Issue# 34.42 March 25–31, 2020 Editor: Mandy Nolan Editorial/gigs: firstname.lastname@example.org Copy deadline: 5pm each Friday Advertising: email@example.com P: 02 6684 1777 W: echo.net.au/entertainment
FULL ARTICLES ONLINE AT : echo.net.au/entertainment
DIRE STRAITS, THE NEW NORMAL
At the moment it feels like we are living in the pages of a dystopian novel. Life as we know it – the freedom to gather, to be close to others, to travel to countries far away, to touch the skin of our friends, to hug, to kiss, to hold, to stand in a mosh pit – drenched, not just in your own sweat, but the sweat of others… is suddenly gone. In its place is social distancing – the approach to limiting the spread of COVID-19 that is sending us all home. This has been a week of heartbreak for performers, event managers, venue owners, tour managers, publicists, engineers… in fact anyone touched by the entertainment industry. This week I have the curious job of writing the entertainment pages for the many who have cancelled, postponed, or who are struggling to stay operational with new and ever-changing regulations. What was okay in the morning, is often not okay by the evening. These are uncertain times, but the industry, although on its knees, is responding with positivity and a view toward a glorious golden boom, once we can get back to business as usual. But right now, it’s business unusual… here is how some of our local operators are faring. A lot of performers are going online to do shows – being innovative, to keep performing – for their own mental health, and that of the community. Do what you can to support them! For anyone promoting an online performance – let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org
BYRON COMEDY FESTIVAL The Byron Comedy Festival is off. Festival directors, Mell Coppin and Zara Noruzi, said ‘After a sold out inaugural festival last year, we have become another Coronavirus casualty and have had to cancel Byron Comedy Fest 2020. ‘Scheduled for 14–17 May, our festival cannot go ahead as a 200 seat venue. We are obviously disappointed for the community, the artists, the production crew, and ourselves, but we will bounce back in 2021 – virus free, and ready to deliver loads of laughter!’
BYRON BREWERY Lion Australia closed all their public breweries last Tuesday. Along with Little Creatures in Fremantle and Geelong, and the XXXX Ale House, and our local Byron Bay Brewery. They were just too close to key breweries and the company didn’t want to risk any contamination to their facilities, so the breweries are still making beer it’s just the social gathering aspect that has been affected – the beer will go on!
BELLO WINTER MUSIC 2020
It is with heavy hearts that organisers announced the 2020 Bello Winter Music festival will be cancelled. The small scale, multi-venue festival was scheduled to take place throughout the town of Bellingen on NSW’s mid north coast 9–12 July. ‘Red Square music would like to thank all of our venues, artists announced so far, staff, our loyal patrons, ticket buyers and the community of the Bellingen Shire for their ongoing support, and we look forward to presenting our sixth event in 2022, after the planned refurbishments of the Memorial Hall precinct, they said.’ Please stay tuned for updates and further information on their socials pages and website www.bellowintermusic.com
THE BRUNS PICTURE HOUSE Since it opened a few years back, the Brunswick Picture House has become one of the most loved venues in the area. COVID-19 is hitting hard. ‘Every person we know in the industry, and every person we have ever encountered is going through the same thing’ says Brett of the current circumstance. ‘I can’t recall that in my lifetime. The entire globe has shut down. And we, as people in the entertainment industry, are vulnerable as our entire schtick is to assemble a group of people who may, or may not, know each other and get them humming – I’ve spent my life bringing people together, so this is a new frontier.’
THE BYRON THEATRE, COMMUNITY CENTRE The Community Centre is now closed to the public. Tanja Greulich, who manage the venue says ‘Staff are doing random hours, predominantly from home. We have cancelled some events, and rescheduled those that can be, for later in the year. The office is shut for community services, and volunteers are encouraged not to come in. Everything in the theatre is cancelled. We still have some things on the website happening in mid-May, but obviously that will have to be reassessed. We are using this time to think creatively. Maybe looping in with filmmakers, to do streaming. We are also doing maintenance over this time, and looking at bringing a new state-of-the-art theatre to the community when we return.’ The Liberation Larder is still accepting deliveries from people, and they are running Monday and Thursday. They are focusing on takeaways, and they will give out meals in take away containers, including the breakfast for homeless people on Wednesdays.
HOTEL GREAT NORTHERN & THE RAILS Over at the Hotel Great Northern and the Rails they’ve adhered to the AHA (Australian Hoteliers Association) guidelines, stringently enforcing social distancing – so bands haven’t been playing. As the Rails is an outdoor venue, and there was space, soloists had one more week of playing gigs before their closure this week.
THE PALACE The Palace cinemas have closed at all locations until further notice. They ask everyone to support the cinema; purchasing Palace Movie Club Membership or online gift cards would be a huge help!
NORPA Three weeks ago Artistic Director of NORPA Julian Louis was at an international conference in Melbourne talking about creating work in a regional setting and how a small theatre attracts so many internatonal practitioners. There was a new courtyard bar about to be launched, a full time kitchen and diner about to start,and NORPA were waiting to hear back about a four year funding arrangement. That’s all changed. ‘I have a responsibility to a lot of people, particularly staff, so I need to be as strong and focused as I can and I am reaching out in the industry to colleagues and government agencies to get the best updates and to give the full picture of what is happening. Many organisations may not come back from this’ says Julian. While trying to stop the boat sinking, Julian is currently budgeting, programming, and putting in grants for 2021.
