just say that product placement is key in that particular routine).

The one significant omission from the line-up is the 1994 lecture-demonstration.

My Life in the Nude is an excellent introduction to the artist, and a delightful reminder of just how sustained, powerful and smart Davey’s work has been for those who have followed her career.

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Aussie Theatre: My Life in the Nude – Review

  • July 17, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Karla Dondio for Aussie Theatre.

Twenty-five years is a long time to spend naked on a stage. It’s also a sufficient amount of time to reflect on what it means and, more precisely, how it feels to perform naked in front of a crowd. My Life in the Nude is a wonderful celebration of Maude Davey’s ‘nude works’ and, to some degree, it’s a lamentation – though triumphant – on what it is to age as a woman, especially when your body is your livelihood.

I’ve been privy to Davey’s burlesque acts a number of times in Finucane & Smith’s The Burlesque Hour and, quite frankly, I would have left the show grinning from ear to ear if this was all the show comprised of. Nonetheless, what makes this show so powerful is Davey’s acute introspection on the naked form and our collective ideals around appearance.

Perhaps her introspection derives from the fact that, despite making a career out of it, Davey feels insecure about her naked body on stage, especially now that she’s turned 50. As a woman in her 40s, I certainly understand the scrutiny and grief that accompanies one’s declining physicality – and that’s without people seeing me naked.

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Neoskosmos: Master Class

  • July 17, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by  Neoskosmos.

While Hollywood is waiting for Meryl Streep to take on the role of a famous soprano in the new HBO series, celebrated Greek Australian performer Maria Mercedes will be taking on the role of a lifetime as the legendary Greek American opera singer Maria Callas.

With leading roles in the Australian premieres of Nine, Sunset Boulevard and Love Never Dies, as well as films such as Head On and Dreams for Life, Maria Mercedes takes on one of the greatest challenges of her career in a new production of Terrence McNally’s Tony award-winning play Master Class.

“Maria Callas is my dream role,” says Mercedes, “and I couldn’t be more thrilled to honour the life of a woman I admire not only for her incredible artistry and passion, but for the daring, honest way she lived her life.”

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Melbourne.Arts.Fashion: My Life in the Nude – review

  • July 17, 2014
  • news

See article in its original context here by Samsara Dunston for Melbourne.Arts.Fashion.

★★★★★

The atmosphere of the audience as they entered the theatre for this show was one of eagerness and excitement.  This season of My Life in the Nude is an encore, by popular demand, of the original La Mamma production in 2013.  The show was a sell out success then, and will undoubtedly be one again at fortyfivedownstairs.

fortyfivedownstairs can often feel like a chasmic space, but for the season of My Life in the Nude, the room has been cordoned off and, as a result, a great sense of intimacy is created.  The lush red velvet curtains and cabaret tables set around the stage make the room warm and inviting and bring to mind cabaret venues of old.

The stage is a simple thrust catwalk but the attention to detail is wonderful, including glitter on the edges of the stairs; an aura of plush decadence has been created.  Maude points out the resemblance of the stage curtains to female genitalia at one point in the performance. Isaac Lummis’s design is breathtaking, yet simple and works to support all aspects of the show.  The costumes are also outstanding – my personal favourite being the gorilla suit with booby tassles.

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5 minutes with the Artist: Marie-Angela Paino

  • July 16, 2014
  • news

Mary Lou (left) and photography artist Marie-Angela Paino (right)

Marie-Angela Paino is based in Melbourne Australia with her camera, creating images that move and inspire. She is the curator, organiser and co-exhibitor in our current exhibition A Life Beyond Waiting; a selection of photographs  created to raise awareness of the low rates of organ donation in Australia, and the possibility of generosity among human beings.


What is the inspiration behind your current body of work?

In our society today thousands of hours are spent waiting. Waiting for a friend, waiting for a meeting to start, a bus/train, a text/phone call.  We are always waiting another and it is now almost a norm.  I noticed this on the streets of Melbourne and started shooting it instinctively.  I soon realized there are many people waiting for something more important and for whom these photographs will make a difference.


How do you create these works, what is your process?

Being a street photographer takes determination, something I’m still learning.  It’s different to other forms of photography or art where you can create something from a blank canvas, adding elements to a page or staging a shoot.   It takes constantly looking and always having something to capture it, then being able to select from many the images you’ve captured knowing how they fit into a series. 

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