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“Don’t wait ’til I put up a fight”-you can make Safe Schools

There is nothing harder than watching your community let hope slip through their fingers, the people who you share a common thread with, hearing their resolve unravel. Not even strangers fighting against your right to safety and winning is harder than your friends feeling barren of bravery in the streets and the schools to stand up for themselves. Today, we woke up to an Indian-giving government (much as I hate that phrase), who after stepping leagues forward in addressing struggles young people face in terms of identity, community, sexuality, gender and health, hit us square in the face with a 180-degree decision. To hack funding, squirrel away resources and place the weight on children to approach adults and ask for equality, effectively exposing themselves and gambling what social stability and trust in the mentor-figures they have. The whole thing is a crushing disappointment, a systemic betrayal and an anxious revelation for our entire population. But by no margin is it over.

The advantage conservatism has is that they’re community active where progressives are more individualistic, and so do not invest or provide as much content to the systems, political, educational or spiritual. At the end of the day, it is a blatant hypocrisy for communities that go door-to-door on the premise of educating and providing entry into a dogma to accuse a program of having an agenda, but no excuse or claim of “it’s unfair” will enact the change we need. What’ll do it, is you taking time off Facebook, not rocking up to Friday night drinks on time, skipping your spin class, or whatever it takes to repurpose your time and energy into solutions. Like it or not, Safe Schools is a wonderful program because it does the hard work for us so we can get back to living lives where the worst homophobia we experience is from a passing car.

So for those of us who still have the energy, for those of us who are galvanised not disheartened by this setback, for those of us who knew from the beginning this backlash would come and thickened our skin up, here’s a couple thoughts:

  • Forget shaming, name and acclaim your school if you made it out alive, and remind them how proud a student you are for what they did at the time, and what they can do now. Maybe write them a letter?
  • Tell your local school about the program, and ask them if they provide it. If not, ask why they don’t, and what alternative they suggest to people wanting to equip their kids with the skills for not being homophobes or bigots.
  • Parents ask the school you send your kids to whether it’s a Safe School and if it isn’t, ask them how they intend to support at-home messages of equality, compassion and understanding in a broader social context.
  • Potential parents let your catchment schools know you’re looking around and only want to send your kid to a Safe School if possible.
  • Provide pamphlets to your council, make sure libraries have a stock, throw them up on your neighbourhood noticeboard.
  • Daniel Andrews made a state-level commitment to fund the program independently of the Australian government. Write your local MP, or your Premier and demand the same. Get your mum, your Beyoncé-dance class, your gym, your boss to do the same. Better yet, write it for them and ask that they simply sign it if they won’t do it themselves.
  • Contact Safe Schools Coalition and volunteer to do their local admin. Funding isn’t required if the thing can run for free. I’m not saying that’s the answer but an interim measure? Yeah!
  • Get better at voting. Actually take your privilege seriously. Remember your elected officials make the systems, not the change. That’s our bit.
  • MOST IMPORTANT! If you’re a kid in question, know you’re not alone, we’ve got your back, and you have more power than you think. Just ask these peeps, or these ones, or these.

Stop taking no for an answer to a question you actually never asked. Stop arguing a case without knowing the opposing points. Be more critical, and get more involved than retweeting. Safe Schools is a boon to our community given by the people with the skills, know-how and drive to make it happen. I was there when it was made, I sat in meetings helping it’s branding. While those who can get behind it get behind it, do your part as a community, as allies to prepare your schools to receive it, prepare your local businesses to be chill, prepare your neighbourhood to understand it. While we sit on our laptops and use Caps Lock in forums and sign petitions, those who would see it all CTRL+Z are putting it in people’s faces, finding the latent people who don’t have an opinion and providing them one. Don’t declare war and leave the skirmish unattended.

