No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: statistics

Unpopular Self Promotion

The Festival of Unpopular Culture – the latest fringe festival venture to have popped up in Adelaide, because god knows we don’t have enough festivals (Adelaide count currently stands at 1,348,987-odd festivals per quarter) – has launched its first program to run alongside the Festival of Ideas.

I will be talking on the event entitled Rip It Up and Start Again: A Hypothetical New Beginning for Arts and Cultural Funding

You know how everyone complains about how the Australia Council devotes most of its energies to major flagships and opera? And everyone else gets, well, chicken feed? And when you try to debate that you get this whole series of arguments about how opera’s a great art form and needs funding and whatever? Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have a conversation about what things could look like, rather than a defensive argument about what they’re like now?

Well, let’s pose a hypothetical. Let’s assume every Arts funding body in the nation got shut down, all the money got put into a big pot, we were rebuilding the entire funding system from scratch and every body had to reapply from one big cultural slush fund. What would we do?

On the panel, I will be joining Esther Anatolitis (CEO Melbourne Fringe), Sandy Verschoor (Director, Festival of Ideas), Gavin Artz (CEO ANAT) and Chloe Langford (other young ring-in to balance out the fancy people who actually know stuff / visual artist).   We’ll be speaking on 15th October at 1pm at AC Arts.   I’ve been compiling links of issues I think are related to the panel on twitter under the official hashtag for that event: #FUCfunding, please join in the conversation either there or on the day.  It should be exciting.  I should get in trouble.

Along with the other youth-complainer of Adelaide, Will McRostie, I have also been involved in the on-going curation of a panel about the “real” youth of Adelaide in Child Exploitation.

Conversations about Adelaide’s youth always focus on Gen Y, those aged 18 – 30. On their lack of engagement with Adelaide, on Adelaide’s lack of engagement with them. But what about the real youth of this city?

How do tweens and teens interact with this city? How do they see the place they live in; where does it sit in relation to the world? Are there things here for them to do? Do they spend time in the city, in their suburbs, or at Marion? How long do they plan to stick around?

What are they worried about? What are they looking forward to?

This panel tries to answer the age-old question: is this city only worth living in as long as Justin Bieber comes to visit, or is it actually a great place to grow up?

Bringing together four kids from around Adelaide aged eleven to thirteen, the panel will discuss who they are , where they live, and what it really means to be youth in this city.

You can come listen to the kids talk on 8th October 2pm, also at AC Arts.


Despite my resignation letter, I am still powering ahead in an excel-sheeted-madness of theatrical statistics.  The State Theatre Company of South Australia launched their 2012 program today, it seems they paid some attention to the woman-in-theatre debate and their performance in that regard in 2011, with 4/7 2012 main-stage writers female, and 1.5 of the four pieces in the education staging crediting female playwrights. They have 54.7% female playwrights next year, which is nigh on unheard of, so good on them.

I’m thinking, however, the statistics will be more of a focus on georgraphics and year of premiere: these were actually some of the statistics I found the most interesting last year, so this year I’ll try and give them some more weight.  The current trend (spoiler alert!) is a lack of Shakespeare: has Bill had his day?

On this regard: if there are any young designers/theatre geeks who would maybe be interested in talking to me about creating an info graphic of some stats work, I’d love if you could get in contact.


For those lovely commenters from the “and what have you ever made?” camp: I’ve signed on to production manage my first play, which will be a new work by Emily Steel who wrote the award-winning Rocket Town for last years Fringe.  Like Rocket Town, it will be playing at RiAus during the 2012 Adelaide Fringe.  I’m sure I’ll be bombarding you with more information as we get stuck in.


And for a final unpopular promotion of another Jane: my dear friend Jane Gronow, who has in many ways made me the writer I am today with her amazing support through the incredibly sadly now defunct Lowdown Magazine and her friendship over the last year, has taken over Directions Magazine: the national guide to tertiary education in Australia.  For all you budding artists/arts workers who want to study at a tertiary level, you should check it out.

The Gender Debate: is an independent theatre company working in Adelaide. Established in 2009, the ensemble based company present South Australian premiere texts, with two productions a year since their inception.  In 2009 alongside their two play season, the company also presented an open reading of a new work by Caleb Lewis, and next month they will open their seventh production: Polly Stenham’s That Face.

The company currently has six core members: Matt Crook, Elleni Karaginnidis, Scott Marcus, Corey McMahon, Kate Roxby and Brad Williams.

McMahon has acted as director on all productions for the company to date, with the exception of 2010 Fringe show In Remembrance (of) A Small Death, two short plays by Anna Barnes and directed by Delia Olam, in production which had an entirely female cast and creative team.  Curious about the gender make-up of over the past three years, McMahon asked me to take a look.

McMahon has directed six of the seven productions; Cassandra Backler has designed for six of seven; five productions credited a lighting designer, and Ben Flett filled the role on four of these; two productions credit a sound designer or a composer.  Lewis’ Rust and Bone, and Daniel Keene’s The Share had fully male casts; while the Barnes’ double had a fully female cast.  In total, the company has presented eleven female roles and fourteen male roles, to scripts by four male playwrights and three female playwrights.

In total, 32 people have been credited in creative or acting roles over the seven productions in 52 positions.

This can be broken down into fourteen women filling twenty-three positions, and eighteen men filling thirty positions.

With only six percentage points separating the number of individuals, and seven percentage points separating the number of roles each gender fills, women that are employed by the company are employed to an equal extent as the men: the inequality lies before they reach the company stage.

In saying this though, the inequality is very slight.  An imbalance in directors stems from McMahon taking on that role as one of the six enemble members.

It is pleasing to see the company statement says “We believe all good theatre must start with good writing and places the playwright at the forefront of the creative process”, and in seven productions, three plays have had a female playwright and four have had a male, as it is in script production our female playwrights can find them selves chronically underrepresented.

Overall, I am very pleased with the current gender balance in’s seasons to date.  It is great to see something much closer to equality happening on our young, independent stages.  I’m excited to see how the company continues to develop.

If you’re not Shakespeare, it’s good to be Brecht (or Lally Katz)

An analysis of Australian Theatre in 2011 through the Major Performing Arts Group theatre companies.
Update #1: 14/11/2010, Malthouse Season Two: Three female directors, four male directors; four male writers, one female writer, one male/female pair; five world premieres, one text from 2010; all Australian works.

1. An introduction and a context
2. What ever happened to the female playwright?
3. Directors: The female strikes back!
4. The classic or the new, what wins out?  (And what are the classics, anyway?)
5. The curse of a premiere culture
6. Oh, the places you will go!
7. Where to from here?


An introduction and a context

This all started for me when at the Woman and Theatre panel at RightAct I started to look at where the work I was seeing in 2010 was coming from in terms of writers and directors.

I then began to wonder if the bias I was seeing was a true indication of the bias in the industry, or if it was the plays I was selecting.  This lead me to creating two studies of 2011 theatre: the productions of the Major Performing Arts Group (MPAG), and the productions we will be seeing in Adelaide.  This is my write up of the MPAG productions.

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