Archive for the 'Events' Category

18
Feb
20

Matilda Award Winners 2019

 

Matilda Award List of Winners 2019

Presented at Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

Monday February 17 2020

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL NOMINEES AND WINNERS OF MATILDA AWARDS

 

 

2020 Gold Award Winner: Shake & Stir

Shake & Stir is one of Australia’s leading contemporary theatre companies, formed in 2006, and creating bold and exciting mainstage and in-school productions that tour Australia and New Zealand. Shake & Stir has built a company that doesn’t just entertain existing audiences with their spectacular main house productions that display a consistent level of excellence, but the company also cultivates a new audience, creating the artists of tomorrow through their in-school programs.

 

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: WINNER

Amy Ingram, Cinderella (QPAC and Myths Made Here)

Amy’s intricately detailed portrayal of Ashley in Cinderella was a highlight of the year, with her impeccable comedic timing and raw vulnerability she had us in the palm of her hand from the moment she walked on stage. We were laughing, crying and cringing with awkwardness as we followed her journey through the reimagining of Cinderella.  Ultimately, due to Amy’s skill and level of excellence as an actor, we were left with a lasting connection to the character and her world.  This achievement speaks volumes to the strength of Amy’s performance and the execution of a fresh, contemporary take on an iconic character.

SHORTLIST

Helen O’Leary, The Confabulator (Helen O’Leary)

Nelle Lee, Jane Eyre (Shake & Stir and QPAC)

Kate Wilson, The Revisionist (Refraction Theatre)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: WINNER

Susie French, Girl’s Guide to World War (Musical Theatre Australia)

Susie’s down-to-earth, unpretentious characterisation was executed effortlessly, and captured the passion, dedication and sheer determination of a woman well ahead of her time. Embodying the individuality and inimitability of Dr. Lilian Cooper, Susie was able to entertain and educate while keeping us eating out of the palm of her hand.  From the moment we met this full-rounded character, it was clear we were in excellent hands as we watched Dr. Cooper’s story unfold.

SHORTLIST

Kathryn Marquet, Magpie (Playlab, Metro Arts and e.g.)

Kimberley Hodgson, Fangirls (Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival and Belvoir in association with ATYP)

Marika Marrosszeky, Savage in Limbo (Big Scary Animal)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: WINNER

Richard Lund, Kelly (Ad Astra)

In a highly competitive field, Richard’s performance of Ned Kelly gave us a fresh, multi-faceted and finely crafted portrayal of a character we all ‘know’. A high degree of excellence was evident in a performance that was a glorious mix of  danger and humour, strength and compassion with the underlying fierce loyalty of the Ned Kelly we all expect.  Richard executed the role with confidence, consistency and a high level of skill, as he sat naturally and comfortably in this character, hooking us into his unique world and keeping us hanging on his every word.

SHORTLIST

Thomas Larkin, Cinderella (QPAC and Myths Made Here)

Tama Matheson, When the World was Wide (Camerata and QPAC)

Bryan Probets, Hydra (Queensland Theatre and SA Theatre Company)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: WINNER

Thomas Larkin, Death of a Salesman (Queensland Theatre)

Thomas Larkin’s touching performance of an iconic character, Biff, in Arthur Miller’s modern American classic, presents a unique challenge for an actor.  How to breathe life into such a well-known role?  Thomas addressed this issue head on and successfully delivered a deeply moving portrayal while speaking to contemporary issues of masculinity, expectations and fulfilment.  His physicality and vocal work were both excellent, executed with individuality and assurance.   As Biff’s fractured relationship with his father came into sharp relief, the craft and skill of the actor were utilised to full effect, expertly embedded in the character, delivering a performance that was compelling and deeply affecting.

SHORTLIST

Pacharo Mzembe, L’Appartement (Queensland Theatre)

Michael Mandalios, Magpie (Playlab, Metro Arts and e.g.)

Jackson McGovern, Death of a Salesman (Queensland Theatre)

 

 

BILLE BROWN AWARD – BEST EMERGING ARTIST: WINNER

Gina Tay Limpus, The Tempest and La Silhouette

A physical actor, director and theatre-maker, Gina is being recognised for her compelling talent and strong skill set, that transfer seamlessly to any context. Still in the early stages of her professional career, in her work in both The Tempest and La Silhouette, Gina displayed consistency and a high level of execution in her work, both vocally and physically.  We look forward to seeing more from Gina as her career develops.

