Month: February 2015

Piccolo Tales

 Image Credit: bit.ly/1ARLJci

Image Credit: bit.ly/1ARLJci

A little stroll down Roslyn Street, Potts Point, takes you to the Piccolo Bar; piccolo referring to the authentic coffee, as well as the size of the cafe itself. In a trick of the eye, the cafe seems bigger on the inside, furnished a warm and cozy red and lengthened by panels of mirrors. The wall opposite the barista enshrines countless photos of famous Australians who have frequented the eatery and, now the venue is also home to a one-woman cabaret show every Tuesday and Thursday night.

‘Piccolo Tales’ seemed a mystery to me before I entered the nook. Was it musical theatre? Performance poetry? Experimental theatre? To my surprise, the production was all that and more. Based on the life of the Piccolo Bar, from its establishment in 1952 until now, the play acts as both a social commentary as well as personal history. I was especially impressed with how well the space was used. Such a small performance had every corner and height utilised, both inside and out. Not only was the space so versatile, but so too was actress and writer Vashti Hughes. She had a very physical presence, holding us captive with her electric performance. The play was very dynamic  having moments of genuine tenderness as well as comedic crescendos. The intimate space encouraged audience participation, but not enough to make you uncomfortable. Clever use of sound and lighting made use of every possible medium in which to immerse the audience.

Plotwise, the play was very meta, having included the real life protagonist, Vittorio, performing in his own cafe, inviting us to share in his life story. Yet, at the same time the play was so simple: the story of a café and the regulars that frequent it through six decades of distinctly Australian history. It doesn’t sugar coat or glorify the Cross, nor shy away from its reality either; it is what it is, come Vietnam War, the rise of the Kings Cross underground or immigration.

‘Piccolo Tales’ is distinctly Australian theatre. Production praise aside, this performance is so full of passion and authentic pride that it would be difficult to leave the cafe without feeling warm.

Australia to compete in Eurovision 2015

Congratulations to Australia! We have officially made or mark on this wonderful planet, we are officially a global citizen. Was it through our anti-climactic hosting of the G20 summit in Brisbane? Is it through our  commitment to international aid? Or is it that we are at the forefront of Malaysia Airlines searches?

Nay, we have something more grounding, more unifying and more harmonious to be proud of, an achievement to be heralded throughout this great southern land.

Australians all, let us rejoice, for we are officially competing in the 2015 Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Austria.

“But Australia isn’t part of Europe!? Just because millions of Australians tune in to watch the contest on SBS as an annual excuse to party, doesn’t mean we’ve swapped hemispheres!” you comment in jest. Historically, the Eurovision Song Contest was established in post-war Europe in an effort to foster harmony and peace through a friendly “light entertainment programme”. The contest isn’t about geography, it’s centered around celebrating the unifying nature of music. In fact, Israel and Morocco have previously entered in the contest and technically so can areas like Africa. See, according to Australian Eurovision commentator Julia Zemiro, the official rules say that entrants need only be a member of the European Broadcasting Union.

Let’s be honest, cards on the table. The annual contest is a global party. I can’t guarantee that the music is quality, but it’s definitely an experience. Some are just for fun, like the 2011 Moldovan entry, which used unicycling garden gnomes, strobe lights and trumpets. Other entries are visually spectacular, like the 2014 Montenegro entry which coupled roller-skating with a CGI spectacular and the end product was ice skating on stage. There are obviously socio-political maneuvers, like the 2015 winner, Conchita Wurst, being one of the most controversial performances in the contest’s history, and there are those who just ” have a go ” like nearly every performance from Great Britain in recent years.

In 2014, Jessica Mauboy represented our sunburnt country in a guest performance at the grand final. In 2015, we will achieve eternal glory as a competitor.

What other arena teaches you about languages, countries of the world, encourages participation and fosters patriotism better than Eurovision? With promises of Greek trampolines, Russian grandmas, Swiss banjos, Danish pyrotechnics, Georgian parachutes and Irish twins, I promise you’ll be in for an experience.

Musician Profile; Vanessa Caspersz

Vanessa Caspersz is an up and coming Australian act out of Katoomba, who has been dropping awesome beats for the past six or so years. She doesn’t show any sign of stopping soon. This twenty-old year old performer is a one woman whirlwind covering genres from folk and jazz to hip hop. “I have grown as a musician from all the various projects I’ve been involved in, which opens me to all the different ways of creating music and connecting communities,” says Caspersz.

The journey began at age fifteen when Caspersz was a part of the Marchy Archers band, a band so driven by a passion for music that within a couple of weeks of its formation, they competed at Battle of the Bands. With the Marchy Archers, “I felt really comfortable on stage, [because] I was alongside my best mates. I guess that’s why I don’t find the stage daunting!” Her stage presence certainly shines through every gig and since the Marchy Archers, Caspersz has performed all over Sydney both in a duo with Gaia Scarf, as well as performing as a solo act.

She’s a multi-threat singer songwriter with a lot of talents up her sleeve. Her vocals are sweet, dreamy and ethereal, which lies in stark contrast to her beatboxing which she can seamlessly layer through. She can also play the ukulele, guitar, piano and glockenspiel. When not performing, Caspersz still immerses in the music scene presenting shows on 2DayFM and FBi. There, she gives listeners the opportunity to hear music arranged in a way they’re not used to, possibly with a touch of folk or jazz. What’s more, being on the pulse allows her to keep current and be inspired by local and international acts that come through the radio stations.

With career highlights such as competing in the UK Beatbox Championships in 2012 and placing as a quarter finalist, Caspersz is to be congratulated. In 2013, she made the top 8 in the Australian Beatbox Championships and was the only female. When she’s not beatboxing at 505 or working the airwaves at FBi and 2DayFM, she studies Speech Pathology and Music at university and looks forward to working with Tuka from the Thundamentals for his upcoming ‘Listen Close’ tour.

Image credit:https://www.facebook.com/vanessacaspersz/photos_stream