‘That sinkhole of ambition and superficiality we call Sydney.’ That’s a direct quotation from the Melbourne Theatre Company’s promotion of David Williamson’s play Emerald City and possibly reflects how the MTC thinks of Sydney. Emerald City was written in 1986 and premiered by the Sydney Theatre Company the following year. Like so many Williamson plays, it was a huge financial success for STC. This year is seeing celebrations marking 50 years of his plays being presented on Australian stages. It is disappointing that the STC is not staging a Williamson play in 2020 to mark this extraordinary anniversary. At least MTC, whatever it thinks of Sydney, is acknowledging Williamson’s achievement.
Emerald City, rather autobiographically, is about a successful writer and his wife, also a writer, and their move from Melbourne to Sydney. Many figures in Melbourne’s artistic world were shocked and offended by David and Kristen’s move, providing a background to the quotation at the opening of this column. Williamson’s theatre output has been astounding: over 50 plays, most successful, many extraordinarily so. Some of the titles have become common usage, in particular Don’s Party (1971). Happily there will be a Sydney celebration of David Williamson. The Ensemble Theatre, which has been home to his plays since STC turned away from him, is presenting Crunch Time (until 9/4), his latest and, he declares, his last play.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10