Sorry readers I have taken so long to get back to my blogging. I was in Melbourne doing interviews for the National Library: hard work and lots of fun, mostly some of the folks who had been involved in the early days of the Pram Factory. More interviews required and I hope to give you a report on this work soon given the appearance of a new book on the subject by Gabrielle Wolf published by Currency.
My tiny following on this site who remember me from days at the National Times (1780s) and the Sydney Morning Herald (1890s), must be wondering when is James going to bust – and put the boot in. Relax back in your rockers and wheelchairs, make sure you’ve taken your heart tablets etc. Just kidding…
If this year’s festival were a race war, right now the dark-skinned brothers and sisters would be winning! I write the morning after attending the all-Aboriginal concert Murundak (Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House). Without being so named, curatorially, this massive, inspiring joyful celebration of survival against odds, with a suitably sharp sting in its tail, serves as the third segment of a fabulous trilogy that has also included Cannot Buy My Soul (Kev Carmody tribute concert) and Ngapartji Ngapartji (Big hArt’s theatre piece still running at Belvoir Street Theatre).
Like a dazed and long-eyelashed five-hour-old foal, five days in, the 2008 Sydney Festival has got up on its feet. The brumbie mare has thrown back to exquisite palomino origins and she nuzzles with pride. And the smart little colt was named last night: ‘You Cannot Buy My Soul’.
I’m trying to capture the feeling as the curtain came down last night on a stunning concert at the State Theatre celebrating the song writing of Kev Carmody featuring Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins, Tex Perkins, Dan Kelly, Clare Bowditch, The Herd, Sara Storer, Steve Kilby, The Drones, The Last Kinection, the Pigram Bothers and a great support band. Not to mention Carmody himself and kin, including several grandchildren.
My favourite thought during the opening night of this year’s Sydney Festival was a flash back to the APEC meeting of ‘world leaders’ (in what?) just a few months ago when the very same city streets were blocked with barricades, helicopters intimidated the skies day and night, snipers lay on rooftops, and basically Sydney was bunkered down so a bunch of creepy people could get down and suck each other’s conga-lines.
“I know it’s unpopular... but I just love Robyn Nevin. Such a giving soul, generous and so much time for everyone. Her creativity and insight surpasses expectation. No one could best represent the theatre industry in Sydney than our wonderful Robyn!” Sydney Morning Herald (Posted by: KurtAngst on September 4, 2006 3:25 PM)
Robyn Nevin would have been able to sit down to her Xmas lunch, retired from her position as Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company, satisfied with a job well done. Relaxed and comfortable you could almost say. Possibly lifted a glass as loved ones toasted her achievement and welcome her home.
I hope, by the close of this entry, we will have discussed the excellent production of Sizwe Banze is Dead, directed by Peter Brook, still playing for a few more days at the Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. But why not let’s start somewhere else and, in the wandering manner of Aboriginal story-telling, begin with:
I visited Melbourne recently to complete some interviews on tape with ‘eminent theatre practitioners’ for the OralHistory Unit of National Library of Australia. One my inteviewees was Mike Mullins, who gave Sydney and, indeed, the national theatre scene, a good rattle with his cutting-edge practice, and engagement in debate, for two decades from the late 1970s.
THE PRIMATIVE IN THE MODERN
Some of Australianstage’s more devoted readers might have noticed that I have been contributing the occasional review to this excellent and burgeoning website. Most notably, I have been keeping an eye on the Actors Company at the Sydney Theatre Company which, despite various controversies (especially of late), turned out a number of truly outstanding productions in the past year including The Art of War and, best of all, Benedict Andrews’ stunning rendition of Patrick White's The Season at Sarsaparilla.