Betty Grumble : Love and Anger

The award winning, Betty Grumble, surreal showgirl, obscene beauty Queen, and Sex Clown, brings to the Brisbane Festival.

Betty Grumble Love and Anger.

Love and Anger the show, is an excessive assault on the senses with Betty stripping all the way back to, the two, most powerful human emotions. Love and Anger.

The book, The Scum Manifesto is the thread that weaves its way through the show.  The book written by Valerie Solanas and published in 1967. The book centres on valid social concerns centred on patriarchy. Valerie wrote:  Men have ruined the world and it is up to women to fix it. Betty in her own wild approach to Valerie’s views, highlights that; women are still grappling with the same stories, conversations, and fears 51 years later. Betty Grumble is a conversation starter.  Conversations you never thought you would have. These dialogues are shocked out of you through various forms of expression.

On entrance to the Block at QUT’s Theatre Republic the room is a cloud of incense. Betty is quietly standing at the front of the stage a book covering her face, surrounded by suitcases and a white backdrop with scribbles of black writing. Betty welcomes the crowd and lulls us into a sense of community – that we belong in this space. She takes the time to assure us that all reactions are welcome and if our senses are overwhelmed there is no judgement in having to exit.  Betty is enthusiastic, and excited to share her show and so it begins. Betty Grumble Love and Anger, draws philosophies from The Scum Manifesto, Betty recites passages of the book through out the show, venting through an in your face, shocking and confronting communication of women’s liberation, the worship of the divine feminine and a woman’s body as a political playground. In an extravagant way Betty shows how movement, creativity and art is used to heal and expand the spirit of woman. A stripping naked of all barriers and exposing vulnerability in a safe womb like space. A singing vagina. A touch of magic. Cabaret dancing. The show involves science experiments, painting, and flower arranging in the extreme. Conversations on relationships. Relationships with yourself, Mother Nature and the environment, patriarchal relationships, mother/ daughter connections, bonds with your siblings and the weight that you each carry.

By the end of the show, the full frontal nudity was not so shocking to my friend and I that sat through the 60 minute show. Our drive home was an explosion of hilarity, tears from laughing and shock and at one stage chest pain. The conversations and questions that were screamed hysterically through the car were a testament to Betty and the boundaries and comfort zones she pushed within us.

 

Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project supported by Yirrmal.

We arrived early at the Tivoli, picked up the tickets from the box office – general admission standing. The small space has a beautiful art deco old world feel, in the lighting, mirrors and elegantly crafted bar. We took our place at the front of the intimate flat area in front of the stage – I wanted a good view of Yothu Yindi (Yolngu for “child and mother”) the band that has won eight ARIA awards and in 2012 was inducted into the ARIA hall of fame.

The acknowledgment of country and the minutes silence for ancestors was the foundation of the show. Yirrmal a sensitive, open hearted man from North-East Arnhem Land,  supported Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project,  a songwriter and guitarist treated us to his classic songs and also his new work that will be released next year. That man, he has a striking voice, a voice that produces ground shaking vocals that express his own very personal experiences and stories through his songs.  Then came the highlight, Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project, some of the classics they played were: World Turning, Timeless Land, Mabo and of course Treaty.

All day, I was excited to see a band at The Tivoli, enjoy some music, and have a champagne.  I was thrilled that I had been gifted these tickets as part of the Brisbane Festival. What I didn’t expect to feel at a concert on a Sunday night in Fortitude Valley was such a strong mystical experience. The unrestrained but sensitive, determined, beautiful performance that connected to every level of energy within me. The whining high pitch of some voices in language, the vast grounding echoes that seemed to shake from the earth through their bodies into the songs. The deep vibration of the didgeridoo, the rhythmic blow of the clapping sticks. Then there was the contemporary electric guitar, piano and saxophone complemented the traditional sounds in the new work that has been created. The beat, words, and movement went for two and a half hours, the crowd swelled at 8.45pm when Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project came out to entertain. I stood with an unobstructed view of the stage with my husband at my back and the rest of the crowd moving and dancing along with the flow of the music, the stomping of feet and the music made the floor pulsate, I was totally caught up in the palpitation, moving with the beat and the ancient sounds reaching all the way into my heart.

I drove the hour home thrumming with energy, but also teary and tired like I had emerged from a deep meditation. The sounds and energy had moved something within me. The power of the words in the songs, the indigenous sounds, and the energy that was brewed in the venue was incredible.

Symphony for me

When we arrived the Arcadia was overflowing with families, enjoying family day at Brisbane Festival. We however, were on date night. We came into the city early to enjoy the vibe of Brisbane Festival, it took a while but we snagged a high table after stalking the previous occupants and enjoyed a beer, champagne and gyozas and the view of Brisbane. We headed to Divine and had some fun photos with the angel wings on the wall. Then I was drawn to the water again where, my husband had to drag me away from the river of light show to head to the Concert Hall at QPAC for Symphony for Me.

We headed to our fourth row seats for our first orchestra. What an interesting concept created by David Berthold and the Brisbane Festival team in 2015, to combine Brisbane’s public and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and arrange them both into one free show. To share personal experiences and how the selected piece of music has made up a snippet of the soundtrack of their life and in what way the pieces of music means to them in their memories, and what an honour to hear it in the concert hall played by some of the world’s best. Some of the stories were of romance, of fear and intimidation in their birth country, of visiting a liberated country, of remembering childhood memories with a parent that has passed. Pieces of music that young musicians have ambition to one day play.

I sat in my seat with my husband next to me and while the stories of others was lovely to hear it is my own memories that will stay with me. The conductor is a fun memory of the night. With each story and with each person he met on his stage he was generous and seemed genuinely filled with joy to present the music to them, he was entertaining to watch with the orchestra, and with his interaction with the audience. Of course the movie themes bought back memories of watching them with my movie buff of a husband. Hedwig’s Theme, Main theme Pirates of the Caribbean: The curse of the black pearl, Main Theme Forrest Gump and Main theme Star wars. What I, will remember of the music, is a romantic night with my husband. Sitting in those chairs together holding hands and appreciating such talent and skill, I was in awe and grateful to watch ultimate professionals in their field create such beauty, memories and emotion, to the point that I had to bring out the tissues.

While the people that chose the music had memories tied to the piece of music, I kept wondering if the conductor Brett Kelly and the orchestra, felt something similar. Knowing that the music they perform and the beauty of it stays with their audience, I wondered if they ever appreciate their own work.  I found the whole experience fascinating.

Thank you again Brisbane Festival and Aruga for the opportunity.