Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

Critique: Belvoir 2011

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: I apologise – as sincerely and wholeheartedly as possible – in advance for the following.  Please don’t kill me.  I’ll give all your plays good scores next year if you don’t!)


DATE OF RECEIPT: 21/09/2010

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From: Ralph Myers <ralph@belvoir.com.au>
Sent: Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 4:28 PM
To: Belvoir Employees <
Subject: Please Read Immediately

Dear Underlings,

It is I, your new master, Ralph Myers.  But you can call me God.

You may have seen me at the magnificent season launch last night – never let it be said that I am not a man of the people!

You see, there have been rumours that I am a tyrant, that I am an ecological madman – though nothing could be further from the truth.  But let this be a warning to you all – you may have thought that you could spread slanderous gossip without me noticing, but I have a mole in the ranks, a faithful employee who will help me keep a tight grip on all of you.  Of course, you will understand that I can’t tell you who this mole is – there are some secrets that are just too important.  And on a completely unrelated note, congratulations should go to Jenny for her recent promotion.

To celebrate there will be a party tomorrow at 12.30pm sharp, to continue for exactly thirty minutes, whereupon work will resume.  Jenny is required to bring her own cake.

Many of you have made inquiries about Belvoir’s new Green Policy for 2011, and so I have taken it upon myself to set out exactly what it is.  You will appreciate that this is quite a sensitive subject, and as such no details of this email should be released to the general public – I remind you all of the Non-Disclosure Agreements that you have signed.  Do not think of this as a threat, however, for I mean it merely as a firm but friendly nudge in the direction of moral purity.  We must always strive to be the best that we can be, and to eradicate anything that would prevent us from achieving that goal.  Which reminds me – the funeral of our dearly beloved former leader, Neil Armfield, has been set for Tuesday next week.  Employees are required to bring their own shovels.

But back to the green policy.  It will be launched midway through next year once the public has been brainwashed introduced to the measures that we have implemented.  Some would call the measures ‘extreme’.  Others would call it ‘visionary’.  And yet I suspect that the media will see it as the former – which is why we will wait, so the shock is not as pronounced.  The media in Sydney, as noble as they are, do have a fetish for focusing on the negative things in a policy, such as ‘slave labour’ and ‘under award wages’.  I shall strive to make sure that this is not the case.  We must all make sacrifices for the good of the whole.

Part of our propaganda campaign – and I use the term ‘propaganda’ in its most positive sense (as in ‘forget watching the movie, I just want to see the propaganda beforehand!’) – has been put in place already.  You may notice that I have made many allusions to it in the Belvoir 2011 Season Booklet, which you should all have at hand (in accordance with Memo #287 – “The Guidebook to Your New Life”).  If you have not noticed this, then fear not – I shall explain them all now.

You will now look at the front page of your season booklet.  Upon it is a red chair and gumboot – our new mascot – both on a green background.  This is to serve as a constant reminder of the negativity that others will fling our way.  They will call us names – watermelon, for instance – green on the outside, red on the inside.  But let these petty barbs not discourage you or distract you from our goals.  Indeed, the title page of your season booklet is all about embracing the negativity – only by taking back that which is used against us can we truly hope to win the hearts and minds of our audience.  Just like African Americans have taken back that word that starts with N, so shall we take back ‘watermelon’.

You will turn the page now.

On the left we have a page of gray to represent how polluted our atmosphere is.  Polluted by us.  By you – you disgusting, selfish employees.  Do you not care about the environment?  It is fortunate that I have, like the messiah did so many moons ago, come to save you.  On the right is a quote from a Russian – fitting, considering our new policy – what once was a failed experiment shall be born again into a new, greener world!  It is no longer merely the make-up of society that is at stake, but its total existence!  And just like those wise words that Chekhov has so eloquently written, I would put it to you, minions – “There are two types of employees: those who are with us and those who are against us”.

I trust that all of you are with us.

You will turn the page now.

An empty room.  An unused powerpoint.  These represent two of our central tenets – a rejection of consumerism, and a rejection of the old forms of power generation – to be connected to the grid is to support the filthy coal barons and their quest to destroy our planet.  From 2011 onwards, Belvoir shall power itself autonomously.  You may be wondering how this is possible – even if it is possible.  Fear not – I am smarter than you and have planned for this very moment.  You may notice that the new company gymnasium consists solely of stationary bicycles – all employees will be required to pedal for a minimum of 30 hours a week to generate the power we need to function.  Enthusiastic employees (that is, those who pedal more than the minimum 30 hours) will be rewarded.  Unethusiastic employees (that is, those selfish degenerates who care for no one but themselves) will not be rewarded.

Please note that the minimum wage is part of the reward package.

You will turn the page now.

