Tag Archives: singing

Weekend Coffee Share: 21st March, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you are well, and doing okay.

We are going really well here, although our men folk have escaped down South crossing the border of Victoria and are in Geelong. This afternoon at 3.00pm our son will be boarding a tall ship, the Young Endeavour, and at 4.00pm they set sail for Sydney arriving on the 30th March nine days later. It is a trip of a lifetime. Captain James Cook was sailing The Endeavour when he “discovered” Australia’s East Coast back in 1770, and for better or worse depending on your perspective, he claimed Australia’s East Coast for the British Empire. Anyway, in recognition of the Bicentenary of English settlement at Botany Bay on the 26th January, 1788, the British Government gifted Australia with the Young Endeavour to Australia as a youth training vessel and crews, like the one our son is about to be part of, have been sailing it ever since.

The last crew of the Young Endeavour where they’re sitting like large birds out on the masts.

Rather than giving you a second-hand and poorly informed account of what it’s all about, I thought I’d share this breathtaking video from their Facebook page. It makes me wish I was 18 again and on the trip of a lifetime. On the other hand, I was 18 back in 1988, and watching the Tall Ships sail into Sydney Harbour on Australia Day 1988 when it seemed all of Australia was congregated under the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Kirribilli and around around the harbour just to get a glimpse: Here’s the video link: https://www.facebook.com/YoungEndeavour/videos/389567701984131 If you’re interested in following their journey, here’s a link to the Captain’s log: https://youngendeavour.gov.au/the-voyage/captains-log

Meanwhile, I am reluctantly at home. Our daughter had a dance audition yesterday, and I needed to be here. She’s also in her second final year at school and it seems to be assessment season. She also had a nasty virus last week. She had five RAT tests, which all came back negative but that kept her away from school for awhile too.

However, I really enjoyed watching her and the other students from their studio dance yesterday and her long awaited tutu finally arrived yesterday so it was special to see her put that on, although nothing like seeing her p on stage and under lights. I can’t wait. She will be exquisite.

Last week, we went out for a family meal to celebrate both “the kids'” birthdays. As you may recall, Mister turned 18 and Miss was Sweet 16, which are both special birthdays. We went to a so-called “hamburger restaurant” in Terrigal called Milky Lane. OMG! I struggle to find the words to describe the food, the out-of-this-world which transformed the place into an almost out of mind experience. It was so not McDonalds (which is where Miss works btw). I felt old, but it was wonderful and I’d love to go back.

I am actually getting out and about a bit more, but still wearing my mask and social distancing. On Saturday, my friend and I met for coffee at Link and Pin in Woy Woy, and we returned yesterday afternoon to listen to live music. We had no idea who was playing, but caught two acts. The second was called the Howlin’ Rats. The singer, who calls himself Harry Hobbit as is a computer programmer, during the week, had some very interesting effects with his voice which I didn’t really understand so I’ve bought their `CD and I’ve got his number. He asked me to write a bio for the band. I thought it would be interesting, and I’m rather curious. I like stepping into other people’s shoes and it’s just good to have a convo with a stranger in person for a change. Covid has ruined my social life.

Anyway, I need to dash but will be back later to polish this off.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Our Sound of Music on New Year’s Day!

I couldn’t resist. When I saw that The Sound of Music was going to be on tonight, I knew that no matter how hard I might try to resist, I was going to watch it. Not just because it was on, and I had nowhere else to be, but because I wanted to watch it. That I had to go through the whole Sound of Music experience all over again. Immerse myself fully.

Miss outside the Brent Street Studios where the auditions were held.

Besides, Sound of Music brings back some very special memories of of my own. When my daughter was about nine, she came home from a dance class with a torn out strip of paper in her hand. On it were written the details to audition for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of the Sound of Music in Sydney. A scrap of paper wasn’t an auspicious beginning, and I must admit I was rather unenthused. My grandmother had been a child prodigy concert pianist, and I’d had expectations thrust on me at an early age. However, the desire was coming from her, not from me. Moreover, she’s very hard to say no to. Before I knew it, I was filling out the application form and sending off a photo. It was only then that I bought a copy of the movie, and saw how much our daughter looked like the original Marta, and wasn’t surprised when she scored an audition. The first thing she had to do was pass the height test. Then came the singing audition, and then onto dance.

