Australia's lost repertoire

16 Sep 2010

by Rebecca Clarke
for Currency Press and Griffin Theatre


Rebecca wrote up her reflections on the forum discussion held by Currency and Griffin Theatre last month on the lost repertoire of Australian plays. Here is an excerpt from her article.

When I was asked by Currency Press to be a part of the recent launch and panel for John Romeril’s new collection of works, Damage, I was very excited to hear the topic and by the range of knowledge of the other panellists and the context of the discussion, held in the newly re-emerging Griffin. I’d written a bit of a rave about John McCallum’s book Belonging online, in June last year, and generally I feel a strong connection with the subject matter ‘Lost Plays’, particularly in relation to our Australian repertoire (or lack thereof, depending whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kinda person). I found that the topic interested my inner emerging writer, of course, but drew equal enthusiasm from my inner researcher, my mad-keen collaborator and, what’s more, it got a yelp of enthusiasm from my old Playworks arts administrator/archivist self.

I look to the John Romerils, David Williamsons and Dorothy Hewetts (to name just three) of my country in order to gather pieces for my own aesthetic, my collage, my story about the land and people who have shaped me. There is so much forgetting in our nation’s history, carelessly or purposely, so as an artist it would be a real crime to pretend that I am not enriched, challenged, dismayed and overjoyed by what it is that I’ve come from. This also means that it’s my responsibility to go seeking some more knowledge of it and to never give up on that search.

One individual’s story of Australia is bound to be very specifically reflective of their experience and research; so many, many voices must be encouraged in this telling. This is where the work, knowledge and processes of alternative and community theatre really come to the fore; some of our best local story-telling happens in these sectors. My great fear is that alternative and community arts have been too long without time and resources for ‘history-making’ and without properly laid down conversation networks/sharing systems into major performing arts bodies. It’s about time that it happened.

I’m so excited by the playwrights I see as I look around me today. When it comes to the Australian repertoire, my glass is half-full, not half-empty.

Read the full piece by downloading the PDF document from Currency Press: Lost Plays


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