Leaving alone the East-coast dominance debate for now, or the relative merits of An Officer and A Gentleman, can we look at the bizarrity which is the phenomena of four nominations in the 2012 Helpmann Awards going to dead, white, men for work they created before I was born?
Michael Bennet (1943 – 1987) is nominated for his direction and choreography of his 1975 Off-Broadway (and then Broadway) musical A Chorus Line, which opened in Sydney in 1976.
Tony Tripp (? – 2003) is nominated for his scenic and costume design of Melbourne Theatre Company’s 1988 production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
There are some other shows nominated which were first produced outside of the cut-off period (such as Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer and Boats), but these works are still of the contemporary repertoire, nominated now because they have only just reached the levels of touring success it takes to have a small show noticed. And yes, both A Chorus Line and The Importance of Being Earnest were both remounted in the last year. But the works – and the artists – are of an entirely different era. Why are they nominated in a contemporary ceremony?
On another note, if the local media coverage of the Olympics have taught us anything it is: being nominated counts for nothing. Whoever doesn’t win at the Helpmann Awards, looses. They’re probably a disgrace. But on the upside, they clearly deserve more funding.
Congratulations to all the nominees.