Never Waver for Next Wave

Poorly thought puns aside, Melbourne’s biennial Next Wave Festival is about to draw to an end this Sunday. Alas, another festival I’ve been reviewing / volunteering / hanging around. It’s my first time attending NWF and I’m really enjoying it so far. I think what makes NWF stand out from the already crowded festival scene is its distinct artistic style. All the performances and visual pieces I’ve seen so far carry its own unique voice and yet, still fall under the festival’s overarching theme of “New Grand Narrative”. For such a wide variety of artwork, it’s remarkable how entirely cohesive they all are.


If you want to catch something before NWF ends (which I suggest you do!), have a look at my top picks:

Wael Zuaiter: Unknown

I managed to drag a non-theatre-going friend along (the last time she watched a play was back in secondary school), and she really enjoyed it, which really pleases me. To put it quite simply, Wael Zuaiter celebrates the wonders of storytelling. It’s just a fantastically well-produced theatrical documentary. From the nice, subtle touches of live music to the splendid visual illustrations, Jesse Cox’s piece is extremely exquisite. It’s simply done, yet absolutely outstanding. I can’t help going on about it. Here’s my full review for ArtsHub.

A Wake: Kids Killing Kids

Another theatrical documentary that’s really, really good. It combines two groups — Canberra-based playwrights and a Filipino experimental theatre company. The Aussie folks wrote a play based on the Japanese novel / film Battle Royale, and the Filipinos produced it in Manila. It really gets into the thick of it in the second half, especially with the portrayal of the fictional scenes and I was drawn more to the Filipino collective’s side of the story (it felt like I was getting a firsthand experience and plus, it’s been a while since I’ve seen South East Asians on stage, so that’s always nice).

Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting For You

I think this is one that really stays with you. The play begins with something that’s so shiny, so glossy but in its very core, it consists of something that is very, very sad. It is based on a real (!!!) American town called Truth or Consequences, and the town’s citizens are all so oddly idiosyncratic, yet undeniably compelling. It’s amazing how they blend these different elements of appearance vs. reality (my all-time favourite theatrical theme that’s as old as Shakespeare) to tell us so much about the human condition.

Smell You Later

This is just a super cool concept where smell sculptures are dispersed throughout various venues in the festival. I recommend the one at the Wheeler Centre’s ground floor — it’s quite lovely.

I’ve also caught: Madonna Arms (my review here), a Breakfast Club session (really, really interesting and diverse views on the concept of “chaos” + free coffee and yoghurt!), Lesser Gods (terrible 4-hour vollie shift of being trapped in a tiny space) and White Face (review up soon). Hopefully I can catch more contemporary art this weekend, I’ve been hearing good things about Testosterdome.

I’ve now come into the habit of posting a tweet about catching a show like so:

I try to make it as thoughtful as possible, because good art deserves good reflection. (Maybe it’s too much for a social networking tool? Whatever.) It also challenges me to write more concisely. I sat next to a reviewer at a play recently and he was scribbling on his notebook throughout. It’s incredible, I’ve never done that for any of my reviews! For me, I feel like the best way to experience a play (or film) is going in without knowing anything about it and just immersing yourself in the experience entirely. I’ve always emerged fully awakened, having given my 100% attention to the performance. Writing / analysis comes after. (But to each their own etc. etc.)

In other news, starting next month, I’ll be a contributor for The Essential! It features some of the best AWARD-WINNING film-writing (seriously, the amount of talent on there is stunning) and I’m excited to write on film on a more regular basis.

In terms of personal updates – I’m about to begin writing on my thesis which is super DAUNTING, I have about a month left in my internships (which kinda sucks, I’ve had so much fun and I’ve learnt heaps) and my casual job is coming up soon (which means $$$$$). Laters on the men-jay.


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