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Green Room: Cabaret callout, stories and winning art

SA arts and culture news in brief: Artist submissions open for 2024 Cabaret Festival; star-studded line-ups revealed for two upcoming Adelaide festivals for writers and readers; meet ActNow’s new MakeSpace residents; Porter Street Commission recipient announced, and the 2023 Our Mob winners.

Aug 24, 2023, updated Aug 24, 2023
Adelaide Cabaret Festival artistic director Virginia Gay: 'I love weird, I love (finely-honed, expertly controlled) chaos.' Photo: Naomi Jellicoe / supplied

Adelaide Cabaret Festival artistic director Virginia Gay: 'I love weird, I love (finely-honed, expertly controlled) chaos.' Photo: Naomi Jellicoe / supplied

Calling for all kinds of cabaret

Adelaide Cabaret Festival artistic director Virginia Gay is on the hunt for shows for the 2024 program – and the more mischievous and irreverent, the better.

Expressions of interest have officially opened for cabaret producers and artists interested in presenting established or new works at the June 7-22 festival.

“I love weird, I love (finely-honed, expertly controlled) chaos,” Gay says, encouraging would-be applicants to stretch the “story-into-song” format in new directions.

“I’m excited by queer, diverse, female-and-gender-non-conforming excellence… I’m interested in shows which challenge traditional ways of thinking but are so entertaining you don’t notice your whole world view changing, and they glitter with joy, mischief, wit and irreverence.”

Submissions can be made here and are open until midnight on October 31, 2023.

Gay, who hosted the 2023 Variety Gala and is also known for roles on TV shows such as Winners and Losers and Savage River, was announced as the new Cabaret Festival artistic director at the end of this year’s festival and is currently in the UK scoping out new shows. As an aside, she also stole the show with her impressive improv skills on this week’s episode of the rebooted series Thank God You’re Here (available to stream on 10Play).

Context Writers Festival

A strong, diverse line-up of writers ­– including Pip Williams, Alice Pung and Amani Haydar – has been announced for next month’s Context Writers’ Festival at the City Library.

The free three-day festival, presented by the City of Adelaide and Writers SA, describes itself as a literary event for “readers and writers of all kinds” that is accessible, interdisciplinary and participatory.

This year’s guest curator, Tamara Montina, says she wanted to cultivate “a vibrant, enlightening and dynamic program for the audience to be engrossed in”, with a particular focus on writers from  ethnically-diverse backgrounds.

Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna poet, podcaster and writer Dominic Guerrera, who curated the inaugural Context program in 2019, will give an opening keynote address at the September 22-24 festival, while Williams (The Dictionary of Lost Words, The Bookbinder of Jericho), Pung (Unpolished Gem,  Laurinda) and Haydar (The Mother Wound) will be joined by other speakers including Wakefield Press director Michael Bollen, actor, writer and director Elena Carapetis, spoken-word storyteller Vivana Luzochimana, and musician Nathan May.

Registrations open on August 30, with full details available here.

Story time returns

In more good news for readers and writers, the Australian Short Story Festival will return to Adelaide from November 9 to 12 with an equally enticing program.

Announcing the line-up this week, festival director Anna Solding says the expanded event will show off the “beauty and versatility” of short stories.

Participating Australian writers will include Cate Kennedy (Like a House on Fire, Dark Roots), Tony Birch (Dark As Last Night), Michael Mohammed Ahmad (The Lebs), Laura Jean McKay (The Animals in That Country), Mirandi Riwoe (Burnished Sun), and SA authors Carol Lefevre (Murmurations, The Tower) and Sean Williams (Uncanny Angles). The line-up also features storytellers from Europe, America and India.

The full program and tickets for the festival, to be held at Fullarton Park Community Centre, can be found on the official website.

Porter Street Commission

Lee Salomone: ‘I’m driven by a desire to understand the unknown.’

South Australian artist Lee Salomone says being awarded the $20,000 Porter Street Commission – announced last week – will enable a deeper engagement with his practice and add momentum to his arts career.

Salomone works in a range of media and has shown his art in more than 30 solo exhibitions and 60 group exhibitions nationally and internationally since graduating from the South Australian School of Art in 1991.

For the commission, he will create a large-scale installation using found and hand-crafted bronze metal objects which will be presented at a solo show at Adelaide Contemporary Experimental (ACE) in 2024. He is interested in the experience of first and second-generation Italian migrants, with the project said to investigate “the migrant identity and its nuanced relationship with settler histories”.

“I’m driven by a desire to understand the unknown and experimenting with material functionality,” the artist says. “I’ve strived to build a national practice whilst being based in Adelaide, and can see how this commission will provide even greater momentum for opportunities nationally.”

The Porter Street Commission is presented annually by ACE, with previous recipients including Bridget Currie (2021), Allison Chhorn (2022), and Kaspar Schmidt Mumm (2023).

Making space to create

ActNow’s new intake of MakeSpace residents.

Five emerging artists representing the diversity of the South Australian arts scene have been awarded residencies at ActNow Theatre that aim to nurture creativity and provide space for artistic expression.

Actor, writer and community leader Elisabeth Hurrell, actor and creative Mabruka Obsa Ali, actor and theatremaker Kidaan Zelleke, and writer and actor Frankie Frick have been awarded MakeSpace Residencies, while actor and creative Juanita Navas-Nyugen will be undertake a MakeSpace Fringe Residency (to develop a work to be presented at the Adelaide Fringe).

ActNow says the residents were selected for their clear artistic vision and dedication to creating work that “provokes and inspires”. Each will be paired with a mentor and will receive free access to ActNow’s creative development space MakeSpace, along with a stipend and additional funds to support collaboration and production costs.

“Through our MakeSpace residencies, we’re unlocking the potential of untold stories, amplifying voices that have long been silenced, and paving the way for a future where every artist’s perspective is not only heard but celebrated,” says ActNow CEO and artistic director Yasmin Gurreeboo.

Our Mob winners

Lesley Coulthard and her winning works Ranges Jug and Akurru (Serpent) Track Bowl.

Adnyamathanha woman Lesley Coulthard has won the $5000 Don Dunstan Foundation Our Mob Emerging Artist Prize with a pair of works made from midfire clay with foraged oxides.

The prize is one of several awarded during the Adelaide Festival Centre’s annual Our Mob and Our Young Mob exhibitions, which feature works by First Nations artists from across South Australia.

Other 2023 winners include Samantha Gollan (Trevor Nickolls Art Prize for Our Mob), Cedric Varcoe (Country Arts SA Professional Development Initiative Award), Isaac Gowan-Reynolds and Mariah Lawrie (Trevor Nickolls Art Prize for Our Young Mob), and Kunyi June-Anne McInerney (Ku Arts Award).

The Our Mob and Our Young Mob exhibitions continue in the Festival Theatre Galleries until October 7. The associated event Our Words ­– a series of panels and conversations featuring First Nations writers and creatives ­– will be held on September 8 and 9, while the children’s event Our Stories (featuring tradition Dreaming stories) is at the Dunstan Playhouse from August 31 to September 2.

Green Room is a regular column for InReview, providing quick news for people interested, or involved, in South Australian arts and culture.

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