The Performing Arts in Australia What is this lecture about? The performing arts in Australia An overview of the range, diversity and achievement in this sector An outline of the structure and some of the ideas that underpin and drive this sector Provide some appreciation of the great deal of activity that there is in this sector Australia British Playwright David Hare said that: “if you want to understand the social history of the country, you cannot do better than study the plays of the period”. This can be extended to the whole of the arts. The performing arts of a country tell us a great deal about the resources, the interests and the diversity of that place. The choice of Themes: the stories that are told Content; how those stories are conveyed Characters; who we choose to tell those stories Settings: what places, times and terrains are chosen Designs: realism, naturalism, absurdism, post modernism, indigenous. Venues: inside or outside: from the Sydney Opera House to the Darwin Town Hall Ruins For example @ La Boite theatre you can see Tender Napalm @ QTC you can see Kelly – a retelling of the story of an Australian bushranger who represents the ambivalent relationship with Authority @Metro arts has Under the Radar @ Expressions Dance you can see Dance Energy @ QPAC you can see Jersey Boys @ the Brisbane Festival Yarrabah! the Musical Facts and Figures Australians are keen participants in the arts Nine in ten Australians participate in the arts. More than half of Australians attend live performances One in four Australians go to the theatre, one in four go to see the opera or classical music and one in six go to see dance. Australians believe that the arts are an important part of life and should receive public funding Some facts and figures Australians attitudes to the arts are overwhelmingly positive, with almost all Australians agreeing that: “the arts should be an important part of the education of every Australian” “the arts should receive public funding” “the arts make for a more richer and meaningful life” The broader arguments for the significance of the arts Tourists are eager consumers of Australian art and culture As are locals who increasingly engage through the many festivals Learning through the arts helps children achieve better results in school Students who train in the arts use their skills for creative thinking to support a vibrant Australian economy The creative industries are major contributors to GDP and jobs The performing arts create jobs and contribute to GDP The Performing arts in Australia are A diverse and mix of art form, cultures and peoples – a meeting point for cultures Resilient in the face of the changing economic, social and cultural lives of people in the many communities. A dynamic and eclectic mix of the professional, the commercial and the amateur An important bridge across the lives of many communities socially, economically and creatively An example of diversity and range Show from You tube Marrugeku Burning Daylight Marrugeku Crying Baby The Performing arts in Australia Dance Music Aboriginal Music Popular Music Classical Music Theatre Much of the performing arts underpinned by Strong amateur traditions Resilient commercial performing arts sector Consistent government support over the past fifty years Small, but active contemporary performance sector the readings provide examples of the contemporary sector Government Funding The single most influential factor in the Australian arts sector in the past 50 years Available from all three levels of government Originally designed to deflect the pressures of the market place as the arts were not seen as being able to support themselves The arts seen as a public good Government Funding Funding purpose often caught between arguments about the intrinsic or instrumental value of the arts Governments now looking for value for money and want a visible return for the investment: jobs, buildings, improved social conditions Arts organisation have become very good at arguing the social benefits of making art, the commercial benefits of a vibrant arts sector. Government Funding Some see this as occurring at the expense of art making itself Others argue that too much reliance on funding removes the critical pressure of the box office Without funding we may not have Les Miserables or Warhorse-both developed in funded situations. Terracini argues that there should be about 30% funding, 30% coming from sponsorship and the rest of an arts company’s budget earned through box office. The Literature (some of it) In Repertoire: Contemporary Performance In Repertoire: Contemporary Dance In Repertoire: Performance for Young People Some of the companies, the individuals, the productions, the ideas and the images that are and have informed the contemporary performing arts The Performing arts in Australia Dance Music Aboriginal Music Popular Music Classical Music Theatre Dance Classical Dance Contemporary Dance A great deal of crossover between various forms of dance Classical Dance Strong classical tradition Strong involvement in dance throughout the community: many classical dance schools throughout most cities and communities. Ballet companies in most states The national classical company is celebrating its 50 year of operation Contemporary Dance Sydney Dance Company Dance North Lucy Guerin Chunky Move Expressions Dance Company Strong classical technique supporting work that is innovative and unique Some examples Show from ‘you tube’: Sydney Dance Company 6 Breaths Bangarra Dance Company Terrain Music in Australia Classical Music Popular Music Aboriginal Music Classical Music Symphony Orchestras in all states The Australian Chamber Orchestra led by Richard Tognetti The ACO IS the best chamber orchestra in the world. They don't come from Germany. They don't play like a German orchestra. They play like Australians, with great energy, enthusiasm AND exciting ideas in their playing (Terracini) Show from ‘you tube’: The Australian Chamber Orchestra The Australian Chamber Orchestra The Glide William Barton Indigenous man from Mt. Isa with growing national and international reputation Multi- instrumentalist but most known for his use of the didgeridoo Works in many classical music settings Has worked with Australian contemporary composers such as Peter Sculthorpe Symphony Orchestra 2011 Grand Finale William Barton Didgeridoo Music Theatre Since its early days Australian stages have been filled with musicals; usually imported they ranged from the British pantomimes and classic American style musicals of the 20th century The 1980’s saw Australia embrace the world wide movement of musicals led by such shows as Evita, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon et al. This trend had a major impact as many Austrian performers began training to become triple threat performers: sing, dance and act. Recently Sydney was touted as the out of town tryout for musicals like An Officer and a Gentleman before it made the move to the perilous New York stages. Contemporary Music Theatre Contemporary music theatre take many forms and occur in sometimes surprising locations. It takes chamber opera in new directions, engages with new media and the visual arts in installations, includes innovative musicals and through scored stage plays for adults and young people, theatricalises the concert, transforms grand opera, and looks set to reach a growing audience through television, radio, national and international touring. IHOS IHOS is a performing arts company based in Tasmania, Australia, with an international reputation for original music-theatre and opera. Works are multicultural, multilingual and exploit multiple art-forms, blending voice, dance and sound with installation art and digital technology. IHOS has origins in the Greek-Australian tradition. The company was established in Hobart in 1990, by composer and artistic director Constantine Koukias, and production director Werner Ihlenfeld. IHOS The Barbarians: commissioned by the Museum of Old and New Art, is an immersive and remarkable new opera by Constantine Koukias, inspired by the iconic Greek Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy. Performed in modern Greek with bilingual narration, the opera is the product of a large collaboration of designers, musicians and singers, with a Greek Chorus of ten men. From YouTube: IHOS The Barbarians Opera Oz Opera Traditional Opera Company stages the classic opera repertoire Iconic events Show from YouTube Opera Australia Handa Opera South Pacific Yarrabah! The Musical: a co-production between Opera Australia and the community of Yarrabah in North Queensland Circus A long history in circus, both traditional and contemporary Australian audiences have long embraced Circus Oz, The Flying Fruit Fly Circus and a host of physical theatre companies that work outdoors, in theatres, in circus tents across the country or, like Legs on the Wall, abseil tall buildings.(Gallasch, In Repertoire) Some contemporary Circus Circus OZ The Flying Fruit Fly Circus From YouTube Circa 46 Circus acts in 45 minutes From YouTube Legs on the wall Homelands Theatre in Australia: Contemporary but not so much classical Belonging by John McCallum Australia as a continent is a strangely vacant place, in which many people have struggled to find a place. For the first invaders - convicts and their jailors huddled on the coast – there was at first nothing out there. Plays were written in a marginal land by and for exiles Theatre exploring questions of whether we actually belong here Nowra’s play The Golden Age dramatises the extraordinary complexity of what ‘ome’ might mean in a country full of exiles and the dispossessed. For people then and now, Australia is a large, seemingly empty continent! Much theatre was and is concerned with: Alienation and a deep sense of not belonging/ of worth (early settlers through to present day) Search for unity / nationhood (turn into the 20th century) – theatre was challenged by how to represent Australians to themselves; used the bush legend to do this; Many plays portrayed men and women, husbands, wives and families struggling to survive the country, the droughts, the floods and the isolation Australian themes Does it define itself in terms of a relationship with this land? The question of belonging / insider or outsider To distance To history To the suburbs To class To naturalism Australian Theatre There is a national pattern of theatrical activity based on these structures: a mainstream theatre company in each city, a strong alternative theatre company in each city a commercial theatre based on high-quality productions of imported musicals and emerging local scripts a number of smaller, independent theatres servicing the specific needs of either conservative or adventurous audiences Vigorous community theatre movement Australian Theatre Consistent commitment at all three levels of Government to supporting the arts A network of venues throughout the country Plethora of academic & private arts training entities Ever improving standards of acting, design and production 21st century culture: cross art/ form collaborations/ New ways of making and producing theatre and performance Some examples From YouTube La Boite What if La Boite didn't exist? From YouTube Belvoir St Theatre ‘death of a salesman Key Influences on performance making Festivals & Fringes (360 in Australia, approx.) Brisbane Festival Sydney Festival Adelaide Festival Perth Festival Melbourne Festival Darwin Festival Alice Springs Festival Ten Days on the Island Fringe Festivals Adelaide Fringe Alice Springs Beanie Festival Desert Mob Other Voices Wesley Enoch: ‘Time for the arts to show society a way forward The arts are important for the health and vitality of a community Indigenous arts offers such vision and leadership Cultural, political and social leadership are all manifested in indigenous arts practices’ Jim Sharman says that: Australian theatre began with the corroboree, a ritual dance-theatre integral to the lives and culture of its community. The notion that theatre, and art in general, are divorced from life and its rituals, as a diversion from life, took root with the arrival of European culture Jim Sharman says that: Storytelling would also have been and is part of traditional culture. In the legends and tales crucial to any society is a direct connection between past and present It's a small step from the tribe clustered in a cave around a storyteller silhouetted by a camp-fire's reflected flames to our modern tribes gathered in a theatre, or in that labyrinth of caves known as a cinemacomplex. Aboriginal Theatre Underpinning much of the theatre is a desire to inform and perhaps find a way forward - reconciliation A way forward to heal and move on much of the underlying purpose of Aboriginal theatre seems to be about a ‘cultural leadership’ Bran Nue Dae A Turning Point in 1989 Twenty years of social and political activism began o Emerged from the 1960’s Aboriginal Civil rights movement o Writers, political activists, actors, dancers and song writers began to contribute o Used the mass media to promote their message o Some Key contemporary organisations Bangara Dance Company in Sydney Ilbijeri Theatre Company in Melbourne Yirra Yaakin Noongar Theatre Company in Perth Stalker Theatre Company/ Marrugeku. Elcho Island Dancers N.T. Tjapakai Dance Theatre in Cairns - And maybe the Chooky Dancers! The subtle influence of this important tradition remains in fine theatre pieces such as Terrain or Matthina by Bangara Dance Theatre Jandemarra by Steve Hawke Namatjira and Ngapartji Ngapartji by Big hART Waltzing the Wilarra by Yirra Yakkin Mimi by Marrugeku Shanghai Lady Killer by Stalker Theatre\ Coranderrk by Ilbigerri Theatre Deborah Cheetham A Yorta Yorta Soprano, composer and author Commissioned to write a piece by the Olympic Arts Festival (1996) and the Festival of the Dreaming White Baptist Abba Fan, is an autobiographical account of Deborah's life and includes arias by Handel, Puccini, Catalanni, Dvorak, Gounod and Addams. In 2010 she wrote and produced an opera Pecan Summer: performed by a cast of Indigenous and non-Indigenous singers, The opera tells the story of the 1939 walk-off of 200 Yorta Yorta men, women and children from the Cummeraganja mission in southern New South Wales, across the Murray River into Victoria. From YouTube Indigenous opera takes shape What was this lecture about? The performing arts in Australia An overview of the range, diversity and achievement in this sector An outline of the structure and some of the ideas that underpin and drive this sector Provide some appreciation of the great deal of activity that there is in this sector Finale Namatjira and Ngapartji Ngapartji by Big hART Ngapartji Ngapartji From YouTube Nothing Rhymes With Ngapartji Thank you.