Re-Imagine the World

July 6, 2012 § 7 Comments

I grew up in the church.

This won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me well – and for this reason I am still surprised when conversations grind to a halt when new acquaintances start asking me about my life and I answer them honestly.

Each new person that I come into contact with has a hand in my evolution, and I try very hard to work as a positive force in theirs. Sometimes it is the briefest of encounters that can change things. A friendly glance, a lingering hand, a five minute conversation, an hour in the back corner of a dimly lit bar.

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지하 Underground

September 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

Your friend promises you that this place is real. He found it, he says, after quite a raucous night of eating a bit too much barbecued pork, and drinking just a bit too much sweet-potato wine. In fact, it is all he has talked about for weeks and if he could only remember exactly where it was, he asserts that you will not be disappointed.

Crafty Bar

The problem is, he can’t remember there being a sign on the door, and regardless, he never did find out what the place was called.

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On genre, form and style

September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have decided to start writing again. This decision has been precipitated by the fact that I am preparing a research proposal at the moment, and there is such a huge amount of writing associated with this task that may just waste away in the rabbit warren of email conversations and notebooks that I seem to accumulate. Some of the critical feedback I have been receiving from my supervisor, as well as my close friends and colleagues has resulted in quite a few lengthy rants on many different topics. Some of which I will unleash on the small number of people that read this blog.

So here goes.

This first article is an extension of a discussion that Nathan and I sometimes have about weather or not butoh can be seen as a form, or a style. This is also a conversation I have had with others, and for now, I think I can pretty fairly articulate my position.

NATHAN: I know this is an age-old conflict – but can you explain to me why you consider butoh a form and not a style?

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My Love DMZ

June 10, 2010 § 9 Comments

At the end of June I will be performing in Brisbane with Mokhwa, one of Korea’s premier physical theatre companies.

The show is 내 사랑 DMZ – [Ne Sarang DMZ], which translates as “My Love, DMZ”. The performance is being sponsored by the Korean government as part of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean war and is being taken round the world in 2010 (Australia, United Kingdom, USA and Turkey). Their concept is to have an actor from each of the host countries take on a small role in the work.

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First Pansori Lesson

May 23, 2009 § 3 Comments

I am very excited.

I had my first Pansori class today with Oh Min Ah, of the National Changgeuk Theater Of Korea.  I met her for the first time this morning at The National Theatre on the slopes of green Namsan Mountain.  She is probably one of the most adorable Korean women I have met. And I have met quite a few adorable Korean women.

We have quite an interesting language barrier.  I think her English skills match my Korean ones.  With maybe one or two points in my favour, so very basic communication is possible, but we did struggle a little.  Not in the actual teaching, but in the small issues, like how much I was to pay her, when we would meet, what exactly I was doing in Korea.  That sort of thing.  Long periods on the electronic dictionary did help.  And we got by.

The words ‘Highway Robbery’ came up when we were discussing her fee.  I think the gist of it is that Pansori teachers can be very expensive, but she does not want to charge me any where near the full price, and even the money I have to give her (thanks to the Australia-Korea Foundation) she thinks is too much.  But we have organised 16 lessons over the next three months (she will be out of town for a month doing a show in Ansan) so everything worked out in the end…

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COMP – Day One

May 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

I fell out of bed. For me, the morning literally came in with a crash. I didn’t think it was very funny, but apparently it is.

Last night we had the first meeting for the Crossing Of Movement Project, which is being held as part of the Modern Dance Festival (MoDaFe) in Seoul.

It is hard not to be a little overwhelmed by the project. It is an international artist residency program involving 9 artists from many different disciplines who will create a performance for the Festival Showcase at the end of May.

The rationale is simple enough. We will create a performance experience based on the idea of living in Seoul.

Seoul is a very large city. The larger Metropolitan Area holds a population of 25 million people. In the Metropolitan City lives 10 million. As a boy from Brisbane, via the Sunshine Coast, it is a very big deal to live in Seoul.

The project coordinators, Pyeon Si Jae (director) and Park Soon Ho (Choreographer) have divided Seoul in 14 must-see locations. Over the next 10 days we will, in our own time, visit all of these paces and record how we feel about them, how they affect us and their potential as spring boards for performance. We can explore them by ourselves, or in groups. Every evening we will meet in Daehangno (the theatre district in downtown Seoul) and discuss our findings and workshop our idea. The last two weeks will involve creating and rehearsing the work in preparation for the showcase.

From the initial meeting I very much got the impression that nothing is settled. It is not that the project is unorganized, but nobody has any idea what it will be like. The artists involved are dancers, multi-media artists, choreographers, opera singers, hip-hop producers, and me. They come from places like Cameroon, Algeria, Japan, Australia, and Germany. There is a great sense of potential.

We have yet to meet the whole group. Some artists will continue to arrive until Friday, when we will have our first meeting as an ensemble. We will present our previous work to each other and discuss how we can contribute to the project.

I feel like a tiny, miniscule fish in a very, very talented pond.

But I am young, and have my own company – which apparently counts for something. It also came up in conversation that I once lost 30kg for a job, and gained the respect (may curiosity) of all involved. I promise, weight-loss was already the topic of conversation.

