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Storyology 2017 – After Dark

 

The concept of a ‘live magazine’ is one that has been experimented with overseas, with some success. The live journalism events as conceived by California’s Pop-Up Magazine has spawned European imitators such as France’s Live Magazine, and it is clearly these ground-breaking initiatives that Storyology is following with its opening night in Brisbane, Storyology After Dark: A Live Magazine.

 

As compere Trent Dalton pointed out more than once, the audience on this Thursday night could have had little idea of what to expect, and were greeted upon entry by a stage set comprising of a couple of chaise longues, a make-shift bar and a jazz trio. Amid this scene 10 journalists were on hand to recite pre-prepared stories ranging from the personal or confessional to the political or societal according to their interests and expertise. Each ‘performance’ represented an ‘article’ in the live magazine – and it even had a behind-the-scenes editor, long-serving journalist David Leser.

 

Among the more personal stories, actor and writer William McInnes told of a childhood episode involving his father and backyard sports; newsreader and author Tracey Spicer recounted some early-career on-air gaffes; and Nakkiah Lui, playwright and actor, told a graphic and powerful tale of family history, grief and the chaos of relationships during early adulthood.

 

These pieces, which were more memoir or personal essay than journalism, can be contrasted with some of the more reportage-based stories based on the author’s research and observation of the wider world. One of these came from intrepid freelancer Jo Chandler, who covered members of the Von Trapp family (immortalised in The Sound of Music) relocating to Papua New Guinea as missionaries in the 1960s. Crime reporter Dan Box explored the highly topical case of Zak Grieve, and Andrew Quilty offered a number of stark, sad vignettes from his time as a photojournalist based in Kabul. Arguably the best of these, however, came from Triple J’s Sarah McVeigh, who offered a preview of her forthcoming podcast, How Do You Sleep At Night?, by recounting the story of a Brisbane white supremacist convicted of murdering two gay men in 1994.

 

All of these recitals involved the performer standing at a lectern and reading their prepared story. While all were fascinating in their own way, one could say there is little to distinguish this from the theatrical form that is storytelling, something like The Moth or even a glorified open-mic. Perhaps with this in mind, to close the night Dalton himself opted for something a little different. Writing for The Australian earlier this year, Dalton profiled Leong Lau, a Malaysian-Australian who recorded a number of “surreal psychedelic funk” albums in the 1970s. A cult figure, Lau’s records such as That Rongeng Sound sell for up to $2,000 on Ebay, such is their rarity. In adapting his feature article to a live setting, Dalton brought along Brisbane-based Lau himself, who leapt about the stage hollering and whooping and blowing into a flute, the 66-year-old’s exuberance occasionally interfering with Dalton’s storytelling. This element of spontaneity and spectacle was a welcome departure from the rest of the evening’s more one-dimensional – though always passionate and intellectually vigorous – fare. The live magazine concept has definite legs and as Dalton proved, can encompass diverse styles of delivery. It is an event that can be explored and expanded by Storyology next year.


Barnaby Smith was awarded with a Storyology Regional Scholarship
courtesy of The Walkley Foundation and with the support of
The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Newsmodo are proud to work with journalists
who are recognised for their outstanding work in their field.

Congratulations Barnaby!