by Naomi Johnson
It might be impossible to make a large warehouse space feel homely, but by day three of Playshop it had definitely taken on some cosy additions. A kettle, numerous varieties of tea, and enough musical gear to stage a national tour all made the space feel just that bit more lived-in and welcoming.
Wednesday had been a quiet day at Playshop, with Jane, Joe L. and Joe F. in situ working on individual creative projects but many others returning to their regular lives for a while. It was with delight that we arrived back on Thursday to find others, too, had been making good use of the space: music box friend James Hazel had been busy experimenting with sound sculptures, suspending metallic coils, a bell and a melodica from the imposing roof beams.
First off on Thursday morning was a visit from composer Damien Ricketson. Mugs of tea in hand, we settled down to chat about creative directions as the music box project, concepts of communal authorship, how to give works an ongoing life after their first performance and lots more. It was great to ask questions both of Damien and ourselves, bringing up new ideas and clarifying some existing ones.
The afternoon was a more relaxed affair, with several different projects existing simultaneously in the echo-filled space. Joe F continued work on a film score, then he and Naomi read through a new work for an upcoming Upstairs@AYH gig. Jane, not content with having catered a fabulous pasta and lentil lunch, built a pyramid of matting. By far the most unusual endeavour was a new sound installation mounting Liz's Aldi electric guitar on a pole and attaching fine nylon strings. Hissing, chirruping, sawing and more came through the amp, though from a distance it might seem that we weren't touching the guitar at all!
As the light changed and dimmed, we settled down for an in-dept discussion of Jaslyn Robertson's new work for soprano, theremin and six musicians. Jassy herself had arrived from Canada that morning, spending at few days with us at Playshop before winding her way home to Melbourne. Pens and highlighters in had, we discussed allocation of parts and what might fall into the different instrument categories of pitched, electronic and toy, along with the all-important techniques of playing a music box.
By now the darkness was complete, any final traces of light long gone on the year's shortest day. Time for pizza, more musical brainstorming and then a nighttime jam in honour of the winter solstice. With plenty of tea to fight the cold and a few sneaky candles for atmosphere, music and hilarity gave a glow of warmth that no heater could replicate.