Mayhem on the move

PLANTAGENET Players will christen their new home next month with a variety show to rival all others from the acting group’s repertoire.

The newly refurbished Plantagenet District Hall is now sparkling with nearly $1 million worth of fix-ups, including retractable tiered seating and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment.

Plantagenet Players media liaison Kristy Kempton said the first show for the hall, 100% Comedy – Caution: may contain traces of nuts, will feature two hours of skits, musical and dance numbers, short plays and poems.

“Plantagenet Players shows are notoriously cheeky and hilarious,” she said.

“The actors are all volunteers, including The Weekender’s own Andy Dolphin, and almost all content is written in-house.”

Co-producer of 100% Comedy Charmaine Gadenne said the show is guaranteed to tickle the cockles of your funny bones.

“It’s a lively variety show full of humour, wit and a touch of mayhem,” she said.

“We have created some very unique pieces in the usual style of Plantagenet Players that may cause you to laugh so hard, you’ll have tears running down your legs.

“The cast are having a ‘cracking’ good time at rehearsals, adding their own delightful personalities to their characters on stage as they explore our new theatre, whilst the crew have been playing with all the new equipment and creating costumes that will be a treat for the eyes.”

Tickets for the May 11, 12, 18 and 19 shows are on sale now and can be purchased at Mt Barker Scrap Shak.

Tickets cost $17 for adults, $12 for seniors and children, and a light supper is included.

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Mix of creativity on show

A FUSION of colour and acrylic will descend upon Mt Barker’s Art Chatter Gallery when artworks from Albany art students are installed this weekend.

The Mature Mix Art Exhibition will officially open this Saturday at 2pm and continue until May 17 in the Strike Me Pink’s exhibition space.

The art pieces are the result of Vancouver Art Centre’s two Wednesday classes, and tutor Helen Leeder-Carlson said the exhibition comprises acrylic, portraiture, monochrome, seasonal, still life and landscape art.

“We’re a really lively, light-hearted class and I always encourage people to do things and expand their creativity,” she said.

“Having exhibitions like this encourages art students to keep up their art and it gives locals the chance to purchase affordable, original, local art.”

Ms Leeder-Carlson said artwork will be available for between $75 and $150, and the exhibition will be laid out with connecting colours.

The Art Chatter Gallery at Strike Me Pink is located on Langton Road in Mt Barker and is open every day, 10am to 4.30pm.

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Comment wins judges over

VICTORIAN artist Kevin Chin was named this year’s $25,000 major acquisitive prize winner for his piece Sheltered at the launch of the Albany Art Prize exhibition at the Town Hall on Thursday.

Mr Chin was unable to accept the prize in person, but called on City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington to read a letter to the audience.

Mr Chin expressed his deep appreciation for his work being recognised as commenting on what he called a global migrant crisis.

Albany artist John Manson also impressed the judges and won the highly commended award for his piece Mt Clarence No. 2.

“I’ve been watching this award for years, and to even be involved is incredible,” he said.

Mr Manson said inspiration for his work came from spending his time driving and riding past Mount Clarence.

“I’ve spent years admiring the houses as I drove by and found the arrangement to be really pleasing, so I wanted to transfer that to a painting,” he said.

Finalists of the Albany Art Prize will be on display daily from 10am to 4pm at the Town Hall until May 6.

The people’s choice award will be announced at the close of the exhibition.

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Lamp shines bright

THERE’S no such thing as a dull moment for renowned Albany author Dianne Wolfer.

If she’s not writing or editing a piece of work in her study, she’s off around the world chasing snippets of history, gathering writer’s inspiration from the comfort of a café lounge, or speaking with school students about literacy.

2018 is a busy year for Wolfer, who is releasing two new books, speaking at multiple schools and groups across the state about her books, organising her packed-out school schedule for Book Week, and launching her latest historical fiction, In the Lamplight, in both WA and in Harefield, England – In the Lamplight’s primary location.

She took a moment from her busy agenda to speak with The Weekender about her third and final instalment of the historical fiction saga Albanians have come to know and love her for.

While on a trip with her husband Peter to Peronne, France in 2003, Wolfer said the pair stopped over in London.

She said she was keen to visit Harefield, a small village north-west of London, as it housed the site of the first Australian World War I auxiliary hospital.

“It was a village that was completely changed by WWI, and I was really interested in that,” she said.

And so, In the Lamplight was born.

The first two books in her historical fiction series, Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy, travel through time from the beginning of WWI and its major events.

Wolfer said it was only natural to complete the trilogy with In the Lamplight’s plot ending in 1919.

“The war changed Australia forever,” she said.

