So, that was a blastMelbourne Festival: Dance TerritoriesMelbourne Festival: Before Your Very Eyes, The House of DreamingMelbourne Festival: An Enemy of the PeopleMelbourne Festival: The Minotaur TrilogyMelbourne Festival: An Act of Now, Weather, DESHMelbourne Festival: Holding NoteMelbourne Festival: OrlandoMelbourne Festival: After LifeMelbourne Festival: Forsythe Dance Company, Force MajeureMelbourne Festival Diary: A Divagation on CriticismShout out: 2012 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards ~ theatre notes

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So, that was a blast

Despite Melbourne's uncertain spring, Ms TN had a most excellent adventure at the 2012 Melbourne Festival, Brett Sheehy's last before he takes up the reins as AD of the Melbourne Theatre Company. Sheehy opted to go out with a bang: general agreement dubbed this his best festival so far. An important part of this success was the Festival Hub by Princes Bridge, which provided the social heart an event like this needs: a multicoloured purpose-built three-storey structure with a cheap bar, food and entertainment, it was packed out every time I went.

If you check out the archives for October, you'll see why I enjoyed myself. Part of the festival experience is missing the show that everyone else declares The Thing, and there was a bit of that. But even so, I saw work that, that like The Rabble's Orlando, inspired passionate response, or addressed profound contemporary anxiety, like Schaubühne Berlin's An Enemy of the People, or prompted intense debate, such as with Chunky Move's An Act of Now. The program was various and exciting, reaching into Melbourne's independent performance scene: Dancehouse's fascinating minimalist season, Dance Territories and Arena Theatre's gorgeous fantasy house for children jostled against international works like Williams Forsythe's far from minimalist I Don't Believe in Outer Space, to create a sense of depth as well as breadth.

I wasn't so enamoured of the contemporary opera, The Minotaur Trilogy and After Life; but, as always, not everyone agreed with me. It's been a while since I've had such interesting and demanding discussions about performance, which is a tribute to the program: it generated an energy and engagement that I associate with the most successful festivals. Thanks to all of those who came along for the ride on TN, or who buttonholed me offline for arguments over a bevvie or three. It's been a blast.

For me, October was a holiday, albeit a rather exhausting one: I let everything else drop and was just a Crrritic for three weeks. I'm still a bit beat, truth be told (but in a good way). Now I'm back at my desk, in novel mode: the current novel is perhaps half written, and I would dearly love to finish it by the end of the year. That means at least another 40,000 words. So it's back to my (so far spectacularly unsuccessful) balancing act. Even so, I'll be aiming to post a review a week here, if the mind/body/spirit complex co-operates. Onward!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Melbourne Festival: Dance Territories

Melbourne Festival Diary #10

After three weeks of full-on performance, Dance Teritories was a refreshing return to the basics: a stage, a performer, an audience. Dance Territories presented four works over two double bills, curated from both local and international artists. Program 1 was Perrine Valli's Ma Cabane au Canada & Série and Sandra Parker's Transit. For my last night out for the festival, I saw Program 2, which consisted of Swiss artist Cindy Van Acker's Fractie and Australian dancer Matthew Day's Thousands. Rigorous, austere, riveting, these are performances which mercilessly expose the human body.

Cindy Van Acker's Fractie: Dance Territories

Introducing this program, Dancehouse artistic director Angela Conquet invokes the precept "less is more", quoting the modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. For all its modernist roots, it's clear that this is work that has a contemporary urgency, turning its back on the spectacle and consumerist excess that circumscribes so much of contemporary experience. This has a pragmatic aspect that reaches into the political: Matthew Day speaks of minimalism as a sustainable practice, as a reminder of how little one needs to make a performance. "Simplicity is not only an aesthetic value," says Conquet. "It is a moral perception."

