Here is a link. Read it then read on.
In his article Peter Craven derides a new trend he percieves in Australian theatre, a trend which he lables as "talented directors who feel they are above realism and well-made plays." Talented directors like Benedict Andrews and Barrie Kosky. According to Craven their productions War of the Roses, Season At Sarsparilla and Women of Troy are some of the worst offenders in a director led revolt against the text. He suggests that these directors "often...cut their teeth with student theatre and have been too narcissistic to grow up" and indeed that "It's much easier to treat student actors like puppets and to improvise a text than it is to treat Judy Davis like that. Most cut-and-paste postmodern tinkerings with classics make Joanna Murray-Smith look like Racine on a good day"
As a burgeoning director, working at present in student productions, cutting my teeth as it were: I think Peter Craven is full of shit. His article shows a willing blindness to new playwrighting, an obvious penchant for the naturalistic and perhaps worst of all an outdated attitude to the artform itself. Poisonous attitudes such as his are what stunts the theatrical community, and are not (as i'm sure he sees it) a heroic belief of the sanctity of illusion. Any person working in the artform that dismisses the work of Robert Wilson as "mime-oriented experimentalism" is not only ill-informed and a lazy researcher but a complete fucking idiot, and the fact that his pompous wank of an article was published at all is what is indicative of real issues in Australian theatre.
His article bears several similarities with David Williamson's back earlier in the year, in which the big DW accused the STC of only programming capital T theatre, the theatre of Barrie Kosky. At the time on theperf I accused DW of being an antiquated tit-mouse, not knowing what a tit-mouse was, but finding the insult fitting nevertheless. Since finding out a tit-mouse is actually a small insect-eating passerine bird of the family Paridae, found in woodland areas throughout the world, maybe i missed the mark a little. But I think the sentitment was still there and as such I would like to declare that Peter Craven is too, an utter tit-mouse.
What he is suggesting about student theatre is so patronisingly infruiating that it needs to be explored further. I think that (in between the lines) he's calling me young, telling me to grow up, get a real job, get into realism, direct Joanna Murray-Smith, forget about Sarah Kane, forget about Performance Space, Romeo Castellucci and The Black Lung, forget about 3xsisters and Marius Von Mayenburg, forget about the Sydney Front and Robert Lepage and Open City, you'll grow out of it, wake up to yourself, tuck your shirt in, all the people you admire are not artists but arrogant wankers, what you like will take you nowhere, give up the dream, give it away, theatre is not for you Mark Rogers, you who cannot write for the stage and as such must to find other ways of communicating, theatre is not for you, it for other people, it is for Joanna Murray-Smith and for the big DW, it is a literary theatre where you Mark Rogers have no place.
Well Peter... get fucked.
I direct plays, plays written by writers, but I try to bring to plays written by writers an attention to aesthetic detail, an interest in formal innovation, an awareness of the power of direct audience contact, a willingness to delve into abstraction, a search for some kind of truth however we get there, a hope not to create a theatre that has been perfected, but one that is ever evolving and fluid, one that listens to the artists around it and filling it and one that doesn't simply put all the faith into one individual writer. Theatre is made by many people, not one, and they are all important.
I listened to a radio national podcast of Edward Albee's recent talk at STC a while ago and when he said that directors are interpretive artists and not creative artists (or something to that effect) i thought; how interesting to hear this kind of statement, he thinks about it like a heirachy, wow, that's not the way people think anymore. But obviously I was wrong. Peter Craven does.
Now that was a rant, yes. But am I unjustified? Is this what he's saying? Shoud I just wake up to myself and get my hands on a copy of Don's Party? What does everyone else think? Please comment, I need to talk about this.