The Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture 2007

The English Director Peter Brook once posited the theory that theatres must be full but they must be full honourably. “It’s easy to fill a theatre dishonorably but even easier to empty it honourably,” he said.

How small an audience is too small? How broad too broad? What the hell is a new audience anyway? Why is our opinion of older audiences bordering on contempt? Have we struck up ‘synergies’ with our ‘stakeholders’? Should connoisseurship be subsidised? How much is a cheap ticket? Star-f**king or good casting? Are we ‘delivering’ social ‘outcomes’? Oh, and is the show any good?

At this year’s Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture, taking place at Belvoir St Theatre on Sunday 21 October, Sydney Festival Director and Chief Executive, Fergus Linehan, will chart a course through the world of programming arts festivals and talk about how to fill theatres honourably (most of the time...).

The winner of The Philip Parsons Young Playwright’s Award 2007 will be announced after the lecture. The Philip Parsons Young Playwright’s Award is awarded each year to a playwright under 35 years of age, whose work demonstrates an original and compelling theatrical voice. The winner receives a Company B writer’s commission for its B Sharp Season.

This year’s award nominees are Nicki Bloom (Tender), Josh Lawson (Plays by Himself, Shakespearialism), Tommy Murphy (Holding the Man, Strangers in Between) and Toby Schmitz (Capture the Flag, Lucky).

Previous Philip Parsons Young Playwright’s Award winners include Kate Mulvany whose commissioned work, The Seed, had great success as part of the B Sharp Season earlier this year, and Patrick Brammall and John Leary whose commissioned play Vital Organs will be premiering in the B Sharp Season in December this year.

Fergus Linehan was born and grew up in Dublin in a family with extensive links to the Irish arts community. While working at the Dublin Theatre Festival throughout the 1990s, Linehan founded the Dublin Fringe Festival, and became Director of the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2000 where he oversaw a major expansion of the scale and diversity of the program. He is currently Festival Director and Chief Executive of the 2006 – 2009 Sydney Festivals. The Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture and Young Playwright’s Award commemorate the life’s work of Dr Philip Parsons AM (1926-1993). Dr Parsons was co-founder of the performing arts publishers Currency Press, and an influential teacher and mentor to many of the students, scholars, actors, directors and playwrights who created the new wave of Australian theatre in the 1970s.

The Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture 2007

Venue: Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Date/Time: Sunday 21 October at 2pm
Tickets: $15
Bookings: 02 9699 3444 or

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