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Tales of an Urban Indian

Review: Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus)

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Review: Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus)

Everyone has a different bus trip technique. For some, it’s a chance to catch up on a book, email and the news. For others, a chance to enjoy the view or ‘zone out’ before getting to their destination. Every new stop brings potential interruptions—perhaps someone panhandling, or even just wanting to sit next to you and chat. Tales of an Urban Indian reminds us that everyone has a story to tell, where ‘tuning in’ to the chatty person next to you may be the best possible investment of your time. They may make you laugh, and may even make you cry, but they’ll certainly give you food for thought.  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) is a not-to-be-missed experience: a one-man, 20+ character, 90-minute tragi-comic show on a moving bus.

Yes. That's right. This Translink bus does move. We all joined the bus at Stop 15, and took a journey around Brisbane (complete with occasional stops), fully immersed in this memorable show.

Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) is a contemporary Canadian First Nations man, whose conversation charts a life that began on a British Columbian Reserve, and moved to the streets of downtown Vancouver. There are very few props in this immersive performance: a backpack (containing only a few pictures/photographs, and a bottle), a bus, and a well-judged soundtrack (with great stage/bus management by Erica McMaster). But that is all Lauzon needs to conjure up a cast of perhaps 20, and a story about ‘choices.’

Pictured:  Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) . Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus). Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

This is serious stuff. Set in an environment where suicide can be contagious, and drugs and alcohol appear to be an inevitable path. Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) is a story about the lived experience of a First Nations man—including his experience of the challenges of racism, homophobia, discrimination, survival and identity.

But it is also very funny. Highlights for me were the appearances of Simon’s priest, and of his friends Daniel and Nick. And also of the many women in his life: including Rhonda (his agent), Brenda (the love of his life), and his grandmother (kyé7e, complete with the ‘fly-swatter of fury’).

Pictured:  Members of the audience, pictured with   Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) . Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Members of the audience, pictured with Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus). Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The possibly semi-autobiographical script is well-crafted (Darrell Dennis), and the play is sensitively directed (Herbie Barnes). Lauzon offers an acting masterclass: using the space well, connecting with individual audience members and commanding the space through occasionally athletic moves. We all laughed, some of us cried—and I am certain we all came away thinking about our ‘meeting’ with Simon, and about the First Nations experience in Australia. The 2pm, 11 May 2019 show in Brisbane was the 500th performance of this play—which has travelled across Canada and further afield. Every show will be different: different cities, different views, different buses, and different times of day or night. Most importantly, there will be a different experience for each member of the audience. A big audience will restrict the space for movement, a smaller audience will have a more intimate connection with the performance. But what every show will have in common is an up close and very personal insight into aspects of the lived experience of First Nations people.

Don’t avoid it because you think its serious stuff. Don’t avoid it because you think its ‘just’ about Canada. Go because you get to see a great, often-funny, immersive Anywhere Festival event.

Verdict: A tour de force. Take your school group. Bring your friends. Go. Don’t miss this bus.

Pictured:  Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in  Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus) . Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Simon Douglas (Craig Lauzon) in Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus). Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, May 2019. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Audience tip: 90 mins. 12+ some coarse language, and adult themes (alcohol, drug and sexual references). Be on time (no one wants to miss the bus). The meeting point is Stop 15, New Farm (outbound—that is, adjacent to New Farm Park). Tickets are available at https://anywhere.is/listings/urbanindian/ ($32). Further performances twice a day (2pm and 7pm) on 12 May and then 14-19 May.

 Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer caught the Saturday 10 May 2019 bus (2:00pm).

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: Anywhere Festival 2019 Preview Night

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Review: Anywhere Festival 2019 Preview Night

Lights, camera, action… If the 8 May, 2019 Anywhere Festival Preview Night is anything to go by, the 2019 Anywhere Festival will brighten Brisbane, Noosa and Sunshine Coast days and nights. Well, at least during 9-26 May.

The Preview Night is a great addition to the Anywhere Festival program. A chance to sample over 14 different shows, with easy access to a bar and snacks. In a little over two hours, the audience had the chance to see tasters of acts that ranged from acrobatics to music, and improv to theatre—with a fair sprinkling of comedy,  a hefty portion of ‘live’ radio plays, and at least one B-Movie.

I spent most of the evening either congratulating myself on tickets already booked, or wondering how I might squeeze an extra show into the next few weeks. So the challenge is trying to draw up a shortlist of recommendations. At this point, I think my top tips for the festival, based on the Preview Night, include:

Hold My BeerThe second-half of the Preview Night started with a sizzle, thanks to the steamy ‘carne sutra’ extract from this show.  Excellent circus and acrobatic moves, choreographed to a very apt soundtrack. Half Hitch (who also hosted the Preview Night) only have five shows during the Anywhere Festival. Based on the Preview, I have a feeling this will soon be a Festival sell-out.

Pictures include Inflight Entertainment (Riley Cope), Tales of an Urban Indian (City Bus, Craig Lauzon), Hold My Beer (‘Carne sutra’), and B-Movies Live cast at the Anywhere Festival Preview Night, 8 May, 2019. Pictures credit: Creative Futures Photography

Inflight EntertainmentLooks as if this show is definitely a reason to make the trip to Caloundra Air Museum. The Riley Cope Creative team have obviously been on many flights in order to prepare this closely-observed and funny “high altitude musical cabaret.” With only six shows this crowd-pleaser looks likely to be a Festival hot ticket. Perhaps the time to opt for ‘first class’?

Tales of an Urban IndianOne of the many things I love about Anywhere Festival is that events can take place literally… well.. anywhere. So where better to see a piece about the “guy who sits next to you on the bus” is… of course… on a bus. Fresh from sell-out performances in Canada, Craig Lauzon performed an extract of the Talk is Free Theatre City Bus show, Tales of an Urban Indian. I can’t wait to see the rest of this funny (and, literally moving) show.

‘Live’ Movies and Radio Shows: Ok. I am cheating a little here as there were three extracts on Preview Night that fit this particular billing. The B-Movies Live team (Lightning Bolt Creative) are bringing their entertaining format of B-movie-recreations back to the stage (this year complete with some great cardboard heads). But with only three nights this year, their die-hard fans may just snap up all the tickets before the undecided make their choice (yes.. sorry… had to get an election reference in somehow…). Even with only one half of the Smooth Pineapple duo at the Preview Night, I can see that their shows at The Sideshow are going to be a lot of fun. With only two shows, their advertised ‘classic sketch comedy’ is going to be very fashionable (and very sold-out). And if you are looking for a different take on radio comedy, then the two Radioplay Hours (The Coffin in Studio B and Little Women)  may be both educational and fun (with the possibility of getting to operate a wind machine!).

Of course, I can’t close without mentioning Titanic: The Movie, The Play,  brought to the stage (sorry, boat—as it is at The Queensland Maritime Museum) by Act/React. Following on from the success of the Act/React/Maritime Museum combination last year, I can’t wait!

There were so many other great acts in the Preview. I had better get back to reading the program and see what else I can get to see. Well done to the Anywhere Festival organisers. Another great festival is now… open!

 Catherine Lawrence

Audience notes: The Anywhere Festival Program (and ticket sales) is at https://anywhere.is/The reviewer attended the Wednesday 8 May 2019 Preview Night (7:00pm), Metropolitan, Spring Hill.

Main Image: Smooth PIneapple. All Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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