20 November 2017

What Melbourne Loved in 2017, part 1

Sometime after the comedy festival, I stopped writing the list of shows I'd seen; I regret that. But it's been a quiet year for me; at best count I'm at around 160 shows so far. No doubt that this series is going to remind of some of the amazing ones and make me regret missing at least another 160.

Remember that everyone is welcome to contribute and that the best way to hear from an artist that you love is to ask them to get writing.

Stephen Nicolazzo 
Little Ones Theatre

Stephen Nicolazzo

Favourite moments in 2017
My favourite moment of Melbourne theatre in 2017 was the breathtaking opening segment of The Rabble's Joan. The light, sound and bodies gloriously choreographed – it was thrilling, completely alive and completely made on its own terms. All that followed it, too, was stupendous. Each visual sequence an example of sumptuous, elegant and inspiring theatrical practice.

Also adored Fraught Outfit’s The Book of Exodus Part 1; Malthouse Theatre’s The Real and Imagined History of The Elephant Man; Lucy Guerin’s Split, Susie Dee, Patricia Cornelius etc's Caravan; Melanie Lane’s Nightdance; Tangi Wai as part of Dance Massive; Fringe Wives Club’s Gliitery Clittery; and the emotional and vulnerable ride that was All The Sex I’ve Ever Had as part of Melbourne Festival.

Standout theatre moment of the year, though, happened at Dark Mofo when I finally got to see The Second Woman by Nat Randall. Fuck. That is just the best piece of theatre I think I have ever experienced. Truly brilliant and addictive.

Looking forward to in 2018
I am desperately excited to see Patricia Cornelius’s House of Bernarda Alba at MTC and everything and anything that plays at Theatre Works and Arts House in 2018.

SM: It's been an amazing year for Little Ones Theatre with The Happy Prince, The Moors (as part of the Red Stitch season), and Merciless Gods (which has sold out it's current Sydney season and become the highest-selling Griffin indie show!). Find the artists who see the world like you do and the ones who will challenge you, make the work you want to make, don't listen to the voices that don't get it, and you will find an audience who love you and share your vision of the world. I loved all three Little Ones shows this year, but The Happy Prince at La Mama, with it's tiny proscenium and roller skates, was my favourite favourite. I can't wait for Abigail's Party at MTC next year.

I also saw The Scarlet Pimpernel by the all-female Takarazuka Revue in Tokyo because I knew they were Stephen's favourite company. It was totally sold out and I missed out on returns. Then a women who didn't speak English gave me a ticket and she will be getting theatre karma for ever because I am so grateful that I saw this incredible company. It was like being in his head. I still don't know if it was the queerest or the straightest piece of theatre I've seen, and I would go back to Japan for 24 hours just to see them again.

Tim Byrne
Critic, writer, interviewer

Tim Byrne

Favourite moments in 2017
I missed some heavy hitters this year – was overseas during the festival and I know, Taylor Yakkity Mac, shut up already! – but my favourite moment in a Melbourne theatre was the two nights I spent at fortyfivedownstairs being pounded and broken and remade by the glorious ensemble of Gary Abrahams’s production of Angels in America. It was sublime and searing and reminded me of where I’d been as a gay man on the fringes of our own destruction, back in that dark time we old people like to call the ’90s.

Looking forward to in 2018
The thing I most look forward to next year is any work by director Stephen Nicolazzo. He’s finally getting a gig on MTC’s main stage, and I suspect we will only see more and more from this extremely talented man. I adored his The Moors for Red Stitch, was impressed but not as moved as everyone else by his Merciless Gods, and cannot wait for him to direct for Opera Australia in the near future. He has Barrie Kosky’s brazenness but his aesthetic is far more sophisticated and nuanced. As long as he takes his spirit animal along with him – designer extraordinaire Eugyeene Teh – he can’t fail to impress.

SM: Every disagreement Tim and I have about a show is a favourite moment. If you don't read all of Tim's reviews in Time Out, you're missing out on some of the best critical writing around.

Sayraphim Lothian

Sayraphim Lothian
Favourite moments in 2017
In a way, this was a bad and excellent year for art for me. I'm not sure I went to see anything this year ... apart from one of my fabourite bands doing a caberet on one of my favourite topics. Idiot Magnet did The Big Book of Conspiracies at Fringe and I was there every night to see it and I fricken LOVED it. Disclaimer: I may be married to one of them.

But apart from that, I've had my head down working all year and recovering from an exhausting year last year. And then when things started to clear, the Marriage Equality postal nonsence was looming and I spent time doing and sharing the hell out of the YES side and their awesome, creative activism.

And then i got a book deal. HOLY GODS I GOT A BOOK DEAL to write about Craftivism and Creative Resistance. (It's called Guerrilla Kindness and Other Acts of Creative Resistance – Making the World a Better Place Through Craftivism and it's out in April! EEEEE!!) So I slowed everything else to work on that.

So I saw the inside of my house a lot. I stared at my computer screen and sewing machine a lot. I researched a bunch of amazing activism from around the world a lot. And I made a bunch of cool stuff and wrote a lot of words.

I'm sorry Melbs Art Scene, I didn't see you much this year. But I'll be back next year, I promise.

SM: Sayra thought that she hadn't seen enough this year to take part, but she inspired me so much this year that I didn't give her a choice. I spent a lot of time channeling frustration and anger and ultimately a lot of love into yarn this year. There were #pussyhats in the first half of the year and then came #QueerGrannySquares. I've had so much joy from seeing these out in the world.


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