Wednesday, January 30, 2013

'Sall Good Baby Bayybeh!

I’m in the maternity ward of Logan hospital. My best friend has just had a baby.

Apparently I’ll make a great godfather.

I have no idea how to fix a lawn mower.
I’m not sure the criteria for being the best godfather ever, but I’m pretty sure some sort of maintenance qualification is part of it.

Godfather’s are supposed to be the ones where, if everything goes to shit - like EVERYTHING, EVER - I’m taking care of that bebeh.

But it’s the godparents that made James board a giant peach in Roald Dahl’s book. Or was it Aunties? I dunno. Either way I don’t want this bebeh to board a giant peach to escape from me.

So I need to learn how to fix lawn mowers. 
And dolls.

An old friend of mine told me once how awesome he thought his dad was because he fixed his transformer. He screwed a new, metal arm, on to one that had been torn off and lost. He said that, at that moment, he new his dad was the coolest ever. He had the best transformer with a slick REAL metal arm. Not the plastic ish that other transformers had.

Now I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be that cool. I’m pretty sure I’ll leave that kind of dad cool up to the dad to be, y’know, cool. But it would help, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, babies are pretty precious. So I’ll just sit here and contemplate all the things I could teach this baby. Like cards? Or how to rhyme? Or beatbox? Fishing?... I dunno… I usually find kids teach you more than you’ll ever teach them…

Welcome to the world Cleo Kowitz. You’ve got a lot to look forward to. Your family and I like to cook so I hope you enjoy coriander, chilli, sinigang, pork… your Grandma and Auntie’s spring rolls are the bomb.


I don’t know if you could see me,
little fish,
swimming in air for the first time.
Little squashed face
breathing heavy gulps of
Mountains and rivers and clouds,
giants and ants.
Fire and earth and colour and sound,
words and words and words,
Tagalog, English.
Wiggles and Play School and Yo Gabba Gabba,
Disney and Ghibli and X-men,
rom-coms and thrillers and
You’re going to paint
with fingers,
with butterflies,
colour code your
colour code your
colour code your
Sit on your mums heart,
sit on your first bike,
sit on the horizon.
Sometimes, little fish,
you might ask me a question,
and I won’t know the answer.
It’s okay,
we’ll find out somehow:
read a book,
make an experiment to test.
We’ll save google until last.
It’s more fun that way.
Little fish need to learn how to dance,
laugh, cry, crack, slide, slip, ask,
and little fish need to learn how to
Breathe, little fish,
that's your first lesson.
Little fish, for now, just


Monday, January 28, 2013

2012 Had Herpes

I hated 2012.
It was my biggest year.

I worked so hard. I was exhausted. Burnt out. Poked and prodded.

So I kept a list of things that helped me through the year.
That had nothing to do with anything except the reason why I do what I do.
I list it here so I can never forget, that in some way, I did something meaningful.

- Pinocchio pantomime at Bris Arts Theatre - Strogonoff is my favourite character ever
- Jam Jar Poetry Slam (learning what it takes to run a slam and how it's always in the audience's hands as much as the hosts)
- BadSlam!NoBiscuit! - Canberra (my first standing ovation) (staying with Andrew Galan and talking Firefly, being taken up to a mountain by Ellie and eating with eagles)
- OutSpoken - Sydney (twice)
- Byron & Lismore performances (Awkward host David Hallet and the weird vibe of Lismore poetry crowd)
- Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup 2012 (nearly taking it out and performing 3 new 8 minute sets each round)
- Mad Scientists Tea Party (the kids that ran amok)
- Collaborating with Fern Thompsett in our Gorillaz words of honour
- Collaborating with Rhyll in our as yet unpublished zine and another words of honour (Fat Freddy's Drop)
- Zen Zen Zo (All year keeping my heart beating and giving me another facet of performance to look at, consider, and move towards)
- Shooting at Shadows (mixing a live soundtrack courtesy of Fern with narration by Lucy Fox into a poetic diary of a Shadow that has lost its way. One of my favourite growth spurts and challenges of the year)
- Angela (falling in love with a beautiful woman who has my back and will bash you)
- Raw Poet Roar - facilitating an event that featured my favourite Brisbane underground voices, hosted by Fern and just a beautiful way to finish the year
- QPF - being asked to join the QPF board for 2013
- Woodford - cementing myself as a performer that pulls in crowds rather than lets them slip away. My favourite thing I've ever done. And the most validating way to know that I'm on the right path.

