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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

"Thirteen Ways to look at Birds" -a review

Last saturday night my wife and I went to see this show,"thirteen ways---", at the Adelaide Town Hall.

As a birdwatcher and keen bird photographer I went with some enthusiasm.

Sadly we both came away un-inspired.

I will start with the positives first.

 The music was very brilliant as was each of the individuals making up the seraphim trio (Anna Goldworthy,Helen Ayres and Tim Nankervis), Paul Kelly,James Ledger and Alice Keath.

They are all brilliant artists and it was our first experience of Paul Kelly.

When we arrived and were waiting to get started I said to the lady next to me: "It is hard to imagine that all these people are bird enthusiasts or bird watchers."

When the artists came out on stage it was obvious to me by the audience reaction that they weren't here to learn about birds or necessarily celebrate them.

The audience was mainly older people and two couples in front of us were all the way from Sydney.

Such is the popularity of the Adelaide Festival.

There was much applause and an almost standing ovation at the end of the concert which brought all the artists out for an encore.

They were certainly brilliant at what they  did.

I asked my wife what she thought as we made our way out.

"Very dreary"

So my criticisms.

I will put a link below to an enthusiastic review of this show.

1. I thought we would have birds as the main event with artists supporting them with poetry and song and music.
Not a bird to be seen.
I was expecting a visual backdrop as is shown in the advertising material.
A brilliant sunset with a flock of birds.

2. Many of the poems were not Australian and featuring Australian Birds. The words were supplied ,with the programme, of the poems but it was too dark to read along with the performance.
Paul Kelly's singing and spoken word was lost in the acoustics and the at times surround sound.

3.Attempts at various bird noises were lost on me.

4. The music did not evoke anything to do with birds for me.

My hopes for someone doing this again.

1. Make the birds the focal point and vocal point.

2. Base your show on the many wonderful Australian writings about birds.

C J Dennis wrote a whole book of Australian poems about birds called the singing garden.
You can read it online here.

There is also a wonderful book called "Birds of Paradox" edited by Jack Pollard.

Also any attempts at this should recognise that you can't out perform real birds.

And here are Thirteen Ways to look at birds.

1. Sit down in your back garden with a cup of tea and watch. It helps if you have established a bird friendly garden.

2. Go to a Zoo or specialist aviaries

3. Watch the myriads of bird programmes online.

4. Join a bird watching club or group. seek out friends who  love bird watching.

5. Take out your camera and perfect the art of bird photography.

6. Invest in some binoculars

7. By a good bird identification field guide

8. Go on a bird watching tour.

9. Buy a good DVD set on birds such as David Attenborpough's set on birds.

10. Travel overseas to seek out bird watching experiences.

11. Start breeding birds yourself.

12. Listen to all the beautiful bird song recorded on the "Listening Earth" website and be inspired. 

13. If you ever get the possibility to see "Ode to Nonsense" about Edward Lear the nonsense poem writer and noted bird artist, do so.

And here is a link to a more positive review as promised.

PS Paul Kelly did speak about our need to protect birds and contribute in any way we can. Good on him.

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