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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Culture Roundup: Thursday 31 August, 2017

Latest News

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Cartoon of the week – 3 March, 2021

We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

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Poetry at the Rails


Writers at the Rails on Sunday will feature one of Australia’s top performance poets, the iconic poetic Sydney wordsmith Tug Dumbly, longtime host of the city’s Friend-in-Hand show. Along with a bevy of invited readers, singer/songwriters and the cash cow Poetry Slam. Show starts at 2pm, free entry.

Bell Shakespeare brings The Merchant of Venice to NORPA


Money makes the world go around. Portia has it. Bassanio wants it. Shylock lends it. Antonio owes the value of it. Love also plays a part. Portia offers it. Bassanio wants it. And Antonio may lose a pound of flesh for it. NORPA is thrilled to welcome world-acclaimed company Bell Shakespeare back to the stage of Lismore City Hall with their new production The Merchant of Venice for two evening performances on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 September.

Artistic director Peter Evans said at the announcement earlier this year, ‘This uncompromising production explores the tense relationship and prejudices between those who have, and those who don’t.

The themes of justice and revenge continue to play strongly 400 years after this play was written.’

Featuring three-time Helpmann Award winner Mitchell Butel (Janet King and Rake) as the defiant Shylock, and Jessica Tovey (Wolf Creek and Wonderland) as Portia, the production is directed by Anne-Louise Sarks (Belvoir’s Jasper Jones and Medea), this masterfully envisioned production tackles the prejudices and preconceived notions of one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays. Director Anne-Louise Sarks has developed a reputation for being unflinching in tackling difficult subjects.

Dark in its humour and bawdy in its romantic hijinks, The Merchant of Venice takes audiences on a journey of love, mercy and justice. NORPA and SCU present The Merchant of Venice, a Bell Shakespeare production. Thursday 7 and Friday 8 September, 7pm. NORPA at Lismore City Hall. $20–55. Bookings: www.norpa.org.au or call 1300 066 772.

Sydney Comedy Fest rolls in


The funniest comedians from this year’s Sydney Comedy Festival bring their all-star comedy showcase to Lismore and Byron Bay this week.

Featuring Al Del Bene (USA), a seasoned comedy veteran and staple of New York City’s underground comedy scene, who is sure to leave audiences in stitches with his closely observed Aussie references from his time living here for the last four years. Other highlights include firebrand South African comic Dusty Rich, lovable local legend Daniel Connell, winner of the 2017 Billy T Award at the NZ International Comedy Festival Angella Dravid (NZ), and up-and-comer and one of the hand-selected Fresh comedians from the 2017 Sydney Comedy Festival, Mitch Garling! Lismore City Hall on Thursday at 7.30pm, bookings lismorecityhall.com.au and Byron Theatre on Saturday 5pm & 8pm – tickets byroncentre.com.au.

Wanted: Old Fat Women!

Would you like to be part of an Australian TV Series? Well, if you are a mature woman (aged between 50 and 60) who is a little bit ‘cuddly’ (plus size 16+) who could play the role of a professional scientist… You don’t have to be an actual scientist or even an actual actor. Just old and chubby! Finally, letting yourself go could come to something good! Hooray! If you have a natural accent (German/ Italian/Spanish/ etc) even better.

Filming dates are Friday 27 October till Tuesday 31 October in Byron. If you think this is you or somebody you know please contact 0408 280 182 or email [email protected].

This week at Bruns Picture House

Okay, so you’re in Bruns and you’re scratching for something to do. Why not get yourself down to the Brunswick Picture House for their killer Friday with Live Music, queer cabaret, DJs and speed dating! From 6pm. And on Wednesday if you want to see the latest cutting-edge documentary on climate change by Oscar-nominated director Josh Fox (Garland) then come and catch ‘How to let go of the world and love all the things climate change can’t change’ at 7pm. Tickets and more details online at brunswickpicturehouse.com.

Dusty Rich: From Ballina to Ocean Shores Country Club Comedy!


Dusty Rich, the wild man of South African comedy, sharp, freewheeling and electrified. Rich shot to fame for the off-the-wall style of his shows, for throwing the rehearsed, practised standup format out the window and replacing it with the fire-and-ice rollercoaster of continual spontaneous improvisation and crowd interaction. No two shows are the same with Rich onstage; in fact no two minutes are the same! Self-claimed space-warrior riding a living volcano with one hand whipping the reins and the other gingerly fingering the lava-hot truth that flows freely down all sides – smothering the world in comedy magma.

Dynamic and fluid, Rich is a master of crowd interaction, flinging ideas around the room like an orca with a pack of baby seals; Rich’s setup and delivery shows the experience he has gained by following and supporting internationally renowned Trevor Noah for four years. Rich’s wild and unpredictable improvisation ranges from stories of growing up poor and skinny in post-apartheid South Africa, the perils of relationships, embracing his own ‘crazy’, marrying far above his means and moving to Australia. Truly original, his style is manic and impactful. The mystical art of comedy bursts through his veins (and mouth) coupled with his razor-sharp wit, taking no prisoners. Dusty Rich is, without question, an unnaturally naturally talented comedic anomaly. You can see Dusty Rich headline with Mandy Nolan as MC at the Ballina RSL’s Big Gig on Thursday at 8pm and at the Ocean Shores Comedy Club on Tuesday 5 Sept at 7pm. Both shows are FREE!

Grayling on democracy

Back by popular demand, AC Grayling takes centre stage at Byron Theatre on Wednesday 6 September for Byron Writers Festival to tackle Democracy and Its Crisis.

This talk will provide an urgent exploration of the challenges facing democracy today from one of our most trusted voices. Prompted principally by events in recent years in the UK and the USA, but also in Russia and the Middle East, AC Grayling investigates why the institutions of representative democracy seem unable to sustain themselves against forces they were designed to manage, and why it matters. He considers moments in history in which the challenges we face today were first encountered, how they were overcome – or not – and with what consequences. He then lays bare the specific problems of democracy in the twenty-first century and maps out a set of urgently needed solutions.

With the advent of authoritarian leaders and the simultaneous rise of populism, representative democracy appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place, yet it is this space that it must occupy, argues Grayling, if a civilised society, that looks after all its people, is to flourish. When: Wednesday 6 September, 6–7pm. Byron Theatre, 69 Jonson St, Byron Bay. Tickets: $30 Members / $35 General. Bookings: www.byronwritersfestival.com or call 6685 5115



Nothing personifies the late-fifties girl than her skirts: flared out by layers of stiffened petticoats it is a silhouette that has since formed an iconic fashion image of the early rock and roll era. Getting the dress right was just one part of every girl’s desire to fit in, to be desirable and to be ‘hip’. Four such girls make up the cast of the musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes, a musical story that begins in the late 1950s progressing to the sixties.

With four-part harmonies and a backing band the girls tell the stories of their lives and their friendship over a ten-year period, from high school prom to ten-year reunion. Ballina Players’ production of The Marvelous Wonderettes is the Australian premiere and a fun musical romp through the lives of four women, with great music, dancing and costumes.

Opening night Friday 8 September is a special event with complimentary glass of champagne and canapés before the show. The season runs until Sunday 24 September.

Tickets are available either online at www.ballinaplayers.com.au or from Just Funkin’ Music in River Street, Ballina, Tel: 6686 2440.

Cleaning Up with Comedy


Mike van Acker has spent most of his adult life trying to stay away from standup comedy. It was easy when he left high school – there was no comedy in Brisbane. He became a singing telegram performer instead. Keen, wasn’t he? In January 1992 Mike was minding his own business contract cleaning when his acting agent called, reminded him who she was, and told him the Sit Down Comedy Club was about to open in Brisbane. It was a defining moment for him.

A few years later, becoming a bit good at comedy, Mike sold his contract cleaning company and began making a full-time living as a performer. To facilitate this, there may have been a time when he regularly dressed up as (among other things) a clown, a spy, a waiter, and at one memorable gig the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. What can I say? He was young. He needed the money.Mike continued to avoid doing standup where possible – he even took a year off to sing and dance in a theatre restaurant on the Gold Coast, but always found his way back to standup.

Stints as the audience warmup comedian for Channel 7’s Family Feud did little to dampen his enthusiasm, and after his fourth successful tour of New Zealand’s comedy clubs (both of them) he decided to give the street theatre and magic gigs a big miss, and gracefully accept that he and standup comedy are going to be together a long time. Mike’s list of foreign countries worked in reads like a list of foreign countries worked in, and includes England, USA, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and New Zealand. Some people are impressed by stuff like that.

Catch Mike at the Byron Bay Brewery on Friday when he headlines Comedy in the Garden with Paul McMahon as MC and Aaron Pratt as support. 8pm. Free!


Funny to the bone

Mandy Nolan and Ellen Briggs from Women Like Us are getting ready to raise funds for Murwillumbah High School at Condong Bowlo on Saturday 9 Sept and in Lennox at the Park Lane Theatre on Saturday 30 Sept.

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