Review: Magic Steven’s Try to Love Everyone

Review by Fury. First published at IllegitimateTheatre.com

When Magic Steven walked onto the stage, I’ll admit to being a little bit worried.

His opening music played and he pulled out a notebook of which he started reading from not unlike a fifteen year old high schooler might do for his out-loud homework assignment. I shuffled in my seat. I worried for him. This could all go so horrifically wrong. I felt like I would be spending the next hour trapped, listening to the smatterings of sympathy-laughs from the audience; something I find more cringe-worthy than The Office. I needn’t have been worried, however, as before I knew it I was full-belly laughing with the rest of the crowd.

Magic Steven: Try to Love Everyone is a very minimalistic show. The flashiest aspect of which is when he says “thanks Jess” at the end of each piece and Jess, presumably, plays the music. His really, really, really deadpan tone of voice and presentation compliments the style of writing to a tee. It’s quirky, sideways writing filtered through absurd half-logic that makes Steven so funny.

He describes talking to a girl at a party about how sometimes he pretends to drive his car: sitting in it behind the wheel completely stationary but pretending to be turning down streets and the like. This sort of childhood playfulness is completely lost on her – especially when he sees her later on that evening, parked in the driveway of his friend’s house. He toots at her, waves, then continues to pretend driving on.

Ultimately Steven’s Try to Love Everyone strikes startlingly close to A Complete History of My Sexual Failures –an auto-bio-documentary about Chris Waitt who spends the entire documentary trying to figure out why his romantic relationships failed so miserably. Try to Love Everyone, however, has less self-flagellation and better humour as the stories that Steven’s encounters are largely very personable.

I imagine actually encountering one of these odd instances Steven describes would actually be a bit intimidating and confusing. They were funny to hear from him, though, because Steven himself seems very intimidated and confused; harshly nudged onwards by an internalised idea of society’s expectation to find and keep a girlfriend.

It’s both endearing and unsettling to see him become aware of his own biases and objectifications of women. Compelled to be a better person and conflicted about how to do so, he comes across as torn; incapable of approaching or understanding both the biases he has and the symptomatic echoes of objectification.

This may well be a farcical act that he puts on – an extended characterisation of a facet of himself – but in an age where women are subjects of extreme harassment online (amongst other things) this sort of representation is interesting and really important in understanding how society shapes men’s actions towards sexual partners.

Magic Steven is performing his final show at The Toff in Town on Sunday, 5th October @ 8pm for $12. You can book on the Melbourne Fringe website.


Interview with Omar Musa – Here Come the Dogs

Interview by Carrie Maya

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with Omar Musa outside a cafe beside Readings on Lygon St in Carlton. He had the Melbourne launch of his book Here Come the Dogs there the night before – which I had, sadly, been unable to attend. So having the opportunity to interview him was cause for excitement.

When I rocked up to interview him, I was doubly excited to see that he and Rob (a.k.a. hip-hop Artist, Mantra) were just chilling and chatting over pots of tea. I sat with them for a little bit and felt a little bit lucky to be a fly on the wall during their conversation; so passionate and articulate.

Once Rob said his goodbyes, I began the interview with Omar over a cup of Earl Grey.

So, Omar, whose hands would you like to see this book end up in?

Here come the dogsThat’s always a really hard question. When people ask me that I always just think “Why did I write this book?” And I wrote it because I, personally, find writing pleasurable, I wanted to get my head around certain things, and I was writing the type of book that I would like to read. Something that was about dreams, and madness, and chaos. So I wrote it for myself, principally.

But then, after that, I would really like it if it stirred up a little bit of debate about race and class in Australia. I’d like young people to read it, but I’d like old people to read it, too! It’s such a hard question. I wrote it for everyone, you know? It’s about a specific social milieu and it’s about the hip-hop generation. But I tried to put structural things in there that are, hopefully, timeless; largely concerns about change, generation, love, redemption, and violence.Whether I’ve been successful at that, I don’t know, because I was looking through that small key hole at the world.

I also hope that people from other countries could find something interesting in this book. Something to wrap their heads around.

Maybe a little bit of solace?

