Belvoir has announced  that Alana Valentine will present The Myth of the General Audience as this year’s Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture, to be held at the Upstairs Theatre at Belvoir St Theatre on Monday 3rd December.

The Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture will conclude with the announcement of this year’s recipient of the illustrious Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights, presented by previous Philip Parson’s Fellowship winner, Tommy Murphy.

Audiences for theatre are now more targeted, specialised and niche than ever. Or are they? Is there still a way to get into our theatres a multiplicity of audience members who are curious and open, willing to be provoked and changed? Or in a context where there has never been so many competing platforms, are we heading into a hashtag driven future with the performing arts simply poaching and cannibalizing each other’s subscriber bases?

In The Myth of the General Audience, Valentine reflects on her experience of bringing into the theatre the lived experience of diverse, community, regional and local audiences to hear their own stories in the context of the collective gaze.  She explores how contemporary theatre, as well as entertaining, must still allow audiences to connect with each other, to collectively face ugly and sometimes difficult truths in important and community-changing ways. Using examples from her own plays, Alana looks to the engagement of increasingly diverse and eloquent audiences and the sacred trust that artists have with theatre-goers.

The Philip Parsons Fellowship is given to an early career playwright with a strong and unique theatrical voice and is an integral part of Belvoir’s ongoing artistic development activities and commitment to new Australian work.  Previous winners of the fellowship include; Kate Mulvany, Tommy Murphy, Zoe Coombes Marr, Nakkiah Lui, S. Shakthidharan and Brendan Cowell. The recipient of the Fellowship is given a commission to develop a new work with guidance and dramaturgical assistance provided by Belvoir Artistic staff, and builds on Belvoir’s ongoing and significant commitment to new work from commission, through to development, into production.

The Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights is supported by Create NSW