Thursday, May 31, 2012

photos: good morning, world!

This was absolutely spectacular in person ...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

quicko: phones

Are just absolutely a pain.  Locks, unlocks, country codes, prepaid packages, 2 yearly contracts, different specs, different phones, it's enough to make your head spin.  I'd like to say I could go on, but my head is already spinning ...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

quicko: fall out of autumn

I never remember which word they don't use for this season, but either "fall" or "autumn" has fallen out of fashion.  I think it's fall.  But possibly it's autumn.

Monday, May 28, 2012

quicko: entitled or not ...

So I have a British friend and I'm going to blame this one on him -- he says that Australians have a tremendous sense of entitlement.  What do you think?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

quicko: the newsagency

Newsagencies are omnipresent in Australia -- they are everywhere, and they are essential.  They sell newspapers and magazines, but also (most importantly for me) bus tickets, among numerous other things (candy, gum, cards, etc.).  Like convenience stores, minus the food bit.  Kind of.  And not open nearly as much.  But very useful.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

quicko: vivid

VIVID (Sydney's annual winter festival of lighting up the Opera House) is on now ... it opened last night and I stopped by for a peek ... but all things considered, the sunset beforehand was really much more beautiful.  Hence, you get pictures of it instead.  Lucky duckies!

Friday, May 25, 2012

public service announcement: BLANKET SYDNEY with LOVE

What:  Donating blankets for people in Sydney who need them this winter
Where:  Church by the Bridge
When:  Tomorrow, Saturday 26 May from 9 am - 2 pm
Who:  Anyone!
Why:  Surely it's obvious?

Blankets should be new or in good condition -- please stop down and donate if you can!

quicko: fruit markets

AKA those little independent sellers you buy fruit/vegetables from.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

quicko: the chemist

AKA the pharmacist.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

quicko: diagonally opposite

AKA diagonally across.

Monday, May 21, 2012

quicko: (gross alert)

Urine.  Pronounced "ur-in" (with a short i) in America, but "ur-ine" (with a long i) in Australia.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

update: sydney writers' festival

Today was the last day of the writers' festival and I managed to get to three sessions, all of which I liked.  I think my enjoyment of them was disproportionate to the level of snobbiness I felt for having taken part in each, with the beginning being the snootiest and the ending being the most fun.

The first was a panel of three very nice, well-spoken people who talked about Australian fires (part of the life cycles of the land), Aboriginal art and poetry.  Somehow these three all connected in a very intelligent way.

The second was a conversation with two authors of "young adult" fiction and was the session I was most looking forward to.  It didn't disappoint me, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting.  I thought they'd  be talking more about the lines surrounding non-fiction and autobiography, but actually it was more on the lines between fiction and autobiography -- which, come to think of it, was what the program said.  It was quite interesting.

The last was an oration by Richard Glover, whose name I knew I knew from somewhere.  I wasn't entirely sure if it was a positive or negative image conjured in my mind (those being the two main reasons I'd remember someone ...), but there weren't any resounding gongs of "retreat!" so I plunged on ahead and was glad I did ... and instantly recognized him for being the host of Thank God It's Friday, which I've seen taped live no fewer than three times previously.

He was a funny speaker and I was excited to learn he's got several books out, which I'm now interested in looking into.

So, overall, it was a lovely day at the writers' festival again.  See you next year!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


To my fabulous best friend, Susan, and her fiancee, Phil, on their wedding today!!!  YAY!!!

Congratulations also to my brother Andrew and future sister-in-law Ann on their graduation from Calvin College!!!

I wish I were there with all of you!!!

update: sydney writers' festival

Today I just caught one full session at the festival, though heard bits and pieces of two others.  Old scrags (Australian for a frumpy-ish older woman, from what I could gather) and sheilas was about Australian female characters and sounded really interesting, but I couldn't get in because it was full so I just listened to a bit of the broadcast outside.  I poked in to one where a woman was speaking about her journalism/fiction writing experiences, too.  The theme of the festival this year is about the line between public and private life and I find it a very interesting topic ... perhaps if I catch you in person, we can discuss it more then!

The main session I went to today was entitled "Who Needs a Linear Narrative?" which I thought was really great.  Two writers -- one American, one ... British?  Posh Australian? -- spoke at length about their narratives (presumably reasonably nonlinear ones) and I found it really fascinating.  The answer to the title question, one said, was presumably 99.9 % of the population if his sales were anything to go on.

Friday, May 18, 2012

update: sydney writers' festival!

