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A joyous episode this month traversing the best that Melbourne and Geelong has to offer with the epic Melbourne Now, a wide ranging art survey of all things Melbourne and Back to Back theatre’s Small Metal Objects thrillingly stage in Geelong’s Market Square mall. In Intermission we discuss reading (also listening) and our seasonal self care (spoiler one of us is now exclusively a cold shower devotee, can you guess). In Coming Soon we recommend more Rising morsels and Sydney Dance Company’s ab [intra] at Geelong Arts Centre. Hoping this episode finds you engaged and present in this rebooting time. Love Carla and Philip.

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  • Produced and recorded by Carla Donnelly and Philip Thiel
  • Theme composition Mark Barrage
  • Sound editing by Shackwest
  • Cover image Jeff Busby

Carla: Hello and welcome to Across the Aisle, your favourite Australian Arts and Culture podcast. We have another meaty episode for you today. This month we enjoyed art in very public spaces. The thoughtful and kinetic survey of all Melbourne Art and Melbourne, Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria and then onto the $10 Vline we went to witness the mundane drama within a shopping mall with the site-specific theatre piece Small Metal Objects by Back to Back Theatre. After a very rainy and bleak Easter, the autumnal weather has just been spectacular, almost too beautiful to be spending indoors feel. How have you been soaking up Melbourne’s best season?

Philip: Oh, controversial claim. I love that.

Carla: Controversial, yes.

Philip: But the scent of autumn leaves and the sound of autumn leaves as my little flame orange Brompton crunches through them along Saint Kilda Road is pretty blissful, I’ve got to say. And yes, that is a humble brag about my commute. How’s Geelong?

Carla: It is just glorious out here because the water is still very warm. So even on Tuesday, on the public holiday, we went to the beach, everyone was swimming. It just was bonkers. So it’s just beautiful. But the thing that I do miss that I don’t get a lot of out here is the tree, like the leaves turning right. Like you’d actually have to go out to the Otway’s or whatever, you know, for some weird reason, there’s not a lot of trees out here. I don’t know, not like how it’s been built up in Melbourne. But anyway, that’s the one thing I do miss. Yeah.

Philip: I love that we’re doing a show that takes in both of our towns.

Carla: Yes. I really enjoy that too. And you know, it’s probably like a little bit of forward sizzle for our discussion, but I think like without this show I would just never go to a gallery again. So I’m so grateful for you picking all of these blockbuster shows and these, you know, sort of mainstreamish art shows that are really like they are the pulse, I think of the city.

Philip: The people are back.

Carla: Yes. So segue to me also like being I’m often so interested to see if we can find through lines between the pieces we cover each episode. And I feel like there’s going to be a lot to talk about here, especially Melbourne art and its audiences. 
Phil, please hold my hand and beat back the crowds so we can experience Melbourne Now.

Philip: Well indeed, who knew that people were into this stuff? But I could barely breathe for everyone’s selfies. I’m going to read a bit from Tony Elwood, who’s the director of NGV. He writes “Ten years ago the NGV sought to reconnect with its home city, Melbourne, featuring only Melbourne based artists and makers. Melbourne Now offered an immediate glimpse into contemporary Melbourne art, design and culture to celebrate the ten year anniversary of Melbourne. Now we welcome back the exhibition in March 2023, taking over all three levels of the Ian Potter Centre of Australia from exhibition and collection galleries to other spaces of the gallery. Melbourne Now showcases the work of more than 200 Victorian based artists, makers, publishers, designers and creative studios, revealing Melbourne and Victoria’s creative community and cultural heart” unquote. So as you can hear, this is big. It’s truly a large scale happening from Australia. And not only is it big in scale, it’s multifaceted and detailed in terms of its content. And I was really wondering how best to think about this show that includes fashion, jewellery, installation, photography, but also pillows, tents, typography. It really seems to have no boundaries. And yet one way that the NGV wants us to think about it is I think multiple small scale, individually curated exhibitions like Jewellery now and Fashion Now, or my personal favourite. Predictably vessels.

Carla: I knew it.