These days, Miss doesn’t do a lot of singing. However, back then she’d performed in quite a few large choral performances at school, including School Spectacular. However, she’d also been diagnosed with vocal nodules and was struggling to speak let alone sing, and had been seeing a speech therapist. However, why let a small thing like that get in the way of your dream? Moreover, if you know us even just a little bit, you know we don’t give up that easily.

Persevering with the keyboard while on the nebuliser. I only need it a few times a day so not a big deal.

Just to complicate matters further, I ended up with a major chest infection, asthma and needing to go on the nebuliser in the week leading up to her audition. I wasn’t about to let that stand in my way either. Anything short of a near death experience, and I was getting her to that audition myself. Call us daft in hindsight, but once the juggernaut is in motion, it takes a hell of a lot to make it stop.

Miss playing the keyboard.

So, there we were a fine pair in the week before the audition. Miss with vocal nodules and me on the nebuliser. Yet, we prepared and practiced the songs. It had been years since I’d touched a keyboard, but I pulled out this gizmo I’d bought out at a market for the kids…a rollout electronic keyboard which could go on the kitchen table and it didn’t matter if we wrote the notes on it. It was hardly my mother’s precious Steinway grand. I also wrote the songs out with the corresponding letters because she coulddn’t read music. However, while learning the songs on the keyboard was sparing her voice, she couldn’t see the point of it all, and when the horse resisted, I pulled back. In hindsight, it was all probably a bit too much, but I meant well.

Converting the musical score into “Miss-Speak”. I really worked hard to help.

By the way, there was a rather comical twist to her audition. The night beforehand, we were able to stay with a friend in the city to make things easier. As it turns out, my friend was a Major in the Army Reserve and just happened to be in uniform when he dropped us off at Brent Studios. So, as you can see, she had a proper military escort to her audition.

Miss with the Major

We were kind of grateful when she didn’t make it through to the callbacks. I don’t know how parents magically “make it happen”, but we’d have been bending over backwards and inside out to pull it off. Yet, we would’ve done it.

Miss is now 15 going on 16. So tonight as I rewatched the Sound of Music, she was now almost the same as Liesl, the eldest of the Von Trapp children, but fifteen going on sixteen instead. Of course, this isn’t all smooth sailing, and she was the only one of us who was out and about last night.

If you would like to find out more about the original Von Trapp family, this is a good quick read: https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/winter/von-trapps-html

In the meantime, with covid at large and management in NSW in complete disarray, it might be an opportune time to catch up with a few other movie classics. The Blues Brothers was on NYE along with Can’t Stop The Music with the Village People. I’ve watched that after midnight for probably the last five years but it was on before midnight this year and I missed it. I’m also trying to start reading Amanda Lowrey’s book: The Labyrinth (along with getting through a massive book pile). Gee, along with wanting to enjoy the outdoors and sort out the house, top of my wish list for 2022 is nine lives.

Best wishes,

Rowena

My daughter and I a few months ago after getting our post lockdown haircuts.

Weekend Coffee Share – 24th October, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Tonight I’m celebrating a journey of epic proportions. For the first time in four months, we actually drove over the Hawkesbury River Bridge and into Sydney to visit my parents and brother. The last time we came out of lockdown and we saw them again, I was so excited and I was soaring. It reminded me of going up to see my grandparents in Queensland and I’d almost be leaping out of my skin waiting to see them. I was much calmer this time. I hadn’t made a cake or anything (which is rather exceptional), and I’ve been trying to pace myself a bit. All these rushes of excitement can be quite exhausting and I’m just trying to remain on more of an even keel.

I couldn’t resist photographing this portrait of my Great Great Aunty Rose on the piano keys. I was about ten when she passed away.

Usually, I’d take my violin down with me and mum would accompany me on the piano. However, I haven’t practiced much in the last six to 12 months so there wasn’t even a quandary about taking that. Instead, I sang long to a couple of Beatles songs…Michelle, Hey Jude, Yellow Submarine as well as Are You Lonesome Tonight? My voice was very rusty, and I’ve been thinking my lung situation had destroyed it. However, it might just be that my register has changed with age. So, I might be doing a bit more singing in the shower. I’ve also made a note to self to get back into practicing my violin and piano. I’m better focusing on one thing but that’s not a balanced life, and now that we’re out of lockdown to some extent, the juggling act has returned.

Tomorrow, our daughter goes back to school. It’s going to be a rude shock, as she was ill and missed a lot of school before lockdown and she’s been doing some schoolwork online from home for the last four months which has included going to the beach. A number of bikinis have arrived in the mail along with sunglasses, and I guess the teachers know what they’re up against and hopefully she can catch up.

