Music for maintenance

PROCEEDS from next month’s collaborative performance between Albany Sinfonia and the City of Albany Band will fund renovations to their shared home, Lancaster Hall.

City of Albany Band conductor Colin France said the Lancaster Hall committee had recently installed new lighting in the hall but other amenities required upgrading to make the hall more comfortable for users.

He said the building, which used to be a church, had basic toilets, a simple storeroom and limited facilities, and that the urn often had to be filled from the bathroom sink.

He said ticket sales from Last Night of the Proms, to be performed on November 24 at Oceans Church, would go towards funding the hall’s upgrades.

“We don’t really have a kitchen, so we are trying to put one in, and we want to upgrade the toilets too,” Mr France said.

“It’s a good building, but it needs a bit of maintenance…it needs painting too.”

Lancaster Hall committee chair Alison Steer said she planned to have a disabled toilet facility added as well as water access in the kitchen.

“The concert should hopefully pay to put in the kitchen plumbing for hot and cold water,” she said.

Ms Steer said the concert, which will include a guest performance from the Albany Choral Society, will be the first performed at Oceans Church.

She said the impressive facility could seat 500 people and that she was keen to test out its acoustics.

“We are very excited to be one of the opening acts to first perform at the church,” Ms Steer said.

“We are bringing back Last Night of the Proms by popular demand as a bit of fun for the end of the year.”

Mr France added the performance will be “typical” of Last Night of the Proms, so the audience can “sing along and make funny noises” at their pleasure.

Tickets for the November 24 show are now on sale from Uptown Music and trybooking.com.

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Actor right at home

KATANNING actor and silver-screen gunslinger Mitchell Page is returning to his home town next month for the screening of the internationally acclaimed independent film The Decadent and Depraved.

Mr Page filmed alongside Australian TV screen heroes Michael Muntz from A Country Practice, McLeod’s Daughters’ Ben Mortley and Blue Heelers’ Steve Turner during his role.

Mr Page said he initially auditioned for the role of ‘Cattlehandler Number 2’ when he got offered to read the role of Ellis.

“I wasn’t even auditioning for Cattlehandler Number 1,” he joked.

“After auditioning they asked me to read the part of Ellis. I drove off when I was done and they called me back 30 minutes later to do a second reading.

“A week later they asked me if I wanted the part of Ellis.”

Mr Page said Ellis’ character leapt straight off the page when he was reading the script but nutting out the details of his persona was a harder task.

“I started off reading a lot of history on what Western Australia was like back then. It was hard work,” he lamented.

“So I decided to read more about the culture and the poetry.

“There was a lot of Banjo Patterson.

“Ellis’ role was unique in that you just had to dive in, sail over the edge and hope you come back out the other side.”

Mr Page said his character was certainly unhinged and an overall wacky personality.

“I drew a lot of inspiration from ragged bushrangers and Ned Kelly sort of figures,” he said.

“I just really wanted to play on the myth of what it was like back then to be a bushranger.

“I’m definitely drawn to these sorts of characters. I played Monster in the Lockie Leonard series and he was definitely wild and wacky.”

Twenty-one year-old director Jordon Prince Wright said Mr Page jumped into the character of Ellis.

“He starts off as an undeniable cruel villain in the beginning,” he said.

“By the end of the film he’s more of the lovable villain and acts as comedy relief.”

Mr Page said the process of filming The Decadent and Depraved was a great and intense experience.

“It was either scorching hot or below zero,” he said.

“We really had to battle the Australian environment sometimes since we were filming in outback Kukerin, Cue and Yalgoo.

“There were plenty of late nights and rogue animals.

“The fact that we had such a young cast as well with 19 to 20-year-olds was amazing.

“Their work ethic was fantastic. They would just say ‘bugger it’ and have a crack.”

Mr Page said he was ecstatic about the screening at the Katanning Town Hall.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to do a screening of a film I’m in at home,” he said.

“Katanning is known as the heart of the Great Southern and I’m hoping it can be known as the Hollywood of the Great Southern just for one night.

“Mum and Dad are still in town and they’ll definitely be beating the drum, but we’ll definitely do a bit of a shindig.”

Mr Prince-Wright said this would be the first screening of The Decadent and Depraved in Katanning.

“We’ve taken the film on a tour three times already since it has been so popular,” he said.

“Our biggest premiere event was in Perth, but our stints in country towns have had a completely different atmosphere.

“I feel like the one in Katanning is going to be bigger than Ben Hur, that’s for sure.

“The Shire has been treating us like royalty and the locals have been incredibly supportive.

“We had around 200 people turn up in Kukerin to watch Mitchell run his lines.”

Mr Prince-Wright said he was still shocked at how his $100,000-budget film had evolved into a multi-award winning film.