Philip: From across Victoria assisted with… That’s on the ground floor, but the aforementioned tent and pillows appear in the design wall, which is quite a separate standalone structure that has something to say to the rest of the exhibitions but doesn’t need to and could be visited I think, on its own terms. And that might be a way of containing the experience of this immense thing that Melbourne Now is. It also feels quite a bit like a trade fair to me and has a lot of programming going on at the so-called community hall, which is quote, the very own civic centre of Melbourne Now. It also called to mind 19th century world exhibitions like that staged at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens, only with this very narrow geographical scope of strictly Melbourne based things only. But you know something’s going on when they close a three storey venue at Federation Square for several days in order to get things set up. And now that it’s open, the ground floor really is noisy and buzzing with people and lights and huge things. So yet another way to think about this might be a kind of cabinet of curiosities, but enlarged, gigantic things to walk through and move between and feel or about. And then when you go upstairs, things get really uncontained. Part of talking about an exhibition like this is always going to be what really stood out to you and might draw attention to just a couple of spaces where clusters of, I think, good work features.

Philip: One of those is right up on level three where there are works around the jewellery now table, which are exquisite in the room. Before that, Hannah Gartside’s spinning forest sculptures. These green kinetic objects are really magical and I plan to return and do some time meditating among them and the shell jewellery by Catherine Hubble as part of the jewellery table thought was also exquisite. And that whole space was a little separate from the rest and felt divine. But then on that marketplace, like ground floor, the work by Zhou Omu in the aforementioned Vessels exhibition, also the hilarious Georgia Banks making database, which is like a reality TV viewing environment for some kind of show about like a woman falling in love with an AI version of herself was very comic and I think quite sarcastic towards audiences, as was the gigantic, overwhelming temple by Rel Pham, which is just almost unanswerable. But something is going on there. Certainly a memorable piece. And like so much in this thing worth revisiting, thank God this is going on until August because I will need to go back several times to get across even my favourite bits and pieces. How did you go Carla? Tell me your story.

Carla: Well, even your description of this mirrored my overwhelming contradictory sensory overload experience of this exhibition. I can’t quite tell whether you were like shading it by calling it a world fair or a cabinet of curiosities, or that it’s like hodgepodge. I actually think it is very coherently pulled together because I think if what it really comes down to is Melburnians live and breathe art, whether it’s clothing, whether it’s industrial design, whether it’s product design, whether it’s web design, you know, like growing – being the 2000’s 75% of people living in Melbourne were graphic designers. You know, I think the beauty of objects, no matter how mundane, is something that is very basic to Melbourne and basic to us as a people or me as ex Melburnian. So, I love this survey of Melbourne as artists, designers, architects, not wrapping this art label around the production of fantastical objects. But at the same time, I understand what you’re saying in the way that does it dilute the message? You know, does it dilute by putting all of these things together and prioritizing them from a blockbuster Instagram way going further up into the building, further away from the foot traffic, you know, demoting, you know, industrial design to the highest level and the furthest corner.

Carla: What is this saying about our people and their art? But I don’t know. Like, I loved it. I went on the last day of school holidays, which was basically the worst mistake I’ve ever made, and it was just deranged. I had, like, full autistic overload. It was throbbing like. I mean, like, I couldn’t walk without being in contact with other bodies. Yeah. You know, like, it was just so I just sort of did a whip around. Again, so many on that ground floor that I really loved the Rel Pham Temple. I actually was able to go in it and sort of be in there for a while. It’s like this futuristic Asian temple that’s just made out of all LED screens. And it’s all, you know, the whole thing is designed and it’s like a, you know, stock ticker kind of situation, but all in the same colour. It’s really it’s like absolutely stunning. And Kate James, who’s actually a Wadawurrung artist, has three new pieces in there called the Unjustified Ancients. So the play on, you know, the electronic band, she has really made a name for herself by making these taking sort of old racist Aboriginal calendars like tourist calendars and embroidering over them. And that’s she’s made a huge installation of that on the side of the new art centre in Geelong.

