TRENDSPOTTING: TWENTY-TWELVE

07/12/2011 at 3:42 pm 3 comments

Interesting times are afoot. Looking back at the year past one senses shifts in the theatrical landscape, conversation and the possibility of new horizons beginning to open up in the distance. Or, depending on your POV – the more things change, the more they stay the same – but amongst the semi-recycled quality of theatre seasons to come, there are just a few key indicators allowing the astute observer to spot the subtext of what’s really happening next in the world of the performing arts. Because if we read between the lines of the key events of oh-eleven, it doesn’t take much to see where things are heading in oh-twelve. As such we present our user guide to the year ahead. You read it here first.

Adaptations
All the rage, it’s been a creeping, steady growth of remix versions of the classic text for years now. New translations have become entirely new scripts writ “after” the original. At least one major theatre company is counting these as “new Australian works” in their marketing, but the controversy continues over authorship as other industry figures will dismiss these reworked scripts as “covers”. It becomes a matter of degrees of separation; exactly how far from the classic text do we need to go before we can say it’s our own? CAGELING (2010) springs to mind as a work that is its own unique end of the spectrum, while acknowledging the work by Federico Garcia Lorca the piece held its own physical theatre presence to confront the audience in lieu of dialogue. And at least they changed the title so we know it’s not pretending to be anything other than itself. But the tide is settling across the odd middle-ground where we can’t quite tell who wrote the thing. Who owns it (apart from the audience)… We aren’t saying if this is good or bad, just how it is, so keep an eye on the season programs, and let ye who casts the first stone be without fault…

Blogging
Speaking of throwing rocks… bigger, angrier, smarter, meaner, more insightful and just good old fashioned bitchy. Theatre weblogs are proliferating and the discussion expands, audiences participate and gradually, production houses start to take notice. Far too long have the publicity trains been in the sponsor and marketers’ pockets, so it’s no surprise the major theatre companies have resisted a thorough public conversation about the work – but whether we agree with the writers or not, whether we find the commentary useful, insightful, ridiculous, funny or just plain shit –we are talking on your play and we are very much here to stay.

Celebrity
Casting is becoming as much about selling tickets as it is about talent. Some have earned it, others do little other than a few comfortable years in television before swanning into the best roles. Not mentioning any names…

Dance
We are glad to see more experimental and physical works coming into ‘traditional’ theatre spaces. Kudos to Company B for introducing their audience base to something different. Also keep an eye on the Performance Space program and fringe groups like StageJuice and Freshly Squeezed for the more outside-the-box works in the Sydney subcultures.

Each and every one of you…
Love.

Free Tickets
Keep your eyes open! There are always freebies on offer if you know where to look.

Globalisation
The tug-of-war between supply, demand, import and export is felt in the performing arts as in every industry, but the localised nature of production makes for a uniquely difficult impasse. What it comes down to is the amount of top-quality artists willing to come and work on our stages (and who wouldn’t) – the STC offering something of a vanguard for the offshore director to stake a claim – and what exciting kinds of theatre are we getting as a result? Very exciting is what.

Naturally as this continues the funding bodies will adjust their funding structures accordingly so that our international guests aren’t taking precious Australia Council dollars away from local artists. Won’t they? I personally don’t have a problem with high calibre directors and performers working down at Hickson Rd, so long there’s an increase in local theatre production funding relative to the expanse of the international game. The Arts is a global industry, no doubt there, and we are (slowly) coming to terms with the idea that we can hold our own. But we need more room to breathe if we want to our own global artists to be able to reciprocate.

