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Turner Canning Collective

Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune takes place in a one room walk-up apartment in the west side of New York City, two lonely, middle-aged people on a first date end up tumbling into bed, and…

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Fundraising event

This fundraising concert features the beautiful nostalgic Laika and Rembetika songs of pre 1970 Greece, performed by Melbourne's fabulous Greek singers. Featuring Anthea Sidiropolous, Maria Papathanasiou, Jenny Theologidis and Helen Yotis Patterson, accompanied by a premier Greek band led by…

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Review: Flight from Silence

Thoughts on Flight from Silence
Lisa Sewards and Anna Taylor

I begin with the title Flight from Silence, rich with associations emblematic of the themes that flow between these two bodies of work.

Sewards has suspended several small drop parachutes from the ceiling, juxtaposed on the left with atmospheric prints of the forest and on the right with an enormous diptych of paintings that depict both parachutes and birds falling through the night. We pause in the silence of a parachute drifting down between trees, generally a symbol of hope, bringing supplies of food, mail and medicine or occasionally a cylinder containing a carrier pigeon that would then be fitted with a new message and set to fly home to its loft.

The silence of the pigeons delivering their crucial messages; their inability to communicate their experience of the treacherous skies of wartime (or our inability to hear it) resonates with the layers of silence born by peoples on all sides of conflict. Absolute silence of course, rests with the dead, but Taylor and Sewards concern themselves with restorative commemoration in the more fluid space of the living.

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The Age- Company

  • 31 March 2015
  • news

See article in its original context here by Cameron Woodhead for The Age. Stephen Sondheim show in fine Company at fortyfivedownstairs Home-grown music theatre company Watch This has only been around for a handful of years but in that time has…

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BUZZCUTS: Young & Jackson

  • 14 March 2015
  • news

See article in its original context here by Nisha Joseph for BUZZCUTS.

Project Series: Young & Jackson the Play, Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2015

If paintings could talk, what stories would they tell us? Chloe – the model in a painting that has hung in the Young & Jackson bar since 1908, has seen everything from new friends to world wars.

The year is 1945 and in a bid to defend Chloe against an American serviceman and his glass of beer, Jimmy and Keith step in, all bravado and drunk excitement. The two energetic, newly recruited sailors are itching to get their feet wet and finally be part of the war effort. As the play progresses, we are shown the stark reality of wartime in the form of Les – a more experienced sailor suffering from PTSD – and Lorna. Lorna is shrouded in mystery for the young men; she is a force of nature and a fierce dose of feminism in all the right places.

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BUZZCUTS: Young & Jackson

  • 14 March 2015
  • news

See article in its original context here by Nisha Joseph for BUZZCUTS.

Project Series: Young & Jackson the Play, Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2015

If paintings could talk, what stories would they tell us? Chloe – the model in a painting that has hung in the Young & Jackson bar since 1908, has seen everything from new friends to world wars.

The year is 1945 and in a bid to defend Chloe against an American serviceman and his glass of beer, Jimmy and Keith step in, all bravado and drunk excitement. The two energetic, newly recruited sailors are itching to get their feet wet and finally be part of the war effort. As the play progresses, we are shown the stark reality of wartime in the form of Les – a more experienced sailor suffering from PTSD – and Lorna. Lorna is shrouded in mystery for the young men; she is a force of nature and a fierce dose of feminism in all the right places.

Read More

Melbourne.Arts.Fashion: Young & Jackson

See article in its original context here by Meagan Welsh for Melbourne.Arts.Fashion.

★★

Presented as part of the 2015 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s Cultural Program Project Series, this world premiere prequel to Reid’s seminal Australian play Codgers, continues the tradition of war time larrikinism and mateship in this delightfully heartwarming romp.

