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RealTime is 10! From the Chair

Tony MacGregor

RealTime Team, Keith Gallasch, Dan Edwards,<BR /> Gail Priest, Virginia Baxter RealTime Team, Keith Gallasch, Dan Edwards,
Gail Priest, Virginia Baxter
photo Heidrun Löhr

You can download a full PDF of the 10 year liftout, or you can download specific years.
1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

First a word from Tony MacGregor, Chair of the Open City Board of Management. This company was established by Keith Gallasch and Virginia Baxter in 1987 for the collaborative works they performed in theatres, galleries and on radio. In 1994 Open City began to publish RealTime+OnScreen which has been a fulltime operation since 1996.


I’ve been free-associating around those words—real, time—looking for a way into writing about this thing I’ve been hovering around for these past 10 years. Longer really, because RealTime was an idea long before it was a reality, one of those determinations that Keith Gallasch and Virginia Baxter make and then work into existence: “mainstream theatre criticism is hopeless, we need a journal that deals properly with the performance community in all its hybrid, messy complexity.” (Or words to that effect.) And, lo, it was so.

How many ideas have taken shape, been given form in the endless conversation around that generous wooden table in the kitchen at Womerah Avenue, Darlinghurst where Gallasch and Baxter have lived since their arrival from Adelaide in 1986? Like so many projects which have been founded on their energy and ideas—Troupe in Adelaide, Open City, all those performances—once deemed A Good Idea, RealTime seemed inevitable, an idea made real through that seemingly irresistible combination of clear argument, creative invention, personal passion, A-grade grant writing skills and the sheer bloody mindedness that they bring to all their projects. Calmly, without hysteria or undue polemic. Real, not rhetorical. (The right time, too. Children, don’t ignore this lesson: timing is everything.)

Celebrating 10 years of any publication, is it right to dwell so much on 2 individuals at the expense of the many who have contributed to its success? I’m thinking here not just of the multitude of writers, the shoals of eager readers, but of stalwarts like David Varga, Kirsten Krauth, Mireille Juchau and especially Gail Priest, toilers in the vineyard too, and indispensable to these accumulated successes of the past 10 years. I tips me lid to all of you, heartfelt. (Head felt—the hat, I mean. Squashed bunny.)

But the knack of spinning the straw of rhetoric into the gold of action is a rare one; Keith and Virginia, a collaborative partnership, possess this gift in abundance, and it should be acknowledged. I am sure they too have long, dark nights; that age wearies them (as it wearies us all), but they will always seem to me indefatigable, unceasing. Just check out these pages, count the words, total up the hours.

Perhaps this is the nub of what I want to say: in RealTime, art can still be understood as a gift, not only as a commodity. Like much of the work they write about, Keith and Virginia, and Gail, have served an idea, served an ideal even, an ideal of the work of art as way of engaging with the world, as a vehicle for satisfying undying curiosity, for, perhaps, speaking about what might be true, or at least, of speaking about power. RealTime—and its editors—have done more than serve a community, they have, in so many ways, made it. That is their gift to us (readers, writers, makers, audiences), and I thank them for it.

Where’s the free-association, I hear you ask? Where’s ‘real’? What about ‘time’? I can hear it in my head as I write—a stupid refrain, rock’n’roll dumb—Lou Reed, circa 1970 something (I was stoned at the time):

We’re gonna have a real good time together
We’re gonna have a real good time together
We’re gonna have a real good time together
We’re gonna dance and bawl and shout together
Na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na, na-na
Na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na, na-na...

I think we’ve all had a real good time. And more to come. I hope we can all keep dancing, bawling, shouting, with RealTime leading the chorus.

Tony MacGregor
May 2004

RealTime issue #61 June-July 2004 pg. 23

© Tony MacGregor; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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