BIENNALE OF SYDNEY NEW NIRIN website photography: Neil Chand
Biennale of Sydney moves to digital experience
For nearly 50 years, the Biennale of Sydney has presented some of the most dynamic contemporary art from around the globe in iconic venues across Sydney.
This year’s exhibition, titled NIRIN and meaning ‘edge’ in Wiradjuri, is an artist- and First Nations-led biennale showcasing more than 700 artworks by 101 artists and collectives. A global platform for diverse cultures and perspectives, the Biennale unites people across the world, stimulating dialogue and inspiring change.
The COVID-19 pandemic and potential impact on the safety of our visitors, artists, staff and wider community remains our top priority. And so, in line with the latest advice from Government authorities, the Biennale of Sydney is closing its public exhibitions from Tuesday 24 March 2020 until further notice.
We will continue to adapt and innovate in the face of this global crisis. Our doors close across Sydney, and they will open online – for everyone, everywhere across the world. We remain steadfastly committed to the artists and communities we serve by moving to a digital program.
Working with long-time Biennale partner Google - and in a first for the Biennale of Sydney - audiences around the world will be able to engage with NIRIN on the Google Arts & Culture platform. Creating a virtual Biennale will bring the exhibition and programs to life through live content, virtual walk-throughs, podcasts, interactive Q&As, curated tours and artist takeovers.
At times like these, it is more important than ever that we find ways to connect, to help each other, listen, collaborate and heal – all core themes of NIRIN.
The Biennale remains artist-led and will allow our artists to lead the way in responding to the urgent social, political, and environmental issues we are facing today. We are shifting to digital programs, sharing more in coming weeks.
We look forward to welcoming you back to the physical exhibition when our Government authorities deem it safe to reopen. Until then, we encourage everyone to look after one another during this challenging time, and when you go looking for connections in isolation, engage online.
WHAT: You are invited to the official media preview of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, titled NIRIN. Led by Artistic Director Brook Andrew, the tour will begin at the National Art School, continuing to Campbelltown Arts Centre, Artspace, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Cockatoo Island. The day will conclude with a journey to Cockatoo Island on NIRIN HAIVETA, the Biennale ferry that celebrates women’s mark-making through visual representations created by Melbourne arts and cultural collective BE. The media preview will be a full day tour, with refreshments provided by Two Good and Campari.
WHO: Extensive interview and photo/filming opportunities will be available throughout the day with artists and spokespersons from the Biennale of Sydney. The Biennale will include work by more than 100 artists from 41 countries. See the full program at www.biennaleofsydney.art
ABOUT: The 22nd Biennale of Sydney is an artist-led and First Nations-led endeavour, presenting an expansive exhibition of contemporary art that connects local communities and global networks. NIRIN, a Wiradjuri word meaning edge, is a world of endless interconnected centres; a space to gather, to share, to rejoice, disrupt, re-imagine or pierce through dominant narratives to express a different kind of experience.
WHEN: Tuesday 10 March. Full day tour commencing with registration at 8am at the National Art School. Details follow.
8am Register at National Art School, with coffee and a light breakfast provided by Two Good
8.30am Welcome and introduction from Artistic Director Brook Andrew, Chief Executive Officer Barbara Moore and National Art School Director Steven Alderton, followed by a curatorial tour
9.30-10.30am Buses travel to Campbelltown Arts Centre - podcasts and playlists provided
10.30am Welcome by Campbelltown Arts Centre Director Michael Dagostino, followed by a curatorial tour
11.15am-12.15pm Buses travel from Campbelltown Arts Centre to Artspace
12.20pm Welcome by Artspace director Alexie Glass-Kantor and curatorial tour followed by lunch provided with catering by Two Good
1.30pm Buses travel from Artspace to AGNSW
1.50pm Welcome by AGNSW Director Michael Brand, followed by a curatorial tour
2.45pm Buses travel from AGNSW to MCA
3.05pm Welcome by MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, followed by a curatorial tour
4pm Board ferry NIRIN HAIVETA to travel from MCA to Cockatoo Island, with afternoon tea by Two Good provided
4.30pm Welcome to Cockatoo Island by Biennale of Sydney Artistic Director Brook Andrew and a curatorial tour, followed by Campari Sundowners