Young & Jackson centres around two young seamen – the energetic, immature and feisty Jimmy (Jacob Machin) and his just slightly older, more focussed and steadfast ship mate Keith (Charlie Cousins) – who are currently on leave from the Navy and shored up in Room 24 of the iconic Melbourne hotel Young & Jackson. Using it as base camp as they sample the delights that war-time Melbourne has to offer, they fit in dances and attending the races between planning their latest skit, “Good Night Nursie”, as members of the Navy’s Concert Party troupe.

While out gorging themselves with the culinary treats found in China Town one night, they meet the intriguing Lorna (Gabrielle Scawthorn), a young ‘Rosie the Riveter’ in training, who’s not backwards in coming forward with her physical affection, determined to do anything she can to ease a young soldier’s path through the dark world of combat. Emotionally distant, she hides a dark past relationship behind fancy clothes, a quick wit and strong ability to improvise. The men fall quickly and swiftly in lust with her; Jimmy employing a serious of near embarrassing flirtatious moves while Keith supplies the black market liquor. They set up a series of fortnightly dates, choosing to meet underneath the clocks at Flinders Street train station, where a wager is put in place between the shipmates as to whether their new paramour will come back for Date #2.

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Melbourne.Arts.Fashion: Young & Jackson

See article in its original context here by Meagan Welsh for Melbourne.Arts.Fashion.

★★

Presented as part of the 2015 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s Cultural Program Project Series, this world premiere prequel to Reid’s seminal Australian play Codgers, continues the tradition of war time larrikinism and mateship in this delightfully heartwarming romp.

Young & Jackson centres around two young seamen – the energetic, immature and feisty Jimmy (Jacob Machin) and his just slightly older, more focussed and steadfast ship mate Keith (Charlie Cousins) – who are currently on leave from the Navy and shored up in Room 24 of the iconic Melbourne hotel Young & Jackson. Using it as base camp as they sample the delights that war-time Melbourne has to offer, they fit in dances and attending the races between planning their latest skit, “Good Night Nursie”, as members of the Navy’s Concert Party troupe.

While out gorging themselves with the culinary treats found in China Town one night, they meet the intriguing Lorna (Gabrielle Scawthorn), a young ‘Rosie the Riveter’ in training, who’s not backwards in coming forward with her physical affection, determined to do anything she can to ease a young soldier’s path through the dark world of combat. Emotionally distant, she hides a dark past relationship behind fancy clothes, a quick wit and strong ability to improvise. The men fall quickly and swiftly in lust with her; Jimmy employing a serious of near embarrassing flirtatious moves while Keith supplies the black market liquor. They set up a series of fortnightly dates, choosing to meet underneath the clocks at Flinders Street train station, where a wager is put in place between the shipmates as to whether their new paramour will come back for Date #2.

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Arts Review: Young & Jackson

  • 14 March 2015
  • news

See article in its original context here by Arts Review.

On the Couch with Jacob Machin

March 11, 2015 

Who is Jacob Machin?

I am a Melbourne-based actor, who spends a vast majority of my time either mucking around on various instruments, eating far more than a single human being ever should or reading literally anything that is within arm’s reach. It’s a tough life.

What would you do differently to what you do now?

Consume more. Not food. Information. I have a thirst for knowledge- whether it be from Dr Karl, Stephen Fry, a book, a film, or my father’s amazing retentive brain. I eat all that interesting trivia up. Just like a tasty snack for my brain. I could actually go for a snack. MnMs. Or Skittles! Or an unhealthy combination of the two. I’m hungry.

Who inspires you and why?
British actors. Oldman, Day-Lewis, Cumberbatch, McAvoy, Hopkins. They have a magnificent theatricality that, through some mysterious alchemy, shines through their eyes. They lace every role with compassion. They listen, they are generous and they are humble. To me they are collectively the epitome of great acting.

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Arts Review: Young & Jackson

  • 14 March 2015
  • news

See article in its original context here by Arts Review.

On the Couch with Jacob Machin

March 11, 2015 

Who is Jacob Machin?

