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Reviews of Afternoon AbsurdiTEA

A cast of 10 musicians bring to life the poetry of Camellia Cha with musicali-tea from India, Tibet, China and Japan. Anne Norman (poetry and shakuhachi); Tenzin Choegyal (voice and dranyen - Tibetan lute); Wang Zheng Ting & the Australian Chinese Ensemble; Jay Dabgar (Tabla) & Josh Bennett (sitar and dilruba).

OzAsia Festival, Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, 26 September 2010

"Members of the audience around me seemed to be in awe of the cleverness of both the show's concept and the world-class quality of the musical and theatrical performances; yet it was entirely a friendly and often comical afternoon. There were some intense moments of concentration during the shakuhachi pieces played by Anne Norman, displaying a level of proficiency and authenticity that cannot ordinarily be encountered in Australia, but even these were seamlessly morphed into joy and amusement by the other colours at Camellia Cha's disposal on her cultural palette on this occasion.
It was good to see the musicians, Tibetan, Indian and Chinese, admiring each other's work. It was also interesting to see which subversive and satirical comic elements Anne chose to use from the book, including a couple of moments especially relevant to Australia. It was refreshing to witness such a success in harmoniously combining different methods of communication into one cohesive event; and we learned so much about tea — its science, its history, its magic — yet all we did was enjoy ourselves. Delightful and impressive."
Ben Umehara
Review of Afternoon AbsurdiTEA, OzAsia Festival, 2010
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"This is not your ordinary book of tea but an extraordinary perspective of life through the prism of tea and its super cultural capacity to invigorate, unite, calm, excite and spiritualise humanity. [The stage show] Afternoon absurdiTea with Camellia Cha is inspired by and based on this startling book, and allows the alter ego of Anne Norman ... to shine on stage in full brilliance. Performer extraordinaire Anne Norman has the ability to capture the dry humour of her book on stage using her tea poetry in conjunction with beautiful ethnic melodies from the countries which marked tea’s early history along the Silk Road of Asia... Guest musicians from the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble, Wang Zheng-Ting (sheng), Dong Quimin (dizi), Jiang Jiamin (erhu) and Jeremy Witkowski (ruan), Tibetan singer Tenzin Choegyal, Josh Bennett (sitar, dilruba, didgeridoo), Jay Dabgar (tabla), monks Jamyang Sherab and Karma Gyasey, together with Anne Norman’s soulful shakuhachi created an ancient and, at the same time, contemporary tea soundscape. ... exquisite melodrama passages made up of world music accompaniments set to strict poetic rhythms, musical interludes of profound meaning and alluring combined stage presence of narrator, musicians and a media screen, displaying images from the book and historical photographs. All of this is ... unified by a narrative underpinned by tea:  tea myths and calamities, tea ceremonies and zen practices, tea  absurdities and reasonings. This is a new world music genre in the spirit of the best European stage melodramas... emotive tragedies ... hilarious parodies... This show needs to  be experienced to be believed!”  Read the full review here

Daniela Kaleva, Australian Stage Reviews, 29 Sept 2010

"With great aplomb, Anne Norman turns the humdrum of stage productions on its head. Part variety show, part concert, and part poetry fest, this show is bursting with talent and professionalism. Beautiful sounds made from ancient oriental instruments, a diverting media screen, an authentic Tibetan tea ceremony with Tibetan chants, all combined to provide colour, movement, and beauty.
Although the main thread of the show is a thought-provoking history of tea through the ages, there are no dry lectures here. The audience is treated to humorous poetry recitation, beautiful compositions from the Chinese Music Ensemble, amazing drumming on the Indian tabla, heavenly sitar pieces and fabulous Tibetan songs, and then sits transfixed through a soul-transporting piece played on the shakuhachi by Anne herself. The most amazing musical revelation for me was the combination of shakuhachi and didgeridoo - two sublime but ancient musical heritages combined. To assuage your curiosi-tea, this show is recommended for its theatricality, musicality, absurdity, generosity, and, well... its homage to TEA."
Melissa Francis
Review of Afternoon AbsurdiTEA, OzAsia Festival
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, 30 September 2010

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