My potential #crowdfunding tragedy

I have had a crowd funding campaign running since Christmas 2014 seeking to raise funds via donations for a small book designed to share insights into the court process (primarily) for men who are dealing with sexual assault or abuse when they were younger.

My intention is to create an accessible book that uses Easy English and video/sound recordings for people living with disability. I call it The Post-Abuse Handbook for Boys and to date I have attracted sixteen generous donations from people around the world and have raised one tenth of what I need to produce the book and then offer it as a free resource.

I have also had quite a lot of unexpected abuse directed at me by women, because I’m pitching my book at other men. There are two main reasons that I am pitching it this way:

  1. I couldn’t find anything useful pitched at men while I was going through the court process myself and I found quite a few really good things created for (and by) women.
  2. I don’t imagine it is appropriate for me, a male, to start offering advice to women about their experiences of sexual assault; it simply doesn’t feel right to me.

There is nothing stopping anyone of any gender reading the material.

The motivation to create this resource comes from enduring a seven year long trial of my own, as a witness, after being raped, molested and assaulted by men who have all now been sentenced after the trial.

Yes I am a victim, but I don’t think of myself that way. I think of myself as a survivor.

During the process of giving evidence I realised I needed to pin point times, dates and events as closely as possible for the Police. I quickly discovered that after blocking certain things out of my mind for a long time, not dealing with them, I had made it difficult to simply recall some things.

Once I applied a few strategies of recalling things that were very helpful for me, I thought it would be useful to write these things down, make them available to other people who are dealing with the same or similar circumstances. I want to give it away, not make money out of it.

Sadly, it looks like I will be sending the money back to those whom have donated so far and putting the idea behind me, along with the support I have maintained for various organisations and individuals over the years. If I don’t reach target I am taking the hint and moving on with my life.

One individual handed me a generous donation after discussing the project for a few minutes with her on a bus; a true philanthropist. I have used a crowd funding platform called Fund Anything, I can’t say I recommend it. There have been three people feeding back to me that they had trouble making a donation via Pay Pal and so they gave up. Tragic feedback to get.

To combat this problem with Pay Pal and Fund Anything I have set up an account where anyone can make a direct bank donation.

Details here:

BSB: 015 354
ACCOUNT#: 392747882

Please include a return email so I can send you a reward and copy of the book once produced, which, if I reach target, should be before the end of 2015.

I’ve watched a couple of other crowdfunding campaigns begin and end during mine, both hit above their targets; these other campaigns were for cabaret and theatre projects, so maybe I should not compare.

Various Twitter based marketeers and advertisers have offered their expert assistance for a fee, but I’m unwilling to pay money out of my extremely limited income for advertising, and I don’t feel it is appropriate to use donations to pay advertisers.

So I am here at the crossroads. Three weeks from now I will either have what I need and go into production for the book or I will pay back all donations and cease all advocacy activities in the future.

My potential #crowdfunding tragedy

Fringe Dwelling #ADLfringe

Adelaide bursts with choice during the Fringe Festival. I’m suggesting a few things that may tickle your fancy such as the World Première of a cabaret about the most exotic seductress in Paris, The Mata Hari Project (watch as) she transforms from frumpy Dutch ex-wife to femme fatale!

Mata posterThe Mata Hari Project
Friday 13th February
8:00pm
Nexus Cabaret Space

Bianca Sheedy brings a fresh take on Mata Hari executed by firing squad in 1917 notorious for risqué dances, minimal clothing, scandalous affairs and being a spy.

Billed as theatrical cabaret, song, dance, bean spill about her fabulous life it is devised by Sheedy, Pat Wilson & Adrian Barnes so it must be solid and entertaining. Uses original music and eclectic songs from 1901 to 2014, lifts the veil on sexy celeb Mata, and her secrets.

8:00pm – 13th & 20th February
8:30pm – 22nd February
10:00pm – 14th, 19th, 21st & 26th February
10:30pm – 28th February
5:00pm – 15th February & 1st March

 

Sundance Institute and Adelaide Film Festival are on the hunt at NET-WORK-PLAY 2015!

Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund and Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Program have announced a new opportunity for Australian artists and filmmakers to present work for future festival events, such as the Sundance Film Festival! New Frontier at Sundance Institute is a dynamic initiative created to identify and foster independent artists working at the convergence of film, art, media, live performance, music and technology.

New Frontier Director Shari Frilot will be a special guest at NET-WORK-PLAY 2015, and will be working in partnership with Amanda Duthie, Director of the Adelaide Film Festival to discover new projects from Australian artists and filmmakers for national and international presentation at future New Frontier and Adelaide Film Festival events. More details can be found soon at www.adelaidefilmfestival.org Be sure to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity by REGISTERING FOR NET-WORK-PLAY 2015.

Pat Wilson Adrian Barnes

When we are old and gay

Saturday, 7th March, 2015, at 10:00pm

Sunday, 8th March, 2015, at 10:00pm

at

The Nexus Cabaret Space, Lion Arts Centre,

Corner North Terrance & Morphett Street, Adelaide

Just when you thought it was safe to come to the Adelaide FringeAdrian Barnes and Pat Wilson are back with their latest cabaret, When we are old and gay… and yes, it’s just as tacky as the other shows* were.. Barnes and Wilson, with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin, do their all-original cabaret about getting older but never wiser.

The first season of this new show packed out the elegant Slide Bar in Oxford Street, Sydney.  Now, the geriatric jokers have returned to their old home town, bringing their racy, razor-sharp musical wit.

What should a tranny granny wear?

Can seniors Depend on Poise?

Is B & D only for the young and nubile?

Where are the car keys?

These, and more, questions are fearlessly addressed.   It’s silly, it’s wildly entertaining, and it’s Barnes and Wilson at their sparkling best.

He sings, she sings and plays a mean piano.  You laugh – if you dare.  It’s original satirical cabaret from veterans of the Edinburgh Fringe and the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

So round up your deviant old uncle, or persuade your favourite (unmarried) auntie with the diamante nipple-clips to join you, and slip into Nexus for an hour’s cabaret of riotous filth and fun.

One of the best things over the last few festivals has been the expansion of venues around the inner city and with that expansion, a great deal more variety. In so many ways it is the most difficult time for performers to get an audience because the audience have so many options; one of the main reasons why people only come to perform at a festival once, just to live it and love it, then go home from your tour without a cent – but some great memories.

 

 

Not everyone goes home without a cent, and everyone returns home with a story to tell, so don’t let me dissuade you from bring your show along, but hey, by now you have done all of that and are registered as an artist with your very own listing in the official program.

 

Now all you need to do is sell tickets, pack your bags, sell tickets, make sure someone is going to feed the animals, sell tickets, ensure that your house is being looked after while you are officially ‘on tour’, sell tickets, book all your billets or accommodation, sell tickets… ah the life of a touring artist!

 

6

 

When you do land in a new city with your show, what next? Everyone has posters up and handbills to give out – you may or may not want to take that route. Maybe the best you can do is spruik your show with a loudspeaker or a sandwich board?

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#ADLfest AZIMUT

Azimut (pron: Azimuth)
Compagnie 111Aurelien Bory with Le Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger

An Australian Premiere exclusive to Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival Theatre
Fri Feb 27 – Sun March 1st

Standing under the stars it is easy to look up and imagine a tall ladder is all you would need to reach their domain. While theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking is telling anyone who will listen that we have possibly two hundred years left on the planet before it no longer sustains us; two hundred years for people to find and colonise another planet, Azimut shows us one way it was once attempted in a spiritual parable about life, longing, satisfaction and death.

The irony is that once out there in the realm of the stars, mankind misses his mother Earth and wants to come home.

This is a universal story that appears in most religions around the world and has become a cornerstone in the tradition of storytelling everywhere; a person is born, they live their life, they ascend to the heavens and then return home.

Sufism has popped up a great deal in the works of Rudyard Kipling and later William Burroughs, probably because it is a highly inspirational form of Islamic Mysticism and involves poetry, music, acrobatics and dancing. You may remember Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner who after “Romancing the Stone” went in search of “The Jewel of the Nile” which turned out to be a person, a Sufi in fact.

