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Welcome to our MIFF 2023 episode! We took the opportunity to hibernate over winter and do some MIFF online films covering the mind boggling “quiet part out loud” selection process for the Prague Academy of Art in ⁠ART TALENT SHOW⁠, and the documentary ⁠CASA SUSANNA⁠ about a trans retreat of the same name in the 1960’s Catskills.

In Intermission we talk our MIFF methods, the ruthless (and mean) shitcanning of gay romcom ⁠Red, White and Royal Blue⁠. And in Coming Soon it’s Fringe Mania with our second lot of recommendations which are now all on our ⁠Instagram⁠.

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Carla: Hello and welcome to Across the Aisle, your favourite Australian Arts and Culture podcast. Spring has sprung out here in the Surf Coast, but after a busy winter with lots of shows, we chose to snuggle onto the couch and enjoy some online content this month. For those of you who are joining us for the first time today, welcome. We’ve had lots of new followers on social media lately. Each month, my co-host, Phillip and I choose something for the other to experience. It is a judgment free zone, one filled with open minds and hearts, and often one where we’re intensely curious how the other will see it. We have an intermission between each segment where we get to gossip and drink and catch up. And then in coming soon, we talk about the things on our radar that perhaps you might also be interested in. Phillip Thiel the moon to my sun. How are you today?

Philip: I’m so happy, joyful and warm. It’s such a nice seasonal transition, isn’t it, this time of the year?

Carla: Yeah, it’s. What’s the word like? It’s textbook, you know, like it’s just been this sort of gradual warming.

Philip: Exactly.

Carla: Rather than that kind of very hectic up and down we get until about November, it seems. So, yeah, it’s nice.

Philip: It’s like a spring out of a British novel for children.

Carla: Yes.

Philip: Delightful.

Carla: We’re very slowly putting the woollies away. All right. Well, so this is our MIFF episode this month, and I can’t wait to hear about your MIFF Phil. Maybe if you give me a little brief catch up, because I did it all online and you did it mostly in person. So keen to hear about that. And yeah, also like a little bit how you prioritize, how you organize. But until we do our intermission SHHHH, open all of your chip packets. Now, please turn off your mobile phone and introduce Art Talent Show.

Philip: Indeed. And this was part of this new hybrid approach that MIFF is taking where they do the screenings in person for a period of time and then shift into MIFF play their online edition. So we chose a film for each other from the MIFF Play program, and I selected Art Talent Show, a Czech film that describes itself thus “For the wannabe students of Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts, the oldest art college in the Czech Republic. Founded in 1799, the professors hold a future in the palms of their hands. The rigorous entrance exam see hundreds of hopefuls battle it out for a coveted spot as they are challenged and interrogated. The conversations vary wildly from the nature of scandalous substances to what distinguishes bisexuality from pan sexuality to the point of art. Today, the applicants also show off their creations, which range from questionable to sublime, while the selection panel rake them over the coals of subjectivity in deciding what is good and what is ghastly”. This comes from directors Adela Komrzy and Tomas Bojar. And from the top I need to note that the style of this documentary is austere. That description may have made it sound like your favourite reality TV ceramics contest, but no, no, no. We are in Wiseman-esque territory where even the final credits give you no relief and scroll across the screen in austere silence, no interviews, no voiceover, just fly on the wall footage of some of the strangest pedagogical encounters I’ve ever seen. The building is beautiful and is one of those decaying European architecture in decline examples with halls too big for what is taking place within them. Forgotten Christ statues and really mean people literally guarding the gates. And this is all we really see. We spend the entire documentary mostly indoors, certainly in the surroundings of this school, giving a really disembodied sense of things. These kids come and go very sporadically. The real heroes and heroines or antagonists of the film are these terrible teachers who are resident in this Gothic environment and are essentially there to project all of their bitterness onto naive young artists and to, again, gate keep.

Carla: Oh.