SHORTLIST

Sui Ensemble, La Silhouette

Ella Macrokanis, Daddy Long Legs

Michael Mandalios, Magpie and The Revisionist

 

BEST DIRECTOR: WINNER

Daniel Evans, Cinderella (QPAC and Myths Made Here)

While the term auteur usually only relates to film, Daniel Evans’ individual style and sure hand ensures the term translates easily to theatre.  Daniel gives each of his productions his personal and unique stamp and in the instance of Cinderella, the direction is so distinct and individual that Daniel’s signature was evident from the opening moment.  This was tight, compelling storytelling, executed flawlessly and delivering a consistent level of excellence, eliciting beautifully nuanced performances from the actors.

SHORTLIST

Jason Klarwein, Death of a Salesman (Queensland Theatre)

Ross Balbuziente, Fantastic Mr Fox (Shake & Stir and QPAC)

Paige Rattray, Fangirls (Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival and Belvoir in association with ATYP)

 

BEST MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION: WINNER

Death of a Salesman (Queensland Theatre)

It is potentially challenging to bring something new to a play that is over seventy years old, but Queensland Theatre’s production of Death of a Salesman managed to bring the Arthur Miller classic into the present without changing what made it a classic in the first place. This production delighted both existing fans as well as educating a new generation about what earns this work a place at the top of the list of the great American plays.  As the death-rattle of American optimism echoed through the land of the free market, the audience followed Willy Loman as he lost himself in the halcyon days of the past, at the same time opening a window for the audience to reflect on America then and now. A withering commentary on capitalism, this production displayed excellence in every element, bringing an American classic very much into the contemporary conversation.

SHORTLIST

Fangirls (Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival and Belvoir in association with ATYP)

L’Appartement (Queensland Theatre)

Cinderella (QPAC and Myths Made Here)

 

BEST INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION: WINNER

La Silhouette (Sui Ensemble)

It’s not easy to choose the recipient for the category, given the vast number of independent shows viewed throughout the year. With La Silhouette, Sui Ensemble showed that they are not only an ambitious company, but also a company with an abundance of raw talent that enabled them to devise a work of immersive theatre that has a very high degree of difficulty accompanied by a high level of excellence in terms of execution.  Skilfully weaving together local queer histories that are both beautiful and sad, both true and imagined, La Silhouette is a unique and truly independent work that envelops its audience whole and refuses to pull any punches from euphoric start to climactic finish.

SHORTLIST

Kelly (Ad Astra)

Throttle (The Farm)

Girl’s Guide to World War (Musical Theatre Australia)

 

BEST MUSICAL OR CABARET: WINNER

Fangirls (Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival and Belvoir in association with ATYP)

Fangirls, a bold new musical, delivered a genuinely fresh, loud and proud female-centric production that brought the experiences of young women front and centre on our stages.  First love meets fan culture in this hilarious musical work that combines pop culture, touches of rave and the soul of choir, to cleverly explore the brave new world taking place right now through the online media experiences of young people. Acute, edgy, and very sharp direction and command of each element from Paige Rattray and her team made this production of Fangirls a highlight on stage this year, embraced by female and male audiences alike, and reminding us to never underestimate teenage girls.

SHORTLIST

Yank (Understudy Productions)

Daddy Long Legs (Passion Productions)

When the World Was Wide (Camerata and QPAC)

 

 

BEST CIRCUS OR PHYSICAL THEATRE WORK: WINNER

Inside Out (Tammy Zarb and Company)

A compelling new physical theatre work, presented as part of Bleach* Festival, Inside Out stood out in what was a highly competitive field.  In this large-scale, site-specific theatre work, Tammy work utilised an excellent ensemble of performers to lead audiences across the grandeur of the Abedian School of Architecture Building at Bond University, exploring what was conceptualised as a ‘cathedral of concrete.’ The ensemble explored the sloping pathways, mezzanines, curved stairwells and sloping sculptural frames, before leading the audience outside to its wooden forest.  This was a cinematic-like, yet highly theatrical experience that was enhanced by live vocalists, a beautiful soundscape and an intelligent and unique lighting design.

