Firstly, I have to ask, has Belvoir been taken over by the faux-bearded, cardigan-wearing, soy-skinny-latte-drinking, 20+ something set?
I mean, please…why is it that every classic play needs to be re-written so a contemporary audience will understand it? How stupid do they think we are? Seneca, Euripides and Eugene O’Neill are getting their work overhauled by Simon Stone and others in 2012 after Ibsen and Chekhov got hammered this year. And if next year’s works reflect this year’s reworks, as an audience you can expect to be left out of the equation altogether. After all, we are philistines who wouldn’t understand the resonance of the classics in the modern world and should just move our antiquated arses aside for the new breed who are deep inside the belly of the common man, man. Right. And nothing says common man like Myers, Stone, Andrews et al and their intellectualised tirade of barely coherent, socially inept unpacking of the season at the launch. I only hope Myers can direct better than he can speak in public.
It seems ironic that the best work Belvoir will stage in 2011 is Armfield’s direction of ‘Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’, a beautifully crafted seminal piece of Australian work by a man who knows the integrity of the work, when to manipulate it and when to leave it alone. The boys of Belvoir don’t seem to be able to keep their hands off it.
Never underestimate the willingness of your audience to engage in sophisticated work, whether it be contemporary or classical. Just stop performing for what entertains you and start thinking about your audience. There are times I wanted to smash a brick through your fourth wall and hurt somebody with the trite on offer but it would have bounced back from the perspex wall and clobbered me on the head and I figured you’d already done that with the work in the first place.
So, apart from the re-written classics, what am I concerned about in the 2012 season? Well, Benedict Andrews writing and directing this year. I won’t be needing to ingest any metamucil that week. It’ll be flowing straight out of the glass box, past the raining ash and pissing itself up the wall, joined by the money I’ve just forked out to watch it. Don’t expect to understand the production. Only the faux-bearded set and their entourage will get it (or pretend to) and you’ll be made to feel like an idiot or a relic of the boomers or even generation x if you question it and the critics will wank all over it and you will ask yourself, ‘Is it just me? Did I just not get it?’. Answer: no but thanks for your $60.
I will be developing the ultimate Benedict Andrews bingo cards to take to his shows from now on so at least you can amuse yourself by crossing off the Benedict Andrews Theatre SHows Intellectualising Tricks (BATSHIT). I will expect calls of Bingo to be heard in every show. You can’t imagine my horror at discovering Luc Bundy was replaced by Andrews for STC’s Gross & Klein this year so I can only imagine how the cast felt. Profound disappointment I would think.
Ralph Myers will be making his mainstage directing debut with Coward’s ‘Private Lives’. If he leaves Toby Schmitz to just do his thing and leaves Coward’s work in tact, the show should take care of itself and no doubt he will direct it to maximise his set. I’m sure it’ll be fine but I have to ask, how indulgent is it of Myers to have as much of the cake as possible? I’m sure if he could star in all the roles as well, he would.
Simon Stone. Writing, directing, wanking. Need I say more? Sometimes aided by Chris Ryan. Put me in a pension home now.
Death of a Salesman. OK. I’ll go but gee, I’ll be glad when this text gets a little rest. Didn’t Ensemble only do this play a few years ago? I thought they made a good fist of it. Time to get it off the HSC text list so we can look at Miller’s other plays. And I hope Colin Friels enjoys this one more than the last play, ‘Zebra’, he did with Bryan Brown at STC. It was sleepwalking on stage. He is capable of such great work but if he smells a stinker or is acting against a piece of wood, you won’t see his magic on stage, it’ll be dead man walking.
Lucy Guerin getting another shot. Nice. But the pressure is on to make sure we see theatre in the dance a little more this time.
There’s a couple of Indigenous plays. Check. A few contemporary works, devised from community projects that will feature downstairs. Check.
So, in summary- positives may be the great amount of local works being staged. Negatives may be the people who are staging them. All I know is this, I’ve sent in my subscription and am taking a chance on every show (with bingo cards in hand) so you can look forward to more blogging happening next year.