Monday, June 30, 2008

Not the 11 o'clock news...

UPDATE, JULY 3: Just heard. Patti Smith, Opera House, October 15. Tickets on sale July 25.

Some news, some goss veloss, some shamelessly pillaged press realeases.

One million down, $700,000 to go...

First up, La Mama is past the half-way mark in its $1.7 million fund-raising quest thanks to donations of $350,000 from The Pratt Foundation and $250,000 from the Sidney Myer Fund.

Judgement day -- make that settlement day -- is September 2.

Liz Jones adds: "A lot of people in the community think that La Mama has already been saved but we unfortunately still have quite a way to go."

Insert your headline here...

If I was a bit more clever, or considerably less stuffed, I'd make a great headline out of Red Stitch performing Love-Lies-Bleeding as part of its all-sewn-up but still-to-be-revealed Season 2: 2008.

It should make a fascinating contrast to the STC's production. (For one, seeing it in a 100-seat theatre!)

New RS ensemble member Tim Potter (who will play Sean) joins Olivia Connolly (Lia) and guest actors Christine Mahoney (Toinette) and Kevin Summers (Alex). The production will be directed by Alice Bishop. It runs from July 18 to August 15.

Red Stitch's Season 2: 2008 will be announced next week.

Performance enhancing. Or 'Just call me Benedict...'

Helpmann Awards nominations were announced this evening in Melbourne and Sydney. Most of the nominations are up on the Helpmann Awards web site. (Click on Nominees.) They're as baffling as ever.

Hey, I can even reveal a couple of the winners!!! (Genevieve Picot for Rock 'n' Roll is one... elected unopposed!) (Unless, of course, LPA decides not to make an award in that cat... Boy, won't I have egg on my whiskers!) [Nothin' new there.]

I can also predict, with some confidence, that Company B Belvoir will do quite well this year. With 10 of the 13 nominations in drama cats, B is clearly doing something right. [UPDATE: Now 10 of 14, National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch appeared on the list after midnight.]

One of the multiply-nominated productions is Exit the King. Its Malthouse Theatre roots -- where it premiered -- are resolutely ignored. Barrie Kosky also gets a look in, for The Tell-Tale Heart. (Elsewhere he is nominated for best original score for the same show.)

Apart from Kosky and Gen Picot, the other obstacle to a clean 'B' sweep is When the Rain Stops Falling. Andrew Bovell's play premiered at this year's Adelaide Festival. (And, interestingly, only Brink Productions' input is credited there.)

Tour rumours and teasers... Or... 'fuck the pain away'.

Brisbane (Powerhouse, Friday 15 August) and Sydney (Opera House, Studio, August 29 & 30) dates have been announced for Robert Forster. Bloody inexpensive I must say. ($36/27 in Brisbane, $39/29 at the Opera House.)

The Sydney concerts, apparently, will be in two parts: Forster solo then with a band. The Powerhouse only mention Forster playing with usual suspects Adele Pickvance and Glenn Thompson. With a drummer still to be named.

I also have it on good authority (well, her web site!) that Peaches is comin' to our shores (Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney) in September-October for Parklife. (Woo hoo!) So too -- *drum roll* -- is Patti Smith. Only Sydney dates announced at this stage. (And, no, I don't have 'em yet!)

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bangarra: Mathinna by Stephen Page

UPDATE: 2011 Regional Tour Dates added.

Mathinna by Stephen Page (choreography and artistic direction) with music by David Page. Set by Peter England, costumes by Jennifer Irwin, lighting by Damien Cooper. Bangarra Dance Theatre. With Elma Kris as Mathinna, Yolande Brown as Lady Jane Franklin, Sidney Saltner as Governor John Franklin and Patrick Thaiday as Towterer.

Canberra Theatre Centre, season ends tonight. Then Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong, July 2 to 4. Also Civic Theatre, Newcastle (July 11 & 12) and Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, from July 22 to August 23.

It's a couple of years since Stephen Page has created a substantial new work and this one, in his own words, was thrown together in six weeks. If he'd kept that fact to himself and told us Mathinna had been in development for two years, we would have nodded sagely and said: time well spent. Mathinna is a poised and exquisitely balanced piece. It has one of David Page's most beautiful and organic scores, and the design elements work very well together. Damien Cooper's lighting is exceptionally well judged.

But like a lot of narrative dance, Mathinna has a Tower of Babel effect on audiences. Some left convinced that the narrative was strong and that the narrative sections were the weakest parts of the piece... and others thought exactly the reverse!

