Saturday, July 20, 2019

Anna Bolena

Photo by Prudence Upton

Opera Australia presents, ANNA BOLENA, Music by Gaetano Donizetti. Libretto by Felice Romain, in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. July 2, 6, 9, 13, 17, 20, 23, 26, 2019.

ANNA BOLENA, is an Italian opera written in 1830, by Gaetano Donizetti, using the court of Henry VIII and his forcing of divorce from his second wife Anne Boleyn and the courting of his third wife Jane Seymour as the spine of the narrative. There is very little historical nuance to this libretto by Felice Romain but a great deal of dramatic confabulation to engender as much drama as possible to allow the creation of great dramatic music from orchestra and singers. Solo, duet and other figurations of ensemble, backed by the presence and usage of a large chorus and orchestra, is employed to create what we now know as classically, the Grand Opera style: a bel canto feast for the ears that when ignited with the best of available talents can inflame a passionate emotional excitement in the theatre audience. Neither narrative (story) or character is the reason to go to a Grand Opera experience, it is the least important consideration to attend the performance (don't go expecting a true history of Anne Boleyn), and is, basically, a framing device that is virtually displaced by the indulgent, glorious MUSIC makers - Composer, Orchestra and Singers.

ANNA BOLENA is an example of this experience, capped perhaps with his LUCIA DE LAMMERMOOR (1835), whilst in claque competition with other composers of the time, Vincenzo Bellini: LA SONNAMBULA (1831) or NORMA (1831); Giacomo Meyerbeer: ROBERT LE DIABLE (1831), LES HUGUENOTS (1836) (and much else - make your own list. It may include Gioachino Rossini's IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (1816), SEMIRAMIDE (1823) ). These works feeding the appetites of the great opera houses and their audiences of the time, have gone in and out of fashion as time passed which can partly be understood because of the 'incredible' musical demands of the composer and the physical scale of the works: talent and budget considerations. The recent revival period for the bel canto style happened in the '50's and 60's when singers such as Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo appeared with musical instruments of breathtaking presence and technical dexterity that transported the audiences into ecstatic states of musical heaven.

Opera Australia's decision to present ANNA BOLENA, is following a recent international 'trend' to resurrect this opera, not often presented. The OA's audiences should have jumped with excitement at the opportunity to hear and see this work - an invitation to journey back to the 'grand old opry' days. Bombastic, perhaps, but when the ingredients are 'talented', a thrilling bel canto 'noise' indulgence can be made, and that can make life worth living through.

The work requires solo voices of some flexible talent and formidable technique, especially so when the composer decides to have the principal performers 'face front and stand to deliver' across the width of the proscenium arch, the characters' inner monologue expressed in musical harmonic competition, backed by a large murmuring chorus and orchestra. The Opera Australia, BOLENA company, does astoundingly well, under the control of Conductor, Renato Palumbo, led on-stage by the coloratura soprano of Ermonela Jaho (Anna Boleyn), surrounded by the mellow maturity of the mezzo, Carmen Topciu (Jane Seymour), and rich baritone, Leonardo Cortellazzi (Lord Percy), glorious soprano Anna Dowsley (in the trouser role of Mark Smeaton) and the support of bass, Teddy Tahu Rhodes (King Henry VIII), however uncomfortable he sounded.

This was especially so in the first act of the performance I saw on the opening night. Each sequence throughout the first act, thrillingly peaking musically only to be 'topped' with the next grand-standing musical challenge that followed. One was whipped into a breathtaking aural awe at the whole company's disciplined confidence in delivering Donizetti's 'goods' - an ecstatic high, in the interval.

Unfortunately, the second act did not have the same affect. Whether it is a weakness in the actual musical structure of the work, or the lack of time for the company to prepare this part of the work in rehearsal with the necessary on-stage rigour, to give the same practised balance of accomplishment as act one - after all it is nearly three hours and a bit of music, quite a demand - I have not the sufficient knowledge to analyse. But he second act was a considerable disappointment. It would be interesting to attend later performances to see what 'doing-time' may have settled, cemented. Has the second act improved in its affect?

