Tuesday 24 February 2009

Forced Entertainment webcast this weekend

For those, like me, who have a slightly unnatural love for the group known as Forced Entertainment (and there are a lot of you) I have good news. Our favourite band of players are performing in your living room this weekend! Well, provided you have a computer connected to the internet in your living room.

They are performing the 6-hour durational version of Speak Bitterness, their obsessive litany of confessions, in Essen, Germany and the whole thing will be webcast on Forced Entertainment's website. It takes place on the 28th of February at 5pm UK time which my time zone converter tells me is Sun 1st of March at 4am - 10am AEDST. It's a rare opportunity to see Speak Bitterness and, given they've only ever been to Australia twice, a rare chance to see Forced Entertainment at all short of a plane ticket or their über-expensive DVDs (yep, that's in pounds folks). For those who haven't seen Forced Entertainment before it's a good chance to see this amazing group whose influence has been visible in a lot of work on Melbourne stages recently.

Sunday 5 August 2007

Reasons for My Silence

Click to enlargeThis image is the reason I haven't posted anything substantial for a long time. So don't blame me; blame it. I've been hard at work creating this show from the ground up with the invaluable help of Rhys from Stop Panicking (which sounds like sage advice given opening night is now only two and a half weeks away!).

If you've got a spare evening at the end of this month I'd love to see you at the show. Here is my attempt to woo you in the only way I know how (fwiw- this is all new. I'm not just regurgitating the media release):

VILLANUS is me alone on stage save for some high and low-tech gadgetry, items salvaged from garages across Melbourne and many hundreds of metres of brown packing tape holding it together. VILLANUS is some words Rhys and I wrote together and alone. It's also a lot of words we couldn't and didn't want to write. VILLANUS is part reaction to the times, part autobiography, part lies. Part visual art, part film, mostly theatre. VILLANUS is sometimes dark, sometimes humorous, often both at the same time. Often in spite of itself. VILLANUS started with the question how does one conceive of him/herself if they're constantly being called a villain? It examines the paranoia, hypocrisy and self importance that caused such a question to be asked. But VILLANUS is guilty of all this too and more. VILLANUS is a character assassination.

Hi. My name is Vlad. I'm an artist. I was born in Serbia. I was told I was a villain.

If you are reading this now, it means that I have been murdered.
This is a story of how it happened.
This is an actual person.
This is the softest I can whisper.
This is a diagram of the scars and wounds I have on my body.
This is the loudest I can scream.
This is the longest I can hold my breath.
This is the ash of a moth burnt to a crisp.
This is villain written in Cyrillic characters.
And it goes for one hour, seven minutes and thirty-six seconds.

This is a lie

Welcome Stranger presents
by Vlad Mijic & Rhys Auteri

Dates: 23 August - 2 September 2007
Venue: Old Council Chambers, Trades Hall (cnr Lygon and Victoria St)
Times: Tues - Sat @8pm, Sun @5pm
Tickets: $20 full $15 concession (2-4-1 tix Tues)
Bookings: 9782 2625 or villanus_theatre@yahoo.com.au
This project has been produced with the support of the City of Melbourne.

VILLANUS is Welcome Stranger's return to the Melbourne stage after an almost 3 year absence. It follows our productions of my play The End of Civil Twilight, Martin Crimp's Attempts on Her Life and Rhys Auteri's Towards Omelas. For me it's both an exciting and terrifying prospect. Hope you can all come see it.

Apologies that my first post after such a long hiatus is shameless self-promotion. Hopefully, I'll be able to post more regularly from September and offer some interesting Fringe and Melb Fest coverage (16 shows booked so far). Perhaps I'll even finish the, I'm ashamed to admit, numerous abandoned posts I have sitting around on file waiting to be loved again.

Friday 27 July 2007

A Diversion

Well, I decided to join in the fun and take the book quiz and this is what I got...

You're Ulysses!

by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I can definitely identify with parts of that description. Although, I can honestly say I've never aspired to be a Greek folk hero.

I wonder if this means most people give up on me after only spending a few hours together?

Friday 30 March 2007

Cowboy Mouth Reloads

While my blog here has apparently taken a vow of silence, there is theatre action aplenty elsewhere on the interweb. David Williams from the wonderful Sydney-based performance group Version 1.0 has moved into the neighbourhood of the ever expanding blogosphere and is a very welcome addition. He can be visited at compromise is our business. In his most recent post, David offers a different response to my, ahem...., glowing review of Chunky Move's latest.

