For the creative & curious
A play of chance ARNOLD ZABLE
An astrologer, a religious scholar & a novelist walk into a bar... MYSTIC MED U SA, DR RAC HEL KO HN & MARIA L E W IS
Tony Gould Gallery, QPAC
Contents THIS EDITION OF STORY IS INSPIRED BY QPACâ€™S JANUARY TO JUNE 2018 PROGRAM
A PLAY OF CHANCE? AN INCANTATION
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
PAUL GRABOWSKY AO
LOST & FOUND
LOCUS OF LUCK
MYSTIC MEDUSA, DR RACHAEL KOHN & MARIA LEWIS
20 WORKING HIS MAGIC THOMAS SCHUMACHER
34 PERMANENT MARKER
52 SEEMS LIKE MAGICAL THINKING
THE THREE MATHEMATICIANS OF SERENDIP DR CLEMENCY MONTELLE
PROFESSOR JUDITH MCLEAN
58 BENEATH THE CONCRETE FRED LEONE
BEHIND THE SCENES
68 FIVE MINUTES WITH... SARAH MCLEOD
JARJUM'S LIFE MUSEUM
64 WHAT'S ON AT QPAC
Welcome Stor y is a magazine curated by QPAC for the creative and curious. Art is integral in our society. Often the focus is on how art makes us feel: inspired, uncomfortable, excited, challenged, relaxed. More than that, the arts help us to make sense of the world around us, to make sense of each other, to find meaning and help create harmonious communities. Learning through the arts enables students to discover and develop empathy, to be problem solvers able to think creatively and to be resilient. Inside these pages, and beyond through The Creatory, we bring together ideas, people, musings and moments so that we may know ourselves better, see others and imagine possible futures. I hope you enjoy this edition of Story.
John Kotzas Chief Executive QPAC
In this edition To consider the world in relation to serendipity
we happen to be on the planet. He references the
seems terribly exciting and terribly frightening
poetic incantations of words from his parents’
at the same time. On one hand you throw your
homeland and reminds us that even the subtlest
hands in the air with abandon, abdicate all
shift of the wind can alter our direction.
responsibility and let things fall where they will. Are the outcomes fortuitous or disastrous? Well it’s a matter of perspective is it not?
Australian pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky AO has not only asked the question about serendipity and improvisation
Then on the other hand, there’s the idea of
in jazz but has written a most amazing piece that
readiness. That lady luck could sidle right by as
reads like jazz sounds. He so skilfully stitches
you, oblivious, faff about in the murky tedium of
together writing and music making that when
your life. In fact, the idea that you need to be ready
I finished reading I was left feeling like I’d just
or open to receive luck suggests our good lady
emerged from the dim surrounds of a New York
could walk straight up to you, announce her arrival
basement jazz bar back onto a sunlit sidewalk.
and intent and, unless you were prepared, you’d miss her even then.
And then there’s Dr Clemency Montelle, a mathematician whose PhD research at Brown
Are we in control of our lives at all? In part? If not
University focused on original texts in the Exact
us, then who? Or indeed, what?
Sciences in Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, and
The QPAC program that is referenced in this edition of Story is heavy with ideas of tales from other times, fairy tales, magic and madness. Across all there is the sense that timing, happenstance and the human capacity to recognise it underpins the arc of all our lives. And so we are exploring serendipity. A wonderful collection of writers,
Cuneiform. Dr Montelle is an accomplished thinker whose research explores mathematical manuscripts from antiquity to consider how mathematical knowledge is transmitted between cultures. In her aptly titled The Three Mathematicians of Serendip, she reminds us that in all great discoveries there is something out of our control.
thinkers and artists have joined us to look at
Serendipity is a more nuanced creature than I
serendipity through many lenses – as a narrative
might have first imagined. In many ways it is the
device, in science, the magical coincidence of
intersection of belief, superstition, consciousness
fairy tales, strategy versus serendipity (free will
and privilege. Let us make the effort to look upon
versus determinism), in traditional Aboriginal
our everyday in anticipation and reflection, and
cultures and through the art forms of jazz and
recognise the moments of ordinary magic.
improvisation. In A Play of Chance?, Melbourne novelist, storyteller and human rights activist Arnold Zable considers the luck of where we are born and in what circumstances; the opportunities afforded to us according to the country, family and time in which
Rebecca Lamoin Editor
PAU L G R A B OW S K Y Professor Paul Grabowsky AO is a pianist, composer, conductor and occasional commentator on arts matters. He has been a significant contributor to the Australian jazz and contemporary music scene, with over twenty albums as a leader. He has composed the scores for over twenty feature films, working particularly with directors Paul Cox, Fred Schepisi and John Irvin. He has written several works for the stage, with commissions from Opera Australia, Opera Queensland and Victorian Opera. He founded the Australian Art Orchestra in 1994, and led it until 2013. He directed the Queensland Music Festival in 2007, and the Adelaide Festival in 2010 and 2012. His numerous awards include six ARIAs, the 2001 Sidney Myer Performing Artist of the Year and the 2007 Melbourne Prize for Music. Paul was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2014 and is the Executive Director of the Monash University Academy of Performing Arts.
RACHAEL KOHN Dr Rachael Kohn is a multi-award winning producer and presenter of religion programs for the ABC, including The Spirit of Things on Radio National which she created in 1997. She’s taught Religious Studies at The University of Sydney and in universities in Canada and Britain. She’s the author of The New Believers: Reimagining God and Curious Obsessions in the History of Science and Spirituality.
FRED LEONE Fred Leone was the former Guest Artistic Director of Black Arm Band’s world renowned show dirtsong (2015-2017) before the company closed its doors late last year. Fred is currently the Manager of Indigenous Arts Development at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and is on the National Indigenous Music Awards Indigenous Advisory Group. He is also a board member of Desert Pea Media Inc, an organisation whose objectives include creating high end media outcomes to educate audiences, advocating awareness of social and cultural issues and celebrating community and culture on a local, national and international level.
MARIA LEWIS Maria Lewis is an author, journalist and screenwriter based in Sydney, Australia. Getting her start as a police reporter, her writing on pop culture has appeared in publications such as the New York Post, The Guardian, Penthouse, Daily Mail, Empire magazine, Huffington Post and many more. Seen as a presenter on SBS Viceland’s nightly news program The Feed and as the host of Cleverfan on ABC, she has been a journalist for over 13 years. She’s the producer and host of the Eff Yeah Film and Feminism podcast. Her critically acclaimed debut novel Who's Afraid? was published in 2016, followed by its sequel Who’s Afraid Too? in 2017. Who’s Afraid? is being developed for television by the Emmy and BAFTA award-winning Hoodlum Entertainment.
The views expressed in Story are those of the individual authors and
JUDITH MCLEAN Professor Judith McLean is the Chair in Arts Education, a joint appointment between Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) where she holds the role of Scholar in Residence. Judith’s career is distinguished by her
breadth and diversity of experience as an arts educator, artist and cultural leader across Australia.
do not necessarily
She is currently a Director on the Board of Tourism and Events Queensland, and leads QUT’s
reflect the position
executive programs using arts-based practices in the corporate and government sectors.
As the lead singer/guitarist and primary songwriter for three-time ARIA Award winning rock
band The Superjesus, Sarah McLeod’s successful career began in the late 90s. When The Superjesus hiatus began in the early 2000s, Sarah’s solo career soared, solidifying her musical ability across a range of genre’s including hard rock, singer/songwriter, 50s & 60s barber shop
Rebecca Lamoin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
and electronica. Living in London and New York before returning to Australia to reform
Story Team Editorial:
The Superjesus to an overwhelming response, Sarah continues to uphold her reputation as a
Professor Judith McLean,
musical force, nominated for Frontman/Woman of The Year in Triple M’s 2015 Rockies Awards
Emily Philip, Andrea Huynh,
amidst heavyweights Dave Grohl and Jimmy Barnes. Sarah released her self-produced solo
Eleanor Price, En Rui Foo,
record Rocky's Diner in 2017 which debuted in the ARIA Top 20 albums chart.
Alexandra Flynn, Isabella Williams, Jasmine Ellem,
MYSTIC MEDUSA Mystic Medusa has written the weekly horoscopes for The Australian newspaper since 1997.
Maria Cleary, Bill Haycock. Digital Lead: Kim Harper. Creative & Design: Rumble.
She lives in inner-city Sydney with a melange of children and animals. A life-long vegetarian, her interests include dark matter, the Vestal Virgins of Ancient Rome, feng shui and (currently) Renaissance astrology. Her blog and website is mysticmedusa.com
Q PAC Chair Professor Peter Coaldrake AO
CLEMENCY MONTELLE Clemency is an associate professor at the school of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. She is a graduate from the
Deputy Chair Leigh Tabrett PSM Trustees Charles Berry, Dare Power, Susan Rix AM, Professor Chris Sarra, Leanne de Souza
Department of the History of Mathematics, Brown University, USA, which she completed
as Fulbright scholar. Her consideration of the mathematical achievements of early
Chief Executive: John Kotzas
cultures is carried out by the examination and analysis of primary source material in
Executive Director –
Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, Latin, and Cuneiform. Her first book, Chasing Shadows-Mathematics,
Astronomy, and the Early History of Eclipse Reckoning, focusing on the theoretical treatment of eclipse phenomena in the ancient world, was recently published by Johns Hopkins University Press. She is currently immersed in an international project on the history of
Strategy: Jackie Branch Executive Director – Visitation:
mathematical astronomy in Sanskrit sources supported by a five-year Rutherford Discovery
Fellowship awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand. Her work involves travelling to
Executive Director – Business
India to locate Sanskrit manuscripts, reading the mathematics they include, and making
Performance: Kieron Roost
their contents available to the scholarly world and beyond.
Acting Executive Director – Curatorial: Bill Jessop
SANDI WOO Sandi Woo is a Brisbane-based independent producer, dance artist, community development facilitator and teaching artist. For over 20 years, Sandi has worked in the arts
Story is published with the
industry both as a freelancer and within established organisations in Western Australia,
generous support of Dr Cathryn
New South Wales and now Queensland. Most recently Sandi has worked with Philip
Channels and Gavin Webber on an inclusive project (No Difference); as a teaching artist on QPAC’s season of The Royal Ballet and Micah Projects community project We All Dance, as Producer for Annette Carmichael (Denmark, WA) and as the Regional Dance Consultant for Ausdance Qld. Sandi believes in the power of the creative process to reflect, learn, and observe ourselves in daily life.
ARNOLD ZABLE Arnold Zable is an Australian writer, novelist, storyteller and human rights advocate. His books include Jewels and Ashes, Cafe Scheherazade, The Fig Tree, Scraps of Heaven, Sea of Many Returns, Violin Lessons, and most recently, The Fighter. He has published numerous features, essays, and stories in a range of journals and anthologies, and writes a column in The Age titled, ‘Philoxenia’ Friend of the Stranger. In 2013, Arnold received the Voltaire Prize for human rights advocacy, and was recently awarded the 2017 Australia Council Fellowship for Literature.
Brief ly NEWS & VIEWS MAKING HEADLINES IN THE ARTS WORLD
ART VERSUS ARTIST When a celebrity or artist’s star implodes, why is it so difficult to separate the person from their work? Or as Claire Dederer framed the dilemma in The Paris Review… “what do we do with the art of monstrous men?” This issue came back to the fore in 2017 when first
CHALLENGING OR EXPLOITATION?
celebrities, actors, producers and stars were accused of
An issue eliciting a lot of controversy is using animals in art,
harassment, bullying, intimidation, using power… crime
or sometimes, using animals as art. You may recall Hobart’s
and misconduct in varying degrees. Some of the accused
Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) weathering a public
were dropped by companies, by their publicity teams, by
relations storm when they programmed Austrian
their friends. Some had TV shows and movies cancelled
Hermann Nitsch’s 150 Action work for their Dark Mofo
and contracts terminated. The wave of outing people
festival. 150 Action was described as a three hour ‘bloody
abusing their power and positon did not stay isolated to
sacrificial ritual’ performance piece. It was widely protested.
the entertainment industry nor to the United States.
