Ian Dickson

Letter from Milan

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21 October 2015

Spurred on by Expo Milan, La Scala is having a busy couple of months. Entitled Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, the Expo is supposed to stimulate ideas for sustainable nutrition in a world with a rapidly expanding population and an equally rapidly diminishing arable area. However, the report from those who have braved the enormous crowds and endless que ...

Cunningly promoted by her recording company, EMI, the Callas myth took off after her death on 16 September 1977 and continues to resonate to this day. Undeterred by Franco Zeffirelli’s excruciating screen homage to the diva, Callas Forever (2002), Callas projects starring Meryl Streep and Noomi Rapace have been announced.

Like most my ...

In 1881, armed with the confidence of youth, the twenty-one-year-old Anton Pavlovich Chekhov fronted up to the Maly Theatre in Moscow, at that time one of the foremost theatres in the world, in order to present its leading actress, Maria Yermolova, with a copy of his recently written and probably first play. The great lady promptly returned the manuscript, whi ...

As our government prepares to increase our involvement in a Middle Eastern disaster we should never have taken part in, Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children seems more pertinent than ever.

The theatre of Bertolt Brecht has always pr ...

The fact that two of Australia’s major theatre companies are performing Endgame concurrently is, one hopes, merely a coincidence and not a reflection on the national Zeitgeist, for the play is one of the bleakest works in Samuel Beckett’s not exactly sunny canon. If Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot cling desperately to some hope, their co ...

For a man who has repeatedly been described as America’s greatest playwright, Tennessee Williams’s reputation has fluctuated as wildly as his notorious mood swings. In the decade after the war he was celebrated. ‘Mr. Williams is the man of our time who comes closest to hurling the actual blood and bone of life onto the stage,’ wrote Walter Kerr of the first ...

Miracle City

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27 October 2014

As I sat through the standing ovation that greeted the performance of the Nick Enright/Max Lambert musical Miracle City that I attended, I wondered why it is that some productions seem to get a free ride. Few regular theatre-goers would disagree with the contention that we are at present in Australia living through a golden age of acting talent. The huge boos ...

By now we know what to expect from an Andrew Upton adaptation of a Russian play – brisk, overlapping dialogue with anachronistic turns of phrase and use of four-letter words. With the Sydney Theatre Company’s Uncle Vanya (2010), this approach, in combination with Támas Ascher’s brilliant production, worked superbly to blow away the miasma of gloom and ...

The Santa Fe opera house has a location as dramatic as Sydney’s. Perched on the top of a hill overlooking the town, it looks across the valley to the Sangre de Cristo mountains. What started out in 1957 as an open-air theatre has over the years grown a roof which covers the stage and auditorium, but the sides of the auditorium and back of the stage are still open ...

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 ...