Friday was lots of fun at the Writers' Festival -- a radio taping of Thank God It's Friday, followed by the racy readings of erotic fan fiction, followed by The Chaser.  I like The Chaser but it wasn't one of their funnier performances -- they were interviewing various authors, both of whom were well-spoken, intelligent, articulate people who simply seemed the type not to be joked around with ... particularly the Cambodian girl speaking on genocide.  So, it was an insightful night more than a hilarious one, at least at the end.  It was really good and (the earlier parts) lots of fun!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

photos: microperformances at the old fitzroy

Tonight my friend Bec and I went to the Old Fitzroy, which I hadn't been to since playing trivia with The Fanny Pack (which doesn't sound so bad in American English, but is downright risque in Australia) ages ago.  It was really cool -- the upstairs had been transformed into a performance space for microperformances -- lots of little shows happening tucked away in various corners.  We tried to describe the theme and found it a bit tricky -- kind of magical, storybooklike, foresty, hippie, Harry Potter-esque, Renaissance-ish, trippy, melodramatic, creative, dimly lit and Hobbit-y, or some combination thereof.  Maybe the pictures will help you work it out.

We saw three performances -- one of a girl with balloons ("take a balloon and tie it anywhere on the sleeping girl to begin the performance" the sign said -- and when you did, she danced and ended the performance by giving away the balloons used), another of a really amazing magician and a third of a girl dancing over a table (really rather odd).  There might have been a thing or two we missed as well.  It was all very edgy and avant garde and made us feel ten times cooler just for going.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

quicko: to be named mud

I have absolutely nothing to back this up with, but it feels to me like "your name is Mud" sounds more American than Australian.  Is my lingo-sense working or completely kaputt?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

quicko: cuss

American term, meaning to swear or use "bad" language.  Americans have a somewhat broader definition of what constitutes swearing as do Australians.  I'd give you examples, but I don't use those sorts of words.  Maybe GarryWith2Rs can help you.

Monday, May 14, 2012

plug: change

Guess what, guess what guess what?!?!  There's this thing called Crash Test Drama in Sydney and it's kind of like a 24 hour theatre or sushi theatre (for those of you who had the good fortune ... or predestination ... to be part of the Calvin Theatre Company) -- basically a very quick "moved reading" of 8 different plays on one night.  They're cast at 5:30 pm and performed at 7:30 pm.

SO!  I went tonight for the first time ... and I ended up winning best runner-up actress and being part of the first place play overall!!  Which means ... $75 cash, plus the chance to perform again in August.  So, um, yeah, if you'd like to come watch, it's Monday, August 6 at the theatre on the corner of King and Bray Streets in Newtown.

The play I'm in is called Change and it personifies Change (that's me!) ... quite similarly to the personification of Folly, for the two of you reading this blog (Mom and Susan) who are all too familiar with that!

There's four of us involved in Change -- the writer, the director, another actress and I.  It's all very exciting really!  Yay!

PS -- Especial thanks to Gerald -- the one friend who came to see me tonight and can vouch that I really am not making this up :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

quicko: to chat somone up

Although I imagine we'd understand this phrasal verb, "to hit on" is much more common in American English.

public service announcement: sydney writers' festival

The Sydney Writers' Festival starts tomorrow!!  Don't miss out if you're in Sydney!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

photos: the MCA (museum of contemporary art)

The MCA has reopened all newly renovated at Circular Quay and it's pretty fantastic.  The 24-hour movie about clocks is really cool -- it's all choreographed to the actual time!  There's clips of thousands of movies from all over the world that show the time or clocks all collaged together.  I was watching
about 1:35 pm ... which was exactly the time all the clocks in the movies were showing!  So cool!

Plus, there were couches!!

There were a few other exhibits as well ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

quicko: 10 things i'll always love about you

Okay, it's not every day I re-watch 10 Things I Hate About You, but every time I do I remember why it's just one of those classic, can-never-go-wrong sorts of movies.  It's perfect if you're happy, sad, bored, lonely, ecstatic, jealous, put out, giggly, bouncing off walls, angry, neglected, stood up, frivolous, indulgent, lazy, sick, depressed, anxious, blase, trying to pick up an Australian accent, trying to pick up an Australian, slightly crazy, lots crazy, having fun, eating marshmallows, whatever.  It's just really hard to go wrong with 10 Things

It turns out that all the boys in Australia don't look or sound exactly like Heath Ledger, but, hey, moving here was worth a try, wouldn't you say?

For now, I'll content myself with 10 things to love about 10 Things:

10.  "The #$*% hath hitteth the fan."
9.  "Are you telling me I'm not a pretty boy?"
8.  "That's for making my date bleed, that's for my sister, and that's for me!"
7.  Life lesson:  if she owns black underwear, she wants to have sex.
6.  Life lesson:  paintball makes for the best first kisses.
5.  "Should you really be drinking if you don't have a liver?"
4.  "It's not every day you find a girl who'll flash someone to get you out of detention."
3.  "You're just too good to be true" accompanied by the marching band.
2.  "You're just too good to be true" accompanied by sneaking away from cops.
1.  Heath Ledger.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

quicko: cincan't

Sorry this post's a few days off, but I did notice that on the Monday immediately after the Cinco de Mayo there was a whole bunch of Mexican food on sale at Coles.  Coincidence?  Probably, but I like to think possibly the marketers knew there was a holiday, even if no one else did.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

