Interesting things ~ theatre notes

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Interesting things

Yes, I know, Ms TN has been blogging like a maniac. Rest assured, I'll calm down over the next few days - I have a quieter week ahead. But some things of interest demand the attention of my tired little fingers.

Don't forget the Cross-Racial Casting Launch and Forum at the Malthouse tomorrow afternoon, where I will be launching Lee Lewis's controversial Platform Paper for Currency House. Join us, as they say, for a chance to discuss this landmark paper and maybe even buy it for yourself if you haven't seen it yet. The event is free, at 5.30 for 6: details at Currency House.

Which gives me an excuse to point to Outlier, the blog of Australian playwright Noƫlle Janaczewska, who has recently posted some stimulating thoughts about the whole question of representation on our stages.

Meanwhile, partly in response to the fierce debate my review of Sleeping Beauty unleashed on these pages, Malthouse dramaturg and co-creator of Sleeping Beauty Maryanne Lynch answers her critics in Arts Hub in a fascinating essay about the ideas behind the show. "What is it about using music, popular music, that has created such fierce commentary?" asks Lynch. "Or, more positively, why did we make this artistic choice?"

What our critics have found hardest to deal with is using such music as the narrative of a theatrical work and how this might accurately reflect the journey of a young girl from childhood to adult life. Underlying both issues is that hoary old question “but is it theatre?”

So, the nay-sayers say, Sleeping Beauty was nothing more than a tarted-up Year 12 Eisteddfod, we’re just a bunch of theatre artists who don’t even know what’s contemporary for teenagers, and most interestingly that the work failed to engage with the real-life experience of real-life young women.

Lynch goes on to explain the thinking behind their choices of music, what they did with it theatrically, and why they were playing with ideas of entertainment. Popular songs, says Lynch, are the contemporary equivalents of fairy tales.

Just as a culture takes on other influences and moulds them into its own, [Sleeping Beauty] tries on first this and then that idea of female identity, attempting to find out who she is as she works it out. There’s a musical parallel here too. Indigenous Australia has embraced Country and Western, and we all know the origins of white rock and roll but always these sources are reconfigured by those who appropriate them. Our Sleeping Beauty knows these songs, the same songs our critics know, but she receives them from where she’s at, for better and worse, and does the same to them.

She wanders through a dreamscape of her own making, and she inhabits but must discard all these versions of herself as she goes on. Instead, she faces life as a journey, navigated by choice and circumstance and culture, with no clear destination.

Popular music tracks the pathways she could take but knows, as theatre does, its own limitations in embodying the rich confusion of the journey. It satisfies us because it pins us down and we in turn take it up and spin it around. Like a record; like a tune in our heads.

The Arts Hub link is here (registration required). Well worth checking out, if you can get there.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alison - do you know if the Cross-Racial Casting Forum will be recorded / webcast at all?

A friend with an active interest in it is too ill to attend. How technically difficult would it be for Currency House to put an audio recording on their website?

Alison Croggon said...

Hi J-Lo - sympathies to your friend, that's a shame. I have no idea if it's being recorded! I'd suspect not, simply because I haven't been asked to sign any release forms (which CH would be obliged to do if they wanted to record it).

I'm planning a short report tomorrow, but I realise it's not quite the same.

Anonymous said...

This is the arts hub link, but registration is required.