Epitaph for a Theatre

Epitaph for a Theatre, perhaps, but not yet. The Archway 1 Theatre Company is a small theatre tucked away under the Number 1 (one of many) massive brick archways of an old railway goods line crossing Federal Park, itself a part of the larger Bicentennial Park in Annandale. The Theatre has been served with an Eviction Notice, this idiotic piece of bastardry has been signed sealed and delivered by Sydney City Council, a council which describes its larger self as a City of Villages. Well they do say every village has one don’t they, no silly, not every village has a theatre but every village claims an idiot and boy do we have ’em.

I once jokingly called Clover Moore a vulgar person; it was on the occasion I volunteered to write Copy for her and her upcoming re-election campaign. Recently I have thought that should I have the opportunity of meeting her again and with the Archway 1 Theatre’s current predicament (eviction from premises) in mind I would not hesitate to add Philistine to my small list and her pygmy persona. I say pygmy because that‟s what she has proven herself to be. Only a small person- a little Martinet would send in the Goon squad with an Eviction Notice immediately after the supporters of Archway 1 Theatre wrote to the Lord Mayor, Councillors and Managers seeking to exercise their right to be heard, to defend and to persuade council that the Archway 1 Theatre Company should stay and deserves to stay in their current premises. But dare to challenge the martinet with the pygmy persona and she‟ll soon show you who‟s boss. Bugger your democratic rights I‟m the Lord Mayor and what I say goes, now shut up and get out of my way. YOU‟RE EVICTED! It is unlikely I shall make my offer again, but that‟s the slings and arrows of life for you. ‘Talk to us Clover’ is currently an online mantra of the Archway 1 Theatre, but it ain‟t happening – I wonder why. Her silence as they say is deafening. Pity.

But then, kind person that I am, I remembered some basics that the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud discovered about certain people, and how sublimation can play an extraordinary part in people’s lives. Witness the cruel sadistic boy who later becomes an astonishing surgeon. Or a person called to Holy orders who sublimate everything to the service of a deity. Or an artist, Caravaggio for example, who somehow managed to live in both realms. And of course there is Freud‟s daughter Anna, herself a gifted psychoanalyst, who classes sublimation as one of the major ‘defence mechanisms’ of the psyche. And then there’s H.S. Sullivan.

Harry Stack Sullivan, the pioneer of interpersonal psychoanalysis, defined sublimation as the unwitting substitution of a partial satisfaction with social approval for the pursuit of a direct satisfaction which would be contrary to one’s ideals or to the judgment of social censors and other important people who surround one. The substitution might not be quite what we want, but it is the only way that we can get part of our satisfaction and feel secure, too. Sullivan documented that all sublimatory things are more complicated than the direct satisfaction of the needs to which they apply. They entail no disturbance of consciousness, no stopping to think why they must be done or what the expense connected with direct satisfaction would be. In successful sublimation, Sullivan observed extraordinarily efficient handling of a conflict between the need for a satisfaction and the need for security without perturbation of awareness. Source: Wikipedia.

…without perturbation of awareness indeed, and hang the expense. When Rachel Jordan co-founder of the Archway 1 Theatre Company invited a passing Clover Moore to look inside the Theatre (already under threat of closure) and to see what the founders had accomplished within that small and quirky space, little would she have known that the sublimated Moore could not offer help, could not smooth the way, could not adjust her and councils position and decision, no, Moore only offers less. Because faced with the untidy cobbled together exterior made from old corrugated iron, and the people who have adapted to this rough make-do space, the very stuff of an older more authentic, roll your sleeves up and do – it – yourself Australia, Moore could only have been offended. This is not neat and tidy, not sterile, not the kind of place the Lord Mayor would be seen dead in. This is the kind of place that Henry Lawson would have pulled up a chair, sharpened his pencil and got to work, but even Lawson would have been ‘moved on’ by Clovers *Wide Boys, and his protests against the perfidy of the Lord Mayors actions and the cleansing with industrial grade antiseptic of the untidy pockets that remain within her reach would have fallen on the same deaf ears that the Archway 1 Theatre directors and supporters have discovered.

Witness Kings Cross, gone, with not so much a backward glance, cleaned up and flogged off. Not for Clover the untidy unruly chthonian nature of Sydney‟s great pressure relief valve. Not for our Clover the tapestry of the ersatz development with its patchwork quilt of colours and the lackadaisical design of shopfronts and streetscapes, no quirky people allowed here, move on, move on, Move! No! everything must conform to the monoculture of the unimaginative sterile landscape, and sterile streetscapes are now in favour; witness Paddington‟s Oxford Street, already suffering from too many wipe downs with Australia‟s favourite bleach Domestos, the stuff they hawk as Hospital Grade Disinfectant, and to which too many Councillors and Town planners are prone to sniff then apply.

