Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Dorian Mood

The Dorian mood, 

Of all the ancient now long dead civilizations the Minoan culture of Bronze Age Crete has a special hold on my feverish and fettered imagination. Like all things ancient, any ideas we have of yon olden days are much more about how we want to see and how we interact with the world, than they are about what the people who actually lived in ancient climes felt and thought. If only because our understanding about those long gone days is so shallow and fragmented.

"There dwell Achaeans, there great-hearted native Cretans, there Cydonians, and Dorians of waving plumes, and goodly Pelasgians."

As much as an island can be a crossroads, Crete was the crossroads of the Ancient North African and West Asian cultures. The stepping stone and ruminating place for the passing of culture onto the barbarous northern lands. Homer tells us that the island was home to many different groups, Achaeans, Cydonians, Dorians, Pelasgians as well as True Cretans. Adding the influences from merchant activity and Crete can pass for a member of the global village, a seemingly modern multi-cultural land.

Much has been lost from cataclysms and wars and revolutions and plain old forgetfulness. Sadly we do not know the older script of these eteokretes, Homer's true Cretans of the Odyssey. So we do not know what sort of language they spoke, was it part of the PIE language grouping, or an older style of speech lost in the dust of earthquakes and wars and ruins of massive relentless tsunamis? There is debate even about the meaning of Minos. Did this word mean king, or war chief, so that all rulers of Crete were called Minos? Did it mean more like ascetic? Or was it, as most assume, just another name among many?

The Minoans seem to closely match the imagined pagans dancing through the opium dreams of the Victorian decadent Algernon Charles Swinburne. Minoan arts holds an erotic orientalised fascination, a playful, exuberant sway over the imaginings of generations of artists and scholars. Exposed bosoms of matrons hailing the sun. Bull leaping male and female athletes glowing shiny and naked and well oiled and the sparkling sun bestowing countless kisses on the tips of frothy waves. Naked soldiers eating and drinking in laconic commons. A chanting, incantation hissing priestess holding over her head writhing snakes of prophecy and good fortune. The wild songs to the Great Mother wailing over the mud brick cities, across the wild mountains and the deep valleys cut, out over the wine faced sea.

Crete may have been one of the birth places of the infant Zeus. Where the Great Mother in her birth pangs dug her fingers into the rich volcanic soil on the flanks of Mt Ida (or was it on Anatolian Ida?) and brought
into being the Dactyls. Spirits of knowledge and metal melting and pouring and many magic crafts. They taught useful and helpful things to poor ignorant mankind. Wretched ones, mere bellies. Crete, where Daedalus built the cow shaped frame for the Poseidon unnatural love after the white bull cursed Queen Pasiphae. So mating she brought into the being the hideous Minotaur. Daedalus (of Joyce fame) then force built the labyrinth to house and keep from human eyes that part man part bull prodigy of that god toying unnatural union. Needing to flee from the enraged king he built wings of feathers and bees wax. The son of Daedalus disobeyed the father and fell to his death.

After seeing the new exhibit Theatre of the World at MONA, I felt that I had to bring along the rest of the family, who were sadly sick with colds when I first went. Knowing what to expect I made a beeline for a
surprisingly dark, small and claustrophobic room. In reality it was no more than a trick of weak lighting that made the room feel so small. What was in this small dark room that so caught my eye and imagination?

Recently I read an article about MONA which stated that the gallery had subverted the traditional gallery experience by not raising buildings to the heavens. Rather submersive the entrance took one down down to the underground. I can only agree with the weeping philosopher in saying that the way up/down are one and the same. Regardless I trundled my tired old frame down the stairs into the belly bowels of the limestone earth.

One often hears lurid tales in the more lurid mass media articles about the obsession with sex and death of the owner and staff of MONA. And one would think that I was joining in the general death loving frenzy by going into this one particular room. For the room contained some half a dozen various coffins and caskets. Caskets gathered from across time and history, across space and geography. All these categories fell into disrepair. However death that was not my desire, indeed I did not even understand that the object that so interested me was a coffin until later, assuming it to be a chest for linen. I stumbled upon the room, the object, and my eye and my will fell upon the octopus with her outstretched arms.

What however is a larnax? It is in this case a coffin, but it can also mean a chest, as in the case of Hephaestus, as mentioned in Iliad 18.413, it seems to be his silver tool chest.

From Samuel Bulter's translation.

The bellows he set away from the fire, and gathered all the tools wherewith he wrought into a silver chest; and with a sponge wiped he his face and his two hands withal...

