The following is cribbed from brief material for participants and creatives who may be interested in attending these events.
The Victoria University Theatre Company is holding a series of salons on the 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th of October. These will function more like a structured social event than a variety show or performance, and could be described as a type of creative ‘think tank’ for students and amateur creatives who may not be included in professional arts industry circles. Members of the public, however, are welcome to attend.
A little on the history of the ‘salon’ form:
Wikipedia defines salons as “a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation”. Gertrude Stein and Picasso hung out at salons. Proust (at the time considered an “amateur” and a “homosexual” by his literary peers) read his drafts there. So too did Moliere, Adrienne Rich, Verlaine & Rimbaud. Salons have typically been held and dominated by queer, female, and otherwise marginalised voices that do not get to participate in and define mainstream art, literature and politics. They were particularly huge in the French Enlightenment and early feminist movements. The concept is referenced by Tom Collins in the musical Rent, giving it the more contemporary context of a creative community that is dominated by gay, queer, female, and non-white identities. Madame Geoffrin, a French aristocrat and pioneer of the salon form, has been described as being “without rank, beauty, youth, education, or remarkable mental gifts of a sort that leave permanent traces”. She, and other French salonnieres (who, at the time, were almost exclusively women), treated these gatherings as a type of university in lieu access to formal higher education.
A little on what we are striving to do:
‘We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun’ ― Stephen Fry
We recognise that creatives are usually not limited to a single discipline. The higher education environment (for those of us lucky enough to access it) often encourages us to ‘box ourselves in’ to particular specialisations and fields of work.
VUTC Secretary and producer Jai Moore adds:
We are often surrounded by others in our discipline – as a writing student, I often find myself in rooms full of other writing students, and rarely get to chat to a visual arts or music major in the course of my studies. A core part of the Victoria University Theatre Company ethos has always tackled these barriers of disciplinary segregation: you cannot devise a musical [theatre show] without first connecting writers to performers, performers to directors, directors to musicians, musicians to choreographers, and so on – the musical theatre form is a triumph of interdisciplinary collaboration.
The gatherings we hold are designed to be a liberating space that enables the weird and the new to shine. We will be demonstrating and displaying and performing our work and encouraging others to do the same in an honest and vulnerable way. We will be leaving tactful gaps of time for people to chatter and listen to each other, in between music, a broad range of writings, performances, and other harder-to-categorise work. We will be featuring one visual artist each evening, to allow them exclusive access to the real estate of our eyeballs, instead of having to struggle in a crowded group exhibit. We will be providing a space that is explicitly welcoming to queer, feminist and other work that is not taken seriously in mainstream circles. For this reason, we also won’t be limiting our pool exclusively to Victoria University students; while we receive our funding from the university, a secondary goal is to connect student artists to creatives within the Footscray community.
We do not charge our contributing artists any fees, at any time. If you would like to participate in a salon, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working Title salons are nurtured by –
Tim Cooke – Production Manager
Lucas Murley – Assistant Production Manager
Jai Moore – Creative Director
Bethany Griffiths – Creative Director / House Manager