Carla: But these are sort of moving on from that now. So it’s exciting to see what this kind of funding does for our local artists to be able to start moving their practice forward or putting their practice in a different way. So I really appreciate what’s done here as well. And it’s so interesting because the first one was done really as, you know, like shots fired. New director of NGV. You know what? Let’s just let’s take a baseline. Let’s take a baseline of what we have in this city, what we have in our collection. Let’s put it all together. Let’s make a cheap blockbuster festival exhibition and then we’ll move on. So to have this like decade later, not only survey but total reimagining of what it can be by funding so many of these artists is really super important. And I just it’s not often that I find arts institutions acting in a way that is somewhat ethical. And I really appreciated this exhibition and I agree with you. I feel like I could go there 3 or 4 times, but one of my favourite things was, did you go to the little Day-Glo room for children?

Philip: No.

Carla: It was like a little mushroom. It was actually called The Hive. And it was supposed to be like how bees experience the world. So it’s like how we’re supposed to be seeing like through bees eyes and how like, wow, neon and all the different spectrums of colours that bees see and experience. And there’s like little doors for little kids to go in on their own. And that was my favourite piece. And I actually, like my other favourite piece was The Electric Motorcycle. Did you see that in the design? There’s this, wow, super butch Savic motorcycles made in Melbourne. It’s like this. It’s like out of Mad Max, this electric motorcycle. And I’m like, there’s cool shit here. Like, it’s not just all graffiti artists and Hills Hoists.

Philip: I agree.

Carla: Whatever the fuck Australians do, you know? It’s like, no, there’s this stuff too.

Philip: It’s, it’s actually really anti Aussie in a way that is pleasing. And despite the hyper local set of makers, there is absolutely a global discourse at play here and a meaningful reflection of the diversity of Melburnian artists in their practices. The Melbourne Winter Masterpieces brand that we’ve sort of lamented, I think quite often on this show is not what’s going on here. And as you say, there’s a sense of what is developing, what’s emerging, what’s, what’s a second take that somebody that you might know is having with their most recent iteration of their work. I guess that my first visit and I’ve only been once was just unsettled by exactly what is being offered by the NGV here. All of what you’ve said I agree with, but all of it is quite surprising to me and I sort of allocated 90 minutes to whip through and, you know, take in the sights. But there is so much more at that fine grained level even before you notice that in the programming, you know, Joel Bray is doing something and Gracia and Louise are assisting children to make collages inside their fabulous room with bats on the wall. So, look, there is absolutely something to tickle everyone’s aesthetic interest and cultural interest. But what I’m learning from listening to you is that I need to go with a certain project in mind. Like time needs to be allocated to specific objects or environments. I love that you loved Temple, that sort of Taoist Caodaism immersive, noisy environment. And next time I go I will just insist on remaining there for a bit longer than I did and being more patient with the material.

Carla: Um, there was one other one that I don’t know whether you saw it because it was just. Like, unbelievable. It’s like as you go up the escalators, it was actually just on the place that you turn around to go. The cello. The cello. Scotty So performing the first movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. So it’s almost like a TikTok stitch where there’s a video of like one person playing the instrument and the other person is responding. But Scotty So is just lip synching.

Philip: Yes.

Carla: Lip synching the cello. It is the most demented thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Philip: And like, over their shoulder.

Carla: Yeah.

Philip: Because we need to see, like, a tantalizing glimpse of their butt crack because, like, the body resembles a cello.

Carla: Well, I think it was. I think it was in homage to that famous. Was it a Dali photo of the woman with the cello, you know, the cut-outs drawn on her back. So, you know, okay, so it’s like visual.

Philip: Lip synching as well.

Carla: Yeah. So it’s very much like a collage. This I love this like tic. And that’s where I was like, this is so fresh, Like seeing like, TikTok. Stitch are, you know, that’s like wild and like, am I imagining things? But it was Elgar’s Cello Concerto. The thing in Tar as well? That was the…

Philip:  Absolutely. Because it was so famously played by Jacqueline du Pré. Yes. Yes. It is like the iconic work. Yeah.

