MELBOURNE BLOGBACK: THE COVID CRONICLES
EPISODE FOUR – UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE GANG #2
By Lucy Schmidt
In pursuit of learning more about the fabulous folk that currently roam your playback stages, role play your employees/managers for corporate training events and facilitate with finesse, I have a new victim!
Karen Berger is one of two current musicians that lend the soundscape to Playback performances. Whether she is adding flourish with a Spanish guitar riff, singing as sweetly as a bird, creating a thunderous atmosphere with a drum or, believe it or not, playing a haunting, melodic teapot (yes! An actual teapot – that you drink tea from), Karen’s musical support is imperative to our shows – it is also completely improvised! If music be the food of love, play on – said some guy called William Shakespeare.
And I think Karen may have heard him, because she plays so intuitively, with such love, an occasional audience member will be moved to tears.
She also has natural leadership qualities, a very, very sharp brain (she is currently working on completing her doctorate) and the most impressive memory for detail I have ever met. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Karen on MPTC’s musical improv workshops. She is an excellent teacher. So! If you are interested in attending one of these workshops, keep an eye on our website or better still, sign up for our Playback newsletters to keep yourself in the loop!
1 – Was there a defining moment that spurred your interest in performing?
I remember a moment when I realised that I liked being in the limelight. At one Melbourne Festival Maddie Flynn & Tim Humphries (ex-Playback musos) organised a 12-hour overnight performance at Deakin Edge with 100s of performers (based on a John Cage idea). I was there to perform with the Teapot Ensemble of Australia. We’d arranged to be seated in the audience for our performance and at the designated time a spotlight would be trained on us. When that spotlight arrived, I felt the glow!!!!!
2 – How are you using your creative juices during the COVID19 restrictions?
Besides writing way too many grant applications & doing a bit of PhD work. Also, classical singing exercises whenever my partner leaves the house.
3 – What was your most memorable moment on stage?
Singing ‘Watermelon Man’ in harmony at the Myer Music Bowl. Competing for the best Celtic Band at the Dan O’Connell Hotel (& winning). Dancing and drumming for the Beltane Festival May 1st eve, Edinburgh.
4– If you could play any historical character, who would it be and why?
Lady Macbeth – she’s such a baddy.
5 – What is the surprising upside of the pandemic for you?
Lots more calmness.
6 – In your opinion, what makes a good story?
Beginning, middle, end. Tension, release. Variation. Rhythmic play. Important theme.
7 – Do you have any pre-performance must do’s or superstitions?
Brrrrrrrr siren. Spinal roll. Jumping. Tune the guitar.
8 – If you could thank someone who helped you in your early career – who would it be and why?
Workshop with Complicité when I was 18 – amazing sense of play.
9 – What do you miss the most about not performing during the COVID19 restrictions?
Playing with other performers.
10 – Who would you want to play you in the story of your life?
I would have said Elizabeth Moss but having watched her in the new ‘Top of the Lake’ series recently, I’m a bit bored with her.