Being a program book junkie, I naturally bought one for Nutcracker. Australian Ballet programs are $15 more expensive than your typical free concert program ($12 if you buy vouchers up front) but well worth it, since they are loaded with beautiful photography and usually contain a number of thoughtful articles by a variety of writers.
One of the Nutcracker articles was an interview between conductor Nicolette Fraillon and choreographer Graeme Murphy – “Universal Genius: How Tchaikovsky became Australian”. Is that sounding a little familiar?
I was actually a bit shocked. Not because the AB had made double use of its editorial content but because they weren’t transparent about it (which they should have been, despite both blog and program “belonging” to the same company). Evidently the program book was published first; the blog version appeared online on Tuesday. How difficult would it have been to append a brief notice at the end of the blog saying that the interview had been published in the program book for the production?
There’s more to this than transparency, of course. In fact, even though that was what raised my eyebrows initially, it’s the least important issue here. What’s more important is that the failure to credit the program book as the published source results in a lost opportunity.
Bearing in mind that the AB sells its programs, it would be smart, surely, to tell blog readers when something they’ve just enjoyed has come from the program. (They could even tag program articles as such.) Who knows, some readers just might be inclined to buy a program next time when they see how interesting and connected to the performance and its creators the content can be.
On a more positive note, although it’s risky putting too much program content online (why would you buy a program if you could read everything in it for free?), one of the great things about online publication is the potential for links, explanations and multi-media generally. So you if you click through to the article in question you get a few things that you’d never find in the handsome printed books.
First up there’s a link from a mention of Murphy’s Swan Lake (2008) to an archived review quotes page on the AB’s website. (And 12 points to Gryffindor for keeping such available on the website! Even better would have been the original information page about the production.)
Then there’s a link to the wikipedia entry on E.T.A. Hoffmann at the point when he is mentioned as the source for the original Nutcracker. I’m wary of linking to wikipedia as a source, but the idea is right: providing an easy way to fill in knowledge gaps on the fly.
And finally there’s a link to a YouTube video of a traditional version of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy when Nicolette mentions it. After this the link-goodness peters out – it can be quite time-consuming to research and set up such things, a task akin to indexing or building glossaries, so I’m not entirely surprised. But it’s a move in the right direction – here’s hoping there’ll be more of it.