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Michael Morley

Michael Morley

Michael Morley is Emeritus Professor of Drama at Flinders University. He has written theatre and music reviews and articles for a variety of publications, including Theatre Australia, the National Times, The Australian, the Australian Financial Review, Opera News (New York), the Kurt Weill Newsletter, the Sondheim Review, the Adelaide Review, and Australian Book Review. He has also contributed translations for the English edition of the collected poems of Alfred Brendel.

Michael Morley reviews 'The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, film and television' by Thomas Hischak (ed.)

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
With 827 pages of entries on individual performers, shows, composers, lyricists, directors and choreographers, together with almost another hundred pages of appendices covering the chronology of musicals, guides to recordings and awards, a bibliography and an index, this compilation is an impressive volume to appear under the name of a sole author. Thomas Hischak has already published more than a ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'House Of Exile: The Life and times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann' by Evelyn Juers

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
Evelyn Juers’s wide-ranging and suggestive study of Heinrich Mann (older brother of Thomas) and his second wife, Nelly Kroeger-Mann, opens with a vivid extended anecdote, recounting a meeting between the couple and Bertolt Brecht at a fruit market in Los Angeles, in the summer of 1944. Members of the community of European exiles in Los Angeles had flocked to the market because a farmer ‘was se ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews ‘Fred Astaire’ by Joseph Epstein

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
One morning in late June 2008 I was seated at the breakfast table in Oriel College, Oxford, with a small group of delegates at a conference devoted to Frederick Austerlitz, when a man approached, with a bulging briefcase slung from his shoulder, and asked if he might sit down. It emerged that he had walked from Oxford Railway Station (no mean trek) in order to get to the college in time for the co ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Directors/Directing: Conversations On The Theatre' by Maria Shevtsova and Christopher Innes

December 2009–January 2010, no. 317 01 December 2009
One view of the relationship between the word and the creative act is Goethe’s admonition: ‘Bilde Künstler, rede nicht’ – ‘Create, [the German word actually places more emphasis on the idea of shaping and forming than on artistic imagination] artist, don’t talk’. Typically, of course, his own Conversations with Eckermann (1823–32) show him frequently ignoring this precept, when th ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht: The Story of a Friendship' by Erdmut Wizisla, translated by Christine Shuttleworth

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
German commentators have often asserted – not without some justification – that pas­sages of the established Schlegel-Tieck translation of Shakespeare are superior to the original. A contentious proposi­tion, perhaps. But in the case of the volume under review, which first appeared in German in 2004, there is no doubt that although, as the publisher’s note points out, ‘a section de ... (read more)

'A Midsummer Night's Dream' | Adelaide Festival

ABR Arts 01 March 2021
Comparisons can be odious, odorous, even otiose. Yet while I have lost count of the number of takes on Shakespeare’s play I have seen over the years – theatre, ballet, modern dance, knockabout collages of dance, movement and music, and opera – five stay in the memory. In the order in which I saw them, they are: the first revival at Sadler’s Wells in the mid-1960s of Britten’s 1960 opera, ... (read more)

'"Would you be free for dinner?": An evening with John le Carré' by Michael Morley

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
The voice on the telephone, not brusque or curt, came straight to the point. ‘How long are you in London for? And would you be free for dinner this Friday?’ Spoiler and shame-faced name-dropping alert: it was Alfred Brendel, sometime in 1983. I had first met him in Auckland in 1971, after a rehearsal of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto, a work he performed more than fifty times in public before ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'David Williamson: Behind the scenes' by Kristin Williamson

June 2009, no. 312 11 September 2020
There seems to be an ever-growing – I almost wrote market, but think I mean obsession – these days for the family history, the personal memoir, the parading of how I spent my childhood/adolescence/ protest years/personal and economic growth decades, before-finally-contributing-to-the-joy-of-past-and-future-generations-by-listing-my-achievements. Many of these are self-published. Kristin Willia ... (read more)

Requiem (Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 06 March 2020
One of the most vivid (and, even today, relevant) descriptions of the music critic’s approach to responding to all those non-literal notes on the page and in performance was provided almost a hundred years ago by Ford Madox Ford, in his memoirs. The anecdote is worth quoting in full: The other day I attended a concert consisting mainly of the Song Cycles of Debussy setting words of Verlaine. ... (read more)

The Doctor (Almeida Theatre/Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 03 March 2020
‘If one were always to do the right thing – or rather, if, first thing in the morning, without even thinking about it, one were to just once set out to do the right thing, and then go on with it for the entire day – then, even before dinnertime one would quite definitely find oneself sitting in jail.’ Author, author? Wilde, perhaps? Shaw? Maybe even the Brecht of The Threepenny Opera? ... (read more)
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