Today myself, Fonkam (from Cameroon, a choreographer) and Oliver (a film director from Germany who has lived in Seoul for 15 years as a university professor in Film and Animation) decided that rather than choosing somewhere on the list, we would go to Seoul Art Centre in Seocho-Gu to see the latest work by Soon Ho. He has just finished choreographing a ballet for children.

Nathan and I had already enjoyed the Western Goodness of Butterfingers Pancake Parlour. My first western meal in a week was waffles with bacon, eggs and sausage. Nathan had the same but with cinnamon French toast. I then met my collaborative partners at Nambu Bus Terminal, and we advanced to Ye Sul Oi Cheon Dang, the Seoul Arts Centre.

It was Children’s day today, which meant lots and lots of children on the street. It also meant many children’s performances at the Art Centre. The place was packed.

Hwindy wa Teddy (Wendy and Teddy)

The show was… interesting. It was the story of a little Polar Bear named Wendy who, presumably because of global warming, loses her mother in a tragic polar ice melt and consequently travels the globe, meeting animals of many different species, and eventually a Bear named Teddy who does magic tricks, and is the King of a Teddy Bear Kingdom.

The choreography was great. The cast (30-strong) was very good; the scenography was beautiful, lots of projection, flying sets and moving lights. The thing that let it down was the generic, poppy, synthesized music. That and the magic trick involving life pigeons and a baby parrot. The infamous disappearing birdcage trick was executed, and Oliver and I fear that so were the birds.

My highlight was clearly the Hip-Hop Elephant Dance Crew. Costumed in sliver jump suits with crepe elephant trunk sleeves and manga-style hair. Word!

We then traveled for our first Artist Laboratory meeting in Daehangno.

Artist Laboratory

We discussed many things, the most interesting of which I will mention now:

The Ever-Changing Face of Seoul

Seoul is always changing. One day you can have Shyabu-Shyabu in a certain restaurant, only to bring your mates to it a couple of days later and have is now serve Kamjatang (Potato Soup) and have undergone a complete renovation.

This has always been the case with Seoul, but I (and Nathan) have noticed that since living here almost 18 month ago, the city as a whole is undergoing a rejuvenation. It is becoming greener, cleaner and cuter. Everyone, including the various local city governments are renovating entire sections of the city, ripping up old roads, uncovering hidden streams, installing giant pillars that record your picture and send it to your email address. Whole suburbs, especially the celebrity hotspot of Samcheongdong have become infinitely more user-friendly with cute independent cafes, boutiques and even well dressed street vendors.

Some kind of citywide gentrification scheme. This has gone on in Seoul in waves for many, many decades. The entire south side of the river was mostly swampland when my pop came here in the early 80’s. Now, it is the most affluent, built-up part of Seoul. And incidentally, where I have always lived when here.

A lot of people support this push, which originated in the upper echelons of Korean government, but it also means that a lot of people, the poor, the homeless and the artists are increasingly feeling disenfranchised. The ‘slums’ that have only gradually shrinked over the last 100 years and for the last 20 or 30, existed side-by-side with towering developments are being bulldozed en masse out make way for shiny apartments and department stores. Only last month a forced eviction caused several long-term residents of one of the more ramshackle neighborhoods to jump out of their windows to their death. Or maybe they were pushed. It is hard to say.

The generally shabby, slightly grimy, but comfortable, lived-in feel of Seoul is giving way to an increasingly manic obsession with clean. At least in some areas.

Good for some. Bad for others. We will have to wait and see.

Hakima expressed it as:

‘Cleaning on the inside, only makes the outside dirty’.

We discussed this at length. It turns out that the statement is equally true when turned on its head. Think of what happens when you go on a sudden, yet effective detox. The dirt flows out of every orifice.

Cultural Identity

We also discussed the different ideas of cultural identity at a national level.

I talked about Australia’s multi-cultural aspects, and the tension between 200 years of white-oriented history and 40,000 years of Indigenous history, stories and traditions. I noted that it is overwhelming to come to a place like Korea where the dominant cultural group has had a virtually unbroken history for many thousands of years. They have the giant cultural artifacts to prove it. I also expressed the sadness that I felt when the great Namdaemun Gate was burned down last year.

Rasun, the translator told me that she wasn’t sad at all, because she didn’t really identify with it as a cultural symbol. Hakima also said that the weight of history does not exist, because we all contribute to it equally. Our history is the sum of the years we have lived, and so she didn’t see any difference between my cultural heritage as a white Australian, and that of the Koreans in the room. In her opinion, History is not tied to temporality.

Interesting discussion.

Rubber Pavements

These are new, and really change the experience of walking in Seoul. Good image for physical work.


Hakima visited the area around the presidential palace, and decided to play a game where every 100 metres or so she would stop for a cigarette, and watch what happened to the people around her. She said it was like a giant game of chess. The policemen especially behaved like little plastic toy soldiers. She loved being alone today because she was able to focus on her surroundings. She felt like an oddity being a solitary foreigner.

We decided to make out meeting tomorrow at 8, and each prepare a short piece of everyday movement so we can get a bit physical.

Today, I also talked a little with Oliver about his concept for the performance. He wants to try making 360 Degree Panoramas of several locations and render some of the objects in 3D so we can play with them live. He also wants to try and do some motion capture and animate some virtual dancers. Little Fish.

Tomorrow I will go with Si Jae to visit her performance students. They are doing an assessment where they set up a piece of performance art in the mountains, and she wants me to help critique them and give them ideas and suggestions. How fun.

Now, I will wait on the internet for Nathan to get home

My Zenlike Future

October 29, 2007 § Leave a comment

So… I am in.

I have 2 months of freedom left before I embark on 6 or 7 months of (hopefully) rewarding hell.

I am prepared for it, I have purchased the books I need to read, I am readying my body for the arduous process, and my goal is to look amazing in a g-string BEFORE the internship commences. Because I KNOW what goes on in Montville. And we don’t want any embarrassing incidents.

I also need to spend the next 2 months stockpiling my resources.  I will eventually need to think about housing, but I will leave this thought till later. Maybe there will be others in the same situation. I am told that there isn’t much time for a casual job. Maybe 1 day a week. If I have amazing time management skills. Which I don’t.

I am also told that everyone in my life needs to be on board, and positive about this choice. Because they will possibly not see me until next August. I’m sure it will be fine. Most of them will just pretend that I never came home form Korea.

I have also decided not to go to Woodford. This has been a bbit of a tennis match in my mind for the last two weeks or so. At first I didn’t think I could face it. and then I decided that it didn’t matter. Then I REALLY wanted to go. And now, I know that I simply cannot afford it. And I could use that time to make amazing amounts of money. Which will come in handy.

Apparently we are not allowed to fall in love with our fellow interns.

We will see how much of a problem that is in the future.

All I know about the demographic is: 4 from Brisbane. One from the Gold Coast, 2 from the US and the rest from interstate. 8 boys, 7 girls. The odds are in my favour. Also, most of the successful applicants are mid-career artists.

So… I guess you could say…

Electronic Lifestyle

September 23, 2007 § 1 Comment

My computer is back… and so am I – to the electronic lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.

I am going to the beach tomorrow with Lauren. Even though I am not allowed to say her name out-loud, I think it is ok for me to type.

Speaking of which – this keyboard is not suiting my lifestyle.

The Tresury last night, after ‘The Reunion’ (which was amazing). Jess’ bi front-man was very, very good. The band was tight, the dancing was free, and I made people fall in love with me with my mind. I am very good at that. But the oversized-RSL nature of the casino makes me wish to never go there again.

A certain boy has become dead to me. This makes me sad, as we very quite close once. But now, we leave separate lives. The disapproving look of disappointment in his eye was too much.

I am NOT getting up at 7 to go to the beach (and frankly, neither is L).

I will however be going into ‘work’*.


I wonder how the boy is doing. I miss him.


August 20, 2007 § 1 Comment

It’s been 20 days since my last post, and it is 20 days until I leave this country for that of my birth.

I am pretty bad at this game, but, as always, I will endeavour to do better.

On another topic, why does Firefox hate my Australian spelling lifestyle?

I have 6 more performances of The Little Dragon to undertake.

I also have 3 more weeks left of my sojourn in this country, but my Gym membership finished last week…. What shall I do?

I haven’t saved as much money as I had hoped this last year. A measley 30% of my earnings. But I have lots of things. And I went to Japan. I have put my remaining money somewhere safe.

In my dad’s bank account.

Also, the Sacred Cat, Ariel was unfortunately euthanised last Thursday. There is a replacement on order though.

I am emphatic that euthanised is a valid word, but Firefox, once again lets me down.



Battle Scar

July 14, 2007 § 1 Comment

I have unfortunately acquired the most ridiculous performance-related injury known to man.

Whilst completing the violently joyous mardi gras-inspired dance break in the finale of ‘The Little Dragon’, I happened to connect my left thumbnail with the underside of my left eyebrow (the bit NOT covered in hair).

The pain indicated that there was something wrong almost immediately, but it wasn’t until blood started to obscure my vision several steps later, that I relised that I had caused an injury to myself. I completed the latter half of the routine, including an exremely fast puppet acquision and the first curtaincall , huddled behind my dragonfly, blood slowly trickling down my face and mingling with the copious sweat to find its way to the corner of my mouth.

 I raced off stage to the dressing room, where I mopped up most of the blood, and had a plaster applied to my face, all the while trying to convince the Korean office staff that I had NOT fended off attack from a ninja hoard whilst defending the honour of our lead actress, but had merely misjudged the ferocity of my own thumbnail. When this became clear, the male stagehands dissolved into laughter, and I ran back on stage in shame, to perform the last workshop number and final curtaincall.  Which proved rather difficult as the plaster seriously limited the movement of my upper eyelid, and resulted in an awkward squinting motion being imposed on my naturally expressive face (probably for the better, lets be honest).

So committed was I to maiming myself, that I not only have an ugly looking gash on my eyelid, but a bruised graze running from it, through my eyebrow and onto my expansive forehead.

I guess it’s all part of growing up and being Australian.


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