The work is Directed by David Livermore in a fairly stodgy manner with a 'modernising' (post-modern) concept (such as the opera Company's dancers' presence, in a set of visually puzzling post-modern costume choices, during the overture, and in many other vital moments of dramatic import during the story telling throughout the night), with clumsy staging of singers' positions about the space that suggested, in my growing frustrated state-of-mind, a kind of ill considered amateur vision of the Grand Opera style, it being continuously hampered by a ridiculous indulgence in permitting melodramatic emotional expression in gesture (especially from Ms Jaho, sitting legs wide in the dramatic confrontation with Jane Seymour on the revolve steps like some exasperated tavern shrew, or latterly, bent backwards like a dying swan, as the reality of Anna's execution approached) that could not often be accepted as a serious solution for a contemporary audience to believe in as a sensible offer. Often, it was risible. Objective laughter instead of subjective immersion. Add the catastrophe of the mis-matched post-modern concept for the costuming, by Mariana Fracasso and they created an intellectual distraction as we tried to understand them instead as a clarifying aid to interpret the action of the play.

Then, Mr Livermore was burdened with a Digital design demand, made by the philosophy of contemporary opera staging envisioned by the Artistic Director of the Opera Australia Company, Lyndon Terracini, that not only has ingenious 'flying' panels of LSD screens being continually positioned and re-positioned during the physical action and musical singing of the performers, and that are covered in imagery that is both still and/or animated continuously throughout the night, Designed by Set Designer, Gio Forma, who was served in visual content supplied by D -Wok, to support (compete?!) with the primary interest of the night, the singing and dramatic characterisation of the performers.

The visual offers of this ANNA BOLENA were often being a distraction from the principal reason to spend one's money and time in the Joan Sutherland theatre; to hear and see Donizetti's ANNA BOLENA. The imagery was often visually repetitive in its presence so that it seemed to have no dramatic purpose for narrative or metaphoric symbolism for the action of the performance. For instance, the panels with digitalised animated beetles crawling up-and-down the huge screens, when first appearing were so thrusting in their visual presence that one attempted to 'define' their meaning in matching it to the action of the narrative on the stage, embodied in the performers - one, either could, or could not. But can you imagine the irritation when the same imagery came back in the opera storytelling later in the evening and have it hang about for an extensive time with no direct harmony to what had happened before, when they demanded our attention, or, to now, to the events of the play. One could only conclude they had re-appeared merely as decorative background and were so because the budget for the digital design had all been consumed and no other imagery could be afforded. One became mesmerised by the repetitive distraction of the computer-generated-trails of the beetles. Was this why the second act was moribund in its effect? Whatever, the cutting edge benefits of the flying buttresses of the LSD screens on their tracks illuminated by a very limited collection of images - still or animated - soon exhausted their acceptable usefulness in creating a rewarding creative experience in the theatre for the storytelling. It must be said that when the music and the musicians were free and clear from the visual clutter of repetitive imagery it worked best.

Simple choices to focus on the raison d'etre of the revival of this opera ought to have being employed. The artistic explorations using the latest design fad ought to be more astute and economical in their selection by the Director and the Designers. Time to solve this is an expensive part of the budget dispersal I imagine - but if you are going to do it, then do it well and ensure that you have the budget to do it well, all of the night. For this Digital regime coming from the Direction of Mr Terracini for AIDA, BUTTERFLY, and WHITELY, in this year's new production work, signals, in the result which we so far have endured, needs much more care, time, money and ART. As it is, it is an obvious blight to the full success of the production and the experience..

ANNA BOLENA, then, is a mixed 'bag' of excitement and irritation. It was great, though, to be able to attend an old fashioned night at the Grand Old Opera.

Things I Know To Be True

Phot by Heidrun Lohr

Belvoir presents, THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE, by Andrew Bovell, in the Upstairs Theatre, Belvoir St, Surry Hills. 8th June - 21st July.

THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE, has gathered a critical and word-of-mouth reputation. Such, that I was urged to see the play. I did last Friday night. Afterwards, I was just kind of angry, angry that such a great piece of writing had been so bowdlerised in production.

