Tuesday, September 27, 2011


It's not easy to find information on the experimental performance group Tribe I joined in 1969 so I have gathered some quotes and links here to help put a picture together, mostly from the Pram Factory site put together by Sue Ingleton. Tribe eventually merged with the Australian Performing Group at the Pram in the early seventies.

Early Tribe(Melb) L-R Fay Mokotow, Nick, Jane Clifton, Bill Doblo,Jan Bucknall, Carol Porter, Jan Cornall, Doug Anders

"Carol Porter. I met her at la Mama when she was in Tribe. I was well disposed towards Tribe. I liked the people and had quite a bit to do with them especially later when they joined the Pram Factory I sustained that connection. Doug Anders. I hitchhiked to Queensland with Alice when she was five. We were going to visit Lou Costello. At Maleny I found Doug Anders in a converted milking shed, beautiful country, and we went out each morning stark naked with a hoe. We stayed there for a while. Later I heard he was growing herbs or nuts. He did a production of the Hills Family Show. He did my role of Sandringham and he had to get the secret of the mind reading act."

"Tribe was around with Doug Anders. They were very influenced by Joe Chaikin’s work and did performances at La Mama where the audience looked through little holes in the  wall into the performance and they performed the Plague, dying horribly in audiences’ laps. I was friendly with them but I only got to work with them later on Bert Deling’s film Dalmas. (in 1973) Peter Handke’s Ride across Lake Constance brought some of Tribe into the Back Theatre.  Alan Robertson was directing, Carol Porter and Red Symons and Jane Clifton were all performing.  Alan broke his leg in a motorcycle accident in the last week or so before it opened and I stepped in to get the show on. It was a great production."

Richard Murphet says
 "When I returned to Australia in 1970, the APG had moved to the Pram from La Mama and the kind of work that was being done - the shows investigating the various aspects of Australian history - were not the type that I could at that time relate to. So my connections then were to the surreal improvisations of Tribe which were full of crazy humour and always seemed to hover between panic and terror. The people I got to know through Tribe were Alan Robertson, Fay Mokotow, Frank Starrs9, Jane Clifton, Carol Porter and Bob Daly."
The Great Stumble Forward performing in a Carlton Park

"TRIBE - experimental theatre group directed by Doug Anders and which performed at La Mama, the Pram Factory and in the streets. ( 1969 - 1972.) Co-directed A Ride Across Lake Constance by Peter Handke at the Pram Factory.

Rob Tillet (from the Adeaide band Red Angel Panic) says
Viet Rock was a play performed at Adelaide University by in 1969,
directed by Doug Anders, featuring among others Margot Nash. Doug
(originally from Brisbane I think) had a theatre group called Tribe,
which went on to greater things in Melbourne. I wrote the music or most
of it, as it's a bit blurry now (if you can remember the 60's you
weren't there etc etc). It was based on the US play, but Doug's method
was to form a group that then more or less reinvented the script (if
there was one). In fact the Red Angel Panic was first formed in 1968 to
work with Doug in an absolutely incredible piece called Rites
Underground, which was performed at Theatre 62. This led to us forming a
theatre/poetry/dance performance group called Holocaust (an Adelaide
version of Tribe), and we put on some plays here and there, published
magazines, did some poetry readings, and various street theatre events,
along with a vast amount of revolutionary fervour. We were known as the
"Psychedelic Left" Hahaha. It was always a spiritual journey for me,
rather than a political one.

 Mic Conway ( Captain Matchbox ) says
In the early days I’d worked with ‘Tribe’. Tribe was a group that were weaving in and out of the areas that I yearned towards and with people like Alan Robertson, Doug Anders etc. I found the basis of my future work. In one of our performances I remember we were once headlined in Truth newspaper. There was Margaret, a woman from Tribe, who was playing a vamp on a sofa and all the guys walked in as Charlie Chaplin and had (simulated) sex with her to the song, ‘Who walks in when I walk out?’ Truth wrote it up as ‘Sex in Rock shows!’

Conference Transcript Day 1, Session 4,aspects of the New Wave, Panel.
"In Brisbane when I was a student we had The Tribe and Doug Anders and there were all the influences from Europe and America. We don't call them group gropes any more; we call them crutch and armpit exercises. You would be naked from top to toe and have your nose up someone's private part." 

Stephen Cummings writes about Tribe in his memoir - Will it be Funny Tomorrow Billy
Tribe's leader/director Doug Anders was his english teacher and as a school boy he often used to visit the big hippy house where Tribe members lived in South Yarra.

