That sinking feeling

One month after Melbourne's RISING was forced to close after only a single night of performances, Tim Byrne reflects on the festival's impact and a sector in crisis.

So Melbourne is out of lockdown and everything can return to normal, right? For lovers of the performing arts, who’ve been informed that theatres can’t open with more than 75 people indoors, it’s more a case of ‘not so fast’. For the actual artists themselves – the theatre makers, the performers, the musicians, front-of-house and technical support staff – it feels more like catastrophic collapse.

The inaugural RISING Festival was cancelled after a single day, the majority of its shows likely gone for good. All theatre is transitory, a kind of momentary haunting, but this ‘insubstantial pageant faded’ was a particularly cruel felling of the city’s already bruised artistic spirit.

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Tim Byrne
About the Author
Tim Byrne is a freelance critic and arts journalist. His work regularly appears in Australian Book Review, Time Out Melbourne and Guardian Australia. He has also been published in The Age, Screen Education and Kill Your Darlings.