Andrew Bovell's play, for me, Australia's leading playwright, is a wonderfully perceptive and astringent overview of the Australian Family and the different readings a six unit family have in practising and understanding what Love is within the spread and influence of relentless Time. Dad, Bob (Tony Martin) and mum, Fran (Helen Thomson) and their four grown children, Pip (Anna Lise Phillips), Mark (Tom Hobbs), Ben (Matt Levett) and the youngest, Rosie (Miranda Daughtry, talk directly to us, in monologue form between abreacted episodes that cover the passing of a year, indicated visually for us by the passing of the seasons, in the presence of the family pride, Bob's backyard roses. Those Pink roses, on the side of a green painted, cracked concrete backyard.

Watching (reading) the play the epic dimension of THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE, shone through and resonated, in my imagination, with the observed power, of the great Russian family sagas: for instance, especially, Tolstoy's ANNA KARENINA, Dostoyevsky's THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, Chekhov's THREE SISTERS.

The famous first line from Tolstoy's novel: "All families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" ricochets around my memory often during the performance of Mr Bovell's play. In ANNA KARENINA, the Oblonsky family, the Levin family, and the Karenin's career through the time structure of the novel, the toy of the frailties of human needs that manifest in unexpected ways and create dramatic and comic trajectories of a gathering profundity of experience for one and all. None of what happens, necessarily, is what any one of them expected, but is what was fated, as they pursued their idea of happiness. So, is the scenario of Mr Bovell's play.

THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, Dostoyevsky's last novel, reveals at length the family struggles between Father (Fyodor), his sons, Dimitri, Ivan, Alexi and their partners. Says Ivan:
So against the grain I serve to produce events and do what's irrational because I am commanded to. For all their indisputable intelligence, men take this farce as something serious, and that is their tragedy. They suffer, of course, ... but then they live, they live a real life, not a fantastic one for suffering is life. Without suffering what would be the pleasure of it.
So, is the scenario of Mr Bovell's play.

In Chekhov's masterpiece, THREE SISTERS, shaped by the influence of a life lived and forensically observed, alongside thinkers - philosophers - such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, the family Prozorov: Olga, Masha, Andrey and Irina, struggle through three years or more of their lives in the quest for happiness, idealised in the desire to return to Moscow, away from the exile in the boondocks of the Urals. We are told by Masha, the eldest of the surviving family:
The music is playing so cheerfully, so proudly, you feel you want to live! Oh, God! Time will pass and we'll be gone forever, we'll be forgotten, our faces will be forgotten, our voices, how many of us there were, but our suffering will turn into joy for those who come after us, happiness and peace will come to the earth, and we who live now will be remembered with a kind word and a blessing. Oh, my darling sisters, our lives are not over yet. We will live! The music is playing so cheerfully, with so much joy and it seems in just a little while we will know why we are living, why we are suffering .., if only we knew, if only we knew! (It doesn't matter! It doesn't matter!) If only we knew, if only we knew!
So, is the scenario in Mr Bovell's play.

Andrew Bovell in his THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE, builds from his other theatrical writings (e.g.SPEAKING IN TONGUES (1998), WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING (2008)), a uniquely brilliant Australian contemporary context for a similar literary focusing on the building blocks of our civilisation: Family, Love and Time, in the Aussie backyard!

This is a provocatively, timely, play.

It is a pity then, that Director Neil Armfield lacks the courage to reveal the play's philosophical confrontations for the Australian audience face on but instead dumbs down the serious aspects of Mr Bovell's look at how Australians survive their family 'tragedies' of living. Where Bovell writes comedy of a Chekhovian kind in THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE, Armfield conjures caricatured farce, permitting Ms Thomson, especially (it is her usual caricatured comic-revue performance), and the other actors - some more than less -  to unleash their formidable comic techniques to obfuscate the deep wounds and the consequences of them on the family's history of interaction. And, when there is serious issue of life changing events, such as the confession of Mark desiring a gender reassignment or Ben's criminal embezzling, we witness a kind of high scale soapie-melodrama. So, when intransigent tragedy strikes one of the persons of the play, we are delivered a syrupy dose of indulgent sentimentality from Rosie. Caricatured farce, melodrama and sentimentality.

