After my first day in Brisbane at the Australian Theatre Forum I was keen to kick back and soak up the Brisbane Festival offerings. I had very casually glanced over the program for The Brisbane Festival and Under the Radar – and had really no idea what I should see. Or if I should see anything at all. I wasn’t foward thinking enought to introduce myself to publicists and I wasn’t invited to anything. And then I thought would I want to? Perhaps I would be theatre-ed out? Many shows I thought I’d like to see were not on whilst I was there… and there didn’t seem to be much of a relationship between the ATF and BrisFest so no comp offers floated my way. So I must admit to being focussed on theatre’s larger strategic matters. I was delighted to see that Maxine Mellor’s Anni Robi and the House Of Dogs was getting a guernsey – I recommend you check it out if you can.

After the first day feeling a little fried, there was no way i wanted to hear any words at all from anyone. No talking, no listening. I wanted just spectacle. I was whisked away to see Petit Mal at The Brisbane Powerhouse (yes convenient).
Under a clear Brisbane sky, spattered with stars, we sat in an outdoor ampitheatre as three men wrestled and tumbled and climbed and flipped and lept and bounced. Probably the most masculine display of circus I have witnessed. It felt brutal and rugged and dangerous and thick with action. Surprising, joyous and yet dark. There’s something rough and urgent about this work… If you get a chance to see the work of Race Horse Company (I think they’re Finnish?) you should.

Thursday I was so burnt out I needed to eat chinese and laugh and not be at the theatre.

Friday I was fried. Dinner was fairly mute on my part as I tried to not be overwhelmed by all I had seen and heard at the forum. Luckilly my partner is endlessly entertaining and a retired magician – so I was let off the hook for any expectation of witty dinner conversation. He had decided to take me to a showing of work in progress at the Judith Wright Centre.
We somehow ended up sitting next to the Executive Producer of the Festival, who wasn’t really aware the ATF had been on all week, and to whom it was gleefully announced by my date that I don’t like Butoh. And I don’t. I have never enjoyed it – on any level – i find it dull and boring. He was desperate to prove me wrong. I was open to being proved wrong. After all this is Zen Zen Zo (who hasn’t heard of them) working with a Japanese master of Butoh.
The departure point was that of the preminition of the 2012 Apocalypse. It was a work in progress showing. Which is more than fine by me – I have a very powerful imagination and don’t need a lot of set/costumes/lights to get me going. But there I was again nearly paralysed with boredom, watching overly-earnest, overly-trained white folk painted white indulge in twitching and shuffling about. My applause was empty. I felt bored. It’s just not my thing.

Finally we made our way to see a show I had chosen. In my catatonic state I needed silly escapist entertainment – somehting Butoh couldn’t give me, so off we went to The Dream Menagerie.
Who doesn’t love being in a tent? We me usually. Camping is not my favourite thing – but Spielgeltents are – and a show heavy with the promise of something bizarre and fantastical. A gypsy troup of players with a french rock band tendancies, plenty of clowign a speck of magic and a slow parade of bicyles and a donkey! This was to answer all my needs for entertainment and escapism! Unfortunately no amount of paper snow being thrown at me nor bum-wiggles from a height challenged performer was going to save this very thin display of empty “bits.” The material was prop-heavy and not very interesting. I was sitting there watching, wondering why this was all happening. And it wasn’t just my friedness that was confused by this show – both of my handsome theatre dates were equally as underwhelmed. P.S that is the last time I take a magician to a magic show.

The tricky things as a tourist about the Brisbane Festival experience were practical things –
No map – Yep the program didn’t have a map of venues – it felt like insider informtion of where these places are.
No clear/obvious marker of the local/Australian works.
Price – $15 for a work in progress showing? Really?
Box office kerfuffles- The boxies at the Judith Wright Centre were slow moving – it appeared their system was not user friendly. We nearly could have missed the show.

Anyway – that’s really the summary. After being overwhelmed by “words, words, words,” really the only remedy is grand, beautiful spectacle…