Minimalist aesthetic creates work that, while it can't escape representation, is nevertheless a direct challenge to its assumptions. What happens when everything is stripped back? Sometimes, as with the work of Jérôme Bel or Samuel Beckett, an inexplicable joyousness. Sometimes, as with Lucinda Childs' and Philip Glass's Dance, an irresistible, even violent, possession by the present moment.  In the performances of Van Acker and Day, we're invited into a direct, unmediated contemplation of the human body, here exposed to physical stresses that at times seem unbearable, but which, through their intensity and focus, become utterly compelling.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Melbourne Festival: Before Your Very Eyes, The House of Dreaming

Melbourne Festival Diary #9

We're heading towards the end of the festival, which closes on Saturday, and Ms TN is feeling, truth be told, rather ragged. On the one hand, devoting myself to a single activity rather than the several which usually occupy me is something of a holiday (although the copyedit for the US edition of Black Spring is sitting on my desk, looking reproachful and reminding me of other duties). On the other, this has been a consuming festival which has generated a lot of intense conversation, both offline over post-show drinks and kitchen tables, and online, as you will see if you look at the comments beneath An Enemy of the People and An Act of Now. This passionate engagement is the quality I most associate with a successful festival, and the 2012 Melbourne Festival has had it in spades.

Before Your Very Eyes: Gob Squad/CAMPO

My Regrets of This Week are missing Young Jean Lee's We're Gonna Die and Merlyn Quaife performing Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, of which I hear good things: but let's face it, you can't be everywhere. Or anywhere, sometimes. This week I dipped my toe into another strong strand of this year's festival: the presence of children. With Gob Squad and CAMPO's Before Your Very Eyes, seven young people created theatre for adults. In Arena Theatre's The House of Dreaming (as well as Polyglot's How High The Sky, which I didn't see) theatre was made by adults for children. That taking theatre for children seriously is crucial to the artform ought to go without saying; but it's been a point often lost in our mainstream programming, which has lagged seriously behind Europe in its focus on young people. This, as Age critic Cameron Woodhead observes, is now changing.

Back in 2008, when CAMPO were called Victoria, they brought a beautiful show to Melbourne, That Night Follows Day. Directed by Forced Entertainment's Tim Etchells, this was the second part of a trilogy in which Victoria/CAMPO collaborated with different artists to create shows in which children performed for adults. Before Your Very Eyes is the third part, a collaboration this time with the German/English collective Gob Squad. Developed over three years, Before Your Very Eyes takes advantage of how rapidly children change as they get older: there's a radical developmental difference, for example, between seven and 10, or 14 and 17. The long development permitted the company to enact encounters between older and younger selves, which betrays the meticulous level of planning that underlies this show.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Melbourne Festival: An Enemy of the People

Melbourne Festival Diary #8

I woke the morning after seeing the Schaubühne Berlin's production of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People seething with a burning, undirected anger. I don't know what I had been dreaming: but I think this play named something accurately enough to blow those embers - of disillusion, impotence, political alienation, whatever - into a white heat. Some flame in me leapt up: yes, I thought, that's how it is. It's just like that.

Stefan Stern as Dr Stockmann in An Enemy of the People, Schaubühne Berlin

Is An Enemy of the People a revolutionary production? No: but it's about a certain kind of revolution that has always emerged from the intellectual bourgeoisie. Does it draw any conclusions, offer any program for the redress of the ills that the play analyses? No. Will it make its audiences rush to the barricades? I doubt it: it's only a play, after all, not a manifesto. But it is political in a very interesting way that profoundly implicates and exhilarates its audience. If political theatre is, as Brecht believed, about illuminating a situation so that it is possible to reflect fruitfully upon our place in it, then this is certainly political theatre.

The only Thomas Ostermeier production I've seen is his 2005 version of Hedda Gabler, which was performed at last year's Melbourne Festival. I found it disappointing, for several reasons: perhaps the major disappointment was its deliberate affectlessness, which amounted almost to cynicism. As I said at the time, "Ibsen's play becomes a scathing miniature, a portrait of an emotionally numbed, intellectually trivial bourgeoisie... Hedda and the gang are symbols merely, flattened-out representations of the conscious heartlessness of the middle classes, absorbed in their trivial pursuits as they turn their faces from the blood on the walls." What bothered me was that there was nothing at stake.