Here in the West we have some romantic notions of whirling Sufi’s in high hats and long garments. Images of jugglers, acrobats and dancers who live as if the world was a stage and we were all players upon it; arguably the best and healthiest way to live life.

Sufism is an original philosophy of life and many believe it was the inspiration that led to Islam rather than the other way around. First came the inspiration, the act of joyous worship and then the administrators took control and started with the rules and regulations of our relationship with God.

Okay, you’ve had my nutshell overview of Sufism but what about Azimut?

If I tell you, you will think you know, but you can only know if you experience it yourself.

The production is extraordinary, the Groupe Acrobatique De Tangier do things you have dreamed but not seen in the context of a proscenium arch stage; you’ve seen it in the context of circus and cabaret but never as stripped back and pedestrian as this; pedestrian as in authentic street level NOT dull – this show is anything but dull.

The story elements are universal in terms of watching a search for meaning unfold, but the way the Groupe Acrobatique De Tangier extinguish gravity on stage is awesomely entertaining even though it is essentially a spiritual journey. The tradition of singing and poetry come into play from the start and notions of searching are played out physically over and over in many ways both sophisticated and simple. If you were searching for illumination in the dark it may call for a flashlight.

To defy gravity does require some special effects but for those to work, the level of illumination on stage needs to be quite dim; don’t worry, after a few minutes your eyes adjust and the incredible feats on stage start to appear like a dream in more ways than one.

What I will not tell you is what those feats are because it is not good to be sitting waiting for “the moment when…” with a show like this. You need to be completely open to accept that you are looking at a vast universe outside of the concept of time on the stage; if you can relax and put any preconceived ideas about the show out of your head it will blow your mind.

Now, a warning; do not take any of this too seriously. Sufism requires you to remain innocent and asks you to allow the magic to wash over you without thought. Don’t get worried about following a story or understanding the language. Don’t try and work out how they are doing what they are doing, just gather yourself, relax and allow your emotions to become engaged.

To successfully bring this particular journey to life on a stage is a triumphant feat, the choreographer and ensemble do a magnificent job and we here in Adelaide are extremely lucky to have such a deeply spiritual yet entertaining piece to be enthralled by; particularly at this point in history when ancient works of art are being destroyed by political forces. To have ancient acts of spiritual exploration living breathing and flying on stage is a real gift.

azimut

 

Bookings and more details HERE

#ADLfest AZIMUT

Arrested, Under-Developed and Under-Medicated #ADLfringe

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Arrested, Under-Developed and Under-Medicated presented by international award winning performer Krendl at the Published Arthouse 11 Cannon Street Adelaide

27, 28 February and 6,7 March at 8pm
Accessible venue

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Who doesn’t enjoy a well presented magic show? It is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment we have. From Harry Houdini through to David Copperfield a great magician is always a good show-person, even without glitz or theatrical elements like flash pots or orchestras going off at the end of every trick; I don’t mean they have to shout a lot and look flashy either.

For my tastes, a great magician needs to exhibit traits of fearlessness and boldness, without setting themselves up as being flawless at what they do. I love the process of watching something confounding being set up and then seeing the pay off.

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Television magicians have camera angles, sound technicians, lighting to enhance everything they do, this guy Krendl has none of that yet he delivers a flawless, emotionally satisfying show.

Maybe he calls the show ‘Arrested, Under-developed and under-medicated’ in order to prepare the audience for a level handed delivery rather than an explosive one, I don’t recall him mentioning why it is titled that way. The easiest thing to say is: the whole show was impressive. The difficult thing is to communicate why a bare bones act like this makes such a great and lasting impression.

In Australia over the past decade we have seen Cosentino the locally born magician win a talent contest and go on to international and national tours creating some impressive television specials along the way. I suspect the essential difference between Krendl and Cosentino is resources and budget. If Krendl had producers with big money behind him he could be just as big and showy as Cosentino because he has the obvious skills.

Krendl presents wearing a basic black suit with a fedora reminiscent of Frank Sinatra and the swinging fifties. Wearing a head mic he is mobile among the audience in the room with his simple set on a raised platform.

