Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of Samuel Williams and Mario Pilla as Masters of Ceremony (Which They Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)

On the 27th of May 2011 was scheduled an event so grand and glorious that twice the Masters of Ceremony were required to keep everything under control. We, Samuel Williams and Mario Pilla, were reluctant heroes, but after much persuasion, dutifully pledged ourselves to the roles of host and reviewer for this day of days — this Speakeasy of Speakeasys. Imagine our embarrassment when we arrived in nigh identical attire: an integrative display of formalwear and lazywear. Yet despite wardrobe surprises, the show went on, and to great success.

Our courageous Flinders writers were able to decisively debunk that age-old myth – that writers are solitary creatures who find interaction with real human beings baffling – and they did indeed make speaking look easy. Determined not to be outmatched by the free wine and chips, they served up a delicious menu of prose, poetry and drama, and took great pleasure in fusing the flavours of all three. Troy Benson delivered an especially dramatic poetry reading, hunched over the microphone while hissing his lines at a breathless pace. Marcus Doherty slipped in and out of character to read both parts of his script – a feat made easy by the sheer breadth of expression conveyed in his eyebrows. Miles Trench’s Imprints-prize-winning piece ‘Quick’ breathed poetic life into what looked like a paragraph of prose. There was even a surprise appearance by Russian dramatist and novelist Nikolai Gogol, channelled by Dennis Wild.

As the wine flowed and reader after reader took to the stage, the atmosphere became so welcoming that even the smallest member of the audience couldn’t resist joining the festivities with a display of her pram-pushing prowess. Works ranged from the gory and the chilling – tales of carnivorous circuses, blazing evocations of self-immolation and the unspeakable, yet spoken, horror of ducks – to the uplifting and uproarious – lyrical love poetry, and all-too-true accounts of airline travel.

It has been a pleasure to watch the Speakeasy movement grow from a humble gathering of students and academics into a burgeoning Flinders tradition. Under the guidance of our tireless committee, Speakeasy is becoming more than simply an opportunity for students to read their work in a relaxed and supportive environment – it is connecting young writers with student magazines, local literary journals and even writers festivals. In addition to showcasing undergraduate creative writing at the upcoming Flinders Open Days in August, Speakeasy public readings at the Wheatsheaf hotel in September, there is also a rumor that Speakeasy readers may be sharing their talents with audiences at Adelaide Writers Week in 2011. We know these developments would have made Fabienne Bayet-Charlton, a founding member of the Speakeasy committee who is tragically no longer with us, very proud. Fab reviewed the first ever Speakeasy we attended, and (in addition to delivering a much more punctual review than either of us could manage) she did us the favour of summing up our sentiments perfectly: 'It's a luxury to travel together when traditionally writing and reading are solitary practices, so thank you for the journey.' We look forward to seeing where this journey will take us, and our fellow students, in the years to come.

Samuel Williams is a second year student in the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) at Flinders University and an overenthusiastic bookseller at Mostly Books. His fiction has been published in Voiceworks magazine and this year he was a judge for the ABA's Indie Book Award in the Debut Fiction category. He hopes to work somewhere in the book industry after graduating - ideally as an author.

Mario Pilla's a second-and-a-half year Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) student at Flinders University.


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