6pm Board ferry NIRIN HAIVETA, event concludes upon arrival at Circular Quay
1. NATIONAL ART SCHOOL
8am Register at National Art School, with coffee and a light breakfast provided by Two Good 8.30am Welcome and introduction from Artistic Director Brook Andrew, Chief Executive Officer Barbara Moore and National Art School Director Steven Alderton, followed by a curatorial tour
2. CAMPBELLTOWN ARTS CENTRE
9.30-10.30am Buses travel to Campbelltown Arts Centre - podcasts and playlists provided 10.30am Welcome by Campbelltown Arts Centre Director Michael Dagostino, followed by a curatorial tour
11.15am-12.15pm Buses travel from Campbelltown Arts Centre to Artspace 12.20pm Welcome by Artspace director Alexie Glass-Kantor and curatorial tour followed by lunch provided with catering by Two Good
4. ART GALLERY OF NSW
1.30pm Buses travel from Artspace to AGNSW 1.50pmWelcome by AGNSW Director Michael Brand, followed by a curatorial tour 2.45pm Buses travel from AGNSW to MCA
5. MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART AUSTRALIA
3.05pmWelcome by MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, followed by a curatorial tour
6. COCKATOO ISLAND 4pm Board ferry NIRIN HAIVETA to travel from MCA to Cockatoo Island, with afternoon tea by Two Good provided 4.30pmWelcome to Cockatoo Island by Biennale of Sydney Artistic Director Brook Andrew and a curatorial tour, followed by Campari Sundowners 6pm Board ferry NIRIN HAIVETA, event concludes upon arrival at Circular Quay
THE MELBOURNE MUSICIANS NEW website review by Sylvester Kroyherr
REVIEW OF CONCERT BY THE MELBOURNE MUSICIANS (46thConcert Season) Given at: St Johns Southgate, Melbourne on 15 March, 2020, titled ‘Mozart, Young Genius’. Artistic Director: Frank U. Pam with Dominika Zamara, soprano and Lotta Mathilda Rink, bassoon.
Despite the turbulent times surrounding the COVID-19 virus, the somewhat reduced but enthusiastic audience welcomed the orchestra with joy and vigour. The well chosen and balanced programme selected by Frank reflected the early genius of Mozart from the ages of 11, 17, 18 and 19. The short piece titled Prologue to Apollo et Hyacinthus, K.38 started the concert in a lively fashion followed by the 19 year old Mozart’s Symphony No.55 in D major, K.196/121. The short ‘Allegro molto’ movement was spirited, bouncy and energetic, while the ‘Andantino’ second movement displayed grace and refinement, with some beautiful segments from the strings especially. The longer last movement, ‘Allegro’, presented more of the woodwind and horn sections showing agility and accurate interplay combined with the stately and assertive delivery of the orchestra. It was clear to see that Frank was also enjoying himself – not to mention the enthusiastic audience! The next 10 minute piece was performed by the beautiful and charming Dominika, being the Voi avete un cor fedele K.217 which was written as an insert for an opera by Galuppi: ‘Dorina’s Marriage’. Dominika’s delivery was well controlled and delivered in a powerful and expressive manner, much to the delight of everyone.
The work to follow was the Bassoon Concerto in B flat, K.191, being Mozart’s first wind concerto. From the start, Lotta sprang into the Allegro movement with great confidence, showing agility and colour, spanning the 3 octave range of the instrument – notably some very clear sections at the lower register. Synchronising smoothly with the orchestra, Lotta delivered an impressive and expressive cadenza before moving on to the second movement, ‘Andante’, that rendered beautiful and gentle melodies enhanced by deep feeling and sensitivity. Furthermore, the dreamlike cadenza was also very touching, along with the muted strings of the orchestra. To round off the concerto, the ‘Rondo’ movement followed with a brisk introduction from the orchestra. Once in the groove, Lotta breezed into impressive runs and arpeggios with confident flair, surrounded by the full rich sound of the orchestra and highlighted by the minuet tempo. Lotta, Frank and the orchestra revelled in the appreciative audience. Interval followed.
Dominika joined the orchestra to present a motet titled Laudate Dominum (Psalm 117) from Vesperae solenne de confessore, K.339 (an extract from a religious work, celebrating Vespers, which Mozart wrote in1780) (Note: a ‘motet’ is generally a short piece of sacred choral music) With a gentle start, Dominika’s sweet voice filled the space that continued into a faster pace embellished with a short cadenza. The next segment was slow and lyrical that was gentle and uplifting. Exultate jubilate, K.165 followed with power and exuberance; the Alleluja segment with its tricky runs and vocal acrobatics concluded to the thunder of the exalted audience and a supportive orchestra.
