Saray Iluminado perform Sevdah, the traditional songs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Sephardic Jewish Romances from the Balkans. Its repertoire celebrates the ancient Balkan cities where a multitude of cultures coexisted and thrived in cosmopolitan artistic environments. This repertoire includes songs that…
In this collection of drawings and works on paper, Chris Humphries transports us to central Victoria, inspired by a seven year period spent living on the urban rural fringe of North West Melbourne with his family. Humphries’ interpretation of the…
See article in its original context here by John Bailey for The Age. Codgers sequel raises the bar The late Don Reid was a stalwart of theatre, film and television. A founding member of Ensemble Theatre, Australia's longest continually running theatre company, and…
SHORTS@45 is a new series of readings by authors and actors held every two months, celebrating the best short story writing at home and overseas. Program two contributors include: Maxine Beneba Clarke Elliot Perlman Paddy O'Reilly Gregory Day SHORTS@45 is curated…
See article in its original context here by Kit Vane Tempest for Theatre People.
‘You can’t not be political. It’s like asking if I consider myself a human being.’
Oh, the things I would do for a story. I’m a sophisticated, man-of-the-theatrical-world; I have witnessed wonders and beheld all manner of trickery but seeing a storyteller use only their skill to form characters and their imagination to forge worlds is something that enchants my primitive soul. Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas is a monologue written by Dario Fo, this version is translated by Mario Pirovano, and it is embellished and performed, shared, gifted to us by Steve Gome with the direction of Wayne Pearn. This bardic supergroup presents storytelling with vitality and relevance as Steve Gome took the audience along on this epic adventure.
Dario Fo is a Nobel prize winning playwright who wrote Johan Padan as a response to the celebrations of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas. Columbus was an awful person who didn’t discover America but this isn’t the narrative that some people share; some people celebrate this genocidal zealot as noble explorer. Fo, a satirist and practitioner of agitprop theatre, reacted to this by telling the story of the important voyage through the working class voice of Johan Padan who witnesses first-hand the pride, ignorance, and cruelty that makes up the great man. The monologue is written, with space for improvisation, with energy and humour. Pirovano’s translation captures that same level of political vitriol told with a charming smile and occasional buffoonery; an actor’s trick to lessen the sting. These words are powerful and subversive.
See article in its original context here by Andrew Fuhrmann for Daily Review.
The conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo, a veteran of the conquest of Aztec Mexico, was no doubt sincere when he praised Cortés more for spreading the Catholic faith than winning new riches for Spain.
It was the age of maximum strength for Catholicism, a time of ruthless intolerance, of the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. According to Díaz’s, whenever Cortés wasn’t bartering for gold, he was spreading the good news of Jesus Christ — either by remonstrance or the sword.
But not every Catholic was such a zealot.
In Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, Italian Nobel Prize-winning writer Dario Fo satirises Catholic orthodoxy by pointing up its near resemblance in this age of discovery to a religion of death.
It’s a one-man show about a young Italian pantologist — whose own faith is sketchy at best – dodging fanaticism and persecution in both Europe and the New World, from Venice to Florida.
Forced to join the crew of Christopher Columbus on his fourth and final voyage to the Americas, Johan becomes enamoured of the region’s gentle and generous indigenous peoples – even the cannibals. This fondness is matched by his disgust at the sanguinary behaviour of his fellow Christians. Eventually, one lucky break after another, he finds himself leading a large tribe of natives and teaching them his own version of the Christian doctrine, along with how to make fireworks and break a stallion by its testes.
Johan is an irreverent jester, and the humour is consistently bawdy, but also hearty and vigorous: rude in all senses of the word. For example, he’s endlessly fascinated by the nakedness of the natives, especially the women, their tits and buttocks to lucky wind. And still, there’s something delicate in performer Steve Gome’s manner, with his prancing, skipping movements across the stage and the earnestness in his vagrant Italian accent, which points always to Johan’s sensitivity and essential goodness.
The story of Johan and his tribe is introduced in a prologue as an example of the sort of improvised tall tale popular in northern Italy, but it’s also an inspired spoof on the legend of Prester John and his fantastic kingdom in the Orient, full of monsters, marvels and riches: an Earthly Paradise.
See article in its original context here by Rebecca Harkins-Cross for The Age.
Swashbuckling jester shines despite ageing script
When Dario Fo was commissioned to write a play commemorating Christopher Columbus’ exploration of the Americas in 1992, the notoriously irreverent Italian playwright chose a “no-tagonist” stowaway as his narrator, whose epic monologue showed up the brutality and ignorance of the colonial encounter.
Here agitprop takes the form of rollicking lampoonery, performed in the giullare style that Fo revived – a medieval form of jestering grounded in improvisation and oral tradition. At two hours, it’s a feat not only of memory but of physical endurance for any performer, demanding vigorous clowning to play a cast of thousands.
