Beyond sequins and showtunes

More than 100 performances encompassing music, drag, theatre, dance, comedy and wine will be part of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Fringe festival under the helm of new creative producer Simone DiSisto.

The just-released program (here) for the May 24 to June 2 festival includes a nightly lounge bar / “performance playspace” dubbed CabLive at Arthur’s Art Bar which will feature a rotating line-up of musicians hosted by cabaret singer Leather Lungs (aka Jay Chasland), who says this year’s Cab Fringe is set to be “a festival of magic and mayhem and madness!”.

Other events that pique our interest include the new show by 2024 Green Room Award nominee and Cab Fringe Frank Ford Award winner Frankly at Prompt Creative Centre, a reimagining of Beatles’ hits by SA vocalist Charlee Watt and her four-piece band at Carclew House, and the the intriguing A Disney Burlesque Tribute – Once Upon a Teaser at Nexus Arts. Also part of the program is the Peter Goers-directed Cowardly, Cowardly Custard – two one-act plays by Nöel Coward being presented at Holden Street Theatres.

“This year’s program demonstrates the diversity of what cabaret can be beyond stereotypes of sequins and showtunes, as well as showcasing and empowering artists and venues to create cabaret that represents them, their artforms and authentic voices,” says DiSisto.

Portraits of Power

Eagle-eyed Adelaideans may have noticed photographic portraits of South Australians popping up on stobie poles across the city in the past week or so.

The Portraits of Power project – with photography by Jonathan VDK – is being presented by SA Power Networks and the SA History Festival, which this year has an overarching theme of “Power”.

Portraits of Power subject Bonnie Williams. Photo: Restless Dance Theatre / Facebook

More than 100 portraits are being displayed on the poles, and while they include people from a range of fields, there are many familiar faces from the arts world – including actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey, novelist Hannah Kent, performer Millicent Sarre, and visual artist Alison Mitchell Hannaford (who is also presenting an exhibition at Hahndorf Academy during the History Festival).

Restless Dance Theatre shared the adjacent photo on social media of Bonnie Williams, who some readers will remember from her moving performance in the company’s 2024 Adelaide Festival show Private View.

“I see power in role models like Gaelle Mellis, the artistic director of Tutti Arts – we met when I was 18 years old,” Williams says in a statement accompanying her portrait on the History Festival website. “She was the first disabled woman that helped me feel pride and strength in being a disabled artist. Her voice around the social model of disability helped me embrace my identity authentically, and was hugely empowering.”

Williams is a tutor at Restless and was last month announced as one of its three new company dancers (alongside Sidney Debba and Bhodi Hudson). Restless creative producer Roz Hervey has also been photographed for the Portraits of Power project.

My Hair is Thinning

Anthony Nocera (top right) with creatives and cast members from My Hair is Thinning. Photo: Morgan Sette

The Mill will this month present two work-in-progress showings of a new documentary theatre work penned by emerging South Australian playwright Anthony Nocera following the unexpected passing of his fiancé Jamie in 2022.

My Hair is Thinning is described as a darkly funny story, with a synopsis explaining that the couple’s relationship was “coloured by incongruity” ­– including the fact that despite being twice Anthony’s age and having undergone chemotherapy, Jamie had a much better head of hair.

“Now Anthony finds himself at crossroads: he’s 29, a widow and balding. He can’t help his age, and he can’t help but wade through his grief. He can, however, grow his hair back.”

Directed by Clara Solly-Slade and presented by Kinetik Collective (recipient of The Mill’s 2024 theatre residency), My Hair is Thinning had its first development as part of Vitalstatistix’s Adhocracy program. The work-in-progress showings – featuring performers Zoë Dunwoodie, Elizabeth Hay, and Rob Wells – will be on May 10 (book here) and will be accompanied by a Q&A.

Short and sweet (or sharp)

A still image from Cordelia, Daughter of the Sea.

Seven South Australian shorts will be part of the line-up when Flickerfest returns to the Mercury next Saturday (May 11).

The national short film festival, now in its 33rd year, tours annually with two programs – the Best of Australian Shorts and Best of International Shorts – selected from the 10-day Flickerfest competitions at Sydney’s Bondi.

The SA films in the Adelaide program (here) include directors Madeline Gordon and Paul Gallasch’s Spite, about a young pregnant woman who goes out of her way to seek revenge on her boyfriend after being slighted; Maddie Grammatopoulos’s Cordelia, Daughter of the Sea, in which a father delivers a wedding speech to his only daughter; and Elena Carapetis’s feminist revenge fable Blame the Rabbit, which had its world premiere at last year’s Adelaide Film Festival.

The 18-minute UK drama My Week with Maisy, starring Joanna Lumley, will feature as one of the international shorts alongside films from France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, India, New Zealand, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

As an aside, it was announced this week that Lumley will embark on her first-ever tour of Australia later this year with her show Me & My Travels, coming to Adelaide’s Festival Theatre on October 16.

Counting down to SALA

A reminder that registrations close on May 8 for those wanting to present an exhibition or event at this year’s South Australian Living Artists Festival.

“The festival is open for artists of all levels of experience, from those who picked up a paint brush or camera one year ago to artists represented in international collections, and there is no limit to what a venue can be, either – your local café, library, school or favourite hardware store are perfect options,” says SALA interim CEO Bridget Alfred.

Further information for both artists and venues is available on the SALA website. The annual festival takes place throughout August, with registered artists and venues also eligible to apply to enter the SALA awards.

OzAsia’s a winner

Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival scooped one of the five awards presented at Creative Australia’s inaugural Asia Pacific Arts Awards last week.

The awards offer a prize pool of $125,000 across five categories, with OzAsia taking home the Connect award. It is presented to an arts organisation for “delivering an intersectional program to diverse audiences in Australia”.

“Under artistic director Annette Shun Wah’s leadership (2020-2023), OzAsia Festival amplified Asian and Asian-Australian artists and experiences, centring these voices at the heart of festival programming,” the selection panel said.

Shun Wah ­– who is handing over the reins to new AD Joon-Yee Kwok in 2024 but will stay on as a program adviser – was also shortlisted for the Impact award, while Adelaide’s Restless Dance Theatre was a finalist for the Inspire award. See all the winners here.

Green Room is a regular column for InReview, providing quick news for people interested, or involved, in South Australian arts and culture.

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