The Decadent and Depraved has so far won six awards at the Los Angeles Film Awards, seven awards at the Oniros Film Awards, three awards at the New York Film Awards and was a winner of the Festigious International Film Festival.

Mr Page said for now he would be concentrating on his most important project yet.

“I have a one-and-a-half year old at home. That is my little project at the moment,” he joked.

“She takes up a lot of my time and energy so I’ll finish off the film tour and spend some more time with her.”

The Decadent and Depraved will screen at the Katanning Town Hall on November 17 from 7.30pm with a Q&A with the filmmakers and actors on November 18 from 10am.

Tickets are available at www.trybooking.com/418922.

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Traveller remembered

A NOVEL inspired by the life of a European settler who named several Great Southern locations is being launched tonight by Albany author and artist Helen Laing.

Circles of Fortune is a fictionalised account of naval surgeon Thomas Braidwood Wilson’s life and tells of his explorations of Australia and his life in the settler colonies.

Wilson explored the south-west of WA in 1829 and named the Denmark River, Mount Lindesay, Mount Hallowell and Mount Barker after his fellow comrades.

Wilson Inlet and the Wilson’s grevillea were named in his honour.

Ms Laing said she decided to write a tale on the explorer’s life after delving further into his history.

“A friend of mine was doing a paper on naval surgeons who contributed to the first settlement,” she said.

“One of them was Wilson.

“He just jumped out at me; he was such an incredible, compassionate man and adventurous, and felt deeply about the plight of Aboriginal people and how European diseases affected them.”

Ms Laing said she chose the fiction format as she is not a historic academic, but that didn’t mean she did any less research.

Ms Laing spent approximately 10 years writing the book, while juggling a midwifery career and later retirement, travelling and renovating a house.

She said she visited libraries in Canberra and New South Wales and spent hundreds of dollars on history books to get all the details on Wilson.

Ms Laing chose to write in the first person as Wilson, but changed Wilson’s writing style to one more suited to her.

“I tried to write with full stops and capital letters everywhere like he [Wilson] did, but it was so stilted!” Ms Laing said.

“So I changed it to modern language.

“But, I included Wilson’s letters to his wife, which are in their original style.”

Circles of Fortune is being launched tonight at the Albany Public Library at 5.30pm and those wishing to attend are encouraged to notify the library prior to account for space.

Ms Laing will join local historian Malcolm Traill for a curatorial next Tuesday at the Museum of the Great Southern at 10.30am to speak about the book further.

Circles of Fortune is available for purchase at Paperbark Merchants, the museum and Bay Merchants on demand.

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Sydney-bound septet

SEVEN young Albany talents are hosting a variety show on October 28 to raise money to send themselves to Sydney for a national music summer school program.

Siblings Bonnie, Josie and Maggie Staude, along with sisters Bella and Ruby Fasolo and Hudson Bell and Jessica Turner will attend the Gondwana National Choral School in January next year at the University of New South Wales in the hope to further develop their vocal skills and advance their musical careers.

Bonnie, who has attended the Gondwana summer school program four times previously, said the septet will spend two weeks in Sydney and live on the university campus.

They will devote school hours to rehearsals with their designated choir, and spend spare time partaking in specialist projects, which range from musical theatre, to drumming, to Indonesian dancing.

“Gondwana is a great way to build connections with composers and conductors,” Bonnie said.

“The Gondwana choirs are extremely good and of a really high calibre, so it’s pretty exciting to think that little ol’ us from Albany will be singing with an international act.”

Bonnie said funds raised during the October 28 variety concert, Pure Imagination, would contribute to the group’s flights, accommodation and participation fees.

“Tickets are going well at the moment, but we would love more people to come,” she said.

“And if people can’t make the concert, we would greatly appreciate any donations.”

Bonnie said Pure Imagination will feature snippets of musical theatre, instrumental performances, classical and contemporary music, and a little bit of comedy.

Pure Imagination will be held at the Port Theatre at 4.30pm on October 28 and tickets can be purchased through Paperbark Merchants.

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Land inspires collaboration

OCHRE Contemporary Dance Company’s new performance Kwongkan will debut at the Albany Entertainment Centre next week and showcase a collaboration of indigenous Australian and Indian dancers conveying their feelings towards climate change through dance, physical theatre and aerial acrobatics.

Artistic director Mark Howett said upon learning that by 2050 there would be no more banksia and peppermint trees left in WA, he considered the long-term effects of climate change.

He said Kwongkan developed as a result of that and described it as a journey of self-discovery and of people fighting to protect their ancient cultures and lands from “the tsunami of change”.

“Peppermint trees were such a big part of my childhood and have great cultural significance,” Howett said.

“It made me think… there’s so much to talk about, about how perilous climate change is.”

Kwongkan will take centre stage at the AEC on October 13 and tickets can be purchased via the AEC Box Office or online.