This is a masterful performance from Steve Gome. Under Wayne Pearn’s fine direction, Gome keeps the audience captivated without theatrical aids. He brings an impish spirit and anarchic energy to the wily fugitive, raconteur, fabulist and lothario. This swashbuckling picaresque sees him acting out auto-da-fe, cannibal ceremonies, riding an amorous pig, and copulating in a hammock.
See article in its original context here by Tim Byrne for Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas.
Pigs float, if not fly, in this wacky tale of discovery and adventure
Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo is not as widely performed in Australia as he should be. One of the world’s leading exponents of agitprop, he has rankled the establishment in Italy for decades, lampooning the Church and ridiculing those in power. Perhaps Fo’s relevance has diminished as his targets have fallen into humiliations of their own making. Nowadays, no one believes the emperor is wearing clothes.
Fo’s response to the quincentennial celebrations of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas,Johan Padan is a highly resonant and action-packed monologue, originally performed by Fo himself but here given life by Steve Gome under strong direction by Wayne Pearn.
Padan is a wily and resourceful narrator; an escapee from the Spanish Inquisition, he hitches a ride to the New World on one of Columbus’s ships. Surviving a shipwreck on the back of a floating pig, he eventually befriends, after narrowly avoiding being eaten by, a tribe of native Americans. With a bit of trickery and a hell of a lot of luck, he manages to become their holy man, and leads them to victory in a battle with the Spanish conquistadors in Florida.
See article in its original context here by Theatre Alive.
Monday Musings with Steve Gome
Steve Gome is a seasoned actor and director, and was most recently seen on Melbourne stages in the role of Schlomo Herzl in George Tabori’s Mein Kampf. Now about to step out onto the stage at fortyfivedownstairs in his latest season of Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, we nabbed some time with him to talk about Dario Fo, one man shows, and“Doc” Neeson…
Tell us a bit about the show. What’s your role within it all?
The play is a fantastical tale. On the one hand it is loosely based on a historical characters and places, on the other it can move into territory like Gulliver’s Travels.
There are all sorts of characters in the play; kings and queens, judges, sailors, priests, a shaman and a couple of chiefs, as well as pigs, parrots, turkeys, monkeys and iguanas?!
As a monologue, my role is to bring all of the characters to life and to bring the audience with me on the adventure.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
My introduction to Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas was seeing Mario Pirovano perform it at the Melbourne Festival in 2003. It made a deep and lasting impression on me. The play was with me for the ten years leading up to me first performing it myself. and it is still very much alive in me now.
My hope is that the audiences will take away their own memories of having been transported to a particular place, having laughed at a truth unexpectedly revealed, and having a sense of having enjoyed an encounter with the beguiling simplicity of story-telling.
See article in its original context here by Kathy Evans for The Age.
Dario Fo’s rollicking satire on New World encounters conveys a timely message about people power
Take Christopher Columbus, sailing the ocean blue and making friends with the natives amid a lush tropical setting. Six centuries later he’s embalmed as a hero of the Western World with his own national holiday, but Italian dramatist Dario Fo’s subversive play, Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, casts him in an altogether much greyer light.
Using vivid wordscapes, the Nobel prize-winning satirist and playwright paints the New World as a place of ostracism, brutality and oppression where conquering Spaniards enslave, maim and kill the local “savages” with relish. They, in turn, think white man, with his God-fearing ways and suppressed desires, is much more interesting as a mouth-watering breakfast.
“It’s a big story, so hard to put into a nutshell,” says Melbourne actor Steve Gome, who is performing the one-man play with a cast of thousands for independent theatre company, Hoy Polloy at fortyfivedownstairs.
Gome first fell in love with Fo’s controversial play over a decade ago when he saw it performed at the Melbourne International Festival. “The colour, sounds and tastes are so evocative and I just became fascinated by it,” he recalls. An industrial officer at United Voice by day and actor by night, he spent many an evening poring over translations of the script, committing sections at a time to memory.
Johan Padan and the Discovery of The Amercias is featured on page 29 of The Australian today!
See article in its original context here by Tim Hunter for TimeOut Melbourne. ★★★★★ Take a trip back to the '80s with the forever young Michael Griffiths and a grand piano Michael Griffiths has performed two shows at fortyfivedownstairs before:Sweet…
See article in its original context here by Sofia Monkiewicz for ArtsHub.
Charming and sincere, Michael Griffiths has put together a sweet little show that certainly makes for a fun night out.
There is no doubt that Michael Griffiths is a talented guy.