Haters
The flipside of the online proliferation of theatre comment (See B – Blogging) is the amount of trolling and nastiness that comes with. It’s enough to make a Critic Watcher hang up his binoculars as variations on thoughtless, hackneyed responses self-propagate across our screens. Check the comments section of Promptside’s review of The Economist for an inkling of the degree of vitriol abounding – it’s a lesson in how to look like a complete imbecile by saying nothing of value. Notably the creative’s responses are comparatively level headed – it shows the impact of giving comments serious thought before pressing *send*…

Indigenous Work
A few years ago John Ralston Saul spoke at the Sydney Writers Festival about the importance of tapping into collective stories and that the use of Indigenous languages was a critical component of our development as a storytelling nation… He said it much more eloquently than we do but over the years the rising profile of the First Australians in theatre has been steady and impressive; most recently Bloodland, spoken in traditional languages and resonating with all the cadences of contemporary Aboriginal theatre shows a willingness to recognise and embrace this part of Australian culture in the mainstream creative community that is essential to us taking a position in the world of theatre that is our own place. More.

Je ne sais quoi (I don’t know what)
Who Does? There is always a surprise in the air for the audience member or actor willing to take a shot on an unknown company, writer, a new play that gets overlooked by all the critics, always something special to be found in one of the nooks our city offers for creative, curious souls.

Kafkaesque
Trust me. Every half-baked critic worth the price of a complimentary glass of sparkling will be using this word to describe a piece of theatre that is slightly strange or absurd. It sounds so damned literary doesn’t it!

Libel
Seems like food writers can be sued for bad reviews, it’s only a matter of time before someone passes the buck over to blame the unsuspecting critic for box office losses… But then someone would have to take them seriously first.

Marginality, mediocrity and masturbation (more of the same)
Thank you, Peter Craven for highlighting everything that is wrong with your work. Oh wait, you were talking about art. Never mind. I must have missed the wanking scene in Baal

Nepotism!
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM…

Opening Ceremony
Sport = Theatre + populism… Bring on London!

Penis
We tried graphing the *ahem* rise in phallic occurrences on Sydney stages this year and it was *cough* exponential.

Questions?
Please wait until the end. I will answer them in due course.

Revue
Still the funniest, most politically acute show I have seen in a long time. Bring on 2012 for Federal Follies…

SANCZ
Yes. I am a trend for next year. Get used to it.

Twitter
We’d like to see more leading theatre figures on this excellent microblogging platform. Everybody else is! Really, if you aren’t tweeting you’re missing half the real-time discussions and one cannot claim to have one’s finger on the pulse if it’s gently massaging the rectal passages of them who do the talking for you…

Understatement
I thank Ms TN for this marvellous take on Bolt/Breivik in her recent review of The Economist:

“his contempt for evidence is symptomatic of an endemic toxicity in political discourse that itself produces delusion.”

Take THAT, fascist! I haven’t seen the play yet but honestly, I couldn’t have said it myself. We can only hope the power of the written word is as good for good as it is for evil.

Venues
More alternative spaces. Actually we need a decent mid-size theatre that’s open for independent producers.

Women
I’m sure it’s nothing unusual but there are a lot of women in theatre making waves right now. Soon they’ll be allowed to own property as well…

Xenophilia
(see G – Globalisation) We do love a good overseas company touring. Especially when they bring their own green laser pointers…

Young, upwardly mobile professionals
AKA New Audiences. I know how to reach them. Do you?

Zounds!
Archaic references in King Lear float my whistle. Watch this space.

That’s a wrap… Send me any thoughts or ideas for what you think are the touchstones of twenty-twelve. I welcome all comments!

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Entry filed under: Marketing, Sydney THEATRE. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

WANTON THEATRE IS AN EVENT

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Unreleased Movies  |  16/12/2011 at 7:07 pm

    Wow Excellent blog!

    Reply
  • 2. James Waites  |  18/12/2011 at 7:56 am

    That’s a fucking great wrap!

    My favourite bit is: “Marginality, mediocrity and masturbation (more of the same)
    “Thank you, Peter Craven for highlighting everything that is wrong with your work..”

    I have held this guy in low esteem since the 1980s – the Andrew Bolt of arts commentary – a total airhead!

    Reply
  • […] doesn’t like to say one told you so, but one saw all this coming. Just a few points before we move on from the navel […]

    Reply

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VICTOR SANCZ vassanc [AT] gmail.com

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