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binge culture scrapbook

Company bios (courtesy of google search) Fate often provides a helping hand when it comes to career guidance. In Claire O’Loughlin’s case, communication would become a cornerstone of her life when she found herself effectively voiceless while on holiday in France when she was a teenager. This autumn event is a celebration of pumpkin growing on an impressive scale. The man behind it is Ralph Upton, an amiable retired market gardener who can lay claim to the title King of the Pumpkin World. Simon Haren (1860 - 1908) Born in Malaga, Monroe, Ohio, USA on 1860 to Frederick Haren and Barbara Burkhard. Simon married Catherine Hamilton. He passed away on 9 Jan 1908. Labor Candidate for Dickson Fiona McNamara today slammed comments made by Tony Abbott that better GP services “were unnecessary”. Care home deaths: Rachel Baker, the drug-addicted manager: Rachel Baker professed to love the elderly residents at the care home which she ran and regarded them as part of the family. Nobody has ever been named Joel Baxendale.

Writing by Ralph Upton and Binge Culture All rights reserved Copyright Binge Culture Collective 2012 www.bingeculture.co.nz

You know, not all performers are naturally extroverted. Many of them are quite shy, off the stage. Actually, a lot of people get on the stage for the same reasons that a lot of people get drunk. When you're on the stage, Or on the piss, You get to be funnier than you are in everyday life. You get to be bolder. More flirtatious. You get to do things you wouldn't normally get to do. Because people are generally more understanding when you're drunk. Or acting.

1001 Things You MUST Do Before You Die (Abridged) Carry this list with you, and as you complete each action, tick the corresponding box.

Roll in the snow with a really beautiful boy.  Eat an endangered animal (e.g tuatara or hector’s dolphin).  Tell someone the story of your life, sparing no details.  Make love on a forest floor.  Make love on a train. Make love on the kitchen floor.  Kill something with your hands.  Learn to take a compliment and perform a selfless act.  Perform standup comedy.  Ride a camel into the desert.  Fight in a just war.  Learn to ballroom dance properly.  Commit a heinous crime and get away with it!  Shower with a loved one.  Shower in a waterfall.  Receive a golden shower.  Receive a golden handshake.  Sleep under the stars.  Teach someone illiterate to read.  Really beat the shit out of someone.  Forgive your parents.  Experience weightlessness. 

You wouldn’t steal a car Don't know if you spotted this in the Dom Post the other day, I couldn't find it online so I've had to type it out: 7/11/2010 Theatre managers around New Zealand are "dismayed" by pirated copies of their performances appearing on the streetsoften before the work has even premiered. "They must sneak into the $15 previews," one representative of a Wellington theatre said, "and so outside on the footpath there are these cheap knock-offs for sale which are inferior in every way. Its dismaying." The "ripped" performances undermine legitimate theatre's profits by drastically undercutting ticket prices. However, as the plays are performed entirely from the memory of one performance, the quality is markedly inferior. One bystander, who asked not to be named, described a "rip" of Circa's My First Time: "they got the intonations and general blocking right, but heaps of the lines had been learned wrong, bits were missing- and the motivations were shakey." However, having paid a mere $2.50 for the experience, he admitted he wouldn't fork out for the theatrical version; "what would be the point? I feel sorry for the actors if they lose money, but frankly I don't have the spare cash to be scrupulous at the moment." He added that he never pirated New Zealand plays. In spite of the threat posed by performance piracy, theatre owners are confident the superior quality of plays performed in theatres will keep punters coming back for the real thing. "We've got lighting, seating and protection from the elements, which is more than you’ll get on some dirty footpath. There's no substitute for actually being there. Sooner or later, people are going to realise what they're missing out on."