As yet, I still haven’t made it to the hairdressers yet. That’s coming up for my daughter and I on Thursday. I’m looking forward to it. meanwhile, she had eyelash extensions fitted during the week. This was something totally out of the realms of my experience as I barely even wear lipstick these days (especially being at home in my PJs during lockdown) . However, now she’s working at McDonalds, she can afford such essential services, and I was merely roped in for taxi duties. Of course, she didn’t tell me it was going to take two hours until were about to leave and she suggested I might need a book!

So, while she was there, I hid out round the corner at the Mt Penang Parklands finishing off my book (Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark.) I also walked around photographing the wildflowers. In typical Rowie fashion, I managed to get lost and struggled to find my way back to the entrance. However, I was somewhat relieved to read that the architect of these 56 hectare gardens liked to think of it having a hide and seek element to it. However, I don’t think seeking my self was quite what he had in mind!

BTW here’s a link to the post I wrote abt visiting the gardens: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/10/23/mums-taxi-revisits-mt-penang-gardens-north-of-sydney/?wref=tp

Meanwhile, my research projects are progressing. As you may recall, I’ve been helping my friend research his father’s experiences as a Polish bomber pilot in WWII. It’s a slow process exacerbated by the language difficulties, but we’re making headway. It’s also turned out that others have been posting about his dad and a few of his close mates and that’s really added so much to his story. There are two Christmas greetings his follow pilot Alojzy Dreja sent to English families they’d met in December 1940 and both of these speak about the suffering of fellow Poles imprisoned by the Germans and the Russians. They give a good feeling of what it was to be in exile, but grateful in a sense to at least be free. meanwhile, on the Ethel Turner front, I am currently reading Little Mother Meg, which is the third book of the Woolcot series which includes her most famous work: Seven Little Australians. I haven’t written a post over at Tea With Ethel Turner for a week now. So, that’s a priority. It’s hard to be in so many places at once, especially now that lockdown in easing and we’re getting busier.

BTW I thought you might enjoy this little quote from: Little Mother Meg. The Woolcot’s are holding a dance at their home, which is known colloquially as “Misrule” and Meg’s teenaged brother Bunty who is a bit awkward is a bit unsure about interacting with the girls:

“but what in the world can I talk about to a girl I’ve only just met? You just say,`May I have this dance?’ and she says, `Yes’- if she doesn’t say no, thinking I look the right cut to crush her feet to jellies – and then what on earth is there left to say?”

Meg walks Bunty through the sorts of small talk he can undertake with the girl and then she offers him some very sage advice:

“But do your best to forget all about yourself, and try to give the girl as nice a time as you can.”

I really appreciated that, because when you’re nervous and so self-conscious, you’re not thinking so much about the other person. Indeed, being more thoughtful about them, would definitely give you an advantage.

By the way, I also remember being incredibly nervous and self-conscious about dating when I was at school. Ouch! It could be painful, awkward and so embarrassing.

I was quite captivated by this striking wiggly line along the centre of the jetty.

Lastly, Geoff and I went on an unexpectedly short visit to near by Hardy’s Bay to watch the sunset after Mr 17 burnt his foot on hot coals from his fire pit. There was a quick trip to hospital just to be sure, but he was given the okay and I’m sure that must’ve been the fatest turnaround time on record there. He was in and out in about 30 minutes.

Anyway, that’s about it for the last week.

I hope you’re all keeping well, and had a good week.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

A Chip Off The Old Block… Friday Fictioneers.

The sea was churning back and forth in George’s stomach. His eyes were turning green, and he didn’t know which way to turn. Whether he could crawl out from beneath the burden of destiny, this pre-ordained future he had no say in. He didn’t want to sit still, drink tea and become a stodgy portrait. Rather, he liked painting rainbows and digging in his veggie patch. Was mesmerised by the magic of watching beans grow. Imagined what it was like to be a tree.  No, when George grows up, he wants to dance and he might even want to sing.

….

100 words.

This story took off with a life of it’s own and I had no intention of writing about little Prince George and his life’s choices. I noticed the chip in the prompt and thought of the number of times I’ve been told that I’m “a chip off the old block”. That I’m very much like my dad. It annoyed me at times, especially when my Dad did his Masters of Creative Writing and pursued a life long goal of writing a book, which as anyone who has been following my blog for more than a week, knows is my goal and I’ve been working hard towards it for the last 10 years. I also look a lot like my Dad, but unlike me, he doesn’t like appearing online and so I can’t share a photo. He’s a mystery man.