Recently, the Art and China After 1989: Theatre of the World
When the man in question is an artist or producer, what
exhibition in New York’s Guggenheim Museum was pulled
do you do with the art? Can the creator and work be
after staff and the artists received death threats. That
separated? Thousands of column inches and watercooler
exhibition featured videos of pit bull dogs restrained and
chats have circled and skewered the debate raising
set against one another on treadmills and pigs mating in
questions and exposing the nuance in dilemmas like
front of an audience (it should be noted that the original
“can I still consume the art if the artist is dead and there’s
exhibition in China had the artworks live rather than in
no economic gain?”, “what if the artist’s body of work is
video form). The Guggenheim decided it wasn’t worth
so significant it’s been genre changing?”, “do I apply a
the fallout to continue with the show and so removed the
different response based on the behaviour, sexual abuse
works citing “concern for the safety of its staff, visitors and
is not the same as strangely disgusting behaviour”…
and many, many more.
There is frequently a fine line between art that is challenging
What do you think? What have you done?
and exploitation. When the Story editorial team came together to discuss this news story, an entire editorial meeting was hijacked by topics such as: censorship, animal rights, the rights of the artist, what even is art? In the end, we couldn’t really pinpoint what it was that was making us feel so strongly and so differently about this topic. And when you think about it, maybe that right there is the point after all: art isn’t meant to solve anything. Art is many things and how we react to art is a constantly changing tableau: it opens us up, challenges us, it can be a reflection, a rabbit hole, validation. Does whether or not we like or dislike something matter less than the feeling it provokes? On this, our team had many feelings.
Harvey Weinstein and then a slew of Hollywood
TO BREAK OR NOT TO BREAK? Time is precious. It’s finite. We only get 24 hours each day, and of that we are likely sleeping and working (in whatever capacity – office, home, stage) for a large portion of it. The leftover bits of time we scrape together and usually try and use it to do what makes us happy. Recently, there’s been a bit of a debate amongst arts critics about the use of intervals and intermissions during live performance. On the one hand – going to the theatre is a big night out so why not make the most of it. Have an extra drink at the bar and perhaps a sneaky ice cream. On the other – who has three plus hours on a weeknight to spend immersed in the theatre? Then there’s the restroom excuse: we need an intermission because we can’t sit still long enough anymore. We need the bathroom. We need to ‘hydrate’. We need to check our urgent notifications and check in on the babysitter. Our attention has been shot – phones beeping, social media check in withdrawals, constant stories telling us sitting is the new smoking. In reality, most blockbuster movies are quite lengthy these days. So if audiences can make it through the latest Marvel creation at the local cinema on the weekend, surely they can sit through a live performance.
ALL IN THE HEAD
FAKING IT Despite the massive impact of digital, for the most part live performance is still exactly that – you have to be there to experience it. There’s no catch-up function, rewind, pause, rescheduling. You’re there or you’re not. And so one of the perennial problems, especially for the big gigs and internationally-renowned acts and superstars, is a paucity of tickets. Even if there are many available, say a stadium full, demand may outstrip supply. Enter, the resellers. Years ago we called them scalpers and held to a stereotypical image of a trench-coated shady figure lurking outside the entrance to a stadium helpfully offering ‘extra’ tickets, for a usually inflated price. Those who missed out at the box office might try their luck and purchase from the scalper.
It is a well-documented truth that listening to music can help improve mental health. In a rather cruel ironic twist,
Today, the same concept remains but the technology is
it is our musicians who are more likely to suffer from poor
different. You don’t have to wait to find someone on the
mental health. There could be a range of reasons – late
corner hawking tickets; the internet brings the tickets to
night gigs, busy touring schedules, alcohol and/or drug
you. And sometimes, the show doesn’t even have to be sold
dependencies, poor pay… a recent study in the UK found
out before inflated-price tickets are available online. Buyer
that more than 70% of professional musicians suffered
beware: not all of these tickets are created equal… some
from depression and anxiety. An Australian study suggested
might be ‘genuine’ tickets that have been resold several
that musicians are 10 times more likely than those in the
times, leaving more than one person trying to sit on one
general population to face mental health issues. Which
seat; some might never have been authentic to begin with;
really does beg the question about why, if music makes
and some, they’re just plain expensive.
us feel so good, can it be making the makers feel so bad? To learn more about spotting a fake and buying with At the 2017 BIGSOUND, Australia’s biggest music
confidence head to qpac.com.au/the-facts-about-
conference, musicians opened up about their mental health
in the hopes of destigmatising the subject and helping musicians find the support they need to stop the cycle. If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline on 13 11 14 Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
DISCOVER MORE STORIES AND READ RELATED ARTICLES AT QPAC.COM.AU/STORY
A PLAY of CHANCE?
BY ARNOLD ZABLE I hear them in the distant kitchen from my bedroom, my
I lived in two worlds back then. My parents were busy
parents, Hadassah and Meier, and their old-world friends,
making a new life in a new world, working in factories
their voices a murmur, their conversation interwoven with
and at a stall in the Victoria Market. Out in the streets,
an incantation: Orly. Bialystok. Bransk. Grodek.
we roamed free. Clambered over the cracked tiled roofs. Placed penny-bungers in letter boxes on Guy Fawkes
We lived in a rented single-fronted terrace, 387 Canning
night, lit the wick, and scrammed. Squeezed through
Street, North Carlton. My parents paid a fortune in ‘key
the gap in the iron palings that enclosed the Melbourne
money’ to the previous renter, to get a foot through the
Cemetery – the dead centre of Melbourne we called it.
door. That is how it was in the 1950s and 60s, with the
Played a game we called ‘walking on air’. The aim was to
rundown worker-cottages of the inner suburbs close to the
get from one side of the cemetery to the other without
factory districts in high demand, immigrants pouring in,
touching the ground.
In the house, it was another world. Another way
balmy Saturday night in Bialystok in the summer of
of being. English was my parents’ sixth language.
1932: Hadassah and Meier strolling on Sienkiewicza
Yiddish was the mother tongue, a language
Avenue, Kondruchuk the White Russian selling ice-
interlaced with that incantation: Orly. Bialystok.
cream, the crowds queuing at the Apollo Cinema,
Bransk. Grodek. Over there, in the old world, Meier
the Macedonian Quarters doing a brisk trade in
was a Yiddish poet, and Hadassah, a singer
halva and Turkish Delight. And as if from afar,
of Yiddish song.
Meier hears Hadassah’s voice: “How would you like to live in Melbourne? My sister Feigl can arrange a
In the new world, her voice was confined to the
permit.” At that moment, Meier was jolted from the
house. She sang as she cleaned and cooked,
crowd and thrust in a new direction. He saw oceans
and sat at the Singer sewing machine doing
appearing, new worlds on the horizon.
piecework for the hosiery mills of Brunswick and the garment district of Flinders Lane. She
Meier told me the story, and many others, on
sang in the washhouse, bent over the stone sink,
a bench in Curtain Square, the neighbourhood
her forehead dripping with sweat. Lullabies and
park in North Carlton. Seated on our favourite
laments, songs of gypsies and miraculous goats,
place, beneath the Moreton Bay Figs. 1987. I had
ballads of work and struggle, songs of birch trees
recently returned from a three-month journey to
and forests of pine in the much-loved ancestral
the borderland towns and villages: Orly. Bialystok.
landscape – the east Poland borderlands.
Bransk. Grodek. I had walked the streets, the landscapes of Hadassah’s songs, Meier’s poems,
Father would say: “I was born in Russia in 1905, a
and returned with the maps of their youth and
year of revolution, and by the time I was thirteen
I’d lived in three countries and gone nowhere.” It depended on which army marched into town. Now
The maps opened a Pandora’s box of stories, a new
in Australia, ek velt as my parents called it, the ends
conversation. A mention of a specific street would
of the earth – all that remained was that incantation,
trigger many tales. What struck me about the tales
and a house of absences and ghosts. Black and white
was the apparent workings of chance, the fragility.
photos in albums.
The role of luck: “I was lucky that I stood under that tree when the bombs fell. My best friend under that
“Mum, who are these people?” I’d ask. “Three of
tree, he was killed. And I survived.”
my six sisters, one of my three brothers, uncle Joshua, your grandmother, and your cousins Freda,
I have heard countless variations of this sentiment
eight years old, and Chaimke, fourteen.” “Where are
over the years. From my parents, their old-world
they now?” For this there was no answer. Hadassah
friends, and more recently, from refugees and
could not speak of what had befallen them. Just two
asylum seekers of many lands who have attempted
sisters remained of the entire extended family.
to make it to our shores.
On father’s side, it appeared, there was no one alive, bar a brother who had disappeared in Soviet Russia,
Take Amal Basry, one of over 400 asylum seekers
last heard of in 1930.
who boarded a vessel on 18 October, 2001 bound for their dream destination, Australia. The boat sank
Why were my parents alive while so many others
the following day en route to Christmas Island.
vanished? Was it fate? The toss of a coin? Was it that
353 men, women and children drowned.
45 survived. Amal Basry was one of seven who was finally
The shadow of loss reaches out to succeeding generations.
allowed to settle in Australia. She survived the sinking by
“Fate is so fragile, a mere straw on the breeze.” I have
clinging to a corpse for over 20 hours.
written these words before. I carry this sense of things within me. Perhaps it is a form of possession. In Jewish
Did she truly survive? There were times when Amal
mythology, a dybbuk is the dislocated soul of a dead
saw herself as cursed, and duty-bound to tell the story.
person seeking a living being to inhabit. It derives from
She recounted it many times – at public gatherings,
a Hebrew word, meaning to adhere, or to cling. This
to an audience of more than 2,000 at the Melbourne
sense of fragility, and the fickle ways of chance is,
Town Hall, to anyone willing to listen. She would leave
perhaps, my personal dybbuk. Maybe a trace of the
her sick bed after bouts of chemotherapy to tell the
survivor’s guilt that plagued Hadassah to the point of
story. She was haunted by what had befallen her. “The
madness, also adheres to me.
children,” she told me, “They looked like birds. They looked like they are going to fly in the water.” In a cruel
Hadassah did not deserve her agony. She did everything
irony, she died of cancer a year after finally receiving her
she could to obtain a way out, a visa for members of her
family. She knocked on doors, pleaded with immigration officials. But it was too late. The
Take former Hazara refugee, Arif Fayazi. I first met him in December 2000, recently released from Woomera Detention Centre, where he was called by the number CAI-20. Arif fled Afghanistan in fear of his life, leaving behind a wife and three young children. He would walk the streets at night, unable to sleep, agonised by the separation. In 2002, he received the news that two of his children had died of illness. “I was born with teeth,” he would tell me. “In my culture this means I am
The children... they looked like birds. They looked like they are going to fly
doors of the new world were sealed. Amal too was afflicted by this sense of unease at her good fortune. Possessed. Condemned over and again to relive the tragedy. Perhaps we all need to be possessed of this understanding. Hence more alert to the plight of others still caught in limbo, mid-journey. Sailors and nomadic peoples know it well, that with just one shift in the wind, you and I can be the stranger, in desperate need of shelter. Sanctuary.
destined to be unlucky.” Take the men marooned on
in the water
Manus Island, four years and
This is the reason island and desert peoples often possess cultures of receiving the stranger. First the
still counting. I ask Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish-Iranian
stranger is greeted and fed, and given a roof over their
writer, detained on the island since August 2013: What do
head. Only then are they asked to tell their story.
the men think about their predicament? “It is a very hard question,” he replies. “Many of the refugees think they
This process is built into the structure of the Odyssey.
are very unlucky people to end up on this remote island.
Odysseus is washed up naked, on Scheria, the island of
The question tortures them.”
the Phaeacians. He is discovered by princess Nausicaä, and her handmaidens. She directs Odysseus to the royal
Behrouz too has agonised over it. “I started my journey
capital. At play is an ancient conflict, between hospitality
from Indonesia on 16 July, 2013. I always think about it,
and hostility – between xenophobia, literally ‘fear of the
and ask myself: What if the boat did not get lost and I
stranger’, and philoxenia, ‘friend of the stranger’.
arrived before 19 July? But we arrived 23 July, four days after the new law was passed. We were the unlucky ones, caught by this sudden change in policy.”