Carla: And I was like, Oh, that’s another TikTok incoming stitch situation. So mash up agreed with you. Phil there’s so much there to take in from a cacophony point of view. Definitely start on the third level and enjoy and then see how you go for listeners who are going to make the trek in. But I would love to go again, and it just, I don’t know, it just made me really excited. Thank you.

Philip: Glorious, Glorious. I can’t help myself. I’m going to throw in one more, which is a score for Fed Square going with the musical theme. Members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra have collaborated with the artist and composer Mia Salzau to create like a musical homage to the architecture of Fed Square by making the shapes of buildings into artistic scores that are displayed in the room as you listen to the soundtrack. That alone warrants 30 minutes of patient looking and listening. Yeah, you know, like. Like some of these pieces really need to be taken one at a time. So that’s my winter work cut out for me.

Carla: Yeah, for sure. Thank you. Are we going to go to a sad little gallery cafe and have a $9 coffee?

Philip: Oh, I’ve got an NGV member card, though. I get $0.50 off. Oh, fabulous. Let’s go join the queue.

Carla: Hey, Phil, I know you’re always reading and you have like a must read an hour a day. Regimented situation. I do. What are you reading?

Philip: Guess who just won the Stella Prize?

Carla: I don’t know.

Philip: It is. It is another book of poetry by an Australian woman. Exciting. This year it’s the Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt, which I have read and loved. Last year it was Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen, and I just specifically enjoy that. Australian poetry seems to be shifting itself into the centre at least of that fantastic prize for Australian women’s writing. But I’m also sort of in a in a guilty pleasure allowing myself to enjoy literary biography as currently it’s Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her biography, or one of them is called Two Way Mirror and is a little experimental and reflective and meta. One thing I love about biographers is that they’re always like journalists obsessed by the art of what they happen to be doing. And so every biography is sort of about the practice of biography itself, as this one certainly is. Elizabeth Barrett Browning has had such an amazing reception in terms of neglect, followed by periods of celebration. And it really maps not only her life and work in all its complexity, but also the figure of this this poet who eloped with Robert Browning to Italy, but was very much her own sort of revolutionary person and woman of the 19th century. So that is what’s on my Kindle right now. What about you?

Carla: I feel like you’re the last time we talked, you were reading Virginia Woolf in this space.

Philip: I was. Yes. Her diaries, indeed.

Carla: You’re loving these women’s these British ladies navel gazing. Okay. So I really struggle to read. I find it really overwhelming and really tiring. So I’ve started. I’ve just started. I’m like, because I love audio. I just, like, consume podcasts and radio, like there’s nothing else. So I’ve started listening to an audiobook for the first time in my life. Oh good. And it is. Ursula Le Guinn’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

Philip: Oh, good choice.

Carla: Which is it’s interesting already because I’m always, like, obsessively thinking about access needs stuff now, like, and because it’s like a sci-fi movie, a sci-fi book or a fantasy book that’s like just got so much made up words in it. I’m like, what the fuck is this guy saying? You know? It’s like, you know, like “blah blah blah” so it’s probably not a great book to start off with in my audiobook journey, but I know there’s different apps that you can use where you can read along like it actually has the text, and I think that would be ideal for me. But for the moment I’m just doing a trial on Audible and I got a glossary. I found like a glossary on the web. And every now and again I can just like read it to actually visualize the words that the reader is saying. Um, and I’m loving it, absolutely loving it.

Philip: That’s the one that’s about genderless or beyond gender.

Carla: All gender beings. Yeah, that sort of switch in between. And you know, depending on the time one will have a baby and one won’t and they’re like.

Philip: Right.

Carla: And there was a foreword at the beginning from Ursula Le Guinn that just absolutely like blew my mind and how she was talking about that sci-fi is never about the future. It’s about now and it’s about our anxieties about now. Like it is never futuristic. And I was just like, okay, wow, that’s mind blowing. Wow. And then that all fiction is metaphor, all fiction. Ursula which is something that I have just not been able to stop thinking about.

Philip: One thing that those declarations makes me want is more declarations, like I want another declarative age. Somebody said the other day, the social internet is over and was like, thank you, thank you for that simple sentence.

Carla: Huzzah.

Philip: Whatever it means.