I really do feel for people who end up growing up within strong family expectations and shadows and hope they manage to put their own stamp on what they do within those frameworks.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Triple Threat-Friday Fictioneers.

When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. At least, that was the plan.  Nic had packed all her dreams into a suitcase. Sold everything she owned. Forsaken her one true love and stacked all her chips on Hollywood. After sweating blood in the dance studio and juggling hours of singing and acting classes with recurrent vocal nodules, she would be the next Nicole Kidman. Her star would shine on Hollywood Boulevard alongside the Hollywood greats. Working in the Box Office was supposed to be her foot in the door, a stepping stone, not her final resting place.

….

100 Words.

I was excited to see this week’s prompt. A friend of mine is working towards having her musical appear on Broadway and our daughter appears in Grease the Musical at her school tomorrow night and is pursuing a career in dance. We love the box office and were recently introduced to Stage Door when her dance teacher performed as Veruca Salt in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in Sydney. We love this world, even if the career prospects are more than daunting and you know that dreams are more likely to be shot down in flames before they shine. Yet, the stage has its magic and allure. If that’s where you’re meant to be, you have not choice. You have to try. Pink…”Try”.

Gang Show 2018

The Family Taxi is getting quite accustomed to chauffeuring our budding performers to rehearsals and performances. However, just because there was “another one”, that doesn’t lessen our excitement and enthusiasm, even if the petrol tank was getting thirsty.

After seeing our daughter place in a local dance competition through the week, last night we saw both kids perform in the Scouts & Guides: Central Coast Gang Show. Quite aside from being the proud parents and laughing at our son’s crazy assortment of pants and costumes including an orange sheet for a Flintstones’ scene, we had such so much fun. The theatre was intimate, and we were only three rows back from the stage. While we weren’t quite singing out load, I was definitely singing-a-long  in my head to the likes of Inspector Gadget, Flash Gordon theme, Pokemon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Scooby Doo. Indeed, with all those great songs, I’m surprised I wasn’t dancing in the aisle. You see, I can be the ultimate in embarrassing mums. The highlight for my son came, when he played the third NASA Astronaut, Michael Collins, in a skit.

 

While you might think of knots and camping when it comes to Scouts and Guides, the Gang Show has been around since 1931 when Ralph Reader, a Rover Scout trying to make his mark in theatre in the USA and London, was asked to write a Scout-based variety show to raise money for a swimming pool for the Downe Scout Camp (now a Scout Association National Activity Centre). Rehearsals began under Reader’s direction on 25 May 1932. Initially the show did not have a title, but during a rehearsal break, he asked a cast member if everyone was ready, and the response was “Aye, aye Skip, the gang’s all here”. The first production, The Gang’s All Here, ran between 30 October and 1 November 1932 at the Scala Theatre in central London.[1]The show was not a sell-out, but enough was raised to fund the swimming pool and the show was well received. Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, persuaded Reader to produce another show in 1933. This was The Gang Comes Back and ran for a week.Reader continued to write and produce the London Gang Show. In 1934 the show became The Gang Show and Crest of a Wave was performed for the first time, becoming over the years the anthem. In 1937 the London show became the first amateur production to have a Royal Command Performance (an honour repeated in 1957 and 1964). A feature film called The Gang Show, starring Ralph Reader and The Gang, premièred at the Lyceum Theatre, London in April the same year, and in New York in December 1938. Now, it appears right around the world- Gang Show Wikipaedia The Central Coast Gang Show has been running for 32 years.

What I love about the Gang Show, is that it gets a whole load of young people up on stage, who might never have considered getting involved in the performing arts. These kids are singing, dancing and committed to six months of pretty solid rehearsals. That’s not a mild-mannered undertaking. These are young people who are learning to express themselves in meaningful, productive ways and are building up essential qualities like perseverance, having a go and being part of a team. I also believe the stage shouldn’t be confined to the likes of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. We also need that amateur layer as well. Not as a charity case with positions occupied for those who couldn’t make it. Rather, because it offers us something else. A form of entertainment which isn’t Hollywood and that hopefully reflects, at least in some way, out local culture.

So, after all the excitement of watching my kids and all the rest dancing and singing under lights and going through a plethora of costume changes, the curtain fell and the Gang Show was over for another year. I have to admit there was a bit of disappointment. That sense of loss once the show is over. It was a great night.

