It’s the end of another year.

11 December 2015 Artistic Director's Blog

Ten Days on the Island. It’s the end of another year.

2015 has been an exciting year. It’s been a festival year. Of course we had a program of wonderful arts events around the state with exciting work from Tasmanian and other Australian artists, and with artists from all over the world, including Bolivia, France, UK, Ireland, Singapore, USA, Cuba, India, China and New Zealand. When I think back to March, I remember Linsey Pollack’s beautiful Calls Across the Island at Lake Tullah, Tasman Peninsula, Cradle Mountain and many places in-between. I think of Reorder at Spring Bay Mill, of an incredibly diverse program that gave so many Tasmanians a unique arts experience. It seems like a long time ago, however, and since everyone else is making end-of-year best-of lists I thought I might also get in on it…

In the performing arts, and not counting what was in our festival because how could I nominate anything else? (Aakash Odedra’s Rising still rates for me as one of the best contemporary dance performances I have seen in years; and Hamlet, de los Andes an exciting piece of Bolivian theatre), I would nominate LEV Company from Israel’s Killer Pig as good and compelling a night of dance as I have seen for a long time.

The best theatre for 2015 was The Bacchae at Melbourne Festival; a confronting re-telling of this classic story of lust, frenzy and excess, wonderfully performed by a local young company directed by Adena Jacobs.

In other areas the best fiction book I read for the year was probably the late J G Farrell’s Troubles. First published in 1970, it is set in the early 1920s during Ireland’s fight for independence from Britain. The action takes place in a bad hotel, which is a sort of amplified Fawlty Towers, and is full of wry humor and vivid description. For anyone who hasn’t read J G Farrell his other two books, The Siege of Krishnapur and Singapore Sling, also deal with themes of siege and change and demonstrate the same witty brilliance. The 2015 book that seems to be on everyone else’s list, Hanya Yanighara’s A Little Life, I have to confess, left me completely exasperated for many reasons. However, I would still recommend that you read it, if only to see which side of the fence you might find yourself.

The best non-fiction book I read was Helen Garner’s This House of Grief.  The story of, and trial of, Robert Farquarson who drove his car into a dam in Victoria, drowning his three children. It’s a harrowing and heart-breaking story.

The best film was either the Spanish noir-ish thriller, Marshland directed by Alberton Rodriquez about two city detectives who are sent to a small Spanish town to find a serial killer, or Amy directed by Asif Kapadia; the very sad story of Amy Winehouse.

And because I like counting things and keeping lists this last year has included:

  • 70 full-length plays, dance, theatre, concerts and multi-arts events seen live
  • 16 workshop developments or presentations of excerpts seen live
  • countless DVDs, Vimeo clips, Youtube links and CDs
  • 24 novels read
  • 17 non-fiction books (plus another 3 that are nearly finished)
  • 57 feature films seen at either the movies, on DVD or FetchTV
  • 9 countries
  • 22 cities
  • 54 flights
  • 20 airports
  • 147,000 kilometres traveled.

There is something comforting about a list.

We are deep into planning the 2017 festival: talking to artists and companies, madly working on budgets and writing schedules for shows we may never get, and weighing up various programming options from amongst the myriad of suggestions, offers and ideas that we encounter every week.

But for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year, it’s holiday time. Best wishes from everyone at Ten Days on the Island for the end of this year and for the beginning of the next.

David Malacari
Artistic Director