quicko: asian wedding festivities

I've maybe mentioned similar things before, but I continually find it interesting that in Asian weddings in Australia (and there are a LOT!) the bride and groom get all decked out in their bridal gear at some point a couple weeks before the wedding and run around the city taking pictures in a dress rented simply for this occasion.  It's a wedding dress per se, but not the one the bride will actually get married in.  I'm not sure if the actual dress will also be rented or purchased.  Furthermore, there's also likely to be another dress that comes out for the reception -- probably a color as opposed to white.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

quicko: purple

In America, purple (along with the rainbow) is the color of gay pride.  Australians -- even gay Australians -- have generally never heard this and only associate the rainbow (and not purple) with gay pride.

Monday, May 7, 2012

quicko: the shouting match

Australia has a culture of shouting -- paying for each other, not screaming, that is.  It's a nice concept and I like it all very well as part of their culture, but I have a hard time when it's thrust on me (as it very often is).  As a reasonably poor and reasonably tight individual at the best of times, I have my own idea of what's acceptable in my budget, and I like to spend it when I feel like it how I feel like it.  Thus, I'm perfectly happy to pay for my own meal (unless we're talking dates, in which case there's really unlikely to be a date number two if I end up paying my way!) or drink or whatever, but my Australian friends are always insisting on buying it for me.  This just seems awkward to me.  I know the theory is that next time I buy theirs, but the theory just falls down all over the place.  What if I forget?  (Then I'm a horrible person.)  What if they again insist on buying the next time too?  (Then I'm a doubly horrible person?)  What if the prices aren't even and don't cancel each other out?  (Then I'm out on the cash end.)  What if I get in this shouting match of something I really don't want and wouldn't have bought otherwise?  (Then I'm out on the cash end and frustrated.) 

Basically, there just doesn't seem to be a way to win this friendly war.  I'm trying to embrace the cultural differences, but I have to say this is one thing I do really prefer about my American interactions.  Maybe it's just how I grew up, but it feels much more comfortable.  Now, I'm not saying friends can't buy each other drinks, etc. -- but it's much more common for me to say buy a friend a drink if they've had a particularly horrible day and then expect nothing back.  It's a friendly present because we're friends and they need it.  Similarly, if I'd had a particularly horrible day, I'd be happy to receive a similar friendly present and also not feel obliged to return the favor, seeing as it isn't a favor, but just par for the course of friendship.  Maybe it kind of works out that way here, too, more or less.  Honestly, I'm sure I've come off it all better financially, but I have a feeling I'm not playing the game right, yet can't seem to work out how to do it better.

Gosh.  I must be a horrible person.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

something wicked this way came

Wow, where to start?  This was the first time I'd seen Macbeth on stage since our backyard production, which you may recall I edited the text of, directed and co-starred in.  Counting that, it was roughly the eighth time I've seen it on stage, but it hit me anew this time because it was the first time I knew it well enough to go "aha!  They cut something there!" and also know whether or not I had also decided to.  It was really cool.

Before I get too much farther (I wrote the next six paragraphs and then realized this had to be said much, much sooner!), the production I saw was Bell Shakespeare's at the Drama Theatre in the Sydney Opera House.  It finishes up this Saturday, so if you want to see it (and I highly recommend that you do!), make sure you get there this week.

I was also really interested to see that they had only eleven actors.  Having been what I considered to have been quite desperately short on actors (I'd thought I'd needed 15 initially as a bare minimum ... though in the end it was revised to ___, which ended up being really just an actor or two shy of sufficient for our purposes).  I suppose you're not particularly interested, but unfortunately for you this my blog and I really, really am, and so here are the 11 they chose:  Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Banquo, Macduff, Lady Macduff, Witch, Ross, Lennox, Angus and Duncan.  And it worked just fine.  (They did use the witch to double as several -- Macduff Son, another child earlier on, Seyton, an extra lady, etc. -- and Banquo as the Doctor.  They cut the gentlewoman and Hecate and Donalbain entirely, and I'm usure if Fleance was there or not, it was a bit hard to tell in the murder scene.  Also, they cut Siward/Young Siward, though their names were mentioned.)

I'm realizing more and more now that the number of actors needed is very much linked to the edits made and which characters are cut ... and yes, sure, if you performed it all exactly as Shakespeare wrote it with a different actor for every single part you would need upwards of 20 actors, but actually it works much better if you pare things down a bit.  For example, I am now quite in favor of completely taking out Donalbain (he does have amazingly few lines anyway and it works much more easily without him) and am a huge proponent of having the witches double up on roles -- which to me, depending on how you do it, works very well both thematically as well as practically.  In our production we did leave in Hecate, but I have no problem with cutting the role.