Me? I reckon what you see is what you project, mostly. And I tend to read notes by choreographers with something like skepticism. That's not quite precise enough. I read those notes in the knowledge that the impetus for a work -- even a clear historical narrative -- can be discarded like scaffolding as the work builds. The driving idea -- the origin -- can be imperceptible in a finished work.

Letting the work wash over me, I reckoned, was the right thing to do. (It's a bit like looking at sculptures by Louise Bourgeois and deliberately ignoring the literal anger -- the actual childhood and domestic abuses -- that prompted them. I reckon they work at least as well if you don't know the biographical back story.)

One need only know what's on the cast sheet to appreciate Mathinna. And, now that I come to look at it again, it's pretty carefully phrased. Well, the first par is, at least!
Inspired by a young girl's journey between two cultures, Mathinna traces the history of a young Aboriginal girl removed from her traditional life, adopted into Western Colonial society to be ultimately returned to the fragments of her original heritage.

Mathinna became the archetype of the 'stolen child' and... Bangarra Dance Theatre recreates her powerful story of vulnerability and searching in an era of confusion and intolerance.
I was engrossed -- utterly involved -- from the first seconds of the piece. To the sound of a distant wind, the light slowly comes up to reveal what looks like a curved rock. Eventually the rock is revealed to be the shoulders and torso of a man.

Three figures are revealed, hanging suspended by their ankles. In a row. "Strange fruit/bats," I scribbled in the dark. (Yeah, even I let myself do a bit of projecting from time to time!) They fold up and groom themselves, like insects. But their skin-tight costumes have yellow and black striations, rather like bird feathers.

I see, afterwards, on the cast sheet, that they're meant to be mutton birds. Not bats or massacred blacks. (Not yet.) And the amateur ornithologist in me rebels. No Tassie shearwater -- no Australian shearwater in fact -- has quite those markings or those colourations. It's not too late, Stephen, to change it to (say) a New Holland Honeyeater... exquisite little things they are. Not as mystical as the sooty shearwater, with their silent massings at sunset, but agile and handsome nonetheless. But I digress!

Page then gives us a tribal scene, with ten dancers and a thatch of poles, variously used for hunting fish, balancing and climbing. Page has a great skill in not romanticising the past. Showing his people -- or in this case Tasmanian blacks -- "as is" is enough. Here, David Page's soundscape and music is especially good. It's far removed from his Iva Davies-like pop torch songs. This is more incidental. More dramatic. Less in counterpoint to the action. (There's also some excellent percussion -- twitchy, notchy sounds -- and treated acoustic guitar in a later scene.)

Yes, a raid eventually happens... a slaughter. But Stephen Page's skill is evident, again, here. In an almost synaesthetic moment the words raid and rape materialised in my head as one. I made a point of not researching the life of Mathinna before the show, but the choreography shrewdly suggested -- portended -- what would happen.

To my eye, the one aspect of the show that needs work (from a dramaturgical perspective) is the scene where Mathinna is adopted by the Anglo family. There is no clue as to the girl's age. Elma Kris looks like a teen at least. I couldn't tell if she was in shock, a very young girl or just a bit simple. This really does need to be established early and clearly.

Throughout the show, as I've said, there is (otherwise) an admirable attention to production detail. A choreographically simple scene will be fleshed out with boldly coloured costumes (Elma Kris wears an intense red dress, Yolande Brown is in dark green, Sidney Saltner is in a rich navy blue military uniform) and boldly coloured music (a sad, soaring violin and a gongy, pedal bass -- a mix of Arvo Pärt and Tôru Takemitsu -- in this particular scene).

Tiny little cartwheeling twists are matched with toy piano music. The night-time visit by spirits? memories? of Mathinna's past come with the bleep of a heart monitor and pro-tooled Big Ben strikes. A floor routine has more spacious Pink Floyd-style piano. A tense and robotic schoolgirl scene has brilliant clappy music.

Page's choreography, in at least one scene, seems to illustrate or mark the spaces in the music rather than the beat. Then, remarkably, Patrick Thaiday appears to hang in space. It's one of those head-spinning "what goes up, stays up" moments. (Spoiler: it's actually a tactfully unlit platform!)

Throughout, the imagery is subtle and ambiguous. Not noncommittal so much as rich. Open to countless interpretations. It's the kind of show that will be glossed in dramatically different ways -- in a million different ways -- by different peoples and different cultures at different times.

I hope you get a chance to see it. Wherever you are. Whenever you are. It is the product of a company that is working better together than it ever has before. It's a very fine work indeed.

Tour Dates: October – November 2011

Alice Springs, Araluen Arts Centre
Wed 19 October

Darwin, Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre
Sat 22 October

Cairns, Cairns Civic Theatre
Tue 1 November
Wed 2 November (Matinee & Evening)

Townsville, Townsville Civic Theatre
Sat 5 November

Mackay, MECC Auditorium, Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre
Wed 9 November

Rockhampton, Rockhampton Performing Arts Centre
Sat 12 November

Gladstone, Gladstone Entertainment Centre
Wed 16 November

Toowoomba, Empire Theatre
Sat 19 November

Gold Coast, Arts Theatre, The Arts Centre
Tues 22 November

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Friday, June 20, 2008

AB promotes AB

When the curtain fell at the end of tonight’s performance of Ballet Imperial in Melbourne, AB artistic director David McAllister made a dash for Door 3. “Hmm!” I said to The (Prada) Handbag. “A promotion!”

I added, a bit optimistically: “Adam Bull.” For 'optimistic' read deluded... Adam Bull was only made a senior artist at the start of 2008. Not even Steven Heathcote jetéd through the ranks quite that quickly.

But with the top ranks desperately short of men -- and two of the women pregnant (that’s the other news of the night, Lindy Wills is expecting #2 just six months after returning to the stage post #1... she’s 13 weeks gone) -- Adam’s prospects were as good as any, I thought.

The news? A double promo. Both Adam Bull and Danielle Rowe got the nod.

After Bull’s Apollo, last year, and Faun, last month, I reckon he’s ready for it.

Weirdly, promotion to the Australian Ballet’s principal rank seems to act as a catalyst... the promotee typically flourishes. Sometimes dancers are promoted prematurely and take a few years to live up to the new ranking. Other times, the already brilliant dancer gets better anyway.

Lucinda Dunn is a fine example of a star dancer going supernova a few years after her promotion. I once got into trouble -- good kind of trouble -- by writing that Dunn had become the proverbial “desert island” dancer... I think I might have said she’d be the dancer you’d take with you if you were banished to the moon! I meant that she was the most versatile... that there’s nothing she can’t do, and do well: from boring old story ballet through Balanchine to angular eurotrash. Honest!!

The PR staff did the “nudge nudge, wink wink” thing, assuming I’d written a Boy I’d Like To %^&* Her review. (Charming! Some people just can’t take praise!!) I had to fess up that the dancer who posed the greatest threat to my marital status was [name deleted]. Make that [names deleted].

A couple of notes for David McAllister after tonight’s performance...

1. Don’t ever put Jane Casson in a smiley ballet. It’s a waste.

2. Kirsty Martin needs a danseur noble at all times... even if that involves Robert Curran backing up in consecutive pieces.

3. Any dancer who reverts to the ballet school trick of “doing it wrong” -- or off-the-beat or just plain bigger -- so we notice them in an ensemble should be have a steel-capped pink shoe aimed at their rear end. Or be demoted. Or, if there’s no place further down the ranks, then overlooked for the rest of the season.

4. As for costume designers who makes these willowy dancers look thick waisted... hell, I wouldn’t want them making cossies for me! (Good lord!)

UPDATE: There's more here and here.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2008 Australian Dance Awards Gala Presentation

I confess... I've never really got the Australian Dance Awards, even in the couple of years when I was voting. I sensed that the Victorian office of Ausdance didn't much like the fact that I'd vote for shows I'd seen in other states... it was as if I was being disloyal somehow.

The awards originated in New South Wales. It's only fairly recently that they've gone national. And now, after a dozen years, they really have gone national. Or at least they've started to venture beyond NSW. This year the presentation gala was in Melbourne.

Doesn't this pic, like, make you wanna stay at home?

And, impressively, the 2000-seat State Theatre was packed out. (The scheduling of a couple of TV dance hunks meant that the top tier could be opened up and packed out with twenty buck punters.)

My mistake was assuming that the principal function of the Australian Dance Awards was to give out awards. (Silly me!) But the gongs are almost an afterthought. The gala's the thing. The handful (well, two hands full) of awards are but punctuation.