I heard this song on my shuffle today and it occurred to me that before Safe Schools, we made safety our business. We used to have Safe Houses signposted, we used to hold meetings, and rallies and readings. If you can make Safe Schools happen without the program, then when it’s back on its feet it’ll truly be there for good. Don’t stop there. Interrogate your work to be Safe, speak to your uni about how Safe it is, is your favourite coffee shop Safe? Oh friend indeed, come build me up…

 

 

 

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What might Australians learn from the political prowess of #Formation

When I woke up this morning, this picture was everywhere.

beyonce-formation-video The song is another step onward from her R&B hook-heavy silky-smooth hit-a-minute days, and the video a staple in the new era of visual statements and moving-picture-vision boards to deliver stream-of-conscious access points galore for the patron. Beyonce has spent a good amount of time and money in shaping a vortex of uber-cool around her. Releasing the I’m-grown-up now self-titled album all in one kamehame-ha motion. Now, much to relief of the more intellectual listener who once took pleasure in her release from discourse in favour a good dance-out, she gives us Formation. A track political and prideful of African-American heritage and the countless cultural neurological pathways it has borne in the collective conscious of the planet. Now onto my umpteenth listen, and seeing the ripples deepen on social media to now include the reaction videos (why?), acquisition and development or merchandising, and intimation of the styles into civilian expression, it becomes important we approach this article abiding by the following:

DO NOT APPROPRIATE FORMATION IN ANY WAY.

Formation is a moment to allow to swell in the one direction it needs to: for the safety and equality of black people and people with black heritage in America today who need to feel the solidarity of the world as they take on modern-day colonialism that a black President couldn’t even coerce the people to demolish. What it has done is brought scrutiny and compassion which must now be leveraged to see reforms and discipline delivered. Queen Bey isn’t the only leader of the pack, and it is not her responsibility to do the work. It is her privilege to inspire and activate the masses. So get onto that.

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All that being said, music has the unavoidable gift of endearing worldwide interaction, and it remains one of the most powerful forces for communication across the world that is still chiefly used to encourage minors to have sex and promote the interests of singers whose financial and fame statuses deliver false goals to the public. Meanwhile in Australia, there is opportunity in Formation to be reminded of components of our patchwork culture that need remedying.

What is the formation, ladies? Is it in the streets outside parliament? Is it postering businesses with no maternity leave policy? Is it breastfeeding your children en masse in a public park? Australian women are in coordinate step with the rest of the world when it comes to inequalities; feminist philosophies and concepts do their own job, but many have lost sight of the synonymic relationship between feminism and women’s rights. The latter should be your way of taking action. Write a blog, make an art, start a conversation out of nowhere, bring it up on dates and in strategic meetings.

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Beyond women’s rights, we too have systemic and endemic problems in how our native and black culture is liberated in this country. That is to say that beyond Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Yothu Yindi and other celebrity faces, our intrinsic relationship with the acknowledged ‘custodians’ of this land is arguably null, apathetic, and tokenistic. Conversations I have about Indigenous inclusions in positions of influence involve the placement of individuals within white systems and conformation to the parameters set by whites in those environments. Is that why we’re afraid to become a Republic? Because we’d lose the excuse of being run by Brits to let Indigenous people actually contribute to lawmaking? Black people in our country die in custody too, they are minoritised and for all their marvellous offering to art and academics, the current selection criteria still cordon them off and siphon their inspiration. Australia’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs was born in England.

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One of the things I love most about the song is how the titular lyric could be read as “now let’s get information”. Education around here still leaves lightyears to be improved upon. Being that our proximity to much of the political, economic, cultural powers of the world is reduced, Australia has long been left behind and influences outdated before they start embossing outputs. But times are changing, and the role of Australia and Australians in contemporary everything is increasing year-by-year. Education must be brought up to code for this influence to flourish, for Australians to access the intellectual hives and resume a position of leadership like it had when it offered its women the vote years in advance of feet-dragging London empire. It was once the case that Australia was like the start-up company innovating around the cumbersome corporates like England, China and America. Now we’re a joke, caught up in politics more in touch with the investors than the actual voting public, and public opinion driven too easily by media and social media motivated by sales over a responsibility to inform.