Maybe a little bit. I lean towards the darkness, in general. I think it’s really easy for me to fall into the abyss, the chaos.

I think there’s something really powerful about exploring darkness, though.

Yeah, me, too. I think you have to deal with it in art. I’m not intersted in art that doesn’t really deal with life, and death, and madness. But I always try to find redemption and light within that, somehow. In unlikely places. One of my heros,Werner Herzog – the film director…I heard Errol Morris quote Werner Herzog to Werner Herzog. Supposedly, once upon a time, he said that “Part of art is extending sympathy where it has not been extended before. And looking for stories where they haven’t been looked for before.” And that’s what I’m trying to do.

Beautiful. So how long did it take you to write the book?

Two and a half years. But I was putting a lot of my life’s questions and life’s thoughts into it.

So this is you fleshing out your existential stuff?

I guess so. But in a very intuitive way. I’m not one of these people who will be able to define for you every – ism under the sun. I’m interested in politics, but I don’t approach it from that theoretical point of view. I’m a storyteller…and I feel my way through these things.

Wow. So how long have you been writing for? When did you start considering yourself a writer?

I’m sort of interested in how you choose to define yourself, you know? Are you an artist? Or are you just a person who chooses to make art from time to time?…But I’ve been into poetry from a really young age. My dad was a poet in Malaysia. I come from an artistic family. My mum was a theatre critic and historian. So I went to a lot of theatre growing up. And my dad introduced me to a very famous Indonesian poet when I was about 8…And my dad said, “See this guy? Remember this guy. When he performs poetry, he doesn’t use the paper. He lives it with every fibre of his being; his voice, his body. He does it to stadiums full of people, at political rallies, and it can change the world.” And I didn’t know anything about poetry or politics. I was 8 years old! But I kept what my dad said in my mind because I was really impressed by it.

Then I began looking for a form of poetry that was like that, but it just didn’t seem to exist in Australia. Well, at least when I was growing up and in school. Then, at about exactly the same time, I came across hip-hop. And it was the poetry of hip-hop that lured me into it. But also I was really into the Black Muslims. Like Malcolm X and Farrakhan because they were, of course, brilliant orators. I was intrigued by people who would go on stage and perform their words and captivate people.

Then I came across Spoken Word poetry, probably when I was about 19, when I was in Santa Cruz, California. I saw this guy do a really sexual poem, but had everyone cracking up. And I was like, “This is really cool!” But it didn’t click in my mind, at the time, that this is something I wanted to do. I was too preoccupied with hip hop. But then I got a call from a guy who was running the ACT Poetry Slam and he was desperate for people to enter because a few people had dropped out. And he said, “Look, I’ve heard that you rap. Can you come around and spit some raps without the music?” And I felt like it was a good opportunity to try something a bit different.

I did this poem about The Cronulla Riots, well it was a rap, really. And I ended up winning that one. I went to nationals and came second. And that’s when a new world opened up for me.

Cool. That’s exciting! So do you see yourself getting back into Spoken Word in the future? I mean, as heavily as you were before?

Yeah, it’s all a matter of time, at the moment. Obviously the book promo is really crazy, I’ve got a play to finish by the end of the year; a commission by the street theatre in Canberra…I wish I had more time to dedicate to creating some new Spoken Word stuff, but that will happen naturally. At the moment, I have to say, I am enjoying having these bigger projects that I can sink my teeth into.

But, yeah, I think I’ve got a long way to go as a Spoken Word performer; to learn, and different ways that I could push my poetry.

It’s so interesting because, many of the people who will end up reading this interview will be like, “Are you kidding?” Because you’re someone who is looked up to quite a bit by people in the Melbourne poetry community. Especially people like me who, sort of, came on to the scene years after people like you, Luka, Joel, Alia. You guys are, sort of, the people who made me go, “Hmm, I kind of like this spoken word thing and I think I want to give it a bash!”


I remember those very first pieces that inspired me. Like your piece “My Generation” and Luka’s “A-Z” piece.

