Back in harness ~ theatre notes

Monday, April 06, 2009

Back in harness

Yep, your indefatigable blogger - never was an adjective more worthily earned - is back on duty. I got back last night from Hobart, where I spent a full and fascinating four days investigating the Ten Days on the Island festival (report to follow) and leading some workshops for Critical Acclaim, a program in which seven aspiring critics are thrown into the deep end and told to swim. (You can see some of their efforts at the swank new Spark Online site, as well as a plethora of other outlets like Australian Stage Online, Mercury Online and others.).

So it's been some week. From three days in the remote Flinders Ranges writing a poem with a camera stuck up my nose (which was much more fun than you or I might expect) to lounging about the chocolate box Hobart theatres and Salamanca's cafe society felt like an epic journey. But like Odysseus, I'm a bit of a homebody, and I'm glad to be back. And to make me feel even more upbeat, the Australian this weekend listed Theatre Notes as one of Australia's best blogs. I'm still not past being chuffed. I'm chuffed!

Addendum: check out Matt Trueman's piece on the situation facing young critics and the thoughtful discussion following it on the Guardian theatre blog. Very interesting, given what I've just been doing in Hobart. I'd say the difference here is that we have little tradition of theatre criticism - Katherine Brisbane and Harry Kippax (both Sydney critics) are about the whole shebang. Very often, those of us passionate about critical discourse in the theatre feel as if we're building from the ground up. As with many things about Australian culture, this lack of tradition - often decried in the past, and often rightly, as cultural aridity - means we look forward instead of backward, with no tradition letting fall its long shadow over us. Meaning that it can be a liberating plus as much as a problem.


phillip b said...

While you were away, the Age reprinted an excerpt from Brett Sheehey's provocative speech about the role of heads of theatre companies and festival directors. The full Currency House speech is on their website. It would be fascinating to hear your (and everyone's) reaction.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Phillip - I read the Australian's report on it, the first time with dismay and the second time with deepening interest. So I'm glad to hear that the entire speech is available and will look it up - it was hard to see the deeper implications from the report. I'm certainly all for more lucid language in speaking of art.

phillip b said...

I was interested in him addressing the issue of the importance of serving an audience, but he covers quite a wide range.

Chris K said...

I too was slightly dismayed by the article in the Oz, as it seemed to have elements of the straw man depiction of all artists as wankers and to herald a new era of overly interventionist festival programming. I am glad the full speech is available. As I had hoped, Sheehy's quotes were taken out of context, so the article didn't accurately represent the spirit of his argument. I think it's a good read, with thoughtful reflections about the artist/audience relationship and the importance of context.