SHORTLIST

Tectonic (Dancenorth)

Throttle (The Farm)

You & I (Casus Circus)

 

THE LORD MAYOR’S AWARD FOR BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK: WINNER

Girl’s Guide to World War, Katy Forde (Book and lyrics), Aleathea Monsour (Composer)

A new musical that explores the astonishing true story of a group of women who try to sign up for army service in World War One but are soundly rejected and told to, “Go home and sit still”. Thankfully, the women have other ideas.  Incorporating live music and a narrative that traverses the gamut of the human condition, this is a finely nuanced work  that follows a year that changes their lives forever.  Dealing with themes of inclusion, freedom, power and commitment, this work uses a combination of compelling storytelling and original musical composition to explore a story of contemporary relevance.

SHORTLIST

La Silhouette, Sui Ensemble

When The World Was Wide, Tama Matheson

Reagan Kelly, Lewis Treston

 

 

BEST SET DESIGN: WINNER

Josh McIntosh, Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts (Shake & Stir and La Boite)

This tightly crafted, swiftly moving production needed a flexible, inventive and workable set to facilitate the rapid-fire storytelling. The result was a delightful design that not only met all practical requirements and levels of excellence but, in its seamless execution, also perfectly matched the production’s witty, sharp and clever style. Facilitating the surprising and hilarious twists of the production, the design brought to life Roald Dahl’s beloved stories, serving the text and tight ensemble of 4 actors, in equal measure.

SHORTLIST

Caroline Delore, When the World was Wide (Camerata and QPAC)

Josh McIntosh, Jane Eyre (Shake & Stir and QPAC)

Josh McIntosh, Fantastic Mr Fox (Shake & Stir and QPAC)

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: WINNER

Libby McDonnell, Orpheus and Eurydice (Opera Queensland and Circa)

In Orpheus and Eurydice, Libby McDonnell and the costume team at Opera Queensland created some of the most stunning costumes this year on Queensland’s stages. The bold, graphic styling combined with exquisite cutting created a striking aesthetic that would be very much at home on the best international stages and linger long in the audience’s memory after seeing the production. As Orpheus and Eurydice took their perilous journey home, we were treated to exquisite detail and variation in costuming that served both the singers and the circus performers alike, combining harmoniously to create an exceptional whole.

SHORTLIST

Leah Shelton, Bitch on Heat (Leah Shelton at Brisbane Festival)

Josh McIntosh, Fantastic Mr Fox (Shake & Stir and QPAC)

Anthony Spinaze, Death of a Salesman (Queensland Theatre)

 

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN: WINNER

Geoff Squires, Inside Out (Tammy Zarb and Company)

This unsuspecting design was executed sensitively in response to its site, transforming found spaces imaginatively whilst respecting the eccentricities of the architecture. Geoff made very effective use of simple tools and excellent design choices, appropriating existing lighting fixtures alongside theatrical interventions in order to sculpt the environment. In this promenade work, the bold use of lighting contributed indispensably to the sense of enchantment and discovery felt by the audience.

SHORTLIST

Tom Wright, Tectonic (Dancenorth at Bleach*)

Ben Hughes, L’Appartement (Queensland Theatre)

David Walters, Net of Souls (The Boxties and QPAC)

 

 

BEST VIDEO DESIGN: WINNER

Craig Wilkinson (video) and Jon Weber (illustrations), Fantastic Mr Fox (Shake & Stir and QPAC)

Video design excellence is positioned front and centre in this visually decadent production, using animation to drive the distinct theatrical style and staging. With this elaborately interactive design, Craig Wilkinson has cemented his reputation as a master of projector spectacle, demonstrating the magical theatricality of his illusory virtual worlds. Jon Weber’s illustrated environments here create the perfect play space for these larger-than-life characters to breathe, and for this much-loved classic to find its purpose on stage.

SHORTLIST

Justin Harrison, Fangirls (Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival and Belvoir in association with ATYP)

Freddy Komp, Tower of Babel (Baran Theatre at Metro Arts)

Nathan Sibthorpe and Jeremy Gordon, Statum (Flipside Circus and Counterpilot in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)

 

 

BEST SOUND DESIGN/COMPOSITION: WINNER

Luke Smiles (design) and Anna Whitaker (associate), Throttle (The Farm at Bleach*)

This design involved a very high degree of difficulty, bringing to life the sound environment for a B-grade Thriller, viewed from within the safety of your own car.  With a soundtrack heard through your car radio, this production excellently captured all the nuance, originality and detail of live-action drive-in theatre.  Sound effects and voiceover were incorporated impeccably, bringing to life what begins as one man’s love song to his Volvo but turns deadly as the zombies inflict mayhem and disorder, running riot through the outdoor site.

SHORTLIST

Guy Webster, Fantastic Mr Fox (Shake & Stir and QPAC)

Guy Webster, Inside Out (Tammy Zarb and Company)

Guy Webster, Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts (La Boite and Shake & Stir)

 

 

BACKSTAGE AWARD: WINNER

Tanya Malouf

A fixture of the Queensland performing arts community, Tanya has demonstrated excellence in her long career as a stage manager, company manager, and project coordinator. While recognising her incredible body of work, Tanya was especially nominated for her tireless efforts in her role as Tour Producer with ArTour in 2019, demonstrating patience, persistence and professionalism in all she does behind the scenes to secure multi-location national tours for Queensland artists.

 

 

EMERGING FEMALE ARTS LEADER AWARD: WINNER

Emily Wells

Emily Wells is an impressive young woman who is stepping into a leadership space as a First Nations producer across disciplines.  Already contributing significantly to the sector and demonstrating  curiosity and enthusiasm to continue to learn and expand her skills and networks, Emily is ready to embrace the mentoring opportunities offered by the Emerging Female Arts Leader Award.

SHORTLIST

Kate Malone

Laura Hansford

21
Oct
19

I’m A Phoenix, Bitch!

 

I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

QPAC & Brisbane Festival 

QPAC Playhouse

September 18 – 21 2019

 

Reviewed By Shannon Miller

 

 

Shrieking melodramatically and pursued by God only knows, co-writer and performer, Bryony Kimmings enters the stage in a gold sequinned dress and blonde wig, frantic and helpless. She is pursued ridiculously by herself, a creature of her own making, as she flips between the damsel in distress and the hunting beast; an introduction lampooning Hollywood clichés, scream queens, slasher films and creature features.

 

However, the damsel turns the tides and defeats the monster, triumphantly shooting invisible fireballs from her loins! Kimmings is victorious and turns to the audience posing the meta-theatrical proposition, “Imagine if I started the show like that.”

 

Surrounded haphazardly by set pieces covered in sheets, Kimmings sheds the bling and levels with the audience, donning active wear and embarking on a heartbreaking personal monologue of a much darker time in her life. She meets her partner, Tim. They fall in love, and move into a quaint cottage out of town of which they’ve been warned by the agent of a pastoral stream having the potential to swell and flood the property.

 

 

They move into the cottage nonetheless; part dream-home, part Evil Dead/cabin in the woods. Kimmings soon discovers she is with child and everything couldn’t seem more perfect. However, the stream rises inevitably as it has been foretold, and the story delivers a child plagued by medical issues, born in the midst of a relationship breakdown, while Kimmings’ character is flanked by a crushing post-natal depression.

 

Along the way, she reveals the set pieces, which appear shambolic at first but soon become a curated visual psycho-sphere, items of the symbolic order which join the dots to this quickly harrowing tale: a kitchen, a back window, a miniature of the cottage, metonymic icons of the limited roles she is expected to play in a patriarchal society.

 

 

She puts the book into song, too, at times channeling Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, the yes girl, the bimbo, the damsel, the siren, Lorna Jane, the psycho – stereotypes that seek to sum her up and limit her as the gathering plot begins to unravel her in synchronicity with the rising stream.

 

Kimmings has written a sharply targeted one-woman show, and she draws the audience so tightly under her control. Every second of this work is deeply felt, beautifully rendered and at times utterly exhausting. It’s funny, whimsical and a serious commentary on not just gender inequality in the domestic sphere, but it’s a personal anecdote in which the audience is voyeur to a working practitioner’s creative, self-healing process.