Philip: This is an utterly surreal film where we have access to the combative meetings of these absurd clown like staff trying to, for example, come up with the topics that they’re going to spring on their students for some kind of competitive one day art making activity and the topics they come up with are just hateful and absurd. Like “what I dreamed last night” and “through the bush”. Et cetera. But the later section of the film, when it enters some kind of beauty pageant conversation phase, becomes even more harsh. And they’re asking these 18 year olds questions like, literally, would you prefer shit or blood as an art material? I really got the sense that these teachers hated teaching. Hated young people and essentially wanted to destroy any hope that these kids had, not only for their art careers, but for anything resembling beauty or meaning in the arts themselves. So for pure cynicism and postmodern nihilism, I thought it was incredibly successful at conveying a dark heart of a decaying institution and have been thinking a lot about what it all means since having seen the documentary. Carla How did you find Art Talent show?

Carla: Holy shit. Talk about a microcosm of a macrocosm. You know, I had all these glib aphorisms come to mind as I was watching this. Like, all power corrupts. And you know, those who can’t do teach and all these other things. And then I had to sort of take a step back and think, okay, well, this is what they’re choosing to show us. You know, maybe my little hopeful heart tries to think maybe these people aren’t as repugnant and awful as their sort of reality-TV kind of edited into being. But regardless, there’s enough material there for it to be a fantastic edit on power, on the structures of power and the performance and ratification of power. These horrific, absolutely unpleasant, repugnant people are literally gatekeeping. They literally say they are gatekeepers for this institution. I’m putting these young, idealistic, open minded people into their place. It is so anti-intellectual and anti-artistic. To see how this institution and the process of being institutionalized has completely curdled these people’s minds, you know? And ironically or not, so ironically, they are trying to prepare these students for the rigor, the absolute ego beating that institutionalization is going to do to them. You know, and I had to, like pause it about every half an hour because I just couldn’t take it. I couldn’t take the hypocrisy like the absolute rank hypocrisy of these people thinking that they have the answers or they’re like little lords poncing around asking these edgelord questions, trying to, like get a rise or understand how these people think. But we all know that the end of this is that they’re going to teach them how to think. They’re going to tell them how to think. They’re going to show them what is art. They’re going to show them what is real. And it was just. Such a very. Sickeningly perfect demonstration of institutionalization and power. That I could not get away from fast enough, right?

Philip: Yeah. I’m remembering the real violence of it. The way that these adults hunt in pairs. Like there are these dyads always meeting or interrogating one little kid. So the bullying of it in that sort of triangulated format was itself part of the problem of it all. But the characterization of these staff members was pretty rich, like they got quite a bit of screen time in their respective villain edits. My favourite figure was Katya, the new media specialist who had uniform or kitten inspired outfits and would sort of swan around in a kind of radical faerie energy. She’s the one who thinks that it’s somehow part of the audition process to have a chat over tea about what Pansexuality means.

Carla: Interrogate people’s sexualities, and then tell them what is wrong about how they present or technically incorrect.

Philip: And then there was overt transphobia from some of the women keeping the door at another section of the film, as if to just paint the generational divide as full of hate from the elders towards the new directions and new thinking of these more vulnerable kids. And there were these sort of cynical people working in more traditional plaster or ceramic arts who would wander around ghostlike, looking at the new works of the students. And one of them foreshadows what indeed seems to happen in one of the final shots of the film when he says, you know, cleaners would probably not know if this is art or not, and they’re just they’re just going to sweep it away. This stuff is so shit. And then someone does appear to sweep up one of the artworks. So, mean,

Carla: The whole thing was just like, I mean, talk about nihilistic, like. Absolutely pointless like a we just sort of these kind of like, you know, product like cultural conditioning, production machines to just walk around making squawking noises out of our mouths for the rest of our lives. Like it was so fucking bleak. But it’s like, how do we break out of it? How we all have to give institutions our pound of flesh in order to kind of ascend in some way, whether it’s by getting a degree or teaching or, you know, going and learning under one person. But you’ve got to endure five other like these kinds of people. Like I just I do like the fact that it was like, as you say, very austere. It was very kind of pragmatic and the bookend of what it showed. But it was incredibly nihilistic in that it just gave us no other answers or hope or anything like that.

Philip: It had a Marie Antoinette quality, which suggests that maybe one of the purposes is to encourage people to stage a revolution and burn the whole thing down. The acquiescence of these young people, when instructed to shout, they shout when instructed to go for a walk blindfolded through the park. They do. But there’s just a bit of a sense that there’s not much that is holding this institution up. I mean, there’s Gen X teachers are so dumb and make references that are so basic to British artists that were cool 20 years ago or whatever. I think that part of what we’re being asked to do by the end of the film is just stop sending our kids to university.

Carla: Hopefully,

Philip: You know, the schools are not okay.

Carla: Yeah. And that it’s an anachronism on top of an anachronism. And I love at the end that the one I mean they’re all just caricatures the way that they look as well. And that one of them was like, you know, we’re sorry if we were mean to you, but it’s part of the process. And, you know, like it took me five times to audition to get here. And it just it really rankled me because I think a lot of the people who listen to this podcast and myself included, have been through these institutions where only the psychos survive because, you know, they’re the only ones who can be as ruthless and brutal and narcissistic in order to actually not only hold on to the rung, but to then have the staying power to power to ascend, you know? Yeah.

Philip: And the use of cliché as a tool. Another statement by these teachers was, we are trying to get you out of your comfort zone. It’s like there’s no zone of comfort here, love.

Carla: It was like child psychology, like, show us on the doll where it hurts. Like it was just all projection the whole time. Every single thing that came out of their mouths was dripping with wounded anxiety. You know.

Philip: I would love Cerise Howard’s take on this, and I might actually get in touch with her to ask about it just because of the Czech quality.

Carla: Right.

Philip: Cerise, who’s going to be Melbourne Queer Film Festival’s artistic director from the next festival, has for many years been the director of the Czech and Slovak Film Festival. Yes, and I think there was a kind of comedy that I’m unfamiliar with just below the surface of this text that seems to me, at least as an outsider, to be very local to Czech culture.

Carla: Right?

Philip: And I get the feeling that maybe this would be particularly well received by audiences more experienced at that kind of tone. And like with so much at MIFF, I see movies from cultures that I have absolutely no knowledge of and I love the positioning of me as an audience member, as a real outsider and ignoramus, basically. But there was enough crossover here to, as you say, our collective experiences of learning and teaching to make it an apt commentary on lots of the stuff that goes down here from NIDA auditions to people presenting their portfolios as art students. You know, I kind of am in this mix, of course, myself as a high school teacher, so it gave me lots of pause to reflect on my own practice and to make sure that I am as little like these teachers as I can be. Yeah, so it gave me some pedagogical insights about what not to do, what never to do.

Carla: Yeah, it is one of those ones where I would have I mean, on the one hand I was able to pause it every half an hour when I felt like I was going to explode. But then on the other hand, it’s one of those ones where I would have loved to have seen it with a packed cinema at MIFF and like hear the uncomfortable shifting and potentially some groans. And then, you know, like the sort of rabid chatter at the end of it. But anyway, I also got I got my break. So, you know. Great pick, Phil. Great. Great.

Philip: Thank you MIFF.

Carla: Let’s. But let’s get a drink. Just briefly tell me your selection process for myth.

Philip: So there’s a new pass called a share pass that nobody shares.

Carla: Okay.

Philip: Because it essentially replaces the old ten films, plus some freebies with the 12 film pass that officially you could use a couple of people on. But I saw my 12 films. I have been working with the website rather than the printed guide for the last few years, which has a sense, I think, of offering a little more of a visual representation of the aesthetics of a film that I use my gut to respond to. There are micro categories of films that are just sort of my thing, and I see them every time.

Carla: Okay.

Philip: This year there were some particular directors featured are so often so Argento is one of those ones that I think I haven’t seen quite enough of. So I saw one of his called Opera and another Phantom of the Opera, you know, so an angle on whatever’s provided. But I’ve just learned over the years that the more conviction you have that you’ve chosen exactly what you want to see in advance, the more likely you are to have it all pulled out from underneath you. And you’ve got to allow some magic to happen and see where the guy takes you. I certainly love Long Things. My favourite film this year, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, this beautiful Vietnamese journey movie with scenes of rural Vietnam. Three hours. I knew I would love it because it was three hours.

Carla: Apparently that one was really good.

Philip: Stunning. So beautiful. Yeah. What’s your approach?

Carla: Yeah. For me, my time is limited these days. And also, I don’t think I’ll attend the festival in person, I think for a very long time. So I really I’m limited to MIFF play, but even in the past I would kind of prioritize documentaries because they’re just not things that we that usually ever get a release. So I get to see them on the big screen. And then also it’s kind of hard to track them down post Miff. Yes. So I try to see the documentaries that I will that I think will probably kind of float away. And then I prioritize things that I just think will be fun to see in a cinema full of other people. I definitely deprioritize things that I know are going to get a release pretty soon after. So sort of just trying to keep my slate to like weird things. Yeah, things that probably I won’t see on the big screen, things that will kind of get that buzz going. I have to say, since Twitter has died, Miff was actually one of the best parts of Twitter.

Philip: Great point.

Carla: So jumping onto the hashtag, having all the tweets on the screen, getting your tweet on the screen, which I did every year, which is so thrilling. I found loads of friends through that hashtag. So that’s since that’s gone, it was a bit of a deflated year this year, but we’ll see what comes next year. But we’ve been watching another movie.

Philip: Oooo telly.

Carla: Yes. Made for TV films, which is now becoming one of my favourite things too.

Philip: Oh, we’re talking gay romcom.

Carla: Gay romcom. Also one of my favourite things.

Philip: Red, White and Royal Blue. I live with somebody who is very excited by gay rom coms to the extent that he’s reading like hockey puck am content.

Carla: Yeah yeah. This is…

Philip: Which is having a moment on Booktok.

Carla: Booktok is big on the hockey romance.

Carla: Yeah, yeah.

Philip: But Red, White and Royal Blue is, is at a different level class wise. Like, we’re not in the jock territory. We’re not in.

Carla: Fan fiction anymore.

Philip: Yeah, it’s. It’s basically Prince Harry gets a boyfriend, isn’t it?

Carla: Yeah and like, I’ll caveat all this stuff with saying that I feel like the gays are pretty mean. Like there’s been a lot of things on gay social media and whatnot recently, especially around like And Just Like That and stuff like that. And I’m like, all this stuff is fine. Like fucking it back off seriously? Like, why are we so keen to shit all over our puff piece? Like, straight people get terrible romance movies all the time. Why can’t we?

Philip: We’ve been asking for bad queer art for a long time, and here it is.

Carla: Yeah and look, I highly recommend. Look, I don’t know whether I’ve just, like, drunk the gator. Like I watch. I watch loads of gay Christmas movies, so I’m like, my bar is pretty low in terms of, you know, like what I will watch and what I will enjoy. And this is like well above a Lifetime movie. No shade to Lifetime movies, but production values wise and money that it has. And it’s kind of like Darren Star level and Emily in Paris. I just thought it was great. Yeah.

Philip: And it has some big name actors in quirky roles like Uma as the president.

Carla: Oh my God. They have Foghorn Leghorn Texan accent.

Philip: And it has some intimate scenes of face to face gay anal sex.

Carla: Dude. Like, I get the criticism that this is for straight people, right? But particularly straight women, right? But as if people learning about gay sex, straight people is not a bad thing.

Philip: Indeed.

Carla: Like, how is that a bad thing?

Philip: Yeah.

Carla: Showing like some pretty if you use your imagination. Yeah. Raunchy, sexy.

Philip: I mean. Everything was used like synecdoche was used. It’s like hands entwining when you’re in a certain position. Signifies other things connecting. Like it was a little bit comic, but I watched it with my partner and we were both like, enjoying the experience of seeing two beautiful people fall in love. And to quote the film, Make Love.

Carla: Yeah. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. Like I went in, I don’t know, like. And since when do gays hate trash?

Philip: I agree.

Carla: Like, seriously?

Philip: And since when do gay people hate women enjoying culture? Like that’s culture per se at this point. Surely there’s something misogynistic about saying, oh, it’s for straight women. So is like and so.

Carla: Also kind of like, it also kind of glosses over like how many internalized homophobic people there are out there. Yes. You know, like this is probably doing a lot of people a solid. Yes. You know, like young teenagers in places where they don’t see representation.

Philip: Totally.

Carla: You know, like and it’s just it’s puffy, but it’s fun. And it was sexy and it was kind of a bit racy. Yeah. You know, it was very low stakes.