So start reading smarter, start trying harder, start connecting deeper. If a nation is only as good as its people, then Australians as people had best reinvest in what our nation should be party to. If a nation is only as good as its leaders, then come election time Australians had best vote for the well-equipped, not the well-recognised. What formation you know you perform at your best to make the change, now is the time to get into it.

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Sia Talks Healing.

Oh yeah, she’s swinging from chandeliers and keeping everyone guessing now. But any true Sia lover would remember what I’m about to give major snaps for: the spoken word/interview lines on her early-noughties, did-you-blink-and-miss-it-fool album ‘Healing is Difficult’.

I’ll keep this quick-yes I’m serious!-because essentially this article both warrants and encourages a full-album session with HiD. Seriously just chuck it on and let it play out. Although songs like Get Me, I’m Not Important to You and the titular tune absolutely rock your feelings place, I just need to put out there about the goings-on between songs.

Here’s the full script once you take out the tracks:

I reckon fear is like a, sort of, if you, if you’re afraid of something that isn’t there
Sometimes I do have fears
Shakin’ about, like I’ve seen a ghost or something
Sometimes I do have fears

That noise again?!

When I receive something, I just feel good about myself

It’s a saying that my uncle told me, he said
“Treat people how you want to be treated
See your character coming, near you”
And do you reckon it’s scary being judged?
Yeah, I do, but you’ll get the hang of it
I think I’m being judged by myself
So I just think I’ll be judged by myself always
Treat people how you want to be treated

Vampires are known to sneak around
Don’t laugh, please, I actually want to be a vampire when I’m older
*laughs
She laughed!

If you could write a song what would you write about?
Um, I think I’d write about…me!
I did it!
You did it

Now let me make clear it resonates far deeper obviously when you hear it, and I cut it all together for myself but I can’t put that on the internet because obviously. Anyway..

Before ‘We Are Born’ gave us Big Girl Little Girl there was this tender from-the-mouths-of-babes genius. To deliver the simplicity of viewing adult problems as a child, Sia showed depth of talent and craft. Before taking on the music industry, all kinds of self-worth might exist and we’ve all seen how reality television and corporate executive trend-analysis can destroy all that esteem and optimism about the value of one’s own voice. Even if your ambition seems as impossible to mum and dad as becoming a vampire. How can we hope to achieve the first dream when of course we feel ridiculed or misunderstood by idol, family, friend and stranger alike?

Further, children understand far too early in life that before they can decide anything, before they are considered capable physically and emotionally they are going to be scrutinised. Even more so in the digital age. Before even developing awareness about their own gender or identity, they have been splayed across social media and offered advanced (maximum-access, credit-card,chargeable) technology to play with. Of course it’s going to be hard to take on any idioms about self respect and character when early childhood is facing children with failure, pressure to compete, and a performance culture in the West at least. Is all this pressure even there? Marketing and comedy have bred a subliminal nature in almost all of us: the passive-aggressive mechanism, sarcasm and satirical approaches to conflict, slang so far removed from correct communication we barely know what we’re saying (let alone text language), sexisms and stereotypes so subtly ingrained we can’t defend our own children from them. It’s incredible.

So when children face trauma, or children become adults who can’t process trauma, of course a journey as complicated, personal, nuanced as ‘healing’ is going to be difficult. Resilience is immeasurable, in the same way dosages of medicines are right until they’ve caused irreparable damage.

I think there’s a stack-tonne to gain from these moments, especially when interlaced with the way similar concerns appear again in adult life, sung by Sia.

So get a little jazz-grimy. Give this a listen. Share some Comments and Musings. Would love to chat with you.

Keep reppin’ Sia.

From Facebook today…When #VICVotes November 29 2014

NB: this post originated in sharing a status update of a particular party member, in which the first paragraph refers. The knowledge of who the candidate is is of no relevance to the message of this post. Further the identity of same suits the context of the content only to close friends and colleagues. Please stay with me on this:

I’m just going to leave this here. For those of you who’ve skirted around his hurricane before, you’ll know what he is to be reckoned with. I don’t care how you vote, and it’s sure no-one’s business but mine who I vote for, but I do believe that his demonstrated passion, productivity and personal connection are worth politicizing.

