Greenroom is 5 today

Yes, it’s been five years since Greenroom became a blog in its own right. I’d been posting on another site Groundling for a couple of years before that, but 1st September 2009 marked the first of what were to be hundreds of posts focussed on Queensland’s professional theatre: reviews, commentary, and interviews.

It’s been a labour of love. I started blogging because I had recently left the university where I had been teaching for 21 years and imagined the twilight of the so-called ‘retirement’ had come. I had to fill it somehow and, for a theatre academic, writing about my ‘field of study’ seemed a good enough place to start.

They say always write about what you know – I’d add love – if you want to enjoy the process as well as a modicum of success. I have; I really have enjoyed writing about theatre here in my corner of the world and state, and I think the blog has been a modest success. Earlier this year, the National Library of Australia included Greenroom in its database of significant sites, and I’m rightly proud of that.

I guess every blog will have a limited life, an end-point, a time to say, ‘Enough,’ and the time has come for Greenroom to close the door. Continue reading Greenroom is 5 today

Chris Beckey (Interview 44)

Image: Morgan Roberts

I met with Chris Beckey in July for coffee and a chat at The Three Monkeys in West End. Chris was then appearing in CALIGULA for The Danger Ensemble. As I edit this long-overdue post, he is preparing for the Brisbane Festival’s production of Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE in an adaptation by Lally Katz. Once again, he is working under the direction of long-time creative collaborator Steven Mitchell Wright.

That afternoon I asked Chris, as I do all artists I interview, what had brought them to where they are now. We end up talking about process as the afternoon ticked away. Continue reading Chris Beckey (Interview 44)

A Singer’s Warmup? There’s an app for that.

Ed: Thanks to Queensland Conservatorium final year Musical Theatre major Connor Sweeney who has road-tested a couple of popular vocal warmup apps for Greenroom. Connor has indicated the pros and cons of each in the article below. By the way, there are lots and lots out there. Check the link at the end of the article. Thanks, Connor.

A performer’s warm up should leave him or her in a focused, optimistic emotional state, with awareness of the body’s strengths and weaknesses to work on for the day. A good warmup needs to be more than a hasty throat clearing after the first cappuccino of the day. Continue reading A Singer’s Warmup? There’s an app for that.

4000 Miles by Amy Herzog – La Boite Indie and Mophead & Catnip Productions at the Roundhouse Theatre

Image: Gez Xavier Mansfield

La Boite’s Indie season is here again. It kicked off what I like to think is the ‘official theatre season’ in Brisbane – as May rolls around into what passes for winter here – on a warm night last week.  The first of the 2014 indies is a lovely production directed by Anthony Skuse of Amy Herzog‘s 4000 MILES, a multiple-award winner fairly fresh from off-Broadway, and from Mophead and Catnip who are based in Sydney. Welcome to town!

Most, if not all, indie productions that are hosted by La Boite each year are first try-outs of local works with all the thrills and spills they bring with them. This year, the season begins with a show from out of town, and one that has been well run-in at ATYP’s 2013 Under the Wharf independent season. I wonder does this signal a change of future direction for the La Boite Indie program? Continue reading 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog – La Boite Indie and Mophead & Catnip Productions at the Roundhouse Theatre

Good morning Australia. Who are our playwrights?

It was time for an update and a special place to create a listing of Queensland playwrights. You will find them here and via the link in the side-bar to the left – Directory. Thanks for assisting.

I have been approached by David Loehr a theatre colleague in the US in a follow-up to a post you may have seen on the networks last week. Howard Sherman wondered why Canadian playwrights weren’t as well-known or produced in the US as they might be. It wasn’t long before Canadians responded with an introduction to writers in their various cities. Which brings us to this post.

Dave asked me if I would do a similar response introducing published and produced playwrights in my city and organise others round the country to do the same. Given the focus in this country on states rather than on cities, I’m going to suggest a state by state lineup, beginning with Queensland. I’ll then collate the submissions from interstate for a final post. This will find its way to the US-based 2amt blog (2am Theatre). 2amt gets lots of traffic and will be another way to get the word out to our American (and Canadian) chums. If you are reading this in New Zealand, get in touch with Greenroom and let’s set the ball rolling. Also, if you are in another Australian state, please send me though your submissions marked with the state. I am ashamed to say I can’t name any playwrights from SA, WA, TAS or the NT. I’ll learn something from the exercise too! Anyway … Continue reading Good morning Australia. Who are our playwrights?

2013 Groundlings: some observations

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Facts & Figures

Voting in the 2013 Groundlings ballot has now closed. It’s been the most successful so far in the 4 years since the Groundlings Awards have been in operation with over one thousand shares on Facebook and almost as many votes collected through Survey Monkey.

Results were published on Friday 14th February – our traditional love day for those who’ve received the highest vote by popular acclaim in fourteen categories.

We thought you’d be interested in some of the other statistics and trends that we’ve extracted from the whole process.

Facebook was, by far, the most popular social network informant with word of mouth second and twitter coming third.

Many votes also came from those who had nominated or voted in the Groundlings before. If there is any doubt out there as to Facebook’s not being a force for promotion or marketing in Brisbane and for the theatre, this may put it to rest. You probably knew this, anyway.

The birth date range of voters extended from 1926 through 2000.

The first question – part of the compulsory demographic-gathering section of the survey – asked for a date of birth by year and this is where the breakdown of voters indicated some clear differences in voting patterns. We should mention that this section of the survey depends for its accuracy on truthful responses.  

The majority of ballots were submitted by the under-40s.

Could this be because the over-40s weren’t interested/didn’t get the message/don’t use social networks as much and/or that the under-40s were/did/do? Break the under-40s down further by separating out the under-18s, and further interesting trends show. By the way, we chose 1974 as the break-line because it’s usual when talking about theatre-goers to refer to the received wisdom that goes something like this: it’s after some years in the wilderness of career-building, mortgage-paying, and child-raising and around the age of 35-40 that once-active theatre-goers ‘return’ to the fold. Spurious maybe but out there. Companies may well have figures to affirm or dispute this though I do recall David Berthold telling me a couple of years ago that the audiences at La Boite were pretty much 35 and under.

The under-18s are keen voters in the Groundlings and you might surmise this is via fan-based support for companies whose work they attend through school visits. However, the voting patterns among the 20s and 30s are pretty much the same i.e., their taste and that of their younger companions are very similar in terms of their choices.

Not surprisingly, what emerges overall is the difference in taste expressed through choice between the over-40s and the under-40s, and that it was the voting from the under-40s which largely determined the outcome of the balloting in many but not all categories. In several they were in lock step all the way.

Voting was not first past the post but averaged out across nominees in a category, so second and even third preferences in some categories determined winners. It’s impossible to know whether voters took this into account when allocating their votes i.e., simply voted 1 for their favourite and let the numbers fall where they did elsewhere in a particular category.

Far more people voted than nominated and not everyone voted in every category.

Part of the reason we’re attributing to this year’s large numbers of voters – apart from the increasing popularity of the Groundlings – has to do with the decision we took to add two additional nominees in the majority of categories. We will probably continue to do this in the future as we continue to refine the nomination and voting processes.

Of those who eventually voted, the majority are not currently students enrolled in a performing arts course.

We did not ask whether voters had completed their secondary education.

The majority of voters self-identified as professional artists or creatives.

Of these, a whopping majority – approximately 91% – are not members of MEAA. This trend continues from previous years and is indicative, we suspect, of the falling membership in unions Australia-wide. We did not ask respondents to say why they are not members.