Arts Centre Melbourne, Multicultural Arts Victoria And Bunjil Place Present The Southbank Dawn Raga Series – Broadway World

After the successful pilot season of The Southbank Dawn Raga Series earlier this year, Arts Centre Melbourne and Multicultural Arts Victoria announce its return by popular demand along with a new partnership with Bunjil Place.

As we enter the warmer, summer months Melburnians will be able to start their day outdoors at 7:30am on the Arts Centre Melbourne Main Lawn – where Inge King’s Forward Surge is situated – to awaken their senses through the blissful sounds of Indian classical music.

The series aims to celebrate Indian music through incredible musicianship that evokes feelings of love and generosity in the intimate, early morning setting. The response from the previous series was overwhelmingly positive, with some saying they felt “calm, happy, motivated and great”, while for others it was “spiritually uplifting” as they found fulfilment in the simplest act of a music-led meditation and concert.

Designed by Arts Centre Melbourne and Multicultural Arts Victoria, this free activity will encourage city goers to energise and prepare for the day ahead through the tranquil and uplifting rhythms of Indian music. A Raga is an improvised array of melodic structures, which originated in the regions of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and is said to evoke feelings of calm in a meditative state.

From 10 December 2019 until 20 March 2020, the bi-monthly morning sessions will feature Melbourne-based Indian musicians Jay Dabgar (Tabla), Jayshree Ramachandran (vocals), Subramanya Sastry (flute), Vinod Prasanna (flute) and special guests yet to be announced.

For the February and March sessions, The Southbank Dawn Raga Series will form part of the Asia TOPA Public Program, allowing deeper connections to the Indian culture during a festival aimed at sharing the contemporary imagination and lived experience of artists and creative thinkers from the Asia-Pacific region.

Asia TOPA is a joint initiative of the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne with support from the Australian and Victorian governments. With major seed funding from the Sidney Myer Fund, Arts Centre Melbourne has initiated a landmark collaboration with Melbourne’s community of culture makers and national arts leaders to introduce powerful new voices from Asia to our stages. Asia TOPA takes place from January to March 2020.

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I play AFL and listen to Triple J, but people still question whether I’m Australian – SBS

When I was a kid, my dad told me I should learn to speak Mandarin. “You look Chinese,” he said bluntly. “It doesn’t matter that you are born in Australia, people will assume you are Chinese.” I brushed this off naively—I could be and do whatever I wanted, and I didn’t want to learn Mandarin. I wanted to watch Australian Idol and play video games and read Harry Potter (again). I assimilated, and I assimilated well.

I play AFL, I love going to summer music festivals, I listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100 every year and complain about the results. Once I backpacked through Cambodia and on New Years Eve, got blackout drunk and vomited in the hostel pool – I can’t think of anything more Australian than that.

I’m also a second-generation Chinese migrant; my parents were students in Melbourne when Tiananmen Square happened. Bob Hawke let them stay, and they stayed, and had me and then my sister. And that was that. I grew up, watched Home and Away and the Australian Open, sang in the school choir, worked at McDonalds after school, went to uni, and got a job.

ABC’s Australia Talks survey shows that I, like most Australians – both white and non-white – consider myself pretty Australian. But Australians of colour believe that other Australians rate them as less Australian than they feel.

That paranoia doesn’t come from nowhere – the same survey shows that a full third of Australians don’t think migrants try hard enough to fit in to Australia.

The ideal of cultural assimilation runs deep in Australia, and on first glance, it seems sensible. Of course migrants should assimilate and try to fit into Australian society, right?

The ideal of cultural assimilation runs deep in Australia, and on first glance, it seems sensible. Of course migrants should assimilate and try to fit into Australian society, right?

But what does that mean, “fitting in to Australia? Does that mean using Aussie slang? Holding backyard barbecues? Watching the footy? How do you decide whether someone is Australian enough?

I was reminded of my dad’s blunt assessment of identity and culture a few weeks ago.

It was almost midnight and I was in the pub’s carpark, walking towards my car when I passed by three people in their 30s. “Heading into town to kick on?” one of the men said.

“Nah,” I answered, relieved that they were friendly and I wouldn’t have to powerwalk to my car clutching my keys, “Just heading back home.”

“Nah,” the other man said, smirking at me. “She’s going to Chinatown, mate.”

I remember stopping for a moment to stare at him, floored by the look of pride on his face, and the absolute lack of embarrassment on his friends’ faces. And then I called him out. Not eloquently or critically – I mostly just dropped the f-bomb. He swore right back at me and I power-walked back to my car, heart racing not from fear but from anger.

“What more do they want from me??” I texted my friend, fuming.

This happened on AFL Grand Final weekend, on a weekend I’d watched not only the AFL Grand Final but also the NRL semifinal at the pub with my AFL friends. “What more do they want from me??” I texted my friend, fuming. When I got in my car I sat there for a moment, furious at the futility of my personhood and the destiny of my genetics. I was reminded that no matter how Australian I feel, others see me as a foreigner.

The incident in the carpark was a small indignity, but was only the latest and most infuriating of many. Those Australians of colour who do try to assimilate, to embrace this elusive ideal of being Australian – the barbecues, the slang, the footy – know these little indignities well. They know that no matter how Australian they feel, to have slanted eyes is to invite Orientalism, to have darker skin is to invite othering, to be visibly different is to be somehow less Australian.