Artwork by Saeed, as part of Refugee Art Project
In the real-life journeys of contemporary asylum seekers, there are no guarantees of a happy ending On Scheria, philoxenia finally prevails.
The Odyssey echoes other ancient
Only after Odysseus’ basic needs have
framing stories such as the Arabian
been taken care of does King Alcinous
Nights. Scheherazade tells stories for
rise at the welcoming banquet, and ask:
1001 nights to save her life. She must keep the king enthralled by yet another
Homer, the legendary Greek author, is best known for his
And now, speak and tell us truly, where
story, another twist in the plot, another
have you been in your wanderings?
delay. Only when her storytelling is
Odyssey. The Odyssey focuses on
Which parts of the inhabited world
done, is the threat of imminent death
the journey home of Odysseus,
have you visited? What lovely cities
removed. Similarly, after a 20 year
king of Ithaca, after the fall of
did you see, what people in them? Did
absence from Ithaca, Odysseus finally
you meet hostile tribes with no sense of
makes it ashore on the beloved island.
right or wrong, or did you fall in with hospitable and god fearing people?
creation of modern time”.
The shifts in the plot are not decided
quest, driven by a longing to return
by Aladdin’s magic lantern, a genie, or
to the homeland. Blind Homer, the
by the Gods debating Odysseus’ fate on
storyteller is in control. He sings the tale
Mount Olympus. Nor is it, as in fairy
night after night. The hero is delayed
tales, a matter of serendipity – the fact of
and distracted. He encounters monsters,
finding, or stumbling upon good fortune
sirens, is caught on raging seas. His boats
by chance. In real-life the outcome can
are tantalisingly within reach of Ithaca
be unfair, unjust and brutal.
hands of the storyteller.
television series The Simpsons, was
contemporary asylum seekers, there are no guarantees of a happy ending.
fate is in their hands, and in turn, in the
character from the animated
Times as “the greatest comic
framing stories, a prototype of the hero’s
Homer also defers to the gods. Odysseus’
Troy. Homer Simpson, fictional
But in the real-life journeys of
The Odyssey is one of the great ancient
are blown back by malevolent winds.
epic poems the Iliad and the
described by Britain’s The Sunday
when, due to the greed of his men, they Six men have already died on Manus Island from murder, suicide, medical neglect and accident. They will never see the promised shore. After four and a half years of incarceration, for most detainees there is still no end in sight. Their statelessness has become chronic.
2. S TO RY H U M A N I S E S
According to American writer Joan Didion “we tell ourselves stories in order to live”.
The men’s fate is beyond the storyteller’s control. It is a
The most powerful storytellers are the refugees
matter of daring to embark on the journey, as my mother
themselves. They are the authorities of their own quest
did as the storm clouds of war were gathering.
and story. They are living it. Behrouz Boochani, among others, continues to bear witness from the inside: in film,
It may be a visceral and immediate response to a knock on
social media posts, feature articles, and countless stories.
the door in the dead of night, and a warning, the enemy is here and they are looking for you. This is how it was
Yet despite the nightmare, Bechrouz resists reducing
for Arif Fayazi. Or it may be the slow-burn of years of
life to a play of chance. “I do not think it’s fate or luck,"
oppression as it was for Amal Basry and her family. Life is
he says. "It is a part of life, and life is full of these kinds
full of these kinds of fates. I think it is best to accept and
of fates. I think it is best to accept and understand that
understand that anything can happen.
anything can happen in life.”
It is often a political affair. The plot can sometimes be
Behrouz has earnt the right to say it. He knows at the
shifted by activism and resistance. Indeed, as of writing,
core of his being, the deeper truth: refugees and asylum
about 600 men on Manus Island, have barricaded
seekers will always keep coming. He knows that they are
themselves in the former detention centre in a
us, and we are them.
desperate bid to secure their safety and freedom.
The dream of a better life is as old as humanity, and
But while the storyteller cannot control the real-life story,
history is an endless tale of quests and movement. Ours
she can certainly tell it. The story, and its dissemination,
is a country that has faced wave upon wave of newcomers.
remains critical. Story is a powerful tool of the advocate.
Wave is an apt word, with its resonance of ceaseless
Story humanises. It is an intimate art form. It seeks to
rhythms, ever-recurring cycles of retreats and advances.
counter indifference, and policies designed to keep the
Incantations: Orly. Bialystok. Bransk. Grodek.
oppressed out of sight, and hence out of mind. Story can highlight the fact that there, for the luck of the draw, go I. Story can reveal the nightmare and the ongoing drama of statelessness.
T H E M A N G A N I YA R SEDUCTION
SONGS OF HOPE AND HEALING
OUT OF THE BOX F E S T I VA L - T H E A R R I VA L
1 – 2 Ma rc h 2 0 1 8
2 7 Marc h 2018
26 Ju n e – 7 Ju ly 2018
Co n c e rt Hall, QPAC
C o n ce rt H a ll, QPAC
P layhou se , QPAC
SH AUN TAN
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Working His Magic Thomas Schumacher could tell you a story about almost any famous person you care to name (and is particularly effusive on the joy and wit that is Julie Andrews). He is President of Disney Theatrical Group, the arm of The Walt Disney Company responsible for stage productions. Schumacher has been with the company since 1988 working across film, television, animation and theatre and has overseen exquisite and enormously popular stage productions including The Lion King, Peter and the Starcatcher, Newsies, Aladdin and dozens of animated works such as Lilo & Stitch, Tarzan and Mulan. A California boy turned New Yorker, Schumacher is a fierce advocate for arts education and last December took on the role of Chairman of the Broadway League. With the most successful musical of all time on his list of achievements, a life that would make a fabulous movie and a 30 year career inside the magic kingdom, what does he think about serendipity?
THIS IDEA OF SERENDIPITY... Don’t you actually think that, somewhere deep, we’re going to find out that
whenever our passage happens, that what we call ‘serendipity’, is actually life!
Bunraku is the traditional puppet
That’s the reason why serendipity runs through myth, through legend and lore,
theatre of Japan. Bunraku
why it’s passed on from culture to culture. It’s why everything that we do in the
puppets are about half human
arts, and primarily what we share as humanity around the world is the arts. No
size and each is operated by three
matter where we were born, no matter where we come from, no matter what epoch we live in, that serendipity runs through it. MEETING JULIE TAYMOR AND UNDERSTANDING JAVANESE ROD PUPPETRY… I keep thinking, wondering, that if it would be revealed to us why things happen.
performers. There are no strings, and puppeteers cooperate to maneuver the limbs, eyelids, eyeballs, eyebrows and mouths of the puppets to produce life-like actions and facial expressions.
Why did I grow up loving puppets? Why did I study puppetry at UCLA where I was then able to go into a deep dive about international puppetry? 2. PIXAR
And then 20 years later, I meet Julie Taymor and then 10 years after that I decide
Pixar was originally started as a
to ask her to direct The Lion King. It meant she and I could bond over, not the idea
division of Lucasfilm in 1979. The
of puppetry, but the literal mechanics of an Indonesian shadow puppet versus a
division was generically named
Javanese rod puppet versus Bunraku puppets. Actually, I was with Julie two days ago. I am so crazy about her and she is a giant thinker and a fantastic collaborator. I have found in my career, over and over and over again, that the people I met, people I’d thought about, ideas that I had come back to, that these things are
Computer Graphics Division. In 1986, Steve Jobs bought Computer Graphics Division from George Lucas for $5 million and renamed it Pixar. In 2006, Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion.
becoming themes in our lives that interlink with someone else. What we call serendipity may, in fact, have some larger meaning. I just wonder about that. ARTISTIC COLLABORATION, CHANCE AND HAPPENSTANCE… I would argue that’s the same of my relationship with John Lasseter who founded Pixar. John and I met through a mutual friend who has since passed away, an artist named Joe Ranft; a Disney artist who was on my first film Rescuers Down Under set here in Australia which brought me to this glorious country for the very first time in 1988. Joe came with me on that trip and we made that movie. Joe had gone to college with John Lasseter and went on to work with Tim Burton and John on The Nightmare Before Christmas, which I also oversaw. I had this close relationship with Joe Ranft, and at the time John Lasseter was very spooked about coming back to Disney because the whole thing had changed since he’d been animator there. But Joe said, “oh, you have to meet Tom Schumacher”. So anyway, the fact that I had asked Joe Ranft to be the head of story on Rescuers, and bonded together in Australia – literally canoeing through Katherine Gorge here in Queensland – somehow led to Joe telling John, “you can come to work at Disney… you will find these people inviting”. So you can argue there’s a serendipity of Joe and I on a canoe going through Katherine Gorge that gets Pixar to come to Disney. Right? I think it underlies everything.
Then there’s Barry Cook. Barry Cook is an artist that nobody talks about, who I think is brilliant. He was one of the directors and a real life force on a movie called Mulan that I love. There was an idea on the table to make this movie about a young Chinese woman and none
Comedian Barry Humphries created the ocker character
of us were happy with the idea – she gets rescued by some white guy
Barry McKenzie (nephew of
and something on the Yangtze river. It’s like, what is that saying? And it
Dame Edna Everage) and was
was really just Barry thinking about his life as a father and about what
played by singer Barry Crocker.
would he want a daughter to see which led to the idea of Mulan, who
Perhaps this trio of Barrys
doesn’t pursue anything in that movie for self-service. She does it all, truly, truly, heroically – sacrificing herself and 'saving China'. I love
contributed to Australia being the country where the name peaked highest in popularity.
everything that movie stands for, about empowering young women about being able to follow your own voice. Although I think it is interesting people never think about the artists who are behind those stories. TRUST, OPENNESS AND THE BIRTH OF LILO… Chris Sanders created the story on Mulan and then went on to create Lilo & Stitch. There was this time, all of us in animation wanted to make
An Italian named Leonardo Polverelli, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest karaoke marathon, which lasted a total of 101 hours 59 minutes and 15 seconds. He sang 1,295
our Dumbo. And Dumbo – most people who don’t work in film don’t
songs for four days straight at
realise – was following on from Snow White and Pinocchio and Fantasia,
the Astra Caffe, Pesaro, Italy.
all these hugely detailed and expensive movies. Dumbo was the idea of two guys, Dick Huerner and Joe Grant, who I knew very, very well. In fact, we brought Dick back to Disney as an elderly man during my time at animation. They wanted to make a movie that was simple. A very simple tale but also very simply animated.
5 . WA L T D I S N E Y
Walt Disney’s 5 December birthday makes him a Sagittarius. Ruled by Jupiter and represented
And so we were all at a retreat, we said our generation should make our
by the archer, Sagittarius is
Dumbo and everyone said, “yes, we’re going to do that”. I was president
adventurous, optimistic and
of Disney Animation at the time and decided Chris Sanders should be
considered the luckiest sign of
the one to do that. We all loved Chris and his inventions. I went to him and said, “you’re going to make this movie”, and that was in Florida. I said “I’m going to come back in two weeks and you’re going to have an idea because I know you already have one”. And two weeks later, I was back in Florida because one of our animations studios was there and I took him to a karaoke restaurant at 7 o’clock and the singing would start at 9pm. I said, “Chris, you’re going to tell me your idea for our generation’s Dumbo or you’re going to have to get up and sing at karaoke”. And to my great good fortune, he really did not want to sing. He reached out and he drew. We’d started talking about the idea of Lilo & Stitch and then he actually drew a picture of a Lilo on the paper table cloth. There was a little red wine spill on the table that he used for rouge on her cheeks and it’s hanging on my wall at home because it was the birth of that. That idea, of a moment in time. There needs to be a catalytic event, and whether that catalytic event grows out of serendipity or that the conditions of the catalytic event grew out of serendipity, I think that’s a really valuable thing – the fragility of the arts.
the zodiac. Thrill seekers, they’re always looking for new ideas, people and places.
