YouTuber steps in for Kanye

AUSSIE YouTube star and self-proclaimed loose unit Alex Williamson is heading to Albany next week for a show “so wrong, it’s wrong”.

Williamson first hit YouTube in 2003 with the likes of his seven-part Sweet AFL Dream Team series, The Summer of Ben Cousins, and later his most renowned series, Loosest Aussie Bloke Ever.

Along the way, he’s roped in MC Eso from Aussie hip hop trio Bliss n Eso, and fellow Aussie comedians Troy Kinne, Superwog and Frenchy, to perform skits about standard Aussie banter, sex, drugs, booty calls, Pokemon and his beloved C-word.

From there, Williamson’s career spun into an international one, leaving behind his high school teaching career to entertain on stages across Australia and the UK, and wrangling interviews with actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Jennifer Aniston, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Ryan Reynolds and Tom Felton.

Williamson spoke to The Weekender while enjoying the sunshine back home in regional South Australia between his Renmark and Ipswich performances of his So Wrong, It’s Wrong tour.

“I was a quiet little kid,” he said, reflecting on his childhood.

“People always ask was I funny in school and I say, ‘nah, I was a f***in’ quiet loser’.

“But I was always talking to people, I never shunned anyone out.”

Williamson said he chose to embrace the Aussie bogan stereotype in his videos because there was “no point” denying it.

“It was hiding deep within,” Williamson laughed.

“Now I’ve realised I’m a bogan, I’m living life to the fullest.”

He said despite being Aussie through and through, he’s had people question his lineage due to his “Aussie-isms” and ocker accent.

“I was overseas and someone came up to me and thought I was doing well, because they thought English was my second language,” Williamson chuckled.

“But when I’m overseas I want to Aussie it up a bit…I flick the Aussie knob to 110 per cent.

“And in the UK, they love it!

“They’ve just got this fascination… but I did feel like I should’ve been in the bogan enclosure at London Zoo.”

His speech has confused a few Americans on his travels too.

“I was at a house party in the US talking to this girl,” Williamson began.

“And at the end of the conversation, I said, ‘ah, fair-o!’ and she looked at me and said, ‘whaaat? Like an Egyptian Pharoah?’”

Williamson is keen to get around regional Australia where everyone “speaks his language”.

“You know us country folk, we can read Harry Potter out loud in five minutes,” he said.

“And I can include all my Aussie-isms that I had to abandon in the UK.

“I had a joke for a UK show and the punch line was Shannon Noll, and when I realised he’s not the next Taylor Swift, I had to change it to some sh** celebrity they would know.”

When informed by The Weekender that Albany is inhabited by a predominately older demographic, Williamson said they might be “a bit stunned and shocked” by his show, but still encouraged all people to come along.

“I had a couple of 90-year-olds come to a show once because they thought they were seeing John Williamson,” he said.

“They left after 10 minutes and complained to the doorman that the only word they understood was the F-word.

“But, they said, ‘well at least he’s getting young people to the theatre’.”

Williamson said he loves regional shows and bringing something to rural towns, as he couldn’t imagine people like Kanye West would make the hike.

So, he’s “stepping in” for Kanye and performing at the Albany Entertainment Centre on November 17.

Tickets can be purchased at the AEC Box Office or online at tickets.ptt.wa.gov.au.

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A stitch in time

KATANNING’S newest art exhibition looks deep into the past at how the humble domestic sewing machine changed the lives of women at home.

Curator of Machines and Makers Jude van der Merwe said it was when she discovered her neighbour’s collection of 260 old domestic sewing machines that she learned about the impact the device had on women during the world wars.

She said her neighbour had been an apprentice sewing machine repairer during World War II and had maintained his passion for them ever since.

“That was the starting point, really,” Ms van der Merwe said of the exhibition.

“I didn’t realise that the domestic sewing machine had changed the lives of women so much…they could make a living, and make clothes for their family.”

Machines and Makers features the work of 12 artists, responding in their respective mediums to the notion that sewing machines changed the lives of women.

It is part of Art on the Move, a Perth-based organisation dedicated to touring contemporary visual art exhibitions across the country.

Ongerup-bred Susie Vickery is featured in Machines and Makers and has created embroidered smaller-scale sewing machines for the exhibition, which Ms van der Merwe described as “absolutely beautiful”.

Other artists have submitted works such as paintings of sewing machines, and even animations – Perth artist Tee Ken Ng has created an animation of mice, which is projected behind a real sewing machine, and the mice are hanging up washing and repairing machines.

Ms van der Merwe was impressed with the range of artwork created.

“It’s an extraordinary medium. It’s very flexible,” she said of textiles.

“I think we are all close to textiles, because we wear it, we touch it and we feel it, and so many people can express their love for it in many different ways.”

Machines and Makers is at the Katanning Public Art Gallery until November 24.

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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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