They know that no matter how Australian they feel, to have slanted eyes is to invite Orientalism, to have darker skin is to invite othering, to be visibly different is to be somehow less Australian.

I don’t have an answer or a fix, but I have a challenge. I know that most Australians of all backgrounds are not for assimilation tests and alienation of Australians of colour. Study after study has shown that in general, Australians are for cultural diversity and for multiculturalism. The challenge is to interrogate what that actually means. What is it to be Australian, or to embrace diversity and multiculturalism?

Are we for diversity as long as it’s convenient, and for multiculturalism as long as we don’t have to call out our friends? Do we side eye people of colour and assume they aren’t Australian? (For the record, I have made this assumption before.)

Maybe we can stop wringing our hands over what it means to be Australian and whether the people around us are Australian enough, and just try to be good human beings.

Sharona Lin is a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @sforsharona.

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We all have to ask: ‘To be or not to be’ – Liverpool City Champion

Cabramatta West actor Adeeb Razzouk originally studied Shakespeare in Arabic in drama school in Damascus, in Syria. He’s thrilled to be able to perform in Hamlet in Shakespeare’s native language. He plays Laertes in the current production staged by the multicultural Foreign Actors Association from November 22 to 24 at the Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills. Tickets:

Hamlet is one of the most famous plays ever written — why is that? The popularity of Shakespeare’s texts to this present day is one of the most important proofs that the theatrical arts are relevant, representing the permanence of people and characters and their human conflicts, thoughts and passions. Previously, I’d acted in several Shakespeare plays during my studies at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, Syria, and I was always looking for more than one Arabic translation of the script. I had this experience with Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When I had doubts about the translation, I always went back to the English text to make sure I was getting it right in Arabic. This is the first time I’ve played Shakespeare in his native language and I can say it’s one of the most enjoyable times for me. My relationship with Shakespeare began from my beginning in acting, the first monologue I did in my acceptance test was from Macbeth. During my studies at the institute, Shakespeare’s works were rich texts for discussion. Magic of a special kind.

Give us the plot in a nutshell. After the death of his father the king, Hamlet junior returns to the palace in Denmark to attend the wedding of his mother to his uncle, now king of Denmark. The ghost of the murdered king tells Hamlet his uncle poured poison in his ear and killed him. Hamlet decides to avenge the murder. He decides to engage a theatre troupe to present events similar to what the ghost said to the new king and queen. Meanwhile, it’s rumored that Hamlet has gone mad. The ghost re-appears after Polonius is killed by Hamlet in the queen’s room. Ophelia, Hamlet’s beloved, and the daughter of Polonius, can’t bear abandoning Hamlet, and at the news of her father’s death ends her life in the river. Laertes returns to the kingdom after the news of the death of his father Polonius and with the support of the king poisons the sword that will serve him in the duel. The play ends with lots of terrible deaths and Horatio telling us Hamlet’s story.

This production is a multicultural production — how so? The producers, the Association of Foreign Actors, has cultural diversity among the cast and crew. Shakespeare is very relevant to all cultures. You can see Macbeth in Syria and King Lear in the Egyptian countryside as a TV series and we’re performing Hamlet in Australia, also a culturally diverse country.

Whom do you play? I play Laertes, Hamlet’s friend, Ophelia’s brother and Polonius’s son. He comes to the kingdom for the coronation and returns to France. After the news of his father’s death he returns to Denmark and gets news of his sister’s death and decides to take revenge and help the new king achieve his goal. Laertes hopes to avenge the death of his father and sister but he has a lot of questions troubling his head and heart. And anger.

It’s one of the most quoted plays — what are your favorite lines here? My mother passed away last month after a long fight with cancer in the spinal cord. And her last moments were the heaviest moments of my life. No matter how long the last goodbye, it’s really never enough. There’s a line that Laertes says at his sister’s burial: “Hold off the earth awhile, till I have caught her once more in mine arms.” What Laertes says here sums up a lot of what’s inside me.

As an actor, how can you deliver something so well known and familiar with freshness and relevance? I work on it! Every actor is a unique person and has worlds and dimensions he hasn’t discovered in himself yet. Since I began this professional journey I’ve found the real richness in this experience comes from life and what we go through, so every role is a real test for me as a performer and I get to continually work on my tools as an actor, my self-development, that’s what I’m working on.

Which suburb do you live in and do you have other work? I live in Cabramatta West and Hamlet is my second play since I arrived in Australia seven months ago. I’ve been working on a performance for almost two years — I started preparing for it in Beirut. It moved with me to Sydney and now I’m in the final stages. I’m like any independent artist who aspires to live from his work, but it’s difficult and, yes, you have to do another job to pay the bills. Currently, I’m looking for a job, and hoping to stay in the arts.

The South-West is one of the most multicultural areas in Australia — how relevant do you think Hamlet is to those of non-Euro backgrounds? Hamlet poses one of the most important questions facing us all in all our lives: “To be or not to be.” It is, indeed, a heavy existential question, despite its linguistic simplicity, but it’s the line between submission and surrender, and free will and its consequences. And this conflict is within everyone, regardless of where we are and where we come from.

  • Foreign Actors Association’s Hamlet runs November 22 to 24 at Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills. Tickets: