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5 Minutes With the Artist: Abby Storey

We sat down with contemporary photographer Abby Storey to chat about her work and practice. Her exhibition is currently running in our gallery space until next Saturday, the 5th of July.


Contemporary photographer Abby Storey

What is the inspiration behind your current body of work ?

Moving to Melbourne from New Zealand made me really think about where the meat I was eating came from. In NZ I had a good source of genuinely free-range, humanely slaughtered meat, and this was something I initially struggled to find in my new home.  My research into areas such as animal welfare, invasive species, food production and land management made me increasingly aware, and in many ways appreciative of the specific knowledge and skills of someone who hunts animals for food and conservation. I have always struggled with killing anything, even a mangled mouse who has been caught in a trap. My inadvertant cruelty in such instances (thank goodness there’s always been someone else around!), sits uneasily beside the fact that I eat meat. I have a huge admiration for someone who is able to – humanely – slaughter and dress the animal they are going to eat, there’s an honesty to this that many of us lack. This is not to say I am pro-hunting however, more pro competance and accountability.


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The Sydney Morning Herald: The Seafarer

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

Soul searching: The drink flows in The Seafarer, but the prize for the winning hand is greater than any normal card game when a new face turns up at the table.

A mysterious stranger is the wildcard in many a play or film, usually amping up our sense of unease.

Menacing or benign, the new player at the poker table arrives to upset the status quo, portending any number of cathartic events.

In theatre, Irish writers have long staked a claim on such atmospheric drama. Poetic stories seem to ferment in their peat bogs.

Conor McPherson is one of a modern breed of acclaimed Irish playwrights, along with The Leenane Trilogy writer Martin McDonagh. Mythic and supernatural themes characterise McPherson’s early works such as The Seafarer, soon to be staged by Melbourne’s Hoy Polloy ensemble.

‘‘The Seafarer is the most out-and-out religious play I’ve written,’’ McPherson acknowledges, on the phone from Ireland. ‘‘It sits very comfortably in the Christian myth. But it is is also very much a pagan play, harking back to very primal fundamental forces. The play takes place on Christmas Eve but also the winter solstice, the shortest day in the year – in this part of the world anyway. It’s about darkness and light, inner darkness and being delivered from that and trying to transcend that.’’

The Seafarer positions its late-night visitors around a poker game in a Dublin house. They arrive to join two brothers, one an alcoholic, one blind. Lingering, drinking, the men in this marooned group reveal their natures, the working-class idiom belying grander forces at stake. Cue an expensively dressed stranger.

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Arts Review: On the Couch with Beng Oh

See interview in its original context here by Arts Review.

On the Couch with Beng Oh

Who is Beng Oh?
Beng Oh, n. 1. a gay Asian-Australian director who resists labels. 2. a stubborn craftsman and persistent artist. 3. a work in progress.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Package my personal narrative for ease of consumption. Create a body of work which, for better or worse, is inextricably identified with Beng Oh.

Who inspires you and why?
French director Ariane Mnouchkine and her company, Théâtre du Soleil. They work collectively and collaboratively, often with writer and philosopher Hélène Cixous , and produce epic spectacles for the stage. Their work is rich in detail and draws on many influences, not least their ensemble of actors from over 20 countries. They are passionate, political and not afraid to grapple with ideas and intractable problems. Their work embraces complexity and is unforgettable ex. Le Dérnier Caravansérail (The Last Caravan Stop) which was seen at the 2005 Melbourne Festival.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Keep a small carbon footprint and keep making theatre. I subscribe to Ronnie Burkett’s definition of art as your personal contribution to the ever continuing conversation about life.

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Theatre Alive: ENCORE

See interview in its original context here by Theatre Alive. LA MAMA AND FORTYFIVEDOWNSTAIRS JOIN FORCES FOR ENCORE ENCORE is an exciting new creative partnership between two of Melbourne’s thriving independent performing arts venues; La Mama and fortyfivedownstairs. The inaugural ENCORE program will allow audiences…

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Toorak Times: The Three of Us – Review

See article in its original context here by Matthew Grant for The Toorak Times.


Wandering up and down the fortyfivedownstairs staircase to an open warehouse space that twists and turns and reinvents itself with each new show is a fun, Melbourne thing to do.

fortyfivedownstairs is currently playing The Three of Us , a Deany-Martini stirred n shaken, kinda show. You can rock along and be assured of a good night out. It’s a bottle of bubbles, a gaggle of giggles and a “yabba-dabba-dadda-dabba said the monkey to the chimp”, hoot of a good time.

The Three of Us showcases the works of three of Melbourne’s up-n-comin’ players: Michael Dalton, Luke Gallagher and Rachael Dunham. Essentially it’s a pint-sized Rat Pack cabaret show.

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Toorak Times: ENCORE

See article in its original context here by Jo McMahon for The Toorak Times.

ENCORE is breathing new life into Melbourne’s performing arts

ENCORE is the new creative partnership between two of Melbourne’s most successful independent performing arts venues, La Mama and fortyfivedownstairs.

Creative director of fortyfivedownstairs Mary Lou Jelbart explained that the program intended to give another run to some of La Mama’s most successful shows, this time being George Tabori’s Mein Kampf and Maude Davey’s My Life in the Nude.