Which makes the bizarreness of one or two of the awards kinda quirky and sweet. (Outstanding Performance in a Stage Musical -- given, this year, to the highly bemused Hugh Jackman -- takes the proverbial pavlova!)

Happily, the first Melbourne gala had none of the community and non-professional dance that used to get a run (and a jump) in Sydney in the not-too-distant past. The spread of performances this year was catholic, to say the least. A solo from Billy Elliot, some breakneck breakdancing from hip hop's answer to *NSYNC [gosh I'm a bitch!] WickidForce, some (terrific) ballet, indigenious and avant garde dance and physical theatre (including a rare glimpse of Dancenorth) as well as the "so you think this is dance" pizzazz.

After close to 25 years with the Green Room Awards, mostly with the dance panel, it's rare for me to be on the other side of an awards presentation. And, to my surprise, I wasn't especially caught up with the justice of who actually won what. (Even when Honour Bound won yet another gong!) (And Paul White won for Honour Bound not his far superior performance in Construct.)

It's difficult to convey the real sense of celebration during and after the gala on Sunday night. Twenty or so years ago, it would have been almost unthinkable that the lion would lie with the lamb. The ballet world was utterly dominant and utterly and venomously contemptuous of the non-ballet world. Think Hutus and Tutsis.

The threat certainly wasn't coming from ticket sales! Non-ballet dance didn't rate a blip compared with the trad form. I suspect it was about a perceived lack of discipline. Or, more precisely, a dangerous willingness to intellectualise, to think freely, to challenge authority and so on. To answer back!

I hear that Beth Shelton, former co-artistic director of Dance Works said some very generous things about me on the weekend at a symposium; that, in the 80s, I was one of the good guys.

I joked that she must have a very selective memory. My recollection is that I was part of the problem -- not part of the solution -- until the early 1990s. Then again, perhaps Shelton's comments say more about the contemporary dance scene of the day... they were so brutalised by the mainstream press that I was seen as somewhat less of a bully!

Anyway, it's fair to say that the dance, today, is extraordinarily vibrant and extraordinarily varied. More importantly, it's no longer a case of 'us' and 'them'. A great deal of the mistrust and unease has gone. Truth and reconciliation... an' all that jazz ballet.

Ausdance, nationally, has been a terrifically valuable advocate. It's also served as a mediator. The Australia Council's commitment to touring works by smaller companies has been enormously valuable. Green Mill, the festival of choreography and dance played its part too in the early-to-mid 1990s. And the dance school of the Victorian College of the Arts -- currently celebrating its 30th birthday -- has had an inestimable impact on contemporary dance in Australia.

One of the most memorable part of the night -- aside from Michael Veitch's repeated and increasingly unfunny missed cues -- was the Mister Magoo stage sweeper who surreptitiously cleaned up between sections while an award was given. (See what I mean about punctuation?) He aimed straight for the front of the podium to mop up a pesky bit of tree... which had been left there as part of the welcome to country ceremony.

The audience went nuts. With headphones on, Mister Magoo blithely ignored shouts until advised, one assumes, by the stage managed to return the branch. Which he did with a thrust of his sweeper. As if to say: you can have your bloody rubbish back.

Perversely, this reminds me of the time when Winsome McCaughey -- then Lord Mayor -- dropped the M word in front of a bunch of hardcore thesps at a Green Room Awards presentation in the late eighties. She found herself swept out of the pavilion -- like a threatened US President -- spun around, asked to spit and swear and beg for readmittance... only to do the bloody same thing again! Asked to curse, she came up with out out damned spot... quoting Macbeth, fer fux sake.

And, speaking about audience horror, the most appalling example I can think of was the time at a film festival when a precious old reel of film jammed in the gate of the projector at the Forum Theatre and then melted into a sickening mess. It had an extraordinarily visceral effect on the film buffs.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

31 flavours vanilla: Jerome "Baskin" Robbins - a celebration

Writing for both the Herald Sun and the Financial Review, I find myself in the bizarro position of being colleagues and rivals of just about everyone. Sometimes both of those at once.

At the ballet Thursday night, I sat next to "The Carbon Footprint". TCF writes for the Oz. I was there on behalf of the Hun. So, colleagues, right? Uneasily, no. The Oz blithely ignores anything so lowly (latitudinally speaking) as a Melbourne paper. My writing for the Financial Review (17 years now!) is harder for TCF to ignore. Therefore enemies. Frenemies, at least.

