This Is The Golden Age

This Is The Golden Age

Art/Culture/Comedy/Dance/Film/Food/Music/Opera/Theatre

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…

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Got a secret you’ve never shared? Come on, we all have something to admit… Imagine that secret, projected on an enormous canvas, hanging in a gallery on the Vegas strip. Heart rate up a notch?

Candy Chang has turned a studio in the heart of Las Vegas in to an anonymous sanctuary of confession. Inspired by Post Secret, visitors are invited to confess their secrets on wooden plaques that are hung around the studio. Chang projects and paints some of the more evocative confessions on large canvases. She calls it a ‘contemplative experiment around anonymity, vulnerability, and understanding’. Accompanying the exhibition is an original soundtrack by Oliver Blank, called Confessional Music

Over 1500 people have confessed, ranging from fears - I’m scared I’ll die alone - and regrets - I sold heroin to my friend and it ruined his life to hardcore disclosure - I stole over $15,000 from the company I work for - the more philosophical - I don’t know what I am doing and I’m running out of time - and then some a little less extreme -I eat too much cheese.

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Looking through the confessions raises a rollercoaster of reactions – some funny, some sad, some truly heartbreaking. And among it all a sense of relief, liberation, community, respect and honesty. A reminder that the world is tangible and existent, and we all fuck up.

Visit the confession website to see the full list of confessions at http://confessions.candychang.com/

Candy Chang is visiting Sydney next month to present as part of Vivid Festival. Talking on the theme of ‘Making Art to Make a Difference’ catch her at the MCA on Monday 26th May.

- Eleanor B.

GAME OF THRONES: READING THE BOOKS VS WATCHING THE TV SHOW

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Something big happened on Game of Thrones last night, and before the collectively gasped breath of shocked television viewers could be exhaled, George R.R. Martin fans were quickly imploring us all to read the fucking books. It seems each time the popular HBO show hits us with a surprise death or dismemberment, fans of the books angrily climb atop their high horse and mock the TV loving public for failing to have read them. Do they genuine want us to read the books, or are they just attempting to demonstrate their intellectual superiority?

Now, far be it from me to contribute the rampant anti-intellectualism that takes place in the western world, and no disrespect to you if you have read any of A Song of Ice and Fire, but reading 5000 pages of modern fantasy novels makes you as much an intellectual as downloading a TV show from Pirate Bay makes you Robin Hood.

I want to be clear: I love books. I think literature is just about the best thing ever. In fact, sometimes I get frustrated and upset when I realise that I’ll never be able read all the great books ever written. One of my favourite books is John Steinbeck’s The Moon Is Down. Not one of his best books, sure, but great nonetheless. The Moon Is Down was written during the Second World War as Allied propaganda. It was so powerful as a piece of propaganda that it was banned and bootlegged throughout Europe, and you were killed if you were caught with a copy in Italy. I’m currently reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. This is my second attempt; I only managed one hundred pages the first time round before getting bored and switching off - there is only so much hitchhiking and pie-eating I can handle. But now, on my second time through, I get it, and I understand why Kerouac’s trip across his homeland in search for the American Dream resonated so deeply in 1957. In fact, On the Road’s influence can still be felt today, not just in our literature, but in our culture. That’s what I like about great books; they transcend the storytelling and have real and lasting effects on our lives, cultures, and the world. I’m not convinced that A Song of Ice and Fire can make such a claim.

I actually read about one hundred pages of the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, and it is quite good. The language flows nicely, the characters are well drawn, and the storytelling function is unique. I was surprised at how similar it is to the television series – most of the dialogue is lifted directly from the book, and the scene and chapter sequence is near identical. However, the reason I won’t commit to reading the remaining 4900 pages of the series is because there are just too many really great books to read, and because HBO is doing such a great job of Game of Thrones, everyone – book fans and television fans alike - can have themselves a genuine George R.R. Martin experience. 

- Roland K. 

CHAMBER MUSIC & ME EPISODE THREE - ANTON ENUS

We’re loving Musica Viva’s new webseries Chamber Music & Me. In case you haven’t been keeping up, Chamber Music & Me is a  four-part webseries which interviews people about their love chamber music. So far the series has provided some great insight into why, and how, people fall in love with music. 

Episode three, released today, features SBS Newsreader Anton Enus. To catch up on season one, visit; musicaviva.com.au/chambermusicandme

NOTHING TO CRY ABOUT

Wagons, having already outgrown the early comparisons to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, carve themselves a deeper niche with the release of new single, ‘Why Do You Always Cry’. The lead single for new album Acid Rain & Sugar Cain, ’Why Do You Always Cry’ sees the baritone crooner deliver one of his most instantly memorable melodies over his band’s brand of wild, Broadway-style rock ‘n’ roll. 