BALLINA RSL When I spoke with Ballina RSL CEO, Bill Coulter, last week he was leading the charge in trying to stay open for business – to ensure that staff could be paid and that the many people who rely on the club for meals and social contact could still come along. As of this week, with venues being closed, all of that has changed.
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‘We are in a strong position financially to work through the process, but I am concerned we haven’t hit the winter season, and the worst is yet to come for us. We do need to have discussions with bankers and auditors about what a relief package is going to look like,’ he said.
THE STILL CORONA I don’t like being still. It’s why I don’t like yoga. Or meditating. It’s too slow. It feels lazy. Like you can’t be arsed. The lack of pace makes me anxious. I am the only one in the yoga relax section of the class folding my mat and leaving. I’m like ‘ Nah, I’m good – I’ll close my eyes and breathe in the car on my drive home’. I speed off at 100km an hour screaming out the window ‘Pussys!’ Because unlike that cohort of slow mat-rolling, deep breathing, bamboo-pant-wearing, clear-eyed ones ambling off to sit on a crate and drink a turmeric latte – I have shit to do! I love being busy. I love my full diary. It makes me feel safe. I feel powerful and in control. I love watching how I can manage to fill every hour of nearly every day. Not a spare moment for even a dot of introspection. This week I went through two bottles of liquid paper painting out gigs. My hands trembling as I realised that she-who-mustbe-in-control has had the thin veneer ripped away. The vast expanse of my diary, which usually confirms that I am achieving – I am moving forwards – has stopped. I check that I’m still here. I take a selfie. Will Mandy Nolan be Mandy Nolan if she’s not being seen as Mandy Nolan? Who will clap for me now? Not my family – my home-based hecklers. A lump forms in my throat. It’s not cancer. It’s worse. It’s disappointment. Where there were crowded scribbles, now there is space. It’s so creepy. It’s a kind of quiet that gets into your bones. It gets inside, into that space where the real you hides; the shadow self. It’s the quiet place where the you that you’ve curated falls to dust – where there is no past, and no future, and no point paying the mortgage. Something monks love, and manics, like me, fear. I am not that person. I don’t want to face my darkness – what if I face it and it goes? I am a comedian – it’s the insight into the battle that powers my creative juices; not the enlightened mindfulness of true acceptance. That’s for people at healthfood shops. I don’t want to be that person. I am like a shark. I need to keep moving. If I stop, I die. Or other people do… I noticed how happy my husband was this week. I’m home. I’m doing the washing. I’m cleaning. I’m cooking. I’m here. I’m back to being a 1950’s housewife. I’ve started wearing lipstick to bed. Next week I’m cracking out the rollers. This first week of not working hasn’t been fun. I love working. I have made work out of what I love doing, so having almost six months of dates disappear brings, not just economic, but a creative grief. And fear. Not fear of dying. Or of the disease. Or of the ensuing anarchy once capitalism has toppled, and we’re wearing short shorts and leather boob tubes, and I am killing zombies with a samurai sword. What I truly fear is myself. It’s why women used to hit the Bex – long periods of confinement send some of us around the twist. I’m already pre-twisted. I’m not a sit-back-and-smell-the-roses kind of girl. I’m a plant the roses, tend the roses, pick the roses, paint the roses, sell the painting of the roses, write a book about painting roses… and then try and find time to plant some more roses so I can sell some new paintings to pay for the books I’ve just ordered. I know what you think – you are running away from yourself Mandy. Absolutely. How else would I get fit? Isn’t that the human condition? And I actually like doing stuff. ‘Being’ isn’t one of my highlights. ‘Being’ makes me agitated. Depressed. Angry. You don’t want to be around me when I’m being. It’s not pretty. Being actually stresses me out. I get bored. Then I get annoyed. Everything annoys me. The way someone puts away a tea towel. The teaspoon left in the sink. The way you breathe, or how you pronounce a word. When I’m busy I’m at peace. Thanks to COVID-19 we’re about to enter a global Vispassana. Fuck it, I’m done with being. I’m back to doing. I’m getting a job at Coles. That’s where you’ll find us creatives now – me and Chris Hemsworth, doing the nightly shelf-pack at the local supermarket.
BLUESFEST The biggest player in our local entertainment industry was instructed to cancel their Easter festival last week. Bluesfest brings in a staggering $79 million to our local north coast economy – so that’s a blow to the entire region that will leave businesses and the community reeling. The greatest fear, when an event of this size is affected, is that when the Goliath is felled that it won’t get up again. Fortunately, festival director of Bluesfest, Peter Noble, has confirmed that this won’t be the case: ‘We will find a way to continue, and present Bluesfest 2021’, he says. Mr Noble is sensitive to the global situation and the sentiment of the population right now: ‘People are feeling afraid and alone and uncertain. It’s a time when we all need to be available for close friends and family.’ The Future for Bluesfest is 1–5 April, 2021. With over half of this year’s artists committing to come back for next year’s event, the future looks bright!
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