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Looking Back 2011

Let’s begin with the theatre that I have seen this year that has given me good reason to KEEP going.

By far and away the  most satisfying production I saw this year was: THE LIBERTINE by Stephen Jeffreys at the Darlinghurst Theatre by SPORT FOR JOVE. Every aspect of this presentation was informed by theatrical intelligence and committed passion, beginning with the writing right through to the Acting: Danielle King – amazingly gifted and giving, present; Anthony Gooley – it looked like a self sacrifce of himself to create the performance of Rochester, exciting to see auch a young actor give so much of himself, emotional risk taking of tthe highest order; Susan Prior – being modestly great with her integrity as an artist, as usual; Sean O’Shea – outrageously relaxed and comically brilliant. But then the whole company was truly focused and fused. A flawless team. The Costume and Set Design by Lucilla Smith – a breakthrough of thorougness and beauty; Lighting Design – Matt Cox enhancing every visual aspect. Composition and Sound Design by Simon Van Doornum and Mary Rapp- integrated and supportive without intrusion. The Direction by Damien Ryan and Terry Karabelas insightful and colaborative.

THE NEDERLANDS DANS THEATRE 1 which I saw at the Arts Centre Melbourne was the next thrilling theatre I saw. So moved and excited that I saw it twice, on two consecutive days. DOUBLE YOU by Jiri Kylian, THE SECON PERSON by Crystal Pite – brilliant! SILENT SCREEN – by Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon.

THE ADVENTURES OF ALVIN SPUTNIK: DEEP  SEA EXPLORER written, designed, performed and directed by Tim Watts – a miraculous creation for children and adults. A creation once more coming from a truly impassioned artist with his skills in brillaint form. Also at the Darlinghurst Theatre.

Two works by My Darling Patricia: AFRICA  at Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 2 and POSTS IN THE PADDOCK  at Performance Space, Carriageworks. Claire Britton, Halcyon MacCleod and Sam Routledge artistic visionaries leading an amazing creative team.

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS from DV8 led by Lloyd Newson at the Sydney Opera House. Dance Theatre, verbals and politics, such that the audience were still in the foyer ages after it finished truly engaged in discussion. What theatre can and should do to help us see our worlds in confronting distillations.

THE BROTHERS SIZE by Tarell Alvin McCraney. A contemporary African-American play, an exciting new voice for Sydney to hear, with a wonderful cast of Australian actors: Marcus Johnston, Anthony Taufa and especially Meyne Wyatt. Design by David Fleischer. Imara Savage directed.

CUT by Duncan Graham in the Downstairs Theatre, Belvoir St. directed tautly and with contol of every creative input by Sarah John with a simply great performance from Anita Hegh.

THE WILD DUCK – by Simon Stone and Chris Ryan after Henrik Ibsen in the Upstairs Theatre, Belvoir St.. Although not anything but a shadow of the Ibsen play, the company of actors were magnificent in grappling with a contemorary style of acting that was fairly daring: Anita Hegh; Ewen Leslie; Toby Schmitz; Anthony Phelan; Eloise mignon and of course an actual Wild Duck, whose presence cannot be underestimated in creating the theatrical dynamic of this production.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra continued to enthrall me:

I observed this year an exciting trend in new writing in Sydney emmanating from the Women Writers. The voices are arresting for their style and contemplations:

  • DIRTYLAND by Eloise Hearst presented at the New Theatre SPAREROOM, directed by Paige Rattray.
  • PICTURES OF BRIGHT LIGHTS by Maree Freeman at the Bondi Pavillion, directed by Caroline Craig.
  • A QUIET NIGHT IN RANGOON by Katie Pollock at the New Theatre SPAREROOM, directed by Paul Gilchrist.
  • SPROUT by Jessica Bellamy directed by  Gin Savage.

The other exciting debvelopment was the maturing of the Indigenous Story in Sydney’s contemporary theatre scene. Modern stories focusing on the contemporary predicaments of the Indigenous Community:

  • BULLY BEEF STEW – Developed and directed by Andrea James with Sonny Dallas Law, Colin Kinchella, and Bjorn Stewart at the Pact Theatre for Emerging Artists.
  • BELONG – from Bangarra. ABOUT by Elma Kris. ID by Stephen Page. Complimented by a beautiful Design by Jacob Nash at the Sydney Opera House.
  • BLOODLAND – a co-production by the Sydney Theatre Company and Bangarra  at Wharf 1by Kathy Balngaynga, Stephen Page and Wayne Blair.
  • POSTS IN THE PADDOCK from My Darling Patricia in association with Moogahlin Performing Arts at Performance Space, Carriageworks.

An exciting development was the launching of the SYDNEY CHAMBER OPERA. Led by Musical Director, Jack Symonds and Artsistic Director, Louis Carrick. The company presented three works with their premiere effort NOTES FROM UNDERRGROUND directed by Netta yashchin being especially propitious.

My two favourite new Australian plays were:

Other performances I am glad to have seen:

The other work that I have especially relished are the Broadcasts from the National Theatre of Great Britain and The Metropolitan Opera. Recently the opportunity to see Arnold Wesker’s THE KITCHEN was great, a huge, wonderful company of actors.

SATYAGRAHA by Philip Glass  directed by the British team from Improbable Theatre Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch for the Metropolitan was a fesat of theatre invention and design The same team are presenting a mash up of baroque music called THE ENCHANTED ISLAND , I expect the same kind of genius. The fact that 30 odd people were at the Chauvel the mornings I went to see the two earlier works reflects for me a great sadness about the contemporary Australian audience for the arts. I can assure you , even though filmed, the quality of the work is mind blowingly great. Go.
THE RING CYCLE directed Robert Le Page – come on, we pack him out when he visits and fall over ourselves to hail his greatness and yet…

2011 an Ok year in my theatre going experiences. Not great.