Why the second night was shite by the piano player/dishwasher

I had been drinking heavily the night before, it was a rainy, windy, shitty morning, I had work, someone called in sick, it was busy. Every so often, you get handed a real stinker of a day. My heart was pounding liquid tar around my shuddering excuse for a human body. A tiny demon was attacking my throat with a metal file. Plates clanged and crashed a demented symphony beyond my comprehension. Towers of glasses accumulated on the bench, refracting the glare of fluorescent lights overhead. My head throbbed. Steam in my face. I emptied the cutlery bucket in the sink: ear-splitting crash. It was punk rock, shards of hard metal reflecting light. Somewhere in the bright lights and loud noises I began to somewhat enjoy the day. An old couple asked me inane questions as I was clearing tables. Did they notice my wan smile, and that my face was drained of colour? Did they realise that really I was having the time of my life? I wish I could have explained the situation to them. You see, I had lost my self somewhere in the kitchen. I was floating around on a tranquil cloud of ego-less-ness. With each THRUMP of my headache my soul sang with joy. I think this is how you feel just before you die. I managed to snatch half an hour of sleep before the show that night. It wasn't enough, I was low on energy and dragged the show down with me. The director was disappointed. I'm sorry.

Stephanie Cairns

On Exponential Curves We started a bit early tonight. We started at one o’clock. We felt normal. Two. Lightheaded by this point. We were able to make plans. We could still do tongue twisters. At three o’clock we got that mild feeling of floatation, or gliding. Vodafone told us to make the most of now. Four. We knocked over objects, we spilled drinks. Cosmopolitan declared it the Summer of You. We played truth or dare. We got to five. We were unusually confident. We got bolder, more flirtatious. In sports cars, green became the new red. Someone suggested strip poker. Six. Our speech got pretty slurred. MacDonalds used climate change to sell us coffee. People’s first names became interchangeable. Bad hangovers became likely. Nostalgia. Nationalism. Spin the bottle. Seven. We saw lines of large trucks filling Lambton quay. We had sex with randoms. Ex partners received incoherent text messages. Somewhere around here we reached a sort of point of no return. Eight. We hit a spike. The gulf turned to shit. We had breakdowns on the footpath outside Shooters. We gave up on empathy. At nine o’clock we basically said fuck it, lets make a night of it.

(With a nod to Don Patterson). This was written for Drowning Bird, Plummeting Fish, but wasn’t in the final show.

A Poem There's no denying that these festival actors are Indescribably different from everyday actors. For a start, they are a lot further away.

Ode (2010 AD) Oh! You spirits of far flung friends! I have lost the memory of when you were flesh. Now you blink mysteriously on and off like the lights on a thunderbirds set. Your voices, your faces forgotten; light up your small green circles and appear to me...

Darling, I know that the writing which seems the most effortless to an outside eye is often the most carefully constructed, but no matter how any drafts I put this through, somehow it still sounds calculated. I’ll think it's finished, and that it's saying everything I want it to say, simply and truthfully- and then I'll notice one word that doesn’t sit right, or gives the wrong impression. Of course, changing it messes up the flow of an entire sentence, and then the whole thing is wrong. Words can be so slippery. Darling. Please believe me when I tell you I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve tried to write to you, apologising for everything. X

This envelope is adapted to survive and reproduce in the jungle. It is an eye catching yellow and red, divided into sections: priority delivery in one, in another, an outline of a jet plane. There are two small boxes next to winner authenticated, and look, the "yes" one has been printed with a tick it it. In another section, a warning that I have a deadline before which to collect my prize. All of these adaptations are geared toward the opening of this letter by an individual of my species. Thousands are scattered like seed pods in letterboxes all down my street, and will succeed with a few. Not me though. I will not be fooled by such basic tricks: wings that look like eyes, harmless snakes disguised as venomous ones, sentimental music in films, artificial perfumes, this envelope. Though I'll never know unless I check...

