Going Down Swinging is Breakfast-Club-air-punch happy to announce One Night Wonders, a series of top-class spoken word shows to run throughout 2014. “What if he goes under a bus or something?” was the question that kicked it off. When playwright and performer Felix Nobis casually mentioned that he never writes anything down, instead writing poems in his head and memorising them, we had a moment of panic. Imagine a brilliant writer’s back catalogue getting snuffed out in a second because the guy driving the 902 Smart Bus missed his coffee one morning. We decided we had to catch this work, along with the live atmosphere that gives so much vitality to stories, poetry and spoken word. This year, four headline acts from Australia and overseas will perform full-length solo shows, letting us collect the best writing from four illustrious careers. Each show will be recorded, mastered and released as a live album. Small audiences can be part of this live recording, in a series of up-close performances in the plush Mission to Seafarers Chapel on Flinders Street. There’s a bar, a courtyard, a garden, the occasional sailor, and support acts to get each evening going. Supported by the City of Melbourne, shows will run at the end of May, July, September and November. Entry on the door is by donation (anything from zero dollars up), or seats can be pre-booked for a set fee. Given the small venue, booking is a good idea.
We’ve been working towards One Night Wonders for a long time, and that morbid beginning now lets us present the following stellar performers.
Derrick Brown – Friday May 30
One of America’s top writers and performers, Derrick tours Australia for GDS in May 2014. He’s performed with the Flaming Lips for All Tomorrow’s Parties, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, at Glastonbury in England, and supporting Cold War Kids on tour. He won last year’s Texas Book of the Year award for Strange Light, and founded the publishing house Write Bloody that has since published dozens of writers. Derrick will also appear in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra, on his first trip to this country.
Eleanor Jackson – Friday July 25
A rare breed, Eleanor has the power to dominate slams and loud pubs with quiet assurance rather than extra noise. She’s featured at festivals and shows across Australia, frequently has her work broadcast on radio, and created the Melbourne Poetry Map, a series of poetry audio tours. Eleanor has written several long collaborative works, and is an editor for Peril magazine. Having received a Going Down Swinging performance commission in 2011, she returns to us to record her first full album.
Felix Nobis – Thursday September 25
An actor, playwright and poet, Felix brings a warmth and robust humour to his storytelling that win over any audience. Armed with a doctorate in medieval literature, his poems are long, rolling tales, but filled with modern Australian vernacular and characters. Twice the winner of the Australian Poetry Cup, Felix wrote the verse play Boy Out of the Country as an Affiliate Writer with the MTC, and retranslated Beowulf as a one-man show that toured the US and Europe, winning the praise of Seamus Heaney. His multi-character monologue Under an Open Minded Sky was commissioned by Hawthorn City Council, while Once Upon a Barstool toured Ireland and enjoyed a season at La Mama in Melbourne. Let’s hope he stays clear of public transport until September.
Sean M. Whelan and the Mime Set – Friday November 28
In the least likely show of the year, Going Down Swinging has secured the reunion of this iconic Melbourne act for a one-time deal. Through the middle of the last decade, Sean M. Whelan and the Mime Set built a beautiful partnership: glorious layers of strings, guitars, loops, organs and keys building into a rich slab of sound, over which Sam Wareing “sang like Bjork if she’d swallowed a sexy cat”, drifting in and out of contact with Whelan’s strange, gentle yet heart-punchingly powerful stories, each a surreal exercise in perfect word placement. The band broke up some years back, but Andrew Watson, Chris Chapple and Jonathan Shannon will rejoin Whelan and Wareing – returning from Berlin – to record the work they put together. This is one absolutely not to be missed.