I am a Melbourne-based actor, who spends a vast majority of my time either mucking around on various instruments, eating far more than a single human being ever should or reading literally anything that is within arm’s reach. It’s a tough life.

What would you do differently to what you do now?

Consume more. Not food. Information. I have a thirst for knowledge- whether it be from Dr Karl, Stephen Fry, a book, a film, or my father’s amazing retentive brain. I eat all that interesting trivia up. Just like a tasty snack for my brain. I could actually go for a snack. MnMs. Or Skittles! Or an unhealthy combination of the two. I’m hungry.

Who inspires you and why?
British actors. Oldman, Day-Lewis, Cumberbatch, McAvoy, Hopkins. They have a magnificent theatricality that, through some mysterious alchemy, shines through their eyes. They lace every role with compassion. They listen, they are generous and they are humble. To me they are collectively the epitome of great acting.

Read More

The Age: Young and Jackson

  • 10 March 2015
  • news

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

Young & Jackson – the pub opposite the clocks at Flinders Street Station – is a Melbourne icon. It celebrates its 140th anniversary this year, and as the setting for Don Reid’s play of the same name, every attempt has been made to recreate the atmosphere, right down to a replica of the famous nude painting in Chloe’s Bar. The audience is seated at tables laden with jugs of lemon squash and longnecks of Melbourne Bitter.

A prequel of sorts to the successful Codgers, the play resurrects the febrile days of World War II. Two teenage mates have enlisted in the navy, and are billeted at the hotel before they’re sent off to fight the Japanese.

There’s Jimmy (Jacon Machin) – a hot-tempered larrikin with an eye for the ladies – and the more gentlemanly, good-natured Keith (Charlie Cousins) sharing a room at the pub. That’s not all they end up sharing with the arrival of Lorna (Gabrielle Scawthorn), an independent-minded woman whose beau was killed in action and who feels compelled to offer company and comfort to the boys going off to war.

The charm and delicacy of the acting in the first half can’t be overstated. Machin and Cousins bring to life not just the period lingo of the script, but a whole lost aspect of Aussie male intimacy.

You don’t see male acting as sharp, or humour as well-tuned as this very often, and it’s a pleasure to watch.

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Stage Whispers: Young and Jackson

  • 10 March 2015
  • news

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

It’s early 1945 and the war’s not over yet.  Two Royal Australian Navy lads, Keith and Jimmy, only seventeen, are in training.  Any day now they may be sent ‘up north’ to join the fighting.  They don’t know what to expect – although Jimmy thinks he does.  The play depicts a series of their weekend leaves.  The lads stay at Young & Jackson’s Hotel, having pulled a bit of a swifty to get in there.  They get pissed, get into fights with the ‘septics’ (Yanks), rehearse their smutty cabaret skits – all about poofters – and keep an eye out for girls.  Then they meet Lorna, eating alone in a Chinese restaurant.  She comes back to the lads’ room.  She’s got a broken heart and she needs to forget… Meanwhile, Keith’s best mate Les has already been ‘up north’ and he’s in a psychiatric hospital, wracked by visions of what he witnessed.

For interstate readers, Young & Jackson’s is a famous hotel on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets in Melbourne, opposite the iconic Flinders Street Station and almost as iconic itself.  It’s famous not least for the near life size nude, ‘Chloe’, that has hung over the bar since 1909.  As a history of the hotel says, Chloe may well have been the first naked female a lot of young blokes saw before they went off to die in either war.

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George Papadimas

greyscale spectrum marks George Papadimas' first exhibition in his native Melbourne after a nine-year period of living and working in Ho Chi Minh City and New York City. Papadimas has created a series of works that reflect his ongoing fascination…

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The Age: Young & Jackson

See article in its original context here by John Bailey The Age.