Feedback the judges have given us: “I wish you’d sing something about my problems.” “I’d like you to do that again, on fire.” “I’d like to see you do that again, but with some tigers.” “Are you aware of the snipers on the upper balcony?” “You have a luminous soul. You are a voice in a billion. Fix your breasts.” “We don’t have time for another version of Memory. For god’s sake, the ice caps are melting.” “You need to relax, be proud of who you are. Just act natural.” “I don’t think you know who you are. I don’t know who you are. Who are you? How did you get in here? Security!” “Je ne parle pas anglais.” “You’re good, but there are far too many famous people.” “Do you have an eating disorder, because you should consider getting one.” “You need to believe in yourself.” “You believe in yourself too much.” “I’ll give $1000,000 to the audience member who brings me your head in a bag.” “I think that you are what this competition is all about.”

The outcome of the talks Today, we the delegates, in consultation with experts, concluded that the problems are big and we are small. This will not come as a surprise. We took into account the arcing trajectory of history, the slipshod and commitee-led development of our conciousness, and our personal experiences in our years of flatting. We are sceptical of our capacity to change and then to remain changed for the rest of time. Bear in mind that the delegates did not elect to evolve amid scarcity. We trust that this is beyond dispute. Ladies and gentlemen, it is without shame or hesitation that we advocate the abandonment of hope. We will of course continue within the visible framework. God knows we are juggling enough already. We respectfully point out that we, your elected representatives, cannot truly imagine very big things or very small things, nor things in the deep past or distant future. Our window of vantage is proscribed. Relevant evidence of this can be produced. For all we know, this microphone works using magic. We remind you of our education. We cannot reasonably be expected to cope. It is difficult enough working this powerpoint or getting the bag out of the vacuum cleaner. You will empathise. We have the relevent graphs. We fully accept the unthinkable consequences of our actions and have resolved to give them no more thought. We will get in shape and pay more attention to the chore wheel.

Shakespeare Origins: Hamlet We met with the director and he told us what to expect when we take our seats at this summer's hottest prequel. We’re just so excited about finally getting to tell this story! There are so many unanswered questions in the first one. We get to explore all that stuff- the relationship between Old Hamlet and Claudius- their rivalry, where that came from. Also the precredits thing, (the showdown with Old Fortinbras- Ed), is going to kick things off in a really explosive way. We’re really stoked to get the old favourites back- as well as Claudius, the gravediggers will make an appearance, and of course young Hamlet is there in the background. We get to shed some light on his journey. You'll notice in the teaser trailer he has a wee skull on his bib! Just some subtle stuff for the fans. It’s not a spoiler to say (laughs) that the climax is the ear poisoning. We’ve had to be really... I guess respectful... with how we deal with that, its such a pivotal thing and of course everyone has their own picture of how its supposed to go! I can say though, I've seen the rough cut and they won't be disappointed, its really intense. And it should be. This is the moment when Claudius, you know,becomes Claudius, and we know the crowds will be waiting for that moment… Shakespeare Origins: Hamlet is in cinemas in November

Thoughts on being a star, or: In a parallel universe I’m a trapeze artist, or: all we do is lie

I’d rather be the moon than the sun The little, mystical, vicarious one You’ll think of the night Of wolves and of tides It may be a lie But it makes a good show A trapeze act A fine line In the blink of the eye Water to wine Just a trick of the light My moment to shine But never the star Of the sky.


Smoke Test I was fixing chair legs in the cafe down by the gallery atrium in the week before it reopened after its multi-million dollar overhaul. I noticed about a dozen guys in high visability vests congregating, as if something was scheduled to happen in the foyer. One of them wheeled in a dry ice machine and started pumping haze- while the other guys watched, arms crossed- until the two story space was filled. Then very loud sirens went off, followed by a massive roar as extractor fans sucked the smoke out in a blender-vortex through the ceiling. It seemed like I wasn't at work anymore but a chance guest at a performance by someone with a lot of resources to throw around. Like one of those European things Joel likes where they can afford to drop cars from the ceiling and fly cows about on strings. Or a movement of the dreamlike, purposeful Third Horse in Dunedin earlier this year. I was grinning, but a bit sheepishly because the guys in vests looked like they were still at work! Their arms-folded, workmanlike attitude added to the effect, like disciplined extras on set. And then it was over. The guys got onto their cellphones to sort out final paint jobs and wiring and all the rest of the to-do list. Tim Etchells' latest column, and in particular this quote, reminded me of this experience and made me want to write about it: "It's one of those sights that makes you wonder why art is needed at all, since the world itself – once you're looking hard enough – is already such a complex and disturbing arrangement of signs and signals." This made me think about the smoke test as a rare co-incidence: I suppose the reason I was looking in that way was because it just happened to occur in an art gallery, and the reason I enjoyed it was because it just happened to occur. More evidence that "its all about context?"