Here again Ostermeier is concerned with the middle classes - as Jana Perkovic observes, in her must-read response to the Berlin production, he is quintessentially a director of and for the middle classes. But this production cuts much deeper than easy caricacture. It revitalises naturalism, pulling on its original power to implicate its audience in self-recognition. In Hedda Gabler, this for me came close to avant garde David Williamson: in An Enemy of the People, the implication of the audience in the reality on stage was a whole lot more complex and direct. Ostermeier has a cast of exceptional actors, whose detailed performances generate a complex texture of argument: no character, not even the smooth, swift-talking politician, is simply reducible to symbolic moral significance. There is much to say about the production, which is beautifully realised in many ways: but here I want to concentrate on the ideas that animate it.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Melbourne Festival: The Minotaur Trilogy

Festival Diary #7

Chamber Made Opera's innovative series of Living Room Operas - small-scale opera performances commissioned as site-specific works and performed in private houses - has produced some of the more interesting work I've seen over the past few years. Works such as Daniel Schlusser's Ophelia Doesn't Live Here Any More and Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey's beautifully judged Dwelling Structure opened out and questioned domestic space in fascinating and sometimes disturbing ways; Another Lament, a collaboration with Rawcus, successfully made the difficult transition from domestic space to theatre when it transferred to the Malthouse earlier this year.

The Minotaur Trilogy: Chamber Made Opera

But relocating a site-specific performance is a tricky and delicate business which materially changes the nature of the work. The Minotaur Trilogy, which premiered as a tripartite work as part of the Melbourne Festival, demonstrates how problematic this can be. I saw the first part of David Young and Margaret Cameron's trilogy, Island, back in 2011, in the living room of a St Kilda Road apartment. Parts two and three, The Labyrinth and The Boats, are extensions of the original idea, here shown together for the first time.

The Minotaur Trilogy is in three parts of 49 minutes each, punctuated by 20 minute intervals, to make a work that lasts for three hours altogether. This makes it, among other things, a durational work: the audience is asked to spend time with the six performers, and further, to be aware of that time. Durational theatre can be deeply rewarding, but in this case for me it simply became an exercise in impatience. Repetition that plays off variations on minimal themes can pay off in two ways: it can deepen and enrich - perhaps the classic example of this is Bach's Goldberg Variations - or it can deaden and impoverish. Here, sadly, I just felt deadened.

The Melbourne Recital Centre's Salon, an intimate, wood-panelled performance space with near-perfect acoustics, is a very different proposition to a living room. It's a much larger space, for a start, and it mercilessly exposes everything: music, performance, design, choreography. In a living room, with the performers less than three feet away, the domestic context gave Part 1, Island, a playful, improvised quality that infused the performances with a certain humility: the found nature of the props and costumes - hats made from pencil cases and handbags, worn bits of driftwood - was foregrounded, and the sense of discovering ritual and myth within the ordinary and everyday was palpable. Performed in the round, with a new distance not only between the performers but between the performers and the audience, these qualities melted away, leaving in their wake an uncomfortable sense of archness.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Melbourne Festival: An Act of Now, Weather, DESH

Melbourne Festival Diary #6

Even off the plan, the strongest aspect of the 2012 Melbourne Festival was always the dance. It's a feeling borne out in the performances I've seen: William Forsythe's I Don't Believe in Outer Space was the first knockout, and these three works  - Chunky Move's An Act of Now, Akram Khan's DESH and Lucy Guerin Inc's Weather - further demonstrate the vitality, reach and power of contemporary dance.

An Act of Now, Chunky Move. Photo: Jeff Busby

I've been dithering for several days about how to write about them. Dance, and especially dance of this calibre, often has that effect: you can't hide behind words, even if words are present in the performance, because what matters is movement, gesture, living bodies in space, the performance itself. Critical response becomes, even more than usual, an impossible act of translation, an attempt to interpret the wordless body into written language. Maybe part of this stuttering is overload: when you think of the complexities - the sheer volumes of sensual and intellectual information, the emotional intensities - that attend a really interesting performance, it's ridiculous to think you can even begin to understand it in a few hours. Sometimes covering a festival feels like trying to process War & Peace five times a week. Which is to say, one is always face to face with one's own failure.

I'm no closer to a solution, perhaps because there isn't one: but reviews are beginning to bank up, whingeing is not to the purpose and I'd had better square my jaw, akimbo my elbows and get on with it. Either that, or stop going to festivals and begin a Slow Art movement. I don't know how you young people do it.


