It is nearly spring in Australia. Little lambs will be born in outback paddocks, and it is theatre-programming season. With dramatic cork-popping and dizzying-flourish, the major theatre companies are unveiling their shiny new seasons for 2016.
It is a telling time. These few weeks of spring show the trends, fashions, aesthetic priorities, and the collective imagination of an industry.
It can also be a challenging time for theatre artists who realise they’ll just be waving main stage pom-poms instead of taking to the field. But then theatre isn’t fair like sport. There are no rules or referees.
After the announcements comes analysis. How many new plays? How many of those new plays are Australian? How many of those Australian plays are by women? How many by men? How many reflect the diversity of our evolving culture? How many plays are written by emerging writers? Established writers? Do mid career writers still exist? Are we seeing any plays except those by Shakespeare that are not new? Perhaps the questions give away as much as the answers…
So first up was The Ensemble’s program. I have to say, I am really excited about their commission for a new Australian play. Sponsored by David Williamson and in partnership with the Australian Writer’s Guild, it is an exciting initiative. I applaud the Ensemble team. If they keep commissioning Australian work, then perhaps Alan and Neil can get their pom poms ready for 2017.