- Pauline Adamek, in Arts Beat LA, Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Residents of Melbourne and Sydney sometimes promote their hometown as Australia's number one city, and that fight has been taken to the US. Sydney Theatre Company (STC) will stage a production of “Maids” in August this year at the Lincoln Center in NYC. This follows on from the success that STC had when staging “Uncle Vanya” at the Lincoln Center in 2012. It’s great to see repeated success by Australian exporters in the US. Not to be outdone, the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) successfully staged the play “Rupert” at the Kennedy Center International Theater Festival in March 2014. Regardless of the city you love, the success of STC and MTC will help each other and other Australian companies that are eyeing the US market.
While STC and MTC have imported Australian theater productions into the US, another Australian theatre company, aptly named the Australian Theater Company (ATC), has invested in a permanent US presence. ATC is currently staging the Australian play, “Holding The Man” with an all-Australian cast in Los Angeles. An Australian theater company in the US is a new model and was started using the new fundraising model, a Kickstarter campaign. This new venture is a bold step because it is essentially an American startup that sells Australian products in America. However, "Holding the Man" had a successful run in the UK so the play itself has already been subject to international review, albeit under a different cast and company. If ATC can be successful in attracting American patrons and not just expatriate Australians it will further add to the momentum created by STC and MTC.
1. Technology can overcome the tyranny of distance.
Kickstarter enabled ATC to raise funds from Australians and supporters of Australian theater who are scattered around the globe. This is more efficient that travelling all over America and Australia to convince small and large investors to back a startup theater company.
2. Make a connection with something that Americans already know.
Cate Blanchett is a name familiar to many American and her success in Hollywood is both current and consistent. Blanchett's role as Co Artistic Director at STC would have opened the door for the company because while most Americans know nothing about STC, they know enough about the bankability of Blanchett. MTC does have such a well known ambassador but it can leverage the success of STC by using STC as an example of what Australian companies can achieve.
These are just some of the Australian companies participating in entertainment industry in the US. If you want to provide input on other successful Australian companies then comment on this blog or send me a message via email or Twitter.