audio stage, s.3, ep.2: deborah jowitt

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And today, Angela, Beth, and I talk with Deborah Jowitt, the seminal dance critic. To say she is everyone’s idol is an enormous understatement: Deborah has taught me not only how to write about dance, but how to look at dance, and how to see dance. The conversation was held during the weeks of Keir Choreographic Award, which gave us a rare opportunity to discuss Australian contemporary dance with someone who really knows a lot – and to talk about what value has been created, and continue to be created, by dance criticism.

As often happens with Audio Stage, it was a very emotional experience. Please have a listen, enjoy, and share.

If somebody says it’s a dance, it’s a dance and we’ll deal with it.

Discussed in this episode:
it’s not ‘the body’, but ‘the dancers'; the 1960s revolution against elitism; incorporating the building janitor into a choreography; pilates; Keir Choreographic Awards, and where is the dancing in contemporary dancing?; ideas that cannot be physically fleshed out – what fuels it in Australia?; the overuse of the word ‘ephemeral'; how to legitimise a new form; Judson Dance Theater; how criticism creates desire; and that not being a good artist doesn’t mean you’re not a good person.

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

Audio Stage, s.3, ep.1: Chrysa Parkinson

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And Audio Stage is back, for a season in which we look at price and value of that most ephemeral of all performing arts: dance. Angela Conquet, the AD of Dancehouse, and I, will speak to an incredible line-up of international dance thinkers, and we start with esteemed dancer and thinker Chrysa Parkinson.

Chrysa now lives in Brussels, after many years in New York, where she worked with Tere O’Connor Dance. In Europe, she has worked with Boris Charmatz, Rosas/Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Jonathan Burrows, Mette Ingvartsen, Phillip Gehmacher, Eszter Salomon, John Jasperse, Deborah Hay, Meg Stuart, and many others. She is an esteemed pedagogue, teaching annually at PARTS and is currently Director of the New Performative Practices MFA program at DOCH/Uniarts in Stockholm. Chrysa would say that her practice is dance.

Chrysa was in Australia as part of Adrian Heathfield’s project ghost telephone presented by the Biennale of Sydney, and in Melbourne invited by Dancehouse as part of the Keir Choreographic Award public program. It was such a pleasure to speak with this beautiful mind about the creativity and importance of doing, the false split between the mind and the body, and Richard Sennett. This episode of our little podcast has truly lived up to our wildest ambitions for Audio Stage.

I am always attended by what I called the ‘art dog’, which is just there: pretty big, at my shoulder, a little bit of a nice wet nose, it’s kinda looking around, it sees: ‘that’s life, that’s art’.

Discussed in this episode:
dance as manual labour, choreography as middle management; working with Deborah Hay; Richard Sennett arguing with Hannah Arendt about the importance of handiwork; the split between thingliness and beingness; who owns a choreography?; teaching as ‘trafficking in procedures'; differences in audiences between New York and Europe, where afterwards at the bar other artists just say ‘hi'; and can praise replace a living wage?

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

Audio Stage, s.3.1, ep.1: Andrew Haydon

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This week, Jana speaks with independent theatre critic, Andrew Haydon, about audiences, histories and European vs English theatre.

Andrew is one of the few British theatre critics who regularly travels around Europe to see new work, and who is conversant in contemporary European theatre (and not just what happens on the British Isles), approaching it with a distinctly British, but never parochial, perspective. In his writing for The Guardian, Time Out, Exeunt Magazine, and in his respected blog Postcards from the Gods, Andrew has long championed unusual work, difficult work, and has often argued that the British theatre is unnecessarily conservative in terms of form and interest.

“I always wonder what it would be like to get a hardcore German theatre theoretician in to watch a load of the really hardcore naturalistic productions that still exist in Britain but just tell them “it’s all a concept” and they are not allowed to go “oh, you’re just being British”. They have to believe that it’s a metaphor. How that would read? I’m sure there’s actually some really creative thinking if we didn’t all just go “urgh! It just looks like a room. It’s meant to look like that.” If we actually thought about it more creatively. There’s probably better ways we could understand what’s going on. There is craft in the way these things are put together, obviously. But craft and possibly not philosophy.”
– Andrew Haydon

Discussed in this episode:
‘Live art’ and its global history, stage metaphor, the white male default, new writing and authorship, national identity, what defines a ‘national theatre history’, the demographics of theatre goers, the importance of arts writing, the fallibility of the critic and can theatre ever just be bad?

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

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Audio Stage, s.2, ep.5: Esther Anatolitis & Angharad Wynne-Jones

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In our momentous final, fifth episode on responsibility, Fleur and Jana spoke 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 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?”

“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

This is a very special episode. Angharad and Esther spoke with an authenticity and feeling that is rare in public discourse. We felt very privileged to have them with us, and we all left in tears.

Discussed in this episode:
George Brandis, being a person with a ‘decision-making potential and capacity to be confused’, the future, ‘creating new artistic frameworks for established arts companies’ and what that could possibly mean, the difference between advocacy and lobbying, audiences, the importance of having rigorous conversations about art, being accountable to the rate-payers of the City of Melbourne, bushfires, Kat Muscat, burn-out, and what is cultural leadership anyway?!

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

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Audio Stage, s.2, ep.4: Jolyon James & Sonya Suares

This week, Fleur speaks with Sonya Suares and Jolyon James on how the concept of responsibility 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.

“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

Discussed in this episode:
Finding the ‘truth’ as an actor or lying about finding it, 8 Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography, creating a sense of safety in the rehearsal room, onstage nudity and vulnerability, We Get It, drama schools, bullying in the rehearsal room, actors learning to say ‘no’, sexual abuse within creative exploration, experiences of acting and casting as a woman of colour, the transformative body of the white actor, racial dramaturgy, Arena Theatre Company, creating work for children.

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

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audio stage, s.2, ep. 3: roslyn oades

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In the third episode of our season on responsibility in art, we talked to Roslyn Oades, director, actor and a pioneer in the field of headphone verbatim theatre. We talked 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.

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

-Roslyn Oades

Discussed in this episode: 
The manipulative power of the voice, whose allowed to say what in Australian society, the actor’s body as a piece of documentary, authenticity and the illusion of authenticity, verbatim theatre and the responsibility an artist has to their participants, Brecht and alienation, Ugly Mugs and the reaction of the sex worker community, community engagement.

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

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Published in 2015/2016

THE GUARDIAN
Audience takes centre stage in pioneering virtual reality dance film, review of Stuck in the Middle With You virtual reality film, a collaboration between ACMI, Sydney Dance Company, and Gideon Obarzanek, 7 March 2016
Festival of Live Art review – nudity and confessions on the outer edges of experimental theatre, review of the first week of FOLA, 8 March 2016
Vitesse review – Australian Ballet serves ambitious contemporary triple bill, review of Australian Ballet’s contemporary bill, 15 March 2016

REALTIME
Francophone dance; a difference, RealTime 131, Feb-Mar 2016, Belgium/Germany/France column #06. Includes: two works by Kevin Trappeniers and Daniel Léveillé.

THE LIFTED BROW
The Critic #04, in the episode ‘ANZAC’, The Lifted Brow 25, The Relaunch Issue, 1/2016
The Critic #05, in the episode ‘Depression’, The Lifted Brow 26, 2/2016
The Critic #06, in the episode ‘Break-Ups’, The Lifted Brow 27, 3/2016
The Critic #07, in the episode ‘Tony Abbott’, The Lifted Brow 28 (The Art Issue), 4/2016
The Critic #08, in the episode ‘Rebounds’, The Lifted Brow 29, 1/2016

Some overdue house-keeping

What a year it has been, dear reader. I have been writing a lot, but I have not been so good at keeping track of it on GS. Apart from The Critic, my column for The Lifted Brow, which I have been dilligently tracking here, here are the other articles I have had published this year:

The Guardian:
Review of Chunky Move’s Depth of Field, March 16, Dance Massive 2015.

Review of Rawcus’ Catalogue, March 18, Dance Massive 2015.

Review of Roslyn Crisp’s The Boom Project, March 23, Dance Massive 2015.

Dancehouse Diary:
An Ethics of Touch, Dancehouse Diary #8 / 2015.

RealTime:
Review: Dance Massive 2015, RealTime 126. Includes: Atlanta Eke’s Body of Work, Tim Darbyshire’s Stampede the Stampede, Motion Picture by Lucy Guerin Inc, MEETING by Antony Hamilton.

De Keersmaeker’s dance of ever more simple movement, RealTime 125. Belgium column #01. Includes: Augustus ergens op de vlakte (August: Osage County, by Tracy Letts), by Tom Dewispelaere and Stijn Van Opstal at KVS; Partita 2, by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker/Rosas; Golden Hours (As You Like It) by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Kaaitheater.

The deep roots of revelatory performance, RealTime 126, Belgium column #02. Includes: Le sorelle Macaluso by Emma Dante; Sonja by Alvis Hermanis.

Unburdened Australians in an adventurous mix, RealTime 127, Belgium column #03. Includes: For Your Ears Only by Dianne Weller at Beursschouwburg; Into The Big World by David Weber Krebs at Kaai Studios.

Going for the burn, RealTime 128, Aug-Sep 2015, Belgium/Germany column #04. Includes: Foreign Affairs Festival; Angélica Liddell & Atra Bilis Teatro: You Are My Destiny (lo stupro di Lucrezia); Barbarians by Hofesh Shechter Company; Deep Aerobics by Miguel Gutierrez.

Regaining equilibrium, RealTime 129, Oct-Nov 2015, Belgium/Germany column #05. Includes: Tanz im August, Berlin; 6 & 7 by TAO Dance Theatre; SCAN by Rosemary Butcher; Occasion III by Isabel Lewis.

Audio Stage, s.2, ep. 2: Jane Howard & Richard Watts

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“One of the interesting things about theatre criticism… is the breadth of works that theatre critics are supposed to see…. A literature critic isn’t going to review 50 Shades of Grey unless it’s a joke. Most of them aren’t reviewing commercial fiction; they’re reviewing literature. But theatre critics must review both small, independent, artistically difficult work and we review musicals.”
– Jane Howard

In our second episode on responsibility, Fleur and I are talking to arts journalists, critics and advocates Jane Howard and Richard Watts, in the lovely 3RRR studios. What you will get from this episode is an insight into how some of our prominent arts advocates understand the responsibility inherent in their work. What you WON’T get from this episode is any sense of the incredibly hot weather we had on that day! We were all exhausted!

Discussed in this episode:
processing difficult art, writing about famous people whose work you have never seen before, conscious and unconscious bias in writing about certain people, Cameron Woodhead, feminist comedy, how bad art can make for a very good review, Strictly Ballroom, drunk Saturday night crowds that laugh at anything, Margaret Pomeranz, Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical, being a feminist reviewer, so many white voices!, issues of race and gender, and whether 200 words could ever be enough.

“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

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

Audio Stage is back!, season 2, ep.1: Patricia Cornelius & Melissa Reeves

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“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

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 is Fleur’s proud baby, and will tackle the topic of responsibility. 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.

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

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. There may be some issues with iTunes while we have to remind them that we are still here, but the episodes will be reliably published on this blog, Fleur’s blog, and the official website. Stay tuned and enjoy!

Listen to the episode:

You can subscribe to Audio Stage in iTunes or Player FM, or listen on the official website.

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