The room is cavernous, air conditioned, there’s minimal but adequate lighting. From the moment you enter the auditorium at one corner of the stage hangs a locked box containing a cylinder with a sheet of paper in it.

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Although our host brings this locked and hanging box to our attention at the start of the show we don’t return to it until much later for a magician’s pay-off that truly impresses.

Cosentino and Krendl share similar elements of spirit in their approach; no way are they identical or even particularly similar as entertainers, but they do exhibit humility as a natural part of their personality. Krendl mentions he has ‘worked the cruise ships,’ in his introduction. The mention of cruise ships, cruises and the associated relaxed feelings that go along with such activity seeps through the Published Arthouse showroom. This comment lets everyone off the hook as far as needing certain bells and whistles as well.

If we were to encounter him on the street I doubt this act would play nearly so well as in this nice big airy and dimly lit venue, his bare bones act is quietly triumphant. At the Published Arthouse we could easily have been on a cruise ship. The neutrality of his language, even though he sounds, looks and is American, has an inoffensive quality, perfect for being on a ship a long way from shore;-)

His physicality is attractive; I say he dresses to evoke a Frank Sinatra swinging fifties lanky style. Think ‘Guys and Dolls’ Sinatra, before Old Blue Eyes matured into Pulp Detective Sinatra without the Lanky Yank brashness which works well; Krendl draws his audience in with simple qualities of isolated humility, he doesn’t so much seek to impress as create the impression that everything he is doing is natural to him.

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That’s indication of a gifted rapport with the audience, talking with them the whole time, never getting into tacky territory, setting the audience up to get laughs off of them. That approach wouldn’t fit with Krendl’s personable style. A great deal of interaction with the audience created an impression that the show wasn’t running to any kind of schedule although it was. There was an interval and a second act.

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During Fringe some performers spend the best part of their show plugging what merchandise they are selling after the show; you can end up feeling like you bought a ticket to an infomercial when people over do it. Krendl has a DVD which he mentioned at the end of act one, again at the very end. Nice. He, like most other performers was happy to come take photographs with the audience after the show.

The Published Arthouse is an accessible venue which is always fantastic. The stage platform is not accessible, a couple of the acts would be too challenging to do with a person in a wheelchair; but I have no doubt Krendl would find a way to involve his whole audience whomever they were.

The Published Arthouse’s atmosphere is welcoming, reminded me of the old Lion Theatre Foyer in Fringe’s gone by, it has a range of other shows programmed for the 2015 Fringe. As for Krendl, he is waiting for you to join him and I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t.

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  1. Krendl Magic Site
  2. BUY TICKETS HERE Adelaide Fringe 2015
  3. Published Arthouse Site
Arrested, Under-Developed and Under-Medicated #ADLfringe

#ADLfringe The Mata Hari Project

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari

It is so hot and stingy in the sun around Adelaide today I can imagine even Tennessee Williams would have unbuttoned his top button; takes a lot of courage for some to even loosen the tie these days. Surprising that, it is 2015.

Quick shout out to the King or Fuehrer of Indonesia whichever he is.

Seems like an energy wasting plan to rehabilitate only to annihilate; would cost less to innovate and join civilization in the present century.

I wouldn’t stop donating to anything, that’s not my personal reaction to the grief of knowing two Australian men are going to be shot in your charge. I’m hoping you see the light… it’s your call.

I sometimes wonder when we see politicians doing their best to communicate the bigger picture to us if there is truly a way for anyone to survive in the public eye shamelessly.

Noticed an Australian cricketer was being flamed on Twitter because he was caught in a picture posing over a dead beast on a hunting safari and has apologised saying he was in grief over his wife passing away, or something.

I wonder how that would translate to other people. Does everyone do something they later realise is ‘in reaction’ to an incident they’ve experienced? I think they do one way or another. I wouldn’t usually brick politicians and cricketers together but lately if you’ve been watching the twitter feed of the Prime Minister you could be forgiven for thinking that the only really important things in the world are Captain’s Calls and Sport. I find it amusing that a fellow who calls social media ‘graffiti’ sends out personal notices via You Tube and posts significant tweets.

