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December 15, 2019

The Best of 2019

Filed under: 2019,Archive,Current

“When you hear music,” jazz saxophonist Eric Dolphy once remarked, “After it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.”

In varying degrees that is true of all live performances. They have their moment, their season, and then are gone. Sometimes they remain vivid, but eventually, even excellent productions and outstanding performances drift into imperfect recollection and generalised hearsay. Maggie Smith once remarked- “Every performance is a ghost.”

I hope this website, for all its sometimes unwelcome opinions, is a useful record of some of the notable activity in Adelaide this year.

I want to thank all the companies and creatives who have generously invited me to performances in 2019 and to acknowledge your continuing commitment and achievement.

It is always hard to create good work and these continue to be difficult times in which to operate. It was the esteemed Broadway director, Harold Clurman who remarked – “people ask me why the theatre is mediocre. And I say art is mediocre when the country is mediocre.”

That may be an overstatement but the past five years or so have made it very difficult for imaginative work to thrive. Australia Council funding was imperiously intercepted by Senator Brandis in 2015 and has only ever been partially returned since.

In this time of needless stringency and uncertainty many artists have been broken on the wheel and reputable companies hit the wall.

Given such deliberate undermining of Australian creativity, the achievements of our artists, operating in such hostile conditions, are nothing short of heroic.

2018 brought the decimation of Arts SA and, under a new government, the funding and encouragement of performing artists in South Australia is still a long way short of the levels of support of, for instance, twenty years ago. There is much more to be done. In 2019, in further insult from the Morrison Federal Government, the Arts no longer has its own ministry.

Nonetheless, performing artists this year have continued to produce original and exceptional work, even though, it must be said, the output has been thinner in 2019. Many of our best independent directors and companies did not stage productions in Adelaide this year. However, the efforts of venues such as Holden Street Theatres, The Bakehouse and the newly emerged RUMPUS can only be gratefully applauded.

Two years ago when I posted my list of Best Of’s, among the many online comments and responses came the vinegary remark- “Who cares ?” The answer to that question is that I care. And audiences, friends of the artists, and their peers care. Outstanding work deserves to be recognised and warmly applauded. My admiration for all concerned is greater than ever.

Here is a list of my selections for this year – not in any rank order, and by no means all that deserve mention.

Best Adelaide Productions

A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Directed by Kate Champion. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Jasper Jones. Based on the novel by Craig Silvey. Adapted by Kate Mulvany. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui. Directed by Paige Rattray. State Theatre Company South Australia. A Sydney Theatre Company production.

Man Covets Bird by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby.

The Wolves by Sarah De Lappe. Directed by Elizabeth Hay. Rumpus.

Best Touring Productions

North by Northwest . Adapted by Carolyn Burns. Directed by Simon Phillips. Kay + McLean Productions. Adelaide Festival Centre.

Counting and Cracking by S. Shakthidharan. Directed by Eamon Flack. Belvoir and Co-Curious. Adelaide Festival.

La Reprise. Histoire(s) du theatre. Conceived and directed by Milo Rau. Belgium/Germany. Adelaide Festival.

Manus by Leila Hekmatnia and Keivan Sarreshteh. Directed by Nazanin Sahamizadeh. Verbatim Theatre Group, Iran. Adelaide Festival.

The Book of Mormon. By Matt Stone and Trey Parker and Bobby Lopez. Directed by Casey Nicholaw. Producers Scott Rudin et al. John Frost Australia. Adelaide Festival Centre.

The Dark Master by Kuro Tanino. Niwa Gekidan Penino. OzAsia Festival.

Best Five Fringe Productions

Games by Henry Naylor. Gilded Balloon and Redbeard Theatre Featuring Serena Manteghi. Holden Street Theatres. Adelaide Fringe.

Extinguished Things. Written and performed by Molly Taylor. Holden Street Theatres. Adelaide Fringe.

Build a Rocket by Christopher York. Stephen Joseph Theatre and Tara Finney Productions. Holden Street Theatres. Adelaide Fringe.

Keep by Daniel Kitson. RCC Fringe. Adelaide Fringe.

Ambient Orchestra presents David Bowie’s Blackstar. Featuring Maya Beiser and Evan Ziporyn. RCC Fringe . Adelaide Fringe.

Best Five Cabaret Productions

The House is Live. Opening Event. Featuring Julie Zemiro and Mitchell Butel. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Two Worlds. Modern Maori Quartet. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Philip Quast Uncut. With Anne-Maree McDonald at the piano. A Meredith Shaw production. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Dickie Beau- Unplugged. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Ruthie Henshall – Live and Intimate. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Best Five Lead Performances (Female)

Helen Dallimore (The End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. Directed by Elena Carapetis. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Nadia Rossi (The Club by David Williamson Directed by Tessa Leong. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Elena Carapetis ( A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Directed by Kate Champion. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Ellen Steele (Girl Asleep by Matthew Whittet. Directed by Rosemary Myers. Windmill Theatre.

Miranda Tapsell (Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui. Directed by Paige Rattray. State Theatre Company South Australia. A Sydney Theatre Company production.

Best Supporting Performances (Female)

Maiah Stewardson (A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Directed by Kate Champion. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Amber McMahon (Girl Asleep by Matthew Whittet. Directed by Rosemary Myers. Windmill Theatre.)

Emma Beach (Jasper Jones. Based on the novel by Craig Silvey. Adapted by Kate Mulvany. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Melody Reynolds-Diarra (Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui. Directed by Paige Rattray. State Theatre Company South Australia. A Sydney Theatre Company production.

Ashton Malcolm (The Wolves by Sarah De Lappe. Directed by Elizabeth Hay. RUMPUS.)

Best Five Lead Performances (Male)

Renato Musolino (Animal Farm by George Orwell. Adapted and directed by Geordie Brookman. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Mark Saturno (A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Directed by Kate Champion. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Nathan O’Keefe (Man Covets Bird by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby.)

James Smith (Jasper Jones. Based on the novel by Craig Silvey. Adapted by Kate Mulvany. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Tony Briggs (Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui. Directed by Paige Rattray. State Theatre Company South Australia. A Sydney Theatre Company production.

Best Five Supporting Performances (Male)

Rory Walker (Jasper Jones. Based on the novel by Craig Silvey. Adapted by Kate Mulvany. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Roy Phung (Jasper Jones. Based on the novel by Craig Silvey. Adapted by Kate Mulvany. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Matthew Whittet (Girl Asleep by Matthew Whittet. Directed by Rosemary Myers. Windmill Theatre.)

Luke Carroll (Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui. Directed by Paige Rattray. State Theatre Company South Australia. A Sydney Theatre Company production.

Geoff Morrell (Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui. Directed by Paige Rattray. State Theatre Company South Australia. A Sydney Theatre Company production.

Best Five Scenic Designs

Bianka Kennedy (Animal Farm by George Orwell. Adapted and directed by Geordie Brookman. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Jonathan Oxlade (Girl Asleep by Matthew Whittet. Directed by Rosemary Myers. Windmill Theatre.)

Wendy Todd (Man Covets Bird by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby.

Victoria Lamb (A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Directed by Kate Champion. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Meg Wilson (The Wolves by Sarah De Lappe. Directed by Elizabeth Hay. RUMPUS. )

Best Five Lighting Designs

Geoff Cobham/ Dale Green (Man Covets Bird by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby.

Chris Petridis (A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Directed by Kate Champion. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Nigel Levings (Jasper Jones. Based on the novel by Craig Silvey. Adapted by Kate Mulvany. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.)

Gavin Norris (The 39 Steps. John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock Adapted by Patrick Barlow from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. Originally directed by Jon Halpin, re-staged by Corey McMahon. State Theatre Company South Australia,)

Richard Vabre (Girl Asleep by Matthew Whittet. Directed by Rosemary Myers. Windmill Theatre.)

Best Music Scores/Sound Design

Quentin Grant Man (Man Covets Bird by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby.

Jason Sweeney (A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Directed by Kate Champion. State Theatre Company South Australia. A View

Stuart Day (The 39 Steps by John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock. Adapted by Patrick Barlow from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. Originally directed by Jon Halpin, re-staged by Corey McMahon. State Theatre Company South Australia,)

Antoine Jelk (The Wolves by Sarah De Lappe. Directed by Elizabeth Hay. RUMPUS. )

Mario Spate (The Split by Sarah Hamilton. Directed by Charley Sanders. House of Sand, RUMPUS and Old 505 Theatre.)

Best Five Classical Music Performances

The Magic Flute. Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Barrie Kosky and 1927. Komische Oper Berlin. Adelaide Festival.

Adelaide Chamber Singers, 4 Ages of Tallis, Carl Crossin conductor. Christ Church , North Adelaide.

Denes Varjon. (Morgan’s International Piano Series) Space Theatre.

Michael Ierace. The Firm: Concert 3. Elder Hall.

Konstantin Shamray. The Firm : Concert 4. Elder Hall

Best Five Touring Music Performances

DuOud. (Tunisia/Algeria. WOMADelaide)

Paul Kelly. Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds. Composed by James Ledger and Paul Kelly. Featuring Alice Keath and Seraphim Trio. Adelaide Festival

Ms Lisa Fischer with Grand Baton. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Punch Brothers. Woodville Town Hall. Adelaide Guitar Festival.

Nitin Sawhney. Beyond Skin Revisited . OzAsia Festival.

Six Most Intriguing Performances

The Second Woman. Nat Randall and Anna Breckon. Performing Lines. Adelaide Festival.

I Forgot to Remember to Forget by Alirio Zavarce with Michaela Cantwell, Kym McKenzie, Kathryn Hall and Cassie Litchfield.
No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability in association with the Adelaide Festival Centre.

The Split by Sarah Hamilton. Directed by Charley Sanders. House of Sand, RUMPUS and Old 505 Theatre.)

Light by Thomas Henning in collaboration with TerryandtheCuz. OzAsia Festival.

Cuckoo . Written and presented by Jaha Koo. CAMPO. South Korea/Belgium. OzAsia Festival.

Eyes/Lies. Ontroerend Goed. Belgium/Hong Kong. OzAsia Festival.

Productions/Events I Regret Not Seeing

Carmen. Choreographed by Johan Inger. Dresden Semperoper Ballett. Adelaide Festival.

By Heart. Written and directed by Tiago Rodrigues. Teatro Nacional D.Maria II. Portugal. Adelaide Festival

Pussy Riot. RCC 2019 Adelaide Fringe.

Brilliant Traces by Cindy Lou Johnson. Joh Hartog Productions, The Bakehouse.

Ed Kuepper. The Gov.

Best wishes and perfect vision for 2020.

1 Comment »

  1. Yep. Hear hear!

    Comment by Samela Harris — December 16, 2019 @ 12:05 pm

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