Luka and I were touring in China together and I saw him do that with a bunch of kids and it was great. he good thing about Luka is that he keeps his mind really open. And he’s willing to push himself, stylistically, to try different things. And, also, thematically; to try and delve deeply. He does have his stuff that, well, you know he’s Luka Lesson: so some of the early stuff is didactic. But he’s brave enough to look at the dark parts of himself. And I value that in anyone.

[Regarding Luka Lesson's new album EXIT]… he didn’t have to make an album like that; weird and slanted. I just love Luka, man! He’s like a brother and he’s a hell of a performer. You can’t deny that sort of talent…I remember seeing him perform in Melbourne once and I was like, “That guy’s going to become Australian Slam Champion one day.” And he did it…

Some people disagree with me about this, but I think the good thing about Spoken Word, in Australia, is that it’s not homogeneous. It’s still pretty diverse. I mean, every now and then, I’ll go out there and I’ll see…like a bush poet at a slam, and then a Marxist poet, and then some hip-hop guy. I think that’s really cool.

That’s beautiful. So, speaking of poetry and hip hop, how have they influenced this new work here? Here Come the Dogs.

The book is drenched in hip-hop references. Maybe almost to the point where some people find it a big confronting. But I feel like every piece of literature is coded in its own way. When we have to read Shakespeare in high school, we have to decode it. I read Coetzee’s Disgrace, recently, and it refers to a lot of classical music and that’s something I don’t know much about! Just in the same way that someone might pick this up and be like “Oh, what’s a cypher? What’s all this stuff about a hip-hop show?” So then they’ll have to go find out and decode it!

But I’d like to think that the best type of art, in general (but hip-hop, especially), is fearless. It’s unafraid to be unruly, and dangerous, and wild. And I like to hope that this book is a little bit fearless; that I kind of went for it. But then, of course, a third of it is in First Person poetry format. I mean, I don’t know if Penguin have put out a verse novel in a long time, but two thirds of it is prose, a third of it is influenced by, you know, Dorothy Porter; that verse style. So yeah! Poetry and hip-hop have really influenced this book.

Omar’s debut novel Here Come the Dogs can be bought online or at most bookstores near you.

You also have a chance to win a copy of Here Come the Dogs! Just like the post on our Facebook page or Favourite/Retweet the tweet on our twitter account.


Australian Poetry Slam 2014 Victorian Heats announced

It’s your chance again to represent Victoria at the Australian Poetry Slam finals and bring the trophy back to Melbourne. The prestigious Australian Poetry Slam have announced the details of the Victorian Heats and the Victorian State Final and they’re coming up soon!

Be sure to lock those dates in your diary and get along for your chance to get to the State Final at the State Library. As usual, the top two from each heat go through to final.

Thursday 28 August
Bass Coast Principal Library
Watt Street Wonthaggi
5672 1875

Friday 29 August
Ballarat Library
178 Doveton St North
5338 6850

South Yarra
Tuesday 2 September
Toorak/South Yarra Library
340 Toorak Road
8290 8000

Hoppers Crossing
Wednesday 3 September
Plaza Library
Cnr Heaths and Derrimut Roads
9748 9333
***please allow extra time for parking as the Plaza is undergoing renovations***

Thursday 4 September
Nunawading Library
379 Whitehorse Road
9872 8600

Friday 5 September
Brunswick Library
Cnr Sydney Road and Dawson Street
9353 4003


Spoken Word at the Melbourne Writers Festival

The Melbourne Writers Festival officially started yesterday and without spoken word, the festival would lack a very special element to this city’s literary culture.

Lisa Dempster, Director of the Melbourne Writers Festival told Melbourne Spoken Word, “We’re very proud to present a number of events this year which feature spoken word, with guests including Maxine Beneba Clarke, Emilie Zoey Baker, Alia Gabres and Mark Seymour.

“We’ll also see students from secondary schools across Victoria fight it out for the right to be called the best young performance poets – it’s great to see young people embrace spoken word.”