Sport.

Sport is Australia.

Australia is sport.

War. Remembrance. Window dressings. Sport. Self congratulation. Sport. Winning. Fighting.

Fair dinkum, I think there’s more to life but that’s me.

I think once you set the rhetoric Mister Prime Minister you need to appreciate the values you display and the way you engage with the community at large on line. We are in an ever changing world where communication technology and public opinion is much easier to gauge. Australia is very hot right now and in the heat things can either seem really important or no big deal at all. Making sure there is water around for the local native wildlife is really important to me. That’s my little backyard.

But the heat! It’s not just a word of mouth thing among performers who do the Fringe Festival circuits around Perth, Adelaide and beyond, it gets so hot. To perform well in the heat you have to conserve your energy and consume a considerable amount of water. It can be difficult to find shade in the heat, much like a politician in the spotlight or the victim of a flaming bushfire on Twitter. Find some shade in the heat.

I went and took photographs of a show; so I declare that I know the core creative team who present The Mata Hari Project (TMHP) and have professional associations with them; I could say it is a fabulous show and leave it at that but there’s a little more I will say. I watched from up in the technical area trying to quietly take the photographs you see on the page here.

Musical Director Pat Wilson in The Mata Hari Project. Adelaide Fringe 2015. Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Musical Director Pat Wilson in The Mata Hari Project. Adelaide Fringe 2015. Picture by DP Jobling 2015

My perspective of watching through a camera frame obviously distracts from the complete immersion in the theatrical energy of the piece. I wouldn’t try and offer a great deal of commentary or review on all the characters or any minute details because I was watching as a photographer first; although having watched through the lens I was very impressed by the precision displayed in the details of costume and performance.

Bianca Sheedy is Mata Hari, accompanied by Musical Director pianist Pat Wilson one of the best piano accompanists in the country in my opinion. Adrian Barnes Directs this Adelaide fringe show billed as The Mata Hari Project, he and Gerhard Ruediger provide some voice overs.

TMHP is authentic fringe material; don’t misunderstand what I mean by ‘fringe’ it is not scruffy or rough at the edges in fact it is very distinguished, poised, elegant and mature. It is still going through metamorphosis structurally as a work of art like every other piece of musical theatre ever created.

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari  Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Picture by DP Jobling 2015

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I like this type of material during a Fringe Festival in Adelaide, it has always been around. New musical works being shown for the first time, much like off-Broadway runs or out of town runs you may read

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Picture by DP Jobling 2015

about or see in Hollywood movies about Broadway and the great tradition of musical theatre.

Centerlink the Musical and Wolf Creek The Musical have had good runs in Fringe and different songwriters, troubadours if you will, often present new song and story concepts during fringe; I love it.

I remember a local musical shows Jack The Ripper directed by John Noble of Fringe the TV Series and Lord of the Rings Trilogy doing great business out at the City of Elizabeth thirty-five years ago and the team behind this work, Barnes and Wilson have both contributed stellar new musical work in the past; newcomer Sheedy will be picking up a priceless seasoning from these two masters.

Adelaide’s Cabaret Fringe Festival usually features shows that are trying something different with cabaret. TMHP is experiencing being placed in front of an audience for the first time after a process of development. Like any new work it needs a platform to be on. It needs a festival to develop a relationship with the audience it finds.

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Picture by DP Jobling 2015

The Fringe Festival always has a lot of experimental material, pushing various boundaries: presentation, interaction, venue choices many things; makes it arresting, fabulous and appealing.

TMHP fits into the Cabaret section of the overall Fringe program but it could justifiably sit in the Theatre genre as well. For a first outing in front of an audience a cabaret audience will be satisfied, but I can see more coming from the work they’ve achieved so far.

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Picture by DP Jobling 2015

I believe TMHP is taking the first step; clearly it will one day get up, strut, possibly even toss in a high kick here or there but right now it’s finding its feet. I’ve been working on musicals and cabarets for a while (yes I’m an old fart) this production is at a crossroad; the usual panache displayed by Barnes is evident and TMHP is a show to be enjoyed as it stands, in a venue that allows a little more intimacy and dare I say interaction. The work researching Mata Hari, mining her words to construct a fascinating mosaic has paid off. A story about showbiz, romance, war, service, servitude and death; she was shot as a spy.

