“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
In the fifth episode, and our concluding episode in the season on history and documentation, we talk to 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.
I’m not going to lie, this was the best episode ever. We laughed so much, we went overtime, and so many important, intellectually provocative, informative things were said. I would love if I could make all of my students to listen to this, if I could, indeed, make everybody in Australia listen to our conversation. It is for conversations like this one that we started Audio Stage. To quote Mark Wilson, it makes me immensely proud and humbled, to be a part of this project, with Fleur and Kieran.
In fact, I am going to make an extended quotation right now, just because I loved this episode so much:
“On the whole people who are involved in art in Australia are not treated well. People who go into theatre have a hard time of it, and are also not treated well. So all they really have is what they can hang onto psychologically themselves. I suppose that if I was an accountant and not a very good accountant and somebody said “hey, you’re not a very good accountant!” I’m still going to go in on Monday and I’m still going to be an accountant and I’m still going to earn $170 000 a year or whatever. But I can’t go through that same logic as an artist and emerge unscathed. A) I’m probably not going to earn that kind of money and B) if I lost what little reputation I had, I’d be unlikely to earn any money at all.
Perhaps in the world of accountancy people make mistakes all the time and it’s not such a huge thing because life is a mistake full process. So is theatre-making, by the way, but the theatre profession as I know it is kind of in denial about that. People are harried, hurried and demoralised.”
- Julian Meyrick
Discussed in this episode:
the comprehensive history of Australian theatre in one minute and a half according to Julian Meyrick; projectors in theatre (so important); Australia’s horror of its past; Are we dumber than we were forty-years ago?; the cultural hangover called J. C. Williamson; Louis Nowra’s The Golden Age; Patricia Cornelius; cultural rights and cultural duties; should we be optimistic about careers in theatre?; and how in the world does a dramatic canon come about.
New episodes will be released every 2 weeks, and we have made quite an effort to make them as accessible as possible, on a variety of platforms. Stay tuned and enjoy!
Listen to the episode: