1. City as stage… for social upheaval.
2. Speaking of city as stage, I should explain that I have missed most of Fringe08, will miss most of the rest due to reckless MIAF-prioritizing this year, and am sad about it. What makes Fringe special is rarely shows in singular, this or that performance. Fringe really should be a flurry of quickly exchanging experiences. Take the exemplary case of Born Dancin'. Now there's a person enjoying life.
I will report on a few things I've managed to catch. Long and considerate, as optimal as it is, may not be possible, but I will attempt to write longer than short.
3. In a very interesting moment for Australian theatre, David Tyndall, the artistic director of Dancehouse, responds to one of those short and flurrious Fringe reviews from The Age. Though I think it is misguided, in this case, to throw rocks at the reviewer, and not the publication (due to the balance of power each command in the case of these reviews), he makes some points that are very rarely made in this country:
Now, I am not responding because the review was particularly unfavourable. I've read too many reviews to allow the unfavourable ones to bother me. But, what does bother me, in this case, is the combination of unfavourable with lazy, ill-informed, insulting and utterly useless. (…) Following the “How to write an Arts Review for a Major Media Publication” textbook, Vincent covers all the bases in the six paragraphs I have no doubt she was confined to. The first is for the skimmers, specifically designed to deliver the overall message of the review. The second attempts to describe the setting in which the action takes place. The third brings a description of the movement and the lighting. The fourth paragraph covers the music and costume. The fifth an attempt to contextualise the work in relation to the artist's previous work and the last paragraph is the closer that in one simple (and I mean Simple) sentence manages to contradict itself perfectly in an attempt to give a lasting opinion. (…) All wrapped up in a nice, neat, well-structured, traditional package, this kind of simple writing is so utterly useless to the artist, to Dance, to the audience and to the reader of The Age that it brings into question the investment made in it and the space provided for it.
It makes no attempt to provide the reader with a vivid narrative of the experience the performance (though I understand there are word limits). It gives little attempt at investigating the performance in relation to the artist's intentions, progression, history and current creative context. It gives no opinion into how and/or why it was created and produced. It makes no attempt at helping to educate the reader in the appreciation or understanding of dance (I accept that it is arguable whether this should be the critics role) and it barely even manages to inform the reader about whether or not they should go and see it (which surely is fundamental to the critics role).
What do you say to this, critics?