This production left a few things I cut -- for example, a lot of the bad weather/rough night sort of lines.  I agree that they are good to leave in for a professional show because they do really make sense, add mystique, build atmosphere, etc., but for our very amateur show they really just would have confused the already half-drunk audience.  We both left the porter (ours played by a witch, theirs by ... possibly Ross?).  They also left in (though cut somewhat) what I consider to be the most boring scene in the whole show, no matter where or how well it is performed:  the dialogue after intermission between Malcolm and Macduff.  I cut it down way more than they did.  Yeah, we probably lost a little in that, but like I said, my audience was much more heavily intoxicated than theirs and really didn't have a clue.  I really liked what they did in cutting out the doctor and the gentlewoman from Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene.  Quite possibly that's how I've seen it done many times before, but like I said, there was just even so much more that registered with me this time than ever before.  It really makes for a stronger scene that way.

Oh, incidentally, in our production I had to combine Ross/Angus/Lennox into one or two characters.  I didn't want to, but I do think it's more important to have a Macduff and a Banquo ... and seeing as Banquo and Malcolm were already the same person, there really was very little choice.  Another thing I'm realizing more and more is that the director really does have tremendous liberty with the script as far as cutting is concerned -- even a highly educated audience who has seen the show, say, six times prior is exceptionally unlikely to notice something along those lines.  A missing Banquo they could well pick up on (or perhaps they'd just think they saw him? ;) ), but a cut doctor (ha) would be noticed by only the most perceptive of scholars.

Interestingly, they billed Lennox as Lennox/Bleeding Soldier, which I found strange and unnecessary.  Banquo doubled as the doctor, but more so the Witch played many parts -- what I'm curious about is whether they consider her the Witch playing the other parts (which is what I did) or if they considered the actress quadruple cast ... they seemed to come down somewhere in the middle on that one.  Like double cast for the Macduff child, but maybe the witch for Seyton.  (Which they pronounced "see-ton" as opposed to "satan" ... I preferred it that way, having thought you had to pronounce it "satan.")

Okay, now that we've got the scripting stuff that happened ages before the production ever began tonight (Interestingly, the actress who played Lady Macbeth was the dramaturg for the production ... if you don't know what a dramaturg is ... google it!  Basically it's the person who does all the research about the history, costuming, past productions, etc., etc., etc.  It's a big job, but one most people don't even realize exists.), we can move on to my evening getting there.

I've had what I consider a really great weekend -- out with friends Friday night, a Cinco de Mayo party Saturday afternoon, followed by church (which was really, really good), followed by a night on the town with a good friend ... followed by sleeping in!  And doing not really all that much Sunday, except for calling home (hi, Mom!) and being reasonably productive by cleaning out the second of three desk drawers.  (It's rather overwhelming so I can only do one at a time.  Getting one done is quite an accomplishment.)  Furthermore, I made sure everything else stayed firmly in the closet, so it appears that my room is clean.  However, I am an extrovert and really need a bit more activity for a Sunday for the weekend to be an overall success -- enter, Shakespeare!

I stopped by what my friend Katie calls Char-Grilled Charlie's, but which seems to bill itself as Char-Grilled Chicken, and got a mix of salads to be my sustenance for the day.  ("Salad" is misleading.  They've got meat and heavy vegetables like avocados and pumpkins in them too.)  Then I hopped on a bus and headed into the city, where I made my way to the Opera House, purchased my ticket (it was pricey even with my student discount, but totally worth it), got a coke (don't usually splurge like so, but some days you just know you need a coke) and ate my dinner on the side of the Opera House while the sun set over the Harbour Bridge.  Or maybe it was setting over the Opera House.  I'm not really sure, it was in my eyes.  West.  It should go west, so that would be the bridge.  Yes, I was right.  Excellent.  Anyway, I finished my dinner happily and discovered I had a ziplock baggie full of cookie crumbs of delicious cookies Katie had made a few days ago, and thankfully I had a plastic fork, so was able to eat I think about two thirds of a (big) cookie in the form of crumbs.  It was a delicious meal.

Then it was time for the show so I went inside and whipped out my little notebook and only stopped taking notes when I took a bathroom break at intermission ... and then I returned quickly to write a few notes about the restrooms (lots of mirrors!  They're my favorite public restrooms in Sydney, and it's so rare I get to use them!  In fact, I was so excited to get to them I bypassed ones that were closer without even noticing.  I'll have to try them next time -- what if they're even better?!  They could be -- these ones downstairs are distinctly nicer than the ones upstairs.).  Incidentally, while we're on the topic of the Opera House, the girl that sold me the tickets said as a general rule of thumb, row A is not the row you want in the Opera House -- even if you are a front row kind of a girl or guy, she said that most of the theatres in the Opera House are raised, so it's better to sit back around row H or farther.  Personally, it still looked to me like I wouldn't have been unhappy closer to the front, but I did see what she meant.  Your call if you go!