“These two shows weren’t just picked because of their popularity, but more importantly because of their superior quality and their originality,” Mary Lou Jelbart said.

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Vivien Anderson Gallery presents

Contemporary Australian Indigenous art from The Torres Strait, Tasmania, Victoria, East Kimberley and South Australia featuring Ricardo Idagi, Vicki West, Maree Clarke, Phyllis Thomas, Peggy Patrick & James Tylor. North South East West is an exhibition that spans the continent…

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press, play

After the Light sees three of Melbourne’s most acclaimed and diverse artists come together for the birth of new project press, play. The universes of pianist Sonya Lifschitz, percussionist Leah Scholes and flutist Lina Andonovska have collided as they set…

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TimeOut Melbourne: The Leenane Trilogy – review

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


This back-to-back trilogy, starring Noni Hazlehurst, recaptures Martin McDonagh’s childhood filled with humour, darkness and violence

Martin McDonagh is often mentioned in the same breath as Quentin Tarantino, and indeed the poster for his Connemara trilogy invokes the filmmaker directly. I guess it’s the deliberately uncomfortable mix of violence and humour, the deadpan nihilism, which brings the cult director to mind. Of course, it could just be the body count.

McDonagh has a few films of his own under his belt now, but his career began with The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Set in the county in which his father was born, his first play drew heavily on the cultural and linguistic nuances of Connemara; bleak and insular, full of petty and long-standing grievance, made up of people struggling to live with themselves and each other.

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Master Class 2014 – new season on sale now (2015)

★★★★★ "awe-inspiring performance" The Age "Maria Mercedes... is sensational as Maria Callas" Australian Book Review “masterfully directed” Theatre Press “this play cast a spell…Bravo.” Australian Stage Inspired by Maria Callas’ famous 1971 visit to New York’s Juilliard School of Music, Master…

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THE AGE: The Lonesome West – review

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


The Lonesome West review: Family feud heats up in compelling black comedy

Kin Collective’s production of the The Lonesome West, the final leg of the Leenane trilogy, brings to life a brutally amusing Cain and Abel story set in the same shit-splat Irish town as the first two.

The Connor brothers, Coleman (James O’Connell) and Valene (Mark Diaco), are always at each other’s throats. They can’t help themselves. Even freshly returned from their father’s funeral, with the parish priest (Dean Cartmel) in the room, they’re at it hammer and tongs.

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The Age: A Skull in Connemara

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

A Skull in Connemara is the second and least well-known play in McDonagh’s Leenane trilogy, and the most ghoulish and macabre of the three. It delves (quite literally) into the graves of the unquiet dead of Leenane, whose estate is rightly to be envied by those still living in the town – riven as it is by small minds and wagging tongues, crushing boredom and endemic malice.

Every year, the town’s gravedigger Mick Dowd (Chris Bunworth) exhumes the remains in a section of the local cemetery. It’s a murderous chore made worse by the presence of the thick-skulled chatterbox Mairtin Hanlon (Tom Barton), and his dour copper brother Thomas (Pete Reid).

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Toorak Times: The Leenane Trilogy – Review

See review in its original context here by Leonard Miller for the Toorak Times.

Overall rating:

Martin McDonagh is something of a wunderkind playwright. At only 44, he is remarkably accomplished with successful film adaptations, West End and Broadway productions and Laurence Olivier and Critics’ Circle Theatre awards under his belt. In staging the entirety of his trilogy of plays set in and around the Irish coastal village of Leenane, the Kin Collective has made an ambitious choice which succeeds in doing justice to his well wrought epic.

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ArtsHub: The Leenane Trilogy – Review

See review in its original context here by Jennifer Porter for ArtsHub.

Tackling themes of co-dependency, alienation, escape and faith, the trilogy is superbly executed by the Kin Collective.

The Kin Collective is currently staging Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’sThe Leenane Trilogy at fortyfivedownstairs. The three plays are set in the first half of the 1990s in the district of Connemara, a small community on the west coast of Ireland.

The trilogy tackles themes of co-dependency, alienation, escape and faith. McDonough (best known for the film, In Bruges) explores how dependency can engender hatred and cruelty and lead to degradation of the human condition until its humanity is almost unrecognisable. In this world, escape comes only with alcohol (clung to and coveted like a like a life-giving elixir), migration away from homeland and family, or more tragically, through mental breakdown or death.

Image: Dean Cartmel, Mark Diaco and James O’Connell in the Kin Collective’s The Lonesome West. Image by Lachlan Woods.

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Onya Magazine: The Beauty Queen of Leenane – review

See review in its original context here by Jess Sykes for Onya Magazine.

The Leenane Trilogy – The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The first instalment of the KIN Collective’s Leenane Trilogy was so beautifully done that it has created an almost unbearable amount of anticipation for the next two plays.

Even as we entered the theatre, the wonderful Noni Hazlehurst was waiting on stage. She certainly created a far cry from her much-loved Playschool days, looking like she’s been passing the time shooting up with Jemima, after kicking the stuffing out of Big Ted.

She inhabited the role of Mag; the bitter, self-pitying, manipulative mother to Michala Banas’ Maureen so fully it was enthralling to watch. Martin McDonagh’s words and story were as dark and hilarious as always, but it was each of the four actors on stage that created such an intense and beautiful play to watch.

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