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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.

‘A Raisin in the Sun: Lorraine Hansberry’s classic finally reaches Australia’ by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 05 September 2022
In the annals of theatre history, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (which had its première in 1959, when she was only twenty-eight) will go down as the first Broadway play written by an African-American woman and directed by an African-American man. It would have been beaten a couple of seasons earlier by Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind if the redoubtable Childress had not refused t ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'The Letters of Thom Gunn' edited by Michael Nott, August Kleinzahler, and Clive Wilmer

August 2022, no. 445 28 July 2022
Of the major Anglo-American poets of the previous century, none was more transformed, at least on the surface, by the journey across the Atlantic than Thom Gunn (1929–2004). Travelling in the opposite direction, T.S. Eliot found echoes of his mid-Western emotional repression and discreet anti-Semitism in the England of his era, while W.H. Auden, who carried his world with him, was only mildly af ... (read more)

‘Orontea: A brisk serving of baroque’ by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 30 May 2022
Antonio Cesti and Giacinto Cicognini’s frisky opera, Orontea, begins with an argument between philosophy and love as to who is the stronger. Love heads off to Egypt to create havoc chez the Egyptian Queen Orontea, but at her steamy court the contest seems to be more between the opposing delights of lust and alcohol. Orontea’s determination to remain a virgin queen dedicated to her subjects qui ... (read more)

‘Opening Night’: A compelling metatheatrical adaptation

ABR Arts 04 March 2022
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)