Last time I encountered TCF at the State Theatre, in Melbourne, she pronounced -- in that glockenspiel voice of hers -- that I was a "very ordinary journalist."

I protested. I might be 'ornery', I quipped, but I most certainly am not -- never have been and never will be -- a jourrrrnalist. And that she should take back that contemptible insult.

Anyway, TCF flew to Melbourne for the night to see Carlos Acosta's debut performance in Australia. And speaking of footprints, the Cuban-born star dancer had flown from London to appear in a ballet that has a running time of a tad over ten minutes. (The Australian Ballet quotes thirteen, but either they're playing the Debussy way too slow or -- more likely -- allowing for curtain calls!) (And, to be fair, Acosta is scheduled to perform twice more... a total of half an hour. Hope he came out on a flatbed!)

A star principal with the Royal Ballet, Acosta has a touch of the toreador about him. He's more meaty than lithe, but his moves belie that muscularity.

He's here -- Melbourne only -- to perform in Jerome Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun. Forty-odd years after Nijinsky did the snowdropper thing and got down and dirty with the veil of a nymph, Mister "Baskin-Robbins" turned Nijinsky's masturbation into a marginally less un-American activity... narcissism.

And instead of a faun and a clutch of nymphs, we have a danseur and a ballerina. Instead of a glade, we have a studio. When the music begins, we discover our man asleep in a rehearsal room. (Jean Rosenthal's airy set gives us three billowingly pale cloth walls and a holed ceiling, a barre running the length of each wall.) Our faun wakes and stretches languorously. Robbins choreographs some fairly basic warm-up moves for our only slightly supernatural man.

The nymph is no nymphette, mercifully. She's all woman: tall, imperial, hair down... as substantial (in her way) as he is. She's also every bit as gorgeous. It's here, as the two mug and pose, strut and fret -- to the audience rather than each other -- that we realise that the fourth wall is not a wall, it's a mirror! They're enamoured with their own reflections. Fawning, as it were, over themselves. Like kids on E.

The orgasm of Nijinsky's original -- the dry humping of a veil at the end that so shocked Paris a dozen years into the 20th century -- is tactfully early here, symphonic in its intensity and utterly female in its rolling peaks and eddies.

Kirsty Martin, reportedly, was apprehensive about the prospect of dancing "with a star." (I'm sure her husband -- and several others in this extraordinary company -- will feel somewhat slighted by that incautious remark!) I'm wondering if, after her duet with Acosta, if Martin has allowed herself the thought that the privilege was all his?

Martin rose to the occasion. More than matched him. Bettered him, really. "Rose to the occasion" is misleading. It implies that she's not always this good. She is. It's just that she is, on this occasion, better suited to her part than he is to his.

It's a mixed mode error in computer parlance.

Shame to bring him out here -- the hot Latino -- and get him to speak Latin. Hmm.

Even more weirdly, Acosta didn't eclipse Adam Bull's performance in the role a week earlier. Though he's now ranked a senior artist, Bull is on the cradle side of 25.

I've drawn attention to this on more than a few occasions, but bear with me one more time. It's a constant delight to me that this company varies the psychology, the emotion and the drama of works -- new and old -- according to the characteristics of those cast.

In that first cast, a week ago, Bull danced like an angel. Like he'd strayed from some Death in Venice fantasy world. He's the tallest dancer in the company, and he has the kind of body that straight women and gay men drool over. But he managed to project a sublimely innocent "you can look but don't touch" thing.

His partner was principal dancer Olivia Bell, the tallest woman in the company, I think. Certainly up there. And -- bless! -- you've gotta love a boy who can make a big woman look weightless.

In their version of the ballet, the faun was not of this world and the nymph was utterly corporeal. Utterly human. In the Acosta-Martin version, the reverse was true. The faun was human. Corporeal. The nymph was the goddess.

Both pairs filled this vast stage to overflowing.

So too did Marc Cassidy and cellist Louise McKay in the next piece: A Suite of Dances. Strictly speaking, it's a solo. But the soloist dances for -- and in front of -- the cellist, on stage. She's an integral part of the action. She's so good -- so charismatic -- I was tempted to ignore the dancy dance and just watch her! (That's when I vowed to return.)

Like Baryshnikov, for whom this piece was choreographed, Cassidy is compact. And thrillingly dynamic. Dressed in two tones of dusky red, in front of a blue-lit background, the pale-skinned Cassidy seems like a wraith. This Mini Misha is insubstantial compared to the tall, spider-fingered, smiling and corporeal cellist-in-black. It's as if he is the melody made visible. First the cello winds him up. Then, in turn, resolutely declines to be wound up by him.