The word also can mean a water trough, by this I assume the containers still seen on farms for watering horses, pigs, cows and etc. In the final passages of the Iliad the bones of Hector are gathered from the

And the white bones they gathered, brothers and comrades
Swelling sorrow flowing tears down their cheeks.
And the bones they placed into the golden urn, covered gentle
With shimmering, gleaming purple robes. They placed the urn
Into the hollow trench and covered smooth with close set stones.

When one thinks about classical art, one thoughts are often drawn to the rigid poses of the Egyptians, or the mathematically precise statues and architectures of the Greeks, or rather the lovingly intricate folds of senatorial robes. In thinking of classical art the mind does not usually jump to ideas of naturalism, and even less does the idea of abstraction come into the conversation. Or if abstraction is thought of, it is of the geometric designs of the 'Dark Age'.

Formal, religious, locked into forms and a lack of experimentation are some of the things that people will think when thinking of ancient art. But of course this is wrong. A central dogma of science is that the processes occurring now have occurred in the past. So for the example of geology we have weathering, erosion, plate tectonics etc, all having occurred in the past. All of these processes of the past are still occurring. In the realm of art these can be taken to mean that in the past artists were like our current artists, they were effected by events happening around them, the great social movements, they were interested in change and development, in trying out new things, and most importantly (and often forgotten) they knew that art is fun, a type of playing.

What did set Minoan art apart from other cultures? One element being the sense of motion not often seen in the older monumental art of Egypt and Babylon. A sense of asymmetry. Objects would be purposely skewed off centre. Lines would take on a life of their own and would bend and twist and arabesque across the surface to be covered. Colour, when viewing the recovered artifacts seems to be almost non existent, but in reality the ancients loved colour and used it with a lack of inhibition that would make the most radical fauvist blush.

So what was drawing my mind? A simple baked clay Minoan casket from about 1350BC. What was it I liked about this piece? The symbol of the octopus with long tendril tentacles reaching out in wavy lines from
the body of the beast. Much Minoan art used these realistic images from nature. With the octopus being a common subject. Within a traditon of lines and formed like the constant waves upon the island, the constant motion and rolling tumble of storm and fair, the octopus sometimes appeared as natural, sometimes as little more than abstracted lines of tentacles rolling, undulating the constant swell. The constant surge wearing away at beaches and rocks the background to a tradition of movement and playfulness.

The always in the background threat of earthquake and tsunami to more than once wipe out all that was gained and forced the people back upon themselves. Great fire belching volcanoes sending out rolling waves to rumble mindless over the city walls, across the land, deep into the rich farmlands.

So this tension of natural and abstract moved across the generations with the creature becoming no more than a one sided line. In a similar way that we have moved along until we are no more than one sided adjuncts to the machine, and one sided dreamers of shopping schemes.

This could be seen as a model for our modern art. Once we drew things. Since the Renaissance a certain type of artist spent their entire lives defining with mathematical perversion the role of line and shadow. Now some of our artists are happy with no more than a collection of lines and a random splashing of colour. In this way we can see the dogma that I spoke of before. What is true for us was true for those who came before us, and what our ancestors did, so we are still doing.

So in a darkened room exhibiting the concern of MONA with coffins and caskets and all things deadly, I was able to admire this 3000 year old coffin, decorated as it was with asymmetrical designs and swirls. And
of course I wondered about the body that was stuffed into such a small casket, as well as wondering what the original colours were, who had made this object, who cried and what rituals were performed. The size and shape of the object. How was the body meant to fit? Were bones broken? Was it meant to represent the chest where people would keep their few belongings? Was it Egyptian in origin, does it represent the box in which Horus the husband of Isis was tricked into entering. The chest that became his coffin. This box which floated down the Nile and into the great sea beyond. Which Isis found bound in the giant tree trunk supporting the ceiling of a palace of a local king. Her cries of pain so profound and powerful as to cause the death of children.

I stood and thought about thinking, about the way in which this simple object made me think about the past and the future. But mostly I liked the way that this one small thing silent out of the pages of history seemed to me to be like a snapshot, a photographic object, which was able to stop time and movement. Like the photograph a newspaper or a political party uses of their opponent. Head back eyes half shut mouth open in laughter, to display the worst aspect of the candidates character and appearance. This Larnax, while not being shuttered in motion to cause embarrassment, does represent a frozen moment. A slice of life. A Series of questions. The moment when the practise of art was in the process of moving from one generation to the next. A moment of death, maybe an old patriarch or even older matriarch passing, and the wrinkled craftsman, out of respect for an old friend, makes one last casket in the fading style. The moment when the artist was surveying what had gone past and what was valuable to keep, to preserve. The moment younger hands took the reigns, when younger talents took over the workshop and studio.