YOU DON'T YOUR NEED YOUR COLOURED GOGGLES FOR THIS SHIT Or: "Towards an Undead Theatre" Remember how your youth group leader used to take someone hip, like Eminem, and say: "You know, there was this guy called Jesus, and he was pretty much doing what Eminem is doing, 2000 years ago, in Jerusalem.” And you believed him, right? That youth group leader sure knew how to make something old and irrelevant look new and appealing: he compared it to something you cared about. It’s an old trick, and you’ll find it works with just as well with Shakespeare, and poetry, and lots of other dead things. In this article, I’m going to try and be like that youth group leader, only I want to tell you about theatre. As we all know, theatre was murdered by TV and film long before we were born. Or was it? Can it be resurrected? Do we need what famous zombie director Peter Brook (11 and 12) called for: an Undead Theatre? Let me begin. There's been a lot of fuss recently about cinema realising that it can "do 3D." No it fucking can't. Theatre can do 3D. Effortlessly. Everything it does is totally in all directions. Look at all the dimensions. It can do smells too. At the end, the performers and you have been through something together. You know the phrase “break a leg?” Actors can break legs. In theatre, things actually happen to people and you’re there to witness it. So forget Avatar, taste the next big thing. You might not have heard about it. It’s not on at Readings, or the Embassy. It cost less than a million dollars to make. It’s a theatre show. Binge Culture's Elimination Rounds, is, in conclusion, a theatre show. It is better than Jesus. In it, there’s a leafblower, a feeding frenzy, a live band, and a lion mauling. People pretend to be in danger. People get sort of naked. Gravity exerts its force upon objects. Wellington is built onstage and destroyed by a monster. My gosh, you say, can theatre do all this? Can it really be as hip as Eminem? To which I reply: heck yes, kid, and you won’t even need your 3D glasses.

Shakespeare: his life and key inventions Historical context: As outlined in Harold Bloom's book "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human," before Shakespeare, most of the emotions you recognise as “human” had not been developed or branded. Broadly: people were born, had lots of kids, and died. 1564 Shakespeare born. Parents begin planning next child. 1585-92 “Lost years.” During this time he splintered his soul into a five part horcrux with Bacon, Marlow, de Vere and Elizabeth I. 1593 In his state of the art word laboratory, develops what he brands “love” and writes Romeo and Juliet as a marketing vehicle. Ben Jonson calls DiCaprio’s performance “histrionic.” Teenage girls disagree. 1590s Spurred by his success with “love," works through a series of increasingly well received projects such as “misogyny” “antisemitism” and “xenophobia” all of which prove globally popular in following centuries. 1595 Begins work on his most ambitious project, "human nature". Ben Jonson sceptical. 1596 Drunk on his own success, and on a whim, builds theatre shaped like a big donut. 1600 "Human nature" invented by Shakespeare and unveiled in a four hour stunt nicknamed “Hamlet”. So successful it remains largely unmodified for 400 years. Ben Jonson unimpressed. 1604-10 Writes “problem plays” like Measure for Measure, fills them with problems such as wacky word puzzles, secret codes, and I-spy challenges, to give modern scholars something to do with all their time.1611 All earlier achievements dwarfed by the stage direction “exit pursued by a bear” in The Winter’s Tale