This pair of works, created forty years apart, are the best of Robbins. TCF was mortified, appalled, affronted when I said to her that Robbins was a hoofer. But he was... Broadway and Hollywood were the scenes of his greatest achievements.

But he had his moments in the ballet theatre. And Faun and Suite were amongst them. The Cage -- which opens this Celebration bill -- was not.

As I whined in my Herald Sun review, earlier in the week, it would have been nice to see Robbins' work for Ballet Theatre -- now American Ballet Theatre -- Fancy Free, which established him as a choreographer in the early 40s. It stayed in that company's repertoire for the next half century. It's something of a signature work. (It's a clever piece about a trio of sailors hitting on two women in a bar in New York.) I can understand why the Australian Ballet tackled The Cage. It's an attempt to show how innovative and modernist Robbins was. But, well, it's a pretty lame arse attempt. And after 30 performances, it's still looks NQR on most of the company.

Let me be lazy for a moment and quote a par from my Herald Sun review verbatim:

The Cage is a modernist curio, think Tim Burton directing Charlie's Angels. In it, wild-haired women do the bidding of their spider queen. We watch the novice spider (a mop-top Rachel Rawlins) snapping the necks of male intruders... with her knees!! (It's not as hot as it sounds!) Andrew Wright is finished off in a matter of seconds, but he's especially good.

The season ends on June 16. Carlos Acosta performs again today and Monday.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I don't think Bill has much to fear in the United States... apart from fear itself.

I would have posted this (or parts of it, at least) at Alison's, but she's got sick of swatting Luvvie-loathing trolls and has closed the relevant comments thread.

I stumbled on the following and found it useful.

I must say, I'm impressed the US code is so rational and unambiguous.

The first chunk comes from a FAQ at Chilling Effects, the latter from the Law School at Cornell. (Do check out the Chilling Effects site if you're not familiar with the "clearinghouse".)

Question: What is child pornography?

Answer: As defined in 47 U.S.C. 2256:
"child pornography" means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where—
(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(B) such visual depiction is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(C) such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
(D) such visual depiction is advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Many courts apply the so-called Dost test to determine if a given image is considered to be "lascivious" under the statute. United States v. Dost, 636 F. Supp. 828, 832 (S.D. Cal. 1986), aff'd sub nom., United States v. Wiegand, 812 F.2d 1239, 1244 (9th Cir. 1987) set forth a six factor test:
(1) whether the genitals or pubic area are the focal point of the image;
(2) whether the setting of the image is sexually suggestive (i.e., a location generally associated with sexual activity);
(3) whether the child is depicted in an unnatural pose or inappropriate attire considering her age;
(4) whether the child is fully or partially clothed, or nude;
(5) whether the image suggests sexual coyness or willingness to engage in sexual activity; and
(6) whether the image is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer.
See Dost, 636 F. Supp. at 832.

And here are the relevant 47 U.S.C. 2256 definitions:

§ 2256. Definitions for chapter

For the purposes of this chapter, the term—
(1) “minor” means any person under the age of eighteen years;
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), “sexually explicit conduct” means actual or simulated—
(i) sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;
(ii) bestiality;
(iii) masturbation;
(iv) sadistic or masochistic abuse; or
(v) lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;
(B) For purposes of subsection 8(B) of this section, “sexually explicit conduct” means—
(i) graphic sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex, or lascivious simulated sexual intercourse where the genitals, breast, or pubic area of any person is exhibited;
(ii) graphic or lascivious simulated;
(I) bestiality;
(II) masturbation; or
(III) sadistic or masochistic abuse; or
(iii) graphic or simulated lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;
(3) “producing” means producing, directing, manufacturing, issuing, publishing, or advertising;
(4) “organization” means a person other than an individual;
(5) “visual depiction” includes undeveloped film and videotape, and data stored on computer disk or by electronic means which is capable of conversion into a visual image;
(6) “computer” has the meaning given that term in section 1030 of this title;
(7) “custody or control” includes temporary supervision over or responsibility for a minor whether legally or illegally obtained;
(8) “child pornography” means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where—
(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(B) such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
(C) such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
(9) “identifiable minor”—
(A) means a person—
(I) who was a minor at the time the visual depiction was created, adapted, or modified; or
(II) whose image as a minor was used in creating, adapting, or modifying the visual depiction; and
(ii) who is recognizable as an actual person by the person’s face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic, such as a unique birthmark or other recognizable feature; and
(B) shall not be construed to require proof of the actual identity of the identifiable minor.
(10) “graphic”, when used with respect to a depiction of sexually explicit conduct, means that a viewer can observe any part of the genitals or pubic area of any depicted person or animal during any part of the time that the sexually explicit conduct is being depicted; and
(11) the term “indistinguishable” used with respect to a depiction, means virtually indistinguishable, in that the depiction is such that an ordinary person viewing the depiction would conclude that the depiction is of an actual minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This definition does not apply to depictions that are drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings depicting minors or adults.