The first thing you see about a production is generally the set, and so I did.  It was a great set -- completely open except for the floor, which was covered in a large rectangle of turfy grass.  It looked really quite realistic and even, dare I say, Scottish.  It was a bit muddy looking and perfectly "unperfect."  That is, it looked real.  There were a few tufts sticking up around the sides and upstage left had a larger section of tufts.  It was really nice.  Otherwise, they used a few props for chairs at the banquet scene and maybe a handful of others -- wine glasses spring to mind, as do daggers and swords -- but there weren't tons.  The stage was slightly raked, but what was even more noticeable was the ceiling, which was raked (tilted for you non-theatrical sorts ... though why any of you are left reading bamboozles me completely!  except Mom, who I suppose it was there for in the first place :) ) much more steeply (so both were coming in together at the back, though there was probably about six feet or so between them that was open and used for entrances/exits) and was -- !! -- reflective.  I won't say it was an outright mirror, but reflective is certainly the adjective that otherwise springs to mind.  (Mirror being a noun anyway ...)  It was really cool.

I really approved of the costuming in this production.  It was very much in keeping with my style of how I like to see shows costumed -- with purpose and symmetry!  Everyone matched nicely and the costumes added to the show instead of detracting from it.  They enhanced it, which is exactly what they are supposed to do.  Basically, all the guys wore dark charcoal gray sort of jeans with black shirts and black shoes and black belts when they were fighting soldiers and put on a bright teal (where they got that from I have no idea, but I liked it) coats when they were soldiers but not fighting (i.e, most of the time).  Duncan and Malcolm wore the same style but longer versions to denote them as royalty.

Lady Macbeth began the show in a long, form-fitting burnt orange color dress with a huge slit up the side (and orange eye shadow) with matching orange heels and a belt.  The style really suited her and the character she was playing.  In the next scene she lost the belt and gained a sort of chain X necklace around her front, and later she got a white cardigan over it I think when they were woken up just after the murder.  Later she got a dress of the same color but a shorter version (for the banquet scene?  maybe one before?) and similarly had various ways of wearing it slightly differently in different scenes.  (I think there was a jacket in one?)  For the sleepwalking scene, she was in a long white dress that looked a bit like a nightgown but I think was meant to be a dress as it zipped up the back.  It was silky and form-fitting as well.  She began the sleepwalking scene crawling out through the thicket upstage left, which worked really well.  I liked that the thoughts behind her costuming were similar to the thoughts behind ours -- start in strong colors (red vs. orange) and end in light ones (meant to be baby pink for us, though as the clothing budget was long since exhausted at the point, it ended up being light teal with with white polka dots instead ... vs. off white).  Both shows clearly reflected what was going on with her character.

Similarly Macbeth began like the other men, but ended up in all black by the end -- again, the same as our production.  Maybe it's not rocket science how to dress the Macbeths, but I do like it done this way.  It just makes sense ... and looks good, and helps make the plot clear, too.

There was only one witch in this production, which was the first time I'd seen Macbeth done that way.  I thought it was really cool to try it like so, but overall I prefer it with three.  But it was definitely worth doing, and really did work for this particular production.  The opening scene I was confused by in that I couldn't really tell what I was seeing or how -- it was definitely the witch in white/tans, but in retrospect I think what it was was the reflection of her on the ceiling and she was laying on the ground ... though I'm not positive.  We could see a rectangle of her suspended in the air ... at first I couldn't tell if it was a recording or happening live ... possibly it was projected there.  What was really intriguing about how they did the witch was that her voice was not just hers -- it was always a recorded voice over of several people talking.  She was saying the words too, but you got all the sound from elsewhere.  Thus, it was really loud and ... metallic? ... when she talked.  It was really interesting what they did with her -- at various times she seemed coy, playful, possessed, injured, yoga-instructor-like and various combinations and otherwise -- she seemed kind of robotic sometimes and when "she" spoke it was like she was possessed and she couldn't speak otherwise.  The part after intermission that's a bit longer in dialogue for all the witches was done really, really quickly ... which actually worked really well, especially considering there was only one witch on stage.

The first time the Witch met Macbeth and Banquo she had a great costume ... oddly reminiscent of Jenny Any-Dots in Cats, if you've seen that ... that was a huge skirt of neutral tan sort of colors that allowed her to sit down and put her head down and more or less look like ... an odd lump of something natural.  A rock?  A pile of dirt?  Well, something.

I thought the reactions of Macbeth and Banquo were good and very fitting and very different, which you don't always see -- Macbeth was intrigued, a bit scared, a bit gullible, a bit enamored, a bit credulous.   Banquo was a bit more skeptical, acting almost more as if it were all a bit of a Halloween joke someone was playing on them, a bit happy to try to flirt with the Witch and want to get his share of the joke, whatever it was.  Macbeth was treating her more seriously, Banquo more ... like you would when you're pretty sure if you blink a few more times you won't be dreaming any more, but you might as well keep dreaming as long as things are going well.

