News just in: Hamlet/MIAF bites back ~ theatre notes

Friday, August 10, 2007

News just in: Hamlet/MIAF bites back

Great news for those who missed the MIFF screenings of A Poor Theatre's brilliant film The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. Malthouse Executive Producer Stephen Armstrong emails this morning to say: "Inspired by this work, and aware how hard it would be to get a commercial release, we decided to turn the Tower into a boutique screening lounge for two weeks". So it's on in March next year. And kudos to the Malthouse for some smart, imaginative programming.

Meanwhile, Melbourne Festival General Manager Vivia Hickman yesterday answered Age arts reporter Robin Usher's recent criticisms of festival programming in a swingeing defence in Arts Hub. "It is not the Festival's role to replicate what is on offer for the other 49 weeks of the year," says Hickman, "and that is not what we are asked to do."

Hickman isn't afraid of taking the battle into the enemy's camp. The money par:

It is completely appropriate that journalists like Robin Usher speculate about the nature of festival programming. As a major part of this city's cultural life the Festival warrants and welcomes such speculation. But is it appropriate however for a journalist to use the opinion pages of a major daily newspaper to suggest names, or rather to name one person for the role of Artistic Director? It seems misguided and intrusive to campaign for an individual in such a way, particularly when the Festival is just about to begin its recruitment process to fill that very role.

Good question. Perhaps Usher was keen to answer it when, as my spies tell me, he rang Arts Hub "within minutes" of the article appearing.


Ben Ellis said...

Good on Vivia Hickman. I missed the original Robin Usher article here. Although I pause to use the word 'original': I wonder if Robin Usher is in fact trapped in one of the circles of hell, eternally condemned to finding MIAF a bit too experimental for his tastes. (The salvation remains, for ever, beyond, beyond, beyond...)

One of Usher's problems is his usage of the passive voice (as employed in this sentence). One slips from a personal instinct into unwarranted universalities much too easily. It's there at the end of the article:

"But what the riches of the past week reveal is that works with their roots in the classical tradition remain valid festival fare and have been sorely missed in recent years."

Okay, so I criticise in fact the passive voice in the clause, but, anyway, "have been sorely missed" reveals a lack of precision. Sorely missed? By whom? Who's doing the missing? How is this sore missing expressed other than in Robin Usher opinion pieces? The language conceals the actor, which is doubly concerning given the article appears to campaign for Edmunds's successor.

Paul Martin said...

Alison, if you have a link to info about the film's screenings, I'll add the info to my calendar of film events.

Matthew said...

Just wait until the Malthouse launches next year's fist season, Paul.

Alison Croggon said...

I especially enjoyed Usher's patronising comment that our Kristy has "evolved", even including the MSO in this program! He carefully didn't mention the actual event, HUNGER, a collaboration between the MSO and rawcus ("an ensemble of performers with and without disabilities"). Which sounds suspiciously "cutting edge" to me, and worse, suggests that the MSO has "evolved" towards the Festival!!