Young & Jacksons: A tribute to a Melbourne pub celebrating 140 years

Harking back: Young & Jackson looks back at when the old guys from Codgers were young. Photo: Sarah Walker

Wayne Harrison is no stranger to the world stage. He’s directed the closing ceremony of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the New Year’s Eve Celebrations on Sydney Harbour, and these days when he’s not at home in London he’s jetting across the US directing the Spiegelworld productions in New York and Las Vegas.

It puts him in good stead to comment on the changes his youthful stomping ground of Melbourne has undergone over the decades.

“In Vegas everything has a shelf life of 25 years and in Sydney they managed to destroy all the Victorian and Edwardian theatres, whereas Melbourne very sensibly kept them,” he says. “I think that distinguishes Melbourne. But I have to say that the city I come back to now and enjoy immensely is very different to the one that I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s been completely transformed.”

One of his Spiegelworld outings, Absinthe, opens at Crown this month, but he’s really here to direct a play centred on a Melbourne institution that would spur riots were it ever to be torn down for redevelopment. Young & Jackson Hotel celebrates its 140th anniversary this year, and Harrison is at the helm of the world premiere of a new work named after the venerated old pub.

The show tracks the fortunes of three sailors in the closing days of World War II  and a mysterious woman who arrives in their lives. No, she’s not Chloe, though the painting indelibly associated with the hotel’s history of course makes an appearance.

“It seems to me a very Melbourne story,” says Harrison. “Lots of nitty-gritty details from the period are used as the argot of the play.”

There’s far more to it than nostalgia. “The great motivator is what war does to people. It disrupts their lives and then forces them to make choices about their futures. Sometimes they don’t actually know that they’re making those choices, but that’s what happens when they come to Melbourne.”

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The Age: Young & Jackson

See article in its original context here by John Bailey The Age.

Young & Jacksons: A tribute to a Melbourne pub celebrating 140 years

Harking back: Young & Jackson looks back at when the old guys from Codgers were young. Photo: Sarah Walker

Wayne Harrison is no stranger to the world stage. He’s directed the closing ceremony of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the New Year’s Eve Celebrations on Sydney Harbour, and these days when he’s not at home in London he’s jetting across the US directing the Spiegelworld productions in New York and Las Vegas.

It puts him in good stead to comment on the changes his youthful stomping ground of Melbourne has undergone over the decades.

“In Vegas everything has a shelf life of 25 years and in Sydney they managed to destroy all the Victorian and Edwardian theatres, whereas Melbourne very sensibly kept them,” he says. “I think that distinguishes Melbourne. But I have to say that the city I come back to now and enjoy immensely is very different to the one that I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s been completely transformed.”

One of his Spiegelworld outings, Absinthe, opens at Crown this month, but he’s really here to direct a play centred on a Melbourne institution that would spur riots were it ever to be torn down for redevelopment. Young & Jackson Hotel celebrates its 140th anniversary this year, and Harrison is at the helm of the world premiere of a new work named after the venerated old pub.

The show tracks the fortunes of three sailors in the closing days of World War II  and a mysterious woman who arrives in their lives. No, she’s not Chloe, though the painting indelibly associated with the hotel’s history of course makes an appearance.

“It seems to me a very Melbourne story,” says Harrison. “Lots of nitty-gritty details from the period are used as the argot of the play.”

There’s far more to it than nostalgia. “The great motivator is what war does to people. It disrupts their lives and then forces them to make choices about their futures. Sometimes they don’t actually know that they’re making those choices, but that’s what happens when they come to Melbourne.”

Read More

Theatre Alive: Young & Jackson

See article in its original context here by Theatre Alive.

MONDAY MUSINGS WITH CHARLIE COUSINS

A graduate of the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts, Helpmann Award winner and all-round nice guy, Charlie Cousins is probably best known at the moment for his work as Charlie Davis in ABC’s The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
Taking a time out from TV, he’s now about to tread the boards in the world premiere season of Young and Jackson at fortyfivedownstairs. We chatted with him in the lead-up!

Tell us a bit about the show. What’s your role within it all?