So what have you got for me 2013?

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Final Thoughts...

And so it all comes to an end. Stomping Ground 2013 has been a surreal and phenomenal experience. In terms of pushing the limits of my capabilities both physically and mentally, in terms of my emotional capabilities, and in terms of the bottle that is my body and what I fill it with when performing.

I don't know what to say.
Some people can brush it off. Some people can say it was just training. Some people can put it down to something else. But I dove in, headfirst. My girlfriend was pissed because I barely thought about anything else. I hardly saw anyone. I got consumed in the training. I wrote everyday. I journalised my experience. I philosophised about it all. My addictive personality grabbed hold of Zen Zen Zo and didn't let go.
I'm not saying this is at all healthy.
Or detrimental.
I'm just saying this was my experience.
I loved it.

Combined with the trip I'm about to take to India in less than two weeks, I think 2013 is going to be a year I don't forget. And you, my audience, I hope you don't forget it either.

I've had a chance to solidify my goals. I've had a chance to see what I can do in this world. A tester, you might say. I've had a chance to test-write for the stage in Zen Zen Zo's future production of Medea. I've written a piece that will be used by Zen Zen Zo's events team (Here There Be Dragons). I got to be a ghost. I got to do a mating dance. Not some ballerina ish. More like the carnage of a praying mantis.

So in saying goodbye to training, and hello to the world of performance for another year, it's probably a good idea to let it be however it, um, be.
Although I feel like I just met a beautiful woman, we had a 3 week love affair, and now she's telling me she's leaving me for a guy called Brandon, who has a 6 pack. But Brandon's an ass-hole. You'll miss me! You'll missss meeeeeeee!

Thanks to Lynne Bradley and the whole teaching team at Zen Zen Zo for being great and inspiring. And a big thanks to my fellow participants who broke skin with me and let tears fall. It's okay to treasure the enigma of light that this was. It didn't last. But that's what made it so special.



I wonder if Mr. Suzuki ever got
and stomped in the rain
like we did
that last night?
Whether he knew the satisfaction
of greasing joints
with tears and
Our thundercloud training room,
so we moved with
the rain.
I may never know what Mr. Suzuki
does or doesn't do.
But I do know
my skin
will never be as transparent
as it was
that last night.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Week 3 - Part 2

"Our way is not soft grass, it's a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forwards,
towards the sun".
Ruth Westheimer

I'm not sure if we're on the brink of ourselves today. We've got one day left on this beautiful chaos of a planet we spin with our feet. Zen Zen Zo has gifted me with a learning I can never forget.
I don't know whether I broke this week. If you can call it breaking. Or whether I finally accepted what I'm here for. Or maybe something else I can never entirely fathom.

Some of you may read this and have no idea what I'm talking about. And not in the way that only people who've been to Stomping Ground would know. I just mean that, sometimes you go through some crazy shit. It could be anything. A 3 week theatre course, a trek through the himalayas, a bad taco... anything.
But you learn. And you come away with more questions than answers. And you maybe, just maybe, if you're really lucky, understand yourself that little bit more.

We got to be Geishas today.
Fuckin badass Geishas.

I also used a prop today.
And it was a shit idea.

So there you go.


I don't know if Medea
needs another red cordial.
That bitch is crazy.
I'm just putting it out there.
Her great-grandfather is the
she's got magic to spare.
Killing kids
is no feminist ideology
I ever heard of.
Unless someone knows something
I don't?
Jason left the toilet seat up.
Stab him
in the dick-hole or something.
Cast a spell on his new wife:
the clap.
But leave the kids alone.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Week 3 - Part 1

"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other."
- Walter Elliot

"When you've gone so far that you can't manage one more step, then you've gone just half the distance that you're capable of."
- Greenland proverb

We flew through viewpoints this morning. Listening to each other and responding so quickly it was like we were one beast.
It was a great day. When everything seems to just come together and you train train train. And it's not like you can DO everything. This type of physical actor training necessitates staying at your edge so you have to go to the point where you are off-balance faster, quicker, through a more round-about way. Fumble more gloriously than before, tumble so you're uglier this time. Make a better mess because you've gotten so clean.