A moment of tradition captured, made solid. A moment in the movement of art made solid. A moment in an anonymous individual's life. That moment of death. Did he or she pick out the casket themselves? Was it chosen after death? Was the object a rushed job due to a sudden accident, or illness? Was the casket chosen after a long and happy life, or a short and brutal one, a life of mediocrity? So many particulars, so
many questions. Questions which may or may not have answers, questions which I do not have the resources to even begin to answer.

All of this and more.

This description came from the email sent to me from MONA concerning
my tour of the museyroom.

Larnax (chest-shaped coffin)
Crete, Late Minoan Period, c. 1325 - 1275 BCE
Fired clay with painted decoration
95 x 122 x 49 cm

The custom of chest-shaped, clay coffins, or larnakes, is believed to
have originated in ancient Crete. The deceased would have been laid in
a flexed position and the gable-shaped lid secured with cords. The
shape may well have been based on wooden storage chests used within a
domestic context but, if so, none of those survive: recent scholarship
has identified Egyptian linen chests as the probable model

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Years of Freedom

Some I entered a short story contest for Adult Literacy - using the usual arts bureaucracy sort of language the contest was '...for the creation of exciting, inspiring and challenging stories to support and encourage adult learning, and to highlight the fact that "It's never too late ... to learn to read".' I did not expect, but would have welcomed the cash, to win. And here you can find out just why my story lost.

By all accounts Charlie had led a hard life. He was born in 1965 in a
small nothing of a rust coloured falling down town in outback
Queensland. His Father worked as a truck driver at the local coal
mine. He worked long shifts doing dangerous work. Over the years the
stress and the drink took hold of him. One day the thunderbolt
struck. He was promptly fired after causing an accident on the work
site. Having made a bit of cash, betting on a horse race, he was well
and truly drunk at the time of the accident.

Charlie's family was forced onto relief, onto the dole. The family's
average everyday rural poverty was transformed into a desperate
struggle for survival. As the amount of money coming into the house
lessened so the threats and the bullying and the violence
increased. Charlie hated living in his own home, he hated living in
fear, but mostly he hated the fact that he was too young and little
and so could not protect his mother.

One small mercy was that Charlie's father would spend as much time
away from the family home as possible. He would try to scrounge up a
demoralising days work here and there, often getting paid in rum or
beer. Maybe helping a local cocky shore up a lazily leaning
fence. Sometimes going off to help muster cattle, or digging a trench
for an irrigation scheme. To make ends meet his mother grew
vegetables, and looked after some of the local kids. His father would
shoot feral animals, cashing the pelts in for the bounty the state
government offered. The children gorged themselves with thin rabbit
stew on such days.

There was never enough money. There was never enough food to feed the
growing children. There was never enough of anything. Whenever
Charlie's dad had more than a couple of bob he would shoot off down
the pub to drown his sorrows; in the selfish manner of the weak men
with families who drunkenly wallow in self-pity and self loathing. One
long humid steaming summer days eight hour long drinking session ended
with a fist fight. Inflated, ranting male drunken froth pride wounded
over some trivial slight. Charlie's father was arrested for the king
hit. A punch caused by nothing which in turn caused the victim to fall
with a sickening thud. The back of his skull shattering when landing
on the stone guttering of the footpath in front of the local hotel.

Before the sun set on that day two more isolated rural families were
plunged deeper into merciless poverty due to that one single,
mindless, drunken punch.

Before the father left the family home, before he started his stretch
in a cold hard cell, he had got Charlie's mother pregnant. The
pregnancy went well in the first trimester, nothing beyond the normal
nausea and aches and pains and cravings. With the terror of the house
being locked away, it was like a dark storm cloud had dissipated. For
Charlie it felt like the first rains that break a desiccating
drought. The heart lifting sensation of the cooling wind carrying the
smell of the coming rain. The far off rumble and flashes of
lighting. Charlie's mother seemed as happy as he ever remembered her
being. She had more time, now that the demands of her husband had
disappeared, to spend on her children. She would often be found
working in the small vegetable garden round the back. She could be
found feeding and fussing about the dozen or so chooks that a
neighbour kindly donated to the family. The kindness extended to the
effort of building a chook yard from old bits and bobs found around
the property to protect the precious birds from the senseless blood
lust of the dingoes and foxes and wild dogs.

