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Arts issues

Posted October 21st, 2009 by debritz

1) The Queensland Theatre Company has, no doubt, spent a lot of money on the billboard promoting its 2010 subscription season. It's strategically placed on Milton Road so it can be seen by motorists and train passengers. It's such a shame that a big chunk of it is impossible to read by somebody passing by at a moderate speed because it appears to employ white type on a yellow background. This is one of the worst combinations for legibility.
2) As Spencer Howson pointed out this morning on 612 ABC, The Queensland Orchestra has changed its name to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra -- which was the name of one of the two ensembles that merged back in the 1990s. As Spencer says, it's disrespectful to the former Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra and its members, some of whom still play with TQO. In fact, the media release that came with the company's 2010 launch season doesn't even mention the Philharmonic. Additionally, I'd like to know how much money was wasted on TQO stationery and signange that now can't be used and the costs of converting to the new name, including commissioning a new logo (pictured). It's public money, so we should be told -- along with the reasoning for the change in the first place.

Busting Out was censored: producer

Posted October 16th, 2009 by debritz

Simon Bryce, the producer of Busting Out, has posted a comment on this site, reaffirming his position that the Theatre Royal in Hobart did censor the show and would not hire the venue to him based on its content. He says he received communication from the theatre saying "the majority of our team were not in favour of proceeding with this hire. ... It was a decision based on whether or not this show aligns with our board's artistic policy and the majority (not all) of the management team believe it is not a good alignment, as such I’m afraid that the Theatre Royal will not be prepared to present this show". Bryce adds: "Theatre Royal receives significant funds from Tasmanians through taxation and as such they are funded to provide a facility for all Tasmanians. My belief is whether individuals personally choose to see Busting Out or any other show is a matter and right for individuals. When agencies of government start using public funds to decide what free thinking adults can and cannot see, then I believe accountabilty warrants that these matters be discussed in the public domain."

Jessica's Deadly!

Posted October 15th, 2009 by debritz

Congratulations to the winners of the Deadly Awards for indigenous Australians, including singer Jessica Mauboy, actors Leah Purcell and Luke Carroll, and musicians Gurrumul Yunupingu and the Saltwater Band. There's more here.

Tasmania bans breasts

Posted October 15th, 2009 by debritz

Busting Out!, the show about women's breasts, has apparently been banned in Tasmania. A press relase from the producers says:

The management of Hobart’s Theatre Royal today banned the critically acclaimed theatre show, Busting Out! from performing at Hobart’s Theatre Royal. Producer, Simon Bryce said: “Here we have a show that has been seen by over 200,000 people around the country in more than 40 theatres, that has been applauded by critics and audiences both here and overseas, and has raised more than $50,000 for breast cancer research and is now banned from showing in Hobart. Given the number of Tasmanians who have asked us to bring the show to Tasmania, this decision is dumbfounding.”

The director of Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre, Gail Wiltshire, is quoted as saying: “Busting Out! was the most successful new Australian work to play in Brisbane this century. Our audiences loved this show. As a survivor of breast cancer, it is appalling that the Hobart Theatre Royal has banned a show that has so much to positively say about women’s issues. Has anyone from the theatre actually bothered to see the show?” Directed by Terence O’Connell and performed by Emma Powell and Bev Killick, the show is currently playing in New Zealand before a return Australian season and a European and UK tour.
Update: According to this comment, it may be a matter of the theatre not being able to accommodate the show, rather than actually banning it. I wonder what's showing instead...
Update 2: The Mercury has a story here.
Update 3: Producer stands by his claim.

Not just for the elites

Posted October 13th, 2009 by debritz

“I thought we can’t only do what highly educated readers of the arts pages want to see. We’re subsidised and everybody in the country pays taxes, and therefore a national theatre has to be available to everyone.”

So said former National Theatre boss Trevor Nunn when asked why he staged musicals such as South Pacific and Anything Goes alongside works by Tom Stoppard and Shakespeare. Some of the people at Australia's subsidised theatres should take note.