It would be a waste of my time here at Zen Zen Zo if I didn't re-evaluate myself and why I'm here. Hey, I like charging through space and making beautiful shapes, but there's gotta be a reason for it. Right? Otherwise you're like that guy who's real good a push-ups. Yay... um... push-ups.

So today I took stock, thought about how I want this training to improve the way I move throughout the spaces on stage, in my performances, how to breathe in the grotesque and the beautiful within it.


Up there,
was what I could never have again.
Plunging my fist into the frosty sky.
Angels at my back and death at my front.
I pulled down mist and water, rain and snow,
but never him.
He was never in my hands.

It didn't feel like a choice,
between heaven or hell,
it's not like I wanted to go down there.
But when I saw her waiting for me,
I knew that I would sink
into her back and
hold her in my hands.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Week 2 - Part 2 - Final

One more week to go!
Now it gets to the point where you know that you're gonna miss it.
And what else is my body going to do? My body that loves to stomp, the face that's slowly adjusting to the grotesquely beautiful Butoh masks, the muscles that stop and start in kinaesthetic response to anything and everything.
(examples of some of the methods we've been using at Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground)

And where do we go, personally, from here?
Is it another drift of bodies and minds departing?
Or will we keep in contact and support each other's art for a long time yet to come?

The experience of any intensive training with a group of people can be both beautiful and horrible all in one. There's the ones that always want to take control, the ones that never want to, the ones who you immediately connect with and the ones that seem a world away even when you're breathing each other in.

More questions than answers and more pondering than ever. The end of week 2's Stomping Ground left me exhausted and hungry. Angry and elated. I just couldn't do some stuff. And I just couldn't reign in my frustration. And I finally understood some other stuff. I really enjoyed Butoh. And yeah, Butoh's been a struggle. The dots finally connected. Yet viewpoints, which are one of my favourites, widened to the point where it was messy and I felt like I was constantly trying to clean. OCD hand washing for theatre exercises...

(Open Viewpoints demonstration)

We did (literally, not figuratively or metaphorically) clean the floors to Benny Hill music (cleaning the floors is a tradition in which you 'bow down to the work' in order to stay humble, via hands and cloths). That was Thursday. We needed that. Thursday was a hard day.


If Benny Hill could have
seen us,
he would've been disappointed at the
lack of sexual innuendo.
We pretended
to fall over enough
it produced it's own sound effect.
We had floors to clean and
Benny Hill music.
Bowing down to the work,
kissing the earth with
our fingernails.
Splinters were never
Benny Hill fodder.
You can't put splinters in breasts.
That's just weird.
And dust never
got a pie in the face.
No-one would get the joke.
We just kept cleaning.
Zooming along the floors
to the old comedy tune.
if Benny Hill could have seen us,
at least he would have seen us


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Week 2 - Part 1

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy – Dale Carnegie.

It's been a week of small implosions, some nestled in our chests, some in our minds, others in our hands, feet, toes, legs, elbows... necks...

We're now wrestling with more than just training. We're wrestling with change, failure, success, misunderstanding and grief.

I'm writing this after the 3rd day of week 2. Exactly half way through stomping ground.
The passing of Zen Zen Zo Patron Billie Brown lifted us off our feet for the week's beginning.
You don't just hear stories about this guy and not get something jamming at your chest. 
So we grabbed shit from the pointy end.

Viewpoints and Butoh. 

And after today... well slow motion is too fast for what's been happening. Bisoku.

She looks like a prostitute,
who's just been in a car accident,
and come back to work
too soon.
His legs are barbed wire.
Kangaroo skin
Stop lights are
My feet are
She looks pretty nice
in slow motion.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Week 1 Final

Last thoughts for the week include "Oh dear god we stomped the shit outta that!" and "It's very hot"...

But no seriously Week 1 is done, and so comes to an end the Suzuki and Le Coq training. It bought up lots of stuff, triggered a fair bit for me. Mainly how unbelievably self-conscious I am of what other people think of me.