Every issue of cultural importance written into this play by Mr Bovell, to facilitate our ability to confront with true maturity the realistic blemishes of what it is to be human in the modern world, Mr Armfield, has guided his actors to reduce it all to banal triviality, permitting the audience to ignore it as suffering and brush it off as merely amusing and or sad, allowing a shallow warmly comforting contemplation. There is no striving or offering for any manner of in-depth engagement with the cultural challenges revealed. It is an Old School, out-of-date Aussie Directorial aesthetic that deflects serious examination for popular entertainment. It steers us away from difficult contemplation. This Directorial conceit belongs to a by-gone era. This Director will not point us to employ close scrutiny, to confront the realities of our lives. He seems to wish us to sustain a warm by-gone fantasy, to allow us to continue to bathe in a romantic delusion of living in the 'lucky country'.

The response of the audience I sat with was predictably beguiled into the comfortable raptures of this far-flung antipodal world, demonstrating for me, the willingness of our performance art culture to lead our audiences to a delusional myopia to the realities of what is happening in our world, what life demands of us - how else, I asked myself, could one understand the politics of our day and the lies we swallow for comfort's sake.

Mr Armfield's gestures mirrors a commercial wrapping that pervades the programming sensibilities of our theatrical gate keepers, starkly instanced even in the recent selection of the Sydney Film Festival 2019 opening film, where they scheduled the soft and bourgeois PALM BEACH, with its set of social dramas amusingly confronted, to be ultimately, blithely giggled away, played by the familiar old gals and boys of our unreal film world, rather than with the exposure to a part of Australia's history that is a thing known to be true but is ignored or hidden in a more important film, shown in the same Festival, such as Jennifer Kent's THE NIGHTINGALE or Mirrah Foulkes' JUDY AND PUNCH. Both these films with a subject narrative and characters too hard for an Opening Night audience at an Australian Film Festival?

Really?

Anna Lise Phillips as Pip, the 'Nora' figure fleeing her marriage and children comes nearest to showing us a situation of a thing we know to be true as she digs down as best she can, despite the lack of honest contemplated support from her surrounding actors, into a raw experience of pain and guilt whilst also finding the courage to embrace, for Pip, the possible joy of escape to Canada. Painful human ambiguity.

Tom Hobbs, given the difficult character of Mark who needs to be Mia doesn't convince us of the pain and reality of the social and psychological contemporary dilemma of the choice she has made - the toll of living in the 'judgemental'  environment of most of our culture for all of her life so far. There is a baulking in his physical realisations of both Mark and, especially, Mia and an adoption of melodramatic gesture in the emotional requirements of the character and story, which are aided and abetted by Ms Thomson and Mr Martin in their characters' response of relative hysteria. I felt uncomfortable with the lack of truths that I know of in this section of the play.

Matt Levet, too, seems to lack complete conviction of technique to deliver on stage Ben's nefarious and drug-addled alpha truth. While Miranda Daughtry makes theatrical choices almost on every occasion rather than contemplated and engaged truth based revelation, withdrawing from any self-knowledge to create Rosie. We, rather, see an awkward actor at work to a conscious affect, than that of a life existing in front of our eyes.

All these actors chosen and giving performances under the Direction Of Mr Armfield.

The use of the rose bushes as a metaphor for the action of the play and arc for Bob's story, Designed by Steven Curtis, is blatant and horribly boring in the climatic moments in the destruction of the garden, where the theatricality of pretend rose bushes overrides any essence of truth to be believed as, especially, Mr Martin, appears to be truly, emotionally, 'running on empty' to be believed.

There is in this production of this play not enough truths that I recognised to be true. Artifice rather than Art. I was extremely disappointed (and, did I mention, angry?) Admire the play, loathe the Direction.

P.S. I yearned, during the night, to see the family sagas of Sean O'Casey, JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK (1924), or THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS (1926). Edwardo de Fillipo's SATURDAY, SUNDAY AND MONDAY(1959.  How about Jez Butterworth's recent, THE FERRYMAN (2017)?

THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE has a cast of only six actors - illustrating, further, the 'genius' of Mr Bovell, in the dramaturgical density of theme and truth he manages to reveal with such limited assets. All of the examples I have instanced in my yearnings have casts of an unfashionable size. So, not likely to be curated. Although, Belvoir did buck its usual 'method' with their early year production of COUNTING AND CRACKING. More of that, please!