Doug Anders and the Tribe - 2 copies
"Tribe was in existence before I joined in 1969 and had sister groups in Adelaide (Margot Nash) and Brisbane (Bob and Barb Daly)
One hot summer (must have been 1970) we took our big cast production of Megan Terry's Viet Rock and performed it on the campus of Adelaide Uni."

Carol Porter has the best memory on Tribe:
"Tribe was where I began. Alison Ware and myself went to a summer school of drama at Brighton Girls School where, initially, Jim Sharman was teaching the course, but then Jim had to leave to do something else so Doug Anders took over the second half, and it was out of that that we formed the Melbourne Tribe. It was a totally new concoction from the Queensland original. Doug Anders stayed on in Melbourne and  the group  that formed around him included Bob Daly, his wife Barb, Fay Mokotow, Jan Cornall, Alan Robertson, Bruce Spence- who was with me in art school at RMIT and myself. The first show we did was ‘Saturday’ by Barry Mc Kimm at La Mama, that was the one that was made up from newspaper stories and ‘Programme A and B’, which consisted of ‘Serpent’ and ‘Viet Rock’, and we subsequently took that show to Adelaide. The cast by then included Jude Kuring and Jan Bucknall (who is now in America), Bruce Webster, Jane Clifton, Lutz Presser, et al.

A whole stream of people who eventually were going to veer into the Pram kept working at La Mama for a number of years. Bob Thorneycroft and Joe Bolza did ‘My  Foot, My Tutor’, and Fay Mokotow did a  production of ‘Punch and Judy’ with Michael Price and Alan Robertson. I think it was on Fay's initiative that we did  Peter Handke’s ‘Ride Across Lake Constance’, she’d read the script in a TDR and she really wanted to put it on. I remember we went to an APG meeting and asked if we could do it in the Back Theatre Space. ‘Lake Constance’, in ‘73 was the first time I performed at the Pram. The cast included Red Symons and Jan Cornall. I remember it was a gorgeous set, Stephen someone from RMIT who was a friend of mine did the set. Just before ‘Lake Constance’, I was performing with bands alongside the work with Tribe. Then I had a break. I got married to Bruce Woodcock the musician who lived in a double decker bus. I don't know why I got married, maybe because it was something to do. It lasted eight months and then it was over.  By then I had lost touch with Tribe, who had gone on and done other things. Later Doug Anders moved to north Queensland and lived on a commune for twenty years. He came down to Melbourne a couple of years ago and we had lunch but I didn't connect with him after that."

Ride Across Lake Constance. L-R, Red Symons, Jan Cornall, Pudding, Carol Porter

Jan Cornall says
 In 1967 I was studying Speech and Drama at Melbourne Teachers College. Peter Green and Max Gillies were among my tutors. I flunked all my subjects except Drama (got an HD) and decided to go to a theatre summer school run by Jim Sharman and dance guru Margaret Barr.There I met Doug Anders, Joe Bolza, Carol Porter, Alison Ware and others and we formed the Melbourne chapter of Tribe. There were already cells in Brisbane (Bob and Barb Daly and others) and Adelaide (Margo Nash). Doug was the leader and asked for total committment. He didn't really need to ask. We were happy to spend all our week nights and weekends improvising and rehearsing.We did a lot of Artaud inspired guerilla/street theatre and did our first theatre show, Saturday, by musician Barry McKimm, at La Mama in 1969 (see cast below). The script consisted of headlines from newspapers which were written on a black board and acted out in repetition.One of the headlines was about a bikie gang doing bad things. We found some real bikers who rode their big loud motorbikes up to the carpark outside, banged on the tin fence and terrified everyone inside. Allan Robertson was one of the bikers. Bruce Spence was in it, Jude Kuring, Jane Clifton and more (see below).

We were spending all our time together.Doug, Alison and Joe rented an old Toorak mansion. Some people lived in La Basa. I moved into the second Tribe mansion in South Yarra with Alan Robertson, Fay Mokotow, Doug and numbers of others who came and went including Paul Bailey, Bill Doblo. Around the same time the APG - Australian Performing Group - Kerry Dwyer, Graeme Blundell, Allen Finney, Bill Garner, Meg Clancy, Peter Cummins and many more, were resident at La Mama. We came together for some workshops and to lead the Vietnam Moratorium marches with street theatre.