To the many who have been asking me to post more (read: guilting me into writing), there will be more piercing shots from the Cowboy's Mouth very soon.

Tuesday 2 January 2007

With Acknowledgements to Orpheus

With 2006 now irrevocably consigned to history, I think it's safe to look back. Please forgive my indulgence as I sacrifice happiness with Eurydice and cast my gaze back on the 2006 theatrical year. That's if it wasn't all an illusion conjured up by the gods all along...

I saw more theatre/dance/performance etc. than ever this year: 168 shows by my count. This means I managed to squeeze in 50 odd more than I saw in 2005 which was an exceptional year - in fact, the best year of theatre I have experienced. Consequently, my feeling is that 2006 wasn't quite as good a theatre year as 2005. However, in compiling my favourite shows of 2006 I have ended up with a formidable list. Perhaps the sheer number of shows I saw had a diluting effect with interesting shows being more widely dispersed among the ho-hum shows than in previous years. Nevertheless, the retrospect I've afforded myself reveals 2006 to have been a solid year with many highlights.

In terms of programming, the companies/production houses that consistently offered me the most interesting and satisfying theatrical experiences this year were Malthouse Theatre and the Arts House. Each offered over 20 productions in the multiple seasons they programmed.

The Malthouse consolidated its 2005 re-branding and continued to offer audiences a diverse definition of what theatre is. Whilst the most cutting edge stuff is still being made elsewhere, the Malthouse is doing a very good job of keeping audiences up to date, offering them a taste of what's to come and expanding their palates. Apart from a couple of shows in their And the Coloured Girls Go... cabaret season, I saw every production at the Malthouse this year and the hit rate was very high. Nothing was less than good. Most were very, very good with Eldorado, Construction of the Human Heart, Headlock and The Yellow Wallpaper all being exceptional.

With the addition of the multi-spaced Meat Market as a performance venue, the Arts House was enabled to produce a much larger program than was possible with just the North Melbourne Town Hall. Its art in a dry climate season this year offered Melbourne audiences a broad example of hybrid and multi-artform performance works by both new and established artists: local, national and international. The expanded program filled a gap in Melbourne's landscape by offering a home and regular exposure to works which experiment with form, content and foreground contemporary arts practices not unlike the Performance Space in Sydney. Highlights included From a Distance and Wages of Spin by Version 1.0, Twelfth Floor by Tanja Liedtke, Singularity by Chunky Move, Slanting Into the Void by Peepshow Inc., Objects for Meditation by William Yang and Exercises in Happiness by Panther. Truth be told there was very little I saw at the Arts House that disappointed. That's not to say that everything was perfect - certainly not. Not even the shows I've mentioned as highlights. But the Arts House venues are ones I happily visit because I know the shows they house will have enough good/new/interesting ideas (creative, performative, philosophical, political etc.) to engage me without being destroyed by any flaws in the work. The Arts House's contribution to Melbourne's artistic landscape was acknowledged by a large presence at the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

This year's MIAF once again offered a wonderful array of performances. Whilst it didn't quite reach the heights of the 2005 festival - the benchmark festival in my book - it managed to provide me with my two favourite shows of the year: Tragedia Endogonidia BR. #04 Brussels by Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio and Pichet Klunchun and Myself by Jérôme Bel and Pichet Klunchun. One can only hope that all the ludicrous criticism the festival attracted doesn't effect on the quality of future programming.

Some commentators used Festival Melbourne 2006 (the cultural component of the Commonwealth Games) as an example of the successful festival. I disagree. The festival organisers produced a great populist event but it was difficult to find much beyond the feelgood. Which is, of course, not to say that art shouldn't make you feel good but a major opportunity was lost to question the notion of the Commonwealth and investigate the consequences for many countries of colonisation and the British Empire. Whilst it was impossible to see everything in the enormous program, I tried to see as much as possible. The only shows that struck me as more than mere spectacle and actually engaged with issues of the Commonwealth (if only by default) were The House of the Holy Afro by Third World Bunfight and 9 Drawings for Projection by William Kentridge. Both were by South African artists and both dealt with apartheid and race relations - a result of colonisation. Other works that didn't directly deal with the Commonwealth but were successful were all Australian. Two older works, The Bells by 5 Angry Men and Urban Dream Capsule and a new Legs on the Wall show: On the Case.

It was left to Next Wave to dissect the Commonwealth Games for us. It was themed 'Empire Games' (the old name of the Commonwealth Games) and a portion of it's program was official sanctioned as part of the youth program of Festival Melbourne 2006. Most successfully, the aforementioned From a Distance by Version 1.0 (which, strangely but predictably, was not in the sanctioned part of the program) pithily investigated Australian-ness and un-Australian-ness via our sports mad image and the Sally Robbins 'no-row' incident. The other works that impressed (and had nothing to do with the Commonwealth Games) were Operation by Blood Policy, new!shop by Spat & Loogie, Y. by (fellow blogger) Ming-Zhu Hii and Pink Denim in Manhattan by Jacklyn Bassanelli.

There were of course many one-off works of note this year, not part of a larger program, but I will address those in the list that follows. I have for the last few years created a top ten list of my favourite shows of that year. As with any list of this type it is completely subjective and ultimately meaningless. But I love making a good list and the challenge of cramming all the good shows I've seen into a recognisable form such as a top ten list is kinda fun but also very difficult. There is a loose set of criteria I apply but essentially placing the shows is an arbitrary exercise. So, for whatever its value, here is my list for 2006.

10. Twelfth Floor (Tanja Liedtke) / Headlock (Kage/Malthouse Theatre)
These two works are tied because they were both dance-theatre, were both on at the same time and I unexpectedly saw both twice. Twelfth Floor cleverly and beautifully explored human connection and the things that stand in our way through the metaphor of an institution. Headlock presented us masculinity through dance in what was an exhilarating and heartbreaking experience. It featured many wonderful sequences but a solo by Byron Perry sticks out for me as the best male dance performance of the year.

9. I La Galigo (Robert Wilson)
Robert Wilson, his collaborators and huge cast created a hypnotising epic that while being the epitome of 'high' art also managed to offer audiences access to one of the cultural traditions of Australia's closest neighbour. Beautiful images were abundant and I particularly loved the music. I was surprised how affecting this performance was given the stylisation in design and performance.

8. How to be Funny (Ridiculusmus)
How to be Funny was performed only twice in repertoire with their very good production of The Importance of Being Earnest but struck me as the slightly better work. Hilarious for many reasons including it's subtle observations of conferences (you just know they must have sat through a lot of them) and wonderful impersonations of deadly serious academics. Most impressive, though, was that you learn something about comedy in this performance lecture. The gag of the flow chart detailing how comedy works is funny because it's true and it's obvious much effort and research has been put into it. That someone can make their PhD research funny is a mighty achievement. Who said academics weren't funny?

7. Chronicles of a Sleepless Moon / Kissy Kissy / Rubeville (The Suitcase Royale / Daniel Koerner / The Black Lung)
These 3 works were the best of those presented at the Black Lung Theatre; the best new venue of the year. Whilst perhaps stronger as a body of work at the Black Lung than as individual shows, each show, nevertheless, stands as some of the best of the year. Chronicles of a Sleepless Moon was The Suitcase Royale's stab at Australian Gothic. I saw this in development at Next Wave before its Black Lung Season and was disappointed. I've heard that the boys were too. So I was pleasantly surprised when the version I saw at the Black Lung was much tighter and had fixed the problems with its plot and story to match the inventiveness of its telling.

If I had to pick a favourite of the three it would probably be Kissy Kissy. Daniel Koerner and his performers (Mark Winter and Sarah-Jane St. Clair) dived into the potentially clichéd depths of the anatomy of a relationship - from the excitement of getting together to the pain of breaking up - and emerged with a new species. It takes the form of something of mixtape. We witness many vignettes often accompanied by a tune manually put on by one of the performers on a stereo. Sometimes the performers speak to the audience and sometimes they don't seem to know we're there. The mixture of knowingness and naivete was seamless.