Saturday, July 6, 2019

Gloria

Photo by  by Clare Hawley

Out House Theatre Company and Seymour Centre present GLORIA, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, in the Reginald Theatre, at the Seymour Centre, Chippendale. 6-28th June.

GLORIA is a play by one of the rising 'stars' of playwriting in the United States: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. His writing has garnished many literature Nominations and Awards: WAR (2014), APPROPRIATE (2014), AN OCTOROON (2014), EVERYBODY (2017), GLORIA (2018).

GLORIA, is set in a magazine office, where a group of aspiring young writers are working in jobs that are unexciting, perhaps even deadening: Ani (Annabel Harte), Miles (Justin Amankwah), Dean (Rowan Witt), Kendra (Michelle Ny), Lorin (Reza Momenzada) and Gloria (Georgina Symes). They fill out their day at their desks with their menial tasks, laced, some might say, enhanced, by bored though incisive interactions that only the really bright and frustrated can observe and dish out with careless abandon. They have all been at these desks far too long but the hope of promotion, artistic recognition and opportunity keep them hanging in there, hardly making monetary compensation for their daily 'torture'. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins once worked as an editor/writer of The New Yorker magazine - although he resiles that this play is anything like that experience.

Gloria has been in that office far too long. A decade or so longer than the other, relatively, younger perks. Gloria is regarded as an oddity of survival by her work companions. Gloria decides to give a party at her home. All the office is invited. Only Dean attends. Gloria is not happy. Gloria snaps and tragedy ensues.

Mr Jacobs-Jenkins has had us bubbling along to a witty, caustic American sensibility of acid cruelty in a familiar space with familiar character types. They have edge and precision. Take this bunch back in time and they could become, if history was kinder, a contemporary Round Table grouping - "The Vicious Circle" - with Kendra, perhaps in-training for the Dorothy Parker role!

The interval is heralded with a shocking office event. It would be an awful spoiler, to tell you what it is, other than it is a coup de theatre - an astonishing coup de theatre. It takes one's breath away.

The second half is set 8 months later and in three new locations. Dean has left the office and after a personal break has written a book about what happened. Nan (Georgina Symes), who was chief editor at the magazine, has also written a book, with authority, about her experience in the office that Gloria afternoon. But which she witnessed only peripherally. The lengths that people might go to to achieve fame based about their actual life, or borrowed life experiences, are satirically and cynically, robustly examined.

The humour that the playwright gives us in this second act is still wasp-edged sharp and funny - it has a sting in its tail - but the context now is coloured, soured, by the penchant of what might be said to be the bad behaviour of the grasping modern human. What began as a modern New York comedy (a la Neil Simon or Woody Allen) is now a biting comment about the deterioration of our species and our corrupted ethical boundaries. This is crack-a-jack writing that will give you real pause. Ambition, real ambition, seems to have no boundaries. Ambition, when it is an addiction, can be lethal. This play definitely holds a mirror up to the contemporary audience - it is an intelligent but bitter image to reflect on.

"Magazines all too frequently lead to books and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature." - Fran Lebowitz. 
"The lowest form of popular culture - lack of information, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people's lives - has overrun real journalism" - Carl Bernstein. 
"Facts tell. But stories sell" - unknown.

Directed, by Alex Berlage, this group of actors handle their roles (some have multiple responsibilities) with an adept precision, creating characters that could, recognisably have walked off the set of SEINFELD. The writing certainly is a gift for any actor with nous. Mr Witt is clever in the detailing of his man (men) and all of the company are impressive and respectful, with varying degrees of skill, of the writer's framework - how lucky are they to have such a writer.

Sets and Costume are from Jeremy Allen and serve the play's environments with economy and restraint. The Sound Design and Composition are by Ben Pierpoint and have his usual accurate eye and ear serving the writing and production without bombast. Mr Berlage with his Direction and Lighting gifts has employed an unusual restraint of 'dazzle' effects, and trusts that the writer will serve him well. That the writer is God - serve that God well and all will be well. Of course, the better the writer, the more sure you can be that you need not do much else, than reveal the text with clarity and insight to his appreciative intent. Just good taste and trusting restraint need be employed. This is the best writer, undoubtedly, that Mr Berlage has engaged with, in his outings in Sydney.

