As if to prove it's not all pursed lips and blank faces out there in the broadsheets, the Australian's Sydney theatre critic John McCallum comes out with all guns blazing today in a stimulating overview of contemporary Australian theatre:
LET'S get one thing sorted. Any crisis the Australian theatre might be facing now is entirely a matter of money. The playwrights, directors, designers and actors are in place and ready to go.
The artists are talented and energetic, but they are struggling in a culture that for at least 10 years has systematically devalued the arts and tried to represent them as the plaything of an elite coterie, rather than the fundamental investigation of what it means to be human and part of a society.
Couldn't have said it better myself. In his article, McCallum elucidates something he calls the "post-dramatic stage" in the new energies currently vitalising Australian theatre. My feeling (and I think that McCallum is hinting at a similar idea) is that playwrights like Bernard Marie-Koltes, Howard Barker, Sarah Kane, Michael Vinaver, Caryl Churchill, John Foss and, dare I say it, Daniel Keene have, for the past few decades, been redefining "drama" rather than abandoning it. But I'll tease this thesis out another time, when I don't have a novel to write...meanwhile, go read McCallum.