Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

‘Tis the season for Rejection

With the wind up of the calendar year comes a few things- a time for reflection, Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” blaring forth from tinsel festooned supermarkets, the inevitable staff Christmas parties, obligatory consumerism… and for theatre folk- a sense of what their coming year of work looks like… or for some where their year of study will be. Read more

And the winner is…

Belvoir Logo

And for those who weren’t there today at Belvoir Street to see the announcement of the Philip Parsons Young Playwright’s Award for 2009- you missed an interesting day…and an interesting announcement. Read more

Philip Parsons Award in the SMH


Titled “Award finalist withdraws in protest”- Caleb’s letter has reached the Sydney Morning Herald – complete with comments from Neil Armfield and one of Caleb’s fellow finalists Tamara Asmar: Read more

An Open Letter to Company B from Caleb Lewis


This afternoon I received an open letter to Company B from Caleb Lewis, one of the Shortlisted writers for the 2009 Phillip Parson’s Award, who has decided to withdraw from the competition.

I have posted the letter below. Read more


Belvoir Flyer

Where are the women?
Booking their tickets to the 2009 Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture.
Perhaps we should all wear white- as to show up against the black seats of the theatre incase there is any misconception that we are invisible.
We are visible.
We have vision.
Read more

Sydney Arts Journo- I’ll miss you!


There’s alot of change at the moment- well- I am sure there is always alot of change- its just I have the time to notice it at the moment. There are movements in the theatre sector- Artistic directors announced, seasons launched, programs developed and changes- the theatre, the biological microcosm that it is- is expanding, dying off, burning, growing epicormic shoots, and its all in the natural course of things- natural selection.

It would be terribly amiss of me not to acknowledge one significant change I will feel the loss of and that is the ceasing of the regular (and not so regular) writings of Nicholas Pickard aka Sydney Arts Journo. Read more



It’s Ralph Myers. Put up your hand if you are surprised? No? No? I think Nick Pickard dropped a big hint… Read more

Company B 2010 – the season that has sent shock waves across the industry


Since 10pm on Monday I night I have received text messages, facebook messages, emails- I’ve read the installments from 7-On: ( and Joanna Erskine (, and talked and listened to the frustrations and the disappointment of many of those in the industry. This is a post about the reactions, my thoughts, my feelings and my perspective about the theatre industry as it is right here and now. And what it means to be a practitioner working in that industry. A practitioner who happens to be a woman.

Firstly the issue that has surprised and even shocked and infuriated some is that in the 2010 Belvoir Season that was launched on Monday night, there was a clear lack of female key creatives at the helm of the shows. Belvoir st will be celebrating their 25th year- no mean feat! And within the next 6 weeks there will be the naming of the new artistic director…. its a big turning point.

Belvoir has always had a special place in the hearts of many- practitioners regard it with pride having worked their- they talk of community and family and equality. (Perhaps this has to do with the egalitarian pay structure?) They regard it as the place whcih was started by a syndicate of like minded practitioners who all fronted cash- put money where their hearts were – to start a theatre. This mythology has captured the imaginations of already a highly imaginative group of people. And rightly so.

Belvoir has hosted a range of Australia’s top practitioners- launched the career of many a celebrity… names Australia and the Australian creative industries are proud of- Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchette, Wayne Blair, Lee Lewis, – You know the ones I am talking about.

Belvoir has also championed new Indigenous writing and indigenous practitioners- giving space and time to the oldest living culture of storytellers the world has known. Though sometimes seen to be treated as a token pattern of programming- this is still an essential part of theatre practice in this country- it is essential for Indigenous stories to be told by artists who are Indigenous… as this exchange is artistically and culturally vital as a step towards any sort of healing and understanding.

However- there is another side of this- if you look at Belvoir as a place of equality- lets look a little further. Lets look at the Contact Us section of the website…

The top and most influencial names of the company- the taste makers- the folks chosing and priviledging the practitioners, the plays, the stories that are told- are all men.

