Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Fighting the Cliche – Optimism and art


A garret, where the artist sits. Having spent their last few dollars on red wine and ink and cigarettes and a fair-weather friend. Alone. Abandoned. Without money or friends. Misunderstood. Unloved. Dark and brooding, furrowed and introspective. Wearing a beret…

It’s a familiar image and I’m not really sure where it comes from – Van Gogh and his rejected ear? Dylan Thomas’ untimely death? Jimi Hendrix choking on his vomit? Who needs it? Sounds utterly horrible. Tortured and suffering and then dead. Who wants to be celebrated for their contribution posthumously?
Why is poverty romanticized? Is it the fact that the ideals are kept in tact at all cost – at the cost of comfort and community? The writer who can never allow himself to fall completely in love with someone who nourishes and delights him because it may soften his edge? Read more

A Sensitive Sensibility or “What a weepy bitch”


Every Christmas when I was little, in my grandfather’s back yard in Coffs Harbour, I would sit amongst the wisteria eating unripe passion fruit and imagining adventures for myself. I’d frighten myself with stories of what lived under the house – and laugh until I couldn’t breathe at the jokes I invented. I’d imagine the possibility of being homeless and sleeping on the mossy ground under my favourite hydrangea. I’d convince myself I could be completely self sufficient and sleep in the garden if I was in such a situation. Luckily for me the garden of choice was my Grandfather’s garden – with vegetable plots and fruit trees including a gnarled grumpy looking grapefruit tree and a sacred mulberry tree worthy of the Fred Astaire tune “I’m in heaven” that I’d croon gleefully as I stained my skirts and stuffed my face with purple berries.

In one of the garden beds was what Pa called “a sensitive plant” – every time I touched its soft fringed leaves they would contract like a venetian blind, neatly minimizing itself into a single blade of green. I would wait for it to unfurl and I’d delight to see it shrink at my fingers…

I’ve been thinking about the value of sensitivity. Mainly because I am sensitive. And it is who I am. Read more

Merit vs Misogyny in Australian Theatre – and what we’re going to do about it

Woman Writing Letters by Charles Dana Gibson

There has been a simmering discussion amongst AWOL (Australian Women Playwrights On Line) about the presence (or lack of presence) of female writers included in the mainstage theatre seasons. Currently in Main stage seasons women are grossly unrepresented – and it’s not because there aren’t any women writing plays. There are. When curating the multi-playwright seasons I have produced in the last 4 years, I have not struggled to find quality female playwrights, and not just any female playwrights – excellent playwrights.

In late 2009, the Philip Parson’s Award hosted a panel discussion “Where are the women?” to which 200-ish female theatre workers turned up to prove exactly where the women are (Just in case Belvoir couldn’t see them, as their 2010 suggested) – they were filling the theatre. that day I sat with Suzie Miller and Vanessa Bates. When confronted with the argument that women aren’t being programmed because scripts and directors are assessed on merit not gender – Miller told of her experience which was having a play of hers knocked back for an Independent Season at Belvoir, only to have the very same play receive awards and productions overseas. Rachel Healy turned to Neil Armfield and said, “Well, Neil, it looks like we stuffed up.” And I think everyone in that audience agrees: there has been some major stuff-ups when it comes to theatre companies being committed to equal opportunity employment. So much so Melbourne Theatre Company have since implemented an EEO policy. Read more

Where are the women? They’re AWOL and Online!


This time last year – a conversation started about the lack of women included in Australia’s mainstage seasons. Triggered by a shocking image at the launch of Company B’s 2010 season – a line up of men in black with one woman in a white shirt… the question was asked “Where are the Women?”

Blog posts, a Philip Parson’s lecture (presented as a panel) and some national and international press later – the conversation got bigger and louder and more complex resulting in an Action planning day for Women directors which was held in May 2010 at Belvoir. Members of the Australia Council’s Major Performing Arts Organisations came to hear the recommendations of women from all aspects of the industry – mediated by Anne Dunne. In August this year, the recommendations were finalised and submitted to the Australia Council. (I have included an excerpt compiled by Susanna Dowling below)

But what was missing in this discussion was the role of women playwrights in this discussion. Read more

Return to Oz |When are you a wanker and when is it work?

First published April 2007

There are a few moments in time when I have walked into a foyer, into an industry do with my only pair of high heels on (I usually am seem in Blundstones or scuffed mary-jane’s: to the point where a friend of mine is convinced I have been the foot/shoe model for City rail’s “mind the gap before boarding” poster) feeling like I am ready to pounce into sparkling action, dazzling all in my path with my razor sharp wit. Other times I feel I have as much charisma as a beige plaid sofa left in an alley way, waiting to be marked by stray cats or claimed by desperate students. Read more

Return to Oz | If it was easy, everyone would be doing it

First Published March 2007

Being in the business of the theatre is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle choice. The choice results in a certain self-righteous smile when paying your rent at the bank and the clerk asks you if you want to consider a mortgage. “No,” you think to yourself… “I am not of the 2.4 kids/car/mortgage/$100 haircut every second Wednesday variety of person, ” and as you confidently stride out of the bank, your shoulders start to slope, your head bows and your heart feels a heavy dullness as you realize that, that in itself, shows something of the transience of what you do. Read more

Return to Oz| All Roads lead to where you stand….

First published in Feb 2007

Arriving back in Australia is an amazing thing. Firstly, there’s the realisation with how much your accent sounds like a cartoon bushman with a mouth full of flies and how much the Australian lingo is a vernacular of similes (i.e. dry as a dead dingo’s etc.) Secondly there’s a hyper sensitivity to all things from the country you have just experienced. For me there is nothing as bright as a red maple leaf emblazoned on a backpack and nothing inflates my R’s like hanging out with North Americans. (Yes sirrrr!) And then there’s the curse of comparison. Read more

Return to Oz|The Beginning of an End: Do I stay or Do I go?

First published Jan 2007

My name is Augusta Supple. Known to most as Gus. I returned from living and working in Canada as a full time theatre director and playwright: all my successes (and not-so successes) are unheard of in my native land of Oz. This column is about coming home. Returning or should I say re-starting? Reintegrating and re-inventing oneself into the Australian Arts industry after being in self-imposed exile in another country’s arts industry. I will start off writing about me… about trials tribulations and then other perspective from friends and colleagues who have returned home and have struggled to find their feet or voice in a new version of their old country. Read more

The Invisible Workers


After I attended the much anticipated Philip Parsons Lecture at Belvoir last year I was invited to write an article for New Matilda about the women in theatre debate… which I have included below. Read more

2009: A retrospective


2009 has finished- no Bull! We survived the teething decade of the new millenium- and her we are at the start of a new year! What a relief! As with every end of the year comes certain things- sunburn, family Christmases, NYE revelling, music festivals and retrospection which sometimes justifies some introspection- so here is my intro/retrospection about theatre in the last year… Read more

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Augusta Supple

Sydney-based theatre director, producer and writer. This site is about my long, deep, bright-eyed, ever-hopeful, sometimes difficult, always invigorating, rambunctious, rebellious, dynamic and very personal relationship with Australian Arts and Culture... I reflect on shows, talks, essays, writing, artists that inspire me to say something, and you'll find out what I'm working on, who I'm working with and what inspires me.