QR Codes: bus-shelters, drink cans, awards ceremonies – fancy a bit of fun?

This post is something different - a little bit of social networking experimentation. Just say you were at an awards ceremony equipped with your smart phone but you don't, for whatever reason, have a list of the nominees, and you wanted to be able to share the results as they were announced to those who are not there. Would you like something on your phone to do this? Do you dare have your phone on during the ceremony? Of course you do. Just put it on silent and turn down the screen brightness. A quik segue about QR codes first; they're those square barcode-like images that you've seen perhaps without knowing what they are. They're on websites, of course, but also on bus-stop billboards, the sides of drink cans, in programmes - to name a few. The potential for arts organisations' marketing - special deals for your followers, up to date and additional useful information - is huge. You could put an entire program and extra notes, for example, in a QR image or put one on your show's posters and flyers. Just imagine! The paper saving is enough reason to give it a try. The implications for design layout are intriguing as well. What you need to translate the black and white squiggles into meaningful matter is an app called a QR (Quick Response) Reader installed on your phone - there are lots free for downloading. Now you can scan QR Codes wherever you find them: using our example from a website which would lead you to where there was a list of the nominees for the awards ceremony. In a few seconds you will have the page or post containing the information right there on your phone. Like this one ... qrcode   So, if you want to play, the first thing to do is to get the QR reader installed on your phone. Go to the iTunes store where you will find a slew of them - free and paid. Download the one you want and install it on your smart phone. I'm using QR Reader for the iPhone. As with lots of free apps you have to put up with a reasonably non-intrusive ad at the top of the screen. Paid QR readers are ad-free. Open the QR Reader app on your phone, scan the QR code in this post, and admire the result. PS This QR image (above) leads to all the nominees for tonight's Matilda Awards.  Now you can follow along if you miss out on a programme - or just show how truly geeky - aka ahead of the pack - you really are. If you want to know how to embed and use QR codes for your own use, check out the 2amt blog post from August last year: What's a Theatre To Do? and get some ideas. I believe there's a follow-up post to this coming soon. If you're ready to have a go at embedding QR codes on your own materials, then you can't do any simpler than Kaywa, which generates the code you need to embed in your blog or site. I did this to generate the code above. I  typed in the URL of the nominees' page on the Matilda's site, hit the 'generate QR code' button, and pasted it in this post.

It’s Matildas Night in Brisbane

Tonight is the night the Brisbane theatre community has been waiting for - the announcement of the Matilda Awards for achievement in theatre during the past 12 months or, rather, during Season 2010. The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art is hosting the event, and it bids fair to be a great night for all. We tip that controversies will flow after the event, as they always do but, hey, what's an award ceremony without a bit of bite. The main thing is to celebrate the achievements of the nominees and the winners and, by extension, the work of the local theatre industry which grows year by year. Good luck to everyone and to the committee of the Matildas who keep them going year after year. ... and we hope someone will be live-tweeting the event for those who can't be there.

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?

Awards Time

You'd have to be living under a rock not to be aware that in a rush of blood and self-congratulation the entertainment industry in Australia and elsewhere is having a love-fest and celebrating itself over and over with awards ceremonies. It's that time of year. The Groundlings - the people's choice awards for excellence in Queensland theatre in 2010 - is now done and dusted. The winners were published today. Today the Queensland theatre's Matilda Awards' nominees were announced. Congratulations to all nominees and to the committee and judges who work to support the industry in our state. What's certain is that with the talent we have in Queensland we have a lot to celebrate and a theatre future that is looking bright.

Local writing not up to scratch: us and them – again.