Main man Henry Wagons shoots and directs the accompanying video, and while he’s no Scorsese, he manages to create a video that matches the energy, if not the scope, of the song. 

Acid Rain & Sugar Cain is released May 16 in Australia/NZ via Spunk Records. Wagons will take their new record out on the road a few days later. 

Wagons Acid Rain & Sugar Cane Tour

Thursday, 22nd May
Pirie & Co Social Club, Adelaide

Friday, 23rd May
Fly By Night, Fremantle

Saturday, 31st May
Republic Bar, Hobart

Friday, 6th June
Barwon Club, Geelong

Saturday, 7th June
The HiFi, Melbourne

Sunday, 8th June
Karova Lounge, Ballarat

Thursday, 12th June
The Abbey, Canberra

Friday, 13th June
Yours & Owls, Wollongong

Saturday, 14th June
Factory Theatre, Sydney

Sunday, 15th June
Lizottes, Newcastle

Friday, 20th June
The Zoo, Brisbane

Saturday, 21st June
Railway Hotel, Darwin

WHY I LOVE MELBOURNE IN APRIL

I once again find myself being draw to Melbourne.  The Melbourne International Comedy Festival began this week.  That means that for me, Melbourne is the only place to be until 20th April 2014.

The festival transforms Melbourne’s nighlife. You can’t go anywhere near the Town Hall without politely receiving flyers from a comic or their management company.  All exalting you to come to their show because you’ll have a good laugh.

Every little nook and cranny is taken over by someone wanting to make you laugh.

There are so many acts to explore, during the four weeks you could go every night and not see everything.  There is such variety too.  There are pure stand up shows, shows that incorporate burlesque, physical comedy and musical acts.

Started by Barry Humphries (yes, Dame Edna) and Peter Cook in 1987, the festival has a wonderful history.  2014 will be its 28th year.  It has evolved and is now one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world, alongside Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival.  This attracts international artists, which is great because I can’t travel to Edinburgh or Montreal every year!

What’s great about the festival is that it gives back to the community in different ways.  There is the Class Clowns competition for the young jokester.  The Raw Comedy competition for novice/ beginner comedians with heat winners appearing in the finals during the festival.  There is also Deadly Funny/Deadly Funny Kids which are the only dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy programs for Australia’s traditional owners.

They also take the laughs on the road with the Roadshow touring regional Australia including the Northern Territory and Tasmania

So once again I’m going to Melbourne to take in some shows.  My picks (in no particular order) are Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night, Celia Pacquola, Henson Alternative’s Puppet Up, Joel Creasey, Tegan Higginbotham, and Justin Hamilton.

- Georgina W. 

CHAMBER MUSIC & ME EPISODE TWO - ALICE CHANCE

Chamber Music & Me Episode Two is now available to watch online! This episode features the multi-talented Alice Chance.

Chamber Music & Me is a new weekly web series offering insight into how people discover chamber music, why it resonates with them, and how they share their passion with the people they love. 

DANCE REVIEW; INTERPLAY

It would have been impossible to have left Sydney Dance Company’s most recent performance, Interplay, without loving at least one of the three performances that night. With each new season this company pushes the boundaries of dance a little further and this is why I will always go to a Sydney Dance Company performance without even glancing at the program notes or reading a small blurb on it. I go with blind faith that it will be superb and Interplay was no exception.

The program was artfully split into three distinct performances with a different choreographer at the helm for each piece. The first was created by artistic director, Raphael Bonachela, titled 2 in D Minor. This piece had a great premise – bringing a superb violinist (Veronique Serret) on stage to play the majestic melodies of Bach’s music. From her position on the outskirts of the stage we could see her draw out the backdrop to the story from her fingers and before that musical landscape the dancers wove a physical layer to the piece.   

The choreography was classic Bonachela. The particular highlights for me were when there were three dances on stage, not moving in perfect synchronisation but instead they intertwined with one another in rolling and almost playful movements. Those were the moments when I found myself subconsciously leaning closer to the stage, eager for more. I felt the dancing and the music were on par with one another – one did not drown out the other. There was a graceful flow from one movement to the next and it was these moments that reaffirmed for me why I loved seeing Bonachela’s work.

The second piece choreographed by Jacopo Godani dramatically leapt into the first moments of the performance with no warning. The audience was not given the luxury of a moment of silence after interval before the next performance began, instead the piece demanded them to sit up and pay attention. The lights went from pitch black to bright white in half a second and the dancers instantly started moving with jagged and sharp movements. The music to this piece created by 48nord was eerie to the extreme. It was like the soundtrack to an old horror film at the exact moment when the killer is chasing the innocent victim around with a dirty knife. It sounds horrible but it worked. This performance also perfectly utilised a tool that some directors tend to forget about – lighting. The lighting can assist in telling a story as much as the dancers can and boy what a story it told! It made perfect sense when I discovered that the lighting was also designed by the choreographer, Godani. It added an extra unnerving layer to the performance that gave me shivers over and over again. This piece was dramatic, raw, and extreme and I loved every second of it.

The final performance, L’Chaim! created by Gideon Obarzanek was an interesting step for Sydney Dance Company to take. Playing with Socrates’ famous musing “a life without reflection is not worth living” as the basis, Obarzanek found a way to incorporate acting and dance without it remotely resembling “performance art”.  The humorous and at times touching script written by David Woods and performed by Zoe Coombs Marr (whose comedic timing was suburb) extracted and exposed ideas, jokes and irritations from the dancers. The performers were forced to answer questions from the dominating voice-over as they tried to dance and ‘practice’ their routine. The questions varied from generic queries like “who is the youngest dancer?” to slightly more personal questions such as “what do you think about when you dance?” to the hardest question of all in life “what do you want? “For me this was a very interesting piece because I found myself laughing, frowning, cringing and sometimes in deep moments of joyous awe.

I admire that every Sydney Dance Company performance challenges the way we see dance. They bring in new and sometimes very humorous elements to their performances that I think is evolving this art form in a positive way.  A performance not to be missed.  

- Cynthia C. 

THE POWER OF FILM

I appear to have established a status as the resident film-buff at This Is The Golden Age, and as such, today I want to tell you about FilmAid, an altogether different kind of Hollywood.

In Kenya 3000 refugees huddle together in a refugee camp to watch an African film about HIV; after the devastating earthquake in Haiti thousands of refugees watch the World Cup broadcast live by satellite; in Thailand refugees produce videos informing others how to make kitchen gardens and cultivate their own food; in Afghanistan, after music was banned by the Taliban, hundreds of children watch in awe, captivated by the sights and sounds of the Wizard of Oz.

Using inflatable screens and other ‘Mobile Cinema’ units, FilmAid brings life-saving information and psychological relief to refugee camps and communities affected by disaster. Screening community-based films on issues from HIV to conflict resolution, FilmAid uses the moving image to transcend language and literacy boundaries, and to date have screened to more than 2 million people worldwide. Through the FilmAid training program, young people are taught filmmaking production skills, providing them with a platform to tell their own stories.

FilmAid have launched a wonderful new online documentary platform, Dadaab Stories which shares online films made by refugees from Dadaab, the largest refugee settlement in the world. Dadaab, a semi-arid town in the North Eastern Province in Kenya is home to 500,000 refugees, each with a story to tell.

Dadaab Stories is nonlinear and multimedia. Stories are told through video, photography, poetry, music and journalism. Stories about parents and children, illness and art, celebrity and technology, blogging and basketball. There are music producers, rappers and film stars and each story welcomes you in to the lives lived in Dadaab. Told with humour, humility and openness, these short films provide a rare insight in to life as a refugee.  

FilmAid International is a not-for-profit humanitarian organization. For more information or to donate visit their website

- Eleanor B. 

CHAMBER MUSIC & ME EPISODE ONE - MATTHEW HODGE

Every genre of music suffers from stereotypes - indie music has hipsters, country music has rednecks, metal has goths - but there is no stereotype more damaging than the one surrounding chamber music. The image of snooty, grey-haired elitists has probably kept away many would-be chamber music fans from the genre.

Enter Chamber Music & Me, the new, highly enjoyable weekly web series, which aims to breakdown these stereotypes, and share the stories of the people who love chamber music. The first episode features affable family man and chamber music lover Matthew Hodge.  

RELIVE ALL YOUR CHILDHOOD FEELS

As a child, Saturday mornings were the most joyous times of all - no more school for a couple of days, hanging out in pajamas with brothers, drinking apple juice and, of course, watching morning cartoons. The thrill of hearing your favourite cartoon’s theme song, which ever show tickled your fancy, was an unparalleled joy at 8 years of age. It is this reason alone that makes the above video awesome. In this 5-minute mash up from Ensemble ACJW and Carnegie Hall the Flintstones, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pinky and the Brain, and 40 other cartoon theme songs all make an appearance. Get watching and let the nostalgia fill you up like your third glass of apple juice.