Starting Sunday, there’s a bunch of events at MWF featuring spoken word or poetry:

Writers Across Borders featuring Maxine Beneba Clarke, Francesca Rendle-Short, Robin Hemley , David Carlin, Alvin Pang, Eddin Khoo, Laurel Fantauzzo
Sunday, August 24 @ 2.30pm / Performance Space, The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Writers Maxine Beneba Clarke, Alvin Pang and Eddin Khoo share their experiences of wrICE, a program of reciprocal cultural exchange and cultural immersion focused on writers and writing. This lively and performative session includes readings from the participants’ diverse bodies of work.

Out Loud!
Tuesday, August 26 @ 1.45pm / Deakin Edge, Fed Square, cnr of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne
Students representing Victorian secondary schools fight it out for the right to be called the best young performance poets. It’s poetry, it’s live, it’s loud and it’s not to be missed.

Poetry Live & Direct featuring Adam Ford, Emilie Zoey Baker, Alia Gabres
Tuesday, August 26 @ 10am / ACMI The Cube, Fed Square, cnr of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne
Catch the beat with two of Melbourne’s freshest, feistiest poets. Emilie Zoey Baker, the Ma’am of Slam and Alia Gabres, a a rising star of the Melbourne poetry scene, offer up powerful rhymes and stories from the world today.

Poetic License featuring Komninos Zervos, Ebony MonCrief, Natalia Mann, Koraly Dimitriadis, Irine Vella, OUP Emerging Artists Kevin Nugara, Mahmoud Samoun, Ileini Kabalan, Dante Sofra, and special guests
Wednesday, August 27 @ 12pm, Thursday, August 28 @ 6pm & 8pm, Friday, August 29 @ 6pm & 8pm / Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland St, Footscray
Once upon a time a god called Dionysus believed that he could save an ancient city from ruin by bringing a dead poet back to live. And now the need has again arisen. Our world, our city, our neighbourhood is in need of poetry and a great poet to save it. Poetic License is a cross-generational performance work about the power and limitations of words. Presented by Outer Urban Projects in association with FCAC and Melbourne Writers Festival

Poetry of World War One featuring Robert Newton, Tony Thompson, Alia Gabres
Wednesday, August 27 @ 11:15am / ACMI Cinema 1, Fed Square, cnr of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne
The poetry of World War One written by soldiers and those at home helps us to understand the terrible sorrow of war. Robert Newton and Alia Gabres introduce and read of the poetry of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and other witnesses to war.

Local Libraries: Caroline Springs
Wednesday, August 27 @ 7pm / Caroline Springs Civic Centre Library, 193-201 Caroline Springs Blvd, Caroline Springs
A poetry slam for local poets, with Maxine Beneba Clarke as the MC, performing a couple of her own pieces and acting as one of a panel of three judges.

Passing Bells: The Poetry of World War One featuring Richard Stubbs, Simon Armitage, Alison Croggon, Mark Seymour, Jeff Sparrow, Sian Prior, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Andrew Marlton
Sunday, August 31 @ 2pm / St Michael’s Uniting Church On Collins, 120 Collins St, Melbourne
About: The terrible grief of World War One gave rise to poetry of intense emotion and poignancy. Remembering the Great War poets, writer and performers read and reflect, curated by Overland editor Jeff Sparrow. With Simon Armitage, Maxine Beneba Clark, Alison Croggon, First Dog on the Moon, Sian Prior, Mark Seymour, Sigrid Thornton and Richard Stubbs. Supported by Overland

wordpress cover photo

Melbourne Spoken Word presents Drag Slam

Saturday, September 13 @ 7.30pm / Hare Hole, 63 Johnston Street, Fitzroy / $15-10 (pre-booking recommended but tickets at the door if not sold out)

Poetry for kings, queens and in-betweens.

Head to Hare Hole for the first in a series of themed slams. Melbourne Spoken Word is proud to present a night of gender bending poetry fun with MC Sue Pository (Fury) guiding you through Drag poetry shenanigans. There will be wine, song, and enough glittery makeup to drown a small elephant.

Invitational slam. Line-up of your favourite poets in drag to be announced shortly.

$15/10 (or via a MSW Pozible pass)

Doors open 7.30pm, show starts at 8pm.

