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

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.

Review: Cosi – La Boite Theatre Company at the Roundhouse Theatre

Images: Dylan Evans Photography (Main Image L-R: Trevor Stuart, Jessica Marais, Amy Ingram, Anthony Standish, Benjamin Schostakowski, Jennifer Flowers, James Stewart)

Cosi by Louis Nowra is a much-loved and, by now, a classic in the canon of modern Australian plays. According to David Berthold, it’s also the playwright’s personal favourite. It’s certainly admired by La Boite Theatre Company who have produced it three times over the years. The latest has just opened at the Roundhouse under the direction of Mr Berthold and it’s a production that finds the rhythm of the play’s compassionate heart.

Filled with marvellous characters, and set in an asylum during the Vietnam War, Cosi follows the adventures of young Lewis (Ben Schostakowski) a uni student, who gets a job helping the inmates “put on a show.” He’s all for a bit of Brecht but Roy (played with glorious gusto by Trevor Stuart) is adamant that the music of the spheres must be heard in their shabby little theatre, and so it’s Mozart’s opera Cosi Fan Tutte that gets the nod. It’s as nutty an idea as is possible to imagine, and perfect given the play’s setting. No one can sing, one can hardly speak – all are damaged and apparently incapable of any kind of cooperative activity. Young Lewis (‘Jerry’ to Roy’s ‘Martin’) is clearly out of his depth.

Aaron Davison and Benjamin Schostakowski - Photo by Dylan Evans
Aaron Davison and Benjamin Schostakowski

‘Putting on a show’ plays are ready-made for comedy. Typically we are treated to agonising (hysterical) auditions; shambolic (hysterical) rehearsals and, finally, awful (hysterically awful) performances. There are often great one-liners and in-jokes for the theatre crowd so there’s a lot to laugh at. By the way, the little theatre that designer Hugh O’Connor creates in the big room at the Roundhouse is just delightful. Cosi is no different in this regard, but there’s a whole lot more going on.

One of the great strengths of Nowra’s play is its ability not only to make us laugh but also to make us feel the hurt of those we’re laughing at. Cosi also makes plain the importance of so much we take for granted. As we watch the hapless troupe and their director grope and stumble around it’s clear that they are, perhaps for the first time ever, rediscovering what it means to be useful. No longer isolated they come together squabbling, arguing points of view finding a kind of collective wisdom and joy on the fly. Continue reading “Review: Cosi – La Boite Theatre Company at the Roundhouse Theatre”

2013 Groundlings Awards: Editor’s Choice

For the first time I thought I’d add my Greenroom Editor’s pennyworth to the mix.

Of all the productions I saw in 2013 these remain as some of the highlights and for all kinds of reasons. In places, I’ve added a brief note from Greenroom’s reviews to each to expand.

My thanks to all the artists and creatives and the producers whose generosity have made it possible for me to see their work during the year. Continue reading “2013 Groundlings Awards: Editor’s Choice”

2013 Groundlings – and the awards go to …

Congratulations to all of the winners of The 2013 Groundlings, Queensland’s only peoples’ choice award for the best of Queensland-made theatre. Congratulations also to every nominee.

To all who nominated and voted, you are helping to keep the conversation and the spirit alive! Heartiest thanks to you.

Greenroom is very grateful to Sita Borhani who performed the scrutineering task for the final ballot with such aplomb!

And here they are:

Continue reading “2013 Groundlings – and the awards go to …”