More dates ~ theatre notes

Monday, August 30, 2010

More dates

My diary is insane. The rollercoaster seems to be plunging right on until November: and then it's the end of 2010. Like, what happened? Wasn't the New Year only last month? Is it the expanding universe or something?

But to turn to some particular fluctuations in the time-space continuum: next week, the Wheeler Centre, aka the Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, is running a series of panel discussions with what they cheerfully admit is the "thoroughly prejudicial" title of Critical Failure. Covering four artforms, films, books, theatre and visual art, the discussions will "review the state of critical culture in Australia and cast a critical eye over Australian reviewing".

Surprisingly enough, I'm on the Theatre panel, and will be appearing next Wednesday, September 8, with my old sparring partner, Age critic Cameron Woodhead; Julian Meyrick, a vocal critiquer of criticks, including La Croggon; and Stephen Sewell, firebrand playwright. Might make some fireworks, but even given the polar set-up I'm hoping for more light than heat, and that I don't end up as kebab. We'll see. It's a free event, 6.15 at the Wheeler Centre, bookings online here.

Meanwhile, this week I'm mainly attending AussieCon4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. I've listed my appearances on my Books of Pellinor blog, if anyone here happens to be heading there and wants to see how my fantasy hat suits me.


Anonymous said...

Awesome, you and Cameron.

Hey, here is a bit nipped off the end of his review for the trial (malthouse).

"But compared to Kathryn Hunter's one-woman show Kafka's Monkey, this theatrical adaptation of Kafka misses the mark. It should be funny and sad, savage and strange."

Now don't know about you, but for my mind, comparing one sort of theatrical interepration with another is problematic. Here are some very immediate ways I feel it is:

1. The monkey show he refers to was a solo show, very much based around the skills of one performer/auteur. I could be wrong, but didn't the woman who performed that show create it?

2. This solo show had toured heavily and after many many seasons finally came here, to little old us. Now is it really the same thing to compare say a seasoned footballer with plenty of games under their belt with a 16year old draft pick?

3. The idea that an address to the academy is like the trial is an aberration (spelling?). Yes they are both from the same authors pen, and yet that may well be where their similarities end.

I leave these thoughts floating now, remembering somewhere a review that Cameron Woodhead wrote years ago, I recall it saying something like 'they (insert name of young performance company here) could learn something about using the war on terror in theatre from (insert name of some established british playwright here."

Which always seemed strange - considering the comparison was between a play and something quite and most definitely NOT a play!

Ah, I didn;t like the mokey show and I haven't seen the trial. But I do on ocassion read his reviews...they most all get in under my skin.

much love etc

Alison Croggon said...

I thought it a strange comparison too. And I wholly disgreed with Cameron's judgment there - as is clear in my TN review here.

Below is the nub of it:

"The strange thing is that the production didn't seem to me at all like Kafka. Yes, it's his text, albeit translated and slightly adapted; yes, it's his concept. But the opaque darkness that moves under his sardonic humour, even the strange surreal precision of his unique vision, seem blurred, withheld; this monkey wants us to like him. The calm, even arrogant self-contempt that strikes me most forcibly in the story seems here transformed into a plea for understanding. It's a subtle transformation that changes the story into something less pitiless, and less cold. And, for my money, much less powerful...

"I walked out feeling that I had witnessed a virtuosic diversion, a highly skilled rendering down of a complex and disturbing text into something more easily digestible.

Aside from the little comic apologias, which distract from Kafka's sternly impersonal reportage, the production seemed uni-dimensional. Nikola Kodjabashia's soundscape - silence for most of the time, punctuated by abrupt snatches of music hall, or a dim chord - seldom went beyond the illustrative, and felt puzzlingly unintegrated; the lighting and set somehow fell between two stools, being neither rich nor detailed enough to become meaningful elements of the production, but not minimal enough either to be a stark framing of the performance (I found myself longing for no lighting or design at all). The production seems tacked together, a vaudeville that assumes a comfortable relationship between audience and performer, and which takes care never to disturb it. Which in itself feels rather un-Kafka."

DS said...

Does the Wheeler Centre do some sort of transcript or precis of things said at these events, for those unable to attend but who'd still love to hear some of the arguments?

Alison Croggon said...

I believe I read somewhere that the Critical Failure sessions will be recorded - for broadcast on Radio National? *Checks* These events are certainly in partnership with RN, which suggests this is very likely the plan...

tom healey said...

Alison, I'm coming and I want blood!! he he he x tom

Matt Scholten said...

Will be there as well!
Looking forward to it. M

Geoffrey said...

I'm coming too. Thanks for the link Alison. Would never have known it was on. Promises to be a fascinating evening.

Alison Croggon said...

Is the Wheeler Centre the new Colosseum, Tom? Cruel, you are. As long as you help clean up the mess, then. And you're all tops - I was discussing only yesterday how theatre really is a community. Cudgel your heads and bring some interesting questions!

Anonymous said...

Wish I could be there but can't. I do so hope woodenhead is made into a kebab. Ms TN Please advise when they will be on Radio National

Alison Croggon said...

It's quite brave of Cameron to turn up at all! And if no one gets minced, it will be all very disappointing for you baying hounds. Perhaps, given I like my skin whole, we can put on a show, something like WWF championship wrestling.... Big Al vs Julian "The Brain" Meyrick!! Rwaaarrrr!

Wheeler Centre said...

We're thrilled that Critical Failure has created so much discussion around our critical culture. All our videos will be online - hopefully next week.