It was a kitchen tea full of women talking loudly, laughing, drinking, eating and of course, gossiping. “This room is full of teachers,” the 60-something aunty sitting next to me said. She told me all about the women in the room, before she turned to me and realised that we had not actually been introduced. As it turned out, we had lived on the same street for seven years back in the 80s and her son and my brother were friends.
Adelaide. You cannot swing a glass of Shiraz or a line of gossip without hitting someone who ‘went to school with…’ ‘used to live next to…’ or ‘once dated/ married a guy/girl who worked with…’
With such a closely connected city, it is no wonder that our best PR is word-of-mouth. The Fringe festivals, Festival of Arts, Music festivals and most associated spin-off events are well attended in this city by locals and out-of-towners.
Why is it then, that when March is over and the Cabaret in June hasn’t started yet and you just pop along to a local independent theatre show or even a State theatre show, you take a sweeping look over the audience and over three quarters have more than a fair share of Clooney-coloured hair?
Namatjira was and is an outstanding piece of theatre and such an important voice and story to be told in our country. It ran for just over a week in Her Majesty’s Theatre, Grote st, Adelaide. Only on the final two nights did it get close to capacity audiences though.
“Adelaide needs time to warm up to a play that’s new,” one of the people involved in the Adelaide production told us. As soon as I left the theatre that night, I was ready to tell everyone I knew to go and see the play! But, I had gone on the final night and we, Adelaide, had largely missed our chance – because we had taken too long to ‘warm up’.
As a high school drama/theatre teacher, I get a decent amount of propaganda for theatre shows and education programs that open in Adelaide and, in my experience, they are frequently outstanding. State Theatre Company try and put on a show every year that is on the senior school English or Drama syllabus, which is such a brilliant way of connecting young people with the thrill of live performance; other community companies also follow suit with significant prowess.
Young, enthusiastic thespians often leave the proverbial nest of theatre appreciation behind in high school and perhaps go on to do accounting, physiotherapy, hair and beauty therapy or something else unrelated to the performing arts. But every now and then this ‘average joe general public’ remember their time on the stage and crave a break from football. Or cricket. Or tennis.
But how do we know where to start looking when it’s not festival season?
Our cousins in England have a website called Time Out London. It is a godsend of a website for finding out what is going on in the city that only stops for a cup of tea every once in a while. It covers theatre, music, food, markets, exhibitions and festivals. Looking at the Time Out Adelaide website, there is a lot of information about movies and the occasional big-name-band at the Entertainment Centre, but little of the theatre scene.
"adelaidenow" website has a small section in its Entertainment Section that has a few options. "Rip it Up" and "db" street magazines have brilliant music reviews and some theatre reviews. The Advertiser has reviews and ads. Other independent theatre companies have facebook sites.
Since returning from living in the UK with a renewed sense of ‘try it and see,’ I have not stopped seeing theatre shows in Adelaide. This city has a lot going on! I’ve been to amateur shows, professional shows, senior high school productions – some outstanding, some pretty average. How did I know what was going on? For the majority of the performances: through word-of-mouth from ‘people-in-the-know’.
Surely, Adelaide, as a city known for its love of the arts, we can put our three-degrees-of-separation-word-of-mouth-PR to the test and have a one-stop theatre and arts website that is well known by both the ‘right’ people and the ‘others’ to faciliate a continuous celebration of the great talent going on in our artsy state.
Written by Cath Greb
Singing into hairbrushes, telling stories and performing have been part of Cath's entire life. Studying Drama at Flinders University and then becoming a Drama/English/Media teacher, and sometimes moderator, has found that she much prefers directing to acting and flat whites with an extra shot… every time. Cath has taught and lived in city and rural settings as well as an extended stint in the UK and will shortly be moving to Dusseldorf, Germany for work. She loves it. Whatever it is.