WALT DISNEY, CREATING NEW WORLDS
Walt went to a funfair and it wasn’t as fun as he wanted
AND TELLING STORIES…
it to be. Today we bandy about the term ‘theme park’,
Well, a curious thing you know, I do have the same birth date as Walt Disney. I know, it’s crazy. I was born on Walt Disney’s birthday. But by the way, for clarity, I was also born on the same day that a very famous American General named George Custer led the battle of Little Bighorn River. He underestimated the mighty strength of the native peoples of America and was slaughtered for his arrogance, his hubris and his ignorance. I’m mindful that I wish to be more like Walt Disney and less like
but it was Walt Disney who said the attraction, the ride, if you will, will be more fun if it has narrative, if you can tap into that story. That idea of narrative ran through everything he touched and whether he was a great futurist – yes he loved nostalgia – he also wasn’t afraid of scaring children, he wasn’t afraid of a challenge, he wasn’t afraid that you would think the mountain was too high and too hard. Even with the Casey Jr. Circus Train climbing that hill chanting, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”.
I personally never met Walt. He died in 1966 when I
When you think back on Walt as a storyteller, it’s a
was nine. Walt was a big thinker and what he did was to
curious thing because Walt began as an artist drawing
inspire how so many artists work. I don’t think people
all these short films and simple stories. And then Walt
even realise how often they are tapping into something
took his deep dive into storytelling by making the first feature-length animated movie. He created Snow White and it was the first time anyone had thought you could draw 24 frames a second. But the big thing that changed
that is maybe in their DNA, but certainly it’s a kind of primal thinking, that they have actually learnt from some application of Walt’s artistry.
the world wasn’t animated film making. It was Walt’s idea that entertainment required narrative.
DISNEY’S ALADDIN – THE MUSICAL Fro m 20 Fe b r u ar y 2018
BARRY HUMPHRIES: THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK
Ly ric T he a t re , QPAC
10 May 2018 Conce rt H a ll , QPAC
LOCUS OF LUCK
An astrologer, a religious scholar and a novelist walk into a barâ€Ś.
Mystic Medusa Australia’s most well-known astro-mystic advisor. Blogger, author and legend. IS THERE SUCH A THING AS GOOD LUCK AND BAD LUCK? Yes, but I see it more as optimal circumstances and adverse circumstances. In astrology, there are planetary cycles that are easeful and that promote growth. There are also phases that may feel more restrictive but are really about consolidation and maturing. Synchronicity is also a factor; there are times when things come together in such a way that it really does seem beyond the random or anything coincidental. I think that it is possible to get onto a loop or a frequency in which certain energy within you keeps attracting more of what IT likes and that you can take practical steps to clear and free up energy to make this beneficial. So many modalities are based off some version of this concept – a vital force animating everything, Quantum Matter, Qi, Prana and so forth. The same force that moves the particles between us moves the planet. In Feng Shui, the Five Element Cycle does not speak of luck at all but of Qi, which can be growing or stagnating and so forth. What we might call ‘bad luck’, the Confucian philosophers would call something like ‘stagnant Qi’.
WHEN ARE WE MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE SERENDIPITY? When we are in Flow state or have cultivated our intuition to the same extent as our more logical mind attributes. But again, I think it is more synchronicity or rather, meaningful coincidence. I do think that certain strong Mercury phases are linked to it; Mercury being the Trickster and the God of Communication, the Messenger. Interestingly, both the words ‘catastrophe’ and ‘disaster’ mean ‘against the stars’.
Dr Rachael Kohn Host of ABC Radio National’s The Spirit of Things. Writer and religious studies expert. IS WHAT WE COMMONLY CALL SERENDIPITY REALLY GOD AT WORK? A grand design, religiously imagined, never leaves anything to chance. It is all coded somewhere in deep matter and in the metaphysical mind of God, the classic position of believers in a creator God. So when things happen to someone of faith, it is sure to be accepted as divine providence, even when it is unpleasant and is thought to be ‘undeserved’. That is a mature view, however, the young in faith impatiently look to material rewards for good behaviour as signs of God. But that is a mug’s game. Two thousand years ago, the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible put paid to that simplistic equation, when it chronicled the litany of sufferings of the righteous believer, Job. There was a deeper spiritual lesson to be learned about where God is to be found. Even so, the materialist urge is a hard habit to break and people regularly read into serendipitous occurrences, like picking a lucky lotto number, as proof of God at work. It is institutionalised in the claims of the ‘prosperity gospel.’ But you don’t have to be Christian to make the connection. The post-Christian Jungian analysts, who combine religion and psychology, use the concept of ‘synchronicity’ to lend profound paranormal meaning to the coincidence of events.
HOW DO FAITH AND LUCK INTERSECT? There is no cultural tradition more wedded to luck than the Chinese. Belief in good luck symbols and the seven lucky gods, in the laughing Buddha and the lucky cat, the money tree and in propitious numbers, six (for business), eight (for wealth) and nine (for long life), are central to the Chinese outlook on life. To be Chinese is not only to believe in these talismans but to ensure that they are placed around you and are respected. In a shop selling Chinese artefacts, I was perplexed to see shelves lined with bright green sculptures of the napa cabbage placed artfully on rosewood stands. Its name in Mandarin is homophonous with the words for hundred and wealth, and is therefore sure to bring one prosperity for hundreds of years. The unapologetic belief in the power of these objects to bring luck also means that any good fortune that one accrues is attributed to them. But it is also true that such a focus on fortune and luck has lent the Chinese a legendary love of gambling, which, unfortunately, is rarely a path to wealth. 1. Qi
In traditional Chinese medicine
Qi is the vital life force within the body. It’s also a great way
Co-host and producer of Eff Yeah Film & Feminism podcast.
to score upwards of 11 points in
Journalist, author and screenwriter.
IN STORYTELLING, WHEN DOES SERENDIPITY AS A TOOL TO ADVANCE PLOT GO TOO FAR/BECOME UNBELIEVABLE?
In Chinese the number 4 is considered bad luck because it is
Serendipity is a tricky one, because how it is utilised and how effective that
also nearly homophonous to the
can be varies wildly depending on the story that’s being told. In genre tales, for
word ‘death’. Some buildings in
instance, serendipity is often the driving force for pushing the main character out the front door and kicking off the adventure. From science fiction and horror, to magical realism and crime thrillers, it’s a device used often – and usually – used well.
East Asia omit floors and room numbers containing 4, similar to the Western practice of some buildings not having a 13th floor because 13 is considered unlucky.
It’s serendipity, in a way, that leads Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter to first cross paths and serendipity again – albeit in a completely different type of story – that sees Steve Trevor wash up on the island of Themyscira and into the path of Diana, putting her on the course to become Wonder Woman. Although it is effective as a story catalyst, the more it’s used the less impactful and less believable it becomes. This is often the downfall of repurposed fairy tales, with devices soon becoming overused clichés or tropes. Take Twilight, for instance, where the line between serendipity and stalking becomes blurry. In contrast, the Harry Potter series patiently built a world that has a combination of serendipitous encounters and good or bad luck, depending on how you viewed it.
3. HANNIBAL LECTER
In The Silence of the Lambs, serial killer Hannibal Lecter has an eidetic memory… more commonly referred to as a photographic memory.
WHY IS A HISTORY OF BAD LUCK SUCH A USEFUL BACKSTORY FOR FLAWED CHARACTERS, ESPECIALLY VILLAINS AND CRIMINALS? There’s a famous quote by J.R.R. Tolkien, I believe, that goes something along the lines of, “a villain always believes they’re the hero in their story”. I think what he’s trying to say is the best villains believe in what they’re doing. They’re pursuing their goals with conviction and motivation. They’re not just evil for evil's sake. The greatest of the great baddies across the spectrum of pop culture – whether that be movies, books, graphic novels, television, poetry, theatre – have reasons for doing what they’re doing and those reasons are usually informed by circumstance. In the same way Batman never becomes Batman without his parents being gunned down in front of him as a nine year old boy, Darth Vader doesn’t become the darkest force in the galaxy without suffering several significant losses (from the horrific torture and death of his mother, to the passing of his wife). A history of bad luck often defines our heroes and heroines, yet it also defines our villains. Aaron Burr wouldn’t be the man standing on the other side of the duelling grounds from Alexander Hamilton if it wasn’t for taking offence to perceived slights: his string of bad luck, he believes, is the direct result of Hamilton. While the protagonists make certain choices that set them on a particular path, so too do the villains. Think about the difference between Buffy and Faith, for instance. Often those choices vary wildly from the ones heroes would make, but not always. Take Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. Both Dr Victor Frankenstein and his creature could be considered the villain or hero, depending on who you’re rooting for. The audience also understands intimately the choices that have led them to this point and the rippling effects bad luck – or fate, as some might call it – have had on their lives.
RICHARD O’BRIEN’S THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW From 17 January 2018 Concert Hall, QPAC
What just happened? The serendipitous moment in jazz B Y PA U L G R A B O W S K Y A O
The word serendipity, from its
I must have heard that recording more than
coinage by Horace Walpole in
excites me through its marriage of elegance and
1754, has always had the sense
perhaps any other single record, and it still swagger, taste and intelligence, structure and risk. At the beginning of the title track, Miles
of a felicitous conjunction of
plays the famous first phrase of the melody, but
events by chance.
of a Chet Baker, he tears a hole in the air, climbs
far from crooning it with the world-weariness angrily into the upper register, before sinking
This delight in and of the unexpected is well
finally into a place of dark despair. The ebb and
known to improvisers, but Iâ€™m hesitant, as you
flow of an unbridled anguish of the heart takes
will soon read, to ascribe too great a significance
the abstracted lyric of the song into the realm of
to it, as I feel it somehow puts too much
tragedy; perhaps only Billie Holiday could match
weight on something so vague as to be almost
it sob for sob. The bandâ€™s responses: the dignified,
supernatural, while perhaps undervaluing the
reduced accompaniment of pianist Herbie
extreme discipline that lies behind successful
Hancock, the tenderness in the understatement of
bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, take this performance into the realm of the
Iâ€™ve always been drawn to the music of
sublime. When the band finally settles into one
Miles Davis. In 1964, his quintet played a concert
of its effortlessly lithe grooves, the audience
at Philharmonic Hall in New York, recorded live
spontaneously applauds, relieved that they have
and released originally on two LPs. One,
made the passage from loneliness to optimism.
My Funny Valentine features mainly ballads.
I have asked myself so many times: how is it possible that
music, and thus to a perhaps greater degree than more
improvisation can reach these heights of supreme logic and
formal, predetermined musical situations, at the mercy of
clarity? Is it merely serendipitous that the instincts of these
chance. It is also a music that arose out of a cultural matrix
men defied the odds to produce a document of such lasting
in which the African slave diaspora played a leading role, and
perfection on this one particular evening, magically captured
thus proposes powerful counter-narratives to the teleology
by the Columbia recording engineers?
of Western art music.
Music exerts an attraction to those who love it that is very
It is tempting to become excited about the possibilities of a
hard to pinpoint. It causes obscure reactions: tears well,
music dominated by an unknown, by chance intersections
heads shake, feet tap, adrenalin flows; from the wellsprings
and random, unpremeditated confluences. Jazz, indeed
of memory images and echoes bubble up, surprising us,
most improvised music, is, however, not really that. It is
catching us unawares. For the individual, it is a deeply
guided by agency.
personal experience, a connection, and yet music remains essentially a social situation. Jazz music, during its ‘golden
The music of the great composer/multi-instrumentalist/
age’, which in one view could be described historically
philosopher Ornette Coleman allows chance factors
as occurring between 1925 and 1975,
particular leverage, in which the
lived ideally in a close and intimate,
structural determinant is ‘harmolodics’,
even conspiratorial, relationship to its adherents. Many of its most notorious venues were beneath street level, typically smoky, and firing until deep into the night. Part of its allure was its mystery; how could such eloquent musical statements be conjured out of the all-enveloping smoke, the notes and rhythms so cool, so dangerous? Or, indeed, in a concert hall, normally the métier of tails and starched shirts, the trappings of privilege? Of course, the reality for those who play the music today is that this historical rendering of the word jazz, with its associated images of Blue Note album covers, arcane jargon, machismo and, yes,
Part of its allure was its mystery; how could such eloquent musical statements be conjured out of the all-enveloping smoke, the notes and rhythms so cool, so dangerous?
widespread substance abuse, is exactly
a notoriously difficult principle to define, in which all components of the music have an equal degree of independence, allowing in turn for a high degree of interdependence. But exactly how much of this can be described as ‘serendipitous’, and how much of it is determined by the specific structure of an individual musical personality – expressed as ‘style’ – and the resultant flowing interplay of strands that express this interdependence of individuals in a jazz performance, is moot. Listening closely to the Coleman quartet of the early 60s, with trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden and either Billy Higgins or Ed Blackwell on drums, I am always struck by how the
that: historical. Jazz is now the domain of the university,
strength of each individual’s concept overrides the fact that
the conservatoire and cultural studies, investigated and
there is no functioning harmonic structure underpinning the
interrogated from every possible perspective: gender, race,
music. The resultant clear linearity sounds natural, coherent
class, phenomenology, ontology. Most importantly, it has
and easy to read, and yet spontaneity is at the heart of each
continued to evolve in ways that have seen it sonically depart
note choice, every cymbal stroke. Coleman’s insistence on a
from the narrative described through its arc from birth in
universalism in which everything is interdependent, and the
New Orleans, its transmission via the new media of radio
strength of his compositional ability in lending credibility
and recordings throughout the USA to a world excited by
to this concept, bears a conceptual relationship to particle
its palpable eros, its casual intellectualism, its nocturnal
physics, with its suggestion of the smallest particles existing
yearning, and its extraordinary artistic aspirations. It is
in a relational aspect rather than a fixed position, and yet
precisely those aspirations that have lent it the many and
to describe this as serendipitous seems to be bordering
varied forms that confuse even those of us who have built
on superstition. What is avoided in any romantic
careers around the J-word as to its actual meaning. One
suggestion of serendipity, is agency, a fundamental
thing, however, that is generally agreed upon is that jazz,
principle in improvisation.
whatever else it might contain, is to some degree improvised
Yes, the decisions made in a jazz performance are supposedly transacted spontaneously, time stopping for no-one and without the luxury of an edit. But the training of every jazz musician has presumably led to that transactional instant, and the challenge therefore is how to turn the information absorbed during that process of training into music that we haven’t essentially heard before. The masters in the canon have been masters of surprise as much as virtuoso performers. Take Charlie Parker, the colossus of be-bop music, whose dizzying flights of fancy, 1. THELONIOUS MONK
unprecedented and hugely influential, created an entirely new way of thinking
The jazz legend would have
about jazz, drawing it away from the dance hall towards the bespoke club venue.
turned 100 this year. By the
Or Thelonious Monk, who brought the compositional and improvisational
time he was 13, he had won the
relationship in his performances into a tight and reflexive relationship. Or
amateur competition at New York’s famed Apollo Theater so many times that management banned him from entering again.
John Coltrane, whose sculpted, massive flights of molten intensity became a personal quest for transcendence. Or Miles Davis, himself a type of gesamtkunstwerk, in whom performance, high fashion and attitude fused in artistic journey that eventually challenged any orthodoxy about what jazz was supposed to be.
First used by German philosopher KFE Trahndorff, the word means ‘total work of
There is in any great improvisation a sense of inevitability. You hear it in the omnivorous frame of reference evident in Keith Jarrett’s solo concerts, which traverse and bridge worlds mediated through a panoramic vision and instrumental mastery. It can equally be experienced in the organic process-based explorations
art’. In the mid-19th century
of Australian improvising piano trio The Necks, whose consistent adherence
composer Richard Wagner
to an aesthetic of slowly emerging intensity has something quite natural in its
used the term multiple times
directionality, yet never fails to surprise. There is some kinship here with the grand
in essays advocating for the
tradition of Hindustani classical music, in which improvisation plays a large role,
total integration of music and drama in opera. It came to be closely associated with his aesthetic ideals.
and in which memory, custom and interplay work together to create an immediately recognisable cultural form, the serendipitous vagaries of the improvisational moment notwithstanding. We encounter it also in the manikay of the Yolngu of Arnhem Land, in which intense, tightly structured song forms allow for a variety of improvised contributions from the performers, whether textual or melodic, before giving way to silences (perhaps better described as sonic absences) of indeterminate length. At all times, in all of these examples, agency is paramount, whether bounded by encoded cultural conventions, or by the assumed freedoms of contemporary information exchange. Having said all that, I’ve experienced the wonder of the unexpected occurring mid-flight onstage often enough to know that attempting to lock all the elements of improvisation, or creativity more generally, into an empirical box is of value only to the most hard-bitten Aristotelians. We should never cease to marvel at music made exclusively in real time only for the duration of its fragile life. But behind what seems to be serendipitous, spinning magically on the dime of chance, is based far more on technical mastery, listening and trust than on the roll of time’s dice. It would be difficult to take seriously improvised music, or indeed the numerous spontaneous nuances of notated music, were it any other way.
AN EVENING W I T H C H R I S B OT T I 1 8 Febr u a r y 2018 Concert Hall, QPAC
MADELEINE PEYROUX 7 Ju n e 2018 Concert Hall, QPAC
75 UNIQUE MUSICIANS 1 AMAZING SOUND
Luck is often considered fleeting. Perhaps a visual and more permanent reminder helps to pin it down? Matt Cunnington and the team at Westside Tattoo share some of the talismans theyâ€™ve created with clients. 35
FOUND BY SANDI WOO
“We were always told we were nothing and that we didn’t deserve anything and that we were society’s rats and no one wanted us… we were called vermin,” recalls Jessie.
Their history is one of hurt and isolation and it’s evident
interests and abilities varied wildly. Recently arrived Syrian
that wounds are still raw.
refugees, people living in regional communities, homeless people, young people, old people, clusters of friends and
“We weren’t a very close family,” says Paul. “We were
all separated into twos in institutions or foster care.” It’s challenging and daunting to embark on a journey with Jessie and Paul Morwood along with Marlene Wilson are
a mystery ending. Taking a step across a threshold, trying
part of an estimated 500,000 Forgotten Australians –
something you’ve never tried before, meeting new people
children and young people who experienced institutional
or finding yourself in a situation you never imagined.
or other out-of-home care in the last century in Australia, many of whom suffered physical, emotional and/or sexual
One of the partner organisations in Brisbane was Micah
abuse while in this care.
Projects and I was paired with them as their teaching artist. Micah Projects is a not-for-profit organisation
In early 2017, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, in
committed to providing services and opportunities in
collaboration with London’s Royal Ballet, partnered with
the community in the search for justice. Micah Projects
several community organisations in Brisbane and Cairns,
engages with people experiencing adversity due to poverty,
and delivered a community dance project titled We All
homelessness, mental illness, domestic violence, disability,
Dance. The project brought together participants whose
and discrimination due to age, gender or sexual orientation.
Creative projects can be an opportunity to reframe
their existing negative beliefs about themselves steeped
ourselves, others and subsequently, the way we relate to
in their lived histories. Paul tells us, “all through my life
the world around us. Jessie, Paul and Marlene, three
I’ve been put down and told I’m nothing… I was like a lost
siblings took the leap of faith and signed up to participate
child. I was nobody’s child. No one loved me, I grew up
in We All Dance.
with hate. Now I know someone does”.
I sat down with the siblings some four months after the
As it happens, all three siblings were involved in ballet
project has concluded. They begin to reminisce about
and dance at a young age, initially signed up by their
the workshops, the unlikely cast of characters that came
grandmother (their guardian at the time) to keep their
together to be part of them and the varied paths they’d
brother company in the ballet class. Ballet was suggested
taken to arrive there. The conversation turns to their own
by a local doctor to help counter the effects of their
childhood histories. Tears are shed.
brother’s turned in feet.
Jessie, Paul and Marlene did not grow up together.
“Eventually two of us, Jessie and I went to the Queensland
Their memories are painful. Through We All Dance they
Ballet School on Elizabeth Street in the city. I was the
re-found feelings of hope and joy through their shared
last one who kept going. I did eight years of ballet. I was
creative experiences. As they talk it’s clear that taking part
ridiculed left, right and centre when I went to school.
in the project has left a constructive imprint on them and
Unfortunately, the teacher at Queensland Ballet told
continues to impact positively on their everyday lives. In
my grandmother that I would not be accepted by major
part, through participating in the project they have been
companies because of my height, so I gave it away,”
able to reframe their current circumstances and reassess
Creative projects can be an opportunity to reframe ourselves, others and subsequently, the way we relate to the world around us
Each sibling had different reasons that drew
side. My body changed so much in that time.
them to the project but Paul took some extra
I was so full of joy and fun.
convincing from Jessie to finally join up. “The project made such a difference to our life “I wasn’t ready for it. I wanted to say ‘no Jess’ but
and everyone who was involved. I have friends
then I said ‘ok I’ll give it a go’.” He continues, “I’ve
now from other groups that performed and when
always loved dancing. It’s been in my blood all
we get together we get so excited because we
this time. Then I had this opportunity to dance
both experienced the same thing but in different
with The Royal Ballet, and with Jessie’s help, it
groups. People who were homeless in our group
made me a little bit stronger and made me think
– people who were struggling in everyday life –
I can do it”.
their lives have changed dramatically.”
Jessie recalls the significant impact of the project
As our conversation begins to wind up, the
on her brother.
siblings lean forward on the couch opposite me. Marlene holds the hands of Jessie and Paul seated
“This project saved Paul’s life. I was really worried
on either side of her and says, “we have worth,”
he was going to kill himself because he was so
her voice cracks.
depressed. I was really frightened. So when this came along it was like a lifeline. That is why I
As I play back our recorded conversation to write
tried so hard to get him involved. He was so much
this article, I hear the whispered voices of the
younger only after a couple of weeks, it was like
he was totally rejuvenated and he came alive.” “I love you,” breathes from the tape player. Marlene, the eldest of the siblings, has always
The recording ended but for Jessie, Paul and
channelled her creativity through drawing and
Marlene, the experience lingers on.
painting, but found that being involved in a dance project had surprising outcomes in addition to creative expression. “At the beginning I could hardly move – by the end of it I could put my walker away and to the
THE BASICS OF TEACHING ARTISTRY April 2018 Kadenze.com
THE THREE MATHEMATICIANS of Serendip An academic allegory about serendipity in the mathematical s c i e n ce s i n s p i r e d by t h e Th r e e P r i n ce s o f S e r e n d i p b y M i c h e l e T r a m e z z i n o ( Ve n i c e , 1 5 5 7 ) .
BY CLEMENCY MONTELLE
“Unlike most mathematical discoveries, however, no one was looking for a theory of groups or even a theory of symmetries when the concept was discovered. Quite the contrary; group theory appeared somewhat serendipitously, out of a millennia-long search for a solution to an algebraic equation.” – Mario Livio
Prolegomenon: The general perception of mathematics and mathematicians is one of rigour, exactitude, conservatism. Mathematicians have a reputation for being a bit straight laced and predictable; there doesn’t really seem to be much room for the element of surprise or luck in their work. But really, as far as research mathematics goes, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, mathematicians have firecrackers popping off in their heads. They are deeply creative thinkers. For in order to come up with original solutions to unsolved problems, they need to connect the unexpected. In order to invent algorithms that perform in ways not yet imaginable, they must explore the surprising. In this way, serendipity is as ubiquitous as it is omnipresent in mathematical research. It is the modus operandi for the best sort of mathematical insight. In the following we explore three notable moments of serendipity in mathematics through an allegory, just as sixteenth century Italian author Tramezzino explored the scientific method through a fable about the travels of three princes whom, by serendipity, were able to reconstruct the circumstances and location of a camel missing in the desert.
MATHEMATICIAN ONE: THE DOODLING OF STANISLAW ULAM Prime numbers have been a source of fascination for mathematicians for millennia. A prime number is one that has only itself and 1 as a divider. For instance, the number 7 is a prime because the only numbers which divide it are 7 and 1. In contrast, 9 is not a prime, because in addition to itself and 1, it has 3 as a divisor. While we can identify many small prime numbers relatively easily, such as 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 and so on, the further on up the number line we go the harder it gets. In essence, we have to check every number smaller than the number in question to make sure it isn’t a divisor. This is very slow for humans, but more importantly it is also rather slow for computers too, especially with very large numbers. “What is the 50th prime number?” one might ask. The only way we know how to answer this question is to produce a list of prime numbers and then take the 50th on that list. One of the major questions mathematicians thus ask is, “is there a good way to know where and how I might find more prime numbers?” Throughout history, many interesting patterns have been noticed for the distribution of primes. One of the most serendipitous of these is a pattern discovered by Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam. As the story goes, Ulam was sitting through a rather monotonous and lengthy lecture and started doodling on the page to distract himself. However, this particular doodle was not an ordinary one; Ulam’s doodle began with arranging the counting numbers, 1, 2, 3 and so on in a spiral shape on the page forming a lattice (see Figure 1). Once he got bored of doing this, Ulam decided to shade the prime numbers in the lattice, one after the other. After several dozen numbers, what Ulam found when he scanned the whole page astonished him! What jumped out of the page was a distinct visual pattern; clear diagonal, horizontal and vertical lines could be made out in the shadings. Primes appeared to concentrate around these lines, particularly the diagonal ones. The lattice and its resulting pattern is now known as Ulam’s spiral, and the visual image of primes rapidly became famous. His spiral also prompted researchers to consider similar graphical representations of primes and more serious mathematical
research has gone into explaining this phenomenon. One wonders what would have happened had the lecture he was attending had not been so boring!
MATHEMATICIAN TWO: PHILIP GOOD’S LOST LABELS “121, 118, 110, 34, 12, 22,” statistician Philip Good read out off six unmarked petri dishes before him and slumped back into his chair in disbelief. These numbers were the results of experimental research concerning the population of cells grown in the lab. After years in the safe confines of the mathematical office, Good had decided to branch out and merge his statistical skills directly with lab work. The latest task involved experimenting with aging cells that were grown in petri dishes; he treated half of the resulting samples with a regular nutrient solution, and the other half with designer solution which promised to produce ‘life extending’ properties. After weeks of careful maintenance and observation, six of the eight original dishes were viable and the results were assessed. However, the culmination of several years of planning and training was seemingly dashed when the lab assistant came sheepishly to deliver him some bad news: “I’ve lost the labels” the assistant mumbled. What? No labels? What a catastrophe! Without the labels, Good had no way of telling which petri dish had been treated with which solution, and the experiment was rendered seemingly useless. What made things worse is that the numbers seemed that they could support a favourable outcome for the ‘designer’ solution. If populations of 121, 118, and 110, could in fact be associated with the life-extending solution, Good would have made a huge discovery indeed. But how could this be established without the labels? In desperation, Good transported himself out of the lab with its dishes and labels and back to his world of statistics and hypothesis testing. Back in this abstract realm of probabilities and likelihoods, Good developed a whole new line of statistical approaches and formalised decisionmaking techniques which allow him to claim with varying degrees of confidence which dish should have had which label. Inspired by these lost labels, Good made insights that have since paved the way for hypothesis testing throughout mathematics for various scenarios, not just biological ones. Without this moment of serendipity, albeit initially disastrous, Good might never have been motivated to consider experimental data and interpreting results in such a way at all, and therefore, never developed such important statistical tools for future generations of mathematicians.
All great discoveries include as an ingredient an element that is out of the discoverer’s control. The accidental loss of labels thus prompted key
of any other kind may not have caused him to
discoveries. (The labels themselves were never
find these new series of wavelets, which heralded
a breakthrough for the field.
MATHEMATICIAN THREE: YVES MEYER FINDS THINGS HE THOUGHT SHOULDN’T EXIST
These three episodes may seem remarkable, but there isn’t anything particularly special about the tales of these three mathematicians. Every research
Office gossip of varying kinds can have a big
mathematician can readily offer their own stories
impact, as French mathematician Yves Meyer
of coincidence in the process of mathematical
found out. Prior to some banter at the office with
invention. All great discoveries include as an
colleagues, Meyer had never heard of wavelets,
ingredient an element that is out of the discoverer’s
but they made him a household name in the
control. Despite its logical foundation and pedantic
field of signal processing. Indeed, wavelets are
predictability, mathematics arises through the
a relatively new branch of mathematics, having
synthetic function of reason. Mathematical
been developed over the last two decades to
insight is thus a delicate balance between chance
enhance digital technologies among other things.
and certainty. Indeed, a doodle, an oversight, or
They are crucial in a wide range of practical
chasing after a false conviction are but three of the
applications including graphics, audio signals,
ways in which a stroke of serendipity performs
and edge detection. The field has been advanced
its whimsical magic in the generation of new
by researchers from many different specialities,
including engineering, computer science, physics, pure and applied mathematics. As the story goes, Meyer, who was a researcher at
REFERENCES: Daubechies, Ingrid. “Where do wavelets come from? A personal point of view” Retrieved from http://perso.ens-lyon.fr/paulo.
the École Polytechnique in Paris, heard about a
recent advance in wavelet theory while standing
Gardner, Martin. 1964. “Mathematical games: The remarkable lore
in line for the photocopier. This coincidence
of the prime number”, Scientific American, 210 (March), 120—128.
generated much enthusiasm in him. He knew of
Good, Phillip. 2005. Permutation, Parametric, and Bootstrap Tests
analogous type structures but in a branch of pure mathematics called harmonic analysis. Inspired by
of Hypotheses. Springer series in Statistics, Boston: Springer (3rd edition).
this conversation, Meyer dedicated his researches
Hodges, E. J. 1964. The Three Princes of Serendip. Atheneum,
to this new topic. In particular, he discovered a
new type of wavelet quite by accident. Having set
Livio, Mario. 2005. The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved: How
himself the task of proving that a wavelet with certain types of properties didn’t exist, he instead
Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry. Simon & Schuster.
found a series of wavelets with exactly these properties. In this way, while looking to verify the absence of something, through this very search, he found the exact opposite to be the case. Meyer’s
WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL BRISBANE
moment of serendipity lies in the fact that a search
21 - 25 March 2018 Queensland Museum & Various Venues
Drinks or fine dining Games or get-togethers Before or after the show Treasury Brisbane is always entertaining
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Welcome to the neighbourhood Discover a new way of life in a Lendlease community today. With home and land packages to suit all lifestyles and budgets you will be sure to find the perfect home.
37 homes on display
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In Jarjums Life Museum you won’t see dinosaurs, butterflies, kings' crowns or queens' capes. It is a museum made by children – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Jarjums. It is a collection of original works documenting the lives of these Jarjums – they're here and now and what life is like growing up today. Here are self-portraits of some of the Jarums from Minjerribah – North Stradbroke Island and Hymba Yumba Community Place.
“In each of the projects we walk, and for most of it we are walking on country. We are walking on the country the Jarjums are from, we’re walking with Elders, with artists and we are collecting…” - Jane Jennison, artist
O U T O F T H E B O X F E S T I VA L 26 Ju n e – 1 Ju ly 2018 QPAC
Magical THINKING BY JUDITH MCLEAN
Whatever one’s personal understandings of a ‘lucky life’ might entail it seems most agree on a common desire – the desire for opportunity. As individuals, as well as in our roles as parents, caregivers, aunts, uncles, teachers, in fact as citizens of the world, most of us share this desire that in the future we’ll ‘get a lucky break’, be ‘lucky in life’, or be ‘in the right place at the right time’ – aphorisms may vary but the sentiment resonates. It gives rise to the question of whether luck is a random matter or whether any of us can skew the odds. Does chance play a pivotal role in who we are and what we can and can’t know? Can we raise our odds by having a well prepared mind? To start, let’s consider just how lucky we are. In planetary terms it seems we’re enormously fortunate. The fact that we have this sphere called Earth is according to scientists a remarkably lucky event. Whilst we know about supernovas, space rocks, gases and suns the fluke that gave us the planet we inhabit is due in part to a propitious event that formed the moon. It’s the moon’s size that provides the gravitational hand that stabilises the tilt of the Earth’s axis – no moon,
no complex life forms. It requires a much deeper discussion about other scientific complexities to understand life’s origins. Suffice to say there are scientists who argue for chance claiming that the cosmic accident that gave us Earth defies explanation. So tick one for chance/luck/serendipity. Birth... when it comes to our individual luck it seems being born is a matter of considerable chance. Consider the calculation by happiness engineer Dr Ali Binazir who claims that the chances of being born are 1 in 102,685,000 – a ten followed by 2,685,000 zeros! It seems safe enough to say that we’re enormously fortunate to a) be born and b) to have a planet like Earth where sentient life forms can flourish. Tick two for chance/luck/serendipity. Birthplace… also plays a major role in humankind’s luck in relation to brain development. Scientists believe that whilst the structure of human brains across the globe is similar, different brain activity can vary remarkably. Previously it was assumed that alpha oscillations – the most fundamental human brain signature – happened for all people. Yet a research project in rural India demonstrates that in communities untouched by technology and modernisation people don’t register alpha oscillations. In short what the research indicates is that people without alpha oscillations do not have the capacity to deal with complex stimulations since the need never arises. The 400-person study confirms the impact of environment and lack of income on a person’s ability to know and develop. Researcher Tara Thiagarajan suggests income is just a proxy for what we can afford to access in the world. She explains, “if we
1. LUCKY LIFE
Published in 1964, Donald Horne’s
The Lucky Country is one of the most influential books in Australia’s history. The phrase has become part of our national speak and is generally used in a
want to understand what a human brain is,
positive context, although Horne’s
it's not one human brain, but we need to
book was a scathing critique
understand the spectrum of human brains,
of Australia’s complacency and
otherwise we really can't understand what
it means to be human today”. Thiagarajan’s study opens the floodgates
on questions taking us into religious and
Pink Floyd’s iconic Dark Side of
doctrinal discourses about karmic lives
the Moon is one of the best-
and future existences. It also raises the
selling albums of all time and
importance of brain stimulation, what French biologist Louis Pasteur referred
featured on the Billboard 200 list for almost 18 years after its 1973 release.
to as the ‘prepared mind’.
It seems it’s getting quite complex to tick yes or no to chance/ luck/serendipity. Rather, a more apposite proposition may be that given the disproportional amount of luck we’ve already experienced, does it suggest some kind of obligation to make the most of the life we’ve been given? And if so, who or what might the obligation be 3. HARMONY
toward and what might activating it look like? Or, does any of this matter at all? This
A Spotify playlist of classic
is the stuff of philosophy and art.
songs with great harmonies might include: The Beach Boys,
Like any discipline the arts can play a critical role in creating understanding and
Bee Gees, The Beatles,
building individual and collective potential. But like any discipline, luck is not a
Simon & Garfunkel and Queen.
substitute for learning. Art operates within a domain of knowledge with particular languages and ways of operating and like anything worthwhile it takes time and engagement to become literate.