An Act of Now is Anouk van Dijk's first work as the new artistic director of Chunky Move, and she has certainly arrived with a flourish. I've only seen one other work of van Dijk's: an extraordinary collaboration with the contemporary German playwright Falk Richter, Trust, at the 2011 Perth Festival. At the time, I was struck by the strangely oneiric effect of her choreography: her rhythms and movement often seem counter-intuitive, gracefulness turning back on itself to create complex, often violent, forms of collapse and reformation. As I was watching Trust, something in the movement of the dancers seemed to creep deep into my subconscious and inhabit it, in unsettling ways that felt akin, if not quite the same as, an experience of lucid dreaming. The same thing happened in An Act of Now, a completely different kind of work, which made me think that it wasn't simply an accident of my subjectivity.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Melbourne Festival: Holding Note

Melbourne Festival Diary #5

Holding note: Sometimes I find that all that emerges from my fingertips is a sludge of meh. This can particularly happen when I've been knocked out by a work: all those responses just won't clarify into something coherent. I've been struggling for two hours now, and getting nowhere. So for the meantime: let me simply recommend that you see, if at all possible, Akram Khan's solo dance DESH (closing on Sunday) and Chunky Move's An Act of Now (Anouk van Dijk's first work as artistic director, which opened last night). Longer responses are, my subconscious assures me, in the mail.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Melbourne Festival: Orlando

Melbourne Festival Diary #4

Some notes on Orlando

White. No colour, every colour; plenty and absence at once. The empty page awaiting inscription, the page which may be shredded or burned. The colour of milk, the colour of semen, the colour of fertility. The imaginary of European Empire, the sterile fictions of race, purity, virginity. The hymeneal bride, the deuil blanc of mediaeval mourning. The colour of deep freeze, of immobility, of the Great Frosts of Elizabethan London, when the river Thames was sheeted with ice eleven inches thick. Arsenic. The nuclear heart of a star, the colour of absolute cold. The colour of The Rabble's Orlando.

Mary Helen Sassman and Dana Miltins in Orlando. Photo: Sarah Walker

In Kate Davis's design, the stage is a shallow pool of white liquid, enclosed above by a low ceiling outlined by lights, and backstage by a huge mirror. Before the actors appear, it is absolutely still: it seems a solid white floor, a sheet of ice. As the actors wade ankle-deep through the liquid (milk? semen? both? neither?), the surface becomes a chaos of ripples, their white costumes become sodden. It is impure, this white.

The imagined shade of absolute clarity. The white-out of a snowstorm, in which every thing is obscured.


It's certainly been an interesting, if not especially edifying, fortnight for women. A popular resurgence in feminism, which in Australia has remained largely beneath the radar, collided head-on with the received wisdom of mainstream political commentary.  Julia Gillard's Question Time speech in which, turning on a rhetorical sixpence, she took Tony Abbott's hypocritical borrowing of feminist feathers and shoved them so far down his throat that he choked, became the focal point of a blizzard of debate. Suddenly sexism and misogyny were the words of the moment. Feminism? Not so much.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Melbourne Festival: After Life

Melbourne Festival Diary #3

It may have only opened on Thursday, but the Melbourne Festival is now well into its stride. Aside from the Forsythe Dance Company, my highlight so far has been Orlando, a hallucinatory theatrical riff on Virginia Woolf's novel from independent Melbourne company The Rabble, which is at the Malthouse as part of its Helium season. Beautiful, obscene, wickedly funny, wilfully theatrical, this is The Rabble's best work yet. When I work out what happened I'll write about it further, but it occurs to me that this might be what contemporary feminist theatre looks like.

Frustratingly, I've missed what were reportedly the two ovational events of the opening week: Nilaja Sun’s No Child..., a one-woman show at Theatre Works about the failures of the US education system, and Antony and the Johnsons' Swanlights at Hamer Hall. No Child..., oddly, wasn't on the invitation list that was sent out to media, which might explain my first oversight; although picking from a festival program often feels like playing Tetris with your diary, and inevitably you miss something important. There is talk of a return season, so keep your eyes peeled.

After Life, Michel Van der Aa

I simply wasn't issued tickets for Antony, which suggests that TN might have slipped onto some pr Z-list*: an impression strengthened, it must be said, by the seats I had for the opening event of the festival, Dutch composer/director Michel Van der Aa's After Life. Up in the gods at the Regent Theatre minus binoculars was not the way to see this opera. This isn't simply privileged whinging (although, to be honest, it partly is). Critics tend to be fussy about seats: if you're writing about a show, and especially if you didn't enjoy it, you feel that, in fairness to the artist, you ought to have experienced it at its best. On the other hand, anyone who pays for a show ought to have a good experience, even if they are at the back of the theatre. That many didn't was evidenced by the dress circle walkouts during the final hour of the show: I stopped counting at about thirty.

