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 Williamson’s biography of her playwright husband is not, but perhaps should have been.... (read more)
It may be that some members of the audience at Romeo Castellucci’s highly individual take on, and response to, Mozart’s Requiem, experience something similar. I certainly am aware from conversation (and observation) that some audience members did indeed respond to the stage images with closed eyes. But in doing so they denied themselves the opportunity to see and respond to some of the most evocative, poetic, and, yes, musical images seen on the Festival Theatre stage since Bo Holten’s Operation Orfeo back in the 1990s.... (read more)
No one would maintain that Schnitzler’s original text does not need cutting and shaping for an updated presentation of the issues he was concerned with back in 1912. (One of the drollest observations about Schnitzler’s style comes from Franz Kafka, who noted that ‘it is replete with the quavering hollowness of literary pretensions’, though he was speaking specifically of Schnitzler’s late works.) But a play like Professor Bernhardi is no more nor less overwritten than some of Shaw. Here, at every turn, Icke’s ‘re-imagining’ (and his direction) opts for crude juxtaposition, where Schnitzler’s outlining of the issues can accommodate both subtlety and directness, ambiguity and clarity. And Icke’s simplification is reflected in the performances of most of the actors... (read more)
In 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 ...... (read more)
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 ...... (read more)
Michael Morley reviews 'The Political Orchestra: the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics during the Third Reich' by Fritz Trümpi, translated by Kenneth Kronenberg
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 ...
Letters to the Editor in the May issue of Australian Book Review... (read more)
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 civiliz ...
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 ...... (read more)
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 ...... (read more)