For anyone looking to study at the VCA, this interview I did with Mitch Ralston gives incredible insight into what it’s like on campus as a music theatre student. Thanks to Mitch for his time and detailed answers. And here’s a little promo video to heighten your tastebuds.
Melbourne graced us with the first signs of summer today as the state of Victoria reached disgustingly high temperatures in all directions. With a threatening thunderstorm that destroyed houses only days ago, this heat has seen people flocking to Victoria’s beaches or lounging by their pools to soak up the sun and stay cool in the fresh water. I however, am not a fan of summer and dread days like today. I don’t like swimming, I don’t like sand and I can’t go out in the sun for more than five minutes without burning like a crisp. So these ingredients are what made up my sweltering November day.
A good friend. A surprise call from a best friend who has just arrived back from a week in Byron saw me step outside into the sun. Luckily, he lives close by and we have the kind of friendship that after updating each other on the drama that’s occurred since our last encounter, we can just chill, listen to music and discuss people, places and whatever comes up.
A license. To get me to said friend’s house. If I had had to make the (short) trip via public transport, well to be honest, I don’t think I would have. The ordeal is too draining to think about in such heat even if we both live close to train stations.
A new song. Introduced to me by aforementioned friend. He played it on repeat but it wasn’t annoying in the slightest. Half of Me by Rihanna. Download/YouTube it now. It makes her sound like she can actually sing. Quite impressive.
A service-assisted petrol station. Yes, I am lucky enough to live in close proximity to probably one of the only assisted petrol stations in Australia. The family owned business are always there to pump your gas for you and on a day like today, I was forever grateful to the man who served me and fed my baby. Service with a smile and I was on my way.
A movie. This Boy’s Life features a young Leonardo DiCaprio, and is based on the true story of Tobias Wolff. Made in 1993, it is set in the 1950s where Toby and his mother end up in the dangerous hands of an abusive man whose temper penetrates the whole town of Concrete, Washington. Great acting, an authentic look and an inspiring story of going after what you want in spite of trouble along the way.
Exercise. I made it to the jam-packed gym tonight where youngsters and families were swimming in the pools and desperate workers were relieving their stress on cardio machines. They were all occupied, except for a few bikes. Luckily, that was what I’d planned to plant myself on anyway as I’d brought along something special to keep me entertained…
A book. I sat on the stationary bike and turned pages of Paulo Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die. I saw the movie a few weeks ago and was left underwhelmed but we had a copy of the novel in the house so I picked it up a few days ago and am slowly making my way through it. I’d highly recommend it so far, especially over the Sarah Michelle Gellar film.
Air conditioning. If you have survived today without access to air conditioning, I salute you. My house, car and gym all were air conditioned, making the day bearable. I am grateful for electricity and all that it powers.
Water. Cold water in particular. I cannot fathom that so many people just do not drink water. I guess I used to be one of those people. But my parents don’t drink water. It’s so good for you, no, necessary, and I know you can get water from other sources like fruit and vegetables, but how one makes it through a hot summer without water is beyond my mind’s capacity. And having a drink bottle helps a lot. Water on the go, water through the day. Keep hydrating yourselves. It keeps you alive.
A cool change. As I stepped out of the gym I was expecting scorching heat just without as much sun. But a cool change is on its way. And thunderstorms are predicted for tomorrow. Sounds like a perfect end to our first taste of a dry summer. Let’s just hope I (and you locals) can sleep first.
This morning I participated in the first official Color Run in the Southern Hemisphere. Melbourne played host to the Australia’s debut Happiest 5km on the Planet, attracting a sold out crowd of more than 12,000 happy runners.
Coincidentally, the race took place at the racecourse I’d been to for the Melbourne Cup Carnival only a few weeks ago and I even went past my old tote house! I’m starting to feel pretty familiar on those grounds.
The Color Run originated in the United States. It is a different kind of fun run, where people of all ages, abilities (and disabilities), babies in prams and strollers, gather together to run, walk, dance, skip and hop their way for five kilometres passing through colour dust at each kilometre mark. Each kilometre you get sprayed with colour by volunteers and each K is represented by a different colour. The basic idea is that you start off clean – everyone in a mandatory white t-shirt – and end up completely covered in colour, making it the happiest run of your life.
For me, it was my first fun run ever. I’ve wanted to be able to run for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never had the fitness nor the technique to be able to master more than five minutes without losing my breath and needing to stop. Since July, I’ve slowly started to train myself, making a consistent effort to work my way up to being able to run a five K. If I was to be honest, I cannot come out of today and say the run was easy. I had many moments where I thought I should just stop and walk, particularly in this event as many of the other participants were making their jolly way at a snail’s pace. But I’d said to myself that I wanted to run it, for myself. And run it, I did.
The beauty of The Color Run is that nobody gets timed. There is no winner and the waves start every five to 10 minutes so people have as much fun and get covered in as much colour as they can. I was probably in the 10th wave. At the start line there was music, an enthusiastic host and free giveaways. The idea was that if by the end of the race you weren’t covered in enough colour, there was an After Party, where colour throws were happening every 15 or so minutes.
During the race, I kept a fairly even pace. But it was great to see so many people enjoying the colour storm, rolling in the blue, red, yellow and pink dust, families and groups of friends taking photos and some even having wheelbarrow races along the way. I didn’t take my phone into the colour because I knew it would get ridiculously dirty, but plenty of people decided otherwise. Judging by the dirt/dust in my shower, I think I made the right decision.
What originally attracted me to this fun run was its resemblance of the Hindu Holi Festival. A few years ago I saw pictures of the festival, primarily celebrated in India and Nepal, where coloured powder and water are thrown on others in what is a Festival of Colours. Some may recognise this theme in Ke$ha’s Take It Off film clip. Anyway, I’ve wanted to experience Holi ever since hearing about it and so The Color Run seemed like my first taste of what may lie ahead if I eventually make it to India.
After the race everyone gets given their own packet of Color to throw and spray on each other. There were sponsors giving free foot massages, photo booths, a Boost stall, crepes, strawberries and fruit, as well as Nova FM Casanovas, as a massive dance party.
The event was extremely well organised and I’ll definitely participate again next year. It’d be great to travel to other locations on the Australian Tour (or elsewhere) to see how their races compare but I’m sure each Color Run is as unique and as special as the last. The money raised through this event is going towards The Australian Paralympic Committee and paralympians themselves were part of the fun.
Be sure to look out for a Color Run near you. You can check out when the run will be coming to your city here.
Youth unemployment, it’s an issue, right? In fact, unemployment is an issue across the board. Ever since the crash of the Global Financial Crisis, jobs have been harder to find, harder to obtain, and even harder to keep. The government has warned us that less and less young people are making something of their lives after leaving school, with fewer youth engaging in work or study of their own accord.
We should be able to live our lives the way we want. We shouldn’t be under pressure to conform to a society with certain ideals or an ideology that does not fit who we are finding ourselves to be. For some, it takes time. Travel, experience, life. Sure, I’ve gone from high school to university but many friends have taken gap years, started working, or have found themselves occupied with other pursuits. There are healthy ways to spend time and there are unhealthy ways. But giving someone a break after 13 years of education shouldn’t be taboo.
However, for those of us who have decided to balance life, study and work, we should think this trio of events is attainable and likely to be possible. The thing is, employment is hard to come by and I, for one, have been trying to gain employment over the past months without much success.
What has prompted this post though, is a terrible experience I’ve just had. Earlier this evening, I rocked up for a group interview with lingerie store, Bras ‘n Things. I arrived early, as I would for any job interview. I parked my car and found the location. But as the store came into view, I noticed a mass of people – girls – standing around the surrounding stores. I didn’t know what had happened. Had there been an accident? Was one of the nearby stores having a one off sale? Were there celebrities in sight? What the hell was going on?
It was only once I was amongst the crowd that I saw all the girls were holding A4 pieces of paper. And at the head of the piece of paper read ‘Job Application’.
