Some of you might have heard by now that pantsguys won some awards at the Sydney Theatre Awards on Monday night. I mean, you may not have, we’ve kept it on the DL, but the time has come to advertise the fact. Some more.
So we did. We won some awards. Graeme McRae won best supporting actor (beating out fellow Punk Rocker Gabe Fancourt – I guess the bully always wins, no matter what after school specials might tell you). Anthony Skuse took out best director of an independent production and Punk Rock won best Independent production. Which is all pretty amazing. Plus all the other nominations (Sam, Darce, Gez), who all deserve such big kudos and hugs.
To be honest though, the award I’m most glad we won was Anthony’s best director nod. We are in a phase of such youth-driven work in this country’s theatre and film industries, which is fantastic, and certainly not something that a youth-based, emerging theatre company should complain about, but I wonder if that doesn’t come at the expense of some of our most experienced and talented older practitioners.
Anthony Skuse has been in the industry a long time. He has taught at NIDA and Actor’s Centre Australia for many years, building up an impressive portfolio of graduates, all of whom are so grateful and awed by his talent, curiosity and joy in his work. You only had to listen to the reaction of the crowd at the Paddington RSL on Monday night to hear the way Skuse is respected in this industry – no other award got a bigger cheer, and many of the people in that room were his students and collaborators.
He has directed some of the most impressive independent theatre in the last five years, from Bug and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot at Griffin, to Bad Jazz and the acclaimed Pool, No Water at Darlinghurst Theatre, as well as productions at the New Theatre and for Opera Australia. He directed NIDA’s end of year graduate showcase last year and it was by far the best I’ve ever seen.
Now obviously I’m biased. Anthony Skuse is my mentor and friend. I’ve been lucky enough to work with him twice this year, both as an actor and assistant director. There is no one I’d rather work with.
So tell me why, oh why, Sydney theatre community, is Anthony Skuse still struggling in independent theatre? He has proven his talent, ability and commitment time and time again. His plays get consistently good reviews and audiences, he brings out the best in his team, both cast and creatives, he is a joy to work with. I don’t know anyone who would say differently.
I’m not here to write a fawning, aggrandising epistle of Skuse (although I may have strayed into that territory a little). I’m just asking if it is always best to value youth over experience. The directors being employed at our mainstage theatre companies are all young, and it seems to me are people who the creatives can mould in their own image. Or else people who are more interested in the ego, and director as auteur than in telling a story, honouring the writer, finding the heart of the play.
Skuse will continue to work, in whatever capacity he can, because he loves the theatre, he loves storytelling, he loves taking an audience on a journey. And his dedication will be the same, whether he is working for a small amount in mainstage theatre, or even less to no money in independent theatre. But his work should be seen. The higher-ups at our mainstage companies need people like Anthony Skuse. And I can only hope that this award and exposure goes someway to creating a path down which this wonderful theatremaker and man can walk.
Thank you for everything Skusey. Now onwards and upwards, hey?
(I was supposed to write a post on the Sydney Theatre Awards. I kind of went off on a tangent, but I think this is more important than more self-congratulations. If you want to know more about the Sydney Theatre Awards that pantsguys won or were nominated for, check… I don’t know. The internet)