Talking About What’s Good

UPDATE: This is the post Talk About What’s Good that started it all from my Twitter/World Theatre Day/2amt friend and theatre man Travis Bedard in Austin, Texas. If you tweet you’ll find him @travisbedard. Read it for the juicy prose and the kickstart that has seen some of us take to the keyboard. If you want to mention what’s good about your theatre you can tweet it with the hashtag #tawg

I’m picking up on a meme from a couple of Twitter friends and theatre colleagues who’ve suggested that talking about what’s good about your local theatre mightn’t be a bad thing given the often excessive amount of snark one encounters in this business. The rationale as Gwydion Suilebhan, a DC-based playwright puts it, ‘the meta-idea (or the idea behind the idea) is that if we we do that, we’ll be less snarky and miserable and mean to each other. Also, by accentuating the positive, we’ll encourage things we like.’

Gwydion admits to struggling a bit since he spends a lot of his energy on his blog in ‘analysis and rabble-rousing and fomenting revolution and agent provocateur-ing.’ I thought I’d give it a go as well since I’m as guilty as the next at criticism.

What’s good about theatre in SE Queensland – a personal list

So, without being Pollyanna-ish here, in no particular order – I just kept typing as they thoughts came – are the 50 things I like about theatre in SE Queensland right now. It took a while to get going but then it started to flow. Over to you. Do your own somewhere in the inter webs or add what you like here. Pass it on …

  1. the sense that here is a place where you can learn about and create theatre if you want to with some of the best anywhere in the world;
  2. the growing confidence of the critical mass of artists in the community;
  3. several generations now of artists – seniors right down to those in training;
  4. the entrepreneurship in the theatre community – think Shake and Stir, Grin and Tonic, Harvest Rain, 4MBS Brisbane Shakespeare Festival;
  5. the big heart, dedication and imagination of groups like QSE and their prison project;
  6. 40 years of Queensland Theatre Company and its heritage ;
  7. the fact that I met my husband when he auditioned me for a role;
  8. Joe MacColum my first theatre mentor and inspiration;
  9. getting to know the first Artistic Director of QTC Alan Edwards on stage and off – another inspiration;
  10. that a theatre company really can feel like another home – QTC for me;
  11. my platinum MEAA (Equity) card for 38 (so-far) years membership *preen*;
  12. the incredible feeling of excitement and solidarity that happens during a warmup before a performance;
  13. La Boite Theatre’s greenroom corridor couches;
  14. Bessie the Bottle Tree in QTC’s courtyard;
  15. QTC’s ongoing commitment to education and young people, and especially TRW – bringing young theatre artists together for over 40 years, and stronger than ever – if this year’s was any indication;
  16. the whole South Bank precinct in Brisbane beside that river …
  17. the beautifully-restored, fully active 100 year old Empire Theatre in Toowoomba, Australia’s largest and best regional theatre;
  18. the Empire Theatre Projects Company (EPC) my city’s developing professional theatre for the quality of its work and its commitment to the region;
  19. the Toowoomba Regional Council who put their money where their mouth is in supporting the theatre for their region. Their support of the new 380-seater black-box theatre currently in the planning stages is a case in point.
  20. Lewis Jones (former AD) who got the EPC off the ground and running and, with its first-ever fully professional production of David Burton’s April’s Fool managed to score a national tour in 2012;
  21. Jeanette Wedmaier and Claire Christian, two superb young women who are now the creative and administrative powerhouses of the EPC;
  22. Libby Anstis, surely the best General Manager of any theatre company in the country – what a woman;
  23. the people I have worked with over the years on various theatre Boards and advocacy committees who are there because they understand that life without the arts would be no life at all, and they want to make a difference;
  24. Wesley Enoch and David Berthold ADs of Brisbane’s two biggest companies who, despite the pressure of their positions, manage to be highly-energised, focussed, interested, and charming as they go about their work;
  25. the Meet the Artists and Talkbacks that are now part and parcel of theatre seasons;
  26. the take-up of social media and online communication to continue the conversation and develop audiences;
  27. the excellent standard of professional acting – mind you, there is a large pool of superb actors available;
  28. the independent theatre in Brisbane in all its roughness, excellence, diversity, aspiration and passion and, maybe, for the lifeblood they infuse into the big houses;
  29. the independent artists in Brisbane for their talent, grit, determination and their fabulous ideas;
  30. theatre advocates like Zane Trow and Paul Osuch who are tireless in speaking up in their very individual ways at every opportunity and everywhere about theatre;
  31. the Brisbane Festival which just keeps getting more interesting;
  32. the way the theatre community is talking to one another via social networking and carrying on the conversation outside the ‘heritage’ media which just doesn’t get it … wait, this is not going to run off into snark …
  33. the fact that our federal and state governments actually do support the arts financially. If there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over from  my US and UK theatre colleagues it’s to not take this one for granted;
  34. co-pros with national companies – spreading the work and the talent around the country.
  35. the small but fascinating Performing Arts Museum in the Tony Gould Gallery at QPAC;
  36. the new degree in music theatre – a practical, conservatory-style training for the profession – at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music … at last;
  37. the sense of change and optimism in the air;
  38. all the Shakespeare being done here – lots of it and so differently;
  39. the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (for now);
  40. the climate we enjoy for outdoor events and the development of Shakespeare Festivals in parks and green spaces all over;
  41. QTC’s Young Playwrights’ Competition;
  42. our universities for their performing arts courses and for the quality of the teaching there;
  43. former students of mine – the graduates of the USQ Theatre course – artists and technical production folk who seem to be everywhere and doing such quality, wonderful work;
  44. the supportive nature of the theatre community of artists in our neck of the woods;
  45. the feeling of celebration at opening nights, and just hanging out;
  46. Brisbane Arts Theatre, the city’s oldest and arguably best amateur company – moving with the times and reinventing the way quality amateur theatre can contribute to the wider theatre community;
  47. Metro Arts – hell yes! What a wonderful crucible this is. Liz Burcham and Dan Evans are extraordinary people and inspirations;
  48. the Out of the Box Festival. I only wish this had been around when my kids were little (sadly, this wonderful festival has – of 2012 – lost its state government funding);
  49. the increasing appearance of the #qldtheatre hashtag on tweets;
  50. the terrific support for this blog which started in September 2009 and the generous individuals who have contributed to it via submitting to interviews, reading, commenting, via links and general love/encouragement;
I’ve stopped here only because I want to get this post out there and maybe generate some more of the same. I’m sure I’ve left stuff out and that there are lots more …


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