The fact is that the Regent Theatre was entirely the wrong venue to do this work justice: its over-the-top Renaissance kitsch might be a brilliant frame for musical spectacle, such as the upcoming King Kong, but it dwarfed the austere set of Van der Aa's opera and completely flattened the possibility of emotional response. This is a major problem: as Van der Aa says in the program: "For me, opera only makes sense if we find subjects and librettos that connect to an audience here and now." This opera, which is based on a 2001 film by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda, depends on emotional connection; without it, the result is a kind of epic bathos.

The conceit of After Life is that we are in a metaphysical limbo, in which the souls of the recently dead are met by purgatorial bureaucrats who must determine with them the defining memory of their lives. The lower stage is cluttered with piles of domestic objects, a kind of mnemonic warehouse through which the various characters rummage until they find the memory they will take with them to eternity. The characters - three live on stage, three on film - have a week to decide on this defining moment. The drama of the libretto itself turns on the relationship between the bureaucrat Aidan (Roderick Williams) and his client, Mr Walter (Richard Suart), who turn out to have history in common.

Van der Aa complicates the original scenario with documentary footage of several people asked about their most significant memory. These interviews, projected on the large screen back stage, have the complex feeling that the libretto signally lacks: when Flint, a little boy of surpassing sweetness, talks about his favourite dog, or Bert remembers working with his eccentric grandfather in a basement making a perpetual motion machine, it heightens the lack of affect in the opera proper. And this in turn begs the question: can there be such a thing as an opera which depends on naturalistic identification? Despite the tricky interactions of video and stage presences, these elements neither integrate nor fruitfully contrast: the overwhelming feeling is of watching two different kinds of work, a documentary film and an opera, jammed together on a single stage.

This isn't helped by the staging: as a director, Van der Aa strikes me as a very good composer. It's overwhelmingly static, even conservative. As soon as I realised, early into the show, that the opera was going to finish when the stage was emptied of objects, I couldn't help noting their departure as one by one piles of clutter - lounge suites and bicycles, park benches and standard lamps - were wheeled off stage. This feeling of marking duration was heightened by an increasing indignation at the banality of the libretto and, in particular, a growing feeling of disbelief at its simplistic treatment of something as complex and evanescent as human memory. Given (say) Proust, how is it seriously possible to reduce the sensual interiority of lived memory to a kind of MTV video? Perhaps this conceit might have worked in the original film, which I haven't seen: for me, the effect was a baffling sentimentality.

Once the various characters decide on their defining memory, the moment with which they will live for eternity, the operatic bureaucrats set about re-enacting and filming it. Here, I supposed, we were witnessing the artifice of memory, how it reconstructs the past into a present fiction; instead, it seemed to me that we were being shown a kind of poverty, the leaching of the multiple richness of memory by visual mediation. The emotional pay-off of the opera is the projection of these recaptured memories as films at the end, when they are given a sense of reality by the illusions of artfulness; by then I couldn't but feel that being condemned to watch a single piece of footage for ever and ever would, indeed, be a kind of purgatory. But I don't believe that irony was intentional.

Like his mentor, Louis Andriessen, Van der Aa's music mixes contemporary electronica influences and jazz with more traditional classical instruments: notably in this case, woodwind and harpsichord. The score reminds me of a kinder, less discordant Andriessen, with clear lyrical lines and a focus on melody: there is little drama in the music, which relies on subtler musical interactions that again were largely lost in the space of the Regent. I had no complaints with any of the performances, from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra nor from the singers. I suspect in a more sympathetic theatre, such as the Playhouse, After Life might have been a different experience: for me, the Regent exposed its weaknesses and cruelly dissipated its potential strengths.

* I should add a postscript: I have been hastily assured by the Melbourne Festival that this is not the case. And also, despite my caviling here, I can't help wondering sometimes whether it's a good idea for critics not to be privileged...