The one thing I didn't quite get in this production that I wanted to was Macbeth's shifting motivations.  According to Lady Macbeth, he is "too full of the milk of human kindness," yet we didn't really see that of him.  He always seemed pretty ambitious to me -- and having the "illness" that should accompany it.  Why she felt the need to help him was the part that wasn't overly clear.  (He did shift back later and let us see some of that "we'll proceed no farther in this business" -- but I think we needed to see that earlier as well.)

The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth was one of the best I've seen, though.  They had good chemistry and their relationship seemed clear.  Again, in keeping with the interpretation I'd go with, at the beginning she had much more control over the relationship (as seen by, say, calling the shots as to when they kissed) whereas later he was definitely more in control (as seen by the opposite).  They were probably both mid to late thirties and seemed to fit the roles well.  As usual, the actress playing Lady Macbeth had a pretty throaty voice, but it didn't bother me as much as usual.  Macbeth wore a beard, which I wasn't thrilled about, but he pulled it off pretty well and it wasn't too straggly.  He did look the part, being reasonably tall and fit and ruddy -- brownish, auburnish hair.  She was blonde and curvy and carried her part well.

This production explored Macbeth's madness a bit more than most productions I've seen.  They used sounds and such to help convey that what he was hearing was really a bit nerve-wracking.  The Witch's voice alone was rather nerve-wracking.  The dagger was invisible, though halfway through the actor pulled out (was it a dagger?  it didn't look how I thought a dagger would look) a dagger.  Banquo's ghost was physically present (shirtless, and violently bloodied around the head). In the dagger scene Macbeth kept looking up at it ... which was mirrored by Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene where she also looked up a bit.  I took that to mean his madness had transferred to her ... which was possibly a leap, but not a huge one.

At the banquet scene both Lady Macduff and the Witch were there, though presumably as "noblewomen" instead of their characters ... kind of.  The Witch (! she had a black line painted down her face and chest, which was one way the actress was easily recognizable.  I've been trying to work out what that line was supposed to mean ... the line between madness and sanity?  Truth and lies?  Real and unreal?  Something completely different?) though was friendly with Banquo's ghost, though she didn't appear to be an apparition.  She was the only one besides Macbeth who acknowledged him though (he sat on her lap for quite awhile after she restrained him from touching Macbeth), which normally no character ever does, so that was quite interesting.  I think she stayed on stage after the other guests left and she and Banquo left hand in hand when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth left hand in hand.

While we're on the topic of the Witch, it's a bit like she was a possessed Barbie type figure -- the voice kind of reminded me of the Barbie Girl song voice (in a much darker way, but similarly "unhuman") and she was very blonde with straight hair and kind of looked like a Barbie -- physically but also in terms of how she moved sometimes.  It was kind of like she was a toy or a robot or something from Dr. Who that was given a voice by something else.  It was hard to say if she was willing or trapped -- if she was evil or if she was consumed by evil and too weak to resist.  Her hair often flung forward with her head down so you couldn't see her face and she was sometimes very able to move on her own and sometimes not.  She had different costumes but the other main one was a knitted sort of top that she wore with white underwear but no pants.  It was a pretty long sweater, but not a hair longer than absolutely necessary.  There was a bit of physicality between her and Macbeth (and slightly with Banquo) -- he did receive the news about Banquo's children being kings while laying on top of her and all the apparitions being given through her face -- but it didn't seem like it went any further than that.

With Lady Macbeth there was obviously a lot more physicality and this was the first time it hit me (since studying it when I'm pretty sure it was mentioned) that they really had probably had a child together that had died in its infancy (at least she had had one, and it seems reasonable to think it was his) ... and (flash of inspiration!) it would be very interesting to put on a production where she communicates to him that she's pregnant (which gives him hope that his children will be kings as opposed to Banquo's -- much easier for your kids to inherit if you actually have kids, which Banquo is clearly a step ahead of them there) and thus when she dies it not only is his grief for her but also his dashed hopes of an heir that die.  I feel like there's a bit more that could be explored there ... were the Macbeths unable to have children?  Had her child been with him or someone else before him?  Those have different implications -- if she'd had a child with someone else, then Macbeth himself is infertile and ... well, why get so hung up on Banquo's kids, because if you can't have any, of course they're not going to inherit your throne -- but presumably more likely is that it was theirs together and thus there's a significantly higher chance of them conceiving again -- and if that were implied after their initial meeting scene, it would add a bit more drama to the ... drama.

I liked that they chopped a lot of the political stuff out of this version -- especially near the end I realized that they'd cut a ton of scenes of battle preparation and that that actually worked really well.  I'd been a bit scared to cut as much around there (I definitely cut a lot -- had to get rid of Siward/Young Siward/etc. especially due to casting, but realize now it's actually much better that way) but it worked great.  This way they were really able to focus on Macbeth -- his mental struggle, etc. -- as well as Macduff and his personal vendetta instead of all the political battle scene stuff.  Otherwise it gets a bit too drawn out and confusing unless it's well done (i.e., not backyard!).