Image by Marco Veringa via Flickr
The whole issue of parochialism and the cringe just won't.go.away! This last week there's been chatter on the social networks from local playwrights who are angered that a theatre reviewer considers their work to be pretty much second-rate.  There's no doubt, if you read between the lines of some of the commentary, that writers are frustrated by the lack of opportunities - material and financial resources in particular - for new and subsequent productions of their work here in Queensland.  As many note, it is through getting your work on stage in production that you learn the craft of playwrighting. The problems surrounding getting a new work to production, and then to a second production cannot be overstated, and it's apparently the same in the US.  The recently-published Outrageous Fortune contends that US dramatists cannot get new works produced, and that established writers are squeezing out the newcomers.  They're as mad as hell about it, and a series of 'town-hall meetings' in the American tradition were held in major US cities recently to discuss the economics and the politics of the issue. Closer to home, the interview that sparked the reaction aired last week on 612 ABC Brisbane during a show called Drivetime.  It was one of those cosy radio roundups of the local theatre week: mild in tone, lots of laughs, anecdotes, civil airwave chat.  Local writer and theatre reviewer Sue Gough and regular theatre commenter Doug Kennedy were interviewed by Kelly Higgins-Devine.  The conversation on the week's Matilda Awards developed around what Kennedy called the 'positive discrimination' at work in funding for local writers.  Sue Gough had noted the success of the unfunded 23rd Productions with The Pillowman by Irish writer Martin McDonagh.  Higgins-Devine then asked Gough point blank, 'Are Australian playwrights up to scratch compared with some of their international peers?'  Gough (bravely and/or foolishly - depending on your point of view) responded as bluntly, 'In a word, no,'  and went on to respond that, in Australia, you could count the 'brilliant ones' on the fingers of one hand.  Well, yes, I guess so.  After all, 'brilliant' is a big call in any country - and 'some' is a key word when you're doing any kind of comparison - which we know are odious at the best of times!  If you're interested, here's the link to the interview. After suggesting that local writers need the benchmarking of the best of overseas writers to 'learn' from, Sue Gough then went on to say that one reason the local Matilda Awards were created was to focus on Queensland work because no one from 'the perceived centres that matter' gets to see our work - whose perception?  As a result, Queensland productions were therefore not eligible for those other cities' Green Room or Helpmann awards.  It was at this point when the issue of bringing 'them' (the critics) up from 'down there' to see 'our' work and get it 'on the radar', that I realised a potentially excellent discussion had been derailed - again - by the cringe beast. So, a correction to start.  The comment that 'our plays' are not being seen outside Queensland is nonsense.  The Playing Australia funding scheme Sue Gough mentioned in passing (the Long Paddock process), as well as independently developed co-productions between Australian theatre companies, mean that Queensland plays, artists, creatives and their work are seen in other state regional and metropolitan centres and capital cities.  As I write, Queensland resident Michael Gow's Toy Symphony is on the road nationally, and, if it hasn't already, is about to play its 100th performance.  The Matilda award-winning production (2007) of Matrix Theatre's The Kursk by Sasha Janowicz toured nationally last year, and Queensland Theatre Company's co-production with MTC of Let the Sunshine by David Williamson - another Queensland resident - will soon tour to Melbourne.   Then there's Brisbane's The Escapists with Boy Girl Wall which played the Adelaide Fringe Festival recently, and is due to open in its home city in August this year.  This is a sampling of Australia's national theatre - it's common-wealth of theatres.  Is the point made? We need more, not less public conversation about the state of the arts here and elsewhere in Australia.  There's nothing wrong with strong points of view - in fact, we should be encouraging them - but uninformed opinion must always be challenged.  Not to do so is ... unhelpful, to say the least.  So ABC, how about a series of conversations on theatre issues that matter?   I'm thinking of the kind of intelligent and entertaining jousts over film and the local industry that David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz have from time to time.  You could do worse than by interrogating Sue Gough's contention that local theatre needs the best of non-Australian plays to serve as a 'benchmark' and from which local writers can learn.  Then invite a Queensland playwright to the table.  Now that I would tune in for!

This Week in Queensland Theatre: April 19-25

The famous Droeshout portrait of William Shake...
Image via Wikipedia

For showtimes see company websites

Opening: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett Dir Joseph Mitchell - Queensland Theatre Company Education Program at Bille Brown Studio. (Thursday) Divas-one night only: Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Concert Hall, QPAC (Saturday) Continuing: Single Admissions by Tammy Weller Dir Daniel Evans at Sue Benner Theatre, !MetroArts Blackbird by David Harrower Dir Mark Conaghan for La Boite Indie at Roundhouse Theatre Let the Sunshine by David Williamson Dir Michael Gow at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC Other: Matilda Awards: JWCoCA Fortitude Valley. Monday 6pm Shakespeare's Birthday on Friday.  You knew that!  Greenroom is doing a special post for the birthday Bard ... watch out for it. Greenroom Reviews: Blackbird: 23rd Productions