In Defence of Humanity Without coming across all defensive, we thought we should remind readers that there are, despite what people have been saying, some pretty clear differences between humans and animals. Including: a) We will not tricked by basic traps- ie flowers that look like other bees so that they mate with them, or eyes on butterflies that look like predators. b) We are (usually) less hairy. We wear eyeliner. c) Time, clocks and watches. We understand about death, and that the sun is a very, very long way away. d) We make tools, like hammers and water blasters. e) We outthink our instincts. We tell lies. f) Art. No apes make art and if they do it looks like a Jackson Pollock, which doesn’t count. g) We went to the moon. And no, the dogs and apes that went into space first don’t really count because who put them in the rockets in the first place? h) Shakespeare. And especially Hamlet, though I haven’t read it. i) We fall in actual love and only kill when there are wars or a good reason.

Things To Say When You Didn’t Like The Show As you will be aware, there is in place a lengthy or indefinite moratorium on constructive criticism for any new theatre performance. In the meantime, the following remarks are allowable and may be helpful in the foyer: You made that yourselves, right? It was really devised-feeling. I liked you in it. I liked that you were in it. I really liked the bit where (mention intensely specific action). It was quite an interesting stage image. You guys were all obviously really, really committed. You used the space. Great energy! I could tell you were all having a lot of fun. We were meant to be bored, that was part of it, eh? I liked how there were no (name something absent, like swastikas, or dead babies, etc) in it. I’ve never seen you act before (no follow-up.) You know what? It reminded me of (talk about something else). I’m not really a theatre person, you know, so I guess a lot of it just went over my head. You looked really pretty. That costume looked great on you. Who did the design? I like how it didn't have to mean anything. So are your parents coming to see this? Do you get paid for this? No? Yeah that makes sense. Oh hey! Hey! I've got to get a bus! This is really cool, what you’ve done to the foyer.

REMINDER: You must, by no means, tell the performers what you actually think. Who do you think they make this stuff for?

This is an OPEN BOOK test. You may have as much time as you like. You may talk quietly amongst yourselves. Q1: How can we keep politics out of entertainment? Should David Bain be allowed on Dancing with the Stars? Which television insurance ads have made you cry? Which antiperspirant deodorant sexually arouses women the most? (Choose ONE, 5 Credits) Q2: What text messages have you sent to yourself? Would you prefer to lose a finger or your cell phone? If I can imagine it, is it on Youtube? If I only knew you through your Facebook page, do you think I’d want to fuck you? (Choose TWO, 10 Credits) Q3: If I am 1000 kms away, chatting with you on Gmail, how close am I to you? If I am in front of you, texting someone else as you talk to me, am I closer or further away? If I am kissing you, thinking about something else, how close, how close am I? How about when I hide my eyes, like this? (Choose as many as you like, 15 Credits) Q4: What is the difference between a celebration and a curse? Can both exist in the same moment? On a scale of 1 to 10, how in love are you today? What lies do you believe? Do you have your priorities right? (Answer all questions, 50 credits)

Extra for experts! What kind of art should you make as the ice caps melt?

Here is a graph of WAKE LESS, a few weeks before opening night. It may or may not contain spoilers.

Appreciation Anxiety at the City Gallery Ok, I like what they've done with this room, its fun. Its black and covered with thousands of yellow dots: no kidding, the walls, the floors, the big blow up shapes hanging from wires, the gallery attendant... No, hold on. The attendant is wearing normal black gallery clothes, and it kind of ruins the effect. She just stands there, not being part of it. A visitor asks her if it gets boring, standing in this spotty room all day. She shrugs agreement, but says they rotate so its not so bad. The dots change. This explains the neutral clothing, I suppose. It'd be a hassle to have to change spots with every shift, but it does ruin the effect a little. I step into the spotty room and try to, you know, get amongst it. I glide between the globules, I unfocus my vision, I try standing on just the big spots. But that gallery attendant is right there. She's watching me, judging my experience. She's been around, she knows when the patrons are faking it, and I'm behaving like a spotty 14 year old. Its coming back again, the feeling I always get in these situations: acute appreciation anxiety. I get agitated, nervous, lose confidence. Am I getting anything out of this? Why can't I just relax and just have fun with all the dots? They must have taken someone hours to do, after all. The pressure of the ten dollar entry fee doesn't help- I hate it when its all built up and nothing fires. The gallery assistant is still in the same spot, and she has nothing to do but look at me. If she'd just go out for a while, give me some space, I could focus, get something fizzing. For god's sake, its only art, nothing to be anxious about. Maybe I should have loosened up a bit beforehand, had a wine, got a bit high. I can't perform in front of a stranger. I reckon I'll go home, find a small room, say a broom cupboard or the bathroom, and sticker the shit out of it myself. Then I can go in and relax, have some tea, put some music on, get naked. Ten dollars will buy me a lot of dots.