And so the Archway 1 Theatre Company is up for disinfecting, let’s wipe away a quirky pocket in a corner of a city park because the Lord Mayor is offended by the untidy exterior, because she can’t see or can’t be bothered to see what goes on within, remember Harry Stack Sullivan‟s observation [that] “extraordinarily efficient handling of a conflict between the need for a satisfaction and the need for security without perturbation of awareness.” Right on Harry! So let’s gut a theatre, let‟s bump it out stage left, never mind the fact that this theatre ticks all of Councils own boxes on what, where and why a community based art facility is and should be. Archway 1 wins this argument hands down, and what does some Council Wide Boy have to say in response to being pulled up by his lapels in this regard? “We’re not turning Council policy on its head to suit you.” Really. Then why have a policy in the first place, but you do have a policy don‟t you, so why not apply it to one and all? There is no need to turn Councils own policy on its head, just apply it fairly and across the board. And while we‟re on policy, why wasn’t the Archway 1 Theatre included in councils Master plan for the redevelopment of the park? A little oversight was it, ignoring your own policy? Convenient.

Speaking of fair; when a council Wide Boy say’s the Archway 1 Theatre is squatting in the premises, they are telling lies and spreading disinformation (with apologies to any who identify as Pygmy, but how low can a lying pygmy go?) Archway 1 pays rent and can prove it. Perhaps Council is aggravated or offended that the Archway 1 Theatre has never asked for Council funding or any other support or handout (and therefore the Piper gets to call no tunes) for the Archway 1 Theatre is entirely self-funding, in itself this is testament to relevance, resilience and perseverance. This spirit, this reminder of a time when ‘you just got on with it’ perhaps doesn’t suit a council who think provincially, you know, the way villager’s do.

Why does Sydney call itself a City of villages? I’m not exactly sure, but if we look hard enough it won‟t be too hard to identify the Village idiots. How can people who promote diversity, inclusion, community values, tolerance, acceptance and any other ‘Tick Box’ word you want to use to sound like you care get to destroy something that has been painstakingly built up over the years by the co-founders, local community, playwright’s, designer’s, director’s, a loyal and supportive audience not to mention the many actor’s, poet’s, musician’s, raconteur’s, storyteller’s, artist’s, thinker’s and dreamer’s who have trodden its boards.

This theatre, this vibrant hub for and of the community is to be replaced by a Skate park. But here‟s the thing, how long before the pristine arches of the Railway viaduct are smothered with graffiti? ‘Oh but it‟s the Skaters way of self-expressing’ some council apparatchik will say, like there aren’t enough stake parks in the area already, and it’s not as if they don‟t have form, and it’s not as if we’ll get a better class of graffiti. I’ll give it a week before the Council starts getting complaints about noise and anti-social behaviour, but hey that’s OK the Wide Boy’s and the village idiot’s are not perturbed by awareness, and no amount of Domestos will ever restore those pristine brick arches or the Lord Mayors reputation. Nor will it salve the community‟s loss, its sense of place and the spirit that has developed here in the shadow of that old corrugated iron façade. And we can be sure Clover Moore will never pass this way again for she would be most offended by the unruly skaters, their graffiti and urban style, not for her the genuine patois of the street. Shame, but then again what can one do when Moore equals less.

Back to Harry Stack Sullivan, who defined sublimation as “The unwitting substitution of a partial satisfaction with social approval for the pursuit of a direct satisfaction which would be contrary to one’s ideals or to the judgment of social censors and other important people who surround one.”
But here’s the rub Harry, Anna and Sigmund, how do you define a person who sublimates in reverse? How do you identify the motives of a person who instead of turning the base, craven, chthonian instincts we all abhor and deny into the positive, instead sublimates a theatre and a community into a concrete Skate Park? What kind of person does that? What kind of person takes something of value and substitutes it with something less? What sort of village does that kind of person live in, and what do we think of that kind of person? I don‟t know about you but one thing I do know; I’m told every village has one, and this one’s been elected to a powerful position. WTF were we thinking when we ticked the box next to her name, next time we’ll remember Moore equal less.

The Vulgarian and the Philistine have reverse sublimated; this is to her shame and our great cost. The only winners here are the Skaters, a group who didn’t even ask for a Skate park. Is Sydney City Council now operating on the premise “Build it and they will come?” If that‟s the way you operate, how about building smart façade‟s for archways 1-5 and giving the local non-profit, community based theatre, artists hub and education centre secure tenancy and some support, go on Clover, put your own selfish need aside and really do something positive, get out from behind your Tick-Box culture and pygmy thinking and do something truly innovative, creative and rewarding. After all, the Archway 1 Theatre Company already ticks all of councils own boxes on councils community arts policy, we just need one more tick, yours.

