September 2008

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Grandma

My grandma is in hospital today. News today that grandparents are important in a person's development. Well, as my grandmother used to discourage me from saying, er der.

 

Here are some things I learned my from my grandma:

 

1. How to write an essay (she wrote it down on a piece of A4 paper. It's never lost a customer).

 

2. How to hang washing on the line.

 

3. Banana on toast is nice with cinnamon.

 

4. Teachers are people too (and sometimes grandmas).

 

5. Nullus bastardo carborundum allegedly means don't let the bastards get you down. Whether true or not I think it's an excellent thing to learn from a grandparent.

 

6. How to take up the hem of one's pants (sadly, a lesson I have subsequently forgotten).

 

7. Being an octogenerian vegetarian is way cool.

 

8. Quiet people are quite often noticing things. Lots of things. A lot.

 

9. How to work hard and enjoy, thoroughly, cups of tea as a just reward.

 

10. How to make somebody feel better by giving them a nickname and make someone from Telstra who should have been here nine hours ago feel terrible simply by mentioning your disappointment and offering them a cup of tea.

 

 

I'd say those lessons are fairly important lessons. Bring on the grandparents and get well soon Jean.

 

Weekends

This weekend in Melbourne was the football Grand Final. It's an infectious day - almost always sunny and full of the joys of early Spring. It's hard not to go to a BBQ and pretend you care about this team or that team or indeed know anything about football whatsoever.

 

I stayed in this weekend. I escaped briefly for essential things like a walk in the park with my mum, but I stayed in, mostly, and recovered from the huge week I had. Then, yesterday, I opened my laptop and I wrote. I actually did some writing.

 

Doing writing on the weekend is just like doing writing on any other day except IT'S THE WEEKEND AND EVERYONE ELSE IS RELAXING. Therefore, like most people who work on Sundays, in my head, I get paid double time. On Sunday, I made a fortune, in bonus points, self-appointed. Yay for me, and Spring, and walks in the park with my mum.

Bundanon Memories

Having spent a month at Bundanon doing an artists' residency, returning to be what can only be described as a daily slogger in residence, there are certain things I really miss about Bundanon:

 

1. Silence.

2. Wombats.

3. The fact that when you turn the hot tap on, the lights dip.

4. My new friends.

5. Arthur.

 

Being a Daily Slogger In Residence is sadly not quite as rewarding, although financially it has a little more to say for itself, and I have traded in the above for ready access to good coffee.

 

 

Pennie Puckey

There are some people (the guy who made this website is a great example) who can be directly pinpointed as supporters of Standing There Productions.

 

There are others whose contributions are less tangible, but whose support is constant and deeply valued.

 

Every time Standing There Productions does a show, these people emerge from nowhere, smiling warmly at us from across the foyer, only to disappear back into the night without knowing how much the warm smile offsets the panic, calms the nerves and puts things in perspective. Rita has a few constant supporters, Stew has a few, I have a few, various performers always point out theirs… It’s a real thrill.

 

One of my longest-standing supporters has been the Principal of my primary school, the wise and wryly amusing Pennie Puckey, who ran the school I attended from prep until grade six, where I was encouraged to write, draw, paint, and perform, and where I was discouraged (unsuccessfully) from making mud pies and abandoning entirely the practice of mathematics and science.

 

When I was a kid, Pennie Puckey knew when I was lying, knew when I was showing off, and made me think about how I treated other people. She encouraged me with my writing and performing. All these things have shaped how I live and work as a writer, director and as a human being. In 1998, she and others from the school (somehow) discovered I was writing and directing shows at Melbourne University. Since then, she has seen many of my theatre shows, up until very recently.

 

I never really got to talk to Pennie, as an adult, in the theatre foyer where I was always having brief conversations and grinning at everyone. I never got to tell her how proud the little kid in me was to see her in the audience, attentive and keen and never missing a trick. Being so sensible and wise and having such a large impact on my early life, I was so proud to have her in the audience.

 

Pennie passed away on Friday.

I will miss her.

