“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

Discussed in this episode:
Andrew Bovell; academic research and ethics procedures; Aboriginal and white theatre-makers; rulebooks for making ethical art: Y/N?; telling real-life stories: ‘how did you know my first wife was a hair-dresser?’; Diane Brimble; identifying with characters; the whitest story ever told about Kenya; Steven Sewell; why white women are so much more concerned about their responsibilities than white men; why a lion is always played by a black actor; Jana’s students at the VCA; Myall Creek Massacre; George Brandis; and Melbourne Workers’ Theatre.

“I remember reading this fantastic poem by this Aboriginal woman, and it said: ‘If you’re writing this because you want to help me, you know, just fuck off. But if you’re writing this because your liberation is bound up in my liberation, then, you know, go ahead, come with me’. And it was a beautiful invitation.”
– Melissa Reeves

Stay tuned: we have more exciting and intellectually rigorous conversations to come.

Podcast bibliography:
Ben Neutze: Who’s Afraid of Patricia Cornelius? (The Daily Review, May 27, 2014)
Simon Caterson: Cold War Confidential (The Age, 17 February 2007)

If you are interested in Melissa Reeves and Patricia Cornelius, you can read their plays at Melissa Reeves’ plays here, and Patricia Cornelius’ plays here.