The women of the company are in positions of education. Of promotion. Of support.

It seems the age old saying is true- behind every great men are great women. And Belvoir certainly has impressive women working there- Brenna Hobson- a remarkably intelligent and skilled producer and manager whom I first met in 2000 and have ever since held in very high regard for her clarity and strength and her calm and sensible ability to overcome all challenges.

Tahli Corin- one of the most supportive and passionate and brave and change making individuals in the independant sector- she is largely an unsung hero for the opportunities she has provided and projects she has spearheaded.

But the question begs- are women fairly and equally treated in our industry in general? I am not going to discuss the wider world politics of women- that is for another time. Is the Belvoir season indicative of Australian/local theatre talent?

As someone who sees between 1-4 productions a week, I would say, no. And then the question is- does this matter that Belvoir’s Season has not equally represented women, or new australians, or first Australians, or transgender identifying?

My thoughts are-
The gender issue only matters if there is not equal opportunities available for female artists as there are for male artists.

The gender issue only matters if there are not avenues for people to be selected, based on talent and merit.

The gender balance only matters when there isn’t one.

My programming practice-

I program on talent. I program based on potential, not genitals. I program for Brand Spanking New and Off The Shelf, based on the heart of the work- that speaks to me. That reflects stories that confront , puzzle and reassure me- who I am living as a person right now in society. I can not avoid nor deny I am a woman. I am not sure how, but I am sure somehow all the things that make up who I am affects how I see the world- those things ranging from my small country town background, my university education, my partner, my experiences of travel, all theatrical experiences I have experiences (as audience and practitioner) up until this point. I can not escape who I am, how I feel and what I want from theatre. I program accordingly. And the results of gender split if scrutinized are as follows:

Brand Spanking New 2009 has 7 writers out of 15/ and 9 directors out of 14 who are women.
Brand Spanking New 2008 had 9 writers out of 14 /and 9 directors out of 14 who are women.
Off the Shelf # 2 has 10 creatives involved half of which are women.
Off the Shelf #1 had 10 creatives involved, four of which are women.

And the truth is- Belvoir is the same- they are a collection of people programming from their perspective- now if that means that female key creatives don’t figure in that- that is their choice. And I can’t and won’t expect them to be anything but true to what they believe in. I don’t want women programmed due to their genitals but their talent- their story. And if Belvoir is not a place for key female creatives in 2010- well thats fine… because women will continue to create and develop work and be in this industry forever- like it or not.

The main issue for me is, has and always will be- are there opportunities offered to people from all backgrounds, regardless of sexual preference, race, gender? Is there enough of a mix- is what we are seeing on Australian stages a diverse and spectacular array of works- or is it the same old story by the same people? Are we chalenging each other and ourselves and our audiences by opening up the industry?

If not why not and how are we going to fix it?

So we’ve had a wake up call from Belvoir- through the absence of female creatives in their mainstage season they have shown us what we DO want to see. So great now we know what we want- let’s make it happen. Can and should one theatre answer all the problems and questions? No. But 100 theatres might.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll- New Theatre


As many of us look around us, it is clear to see that what we are living, is the nightmarish consequences of an infantile mindset. Written in 1953 – the year my parents were born this is a facinating play which I have the great honour to be working on as Assistant Director. This is one of the great plays of the Australian cannon, which shows us how far we have come and how little we have changed… Read more

Creative Sydney Media Release


A really interesting event is about to take hold: and my interest in it, is because in the last 3.5 years since coming back from living and working as an artist in Canada.. I have been hell-bent on re-defining theatre practice in Sydney. Obsessed with new writing, I have created production platforms which by the end of this year will have ensured that over 50 works (which does not include my own work) have been nurtured and brought before an audience… culminating in over 200 opportunities being forged for emerging artists… and WE ALL MAKE a difference!
Check out this event! Details below…
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.