 

Thank to everyone who comes to our shows, comments on our website, sees our films and videos, and smiles at us from across the foyer. We appreciate it more than you know.
 

Day Jobs - Variation on a Theme

 So I know day jobs are necessary when one isn't, let's face it, Richard Branson, but good lord they take away the ability for one to concentrate on creative projects for more than five minutes. 

 

Last night, at midnight, I came home from three days of working in Wangaratta.

 

I now intend to sleep for nine years.

 

Until then,

 

L

Day Jobs

While we were at Bundanon, we were called upon to describe our work to people (students, other artists, Bundanon staff who wondered what the hell the three of us were doing the whole time). After a while, we had a little three act play (I was the first act, Rita the second and Stew the third) which described us succinctly and interestingly but without making any bold claims we couldn't back up (expressions like "in development" and "workshopping" usually help here).

 

Now, I'm back at work. I'm a project manager. Simple as that. I'm going to Wangaratta today for work and I'm project managing until Thursday. It sounds much simpler than a three act play. It's not. It includes:

- Project management

- Catering

- Being the AV and IT girl (I know, I know, shoosh please)

- Workmate Liaison Officer

- Writer (some of my best material, I'm sure, is one day to emerge from my "day jobs". Day jobs are fascinating and sometimes - when I'm not trying to work out how to configure the laptop to the projector - I reckon I wouldn't trade a crazy job for anything).

 

Describing my writing, and my work with Standing There Productions, is a lot more difficult than describing my work in my day job, but on the days when I'm completely exhausted and my brain is total oatmeal, I reckon I would, in fact, trade my day job for anything. So maybe simplicity is in the eye of the jobholder. Wish me luck. So long!

Reality

 

I've been putting this off. I sort of thought if I didn't update this page then nobody would know I'd left Bundanon and maybe neither would I.

 

Sadly, I have outsmarted myself.

 

I have been thrown back into the thick of things and am currently in Melbourne on my lunch break from work.

 

Here are some observations about the country versus the city that I've made over the past month:

 

- Country people don't use plastic bags in shops. Some country towns have a NO PLASTIC BAG POLICY. People in the city do not. Why is this?

 

- People in the city are angry drivers.

 

- Someone in the city is always unwell and coughing on public transport and looking miserable. This reminds me of John Brack, which reminds me of Bundanon and Julia and the Nolans and Arthur and cups of tea and wombats and fresh air and outrageously coloured birds.

 

- Work, while useful, is not as stimulating as it might be, if, say, it were near the Shoalhaven River.

 

- The coffee in the city is nice. I am unconvinced this makes everything else worthwhile.

 

So is this guy:

 

Dear Arthur and Yvonne

Dear Arthur and Yvonne Boyd,

 

You don't know me but I've been living at your place. For almost a month. So have two of my friends. We didn't have any parties or leave cigarette marks in the couches or anything (none of us smoke - I did spill some beer on my favourite chair, the white one that looks out my studio window - some of the beer got into my DVD drive and I ended up having to sit there for forty minutes blow-drying my laptop with Rita's hair dryer... but other than that you should find it as you left it).

 

Over the last three and a bit weeks, I've done more work here than I've ever had a chance to do in one stretch in my life. I've written what I came here to write and I've written things I never saw coming. Stew is a cinematographer and he's been experimenting as well - with stills photos and video. We've combined our efforts in some short videos we're going to post on the website over the next month. In the last week, Rita and Stew and I have had massive meetings, huge debates, workshops and hard slog sessions getting things done by a deadline we can actually meet. Purely on a practical level, the three of us being so busy and so rarely in the same place the rest of the time, this has been an astonishing opportunity.

 

So I'd like to thank you, and your family who could have inherited this place, for donating it to the Australian people and for instigating the Artists In Residence program, which (and I know I'm prone to exaggeration - it wasn't forty minutes with the hair dryer, it was twenty) I'm pretty sure has changed my life. The inspiring environment, the historical and artistic legacy of the place, and the fact that other artists and school groups and travelers will come here, will look out this window, will stand in Arthur's studio and smell the paints... it makes you want to keep doing what you're doing. It makes you treasure your solitude, find your natural rhythm, collaborate in new and interesting ways, and develop an unnecessarily obsessive interest in wombats.