AN OCTOROON, was presented up in Queensland earlier this year and I wonder what they made of it. I hope someone will take up the challenge. Sydney could do with more of the calibre of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' mind and skill. I am sorry if you missed GLORIA - it did have an extended season. And as I've written before thank god for the enterprise of Outhouse Theatre Company (THE FLICK, THE ALIENS) - it's a godsend to have a company that reads plays and offers them to us to experience, for if we depended on the diet that The Sydney Theatre Company offers us we would be so much poorer and ignorant of the world of great contemporary playwriting.

The Return of Ulysses



Pinchgut Opera present THE RETURN OF ULYSSES. Music by Claudio Monteverdi. Libretto by Giacomo Badoaro. At the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney. 13, 15,16, 18 and 19 June.

THE RETURN OF ULYSSES, with Music by Claudio Monteverdi, using a Libretto by Giacomo Badoaro, was first performed at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Pacio in Venice in the 1639 - 40 Carnival Season. The opera was rarely performed until the late 20th Century and the work has been reconstructed from many sources. This Pinchgut Opera production has been laboured over by the Artistic Director and Conductor, Erin Helyard, utilising the Orchestra of the Antipodes, with guest artists Fernando Guimaraes, performing Ulysses and Catherine Carby as his patient wife, Penelope.

The work originates from the final chapters of Homer's THE ODYSSEY. After ten years of war at Troy and a further near ten years of wandering on the seas Ulysses, in disguise, returns to the island of Ithaca where he finds his wife Penelope besieged by suitors in the belief that she is a widow.

Gods and human characters of all kinds make up the action of the work where recitative, duets and ensemble are part of the musical formula of the work.

On the night I attended the first act of the opera was rather a tedium. The libretto was dull in its narrative and in its characterisations, with the Director, Chas Rader-Shieber, seeming to simply move the singers/actors perfunctorily around the space without much rhyme or reason. The music was arresting mainly because of the concentration of the members of the orchestra and its conductor, with the utilisation of the 'authentic' instruments to conjure a sound that was antique, an 'early' music fascination. As well, the Design, by Melanie Liertz, was not particularly useful as support for the story and mostly boring in its striving for an aesthetic arrest.

Unlike some others who had sat around us, we stayed for the second half.

The experience was like night and day. Whether it was the drink refresher or not during the interval, the second half had a coherence of readable narrative, blessed with emotional yearnings from, romantic to tragic, and leavened with a contrasting humour. One was induced to participate with the event. The design seemed to awaken to broadening and deepening its affects, with the Lighting ,by Nicholas Rayment, expanding that effect with casual, unfurling beauty.

The singing of Brenton Spiteri (Telemachus) and that of Fernando Guimaraes (Ulysses) was engaging and Catherine Carby (Penelope) added a yearning warmth that gave real satisfaction. The three suitors giving humour to their predicament. sang with perky alert contributions of style and effect. The Director handled this act with grace and sensitivity that the more perfunctory first act had none of. To be utterly pedestrian, the second act was, as well, considerably shorter than the first.

One was pleased that one had stuck it out and returned to the auditorium after the interval.

Pinchgut Opera produce this work without much (or any) subsidy. Watching the devoted concentration of the audience one was struck by the absolute need that this company and its field of interest have as a part of the fabric of the Sydney cultural scene, that undoubtedly, enhances this city and gives it a quality of life, that without it, would have not as much depth. Not to have this work and this company as a possible choice for the devoted (elitist) opera (music) goers would lessen the social capital of these devoted people and their influence. Not to have Pinchgut Opera would diminish this City, State and Country. When the NSW government spends many.many millions of dollars to tear down a sports stadium to replace it with another similar, one wonders why it cannot find some small subsidy to ensure that this jewel of artistic expression is given the means to sustain its contribution.

Conductor, Erin Hellyard and his orchestra, the Orchestra of the Antipodes deserves the assurance of continuity and opportunity. Their presence enhances the audiences lives and the cultural reputation of the City of Sydney.