With a string of successful performances behind him, including Jersey Boys,Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and several cabaret festival acts across the country, Griffiths has now taken the opportunity to finally put on a show that steers away from the glitz and over-the-top glamour of musical theatre, and focuses on his own life. While this may be considered quite a mature step to take for an experienced performer like Griffiths, his latest creation attempts to debate that exact sentiment; he may have recently turned 40 but he has certainly not grown up.
See article in its original context here by K.E. Weber for Theatre People.
Wayne Pearn Traverses The New World With Johan Padan
Sublime, funny and irreverent – thus sums up the fantastical journey of Johan Padan to the New World. Leftist playwright Dario Fo brings his incisive political slant to this little gem of a play which informs us that the discovery of the Americas is well…not quite what we think.
The play is, in fact, an ‘epic monologue with a cast of thousands’ all performed by one man. Actor, Steve Gome is that man.
Director Wayne Pearn (Artistic Director of Hoy Polloy) and Gome have wanted to work with each other for sometime so – some would say – the planets aligned!
Says Gome of Padan: “He has such an energetic, passionate and cheeky spirit. Johan Padan is a delight. For me, it’s not so much a question of finding the character as keeping up with him.”
Pearn has always been a big fan of Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame – so much so that he studied them and their work at Uni thus planting the seed of serendipity all those years ago.
“It was at La Trobe that a group of us formed a theatre company, Frontline, and we staged a ripping production of Accidental Death of an Anarchist in a derelict church (no pun intended),” says Pearn. ” Fast forward almost 30 years and the opportunity arose to do JP with Steve Gome.”
See article in its original context here by Rebecca Harkins-Cross for The Age. ADOLESCENT ★★★☆ Michael Griffiths "Keep young and beautiful if you want to be loved," sings musical theatre performer Michael Griffiths, flashing the audience a cheeky grin. Apparently a career…
See article in its original context here by Suzanne Tate for Theatre People.
I felt a sense of Déjà vu while I waited for Michael Griffith’s Cabaret Adolescent to start. It was almost a year ago that I came to see Griffiths in Sweet Dreams at the same venue, FortyFive Downstairs. The weather was just as hot, and I probably had to battle through the tennis traffic then too, although I don’t remember that. It must have been a fraction cooler this year, as Griffiths didn’t feel the need to apologise to the audience this year as he turned off the large (and noisy) fans that were keeping us all relatively cool. What had not changed was the caliber of the performance, or the enjoyment of the audience.
Rather than focusing on the lives of music idols, as in the previous show, Adolescent focuses on Griffiths’ reflections of his own life and his ongoing refusal to ‘grow up’, despite recently celebrating ‘the Big 40’.
Griffiths opens with an Annie Lennox song, ‘Keep Young and Beautiful’, and continues with a series of 80s hits, as he remembers his actual adolescence. The set is structured as a medley, interspersed with amusing anecdotes from his teen years. Griffiths quickly develops an easy rapport with the audience, and they are as keen to hear his wit as they are to listen to him sing, so the mix works well. Truncating the 80s songs down and stringing them together keeps the mix fresh, and allows us to take a longer work down memory lane than we would have had time for if the whole song was sung. The medley includes songs by Spandau ballet, A-ha, Duran Duran, Howard Jones, and Culture Club.
See article in its original context here by Standing (inn)Ovation.
RIDERS ON THE KALEIDOSCOPE STORM
Rock music changed the day that Jim Morrison stepped out on stage as the front man for The Doors. Widely hailed as the prototypical rock star, his scandalous behaviour, drug-inspired creativity and leather pants would long influence the rock stereotype. And now Luigi Lucente is bringing him back to life in Jim Morrison: Kaleidoscope.
Luigi Lucente has to be Australia’s next great leading man of the theatre. He has appeared in Guys and Dolls, Jersey Boys, Wicked, The Last Five Years, Assassins and Rocky Horror while receiving stellar acclaim for his leading roles in Parade and Pippin in Melbourne last year. And his performance inKaleidoscope only further proves his immense talent.
See article in its original context here by Coral Drouyn for Stage Whispers.
It’s Midummer and Midsumma in Melbourne and that means all kinds of marvellous entertainment. Australian performers do cabaret so well (they have to diversify to keep working) that it’s no surprise to discover that Michael Griffiths’ new show, Adolescent, is a little gem.
Griffiths is in the mode of Michael Feinstein….with an easy laid back charm, marvellous rapport with his audience, a lovely lilting voice and considerable talent at the piano as his own accompanist.
See article in its original context here by Nick Pilgrim for Theatre People.
Formed in 1965 and based in Los Angeles, California, The Doors are remembered as one of America’s foremost, ground-breaking rock groups. The band was fronted by Jim Morrison on vocals, with Ray Manzarek on keyboard, Robby Krieger on guitar, and John Densmore on drums. Tapping into a growing generational rift between restless teenagers and authoritarian adults, the quartet’s rise in status and popularity with young people was dramatic. Morrison in particular, was viewed by fans and peers as a philosophical and poetic anti – hero.
