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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.

Ulster American (Traverse Theatre Company/Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 18 March 2019
I n the program note for his most recent play, Belfast playwright David Ireland claims that ‘he became a playwright after being unemployed and unemployable as an actor for three years, despite having trained as an actor for three years at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and performing with many UK companies ...’ On the basis of Ulster American, it seems a pretty canny ... (read more)

Memorial and human requiem (Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 23 March 2018
If one were tempted to cast round for a theme or a set of motifs that could be discerned from this year’s Adelaide Festival, it might be Rilke’s ‘Who speaks of victory? To endure/survive is all.’ Not as a default position, but as a celebration of those left behind, of those who tell the stories of those who have struggled and, in some, cases, survived; in others, alas, not. Brink’s stag ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'The Political Orchestra: the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics during the Third Reich' by Fritz Trümpi, translated by Kenneth Kronenberg

June-July 2017, no. 392 31 May 2017
This study, which first appeared in German in 2011, was hailed at the time as definitive: properly so, as it incorporates so many aspects from so many areas of research. It marks a significant contribution to such fields as musicology, cultural history, the relationship between art and politics – not just in the Nazi era, but the periods preceding that, which saw the emergence of the two orchest ... (read more)

Wot? No Fish!!, Portraits in Motion, and Richard III (2017 Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 09 March 2017
Along with the spectacular offerings at this year’s Adelaide Festival, there are a number of small-scale, one-person shows which, in their concentration on the essence of theatre – what Eric Bentley describes as ‘A impersonates B while C looks on’ – can, perhaps, engage the audience’s imagination even more powerfully. Foremost among these is Danny Bravermann’s touching, gently humor ... (read more)

Saul (Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 06 March 2017
If one accepts the aptness of the old adage ‘one picture is worth a thousand words’, the range of pictorial delights offered by Barrie Kosky’s production of Handel’s oratorio Saul (1739) would test my editor’s word limit – generous though they always are. The stage teems with vivid tableaux: one moment, vivid, swirling crowds of chorus and soloists; the next, stark, austere images of ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Nicholas Nabokov: A Life in Freedom and Music' by Vincent Giroud

April 2016, no. 380 30 March 2016
In an interview from 1978, the year of Nicolas Nabokov's death (he was born in 1903 in Lubcza, now in Belarus), which is included in the epilogue to this volume, Isaiah Berlin summed up some of the qualities of the cosmopolitan figure he seems to have considered his best friend: He was a very cultivated man: I found him to be one of the most civilized men I ever met, a perfect representative of t ... (read more)

Nelken (Carnations): Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016)

ABR Arts 15 March 2016
Over decades of productions in the Festival Theatre, I can recall a handful of experiences that resulted in immediate, unprompted, and collective standing ovations, beginning with the unforgettable journey that was Richard Wherrett's epic staging of Nicholas Nickleby (1983). Pina Bausch's dance-theatre piece Nelken (Carnations) joined this list during the Adelaide Festival's final week – along w ... (read more)

Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016

ABR Arts 07 March 2016
The two high-profile theatre productions featured at this year's Adelaide Festival – the National Theatre of Scotland's imaginative and engaging account of the life and times of the three King Jameses, The James Plays Trilogy (★★★★), and Romeo Castellucci's mostly impenetrable take on, supposedly, some aspects of the life of Moses, Go Down Moses (0 stars) – could not have been more dif ... (read more)

Benjamin Grosvenor Recital (Recitals Australia)

ABR Arts 10 November 2015
By now, it is more or less de rigueur to prefix comments on Benjamin Grosvenor's abilities at the keyboard by mentioning his age. Well, yes, it has to be said that, at twenty-three, there is more than a touch of the Wunderkind about what he does. But make no mistake: this is a serious, talented, imaginative, and committed musician who makes some of his more hyped competitors seem, by comparison, a ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Naked Cinema' by Sally Potter

April 2015, no. 370 26 March 2015
Whereas library shelves tend to sag beneath the weight of volumes penned by, and intended for, theatre actors and directors, the number of comparable handbooks, instruction manuals, and studies pitched at their cinematic colleagues is rather thinner on the ground. To be sure, there are crucial works by David Mamet, Patrick Tucker, and Janet Sonnenberg, along with books such as Michael Caine’s mo ... (read more)
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