And then one day, a month or so before the due date of her child
everything went wrong. The drought breaking rain become a raging
tempest. Charlie, being the eldest of the three children in that small
rusty dusty house, tried his childish best to save her life. With no
telephone, he yelled at his younger brother to run the mile and a half
to the nearest property to get help. By the time assistance came
Charlie was already hugging his dead mother, soundlessly sobbing
without end, unable to even articulate his grief. His little boy tears
mixing with the dark deoxygenated blood that poured without stopping
from out of his mother. His little boy innocence poured out of him,
tears and snot and sweat mixed with the blood that searched out and
found the many tiny cracks and joins in the hand made floor and
dripped onto and mixed with the rusty dry dirt so full of the
heartache and betrayal of the history of this land. His breathless
brother sweaty and covered with dust, his infant sister sitting in the
blood, slapping her hand and crying for reasons she was too young to

It would be decades before he saw his sister again. He never spoke
with his brother again after that day, the younger brother had been
killed in a car accident.

Needless to say that with such a shocking start to life Charlie had
very few chances as he grew into adulthood. He was separated from his
brother and sister. They were all sent to different foster
families. Not knowing where his siblings were, Charlie was shuttled
from agency to agency, sent to a series of unsatisfactory foster homes
and brutal or indifferent schools. He spent most of his time angry,
fighting with teachers, fighting with the other students, fighting the
bullies, preying on the weak. He banged his head against the brick
wall education system. So the young Charlie, alone in the world, was
overlooked and misplaced and eventually given up on by the
system. Soon he was not bothering to show up for school. He had
dropped out of school more or less completely by the time he was
fourteen. He could read a bit, but only with difficulty and he was not
able to write more than his name.

At a young age he, like his father before him, found himself locked
away in the a cold in the winter and stinking hot in the summer
Victorian era prison. He had tried to rob a bottle shop. He was
arrested when an off duty police officer unluckily entered the bottle
shop at the time Charlie was demanding of the publican's nephew all
the money in the till. Charlie was twenty five years old, and he was
stuck away in prison. He had lost all contact with his sister and
brother. He had refused to even speak to his father when he was
paroled, and Charlie's father was only too happy to ignore and reject
his troubled son. Charlie no longer even knew how to get in contact
with any uncles or aunts. By any sort of reckoning, unless something
was to seriously change in his life and quickly, he was destined to
a life of poverty, drug abuse and petty crime, and most likely an
early death.

His luck, however, was about to change. Who could imagine that a stint
in prison could be a life changing and life affirming event? As luck
would have it he was housed in the same block with a tall, strong,
handsome and charismatic aboriginal elder. Not many of the prisoners
knew his real name they all called him 'Goanna'. He laughed his rusty
rough as the outback eroding dust laugh when questioned about his
name. 'Everyone calls me Goanna, cause I used to like to fuck every
woman I met. See the goanna has two dicks, and all the ones in my mob
they would say I fuck like a goanna. Name sorta stuck. One day I met
up with this nice white girl, she was sweet, and we had a good time
together. Until her racist dad found out about us. The bastard was a
local cop. I was eighteen, and she was only seventeen, so the bastard
did me on statutory rape charge. That was years ago, but if you are a
black man and you catch the eye of the police, well let's just say I
have been in and out of gaol ever since.' He slapped the green
custodial painted walls and laughed. 'This place is my country now,
and this mob is my mob. Eh?'

One day Goanna, who was also a member of the Communist Party took
Charlie aside. Standing over the younger man, he said, "Mate. Blokes
like us, we're shit, our lives are shit. We're shit. We got nothing,
we got nothing in our past, and our future is more of the same,
eh. Past, future, present it is all fucked. We just got shit, eh? Our
life is a constant struggle everyday. You just wanna drink and drug it
all away eh? You only get one chance. How do you think you can make a
better life for yourself, eh?'

Charlie thought, and after a little while he replied, 'We gotta get
ourselves a whole heap of money, I reckon.'

'How you going to do that boy? Eh, how you gonna do that?' Charlie
mouthed words, but no sound came out. 'You gonna rob a bottle shop, or
a bank? That will just bring you back here.' The silence of Charlie
was answer enough for Goanna. 'Books eh. Books are the weapons you
need boy, books are the tools which will allow you to build a better
life. You want me to teach you to read?"