WordPress Cover Photo

MSW presents The Poetic Lab Open Mic featuring Steve Smart and Mic Launch

Saturday, August 30 @ 8pm (doors open 7.30) / Under the Hammer, 158 Sydney Road, Coburg / $5 (free for Pozible pledgers) / Open Mic (see below) / RSVP on Facebook

Pozible banner

Melbourne Spoken Word presents a brand new open mic concept, The Poetic Lab.

Happening every month or two, MSW will host an open mic for people who want feedback and a chance to improve and test their work. Open to poets from beginner to seasoned performers.

A feature poet will present their work alongside talking with The Poetic Lab about the process of writing and performing their poetry.

The Open Mic section will include a space for the feature, host and people from the audience to offer constructive feedback to the poet.

The first Poetic Lab will also be the launch of MSW signature microphone to be used at all future MSW events.

Doors open 7.30. We aim to start at 8pm so please be on time.

Limit 10 spots and 5 mins per poet. It’s recommended that poets only present one poet to maximise the usefulness of feedback.

Please email benjamin@melbournespokenword.com to book a spot in the open mic. If 10 spots are full-up, we’ll add you to a waiting list in case someone pulls out, doesn’t turn up, or we have enough time.


Anis Mojgani, Buddy Wakefield and Amal Kassir headline One Night Stanza II

This is going to be the most exciting event of the year. Footscray Community Arts Centre, alongside Word Travels and Going Down Swinging, presents the return of One Night Stanza. After a sell-out show last year in connection with the Emerging Writers Festival, this year Anis Mojgani returns with Buddy Wakefield and Amal Kassir to headline the ‘Poetic (Days) Weekend’ which will include a performance, plus workshops and a film screening.

With other performers set to be announced, the line-up also includes the founder of Word Travels, Miles Merrill plus Amharic poet Helen Kassa, and Melbourne’s very own Jessie Giles. Tickets sold out fast last time so we’d suggest booking early to avoid being bitterly disappointed.

But we thought we’d let the three poets speak for themselves, and check out the program below, plus the upcoming events page for other events featuring the three of them.

Workshop: Footscray Community Arts Centre presents Private Creative Development Masterclass with Anis Mojgani
Friday, August 22 @ 10am / FCAC Basement Theatre, 45 Moreland St, Footscray / $200

Workshop: Footscray Community Arts Centre presents Private Creative Development Masterclass with Anis Mojgani
Friday, August 22 @ 2pm / FCAC Basement Theatre, 45 Moreland St, Footscray / $200

Footscray Community Arts Centre presrnts Preview Screening: Zajal – The Art of the Poetic Duel
Friday, August 22 @ 6.30pm / FCAC Basement Theatre, 45 Moreland St, Footscray / $10

Footscray Community Arts Centre presents Anis Mojgani Workshop
Saturday, August 23 @ 11am / FCAC Basement Theatre, 45 Moreland St, Footscray / $30

Footscray Community Arts Centre presents One Night Stanza II featuring Anis Mojgani (USA), Buddy Wakefield (USA), Amal Kassir (USA), Miles Merril (Sydney), Helen Kassa (Melbourne), Jessie Giles (Melbourne) and more
Saturday, August 23 @ 6.30pm / FCAC Performance Space, 45 Moreland St, Footscray / $15


Koraly Dimitriadis launches project of poems put to film

Words by Koraly Dimitriadis

Pozible banner

When I received Australia Council ArtStart funding, and set out to create short films of my poem, I had no idea how they would turn out. The only videos I had ever made of my poetry was putting a camera in front of myself and performing how I would on stage.

It was a struggle finding a co-director to work with. I have pretty strong views about my art but in reality (contrary to my art!) I can be really shy and hesitant to express my opinions in a group setting. I had a few directors I tried to work with, but each time I didn’t feel they understood my direction and I didn’t feel confident enough to speak my mind. Directors like to control and I am also a controller when it comes to my art.