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Magical homecoming

ALBANY product Alannah Woods will make her debut hometown performance with national Irish dance-magic act Celtic Illusion next month after spending 10 years away studying and singing across the country.

Woods graduated from Great Southern Grammar in 2008 and was accepted into the WA Academy of Performing Arts in 2010.

After completing her Bachelor of Music in Classical Performance (Voice), she pursued further musical theatre and dance studies in Melbourne.

It was there that the chance of a lifetime fell into her lap.

“I’ve been in an amateur production of Anything Goes and Strictly Ballroom,” Woods said.

“When I was finishing Strictly Ballroom, I saw an ad on Facebook for a singer with Celtic Illusion.

“I messaged them and they sent me a song to learn, and within 24 hours I got the job.

“So, a week after finishing Strictly Ballroom, I was on the road again!

“It’s my first professional contract, which is pretty exciting.”

The 26-year-old said she performs four songs in Celtic Illusion, two in the first act and two in the second act.

Her early songs embrace a storytelling format and her later songs act as an introduction to an illusion.

“They are fantastic people,” Woods said of the Celtic Illusion cast.

“They’re all really lovely.

“We’re like a little family.”

Celtic Illusion director, principal male dancer and lead illusionist Anthony Street said Woods replaced a singer who was retiring from the show.

He said the company was working on developing Woods’ role to become more than just a singing one.

Street is the mastermind behind Celtic Illusion, premiering his show in 2011 after wanting to make his dream of creating a magic show and a dance show simultaneously come true.

“I was intrigued by a magician at a local fair when I was eight years old, and I’ve loved magic ever since,” Street said.

“Then when I was 14, I found a video of Irish dance and I watched it every day.

“I thought I might not have time to live both dreams of magic and dance, so I combined the two.

“I have to pinch myself sometimes… it’s such a one-of-a-kind show.”

Street said his ultimate goal is to see Celtic Illusion become comparable to the likes of Cirque du Soleil.

Woods aspires to move to London in the next couple of years and make it on London’s West End, and one day, Broadway.

Celtic Illusion will perform at the Albany Entertainment Centre on November 8 and tickets can be purchased via the AEC Box Office.

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Music from Manus

DENMARK songstress and human rights activist Dawn Barrington continues to blend two of her passions as she take her message to the masses.

Barrington was first properly introduced to music seven years ago when she attended a local TAFE music program.

“I went to go and do something for a bit or fun and then I guess I got a bit carried away,” she said.

“I was working with a guy called Tony King who is a brilliant teacher.

“He just continues to plant seeds around Denmark, which is great for growing local talents.”

Barrington’s music developed into a sound she was already very familiar with as part of the local bar and café music scene.

“I usually describe it as contemporary folk, folk-rock maybe,” she said.

“It’s along the lines of what I think a lot of solo acoustic acts do these days.

“If you’re not blues, you’re simply folk. I guess it’s that kind of thing.”

Barrington explained how her music and activism became more strongly connected over the years.

“I’ve always been a writer, so that’s probably the thread that got me into it,” she said.

“A lot of my stuff is activist-based; it’s about social and environmental issues.”

This was the spark for her latest collaborative project Music From Manus.

Music From Manus is a 40-minute documentary by filmmaker Tim Maisey.

It centres around Barrington’s journey to Manus Island to meet the refugees and to connect with them on a musical level.

“I guess my main goal is to let the world know that they’re just innocent people; they’re real humans like me and you.”

When asked why she chose to do this through music, Barrington told The Weekender that it was the only way she could.

“I’m not a social worker and I’m not a support worker, but I was connected with the guys working on Manus Island through music,” she said.

“When I started to learn about how bad it was and how lovely the guys there were, I knew I wanted to go there and play for them.”

She got in contact with Maisey and travelled to the island in March.

After they had arrived back in Australia and Maisey had completed the film, Dawn took to showcasing their work to as many people as possible.

“I took it all over East,” she said.

“I did screenings over there and here in WA, met loads of people through it, and got an amazing response.”

Through doing something like this on such a big scale, Barrington began to realise that she was becoming a better musician.

“It’s brought a new life to my music and songwriting,” she said.

“I guess you could say it’s my purpose.”

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Casting the net

GREAT Southerners have the chance to be in Albany film H is for Happiness if they can make it to casting sessions tomorrow and Saturday.

H is for Happiness follows the story of 12-year-old Candice Phee, who is on a mission to find happiness for her family following a tragedy.

The family movie will be filmed in Albany during November and December this year.

Extras, stand-ins and doubles are being sought of all ages, shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds and will be chosen from the people who attend the casting sessions at Albany Entertainment Centre tomorrow, October 12 from 1.30pm to 5pm and Saturday, October 13 from 9am to 3pm.

One role to be filled is for a 12 or 13-year-old female student with red hair, Caucasian skin with freckles and who is approximately 154cm tall.