Charlie thought for a moment, He remembered how mother would sometimes
read from an old tattered fairy book to him at bedtime. She had wanted
him to go to school, to stay in school. Who knows how things would
have been for me if she had lived. I owe it her, to her memory. 'What
the fuck have I got to lose, I've got five years in this shit mound,
what else am I to do with my time? What the fuck else...'

With Goanna working with him and urging him on, and picking him up
when he fell Charlie quickly built up his confidence and
abilities. And soon he made his teacher smile. When the screws found
out what was happening they saw to it that Goanna was moved to a
different wing of the prison. Charlie tried to write him letters, but
his spelling and his handwriting was atrocious, and his grasp of
grammar was not much better. So he redoubled his efforts, it was not
enough to be able to hunt and peck at the words and struggle to make
sense of sentences, he had to gain fluency. He had to work
harder. After a few months Charlie was able, with pride, to send and
receive letters to his friend and mentor, Goanna.

I first heard this amazing, inspiring story in an interview with the
local ABC radio station on the National Day of Literacy. Charlie spoke
with passion about the story of his life. I felt the need to track him
down and hear his story and to write it down. He was joy to be
with. We had many long conversations. Charlie, not his real name,
would not let me use a tape recorder, or even to take shorthand
notes. I would franticly scribble in my notebook after our
meetings. So there may be mistakes, and misquotes in the story, but
even it is not exactly the story of Charlie, there are plenty of
stories of men and women who have overcome the odds and turned their
lives around. Almost all of these positive results were the result of
education. Charlie is but one of many. Granted more people fall by the
wayside, but we can feel a certain reverse schadenfreude when we are
able to hear about the victory of the true battler.

I will leave the final summing up to Charlie. I have done my best to
accurately capture his words.

It seems absurd to say, but those years in prison were my years of
freedom, the time when I was most free. I devoured everything I got my
hands on. I attacked learning with all the hunger of a sailor in a
knock shop after a long stint at sea. I read the Bible, a book which
was easy to get in prison. I read tattered, battered dog eared and
smudged old westerns, I read the letters to Penthouse which circulated
around the prison uni like currency. The Salvation Army officer who
came to visit us got me copies of classics like Plato and
Shakespeare. I stayed off the drugs and the harsh gaol house grog. I
got my hands on a dictionary, and using Malcolm X as my guide I copied
out every damn word of that book. How much I learned from that effort,
I can never say, but it was my infinite university in a small
room. All the knowledge of the world can be found in a good

With my new found skills I became a hero among the prisoners. I was
able to make a few dollars and pouches of tobacco, to earn some prison
respect by writing out letters for criminals to their family. I wrote
heart felt love letters to wives, girlfriends or boyfriends. I
modified angry replies for Dear John letters. I also wrote letters to
lawyers and social workers. Too many times I found that the prisoners
often drew the short straw, as they were not able to read, and so were
not able to fully understand the intricacies of the cases against
them. I am proud to say that I was able to help quite a few of these
sad broken men, many of whom were suffering from mental illness and
should not have been in prison. This lasted until the authorities
understood what I was doing and how I was helping the inmates. For
many of the cases against them were weak, and being ignorant the
accused ones were able to be intimidated into accepting gaol terms
that they did not deserve. The prison staff used the fact that I was
able to get my year twelve diploma as a weapon against me and my
fellow inmates. The governor organised for me to be paroled early. It
seems funny now, but I was sad to leave the prison, I felt I was doing
good work, that I had found my calling.

I was thrown back into the world, with a new set of clothes, and
$75.40 in an account that my 'wages' for prison work had been
deposited. After a few months of confusion and despair, caused by
adjusting to being free and at not seeing my prison friends, I roused
myself. My life of freedom began by my going to the local library and
pouring over records. Soon I was able to happily track down my sister,
and sadly I learned about the death of my brother.

I enrolled in and graduated from the local university. Now I fly
around the world and I work talking about the problems caused by
illiteracy, and advocating for prisoners rights. I have a family and a
future. I will try to instil a love of books in my children. Goanna
was right, books are the tools we need, the tools that can allow us to
lead the life we want to lead. Books are weapons that allow working
people to fight back, not just for ourselves, not just for our
immediate families, but rather for all of the poor and vulnerable and
oppressed the world over.

I am in the fortunate group of people who are able to read and write. I learned to read in school, as a child, so I have no real understanding of the depth of problems for those who are not as lucky as I have been .

I do know that for years adult literacy was a very important goal and organising tool for a revolutionary proletariat. Too important, I think, to leave to the arts administrators and the beauacrats and time wasters at DEEWR, but that is apparently our fate in the current age.