Remembering Rob Guest

Posted October 11th, 2009 by debritz

The first annual Rob Guest Endowment concert will be held in Melbourne tomorrow (Monday, October 12). The event, hosted by Bert Newton and Marina Prior, will include performances by the casts of Wicked (led by Lucy Durack) and Chicago (with Caroline O'Connor), plus Anthony Callea, the Australian String Quartet, Rhonda Burchmore, Tina Cross and Peter Cousens. Awards will be handed out to the successful young finalists and the ticket price will go towards helping the next generation of musical-theatre artists in Rob's memory. Details here.

Phantom sequel here in 2011

Posted October 9th, 2009 by debritz

Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera that will open in the West End and on Broadway next year, will premiere in Australia in 2011, according to Playbill. I guess that means Melbourne, with a Brisbane season several years later. Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Glenn Slater and Ben Elton, the show apparently features very few references to the original. In London, where it opens in March, it will star Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine. Presumably, Anthony Warlow is in the box seat the play the Phantom in Australia (and maybe elsewhere).

QTC launches into 2010

Posted October 7th, 2009 by debritz

A new David Williamson starring John Wood, John Bell having another crack at King Lear and the (London) West End hit Fat Pig are all part of the Queensland Theatre Company's 2010 season. Details here. Right now, the company is now rehearsing for the long-awaited Queensland premiere of artistic director Michael Gow's Toy Symphony, which premiered at Sydney's Belvoir Street in 2007. It's being described (on the QTC Twitter feed at least) as "the first full length play Michael's written in a decade". This confuses me since The Fortunes of Richard Mahony was published in 2002 and debuted in September that year during the Brisbane Festival. Was it in the bottom of his drawer for five or more years or, for some reason, does it not count? Maybe it was a very long short play...

Too many towers

Posted October 1st, 2009 by debritz

The Australian reports that there's a glut of office space in Brisbane. How, then, can the State Government and Brisbane City Council justify their support for demolishing the Regent cinemas to make way for another office tower?

Happy birthday, QTC

Posted October 1st, 2009 by debritz

Thanks to my Facebook friends for alerting me to this: today is the 40th anniversary of the opening of Royal Hunt of the Sun, Queensland Theatre Company's first production, directed by Bryan Nason. It's a significant milestone and something we should all be celebrating. I wonder if MasterChef star, Premier and Arts Minister (yes, really) Anna Bligh will be making a statement about it.
PS: Bryan's another unsung Queensland hero, like QTC founding artistic director Alan Edwards. If he'd been a footballer or a musician, there'd be a statue or a bridge named after him.

Mythical creatures

Posted September 23rd, 2009 by debritz

A search on the Ticketek website for next year's Australian gigs by US punk band The Pixies also comes up with details of appearances by kids' TV favourites The Fairies.

Phantom's return

Posted September 21st, 2009 by debritz

The highly anticipated sequel to Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, is about to launch. Here's a clue that came in the email (curiously enough, to the junk-mail folder):

It's been reported elsewhere that the show, set on Coney Island and written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton, will debut on London's West End in March next year and then on Broadway in November, 2010. Presumably the October 8 announcement will reveal casting. (I wonder if Anthony Warlow will get the London gig. He's reportedly Lord Lloyd Webber's second-favourite Phantom; the first being Michael Crawford.)

La Boite looks ahead

Posted September 14th, 2009 by debritz

La Boite, Queensland's No.2 professional theatre company, is done with 2009 already. In fact, in an interview with Spencer Howson on 612ABC this morning, CEO and artistic director David Berthold admitted the company had had productions on the boards for just 17 weeks this year. Next year, he says, it will be a different story with the company's Roundhouse theatre at Kelvin Grove open for business for 44 weeks. Berthold has also confirmed that he's ditched the unsustainable policy of only running new locally-written plays and future seasons will include new works from around the world plus restagings of old favourites. I wish him and the company well.
PS: La Boite's final production for the year was Sasha Janowicz's The Kursk, which will play in Sydney at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, from Tuesday to Saturday this week.

Farewell, Ray Barrett

Posted September 9th, 2009 by debritz

Ray Barrett, one of Brisbane's true superstars of the stage and screen, has died at the age of 82. Barrett, who starred in British and Australian radio dramas, films and television -- including the UK drama series The Troubleshooters and as a character voice in the classic children's series Thuderbirds -- died after a fall at his Gold Coast home. I interviewed him several times -- including once to celebrate the anniversary of the Brisbane Repertory Company (which became La Boite) -- and found him to be a true professional and a gentleman who never forgot his roots. When I spoke to him for Brisbane News about 15 years ago, he said it was his dream to play eye specialist Fred Hollows, to whom he had a strong resemblance.
PS: There's an excellent, comprehensive bio of Ray here.

Has the fat lady sung?

Posted August 17th, 2009 by debritz

Anybody who has been going to opera for a while will have noticed a big change in recent times. The stars aren't just supposed to stand there and sing, they're expected to be able to act, too. And, more importantly, they're expected to look the part.OK, so it might be hard to get a teenage Juliet or Lucia, but audiences generally aren't going to buy it if the singer is clearly on the verge of collecting a pension. Equally, an athritic Alfredo or a clearly well-fed Rodolfo would raise eyebrows. And when we see lovers depicted on stage, we have a right to expect some sort of chemistry between them. The Telegraph has a story about the trend to cast sexy young singers in opera here. But is it an issue of craving credibility or bowing to prejudice?

Arise, King Bille

Posted July 28th, 2009 by debritz

Congratulations to Bille Brown for winning at the Helpmann Awards for his star turn as King Arthur in Spamalot! Such a shame the show had a relatively brief run in Melbourne and we didn't get to see it here in Brisbane. Details here.
PS: If you are in Brisbane and want to see Spamalot, head south to Benowa on the Gold Coast to see Spotlight Theatre's production, running until August 22. And you can see Bille in QTC's School of Arts in Brisbane and on tour.

Break a leg, Bille

Posted July 24th, 2009 by debritz

Queensland Theatre Company image of Bille Brown in School of Arts Biloela's, and now Brisbane's, Bille Brown is up for a gong at the Helpmann Awards on Monday night. You can see how he goes by watching the show live from the Sydney Opera House on pay-TV's Bio channel. Oh, and given that Bille's co-star from Queensland Theatre Company's School of Arts, Joss McWilliam, actually did do himself an injury before opening night, maybe the headline on this piece isn't entirely appropriate.

Let's honour Alan Edwards

Posted July 18th, 2009 by debritz

If you are on Facebook, please consider joining the group "Help Get A Public Memorial To Alan Edwards". Alan, who died a few years ago, was the founding artistic director of the Queensland Theatre Company. If we can have a Wally Lewis statue to recognise one of the greats of sport, we should certainly do something to remember Alan, who was a giant in his field. The current suggestion is that Brisbane's Hale Street Bridge be named after Alan, but you may be able to think of some other means of honouring him. I am sure all suggestions would be welcome.

Why too much sport makes us unhealthy

Posted July 15th, 2009 by debritz

As the third and final 2009 NRL State of Origin game looms large, I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: I am not anti-sport. I (very briefly) played Aussie rules as a child; I used to support Easts in the old QRL competition (even though we lived in Wests territory); I've been to one or two Origin games and a few NRL fixtures at Suncorp Stadiun; I went to the Gabba a couple of weeks ago to watch the Lions trounce the Demons; and I was even in the studio audience for The Footy Show a few years ago. On top of that, my mother and sister are Broncos season-ticket holders. Having said all that, I get extremely annoyed by the presumption, reflected in the media and political circles, that Australia is a football-mad nation. Why?

Mary Poppins lands in Melbourne

Posted July 13th, 2009 by debritz

Melbourne has secured another theatre coup - the premiere Australian season of the stage version of Mary Poppins. Victoria's Premier, John Brumby, made the announcement. Meanwhile, Queensland's Premier (and Arts Minister), Anna Bligh, insists Brisbane doesn't need a venue that can host the open-ended run of a premiere theatrical event - even though the Regent would be ideal if the government committed some money to restoring it to its original granduer rather than rubber-stamping its conversion into a little-needed 40-story office tower. Instead of money coming into Queensland, it will be heading south - again - via airline package deals!
PS: Note that the Herald Sun story refers to Poppins "coming home". Home for the children's author P.L. Travers was, in fact, in Maryborough, Queensland.

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