Here come … or there go the Matildas: 2011

This is the third post on Greenroom about the annual, self-styled ‘Queensland’ Matilda Awards for excellence in theatre. Let’s get one thing straight though – they are no such thing, appearing as they do to exclude consideration of the work of the state’s regional professional and independent theatre communities. Right now the Matildas are Brisbane-centric awards, period.

In both previous posts we asked some questions and raised a few issues. If you missed them and the comments they created, here are the links:

Queensland’s Matilda Awards – where to now?

And now for the 2010 Matilda Awards

As for 2011, the nominees for this year’s Matilda Awards were announced this week. Members of the theatre community in Brisbane are naturally excited to be able to celebrate the achievements of the past year, and why not? They should have an opportunity to do so in a high-profile, prestigious and meaningful event. Certainly the Matilda Committee itself acknowledges the Award’s role as

a key forum for publicly celebrating and promoting Queensland’s theatre industry, and notes

Given the importance of the awards, it is essential that their profile keeps growing, not only within the State but also nationally.  The Matildas aim to be on a par with both the Sydney Critics’ Awards and Victoria’s Green Room Awards. (About).

Unfortunately, the guidelines or criteria appear to have been compromised this year with the inclusion of non-eligible work, but perhaps we are missing something. What happened?

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14 thoughts on “Here come … or there go the Matildas: 2011”

  1. I believe you are correct Flloyd. Thank you for pointing this out. Great that they have done so. Kudos to the committee. Now, about the nominations …

  2. Ah, definitions. I love getting them straight so at least conversation about something is on the same page at the outset. Most common usage in the US and elsewhere of the term ‘pro-am’ is in reference to sporting events. In theatre ‘Professional’ and ‘Community’ are the two terms that separate out the pro from the am. Most people don’t, for obvious reasons, like the term amateur – shame. I understand, however, that the term ‘pro-am’ is being adopted more and more in the US. Have we started something I wonder? Goodness! I tried to wrap my head around the distinction a couple of years ago in a post on my own blog. It was a response to a US-based theatre blogger Isaac Butler who used the term ‘pro-am’ and defined it in the American context. Here is my post you’re interested; the link to Isaac’s post in embedded there. http://katefoy.com/2009/06/professional-theatre-how-can-you-tell/ A companion follow-up post by me looked at indie theatre in the same way: http://katefoy.com/2010/03/indie-theatre-how-can-you-tell/

  3. Just looking again at the criteria..and as usual the simplest things are the most complicated! The term “Pro-Am” is used, which is, again, such a strange and 1950s thing. What does pro-am actually mean? IMHO – two things completely incompatible put together in a hyphenated word so that “people we like and respect” can get a go? Or what? Why use it at all I wonder? If amateur theatre is so important to Brisbane why not just have a category called “best Amateur production” and have a panel of amateur theatre buffs judge it? & FWIW I have worked in theatre for 35 years in 6 cities across the world and I have only ever heard the term, used regularly as part of any definition of cultural practice, in Brisbane. Whereas the Matildas exclude “community theatre”, (which is easy cause community theatre is so rare in Brisbane) but in my experience Vulcana say, would be community theatre, as would Flipside and Backbone. Now that, after 35 years, would be my understanding of the standard terminologies across the theatre world. But these terminologies seem twisted round in Brisbane, and words have other meanings. Maybe we should have an award for “most confusing Matildas’ category”? I nominate “Pro-Am” 🙂

  4. Hi Kate,
    I think this is an important subject. What saddens me us that, as you point out, so much of it has been discussed before and yet nothing seems to change. Curious, I think you’ll find the anomalies in this year’s nominees are the two amateur productions up for awards when the Matilda guidelines clearly say that amateur theatre is not included. (writing this on the bus on my phone – otherwise I’d offer links and quotes).
    Anyway, I think it’s wonderful we have the awards and that the organizers give so much of their time and energy to running them. Just wish there was more transparency and someone to see that when they have guidelines they get followed.
    Cheers,
    Katherine

  5. A strange thing the Matildas. If they aspire to be as comprehensive and professional as the Greenrooms then they really need a complete and utter shake up. The catergories, the panelists and the criteria. One look at the Greenroom catergories and panels and nominees shows two things I think : the sheer amount and diversity of theatre genres in Melbourne is simply streets ahead of Brisbane, and the panelists are also a diverse, professional and experienced mob. The Matildas just seem so 1950s in comparison.

    And remember it is the Matildas themselves that ask for that comparison, not just me.

  6. Hi all,

    Forgive my ignorance but which nominations were ‘ineligible’? It seems difficult to find information on what the criteria for the Matilda awards are, or at least they’re not commonly known to the wider community.

  7. Thanks for your comment, Xanthe. I agree. Things have changed in the years since the Matildas were originated. We now have a Queensland regional theatre industry, and if the ‘Queensland’ tag is going to continue to be applied, these changes need to be acknowledged and addressed. I don’t see why there can’t be small panels appointed for the regional centres to cover the professional and indie work being produced there. Maybe this is along the lines of your thinking? Whilst I would love to see work being done outside the capital being acknowledged and considered, I still have no problem with the Matildas being focussed on Brisbane – as long as this too is acknowledged. I’ve said this before.

  8. I agree, Kate. It doesn’t help to be only critical. In my opinion, it’s a massive undertaking to make the Matildas a truly Queensland celebration so we’d like to see the organisers embrace what they’ve got already – a wonderful acknowledgement of the work that happens in Brisbane, to clarify the criteria, stick to it and get on with it…with our full support. And I say this from the Sunshine Coast, where, just like in Toowoomba and in other regional places, we are also producing a high level of theatrical work that goes largely unnoticed by anybody outside of our immediate area! Having said that, Sam and I have some ideas about how the regional work might get a look in but I’d be more interested in sitting down and talking with the movers and shakers than have my words misinterpreted here! Thanks for getting the conversation going again. It’s necessary and it will, with a little more action please, bring about change!

  9. Hi Disappointed. I think ‘laughing-stock’ is a bit harsh. Anyone or any organisation can make mistakes and I imagine the committee are embarrassed about this. I agree, though, that it is disappointing not to have the issue of eligibility clarified. More kudos to them if they do and then move on. Brisbane really does need an event like the Matildas to celebrate the work of the theatre industry. The committees have done a terrific job over the years and should be supported.

  10. yes – lots of questions about the inclusion of some shows that shouldn’t be eligible and also the list of the judges… sadly the Matildas are becoming more of a laughing stock with every year.

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