Apologia ~ theatre notes

Friday, June 04, 2004


Some notes on why I'm doing this

Blogging, like much else in the cyberuniverse, is a chance to be your own star. Even if no one reads your blog, there's the mirage of public exposure. It's peculiarly seductive. But apart from the appeal to an illusory sense of self-importance, there's another reason to like the concept. Blogging has re-introduced the independent public commentator; but unlike underground magazines or samizdat, which were available only to the few, anyone who has a computer with an internet connection can look at a blog. I've noticed with interest, for example, the sudden appearance in Iraq of independent journalists, funded by their readers, who are able to report without the institutional and personal constraints which trammel those in the mainstream media.

I've kept a personal and somewhat irregular blog for some months now. And one day it struck me that a blog that focused on theatre criticism would be a most interesting thing to do. The format is perfect, I can review whatever I like and, unlike reviews which appear in periodicals or newspapers, the commentary itself is always accessible for public record. Another interesting facet is a blog's interactivity, which gives reviewing the possibility of being much closer to what I believe it, ideally, is: an important part of the dialogue within theatre itself. Criticism articulates the incorporation of the audient (I am never quite sure what an "audience" is) into the strange, vexed and luminous network of relationships which make up this phenomenon we call theatre. The fact remains (unless one is Grotowski, which luckily most of us are not) that theatre does not exist without those who witness it.

So I decided to start this blog, as an experiment. Will anyone read it? I don't know. But I hope it will be fun to do and interesting to read. And perhaps it will create a forum for ways of thinking about theatre other than those corseted and unenlightening commentaries which dominate mainstream theatre reviewing here. I won't necessarily be writing about local productions, although I plan to focus on them. I take my brief to include anything to do with theatre that interests me, including scripts, dvds, conversations and books; and I take theatre to be an international phenomenon. As I am only one person, and because nobody is paying me, I will not be able to cover everything that happens in this town; this blog will be exploratory rather than comprehensive. I will aim to write at least one review a week, publishing on Wednesdays.

I feel strangely obliged to say something about my previous, rather controversial, incarnation as a critic for The Bulletin. It will be expected of me by those who have long enough memories to recall it. (It often surprises me that people do remember it - has nothing happened since?) But all that was long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away... and the fact is, I have absolutely no interest in rehashing old and dull arguments. (New and interesting arguments are another kettle.) Although pride prompts me to say, for the record and contrary to the wisdom of gossip, that I wasn't sacked: I resigned because I could make more money writing poetry.

My work didn't need justifying then and it shouldn't need justifying now. But I remember the lessons I learned about the mechanisms of censorship within Australian culture and the consequent impoverishment of our cultural lives: and I have not forgotten them.


Michael Peverett said...

Best wishes, Alison, I'm going to enjoy reading this. Fresh from driving home late at night listening to terrible - that is, absolutely normal - production (on the BBC's "cultural program") of "Arden of Faversham" - terrible 16th century play, (now unaccountably over-rated). Oxford types buffooning in perfunctory Mummerset - the whole exercise baffling.

Lynden Barber said...

"I remember the lessons I learned about the mechanisms of censorship within Australian culture and the consequent impoverishment of our cultural lives: and I have not forgotten them."

Please expline

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Lynden - nice to see you here...

This was a long time ago, of course. You might find this interesting as an explanation for my dark mutterings...