DEBORAH JOWITT / THE VALUE OF DANCE CRITICISM

“I have not seen anything in the US as extreme as what I have seen [in Australia] in the past week.”
– Deborah Jowitt

In the second episode of season three, Angela, Jana, and Beth speak to Deborah Jowitt, legendary dance critic and the idol of everyone in the room. A long-term critical columnist for The Village Voice (1967-2011), Jowitt has created an immensely influential body of work that includes four books – the latest of which, on Jerome Robbins, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2004. Having lectured at Princeton, Barnard, and Tisch School of the Arts, and recipient of two Bessies, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Deborah Jowitt is one of the seminal voices of and for the 20th century dance.

“People were concerned, there seemed to be disaster all round: enmity between countries, the possibility of bombs falling. I really thought: we’re going aerobic. We’re going to tone our bodies so we can run all the way from New York to Westchester county without getting hit.”
– Deborah Jowitt

CHRYSA PARKINSON / THE VALUE OF DANCE AS PRACTICE

“I think that equality comes with assymetry and that it’s not necessary for roles to be symmetrical for there to be equality.”
– Chrysa Parkinson

In the first episode of season three, Angela and Jana speak to Chrysa Parkinson on the creativity of the dancer: the work of dance, the authorship of the dancer, and whether excessive praise is how we pay artists in lieu of a living wage.

After many years in New York, working with Tere O’Connor Dance among others, Chrysa Parkinson now lives in Brussels. In Europe, she performed initially with Thomas Hauert and David Zambrano, and later with Boris Charmatz, Rosas/Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jonathan Burrows, Mette Ingvartsen, Phillip Gehmacher, Eszter Salomon, John Jasperse, Deborah Hay, Meg Stuart. She is an esteemed pedagogue, teaching annually at PARTS, and currently serving as Director of the New Performative Practices MFA program at DOCH/Uniarts in Stockholm.

Chrysa Parkinson would say that her current practice is performance.

“I don’t really like the idea that there’s ‘the body’. I don’t know what ‘the body’ is: there’s this body, my body, your body… there’s no ‘the body’ disenfranchised from its psyche and its context. It doesn’t really exist.”
– Chrysa Parkinson

ANGHARAD WYNNE-JONES & ESTHER ANATOLITIS / RESPONSIBILITY OF CULTURAL LEADERS

“Risk is not so risky. It’s a necessity. It is how forms develop, how we find new audiences, new artists, how cultural conversations happen.”
– Angharad Wynne-Jones

In our momentous final, fifth episode on responsibility, Fleur and Jana speak with two great women of the Australian performing arts: all-round cultural leaders Angharad Wynne-Jones, Artistic Director of Arts House Melbourne, and Esther Anatolitis, Director of Regional Arts Victoria (formerly CEO of Melbourne Fringe). In an emotional, grounding ending to the series, we touch on some important, often neglected questions: how do we create an ecology that supports the artist, as well as the arts?”

“The independent arts is a hell of a lot stronger than any arts minister in any doomed-to-fail attempt to politicise the ways that art gets made.”
– Esther Anatolitis

JOLYON JAMES & SONYA SUARES / RESPONSIBILITY IN ACTING

“There’s a consciousness that needs to be put around the way that we behave. We can’t just keep patting ourselves on the back or excusing it: ‘We’re creating art! It’s not real!’ It is also really happening to somebody.”
– Sonya Suares

This week we return to the topic of ‘Responsibility’. Fleur speaks with Sonya Suares and Jolyon James on how this concept relates to the actor: the responsibility of the actor, of the director to the actor, diversity in casting and the potential impact of not providing a multiplicity of stories and voices for our stages, and the responsibilities of creating work for children.

ANDREW HAYDON / NATIONAL IDENTITY

 

“Reading about theatre is a weirdly incomplete experience. Reading about other things is similarly incomplete but it doesn’t have to be the whole experience because if you read about it, you can get hold of it as well. Even with a poor representation of a picture – an artwork – you at least see what it looks like.”
– Andrew Haydon

This week we are taking a brief pause from our ‘Responsibility’ season. This is a bonus round from Berlin. Jana speaks with independent theatre critic, Andrew Haydon, about audiences, histories and European vs English theatre. This episode opens up the topics discussed on our show and examines them in a global context.

ROSLYN OADES / RESPONSIBILITY IN VERBATIM THEATRE

“I am very interested in the question of who’s allowed to say what in Australia.”
-Roslyn Oades

In the third episode of our season on responsibility in art, Roslyn Oades, director, actor and a pioneer in the field of headphone verbatim theatre joins hosts Fleur and Jana.

We talk about responsibility in the field of verbatim theatre: what it means to represent someone else’s story, building a right of reply into your work, ethical eavesdropping and how the response and willingness of the individual participant does not necessarily reflect the response of the community they are a part of.

JANE HOWARD & RICHARD WATTS / RESPONSIBILITY IN CRITICISM

“I think being part of the community is key to being a good critic.”
– Jane Howard

“My rule of thumb is, if they’ve been to my house for dinner, or I’ve been to their house for dinner, I’m not going to review them.”
– Richard Watts

In the second episode of our season on responsibility and art, our guests are Jane Howard, SA-based theatre critic whose work appears in The Guardian, Kill Your Darlings and Meanjin, and Richard Watts, host of SmartArts for 3RRR, national reviews editor for ArtsHub and long-term champion of Melbourne arts.

We talk about responsibility in arts journalism and criticism: how much of it is advocacy and how much critical reflection, ignorance and how to avoid it, and how to avoid becoming friends with artists!

“One of the things that got me into reviewing in the first place was going to the theatre and hearing critics in the foyer afterwards loudly complaining about a show and then seeing a very lukewarm review, a blandly critical review published the next day. I thought “No, it’s important to actually be critical.” As much as I admired Margaret Pomeranz’ passion for Australian cinema, for example, I thought that by going soft on Australian film she did the industry and the audience a disservice.”
– Richard Watts

MELISSA REEVES & PATRICIA CORNELIUS / RESPONSIBILITY IN PLAYWRIGHTING

“I think [the larger companies] should be forced to take more risks.”
– Melissa Reeves

“Nurture the audacious. The works that you remember are works with audacity.”
– Patricia Cornelius

And… we’re back! Fleur and Jana are talking to theatre-makers from Australia and abroad, with Kieran behind the mixing desk. Our second season will tackle the topic of responsibility.

‘Responsibility’ is a word that comes up a lot in art but its meaning is as multifaceted as the artists who use. It can mean ‘duty of care’ to your fellow practitioners, ‘responsibility’ to deliver the product the subscribers are paying for or not traumatising an audience who did not consent to be traumatised. But it can also mean responsibility to be brave. Brave enough to tell the hard stories. To press on wounds that need pressing. Sometimes the old adage that art ‘holds a mirror up to society’ is far to passive. Sometimes that mirror needs smashing.

In this, the second season of Audio Stage, we are talking ‘responsibility in art’. Over the course of the next ten weeks we will be in dialogue with various practitioners, programmers and thinkers about what ‘responsibility’ means to them and how we remain ethical in art.

Our first guests are playwrights Patricia Cornelius and Melissa Reeves. We talk about responsibility in playwrighting: the words we use, the stories we tell, the people we stage, and the playwrights we give money to.

“I’ve never believed the bullshit about how audiences don’t like risk. They actually really do. I’ve seen it. I’ve been in enough audiences that are asleep and I’ve seen them wake up when there is something that unsettles them… I think an audience is dying to be offended.”
– Patricia Cornelius

JULIAN MEYRICK / EXPLORING THE PAST

“Drama is like the minute hand of the clock.”
– Julian Meyrick

In episode 5, Julian Meyrick, theatre historian, cultural policy analyst, and Strategic Professor of Creative Arts at Flinders University, joins Fleur and Jana in the concluding conversation on theatre histories and documentation. We talk about his controversial essays on the history of independent theatre in Melbourne, his historical analyses of arts funding in Australia, and on what mistakes have been made, again and again.

This episode is our longest so far, and we still had to cut our conversation short (because minors in our custody were starving) without touching on everything we were planning to talk about.

We were really interested, right from the start, in talking with Julian, because we found his writings so useful in creating this season of talks. However, his new Platform Paper was published right as we were going into production, and then an unnecessary (and, in our opinion, somewhat dumb) controversy exploded around the margins of his argument. In this episode, we take time to talk about ideas, in this essay and in Julian’s other writings, while trying to give as much room to nuance, as nuance needs.

“If we paid the true value for our cultural experiences, rather than the discounted value of buying American scripts and British scripts and doing those (because we don’t have to translate them and the fit is ‘good enough’, as it were, culturally speaking) […] we would realise that we’re free-loading on global culture. We’re taking that hidden subsidy that Britain and America do invest in their work and we nick it. That allows us to under-invest in our own dramatic culture.”
– Julian Meyrick

JOHN KACHOYAN, MARK WILSON, MARCEL DORNEY / MAKING THEATRE WITHOUT HISTORY

“At the end of Keating’s prime-ministership, he was talking about embracing complexity and multiculturalism, and the difficulties there. Howard’s masterstroke was to come in and say: “I want Australians to be comfortable about their past, their present and their future.” Which is to say, “we’re not going to talk about this anymore.” And I feel like, since that period, we have not had a robust national conversation. Where is the cultural discourse about any of this stuff? We’ve had the apology, great; but that is not the end. Kevin Rudd’s apology should have been the beginning of this, kind of, great evolution in the way Australians see themselves. But I think that’s failed.”
– Mark Wilson

“I would characterise the Australian experience as, unfortunately, having to reflect a majority, and a popular view – more than art is required to in other cultures.”
– Marcel Dorney

In episode four of Audio Stage, our studio is full. We have gathered some of our favourite people, to talk about what it means to work in contemporary Australian theatre, and operate without history. Fleur is away for a wedding (luckily, not hers!), but the magic of technology, and Kieran’s amazing production skills, keep her present. Meanwhile, Jana is joined in the studio by: Marcel Dorney, Artistic Director of Melbourne independent theatre collective Elbow Room Productions; John Kachoyan, Co-Artistic Director of MKA: Theatre of New Writing; and Mark Wilson, independent theatre-maker and dramaturg.