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FITZROY FUTURISTS

He seemed amused when questioned about the political expression of the company, as if he’d been asked the question a thousand times before. He considered the company’s performances a political act – and living the lifestyle that they did, allowed them to not only travel,  but make their whole lives a performance.

Ahhh, what a brave new world…

 1975

The singular attribute of Yellow Brick Roadshow is their tightness, ­their flash and flair efficiency. More than an attribute this speed is a lifestyle and pervades every aspect of their doings – from packing toiletries to group interaction.
 
They make touring an art form. Six people, their baggage, costumes, set and lighting pack into a Toyota Hi-Ace Van that can cruise. at 100 k.p.h. Inside the Van a lounge chair is fitted and, since there are only windows front and back, it’s like a womb. Safe, snug and secure – away from the fast, clanging scenery outside. Everything is ordered and familiar there – Nilsson crooning ‘You made me love you’ and other pleasantries, books in racks, carpet; 1imited indulgence. Hours of talk are spent on details of improving packing and gaining apace efficiency. And it pays off in things like allowing Nigel to sit in the main .street of Port Macquarie oblivious to the bustle, typing business thoughts, or to sit in at night, worrying, or dreaming of further flash and flair efficiencies.

Efficiency is a personal thing too with the company; they focus on keeping costumes repaired, clothing laundered and pressed, leather polished and so on. And it carries through in the acting too. There’s an enthusiasm to make the show as fast as possible, paring away any stage seconds not necessary to the optimum theatre of the moment. The audience is given very little time to react; plays are merged, spliced and/or run in parallel. The dialogue gets so speedy that the actors get the occasional run away moth, speaking faster than they can hear. It’s an adrenal rush pushing out the most with the least. And the audiences are zapped by it…

The remarkable point is that the political thrust of Yellow Brick was, compared to a street theatre group, negligible. Moral gestures at most. They do not present blacks or whites or parables – rather the medium, the exuberant flash and fun of it, was the message. So it does not draw ideological lines so much as make old lines fluid. And fluidity is the pre-requisite that makes social change peacefully possible.

Graeme Dunstan: Reality Construction Co. (N.S.W.)

Yellow Brick Roadshows has managed to get 350 performances of varying types of material to a wide variety of audience in 5 states without getting caught in what we consider to be an immensely damaging P.R. game. We do not believe that publicity should be anything more than an indication of time, place and the type of show to be presented. Personal publicity and attempted manipulation of the media are fraught with danger, primarily because of the ego involvement that usually follows, If an organisation booking us wants to run some kind of publicity campaign in order to get audiences we co-operate to the extent of provision of background material, posters and a limited interview time. It works better for us if the people that know about us are the people that have seen us…

Some Roadshow wanker who might have been me  

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‘The future of the past is in the future, 

The future of the present is in the past, 

The future of the future is in the present. 

Buckminster Fuller 

The performing arts are culture, with, or without a capital ‘C’. They are subsumed by it, for culture is an all embracing concept. Culture is the essential commonality of a society, the ether that transmits and gives form to the interactions between individuals, individuals and groups, and between groups. It is everywhere all about, but everywhere elsewhere. It includes rituals, myths, symbols, values, language and lore, anything that establishes a shared reality in which communication can take place. 

In its totality one can speak of the relative cultures of different nations and mankind, In its triteness one can speak of getting culture by staring at a painting, or watching a play, Both involve culture. There is no relevance in questions about good culture or bad culture, for in this definition, culture isThere are, however, two attributes of culture that assist in the understanding, both of its nature and the process of living within it, First is that culture is ever in an evolving flux – and second, that culture is the product of human endeavour. The implication of the first is that while culture has a depth in the past it has also an edge in the present from which the future culture is evolving.  

It is people in the here and now that are creating the possible futures of our culture. Good art is at culture’s edge, its imagery and style reflect the edge and having done so offer, or at least make possible, new realities. 

Culture is politics. The art of politics is to define the world in such a way that, first, establishes mass agreement for a particular social reality, and second, places the power where you, me, us the party, or whatever, wants it, The politics defines tile culture and is in turn made possible and defined by it. The act of creation in art can have great political impact – For if culture and its politic are created by people, it can be recreated by them. It is the power of the artist at the cutting edge of culture to enter the myths, symbols, values, lies etc. that bind the politic and so alter them in ways so diverse and subtle, so direct and indirect as to make cause and effect a clumsy simplification – or perhaps a statement of faith. 

Reality is infinitely malleable. It is exactly what people believe it to be and artists conjure up the illusions that can establish, extend or invalidate a belief. 

Art is inevitable, funded or not it will exist as a necessary part of the social milieu. We believe that good government is concerned with leadership, It is not the Pavlovian democracy of the opinion poll, where the elected are to scramble after the will of the people – rather, good government nurtures the seeds of change, generates enthusiasm for them, realizing that majority ideas evolve from minority ones, so that inevitable social change may proceed with harmony. 

 

After twelve long months of wearing out company members private cars and coping with exorbitant hire costs, we have bought a Toyota Hi-Ace. The provision of a van which seats six comfortably, plus set, props, costumes and personal luggage has simplified our lives on the road immensely. Over the last ten weeks of touring we have clocked up 9,000 kilometers,. an average of 900 km. a week. Constant, daily touring, with one or two shows a day and overnight stops at motels is wearing, claustrophobic and deeply instructive. The ratio of time spent travelling, setting up and sleeping to a single hour of performance daily makes the end result of each performance of paramount importance. A bad. performance, for whatever reason, reflects immediately on our personal interaction. It must be remembered that when we are out on the road, which is most of the time, there is no home, no family, no personal security of any kind, We are living our work 24 hours a day. There is no opportunity of escape. This simple fact infects everything we do – each day we go out to perform we must restate, to ourselves, our reasons for being there. Each day there is an audience that, in effect, tells us whether we are right or wrong.

YBRS Report to someone

So much for the polemic. Show me the money. 

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