Carla: Yeah, it’s like. Five years ago. And how is that so? How is that so revolutionary? So that’s what I’m quote unquote reading. I think next I’m going to because the only things that I can really read, I always say that my degree break my brain is like nonfiction, mostly biographies. So I think I’ll try a biography next on Audible and see how it goes. But yeah, I feel like this is maybe like a fresh start for me. But having said that, I just picked up a book from the library yesterday with you, so I’m sure I’ll read it, but it is an autobiography, so I should be wonderful. That’s the thing that I do find makes me read is if I get a library book and I’ve got a returner, I’m like, All right, let’s do.

Philip: Like book clubs are the same. It’s sort of a deadline looming.

Carla: Yeah, exactly. The other question that I had for you was we’re getting older. Do you have any seasonal self-care that you do?

Philip: Oh, what do you mean by seasonal?

Carla: So like it’s autumn. My skin’s getting drier, we’re using heaters more, my hormones are going crazy. So I’m moisturizing more. I’m having more baths.

Philip: Yes,

Carla: You know. I’m having more water.

Philip: Is this when. I come out as a cold shower person because I’m a cold shower person?

Carla: What?

Philip: Yes!

Carla: Of course you are.

Philip: Thank you for giving me a platform for this this great announcement.

Carla: Has this always been?

Philip: And it’s been more than a year? Well, no, but it’s but it’s but got through last winter.

Carla: Are you joking? What?

Philip: No, no, I’m just getting endlessly more monastic day. One of these days I will probably take vows.

Carla: You need to get one of those things I saw, like a portable ice bath for you. I’ll get you one for your birthday.

Philip: Stunning. But I just splish splash gamify the shower. Who needs hot?

Carla: Why did you begin this? Was it gradual or did you just. Go cold turkey so to speak?

Philip: I went cold turkey and like no easing into it. Of course, apart from maybe sort of getting a face washer and starting with that.

Carla: Okay.

Philip: I guess one of my friends was reading The Ice Man and told me a few fun facts about it and said, I can do that. Then I heard that Charles Dickens did.

Carla: You’re so competitive.

Philip: Sustained me. Yes, exactly. If Charles can do it, look out for my bildungsroman. Yeah. Yeah. Coming soon?

Carla: Yeah. You’re just like you’re slowly whittling everything down until. You’re going to be just living a monastic life in the city.

Philip: But the joy I feel when I am drying myself and then moisturizing my no longer quite as wretched face because of the cold. Of course, I’m always thankful and always pleased. So that would be one element of my routine.

Carla: That’s huge because hot water is so bad for your skin.

Philip: So Sure. I think I learnt that from you too. You were the third person in the mix. Yeah.

Carla: Yeah. Wow. Well. I’m going to be interrogating you on this further and further as especially as we go into winter. Yes. But I think. We’ve got to go. We’ve actually got to go to a show.

Philip: Yeah. Oh, I have to get a train and a bus.

Carla: Yeah. Is that the fire alarm going off at the mall?

Carla: Small Metal Objects by Back to Back Theatre. “An ingenious theatrical gem. Small metal objects unfolds amid the pedestrian traffic against the backdrop of the city on a raised seating bank with individual sets of headphones. The audience is wired into an intensely personal drama being played out somewhere in the crowd. Gary and Steve are the kind of men who normally escape notice, but here they play an inadvertent but pivotal role. In the night of two ambitious executives, they’ve arranged to meet for a transaction. Small Metal Objects explores how respect is withheld from outsiders, the disabled or unemployed who society deems unproductive. Set against the shifting backdrop of the city, the notion that everything has its price couldn’t be called into stark relief.” Jeez, I feel like I needed, like, another few weeks to think about this feel. That place is so specific to this theatre company and what they want to express about the world, about the built environment and how these disabled artists feel within or outside of it. So this was actually staged in a shopping mall in Geelong called Market Square and Market Square.