 

I've learned a lot about you and about Australian art through your collection and the addictively well-informed Julia and Jen who have generously provided me with access to everything from postcards and phone messages to Picasso and Nolan and books about you guys and what you got up to (or did you? hard to tell).

 

Rita and Stew and I were talking about whether we would, if we could, donate something as beautiful as this place to the Australian people. We decided the hardest thing would be: you'd want people to use it properly. You'd want them to understand it, to love it as much as you did. We realised, as we came home to pack our stuff away and go back to our real lives, that we'd be (despite our best intentions) a teensy bit jealous if someone we knew got a residency here. We'd feel possessive and dislocated. So we decided maybe that would be the worst part - letting go and hoping it turns into what you intended it to turn into.

 

So, we'd like you to know this place is integral to Standing There Productions now - all our future projects will, in a way, come out of this. Maybe if you saw our work, you wouldn't like it, maybe you would. Thank you for the artists in residency program especially because of that.

 

For what it's worth, I think the residency program is run exactly how you'd like. Everyone here has the perfect approach (we've been left alone to do what we need to do but after a few days it feels like home - everyone is lovely and we're always reminded of artists and their work - which makes it feel worth doing and worth loving). I wonder if you know this. I wonder if you know that when you see someone coming (Barb, Tanya the visual artist, Tracie) you think "Oh goodie! Now I can catch up on the gossip!" Usuallay it's about the lamb (leg getting better), the next artist moving in (writer's cottage - pianist), how Tanya's work is going (interesting - what do you think about Koalas?) or something truly scandalous like the time Tanya went to Nowra and ended up being chased out of a bar by a bunch of 21 year-olds wanting to beat her up for sitting next to a boy with peroxide hair (Tanya: I don't F---n think so). It's a wonderful place to be, and that's not even factoring in the sunsets and the wombats.

 

We're leaving tomorrow morning. I'm about to pack up my studio. I have no idea how I'm going to cope back in the real world, but I will miss this place deeply. Rita and Stewart and I have been dragging our feet and sighing at sunsets and staring off into the middle distance on and off for the past few days and tomorrow is crunch time. Rita is going to live in Sydney. Stew and I are back to Melbourne. Today we spoke to some school groups in here and I found myself pointing to the Gonsky apartment and saying "I live over there". I don't, which is good, because other people deserve it, but should you ever need a house-sitter Yvonne, please let me know.

 

Yours,

 

Lorin Clarke. Standing There Productions.

Worst

I spilled beer in my laptop.

 

That is all.

Me and my mate Arthur

 

Today, at Bundanon, gorgeously and relentlessly, it rained. Pretty much all day. Like this:

That bird on the post is, we think, a Bower Bird. This has created considerable excitement (they are velvety and sleek and proud and big and shy) as have the many other birds who spent the rain and post-rain periods dancing about being loud and excited. HOWEVER.

 

However. When you want to shoot a short video, and you have a limited time in which to do so, and the video requires sun, and you have spent the past few weeks preparing for it, and it is very much site-specific, you don't necessarily want it to rain. So Stew and Rita and I had to bench our plans of shooting a video and spend the day getting other things done instead.

 

This is Rita being very busy and important inside, away from the rain:

 

You will note our studio has changed a little since we first moved in. Yes there is still an adorable wombat on the back wall, but yes there is also a lot more clutter. This is called art.

 

Speaking of which, Rita and I went for a walk this afternoon just before the Bundanon people went home and guess whose light was on? Arthur's!

 

 

Yup, this is Arthur Boyd's studio, with the lights on, in the light rain. It made you wonder whether Arthur himself was somehow spirited back into the place. All very romantic and mysterious. We didn't look inside because we liked to think Arthur is with us on this rainy September day, listening to the sounds of the rain on his tin roof and the frogs in the pond. Was he there this afternoon, watching the mists lift from the hills after the downpour? 

 

Was he watching the kangaroos out his window as the dusk fell, just like I was?

 

Yairs. We're not so different, Arthur and I.

 

Or, sure, it could be one of the Bundanon peeps. Maybe. But you never know.

 

In other news, tonight we went on an evening excursion up the hill with some hummous and beer to the musicians' cottage, where a dancer/choreographer called Cobie is staying and working. We were invited because the musician (Stu - a different one) from the cottage down near us had agreed to play the gorgeous piano. We were treated to an excellent performance, an extended version of which is going to be played at the Opera House in Sydney next week. It was a pretty special Friday evening, as Rita pointed out later. That was when I thought to myself, Oh It's Friday! How nice!

 

Stu and Ash had walked in the dark, in the rain, to the musicians' hut holding only two candles (he had earlier proposed to her in the Bundaon hills). These are the candles. The lillies grow outside the cottage. You can't quite see him but Arthur is just out of shot, thinking the hummous was nice but maybe we could have brought some eggplant dip as well.

Either that, or it was Stew.

 

Either way.

Bad Day

 

Sometimes, no matter where you are, you just have a bad day. No two ways about it.

 

Standing There Captain of Industry Melanie Howlett told me that recently that when she moved to Paris, which she had been wanting to do forever, she was surprised to find that she still had the odd day she would much rather have spent in bed. She found herself taking these days very seriously because HOW CAN YOU HAVE A BAD DAY IN PARADISE? Does that mean there's something wrong with paradise? Does it mean there's something wrong with you?

 

I am currently here:

 

Meeting people like this guy:

And this little one:

And heading home into this:

 

 

Not only that but I am uninterrupted, hanging out with my closest friends, two of the best people in the world, with good food and drink and a collection of wombats.

 

But sometimes, you completely misplace your confidence or an idea just isn't working, or you sound too much the same as you did last time, or you're just bored with it, or it doesn't sound as good as it did yesterday.

 

In those situations, I usually think about things like this:

 

And talk to the others about how to fix the stupid problem or rewrite the scene or whatever, and then I have delicious pasta made by Stew, and get the giggles with Reets about how Michael Jackson and Pam Anderson are supposedly a couple (I know we're far away over here but surely that one is a joke on us?) and everything's ace and I am once again an extremely gifted but underacknowledged genius.

 

Good to know though, that everyone has bad days, even in Paradise.

 

Thanks Rita. Thanks Stewart. Thanks Bundanon.

 

PS. Check it out. Trees kissing! What could possibly be wrong in the world?

Tax Payer Funded Face Massage

 

 

They say any publicity is good publicity.

 

I suspect "they" are publicists.

 

I tend to think of it like this: any publicity is somebody else's publicity. So, unless you are actually WRITING the article about yourself, you are going to be pigeonholed in someone else's version of the story. Thus when I was interviewed for Standing There Productions' first comedy festival show, I tried to remember to say when and where the show was on and what it was called. Because any publicity is good publicity.

 

The next day, I was quoted in the paper saying I was thinking of handing in my citizenship documents and deserting Australia for more enlightened shores. Hilariously, as I was agonising over being completely misquoted and not in any way promoted or mentioned in the context of my show, I received a text message from one of my besties that said simply, "Bon Voyage, traitor".

 

So, with that in mind, it is not really that surprising that when the Bundanon artists' residency was described as part of the Triple J "Hack" programme today it sounded great and excellent and fabulous, BUT it sounded a little less like an inspiring history-steeped artistic and natural wonderland and more like a "fully tax payer funded" relaxation retreat for dole bludgers who liked wombats and dancing.

 

While I do like wombats and (tragically given my attempts in this field) dancing, Standing There Productions is not on a fully-tax-payer-funded artists' retreat. Nor would we want to be, actually, I don't think. From what I hear, retreats involve eggplant facials and yoga and vows of silence and "spiritual discipline" and weeping through the pain and so on, and although a face massage or a moment's silence is okay once in a while, we have work to do here.

