Invariably (and naturally) the 1950s are a decade we look back on. This article treats them as years that have yet to happen, returning to the 1930s and 1940s to look forward to an as-yet undisclosed future in Australian theatre. The means proposed to explore the historical record in this way utilize the concept of “hauntology”, in both Jacques Derrida’s original definition as “the spectral traces of the past found in the present”, and of Mark Fisher’s notion of “lost futures”, where longing is felt for possibility states that remain unrealised, “a relation to what is no longer or not yet”. The second half of the article demonstrates a number of practical, hauntologically-inflected methods for examining Australian theatre, asking what impact the activities of the 1930s and 1940s might have had on those in the 1950s as we receive this framing today. Hauntologically-inflected methods not only provide fresh insight into the contingency of Australian theatre’s development, they also de-reify the present moment.
In Melbourne in the 1990s, a burgeoning ‘queer cabaret’ scene and Dockland parties produced by the ALSO Foundation provided regular performances for LGBTQI+ audiences. Queer club nights incorporated performances including dance, spoken word, music and drag performance. These performances articulated developing ideas about lesbian and queer identities, feminist and female subjectivities, and the ‘body’ – the status and state of corporeality in the increasingly mediated and corporatized environment. This article takes an autoethnographic approach, drawing upon primary sources including performance texts, journal entries (autoethnographic record) and interviews with performers and event producers. In examining specific performances, their context and reception, I tease out the ways in which queer women in Melbourne were reworking lesbian and feminist identity positions as ‘desiring subjects’, specifically enabled through the development of a sophisticated queer audience with an appetite for performance which did more than trot out unifying slogans for them to applaud. This queer audience released the performers from the heteronormative gaze, and thereby from the transformation of female subjects to fetishized objects
This article provides a perspective from the margins of the Australian performing arts, investigating intersecting power relations, as Patricia Collins and Sirma Bilge (2016) define intersectionality. Extending on that work, Museum UNDONE, a 2021 production by Metanoia Theatre’s Artistic Director Görkem Acaroğlu, is put forward as an example offering possibilities to audiences and artists with experiences and perspectives diverse from the mainstream. Museum UNDONE is an immersive, site-specific work, that playfully interrogates the region’s colonial history and its gaps by engaging with the museum’s collection, which focuses on colonial life in regional Victoria in the 1800s. Museum UNDONE focuses on de-centring and decolonising narratives of Australian identity, undertaking research through practice, critiquing normative conceptions of Anglo-Australian identity by facilitating the voices of non-Anglo artists from various creative disciplines. The article then moves to draw on Acaroğlu’s experience working as a diversity mentor and trainer with multiple arts organisations, to explore racism in the Australian Theatre sector broadly.
Responding to the call for unity amongst female-identifying theatre-makers by the global ‘Time’s Up’ movement, the counter-discursive theatre production Te Puna Hipi (2019) confronted stories of sexual violence from Aotearoa New Zealand. Working with student collaborators from Victoria University of Wellington, Te Puna Hipi retold Lope De Vega’s Fuenteovejuna as a Feminist “Pacific Western”, altering the original play’s narrative to play on, and speak to, the misogyny of so many canonical texts. This discussion explores the representation of literal emasculation in this production as a specific and localised form of justice, utu, as a means to restore balance. The project sought not only to liberate women’s characters in the play, but to empower the actors tasked with reimagining them for an emancipatory, #timesup, world.
Ironical performance can be a powerful expression of cultural identity. Using performance analysis, this article considers how the everyday irony of Andrew London’s songs, Gary Henderson’s play Home Land, and the dramatic irony of Stuart Hoar and Chris Blake’s opera Bitter Calm represents Pākehā cultural identity on the stage. Considering its Greek origins of ‘simulated ignorance’, the discussion of irony draws on the work of Joana Garmendia (2019), and Deirdre Wilson (2013). The discussion of irony in Pākehā performance, draws on the premise that their short history and residual sense of ‘belonging’ somewhere else, means Pākehā have to devise cultural strategies to deal with a sense of strangeness in Aotearoa. An ironic approach provides for an examination of personal and cultural identity, and enables an audience to consider how Pakeha are navigating their relationship with Aotearoa.
Director/Mother/Outlaw extends on mothering scholarship and the term “mother outlaw”, which was first coined by Adrienne Rich in 1976. Through interviews with two contemporary Australian directors, Kate Davis and Sarah Giles, this paper highlights how acts of empowered mothering — acts that push against the ideological institution of motherhood — are disrupting predominantly male-centric and neoliberal theatre environments. By analysing mothering counter-narratives and how they intersect with the participants’ professional trajectories and craft, this paper examines how the directors have facilitated change in their industries, including creating environments of “maternal allyship”: a concept developed in this research. This field is uncharted, making the research distinct in both its contribution to motherhood studies and directing. The women in this study are mother outlaws. They have done this by pursuing careers in creative leadership roles while concurrently living embodied experiences of childbearing and rearing. By investigating how pregnancy and mothering interact with the theatre artist’s creativity and leadership through qualitative data, these findings can be utilised by policymakers and arts organisations.
Everyday musical theatre cultures consist in conversation, singing, dance, acting, revoicing and re-narrating beyond the proscenium, eclipsing other forms in reach and impact. This regeneration of performative materials through various platforms, leads to emergent communities, identities, worlds, and belongings, pouring out from the theatre onto the street, and onto social media. In this article we illuminate the workings of this phenomenon through Victor Turner's concepts of communitas, the liminal and the liminoid, and the phenomenological concept of enworlding. We use these terms to examine the intensifying feedback loops between musical theatre productions and their fans, and the worlds they create in spaces beyond the theatre. Through three case studies, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and Love Never Dies, we demonstrate how unique fan cultures enworld in particular ways to re-engage and re-voice the shows from which they originate. The study specifically analyses the role of changing social media platforms in the unique import of fan culture back into the productions themselves.
Challandes Written by four teaching academics at the University of Newcastle, this article critically appraises both the pedagogy and creative outcomes of four undergraduate courses focussed on making performance from the vectors of site, place, and historical research. In each course it was research concerning the history/ies, social uses, and architecture of one chosen building in Newcastle City that anchored the site-specific projects of first-year students (in 2011 and in 2012) and third year students (in 2019 and in 2020). The teaching practice and practical outcomes examined in this article span ten years and illustrate a contemporary devised performance curriculum that has been the focus of the Creative and Performing Arts Major at the University of Newcastle for over a decade. This longitudinal study of teaching strategies for making performance events that respond to place and site in the city underpins the authors’ assessment of the potential value of this pedagogy for students in the contemporary HE environment.
In addition to capturing the heart of the mythological story, the tension between freedom and control explored so vividly in Euripides’ ‘Bakkhai’ can resonate in the creative process. This article focuses on the creative development of Bakkhai (2018) to illustrate the value of employing a process that fosters collaboration and improvisational freedom in a community theatre context. Without eliminating the text of Euripides’ play, as director I employed a creative methodology in which an original translation was deliberately introduced late in the creative development process. Rather, the work sought to communicate the power and experience of ancient tragedy through extensive use of choral song and dance. Building on the work of Dunbar and Harrop (2018), I argue that reducing the influence of the text in creative development restrains individualist and psychologising approaches to Greek tragedy, and that such restraint creates the opportunity for greater embodied and affective performer engagement.
KEY WORDS: Euripides’ Bakkhai; choral strategies; community ensemble; Greek theatre in Australian context
Ecodramaturgy expands dramaturgical practice to include all aspects of ecology – biological and ideological. Ecodramaturgy believes that theatre has the unique capacity to rethink and reframe our understanding of and approaches to climate change and climate action. However, ecodramaturgy has been largely applied to issues of performance practice and theory and is underutilised in examining the theatre as a production ecosystem. Conversely, theatre companies have been slow to adopt comprehensive policies, strategies and actions to address climate change, despite having been directly impacted. This essay uses ecodramaturgy as a critical lens to investigate how theatre can become a more sustainable ecosystem, using examples from Queensland theatre, as well as wider Australian, contexts.
In this article, we investigate the history of Deaf theatre in Australia, through the lens of oppression and allyship. Through a review of the to date limited academic, industry, and media literature, in conjunction with survey and interview research with Deaf theatre practitioners, this research sheds light on Deaf theatre makers’ perceptions of the ways in which ally support can operate to create both social benefits and barriers, and how this has impacted on the non-linear development and recent decline in Deaf theatre companies in Australia. It finds that, in developing a framework to scaffold stronger allyship relationships with d/Deaf and hard of hearing artists, it is critical to consider the accessibility and cultural requirements not just in relation to theatre methodologies, but in relation to arts management practices, which support continuing company production, too. Challenges in creating strong, successful, respectful, and sustainable relationships between Deaf and non-Deaf artists are arising, this research finds, from lack of understanding of the dynamics of audism in play in theatre training, theatre making, theatre management, and the industry at large for d/Deaf artists.