An article in the Canberra times this weekend by Dr Adele Chynoweth, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University School of Humanities, seems to have got a couple of local theatre heads (or at least the ones I hang out with) out of joint a bit – largely because it argues that Canberra is too dominated by the amateur theatre scene, at the expense of developing a more professional theatrical industry here.
Two of the pertinent quotes read as follows:
Kate Shearer, artistic director of (the professional) Jigsaw Theatre Company, notes too that in Canberra, “The market is incredibly saturated with amateur theatre companies and Joe Public doesn’t really know what he’s buying.”
Caroline Stacey from The Street Theatre also says, “In Canberra, people are unable or unwillingly to distinguish between professional and amateur theatre and it runs from practitioners, spectators, right through to media. The distinction is important because without it one can’t have a dialogue. It’s about how one talks about and creates work. Talking about work as a social activity versus a serious investigation of various methodologies is a completely different dialogue. People are not willing to engage in that. There has not been enough on-the-ground development in professional practice for a long time.”
Well, there’s nobody more Joe public than a Riotact Reader, so… I’d like to know – do you think that you as a member of Joe Public do know the difference between a professional and an amateur theatre production? And are you able to or willing to distinguish between the two? And does it really matter whether the guys in front of you are being paid or not as long as they are producing good quality, committed, interesting work?