No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Daniel Keene

On facts and figures

Over at ABC Arts Online, Alison Croggon has done a brilliant write-up on figures we collated pertaining to the presentation of new plays in Australia. Here are the nuts and bolts of the issue:

Of a total of 93 productions mounted in 2013, we found that a healthy 54 were new Australian works – that is, almost 60 per cent. Two further productions were of Australian classics. International work (classics, adaptations and new plays) totalled 37 productions. Of the new Australian works, 25 were new plays, 19 were new adaptations of prior work and 13 were collaboratively devised. (The figures don’t add up because there is some cross-over in the categories). Six are collaborations between two writers, five of them a writer/director team. AMPAG companies produced work by a total of 34 Australian playwrights in 2013.

Says playwright Daniel Keene to Alison:

Let’s face it, it’s hard being a playwright. There are only so many stages, and only so many plays can be done every year. In order for your plays to be done, you depend on other people to realise them. And sometimes collaborations fail, as they must be allowed to do: but it doesn’t make things any easier.

Earlier this year I interviewed Matthew Whittet for a piece for Arts Centre Melbourne. We discussed how he is an early career playwright who has found great ongoing support from Windmill, who have produced three of his plays and have a fourth currently under commission. He told me:

You hear it constantly over and over and over: you need to find directors. Writers need to find directors. […] If you’re writing for theatre it almost means nothing, or it’s a very very difficult path to tread if you just want to be a writer who sends your work out for other people to do. You have to find collaborators. You have to find people. It’s literally just finding the right fit. The people who you speak to their work and they speak to what you do. It’s like anything, doing any kind of theatre: the best shows always for me always come from a group of people that you feel they enjoy working together, and there is a fit. It doesn’t matter where they’re from or who they are or what their experience is, that’s always a major key.

The theatre world is constantly shifting and changing, and we need a system that allows for flexibility – flexibility, even, in the definition of ‘new Australian work’, on how plays are made, and who makes them. It can be a hard industry for anyone, and when one section is pointed out as the ‘problem’ it’s easy for other artists and arts workers too look at that and prescribe it as the cause of all ills. Today that might be auteur directors; tomorrow it might be administrators; Monday it might be funding bodies. But, alongside flexibility, theatre is built from a community that requires collaboration.

It’s easy to get caught up in emotion; I’m glad Alison and I were able to inject some facts. Sometimes, these facts and figures support what people have been saying; here they don’t. Either way, they allow us to focus our conversations, and that is what will lead to a stronger industry.

2010, You’ve Been Good To Me

A Thank You, and the obligatory Best Of Worst Of lists

To everyone who has supported me and my blog and my other writing this year: thank you.  This year has been truly magnificent, and getting so much respect for my writing has played no small part in that.  When I decided to not pursue my Honours degree I knew I was making the right choice; I could have never grasped just how right that choice was.  To everyone who has read, commented, subscribed, or talked to me about something I’ve written, you blow my mind.   To the companies and artists in particular who have taken me on as part of the community, in my strange hybrid of administrator / writer / reviewer / blogger / fan, I am eternally grateful.

Even those of you who have given me bad feedback, the overestimation of the impact of this blog warms my cockles.  Those of you who got here by searching for naked pictures of actors or Plain Janes, you creep me out a little and don’t get my thanks, sorry.

After much hemming and hawing over how (and if) to do a Best/Worst of The Year, I eventually decided to just go for the traditional top and bottom five.   Not necessarily the best and the worst, but in a completely subjective analysis my favourites and my biggest disappointments.  I loved 54 of the 88 productions I saw, and most of the rest leaned towards the love over the hate side, so it’s been a pretty fine year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Share

The Share
by Daniel Keene
Directed by Corey McMahon
Presented by five.point.one

I spent Friday at the very interesting National Multicultural Arts Symposium at Nexus Multicultural Arts, subtitled Diversity: Theory and Action.  Which was filled with some very interesting discussions (and some not so interesting, but there you go), and that deserves its own blog post, but which lead to some odd feelings when I went to see five.point.one’s production of Daniel Keene’s The Share. After a day of talks about how we need to encourage a more diverse arts base in Australia, I sat down to watch a play written by white Australian male, directed by a white Australian male, and staring three white Australian males.  I don’t know if I would’ve even noticed before, and I certainly am not criticizing the casting or anything, but it did drive the point home how very homogenous the arts are in this country.

Scott Marcus (back) and Matthew Crook. Not the healthiest of relationships. Photo by Cass Backler, supplied in my information pack. Oh yeah.

Read the rest of this entry »