Saturday, September 10, 2005

Song #19

Graham's 32 Songs - #19 "Song So Uncertain" by Fred Smith.

"So many of us gathered that December afternoon
To hear the final tune of the laureate buffoon

Ceremony over with, Louise had said her piece

We poured into the Street, drank our heads off till the morning"

Sometimes it is only with the hindsight provided by the distance of time that we are able to truly identify just how much any single individual managed to influence our outlook on, and approach to, the world.

When I first worked with David Branson, a Canberra-based director, actor, musician, producer, poet and creative force of nature, I found him difficult to deal with. His energy was undeniable and his manic approach to everything was infectious, but the truth of the matter was that I found the chaotic whirlwind of creativity, madness and excess which surrounded him to be remarkably intimidating.

Incredibly charismatic and bombastic, David was constantly working on a multitude of projects. Conversations with him were kaleidoscopic in nature and would often leave me feeling equal parts confused, amused and astounded. His energy was rarely focused on anything other than creating his latest piece of theatre, his latest song or his newest poem and he would approach all tasks with a passionate mania which I struggled to comprehend, let alone deal with.

In response to his unique approach to life, I often found myself criticising the fact that David rarely devoted his energies to just a single project. I would comment that he spread himself too thin and that I felt some of his projects suffered as a result. Yet despite these criticisms, I often surprised myself when I realised how eager I was to work with David.

Over a number of years we worked together on a range of projects and I always thoroughly enjoyed myself. In hindsight I now wonder if my being intimidated by the energy which surrounded David was merely a reaction to a fear that I would be unable to match his passion for the arts.

In retrospect, I now realise that David Branson was one of the most amazing individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of working with and I deeply regret the fact that I was unable to recognize it at the time. I have met no other individual who has possessed a comparable love of theatre, music and art. David's inability to focus on any one project wasn't a failing, on his part, as I first suspected, to organise and manage his life, but was instead an indication of his need and desire to continually create and explore every field of art he encountered. He lived the arts, he breathed it and was, in truth, the purest personification of it that I have ever met.

When I first heard that David had been killed in a car accident I felt an immense sense of loss, not just for myself, nor just for David's family and friends, but for the arts as a whole. At the risk of sounding cliched, I knew that his death marked the end of an era and that it was a blow from which the Canberra arts scene, and all of us who worked within it, would struggle to recover from.

It is only since I began working at the level of the arts that I now find myself at that I have truly begun to appreciate the effect that meeting and working with David has had on my life. David's passion for life and the arts was influential and has had a noticeable effect on the way in which I now approach the arts and, perhaps most importantly, the way I identify artists I wish to work with.

Fred Smith, another Canberra creative force of immense talent, wrote "Song So Uncertain" as a tribute to David Branson and then slipped it onto the end of his CD "Independence Park". I didn't even know that it existed and so was shocked and, I'm not ashamed to say, moved to tears when I first heard it.

David Branson loved and was loved by an enormous number of people. There were literally thousands of people at his funeral service (myself included) and I have no doubt that all of them would describe him as one of the most remarkable individuals that they have ever met. It is almost four years since David died, but it is fair to say that he is still sorely missed by many.

"Song So Uncertain" is Fred Smith's beautiful and fitting way by which to remember David's life and my inclusion of it in this list is my way of paying tribute to the effect that knowing and working with David has had on mine.

"Naked as his namesake of Michelangelo
The fiddler and his bow, ran the whole damn show

We were drawn to him like refugees from Generation X

The poetry and sex, nudity and fireworks

So I took this job trying to make words rhyme

Get it right half the time though my song be so uncertain"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A little bit psycho...

Professionally the last few weeks have been some of the most difficult that I've ever experienced.

After arriving back in Melbourne from the tour of "Two Brothers", I immediately immersed myself in the bump in of "Hitchcock Blonde", MTC's latest production.

Walking into a bump in without having been involved in any of the pre-production process isn't the easiest of things to do and, in this instance, was made infinitely more difficult by the fact that it quite a few people didn't see any need to achieve a lot of the things which would normally be done prior to the bump in done. It appears that the phrase "Graham will be back on Monday, so he can handle it then" was used quite a bit in the week leading up to my return.

As a result the last two weeks have been the epitome of hectic, with me racking up around 80 hours work in each week. Despite having been back for a fortnight, I have only just unpacked my suitcases.

Hopefully this week will be a touch more subdued, although I wouldn't bet on it...