The final offering was the Symphony No.29in A major, K.201, written when Mozart was only 19. Starting with an ‘Allegro moderato’ tempo, the orchestra swung into this with substantial gusto but showing good flow and balance especially from the strings. (No wonder that the piece is Frank’s favourite!) To follow this movement, the ‘Andante’ was sweet; deploying muted strings with notable Haydn influences, while the ‘Minuet’ was fresh, bright, and sparkly although quite short. Livening up the finale, the ‘Allegro con spirito’ was stylishly exciting with some spectacular runs from the strings, building on the drama of the contrasting passages – confidently led by the leader Irina Grigoryan! A powerful and thrilling ending to the concert.
Congratulations to Frank Pam, the Orchestra and the soloists for a delightful, invigorating and musically elevating concert. We look forward to future events in 2020 and beyond. SYLVESTER KROYHERR (Musician - Bohemian Rhapsody Club). 22March 2020.
photography: Andrew J Liu at Pride Productions
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY BY URBAN VEGAS NEW website review by Olga Kirk photography: Stuart Buchanan
International Women's Day 8th of March has become a noticeable date from 1909 as a focal point in the movement for women’s rights, to empower and support women.
Urban Vegas and Kavita Chabra organised a great event to get women together to experience an evening with an elegant crowd in a sophisticated venue. It was a special and creative gateway occasion. This event was about bringing women together to learn, network and support one another. We all gathered celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness.
There was also a Lucky Draw prize with proceeds going towards WAGGGS FOR 2020.
Unlimited Canapés and Exclusive Giveaways for all the attendees were generous and great! Thanks must go to Urban Vegas for organising and empowering women no matter what they do, no matter what their race! We are all equal!
WINE AND CHEESE FESTIVAL 2020 NEW website review by Olga Kirk
The organisers of the Wine and Cheese Fest have done a great job to get the reputation as a premier Melbourne festival. This is largely due to continuously supporting local food producers as well as local wine and quality cheese makers. Wine makers: Dal Zotto Wines Politini Wines, King Valley Rob Dolan Wines Newbridge Wines Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Blue Pyrenees Estate M.Chapoutier Australia Mountainside Wines BABO Wines Sutherland Estate Chirping Bird Wines Hampton Water Wine Co. The French Providore Mount Avoca Emperor Champagne The Prosecco Van Dromana Estate Mitchelton Wines SOFI Spritz Peros Wines Red Edge Bigibila Wines
CIDER MAKERS AND BREWERIES Frank's Cider - Tasmania Colonial brewery Cheeky Rascal Cider Daylesford Cider Eddies Cider CHEESE AND SMALLGOODS PRODUCERS Milk the Cow Marraweeny Olives Crisp Produce & preserves Salami Shack Josh&Sue Gourmet Selection Boat Shed Cheese The Cheese Rebels The Tin Shed Group Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano That's Amore Gelato That's Amore Cheese Paris Creek Farms The French Providore Dolci Momenti Raclette Melted Cheese Plaza Deli Northcote Springmount Fine Foods Locheilan cheese
FOOD VENDORS IL Panzerotto taste of Puglia Ummu Gozleme Little Santorini 48hPizzaeGnocchiBar Emmy Bee Coffee Potato Spirals & Snow Cones
ART / CRAFT Silicone Wine Glasses Australia Henna Tattooing Melbourne Art Space For Kids Millers Road
Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano presented a talk on the delicatessen we all know as 'Parmesan'. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese can only be produced in designated areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua. I loved participating in the masterclass which showed us a useful recipe to use my favorite cheese in a new way! It’s not only the cheese but part of the history, tradition and hard work of the people who create it.
All attendees of the next masterclass had a chance to taste a selection of scented cheess’ from Milk and Cow. An awesome opportunity to taste such a great selection of cheese and very educational too as attendees learned about the master skill of combining cheese and wine.
Grape Stomp Comp was the culmination of the fest and was a really great way to show people how wine was made in the traditional way! All participants were awarded prizes but the look on their faces as they were stomping and the fun had by all cheering on was the highlight. As part of the music acts Wine and Cheese Fest there were some great bands keeping the guests entertained in the main hall. I think this was a great way to celebrate the 8th of March- International Women’s Day! I recommend this event to everyone, even those with with kids as they had a Kids Zone where they were could be entertained as well.
photography: Andrew J Liu
NGV: JAPANESE MODERNISM EXHIBITION website review and photos: Elice Thomas
On Wednesday morning I attended a media preview of the NGV’s new temporary collection, ‘Japanese Modernism’. This exhibition aims to bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary Japanese art, focusing on the period between 1920 – 1940; it also highlights the work of notable female artists who broke out in this period, as women began pushing beyond the limitations once imposed on them by traditional Japanese society. With the freedom to now express themselves more fully, more and more moga (modern girls) began moving to the big cities, finding themselves jobs and apartments and putting their own creative works into the world. This collection has never been exhibited in Australia before, and was sourced from collectors not just in Japan but all over the world.
While the exhibition itself is small, it is packed with information about this short yet influential time in Japan’s history. Amongst the collection are art deco posters, magazines, fashion and cosmetics, cut glass, filmography and music, pottery, and paintings, as well as a beautiful privacy screen by Taniguchi Fumie which greets you as soon as you enter the space. The NGV has gone above and beyond in addressing all of the influences and facets of this period in Japan, including influences I would never have considered before, such as Egyptian art, European cosmetics and fashion, and even the novelty of polar bears, one of which was introduced to a Japanese zoo in this period. The space itself is well-designed and curated, with pockets dedicated to different parts of Japanese culture. I particularly enjoyed the corner on travel and tourism, something I hadn’t considered popular this early in the twentieth century. Tourist maps, postcards, and posters paint a picture of what it was like to travel back then. A major drawcard of this exhibition has to be the haori (jackets) and nagajuban (kimono undergarments) of the mobo (modern boys) of this era. Muted and plain on the outside, these clothes have been exhibited inside-out to show off the beautifully-detailed scenes decorating the lining, known as omoshirogara. These designs often depicted the wearer’s passions, such as baseball, movies, or planes, boats, and automobiles. It is said that these clothes represented the Japanese people themselves, who were often inscrutable on first meeting but would gradually reveal their personality as one got to know them. On the other hand, we have the kimonos and fashion accessories of the moga. Rather than hide their personalities, modern girls decided to co-opt the new fashion trends of the European scene and integrate them into the traditional dress of their parents and elders. The results are beautiful and bold prints on kimonos, often paired with modern handbags, makeup, and headwear. Japanese women often abandoned the kimono entirely, as illustrated in an exquisite piece by Negishi Ayako, in which two women prepare themselves for the day in a modern European fashion, complete with pedicures, curled hair, modern dress, and cosmetics. It is a fascinating glimpse into a new and exciting time in history. ‘Japanese Modernism’ is being exhibited from the 28th February until 4th October 2020, and is free to enter.
MADE IN HONG KONG CAN'T DO TOMORROW website review by Natasha Marchev
It is well known that the art graffiti is very popular in China. Among all the artists who create this style, Banksy from China is the most famous. He always creates is art covered in a mask. He appears in public only with a completely closed face. His fans, ordinary citizens and even the police are knocked down, but there is no any worthwhile information anywhere about even one person who can shed light on the artist personality. However, a miracle happened. The artist syddenly and independently revealed his appearance and first time ever appeared in public without the usual mask.
Chinese Banksy revealed his identity Who is He Finally, the secret justice fighter revealed his face. This happened on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The name Badiucao is a nick name, pseudonym adopted many years ago when he just started to publish caustic political cartoons covering the Chinese Communist Party on the Internet. He was quickly blocked on Chinese social networks and forced to work outside the Big Firewall, China's huge censored online device.
Hi is No longer Chinese In 2009, Baducao moved to Australia, where since he has become a citizen and renounced his Chinese citizenship. But even then he did not reveal his identity. Like the British graffiti artist Banksy, he worked in the shade, performing most of his work on the Internet or on the streets and appearing only at exhibitions and only disguised.
Mystery covered in darkness During the filming of a documentary film about his work, which was broadcast on Australian television, Badiucao and director Danny Ben-Moshe first took extreme measures to preserve the secrecy of the artist's personality. At home in Melbourne and throughout the year, working with world-renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Berlin, Ben Moshe shot Baducao from behind or secretly, trying to avoid anything that could be used by the Chinese authorities to identify him. Most of his filming was carried out only from the back. At the same time, the outlines of the body were also advertised. But still, all the participants on the set were very worried. After all, the police could detect the fingerprints of the artist or recognize him by the shape of his ears. Any part of the body could compromise a famous person, and then the secret would be revealed.
Necessary measure However, the gradually careful concealment of his persona no longer implied the security that Baducao relied on. He was even forced to leave the show in Hong Kong in the last minutes all for fears for his life. The artist subsequently admitted that his personality was compromised and his choice was not great. He needed to completely disappear, or leave the shadow and show the world his face.
For the sake of family safety The documentary, based on the disclosure of the artist and his secrets, shows the audience that Badiucao had to give himself away. He learned that the Australian authorities had contacted the members of his family still residing in China. At the same time, an exhibition of his works was to be held in Hong Kong. But the artist had to cancel it, because the organizers were afraid for the safety of visitors. At that time the hero himself began to seriously fear for members of his family. The documentary told us many interesting facts about the life of this unusual artist but the most impressive was the ending. On one of the last frames, a human figure appears and a close-up face is shown.
The cunning dissident The documentary was titled "The Cunning Dissident from China." The famous graffiti artist turned out to be a man with a rather ordinary appearance. He has short dark hair, he wears a small beard and has round glasses. In this case, the person declares: "Now they know me." And disappears in the dark.
Reasons for declassification Speaking to CNN about his decision to show himself, Badiucao said the continued silence would no longer bring him any protection. As a result, a new reality has appeared and we will have to live with it now. The cunning dissident from China documentary was aired on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Then the soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army killed hundreds of democracy supporters. This date, June 4th is always one of the most sensitive moments in the Chinese calendar, as authorities seek to suppress any celebration of repression.
Unity with History Badiucao has always made Tiananmen to be a key part of his work, arranging the recreation of the cult photograph of The Tankman in Australian cities and creating numerous works on this subject. Now he has forever associated the date with his personality: 4 June. “I want to take a bold path,” Badiucao said. “We need stupid people to go out and see if the world is still full of hope. I want to be stupid" It remains unclear how the Chinese authorities will react to his revelation. Badiucao's parents have also moved to Australia now but in China there were other relatives of the artist with whom he does not communicate. He hopes that by publicly and revealing his identity, he can reduce the pressure on people who can no longer influence him. A public profile can also help protect him from any future retaliation. “The media and human rights organisations will follow me, so I will be safer,” he said. “In that case, I don’t think that publicity is bad.”
Some concern The artist, however, is concerned that he might be the target of those whom he called "ultranationalists" in China. After all, they can consider his actions as a challenge to Beijing. But whatever the reaction, Badiucao’s decision to show his face took a real turn. Now his figure is broadcast around the world. While the circumstances surrounding the decision were rather tense, the artist expressed a sense of relief about going public. After canceling his Hong Kong show, he was silent for almost six months, not worrying about what to do. “To show my face is liberation for me,” he said. "I no longer need to live a double life, and it also removes barriers in my social life and facilitates the development of my career as an artist." The exhibition by Badiucao called Made in Hong Kong presented by Can't Do Tomorrow at the Melbourne's New Urban Festival was run from 20-29 February at the Facility, Kensington, way too short for everyone to visit. We wait for more dates to see and cover more.
please also note that Badiucao was one of the major exhibition highlights . There are more:
Chinese-Australian political artist and cartoonist Badiucao’s never-seen-before exhibition Made in HongKong, Banned in China. Previously titled Gongle, this world premiere follows the exhibition’s cancellation in HongKong in 2018.
A 22-carriage freight train takeover where a group of prolific street artists will transform a working train into one of the largest moving outdoor galleries in Australia.
A sailboat floating inside a temporary pool made from an old shipping container by finalist for 2012 Archibald Prize Michael Peck.
A new "off the back of a truck" interactive installation inspired from the classic 80s movie tropes of the “shady warehouse district” by renowned Melbourne designer and artist Callum Preston following his popular Milk Bar installation.
An epic projection work by motion graphic designer and media artist Rose Staff and projection illusionist Nick Azidis.
A music line-up of live acts and DJs curated by Melbourne-based DJ MzRizk including live performances from TEYMORI and Cool Out Sun.
A custom built print store where visitors will also be able to purchase limited edition prints created on site (as well as original artworks presented alongside the installations).
A talks program exploring the inner workings of the street art scene both in Australia and across the world with speakers including internationally acclaimed artist and film director Aaron Rose, and renowned Melbourne street artist Rone.
An elusive secret bar selling limited edition ‘artist series’ cans of Stomping Ground’s popular Laneway Lager, featuring 100 exclusive can designs from 61 different artists.
photography: Andrew J Liu
TRUE COLOURS CABARET website review by Anthony Wayne
A celebration of the weird and wonderful, True Colours Cabaret is an all inclusive night bursting of high energy acts. Making its mark on the Melbourne cabaret scene, the night has been circulating around at various venues with several shows being held throughout the year – assembling together a diverse line-up of performers from across the rainbow, under the direction of producer Marilyn Mocktail.
Our charismatic host for the evening - Charlie D Barkle looked ever so sexy in his sharp suit and proclaimed the show is ‘a visual feast for the eyes. You will see things you never knew you wanted to see.’ Charlie teases the audience on what lies ahead summing it up with just 3 words – ‘Sexual… Raunchy… Filthy!’
Split over two parts with an intermission, the revolving door of performers included lip syncing drags, live singing, and a mix of tantalising burlesque acts – with each lasting around 3 to 5 minutes at a time.
Starting things off with a big opening was Charlie, showcasing his deep baritone voice with his rendition of Get the Party Started. From there we are passed over to the sassy bombshell Marilyn Mocktail who lit up the stage with her purple sequin costume. Highlights of the night included the outrageously fabulous drag queen D Flowers, Alex De Porteous with her revoltingly delicious ice-cream act, Azcadelia Le Rouge is mesmerising as she explores the darker side of love, and Mr Frenchie - the reigning Mr Boylesque Australia gyrating his way out of a straight jacket. The final performer of the night was the flirtatious Dallas Fox serving us the cream on top – literally.
Holding body positivity at its big-hearted core, the show recasts the stage as a sanctuary, a home where these performers can be themselves, where body confidence is celebrated, and curves are not only embraced – they are flaunted. True Colours Cabaret is a colourful and fun night full of joy, promising to intrigue and entertain.
For information about future shows check out the Facebook page – True Colours Cabaret or visit www.marilynmocktail.com.
Last Friday night I attended CHEERS TO LOVE, a celebration of Turkish love songs by 64 band. This was a brand new experience for me, as someone who has not brushed up on the Turkish community before, but what an experience. I came away from the night with a new appreciation for the energy, warmth, and passion of the Turkish culture. While I couldn’t understand a word of what was sung, this didn’t matter as I was caught up in the overpowering sounds and festivity of the night. And not only the wonderful music that was on offer, but the amazing selection of food as well! This event was certainly generous when it came to the grazing platter. I couldn’t help enjoying myself as I nibbled on five different types of cheese and listened to 54 band belt it out. My one criticism of the night would be that the venue was very echoey, and combined with the speakers it made the music overpowering. However, the music itself was fantastic. It was a joyous and not one I’ll soon forget.
filming and editing: Yafei Dong
photos: Stuart Buchanan
CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY website review by Katherine Kelly
Confessions of a Mormon Boy Chapel Off Chapel 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran chapeloffchapel.com.au Friday, 7 February 2020 7-9 February 2020
Last Friday classically trained playwright and sole actor Steven Fales spent 90 minutes sharing his story from his early childhood right through to the present day amidst a dark backdrop consisting of a bench, two chairs and clothes with lighting to complement the various moods of the narrative.
The eldest of six children and a sixth-generation Mormon, Fales grew up in the faith and spent two years in Portugal as a Mormon ambassador. His quest to spread the faith and in turn aspire to perfectionism – the Mormon way - a way which eschewed many “vices” including alcohol and drug consumption and homosexuality.
Steve’s relationship with Mormonism was to come under threat when he experienced an awakening in the direction of same sex attraction (SSA). We hear of his struggle to come to terms with such a “gender disorientation” – in Mormon terms.
On returning to the US, he attended Brigham Young University (BYU) to study Musical Theatre – “the place to find a good Mormon wife”. There he met Emily Pearson who later became his wife. Prior to the marriage, he expressed his “crisis of normality” with her (her father was gay and died from AIDS). After ungoing conversion therapy, they married and had two children. He described their union as the “Tom and Nicole of Mormondom”.
Overwhelmed by trying to effect perfect Mormonism and the effect of conversion therapies, Fales eventually came out. This resulted in immediate divorce and excommunication by the Mormon “Court of love – Disciplinary Council”. Cast out on his own, Fales landed in New York where he transformed his perfect proselytism into perfect prostitution with the accoutrements of alcohol and Ice - no doubt about transferrable skills in this changing world!
Fales survived his ordeal to become a well renowned award winning author, playwright, educator and actor as well as his true vocation –a father to his kids.
The interaction between Fales and the Friday night audience was magical. One last confession that he made was his love of Melbourne and its audiences. He said he will return soon with the next two instalments of the ‘The Mormon Boy Trilogy’.
'Confessions of a Mormon Boy' is part of the Midsumma Festival and Part One in 'The Mormon Boy Trilogy.' Part Two and Three are called 'Missionary Position' and 'Prodigal Dad.'