Contemporary Australian Drama 2 ~ theatre notes

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Contemporary Australian Drama 2

Quick note - Julian Meyrick, associate director at the MTC, has a review of Leonard Radic's Contemporary Australian Drama in today's Age. Very different take to mine, and I hasten to say that I respect Meyrick's opinion. Just one quibble, for which I beg your indulgence, because it's close to home; but I do think it matters beyond the personal. Meyrick notes that "[Radic's] overview of Daniel Keene is particularly valuable, giving a sense of the range and stylistic variation this brilliant stage writer has achieved."

Perhaps this is so. But it's kind of distressing that this chapter will probably be a first port of call for those interested in Keene's work, because it is shockingly incomplete. Although it considers many shorter works, it doesn't mention several major plays, including what many (admittedly French) critics consider his most significant play, Terminus. Terminus premiered in Adelaide, as part of the decade-long collaboration between Keene and Tim Maddock of the Red Shed Company (also not mentioned at all, although the equally significant, if shorter, collaboration with Ariette Taylor is discussed at length).

It wouldn't matter if the book didn't claim to be comprehensive; but it does. I just note this rather sadly as a corrective: once something is framed between the covers of a book, it tends to gain the holy aura of fact. And this is how people get unjustly written out of history.

PS I just remembered a response I wrote to Terminus after its premiere in 1996. Nobody would publish it because it is not done to respond to work involving one's spouse; but hey, back then nobody else would do it. The play itself is available from Salt Publishing in the collection Terminus and Other Plays.

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