Art rules!

1 Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Margaret Cantey (Mrs. John Peyre). Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina copy

I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the theatre last night (thanks to Bernie Burke!), and settled in to watch Fury at the Sydney Theatre Company.

It’s a very STC play, with professional actors speaking rather (too!) eloquently to a fairly good script, acting out some well directed and not-so-well directed scenes, sometimes very well, and sometimes not so much. The woman playing the mother, both of them in fact, were great. But I wouldn’t count on seeing one or two of the other actors in anything but a non-speaking role in a Telstra Tvc from now on.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I was sitting up the back, so I had a good view of the audience, which sure enough, for the most part, was probably up past their bed time. Not a lot of recent uni-graduates, if you catch my drift. But most of us were taking it in; it was a good play, with some pretty strong moments, even if it wasn’t perfect. I’d suggest a little time spent on public transport for the cast and crew, listening to how people west of Bellevue Hill actually speak wouldn’t have gone astray. But never mind.

So it was to my great annoyance that a person with no style, and no volume control, interrupted the play towards the final moments. The line on stage was – ‘What do you want???’, to which she in the audience replied ‘For this to end…’, just loud enough for people to hear. Haha, nice one! Just enough to distract me from the final monologue, which made up the closing minutes of the play. Clearly the old crab had too little Chutzpah to actually leave, but just enough to be a twat. Or maybe she needed help getting up? Doesn’t she know that most films at the cinema go longer than the average play these days? Or maybe she has dementia? Either way, her well-styled grey-rinsed bob and David Jones-bought cashmere ensemble held more class than she ever will.

I turned around around as the lights came up, and asked if she’d made that comment. Her family looked at me, then at her. She knew I had her, and said ‘I did…’, to which I said ‘Well maybe next time you should stay quiet’, which she did, rolling her eyes. And that was that, just about.

Because it was as we were leaving, in the foyer, I remembered the Bullshit stickers I’d brought with me. I usually like to leave them with other fliers, but this time, as we walked past the old crab, I handed her one, and said ‘That’s for you’. Her family saw her take it, and the son laughed. Ha.

It was a funny thing to happen, because as the Sydney Theatre Company introduces cheaper tickets, in an effort to bring in a broader audience, the streets outside were filled with people there to see the Vivid Festival; just the kinds of people the theatre should, in my opinion, be appealling to. I’ve got nothing against actors who like to over-pronounce their vowels through 100 minutes of expensive lighting and audio, but maybe STC whould be considering something that ‘the people’ might really enjoy? Not saying the oldies from East and North shouldn’t be catered to, but they did seem pretty comfy there, away from the encroaching masses.

Funnily enough, I saw two other shows this weekend, all with their crowd of choice. A gallery-opening on Broadway, sponsored with space by the Fraser’s concrete + highrise organisation, who are building homes for a growing UTS student body. Then on Friday, something amazing up at Carriageworks for all the people lucky enough to be on their mailing list – Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda’s mind-blowing show, which every child in Sydney should see. Again, something incredible for one night only which I wish could have been seen by more people – especially since it blew anything in Vivid out of the water.

But the best thing I saw all weekend, without doubt, was an ensemble of Aboriginal Dancers at Carriageworks rehearsing for a show in the forecourt, with an entranced public looking on. The dancers were young and old, children and adults, indigenous and non-indigenous, probably from Redfern and beyond. But I haven’t seen anything about the show itself, it’s not publicised on their homepage or Facebook, and I haven’t been able to find any info, which is a shame.

Just makes me think…what’s going on when Sydney-siders aren’t welcomed into their own theatre, audiences are made up of an in-crowd, and the the real stuff is not even advertised? I felt so bad for those dancers, rehearsing in the rain, for an audience which might not appear.

But I did see Fenella Kernebone, presenter of the ABC Arts Show, sitting next to me in the audience at Carriageworks.

She was having a nap.

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