Nicholson Street is one of the major north-south traffic arteries in Brunswick and Melbourne. It runs from its southernmost end at the Parliament Gardens up to Brunswick East where it merges into Albion Street. It was named after William Nicholson who was Victoria’s third Premier, today remembered as the “father of the secret ballot”. For 166 years, the street has witnessed the many happenings of Melbourne’s CBD, Fitzroy, Carlton, and Brunswick. Today, Nicholson and its passer-by’s are witnessing an unprecedented show in its Brunswick East end…
The number of COVID-detonated ideas to cope with iso is endless. Every one of us has had that conversation with someone who recently started thinking or is doing something to survive isolation. The conversation might have started with something like “Hey! I had an idea while walking my dog for the third time… while putting on my mask… or while realising I look much older than I feel like in yesterday’s Zoom videocall!”.
Nicholson’s show that concerns this story was detonated while Ell Sachs was walking in circles in her front yard. Kimberley, one of her other three housemates, looked at her from her window thinking “she looks like a caged animal!”. Well, Ell’s animal instinct triggered one of those “hey! I had an idea while…” conversations… “why don’t we dance to some 80s tunes right here on our yard”. I’m uncertain of how was the exact moment when Kimberley said these words, but I imagine all housemates looking at each other after listening to the nonsense dancing proposal, opening their eyes wide open, and almost simultaneously saying, “fuck yes!”.
Kimberley, Lily, Ell, and Angela all have some sort of acting training. They have traveled the world to perform many acts but comedy is their thing. The Wholesome Hour is their most recent project where they act out wild and raucous sketches for kids aged 5-10. When COVID restrictions were put in place, they tried substituting their live performances with screen stuff but it wasn’t the same.
Iso makes it very challenging for them to find something that substitutes the unique feeling that only laughter and an engaged audience can bring. Well, an improvised stage on Nicholson Street, customs from their multi-coloured and versatile stash, and an improvising choreography technique has given the quartet the medicine to bring smiles, hopes, and laughter to themselves and their fluid, almost momentaneous public.
Angela, who we interviewed, tells us they “want to make people’s days better!” When you walk past their outdoor venue you can see how this live show has brought the community closer together. Car honks are the new claps, dogs dressed in similar attire are the new fans, and people waving and yelling “you guys keep on rocking!” makes everyone who pays a casual or an intentional visit to feel like we’re all in this together.
The Nicholson Street initiative has also brought the four housemates closer together. Angela mentions how they “can feel how the collective spirits spray” and that now they know their neighbours and what they do. “Our families love seeing us on the news and asking, how was it today?” Angela tells us smiling behind her flowered mask 🙂
To close our interview, we talk about how this is “kind of a rebellion against the screen!” We seem to have been limited to consume screen content only to keep ourselves entertained. NO, screens in the world! you haven’t got all of our attention, there are people following their animal instincts and finding ways to be social while staying safe!
Brunswick East Entertainment Festival is located here and they dance every day between 4-5:30pm if the weather allows for it. If you’re within the five kilometers radius, we encourage you to be part of Nicholson Street story on Brunswick East and give a shout out to these dancing rebels who are just following their instincts and making people’s days better!