Voltaire was a wise man.  Indeed, the only way to see the value of a green policy is to put it in action, and so I have removed the suggestion box from outside my office – the time for reflection will come when I choose.  Until then, no criticism will be tolerated.

You will turn the page now.

This is my message to the public.  All employees are required to memorise my glorious words.  To ensure that you all memorise this marvel of prose, surprise recitations will be implemented.  For every time an employee fails to accurately recite the above, an extra 5 hours in the company gymnasium will be required.

There is, however, one part of the passage which is incorrect, and when I find who it was who mistyped the passage, they will be terminated.  I mean, their employment will be terminated.  Bit of a Freudian slip there!  (See?  I am not the humourless man that I have been made out to be!)  The incriminating passage is as follows (it is the second paragraph):

If any of you have information as to who it was that inserted a semicolon where a colon should be, report to my office immediately.  Your loyalty to the cause will be rewarded.

But this should not have happened in the first place.  I am not a man who is predisposed to anger, but a semicolon?  Do you have any idea of the ramifications of this?  I will not be made a fool of!  There are websites out there that will portray me as one because of this.  Oh, “Ralph doesn’t know how to use a colon – how can he be trusted with a theatre?”  “How can we even know that he read the plays he curated for the season?”  I will not have my perfection tainted by my employees!

Can you imagine what that bastard from Epistemysics will do if he notices it?!

You will turn the page!  Now!

It should be noted that employees are required to memorise these words as well.  I feel that my last paragraph in particular will provide inspiration for us all:

A “hell of a time” indeed.  But it will be worth it in the end, my dear minions.  We must sacrifice now for the paradise of the future!

You will turn the page now.

This is a horse.  And it is what you will use to get yourselves to and from work (only on the rare days that you will need to visit your homes).

I am such the joker!  Of course you won’t be using the horse to get to and from home – Belvoir is your new home, so there will be no need for you to go anywhere.

But this horse will be an inspiration for you – as I said in my address, the theatre can create whole worlds within the finite space we have – “our as yet unnamed mascot (anyone?) is an attempt to embody this fact: it’s a horse, but it’s also a chair with a gumboot on it.  You see it as you like it.”

This is what we must get the media to realise – we must get them to see things how we see things.  It is not ‘slave labour’ but voluntary time giving.  It is not ‘under award wages’ but donating to the greater good.

Unfortunately, not all in the media share this view.  Yes, I have heard the hushed giggles in the office over the email sent to us by that coward from Epistemysics (my mole sees and hears everything).  I will respond to it now, so that you may all realise the error of your ways.  Here is the email:

From: Epistemysics
Sent: Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 7:33AM
To: <mail@belvoir.com.au>
Subject: Tickets for 2011 Season

Dear Belvoir,

Amazing season that you’ve got planned.  I especially like your new mascot (haven’t thought of a name for it yet, though!).

I particularly like what Mr. Myers had to say about ‘seeing it as you like it’.  One would have to assume that all of you at Belvoir would choose to see it as a real horse!

So my question is this: if I get a blank piece of paper and write “this is a ticket” on it, will I be able to get into the shows for free?



What a contemptible person he is.  One is almost tempted to give him media tickets just to shut him up!  Indeed, that is exactly what we shall do, for I am not about to let some arrogant upstart who thinks he’s god’s gift to theatre derail our glorious plan!  We will give him free tickets, we will lull him into a false sense of security, and when he becomes complacent we will strike a blow for theatres everywhere!

Your glorious leader has given you a mission.  Your glorious leader expects his wishes to be fulfilled.

But I am being distracted from the purpose of this email – to outline our Green Policy.  As you may have noticed, the new season is an eclectic one, with seemingly no pattern to it.  This is not the case – I have specifically chosen each and every piece because of their relevance to our new green policy.  I will now enumerate each piece and how they are relevant.

You will turn the page now.

We begin with the pieces to be performed in the Upstairs Theatre.  The green is to symbolise our new policy.  The white is to symbolise our moral purity.  The arrow is for idiots who can’t read.

You will turn the page now.

The Wild Duck written and directed by Simon Stone after Henrik Ibsen.  Set by Ralph Myers.  Composition and Sound by Stefan Gregory.  With John Gaden, Anita Hegh, Ewen Leslie, Eloise Mignon, and Toby Schmitz.  12 February – 27 March.

When was the last time that you saw a wild duck around the streets near our glorious theatre?  When was the last time you saw any wildlife apart from a few pests?  We have driven nature away from us, and this play will help to let our audiences know what we are missing.  We strive for a new utopia filled with wild animals, teeming with natural life!

