29 January 2009


Lisa the Festival Blogger returns with her final blog entry of Sydney Festival 2009. In this blog, she reviews Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová's show at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall plus Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses.

"Markéta Irglová, one half of The Swell Season encouraged us to ‘trust our goat’ this week when making decisions about life. I was thinking, clever goat, I want one. Of course what she was talking about was her gut, but her Eastern European accent fused with an Irish burr distorted the word.

At their Eat Drink, Talk Art event, she and Glen Hansard - the other half of The Swell Season - sat stooped in their chairs and talked elegantly about the merry-go-round they have been on since Once, the film, was made two years ago.

A film like Once wasn’t meant to be this successful. It was shot in Dublin in 17 days on a tiny budget and the original idea was for the film to be sold on DVD to fans at gigs (Glen Hansard is lead singer in the band The Frames). But it was hugely successful, charming the indomitable Harvey Weinstein, making millions at the box office and winning them an Oscar for the soundtrack.

Neither Glen nor Markéta had any acting experience when Once was shot in Dublin. They had been friends for a long time, followed their hearts and plunged in. Actors use many methods to create their work, but they relied on instinct and it paid off. Both described the process of acting together like jazz, and creating a mad stormy energy between them – in many ways it’s this quality that makes the film such a success.

As they spun their tales about touring the world playing gigs and finding themselves in the film industry’s spin cycle, the intimacy between them was like the third dimension in the room. Love is contagious and fairytales intoxicating, and in life we’re all drawn to genuine warmth and positivity and I daresay this is a significant element to their success. They both seem intent on finding the truth in every situation and giving back to their audiences - a critical mass of connected individuals whom they create an alchemy with.

Glen, so charming he could have been reading out his shopping list and I wouldn’t have cared, his sentences yolked together with ‘was.. like’ and ‘you know’, doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with fame. When things exploded for them Markéta said to him "this is what you've always wanted. If you're going to flirt with fame, don't be surprised if it turns around and wants to have sex with you."' Rather than be tinged by fame, they seem committed to sharing it, encouraging us to take risks in life and reminding us that we never know what lies around the corner.

Christopher Wheeldon is regarded as one of the world’s top choreographers of classical ballet and is someone else who trusted his goat. Leaving a prestigious role at New York City Ballet to start his own transatlantic company, Morphoses, his instinct paid off. He knew how much fun he should be having with his work, Morphoses was a fine display of his faith in his instincts, and his dancers. I am no expert when it comes to ballet, but most of the reason I enjoyed it so much is because the dancers in Morphoses clearly want to put on a good show and seemed so happy as they did it. Everyone knows that performers perform so much better when they are inspired.

The creative insights I was offered this week were the perfect way to round up the Festival - I’ll trust my goat and follow my heart, and I just might be lucky."

Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová are pictured here playing on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in an impromptu performance before their concert on Wednesday evening.

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