 

By the way, in terms of historical and artistic legacies, check out this building (Ropes, this is for you).

This is the Education Centre on the Riversdale site up the road from us. The Boyds originally bought Riversdale and moved to Bundanon when it came up for sale, because they'd loved it once when they visited friends there.

 

The Riversdale site is gorgeous and great for a fully-tax-payer-funded walk in the afternoon sun. Just looking at wombats. And dancing.

 

 

Byeee!

Wombat, Radio, Two Big Falls, and a Goodbye

Tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday at 5.30pm) Standing There Productions is on Triple J!

Okay, so today was, without a doubt, the most action-packed day at Bundanon artists' residency so far. Mind you, the second-most action-packed day at Bundanon artists' residency was when I thought I was lost in the bush and shrieked in terror because of a horrifying noise that turned out to be the camera lens retracting.

 

We're on a fairly relaxed wicket, you see.

 

Today, we had more visitors and saw more people than we usually see in a week. First up, there was Polly. Polly is a friend of Barb's. Barb drives a vehicle known locally as Barb's Bundanon Buggie, which is a red golf buggie that goes like the clappers and which can be seen tearing around the farm doing, from what I can tell, good deeds. These good deeds include:

1. Cleaning your bathroom when you're not looking.

 

2. Tick removal supervisor. (I got a tick this morning. See? Action-packed!)

 

3. Enjoying the act of going fishing on weekends but not so much enjoying the eating of fish, which is one of the many reasons I like Barb and also is why my omega three levels are currently excellent.

 

4. Polly. This is Polly:

Polly is very sociable and almost as fond of Barb as I am. She particularly likes butting into Barb's legs, which I have made a bit of a rule not to do. Polly was rejected when she was born. She was a blue colour when Barb's Bundanon Buggie drove to the rescue and she is now, as you can see, equipped with a very nice woollen jumper and some stockings that Barb has obviously made her.

 

Anyway, as if that wasn't enough excitement. Then, we were to be interviewed by Tom from Hack on Triple J. We had been asked in the morning if this was suitable for us and we happily agreed. Rita and Stew suggested it would be a good idea to mention this website. I thought that was a good plan and sounded really easy. What could possibly go wrong.

 

It had been a while. Perhaps I should have practised interacting with other human beings. Perhaps I should have asked Rita to have a pretendy-conversation with me. I should have said, "Go on Rits, ask me anything. See what happens".

 Here is what happens when (having barely spoken to the outside world for two weeks) you are interviewed on radio at an artists' residency with which you are deeply in love.

1. You proudly, excitedly, winking at your colleagues, mention this website, which, it turns out, is not in fact, per se, a website at all. You have gushingly advertised a dead url on national radio. Good start.

 

2. When babbling about the creative process or something equally ridiculous (I actually used the expression "thinking outside the square" at one point) you have to pause for a moment due a large crash in the nearby bush. The interview is briefly put on hold. "I'm okay!" says a jetlagged and bleeding Rita, who has fallen while sprinting up a rock.

 

3. Later, while heading home and reflecting on your baffling stupidity in forgetting your own website that you've been writing on daily for three years, you decide to break into a sprint to expell the probably overblown embarrassment caused by too much human interaction.

The path of course is an uneven gravel path and your chosen footwear for this sprint is the humble moccasin. Spectacularly, over several metres, you hurl yourself at the ground, skidding quite some way on your bleeding, begraveled hands. Looking up, you see the car with the Triple J reporter and the people from Bundanon in it turning away down the driveway.

 

Standing There Productions. Apparently the boy one understands gravity.

 Oh well. At least not all the action is humiliating. This evening, to say goodbye to our friend Margot (who writes in the writers' cottage and tells us the mornings at Bundanon are lovely) we all got together for dinner. It was lovely (fresh fish!) and we chatted and I picked bits of the road out of my hand. We meet the new Margot (a pianist) soon.

 Also. You knew I'd do it. Here is Stew's timelapse video from last night outside our studios. There were three of them out there last night. This one's the biggest. He'd want to be. Yeesh. Check it: