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Ben Brooker

Ben Brooker is a writer, editor, critic, playwright, essayist, and former bookseller. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Flinders University and an Advanced Diploma of Professional Writing from Adelaide College of the Arts. His work has been featured by Overland, New Matilda, New Internationalist, Australian Book Review, RealTime, The Lifted Brow, Witness, and Daily Review.

That Eye, The Sky (State Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 31 August 2018
Although his natural humility would make him dislike my saying so, Tim Winton is these days omnipresent in our national culture. Anywhere you look there is bound to be a new book, a television or film adaptation, or a stage adaptation, as with the State Theatre Company’s revival of That Eye, the Sky, adapted by Justin Monjo and Richard Roxburgh from Winton’s 1986 novel and first performed by B ... (read more)

A Doll's House, Part 2 (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 20 August 2018
Almost one hundred and forty years have passed since Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House shook the European bourgeoisie with its proto-feminist depiction of a woman walking out on her husband and children. Now American playwright Lucas Hnath has written a sequel of sorts, A Doll’s House, Part 2, which picks up Nora’s (Marta Dusseldorp) story fifteen years after she slammed the door on her lovele ... (read more)

Creditors (State Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 26 July 2018
August Strindberg thought Creditors, which premièred in its original Swedish in Copenhagen in 1889, his ‘most mature work’. Sitting alongside the more often performed The Father (1890) and Miss Julie (1889) in the playwright’s middle, ultra-naturalistic period, the play is an attempt to theatricalise ‘soul murder’, an idea – one that fascinated both Strindberg and his contemporary Hen ... (read more)

Brothers Wreck (State Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre)

ABR Arts 02 July 2018
One would have hoped that in the four years since Jada Alberts’s fine début play Brothers Wreck premièred at Belvoir Street that its concern with the issue of Indigenous despair would have come to feel less vital, and yet the problem is as acute as ever. This week we learned that every child in detention in the Northern Territory, where Brothers Wreck is set, is Indigenous. Meanwhile, Aborigin ... (read more)

Gloria (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 22 June 2018
Ninety years ago, the British economist John Maynard Keynes forecast that by now, thanks to technological advances, we would all be working fifteen-hour weeks. Instead, we are drowning in work – much of it unnecessary – to the point of existential despair. According to recent studies in Britain and the Netherlands, almost half of us feel our jobs contribute nothing of value to the world. Youn ... (read more)

Sense and Sensibility (State Theatre Company of South Australia)

ABR Arts 11 May 2018
The short-lived but bold experiment that has been the State Theatre Company of South Australia’s actors’ ensemble comes to an end with its fourth production, Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. More on the play later, but what of the experiment? Acting ensembles have a chequered history in this country, and have not lately been in fashion. STCSA hasn’t had on ... (read more)

After Dinner (State Theatre Company of South Australia)

ABR Arts 13 April 2018
Thirty years old is a difficult age for a play in this country. Australian cultural memory is not exactly short, but it certainly tapers in the middle where such plays lie, flanked on one side by The Canon and, on the other, by The Next Big Thing. Andrew Bovell’s After Dinner – initially a melancholic one-acter for three women, later expanded and recast by the playwright for his drama school p ... (read more)

Kings of War (Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 13 March 2018
In a Festival glutted with plays about war and the violence wrought by powerful men, Dutch theatre company Toneelgroep’s Kings of War stands tall. A four-and-a-half-hour conflation of Shakespeare’s Henry V, Henry VI, and Richard III, it is directed by Ivo van Hove whose monumental Roman Tragedies – which conceived Shakespeare’s Roman history plays as an immersive treatise on contemporary p ... (read more)

Thyestes (The Hayloft Project/Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 05 March 2018
I think it was Peter Brook who said the longest that a staging of a play could remain vital was five years. The Hayloft Project’s Thyestes, directed by Simon Stone and adapted from Seneca’s tragedy by Stone himself, Thomas Henning, Chris Ryan, and Mark Winter, was first seen at the Malthouse Theatre in 2010. Notwithstanding a handful of updates to the text, this production feels like it belong ... (read more)

Ben Brooker reviews 'The Inner Life of Animals: Love, grief and compassion – surprising observations of a hidden world' by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst

Online Exclusives 08 December 2017
In a 1974 paper, American philosopher Thomas Nagel famously wondered what it was like to be a bat. He concluded that we could never know what it was like to be a member of a different species – that the inner lives of animals are ultimately inaccessible to us. In Consciousness Explained (1991), Daniel C. Dennett, while acknowledging the influence of Nagel’s thought experiment, offered a rebutt ... (read more)