Have you ever attended a Gang Show performance? Or, even been in one yourself? Where and when was it? What did it mean to you? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Bless Our Little Violinist!

Today, I received an urgent SOS. No! NOT an SMS, but a real SOS. It read: “Mummy, I have a week to learn Fur Elise (her choice) on her violin for an audition. Please book me in for as many lessons as you can!!!!!”

If there is one thing I have learned from my kids, it’s to expect the unexpected. That as much as I try to be the conductor and orchestrate the piece, the players are busy composing their own thing and improvising instead. Obviously, there are no guarantees that it’s going to be a harmonious mix when it all comes together either. Much more likely, that the sounds will be wondering randomly all over the place like lost sheep. However, all is not lost. With three sheep dogs under one roof, hopefully they can retrieve the notes and bring it all back together. By now, I guess you’ve realized that we’re not traveling systematically in a straight line. Rather, our paths are more like a spider’s web AND for better or worse, I think that makes me the fly.

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The spark for my latest philosophical rant, was my daughter. An audition has cropped up, and this musical calls for a singer and musician. That is, someone who can play an instrument. For my daughter, this posed no problem because she plays the violin. The only trouble is, that she hasn’t touched her violin in just over 12 months. Indeed, she hung up her bow after performing at the Sydney Opera House with her school. In case you haven’t had a love affair with the violin, it doesn’t appreciate neglect and has been known to screech and complain in very unpleasant, ear-piercing tones when it’s player returns.  At least, that’s how it’s been for me!

The road to this audition hasn’t been easy. Miss was away at a school camp this week where, by the way, she lost her voice. Moreover, she had no time to learn her lines, resurrect her violin or prepare herself and then, we received a note from the dance school saying we were recording her audition this morning. Naturally, she wanted to pull out, but she’d made a commitment and getting audition practice is the name of the game at the moment. So, off she went… the violin case still covered in dust. It hasn’t been unopened in over twelve months!

I still remember what it was like be a kid and leap before you look, not really knowing what you ought to know before you dive in. Back when I was eleven, I filled out a form for a pen pal and ticked that I could speak German. After all, I could count to ten and also knew “Ja” and “Nein”. Of course, I was rather surprised when I received letters in German from three German pen pals. Then, there was the time I auditioned for the Bennelong Programme at the Sydney Opera House. I remember my friends and I filling out the forms and I ticked that I could play the flute, even though I hadn’t touched it in at least 4 years. I got into the programme but was ultimately so intimidated by the level of talent, that I left. I am clearly much better at creative writing.

Anyway, my daughter’s been given another week’s grace before she needs to do her recording. So, the voice has been ordered to rest, and the violin has been ordered to play. I must admit that I’m quite excited about this and I have loved playing with Miss in the past. Yet, at the same time, I know we have a mountain to climb. She not only needs to sound like a decent violinist, she has to look like one and that is almost as difficult. She has chosen to play Fur Elise, which you don’t usually hear on violin, but I’d chased down the music with my teacher. My mum has taught Miss to play it on the piano and Mum tells me that my grandfather used to whistle the opening bars. I can also play it on the piano myself…right through. It’s a sentimental fave.

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Just as well I’m not a ruthless organizer. It wasn’t that long ago, that I had a good look at my daughter’s violin and wondered whether it was time to go. With a cupboard full of violins and three hungry dogs, I’m planning to sell the smaller violins and was wondering whether to add her ¾ violin to the pile. After all, how long do you wait to find out whether a dream’s merely asleep or if it’s dead? Even if it’s simply taken a different path and been reborn as something else, the violin was surplus to requirements. However, I couldn’t be sure and wasn’t ready to put that final nail in the coffin.

You see, I still remember once upon a time…

Back then, Miss was six going on seven with  bobbed, dark hair, a fringe. She was my little sparrow. She’d fallen in love with the violin and despite my efforts to steer her into learning the piano, she insisted. At first, she played and played and played, but after the holidays, the stupid thing started screeching and it was all too much. She stopped playing, but I kept going. Despite all her protests, I knew there was a magic there. That the violin had touched her somewhere deep inside her soul and lit a spark. The sort of spark, which never goes out. Even if you can’t see a glimmer of light from the surface, the spark is still there just waiting to be rekindled.