I wasn't a huge fan of Avast the first show Black Lung produced. It seemed to me a one joke show (albeit impressively executed). Although the twin of that bastard child, Rubeville was an infinitely superior work. It was a caustic look at the pretensions and delusions of those who think they can save the world (think Ja'mie from Chris Lilley's We Can Be Heroes x100), among other things (that is, if indeed it was about anything). It threatened to implode under the weight of its own meta-theatricality but held together and that danger propelled the whole show. Deliciously cynical, politically incorrect and fucking hilarious.

6. Glow (Chunky Move)
The big draw card was the use of new technology which allowed the lighting to be controlled, wirelessly, by the dancer's movements. The results were astounding. At only 25 minutes long this could easily have been a dry, show-off session for technophiles. That it was that and more is what made Glow so successful. That just the performer's body could be lit while everything else was in darkness and that the performer could move freely knowing the light would follow was not only amazing to behold but allowed for many possibilities. These were exploited to their full effect. The narrative-less solo performance focused on someone (or something) whose body gets marked, followed, caught in cross-hairs and is generally trapped and trying desperately to escape. Lab rat? Man trapped by machine? Caught in a nightmare? Whatever you read into it the result was engrossing and moving.

5. Eldorado (Malthouse Theatre)
It featured the most daring set design on the mainstream stage this year which proved well thought out in the most intelligently directed play of the year. Marius von Mayenburg's apocalyptic vision of the near future was given a suitably desolate production by Benedict Andrews. The play seemed to me to be about the myths we lead ourselves to believe in difficult circumstances; both in the personal and political. When everything turned to shit and a relentless shower of gold foil (ash?, radioactive waste?, the remains of our civilization?) fell for the last 20 minutes of the production we were left with nothing but an overwhelming sadness. And a reflection of ourselves in the glass we had just been looking through.

4. Unholy Site (Spunk Collaborative)
Written and performed by Jacklyn Bassanelli and directed by Margaret Cameron, Unholy Site had a short season at the Croft Institute in January. A bold, passionate and urgent one-woman re-telling of Antigone, this work reminded us of the need for dissent, the need to question our leaders and fight against laws that are unjust. The central conceit of Antigone filming her monologue as her final words to Creon (knowing she won't live) was breathtaking and wonderfully realised through live performance and the live playback of the recording offering close-ups of Bassanelli's electric performance.

3. The Skriker (Brian Lipson/VCA)
It is a bold move to stage one of Caryl Churchill's most 'difficult' plays. But, as always, the VCA tackled a wonderful play that you would never see on a mainstage. I've read The Skriker many times over the years. It had always intrigued me and after each time I read it I always felt I was no closer to understanding what it was about. But that's exactly what it is about. It's about knowledge and the need to understand in the struggle for fulfillment; what we know, what we don't, how we acquire knowledge and the things we make up to explain what we don't understand. Brian Lipson's exuberant production cleverly illustrated Churchill's nightmare world where grotesque, folkloric characters cohabit with humans. It was a thrilling, disorientating and hugely enjoyable production.

2. Pichet Klunchun and Myself (Jérôme Bel/Pichet Klunchun)
In another quest for understanding, Jérôme Bel and Pichet Klunchun presented us their attempts to try and understand each other's art practice. This performative conversation, staged by the simplest of means, was a brilliantly lucid and very funny exploration of the differences and, more importantly, similarities between Klunchen's Eastern, traditional Khon dance and Bel's Western, post modern performance work and each artist's relation to their art form. It served as a brilliant introduction or reminder as to why the arts exist and featured the most concise and precise explanation of contemporary art as I've heard.

1. Tragedia Endogonidia BR. #04 Brussels (Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio)
This theatre of sound and image was so successful for the deliberate allusions its images made. Not only a primal and visceral experience but an extremely intelligent one as well. No other show this year gave me more food for thought. It was difficult not to read the show as representative of the tragedies and atrocities Europe is built on or the huge marble cube, in which the action took place, as the European Parliament located in Brussels. Technically the performance was perfectly executed as when the old man melts into his bed leaving no trace of his existence. This moment was not only a surprise but also felt somehow inevitable and it left me mouth agape (a reaction no other show of this year can claim). It perfectly linked back to the beginning of the performance when the black maid mopped the floor - washing away any evidence or guilt - reaffirming an unending cycle that continues to be Europe's dark history. A couple of weeks after seeing Tragedia Endogonidia BR. #04 Brussels I watched a documentary about the Rwandan genocide. I learned that it was the Belgians and Dutch who had colonised Rwanda and introduced the class difference between the Hutus and Tootsies which created the tension causing the genocide. I couldn't stop thinking of that black maid mopping the marble floor. It added another layer to an already densely layered (yet deceptively simple) work.