Another is for a 32 to 42-year-old male with brown hair, Caucasian skin and who is approximately 188cm tall.

Other roles include an elderly ladies walking group, couples, paramedics, nurses, orderlies, bands, a six-month-old red-haired female, six to 13-year-old children, teenagers, dog owners and dogs, families and a six-year-old red-haired female.

To register your interest and have your photo taken, email Rachael Karotkin at happinessfilm.casting@ gmail.com.

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Searching for soul

ANCIENT Irish archaeological sites and the Baltics are on the list of places to visit for Albany sculptor Kevin Draper following his win of a $30,000 art scholarship.

Draper is one of three artists to receive the Helen Lempriere Scholarship, an award designed to enable artists to further their artistic development through travel, study and the purchase of new equipment.

The money is also to be used to support the artists’ inclusion in Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi which begins on October 14.

Draper won the scholarship as a mid-career artist, alongside emerging artist Britt Mikkelsen and senior artist Hossein Valamanesh.

Draper began the year with his black-and-white 16-branch tree sculpture Configuration featuring in the Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea, so being part of the Bondi exhibition for the sixth time and winning the scholarship has added more excitement to his year.

“It’s a very artist-friendly scholarship,” Draper said of the grant.

“My first thought was, well, I could buy new art materials, but it should be used for something special and a bit different.

“Travel is always a good option.”

Draper said he is normally only able to stay for the installation period at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, so has decided part of the scholarship will go towards a longer stay in Sydney.

He plans to stay for the entire period of the sculpture show with his partner, Indra before travelling up and down the east coast visiting regional art centres.

“We’ve never had time to do that before,” Draper said.

But the travelling art research won’t stop there.

Come June next year, Draper plans to whisk himself and Indra away to Ireland, the Baltic states, the top of Scotland and potentially Berlin.

He also hopes to travel through Sweden and Norway to explore a few outdoor sculpture parks.

“I’m of Irish descent on my mum’s side, and her family’s original farm is still in Northern Ireland,” Draper said.

“There’s some ancient archaeological sites on the edge of Ireland too, and it all influences my work – how farmers use the landscape and my heritage.

“So, that will be a starting point…I’m not sure what I’ll find.”

Draper said he finds the symbology and language of Northern Europe interesting and is keen to visit a number of European art galleries.

“I’ve always been influenced by where I live and have travelled to,” he said.

“There’s just something about ancestry and the thousands of years of history that I don’t have over here [in Australia].”

Draper’s sculpture installation Configuration can be viewed at Bondi Beach from October 18 until November 4.

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Tale of happiness

HOT on the heels of Albany-bred author Tim Winton’s book-to-film adaption of Breath being filmed in Denmark and the announcement of new movie Rams to be filmed in Mount Barker until December, Albany will have its time to shine with a new feature film commencing shooting in town next month.

H is for Happiness will tell the story of Candice Phee, a 12-year-old girl determined to bring happiness and joy back to her family following a tragedy.

The tale will follow Candice and a new friend she meets on their joint quest to find happiness, and has been described as a “very sweet, family drama comedy” by director John Sheedy.

Mr Sheedy remained tight-lipped on the final cast list when talking to The Weekender, but revealed the movie will be filmed entirely in Albany from the second week of November and feature many iconic Albany locations.

He said Albany will keep its name in the film and feature in the opening line of the movie – “A is for Albany”.

“I love the bottom part of Albany; it has this old-world sense,” Mr Sheedy said.

“It’s very charming and quirky, and the coastal landscapes are beautiful.”

Mr Sheedy said the windfarm, the old yacht club, the “Lady Gaga mansion” – Maitraya Private Retreat – York Street and Albany Senior High School are among the locations to be used for the film.

He’s excited to see what the Albany landscape can offer, explore its uniqueness and work alongside locals.

“There’s something very special about WA,” Mr Sheedy said.

“There’s a lot of character and charm, great views, it’s not flat and there are so many talented artists here.

“There must be something in the water.”

Head of production and development for ScreenWest Matt Horrocks said he is excited to get WA back into the spotlight with H is for Happiness.

He revealed the new movie will be one of many programs to be filmed in and around the Great Southern in the coming months.

ScreenWest is one of the companies involved in H is for Happiness’ production investment.

“WA is the busiest state in the country at the moment,” Mr Horrocks said.

“There’s been projects in the Kimberley, Busselton and Denmark, and now Albany will be the star of the show.

“We are really thrilled that a series of TV shows and films for around the South West and down your way [Albany] will be announced in the next few weeks.

“The Great Southern has some of the most extraordinary locations, of which some can be hard to get to for shooting, so we are trying to activate those extraordinary locations.”

Mr Horrocks said he is “very keen” on H is for Happiness and believes people from all over Australia will love it.

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