George Hunka at Superfluities Redux (whom I'm sure you all read religiously) blogs on the recurrent death of criticism, and in particular on the argument that its death sentence is signed by the new democratisation of the web. This is (sigh) an old and whiskery argument, but as George points out,"the real danger is in formalizing (the) informal process of inclusion and exclusion". It's an interesting read. As a bonus, check out some rare photos of Sarah Kane performing in Howard Barker's Victory.
Meanwhile, Katharine Brisbane delivered the Philip Parsons Memorial lecture over the weekend, giving an overview of four decades of Australian theatre. An extract is published in the Australian (free registration required). (Update: full text here.) As she says:
More people attend arts ventures than sport, according to polls. In 40 years it is a record of which we should be proud. And yet (with rare exceptions) the leaders of this industry are not influential in the way leaders of other professions are. A new play may be acclaimed but is rarely discussed as an insight into, or barometer of, our culture. Artists have become a collection of specialists for whom communication outside their art has become more difficult. The less they try to break through this barrier the more they are misunderstood. It seems that only for artists is the word elite a pejorative. In the sports world they are heroes.
Brisbane suggests this is the result of a demolition of a "culture of inclusion", which meant that theatre failed to take its audience with it. I suspect this problem might have more to do with the media than with audiences. Worth thinking about in tandem with George's post.
Lastly, for those who might be interested, I have idly started a new blog called Lost Poems. This came about because a week or so ago, in the interests of order, I plunged into the labyrinths of my computer and discovered a bunch of poems that I had completely forgotten about. What to do with them? A blog seemed like an excellent idea. From now I'll be posting one every few days, until I run out of poems.