I know that the Melbourne Festival has been the epicentre of the universe lately, but a couple of things have banked up while I've been hobnobbing with Merce and the lads. (Wowee, was that good; but I think I'll wait for Program B before I write anything). So this is a bit of a catch-up post.
Yesterday in the comments, Julian Meyrick denied rumours that his departure from the MTC was impelled by anger. If he wasn't cross before, he sure is now: he took the opportunity to have a few swings at the critical culture and, in particular, blogging.
Over the last two years especially, I have watched with dismay as the tone of local crits has increasingly muddled subjective response and dispassionate analysis. Like the judges in Australian Idol, reviewers seem less concerned to address work presented than to trial aberrant, at times bizarre sets of personal predilections. This is particularly true of blog coverage which, in its looseness and lack of protocol, ignores context, embraces personal comment, and makes frequent use of strong, vilificatory language.
Good to see the MTC at last getting into the commentary mix. For my part, this protocol-free, aberrant blogger hopes that a careful read of her reviews will reveal plenty of context and dispassionate analysis. (Even the odd positive review of MTC productions.) Meyrick also tells me rather startlingly that I inspire fear and dread. "Is that what you want?" he asks me. "For artists to be afraid of you?" Well, of course not: TN is really a fluffy little bunny with a heart of butter. But my motto is "without fear or favour", and that can sometimes get a little sticky with even the nicest people.
Meanwhile, the National Library has asked to include TN in its Pandora Archive, an ongoing project to archive electronic documents of "social, political, cultural, religious, scientific or economic significance and relevance to Australia", so all this can be recorded for a deeply puzzled posterity.
Finally, Matt Clayfield at Esoteric Rabbit finds himself wishing audiences would spontaneously combust, and adds a few handy hints on protocol himself. They must have read his post, because last night's audience was very well-behaved, at least where I was sitting. Not a whisper of German Death Metal. And further afield (har har), Andrew Field addresses the faux Us v Them dichotomies of experimental v legitimate, mainstream v fringe (pick your poison) in an interesting post taking to task the reviews of Michael Billington.