15 December 2016

What Melbourne loved in 2016, part 11

Today's group of wonderful people are reviewer Tim Byrne, playwright Katy Warner and Neddwellyn Jones from La Mama.

And another day in which I regret missing Animal (to be fair, I wasn't in the country). This show has to have another season.

Tim Byrne
arts writer, reviewer

Tim Byrne. Photo by Chris Boyd

TB's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: The best assumptions to burst are the ones you hold about yourself. This year I burst an assumption I’ve held all my life: that I’m not really into traditional ballet. Australian Ballet’s first ever production of Nijinsky was undoubtedly superb, an intense and sustained masterpiece, but my most treasured moment in a theatre this year was under the spell of the Houston Ballet as they performed an impeccably danced, utterly rousing, muscular and deeply moving Romeo and Juliet. It was thrilling, and opened me to a form I’d dismissed as fusty and moribund.

What TB is looking forward to in 2017: I’ve been hopelessly slack with tracking upcoming programs, but I am off to Adelaide to see Thomas Ostermeier’s Richard III, which should prove interesting, given his electric Hedda Gabler here a couple of years ago for Melbourne Festival. But mostly I’m hoping to discover a new and unexpected love, something that opens me to forms I’ve never considered. Because that’s really the point of art, isn’t it?

SM: Tim's another reviewer who sees so much more than he's able to write about. I read his reviews even when I haven't seen the show.because they are a great read and they always show me something about the show or artist that I hadn't seen before. But my favourite moment with Tim this year was his talk with Stan Grant (about his book Talking to my Country) on a stupidly hot and still February night in a church hall in Albert Park. The room was fringed with boxes of second-hand stuff for a fete and Tim asked the perfect questions to let Stan tell his story.

Katy Warner

Katy Warner

KW's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: I think I was hidden in a bubble of first drafts and deadlines this year and did not get to see as much as I wanted. I could name a couple of favourite missed moments. Like Animal. I am kicking myself for missing Animal.

This year I was fortunate enough to catch Jack Charles vs. The Crown after missing it the first time around. Uncle Jack makes it all look so effortless. What an incredible human. This was poignant, vital storytelling.

Loved Gonzo for its form, risk and performances. Plus, the discussions it generated in the foyer, and at work the next day.

OUR land people stories from Bangarra Dance Theatre. Jasmin Sheppard's choreography and David Page's music for MACQ was incredibly powerful.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Melbourne Festival) made me laugh and cry and sing and I just adored it.

Blaque Showgirls created some unforgettable moments, costumes, performances – satire at its best.

What KW is looking forward to in 2017: An Austrian-esque swing to the left across the world.

And pretty much everything in the Malthouse and Theatre Works seasons, the Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival, the new Australian writing on show at Red Stitch Theatre and, for families at Arts Centre Melbourne, Luke Kerridge's Bambert's Book of Lost Stories (just the trailer makes me teary).


SM: Katy wrote and directed A Prudent Man at Melbourne Fringe. There's plenty of easy and average satire about elected right-wing politicians around; what made this stand out was how it made the audience begin to not like but listen to, and even care, about a selfish conservative middle-aged straight white man in a suit. This is another show that I really hope gets a return season.

PS: Maxim Boon sent me a message yesterday because he couldn't believe he'd not mentioned A Prudent Man in part 10; it's been added.

Neddwellyn Jones 
La Mama Theatre

Neddwellyn Jones 

NJ's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: The moment that stayed with me the most in 2016, was in the minutes following the opening of Animal (influx) at Theatre Works in November.

Following one of the most powerful and affecting productions of the year, we all joined in for three heavy rounds of applause. None of us in the audience, all fairly seasoned theatregoers, seemed to want to stop clapping. When we finally did, we sat there, as a group, united in silence and awe at what had just unfolded. No one dared to speak for at least a minute, and it felt like an eternity before anyone left their seat... and it felt like a reaction that came as close as it could to doing the work justice.

What NJ is looking forward to in 2017: In 2017, I cannot wait to check out the inaugural Asia TOPA Festival in February and March, which will provide an unprecedented opportunity for Melbourne audiences to celebrate the rich and wonderful contemporary arts and culture on offer from our close neighbours in Asia.

La Mama’s 50th Anniversary will also provide undeniable highlights, the stand-out being a month long festival in July with some of Australia’s most talented and celebrated writers, directors, designers and performers returning "home".

And lastly - if someone out there is listening to the word on the street  and were to program Angus Cerini’s The Bleeding Tree for a Melbourne season, I dare say the chances of it being included in this same column in 12 months time would be extremely high!

SM: Another easy one: Every time Nedd changes ticket dates for me or squeezes me into a show on very short notice.

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5
part 6
part 7
part 8
part 9
part 10

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