Access to extremes of thought – that is what the internet is amazing for – kitten videos and the understanding the scale of the universe. Transformation is one of the things theatre is amazing for – when before our eyes an actor transforms into another human who we come to care for. Replay, our new play by Phil Kavanagh which just opened has moments of extraordinary transformation. This play speculates about memory, identity and the multiverse in ways that are surprising and inherently theatrical. At the same time it offers up a sensitive portrait of masculinity in Australia… at a time when down the hill at the Eternity, Patricia Cornelius is offering up a far more familiar and violent portrayal of men. Two very different voices, two very different plays. Both interesting in a time when, as a country, we are deeply engrossed in navigating a path away from systemic domestic violence.
The question of what matters to us, right now, sits at the heart of why Australian plays are so important. Yes, the STC production of King Charles III is important as we work towards becoming a republic; examining an English play concerned with the future of the monarchy is fascinating. And it is interesting to weigh these three plays against each other – if you can afford to. The plays onstage are an important layer of dialogue between playwrights and our society and it is incredibly important to us at Griffin to keep that dialogue as accessible as possible. We already have strategies for offering the cheapest tickets possible to the best Australian plays in the country – earlybird subscriptions, Monday rush tickets, the Ambassador program. We are working hard to keep our ticket prices down so you can be a part of the conversation. But if we lose funding in May we will be facing the need to raise ticket prices to survive. Right now our top ticket price is $60. Would you still come to see a play at Griffin if our ticket price was the same as a ticket to King Charles III? How much is the Australian voice worth? As Replay intrigues and moves our audiences I wonder what the future of the conversation is if people can no longer afford to see stories written by Australian playwrights – stories which reach deep into our identity, which question us as only our friends can.