We don‟t really want to get under your ‘defences’ but we do want to get behind you, we want you to look at that old crusty corrugated iron façade and instead of imagining it gone and the Theatre and its community with it, imagine it transformed into something that will let us flourish and not wither away as you would now have it, for the need of your psyche is toxic to ours, and, perhaps we can help you with that. Hope.

*Wide Boy: An unscrupulous person, a deceiver, a lout. Someone who is paid to act in these ways.


Aren’t we clever Dicks.

So, we’re going to sell the Poles and Wires in NSW, whoopee! Aren’t we clever Dick’s?
So a ghastly Mise-en-scene will slowly unfold before the (mostly) unblinking gaze of the people of this state. The setting of this scene begins with the notions that generally people are unwilling to sell off State owned assets, and are concerned with the impacts of Fracking for gas. However concerned they are, they have not forgotten nor forgiven the Labor party for its truly awful years in office. The Obeid years of influence have bought us to this point, and it will most likely result in a lack-lustre conservative government for the next decade. Then another lack-lustre conservative government when Labor AKA ‘Liberal-Lite’ are re-elected.

Christian Democrat Fred Nile, MLA, has said he will support the sale of NSW state owned Poles and Wires, as long as mum and dad investors get a look in, conveniently ignoring the fact that mum and dad investors already own it. Ha! This is known as buying a Shit sandwich and then eating it. The Mise-en-scene unfolds; A Corporation is formed to run the new entity, shares are offered to mums-and-dads, mums- and-dads borrow as much as they can to buy shares. The Publicly listed Corporation is duty bound to maximise profits for shareholders so the price for services goes up. But that’s OK because the earnings on shares exceed the increase in prices plus interest on the (tax deductible) loan. First bite on your shit sandwich.

Because shareholder returns must be maximised the first thing to fall by the wayside will be maintenance. Witness the disaster that befell Auckland City in New Zealand when their energy asset was sold. The new owners repatriated almost the entire amount of money set aside for maintenance to the USA. Consequently, planned maintenance wasn’t carried out and the City was plunged into darkness for weeks. So, expect system failures. But I hear the mums-and-dads say “Some extra failures are acceptable, aren’t they, I mean, that’s the cost of doing business in the modern world, right?” Wrong. Privatisation often delivers less service for higher costs to consumers. Second bite of your shit sandwich.

You can bet your bottom dollar that a large part of the Contract of Sale will concern itself with the new Corporation protecting its assets from competition. So forget subsidies for homes installing Solar powered or other energy efficient systems. Forget research, development and commercialisation of renewable energies. Legislation will be introduced and signed off by both major parties (remember how morally corrupt NSW Labor was, well nothing will have changed) to frustrate the renewable energy sector. They will simply give up and walk away, taking their expertise with them. It’s becoming obvious why we don’t have a Federal Government Minister for science ‘init’. So we get to keep the notorious Coal mining industry and the coal-fired Power stations, way to go to make a buck. Third bite of your shit sandwich.

In the foreseeable future the effects of Climate change on our planet and country and state will become so dire, that the possibility for major and highly disruptive changes to our geography, weather systems, societies and economies will have exceeded all recognised Tipping points. And it will be too late to take any meaningful actions by way of control(s) and mitigation. Apart from the collapse of financial markets, the very real possibility of revolution by citizens is likely, and the anarchy which will follow will be sheeted home to a defunct and morally bankrupt system formerly known as Capitalism, a system that was still being employed to exploit the planets resources and its peoples long after its use-by-date.

So mum-and-dad investors, think about the conversations you are going to have with your children and grandchildren. “Yep! That’s right kid’s, we played our part in making our state and ourselves relaxed and comfortable. We didn’t think ahead, we stepped up and played the game. Look at what these shares are worth (that was a good investment) you kids are far wealthier than we were at your age. Never mind the fact that our actions contributed to making your world more unstable and less inhabitable”. Your children will not be able to buy a reliable supply of potable water, or food which has not been grown in polluted water. Third bite of your shit sandwich.

