Category: Editorial

Move It Or Lose It: The Fight to Save THE BUTTERFLY CLUB

The fate of an amazing Melbourne performance venue is in our hands…

By Myron My

I have been going to the Butterfly Club for a few years now and have had the opportunity to watch some amazing and varied shows there: ones that otherwise would not have seen the light of day had it not been for this curated venue. The Butterfly Club has given emerging and established performers the opportunity to create new works and have them watched by a welcoming and open-minded audience.

Since 1999, The Butterfly Club has presented more than 1300 new Australian works. It has given immensely to the theatre community in discovering and nurturing performers and now it needs our help. The Butterfly Club must relocate from South Melbourne to 256 Collins Street in the city centre in February 2013. Director Mr Simone Pulga said the move was due to the unbearable costs of operating in the current premises. “If we increased the cost of drinks to match the rise in rent, we’d have to charge $12.50 for a stubby. We must move The Butterfly Club to a better location.

The Butterfly Club 1

“Paradoxically, inner-city Melbourne has provided us with an affordable, long-term opportunity to create a new theatre space in an exciting unused building. The show room will be larger with more comfortable seating but the venue will remain just as intimate and quirky with the much-loved decor and regular shows moving with the venue,” he said.

The Butterfly Club has a sustainable arts model which doesn’t rely on any government subsidies and even though this model will be replicated in the new location it first needs funds specifically for the relocation and – when housing Australia’s largest collection of kitsch art – this is not going to be easy!

A community fundraising campaign is currently underway using the popular crowd-funding website Pozible. The campaign is embracing the ‘Buy A Brick’ phenomena, aptly designated ‘Cash For Kitsch’. Supporters will be able to adopt a piece of The Butterfly Club history from among its wondrous collection of miscellany, and ensure it has a home at the new venue.

The artist community including Tim Minchin, Eddie Perfect, Marieke Hardy, Dan Ilik, Tripod and many more have rallied behind the campaign, donating exclusive rewards and experiences. $130,000 is needed for the relocation, and it is hoped at least $20,000 of this can be raised via the crowd-funding campaign, which closes on 16 January.

The Butterfly Club is a Melbourne icon in the theatre, comedy and cabaret world and something we all need to band together over to ensure that it can continue to showcase our home-grown talent. To donate and get some seriously good rewards – not including the tingly feeling of doing something awesome – click for more information.


Geoffrey Rush already gave the shirt off his back…

Literally! Melbourne Cabaret Festival is desperate to raise the $15000 that will allow it to go ahead this year, and Geoffrey Rush offered his support with a limited addition Pirates of the Caribbean t-shirt being donated to the prize draw.

Although the t-shirt was soon won by a happy contributor, there are still lots of exciting offers for you to win when supporting this great campaign.

The unique reward list on the ‘crowdfunding’ website Pozible includes a wide variety of free tickets and memberships, a personalised caricature (only one left!), a private supper booth in the famous Spiegeltent, your own personal piano man for an evening, or a recorded bedtime story (!), a free burlesque class  or even a house cabaret!

With exceptional Melbourne and international cabaret artists like Amanda Palmer, Sammy J and Randy, Kaye Sera, Trevor Jones, Karin Muiznieks, Luke Escombe, Anne Edmonds and The Jane Austen Argument offering their services, your donation to save this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival immedately becomes an exciting prize pack: nothing like supporting a good cause and getting an fanastic reward of your choice!

However, this is THE LAST WEEK of the campaign, so if you don’t get in quick, not only do we miss out on once again rejoicing in one of the most vibrant, diverse and extraordinary music and performance festivals in Australia – you also miss out on your chance for a once-in-a-lifetime prize.

Cabaret in Melbourne has a well-earned reputation for exceptional and exciting performers and performances, and in recent years, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival has been the premiere showcase for the greatest local and international cabaret stars have to offer.

We don’t want to lose this!

Check out the campaign and the rewards for yourself HERE! 

Save Melbourne Cabaret Festival!

Phantom Fans in Furore Over LOVE NEVER DIES

An Unexpected Editorial

by Kim Edwards

Our inbox has been loaded lately with various long-winded emails as part of a campaign to spam theatre reviewers. The emails contain protestations in violent objection to or in passionate support of the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber musical to open in Melbourne.

Love Never Dies purports to be a sequel to the wildly successful Phantom of the Opera, and its latest season has prompted an extraordinary turf war among fans of the latter and former.  

Both sides have apparently concluded it is important for reviewers to know Love Never Dies is respectively awful/awesome, while insisting we are, of course, to write impartial reviews as we see fit.

As we foresee that a further deluge of such emails may be inevitable, we felt it was important to voice an opinion on behalf on Theatre Press reviewers.

We are yet to attend Love Never Dies, or to offer either a review or opinion on it*.  Theatre Press reviewers are requested always to give honest feedback, offer constructive critique, and point out the subjectivity of their stance: this is simply one person’s opinion.  

While we might remark on the audience’s reaction or the wider reception of the production, we have no interest in reading unsolicited reviews from fans or foes of any show who, despite their best rhetorical efforts, are seeking to influence us.

Theatre is a fickle and troublesome industry. Sometimes wonderful shows close too early, while poor shows manage to drum up extensive audiences.   Sometimes excellent productions do not appeal to a local crowd, and weak productions strike an unexpected chord.

But sometimes critically acclaimed does translate into universal popularity, whereupon spectacular musicals achieve all the fame and success they deserve, and the unsuccessful ones fall quietly into obscurity.  

Interestingly of course, public protests over ‘bad’ shows usually end in the latter being far more successful than they might otherwise have been…

Ultimately, this is all irrelevant for theatre reviewers.   There is a place for all forms and levels of theatre, and producers, composers and artists have every right to create any new shows they like for the mingled delight and despair of theatre audiences.

Whatever strange motivations are behind the recent spat of love/hate fan emails to Theatre Press, the actual effect is to imply our critical integrity and credibility is in question because we need reminders to offer unbiased opinions.

As theatre critics however, we always wish to support the industry we love, rigorously deny censorship by attending as many and varied performances as we can as open-mindedly as we can, and then constantly do our best to express an honest opinion and make an effort to link the right audiences with the right shows.   Every time.

If you like Love Never Dies, enjoy seeing it.   If you don’t like it, enjoy avoiding it.   If you have an opinion on a show, share it – but respect the rights of others to disagree.   However, if you think the way to share this opinion is to spam review sites – please think again.

*Edit: Since writing the above, we have attended the show and offered an opinion. You can find the review here.