Carla: I mean, everything is so layered with meaning. Market Square is like the old mall, and then there’s the new mall, Westfield, which is the nice mall. So this is the old kind of cheap, slowly going out of business mall like half of the shops were shuttered. You know, there’s lots of teenage kids running around, lots of like feral kids. And we’re on a seating bank in the middle of the mall. And the majority of this play is enacted in front of a Boost Juice with the nonstop whirring of the blenders and people just standing around drinking their juice, trying to figure out what’s going on. And the actors also using the built environment of like going up and down the escalators, meeting people at the food court upstairs so you can see them in the atrium. And we have our little headphones where A, we can hear the performance through their microphones. And also there is a sound design, there’s a score. Essentially, it’s like fully scored. This was really reminded me of that show that we went on the bus, Phil?

Philip: Yes.

Carla: Because it completely blurred the lines between fiction and reality. With the mall goers just walking around in front of the quote unquote stage, some of the performers actually walking up to civilians and asking whether they’re Gary or, you know, and that blending of things, of making the drama of the mundane, the drama of real life gave it this totally surreal slash, hyper realistic bent. You’ve got these two mates walking around the mall. One of them is ostensibly a drug dealer. The other is, you know, his best friend. One is going in for surgery and the other is talking about how he would be so bereft and lost without him. And, you know, their costume is like exactly like all the other people are dressed in the mall. You know, they’ve got like tracky dacks on and a hoodie or, you know, like just sort of like cheap kind of Kmart kind of clothes. So they blend in completely into the environment. And really, you know, a lot of the theatrical tension comes from these two, you know, business people trying to score off them. And Steve is having a kind of a breakdown, an existential crisis, essentially, and cannot be moved for love nor money to be able to complete this transaction. I’ll throw it over to you in a sec, Phil, but ultimately, like the kind of juxtaposition between disability and capitalism being staged in this mall that has seen its heyday was extraordinary. And then also the worth the quantum of worth of the capitalistic extraction machine. If you have nothing to offer, then do you even exist? But then the dignity, the dignity that disabled people can manage to hold because they have nothing to lose, you know, the space that they are able to hold because they are able to be outside of these extraction machines, for better or for worse, obviously was really profound. Phil, I’m blathering. What do you think?

Philip: Oh, but as I listen, I’m thinking more and more about the layers of meaning in this text. The last words of the script are I feel better now, which is what the character Steve played by Simon Lady says. And it is an anti-capitalist statement. Yeah. He has been asserting humanity and need and desire at the expense of other people’s transactional requirements, and it drives those other people who need something and want to pay for it. Completely crazy. Yeah. I thought of the character Bartleby, the Scrivener by Melville, who famously says, I’d prefer not to, and just by stubbornly saying no to things drives a stockbroking office in the 19th century completely wild and becomes like a gothic figure. The idea that just by opting out of consumerism, capitalism, sales for the sake of our survival can be such a radical act is thrilling. And again, this is the, this is the theme of my experience of Back to Back Theatre. I’m always being offered something like that so generously from this alternative perspective on the world, the perspective of those with intellectual disabilities. I love this play. I love the way that it’s written. Phrases like I’ve started being aware of myself, discussions about pets who have passed away, or the desire for intimacy or the fear we feel when our friends might be about to leave us behind. It’s all there, but it’s very elliptical, very spare. And that also contributes to the suspense.

Philip: Silences are left between statements and the soundtrack in our headphones builds a kind of dread, a kind of menace as we stare out across a shopping mall and stare back at furtively by people who are looking at a bank of random people wearing headphones. I learnt something yesterday that actually blew my mind and I wonder if you know this, which is that this play was first performed in 2005 at Melbourne Festival and there’s video footage on the Back to Back Theatre’s website of the same performance, but at Flinders Street Station.

Carla: Wow.

Philip: Entrance area. And I did not know that while I watched the play. And so all of my thoughts were about somebody walking past with a giant target bag as a security incident in the shopping centre where kids with scooters got kicked out.

Carla: Oh, my God. That was the best.