Honourable Mentions.
Songs of the Wanderers (Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan)
Politely Savage (My Darling Patricia)
The Yellow Wallpaper (The Storeroom/Malthouse Theatre)
Operation (Blood Policy)
Peepshow (Marie Brassard)
Singularity (Chunky Move)
From a Distance and Wages of Spin (Version 1.0)

Special Mentions.
Construction of the Human Heart (The Storeroom/Malthouse Theatre)
This way my favourite locally produced work in 2005. In the interest of not repeating myself, I didn't include it in my 2006 list even though I revisited it in it's Tower Theatre season. It remains one of the most cleverly written, directed and perfectly performed plays seen in Melbourne of recent times.

The Tulse Luper Suitcases (Peter Greenaway)
Not a live performance (and therefore not even included in my show count) but this film trilogy (and large scale multimedia project) presented at MIAF nevertheless deserves a mention for leaving me feel as though I'd seen an epic theatre production. Numerous actors playing the same character, multiple frames, editing without regard for continuity, artifices of film making exposed, non-naturalistic sets and an interval during part one all seemed more like theatrical conceits than a filmic ones. As did the ritual of returning to the venue three days straight to catch the next part. Utterly pretentious and I loved it.

Set design: Anna Cordingley
Anna Cordingley designed four of the best sets I saw this year for Not Like Beckett, Autobiography of Red, Slanting into the Void and A Mile in Her Shadow. The lighting designers in each case also contributed much to the respective shows. I reckon she'd have to be a shoe-in for the Green Room Award.

Ray's Tempest (MTC)
It especially pains me to rubbish a new Australian play when they form such a small part of an MTC season (and when they're not by Williamson, Rayson or Murray-Smith) but this was excruciatingly bad. A predictable soap-opera that failed on all counts. Badly directed and William McInnes was unwatchable (and appallingly mis-cast). I've tried hard to erase it from my memory but as I recall the only things I remotely liked were Alex Menglet's performance and the grotesquerie of the reality game show for the terminally ill which amused me for all of a minute.

Well, that's it. My summary of 2006. There were many theatrical rewards this year but there's always a lot of great theatre in Melbourne. Sometimes it can be difficult to find. Sometimes you need to sit through some bad theatre to get to the good stuff. Sometimes it forces you to make difficult demands of yourself. And sometimes it leaves you exhilarated. Makes the time, effort and money you've spent worth it. Makes you feel like a better person than when you entered the theatre. Offers you images or thoughts you've never seen or thought before. Well, that's my experience anyway. And even if it all disappears as I look back (or as the house lights go up), I'll happily descend again into the underworld in the hope of trying to reclaim those feelings in 2007. Hope to see you at the theatre.

Tuesday 19 December 2006

Shameless Plug

Like anyone wanting stimulating material to engage with, turning on the television would be the last thing you'd try - and that would be only after you'd given up. Sure, the ABC and SBS may have some interesting documentaries or news and current affairs programs but failing that there must be some 'quality television' on one of these damn channels, surely! As oxymoronic as the phrase 'quality television' can sometimes seem it does occasionally bob it's head up for air amongst the ocean of drivel trying to drown it. You usually need to send out a search party - helicopters, boats, divers and all - to scour the depths and perilous conditions of late-night programming in the vain hope of catching a glimpse of a show wearing a life jacket. For that reason, I certainly won't be making a habit of delving into the world of television on this blog but for this show I must make an exception. Consider this my report on a successful search and rescue mission.

Shameless has to be up there with my all time favourite shows. Created by Paul Abbott (State of Play), Shameless focuses on the lives and antics of the Gallagher family who live on a Manchester public housing estate. Alcohol, drugs, sex, scams and crime are all unapologetically on display in this world of the British urban underclass. They're the sort of characters old ladies would tut at under their breath on public transport while clutching their bags a little tighter. You'd be 'disgusted from Camberwell (or wherever)' at the moral reprehensibility of it all if only it wasn't all so funny. It also helps that the characters are well rendered, very human and likable - although patriarch Frank (head of the family in name only) does his best at having very few redeeming qualities.