So let’s begin to live the way many people on the Planet already do; early and slow death from polluted air, early and slow death from drinking contaminated water, early and slow death from undernourishment. You have a choice, and this one begins with a small step, don’t buy shares in a corporation that relies on exploitation of and pollution of natural resources. If you do you, you only have to eat a few bites of the Shit sandwich, but your children and grandchildren get to eat your leftovers. Now THAT’s a shit sandwich you don’t want to leave as a legacy.
In a more imaginative world this could have been avoided. Renewable energies would have been promoted with generous grants from governments and corporations, to the point where they were in direct competition which the old technologies. A crossover or transition period of perhaps one generation would have seen the old technologies retired as the new technologies replaced them. If governments had committed to ownership of the new systems, this could have been a seamless exercise in all that good governance can strive for and deliver. Sadly that kind of nineteenth century nation building [thinking] is out of favour now, much to our detriment I fear.

Instead, we have dullards for leaders, their lack of imagination, their lack of concern, their lack of goodwill and duty toward their citizens and future generations, are matched only by their desire for the quick-fix, the fast-buck and a place at the table of a large corporation when they retire from politics. The consequences of such self-interest, carelessness to their citizens and dereliction of duty carry no penalties other than loss of political office.

Who will call them to account?

Who will decide their fate?

Who will be our Robespierre?

These are the days


“These are the days”
A play for radio by Philip Cleary

In order of appearance
Sage Godrei
Angela Hamilton-Hill, Paul Walker – Dance
Philip Cleary

Dance Choreography – Philip Cleary

Special Guest Steve Schofield – Saxophone Solo
Bass Guitar, Keys & Recorder – Zizhi Zhou
Keys, Slide Guitar, Bass, Harmonica – Clive Little
Drums – Benni Seidel
Electric Guitar & Acoustic Guitar – James Cameron

Shadow – Fergus Leahy

Director of Studio Videography – Benni Seidel

Director of Location Videography – Philip Cleary

Assistant Director – Martelle Hammer

Set Design – Benni Seidel

Wardrobe – Marlelle Hammer, Sage Godrei, Philip Cleary

Production Manager – Marlelle Hammer

Light and Sound – Benni Seidel

Props – Marlelle Hammer

Smoke Machine Operator – Fergus Leahy

Clapper Loader – Martelle Hammer

Post production Studio 82a
Sound Engineer – Benni Seidel
Vision Mixing – Benni Seidel
Studio and Location Videography – Rocco Contini
Video Editing – Rocco Contini, Benni Seidel, Philip Cleary

Philip Cleary Ensemble
Word Theatre SoundScape Performance


On the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams

Who wants to be ‘that’ guy? The guy on Fox News who described Robin Williams as a coward for committing suicide. When most people have moved beyond such destructive labels we still have Luddites like Shepard Smith who trot out this nonsense as if such nonsense attracts to itself a premium. Certainly not a premium of compassion, or understanding or even of the simplest most basic level of empathy. That Fox guy is unworthy, a loon, an example of someone who is dead to life and to humanity.

But then, there is another American; a writer, a thinker and keen observer of the human condition, a towering figure in the history of literature, his name is Herman Melville. In Melville’s book Moby Dick; the Chapter titled The Try Works, he cautions man against looking into the bright flames of a fire for woe lies there, instead he counsels for the Sun, which glows with certainty. He mentions wise old King Solomon and words him thus.

…”the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain” (i.e. even while living) “in the congregation of the dead.” Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is within the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.

Emergency #2

Emergency #2 – take-3-mix-4

Benni Seidel Drums, Zizhi Zhou Bass, Mathias Galvez Guitar/FX

Emergency #2 is part of a trilogy of emergencies I have been thinking about and working on for about two years. This started after a visit to New Zealand a few years ago. Whilst driving around the South Island I became intrigued by the pictograph displayed on Road Work Signs. Instead of the familiar Australian signs which state ROADWORK AHEAD, a speed limit and a pictograph of a pile of earth and a man with a shovel, the signs in New Zealand simply displayed a black ! Neat Eh? They’re canny those Kiwi’s, they make you do the thinking. They make the driver fill in the gaps, join the dot’s, make the pieces fit… So I began to think about literal interpretations of signs and situations. The moment this rather amorphous thinking crystallised, was when I spied an Emergency Pole lying on an acute angle by the side of a Freeway and suffering damage, after being run over by a vehicle. The thought was simple ‘That Emergency Pole is having an emergency’. So began the Trilogy, all are concerned with over-literal interpretations of seemingly straightforward situations.

Sat – Nav

Sat-Nav is an impromptu performance piece. I am constantly impressed by and with the abilities, of the many musicians who turn up to Benni’s place on Sunday afternoons. The musicians communicate in ways mysterious to me, another language appears which I do not fully understand, but nevertheless I react in ways sometimes mysterious to me. This piece came from nowhere, and we were all a little surprised at the end, as very little editing was done before it was put into the Soundcloud.