This is not propaganda, it’s a simple request: for the sake of all that is workable, futuristic and communal, ENROL TO VOTE. You have a power millions would (and have) die for, don’t throw it back in the face of the world that we are able to make the choices. If you think that “it’s all the same no matter who gets in” or “it’s just the lesser of two evils”, “it’s all corrupt” that DOES NOT mean you can’t make an impact. And if you draw a penis on your voting sheet, then that’s exactly how you’ll be considered by the people who work their nuts off to make something from this economy we’re blessed to live so successfully in. It’s called a donkey vote, ‘cos you’re an ass if you don’t contribute, because the consequences will wash as much on you as anyone if we allow mishandling.

If you’re mad, vote. If you’re in love, vote. If you think you can make a difference, vote. If you think you can participate in someone else’s difference, vote. If you are grateful you can read, vote. If you have a lock on your door, vote. If you’re scared of dying alone and unaided, vote. If you think genocide is a crime, vote. If you have the nerve to call yourself Australian, vote. Forgive, love, apologise, thank. #bg2yx.

Victoria will go to the polls on Saturday November 29th. Make a party out of it, and share this post with your own display of encouragement to vote. Take and tell your friends, provide handy links below if you need armour:
http://www.vec.vic.gov.au/
Upskill on the conversation #vicvotes
If you speak Auslan, please find those instructions here.

From Facebook today…on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Good morning girls, boys, and beyonds. In case anyone had missed it, we’re currently revering Transgender Day of Remembrance‬ for anyone identifying as a gender that disagrees with their physical. This is no disease or malfunction, but a beautiful expression of the soul beyond the body and between the sexes. I pray my lifetime will bear witness to, and lend itself to the end of discrimination, persecution, bullying, butchery or exclusion of transgender people, or indeed anyone outside the heteronormative in how they wish to identify, and who they might consent to love. There’s more than we think there is to this incarnation.

Best way to spend this day was in honour with Tori Amos who used her all request show to discuss gender and sexuality in her songs, and played Fire On the Side to commemorate the occasion. Let no more people be cast aside or dismissed, left to burn or fight for their rights in peripherals of society. Forgive, love, apologise, thank. ‪#‎bg2yx‬.

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I implore Victoria to consider the human rights of these PEOPLE, these SOULS, our children and siblings and mentors and lovers in your vote next weekend. Intersex and asexual people too. Don’t vote just for what you want, but for what’s right.

5 Reasons Why Tomorrow Needs Tori Amos: An Open Letter to The World’s Successful Artists Past, Present, Future

You don’t necessarily need to be living under a rock to be missing one of modern music’s greatest and most lasting figures currently leading a nomadic movement across the planet. Tori Amos is finally back in Australia, presently delivering yet another epic tour for Unrepentant Geraldines her fourteenth studio album; seven dates include two phenomenal shows with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and an all-request show (that’s right, throw in whatever you want!).

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Having discovered Tori not too long ago myself, I have been making the most of this visit and am repeatedly completely blown away by this artist-the calibre of whom is dwindling or developing depending on how you choose to look at the industry, creative consciousness and contemporary demands on musicians. It strikes me that in the same way we have all mourned and deeply missed the likes of legends recently passed, I sat in stalls of these shows knowing that this creative master would be incredibly missed and not likely succeeded by another quite like her. Sustainability is not the objective of the global artistic industry, let alone the commercial end, so I feel it within my faculties to use what technical savvy the timing of my birth has afforded me to address some things about Tori Amos, those she is like, and those like her. Precisely, I want to make clear five reasons that this type of art be an expression we make as prominent as possible, and remind widely of the value it brings and pervades.

NB: stay with me on this, I know we Ears With Feet (Tori’s version of Little Monsters est. 1996 for those of you playing at home) can be on the intense and sometimes obstinate side but this is an open discussion about music, artism and life. I’ve just used a favourite for a lens. Thank U.

1. She’s a Griffin
Like seriously, and I know that might make no sense to you, but if you’re across the mythology of griffins then you’ll be nodding right now. What I’m getting at here is that according to mythology, it is impossible to tell a lie in the presence of a griffin. When I first met Tori at a Meet and Greet, the sensation of absolute authenticity was both onrushing and incapacitating. I confirmed with many other people I met at the event that it’s a common feeling, as though when faced with her, all you can do is be your ultimate and original self. I lost all functions of articulation, syntax, humour, conversation, anecdote or connectivity. Now I imagine that for some, that simply becomes them for a humble and grateful individual, innocent at heart; I know for some it’s a swift reduction to tearfulness and overwhelm. For me, it was a lot of stumbling words (from someone paid to talk and personally coached in rhetoric!). This is really a thing, there is a whole page dedicated to anecdotes entitled Tori Turned Me Stupid. I believe this is simply due to the concept of Tori providing an open, completely generous and present essence. I have no idea how this woman can come into a group of intense, oft-far-travelled, some traumatised, all excited and potentially anxious people, bringing with her no expectations into the throng.

I feel that presently, many an artist (and almost exclusively a celebrity), strategises their goals around the platform of character (think Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Sacha Baron Cohen, Australia’s Chris Lilley, even Lorde), and are frequently linked to the greats who also seemed to dress up in new identities. But it is my perspective that Madonna, Prince, David Bowie, Kylie Minogue to an extent, and yes Tori Amos all transitioned into new creative incarnations from a place of intimacy, not luminosity. I got the sense that every new dimension to these artists’ reinvention actually came from a lived place, as opposed to a separation from or extension of self. Hopefully we see this going forward from performers getting their commedia happening!

2. The Secret is the Piper’s Pipes
There is a special look of confusion that crosses people’s faces when I tell them that what really hooked me into Tori was her drooling. But the fans get it!! At the end of the day, artists like Beyonce, P!nk, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Darren Hayes, Sia, Kate Miller Heidke will stand up with the Jeff Buckleys, and the Stevie Nicks’, the Shirley Mansons, Dallas Greens and Annie Lennoxes of the world because each and all push their voice continuously, breaking and re-setting their instruments to have a strong and diverse life on shelves and in hearts. When Tori drools in shows, it is always at the moment where the note is so powerful, and so emoted that whether she chooses to or not, the music and the sound takes any and all priority over the spectacle or the appeal. As it happens, I find it incredibly sexy! Now we may buy the work of musicians, comedians, actors that make mark of the time in which they rose to prominence because they remark on the development of industry and content. But Audrey Hepburn can be watched any day of the week, as Marilyn Monroe can if you’re not a Hepburn fan (yeah I’m calling out that dichotomy!). Having fans is one thing, a following quite another. But few artists have a force. You don’t need it to be big, and in spite of trend you don’t need to give it its own corny eponymous nickname, you don’t even need it to identify itself. But if that’s what you want, then the work of the mastery of the instrument is up to you to do, and to share, and trust. Many an artist lost momentum and fell quickly off the rising star platform because they didn’t believe in themselves enough to work on their craft. Reality television will have a bit to answer for on that front (watch the “losers” of those shows: Ella Henderson, Adam Lambert, Jessica Mauboy, Justin Timberlake, even One Direction-loathe though I am to reference them).

3. They Ain’t Heavy, They’re FaNily
Every family has one oddball, except the Toriphile Ears With Feet family who has maybe one straight-lace. Without belabouring the point about fandom, what I have loved most about attending a Tori Amos tour is the people you meet; the diversity amongst them, the openness to meeting one another that Amos herself delivers by osmosis in all she does to communicate with her fans as though they are old friends (seriously I felt like we were reuniting, not first interacting). The fan-crew itself as open and fair with each other for the most part, and I have heard many a recount of how Tori brings her committed listeners into the energy of the entire production, sharing them amongst privileged audience positions and picking up conversations at one meet and greet you paused at the last. Even the crew and tour team make a note of remembering you cross-tours. This is a power all big acts will have the choice to wield, wear or wish for, or perhaps just enjoy. Your choice.

