Belvoir is thrilled to announce that Alana Valentine will present The Myth of the General Audience as this year’s Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture, to be held at the Upstairs Theatre at Belvoir St Theatre on Monday 3rd December. The Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture will conclude with the announcement of this year’s recipient of the illustrious Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights, presented by previous Philip Parson’s Fellowship winner, Tommy Murphy.
Alana Valentine is one of Australia’s most inventive playwrights, with prestigious awards to her name and productions of her works in regional, metropolitan and independent contexts. Valentine and Belvoir have enjoyed a successful relationship, with several productions of her works on the Belvoir stage over the years; the Queensland Literary Award winning Run Rabbit Run, the Helpmann Award nominated Parramatta Girls, 2017’s smash hit Barbara and the Camp Dogs (co-written with Ursula Yovich) and the world premiere of The Sugar House in May of this year. Her recently published book Bowerbird, chronicles a remarkable process as a theatre maker, detailing her ‘close work’ practice and its authentic results.
Audiences for theatre are now more targeted, specialised and niche than ever. Or are they? Is there still a way to get into our theatres a multiplicity of audience members who are curious and open, willing to be provoked and changed? Or in a context where there has never been so many competing platforms, are we heading into a hashtag driven future with the performing arts simply poaching and cannibalising each other’s subscriber bases?
In The Myth of the General Audience, Valentine reflects on her experience of bringing into the theatre the lived experience of diverse, community, regional and local audiences to hear their own stories in the context of the collective gaze. She explores how contemporary theatre, as well as entertaining, must still allow audiences to connect with each other, to collectively face ugly and sometimes difficult truths in important and community-changing ways. Using examples from her own plays, Alana looks to the engagement of increasingly diverse and eloquent audiences and the sacred trust that artists have with theatre-goers.
Alana Valentine is a gifted wordsmith with an astounding ability to blend personal stories and research with conviction and daring. She has the experience, expertise and power of expression that will make The Myth of the General Audience one of the most engaging Parsons lectures to date.
The Philip Parsons Fellowship is given to an early career playwright with a strong and unique theatrical voice and is an integral part of Belvoir’s ongoing artistic development activities and commitment to new Australian work. Previous winners of the fellowship include; Kate Mulvany, Tommy Murphy, Zoe Coombes Marr, Nakkiah Lui, S. Shakthidharan and Brendan Cowell. The recipient of the Fellowship is given a commission to develop a new work with guidance and dramaturgical assistance provided by Belvoir Artistic staff, and builds on Belvoir’s ongoing and significant commitment to new work from commission, through to development, into production.
In 2007 Belvoir awarded playwright Tommy Murphy with the Philip Parsons Memorial Fellowship and has continued to support Tommy in his highly-acclaimed career. In 2017, Belvoir was the recipient of the David Williamson Prize, a prize established by The Australian Writers Guild to champion the work of Australian playwrights and the unique perspectives they bring to Australian stages. This significant prize has been utilised to develop and produce Tommy’s latest play, Packer and Sons, which will premiere at Belvoir in 2019. Tommy is proud to be presenting this year’s Fellowship to the winner to end what promises to be another wonderful Belvoir event celebrating Australian theatre.
The Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights is supported by Create NSW.