Philip: Yeah. Thrilling. It’s like, is this part of it? The fact that all of the shops are for lease. There’s a little red car that parents either do or don’t put a coin in for their kid to bounce around or not. And then just at the very end of the play, when everything’s kind of dissolving back into the everyday, I looked up to that atrium level and saw three banners saying, Relax with us, Connect with us, Chill with us. While the sort of spooky soundtrack informed my way of looking at the place I was in. So the revelation that this has been performed around the world has won prizes from United States companies for performances in North America, not necessarily in shopping centres makes me revere the setting and the choice at Geelong even more. They’re going to do it at Fed Square, by the way, next week. It’s coming to Melbourne again and it’s going to mean something completely different.

Carla: That’s right.

Philip: But what you will still get is like a lot of glancing back at the audience, a lot of passing between the performance, even as they hand over envelopes full of cash to each other. Like, come on, guys, this is what you’ve all been waiting for. In surveillance culture, a drug deal is going on right in front of you. You know, conflict is taking place. This is action. But look, I’ve got I’ve got a lot to process. We saw this together just yesterday, and it was just immediately thrilling. But one of the things I’m thinking about is the way that environments like Federation Square shopping centres, train stations increasingly are sites of surveillance and sites of everybody being both within their own sound world. But yes, checking each other out and knowing that they are being watched. You could, going back to the security incident, like the fact that you could not have scripted that, except that if you place audiences there, you know what’s going to happen. And the fact that it started with somebody walking the wrong way down the escalator.

Carla: It was magical. So you’ve got the you’ve got the travelator going upwards in front of us, and then you just have this like, big security guard, like running down the wrong way down, and you’re just like, Is he part of the play? Is he going to start talking? But then he just, like, grabs these two little mulleted kids by the scruff of the neck and they’ve got these little razor scooters and just starts escorting them out of the mall. And I’m just like too real guys, too real. And it…

Philip: But then you’ve also got like, deranged, angry white men being angry in character like nobody could perform this quotidian sadness as well as those dickheads do day after day.

Carla: Yeah,

Philip: And we’re watching them. And that itself heightens their discomfort, which was. Which was kind of delicious as well.

Carla: Well, and also that they’re dependent on the labour of the disenfranchise artist in every way, whether it’s for drugs for their real estate fucking conference or whatever it was, or for, you know, under the counter labour that they don’t appropriately pay for, you know, that in order to take a step up, you must step on someone you know.

Philip: Right.

Carla: So that was super evident even in the metaphor of the shit mall versus the good mall, you know, yes, this mall has been left to decay and die. In order for the other to live, you know. So the setting was just absolutely extraordinary. And I agree with you. Like, I can’t even imagine seeing this in the context of it in Federation Square. But what it really made me think of a lot was there was a lot of discussion on Twitter recently about like, what is it about Australian culture that makes people us very obedient? You know, because I was talking about like how where we’re not an art culture. It’s the reason why it’s all about TERFs. Like why hasn’t that TERF ideology really taken root here? And my opinion is, is that, you know, like ultimately, we’re not a narc culture. It’s like narc-ing is the worst crime that you could do against your fellow man because, you know, like you don’t dob, you’re not a dobber. But within that structure, we’re so under the boot of the colony, you know, it’s really the only lateral way that we have to move. And that’s what really drives our live and let live kind of philosophy, you know? So seeing this…

Philip: Which completely breaks down as soon as we’re invited to surveil our neighbours during lockdown, for instance.

Carla: Or in this mall where you can just go and, you know, rough up a couple of 12 year olds with scooters because you can it’s like, who gives a fuck about this mall? Half of it is shut down and you got some rent a cop running around trying to like, you know, chuck some kids out.

Philip: Corral the 12 year olds.

Carla: Serious?

Philip: But the kids were lapping it up because this is perhaps the only place they’re getting any kind of attention.

Carla: And then you had like a big crowd of these teenage kids going, uh, like kind of yelling at us and trying to get our attention.

Philip: It was I was impressed by that. It’s like, here’s your audience. You’ve been waiting a lifetime of 11 years for this.

Carla: There were so many pithy, pithy one liners in this that absolutely made me howl. Gary, the drug dealer, says self-storage and child care is where you should invest your dollars.

Philip: Right?

Carla: Because we’ll only ever parking our stuff is only ever going to increase as a market. I just we were at an Auslan interpreted performance, which I kind of wish we weren’t because it actually did give me an anchor to focus on and make it a real thing. But I think without that I would have been like so surreally lost.