Young and Jackson is about these four young adults coming to terms with what it means to truly live on their own terms in a time of great unrest and major change. The Second World War has raged for six long years and has forever left a mark on everyone involved, near and far.

For Jimmy and Keith it is a chance to see the world, have a great adventure and experience life to the full. For Lorna it is the potential to change the rules of how women are seen and the opportunities they are given. For Les, it is the challenge of how to reintegrate back into civilian life after living through the horrors of war.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the piece?

The play is full of so much life; youthful joy and exuberance, sexual awakenings, comedy of errors, missed opportunities, misunderstandings and meaningful connections.

There’s something so special about seeing these four lives being thrust out of that simpler time into a newer, more complicated and frenetic world.

What’s more we get to see how the identity of the nation has changed as we revisit the beautiful and nostalgic period of the 40’s.

It’s going to be a really lovely immersive theatre experience, time travelling back into that world.

Read More

Theatre Alive: Young & Jackson

See article in its original context here by Theatre Alive.

MONDAY MUSINGS WITH CHARLIE COUSINS

A graduate of the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts, Helpmann Award winner and all-round nice guy, Charlie Cousins is probably best known at the moment for his work as Charlie Davis in ABC’s The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
Taking a time out from TV, he’s now about to tread the boards in the world premiere season of Young and Jackson at fortyfivedownstairs. We chatted with him in the lead-up!

Tell us a bit about the show. What’s your role within it all?

Young and Jackson is about these four young adults coming to terms with what it means to truly live on their own terms in a time of great unrest and major change. The Second World War has raged for six long years and has forever left a mark on everyone involved, near and far.

For Jimmy and Keith it is a chance to see the world, have a great adventure and experience life to the full. For Lorna it is the potential to change the rules of how women are seen and the opportunities they are given. For Les, it is the challenge of how to reintegrate back into civilian life after living through the horrors of war.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the piece?

The play is full of so much life; youthful joy and exuberance, sexual awakenings, comedy of errors, missed opportunities, misunderstandings and meaningful connections.

There’s something so special about seeing these four lives being thrust out of that simpler time into a newer, more complicated and frenetic world.

What’s more we get to see how the identity of the nation has changed as we revisit the beautiful and nostalgic period of the 40’s.

It’s going to be a really lovely immersive theatre experience, time travelling back into that world.

Read More

Richard Besley

Richard Besley is a Melbourne based painter who has won acclaim for his contemplative colourist improvisations over the past 15 years. His delicate and ethereal compositions reveal a preoccupation with surfaces, layers and light. Recent Painting features large scale works…

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Saray Iluminado

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…

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Chris Humphries

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…

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THE AGE: Treading the Boards- Young & Jackson

  • 17 February 2015
  • news

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…

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THE AGE: Treading the Boards- Young & Jackson

  • 17 February 2015
  • news

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…

Read More

SHORTS@45

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…

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Theatre People review Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 7 February 2015
  • news

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.

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Theatre People review Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 7 February 2015
  • news

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.

Read More

Daily Review: Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 6 February 2015
  • news

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.

Read More

Daily Review: Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 6 February 2015
  • news

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.

Read More

The Age review Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 6 February 2015
  • news

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.

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The Age review Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 6 February 2015
  • news

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.

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TimeOut review Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 6 February 2015
  • news

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.

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TimeOut review Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 6 February 2015
  • news

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.

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Theatre Alive: Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 5 February 2015
  • news

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.

Read More

Theatre Alive: Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 5 February 2015
  • news

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.

Read More

The Age: Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 31 January 2015
  • news

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

History is usually written by the victors, which means intrepid stories of discovery are often whitewashed to make them more palatable for future generations.

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.

Read More

The Age: Johan Padan & the Discovery of the Americas

  • 31 January 2015
  • news

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

History is usually written by the victors, which means intrepid stories of discovery are often whitewashed to make them more palatable for future generations.

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.

Read More
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