me and christos
With Christos Tsiolkas, photo by Kaliopi Malamas

I had been acquaintances with Nathan Little before it was suggested to me that he could possibly be ‘the one’. Nathan and I clicked instantly and my ideas, which were only seeds, began to flourish and evolve. For the first time I could see my films as cinematic, taking on lives of their own. Performing a poem in front of a camera is one thing, creating a story out of a poem is another. Sometimes I was stuck, and I didn’t know where the next scene should go, and Nathan put forward ideas which expressed exactly what I was feeling but i didn’t know how to articulate. Nathan and I were essentially a creative team, and there is no way the films would have turned out how they did without his creative input. Finding the right people to work with is a key element in creating your art to the standard you want it to be.

me and nathan

During the production stage, I sent some rough cuts to Profile talent management who were instantly interested in signing me. Their clients consist mainly of high profile celebrities, your Neighbours and Home and Away people as well as radio personalities. When I got signed with Profile I realised that if a mainstream management company was interested in me – in poetry – as something which could possibly be taken to the mainstream, I was onto something.

What interested me the most about creating the films was not only creating a story-line with the visuals but also the ‘acting’ of a poem. I see this as different to ‘performing’ the poem. This is where the poet actually acts like they would in a film. The visuals can be acting out the words of the poem, or in other cases they can be showing deeper meanings to the poem which a poet cannot possibly show when they are performing a poem on stage. This ‘embodiment’ of the poem, which a poet would do on stage, is taken to the next level. Essentially the poem is packaged in a way where it can be delivered to the audience from the comfort of their home via YouTube or via a Cinema Screen or Television. These films can also be embedded within an ebook, or, as I did in my 2013 La Mama Explorations show, Good Greek Girl (which will have a premier season is 2015), can be incorporated into a performance of show, where the poet is interacting with their poem. As poets, we all know that when we write a poem, we grow out of it and move on. I was interested in the dialogue between the old poet (in the film) and the new poet (performing). I took the films one step further creating a film trailer for my current book, Love and F**k Poems, using footage from two of the poems from the book, ‘Best Friend’ and ‘How to get a f**k’

I was also interested in the idea of working with other poets and writers but not just because I wanted to work with them, but creatively I liked the idea of putting well known poets and writers ‘inside my poems’. Performance poets can be very distinct characters so I liked the idea of playing around with this and seeing what they could bring to the films because I believe all performance poets can also act because it comes with being a performance poet. By doing this I was able to bring in the unique character traits of these poets into the films. I also invited some of the poets in the films to respond to the films on the launch night, as well as a few other poets. I want to create a dialogue of poetry between the films and other poets. I will also be responding to the films on the night with newer poetry I have written recently, addressing the poems of the films which were written a few years ago. Most of the poets are from a Greek-Australian backgrounds as I am interested in the cultural dialogue we can create with the films and the poems as a creative whole.

Everyone thinks poetry can’t sell, but I beg to differ, and I have always held the view that it can. In this digital age where less people are reading and more people want things fast and accessible, could poetry be the medium that pushes through?

Koraly Dimitriadis will launch her Good Greek Girl Film Project at Loop Bar on August 10th. She has also invited poets in the films and other poets to respond to the films.

Koraly Dimitriadis presents the Good Greek Girl Film project featuring Koraly Dimitriadis, Christos Tsiolkas, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Randall Stephens, Amy Bodossian, Anthea Sidiropoulos, Jim Koutsoukos & Cam Hassard, plus live poetic responses to the films by Angela Costi, Helena Spyrou, Komninos Zervos, Peter Papathanasiou (Canberra), Des Skordilis (Brisbane), Randall Stephens, Amy Bodossian, Kaliopi Malamas and maybe more!
Sunday, August 10 @ 6.30pm / Loop Bar, 23 Meyers Place, Melbourne / $15-10 (Limited Tickets. Please book in advance)


Review: Scott Wings previews Icarus Falling in Melbourne before Edinburgh Fringe

Review by Armand Petit

Pozible banner

Scott Wings’ one person (yes person, not man) show ‘Icarus Falling’ is a magnificently crafted, abstract exploration of both the ancient Grecian myth and the field of mental illness. Right from the beginning it was made clear that this was going to be a generous performance as Scott quite literally launched himself into the story. With a pretty demanding pose as well. The stage was virtually naked and the props, which consisted of a hip flask and chair, were rarely used. And despite the minimalism of the set or its contributing tools – the visual sparsity was all compensated for by the physicality and willingness of the performer embracing his characters and painting his world into existence. Icarus, Daedalus, the tower, the labyrinth, the sky, the ocean – it was all there. All easily imaginable through Scott’s description, his fantastic exploration of space and unabashed use of his body and voice.

There is a certain liberating whimsy that a viewer gets to experience when seeing Scott spin a yarn. It is not all highly polished, perfected elocution and traditional stage methods. It’s more like watching a kid at play, building a universe in their bedroom with such conviction that it’s really hard to not just buy into it. Their enthusiasm is infectious and you follow without question. However, with the added touch of seriousness this performance involves, Scott has managed to strike a pretty solid equilibrium between that fancy-free playfulness and the often self-destructive introspection of those who’ve outgrown LEGO and Play-Doh.

Side Note: For those of you over 20 that still play with LEGO and Play-Doh! You rock my world, but I’m sure you get my point.

Those who haven’t seen him on stage before may find the switches between character and narration a little jarring at times. There are also some relatively confronting lines and themes some may find offensive. Be it because they were insensitive or maybe a little too close to home – some cringes were definitely present in the room. When a performance poet delivers something this personal that is structured in a format of real life meets myth (and has no costumes, make up, backdrops or other cast members) it can be difficult to segregate what portions of the content belong to which character. Or whether it is a perspective of the poet themselves. Or if an emphatic and obscene gesture/comment was an absolute belief of the narrator or simply used to draw a reaction and provide the characters with more personality.

For the most part, and I would say about 95% of the show, these things were pretty evident. But I’ve got the upper hand of being theatrically trained and having gone to quite a number of these kinds of shows over the years. I’m just saying there may be a few odd punters, having just wandered in or been brought by a friend, which might take stuff personally because the seams between narrator, characters, folklore and personal observation/experience may blur now and again. And by “now and again” I mean very rarely. These blurs however, can make observers feel Scott is an asshole and some of his views are callous, misogynistic, homophobic, selfish and remorseless. Just know that if you take it that way and leave feeling pissed off with Scott, than you’ve forgotten the theme of this performance. Which is a young man at odds with his world, in a mode of self-discovery and haunted by his past mistakes. Could Scott do a little more to make that clearer? Possibly. But then the art becomes obvious and formulaic and we would no longer be entitled to a wider scope of interpretation and possibly, more individual response.

Leaving the transitions aside, I felt that the selection of his pieces and how they were interwoven into the set, along with the clear juxtaposition of the narrator’s opposing attitudes, managed to pull us through so many altitudes of the complexities of human emotions. A wonderful intersection of both harrowing yet hopeful was found where Scott set himself a seemingly impossible task and soared through a series of intimate and gripping moments.

As a sufferer of mental illness, this is an area that constantly sparks my interest. I have witnessed a number of performers take on this subject and provide something either vague or somewhat narcissistic and just a bit alienating. Speaking to them afterwards, a lot of them initially set out to make the audience feel included but did feel that the focus failed to communicate links between the two worlds. Scott Wings’ particular production was one I found incredibly raw, unapologetically honest and deathly accurate as to what it is to carry the burden and wear the stigma of manic depression.

To see ‘Icarus Falling’ is to witness a man that removed all defences and invited perfect strangers to have the potential to trudge through a highly personal landscape of shadows and reality, conflict, doubt, mistakes, self-loathing, anguish, love – and be left to judge. Such things take immense courage to not only create, but to share. And Scott has blessed us (and soon the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) with a gift of truth and beauty that is so otherworldly yet often unknown, unexplored and within us all. I will be seeing it again when he returns from Scotland. And I urge you all to do the same. If not for the mind-bending alternate take on the story, then at least to observe the possibilities of performance theatre and poetry delivery when limitations have been dismissed.

The author of this review would like to acknowledge; Hares & Hyenas (venue), Ebony MonCrief (MC Duties), Kudos (talent), Jacky T (talent) and Jamie Kendall (talent). All of who played an integral role for the event and are most definitely worth checking out.

Your online connection to spoken word & poetry in Melbourne