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4. Every Day is a School Day
What I enjoy most about Tori’s music is how it manages to be so personal, and yet to the neophyte eye, so vague or obscure. Tori’s references go from art, to nature, to myth, to religion, back to literature then pop culture then true crime into lived experience via botany and politics hanging a left at historical events. I feel I know more about America by listening to Tori than conducting myself through thirteen years of formalised education. I certainly know more about myself.

Sure artists should use their talent to express themselves, doubtless. But what truly impresses me is an artist who can not only express themselves, but also contribute to the knowledge bank of their listeners, viewers, contributors. Artists like Bjork who teach musicology, like Amanda Palmer who has made and continues to make an art form of collaboration itself, Sinead O’Connor’s spiritual tutelage, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam who refuse to dumb down their craft for the buying power of everyman. Tori Amos was accepted into a premier music conservatory at the age of 5. She’s a freaken progeny, but she’s seen no take-out for lording it over us with that knowledge. She shares it, divides and distributes it to us in music that is made for the smart, for the deeper perspective.

5. #itsneverover
I don’t know if Tori Amos was ever destined for obscurity. A shaky start with an 80s pop record that she turned around into piano-power 90s icon-hood just shows how much she was meant to become what she is today: creating from a place of self-awareness, self-authorship and self-honesty. The Unrepentant Geraldines tour has celebrated her early-fifties years. A time when even the invincible Madonna is facing upturned noses and pursed lips (technically the way she always has, but now for age not outrage), when Prince’s philandering status overtook his most recent creative projects, and questions about whether Kate Bush’s stage tour earlier this year would have held the weight it did if it hadn’t been preceded by the mysterious and thrilling hiatus are avoided by fan and ignorant alike (no knock to Kate Bush-woman’s incomparable).

Now sure at the meet and greet a lovely woman of about 40 years old walked over to me and said “I’m sorry to be asking, but…who is she?”. I feel that what has made Tori’s half-century release such an indomitable and wicked worldwide attention-grabber is how this woman has taken on the tech! Delivering on the #unrepentantselfie and using instagram clips to make the evolving video for her third single ‘Weatherman’. Continual photo updates and a diversification into twitter AND tumblr has brought new relevance to this femme du force. One meet and greet saw an age range of as young as 10 through early twenties, mid-thirties, late sixties and beyond (and in a completely different way from a Taylor Swift concert where the parents have to go). To evolve your penetration is a mark of humility and confidence in the ongoing value of your work and we subconsciously receive that as listeners and viewers. I think this is why digital age artists are doing the same thing but in reverse to show their own (d)evolution: I give you Taylor Swift’s polaroid album cover, Katy Perry’s hippie lovechild vibes, Coldplay’s art-ode to Fleetwood Mac. Now remembering that what flew Tori, faltered for U2, but we will love them still for their bravery, and generosity at the heart of traversing this new and light-speed changing environment to create in.

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Unrepentant Geraldines Australian tour dates continue Tuesday 18th November in Perth, Thursday 20th November in Sydney (Request Show) and Friday 21st November in Brisbane. Details can be found at toriamos.com and you may want to jump aboard the good ship undented.com for insider scoops and updates.

Big love. Forgive, Love, Apologise, Thank. bg2yx.

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photos courtesy of Andreas Heuer and Rip it Up, AU Review, adelaidenow.com.au, Tori Amos and Ben Hughes d’Aeth respectively. Please contact me with any permission concerns.

