Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson has degrees in drama from Yale and the University of New South Wales, and is the co-author of the musical Better Known As Bee.

‘Opening Night’: A compelling metatheatrical adaptation

ABR Arts 04 March 2022
‘Opening Night’: A compelling metatheatrical adaptation
Although America produced other alternative filmmakers of his generation like Kenneth Anger and Maya Deren, John Cassavetes (1929–89) would have to be considered the doyen of the movement. Directors as diverse as Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Peter Bogdanovich, and Pedro Almodóvar have acknowledged his influence. Technically rough though they may sometimes be, Cassavetes’ films have a raw po ... (read more)

'West Side Story': Steven Spielberg’s version of the classic musical

ABR Arts 16 December 2021
'West Side Story': Steven Spielberg’s version of the classic musical
Steven Spielberg obviously relishes challenges. Tackling, at this late stage in his career, his first musical is challenge enough, but directing a remake of one of the most iconic filmed musicals since the talkies arrived might be considered a mixture of chutzpah and lunacy. Luckily, the result is, mostly, a successful mixture of hommage and re-evaluation. From the opening moments of Spielberg’ ... (read more)

'Death of a Salesman': Getting at the heart of Arthur Miller’s outcry against inhumanity

ABR Arts 09 December 2021
'Death of a Salesman': Getting at the heart of Arthur Miller’s outcry against inhumanity
In his program notes, Kip Williams, artistic director of Sydney Theatre Company, talks about the need to ‘wrestle’ Arthur Miller’s great play ‘into the present’. But if ever there was a play that speaks, as the Quakers would say, directly to us in our condition, it is this one. When Miller wrote it, he assumed that the postwar boom would not last and that America would head back into ano ... (read more)

'Marjorie Lawrence: The world at her feet': The Australian soprano's artistry, courage, and tenacity

ABR Arts 07 December 2021
'Marjorie Lawrence: The world at her feet': The Australian soprano's artistry, courage, and tenacity
Say the words ‘Australian opera singer’ and most people, if any names were to surface at all, would nominate Nellie Melba or Joan Sutherland. But for a country with a small population, Australia, since Melba’s début in 1887 at the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, has consistently punched above its weight in the production of successful classical singers. In the 1950s and 1960s, both ... (read more)

'Platée': A romping Rameau from Pinchgut Opera

ABR Arts 03 December 2021
'Platée': A romping Rameau from Pinchgut Opera
Jean-Philippe Rameau’s setting of Adrien-Joseph Le Valois d’Orville’s adaptation of Jacques Autreau’s then unpublished and unperformed play Platée must be considered one of the most tactless entertainments ever presented to celebrate a royal wedding. The story of the ugly, vain water nymph who is used as a pawn to salvage the rocky marriage of Jupiter and Juno was certainly not the usual ... (read more)

'Wherever She Wanders': The Ormond scandal in the #MeToo age

ABR Arts 12 November 2021
'Wherever She Wanders': The Ormond scandal in the #MeToo age
On the evening of Wednesday, 16 October 1991, after the annual Valedictory Dinner at Melbourne University’s august Ormond College, the Master allegedly made unprovoked sexual advances to two female students. These reported incidents led to a scandal which rocked the Melbourne establishment, caused the exit of the Master (whose conviction on charges of indecent assault was overturned on appeal), ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'Nellie: The life and loves of Dame Nellie Melba' by Robert Wainwright

November 2021, no. 437 25 October 2021
Ian Dickson reviews 'Nellie: The life and loves of Dame Nellie Melba' by Robert Wainwright
There were divas before Nellie Melba and, given that nowadays any young woman who can hold her career together for a few years while screeching into a microphone has the title bestowed on her, there have been many genuine and ersatz ones since. But Dame Nellie (1861–1931) remains the ne plus ultra, the gold standard of opera divas. Essential attributes include an instantly recognisable voice, an ... (read more)

'Happy Days': Samuel Beckett's absurdist, existential masterpiece

ABR Arts 15 June 2021
'Happy Days': Samuel Beckett's absurdist, existential masterpiece
Towards the end of the first act of Happy Days, Samuel Beckett spells out clearly the question that is at the heart of his work and that of the playwrights loosely grouped under the title ‘absurdist’. His protagonist, Winnie, buried up to her waist in earth, is describing the conversation of a couple who, wandering by, have caught sight of her. The man turns to his female companion. ‘What’ ... (read more)

'The Cherry Orchard': A tin-eared production of Chekhov’s classic

ABR Arts 03 June 2021
'The Cherry Orchard': A tin-eared production of Chekhov’s classic
What did Anton Pavlovich Chekhov ever do to Sydney theatre that Sydney theatre should treat him as it does? Since Tamas Ascher’s superb STC production of Uncle Vanya hit the stage in 2010, Sydney has been subjected to performances of The Seagull, Ivanov, The Present (aka Platonov), and Three Sisters that, in their attempts to be ‘relevant’, have ridden roughshod over the subtle, devastatingl ... (read more)

'Fun Home': A stellar musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's graphic novel

ABR Arts 04 May 2021
'Fun Home': A stellar musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's graphic novel
Fun Home is not your average musical. Based on Alison Bechdel’s hugely influential 2006 graphic novel of the same name – which contrasts her coming out as a lesbian with her gay father’s closeted, unhappy, and ultimately self-destructive life – Hello, Dolly! it ain’t. But in the clear-eyed, compassionate, and understanding hands of playwright Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori, it bec ... (read more)