02 December 2018

What Melbourne Loved in 2018, part 2

As moments come in, I don't try and find themes and connections, but they usually happen anyway. Today, one favourite was programmed by another. And there's discussion about the importance of diversity on our stages, and about indie artists and shows on main stages.

Daniel Clarke
Arts Centre Melbourne
Creative Producer, Theatre and Contemporary Performance

Dan and Donnie

Favourite moments in 2018

Blackie Blackie Brown at Malthouse was one of the most exciting examples of contemporary Australian theatre that I have seen. I sat there completely gripped and amazed by what I was seeing on stage. The direction, writing, performances and stunning AV design all came together to produce an electrifying political work that I hope gets to travel around the globe. Developed over years, this work clearly demonstrates the importance of investment in visionary artists to take the time they need to develop a new work.

Bighouse Dreaming was a devastating and urgent work. It shattered me. I first saw Declan Furber-Gillick perform at Decolonising Stories, an event produced by Arts Centre Melbourne, curated by Candy Bowers. I knew in that moment that here was an extraordinary talent. I vividly remember sitting in the Fairfax foyer watching his performance soexcited that I had been introduced to an artist with such an original, powerful, political and poetic voice. When I saw his work Bighouse Dreaming, directed with exquisite restraint by Mark Wilson during Melbourne Fringe, I knew that here we had someone who would make a major contribution to our culture. Was already doing it. This work needs to be seen far and wide. In schools, in the mainstream, as a tool for urgent change in the correctional services. Much respect to all cast and creatives and Mechanics Institute and Melbourne Fringe for supporting the work.

Looking forward to in 2019
Can’t wait to see Barbara and the Camp Dogs at Malthouse, Deer Woman and Counting and Cracking at Sydney Festival, Emily Sexton’s first year at Arts House, and Bryce Ives’s first year at Theatre Works. And Kylie Minogue, of course, and Queen Kong at Arts Centre Melbourne. In Adelaide, I can’t wait to finally see Bitch Dyke Faghag Whore by Penny Arcade and explore David Sefton’s brilliant Royal Croquet Club Program as part of Adelaide Fringe. Oh and Hannah Norris’s Afteryou, with her Mum, is going to be very special.

SM: Dan has continued the  amazing programming and development work he did at Theatre Works at Arts Centre Melbourne. Not only are we seeing some of the best indie theatre from around the world  at the Arts Centre – the Big World, Up Close program was amazing – , but there are also developments, workshops, discussions and plans that are bringing some of our best independent and emerging performers and creators onto main stages. As this happens, our main-stages become far more exciting places to visit.

PS. I saw Bitch Dyke Faghag Whore in the early 90s.

Monique Grbec

From Facebook

Favourite moments in 2018
Matriarch at Melbourne Fringe, a Stolen Generations story of reconnection, and Taha from Big World, Up Close at Arts Centre Melbourne

Looking forward to in 2019
More diverse stories.

SM: Monique is one of the awesome new reviewers at Witness. We met at a show set in the 1980s and bonded over knowing every song that was used.

Christopher Bryant
Playwright and academic

Christopher Bryant. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams

Favourite moments in 2018
I didn't see as much as I wanted to this year, partly for money reasons and partly because this year has just been hectic – but two moments vie for my attention.  The first is the ending of Nicola Gunn's Working With Children. I know it was considered divisive (that wonderful catch-cry of theatre that can't be summed up easily enough), but I found myself enthralled by her words and movement, her humour and her dissemination of philosophy throughout. The moment in particular was the end: she sets up a series of strange childlike contraptions that create a shadowy mosaic... and then leaves. It took the audience I was in about five minutes as they went through the process of sitting in silence, waiting for Gunn to return,  realising something was 'wrong', and finally realising they'd been duped and the show was over. It was outrageous and I loved it.

The second was the growing disquiet of Lottie in the Late Afternoon by Amelia Roper  at fortyfivedownstairs. What started as an all-too familiar narrative about old friends reconnecting on a vacation slowly filled up with dark humour and just a touch of existential dread.  I can't get the feeling of being in that audience out of my head: as audience grew more and more uncomfortable while also never quite being sure *why* they were uncomfortable.

Looking forward to in 2019
So much and, as always, my brain seems to have forgotten anything specific, but that's the great thing about Melbourne – there's always so much to see! I am keen for Golden Shield by Anchuli Felicia King at MTC (she's doing so well, and I'm so excited to finally see one of her works). and MUST's adaptation of Slaughterhouse Five at Theatre Works (I saw it at Monash but it's just so great to see quality student work getting a second life).

SM: I didn't see any of Christopher's work this year – to be fair, he was OS a fair but – so my favourite moment has to be his Facebook panic when he realised the international flight he was booked on left at the end of the day not the next day, as he thought. He made the flight. I felt ill when I read it.

UPDATE: I saw Sneakyville that he wrote! How could I forget that! It was about Charles Manson and explored why people love and are obsessed with the worst of people.

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