ABR Arts Performing Arts
The notion of the sad clown probably has its origins in prehistory; the mockery of pain and sorrow is such an embedded human trait that indigenous cultures around the world embraced it lon More
The streets of Hobart are especially cold and quiet on the longest night of the year. Those out and about are simply commuting from place to place, wrapped in scarves, hats, and jackets. S More
As a not-quite-indefatigable cultural itinerant, my memories of Perth are all of festival time. Usually, my arrival is the signal for the temperature to leap into the mid-forties, imbuing More
You don’t have to be an avid David Bowie fan to be impressed by the breadth and detail of David Bowie Is, currently showing at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne. Imported from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), where it was their most successful show to date, it examines the fifty-year career of one of the most suc ... More
For two non-indigenous artists to take a story that has deep meaning for an indigenous community and turn it into a dramatic cantata is an exploit fraught with danger. Australian culture is littered with attempts by white artists to incorporate indigenous themes into their works; works which have foundered due to their authors’ patronising assumption that they can ... More
Hedda Gabler (1890) occupies a somewhat schizophrenic position in Henrik Ibsen’s work. On the one hand, it is normally seen as the apotheosis of Ibsen’s realist period, his sardonic homage to the fashionable ‘well-made play’ of the time. But, on the other hand, from early in its theatrical life there have been productions which have reacted against ... More
When Brecht wrote The Good Person of Szechuan (1939–42), he had been influenced by the colour and brashness of Chinese theatre, whose archetypal heroes and villains underpinned his concept of the Alienation Effect. Brecht, ever the political theorist, wasn’t interested in characters with whom the audience empathised, or of employing Stanislavski-based a ... More
Goats are ubiquitous in the work of Patrick White. Start looking for them and they appear everywhere, staring out, page after page, with wise, tranquil eyes, pellets scattering like secrets into dust.
White bred goats, of course, Saanen goats, or tried to, while living at Castle Hill, and it is clear that the goat-mind made a profound impression. ‘One day ... More
Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall has now been dramatised, along with its sequel, Bring up the Bodies. Brian McFarlane, a regular ABR film and theatre critic, caught the new Royal Shakespeare Company production in London.
If, like me, you were not a fan of Hilary Mantel’s historical doorstops, Wolf Hall (2009) ... More
When culture worships youth, what does an ageing artist make of his myth?
Most viewers of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical will enjoy themselves to a certain extent and for a certain duration. While my own misgivings were frequent, the large audience received the show warmly and rose, albeit half-heartedly, at the curtain call. The show rests on the s ... More