Q arts centre: ROBYN ARCHER AO
Songs from Berlin in the 20s and 30s from one of Australia’s best Having dazzled Australia and the world with her virtuosity and interpretation of the classic European cabaret repertoire, Robyn Archer AO has an unparalleled artistic career. For three performances only this July, Robyn Archer returns to Arts Centre Melbourne, in the Fairfax Studio, with Dancing on the Volcano, a biting satirical journey through Berlin cabaret of the 20s and 30s .
There was a moment in Germany, between the two great world wars, when cabaret thrived in an atmosphere which commentators described as ‘dancing on the volcano’. While the era began with relief that the war was over, it exploded rapidly into the worst excesses of Nazism. A truly authentic interpretation of the repertoire, these songs written between 1919 and 1933 tell that dramatic story through a hearty dose of Brecht and Weill, Brecht and Eisler, Friedrich Hollaender (‘Falling in Love Again’), Wilhelm Grosz (‘Red Sails in the Sunset’), Kurt Tucholsky, Frank Wedekind, Mischa Spoliansky and more.
Teaming up with long-time musical collaborators, Michael Morley (piano) and George Butrumlis (accordion), it’s raucous, funny and steeped in the musical harmony and political discord of the times, often frighteningly relevant to our twenty-first century world.
Robyn Archer says of the show, “it never fails to surprise us, every time we perform this repertoire, how pertinent many of the songs remain. For this season for instance, we have brought back one of the hits from Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, “The Ballad of Sexual Obsession” – for obvious 21st century reasons. It’s a wild ride, this one, from funny songs about human behaviour at the start, to devastating commentary on what happened as Hitler rose to power, a period of just 14 years. It’s a timeless warning about how quickly things can change and how complacency is inexcusable.”
Robyn Archer AO is often referred to as a national treasure. An artist of the highest calibre, her recent performances of the cabaret repertoire (French, German and American) have drawn enthusiastic audiences and high praise. She won the Helpmann Award for best Cabaret Performer 2013 and was named Cabaret Icon at the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The Sound of Falling Stars , which she wrote and directed , is touring Australia in 2018 to standing ovations. In addition to her award-winning, one-woman shows, Robyn is also known and admired as the Artistic Director of memorable arts festivals in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania. She has recorded 12 albums and her writing includes essays, songs, works for the theatre and children’s books. Robyn currently chairs HOTA Home of the Arts, Gold Coast and the Master of Arts (Cultural Leadership) at NIDA. She is an ABR Laureate, an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities, an Officer of the Order of Australia, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) and Officer of the Crown (Belgium) and also holds honorary doctorates from Flinders University (South Australia), Griffith University (Queensland) and the Universities of Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide.
Michael Morley (piano) is currently Emeritus Professor of Drama at Flinders University. He has written widely on European and German theatre, concentrating particularly on the life and work of Bertolt Brecht and has served as President of the International Brecht Society. Michael has written about music, theatre and literary criticism for a variety of Australian and international publications, and has translated poetry by pianist Alfred Brendel, most recently for the English version of Brendel’s A Pianist’s A to Z.
He has been pianist and musical director on a number of professional productions in Australia and overseas, including The Threepenny Opera (State Theatre of South Australia and Queensland Theatre), The Mother (Troupe Theatre), Happy Birthday Brecht (University of California at Davis and Artaud Theatre, San Francisco) and Jacques Bell is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Street Theatre Canberra.) Since 2004 he has presented the show Sing Your Own Musicals in Melbourne, at Adelaide Cabaret Festival and, most recently, at Port Fairy Music Festival. In 2012 Michael was awarded the South Australian Premier’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
George Butrumlis (accordion) has played the piano accordion since the age of six. His career includes performances with Jeannie Lewis, Kristina Olsen, Ross Hannaford, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Three Tenors and Pavarotti’s last tour of Australia. George has played on countless Australian movie soundtracks including Red Dog, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Lillian’s Story and most recently the film about the life of Mirka Mora, Monsieur Mayonnaise.
George is probably most well-known for his band Zydeco Jump, which featured on the bill of many Australian music festivals for over twenty years and as a founding member of Joe Camilleri’s Black Sorrows. George has served a three-year term on the music board of the Australia Council for the Arts and has recently become director of the Melbourne Accordion Orchestra.
He describes working with Archer and Morley for the past eight years or so as a great privilege and one of the greatest musical experiences of his life.
Arts Centre Melbourne audiences had the privilege of watching Archer, Butrumlis and Morley perform together in November 2017 when they presented ‘Que Reste T’il’ at the Playhouse theatre.
A potent and powerful performance not to be missed, as one of Australia’s most celebrated performers delves deep into the dark and humorous heart of German cabaret.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents Robyn Archer’s ‘Dancing on the Volcano’ July 9-11 2018 Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio Monday 9 July- Wednesday 11 July, 8:00pm Duration: 90 minutes (no interval) Tickets www.artscentremelbourne.com.au or 1300 182 183
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