 I left Tribe in 1971 to go out teaching and worked that year with Syd Clayton at La Mama in Hands Down Gourds.In 1972 I went travelling to the Adelaide Festival with a bunch of Melbourne poets including Chris Mann (we became Allen Ginsberg's unofficial entourage). I went north for a year or so and when I came back Doug had split and most of Tribe were doing work at The Pram Factory. I acted in the Ride Across Lake Constance by Peter Handke (which could have been the last official Tribe production), opposite Red Symons and Carol Porter and the cast mentioned above, in the Back Theatre at the Pram. It was a brilliant production seen by so few (performed in the dead of winter with no heating). I decided to give up theatre and concentrate on music. I took off for a four year stint overseas.When I got back former Tribe members were either working at the Pram Factory or doing their own thing.


TRIBE SHOWS (not all listed)
SATURDAY-Barry McKimm.                                                                   feb 1969
Dir: Doug Anders. Cast: Doug Anders, Joe Bolza, Fay Mokotow, Carol Porter, Alan Robertson, Jan Cornall, Alison Ware, Jane Clifton, Lutz Presser, Bruce Webster, Bruce Spence, Jenny Jones, Judith Kuring, Jan Bucknall.

PROGRAMME ’A’                                                                                       July 1969
Dir Doug Anders cast:Carol Porter , Alison Ware, Jan Cornall, Joe Bolza, Doug Anders, Frank Starr,

Dir Doug Anders cast: Carol Porter , Ines Martucci, Fay Mokotow, Jan Bucknall, Susie Wolf, Irene Crombie, Mandy Pearce, Jane Nisbet, Eric Colladetti, Bruce Webster, Alan Robertson, Frank Starr, Doug Anders


STREET THEATRE AT VIETNAM MORATORIUM                        8/5 1970

Other shows:

The Hieronymous Bosch Hour,  La Mama.

The Serpent by Jean Clude van Itallie.

Viet Rock by Megan Terry. Adelaide Uni, 1969.

Art Gallery Happenings including performing excerpts of the Serpent at the opening of the Victorian Art Gallery main hall.

Plague Scene Public Events (inspired by Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty).

Working with bands at The TF Much Ballroom including Spectrum and others.

RMIT Show - an experiential performance involving tons of soil in a basement.

Melb Uni Event- a plastic experience extravaganza where you crawled through plastic tunnels and slid into a pond of jelly  - at Melb Uni swimming pool.

The Ride Across Lake Constance by Peter Handke, directed by Allan Robertson, Robyn Laurie, Jane Clifton, actors included Carol Porter, Red Symons, Pudding, Jan Cornall and more.  

Films - The Firm Man, dir. John Duigan - Tribe played itself.
          - Dalmas, dir. Bert Deling, a number of Tribe members took part.
          - Pure Shit, dir Bert Deling with some Tribe members and associates.

The Pram Factory

This information has been gathered by Jan Cornall from linked websites.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Failing In Love Again - a musical cabaret

"When composer Friedrich Hollaender back in 1929, wrote the original version of Falling In Love Again for Sternberg's Blue Angel, he could not have forseen that in 1979 a brilliant writer/composer Jan Cornall, would cleverly paraphrase this title into the entertaining Failing In Love Again cabaret. The comparison between the two themes is not so far fetched. Cornall's cabaret artists blare out the summary of their sexual disenchantment in a way that makes us laugh, chuckle and nod our heads."
                                                                                     The Australian Jewish News 1979

Standing Up Bent - Woman on the Run (one woman play) plus Aroma Billings - multi cultural waitress.

"Comic genius! Standing up Bent is the expression of a remarkable comedienne. Jan Cornall shows us that a persons saving grace is the ability to laugh - at one's self"
                                                                                                        Canberra Times 1983

 Escape From a Better Place - play
" A witty clever comic cry for liberation from the tyranny of the materialism of modern urban societies and the constraints of the weary treadmills of working and domestic life.
                                                                                                         Canberra Times 1987

Talk - feature film starring Victoria Longley, Angie Milliken , Richard Roxborough.
Directed by Susan Lambert, screenplay by Jan Cornall.
Nominated for AFI best actor award.

" Brimming with female revelations, erotic conversations and frank and funny disclosure. These are women who don't simply talk, but as we see by the films conclusion, are empowered by their mutual support and easy confidence, to act as well."
                                                                                                             Cinema Papers 1994

At the Crossroads  - a musical about women on the land
Written by Jan Cornall.
Musical arrangements, additional songs and melodies by Chrissie Shaw.
Directed by Camilla Blunden.