Barnes brings a lot of narrative to life by introducing different characters and insights. Jenn Havelberg is behind the Costume/Concept in TMHP and these elements work very well.

Sheedy transforms between characters deftly supported by costume and musical choices, singing passionately bringing a powerful set of contrasts into play. Her performance is mesmerising at times I found it very rich and mature. Where I felt a lacking was in the razzle dazzle department and the slip off your chair factor; Sheedy is sexy but she is yet to precisely nail that Andy Warhol Marylin Monroe make love to the camera sex goddess on the head.

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Picture by DP Jobling 2015

Give her time I say she will. I’m referring to the titillation level I guess. There is such dignity in the way Hari’s story sits, why she did the things she did, the forces that drove her it is a valuable story, but I wanted a little more contrast with the woman who could stir the loins by raising a veil. Sheedy reminded me of Ingrid Bergman at times although Bergman wasn’t a singer she did cover some of the emotional territory Mata Hari stumbles through towards her potentially David Hicksien end.

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Picture by DP Jobling 2015

Greta Garbo played Mata Hari on film so I suppose I think of some of the iconic images from the nineteen thirties when that film was made. A lot of iconic pop culture images emerged in 1931; Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster, the Empire State Building, Garbo as Hari. Once there was a bookshop in Hindley Street called the Third World Bookshop. Up on a mezzanine level you could look through posters and there would always be a poster of Greta Garbo as Mata Hari and she wore a great outfit.

All of the elements work very well except the proscenium arch staging which reflects my personal tastes for this type of musical theatre. It seemed a little like the second act of Funny Girl when there is a lot of drama to fit in after falling in love with the drama queen in act one. It does start with a splashy number and there are some sexy scenes but I wanted a flash more of the seductress.

Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari Picture by DP Jobling 2015
Bianca Sheedy as Mata Hari
Picture by DP Jobling 2015

I longed for her to walk among the people in the room, to be a pleasure parade and cavalcade. Adrian will get so much feedback I’m not going to start to give him notes, I thought everyone did a great job. The singing was fantastic, Bianca has a rich voice with a strong range, songs like Bulletproof and Nobody does it better sit well with I’m shadowing you and Lover undercover. That’s why I say it stands alone as enjoyable entertainment as it is; I expect Mister Barnes will further develop this show and join it with the ranks of others that started in such and such Fringe festival…

 

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#ADLfringe The Mata Hari Project

Don’t spill your brain on my parade | #ADLfringe

I was a Disability Access Assistant (DAA) for the Fringe Parade on opening night of Adelaide Fringe.

The Disability Access Assistant’s job is to be monitoring and assisting at the Disability Accessible Viewing Area.

Did you know there were two accessible viewing areas for people with disability – the two tram stops located along King William Street? These Tram Stops are reserved for people with a disability and their support people.

Tram Stop One is located between North Terrace and Hindley Street, Tram Stop Two is located between Currie Street and Waymouth Street.

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fringe parade

We DAAs were advised to, “Please stop other members of the public from standing on your Tram Stop; explain that this area is for people with a disability and support people,” which is fair; consider the vast amount of area available for viewing the Fringe Parade from the rest of the route between North Terrace along King William Street and up to Victoria Square in Adelaide’s CBD. Plenty of viewing room for the able bodied, but – at the same time Adelaide Oval’s host to a cricket game between Pakistan and India, means there are a lot of extra people in town.

We were also advised, “If you are having trouble keeping the public off your Tram Stop, you can ask security to assist you,” which reminded me of a training course I did with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade back in the last century. In the 1980s and 90s I volunteered as Parade Security for the Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney. Some of those parades were true nightmare material; a collection of community friends and volunteers holding hands… being a human barrier to throngs of soused and drugged up people depending on where you were positioned along the route.