Scottish novelist William Boyd
For audience members and participants engaging willingly and with curiosity in the
coined the term in the late
arts the evidence is clear and points to numerous beneficial outcomes. Whether it’s
20th century to mean the
playing an instrument, singing a three-part harmony, participating in a dance class
opposite of serendipity… making unhappy, unlucky or unexpected discoveries that happen by design.
or reading a novel, you'll become more learned, with new neurological pathways forged, some even say you’ll become luckier. Here’s what the research says about engaging in art: • SMARTER – guaranteed improved cognitive abilities by up to 17% • BETTER AT READING AND MATHS – improved reading and maths skills by the age of nine • FOCUSED – better concentration and organisational skills • HEALTHIER – improvements in overall health by 38% • BETTER EDUCATED – being three times more likely to get a tertiary education • MORE EMPLOYABLE – stay employed longer than average student • BETTER CITIZEN – 18% less likely to be a young offender The claims made here are evidenced in a research report entitled Imagine Nation. It’s a fascinating read making a strong and coherent case for why we need art in daily life. Signatories of the report include uber talented choreographer Wayne McGregor CBE who wowed us with his imaginative approach integrating movement and literature in his beautiful work Woolf Works, as part of the 2017 QPAC International Series presentation of The Royal Ballet. As well as Sir Ken Robinson whose TED Talk Do Schools Kill Creativity has been viewed by over 48 million people. All signatories agree with the report’s findings that the arts are not an additional extra when there is a market surplus, “they are not an add-on, or a nice to have, but are a part of the fabric of society… young people have a right to experience the best… given the
T H E P L OT T H I C K E N S Febr u a r y – Ju n e 2018 The Tunnel, QPAC
opportunity to make their own contribution to the
events; their answers are interpretations instead of
continual reshaping of civilisation”.
factual reports, and their function is to increase not our knowledge of nature, but our understanding of what we
Let’s turn to one of the United Kingdom’s great film
know”. Langer’s elegant explanation of such differences
makers and a champion of arts education Lord Puttnam
makes one feel extremely fortunate that artists, scientists,
CBE, the Chair of The Cultural Learning Alliance.
thinkers point towards our obligation where luck, chance,
Speaking practically Puttnam outlines the domain skills
serendipity paradoxically sit happily alongside misfortune,
offered by and through an education in culture and the
intentionality and zemblanity.
arts. “Learning through culture and the arts leads to creative thinking, confidence and problem solving – all skills which are prized by employers and which young
people need. If we fail to offer our young people the
Malcolm, L., All in the Mind Brain Diversity and Modernisation http://www.
opportunity to participate in the arts and culture, then
we fail to support them in becoming the leading thinkers, innovators, creative business and community leaders of the future.”
modernisation/9149172 (accessed 19th November 2017).
Chance: the science and secrets of luck, randomness and probability, edited by Brooks, M., London: Profile Books. Cultural Learning Alliance, Imagine Nation: the value of creative learning
The Imagine Nation’s cri de coeur that each generation be given opportunities to contribute to the ‘reshaping of society’ gets to the heart of who and what we might have an obligation towards. As well as the intrinsic value arts
https://culturallearningalliance.org.uk/about-us/imaginenation-the-value-ofcultural-learning/ (accessed 18th December 2017). Langer, S., (1953) Feeling and form: A philosophy of art developed from philosophy in a new key. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
and culture offer – pleasure, aesthetic enjoyment, beauty and meaning – the arts also offer the instrumental skills that Puttnam alludes to above. It’s when the intrinsic and the instrumental work together that the paradoxes of shaping civilisation emerge encompassing playfulness and seriousness, chance and intentionality, serendipity and zemblanity, purposefulness and luck. Art is one of the most powerful demonstrations of paradox. Theorist Susanne Langer writes that philosophical and art questions “…are not by their nature insoluble. They are, indeed, radically different from scientific questions, because they concern the implications and other interrelations of ideas, not the order of physical
Art is one of the most powerful demonstrations of paradox 55
BEHIND THE SCENES
at the QPAC Museum The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. - MARCEL PROUST
The QPAC Museum Collections Store houses more than 70,000 items – costumes, photographs, set and costume designs, recordings, lighting plots, annotated scripts and memorabilia – that all form part of the story of Queensland’s performing arts history. Tucked away in the upper levels of the Centre, like Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders, it’s filled with objects and artefacts of significance and beauty. Lift the lid on a box, slide open a drawer, unzip a bag…
B E N E AT H THE CONCRETE BY FRED LEONE
Just about every Australian has heard about the Dreamtime. But if I were to mention a songline, what would my luck be like in finding an Aussie who could put a hand up to say, “yep, I know what you mean”?
Songlines trace the journeys of our ancestral spirits, an intricate map woven into the fabric of every inch of this continent. The stories they tell are integral to Aboriginal cultural knowledge. They are preserved in song, dance, art and story. A songline documents the creation of mountains, rivers, cave formations and in some cases, like on my grandmother’s side of the family Butchulla from K'Gari (Fraser Island) and details like how the land got its colour. These stories have been handed down from generation to generation and based on the current accepted minimum date of Aboriginal occupation of Australia, that's about 2,592 generations. Even I need a minute to digest that, and I’m Aboriginal. That’s a long, long, long time. I’m not an anthropologist but I have been learning from a young age what my connection as a human being is to the land. A very personal journey born from a thirst for knowledge. Not so much a knowledge you can learn from a book, but one that only lasts a single lifetime then disappears if it isn’t respectfully listened to. I come from two strong Aboriginal tribes, Garawa in the Gulf of Carpentaria which spans from the Northern Territory near Boroloola down over the border into Queensland near Doomadgee, and Butchulla from Fraser Island whose lands incorporate Maryborough, Hervey Bay and K’Gari. I often wonder if there was a particular reason why my grandfather married my grandmother; two people from totally different geographical locations. I don’t know the answer but I do always remember two old stories.
Dreaming stories that have songlines attached and
Growing up Mum would always point out the star
funnily enough they are on both my grandmother’s
constellation Pleiades, more commonly known as
and grandfather’s side of the family. Creation stories
the Seven Sisters and say that the constellation
involving the Rainbow Serpent or Rainbow Snake.
represented her and her sisters.
There’s a saying some First Nations Australians have
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work
and I believe it to be true. “We walk in two worlds. One
on projects that have a deep cultural significance
world being that of the dominant culture and the other
particularly focused on Aboriginal cultural practice.
world of our spiritual and physical connection to land.”
Over the past few months, I’ve been researching a
For example, I explained to a friend once that K’Gari is
number of different topics for various projects.
my church as well as home and the Dreaming stories
I noticed that Dreaming story of the Seven Sisters
of our home are our parables. Throughout my life I’ve
kept popping up in different conversations and in
utilised performing arts to bridge the gap between
the line that separates the two worlds I’m innately compelled to walk in.
It was first mentioned to me a few months back by a friend who told me how this story, like many
My mother is one of seven sisters, Violet, Dianne,
others, traverses the land. Like many stories from
Euriel, Aileen (Mum), Elsie, Marsha and Glenda.
my childhood I’d heard bits and pieces but I'd never
The story told of how seven sisters were pursued by a snake across the land and across the continent heard a full cycle or Dreaming story first
Seven Sisters Dreaming many years ago.
hand from any tribe about the Seven Sisters.
He travelled with a group of Central Australian
It interested me and I asked my friend if they
Elders/songline holders around the country
knew if it had anything to do with the Seven
to follow this specific songline. The part
Sisters constellation but they weren’t sure. I
that knocked me off my seat was when Jon
moved on to other projects but for months
mentioned they followed the songline and
the conversation stayed with me. I didn’t know
story all the way to K’Gari. Immediately the
why it had resonated so strongly with me.
story stirred up something in me.
Fast forward a few months to early November
A week later I opened an email from a work
2017. I received a call from an old student
colleague to check out a link to a digital work
of mine who is now a producer for a radio
by renowned Butchulla visual artist Fiona
show. She was looking for a panellist for a talk
Nguthuru-nur Foley. Looking at the work from
back show she produces and wanted me to
Fiona I stumbled across another digital work…
talk on the topic of the Pitjantjatjara Anangu
about the Seven Sisters. In this online digital
people closing Uluru to climbing. I agreed to
work, the story told of how seven sisters were
do the panel and arrived at the station a little
pursued by a snake across the land and across
nervous. Joining me on the panel was
the continent. At that moment, staring at my
Jon Willis, Associate Professor from the
screen, I was flushed with a feeling, a feeling
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
of familiarity, of connectedness of belonging.
Unit at The University of Queensland.
limitless distractions – smart phones, social
introductions and chit chat with both Jon and
media, music, television – we sometimes forget
I giving our points of view about the Uluru
about the source of that feeling. The stories that
closure. The host then opened up the phone
lie beneath the concrete, stories of tribes that
lines and Jon and I had the opportunity to
are no longer alive, lost at the tip of a pioneering
respond to the statements presented and
bullet. Stories of our old people, from 65,000
answer questions fired at us by callers. At
years ago. Stories that have survived to the
some point I was speaking about my family
Australia of today.
connection to K’Gari when Jon mentioned how he’d worked on a project to do with the
In a world bursting at the seams with almost
The show started out with the usual
Sheldon Collegeâ€™s Australian School of the Arts (ASTA) creates exceptional creative experiences for students from Preparatory to Year 12. ASTA students realise their potential in performing arts, fine arts, film and television, music, fashion and costume design. ASTA graduates secure bright futures in the Arts industry.
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Drusilla Modjeska on Virginia Woolf
Interview with author Andy Griffiths
Five Minutes with Cyndi Lauper
Resistance by Professor Jacqueline Rose
2017 Mabo Oration
Behind the Scenes – an acrobat’s warm up
Creative Insights – The Royal Ballet
Everybody Moves – a doco about dance
A Life Through Music
Dive deeper. Be fearless in thought. Ask the question. Form an opinion. Discover. Learn. Provoke. Bask in creativity. Take time, wonder about stuff. Be curious and imagine. Get sweaty, create.
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B R A I N I AC D E T E C T I V E AC A D E M Y
1 1 - 1 4 JA N
C L AU D I A D E A N - I N T E R M E D I AT E C L A S S W I T H C L AU D I A I N T E N S I V E
C R E M O R N E T H E AT R E
F R O M 1 7 JA N
R I C H A R D O ’ B R I E N ’ S T H E R OC K Y H O R R O R S H O W
CO N C E R T H A L L
1 7 - 20 JA N
B A L L E T T H E AT R E O F Q U E E N S L A N D - T H E L I T T L E M E R M A I D
P L AY H O U S E
27 JA N
B E N M CC A R T H Y : N E V E R M I N D
C R E M O R N E T H E AT R E
C R E M O R N E T H E AT R E
FEBR UA RY UNTIL 4 FEB
MAMMA MIA! THE MUSICAL
L Y R I C T H E AT R E
1 - 17 FEB
Q U E E N S L A N D T H E AT R E - B L AC K I S T H E N E W W H I T E
P L AY H O U S E
AU S T R A L I A N C H A M B E R O R C H E S T R A - TOG N E T T I TC H A I KO V S K Y B R A H M S
CO N C E R T H A L L
16 F E B
T H E B E AT L E S O R C H E S T R AT E D I I I - T H E E N CO U R TO U R
QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - PIANO POWER
C R E M O R N E T H E AT R E
18 F E B
AN EVENING WITH CHRIS BOTTI
CO N C E R T H A L L
F R O M 20 F E B
DISNEY'S ALADDIN - THE MUSICAL
L Y R I C T H E AT R E
24 F E B - 2 4 M A R
Q U E E N S L A N D T H E AT R E - T H E 3 9 S T E P S
C R E M O R N E T H E AT R E
24 F E B
Q U E E N S L A N D S Y M P H O N Y O R C H E S T R A F R O M JAW S TO J U R A S S I C PA R K : T H E M U S I C O F J O H N W I L L I A M S
CO N C E R T H A L L
25 F E B
S O U T H E R N C R O S S S O L O I S T S - R E I M AG I N AT I O N S
CO N C E R T H A L L
26 F E B
J O R D I S AVA L L A N D H E S P È R I O N X X I W I T H T E M B E M B E E N S A M B L E CO N T I N U O : F O L Í A S A N T I G UA S & C R I O L L A S – F R O M T H E A N C I E N T W O R L D TO T H E N E W W O R L D
CO N C E R T H A L L
1 - 2 MAR
T H E M A N G A N I YA R S E D U C T I O N
T H E H I T S O F T H E C R OO N E R S
P L AY H O U S E
QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - LOLLIPOPS AND SWOONS
CO N C E R T H A L L
T R E A S U R E S O F A N AT I O N – C H I N E S E N E W Y E A R CO N C E R T 2 018
CO N C E R T H A L L
6 - 7 MAR
D I TA V O N T E E S E – T H E A R T O F T H E T E E S E
CO N C E R T H A L L
7 - 10 M A R
COA L M I N E R ' S DAU G H T E R
P L AY H O U S E
QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - EPIC VISIONS
CO N C E R T H A L L
10 M A R
E L V I S - T H E K I N G I N CO N C E R T
CO N C E R T H A L L
G I L B E R T O ' S U L L I VA N
CO N C E R T H A L L
16 - 29 M A R
Q U E E N S L A N D B A L L E T - L A B AYA D E R E
P L AY H O U S E
21 - 25 MAR
W O R L D S C I E N C E F E S T I VA L B R I S B A N E - 2 0 1 8 E V E N T S
APRIL 1 APR
JAC K S O N B R O W N E
4 - 6 APR
R O S S N O B L E - E L H A B L A DO R
Q U E E N S L A N D S Y M P H O N Y O R C H E S T R A - FAU R É R E Q U I E M
13 - 21 APR
G R E E N DAY ' S A M E R I C A N I D I O T
P L AY H O U S E
QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - DYNAMIC DUO
CO N C E R T H A L L
Q U E E N S L A N D S Y M P H O N Y O R C H E S T R A - A N E M O T I O N A L R O L L E R COA S T E R
AU S T R A L I A N C H A M B E R O R C H E S T R A - N I CO L E C A R
NEW JERSEY NIGHTS
CO N C E R T H A L L
20 - 21 APR
EM RUSCIANO – EVIL QUEEN
CO N C E R T H A L L
2 8 A P R - 1 9 M AY
Q U E E N S L A N D T H E AT R E - T W E L F T H N I G H T
P L AY H O U S E
C A M E R ATA - S O U V E N I R
CO N C E R T H A L L
M AY F R O M 2 M AY
C R E M O R N E T H E AT R E
3 M AY
5 M AY
QLD POPS - BEST OF BRITISH
6 M AY
QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - CINDERELLA AND SCHEHERAZADE
8 M AY
BURN THE FLOOR
1 0 M AY
BARRY HUMPHRIES: THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK
1 1 M AY
D O U G PA R K I N S O N - 5 0 T H A N N I V E R S A R Y
1 2 M AY
Q U E E N S L A N D S Y M P H O N Y O R C H E S T R A - R AC H M A N I N O V S Y M P H O N I C DA N C E S
1 5 M AY
AU S T R A L I A N B R A N D E N B U R G O R C H E S T R A - T H E H A R P I S T - X AV I E R D E M A I S T R E
1 7 M AY
NO SUCH THING AS A FISH
2 3 - 2 5 M AY
TEX PERKINS - THE MAN IN BLACK
2 5 M AY - 3 J U N
QUEENSLAND BALLET - THE FIREBIRD
P L AY H O U S E
2 6 M AY - 3 J U N
Q U E E N S L A N D T H E AT R E - T H E L O N G E S T M I N U T E
C R E M O R N E T H E AT R E
3 1 M AY
TA F E L M U S I K – B A C H A N D H I S W O R L D
A P I A G O O D T I M E S TO U R 2 0 1 8
TWILIGHT NOTES: HANDWORK
QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - TIMELESS ODYSSEYS
QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - MYSTICAL AND MAJESTIC
10 - 24 JUN
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
14 - 22 JUN
E X P R E S S I O N S D A N C E C O M PA N Y - 4 S E A S O N S
P L AY H O U S E
22 - 30 JUN
OPERA QUEENSLAND - THE MERRY WIDOW
L Y R I C T H E AT R E
WAY N E B R A D Y
L Y R I C T H E AT R E
26 JUN - 1 JUL
O U T O F T H E B O X F E S T I VA L
Q PA C
OPERA QUEENSLAND - OPERA ROMANCE
L Y R I C T H E AT R E
V I S I T Q PAC . CO M . AU O R C A L L 1 3 6 2 4 6 F O R B OO K I N G S O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N . I N F O R M AT I O N CO R R E C T AT T I M E O F P R I N T I N G .
Image credits COV E R PAG E
PAG E 4/5
PAG E 8/9
Serendipity, Lucky Bones Illustrator: Jackie Elliott, Sophie Tighe
Made on the Body Exhibition, Tony Gould Gallery, QPAC Photo: Darren Thomas
John Kotzas, Chief Executive, QPAC Photo: Mindi Cooke Rebecca Lamoin, Story Editor & Associate Director – Learning & Public Engagement, QPAC Photo: Darren Thomas
Hollywood Flare Photo: Getty Images Guitarist on stage for background, soft and blur concepts Photo: iStock
PAG E 10/11
PAG E 13
PAG E 14
PAG E 20
Map of the World 1801 – Illustration Photo: iStock
Saeed, Love, watercolour on paper, 21x29cm, 2015
Map of the World 1801 – Illustration Photo: iStock
Stars Illustrator: Jackie Elliott
PAG E 23
PAG E 24/25
PAG E 26/27
PAG E 28
Thomas Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical Group Photo: Sam Worboys
Locus of Luck; Prayer, Planet & Lucky Deck Illustrator: Jackie Elliott
Black Cat Illustrator: Jackie Elliott
Coleman and Cherry. 17th November 1959 Photo: Bobs Parent/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
PAG E 31 Door with Jazz and Graffiti Photo: iStock
PAG E 34/35
PAG E 36/37
PAG E 38/39
PAG E 44
Compilation of Westside Tattoo’s artworks
Hands Illustrator: Jackie Elliott Top (L to R): Marlene, Jessie, Paul. Bottom (L to R): Jessie, Marlene, Paul. Photo: David Kelly
We All Dance workshop participants Photo: Fenlan Photography Dancing Feet Illustrator: Jackie Elliott
Ulam Spiral number of dividers 100,000 first natural numbers, 2009. Author: Cortexd Image generated in PHP with the GD Library
PAG E 49
PAG E 50/51
PAG E 52/53
PAG E 55
Jarjum’s Life Museum Photo: Nathan Stoneham
Jarjum’s Life Museum Photo: Nathan Stoneham
Rainbow in human head abstract thought watercolor painting illustration design hand drawn colorful Photo: iStock
Human Head Illustrator: Jackie Elliott Abstract background with a dynamic waves and particles Photo: iStock
PAG E 57
PAG E 58/59
PAG E 68
Top to bottom (L to R): Brisbane born international opera star Margreta Elkins’ (1930-2009) travelling hat box; Actress Jeanne Battye’s travelling trunk and cape worn by Phyllis Ball as character 'Elvira' in Opera Queensland’s 1976 production of Don Giovanni; Girl puppet from QPAC’s 2004 stage adaptation of Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree. Original poster for Harry Gold The Gay Deceiver / 1940 Road Show; File box containing handwritten membership records from 1950s-1980s for Brisbane Repertory Theatre which later became La Boite Theatre. Photo: Maria Cleary, En Rui Foo
Constellation of Taurus Illustrator: Jackie Elliott
Sarah McLeod Photo: Dylan Evans
FIVE MINUTES WITH
W H AT ’ S T H E L U C K I E S T T H I N G T H AT ’ S HAPPENED TO YOU? I think getting into this musical (American Idiot) is one of the luckiest things that’s happened to me. Because I didn’t see it coming and I think it was fate because I always wanted to do it. I was at a really difficult point in my life actually when this occurred. I was really confused and I’d just moved out of my house and I was perpetually on the road so I was just living in hotels with my dog, just touring constantly. I was confused as to what to do next. I knew I had a long term plan but I didn’t know how to get there. Then all of a sudden this fell in my lap and I went "great!" Because my plans were going to start later in the year and it completely wedged the gap in the part I didn’t know what to do with. The time got filled perfectly and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I always thought that I would have to go to some amateur theatre and audition and bugger around, you know, wave at the director from the café… and then I just got sent this contract saying you’re in and I was like, “Oh my god I didn’t even have to do anything. Unreal!” So yes, that was extraordinarily lucky.
W H AT A R E Y O U R R I T U A L S B E F O R E Y O U G O O N S TA G E ? I usually drink about half a bottle of red wine, pace, check my make-up, do a bit of the shimmy – just to get my groove on –
D O Y O U B E L I E V E I N F AT E ? Of course I believe in fate, I’m not a moron. I mean, that’s how life
go to the loo, have a last-minute nervous wee and then boom shankar! Off we go!
works doesn’t it? We sit around making plans, but none of the plans
H AV E YO U E V E R F O R G OT T E N YO U R
are actually what we decide that we want to do; it’s just what happens
L Y R I C S O N S TA G E ?
to you at the time. And if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. That’s how I base a lot of my decisions, and it completely takes the pressure off the individual – “don’t worry, let fate handle it”. It’s like how people turn to religion; I turn to fate.
Yeah all the time! I just make up new lyrics. I blah blah my way through it. Or sometimes I look at the crowd and they sing the lyrics to me. And I say: “sing it!” And that’s ok because I figure, it’s my song, I wrote it, and if I want to stuff it up then I will.
If you put your faith in fate, then fate is apparently the ‘correct’ way to
It’s not disrespectful to me, I don’t care. I could even try and
go. So when you’re not sure, you hand it over to good old mate fate,
make it better on the spot.
then you can relax and know that you’ve made the correct decision.
W H AT I S Y O U R G O - TO K A R A O K E S O N G ?
S O YO U DO N ’ T H AV E A N Y R E G R E T S THEN EITHER?
Total Eclipse of the Heart. It’s one of the greatest singing songs
Oh no you can regret fate. Fate can be a cruel mistress. But that’s not to
of Meat Loaf’s songs, he wrote that as well. He knows how to
say that your destiny is always meant to be good. Sometimes fate can
write the epic build and build and build song, all of Meat Loaf’s
take you in a way that’s not good, but it’s what you had to go through to
songs are like that. Then he wrote that one for Bonnie Tyler and
get to something else. You can regret it but you shouldn’t because it’s
it is one of the greatest songs to sing. Not that I frequent karaoke
part of your fate. It means it’s not your ‘choice’ so it’s not your ‘fault’.
bars very often. I feel like I do enough singing as it is –
ever. The way it builds and builds. Jim Steinman, who wrote all
I’m singing all the time!
A M E R I C A N I D I OT 13 – 21 April 2018 Playhouse, QPAC
DISCOVER MORE - READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AND OTHERS, AT QPAC.COM.AU/STORY
A B O U T Q PAC
C O N TA C T
Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) is one of Australia’s
PO Box 3567, South Bank, Qld, 4101
leading centres for live performance. Welcoming over 1.3 million visitors to approximately 1,200 performances each year, we embrace the best in live performance – the world renowned alongside the emerging, local and new – and connect to the stories and ideas at the heart of each production. Through the warmth and expertise of our
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staff, we have become a trusted curator, presenter and host; a place
The Queensland Performing Arts Trust is a statutory body of the
to come together to relax, reflect, share stories and celebrate.
State of Queensland and is partially funded by the Queensland
Government: The Honourable Leeanne Enoch MP, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and
QPAC has four theatres suitable for a range of performance styles:
Minister for the Arts Director-General, Department of Environment
Lyric Theatre (2,000 seats) is designed primarily for opera, ballet
and Science: Jamie Merrick
and large-scale theatre events such as musicals; Concert Hall (1,600 seats) is a versatile space, designed primarily for orchestra performances and also used for contemporary music, stand-up
QPAC respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Lands across Queensland and pays respect to their ancestors who came before them and to Elders past, present and emerging.
comedy and presentations; Playhouse (850 seats) is primarily designed for theatre and dance; and Cremorne Theatre (277 seats) is an intimate and versatile black box theatre space.
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They should be sent by email to email@example.com. Printed in January 2018.
SERENDIPITY The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
P U B L I S H E D B Y Q U E E N S L A N D P E R F O R M I N G A R T S C E N T R E A S PA R T O F Q PA C â€™ S P U B L I C E N G A G E M E N T & L E A R N I N G S T R AT E G Y
Story is for the creative and curious. For people who believe stories matter. The ideas, people, musings and moments assembled are an invita...
Published on Jan 31, 2018
Story is for the creative and curious. For people who believe stories matter. The ideas, people, musings and moments assembled are an invita...