"This is Australian theatre of the best traditional kind: entertaining in a slightly larrikin way, encouraging the audience to clap, cheer and whistle while also eliciting silent appreciation of the reality of peoples lives in the bush. Issues  are confronted through the women's stories, gathered in research across the nation, not in an ideological way but with humanity, humour and sensitivity to the complexities of land ownership, ecological degradation, love loyalty and spirituality."
                                                                                                       Canberra Times  1997

Hanging Onto The Tail Of A Goat - a solo performance by Tibetan/Australian, Tenzing Tsewang
Written by Jan Cornall from stories told by Tenzing Tsewang.
Directed by Brian Joyce.
Produced by Sabina Lauber.

 "Writer Jan Cornall has worked with Tenzing’s stories to produce a cyclically anecdotal.. reflection of this man’s life.... uses humour and lightness to tell a story redolent with loss, injustice and suffering. As my companion observed - a whisper can be louder than a scream. The jaded postmodern eye is surely confounded by this ingenuous, peaceful and honest work. There is very little theatrical drama, no tension or angst. With all the injustices and atrocities, hardships and disappointments that this man has suffered you’d expect to see anger, grief, resentment or questioning in the face of the loss of his country, wife and child. But there is none. Instead, a gentle recount delivered with respect and equanimity. Tenzing Tsewang demonstrates rather than tells the practice of Buddhism and refuses hectic and exhausting emotionalism. Under floating video clouds he allows us to contemplate the paradox of happiness, injustice and impermanence."
                                                                                                          Realtime Arts 2001

Performance at Utan Kayu Literary Biennale, Jakarta - performance poetry
Lauren Williams and Jan Cornall joined international and local writers and poets in an Indonesian three cities performance - Bandung, Lampung and Jakarta

"Poets Cornall, Williams: Artists are Ambassadors
Williams and  Cornall both feel that raising the profile of Indonesian literary artists can only be good for their country and conversely their own experience has shown the Indonesian public are eager and ready for such exposure. Cornall has found her own amusing subject in the helplessness of foreign participants to find their way during the tour. 'I'm lost', she recites (in Indonesian language  - Aku tersesat!) full of pathos and despair. The impromptu piece follows one such participant on a quest for milk for their tea, unable to locate a grocery store nearby. The poem ends with the character finally finding the store and milk only to turn around and moan - now where is the hotel? "
                                                                                                    The Jakarta Post 2005

Take Me To Paradise - novel
published by Saritaksu Editions 2006

While Cornall's first work of prose -- she has previously written plays, poetry, songs and a screenplay -- explores underlying themes of abandonment, self-denial and loss, it is never pedantic nor forced in their treatment, and at times borders on self-effacing. Instead, what stands out is her sense of humor, one that finds the comic in all encounters, especially the absurd and awkward.

Cornall's humor is particularly apparent in Marilyn's imagined monologues, whether to explain why she is going to Bali to the passenger beside her on the plane, or as she ponders over her past and relives experiences in full view of the reader -- such as her fumbling experiment with Internet dating.
These monologues are so honest, genuine and stark in their effortless delivery that one begins to suspect that Take Me to Paradise is semi-autobiographical.

And in the end, her escape is one that turns into a journey, not so much of self-discovery as one of self-awakening -- of senses and sensuality, independence and individuality. Paradise, in this sense, exists within oneself.

Part travel journal, part diary, Take Me to Paradise is a gem of a novella likely to become a well-worn travel companion.
                                                                                       Chisato Hara, The Jakarta Post, 2006

Take Me To Paradise - stage show based on Jan's novel of the same name.
Written, produced by Jan Cornall
Directed by Brian Joyce
Music by Deva Permana, Wendy Angerrani
Puppetry by Jumaadi
Poems and performance by Sitok Srengenge

"A combination of autobiography, cabaret and narrative, 'Take Me To Paradise'
was not only a superb entertainment achieved through a fusion of song, poetry
and cultural effects, but was provocative, ironic, funny and thoughtful. Jan
Cornall's vibrant energy matched and meshed with Sitok Strengenge's deep,
meditative and powerful poetic voice to provide the fluctuating rhythms which
made the evening so memorable. Supported by puppetry, traditional percussion
and tasteful jazz, 'Take Me To Paradise' was one of the highlights of the
OzAsia Festival. It made us re-think art and life ... what little difference
there is between them when talents combine and cultures intermingle to share
their history and their laughter."

