Today I am indulging my combined love of the bard’s verse and hip hop by competing / performing / appearing in Shakespeare Dance Party, a sharp new show presented by The Leftovers Collective. Fancy.
In a small bar in Redfern, 16 actors will compete for our audience’s love to see who best performs a short Shakespearean sonnet or monologue. Each performer will slam to a beat laid down by a live DJ, not knowing in advance which track will be chosen for them. If the audience likes the art, they will dance. If the audience dislikes the performance, pies will be thrown. The eventual winner receives a part in a web series. The losers need to bring a towel.
In an era of social media starlets, where few skills are needed to become a YouTube star, are actors necessary?
A rap roulette
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
Suddenly all my annoying habits from 2017 have vanished. In 2018 I will:
Keep tolerating fools (they are my colleagues after all)
Drink only the best water (in my gin)
Become motherhood Zen master & remain composed always (cue teen eye roll)
Run, jump, hop, skip
Be a good friend
Kiss more often
Swim like a dolphin in an ocean I’ve never swum in before
Help someone kick cancer’s arse
Travel places I’ve never been
Hug old friends and make new ones
Eat lots of green vegies
Behave like a macro neurotic nun
Smoosh my cat
Boogie like a lunatic
Write my heart out
Attend fabulous rainbow weddings, dance on tables
In 2018 we must:
Dump Trump, Turnbull and the other greedy narcissists for the future of our planet
Stop using plastic bags
Stop voting for rednecks who only care about their own wealth (see RWNJ’s above)
End negative gearing
Find a cure for brain cancer
Eat more hot chips
Smash the patriarchy
Laugh like a drain
Admire more abs, delts and pecs
Pat more pooches
Follow our passions
Cuddle more babies
Rise up and resist
What’s on your resolution list?
Last night as I stood on the land of the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation cheering AB Original on stage as the opening act for Midnight Oil’s homecoming, I realised that we’ve come quite a way from the 1980s. I first saw Midnight Oil live when I was 16 years old and they changed the way I viewed the world.
They may be white boys from the white bread northern beaches of Sydney but in the early 80s for many of us white bread teens from the suburbs they were our introduction to what was actually happening to indigenous Australians. I learnt nothing of Aboriginal culture at school, I was only taught about the white invaders. So many of us had no idea of the atrocities and abuse committed by white governments and their White Australia policy; Midnight Oil opened our eyes to what was actually happening. The Oils were writing Australian songs and telling our stories and I’d never heard anything like it.
And those biceps. I will never forget standing near the stage at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and watching Rob Hirst drumming. Uh oh! My first musician crush, setting myself up for a lifetime of being attracted to players. Sigh.
Last night, as we waited for Midnight Oil in the shadow of the glowing Deutsche Bank sign, I thought of how the Oils have sung about many big companies that have raped our planet, and how we need protest music more than ever. When they played Blue Sky Mine I thought of the hideous she-devil Bishop defending James Hardie and making a dying Bernie Banton wait for compensation. This year she was briefly our Acting Prime Minister.
As the crowd roared from the opening bars of Armistice Day, I thought there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now. When Peter Garrett spoke of stopping the giant Carmichael mine and the carnage that Adani could bring to the Great Barrier Reef, one idiot in the crowd behind said,
“Shut up and play the music.” Only a moron comes to a Midnight Oil gig and demands that politics aren’t mentioned. Before I had a chance to tell him to go home and listen to Kylie Minogue, the band came back with more raw, punching rawk:
I see buildings, clothing the sky, in paradise
Sydney, nights are warm
Daytime telly, blue rinse dawn
Dad’s so bad he lives in the pub, it’s underarms and football clubs
Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac
And no one goes outback, that’s that
You take what you get and get what you please
It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees
I love that Midnight Oil are a band with strong political opinions, and musically, they were simply brilliant. They’ve done so many shows this year the band is tighter than ever. And they were backed by the incredible Hunters and Collectors horn section. I don’t know what painkillers the injured Jim Moginie was taking but his guitar playing was inspired. I’d forgotten how good they are live. The waves of screaming energy and excitement kept coming as my hips reminded me how their music made me feel in my teens.
Today my body aches, but my heart is filled with the thought that perhaps I’m not the only one who cares about changing our world.
Not much time, but time to try
I am officially an old bag. Today I turn 50 and I’m trying hard not to whinge. For it is a privilege to be 50. My friends who died of breast cancer in their 40s would love to be where I am. And so would the kids who were robbed of their mothers.
The beautiful sick kids I’ve met at the hospitals I work in who left way too soon didn’t get to be adults at all. And the families and friends of my darlings Veljko, Mark and Anthony who died in their 20s would love to know them in their 50s. Those guys would have aged like fine wine if they’d had the chance.
I don’t feel that different, but I look in the mirror and I see age creeping up on me. I was born on a Monday, “Monday’s child is fair of face,” but my face looks like it needs more sleep. And my knees creak from all the stilt walking, gymnastics and dancing drunk in stupid high heels over the past 35 years. I can still have fun with my kids, my best friends, the families I meet through my work and I share great love with a beautiful heart. But there are things I’m worried that I haven’t done yet. Maybe I won’t get to live in New York or drive across Africa. Maybe I won’t be brave enough to sail across the world. Maybe crazy life goals are in the past. Maybe I won’t sing with Kermit or be the next teen superstar.
I share my birthday with fabulous people like Twiggy, Jeremy Irons, Frances Farmer, Mama Cass, Daniel Lanois, Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Fallon and Alison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives, darling. Today is also International Talk Like a Pirate day.
At 50 I’ve realised that the cocker spaniels I’ve had in my life may be the only dogs I own in this lifetime as I can’t afford to buy a house.
But 50 brings great rewards. I can sing, dance, laugh and love, I have fabulous kids, and I’ve given up people who drain me of precious energy. I have no time for those who don’t contribute to improving our world. So hit the high seas for some hijinks you swashbuckling scoundrels. I’ll be wearing my new earrings that cost a bucaneer. 50 is swell.
Dear Maya Angelou, the world is a poorer place without you. Thank you for the love, wisdom and joy your writing brought us. Your words gave me hope in the darkest days of my life. Your strength and dignity in the face of life’s challenges are an inspiration.