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music February 16, 2019

The reinvention of Christine and the Queens

Like her idol Madonna, French pop musician Héloïse Letissier is interested in transformation and reinvention. Her latest album finds her performing in a new persona as Chris, a celebration of her “macho-femininity”. She is, however, aware of the “danger of mainstreaming ‘queerness’… [that] it could invalidate the thing that ‘queer’ is important for. Queer is questioning a norm, questioning the system, subverting it, so if it’s digested and branded and [covered in] glossy plastic to appeal, then the essence of queer is lost.”

music February 9, 2019

Metal singer Karina Utomo’s roar history

Whether singing about the bloody past of the country of her birth in metal band High Tension, or in the wordless growls and screams of Speechless, a new opera about the Forgotten Children, Karina Utomo finds catharsis in unleashing her powerful voice. Etched into her memory is the burning down of a music store, which sold cassettes because CDs remained a luxury item. The shop, she says, was targeted because it was owned by Chinese Indonesians, the long-time targets of racist scapegoating. “Buying music with my father was a treat. That was somewhere we had gone every week and it symbolised access to music, to engage in a culture with which I connected.”

opera February 2, 2019

Where’s home for theatre and opera director Barrie Kosky?

Barrie Kosky’s peripatetic career has led him to work throughout Australia and Europe, before finally establishing a true connection with Berlin. Still, for the Melbourne-born theatre and opera director, nothing says “home” like a rehearsal room. “It just happened that theatre discovered me, and performance and music discovered me, because the very same time that I started to think, ‘Who am I? How does this relate to me?’ and felt that disconnectedness, was the very same time I was experiencing music: Mahler symphonies or puppet shows or musicals or opera. And it was very linked.”

dance January 26, 2019

Wiradjuri dancer Joel Bray’s platypus identity

As a gay Aboriginal Australian who grew up in a largely white world, Joel Bray found purpose and identity through dance. His latest work – the intimate solo performance Biladurang – blends choreography and theatre in a raw exploration of his own very personal journey. “I’ve had people hug me, I’ve had people crying, I’ve had people share their stories of discovering their Aboriginality late in life.”

culture December 22, 2018

Robin DiAngelo, an agent of change

Robin DiAngelo knows a lot about white privilege – it’s in her DNA. The American academic, author and anti-racism advocate talks about how structures of whiteness and so-called white progressives are continuing to damage the lives of people of colour. ‘I grew up in poverty … I was a feminist for most of my life before I realised I could also be an oppressor. But I draw from my experience of oppression … I think that helps. The key is not to exempt myself from being an oppressor, just because I experience oppression. Ask anyone if they’d rather be poor and white or poor and brown – I knew I was poor, but I also knew I was white.’

film September 22, 2018

‘Dark Tourist’ documentary-maker David Farrier

Where once he was Tickled, New Zealand documentary-maker David Farrier has most recently devoted himself to visiting ghoulish sites of so-called ‘dark tourism’. Here, he talks about murky ethics, Kiwi sensibilities and the pressure to react the ‘right’ way. “There’s one point where I’ve got a gun to my head and I laugh, because I’m sort of nervous. “Some people will say to me that it was really inappropriate to laugh at that point … [But] that’s what happened. It’s uncomfortable laughter. We wanted to leave all that in.”

culture September 15, 2018

Zoë Coombs Marr and her stand-in stand-up Dave

Comedian Zoë Coombs Marr created her male alter-ego Dave in order to critique the sexist culture of the stand-up scene, and it has taken years for her to feel ready to take the stage as herself again. “I never made Dave with the intention of being cruel or laughing at people, or going, ‘That guy sucks.’ ”

dance September 1, 2018

Bangarra’s Stephen Page on the language of dance

Stephen Page has known acclaim and accolades as head of Bangarra Dance Theatre. Off stage he’s had more than his fair share of personal tragedy. Here, he talks to about family, his latest show, Dark Emu, and the power of language to change Australia. “Through this symbolism of visual art and story, under that came this kinship idea of connection to land, people and story. That’s why lore and customs exist.”

comedy August 25, 2018

The many sides of Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard burst onto the comedy scene in make-up and heels, later proving his chops as a dramatic actor. On the eve of the release of The Flip Side, set in South Australia, he talks about taking risks, being gender queer and his newest passion – running for British parliament. “I want people, moderate people like me, to get politicised, because it’s going to get rough and we’d better work out how we’re going to make it work. It’s up to us.”

art August 18, 2018

Artist Sun Xun on truth and meaning

The work of Chinese artist Sun Xun explores concepts of time and space, truth and lies – always searching for answers. As the first solo exhibition of his work in Australia opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, he talks about the role of the artist. “We live in a lie, in a big lie system. People should jump out from the lie circle and touch the world. It is the modern world’s problem. Where is the truth? I don’t know. In my art, I want to make people think: ‘Don’t believe our world – it is a big lie.’ I am trying to open the door for people.”

film August 11, 2018

Danny Glover on acting and activism

Actor Danny Glover is probably best known for his on-screen roles spanning nearly 40 years, but his appearance in Australia to address a trade union conference comes after a lifelong commitment to civil rights and labour activism. “I was invited here again, by First Nations people, 22 years ago. I went to visit men who were incarcerated and, like in my own country, they were disproportionately people of colour. Then I knew a little bit more about Australia.”