You’ll be sorry you ever set foot in the place.
I was so grateful to have the opportunity to produce this important show and showcase the incredible talent of composer Christine Tammer who I have worked with to create some of my most searing work to date. Our film & audio work Random Number Generator is lifted from The Venue and was screened on the night.
THE VENUE is an original cabaret written by Christine Tammer. It depicts the devastating effects of poker machine addiction in contemporary Australia. Themes of secrets and subterfuge, guilt, addiction and self-harm over a single day inside a pokies venue.
THE VENUE - A SINGING was performed on Sunday November 11th at a sold-out one gig only affair! It was an opportunity to experience the work at this stage before it goes into full production. Like the 'reading' of a play, the performance was pared back to reveal the depth and complexity of the songs.
Musical Director Paige Duggan managed to create and curate a powerhouse performance from a very short rehearsal period with a group of singers whose talent is only exceeded by their generosity.
The stage bare, except for eleven seats and four microphones, the rear brick wall and stage structures visible to support the idea of concept over polished production.
Brought into the garish nether-world of the pokies venue, the audience were witness to a battle of wills between individuals and their addiction. The master of The Venue, The Machine was sung by Nelson Mathews in a homage to shiny sleaze – a vaudevillian villain who embodied the temptations and deception of gambling.
The Machine was unwillingly assisted in his treachery by the staff of The Venue sung by Anne Belfrage, Annie Drum, Mary Card, Barry Kay and Shane Van Den Akker – this groups beautiful performance played up the idea of the Ancient Greek chorus.
Each character an unfortunate punter whose life is torn apart from addiction. Wendy, played by George Williams who sings from the pain of deserting her child, while falling in love with The Machine.
Her daughter Jess, sung by Ruby Rieth who brings a haunting and searing pain of loss.
Theresa is inhabited by Linda Borner, her musicality allowed the audience only to see Theresa, an older woman whose loneliness threatens to drown her.
And Larry, sung by Bill Winter-Irving, in a rage running deep.
A QandA session followed the performance with Chris and I answering questions about the cabaret, the film and where to next. The whole schema ably supported by the fabulous and ubiquitous Rex Hardware.
Thank you to everyone who attended, approx $1500 was raised to enable a studio recording, the development of the 'book' and the annotation of the songs. Totally fabulous outcome.
Thank you for the support City of Ballarat, through its Regional Arts Victoria partnership. Huge thanks to Malcolm Sanders. Thank you to the team at Her Majesty's who shared the tech we needed to pull it all together. And thank you to the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute for your glorious Minerva Space.
Composer - Christine Tammer
Film Artist - Erin McCuskey
Musical Director – Paige Duggan
Audio Tech - Rex Hardware
- Machine - Nelson Mathews
- Wendy – George Williams
- Jess – Ruby Rieth
- Larry – Bill Winter Irving
- Theresa – Linda Borner
- Staff (Chorus) - Shane van den Akker, Mary Card, Anne Belfrage, Barry Kay.
FEATURE IMAGE CREDIT
Erin M McCuskey (Film Still from Random Number Generator)