See article in its original context here by Coral Drouyn for Stage Whispers.
The subject is Jim Morrison – eclectic, and some would say tragic, lead singer of The Doors who died in 1971 of a drug overdose. But it’s not the history of Morrison’s life that interests Lucente; this is an introspective rather than a retrospective. Lucente, himself charismatic, intense, with brooding good looks, get inside Morrison’s mind to give us insights into what was going on internally in one of rock’s most iconic “Gods” – The Lizard King.
Superbly accompanying himself on piano…sometimes crashing, angry and threatening, at others, soft and vulnerable, his voice no more than a whisper to the tinkling of bell-like notes, we can almost feel the drug filled haze around the tortured Morrison’s life.
Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5 Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor Tristan Lee is an Australian pianist rapidly gaining international recognition for his distinctive style and musicianship. Widely sought as a chamber musician and associate artist…
The Rolling Wave is a recital of music performed by Matthew Horsley on the complex, evocative and eccentric uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), as the culmination of his JUMP mentorship with renowned Irish musician Mikie Smyth. The program will include Matthew’s…
Mel Kerr’s practice examines the way in which childhood impacts on our adult life, and how the restrictions in the childhood domestic environment play significant roles in our adult subconscious. The metaphorical cages that we hold onto as a child…
David Hirst’s practice explores the emotional events that he has experienced during his travels through life and as a research scientist. Hirst seeks to explore the parallels between both fields, ultimately striving to capture emotion and memory so that the…
The work in this exhibition represents both recent and older works from the extensive oeuvre of five artists all of whom have been practicing and regularly exhibiting for more than thirty years. They share their formative years in the Melbourne…
Featured in The Age's Treading the Boards column on 06.01.2015
See article in its original context here by Cameron Woodhead for The Age. Year in review: Melbourne theatre companies reveal stage culture in all its complexity Melbourne was in the grip of festival fever during a bustling year on the theatre…
Through the integration and collaboration of different artistic approaches The Fifth Wall derives its name from the projection screen used in a theatre or performance space. A suspended textile installation provides the backdrop to works on paper, collage and sculpture. Red…
Kaff-eine is one of Australia’s premiere female street and contemporary artists. She paints her distinctive characters on walls around the globe, immersing herself in local communities and sharing their stories on their walls. While painting street murals in Manila shantytowns…
It’s July 1945, the last weeks of the war, but they don’t know it. They just hope it will be all over soon, the Yanks will go home and all their probable futures will be made possible. They’re three young…
Surprise meetings, unexpected vistas, unusual sounds. Ensemble Offspring & Ironwood bring their unique sounds together in this program of mix n match, old meets new. The seventeenth century consort of viols could be ‘broken’ and played by any instrument at…
★★★★ Andrew Fuhrmann, Daily Review masterful performance... fine direction Rebecca Harkins-Cross, The Age Gome is terrific Tim Byrne, TimeOut Melbourne Read The Age article HERE. Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas is an epic monologue with a cast…
“I threw a stone behind me and I didn’t look back” Taxithi (the Greek word for journey) is a play, with music, telling the stories of the Greek women who migrated to Australia by ship in the 1950s and 60s.…
SHORTS@45 is a new series of readings by authors and actors held every two months, celebrating the best short story writing at home and overseas. We kick off in February 2015 with Love and Loss and contributors include Carrie Tiffany, Arnold Zable…
See article in its original context here by John Bailey for The Age.
Real life disappearing man inspires thrilling venture
In 2009 Aaron Orzech had the kind of encounter you’d expect to find in a Pinter play or an early Ian McEwan novel. The Melbourne actor and his girlfriend were backpacking through a Romanian village when they fell in with an older man who claimed the name of Victor Bergman. Within a day the mercurial and charismatic gent had formed a fast connection with the pair, and within two he had married them in a hastily arranged ceremony. On the third day he vanished. Orzech was left wondering what Bergman had really wanted from the young Australians, and what, in turn, they got from him.
“He was extremely charismatic,” says Orzech. “We’ve got a whole bunch of photos of him and one of the first things that we remarked on was that he does almost look like a different person in every photo. He had these catchphrases that he would use, and he told me a lot of stories that would all end with this line: ‘I never want to see you again’.”
Bergman had an amazing facility with languages, says Orzech. He spoke English fluently with little trace of an accent. “And he was really great fun to be around. With everyone in the village and everyone we met, he would get people on side really quickly. He convinced a whole bunch of people to lend us things for the wedding. He convinced a guy he had never met to lend him a three-piece suit and a stereo.”