What I love about the show is that it doesn't treat it's audience like idiots. It doesn't moralise or pass judgement on the characters either. Things are funny because you know that they've perhaps been taken too far. The kids smoke, drink and swear because that's what kids do. And when one realises that he doesn't have a bike he is advised by his brother to, "just nick one." This isn't a blinkered view of reality. Nor does it shy away from showing the ugly side of these housing estates. When a mob get together, vigilante style, to try and find a non-existent paedophile the results are both hilarious and disturbing as any old bit of hearsay is violently acted upon.

"Frank Gallagher: We've just kicked a confession out of ice cream Alec, he's admitted to dipping his nob in the tubs.
Sheila Jackson: What, he took little Jody?
Frank Gallagher: We don't know till he comes out of theatre!"

Chatsworth Estate isn't half a world away from Cronulla it appears.

Shameless's frenetic, hyper-real style swings from comedy to high drama effortlessly; often with one heightening the impact of the other. It can seem exaggerated at times but you're quickly reminded that this is actually real life. It's messy, painful and fucking hilarious. If we can't laugh at the absurdity of our existence what's the point of living. If you watch thinking that the Gallaghers are more fucked up than your family, you're only kidding yourself.

In the pre-Christmas lull, I've been catching up on old episodes in anticipation of the third series which starts here Christmas day (10pm, SBS). It's been a lot of fun revisiting the Gallaghers' world. I can barely contain my excitement for the new series. Happily, I can report that the show is just as fresh on another viewing. It still makes me laugh out loud and I still care deeply for the characters. Bring on series three!

The first series is selling for a dirt cheap price on DVD at the moment. So what are you waiting for? Let the Gallaghers keep you company until the theatre starts up again. (Although my rant may suggest otherwise, I am in no way on the payroll of anyone associated with the production or broadcast of Shameless).

Thursday 14 December 2006

Like Clockwork

Robin Usher is at it again. In a completely predictable turn of events, the day after it was announced that Kristy Edmunds would helm the Melbourne International Arts Festival until 2008, Usher offers us another taste of that same old argument about everything he thinks is wrong with Edmunds' programming of MIAF.

I get the feeling that Rob is on auto-pilot. Old favourites such as the 'paltry' $1.2 million return; hey, look at Sydney Festival! they bring out people who's names we know; and Edmunds 'inexperience'; are all exhumed and deemed worthy of another airing. But again it's not all that surprising when most of the article laments the disregard of festival traditions and past programming.

I will follow this up more in the morning...

As ever, Alison Croggon expertly dissects the argument at theatre notes with David Williams unravelling Usher's comparison to Sydney Festival, in the comments. As Alison correctly points out, the issue Usher has with Edmunds' programming is not a question of lack of variety or, insultingly, inexperience but of aesthetics. Usher is wrongly equating 'high art' with good art. High art is not a measure of quality, creative/technical prowess or intellectual depth. It is merely a word to group works which conform to recognised forms; eg. opera, ballet, a play. Judging by his examples of past festival highlights, Usher is particularly fond of events recognisable in form and large in scale. Events which usually come with price tags beyond what is affordable for those with average incomes. It seems to me that the "widespread criticism" Usher speaks of is confined to those who can afford to see these types of work. Now, don't get me wrong. There are merits to this type of work. And I love it too when done well but these are not the only forms. The arts change with time as does everything else. Edmund's festivals (and Robyn Archer's) have reflected this. How limited and uninspiring a festival it would be if only Usher's version of 'high art' was on offer.

Usher and co.'s inability to accept artworks taking forms not obviously recognisable seems so unadventurous and not dissimilar to John Howard's inability to comprehend new social forms since the 1950s. With so many provisos as to what they like, I wonder why they bother claiming to appreciate the arts. Surely openness to new ideas and willingness to engage with what we don't understand are essential to experiencing the arts. Edmunds may be alienating unadventurous types who don't understand that adventurousness was part of the deal in the arts. For everyone else, though, she curates a program that allows us to create new understandings not simply reinforce the status quo.

Unlike Usher, I look forward to experiencing the works Edmunds programs in Melbourne for the next two years.