Elise Greig's 2018 Matilda Awards Speech
As you can see from tonight, 2018 was a huge year for theatre in Queensland. We remembered JT kicking a goal in the Last Minute while our own JT, Jo Thomas, was kicking goals over at Metro. We relished the Sound of a Finished Kiss before traveling to Cairns for all things Bukal, down to the Gold Coast for all things Commonwealth and then down the rabbit hole to find Alice. We awoke in Spring, broke our hearts in The Village, adjusted our Privacy Settings as Sam Strong skilfully revolved us through Twelfth Night while Todd McDonald packed a Prize Fighting punch. Then, just as the Blood Voted we got Nearer the Gods and realised there were a number of things we’d Been Meaning to Ask You, but then it was Crunch Time and while singing a Kransky Christmas Carol we decided to Live Happily Ever After before ultimately realising that, We Live Here.
I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge our intrepid judging committee - Catarina Hebbard, Nathan Sibthorpe, Nasim Khosravi, Troy Ollerenshaw, Lewis Jones, Anna Yen, James Harper, Susan Hetherington, Rosemary Walker and myself, Elise Greig, as Lead Judge.
Our brief as the Judging Committee is to recognise excellence in the Queensland theatre industry. It is important to note that the awards are funded by Arts Queensland and Brisbane City Council and the focus is therefore firmly on Queensland art and artists. The Judging Committee is a separate entity to the Executive Committee who rule on final decisions, are in charge of governance and also responsible for organising the Awards Ceremony, this year under the direction of Kris Stewart. And haven’t they done an amazing job!
As well as seeing heaps of theatre, at the very start of the year we needed to address a couple of key issues. Firstly, should judges be eligible for awards? This is a hot topic and I’d like to address it briefly now. It’s a hot topic because more artists are joining the Judging Committee and also because last year two judges, myself included, were nominated for, and ultimately received awards. The crux of the issue is this – Do we want artists to be included on the judging committee? To be part of the conversation? Personally I and many others say yes. Therefore, if we want professional artists of excellence, we would expect that sometimes their work will be strong enough to warrant a nomination or even an award. So, we need to support them with strong systems to ensure the rigour of the voting process and the confidence of the industry.
Let me assure you. The voting process is exacting and confidential. If judges are nominated, they are never part of the conversation about the work, having to leave the room while it is being discussed, they have no access to the notes about their work or project and cannot nominate or vote for themselves or anyone associated with the project.
Of course, judges can exclude themselves from consideration if they wish. Since stepping into the role of Chair of the Judging Committee this year, I have chosen to not be considered. However, I support the other committee members making their own decisions.
The Judging Committee, supported by the Executive Committee believe our industry is intelligent enough, rigorous enough, generous and mature enough to enable the inclusion of artists in such a way.
The second key issue we needed to address was defining what we mean by the terms Queensland artist and professional. I understand definitions can be controversial, but clear reference points were necessary and after much discussion, consultation and drafting, the definitions are now available on the Matilda Awards website. Please take a moment to read them when you can and if you have any questions about them or anything else to do with the judging process, please don’t hesitate to talk to me. If you’re not happy about something, be not happy up close, not from a distance.
A couple of things before I finish up. This coming theatrical year we will be reinstating the Backstage Award. The details are on the website. A quick reminder that children’s theatre is eligible, and a number of pieces have been nominated tonight. And lastly, remember to register your show at least 6 weeks before opening.
Tonight has been about celebrating the excellence of this industry. It’s about the artists, the work, the technicians, the backstage professionals, the administrators, the audience, the stakeholders, the funding bodies, the families and other support networks – the credit belongs to all of you, us. We all enable theatre to be made. To be dreamt up, crafted and shared. So tonight as we’ve been celebrating the nominees and recipients, we are also celebrating and honouring the blood, sweat, tears, joy, laughter and huge courage it takes to share our stories, our vulnerabilities, the stuff of our hearts, minds and souls in the act of making theatre. Thank you for being brave. For daring to create. May 2019 be a strong, robust year of theatre.
Chair of the Matilda Awards Judging Panel