Philip: Yeah, there was something Brechtian about that person standing in space and signing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Interesting.

Carla: Yeah. The hissing devil of capitalism is the last note that I wrote in my in my book. And the final line made me cry. I was like, yes, all we have is our humanity. All that’s all we have is our dignity. And every day people are trying to strip us of it and everyday…

Philip: And we need to say no. We need to stand still.

Carla: And disabled people are our guiding lights in this, you know, and no wonder their voices are so muted. You know?

Philip: Yeah. And so radical when you give some attention to them. So yeah, defiantly progressive.

Carla: Yeah. Go and see it everyone.

Philip: Thrilling.

Carla: Coming soon. Coming soon. What’s coming soon for you, Phil?

Philip: For our Canadian listeners, Back to Back Theatre is touring the Shadow whose Prey the Hunter becomes will be in Montreal, Toronto and Quebec. I mean, think some of those go together, but dates are on their website. Loaded. Directed by Stephen Nicolazzo, based on the novel by Christos Tsiolkas, continues until the end of May at Malthouse. Rising Festival is coming in June and each episode I like to suggest a show from that festival you might like to see. You would hate this one, though. Consort of the Moon by Genevieve Lacey and Erkki Veltheim at Fitzroy Gardens is a communal, sound based choral event that quote, invites the audience to participate in the work.

Carla: Is it on a full moon?

Philip: Well, it’s over four consecutive evenings, so I’ll be choosing based on my lunar calendar.

Carla: Okay, good. Of course.

Philip: And then the last, last thing is just to note that, like we kept saying, we need to go back to Melbourne Now. It’s on until August, so great. Go and see it, people.

Carla: Yeah.

Philip: What about you? Any forward sizzle,

Carla: Forward, sizzle, forward, sizzle. So we’re going to see. I Liked it But… The new Joel Bray work, um, it’s going to be at Little Creatures Brewery in Geelong and that’s something that we’ve talked about. Phil, it’s like we’ve seen these shows for Geelong Performing Arts Centre and none of them have been in a theatre. So we went to a…

Philip: Radical.

Carla: Sports centre, we went to a sports centre for the Evonne Goolagong Show, now we went to a shopping mall and now we’re going to a brewery for Joel Bray.

Philip: For a trivia night.

Carla: For a trivia night, which is very exciting. So that’s coming up. And also at Geelong Performing Arts, which is I think in their proper theatre, is Sydney Theatre Company, No, Sydney Dance Company’s Ab Intra, which is at the end of May.

Philip: Cool.

Carla: Very excited about that. This is something that I love about living in the regions is it’s one date, May 27th one. That’s it. You want to see it go then.

Philip: Everyone goes.

Carla: You know. So, it’s like, yeah, I don’t have to be like, ah, you know, do I want to go or don’t I want to go? I love this. I love the slimming down of options and I just have to make things work. But then ironically, it just gives me so much more time and space. So that’s why.

Philip: Because you’re not looking at an endless stream of Netflix options, none of which you actually watch.

Carla: Exactly. So I’m really I’m really looking forward to that. And I can’t really think of anything else just continuing to watch TV.

Philip: It’s all happening. It’s back.

Carla: It is all happening, but June is where it gets crazy. So I still haven’t thought about Rising, but I will have to face it at the end of May and figure it out. Yeah. All right.

Carla: And that is that for us today. Thank you for listening. If you would like to get in touch our handles for Twitter and Instagram are @acrossaisle and our email address is You can also check out our website at where we have our extended show notes and transcripts. Side note apparently that makes me very Gen X is that I still say W-w-w. So… Across the aisle is recorded Naarm and Dijang on the stolen lands of the Bunurong Boonwurrung Wurundjeri Woiwurrung and Wadawurrung peoples of the Kulin nation. Sovereignty has never been ceded. We pay our respects to their elders and are so grateful for their custodianship of the land, waterways and skies we enjoy every day. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land. And thank you, dearest Phil. Until next time.

Philip: You too.