Travel Diary – 2017
Brighton in England – it’s a little bit tawdry and a little bit perplexing – why would anyone want to sit on a beach of pebbles next to a pier full of poker machines? But it boasts the largest festival and fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. And this for a town of around 170,000 permanent residents. Smaller than Hobart! At least four city squares or parks are transformed into entertainment hubs, including one with a Spiegeltent set-up similar to our own; and the city’s theatres and temporary venues are full of performing creativity.Brighton has a Theatre Royal which opened in 1807, making it even older than ours. It is a little more ornate and on the plus side has a larger stage size, but on the minus its stage is sloping, or raked, which places different limitations on what might be performed there. Like ours, their Theatre Royal is a beautiful symbol of another era. A wonderful venue for audiences and artists.
Another legendary venue in Brighton is the Brighton Dome. Famous for Pink Floyd’s performance of Dark Side of the Moon in 1972 and for ABBA’s victory in the Eurovision song contest with Waterloo.
In two days I saw one fantastic thing which I would love to bring to Tasmania, one really good thing which might be something that we would do and one thing which I found a bit ho-hum, though the rest of the audience clearly liked it.
Our festival is very small so it’s really important that every one of the three or four international works that we bring to the island is a gem. We don’t have the luxury of being able to juxtapose different works alongside each other in the same way that larger programs are able to. Our visiting artists have to travel too far and, unlike Brighton, we take them to more than one place and, despite our wonderful historic and loved venues, there is critical lack of modern theatre facilities in Tasmania. As an arts-engaged community it’s time to start talking to our elected representatives, both at local, state and the federal level, about adding to Tasmania’s arts buildings so that we can be there, at the front end of creativity and innovation, in every aspect of life, work and community. Our future lies in how creative we can be, so I think we should be making sure that we have all the tools needed to do so. Tools that any modern, sophisticated and forward-thinking society should be able to take for granted. Tools that might include, for example, a modern drama theatre in Hobart and a modern dance studio in Launceston, for starters.
I am next off to see some shows in London and then Brussels. More to come! But first – a two legged dog.