Meet Rod Quantock

A whole raft of events for Sustainable Living Week (26 May–8 June) started in Whitehorse with a free evening of laughs from award-winning Australian comedian Rod Quantock OAM and his sustainability-themed show The Last Tim Tam.

Rod is known for his thought-provoking standup comedy and the ability to use laughter to focus a spotlight on the political issues. The Last Tim Tam takes a look at climate change and sustainability, subjects Rod is passionate about, has researched extensively and has spoken about in performances for the past decade. In a hilarious and thought provoking way he sets out to establish where we are, where we are going and what we can do when we get there.

Chris Gray caught up with Rod to probe the mind behind the comedy and found that, while quietly despairing of the future, he was passionate about influencing it positively. With regard to climate change, Rod declares

“We’ve missed the boat by 20 or 30 years on this issue, and the boat’s not coming back. Around these issues, there’s no federal government policy worth talking about; local governments are the most active in delivering sustainability to people. Ultimately that’s the way it has to be; it’s all going to be local in the future. There’ll be local communities living within their own footprint or not living at all”.

That’s what Sustainable Living is all about – about modified expectations and practical responses to living – and surviving – into the future. As Rod says about The Last Tim Tam, it’s about what people will miss, combining scientific research and academic collaboration to create a catalogue of what people will and won’t have, where they can and can’t live and what they can and can’t do in 2030.

“I chose 2030 because it’s close enough to be personal and far enough away to plan for. And what we plan for is key. At the moment it’s illegal to create a local area grid, but in the future this will have to happen to keep the power going”.

Rod is serious about the need to reimagine the future. He declares that he has read some pretty grim predictions, but even after subjecting those to due analysis he feels it is more than possible that we’ll lose a lot of things we take for granted, like national and international sporting events which countries aren’t going to be able to afford to host.

“When I go out to give this talk my job is to make it funny – if you can – but what I’d like to do is make people realise that it’s a lot later than they think, and that what they think about now has to change. The future is going to be extremely communal. I’d like to see councils pushing urban gardens; I’d like to see state governments changing legislation so that you can have a local power grid and that you can treat waste water and put it back into the system yourself. “

It’ll be a talk about encouraging people to think realistically, and it’ll be a talk about options. I always ask people to do something in the public sphere about this, whether it’s just writing letters, or volunteering for local environment group activities. And once you start doing those things you meet some really fantastic people. If you put a year into these activities your health improves, your sense of well-being improves, your sense of community improves – in ways that buying a flat plasma screen or buying a bigger car can’t do for you. There are so many benefits to people in living more modestly and sustainably and realistically”.

Rod started performing at university in the Architects Review. He acknowledges that the first things you do are generally autobiographical – even if you pretend they are not. “You can only write about what you know – and when you’re 18 or 19 what you know is pretty much yourself. I never found myself very interesting, but I found things that happened to me interesting. “When I was working with a group there was always some social and political awareness; but when I became a solo comedian I realised that comedy is a tool. You can talk about relationships, the football, getting drunk, or whatever you like – those things never interested me – but what does interest me is basically the things that I see that are wrong with the world. “Comedy is a tool, you can use it to change the world . . . that hasn’t happened! I often tell people I’m just Vera Lynn – I just keep the troops happy . . .”

See our What’s On page for times and location of Rod’s show – ‘The Last Tim Tam’.

50 Times a Winner- Box Hill Rotary Art Show

The Rotary Club of Box Hill celebrated the Golden Jubilee presentation of their Annual Art Show in the Box Hill Town Hall over the period November 13 to 16.

Many readers may remember that the original Box Hill Art Show was held on the plantation in the centre of Box Hill – about where the tram terminus is today. From humble beginnings with a handful of local artists and their paintings, today’s art show proudly exhibits some 800 paintings, drawing artists from the eastern seaboard of Australia.

