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Elissa Blake

Elissa Blake

Elissa Blake is an arts journalist in Sydney. She is the co-editor of Audrey Journal.

News (4)

Reg Livermore returns to his theatrical roots with a one-man show

Reg Livermore returns to his theatrical roots with a one-man show

Reg Livermore is a lot of things – actor, entertainer, Australian theatre legend – but an octogenarian he certainly is not. “One of the papers said today that I’m 80. But I'm not, I’m 79!” he says. “For a few more months yet.” Livermore is sitting in the front row at the Ensemble Theatre prior to a lunch thrown to honour the company’s 60th birthday. Many on the guest list have long-retired from the theatre and are here to catch up with friends and reminisce. Livermore, by contrast, is talking about his upcoming show, one he’s written for himself. The play is The Widow Unplugged, a one-man show created around an ageing actor, clown and raconteur Arthur Kwick, a performer who never made it big. Instead, he’s a jobbing jack-of-all-trades, hosting stag nights and clowning for children’s parties. “He’s right at the end of his so-called career but then he gets an offer that revives his enthusiasm and his imagination,” Livermore explains. “I can't tell you what the job is because I want it to be a surprise for the audience but it brings new life to a career he thought was well and truly over.” Is Arthur Kwick the Reg Livermore who failed, then? “I suppose I’m embedded in it,” Livermore says. “It’s fiction and non-fiction. My career has been much more spectacular than Arthur’s but I can still appreciate where he's coming from.” After long stints in big budget musical theatre productions in recent years (Wicked and My Fair Lady), The Widow Unplugged is a return to the self-sufficient

Six must-see works at Biennale of Sydney

Six must-see works at Biennale of Sydney

Mami Kataoka, artistic director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney (March 16-June 11), enjoys participatory art as much as anyone. But it has to be an experience that is more than “one-off fun” she says. “Often, people see a participatory work and as soon as they leave the museum they forget it. I need a little bit more than that. ” Kataoka has programmed a series of immersive, large-scale, participation-driven artworks across the city. Here she takes you on a tour of the works in which you can get your hands dirty, your fingers inky, raise the rafters with your voice and smack your frustrations out of the ballpark. And yes, there will be plenty to think about afterwards. ↑ 1. Marco Fusinato A musician as well as an artist, Melbourne’s Marco Fusinato invites visitors to Carriageworks to pick up a baseball bat and pummel a colossal white wall – just once. Microphones embedded in the wall then transmit the vibrations to amplifiers, which beef up the impact to a resounding 120db throughout the gallery space. “It’s an extraordinary sound,” says Kataoka. “But what does it mean in an art space? To me it’s like throwing a chunk of rock into the ocean. But it’s also an interesting metaphor for the anger and anxiety everyone feels in contemporary life. What would happen in the world if we were to release all our anger and emotion?” There will be staff nearby to make sure you adhere to the rules. Two strikes? You’re out. 2. Yasmin Smith Photograph: Supplied Sydney-based ceramicist Yas

Heartbreak and hurricanes: Lally Katz writes the coming-of-middle-age road trip comedy of her life

Heartbreak and hurricanes: Lally Katz writes the coming-of-middle-age road trip comedy of her life

It’s been four years in the dreaming and making but Lally Katz worries her new play Atlantis might look like a quick turnaround “rapid response” project. “So much of the play is about storms coming and going and during rehearsals we’ve had so many devastating storms and hurricanes in the news,” Katz says. “I hope it doesn’t look like I just threw this thing together at the last minute.” In Atlantis, Katz returns to the city in which she spent her early childhood, Miami, Florida, a city more recently visited by Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest weather systems to make landfall in the area. Irma weakened as it approached the city and Miami dodged a bullet. But as Katz watched news reports of flooding and mass evacuations, a play named for the mythological city swallowed by the waves took on extra resonances. “I was hearing all this stuff from experts talking about how one day Miami will be underwater,” Katz says. “I thought how weird, because I see the past as being like that in a way. When you try to look back at your childhood, it’s like it’s underwater. You can never go back, you can never reach it.” Katz, who lives in Los Angeles, working on screen projects including a new comedy series starring Seinfeld alumnus Jason Alexander, began writing Atlantis in the aftermath of a relationship break-up. “I was 35 and it had been a long-term thing and then I experienced a twisted ovary and suddenly my fertility seemed like a really big deal. In my twenties, I never thought about

Ursula Yovich plays two tough women on stage – without losing herself in the process

Ursula Yovich plays two tough women on stage – without losing herself in the process

There are two tough women named Barbara in actor Ursula Yovich’s life right now. One is the mouthy Wollongong battler dreaming of better times in Diving For Pearls at Griffin Theatre. The other is a rock chick with powerful abandonment issues, the title character of Barbara and the Camp Dogs, coming soon to Belvoir. “I am Barbara until the end of the year!” Yovich says. “But I love ’em both. They are incredibly feisty women. They have a massive life force. Both of them are unafraid to say what they mean, they just say it.” Diving for Pearls is entering its final week at Griffin. Then it hits the road, touring to the Riverside Theatres, Parramatta and then to Wollongong. The reviews of Katherine Thomson’s play have been overwhelmingly positive, with all praising Yovich for her Barbara, a factory machinist dreaming of a new life with an old flame, Den (played by Steve Rodgers), while just down the road, the steel works that sustains the town is being wound down.   Ursula Yovich as Barbara in Diving for Pearls, Griffin Theatre Photograph: Brett Boardman     “Barbara is one of those classic Australian characters,” Yovich says. “She is pure battler. She never gives up. It’s one of those roles where you have to pull out everything you’ve got and leave it on the stage. It has stretched me as an actor so much because it is incredibly emotionally demanding. As an actor, you pay for it in ways you don’t expect when you first read the script.” To play a tough broad, Yovich drew on her