Richard Murphet

I have been working in theatre now for over four decades: as actor, director, playwright and teacher. Theatre in its infinite diversity has provided an ongoing structure to my life, not the only one but a significant one. Doing, viewing and thinking about theatre has deepened my understanding of myself, of others and of the life we lead as social beings. I am totally grateful for it. But I have only written about theatre since 1996 when Keith asked me to interview a British theatre writer, Deborah Levy, then on tour in Australia. As a practising artist, I had always found it impossible to write in judgment of other artists (as the act of reviewing is usually conceived). RealTime offered another way of writing: in open, not necessarily judgmental response to a work or an artist, revealing as much about my own self in the process, and associating out from the work to wider social issues. My final piece for RealTime in 2007 was an obituary for Lindzee Smith, one of the great unsung champions riding the waves of change in theatre/performance that took place in the final decades of the 20th century. Somehow his death seemed the right time to move on. Since then I have completed my PhD on late-modernist theatre practitioners, many of whose peers and successors I witnessed in my years watching for RealTime. I continued reading RealTime until the very regrettable end. I present new works yearly on a blissfully small-scale at the incomparable La Mama Theatre in Melbourne.

Exposé

My trajectory in theatre has been such that I have known I could never survive financially from my projects. I was blessed for a quarter of a century to work at the Victorian College of the Arts, training generations of directors, writers and performance makers. They kept me alive financially and artistically; their constant curiosity and need to speak anew never allowed me to stand still. Art changes: that is its beauty. It is alive to the times. The exciting artists are those who discover how to express that aliveness for this moment now. Writing about theatre needs to take this into account. For each artist, the work that they are making matters, and the energy and time expended deserve their due in our responses. RealTime provided sufficient time to reflect deeply upon a performance and sufficient space to voice those reflections. To be written about in RealTime was to know that the work I produced was taken seriously, and that at the very least the article would reveal to me something I didn’t know about my work. As a writer, I could only hope to do the same for the artist and for the readers into the future. Four out of five stars and a paragraph listing the ‘good’ actors is an insult on all sides. My only constant predilection as a viewer and as a writer has been that the performance (or film, or painting or installation etc) does bring to me a new revelation, however small, about the life I am living, the times I live in, the times I have lived, and/or what lies ahead. Otherwise, what’s the point?

 

A selection of articles for realtime

Evolving the artist
Fabre and the anxiety of formlessness
Rainer Mora Mathews
Genesi: From the Museum of Sleep
Terror, theatre & The Hairy Ape

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