The prestigious award at the Rotary Club’s Art Show is the Frederick McCubbin Medal Award – named for the early Australian Impressionist painter. Historians in the area will tell you that the early Australian masters (circa 1880) painted many of their works at the Box Hill Artists’ Camp, situated near the site of the Box Hill Golf Club. Other members of this famous art troupe were (Sir) Arthur Streeton, Charles Condor, Tom Roberts and, of course, Frederick McCubbin. The award for Best in Show was negotiated by the Rotary Club with the daughter of Frederick McCubbin, Kathleen Mangan.

Coincident with the staging of the 50th Annual Art Show was the 21st presentation of the McCubbin Medal Award. The first medal awarded was won by Chris White in 1994, and this year’s winner is Doug Sealy with his “Sidewalk Takeaway – Cusco, Peru”.

Two of the highlights of this year’s show saw a special display of paintings from past McCubbin Medal winners. Colloquially referred to as the Cavalcade of McCubbin, the presentation of these fine works added a quantum to the enjoyment of being at the art show. The second highlight (for me) was the return to the show of an exhibition of student art from seven of the local High Schools and Colleges. This had not been a feature of the Box Hill Rotary Art Show for many years, but the Club believed it a fitting tribute to young artists within the municipality to again have a section for schools to display works of their students. The Stoll Trust Award for High School Student Art was this year won by Ashley Morse of Our Lady of Sion College for her pen-and-ink “The Power of the People”.

The art show had on display paintings to suit the majority of those who attended this gala event, from the traditional Australian Impressionist paintings to more modern, trendy pieces that had great appeal for those building a new home and seeking the more “modern” look for their wall furnishings.

The art show was a major success, no matter which way one measures this attribute. Proceeds from the sale of artwork at the show are being donated to Alkira – a local organisation assisting people with intellectual disabilities. The Rotary Club has entered into an agreement with Alkira to financially support its building program, which when finished will see the establishment of a commercial kitchen that will be used to train clients at Alkira, enabling them to find meaningful employment in their future years.

If you missed the 50th Annual Art Show conducted by the Rotary Club of Box Hill, you missed a great spectacle, and also missed attending a milestone event. Next year’s event is again booked for Box Hill Town Hall and will be conducted from Thursday, 3 December through to Sunday, 6 December. Art lovers unite – this is a show you shouldn’t miss.

Gambling – Two Sides of the Coin

Scripted and directed by Catherine Simmonds

To raise the subject of gambling in a group of people can usually cause a heated debate, and opinions range from sympathy and pity to anger and disgust.

In October a number of performances by a group from Monashlink took place across the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The performers were a group of problem gamblers who came together to share their stories with others.

One of these performances took place at the Doncaster Playhouse, a small and inclusive theatre that allows for good interaction between actors and audience. It was interesting to note that no one nationality or culture was involved, and no particular age group or personality. The performers took us through their stories in words, song and actions – a mammoth task considering there was little in the way of scenery, props or costumes. It was loud and over the top at times; there was laughter and sorrow and also tremendous courage in this public display of their addiction, and their determination to overcome it. The audience were delighted to be included at times, even when they were reminded that gambling affects all types of people and that anyone feeling smug that “it wasn’t them” should be aware that even buying a Tatts ticket or a raffle ticket was gambling on a small scale.

Everyone’s story was poignant, and so many times you felt that if your life had turned a different way perhaps that could have been you. However one story stood out; the participant was a businessman who once who had it all – money, prestige and family – but because of his addiction had lost it all. He confessed that he had often thought of ending his life, but realised that this would only add to his family’s distress, so he fought on to overcome his addiction.

The performance left the audience with a great deal of food for thought and, hopefully, a better understanding of gambling addiction – the phrase it brought to mind was “walk a mile in my shoes”.

These performances stem from Monashlink‘s 2014 Ruin to Recovery project, which was a resounding success. From this project came an anthology edited by Arnold Zable, a dramatisation for the 2013 Melbourne Writers Festival and a performance at Parliament House earlier this year.