Scott Wings talks to Amanda Anastasi about his Melbourne Comedy Festival show Colossi.
In Colossi, you draw on myth and fairytale, as well as a sense of play, to explore ideas on dealing with negativity, anxiety and strength. What, in life, is your ‘troll-resistant armour’?
I was talking about this with an artist friend of mine the other day and how all our friends are artists. My troll resistant armour is my non-artist friends. The ones I play video games and go fishing with. The ones who don’t care about the “industry” or the perils of it. And while they ask how I’m going and enquire about my career, I can share my life with them. It quickly becomes bad puns, mum jokes and a conversation about the new X Men movie. We make a bonfire and smoke a blunt and just chill the fuck out, ya know? You need that. Hanging out with artists too much quickly becomes an “inmates running the asylum” scenario. It’s not good for me to constantly have. So my mates are my grounding and the ones I turn to when I need to remember what life is actually about.
Tell us about your childhood imaginary friend.
Ironically I didn’t really meet Jack until I was working on this show. I was raised a single child and you’d assume I had one. But nah. Me and my ninja turtles toys got along just fine. But I was talking to a lot of people who had imaginary friends. One of my Brisbane friends had an imaginary friend who would cop the blame for all of her bad behaviour. Until she had to kill her imaginary friend so they “died in a fire.” Seriously. People’s brains are amazing. Now that Jack and I get to play a lot in COLOSSI I think often of how he would handle situations. Jack helps a lot. He’s handy to have around. Adults need more imaginary friends I think. As long as it’s not crazy for you.
Colossi would appeal to the child in all of us and is so refreshingly imaginative. It is
Girls on Key is a monthly music and poetry event held at Open Studio in Northcote, Melbourne. The focus is on building a platform and creating opportunities for female-identifying and LGBTQI artists, with two or three feature poets at each event. It is an inclusive event that includes an open mic section, open to all genders (as is the audience). It’s a very supportive and encouraging event, where first time and seasoned poets are all welcome. It also acts as a fundraiser for refugee and asylum seeker causes. It can be a space for quiet reflection, but most of all for self-expression in all its colourful and diverse forms. Here is a bit of background about how this event came into being:
I arrived back in Melbourne from Auckland in 2012 after a few years away. Being a musician, I immediately moved to one of the suburbs soaked in live gigs most nights of the week; Northcote. I had run fundraising poetry and music gigs back in New Zealand and I was keen to get back into it. Open studio was the first venue we booked and it was just the right vibe for the Kerouac Effect, with its French/bohemian style and intimate vibe (and delicious crepes!). We matched up poets and musicians and it was a delightful night.
At that stage I was surrounded by amazing, talented women who played piano and wrote their own songs and I thought it would be great to run a monthly showcase, hence the name “Girls on Key”. It was literally Women who played piano. Because I wasn’t as well-connected to the Melbourne music scene as I used to be, it was a small gig, with limited success in terms of bringing a crowd out on a week night. In 2014, I decided to run a poetry special of the event and, surprise, surprise, Melbournians really enjoy their poetry and spoken word, so the gig started to grow. People seemed to be on board with the idea of contributing to refugee causes through the door charge.
The philosophy behind my fundraising gigs was to always support the arti
Tenda performs ‘Sally’s Britney’s and Ashley’s’ at Melbourne Spoken Word’s Melbourne Speaks Poetry at White Night 2016.
Tenda is best described as an amalgamation of hip hop and spoken word poetry. He has released 4 mixtapes and is currently working on releasing his 5th. In the past he has opened for The Game, Lloyd and has been on the bill for a number of notable QLD music festivals. As a spoken word poet, Tenda has also performed as a TEDx Speaker at 3 different events. His material manages to pass as carefree and fun whilst being mesmerizing and thought provoking. There is an accessible youthful intelligence here that is both representative of his experience and his generation.
Food and poetry — two things that should go together far more often than they do. Sure, you can order food at whatever bar a majority of the poetry events in Melbourne take place in, but then you’d be missing out on the home-cooked smorgasbord of treats and sweets at Ms Millie’s Pop-Up Poetry Cafe.
Held in the increasingly popular performance space Next Level Studios, tucked into an alcove on Victoria St. in Brunswick, Miss Millie’s is one of the most racially diverse open mics held in Melbourne, thanks to creator Jay J Larkin’s decision to quietly exclude alcohol from the menu, allowing practicing Muslims to be present and enjoy local poetry without having to compromise their beliefs. In doing so, Larkin has created an incredibly safe space for minorities to share their poetry and connect with other poets who may or may not frequent the pub poetry scene as well.
The poetry itself is as varied as the audience, with pieces ranging from serious page pieces to silly wordplay to strange imagery to profound identity pieces. Seasoned poets who had been writing and performing for years share the stage with a good number of first-time performers given a unique opportunity to step out of their shells and onto a lamp-lit stage in front of a warm, inviting audience.
In order to get onto the open mic list, poets must contact Larkin via the Ms Millie’s Facebook page prior to the date of the actual event itself – a simple private message once the call has been put out as a status update on the community page will do. Hitting the Like button on the official Ms Millie’s Facebook page will send you a notification of when that call is put out.
As for the experience of performing, the space at Next Level Studios is an upstairs wood-floored dance studio with mirrored walls, which reflect the previously-mentioned lamp light back into the room, making it bright enough to see the audience quite clearly, and f
Most poetry gigs in Melbourne have an open mic, even if they are also featuring poets. This is absolutely a good thing, as it gives everyone the chance to hear voices that might otherwise go unheard, and allows those new to poetry to discover what it is like to perform your work. Open mics are a great place to hone your skill, as you learn what audiences do or don’t like about your work.
Performing also lets you really hear your own work properly, often for the first time; Carrie Brownstein, in her recent Wheeler Centre interview, said that ‘performance adds a certain emotionality to something… when you read it, that’s when you realise the emotional impact.’ So even if you see yourself as a ‘page poet’ rather than a ‘stage poet,’ performing at open mics will be good for your poetry, and hopefully good too for those listening, as they enjoy hearing your words and ideas.
However, there can be too much of a good thing, and my problem is this: open mics have the potential to be addictive. You may find yourself hooked on the buzz and performing at every single one you attend.
If you read at every open mic, it is easy to spend the first half of the event running through your poems in your head whilst gazing at the poet currently onstage without hearing a word they are saying. Finally, your name is called, and you stand up on shaky legs and make your way to the microphone. For a few minutes, you control time, and the emotions of everyone in the room. And then you get offstage and have a huge adrenaline rush and spend the rest of the evening buzzing, delighted when people compliment your poetry, hyped to do it all over again at the next opportunity. This is not a terrible thing by any means. The only issue is that if you go through this routine every time, you are no longer involved to listen as well as perform, and shut yourself off from enjoying everything on offer that evening.
If you actively plan on reading at every op
Emily Pritchard performs ‘Deodorant’ at Melbourne Spoken Word’s Melbourne Speaks Poetry at White Night in Melbourne, February 20, 2016.
Camera work by Will Beale. Produced by Melbourne Spoken Word.
Emily Pritchard is an emerging writer from Oxford, whose work has been described as ‘stirring, contemplative, honest, witty, at times dry, others cryptic but rewarding for the decoder’. She has found a second home in Melbourne and enjoys coffee, ice cream, and any combination of the two.