The Belvoir St Theatre is undergoing renovations — there is a hole in the outside wall over the sidewalk (walking past which an hour so before a performance you can hear rehearsals floating out, or are they angry builders?) with a scaffold around it covered in green mesh and playbills. A sign claims that their fascia needs repair, but it works all a bit to well with this their current production. I suspect they punched a hole in the wall for added realism — perhaps a sort of Method for set design? Either way, the play's set inside is a very realistic construction site: a climbable scaffold covers the back walls of the theatre, opening seamlessly onto the real scaffold outside which is used for as a backstage. The "wing" leading to the back stage is merely the hole in the wall opening out over the street. Loudspeakers play traffic noises inside the theater as the audience comes in to find their seats, continuing over the beginning of the play proper. Dust and detritus spread across the stage with beer and liquor bottles and milk crates, and there is a little tin site office behind the audience with a light on and a security guard inside. Besides that we are outdoors but there are no trees or vegetation to speak of. The only bit of nature is the real sunset pouring in from outside (the "curtain" rises at 8pm but it is summer — Sydney Festival time), coinciding with nightfall in the play; was that currowong singing bedtime outside for real or did it come from the speakers? The only other half way natural thing on the stage is a water tap, which becomes useful later on, like the fountain in a rustic village, the characters go to it to dunk their heads to sober up, fill water pipes for hashish, or just to fill bottles or kettles.
“You can touch it…” “Really?” The little girl hesitatingly reached up and pulled down on a steel rod at the base of small steel dragonfly mounted on the wall. Suddenly the insect’s delicate, sculptured wings opened and separated – as if it were about to fly. “Wow,” she whispered. Then, her friend tried, moving the crank more rapidly, creating a somewhat more agitated dragonfly. The girls were enchanted. Though the experience of cranking open the eyes of mysterious face mounted at eye-level next to the dragonfly they had to admit had been, well, “pretty scary.”
Parody as a technique of satire ought to suit theatrical dance well. Irish poets, known as some of the greatest masters of this form, in imitating and reversing the meter of their victim’s poems in order to devastate them are said to have used the same technique as Russian witches: "they walk quietly behind their victim, exactly mimicking his gate; then when in perfect sympathy with him suddenly stumble and fall, taking care to fall soft while he falls hard."  Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet's piece Babel (words) takes on the modern world, in a deliberate mixture of satire, serious avant-garde dance, science fiction, declamatory monologues and something bordering on a three-ring circus.
These digitally re-formed images are the fruit of Joanna Gabler's two recent visits to Venice, a city of which she is especially fond—and the only one where she could actually get lost!
A selection of vintage prints from Leonard Freed’s book, Police Work (1980) recognizes the gift of Freed’s widow, Brigitte Freed of this material. As powerful an observer of human life as he was a photographic artist, Freed spent eight years …