Thursday, June 05, 2008

Not even bothering with an Anna Coren segue here...

IMRHO -- that's Rarely Humble Opinion for newbies and those of your with SASs* -- the best single TV comedy gag in Australian history was perpetrated by Gerry Connolly. It can't have been much longer than five seconds of screen time and was just three words.

Prince Charles, seated, leafs through a girlie magazine. The Queen, standing, siezes it from her son and heir, looks at the camera: "Queen," she says, "takes porn."

This week, however, we have a challenger from The Chaser boys, currently touring the provinces (and mightily chuffed that APEC charges against them have been dropped). It's one of those topical, lightning-fast, throw-away gags that's more than just well-tuned, it's blueprinted.

Chasin' Chas... Dominic Knight (far left) is the blow-in.

And, inevitably, I run the risk of decanting the champagne by (1) paraphrasing it, cos I didn't write it down, and (2) by taking it out of its context... a beat the buzzer-style current affairs comp with a couple of audience members flanking one of the team (I don't know their fricken names, whaddya think I am, a groupie?!) who is firing back unexpected and off-beat answers to some rather obvious questions.

So, the Q was something like: "-- recently accused of peddling exploitative images of young children --" and the A was... Terri Irwin.

Funny, really. All night I was expecting a gag about the roadie being a Bill Henson lookalike... and it never came.

One thing you've gotta give the Chaser boys credit for... they're anything but lazy. The transition from TV to stage is not an easy one. But, all too often, those that do great TV work do awful stage routines.

I first saw Dame Edna on stage in November 1981. In Subiaco. (I don't know what's scarier. That I remember the date to the month or that it turned out to be correct! I just checked my DIY. 21/11/81. An Evening's Intercourse.)

I initially wrote "live on stage" but Edna wasn't. She was dead on stage. The show was ratshit. Unbelievably, unforgivably slack. Now, I appreciate that TV has a voracious appetite for new material and that stage is comic relief... a single routine can be honed and repeated and toured... but that's hardly an excuse for laziness.

I've also seen inexplicably bad live performances from Wil Anderson. The man who tosses off pearls on TV, week after week, brilliant original material, used to do the same stand-up comedy routine... year after year after bloody year.

Which reminds me... the once-wonderful Doug Anthony All Stars used to do something similar. Songs and routines and banter in the same order. But that was different. Understandable. Not a rip off. More of a musical comedy show.

But, once they achieved a degree of (well-earned) fame, their devoted teen groupies quickly got their routines down pat. Word perfect. And they'd chant along with them. Which pissed DAAS off mightily. So they turned to audience abuse. Ick. That's when they lost me.

The Chaser's Age of Terror Variety Hour is like a triple shot of the TV show. Good new material. Little of the hectoring serial pest stuff that I hate so much. Not too much musical stuff. (Hey, nothing wrong with their If Life Were a Musical routines, but I wouldn't want ninety minutes of it!!)

Funnily enough, the weakest moments were the bits where the boys attempted to make a 'Show' out of it all. The local content was perfunctory. (Frankston = Boganville. Well, dah...) The audience abuse was puzzlingly inappropriate. The show ends with the team screaming at punters to get fucked. And jolly smiling faces shine back at them.

Hmm. Cut that, lads.

* short attention spans

The Chaser's Age of Terror Variety Hour is at the The Athenaeum, Melbourne, until June 14. Then Lyric Theatre, QPAC, June 25 to 28. Newcastle Civic Theatre, July 1 & 2. Penrith (Evan Theatre at Panthers), July 4. Blacktown RSL, July 5. And Souths Juniors, Kensington (NSW), July 6.

My review is scheduled to run in tomorrow's Herald Sun.

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