No Plain Jane was, but is no longer, another space for 800 word reviews. While that work will continue to feature on other platforms, No Plain Jane is now an experiment in responding to theatre. My work here will be medium- and long-form. It will only take in the big picture. It tries to place review writing in a wider conversation about the art and the artist, and I hope will become a place where the artists can engage, too. Not everything I see will be written about. I will only write about work when I’m driven to write something that looks at the world as bigger then that one stage. This may mean seeing productions twice. This may mean referencing the script in great detail. This may mean referencing other reviews. This may mean none of these things. This may fail. But here is where I try.
Jane Howard is a freelance culture writer based between Adelaide and Melbourne, primarily writing about the performing arts. She started her blog No Plain Jane in 2009, and has since written for publications such as ABC Arts Online, the Adelaide Review, City Mag, Real Time, un Magazine and the Victorian Writer. In 2013 she interned with the staff of the Guardian (UK) as they covered the Adelaide Festival and is now a regular contributor to Guardian Australia.
Jane has been an invited blogger to the Australian Theatre Forum (Brisbane 2011 and Canberra 2013), Regional Arts Australia Conference (Goolwa 2012), and the Fairfax Festival (Swan Hill 2013). In 2012 was a participant in Next Wave’s Text Camp, under mentor John Bailey. She has been a writer in residence with Brown Council’s Mass Action: 137 Cakes in 90 Hours (Sydney 2012), and the Slingsby / State Opera co-production Ode to Nonsense (Adelaide 2013).
She has spoken about criticism and review writing for the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Crack Theatre Festival at This Is Not Art, the SA Writers Centre, and the Wheeler Centre and Melbourne Festival, and on topics ranging from global warming to feminism for the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, the Festival of Unpopular Culture, Vitalstatistix Theatre Company, and the YWCA, Women’s Information Service and University of Adelaide Women’s Collective.
As a researcher, she has worked for Playwriting Australia, AusStage at Flinders University, and the Women in Theatre Report for the Australia Council. Her independent research into women in theatre has been referenced by organisations including australianplays.org, the Australian Writers Guild, and the Wheeler Centre. Internationally, No Plain Jane has been referenced by publications including the influential arts email You’ve Cott Mail, and arts news website Arts Journal.
As a producer, Jane worked on Sepia for the 2012 Adelaide Fringe where it was nominated for the inSPACE:development Award and won the Tour Ready Award, allowing the production to have a remount at ArtsHouse North Melbourne for the 2012 Melbourne Fringe. In the 2013 Adelaide Fringe, she produced Gareth Hart’s Symphony of Strange, receiving five star reviews and nominated for Best Dance.
She is currently undertaking a New Media Art Mentorship with Meanjin.
You can generally find Jane for enquiries via emailing janehoward at ozemail.com.au, or you can follow her on twitter @noplain
This blog employs a “lounge room” comments policy. Please feel free to disagree with me, but bullying comments will not be tolerated or published.
Headshot by Sarah Walker.
Header image features Yarn Bombing on the Elder Park Rotunda for the 2011 Come Out Festival, column work created by Gemma of Crafty and Devious, and centre piece by Deborah Prior.