Jessica Bellamy is a playwright, theatre maker and blogger, who has worked with a variety of companies across Australia, as well as in Singapore and the Philippines. She enjoys writing about theatre, feminism and dogs.
Why these two artists say white men need to ‘lean in’
Blink and you’ll miss the "hyper fragility boardroom". In fact, I walk right past it at first, until Candy Bowers and Victoria Chiu steer me towards their makeshift performance space at Arts Centre Melbourne. The "hyper fragility boardroom" is a long white room at the bottom of the building, which plays host to benefactor dinners throughout the year. This week, however, the boardroom will be reappropriated for a slightly different get-together: Bowers’ and Chiu’s feminist performance art piece Hyper Fragility. Chiu tells me, “no one knows it’s here, behind mirrored doors” and Bowers adds, “we wanted a place where people like us would rarely be.” Chiu and Bowers chat like a long-bonded creative team, despite this being their first year of collaboration. They met several years ago at Kultour National Gathering, a cross-disciplinary networking event concerning the state of diversity in the arts. They quickly clicked with a collaborative spark that Bowers describes as, “when everybody else has gone to sleep, but you two are sitting in the foyer with a bottle of champagne saying ‘what else do you think?’” It took about three more years for Chiu to approach Bowers with a one-line provocation for them to investigate: “do you want to make a work about assimilation?” Chiu, a contemporary conceptual dancer, describes working with Bowers as motivational. “I felt my work in Australia went into more cultural territory, but I wasn’t using any voice with it.” The pair decided to team up B
Anne-Louise Sarks looks for the redemptive qualities within Shakespeare’s most problematic comedy
When we catch up with her in late June, Anne-Louise Sarks is achieving a level of 9am erudition that most of us could only dream of. She is incisive, passionate, and very awake. Sarks has a rehearsal beginning at 10am for Bell Shakespeare’s upcoming production of The Merchant of Venice, and she likes to be prepared. Readiness seems her trademark: ready for work, ready for interviews, and ready to engage with a theatre canon that can, at times, feel a little bit intimidating. Sarks is not known primarily as a Shakespearean director, and she is well aware of that. It’s easier to associate her with new writing and bold adaptations, alongside names like the Hayloft Project, Belvoir Theatre, Malthouse Theatre and Lally Katz. In fact, Sarks’ latest project is sandwiched between a production of Katz’s Minnie and Liraz at Melbourne Theatre Company, and an adaptation of Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary at Malthouse Theatre. There’s a firm Judeo-Christian focus linking these three works: a black comedy in a Jewish retirement home; the provocative testimony of Christ’s mother; and a portrait of 17th century anti-Semitism. Sarks acknowledges that her 2017 slate focuses heavily on religion, institutions and faith. “[It raises] a bigger question of why I am drawn to these sorts of stories as an artist. I was raised in a very religious Catholic household, and my father’s family business, which he inherited from his father, is a religious supply store. So everything about life, in a w