These pages also set out our new anti-consumerism policy.  What you see is what you get, my dear minions – what is on the page is what the set for the play shall be – none of the capitalist furnishings that have poisoned us for far too long, but merely a door.  But it is not just a door – no – it is a portal to an infinity of worlds!

You will turn the page now.

Jack Charles v the Crown by Jack Charles and John Romeril.  Directed by Rachael Maza Long.  Dramaturged by John Romeril.  Set and Costumes by Emily Barrie.  Lighting by Danny Pettingill.  Musical Direction by Nigel Maclean.  Video Design by Peter Worland.  With Jack Charles.  30 March – 17 April.

For too long both we and our audiences have cared Jack about the environment.  No more!  No more!

You will turn the page now.

The Business, based on Vassa Zheleznova by Maxim Gorky.  Adapted by Jonathan Gavin with Christabel Sved.  Directed by Christabel Sved.  Lighting by Verity Hampson.  Composition and Sound by Max Lyandvert.  With Russell Kiefel and Sarah Pierse.  23 April – 29 May.

You see, we need to be in the business of being green – we must compete with those in the Sydney Theatre Company – they cannot be allowed to diminish our glory.  What use is there for 1906 solar panels when there is no sun?  Is not the better policy to have people generating power themselves?  We must show the world that we mean business, and let those fools at the Wharf warm their cold hearts by the fire of their unsold tickets.

You will turn the page now.

The Seagull by Anton Chekhov.  Directed by Benedict Andrews.  Set by Ralph Myers.  With Emily Barclay, Gareth Davies, Judy Davis, Maeve Dermody, and John Gaden.  4 June – 17 July.

You will notice the cord dangling in the top left corner of the photograph.  It is not a badly positioned electrical wire, but a noose for a seagull.  For too long we have been tightening the noose around our wildlife’s collective head, and the empty noose in this picture represents the freedom that we wish to give back to our feathered friends – to all of animal kind!

You will note that there are two chairs in the picture as well – as Benedict Andrews, esteemed director, is to be working on this play, we have pulled out all the stops and requisitioned not zero, not one, but two pieces of furniture.  Let it not be said that I am not a generous man.  Indeed, it does us good to splurge once in a while, but only in moderation, and only with written permission signed in triplicate from my office.

You will turn the page now.

Neighbourhood Watch by Lally Katz.  Directed by Simon Stone.  Composition and Sound by Stefan Gregory.  With Charlie Garber, Heather Mitchell, and Robyn Nevin.  23 July – 28 August.

In our quest towards our glorious future there will be those who will not be as committed to the cause as we are – hard to believe, I know, but I have seen first hand that such pathetic excuses for humans exist.  As such, to protect the sanctity and purity of our plan, we will all be required to watch not only ourselves but each other.  To watch our neighbours.  Under our watchful eyes we can become stronger.

Also, I would like to introduce our newest employee – an employee who is fierce, loyal, and with a bark that, while fierce, is nothing compared to its bite.  Not only will they be performing in this particular play, but they will also be assuming the position of Company Gymnasium Security, so as to make sure that nothing goes awry during power generation.

Mitzy, the German Shepherd, will also be part of the production.

You will turn the page now.

Human Interest Story.  Choreography by Lucy Guerin.  Set by Gideon Obarzanek.  Realisation by Anna Cordingley.  Costume by Paula Levis.  Lighting by Paul Jackson.  Composition and Sound by Jethro Woodward.  With Stephanie Lake, Alisdair Macindoe, Talitha Maslin, Harriet Ritchie, Stuart Shugg, and Jessica Wong.  Special Newscast by Anton Enus.  31 August – 18 September.

There is only one story that is of interest to us humans, and that is how we will move into the sustainable and glorious future that I have planned for us.  We will turn this world upside down if we have to!

This is also a choreographed piece – dance – for the time for words is over.  All that is left is to act.

You will turn the page now.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler.  Directed by Neil Armfield.  Set by Ralph Myers.  Costume by Tess Schofield.  Lighting by Damien Cooper.  Composition by Alan John.  With Robyn Nevin, Yael Stone, Helen Thomson, and Dan Wyllie.  24 September – 13 November.

You may be wondering, dear minion, what Summer of the Seventeenth Doll could have to do with a green policy – you may be wondering whether I can find anything relevant.  Fear not.  Remember – I am more intelligent than all of you.  You may be thinking, “if he’s so confident that he has a connection, why doesn’t he just say it instead of blabbering on about nothing?”

If you are thinking this then you are a disloyal subject.  Loyalty embodies itself not only in our actions but in our thoughts as well.  You would be wise to remember this.

What follows is perhaps the most important part of my plan.  Every summer, all of the beautiful women – the dolls – who have reached the age of seventeen, will be required to undergo a number of one-on-one sessions with myself.  In these session I will educate these women about the ways of the world, so that they will be forewarned and forearmed against any man who we would consider unfit to procreate with.  Group sessions will also be an option in extraordinary circumstances.

Some may call this a form of ‘eugenics’, but this is such a harsh word.  Indeed, if one of theatre’s greatest playwrights, Eugene O’Neill, shares a name with the term, then it can’t be so horrible, can it?  My rationale is this – until my scientists find a way to replicate myself, women are our future.  Women are the carriers of the new generation of soldiers in our battle.  If we arm them to avoid the unsavoury elements of the other gender, if we convince them that our way is right, then they will indoctrinate steer their children, their blessed, glorious offspring, in the right direction, leading us ever faster towards the paradise that awaits!

My advisors have suggested that I delegate this task – but sometimes you need to lead by example.

As for Neil Armfield being the director of the piece – this will obviously not be the case.  A replacement director has been found already.  However, his name has been printed in your booklets to allay any suspicions that may arise.

You will turn the page now.

As You Like It by William Shakespeare.  Directed by Eamon Flack.  Set by Alistair Watts.  Composition and Sound by Stefan Gregory.  Lighting by Damien Cooper.  With Alison Bell, Gareth Davies, Charlie Garber, and Shelly Lauman.  19 November – 24 December.

I believe that I am a flexible leader, and as such I am letting you, my minions, as well as the audience, implement our green policy – at least parts of it – as you like it.  Don’t like cycling for a minimum of 30 hours a week?  Then donate a treadmill to the cause and use that instead!

It should be noted that as this is the last production of our season, I have decided to impress our audience with some extravagance, and as such have requisitioned all of our chairs to be part of the set of the play.  Employees will be required to kneel at their workstations for the duration of the run.

You will turn the page now.

Now we move to the plays that have been programmed for the Downstairs Theatre.  The blue and the arrow represent our new green policy in relation to water use – as part of our policy to reduce water consumption, all employees will be required to drink their urine three times a week.

More glorious words are printed on the right hand page – “for the last twelve years the Downstairs Theatre has played host to independent companies producing work under the banner of B Sharp.”  I have decided to end the constant atrocities inflicted on us by these ‘independent’ companies.  They foul our presence with their ‘profit-shares’.  In our utopia there will be no ‘profits’.  And so these companies have been excised from our glorious building, and we have reclaimed the Downstairs Theatre for our own just and moral purposes.

But just because it is a smaller theatre than our glorious Upstairs Theatre does not mean that it is not relevant to our plans!

You will turn the page now.

Cut by Duncan Graham.  Directed by Sarah John.  With Anita Hegh.  7 April – 1 May.

We need to cut our waste.  Cut our emissions.  Cut those who do not support us.

It should be noted by those involved in the production that the door knob has been re-purposed as wiring for use within the company gymnasium.

You will turn the page now.

The Kiss by Anton Chekhov, Kate Chopin, Peter Goldsworthy, and Guy de Maupassant.  Directed by Susanna Dowling.  With Danielle Cormack, Catherine Davies, Yalin Ozucelik, and Steve Rodgers.  12 May – 5 June.

We must kiss our old ways goodbye, and embrace the warm glow of the future!

As our red bucket will be used for this production, employees are required to find alternative toiletry arrangements.

You will turn the page now.

Windmill Baby by David Milroy.  Directed by Kylie Farmer.  With Roxanne McDonald.  28 July – 21 August.

This is perhaps one of the most exciting parts about our glorious plan!  Instead of doing something as boring as installing solar panels on our roof (as the Sydney Theatre Company have done) we will instead be installing a windmill to help generate power.  Employees will be required for wind generation if the weather is not conducive to naturally harvesting power.

You will turn the page now.

And They Called Him Mr Glamour by Gareth Davies.  Directed by Thomas Wright.  With Gareth Davies.  15 September – 9 October.

What will follow in our immediate future may not be glamorous, but if we stay true, if we persist until our society’s views reflect ours, then what a world it will be!

I have kindly deigned for the mirror from my office to be used for this production.

You will turn the page now.

The Dark Room by Angela Betzien.  Directed by Leticia Caceres.  With Brendan Cowell and Leah Purcell.  3 November – 27 November.

If any employee finds fit to deviate from the plan that I have laid out, they will be required to spend lengthy periods of time in The Dark Room.  It is not used to develop photographs.

You will close your season booklet now.

I am excited about this season.  You should be excited too.  Those who are not excited will report to the company gymnasium immediately.

Ecologically Yours,

Chairman Myers

P.S.: Has anyone seen my gumboot?

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Written by epistemysics

September 21, 2010 at 8:27 am

Posted in Theatre Reviews

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