In terms of artistry I solidified my love and belief in a profound connection between the performer and the audience. Like a rope cast out for the audience to grab. I think that's where the best spoken word artists exist: in that world where everyone in the audience has hold of the rope they've cast out.
And not necessarily in a "this is deep for me" way, as the performer, but in totally giving over everything to the audience WHILE keeping something hidden in order to maintain tension, integrity and basically not being an emotional mess on stage.

"Lifting it above being just another performance, filling it with the relatable and the beautiful." - is what I found written in my ZZZ diary.

But Friday was hard. I was down. I felt self-conscious. Stupid. Out-of-my-league. Like everyone new that I was a fraud, a fake. In Le Coq I felt bare, revealed, raw. There was very little done in terms of acting like acting acting. The extremes were the extremes within ourselves. And it was beautiful, painful, large, small, grotesque and extremely, vividly alive.

In hindsight I loved it even though it was at times too much for me.
Next week comes Butoh and Viewpoints.


Waking up on the moon
took longer than I thought it would.
Eyelids stapled together, it seemed.
I roll over and realise I've got dust in my mouth.
Spitting it out takes longer than I thought it would.
Clumps of grey matter drifting to the floor.
There's dust everywhere,
scattered from my hair in slow motion as I shake it.
Staggering forward takes longer than I thought it would
and falling takes it's time also.
The lip of this crater is too big for me to take in
and the light at the bottom blinks alien.
I tumble over, stumble down,
moving quicker than I thought I would.
Caught in liquid hands,
moved by alien air.
I fall asleep in a house of hearts
beating stronger than I thought they would.
Waking up on the moon.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Week 1 - part 2

Now it's today, not the other day. And it's still week 1. Each day holds it's own revelation and mystery. We're drawing to a close our time with the Le Coq and Suzuki training methods or pedagogies. I feel like I'm swimming and there's sunken treasure beneath me yet the deeper I swim the deeper it gets. However I'm enjoying the swim more than the allure of the treasure. Just knowing it's there is nice. And there's fish. Big metaphorical fish with awesome spots and masks and crazy techniques for swimming like a donkey. Because these fish like donkeys. So they decide to swim like them just because it puts them in touch with how much of a fish they actually are.
Got too deep on the metaphor.
Oh cool I made a pun. (deep? and swimming? and... yeah you got it...)
So my legs are toughening up, so is my core. It's good to be reminded of what your body can do.
Yet through all the strength training and focus and breath and voice and core and mask and feet and grounding... I was reminded today that you still have to be like water my friend. Like water. (Also there is today's poem beneath Bruce Lee being awesome).


Maybe we found our 6th sense in the internet.
You know... to look at cats. 
Or porn. 
Or old episodes of Thundercats. 
And then the porn remake.
...But I doubt it.
When our auras pulse,
feeding one another,
our 6th sense is in there.
Not reading minds,
but reading poems.
Not  the symmetry of the mountains,
but the jagged edges.
Not the joke itself,
but the laughter that follows it.
Our 6th sense is not a wizard's magic,
or telekinesis,
or seeing ghosts that look like Bruce Willis.
Or seeing Jesus in a piece of toast.
(Mmmmm... toasty Jesus).
Our 6th sense is 
laughing with our eyes,
jumping inside stillness,
grinning with masks on and
masking the silence with 
the sound of the planet spinning.
Our 6th sense is the space in between
our feet and the floor
our lungs and the breath
the stars and the sky.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Zen Zen Zo Stomping Ground - Week 1

After a strong start to Stomping Ground through Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre Training, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the times and trials of the work. This week we've started our Suzuki training, and Le Coq training.
My hand written diary entries are hard to read and mostly notes or reminders on various techniques.

So here's a poem I wrote about this half of the first week. It's way better than any other poems written about the first half of Zen Zen Zo training in 2013. It features a balloon at the very end. It's kinda like a climax in an action film. If the action film was all about balloons or something. No, it's a serious poem though. Like, stern or intense something. It's actually quite nice. Sums up how I feel. Yeah. It's a good one.

She says,
“You have that lovely zen zen zo glow”.
She’s seen it before.
Not one to
with the rest of us,
but one to enjoy the cracks
we leave in the earth.
I say,
“I’m tired”.
I’ve never been here before.
We churn through our beings,
kicking them
off balance
to remind ourselves
gravity exists.
When the balloon hits
the ceiling,
we can do nothing but
make the ceiling our floor,
just to play again.