Lady Macduff did well -- she was in a pink girly sort of dress, which I thought was very much what I'd dress her in as well -- as did Duncan, Ross, Lennox and Angus.  Macduff did well, too, and he looked the part of a rough and tumble yet big-hearted family man.  Banquo also did well, and I liked the characterization he added -- like I mentioned in his reaction to the Witch vs. Macbeth's, which he carried throughout the performance.  I also liked the bit with him and the Witch.  Oh, Macbeth himself was the murderer of Lady Macduff and her child, which I'd never seen done before.  That made a lot of sense.  They also cut out the conversations Macbeth has with the murderers which really makes sense as well.  (I feel like I'm ready to re-edit the script again now!  I think I did alright the first time, but I feel so much more knowledgeable to do so again now that I've seen how professionals can do it really well.  I'd also cut Macbeth lines monumentally as our Macbeth was not an actor and was slightly (lots) freaked out by them ... but otherwise I'd be more inclined to let him keep them!  The show really is about Macbeth and this production did a good job of keeping him the focus -- it is a huge, huge role.  A title character in every sense.  Well, okay, not every sense.  Presumably one called, say, "King" could have yet another ... but close enough.)

The scene changes were good -- another thing I liked was that during soliloquies the others on stage generally froze or else moved in slow motion.  It was really effective.  There was some music during scene changes, but not tons.  Mostly kind of classical sounding I think?  I have no idea really.  The back of the stage was also kind of hazy most of the time.  It worked really well and suited the mood excellently.  It was a really good stage -- simple, but very effective.  The lighting was very well done.  A couple times I wondered if the sound was having trouble, but I think it was supposed to sound a little static-y sometimes as part of the madness ... or maybe not.  But overall it was really good.

Oh, I found it funny that on the bottom of the character list sheet there was an icon for the Australian Government and it said "Playing Australia" which I thought could be taken a bit more ... literally than it was intended to be!

Okay, that was all off the top of my head -- now opening the notebook to see what details I may have left out.  Unfortunately, as it was rather dark I got a bit muddled and wrote several lines on top of each other ... but hopefully I'll get the main ideas ...

--Oh yes!  They made several lines funny that aren't necessarily funny.  For example, "of all men else I have avoided thee."  (It was a sort of, well, duh! moment.)  Macbeth also gave a funny little "aha, look at me, aren't I cool?" gesture to Lady Macbeth when they first met -- one of those arms out, sway back and forth like guys do when they think they're cool ... :)
--"Twas a rough night" -- funny because the other guy has just chronicled a long list of reasons why it was rough and Macbeth sums it all up neatly for him.
--"You have displaced the mirth" -- funny because he's saying, come back, sit, let's party when it's clear that he has just gone psycho.
--Noticed (Australian) accents in about three words very strongly, and completely forgot about them the rest of the time.
--Most of the actors looked ... not the same, but reasonably similar enough it was hard to keep track of who was who, especially Ross, Angus and Lennox.  I could get Macbeth and Banquo and Macduff and Duncan was older (and didn't, as per usual, last long) ... and Malcolm a bit ... but in a way they all blended together.  I think it was the beards.
--My exact thought that I tried to get at before was:  "need to see Macbeth initially less ambitious/bloodthirsty"
--You could see Macbeth starting to go mad just after the murder and this was continued very well throughout.  I really liked that ambiguity seen on stage as it often isn't.  You can tell Lady Macbeth is getting worried that she's created not so much a monster as a madman.
--Good lighting (wrong order here) for Macbeth's dagger soliloquy -- a circle of yellow light around him for it, then it switched afterwards and he was backlit and silhouetted.
--Just after the murder and Macbeth is talking a lot, the others all slowly circled around him and walked in the circle.  Lady Macbeth fainted very out of the blue and quickly and was very quickly carried off by the closet guy.  It was after this (i.e., the murder) that she shows up in her shorter dress.
--the line "which is which" was delivered with the Witch nearby ... gave a nice double meaning
--just after intermission there was a scene I must have cut -- 2 men (not sure who -- Ross and Lennox?) talking about Macbeth and Macduff.
--the Witch plays Seyton
--tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow soliloquy was good -- Witch was on stage, but had fallen after death of Lady announced and didn't perk up again till it was time for him to address her -- spotlight on him ... I felt like there was a lot of crouching in this production, or at least of people standing in ways that would cramp their legs ... which, come to think of it, is exactly how I stood evidently much of the time as Lady Macbeth as well, but which I didn't notice until on a plane to America hours later and I suddenly was very nervous about what in the world was wrong with my legs when I was sure I hadn't done any exercise yet my thighs felt very much as if they had ... and then a few days later I realized I'd been half squatting half the time and no wonder my legs had noticed, even if the rest of me hadn't!
--the ending "focus on Macbeth and his mental state, not the battle.
--The ending!  Forgot to mention.  Basically Macbeth and Macduff were fighting, as they are wont to do in these shows, and Macduff had just seriously maimed/killed Macbeth and was about to behead him and the Witch had been lurking around the stage, moving downstage center and they were moving upstage center and she yelled "enough!" and it was an instant blackout.  Nothing more whatsoever afterwards, which actually worked well.  It didn't get messy and confusing and anticlimactic with Malcolm coming out and I did like it, though I would have held the blackout a few seconds more before going to the curtain call to let it all sink in a smidge more.
--Standing ovation worthy!  Evidently there were only two of us who thought so, but it was and I don't give mine away lightly.