Philip: I think you’re on to something there with this sort of version of the queer consumer that is quite elitist and driven by a kind of flip side of internalized homophobia, whereby now that we have access to all of the Avant garde content that we want to be tasteful about, we now need to police the margins or police the masses and be ever more minoritarian about our tastes. And I’m certainly guilty of like extraordinary expressions of snobbism. But when it comes to a culture wide punching down, I think that needs to be resisted.

Carla: Yeah. And just briefly, like I’d never watched Sex in the City and I’ve never, never have, but I have been watching And Just Like That and damn were those queens mean about that show and like seriously when we think about the Golden Girls of the same age and now we’ve got these ladies it’s actually been really nice for me. Like I’m 43, I’m not, you know, I’m about to turn 44. I’m not that far from a lot of these women. And seeing them getting it on with their like, kind of papery décolletage and their kind of slightly saggy but still kind of beautiful boyfriends. It’s been amazing. I’ve loved it.

Philip: And going back to the film, Stephen Fry as the King of England is a world I want to inhabit. Long live the king.

Carla: Yeah. So highly recommended everyone, trash when it’s good, it’s good.

Philip: Trash is back. Yeah.

Carla: Oh, it’s time to go for our little now a little like quite serious gay Trans so yarn. So let’s go to Casa Susanna.

Philip: Let’s go.

Carla: Okay, So this was my pick because, as I said, prioritizing documentaries and this was a documentary by Sebastian Lifshitz and it’s called Casa Susanna. And it says, “Away from the turbulence of New York City’s gay rights movement and the sensationalist front page headlines about Christine Jorgensen, Casa Susanna was an oasis for the transgender women and self-identifying cross-dressers and female impersonators of the time, along with their wives and families who would often join them. It was a place to come together and simply be themselves. For viewers today, it is an institution epitomizing resilience amid a society that for many didn’t even have the words to describe what they were going through”. So this documentary, I think it really began because someone found a huge box of photographs from Casa Susanna at a flea market in Brooklyn like ten years ago. And this kind of like sprung the trap of people sort of finding out about this and wanting to track things down. So now there’s been like a play written about it, and I think there was another kind of shorter documentary. But this documentary, because Casa Susanna really existed like in the early 60s, I think from like 62 to 65 or something like that. A lot of the people are naturally quite they’re either gone, they’re dead or they’re very, very, very elderly.

Carla: So they were many. The director, Sebastian Lifshitz, managed to track down a couple of different people who had attended. So there was Catherine Cummings who, as I always say, there’s an Australian in everything. She was a Trans woman who found out about Casa Susanna and arranged her whole life around visiting there. So got a got an academic post in Canada so that she would be able to start visiting Casa Susanna. And then the other one was Diana Mary Shapiro, who was a trans woman who was actually very fascinating life. She was a computer programmer for IBM. She transitioned in the 60s, I think. Anyway, they’re both in their 80s now, and they were sort of really interviewees talking heads. And then there was Gregory Boghosian, who is the grandson of Susanna, who was also known as Tito, who ran Casa Susanna with his wife Maria. So these sort of triad of people, and Betsy Wollheim, who’s the daughter of an attendee make up the people who talk about Casa Susanna and it’s told through like photographs and they go and visit the site. It’s still there. It’s all kind of rundown and boarded up and all that kind of stuff. And they really just talk about their lives, talk about what it was like to find out about other people who did this, that there was a place that they could go.

Carla: The photographs are incredible. And it’s just it’s really emotional and really beautiful to hear these first person histories. Our histories are it’s becoming more and more important that we get these kinds of histories as our elder’s age and pass away. As with a lot of these things, it is the absence that really makes me think. So these two women, Catherine and Diana, are in their 80s, of course, you know, it’s sort of beyond the, you know, like human death age. So they’ve obviously had they’ve got good genetics, but really like they’ve also got all these other protective elements in their lives that help them survive. Like they were married. They were both married for a very long time. They were both able to transition and still remain married and then maybe remarry again. So it was just really highlighted to me that the destruction of Trans people’s lives, the removal of medical care, the removal of them from their families, the separation, this is all a kind of genocide. You know, the removal of these support structures are the reasons why, you know, half of Trans people try to kill themselves. So it was it was a really beautifully well-made documentary. I think you can track it down. But what were the kind of things that you took from it Phil?