From Facebook today…On comparing and contrasting Australian Political campaigning

You know what?! I know quite a posse of people who bust their gut on a daily basis to create a personal connection by actually calling and chatting with their potential voters about what personally impacts them! Some are verbally abused, others drawn into intense political debate, most simply dismissed, but we persevere because we believed when our candidate said he needs and appreciates our help. So to call me from an unknown number and leave a pre-recorded diatribe about primary schools-regardless of how such a message might affect someone’s family situation, sexuality, potency, financial circumstance, and educational experience- was so unbelievably disingenuous that I feel newly activated to say that I genuinely have no desire to afford you any influence in how the country I’m very much personally attached to is so impersonally, ham-handedly, certainly inarticulately, operated by your party.

I’m aware this unbridled expression will give you cause to cast my opinion as not of your concern and onto the next, and I will thank you to prove my point by doing so.

Claims I’m overreacting-being that I’m usually diplomatically silent on subjects like these-will absolutely be considered, but absorbed with the knowledge that the devil is in the details just like these. I’m quite disappointed, and more so completely out of words.

I will finally request no-one read this and seek to make conjecture as to who I’m talking about, but see that if we get reductive about politics, it’s easy to see how true damage can be done from a global level right to the individual.

Forgive, love, apologise, thank.

REVIEW: ‘Britney Spears – the Cabaret’ and ‘Time is a Traveller’

Having been in Melbourne for at least a year now, I have to deliver due apologies for being so late to the Chapel off Chapel party! I double-dipped this past week for two fantastic shows which, while both being cabaret and featuring stage fantastics, sat at polar opposites of the genre’s spectrum. In one corner, TV and musical theatre front-woman Christie Whelan-Browne slips on the shoes of the one and only legendary pop-music-rollercoaster-train-wreck in Britney Spears: the Cabaret. In the other corner, an intimate and personal journey with David Harris to the soundtrack of musical theatre’s leading men from Captain Von Trapp to Peter Allen in Time is a Traveller.

Fully expecting Whelan-Browne’s Britney Spears to be musically impeccable, what really caught me off guard was that not only is the real Spears’ music incredibly powerful once you cut the synths and sometime insincerity to reveal them for the classic ballads they can be (except for I’m a Slave 4U-good call there Christie), but that her story is incredibly gripping when you are taken through her journey from virginal pop princess to working bitch. Whelan-Browne does a heart-wrenching job of drawing you into the humour of Britney then cutting to the cruel ironies and true tragedies of a girl who only wanted to be considered a woman. This is a must-see for Britney fans and foes alike, truly a redeeming and humbling (even haunting) show I almost wish Spears herself was performing for the sake of her credibility! Highlights include the pitch-perfect Toxic and Everytime, but I can’t go past the rendition of Sometimes that had my phlegmatic laugh in full cackle! Last night in Melbourne is the 10th so get into it!

Across the way in the loft, coming from absolute hilarity and character perfection, lies a performance so personal and endearing you almost want to just hold hands with the person next to you, stranger or no! I couldn’t tell you whether David Harris fans were any less passionate about the performance than Britney Spears fans in the other space, but I can say that the elderly couple in front of me kissing during the show was enough to make my heart explode. Here is your classic Aussie country boy made good: since growing up in the Hunter Valley of NSW, he’s now conquered or contributed to every leading man the Australian musical theatre scene has had to offer. We were treated to everything from Boy From Oz, to Miss Saigon to Legally Blonde. Intermingled with fun facts and personal anecdotes was the vocal perfection Harris has become famous for, a beautiful and sweet tone he makes look so effortless. And then Wicked star Amanda Harrison comes down the stairs for a special treat! Seeing my favourite Elphaba and Fiyero respectively finally reunited for As Long as You’re Mine was pretty knee-knocking. Lucky ducks in Newcastle still have a chance to have their hearts warmed by my favourites of the evening The Way You Look Tonight and Edelweiss. In addition, the RSL edit of This is the Moment is simply transporting, and his rendition of If I Only Had a Brain is the new backing-track of my happy place.

Time is a Traveller should be everyone’s priority before this phenomenal and even-more-phenomenally genuine performer takes his talents to the big Broadway smoke. You’re welcome.