In Sydney the parade route was very long and towards the end it extends through some gloomy areas in the park on Anzac Parade; there were several scuffles after the event with people challenged by the whole idea of the parade, it was absurd. People throwing beer cans, bottles, getting het up. Soon as the Parade passed by the atmosphere went very dim. My team and I stood there for a couple of years in a row without any security of our own as volunteers. We were supposed to have barriers, but they didn’t have quite enough, so I was in an area with human volunteer barriers. At least I had a team. Six of us, for about thirty meters of parade route back in those days. Eventually I was on the team at the start of the Parade, 1999 I think it was; Mardi Gras had grown to the extent that it was impossible to conduct the parade safely without barriers all along the route and the volunteers did some serious pre-parade training. The start of the parade is exciting because there are different things to do and a different crowd, but Adelaide Fringe Parade here in Adelaide; I have to say it was horrible.

Unexpected and unprecedented amounts of people is a reasonable excuse to be caught unawares I guess, but what a great opportunity to learn where to make some improvements because en masse, people are very poor at considering disability access at events such as these.

The Disability Accessible Viewing Area was not adequately signposted or secured so it became impossible to keep people away, and there is nothing like a lot of people all clamouring for the same vantage point. I encountered astonishing behaviour, one chap wanted to debate with me that he was not the only person without a disability standing on my tram stop. Opposite him was his son, his charge or mate; arms folded, mobile phone camera sitting upright in his folded hand (Inconspicuous? Not). This chap wanted an argument with me from the start and employed passive aggressive behaviour to wind me up as his mate captured it on video. Hello?

In a debrief after the event I felt compelled to mention this; I had to go and ask security to send down the Police because there were other people who needed to move and if they were all going to present some argument or debate the Parade will have finished before I could make sure the people with disabilities on the platform, my tram stop, were all safe and doing okay.

The briefings from Adelaide Fringe and Access2Arts were good and accurate enough, “Only bring what you are able to carry on the night! A light bag/backpack to carry your belongings and your own bottle of water is a great idea. Introduce yourself to the security guard located at your tram stop.”
Okay, I introduced myself to my Security guy. He was physically smaller than me which offered me little support and I’m only 177cm tall; once or twice he and his associate Security guy referred to people as ‘the handicapped’ which is not in keeping with the way to talk about disability at all.

Audience members started arriving from 6.15pm, when the road was closed to public transport. We had a range of people in wheelchairs. Each person in a wheelchair had at least one other person with them, but in some cases there were a few other family members as well; after all it is a family parade.

The fellow in his wheelchair with his wife and two kids; mid fifties, ready to politely assert it was an accessible area to folks who just decided it was a good spot to land, another chap, this one with his profoundly immobile son; the two of them attending the parade together. Two friends in wheelchairs hoping for a good view turned up excited there was room. A mother with her ill baby on oxygen in a pram with a couple of young kids and two adults with her arrived.

As people arrive you get a few words with them; a little hosting the Chill Out Room they’d provide at a large dance party in Sydney, Pride. A space where people who may need to go and be relatively calm to simply gather themselves could go and do so. People sometimes need to take their medication through the course of a large event, or attend to something affecting their mobility – there are plenty of good reasons to provide such a space and having a host attending the space is essential. Obviously you gather some understanding of a person’s needs when they arrive by degrees. You are not there to press them for it, simply to see that their needs can be met in the context of viewing the event or attending it in the case of a party.

Gathering to watch the Fringe Parade there were a couple more people one with MS, a fellow with a visibly swollen leg, a couple of senior citizens with mobility issues, middle aged person with complex emotional problems; diverse people turning up with the right access card to come onto the viewing area and feel safe.

Imagine then, if in a wheelchair feeling safe means being able to move around without falling off the side of a platform, having someone fall on you, being trapped or becoming invisible, how it may feel for someone with Parkinson’s, limited vision or mobility?

Imagine being trapped on a platform with your baby in a pram with a canister of oxygen and a couple of other kids to care for?

These were people arriving just before the road was going to close and the traffic was about to stop. Different people came to check the area out, double check it was an accessible area and then went to collect friends. They will have missed out because as soon as the Parade got started the lack of adequate barriers meant people simply streamed into the area and overcrowded it.

