Arts Education – what should we teach and how?

There’s a Twitter discussion happening right now hashtagged #artsed .  The hashtag acts as a search key for tweets that have anything to do with arts education, but this particular thread of the discussion is focussing on the issue of professional training for artists – more particularly theatre artists, and especially actors.  The originating posts are from the US but, such is the nature of Twitter, anyone from anywhere can jump in and contribute – it’s a democratic open house in the Twitter stream.  The current thread is tackling a matter dear to my heart and to those others who are participating.

However, there’s only so much you can say in Twitter’s 140 character delimited conversation bites and, inevitably, you long for another venue to continue the conversation at more length. I’ve turned here to my own scratch pad/blog, and perhaps others will join in the conversation. Continue reading “Arts Education – what should we teach and how?”

From Custodian to Curator – the challenge for the digital age

I was a conference delegate last month at the Apple University Consortium’s 2009 Create World Conference.  Justin Macdonnell, a keynote presenter put some nicely provocative issues to the floor of digital arts creatives and creative arts academics gathered at Griffith University in Brisbane.

Justin’s keynote, ‘In the Absence of Criticism’ revolved around a couple of questions.  Firstly, in an increasingly web-based world how can we ensure our ‘repository’ of arts-related digital materials are looked after and curated adequately? He was concerned that a failure in the technology, a lack of provenance and critical discourse could mean the obliteration of so much of what he calls our ‘communal memory.’  We could end up, he noted, living in a state of the continual present. Continue reading “From Custodian to Curator – the challenge for the digital age”

Hold the slings and arrows: stocktaking Queensland theatre (Act 2)

My last post here investigated the first 10 seasons of Queensland Theatre Company between 1970 and 1979.  This post looks at the plays from the past 10 seasons.  I’ve used the same breakdown in assessing the repertoire, i.e., organised my siftings using assigned historical and geographical categories: UK/Ireland; Australian; US; Other.  Plays can find themselves assigned to these eras: Classical (pre-Shakespeare); Early-Modern (Shakespeare through Chekhov); Modern (rest of the 20th century), and Contemporary (plays written during or within 5 years of the start of the period under consideration).  I realise they are arbitrary, but they work in general terms; you have to start somewhere.  So …

Between 2000 and 2009, Queensland Theatre Company produced the work of 72 playwrights in its mainstage seasons, for a total of 91 plays.  Who were the most produced writers?  Another drum roll … Continue reading “Hold the slings and arrows: stocktaking Queensland theatre (Act 2)”

Hold the slings and arrows: stocktaking Queensland theatre (Act 1)

If you subscribe to theatre-related blogs, then your feed-reader during the past week or so will be overflowing with posts where the words ‘Outrageous Fortune’ will almost certainly appear.  It’s the title of a new book on the state of American playwrighting, and it’s getting the best kind of publicity on the web – the free sort – for its authors Todd London, Ben Pesner, and Zannie Giraud Voss.  Linked to Outrageous Fortune‘s contents, and extending the ongoing discussion into the state of play of contemporary US theatre, is a report by another American critic, Terry Teachout – more on this below.

There are plenty of complaints in the back and forth generated by Outrageous Fortune.   The book claims contemporary ‘institutional theatre’ in the US – the system – is broken; it is certainly not playing fair with its own writers.  Why not?  The same plays – not all by fellow Americans – are being produced over and over again, and the business of keeping companies open for business has virtually imposed a ‘safe’ production environment for theatre managements.  The result is that not enough new work by contemporary American dramatists is appearing on US stages. Continue reading “Hold the slings and arrows: stocktaking Queensland theatre (Act 1)”

Is there anything right with the theatre?

When you spend as much time on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to as many theatre focussed blogs as I do, then you take notice of themes that won’t lie down.

There’s been a bit of a stir in the social networking streams over the past couple of weeks, and it’s been about the current state of theatre – and not just here in Queensland or further afield in Australia.  Updates from theatre sites from round the world arrive daily in my feed reader. I wish I could say that I get to read them all; I don’t. Some don’t interest me or are irrelevant but, as I read, I make it a habit to grab quotes or bookmark a post for later. These get stored away in my Tumblr scrapbook for later reference – a hangover from my academic days I suppose.  Lately, a lot of these theatre snippets have had a common thread.  With very few exceptions the tone is downbeat, the tune is repetitive: the theatre system – the model for institutionalised theatre – is broken. Continue reading “Is there anything right with the theatre?”