Philip: Oh, yeah. So all of the above. And on your last point, it was so interesting to see the way that these people wanted to look and how they wanted to behave and how they posed in the photos. As they note in the documentary that this middle class conservative Sunday best kind of look where they would really just have some time together in a domestic environment, looking beautiful, doing their hair, resting in a kind of safe environment, aiming to assimilate, if only within this ironically distant, isolated place in the Catskills was moving in itself as such a peaceful desire on the part of these people and the level of violence structurally that was working to prevent even that level of pleasure and community at the time is just very sad. I thought the documentary walked a fine line really skilfully between the tragedy and trauma and moments of real hope and beauty as probably this place, Casa Susanna itself did in terms of the melancholy note at the heart of lots of this stuff, I was particularly connecting with Diana, one of these key storytellers, and a couple of moments from her story just made me tear up and smile like her, recalling the first time she had her hair curled and a smile comes to her, you know, elder’s face as she tells the story. Another really moving moment where she recalls her father’s acceptance and love. And again, she’s tearing up and I’m tearing up. Viewing this film was a kind of therapeutic and cathartic process in many ways and presents itself with all sorts of beautiful elements almost to a fault like it becomes a kind of mood piece with archival footage of trips on ships or beautiful natural images of autumnal scenes in upstate New York.

Philip: It’s very easy on the eye, autumnal in every symbolic sense of the word. But to me, the heart of the story was really, as you say, giving attention to these particular complex and often challenging stories of people’s lives. Personally, I’m fascinated by this, this moment in queer history, at least in America and Australia, when Trans people remained potentially not even out to themselves, at least in some cases, and this idea of dressing, as they call it, was something that they really saw as a temporary role playing activity. So Susanna, who offers her name to this establishment, was very much seen as separate individual people, depending on whether she was dressed. There was the Tito persona and periods of time in that person’s life. And then there were the Susanna times that were captured so beautifully in all of these photographs. And I think it’s actually quite subtle and potentially quite precious as a way of thinking about performance and gender to listen to that particular strand of queer identity, which is perhaps less practiced now and less talked about. And there are sort of awkwardness’s around the discussion. But I certainly enjoyed having that first person set of testimonial accounts of people who in some cases here went through their life not identifying as anything other than cross-dressers who remained in marriages to women who probably didn’t necessarily identify as queer themselves, but loved having opportunities to quote unquote be themselves. And the way they accessed themselves was at least partly through the clothes that they wore and the hair that they put on and the faces that they made up.

Carla: Yeah. There are so many things that went through my mind watching this. I mean, there were places like this all over the world and even in the TV show Transparent, there’s a whole kind of montage about the camps that Moppa used to go to in the 60s and the 70s. But yeah, again, I just kept going back to those protective elements, like there’s no black or brown people. You know, they’re all middle class. They all have the financial means to be able to do this and potentially the financial means to not blow up their marriage or the middle class-ness to not blow up their marriage. And then the wives are dealing with this either, you know, unhappily or sort of through gritted teeth. It seemed like some of them did accept it. Who knows what they were thinking. But even the lateral violence of, you know, they wanted to distinguish themselves from being gay. You know, they wanted to involve their families, involve their wives in order to give it that kind of respectability politics. You know, I think this is such an important story that a lot of people probably the kind of nuance that you were talking about, they just haven’t sort of come into contact with. And I especially felt so sad for Betsy Wollheim, whose father Donald was a was an attendee and was obviously very tortured by his or hers existence and was miserable as Donald, an abusive father and abusive husband, but seemed to only come alive and be happy when he attended Casa Susanna. So there’s a lot, there’s just so much there to think about, about who has the access, who has access to be themselves safely. And without persecution. And these kinds of things still exist today. And it even still feels like it’s starting to go backwards. So in terms of timely, you know, we need artefacts like this more than ever.

Philip: Yeah, I really enjoyed viewing this and feel a great sense of thankfulness that you directed me to this movie. And maybe going back to the general discussion about MIFF, we can just sort of outsource some of the choosing to other people next year.

Carla: Yeah, and I will give a plug to the Australian Queer Archives. They have a fantastic coffee table book called Queer Melbourne and on the front cover is exactly the same kind of photo that you’re talking about, Phil. It’s like a whole bunch of middle class, middle class men dressed up in middle class women’s gear in the 60s. And there’s lots of fantastic photos in there. So hop onto the queer Australian Queer Archives website and grab that book.