Are you kidding me? There were about 200 girls there. Now, I’m bad at estimations but this is no exaggeration. Girls, probably aged 16-30 (okay, young women), were lined up, on the street, in the heat, and ‘dressed to impress’, as we were told to do. Girls in heels, skirts, some in pants, some in black stockings and jackets, adorned with jewellery, hair in bows and ribbons. It was almost an unbelievable sight. And the thing is, they wanted to interview us. Together. ALL AT ONCE.
It was ridiculous. The scene was like sardines in shades of pink, blue and black, of all shapes and sizes, yet racing for the one prize. But none of the girls are to blame. No one knew this is what we were to expect. I thought I might have been going to an interview with maybe 50 other attendees. Even 50 girls vying for scant positions is a lot. But what is one’s chances in a sea of hundreds?
The stores folding doors were opened and we crammed inside. Packed to the brim, one girl fainted within minutes. It was hot, it was steamy. The smell of fake tan spread instantly. Girls shook their application forms for air as airhead staff began their recruitment speech. ‘Come on, take a lollipop. I went out and bought these especially for you! Come on, your allowed!’ And then, ‘I wish I could give you water too!’ Yeah, I’ll bet you did. It was practically an Occupation Health and Safety hazard just being in that space.
After finding out if anyone knew anything about the company, we were told the ‘perks’ of working for the brand. The ‘possibilities’ and ‘promotions’ that awaited us as (potential) successful applicants. With 209 stores across Australia and New Zealand and a new Kardashian range, who could think of a better place to work?
An hour later, I could think of a better place to work. Anywhere.
They split us up into north, south, east and west as girls made their way to their assigned destinations, all within this tiny store. In the group deemed ‘East’, we started going around saying our names, the position we were applying for, the store(s) we were applying for, and why we wanted to work at Bras ‘n Things. I think six girls were lucky enough to have this opportunity. After that, it was decided there were too many of us (no shit) and we were to make small groups and introduce ourselves to each other. We wasted about 15 minutes doing this and then were given an ensemble to ‘sell’ to one of the staff members. Ten minutes later, a staff member came around. I literally got to say about two sentences. I think I said something about the breathing material, the quality of the product with good stitching and something else that’s already slipped my mind. She didn’t even get my name down. She asked my name – ‘sweetie’ – and when I told her, she just looked at me blankly. I’m sorry, but if you didn’t hear me or didn’t understand, I’d expect you to ask me to repeat it, not just stare at me. So I repeated it without request. But I’m pretty sure that even then, she didn’t even take the time to write it down. Maybe Esther is too hard to spell or something. I get that a lot.
But wow, talk about a lack of respect. I’ve taken the time to come to you stupid group interview which is basically a meat market, and you can’t even give me the time of day to get my name. It’s totally rude and ultimately, disgusting.
Not long after, I, and dozens of others, were shown the door. Sure, I’d like to have progressed to the next ‘stage’ but as stage one consisted of me saying barely 20 words and nothing more, and after the poor treatment I’d received, I was almost glad to be on my way.
And as I said, I was one of many. I’m not taking this as a personal attack but I think we as young people, have a right to receiving greater respect than I was shown tonight. I know you had literally hundreds of other girls there who by your accounts, were in someway more suited to the position (after hardly saying a thing), but that doesn’t give you the right to dismiss others in such a horrible manner.
And to be honest, I think you’ll have lost some customers, Bras ‘n Things. In our little groups we discussed how far we’d come for the interview. Personally, I hadn’t had to travel too far, but others had travelled for a good hour or more to make it, only to be out of there without having the chance to show their personality, their skills or even their name.
And I don’t care if you have the new Kardashian range, I happen to dislike the Kardashians and even if I did like them, their underwear can get stuffed. The distance between the Kardashian girls and the piece of underwear you are buying is so great you may as well send them fan-mail and you’d get closer to the real thing.
