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As production values soar and audiences are becoming more discerning, stage criticism should be enjoying a golden age. Our collection of theatre critics lift the curtain on the contemporary scene to ask what’s wrong with theatre reviewing?
This session will be chaired by Peter Mares.
Peter Mares is lead moderator with The Cranlana Programme, an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing the ethical decision-making skills of Australia’s leaders. Peter is also contributing editor at Inside Story magazine and adjunct fellow at Swinburne University’s Centre for Urban Transitions. He is a former ABC broadcaster and the author of three books, including No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Text 2018).
Stephen Sewell has been responsible for some of the most provocative and electrifying Australian plays of the past twenty-five years.
Alison Croggon is an award-winning novelist, poet, theatre writer, critic and editor who lives in Melbourne, Australia. She works in many genres and her books and poems have been published to acclaim nationally and internationally.
She is arts editor for The Saturday Paper and co-founder of the performance criticism website Witness. Her most recent book is the creative non-fiction Monsters, out in March 2021, from Scribe Publications.
Julian Meyrick is a director, theatre historian and deputy chair of PlayWriting Australia. Until recently he was associate director and literary advisor at the Melbourne Theatre Company.
Cameron Woodhead is a senior theatre critic for the Age and is a prolific reviewer of performing arts in Australia.
Why Australian arts criticism is failing us all.
In the first week of September we’re programming a series of events looking at the state of arts criticism in Australia, under the thoroughly prejudicial name of Critical Failure. Too often we hear the cries of scepticism about the quality of local creative output, but what is the truth about the environment into which that output is released? If a film is Australian is it more likely to be over-praised or over-criticised? Are local productions held to the same standards as international? What role does the Cultural Cringe play? Tall Poppy Syndrome? Does the web offer a possibility for a new, more democratic critical environment for the arts in Australia? And what does all this mean for the creation of art locally: what chance does local art have to flourish in an environment where it is too rarely judged on its own terms?
With four panels across four art forms – Theatre, Film, Books and Visual Arts – we review the state of critical culture in Australia and cast a critical eye over Australian reviewing. Featuring some of the finest thinkers and practitioners in the local art scene, this will be a thought-provoking week of discussions that take critical engagement to the next level.
Videos of Critical Failure Sessions
This event is produced in partnership with ABC Radio National.