After Life, after Hirokazu Kore-eda, composition, stage and video direction and text by Michel Van der Aa. De Nederlandse Opera, Melbourne Festival, at the Regent Theatre. Until October 27.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Melbourne Festival: Forsythe Dance Company, Force Majeure

Melbourne Festival Diary #2

I Don't Believe in Outer Space, Forsythe Dance Company; Never Did Me Any Harm, Force Majeure.
I used to say that I enjoyed seeing dance because it gave me a break from words. As I Don't Believe in Outer Space and Never Did Me Any Harm demonstrate, this is less and less the case. Language is now such a common dynamic in contemporary dance that wordless movement is almost an exception: the word is everywhere, as sonic texture, rhythmic device, vocalised meaning, instruction, play, choreographic punctuation, visual cue and so on. It is almost always language stripped of the prosaic freight of narrative or dramatic meaning; often, and most satisfyingly for me, dance liberates language as pure poem.

I Don't Believe in Outer Space, The Forsythe Company. Photo: Dominik Mentzos

William Forsythe is exemplary. I Don't Believe in Outer Space, ultimately a meditation on mortality, is a joyously traumatic work. From beginning to end it is heavy with language. This is a language which is heavily in question: no transparent vehicle of meaning, it becomes a gestural aspect of Forythe's neuroticised choreography. Forsythe's dancers are grotesquely distorted in angular, counter-intuitive gestures that somehow are haunted by an echo of the everyday, a feeling heightened by the casual dress of the dancers. This means that the work balances acutely between comedy - much of it is laugh-out-loud hilarious - and an abiding sense of anxiety, even of menace.

The empty stage is littered with round objects that at first look like shiny volcanic boulders, but which turn out to be balls of rolled-up gaffer tape. They become many things in the course of the dance: endowed randomly with qualities of lightness or heaviness, they demonstrate the ambiguities of appearance. They are images of the behaviour of matter, from the pull of gravity to the Big Bang and particle physics. They are a locus of anxiety (I worried at first about the dancers' ankles) and objects of play and chance. The balls are kicked casually around the stage by the dancers, or thrown, or swept up by their bodies, or shoved inside costumes to distort the shapes of bodies.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Melbourne Festival Diary: A Divagation on Criticism

Festival Diary #1

The Melbourne Festival officially opens tonight, but a couple of pre-opening events have already tempted Ms TN out of her burrow. Over the past two nights, I've seen two contemporary dance works, Force Majeure's Never Did Me Any Harm and The Forsythe Company's I Don't Believe in Outer Space. Both are recommended: William Forsythe's work in particular is astounding. I'll be uploading meditations on both: but I find that before I can write properly about them I need to clear my mental decks.

As regular readers know, a few weeks ago I put up the blinds and shut shop, pleading theatrical burnout. Of course, I've been busy: my novel Black Spring finally landed in bookshops last week, I am plodding along on another novel, reviewing Mallarmé, writing columns, and so on and so forth. This time out meant I saw almost none of the Fringe Festival, which cost me some twinges; but all the same, it's been an excellent thing to stay home and reflect. In particular: what is this burnout of which I speak? Is it merely a personal thing, or does it reflect a wider feeling of stress?

In the past couple of weeks I've had a few interesting conversations about theatre criticism in Melbourne. This navel-gazing is an occupational hazard worldwide: the New York Times last week launched yet another round table, Do We Need Professional Critics?, prompting Age critic and blogger Rebecca Harkins Cross to tweet: "Do we need another debate about whether we need critics?" I've lost count of how many panels I've sat on to debate the same question over the years: the last was during the Melbourne Writers Festival in August. In part, this crisis of professionalism is a response to the tsunami of digital culture, which for some people suggests that serious criticism is over. Needless to say, I don't agree: but I do sometimes wonder where that criticism is going to come from.

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Friday, October 05, 2012

Shout out: 2012 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards

Know someone who's made an outstanding contribution to the Australian performing arts? I thought so. You should be nominating them for the 2012 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards. Right now, as nominations close on November 9. The annual awards were created in 1984 by the Trustees of the Sidney Myer Fund to recognise outstanding achievements in dance, drama, comedy, music, opera, circus and puppetry. The are national, and comprise:

• The Individual Award - $50,000 
• The Group Award - $80,000 
• The Facilitator’s Prize - $20,000

Details and a handy online nomination form can be found at the Myer Foundation website. Hop to it!

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