Philip: Lovely.

Carla: All right. Coming soon. It is Fringe Mania.

Philip: Fringe is back.

Carla: What are you what have you got on your, on your radar?

Philip: Um, I’m going to mention three fringe shows all in the theatre category. One that I have heard is good one by somebody I know will be good. And one complete roll of the dice. Great. So last year, Tattletales, Immersive Tarot Storytelling got great reviews, and I didn’t see it last year and plan to see it this year. It’s a person who tells stories based on random drawings from a deck of tarot cards, and that takes the performance in a set of directions that is apparently quite moving because it’s connecting with the audience in that really direct symbolic way that the tarot does.

Carla: Wow.

Philip: The one that I know will be good because she is good in everything is Anna Piper, Scott’s new play, An Evening with JK. So following on from some of the trans content in our episode, if you want like some sardonic trans comedy about our former favourite author head along to that. I think that’s probably going to sell out pretty quickly. And the random one that I have a ticket to and look, who knows what’s going to happen is called Unexpected Thailand at the No Vacancy Gallery and the subheading is unveil the quirky depths of Thai belief in a theatrical journey like no other. In other words, they don’t necessarily even know what’s going to happen and can’t wait to be there.

Carla: Wow that sounds awesome. And this is what I love. Like I have not, I know that the Anna Piper Scott show is coming up, but the other two I hadn’t heard of. So that’s so thrilling. I’ve got like nine on my list that I’m going to see. So the new Bloomshed show, I think everyone will agree will be great. A dodgeball named Desire.

Philip: Dodgeball.

Carla: Pony Cam’s Burnout Paradise on treadmills. This is like very active. These two shows, dodgeball on treadmills. Uh, Betty Grumbles, doing a new show called Enemies of Grooviness Eat Shit If you’ve never seen Betty Grumble, highly recommend. One that I’m like super fascinated with is called Full Cream, a new play about fat pride, kinship and joy. This looks fantastic. And it’s also on at Drumroll Please the Melbourne Fringe encore season at the Geelong Arts Centre where there’s one, two, three, four. There’s five shows, six shows. They all look fantastic, Yummy, Of the Land Which We Meet, High Pony, which Maya and my recommended full cream. So there’s quite a few shows that I’m going to wait for Geelong because it’s the weekend after Fringe finishes, so I can kind of prioritize only Fringe only shows and the next one that I want to, the next one I want to plug because it just looks really unhinged is called She’s Crowning.

Philip: Oh yes, I’m dead.

Carla: But these queens are back. We want some really dirty, nasty drag queen content at Fringe. And the last one I’ll plug, which is Yalinguth Live by the Birrarung. So this looks really amazing. It’s two hours. It looks like you get, like, a audio piece to experience as you’re being led along the Birrarung. So it’s Aboriginal stories, time travel about the history of the Birrarung, so I’m really looking forward to that as well. That’s not my whole list, but I will. I think once we kind of lock it all in full, we should publish it on the website.

Philip: Yeah, let’s share.

Carla: I’m going to go crazy.

Philip: Oh, I’m so glad you’re in. That’s thrilling.

Carla: I know. I’ll probably have to. I’ll probably wear a mask both weekends that I go. Because the last two times I went crazy at me, if I got really sick. This was before Covid.

Carla: Um. So.

Philip: Well,

Carla: Next month

Philip: Buckle up.

Carla: I know. Oh, no, it’s October. Sorry. Two months away, but we’re getting very excited getting our recs in. We’re getting our recs in early book five.

Philip: We’re starting up.

Carla: I know. Yes. Okay, great. 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. I’m trying to be a lot more active on there these days, so please make friends with us, reach out, repost our content, would love that. And our email address is and we also have a website where we have extended show notes and transcripts available for you.

Carla: Production and recording is by us Carla and Phil, and we are edited and immensely polished by Shack West Productions. Our amazing theme song is composed by Mark Barrage. Across the Aisle is recorded in Naarm and Geelong on the stolen lands of the 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, Phil.

Philip: That was beautiful.

Carla: Until next time.

Philip: See ya. Bye.