It’s grassroots theatre from for-lawn entertainers

"There was this pent-up energy," says Kimberley Twiner, 33. "There was an imploding going on in our creative bodies and our souls."

"It reached the point where I said, 'OK, I think we have to put on the '80s costumes and go onto the lawn. Who's in?' And everyone was in. That was Sunday."

The Wholesome Hour perform on their front lawn for the Brunswick East Entertainment Festival.Credit:Justin McManus

And that, in a nutshell, is why for the past week, at a certain hour of the afternoon on the front lawn of a certain house on Nicholson St, passers-by have been bemused, startled and delighted by four dancers in retina-searing fluorescents, bopping along to the hits of the daggy '80s.

A sign proclaims it the Brunswick East Entertanment [sic] Festival. Drivers honk in appreciation, trams ding their approval, kids faces light up.

Twiner says the housemates are "award-winning performers bored out of our minds", all members of comedy theatre troupes that were ready for a hectic year before the pandemic shutdown and lockdown. She and Lily Fish, 35, are from PO PO MO CO, Ell Sachs, 29, is from The Travelling Sisters and Angela Fouhy, 26, is from Maggot. All were used to working at a fever pitch, with multiple projects on the go, creating and performing in top gear.

After the pandemic ended their 2020 plans – and their income – they clubbed together to make The Wholesome Hour, a musical comedy video series for kids in partnership with La Mama.

The Wholesome Hour strike a pose.Credit:Justin McManius

"That's a moment of pure playfulness and celebration," she says. "People honking and waving is so much more satisfying than getting likes on an online video. People are laughing. People are saying, 'Thankyou, you made my day and lifted my spirits'. Which feels super profound in a time where there's such collective gloom.

"There is a huge starvation of social interaction. A mass starvation – and that was already kind of there before COVID, a world more and more individual and grounded in technology and avoidant of social interaction. But people want to engage, with feeling, with other people."

Twiner says, too, they want to remind people what makes Melbourne special: it is immersed in arts and culture. "To be a Melburnian is to go out and enjoy the city, enjoy life and enjoy each other."

Once health rules allow, she says, it's time for every creative person in the city to get outdoors and express themselves.

"It's time to reclaim the playfulness of public space," she says. "We'll be on the front lawn as long as there are restrictions but in the longer term we're going radical and we're going rogue.

"We're going to make a portable stage and set it up in a park, whenever we want, for whoever is there. We don't need a festival. We don't need a theatre. We can go to the people."

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