While her love affair with the violin has been  dare I say “fickle”, I have been steadfast. A week after her very first lesson, I picked up my bow again and I haven’t put it down since. Indeed, through pneumonia, chemotherapy and the demands of parenting with a chronic illness, I have played on. Just like the violinists immortalized on the Titanic, I’m no quitter.

Rowena Lizottes

Posing after our violin performance 2012. Lizotte’s is a rock n’ roll venue where the likes of Diesel have performed…and me! The music school hired the venue for our concert.

 

Yet, learning an instrument as a mature aged student isn’t easy. It’s actually a very physical thing and I’m not physical. I’ve had to work hard, persevere and accept the plod while those around me soar and a little upstart picks up Fur Elise after not touching her violin for more than a year, and plays it. Not perfect, but after 30 minutes, she plays it better than me.

As much as I’m delighted and relieved she can pick it up again like that, I’d have to be honest, and say there’s a fair degree of schadenfreude in there. It’s not easy when you’ve put in the hours and someone else clicks their fingers, and gets there at the speed of light. You want to complain to management. Register you’re angst with the man upstairs. After all, isn’t it meant to be the tortoise who wins the race…

Do you have any tales of going for auditions or preparing for concerts etc? I’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments.

xx Rowena

 

 

Driving from Sydney to Melbourne.

Tonight, I’m backpedaling faster than a confused Olympic sprinter, as I battle to catch up on our trip to Tasmania.

Although travelling opens your eyes, Internet connectivity can be difficult to outright impossible. We’re currently staying with friends out of town with limited access, making it difficult to keep up with the trip.

Anyway, last Sunday we drove down to Melbourne to catch the ferry to Tasmania. As the ferry was leaving at 9.00AM, we stayed in Melbourne overnight.

However, we haven’t reached Melbourne yet. We’re still driving along the Hume Highway. There’s a long way to go!

What with all the last minute pre-trip freaking out, I got to bed rather late the night before and slept through much of the trip. However, I opened my eyes occasionally…along with the camera lens.

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We were just North of Gundagai when we pulled up by this historic blue stone Church in Bookham.

Being just out of Gundagai, I launched into singing: Along the Road to Gundagai…a classic Australian bush song everybody used to know:

“There’s a track winding back,

Along an old-fashioned track,

Along the road to Gundagai…”

However, it turned out that neither of the kids had ever heard it.

Of course, I was absolutely flabbergasted, dumbstruck and shocked. What has the state of modern education coming to??? This was the cultural equivalent of being illiterate…and it was MY KIDS. I guess this is why they say going on a long family drive can be “educational”. You get to teach your kids a few things a long the way.

Anyway, at this point while I was ranting about the need for an Australian cultural festival, my husband interjected calling this great Australian classic: “cringe-worthy”.

The kids agreed.

Disgust. I was absolutely disgusted. Not even my husband was standing by me.

This made me think about the songs I grew up with singing in the car on long family drives to Queensland. My Dad loved singing in the car. He’d pipe up with: “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day”, from Oklahoma and there was Jamaican Farewell: “Down the way where the nights are gay…” By the way, my kids assure me Dad’s still singing: “We’re off to see the Wizard” in the car and that’s only been on short drives too.

Anyway, the kids survived my singing. I survive their jokes. Yet, we’d only reached Holbrook roughly halfway to Melbourne and there was too much road ahead.

By now, it was time for lunch.

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Taken in Holbrook’s Main Street

Holbrook’s main claim to fame is having a submarine parked in the local park. The main street is lined with old wares shops, which I must say is like honey to a bee. I almost broke out in a sweat. I didn’t know which way to turn until reality hit. With my husband and the two kids in tow, I wasn’t going far. They impose impossible limits on poor repressed addicts. Anyway, there were some second hand books as cheap as chips…almost guilt free!

All too soon, we were on the road again, continuing further along the endless Hume Highway, which flows like an artery through the East-Coast south of Sydney.

Eventually, we crossed the border into Victoria.

Yawn!

Yawn!

This trip was dragging on…”Are we there yet?”

More yawns.

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Thank goodness the Great Esky Wall worked a treat in the back seat. The kids were pretty good but I’ll also give credit where credit’s due…iPads!

Finally, we were heading through suburban Melbourne and an almighty shriek went up…tram tracks!

Worse still, we were driving on the tram tracks and had no idea what the rules were.

We were starting to feel endangered at best…not that we had a persecution complex or anything but who wants to get run over by a tram?!!

Nothing like driving through a strange city when you don’t know quite where you’re going and you have trams hunting you down.

Scary stuff.

Yet, we survived!

Melbourne…we made it.

Have you ever been to Melbourne? Do you have any songs you sing driving on long car trips? I’d love to hear them, although it might take awhile to reply.

xx Rowena

 

 

Sense-sational Schools Spectacular 2016.

If you are one of those people who experiences creative overdrive when all your senses get stimulated at the very same time, then perhaps you’d better stay away from Schools Spectacular. It’s the largest variety show in the world and included 5,710 performers, which also gives the show its other name: “Schools Specktacular” as most parents require the Hubble telescope or a telescope to spot their kid. You’ve just got to hope you can find them at the end.

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Our daughter heading in to perform.

Anyway as you’re well aware, I see through the lens of my SLR camera. It gives me much better vision than my glasses and not only that. It saves that vision for later and I can watch it again and again and again.

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Photo: Rowena Curtin

However, those “Spectacular Powers That Be” banned so-called “professional” cameras. So, for the first time EVER, my extra long lens worked against me. My poor camera was banished to the boot.

Down but not out, I took over Geoff’s “camera phone”. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I was back to being a mere mortal again. It felt like the photographic equivalent of riding a bicycle in a Formula One race. Although the phone might be good at taking selfies, that’s not what I was there for.

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The Dancers…Rowena Curtin.

However, all wasn’t lost. It turns out Geoff’s camera phone has a curiously abstract perspective, capturing some interesting effects.Well, it wasn’t just his camera phone because there was still a photographer’s eye hard at work. I thought I’d get some interesting effects with the dancing sea of arms and legs. I  just didn’t know  how they’d turn out.

I would also like to recommend reading my previous post about some of the disability access struggles I had at the venue… Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney’s Olympic Park. I didn’t write this for my own benefit. These issues need to be raised for the greater good. Here’s Accessing Schools Spectacular.

xx Rowena

Matilda The Musical: “if you’re little you can do a lot…”

“I think theatre should always aim to make its audience laugh and cry, unless there’s a really good reason why not. Stories are best when they are a bit like roller coasters, with highs and lows, twists and turns, a good bit of fear and the significant risk that someone might vomit. Matilda has all these things, making it the perfect story for a stage musical.”

-Tim Minchin, wrote the music & lyrics for Matilda The Musical.

Yesterday, my daughter and I finally went to see Matilda The Musical at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, Darling Harbour. It is based on Roald Dahl’s Matilda while Dennis Kelly wrote the book for Matilda The Musical and Tim Minchin wrote the music and lyrics.

We absolutely LOVED IT!

Indeed, we loved it SO MUCH that we’ve bought the CD, musical score, the Matilda Doll, T shirts and even a T towel. It was absolutely sensational…clever, heart-breaking, funny, entertaining and then there were the special effects. They were a show in themselves, even including laser. Wow!

Anyway, while I’m waiting for the performance to start, Miss is absorbed in the set. The stage is framed by a kind of blackboard with Scrabble-like letters stuck haphazardly on it in a myriad of sizes and fonts. At first, they appeared quite random but Miss is sitting there picking out words, having great fun. That was an unexpected bonus and I guess that pretty much summed up Matilda. It was full of unexpected twists and turns along with spectacular effects, lighting. The whole package was so incredibly dynamic.

Of course, how you respond to any performance isn’t just about what is projected onto you but also about how it connects with your experience and who you are as a person.

What it means to you.

Naturally, I couldn’t watch Matilda without projecting her onto my daughter. Although she doesn’t have Matilda’s genius, she loves reading and is smart. However, the most pertinent similarity was their size. Miss is quite small for her age and Matilda is small in a world of sinister, ginormous adults.

Matilda… “if you’re little you can do a lot…”

You end up leaving Matilda feeling about 10 foot tall and that you could conquer the world…even if you’re still a little kid. It is so incredibly empowering. Don’t let bullies, size, horrible parents, your past…stand in the way of where you want to go and what is right. You can do it! Good can triumph over evil but you need to fight for it. Stand up! Matilda was a little girl standing up to beastly adults who wielded such power but she stood up to them.

“’Cause if you’re little you can do a lot

You mustn’t let a little thing

Like little stop you”…

“Naughty”, Matilda The Musical.