I think what I like about Macbeth is that every time I see it there is something different and something new -- directors are creative people and everyone does do it differently.  There's always lots to look for to see what they'll do, and I really enjoy seeing how amazingly creative people can be even when working within such a tight confine as a Shakespearean script.  Like I said, I've seen it eight times and every one has been different -- the first time at Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival with one of my all-time favorite actors Giles Davies as Macbeth, another at the Stratford Festival in Canada (where Graham Abbey as Macbeth was the highlight), another in Stratford-upon-Avon where the witches ate the blood off their hands and ravens figured so prominently, another in Lincoln Inn Fields in London which had an all-male cast and was the first time I saw it outdoors and we sat in a long rectangle on either side of the actors and there were percussionists behind us and it got darker as the show got darker and they used real fire!, and another time outdoors at Shakespeare by the Sea in Balmoral (which my friend Melissa was acting in, though I didn't know her at the time!), another time in Leichhardt I think as part of the Fringe festival and set futuristically, sort of, and then most recently in our very backyard version with so many creative ideas I don't know where to start (not that I'm biased ...!) and then tonight, with only one witch and just very well done overall and with excellent costuming.

quicko: physio

AKA physical therapist.  Australians are forever talking about going to see their physios, but what they really mean is that they're going to physical therapy.  It sounds very odd to me, because for some reason a physio sounds like a bit of a quack to me, whereas a physical therapist sounds entirely legitimate.  Took me ages to work out they really were probably authentic after all.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

photos: cinco de mayo!

Australians overall have never heard of Cinco de Mayo (like at all.  ever.) and are even more confused by it than they are by Halloween, which is really saying something.  Thus, it proves rather difficult to round up very many of them for what should be a joyous fiesta of bright colors and guacamole ... but what was lacked in quantity of Australians was very definitely made up for in quality -- Katie not only provided all the food, but also had the brilliant insight of bringing streamers to make our beloved fiesta tree.  Isn't it gorgeous?!  Happy Cinco de Mayo to you, too!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

quicko: deal or no deal

Horrific Australian cultural artifact in the form of a TV game show.  Akin to The Price is Right, but different.  Very difficult to explain, but more or less about knowing when to quit and walk away with what you've already won vs. when to keep on betting.  No strategy involved, primarily watched in nursing homes where it may well be the highlight of the afternoon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

quicko: yearbooks

Done slightly in Australia, but not to the extent American ones are.  Generally only the students who are graduating are pictured, rather than everyone in the school.  They're soft covers and generally just not as big a deal here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

quicko: sun rays of happiness!

quicko: staring

I am an exceptionally unobservant person.  Just ask past roommates.  I never seem to notice things that evidently need to be done, or to have been done weeks ago.  It's just that it takes a bit to bother me that way.  Anyway.  This post isn't meant to be about whether or not the floors needed to be vacuumed, but the idea that Australians stare at people.

Seeing as I am unobservant, I had not noticed this.  I am not given, as are most cool people I know, to the art of people-watching.  Perhaps it's just that I find my own life exciting enough, but it's rare to catch me bored enough to give more than a passing glance to what the others around me are doing.

But it seems that others occasionally notice what I am doing, and in this particular instance I actually received a text (from a Brit) informing me that I should blog about how much Australians stare at each other.

Whether or not they do I really haven't noticed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

update: further thoughts on bogans

So I'm still trying to get this whole bogan thing sorted out properly.  It's really very nuanced and I'm finding it quite challenging, though I am getting significantly better at both bogan-spotting AND not mentioning my findings out loud, which evidently is a big, big no-no.  Particularly in ... (I'm not supposed to say the suburb in public).

So here's the thing:  I get that I'm not allowed to call people bogans in public because it's roughly along the lines of, say, "white trash."  Obviously that is highly offensive and not a term to go bandying about terribly freely.  In fact, so much so that most Americans just plain avoid the term.  We know it, but it would be rare to actually say it, even in joking or in passing.  Yet in Australia, despite my strong injunctions against using the b-word in public, I hear many people casually using and having a bit of a laugh over the term "bogan."  So what I don't get is, if it really is so offensive, why can it be used so much in just regular spoken language?  Is it not that offensive?  Is it that it is offensive, but Australians don't really care and just swear all the time anyway, so what's one more offense?  Is it really not supposed to be used so freely?

Just when you think you're starting to understand a culture, gosh!