Notes from elsewhere ~ theatre notes

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Notes from elsewhere

The peripatetic Chris Boyd is posting some lively reviews of the Adelaide festival over at The Morning After, with mucho lush pictures. Wish I was there...and check out his interview too with David Freeman, director of the Opera Factory, where he speaks about Dionysian desires in theatre. The energy of Freeman's work lies in a very Australian and wholly admirable theatrical vulgarity, but sometimes I fear it is merely vulgar. Or maybe I've just never been able to get Madonna.

News from France is of a culture fighting for its life. The right-wing Chirac government's recent devolution of cultural funding from national to regional bodies has resulted in widespread and ongoing funding cuts. There are stories everywhere of theatre companies unable to produce planned programs of work because of unexpected budget cuts, in some cases approaching 20 per cent. The full extent of these cuts is still unknown. Perhaps Chirac's plan is to emulate the Australian model...

And words continue to spill over the Rachel Corrie controversy in New York. John Heilpern, the fine critic for the New York Observer, has an excellent opinion piece which backgrounds what he calls this "craven" decision a little more. We look to [Jim Nicola's] theater—and all great theaters—to be our forum, pulpit, truth-teller and witness to a world that has lost its reason, writes Mr Heilpern. Plays written in blood are not meant to be “acceptable” or “reach consensus.” That is for weaselly politicians. Give us plays of consequence, for heaven’s sake—not caution, compliance and fear.

Hear, hear. Wish I could read that in The Age...

Meanwhile in London, the new Practicum Theatre is accepting play submissions that "reflect the thoughts behind the recent ban of My Name is Rachel Corrie from the New York Theatre Workshop ... The plays should be 10 minutes or less and 8 - 12 pieces will be chosen for a central London showcase in May. Possible themes include: censorship, America, protest, racism, freedom of speech, democracy, Rachel Corrie, Israel and Palestine, propaganda, media control, invasion of privacy or fear. They say New York said nothing. Let's say something in London."

More information at

Well, some people in New York are saying quite a lot. But judging by the uncomfortable silence that this issue elicited last night in NY from a distinguished panel gathered to opine on - yes - the importance of political theatre (an inarticulacy surely up there with the amnesiac politicians so beloved of Australian Government inquiries), some kinds of politics are still off-limits.


DL said...

OOh thank you so much for posting this submission. I have the perfect short play called Proceed for this..

Maybe I could submit it to you for your E Zine too ? How do I do that ?

Chris Boyd said...

Funny you should mention vulgarity, Alison. One of the bits I edited out of the interview (cos it was a bit half-assed; DF was exhausted and lost his thread... probably cos I kept interrupting!) was this little exchange about theatre and Shakespeare, which turned to Twelfth Night.

DF: We often think of Shakespeare as the beginning of the modern. In fact, he's the end of the old... The fool says he is Olivia's corrupter of words --

CB: It's so fucking vulgar! [I meant Twelfth Night as written, not Freeman's production of it for Bell Shakespeare.]

DF: Of the people! Which is, of course, what vulgar means. That's all it means. Why would one not want to be "of the people"?

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Chris

I'm all for the vulgar (that's part of my interest in genre fiction). And I'm with Auerbach in that wonderful tome of his, where he traces the vivification of high culture through the ages through reconnection with the vulgar.

But I do feel a certain ambivalence, all the same, about what I've seen of Freeman's work. Its energy is indisputable: but I feel it comes at a certain price. My review of Twelfth Night articulates my problem...maybe I feel his designation "of the people" can be, at times, a little patronising.