So in turn, I’ve lost my respect for the brand, Bras ‘n Things, and for mass recruitment in general. I know not all company’s recruit in this way, and I’m aware of the practicalities involved in recruiting for such big names. But what I experienced tonight should not happen under any circumstances.
No wonder so many youths are unemployed.
In January this year, she up and moved across the country. She packed her clothes, her dancing shoes, shipped her car and transferred her position at a nation-wide store to another state. She’d worked hard and travelled to the United States to gain experience. She’d auditioned for a panel of industry experts who analysed her singing, heard her monologue and watched her dance in the call backs. And she impressed them.
With so much talent, she gained a place in not one but two performing arts colleges. The decision was made and in a matter of weeks she’d relocated. A tiny bunch of first years with the hopes and dreams of the Fame school in tow, twenty lucky and talented performers were given their chance to shine. They’d come up on top of hundreds of applicants and their time was now. And it is now.
She’s been back and forth between states numerous times throughout the year, but as of the weekend, she’ s back for good. Well, for the summer. And we caught up today in the heart of Windsor, among slow walkers, people sipping coffee, thrift shops and free ice cream at the opening of the new Ben and Jerry’s store.
It’s crazy how different two people’s experiences of their first year of university can be. Her course is full on. Full time. Five days a week of learning, stretching, rehearsing, training, dancing, singing, keyboard playing, costumes, blocking, acting, performing, bonding. The small intake each year gives students the chance to become a family, as well as befriending and housemating second and third years of their course. The course has traditions. The theatre is full of traditions. They have houses allocated to the school that have been passed down through the generations of graduates. The second years fundraise for the third years and perform for the first years. They train together, they party together. They live in each others back pockets and secrets are scarce. But it sounds incredible. Arts school. Performing arts college. It’s traditionally American but uniquely Australian at the same time.
The graduating Class of 2014 come from all corners of the country. From Cairns to Adelaide, Mooloolaba to Sydney, Perth and of course, Melbourne. They’re of different ages, some straight out of high school, some in their twenties, and a mix of boys and girls. They may be as different as they come, but share a united vision of soloing in a Broadway show, name in lights and closing to a standing ovation. To an outsider, it may seem like a long shot, but these kids have got what it takes.
We visited the auditions for next years intake which were going on down the road. In so many situations you hear of the older group making fun of, teasing, belittling or scoffing at the younger group. But as my friend told me, her class are so excited to have ‘new first years’. It is such a community and the vibe is invigorating.
There’s something about the performing arts that’s like a disease. You catch it and then you’re plagued with it for life. Amidst such tough competition, everyone is there to support each other. There is something in performers that runs through their blood, constantly pumping through their veins and it makes them come alive. They have a dream and they’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. They work when they’re sick, they rehearse insane hours, they push on when their feet are sore and life is throwing everything at them. But I guarantee, when they perform, you are witnessing their heart and sole on the line, every single time. They show their vulnerabilities and it takes guts to expose yourself to an audience like they do. Once song may have hours and hours of work behind its facade. And making it seem easy and effortless is only part of the task.
But don’t be misled. Performers have skills that trick you, and lead you into a world outside your own. You’re suddenly inside their world, the world of the stage and in that world, anything is possible. It’s a wonderful place to be in and it’s there for the taking.
So go and see a show. Book tickets to a musical, a play, a showcase. And after the curtains have closed and you’re processing what you’ve seen, take a minute to consider the hard work that’s gone into that performance. It’s a mindfuck. And then leave with the confidence that by seeing that show, you are helping to sustain an industry and the life of individuals who live for the stage and the thrill of performing. And then go and book tickets to another – ’cause you’ve been tickled by strains of that blessed disease. The performing disease. All the world’s a stage, you just have to open your eyes.
This one goes out to all my friends who are currently scattered across the globe, chasing their dreams and showcasing their talent on the worldwide stage. To everyone else, give a few of these tracks a listen. Jump the stereotype. You may even be surprised. Love a bit of Warhol’s Children – promoting diversity and individuality like it’s their motto. Here’s the link.