Theatre is a wonderful, eclectic beast that has given me great joy and sometimes exasperation most of my life.
I have been involved in all aspects of this beast including writing, directing, all areas backstage, even making costumes, building sets and operating sound and lights as well as acting (badly) and directing.
All of this has given me a much broader way of looking at life and politics. I have sat in some of the oldest theatre spaces in the world as well as seeing the replica Globe Theatre in London just after it opened. I have been and seen street theatre, improvisation in spaces strange and wonderful, which leads me to my recent experiences.
Or not: as I cannot write about Hir at Belvoir because the performance I had booked for was cancelled as one of the actors was ill. Actors will perform under the most extraordinary circumstances (the show must go on!) but sometimes the illnes is just too bad and adrenalin will not carry them through.
I will get to see Hir and am really looking forward to it as it looks great fun. Hir (pronounced here as in non-gender specific) is about a family of four where circumstances have turned the role of the family around. The mother plays the patriarch. One of their two sons returns from the war with PTSD to discover not only his parents' roles reversed but also his sister is now his brother.
This production decided to cast the transgender character with a transgender actor. This should not be a big issue except it is. I don’t believe gay/lesbian/straight/transgender roles need to be played by actors of the same sexuality. It may or may not help, but with casting a show there is way more to it than just that role. There needs to be a balance with the cast and chemistry between the characters. It is called “acting” after all, but it is good to see a transgender actor playing the part here.
When you are a regular theatregoer, like I am, you see thousands of plays. Many you see over and over as they become classics and then you see new plays each year. When I started out in Sydney after learning my trade in regional amateur dramatic societies, I was naturally drawn to New Theatre, which was then in St Peters Lane, Darlinghurst, near the Cross. I had been part of the demonstration outside of Teachers Federation in Sussex Street where they had put on an illegal performance of the banned play America Hurrah.
I knew this was to be my home for the next two decades (until I became a Federation Officer) as it put on political plays and was the only theatre in NSW doing new Australian plays. Things have now changed for the better as mainstream theatres are always looking for, and presenting, new Australian plays. Which leads me to Melba.