                              Brian Castro, Chair of Creative Writing, University of Adelaide, 2008.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Indonesian Spontan

This is a great example of Indonesian spontan. I arrived that morning at Gampingan in Jogjakarta where all the Performance Klub artists were hanging out and Made Suryadharma said he needed some performers for his piece which was opening the Jogja Gallery exhibition that night. So we tossed around some ideas and this was the end result.
Made had made a bed that was completely covered in  a plastic photo design of garbage. Rio (white face to my left) and I entered and sat on the bed watching a television screen playing Gore's documentary The Inconvenient Truth. I had with me a bag of MacDonalds food ( fries and fillet of fish was the best I could do) and proceeded to eat it and simultaneously throw it up at the same time while continuing to watch the screen with a deadpan no interest expression. I can't remember what Rio was doing (singing?), then Louie and Made entered with guns they had made from plastic bottles and had a pretend gun battle killing each other off and collapsing on the bed. I kept eating and vomiting and swallowing my food back again.

At some point Rio and I got up and left leaving the boys on the bed as the crowds moved onto the next exhibit. the fascinating thing for me was watching Rio prepare amd perform. It was like looking at myself decades ago - the whiteface, the way she dressed, moved, spoke. I saw my 19 year old self as I must have looked when I was working in experimental performance with Tribe at La Mama and around town in public places in Melbourne in the late 60's. As if this picture below shows my two selves - young woman, older woman - and on the bed (front), my graphic artist son, Louie who joined me on this trip.

Mom and Her Bastard Sons, Yogyakarta, 2006

This is another highlight of my performing life. In 2006 during my Asia Link Residency in Indonesia I met a performance artist, Ronald Aprian. He invited me to come to Jogja and said he could help find artists for me to work with.  I turned up not long after to meet with a group of artist/ musicians who were all studying at ISI, Jogja's famous art school. I handed out  some of my poems to these guys, most of whom were in two noise bands called Black Ribbon and Sentimental Au Go Go plus a couple of sound/DJ artists, Phyto and Latex and percussionist Gurit. We were all a bit unsure at first but when they found out my fave artists were Patti Smith, Nico and Poly Styrene and the X Ray Specs I think they knew what direction we could take. We decided to aim for a performance a couple of weeks hence and Krisna came up with a name for our project - Mom and Her Bastard Sons.   Brilliant yes  - as it turned our age difference (they were all in their early twenties) into a win/win, enabling me to be a cool errant mum/mentor to my very cool wayward boys.
I left to work on other projects and returned 10 days later for rehearsals and a one off performance at Homesick Bar Blues Bar on Jalan Tirtodipuran. It was a LOT of fun!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Barong Song, Festival Mata Air, 2009

This has to be one of the most enjoyable moments of my life - jamming with Exi and Bessie Pop in the chillout tent at Festival Mata Air near Salatiga, Indonesia. Bessie, a wild creatif who wears many hats and I were improvising while Exi an also wild artiste extraordinare, disappeared into the Barong costume. A fabulous sound artist was playing his laptop and the Barong, Bessie and I had an extraordinary sung/wailed/intoned dialogue that went on for ages causing many around to stop what  they doing elsewhere and investigate this strangely erotic primordial mating song. In the bottom pic the barong getting ready to swallow Bessie (the cowering, quivering black shape) whole.

Perurbance #2, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

In 2006 I took part in this performance art festival on Malioboro St, Yogyakarta.
My ten minute performance was called 'Bulls Eye Mudra'. The theme of the festival was education and we had to use the desks and blackboard in some way. The point of my performance was how an action of violence can just as easily become a mudra of peace. I demonstrated with gestures and on the blackboard and attempted to teach the unruly students this idea. They were so badly behaved and apathetic that in the end I had to dismiss the class at gunpoint.

Hanging Onto The Tail Of A Goat - a Tibetan Journey

In 2000 I worked with Tibetan Australian musician Tenzing Tsewang and director Brian Joyce to create this one man show. It was performed by Tenzing at the Performance Space, the Sydney Opera House Studio, Penrith Theatre, Wollongong Arts Centre and the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. Sadly Tenzing Tsewang passed away in 2007 but he is remembered hear in these great pics from this memorable show. See review here.