murraybramwell.com

December 20, 2021

The Best of 2021

Filed under: 2021,Archive,Current

This has been another weird and difficult year. But differently weird and difficult from 2020 our first year of COVID-19. That year was normal-ish for the first three months. After that, things were postponed and re-scheduled. Or more often – thwarted, abandoned, cancelled and locked-down.

As I wrote this time last year – “It has been a global catastrophe – medically, socially, economically and creatively. In Australia the problems for the creative arts have been enhanced by federal government spite and indifference – in conjunction with the deliberate harm caused for universities, obstructing progress in both sciences and the humanities. No JobKeeper for either sector, assistance announcements proclaimed with zero follow up. The Lucky Country has been very unlucky for many – and our artists conspicuously and cruelly so. The history of events in 2020, when fully documented, will be a portrait of infamy and philistinism.”

This year has shown a further continuation of deliberate neglect and indifference. Some emergency funds have been launched and many excellent projects have thrived but compared to other sectors of the economy the assistance has been negligible.

Some events were rescheduled in 2021– in the State Theatre program for instance. Others, lamentably were not. The Adelaide Festival launched an ambitious program successfully despite cancellations (such as Anna Breckon and Nat Randall’s Set Piece) due to border closures affecting rehearsal and the mobility of the artists.

WOMADelaide staged a series of Sunset Concerts in the new CBD venue of King Rodney Park much to the satisfaction of audiences keen for safely regulated open-air live music. Alan Cumming’s Cabaret Festival went ahead in June relatively unscathed but the OzAsia Festival, despite a strong Australian Asian focus, was beset with cancellations because of closed borders and the emergence of Delta.

It has been an excellent year for local premiere productions. Local writers and smaller independent companies have come through with first rate work which I have included often in the listings here.

Even as I write this, 2022 is an unknown quantity. Omicron has now raised its nasty molecular head and there are hotspots and COVID concerns dotted around our hitherto comparatively safe nation. The coming year now seems as unknown as the past twelve months have been. Vaccinations and boosters are still insufficient and the Let it Rip approach is a doubtful, probably reckless solution.

But let us hope for better. We need live performance more than ever and we need to support the army of artists and creatives who enrich our experience and our imaginations.

“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 individuals who have generously invited me to performances in 2021 and to acknowledge your continuing commitment and achievement. Especially in another year of unprecedented challenge and tribulation.

Several 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 sometimes vexed, often triumphant year – not in any rank order, and by no means all that deserve mention.

Best Adelaide Productions

Euphoria by Emily Steel. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in a ssociation with Brink Productions.

Dry by Catherine Fitzgerald. Directed by Catherine Fitzgerald. Far and Away Productions and Country Arts SA in conjunction with State Theatre Company South Australia.

How Not to Make it in America by Emily Steel. Directed by Corey McMahon. Theatre Republic.

Best Touring Productions

A German Life by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Neil Armfield. Co-produced by Adelaide Festival and the Gordon Frost Organisation.

Medea. After Euripides. Written and directed by Simon Stone. Live streamed from the International Theater Amsterdam. Adelaide Festival

Fangirls. Book, music and lyrics by Yve Blake. Directed by Paige Rattray. Co-production Belvoir, Queensland Festival and Brisbane Festival in association with AYTP. Adelaide Festival.

The Gospel According to Paul. Written and starring Jonathan Biggins as Paul Keating. State Theatre Company South Australia and SoftTread Productions.

Best Fringe Productions

Sea Wall by Simon Stephens. Featuring Renato Musolino. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

That Boy. Written and performed by Martha Lott. Directed by Yasmin Gurreeboo. Holden Street and Martha Lott presents.

The Reichstag is Burning. Written and performed by Joanne Hartstone. Designed and directed by Tom Kitney. Hartstone and Kitney Productions.

DIRT by Angus Cameron. Directed by Bronwen Coleman. Featuring Patrick Livesey and Wil King. Presented by Patrick Livesey.

The Twins. Featuring Greg Fleet and Ian Darling. Written by Sarah Butler, Ian Darling and Greg Fleet . Directed by Terry Serio and Sarah Butler. Shark Island Institute and the ArtsLab Kangaroo Valley.

Best Cabaret Performances

Mostly Marlene. Kim David Smith. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Mother Archer’s Cabaret for Dark Times. Robyn Archer with George Butrumlis and Gareth Chin, ably subbing at the eleventh hour for usual MD, Michael Morley. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Tim Minchin. The Variety Gala. Directed by Mitchell Butel. Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Alan Cumming is Not Acting His Age. Alan Cumming. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Best Lead Performances (Female)

Ashton Malcolm. Euphoria by Emily Steel. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Sarah Brokensha. The Appleton Ladies Potato Race by Melanie Tait. Directed by Elena Carapetis. State Theatre Company South Australia.
And
The World is Looking for You by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Daisy Brown. inSpace Program & Control Party, in association with Country Arts and Brink Productions.

Elizabeth Hay. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Eileen Darley. Dry by Catherine Fitzgerald. Directed by Catherine Fitzgerald. State Theatre Company. Far and Away Productions and Country Arts SA in conjunction with State Theatre Company South Australia.

Caroline Mignone. Dry by Catherine Fitzgerald. Directed by Catherine Fitzgerald. State Theatre Company. Far and Away Productions and Country Arts SA in conjunction with State Theatre Company South Australia.

Kristy Best. White Pearl by Achuli Felicia King. Directed by Priscilla Jackman. Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside National Theatre of Parramatta production

Best Supporting Performances (Female)

Carmel Johnson. The Appleton Ladies Potato Race by Melanie Tait. Directed by Elena Carapetis. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Ansuya Nathan. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Kialea-Nadine Williams. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Rosalba Clemente. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Sousie Youssef. The Appleton Ladies Potato Race by Melanie Tait. Directed by Elena Carapetis. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Mayu Iwasaki . White Pearl by Achuli Felicia King. Directed by Priscilla Jackman. Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside National Theatre of Parramatta production. OzAsia.

Best Lead Performances (Male)

Renato Musolino. Sea Wall by Simon Stephens. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

Bryan Burroughs. The Boy who Talked to Dogs by Amy Conroy. Directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby and State Theatre Company South Australia.

James Smith. Euphoria by Emily Steel. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.
And
Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.
And
How Not to Make it in America by Emily Steel. Directed by Corey McMahon. Theatre Republic.

Rory Walker. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Brink Productions.

Mark Saturno. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions.

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions.

Best Supporting Performances (Male)

Ezra Juanta. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Rashidi Edward. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Christopher Pitman. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Brink Productions.

Nicholas Garsden. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Brink Productions.

Bill Allert. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Brink Productions.

Best Scenic Designs

Jonathan Oxlade. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Meg Wilson. Euphoria by Emily Steel. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Kathryn Sproul. The Appleton Ladies Potato Race by Melanie Tait. Directed by Elena Carapetis. State Theatre Company South Australia.
And
Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Brink Productions.

Jeremy Allen. White Pearl by Achuli Felicia King. Directed by Priscilla Jackman. Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside National Theatre of Parramatta production. OzAsia Festival.

Best Lighting Designs

Gavan Norris. Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Tom Kitney. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Brink Productions.

Damian Cooper. White Pearl by Achuli Felicia King. Directed by Priscilla Jackman. Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside National Theatre of Parramatta production. OzAsia.

Nic Mollison. Dry by Catherine Fitzgerald. Directed by Catherine Fitzgerald. State Theatre Company. Far and Away Productions and Country Arts SA in conjunction with State Theatre Company South Australia.

Chris Petridis. How Not to Make it in America by Emily Steel. Directed by Corey McMahon. Theatre Republic.

Best Music Scores/Sound Design

Quentin Grant. The Boy Who Talked to Dogs by Amy Conroy. Directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby and State Theatre Company South Australia.
And
Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Brink Productions

Andrew Howard. Euphoria by Emily Steel. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company South Australia.
And
Hibernation by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Stuart Day. Eureka Day by Jonathan Spector. Directed by Rosalba Clemente. State Theatre Company.South Australia.

Catherine Oates. Dry by Catherine Fitzgerald. Directed by Catherine Fitzgerald. State Theatre Company. Far and Away Productions and Country Arts SA in conjunction with State Theatre Company South Australia.

Jason Sweeney. How Not to Make it in America by Emily Steel. Directed by Corey McMahon. Theatre Republic.

Best Classical Music Performances

A Child of Our Time by Michael Tippett. Conducted by Brett Weymark. Adelaide Festival Community Chorus, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Featuring Jessica Dean, Elizabeth Campbell, Henry Choo, Pelham Andrews. Adelaide Festival.

Adelaide Summer Orchestra. Conducted by Nicholas Braithwaite. Shostakovich and Frank Bridge program.

Adelaide Chamber Singers. Renewal Program .

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

Adelaide Chamber Singers. Flight Program. (Farewell to Carl Crossin)

The Firm. Concert 4. Piano Trio featuring Alison Rayner, Thomas Marlin and Michael Ierace

Best Touring Music Performances

Midnight Oil & First Nation Collaborators: Makararata Live. WOMADelaide Sunset Concerts.

Tash Sultana. WOMADelaide Sunset Concerts.

The Teskey Brothers. WOMADelaide Sunset Concerts

Most Intriguing Performances

Watchlist by Alex Vickery-Howe. Directed by Lisa Harper Campbell. South Australian Playwrights’ Theatre.

Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones. Directed by Joh Hartog. Featuring Brendan Cooney and Scott Nell. Joh Hartog Productions.

UnSeen by Kelly Vincent and Alirio Zavarce and the True Ability Ensemble. Inspired by the Royal Commission into Disability Rights. AJZ Productions.

Productions/Events I Regret Not Seeing

Pulse by Gravity and Other Myths. Adelaide Festival.

The Laramie Project. Created by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project. Directed by Brad Eustice. Red Phoenix.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Festival of Orchestra.

Set Piece by Anna Breckon and Nat Randal in association with Vitalstatistix. Adelaide Festival . Cancelled due to COVID-19.

The Demon by Michael Mohammed Ahmad. Rachel Swain director, Gavin Webber choreographer. OzAsia Festival. Cancelled due to COVID-19.

Ahimsa- Meditations on Gandhi. Sandy Evans and associates. OzAsia Festival. Cancelled due to COVID-19.

As were other events this year. So much talent and effort lost.

Best wishes for 2022. We can but hope. Our artists have been amazing. They need our admiration and support.

Murray Bramwell

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment