Audio Stage, ep.4: John Kachoyan, Mark Wilson, Marcel Dorney

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“We rely on this idea that there is an idea that is Australia. And actually we may not be prepared to admit that it’s a really disparate place – not only distance-wise.”
– John Kachoyan

In the fourth episode, Fleur had to go to a wedding (fortunately not her own), so I was left alone with three (three!) guests: John Kachoyan, Co-Artistic Director of MKA: Theatre of New Writing, Mark Wilson, independent theatre-maker, and Marcel Dorney, the Artistic Director of independent theatre ensemble Elbow Room. Fleur still appeared, however, due to our producer Kieran’s technology magic.

This episode was recorded during Next Wave festival, and came about because I ended up in an extremely interesting discussion with these three gents at VCA earlier that week, and thought it was the sort of conversation worth recording. And it was. I ended up with pages and pages of quotes from the conversation. Something fantastic happened in the studio during the recording, and we came away with a fascinating discussion, among some of the most intelligent, passionate and engaged young leaders of the Melbourne independent theatre community, of some really important questions facing the Australian theatre.

There are some extraordinary exchanges in there, and I really highly recommend this episode, because, unfortunately, Australian media space rarely shows a passionate, respectful discussion held at a really high intellectual level. My favourite part of the conversation is probably when we discuss the role of theatre in fostering a national conversation, and John asks if theatre is in any way adequate to deal with these issues. Aren’t we asking too much of theatre?

John: “But why have we assumed the responsibility for engaging in massive cultural battles?”
Marcel: “I don’t think that we’ve assumed it. I think that we’ve rejected it. I think that’s a huge problem.”

That, dear reader, is what we talk about this fortnight.

“At the end of Keating’s prime-ministership, he was talking about embracing complexity and multiculturalism, and the difficulties there. Howard’s masterstroke was to come in and say: “I want Australians to be comfortable about their past, their present and their future.” Which is to say, “we’re not going to talk about this anymore.” And I feel like, since that period, we have not had a robust national conversation. Where is the cultural discourse about any of this stuff? We’ve had the apology, great; but that is not the end. Kevin Rudd’s apology should have been the beginning of this, kind of, great evolution in the way Australians see themselves. But I think that’s failed.”
– Mark Wilson

Discussed in this episode:
the first European play ever performed in Australia, Oriel Gray’s The Torrents, the ‘state of the nation’ play, John Howard and Paul Keating, the curse of the binaries of ‘Australian’ and ‘unAustralian’, watching theatre for information, Barrie Kosky and all our greatest theatre exports, being allowed to fail, generational warfare, Sisters Grimm and Declan Greene, killing art with egalitarianism, Lally Katz, and the theatre-enhancing properties of cheap airfares.

“I would characterise the Australian experience as, unfortunately, having to reflect a majority, and a popular view – more than art is required to in other cultures.”
– Marcel Dorney

Listen to the episode on the website or here:

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

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!

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