Cultural stocktaking – an account of the future.

Marion Potts is one of Australia’s most outstanding theatre practitioners. She has worked with many of the country’s finest theatre companies and was most recently Bell Shakespeare’s Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of its development arm, Mind’s Eye. Marion was Resident Director for Sydney Theatre Company from 1995-1999, and Artistic Director of Pulse (STC) from 1997-1999. She curated the 2003 National Playwrights’ Conference, was a chairperson of World Interplay and a member of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council. Marion received the Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Play in 2007.
In her first Melbourne address, the 2010 Rex Cramphorn Memorial Lecture, Marion Potts – the first woman to assume creative control of one of Melbourne’s major theatre companies – will offer her ideas about artistic priorities, and provide insights into where she may head in a bold new future of Australian theatre.
"One of the reasons I was so thrilled with the appointment (director of Malthouse) was because Melbourne does engage with artists across all disciplines, so it is predisposed to accepting works that are adventurous and daring."
Every so often the tectonic plates of cultural life move — folds and fissures appear, unexpected pathways form, the terrain is reconfigured in new and exciting ways. Australia’s theatrical landscape is presently in such a state of transformation with changes in the leadership of five major companies. As one of these new leaders, Potts reflects upon what such a transformation might mean.
Outgoing director Michael Kantor said of Potts: "She’s intelligent and a great communicator, which is a great skill for a leader of a company."
In this lecture, Potts asks how the next generation of artistic leaders will begin to define their collective responsibility and boldly push the limits of Australian theatre-making. Marion states:
“Here, now, we have been given the perfect opportunity to perform a kind of cultural diagnosis. We should use this as a chance to re-envision theatre. There should be no limit to our ambition,whether to overhaul the inherited and anachronistic practices that limit how we make work, or to address anything that undermines our ability to walk in to the unknown. Rex Cramphorn coined the term ‘professional stocktaking’, and it seems fitting to use his memorial lecture to take stock — to interrogate our work practices and articulate our aspirations for the next phase.” 
Marion will extend this to her vision for Malthouse Theatre:
“For a company that has so successfully carved out a place of audacity and daring, a place where artists can really test the elasticity of their artform, how can we provide more adequate support? How can we underpin the work with greater rigour and depth?”
Marion will be announcing her first season as Artistic Director of Malthouse Theatre on November 8.
Rex Cramphorn was one of the key theatre practitioners to come out of the renaissance of Australian theatre in the 1960s and 1970s. His work ranged from the experimental to the classical and was marked by his total commitment to the idea of artists working together, sharing and developing skills, in their exploration of the contemporary world.
Following his death in 1991, a Committee was established to honour the memory of this distinguished man of Australian theatre. The Annual Rex Cramphorn Memorial Lecture began in 1995, with an address by Jim Sharman. He has been followed by John Romeril, Rhoda Roberts, Lindy Davies, Neil Armfield & Geoffrey Rush, Wesley Enoch, Nick Enright, Barrie Kosky, Lyndon Terracini and Nigel Jamieson.
The Annual Memorial Lecture aims to encourage honest and provocative thinking about Australian theatre and culture in general. The delivery of the lectures alternates between Sydney and Melbourne and each lecture is published in the April edition of the Australasian Drama Studies Journal in the year following the lecture.
Things on Sundayis a series that speaks to and about a range of cultural concerns in Australian society today. Its style is intima­te, with a touch of the theatrical. Its philosophy is art matters. The series comprises regular events that bring together commentary and conversation in an always entertaining combination. These events include concerts, speeches and readings, artistic memoirs and the occasional debate. Previous Things on Sunday guest speakers include Cate Blanchett, Paul Kelly and Geoffrey Rush.
Malthouse Theatre’sThings on Sunday series presents the 2010 Rex Cramphorn Memorial Lecture presented by Marion Potts Sunday September 26, 2.30PM. Tickets free bookings essential.
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