Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Geelong writers wants to ban Shakespeare

In the Addie:  And he has a good reason.

Ross Mueller: Why I agree with Lachlan Philpott’s suggestion of a five-year Shakespeare ban

Ross MuellerGeelong Advertiser

Lachlan Philpott says Shakespeare’s works should be banned from Australian stages for five years. Picture: James Croucher
LACHLAN Philpott is an Australian playwright. He lives in Sydney and he writes great plays about Australia.His works often deal with young people, isolated people. His plays often document the joys and the difficulties of living in our country in this century.
His plays have been produced in Australia and the United States. He is a Fulbright Scholar, a teacher and he grapples with complex ideas. His drama is filled with great comic characters. Philpott writes good jokes in his tragedies and this is why people like his plays.
This week he wrote a provocative article and proposed a five-year ban on professional performances of the works of William Shakespeare.
This is a bold suggestion and it deserves some unpacking. Philpott is not talking about censorship. He offers the position that Australians should investigate Australian stories instead of bathing blind in The Bard.“Programming Shakespeare for no particular reason is a crime of imagination — like taking a child to McDonald’s for their birthday meal,” he said. “What a dismal choice and miserable reflection of the conservatism of these times.”
Fighting words in the cultural economy. But Philpott is right to suggest that it doesn’t take too many brain cells to program something that is low cost and high yield.
In 2016 Australia, Shakespeare is programmed by professional companies because Shakespeare is in English and he is out of copyright.This means the works are free.No royalties for the author and no development costs.In addition to the lack of research and development, there is also a guaranteed box office.
Shakespeare is always part of the school curriculum. Always. This means audiences will always come because half of them are obligated by the education industry.
But while this cultural oppression continues in Australia, our own voice, our own accent, our own narrative is being lost in the shadow of a white English male.
It is important to recall what Shakespeare was doing when he was writing. He was an innovator. He was a documenter. He was a contemporary commentator. His works focused on politics and social mores. His works (when they first appeared) often dealt with young people and grappled with complex ideas.His dramas were filled with great comic characters. He wrote good jokes in his tragedies and this is why people liked his plays.
This week Geelong After Dark is taking centre stage in our city. It is a festival of music, performance and art that celebrates living in Geelong. There are events and activities in a variety of venues around the city and the programming is specifically designed to act as an invitation to the local people of Geelong to come into the city and celebrate Geelong after dark. This is a great little festival.
It is the same sort of thinking that lay behind the programming of Shakespeare at The Globe, 400 years ago.
A good night out at the theatre should be like going to the football. We should recognise ourselves on the big stage, we should be hearing our accents and wanting to participate in our stories. This interaction grows a culture. It develops a national library of experience and it helps us to define who we are.
A five-year ban on Shakespeare is a great idea for the development of Australian culture. Not for what it is removes, but for what it provokes.And provocation has always been the central task of the dramatist.
— Ross Mueller is a freelance writer and director.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Karingal Open Day

For many years Karingal has been an institution in Geelong caring for people with disabilities and located in East Geelong . Recently a new building has gone up which is very fine and modern and today was an Open Day. Andrew, Linlay, Ateca and I attended and enjoyed seeing people we know, photos of men and women from our area, a sausage sizzle by East Geelong Rotary men, a photo booth, singers, a musician, art, face-painting, an excellent cafe, and so on. John is in the photos - one with Linlay, the other in a photo on the wall in the exhibition of local identities. He's a great worker in our church, Rotary, our community.








Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wish List for Geelong

from the Geelong Advertiser:
Geelong leaders release funding priorities as part of 2016 election campaign
Geelong Advertiser

FROM Malop Street Mall in Geelong to Federation Mall in Canberra — the region’s leaders have called for cash from the nation’s leaders ahead of the upcoming federal election. Committee for Geelong, the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and the City of Greater of Geelong met to outline eight priorities for the region over the next term of government. Avalon Airport’s bid to become an international terminal, Geelong Yacht Club redevelopment, revitalisation of the CBD and providing the financial building blocks for the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre were all listed.
The shared list of priorities has been developed by the three organisations over the past six months in order to provide a united front to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
The nine-point federal agenda includes:
— A government commitment to make Avalon Airport an international terminal;
- $13 million towards the $18 million Malop Street Green Spine project;
— In-principle commitment for the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre;
- $9 million for the Geelong Yacht Club precinct;
— Defence industry jobs for Geelong through the LAND 400 initiative;
- $16.5 million for road work to remove trucks from the Geelong CBD;
— Unspecified funding for the Waurn Ponds to South Geelong rail duplication;
- $2.5 million in matching funding towards the Silicon Bay Project;
and $1 million towards the G21 Region Opportunities for Work program.
City of Greater Geelong investment manager Brett Luxford said any federal government plays an influential role in the development of the region.“Securing funding for these priorities is vital — and even more so in light of recent challenges in Geelong,” he said.
Geelong Chamber of Commerce president Kylie Warne said fixing the commuter and freight bottlenecks across the region had broad popular support.“To grow Geelong as a place where people want to start and grow new businesses, we have toaddress productivity,” she said. “That means fixing the commuter and freight bottlenecks across Geelong and between Geelong and Melbourne.”
Committee for Geelong chairman Dan Simmonds said the Land 400 defence procurement would generate much-needed employment across the region.Avalon Airport is also so important to our region that both sides of politics must confirm their commitment to supporting Avalon becoming an international terminal.” Mr Simmonds said.

Balliang Sanctuary

With a visitor from overseas for five weeks, there's a good excuse to explore parts of Geelong and go for walks with nature such as at Balliang Sanctuary - a waterway near the Barwon River. I didn't walk far this morning - aided by a walking stick as security,  but Andrew and Ateca walked for over an hour. Here are some photos I took there - of us, of bridges, of pelicans and trees.
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Keith Fagg talks about the Council sacking

Keith Fagg: Geelong council needs new generation of leadersApril 17, 2016 

Keith FaggGeelong Advertiser

Former mayor Keith Fagg says Geelong needs a new generation of leaders.
AT THE NGV’s Ian Potter Centre there’s a painting by renowned Australian artist Jan Senbergs. Entitled Geelong Capriccio, it envisages what Geelong may have looked like had we been settled first and became Victoria’s capital city.
Complete with numerous CBD skyscrapers and two bridges over the Rip, it’s an intriguing image.
As this week’s events involving the sacking of the city council unfolded, Senbergs’ abstract work came back to me. What if Geelong were Victoria’s capital? State Parliament would be domiciled here, financial behemoths would base their head offices near our spectacular waterfront, apartment living would be very common and maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t be facing local government turmoil.
For anyone who lives in and loves Geelong, that things have come to this point is extremely disappointing. But a community of our size, diversity and complexity deserves a standard of governance of the highest order.
It was serious governance concerns that brought about the commissioners’ appointment and identified governance failures that have unfortunately now brought our council undone. Much of the commissioners’ extensive report is disturbing reading.
The State Government’s actions in response to the report generated furious debate. Much of that was initial, knee-jerk reaction to headlines rather than the report itself. Anyone with an interest in our town, in local government or indeed in the principles of governance, should take the time to actually read the report before forming an opinion.
Councillors’ good efforts in many areas have been diminished by some extremely poor behaviour. No doubt some councillors will feel like collateral damage, their reputations are tarnished and that they did not deserve this outcome. I feel for their anguish but it’s clear from the commissioners’ recommendations that they hold all councillors collectively responsible for their failure to work together.
How did we get into this mess?
Fundamentally, if people had treated other people decently, we would not be at this point.
Simple as that.
If we were not currently immersed in this “deep malaise”, we — councillors, officers and community members — would be working respectfully together focusing on employment growth and economic opportunity. We would be designing better ways to deliver community services, we would be talking about the next wave of cultural activity, and giving attention to the many other strategic areas that local councils should give focus. Such things and our long-term future should be on their agenda, nothing else.
The report has brought serious issues into stark daylight but also creates opportunities for Geelong to move positively ahead.
Our community has the opportunity to draw a deep line in the sand and focus firmly on the future.
The interim administrator, the CEO and senior council managers would be well advised to revisit and firmly re-establish Geelong council’s long-established values — integrity, respect, responsibility and innovation — which should underpin the way our council operates. These must be re-embedded and modelled in the way every aspect of business is done, each hour of each day, led from the top.
When there is an election, Geelong needs a new generation of leaders who are focused only on Geelong’s best long-term interests.
In a few months, all this will seem a sorry but past history and Geelong will draw on its inherent, extensive strengths to forge confidently ahead.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Geelong Council to be sacked

Interesting times. A report reckons that Geelong Council is so disfunctional that all councillors and the mayor are to be dismissed and an administrator take over for four years. Four years is a bit long I reckon.

The “sledgehammer” Halliday report — handed down on October 16, 2015 — described Geelong council and some councillors as “aggressive, belligerent, threatening, disempowering, sexist, dogged, bombastic, arrogant, rude, spiteful, frightening, demeaning, belittling, objectified, exploitative, calculated, humiliating and intimidating”.

(Thursday)  They've backed down on calling it 2020 for an election but put it fast forward which is good.) GEELONG City Hall will hold an election next year after the Andrews Government was forced to back down on its bill to sack council.
The State Government has confirmed that it has reached a deal to bring new elections forward from 2020 to 2017.
It is understood the Greens and the opposition will support the move.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A story told at a funeral

Last Friday I played the music for the funeral of Bill, a member of our congregation, much appreciated and loved. He had his unique ways and we forgot his disability as we enjoyed his engagement and conversations and gifts of colourful boxes and cards.   At the funeral our minister told this story:

The Broken Pot
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on an end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the masters house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his masters house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." 

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" 

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your masters house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts." the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the masters house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the Pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my masters table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table. In Gods great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don't be afraid of your flaws.

Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness your strength is made perfect.
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Big Blue Sky - a good read

This week I read Peter Garrett's autobiography about 440 pages long. The early chapters were great - childhood in Sydney, early adult years, the move into singing and 'move' it was, then the passions and activism, then politics in the Labour Party. At the latter period, I was disappointed that he didn't stay 'Green' but as he pointed out he thought he could still try to change Australia according to his priorities for saving the earth/sea/ reef/forests/ whales. There was a bit too much name-dropping of people I don't know, and a lot - of course - about gigs and committees and arguments. But the passion was there. I think he's a man to be admired. He justified some of the things the media picked on him for - those pink bats and so on. He certainly has it in for Rudd though - he is very, very blunt and critical. I would have liked to read more about his wife and the children. He's an articulate writer and most of the pages were fine. I don't know his music except for 'Beds are burning' as the Midnight Oils style of music is very loud and in your face. I would have liked to have some of the song texts included in the book and how he came to write them. His style on stage was really individual! I only met him once - he came down to Deakin University in the 80s and I was mightily impressed with his passion about the environment and for a cleaner Australia. A worthwhile read.