Explore the 2024 Program

Festival Blog: Sneaking into rehearsals

Jonathan Seidler’s performance teaches my goosebumps how to grow their own goosebumps.

It’s Wednesday afternoon and I am busy gathering hot goss for this blog. In full sleuth mode, I’m even wearing a trench coat. I’ve snuck into the tech run of It’s A Shame About Ray: Rearranged and I’ve smuggled in a veggie burrito. I am here for three core reasons;

One. I finished reading Jonathan’s book, It’s A Shame About Ray (Allen and Unwin, 2022), on the flight here. In related news, a flight attendant offered me a water, and realised my eyes were a BYO fountain situation.

Two. I have my own in-conversation with Nakkiah Lui on Thursday night, so I’ll be racing to Jonathan’s performance from my book signing, and I wasn’t going to miss a beat. You may spot me rushing in like a passionate fan who skipped the opening band.

Three. Like Jonathan, music made me who I am. The bands I love make my brain feel like a much more survivable place.

Captivated, I stay for two full tech rehearsals. I laugh aloud. I feel grateful I’m not wearing mascara. Jonathan Seidler’s performance teaches my goosebumps how to grow their own goosebumps.

Seidler builds a drum kit. The movements are familiar, comfortable, known. You can tell he’s done this hundreds of times. Simultaneously, he builds a story equally as resonant. In Seidler’s book It’s A Shame About Ray, he writes of the silence surrounding sadness, and he writes about it through the volume of bands like Linkin Park. What was once loud, now has a rhythm, a beat, a microphone placed in front of it (or more specifically today, taped to its face, Britney Spears style).

I’ll finish with a spoiler ...

Jonathan Seidler spends the whole time building the kit, talking to you about what it would mean to hit the drums, what beats he might bring, but then edges you to a peak that never crests. He taps the sticks three times above his head, the audience salivating, on edge, gasped and ready for the release of this pre-emptive drumbeat. We have waited a lifetime for this. Yet Jonathan never hits the drums. The symbol stays as a symbol. Where there could and should be more, there is only an eerie absence. Yet the sense of what could’ve been, is so loud it fills the room, like a memory we all forgot until right now. 

– Madison Godfrey 

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