NB: for those of you who do perform and are aware of your own sight lines where you are most familiar to look vaguely into the audience so you can connect with dark space, sitting in this guy’s sight line was the icing on this whole magic carpet ride.

dharris

Details can be found at

http://chapeloffchapel.com.au/

https://www.facebook.com/britneyspearsthecabaret

http://www.davidharrisofficial.com/

“Am I on glue?”: Spiritual Health in Australia

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an event for young activists and social changers to meet the new UN Youth Representative, Adam Pulford. It’s one of the interactions I’ve got to have with the vibrant team at OurSay, who empower young people to get smart about voting and politics! The idea of the event was to meet Adam and express to him, as samples of the Australian youth he’s representing, what issues matter to us! May I just say, the guy is pretty cool and willing to hear a whole bunch of perspectives instead of sweetening his own agenda by finding kindred spirits to join his bandwagon. Awesome!

When the time came for him to write up all our passions on the board, the responses came thick and loud: gender equality, poverty, nuclear energy, Asian relations, environmental sustainability. And then, keen as mustard to share what matters to me: “spiritual equality”!!

You could’ve heard a pin drop. And if it wasn’t for the guy promoting the benefits of going nuclear as a renewable energy source, I think I probably would’ve been the most unpopular person in the room.

But thankfully, I had a few minds in the room open and inquisitive enough to ask me what ‘spiritual crisis’ was and allow me to get through the night unscathed. But it made me realise the truth of what kind of uphill battle I’m facing, trying to put these issues on the agenda and ensure that people struggling with their spiritual health are provided for in the health sector.

There’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs whenever I get the chance to talk about it further; when I get to share stories of people I’ve met, and circumstances I’ve heard about, and research I’ve read; when I draw the links between spiritual health and issues like Islamophobia, Indigenous empowerment, equality for gay people, imbalances in education, fundamentalism, workplace discrimination and even criminal behaviour. I find that people look at me with big eyes and say “oh yeah!”. They often then remember that fundamentalism was never cured by fundamentalism, fighting fire with fire created nothing but empty landscapes, and indeed most of the positive changes that have occurred in society are from protests-times when we fought for something, not just against it. I feel like finishing these discussions with ‘am I crazy? Seriously, am I speaking English?”

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I could go on for hours about why when two parents whose pram is set on fire, the reports are always “Muslim couple attacked by Australian youths”, and not “Young couple attacked by Catholic gang”? And we wonder why these people go crazy or become so defensive in our culture? Seriously, am I on glue? I’m sure I’m onto something! When the red string connection is drawn between social happenings and religion, many are quick to blame the religion, but more and more people are seeing a health problem at the root of all of these struggles, once it’s explained to them, once we get the chance to share deeper feelings and beliefs.

How can we call the extremists ‘atheists’ and the rest ‘agnostics’? How can we allow priests into AIDS wards to encourage end-of-life conversions to Christianity? How can we speak out so violently against Shari’ah law in Australia without making any reference to how we imposed Anglo-Saxon laws over Indigenous tribal punishment? How can we turn away gay and lesbian refugees over to countries that will imprison or kill them? How can we allow sexual education to be so poor in our schools that there are no answers for religious students needing more specific coaching? How can we be a multicultural nation if we remove all religious education, both institutions and within curriculum? How can we do, and see, and allow, all of these things and think there will be no personal ramifications, no psychological or cultural consequences? Let alone backlash from those involved? Am I on glue?

What I’m hoping to create is connection. Between those who agree with me, those who don’t agree me, those who know what I mean and are seeking the kind of support I’m speaking of. It’s out there, and I’m hoping to connect those people up to. Can I do it alone? Perhaps I’ll have to. But I have a feeling that some people who read this can’t work out whether I’m a genius, or absolutely off my rocker. But if you don’t know, then my mission is clear! It’s possible that I’m right. Then it’s possible you could re-approach that discussion when you come across it again.

If you want to connect, or disagree, or just let me know what you’re doing to support, email me papabayj@gmail.com or tweet me @papabayj.

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