It is natural for people to assume an area that isn’t fenced off is fair game as a vantage point and I think simply closing the tram stop off all around would fix that problem, but the attitude of wanting to have an argument about access is so petty. I felt the same kind of frustration back at Mardi Gras Parade with punters screaming out “faggot” as I did here at Adelaide Fringe having to defend the actual right of people with a disability having a viewing spot at all. That is one heck of a head trip I tell you.

There have been open and positive meetings with the Parade Director and Producer, feedback has been provided and Adelaide Fringe have every intention of lifting their game; I was at a large community gathering recently when I noticed there was no person signing in Auslan at the event. I asked why this was so and someone of high authority very quickly told me in undertones that no one had requested an Auslan signer to attend. I immediately wondered about that. This seems to indicate an attitude that the deaf must request to be included at a community event which I think implicates things. It seems to be saying the community doesn’t actually include them selflessly. The community treats disability as invisible a great deal of the time. When was the last all deaf panel on Q and A (ABC TV)?

My dot points for the next Disability Accessible Viewing Area

  1. Maximise Signs and signage needs to be viewable from all sides of the designated area, accessibility is vital to this resource being of value.
  2. The Disability Accessible Viewing Area entrance and exit ramp need to be considered as part of the whole Accessible Viewing Area to avoid pedestrians using this only access area to the raised platform as a Parade viewing vantage point.
  3. There were no public announcements made about The Disability Accessible Viewing area at the start of the Parade to identify the position or ‘reserved nature’ of them’ – missed opportunity to support people with disabilities attending the event
  4. The Security Guards were not competent communicating about Disability

I would note the General Public when approached were in the greater part completely happy to move however some people need stronger and clearer indicators to convince them The Disability Accessible Viewing Area exists.

Don’t spill your brain on my parade | #ADLfringe

Blood at the Root #ADLfringe

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Blood at the Root is a simple piece of theatre about identity. To give this outstanding production the respect it deserves I do not want to say too much about its content for the play itself asks questions of an audience in an innocent, longing way.

 

I recommend people interested in youth and youth themselves to go and enjoy this story based on fact presented by this visiting company from the United States because it’s a great story told very well indeed.

 

It is a play based on truth; presented by a multi-racial American ensemble of actors, directed by Steve Broadnax and beautifully written by Dominique Morrisseau. The Direction shows very quickly everything one wants to see in this type of piece. Pace, variety of delivery styles, a gradual unfolding of a story told in a precise and vivid way. The writing allows us to discover the simple desires of these young folk; their passions and circumstances are personal, quite circumspect but not completely melancholic. Blood at the Root never stands out as being too preachy or agitprop as it brings you into the world of these young people; at the start it is a very hot day, here in Adelaide where it gets very hot, especially during the Adelaide Fringe Festival, we understand what that can mean.

The cast, all of whom are fine performers, present characters who are typical but not stereotypical; to understand them you need to listen to what they are saying and understand their perspectives, like real people. There are no big signposts demonstrating the type of person each of these kids are. We learn about them through what they tell each other is important to them, and what they tell themselves and ultimately how they handle situations by what they do. I really enjoyed Morrisseau’s writing and the delicate touch of Broadnax’s direction providing these dynamic actors with the many opportunities they take to be deeply touching yet usual, typical people.

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When someone simply offers some facts about whom they are, those precarious moments that follow such an offering can be very touching. Blood at the Root shares many moments that truly do touch the heart of all in the universal struggle; it can not be denied that the structure of the play is very well composed. There are dramatic scenes, visual delights, surprises, it is an all rounded theatrical work of art and the play is the thing. This ensemble have achieved a great singularity; although each of six characters on stage are clear and defined, well balanced, there are other people we never see on stage except through theatrical flourishes or precise descriptions. The Blood at the Root ensemble each stand out but in a heartening show of humanity no single one does a star turn without full and equal backing of the rest.

I recommend people interested in youth and youth themselves to go and enjoy this story based on fact presented by this visiting company from the United States because it’s a great story told very well indeed.

Details Holden Street Theatres

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DP Jobling

Blood at the Root #ADLfringe