THE ARTS CENTRE, MELBOURNE
26 JULY 2016
E & OE
Well thanks so much Claire. And can I acknowledge the role that you’ve played through your work. Not just for the heart of this city, but also the work that you do nourishing the soul of Melbourne.
Can I also acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet. It is important that we do stop and think about those who have trod the ground upon which we gather and also those who will do so after.
Carrillo, what can I say. You shouldn’t surprise us in the fact that you have found yet another way to demonstrate your love for the arts. So, thank you for your inspiration in bringing together this gathering. But more particularly, can I acknowledge the work that you and Ziyin do for this city. Your family have been incredible contributors to the city, the state and the nation over a long period of time. So thank you so much.
And the late Mark Dreyfus, that has a certain ring to it. No, I love you Mark. Mark was, as you know, up until a week ago the…
You know I’m going to Tweet that!
Mark was up until a week ago the Shadow Minister for the Arts and Tony Burke has now assumed that role. But last night I was with Mark at the Helpmanns and here again with Mark tonight so I think that you’re very much going to be shadowing the Shadow. You have a genuine and deep commitment to the arts.
And to the playwrights who are here tonight. If I can acknowledge you through David Williamson. And I might just dwell on David for a moment. I guess like most Australians of my age, I’m forty-nine, I came to an awareness of the work of David through his screenplays. In particular, I think of “Petersen” and “Eliza Frazer” which as a primary school kid I would sneak down the hall after I was meant to be in bed, peer around the corner, and watch on the TV these cavorting black and white figures in various states of undress. Of course colour T.V was around then and the films were in colour but the replays were on our black and white TV. That is my first awareness of the work of David.
And I guess in terms of David’s plays I’m perhaps the only member of the HSC class of 1984 in NSW who didn’t have as a prescribed text ‘The Removalists’. In fact the odd thing is that I can’t remember what the prescribed text was that year, which says something about the impact of David’s work, that I can only remember that which was not prescribed.
But of course like many people of my vintage we have a particular fondness for Emerald City. One of the great works by David. And, David, while you may have traversed from South to North, I’ve come the other way from Glebe to Northcote on my particular journey. And at the time you made Emerald City, I think in the work Sydney was referred to as having a hint of decadence and Melbourne as the puritan South. Things have certainly changed in Melbourne since you wrote that particular work. Melbourne is a fantastic and vibrant city.
Can I just briefly speak to the playwrights who are here tonight.
We’re all ears!
Your work is incredibly important in a world where we don’t often have time to pause and reflect. And the work that you do, as it’s produced, as it’s presented, gives us the opportunity to stop, to pause, to think about those things that are important. Australian works are especially important in helping us to interpret the past, to make sense of the present and also to be better prepared for the future.
So can I thank you all so much for the work that you have done. This is an important event in the life of a nation to have so many people who are significant to the cultural life of the nation gathered here together. Thank you.