The Picture of Dorian Gray goes to the University of Valencia!
This was my very first conference where I was surrounded by theatre scholars speaking to theatrical practice, rather than creatives speaking to film and/or screens. And it was my first conference in Spain. Both amazing!
In my presentation, I discussed three plays that have been recently performed in Melbourne, Australia. In chronological order–or rather, in terms of when I actually first saw these works– they are Kip Williams's The Picture of Dorian Gray, performed by Erin Jean Norvill and first staged at the Sydney Theatre Company in 2020 (I saw this in Melbourne in June, 2022), Sarah Goodes's Cyrano de Bergerac (written by the lead actress, Virginia Gay), first performed at the Melbourne Theatre Company in September, 2022, and Theresa Rebeck's 2018 Bernhardt/Hamlet, which was performed by Kate Mulvany and staged by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 2023 under the artistic direction of Ann-Louise Sarks (this was her first piece as AD).
Through these works, I argued that in Melbourne we have seen a resurgence of female playwrights and performers working on subjects taken from the late nineteenth century European stage. Exploring a moment that is associated with first wave feminism, I spoke about how the plays focus on lead actresses who perform in cross dress. Using physical comedy and camp to showcase historic re-readings of the late nineteenth century, these women re-present the history and achievements of European theatrical mavericks and entrepreneurs who redefined the global entertainment industries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.