“One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.” —Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904 Good Old Chekhov’s Gun Theory. It mostly works on the principle that everything within a story should be necessary to the telling of it.  Gun on stage?—someone gets shot for sure.Read More →

A good few years ago, an Australian dramaturg I know stated the obvious (dramaturgs are good at that, and, damn it, someone has to do it); love first, then disaster, he said with power and panache as if it were a profound elemental truth of the world in general. I’m going unpack what the statement means, and then I’m going to point out the obvious—we don’t use this piece of advice enough when we are writing.Read More →

There is a drive toward “Excellence in the Arts”, and there probably should be. I do find the phrase slightly bothersome though.  It’s just that ‘excellence’ in creative expression is utterly relative and subjective.   You could go to the best opera with the best opera singers in the best opera house in your best opera frock or suit, expecting ‘Excellence with a capital E from Art with a capital A’, and yet walk away feeling empty and unmoved.  You could go to a community project with all kinds of ‘non-excellent’ theatre practice going on, yet be moved to tears and uplifted to heaven. SoRead More →

A friend of mine is leaving town. She’s going to live at the other end of the country. I’ve known her, and worked with her on and off, since 1994. She is still reasonably young, and she’s off for a fresh start. Tonight some of her nearest and dearest friends organised a huge farewell theatrical event in which all kinds of people could go up on the stage and make an impact statement—big, small or ludicrous— about how this artist had changed their lives. The resulting bonanza made it clear; artists can and do leave very big footprints within their community.Read More →