“We often look at what happened during the war, but not always at what happened afterwards, when all these men were coming home damaged.”

When closing in on her final manuscript last year, Wolfer said she was aware of the possible timing her book launch could have – April 2018 coinciding with the centenary of the end of WWI.

“It was a three-year project, because the research was so time-consuming,” she said.

“Each little fact had to be cross-referenced, and I’d often get carried away with the excitement of it all.

“So, I knew that if I wanted it to hit the shelves in April, I had to have it to the printers by October.

“We were working around the clock.”

Wolfer explored historical war resources in Albany, Perth, Canberra and Harefield to create the beautifully-presented, Australian-English perspective on the first world war that is In the Lamplight.

She is excited to officially launch the book at Carlyles Function Centre on April 9 and in Harefield in May.

“It’s all go!” she said.

For more information on the launch or to get your hands on a copy of In the Lamplight, visit spydus.albanylibrary.com.au/events or Paperbark Merchants on York Street.

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Windy night under stars

A FAIRYLAND of lights will be the backdrop for Albany City Wind Ensemble’s next big performance, and director Sue Findlay promises it will be a night to remember.

The Under the Stars concert is set for 6.30pm on April 8, at Albany Senior High School’s amphitheatre.

The 45-piece band will be joined by local vocal group About FACE to perform the likes of Lord of the Dance, Light Calvalry Overture, Dance of the Hours and Auld Lang Syne underneath the twinkle of fairy lights Ms Findlay said will be scattered everywhere in the amphitheatre.

About FACE will spice things up with a jaunty sea shanty and high-speed traditional Gaelic mouth music.

The outdoor venue will provide the stage for an intimate concert, with numbers limited to a 300-person audience.

Despite taking a risk with the open-air location, Ms Findlay is adamant the weather will be perfect.

“Autumn has always been my favourite time of year in Albany,” she said.

“The wind drops and the weather can be truly delightful.

“Plus, with cushions for the audience, complimentary sandwiches, hot drinks and chocolates, what’s not to love?”

However, if the skies do open up, the show will be relocated to the Albany Town Hall.

Tickets will cost $28 per person and $15 for children under 17, and can be purchased at Frangipani Floral Studio, on the door or online at albanycitywindensemble.com.au.

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Music moves in to new room

ALBANY’S newest live music venue will be more “show than gig” and more “Hi-fi than PA” according to its coordinator and general music aficionado Geoff Waldeck.

Tucked down the back of Six Degrees bar, the new 6dLIVE room will offer a boutique live music experience in an intimate setting and will quench the thirst for the growing demand for quality visiting acts.

As the finishing touches were being applied to the room’s bespoke lighting and sound, The Weekender had a quick sneak peek and got the run-down on the concept from Waldeck and Six Degrees licensee Anton Davey.

“When we built the place, it was designed around the idea of catering for musicians and artists,” Davey said.

“This will be a unique place for soloists, duos and small bands to per- form. We just want to see live music flourish and there isn’t really a small venue in town like this.”

Davey’s right-hand man in the project, Waldeck, said the room will fit 150 people standing or 70 seated and is all about providing a quality sound to go with the quality of talent he has booked.

“We’ve already tested the room as we’ve been treating it acoustically, and it’s going to be pretty nice. There is no [sound] spill between the room and the rest of the bar,” Waldeck said.

6dLIVE will be officially launched when it hosts alternative folk artist Riley Pearce on Friday, April 6 ahead of his UK tour, although it will get a test-run on Easter Saturday when local outfit Pinstripe take to the stage sans bass player to put the room through its paces.

Tickets are available for Pearce’s April 6 show through the Six Degrees Facebook page.

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Dolphin makes splash

AMIDST graphic design, illustrations, photography and his day job as production manager with The Weekender, Mt Barker artist Andy Dolphin finds time to oil up his canvas and produce stunning life-like representations of the Great Southern.

Two of his recent artworks, Rural Morn and Organised Chaos, won first-class recognitions at last weekend’s Wagin Woolorama.

Rural Morn, an image of an aged shed near his property, won first place in Class 1 – Oil or Acrylic, and Organised Chaos, a depiction of a white gum tree, won the Woolorama President’s Award.

Dolphin was surprised to hear of his win when he received a phone call Friday evening.

“It was great to win. I haven’t entered in four or so years,” he said.

“I always enjoy Wagin; there’s always quality work and they don’t shy away from traditional works.”

Dolphin’s winning works slot into the plein air genre, which is the main area he dabbles in, both during his own time and his Thursday morning adventures with the Albany Plein Air Group.

“I love the great outdoors. I always tend towards rural for my art,” he said.

“When it’s just me, I’ll just get into my car and go; I look for interesting shapes and different light and shade.”

The next project on Dolphin’s agenda is participating with the Albany Plein Air Group in the Southern Art and Craft Trail set for September 15 to 30.

You can keep up to date on Dolphin’s movements and check out his gallery of the Great Southern online at andydolphin.com.au.

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Albany to draw first Breath

FORMER Albany boy and acclaimed author Tim Winton’s book Breath has been adapted for the big screen and fans can get an early sneak peek at the film next month.

Breath was filmed in Denmark and follows the story of two teenage boys growing up in a small coastal town, who form an unlikely friendship with a mysterious surfer who pushes the boys to take risks.

Director and actor Simon Baker, Winton, and lead actors Samson Coulter and Ben Spence will appear at the premiere WA screening at the Albany Entertainment Centre on April 21, and the community screening on location in Denmark on April 22.

In an interview with Cinema Australia, Baker said he felt privileged to take Breath and “hand deliver” it to Australian audiences.

“I’m especially thrilled to be returning to the Great Southern region of WA, to share and celebrate with those communities who welcomed us so warmly, and contributed with great spirit to the making of Breath,” he said.

“It’s their film.”

Tickets to the early screenings can be found at cinemaaustralia.com.au.

Breath will be released in cinemas on May 3.

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A journey through time

WITH the sound of gentle waves lapping up against the nearby rocks and the grand Cheynes IV as their backdrop, The Albany Shantymen took audiences on a journey through time with their voices last Thursday night to commemorate the final season of whaling at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station.

The sun made a glorious afternoon appearance as concert-goers settled into their chairs or on their picnic rugs, but ducked behind the clouds just in time for the 6pm start, giving people on the far side of the makeshift venue a chance to watch the concert without shielding their eyes.

Content with their sausage sizzles, ice creams and snacks, the audience was raring to go as the Shantymen took to the stage.

Their deep, rumbling harmonies and infectious merriment made it irresistible to tap your toes and bob your head through their songs about sailing, whaling, women and beer.

The cheeky remarks thrown back and forward between songs added to the charm of the blokey band, and gave audiences a few extra giggles along the way.

Despite tackling a more sombre topic – the whaling history of Albany – The Albany Shantymen made the commemorative concert light, digestible and fun for all.

A long day at the office was worth dealing with, to be rewarded with these gents’ talented voices on the beach at sunset (well… close to the beach).

2018 marks 40 years since the last whaling season in Albany and this milestone will be celebrated throughout the year with various events and activities at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station.

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Spinning discs for forty years

MAKING the music flow has been one of Albany radio personality Warren Mead’s favourite aspects of his job.

He certainly could be considered an expert on music flow, considering on-air time has been his gig for the past four decades.

The 1611AM Gold MX voice celebrated 40 years in the business late last year and remains ever so humble about his great achievements.

Mr Mead started his career in the late 1970s at the ABC in Albany, where he dabbled in disc jockeying, on-air broadcasting and copywriting advertisements.

“I had to use a typewriter back then,” he laughed.

After a stint in Perth with 6PM, he married his wife Kira and moved back to Albany and joined 6VA.

For the next decade, Mr Mead went to and from stations across WA, adding to his now expansive CV of experience.

He went from Albany breakfast shows to Bridgetown, back to Perth with 6IX and then back to Albany with 6VA.

It was after this round-trip of WA that Mr Mead decided to set up his own shop in his hometown.

“We had 87.8 Farm FM in 1993 and then acquired 88FM in 1995, and that was an easy-listening station,” he said.

“They were hugely popular with the older folks in town.

“They were hugely loyal listeners, so we gave our Farm FM CDs away to them in a competition when we stopped that station.”

The next cab off the rank was 1611AM Gold MX, once known for country music but now playing ‘good times and great classic hits’ from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

This station became unique when Mr Mead converted it to commercial in 1998 after its launch in 1997.

“The 1611AM frequency was granted a section 40 commercial license, the first 1611 in Australia to do so,” he said.

“The official AM band goes to 1602AM and we were operating on 1611AM, so we decided to go commercial and have a broader reach.”

Mr Mead’s list of achievements grew again with 88 Fly FM in 2006; the new face of 88FM now played the current chart-toppers.

After a brief pause in his radio career – selling Gold MX and Fly FM to The Great Southern Weekender in 2014 – Mr Mead made his comeback a couple of years later.

“We needed to have a rest, but I missed it,” he said of his return to the airwaves.

“Making the music flow; that’s always been my favourite part.”

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