Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Heavenly Handel, Fringe Festival and Bogan Pride [October 3]

I went to my first Melbourne Symphony concert in a while last night, and I was very happy to see an almost full house at the Hamer Hall. Must have something to do with the enduring popularity of Handel’s ‘Water Music’ which made up the second half of the bill. The first half featured the astonishing Australian counter-tenor David Hansen peforming three Handel arias with the physical confidence of an Olympic athlete. The Baroque ornamentation he applied to these operatic numbers was the equivalent of a gold-medal-winning pentathlon performance, and the crowd roared with approval as he took his bows. The orchestra sounded incredibly youthful under the bouncing baton of Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie. They’re performing the Handel program twice more this week and it will be broadcast at a later date on ABC Classic FM.

Meanwhile the Melbourne Fringe Festival has begun, and last night saw the launch of ‘Jacky Jacky in the Box’, a performance art installation presented by Ilbijerri Theatre. Five indigenous performers, all called ‘Jacky’, sit inside three glass museum cabinets in the Atrium of Federation Square. Curious passers-by can read their family histories displayed on printed signs in front of the boxes, and learn about the complex and often tragic circumstances that led to each ‘Jacky’ being denied their indigenous cultural heritage. It’s cheeky, it’s confronting, and it makes a very clear point about the way in which Aboriginal Australians have been treated as less than human for most of the past two centuries.

And at the Supper Room of the North Melbourne Town Hall i saw a work-in-progress called ‘The Lonely Instrument’, an alternately chilling and hilarious re-telling of Angela Carter’s radio play ‘Vampirella’, all mixed up with characters and recipes straight out of the Country Women’s Association Cookery Book. There’s a shadow-puppetry play, an afternoon tea ritual with lamingtons and shortbread, and the scariest cake competition judges you’ll ever meet. Keep an eye out for the finished product, due for completion in 2009. For more information, email:

And don’t forget to tune into SBS Television at 9 pm on Monday nights for the next six weeks to see the new Australian comedy series ‘Bogan Pride‘, featuring the marvellous Caroline Lee playing a lesbian leader of a young Christian girls friendly society.