19 asides for an angsty theatre with apologies to Howard Barker.

1. You are probably making theatre for the wrong reasons. 2. Few people go to the theatre to have a bad time and be improved. How will you target them in your marketing? 3. Poetry may make nothing happen but it lacks theatre’s social aspect. 4. Shared light is spooky, because look how hard you are working and how still the audience is. 5. The banks have gotten pretty chummy recently, haven’t they? 6. Evolutionarily, it may not be in your interests to be happy. 7. Nihilism in the elderly is disconcerting, isn’t it? 8. Truth in the theatre is quite hard to define. 9. All that junk food is altering your perception of things. 10. When the actors are having a bad time, comfort them by calling out things like “its ok! None of it is really happening!” 11. Try getting up there and helping out. See what they do. 12. Discussion of Facebook will not, in itself, make the work avant-garde. 13. All this coffee is making you edgy. Have you added up what it costs you in a week? 14. Lists can be written more quickly than novels. 15. If you want to watch people bored at work, there are fast food places where you can do it for free. 16. It is more about the asking of questions than about being so presumptuous as to proffer answers, wouldn't you say? 17. You will see all these things differently in a few years. 18. The news media in this country is very emotionally invested. 19. We are doomed with or without your scholarly concern. Stop reading those depressing books and go outside, its sunny.

Amedabad Conceptual Art Photo by Alastair Upton, in India

Nothing to do with the massive earthquake when I disperse these words in chunks like so is that enough to make you read this as a poem? i'll mention here that Christchurch has basically collapsed mainly to add gravity in the absence of rhythm or meter

Thoughts on light and play

It's a bold choice to put people in the dark. When you light your audience, as has been the norm for most of the theatre's history, you provide the space for a real time negotiation with them. You signal your openness to their engagement, boredom, puzzlement, or anything. Shared light counters the voyeurism of most theatrical performances by setting up an atmosphere of openness and respect. This is especially true when audience members can see one another as well as the performers. We say: yes, you can look wherever you like, and in return we want to know where you are looking and how. We want the right to see if you are with us or examining the lighting grid, because looking at the lighting grid is a truthful reponse to a performance. It is a scary idea for the performer, because its hard to relax into what worked in rehearsal when you can see that more people are looking at their shoes than at your blood-stained hands. Or that most people are doing that grimacing thing. Shared light reminds us that we are making the performance for this audience, not for ourselves, or the abstract idea of an audience. It allows them be a gathering of individuals rather than a unified bunch whose reponse we can summarise in the green room with theories that they "liked" or "didn't understand" what we did. When the audience is lit, a commitment is made that the performance is going to happen in the here and now of play, rather than the there and then of presentation and masterpiece. If we find this instinctively uncomfortable, maybe its because we're confused about the difference between the theatrical experience and the online experience, where you can be elsewhere from the action and in your underwear, while eating cereal. Come on; be here, with us.

Profile for Ralph Upton

The Binge Culture Scrapbook  

Writing and pictures from Wellington's Binge Culture Collective

The Binge Culture Scrapbook  

Writing and pictures from Wellington's Binge Culture Collective


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