Union House Theatre Launch

I recently gave this speech at the launch of the Second Semester Season of Work at Union House Theatre at Melbourne University. 

I am so excited about this semester and the 23 productions we have.

I am most excited about amount of new and Australain works that are being presented by student theatre groups. 

We also have lots of other comedies and revues happening this Semester with Medley’s (the Med Revue) and MUDCRABS (Melb Uni Comedy Revue Board) and the Melbourne Uni Law Revue are returning to the Union Theatre for the first time in many years. They open tomorrow night in the Union Theatre 

As it is the year of celebrating Shakespeare’s Death – Shakespeare 400 – we also have Midsummer Nights Dream – currently playing in the Guild, Twelfth Night by MUSC in week 11 and 12 and UHT’s own production Macbeth + MacDeath: A coda

This semester sees almost record-breaking presentation of Australian work and new work by students. I can’t tell you how proud and happy this makes me.

In addition to the revues we have:

Open Body’s performative movement piece – Unknown Show Unknown Location tonight, tomorrow and Saturday not to mention THE BOX by Amy Spurgeon and Hanna O’Keeffe performed in week 4.

Lally Katz play – Apocalypse Bear presented by Periscope in week 3.

Nick Enright’s play – Blackrock presented by International House in week 6.

Barry Dickens - Remember Ronald Ryan – presented by Queens College in week 7

Tastings in week 7 with new work by your peers in the Guild

Whose Afraid of the Working Class presented by Four letter Word in week 10.

Turning Back Time Presented by the Chinese Music Group in Week 10.

Raffles on Capris  – a new Music Theatre work presented by Balloon Head in week 11

Contemporary Australian work by Nude in Week 12.

And also in week 12 a new Dance Work by Flare.

Additionally this year – MUSC are presenting Shake It Up - a series of radical adaptations of/departures from Shakespeare texts,

I am so excited that the offering this year from Student Theatre Groups is so Australian Focused and includes so much new work -  devised, written and created by Students.

Presenting work that uses our own voice and investigates our own culture is so important. To quote David Williamson (he makes a very valid point) the “Social and political realities of the moment – what’s going right or wrong with our society and why. It’s a hugely important source of information about ourselves and if we kill it off by using stories from other cultures and other times, then we are killing of possibly the most exciting and penetrating truths about ourselves. Truths that we sorely need."

Many of you are relishing your time in student theatre to and are using every opportunity to positively exploit your unique and privileged situation. You are perfectly placed to do what the rest of the arts industry finds impossible – never again in your lives as theatre makers, producers, writers, composers, designers, musicians will you have the freedom, support and finance to develop your own voice, find your tribe - experiment with them and have the support and mentorship to be able to do it. History tells us – just look at our extraordinary student theatre Alumni - that many of you are future leaders in the arts industry – sure you wont all do theatre, but your time here shapes you and it is here that you really begin to define your adult identity. I believe each and everyone of you will go on to be a leader in some way shape or form and as leaders, potential leaders and reluctant leaders I want you to think about this…

What stories are you telling both on stage and off – and how is that narrative shaping you and the world around you? Is this a story that you want to be a part of? Does it align with what you want to say about the world? If it doesn’t how do you change it?

Is the theatre that you are a part of or leading representative of the diversity you see in lectures every day? If not – why not? As leaders in your creative endeavours you have a choice to actively change and challenge the status quo. I have had the pleasure of having a little bit to do with Richard Frankland, who is is one of Australia’s most experienced Aboriginal singer/songwriters, authors and film makers. He is also the Head of Curriculum of Programs at the Willin Centre at the VCA – he speaks about changing the shape of the door. That it is the responsibility of the dominant culture to change the shape of the door so other cultural groups can actually access the dominant culture. I think this is a really simple way of articulating a complex idea. It is our responsibility as the leaders of a project to make our work accessible. Expanding the metaphor, It is arrogant to assume those of other cultures will know how to knock. And shifting the shapeof that door, may be as simple as posting an audition advertisement in a different place, it may be a simple as stating on your audition notice that this is something that people from all cultures and experience levels are free to audition. I can attest that when I have engaged in this way, my work has immediately become more rich, my conversations about the work and the world that we live in more complex and the world I represent on stage more like the one I see every day on the train. As leaders – and you are all leaders – what are you doing to change the shape of the door? What are you doing to broaden the scope of what defines our dominant culture. With political fear mongering at it’s height it is incumbent on all of us to be inclusive, to challenge ourselves and to change the shape of the door.  Who is not at the table?