Sunday, July 23, 2006

Article - Nicholas Hope.

Don't you want me Bubby?

July 21, 2006 (Metro, Sydney Morning Herald)

Nicholas Hope is over Bad Boy Bubby. Too bad his fans aren't. Benito Di Fonzo reports.

Nicholas Hope is often cast as an anxious eccentric, be it Bad Boy Bubby, a priest in Hal Hartley's Henry Fool or his latest role as a strange Australian sailor in Norway. However, it's a surprisingly calm and erudite Englishman who enters the kitsch Randwick cafe, albeit with a large bandage on his finger and a cut on his lip from rehearsals.

"There's a section in the show where I become a snowflake, and the chair collapsed," he says.

The Colour of Panic is his one-man exploration of a dichotomous existence between Australia and Norway.

His script won an award in Norway.

"I thought I'd write a show to give myself some work," Hope says. "[It's about] that feeling of being alone, just not having a place that was mine and feeling panicked. I didn't know what the heck was happening because I was moving between countries all the time.

"It was an interesting feeling, just like having moved [to Whyalla, South Australia] when I was six, that little petulant child came out and I just wanted to blame everybody for how I felt."

Hope explored his angry inner child in his memoir, Brushing the Tip of Fame.

"[That] was more about being on the edge of celebrity and the effect that has on someone who is basically a petulant child. My genetic code is English - it's a little gauche to be overly proud - but the petulance came from expectations and the realisation Hollywood wasn't knocking on my door."

Hope won an AFI for his lead role in Bad Boy Bubby, but received little work immediately afterward, even missing out on a role in Se7en to Kevin Spacey. He did however get flown to many film festivals, the juxtaposition of poverty and the jetset life emphasised when he arrived at Centrelink in a limousine.

"I said [to Village Roadshow], 'I'm sorry, I've got to put in my dole form otherwise I won't have any money,' and they said, 'That's OK, we'll pick you up, take you to the dole office and then zoom you to the interviews.'

"It was a limousine they picked me up in, it had champagne and I had a glass. I ran past everybody in the queue saying, 'I'm really sorry, I've got to get to an interview,' and everybody turns around and the chauffeur waves."

Did he enjoy that? "Yes, I loved it."

At a festival in Norway he fell in love, eventually moving to the "social democratic paradise" of Oslo. The resulting culture shock informs The Colour of Panic. What colour is panic?

"Grey with flashes of red. The grey comes from that first winter in Norway. The sun comes up about 10 and goes down about three, everything is grey and claustrophobic. The red's the Australian desert."

Hopes says the dislocation between Norway and former home Whyalla was something he was able to use theatrically: "It's the ultimate panic attack."

However, Hope keeps his cool when encountering weird Bubby fans, such as the Norwegian who'd seen it 13 times.

"A band was playing, and I said, 'Look that's really lovely, that's great, but I'd just like to listen to the band if that's OK.' He grabbed me and threw me up against the wall and started screaming, 'F--- you, God! F--- you, God!' Then the bouncers came.

"Here, having a quiet drink with my brother in a pub, someone comes over and starts jabbering about Bubby. Then he decides he's insulting me so he says 'sorry', grabs a pepper shaker and pours the entire contents in his mouth, then splutters and coughs all over our table and into our beers saying, 'Sorry, sorry'.

"He believed he'd insulted me because he didn't know my name. He started shouting, 'Everybody, this is Bad Boy Bubby, do you know his name?' It's not like being an A-list star where people say 'you're Mel Gibson' or 'you're Al Pacino' - they say, 'You're Bad Boy Bubby'."

If panic is grey, what does it smell like?

"It smells like burnt dust, and reverse-cycle airconditioning."

Like Centrelink?


Suddenly I feel like some champers.


Wednesday to July 30, Opera House.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Sydney Plantagenet's Psychedelic Quest. Episode 1: Attack of the Robotic Russell Crowes."

If you missed my radio play "Sydney Plantagenet's Psychedelic Quest. Episode One: Attack Of The Robotic Russell Crowes," live from The Sydney Opera House Studio and broadcast on FBI-94.5FM on June 25 then you can hear it by clicking on the headline of this entry.

I don't know how long FBI are going to leave it there so, click on soon, and don't be afraid to tell me what you think... I know it ain't exactly Hamlet, but...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Article - "Meow Meow"

Hello kitty

Meow Meow will have you hiding under tables, too.Benito di Fonzo

Metro, Sydney Morning Herald. June 30, 2006

Sultry cabaret artist Meow Meow was in London on Monday, New York Tuesday, Los Angeles Wednesday and, on a wet Friday afternoon, she's lying atop a bar in Darlinghurst's Victoria Room sipping Chandon. No wonder she called last week's show in Germany Sequins & Spectacular Jetlag.

When it opens at the Opera House it will be retitled Beyond Glamour: The Absinthe Tour.

"That's a reference to my mental state, clearly, but it conjures up a fabulous image of Toulouse-Lautrec and early French cabaret," purrs Meow in an accent you can't pin down. "My first language was obviously unintelligible, [but] it made sense to me, then off we went into French and German, then English and a little Mandarin."

For her Sydney debut, Meow will team up with pianist Iain Grandage, who she met in Shanghai while working with controversial Chinese transsexual Jin Xing.

"[Xing's] a really interesting woman. She was the best male dancer in China, a kind of superstar, and she was a colonel in the army, as well.

Then she had a sex change."

Meow's show received rave reviews in Melbourne, where The Age's Helen Razer described her as "Diamanda Galas drowned in cherry liqueur".

"This show takes a lot of songs that I absolutely adore," she says. "Really beautiful cabaret songs from the French and German cabaret tradition mixed in with show tunes, horribly deconstructed, I'm afraid, and I mix it with some John Cage and contemporary opera.

"I love that you can use noise and you can reference 15 songs in one song just by passing through the notes, and people have this primeval memory of 1925, 1865 or a primal scream from the slime that means something."

Meow is also working on performance art fellowships in Berlin and New York.

"I'm seen as sequins in the performance art world and [as] razor blades in the cabaret world," she says.

"There's this saying that what turns me on is erotic and what turns you on is pornographic, so for some people the show will be deeply erotic, and for others it will be deeply grotesque, and that's what I like to play with. It's a lot about how [the audience] wants to perceive you; as a superstar or a washed-up diva, a goddess or a has-been."

Meow, also a lawyer, says she may be "wilfully blind" when it comes to any rules the Opera House imposes on her: "I popped my bosom in a glass of red wine [at one show] because there's so many rules about nudity, alcohol and cigarettes and I just think it's so ridiculous. I think it's important to rock people and also to soothe them. You don't want too much of either, otherwise you've got bland, anaesthetised non-thinking. Shatter and soothe, I think, is a good thing."

Punters be warned: there'll be audience participation.

"I think fear is good in the theatre; it's good when you think anything could happen - we're not in a cinema, after all. So it is unpredictable: I could walk offstage, I could fall in love with you, you could fall in love with me. How are you feeling, by the way? In love, clearly."

Her biography says she has no fixed address. Does that mean she'll need somewhere to crash after the show?

"Yes, is that OK? I'm very cuddly.

I leave a trail of sequins and eyelashes, but nothing scary."

Meow Meow: Beyond Glamour
June 30, July 1, 7 & 8, Opera House Studio