Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rogue's Gallery debacle

I've read a few reports saying that the recent Rogue's Gallery concert in the Sydney Opera House forecourt for the Sydney Festival was a disaster. People might wonder how so many so-called professionals could perform something so bad. But it seems to me that the very nature of this production almost guaranteed that it would fail.

Basically, the whole concept sucks. It's just a silly gimmick. It's a little bit like the annual "Talk Like a Pirate Day" - funny for a few minutes, then it just becomes tiresome. I suspect that the performers thought: "Pirate songs and sea shanties. Yeah, that sounds like it could be fun!" So they signed up for it. But they lost their enthusiasm for it before too long. They were were contracted to go through with it, however, and just got more and more bored every time they had to do it.

Debacles like this often happen in festivals. This is because the profile of the performer is considered to be so much more important than any other factor. The main motivation is to get lots of famous faces in the same place so the promoter can sell hugely overpriced tickets and make a killing.

Problem is, he's got to hang it together somehow, so he uses some loose theme or hook, such as this one. There may have been some input from the performers on this. But it was clearly a compromise, and they obviously weren't that enthusiastic about it.

Ideally, it should be the other way around. Art should come from the artists. The show that's produced should be the one they all really want to do. Then you get the quality. Doesn't happen very often, though ...

Friday, January 29, 2010

The culture of the arts world

My name's Matt Hayden, and I'm a writer and (very occasional) performer in Sydney, Australia. I have spent a lot of time in the Aussie arts world over the last couple of decades. I've been an actor, standup and character comedian, and freelance writer. I started blogging in 2002, and have since written several blogs (and have several still running). Some were rant blogs, others were parodic or character based. They were all more or less humorous in tone.

I have seen a lot of the arts world from the inside, and am fascinated by how it works. There are many unwritten laws, conventions and rituals in play. If you go along with these, success is pretty much assured. But if you flout them, you'll always be on the outer. While a lot of these strange characteristics may be unique to Australia's arts culture, a lot of them are international.

I find this subject so fascinating that I have decided to write this blog to analyze stories and happenings related the arts world. I won't limit its scope to any one category of the arts but will write about many including visual art, sculpture, film, theatre, comedy, music and television. As I do, I'll always try to be mindful of the culture at play, and how it makes artists create the work they do.