Melbourne Fringe Festival 2015
Unbeknownst to we creatives, Saturday night was (former) Arts Minister George Brandis’ last night in the job. Gee we’re all going to miss him. He really lead us on from out front and I for one, want to take this opportunity to thank him, as the outgoing arts minister, for his invaluable contribution to the entire sector. And not just the affluent, white, dead European stuff which he and his mates think is most excellent. Because Europe is better than here. What George Brandis did, by welcome accident, is to bring us all that little bit closer together. Culture Wars are good for that, they provide incredible opportunities for art lovers to galvanize their dissent for the establishment. With beers and sequins and sailor suits at the Melbourne Fringe at Arts House for instance. The joke is though, you could bet ten bob on the fact George would have had a better time at the Fringe than at the Opera. The costumes are better.
The Fringe Festival isn’t what it once was, back in the good old days before the internet. It’s gone all professional. There was scarcely a foot out of place within the chorus line of entertainment, which was disappointing. Nobody took a dive, there were no tears of frustration or wardrobe malfunctions. Not even a staged one. Everyone hit their marks, all the mics worked, there was no feedback. The beers were cold. Two new stars revealed themselves to us, Style over Substance frontmen Will and Garrett Huxley stole our hearts.
Part of me wanted to be able to slag off Arts House. There’s been backstage drama’s aplenty going on there. More people have lost their jobs than on an episode of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. There’s been more creative tensions, behind the scenes, than you’ll see in a season of The Importance of Being Earnest. The Arts Industry Professionals have gone all method on their creative suffering, and they’re not even the ones who get up on stage. If you said the antics of the arts administrators were upstaging the actors you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Any time an organisation makes its employee’s interview for the jobs they’re already doing, you know there’s strife afoot. And there was. Everyone who wasn’t well up the chain of command got shafted, replaced by an understudy, waiting patiently offstage, in the wings. A Cabinet reshuffle to rival Canberra. Why you’d mess with a team that is clearly delivering is besides me. Control issues perhaps?
All this creative drama reminds me of something I read in the Journals of Anais Nin, Volume One 1931-1934. Her reputation precedes her but unfortunately it’s not all sex, she talks about the theories of her psychiatrist Dr Otto Rank too, right before they do it:
Rank had begun to consider the neurotic as a failed artist, as a creative personality gone wrong. Neurosis was a malfunction of the imagination. Rank did not treat neurotics with the contempt that some doctors did, as the old doctors treated insanity. There was also, in neurotic guilt, a symptom of the religious spirit, the negative expression of religiousness, and the negative impact of creation.
His saying this had reminded me that while I had been reading the lives of the romantics, I had been struck by the analogy between neurosis and romanticism. Romanticism was truly a parallel to neurosis. It demanded of reality an illusory world, love, an absolute which it could never obtain, and thus destroyed itself by the dream.
God there’s a lot of talented people around. None of the artists I know believe in God, they gave him up already. Seems though that there’s a few people hiring and firing that might still like to ascribe to the Romantic model, and play at being God. For a day. Just like George Brandis once did. His dream destroyed itself. Thank god.