14 September 2012


For the entirety of last week, someone in the University of Sydney administration thought it would be a great idea to give my degree a random week off in the middle of semester as a mini “stuvac” before our exams the following week. Cue a week of deactivating Facebook, vetoing all social events, locking myself into the gilded prison-with-a-view of Fisher level 4 and studying non-stop from 8am to 10pm with only one 30-minute break a day for lunch…

Oh yeah, that was everybody else in my degree, as the week of my stuvac also happened to coincide with an epic line-up of USU events, and in the classic method of rationalization that procrastinators do so well (if I go to USU stuff, then I’m technically working, and everybody knows on the hierarchy of stuvac priorities that work > study > fun, right? Right??) 

Anyway, I am so very glad that I decided to turn my stuvac into a USUvac, because last week turned out to be one of the best weeks of my year. Hooked already? Read on…

SUDS Performance of “The Country”

After an hour of radio with Rhys on Monday night in the SURG studio, I decided to kick on to the other side of the Holme Building to see the SUDS performance of “The Country” at Studio B. My decision to see The Country was one of those spontaneous “I’m going to say yes to this email” decisions that I made without asking whether anyone else would be able to come with me or even finding out what this play was about. However like many spontaneous decisions, this turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made, because The Country was one of the most intimate and intense experiences I’ve ever had whilst watching a performance. On one hand, Studio B is an incredible performance space, with the audience almost spilling over onto the stage and the actors performing literally meters in front of you. The play itself was brilliantly directed and performed, with the pregnant pauses between the dialogue saying almost as much as the words themselves and the screechy violins and dimming lanterns between each scene fostering an atmosphere of tension and edginess that was impossible not to get caught up in. This play was selected to be part of the Festival of Australian Student Theatre in Brisbane, so massive congratulations to all involved, especially director (and SUDS President) Brenden Hooke! As someone with minimal play watching experience I know I will definitely be attending more SUDS plays in the future, and with a seemingly never-ending repertoire of plays being staged every few weeks at the Cellar theatre, there are plenty of opportunities!

Interfaith Week Women’s Panel: Can you be a Religious Feminist?

In what I decided to take to be a divine sign telling me not to study, the USU’s second annual Interfaith Week also happened to coincide with my study vacation. As holder of the USU Women’s Portfolio I was asked to moderate the Interfaith Week women’s discussion panel on the topic “Can you be a religious feminist?” Featuring a fascinating and formidable panel of speakers including Eva Cox, Uniting Church Reverend Elenie Poulos, Muslim women’s rights activist Reeme Allouche, Venerable Yeshe Chodron and Rabbi Allison Conyer, what ensued was a fiery and thought provoking debate about the issues surrounding the role of women ascribed by our contemporary society. To be honest I was ridiculously nervous to be moderating such a panel, but by the end of the discussion I simply felt honoured and humbled to be sharing a room with such intelligent, passionate and articulate women. After such a great experience being a part of that panel I am definitely looking to organize more panel discussions around contentious issues affecting women in our society, so watch this space!

Queer Revue

First revue up for the week was my Thursday night viewing of Queer Revue, “The Mister Sister Act”. Both brilliantly trashy and trashily brilliant, I was subjected to way more man-butt than I’ve ever seen before, was scarred by the image of my good friend and producer of my radio show Annie Wylie stuffing her face full of cake dressed as Gina Rineheart, and in a strangely moving and beautiful display of audience interaction, bellowed out with the entire Revue cast and audience the chorus to “We are from Oxford Street”- the Queer Revue rendition of the classic primary school nationalist theme, “We are Australian”. Queer Revue directors Joseph Ist and Gayda Medessa I salute you, you put together a ridiculously fun show, with a special shout out going to Michael Koziol who managed to reincarnate himself every few scenes in a variety of comical but slightly disturbing characters.

Interfaith Dinner

On Friday night, Interfaith Week concluded with a formal dinner to celebrate what had been an immense week of awareness raising, thought-provoking discussion and healthy debate.  Interfaith week directors Lawrence Muskitta and Louise Castle had been working on this festival for months and months, and it was a testimony to all that hard work and planning that the week ran as smoothly and successfully as it did. The dinner itself was a beautiful and intimate affair, featuring short speeches by various religious and non-religious students about how food plays a part in their celebrations and traditions.  There was also an obscure performance by a magician whose main trick was his ability to inhale 6 eggs into his mouth and then bizarrely exhale them out again, which distressed me on several levels but everybody else seemed to really enjoy it so what can you do! If anything, Interfaith Week has reminded me that although I may not understand, believe or enjoy certain things in the same way as my friends and peers (whether it be ways of perceiving and understanding the world, religious beliefs or even enjoyment of magic tricks) what is paramount is being able to respect their right to hold that belief, and being thankful that in our society we are privileged enough to be able to hold those beliefs openly and freely.

Science Revue

D-day for my final exam is in -2 days, so what to do on Saturday night? Go to Science Revue of course! Directed by the combined veritable forces of Adam Chalmers and Kay Pengelly, Sin(X) City was a cheerful and highly enthusiastic 2 hour long romp that mixed a slick film noir vibe with the unabashed and shameless fist-pump-the-air joy of Glee. The cast was obviously enamored with each other and the entire production felt like a big party, especially the bizarrely perfect ending to the first act. As someone who has zero marketable skills in the singing/dancing/acting arenas, seeing these revues provides me with a deep admiration (and in some cases a minor fan-crush) on all the people who perform in reviews and who I can truly say are legitimate triple threats.

And that brings week of USU-vac to an end! I may not have learned much about the subjects I was to be tested on the following week, but what I did gain was a renewed enjoyment and appreciation of the rich and diverse display of ideas, energy and talent that students at this university have- whether it be in heading up a club or society; directing a revue, a play or a festival; singing, dancing and acting skills; or even just being able to learn from, share and discuss your opinions with others in a respectful and intellectually stimulating environment- in my opinion, that’s what university is all about. And I am just so stoked I happen to go to a university where there are so many ways to engage with and appreciate all this talent that is flying around… exam procrastination has never been so fun.

Till next time,

Hannah Morris
Board Director 

No comments :

Post a Comment