Our daughter is small and very petite. Only last Friday, she came home from school and told me she’d joined the school band and was taking up the Baritone Horn. I’ve never even seen a Baritone horn and I don’t really know how big it actually is but it looks big on Google. Being Mum, of course, I immediately wondered how she was going to lug this HUGE instrument to and from school on the train and how she’d find enough air to actually blow a note. I’m so glad her teacher set he sky as her limit and not her feet like her good old Mum. Naughty Mummy! It’s my job to encourage my kids, not to drop a slab of concrete on their heads, giving a myriad of reasons why they can’t do something when indeed they can.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to challenge my concept of my daughter.

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Miss on Stage Performing Marta with her Musical Theatre Class.

There was also her insistence on auditioning for the role of Marta in the Sydney production of The Sound of Music, even though she had severe vocal nodules and had been banned from singing for a few months while she had voice therapy.

This girl might be small in stature but she certainly has enormous might.

So, Matilda the Musical was the perfect show for her and for me to really appreciate that just because she’s a child and just because she’s small, that doesn’t mean she can’t conquer the world. I’m just not sure she can take me with her!

Matilda the Book Lover

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Both being avid readers, my daughter and I both loved how Matilda glorified books and reading. Matilda literally devours books with such a passion and loves to learn, tell stories and stretch her brain beyond its very expansive limits. She is neither intimidated or ashamed of being a child genius but doesn’t show off about it either. She is quite grounded. Indeed, she stands her ground quite firmly knowing who and what she is while her parents constantly tear her down and ridicule her intelligence. Her father consistently says she’s a boy and despite correcting him, he persists, which is just about as bad as it gets as a parent yet her parents keep hitting rock bottom after rock bottom. Her mother, which her peroxide blond hair and lairy leggings, keeps telling her glamour and appearance is far more important for a girl than reading books.

On the other hand, there’s the librarian who loves listening to her stories and her teacher, Miss Honey who becomes a true kindred spirit.

Humour

Matilda the Musical wasn’t all about life lessons and moral tales.

It was entertainment, humour, spectacular effects. These were perhaps achieved through a degree of exaggeration, hyperbole and stretching the imagination to its logical conclusions, which turned even the most serious moments into very deep belly laughs.

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Miss Trunchbull

Even though she was incredibly cruel, undoubtedly evil and absolutely despicable, my favourite character was the School Principal, Miss Trunchbull, played by James Millar. Just the fact that you have a man playing a female character, gives you some idea of the absurdity of this character. Indeed, she could’ve stepped straight out of Monty Python, played by a much younger John Cleese. Of course, everybody detests somebody who is cruel to children. You’re instinctive response as a member of the audience, is to swing like Tarzan onto the stage and grab all those poor little children and whisk them away to safety while the evil Miss Trenchbull rots in jail for eternity. She shuts children in cupboards, force feeds a boy chocolate cake and calls children “maggots”. Moreover, the lighting and use of special laser effects, have you shaking in your seats. She is absolutely terrifying and everything you ever feared as a child and more.

Yet, somehow this evil character becomes funny. Indeed, hilarious!!! That is brilliant theatre!!

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Maggie Kirkpatrick as Joan “The Freak” Ferguson in Prisoner.

By the way, if you are Australian or somehow saw actress Maggie Kirkpatrick in the 80s TV Drama Prisoner, there’s an immediate likeness. My daughter disagrees.

Matilda’s parents also share this fusion of despicable evil and humour. They are so awful and tick every single box in the bad parenting book yet they’re somehow funny. Just when you think they couldn’t get any worse, they do. Of course, you appreciate all of their foibles through the eyes of Matilda who is so grounded, sensible and smart but has the lousiest parents imaginable.

I really loved the song “Telly”, which is sung by Matilda’s loser Dad:

All I know I learnt from telly

The bigger the telly, the

Smarter the man

You can tell from

My big telly

Just how clever

A fella I am!…

“Who the Dickens

Is Charles Dickens

Mary Shelley?

Cor, she sounds smelly.

Harry Potter?

What a rotter!

Jane Austen,

In the compost-in

James Joyce

Doesn’t sound noice!…”

Words and music: Tim Minchin.

The End

However, unfortunately, all too soon Matilda the Musical was over. Although I could write a book about the performance, it’s not the same as being there and now all we’re playing the CD over and over again like love sick puppies.

There’s also the matter of tackling that musical score and scratching something out on my violin.

Perhaps, that could be the beginning of Matilda…the Unmusical!

Wish me luck!

xx Rowena

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Enjoying divine Iced Chocolates at the Lindt Cafe, Darling Harbour.