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Interview: Details on Australia's Eurovision staging and future at the Contest

In an interview with Aussievision, Paul Clarke from Australia's Eurovision Delegation revealed hints on Sheldon Riley's staging in Turin.


The Eurovision Song Contest 2022 stage concept - Image credit / Francesca Montinaro

In regards to the Eurovision stage for Turin, which is currently under construction, Paul talked about the unique challenges and opportunities the stage is giving this year, especially with what is planned with Sheldon's performance:


"My feeling is, is that the stage is so ornate and complicated, my initial reaction is just to say, just let the stage be the stage, let's just concentrate on what we're doing, and just be yourself and don't want to use too much of the fire power of what's there, unless you can make the most out of it."


The stage in Turin is based on the concept of "The Sun Within", which is based around movements and light of a kinetic sun which has the ability to showcase theatrical motion. Paul spoke about the opportunities he sees with the stage, saying:


"There's a lot of potential with the turning, what I wanted to play with looking at a film like Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' and the way the machine turns, and you're kind of part of a machine. I thought it was ironically almost like a counterpoint to what it was designed to be, this big rainbow happiness meter, it's possible to make it like a dystopian machine that kind of happening in the background and just adding a different kind of drama."


He also spoke about the potential LED use and how to translate Sheldon's stagecraft to an event like Eurovision.


"I feel like the very back stage, the LED [screen] on the back stage, just allows for enormous depth like really great potential with depth. With what Sheldon's doing, it's a little bit the same like Gjon's Tears from Switzerland in that you are taking someone that's quite insular and you have to bring them to a big big audience, and it's like how are you going to do that. You have to have a moment that's very kind of close. And you've got to have a pride rock moment. You got to look for both and how you going to make both work."


Sheldon Riley's staging for 'Not The Same' during 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' 2022 - Image credit / SBS

"When we were putting Australia Decides together, I wanted to put it midway through the show almost like two thirds, like it was the moment of a Shakespearean soliloquy or the moment in 'Phantom in the Opera' the person reveals themselves to the audience. There's that kind of drama in what Sheldon is doing. You can't keep replaying the idea. It's not just about the mask. I think Sheldon as a person, I think he has had to be incredibly careful about the way he has presented himself to the world. But when you know him, there is so much behind him. He's just such an engaging, enthusiastic, passionate, person and it's trying to find, what we did what quite dark and gothic. We want to let the light in this time. I think I can say that. There are elements that are a little bit the same in what we are doing. I think it will have a much different outcome. He's going to move, but I really can't go into much more detail than that. He's not a pole!"


Paul Clarke also revealed that Sheldon and the Australian Delegation are working with Sacha Jean-Baptiste, who is a Swedish choreographer, dancer, and show producer who has worked on over 20 Eurovision entries. You can read all about it here.


It was also confirmed that there is a lot of new people that have joined the Australian delegation with Emily Griggs who is the SBS Head of Entertainment is Australia's Head of Delegation.


Beyond Eurovision 2023


When it comes to Australia at Eurovision beyond 2023, with a possible extension to Australia's participation in the Contest Paul Clarke said:


"We will definitely be talking to the EBU about the extension. We may take a photograph of us just going down on one knee and kind of praying just holding their hands... It the job of our new Head of Delegation Emily Griggs who will be talking directly to the EBU folk about that. Emily is a very capable person. It's in her capable hands. I am sure they will give us a good ear. We should know that after the [Eurovision Song Contest]. It'll be a reference group meeting or two afterwards."


You can hear more from Paul Clarke about his thoughts on this year's Australia Decides and a look ahead to Turin and beyond on the Aussievision podcast episode out now.


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