Not, as I said, being unable to read, on hearing of this contest my mind at once jumped back to the half remebered fragment of a reading of the biography of Malcolm X. He spoke of reading the dictionary in his time in jail, and transcribing all the entries. This was the revolutionary edge of adult literacy I had in my mind when writing this piece.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader as to how well, or how poorly I hit my target. The winners can all be seen here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Looking at you kid

Having recently moved to rural Tasmania I have quickly learned that
one must makes ones own entertainment. There are few cultural outlets
in these small towns. Not even a cinema. So culture is mainly confined
to the library and the video shop.

Country people are therefore forced to rely on their own efforts, as
we do not get the pleasure of, for example, the TSO or Bell
Shakespeare Company coming to our little town. Into the breach steps
our own Sorell On Stage (SOS) theatre group. This is a lively group of
enthusiastic amateur thespians. Being, as my wife reminds me, an art
snob, this is not the sort of theatre I would produce, if giving the
chance. But I am only too happy to support the group. To this end I
went along to their most recent production 'Murder in Casablanca.'

This was organised with the support of the local RSL club. With the
addition of kitchen and staff, the theater group and the RSL were able
to create two evenings of dinner theatre. 

So on a crisp and damp winters end evening I went to the Sorell
Memorial Hall (SMH) to see the play, and to help out as a waiter. As
this was written and directed by a member of SOS I did not know what
to expect. 

The Sorell Memorial Hall is a pretty little building built in an art
deco style, with wide horse flanks curving away from the
street. Boasting a pretty little entrance way in the linear geometric
style favoured of the art deco, a little bit of Broadway in old Sorell

I will dispense with the bad aspects first, as they are few and are
mostly a function of being an amateur theatre group in a small
town. In all these sorts of productions the talent is not uniform. As
this play was a musical in the best of all possible worlds there would
be a small band playing to add texture and depth to the music. Alas
this is not possible. But the keyboard player was very good, and it
was nice to see his interactions with the cast. The play itself was
not so much of a narrative arc, as a skeleton on which to hang a
series of songs and set piece actions. The lighting was not used to
full effect, this is something SOS may want to concentrate on in the
future. With only a small budget for sets and costumes effective
lighting can with illumination hide a multitude of sins.

On a deeper note the plays produced are non confrontational, and do
not force the audience to engage too much with the works. There is no
Brechtian ideas of Theatre of Alienation, or Beckett absurdity, these
comments however say more about me they do of the group.

Without challenging ideas of theatre as an art form, or challenging
the audience to look at their assumptions of everyday life, in their
locally written and performed play Murder in Casablanca the group did
a good job of subverting many ideas of performance. The production was
a sort of homage to the classic movie Casablanca, and the songs of
that era, not so much a play as a series of songs hung together round
the conceit of all the women that Rick Blaine had known in his life coming
into his bar. This allowed the various lovers of Rick to tease him and
to sing songs of the film noir era, sadly resulting in the murder of Ilsa.
The director broke the convention of the proscenium arch, smashing the
illusionary window which separates audience from performer. As this was dinner
theatre and people were eating and drinking it was important to mingle with the
crowd and so keep their interest. So the play took place both on the
stage and around the stage, slowly melding and melting into the
audience. Like an old time rave when the crowd was of more interest
than the music. This was very interesting and in a word, cool.

The limitations of money and time allow for amateur theatre to stand
above the 'real', the professional. In professional theatre much of the
decisions made, and this is true for many of the professional arts,
are made for commercial reasons. Either to find a nice neutral piece
that will not offend, or for some artists a desire to offend as an end
in itself. With small town local theatre the decisions may be made due
to money issues, but they are not commercial issues, a subtle
distinction. But outside of the city art market, art can be made for
the purest reason, the greatest reason, because it is fun, and it is
what we want to do. In small town art the barrier between audience and
performer is naturally broken down. The person singing on stage one
day will then be found at the local antique shop the next
day. Everyone is a neighbour and the crowd are free to chat and mix
with the cast after the show. When is one allowed to chat and rub
shoulders with Geffory Rush after a performance in the alienating
theater market place of Melbourne, were the distinctions of artist and
plebeian are stark and unavoidable.

In all a better event than a performance, but still a fun time and
most importantly a social event, a time to get together, not to create
more distinctions. For this reason alone we should support the local
artist in the same way that we desire to support the local butcher or
bakery, as a way of turning on back on the impersonal market.