 

 

This is a grim modern fable daringly funny and with darkly uncompromising feminisms echoing Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion and Jeanette Winterson. The story twists in the direction of mother-shaming, anxiety-driven perfectionism, and self-flagellation as the new currency of excellence, honing in on the pressures to be a strong and independent woman, girl, and lady – to become everything: the lover, the caregiver, and the breadwinner.

 

With stunning multi-media and set design, and a dénouement so unexpectedly dramatic and nuanced, this remarkably redemptive narrative set within a current movement of self-care and mental health awareness is buoyed ultimately by hope. A truly compelling theatrical experience.

31
Aug
19

The Cold Record

 

The Cold Record

Horizon Festival

Brisbane Festival, The Old Ambo, ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann

Black Box Theatre, The Old Ambo, Nambour

August 28 – 30 2019

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

Kirk Lynn (Rude Mechs) wrote a story about a 12-year old boy who tries to set the record for the most days leaving school sick; during the process he falls in love with the school nurse and punk rock. Director of The Cold Record, Alexandra Bassiakou has fine-tuned Eli Weinberg’s sensational performance without losing the raw edge of reality. There’s an immediate and intimate connection between actor and audience, which comes from Weinberg’s easygoing manner, and our proximity to him, but also from the headphone verbatim approach to the production. In this country at least, Roslyn Oades is probably best known for this evolving performance form (her headphone verbatim piece, Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday toured extensively, and received critical and audience acclaim). We sense the same spirited energy here from just one dynamic performer.

 

Weinberg greets us in the foyer of The Old Ambo and leads us to the show’s secret location. We’re invited to enjoy a non-alcoholic beverage or local craft beer – Larry’s from Your Mates – and create a mix tape together, sharing the long-lost stories of our pre-selected punk rock song. Our mixtape on opening night comprises hits from the likes of Blondie, The Jam, The Sex Pistols and Blink 182. There are satisfied nods and some cool modified mosh pit moves, some long-lost memories that spark some other memories (LIVID 1994 in Davies Park, anyone?), lots of laughter, especially about the patience, and the intricate timing and precision required to record our favourite childhood/teen era radio tracks on old-school cassette recorders with the simultaneous push of two buttons, and general agreement that post-punk is a legit choice, as is Blondie. We’re thrilled that our listening and life choices have been validated, and that we’ll get to hear the mixtape in its entirety after the show, when the link appears in our inbox. The question arises, “What about all the other mix tapes from all the other shows?” Can we look forward to a Rude Mechs Cold Record Spotify playlist at some stage? The conversation is relaxed, and fun – but there’s more to the show, in fact, it hasn’t really started yet. Except it has… The nostalgic, casual lounge party vibe puts us at ease, almost dulling us into a false sense of security before Weinberg begins throwing us curve balls. And then there’s the ending.  

 

 

 

Weinberg is super relaxed and personable throughout, expertly manipulating the mood over the 28-minute arc of the show to take us on his rollercoaster ride through the final year of elementary school. We rally with him against the world of adults and unreliable friends. The group’s support is something of a special communal theatrical thing; people are visibly affected and because of our close proximity we can properly sympathise. Our eyes rarely stray from Weinberg’s, his 12-year old innocence a piercing gaze, challenging us to respond honestly to his musings about life, death and love, or not at all. Throughout, Weinberg wears the headset with the sound of Lynn’s voice in his ears, in real time telling the entire story a beat ahead of his own performance.    

 

The lasting impact of this performance is something interesting. While the story belongs to one young boy, the intimacy of its telling gifts his lived experience to each of us. We’re given the time and space to recreate, in minds and hearts for a moment, our own private version of first love, lost love, friendship, family, victory, grief, and getting up and getting on with it, without necessarily relieving or healing any wounds along the way, however; in the moments between we become aware of these feelings, and simply let them be what they will be until we make time to sit with them (or walk or run or dance with them). Neither live performance or life promises a quick or easy fix. 

 

Are there wounds that only music can heal? Is there music that only keeps us crying, bleeding, dying? 

 

The Cold Record goes to Brisbane Festival after this weekend and if you’re near, you’d be crazy to miss it. In fact, if you think you don’t have the time or the need to experience this neat, sweet, completely surprising and captivating one-man show, it’s likely the thing you need most.

 

20
Aug
19

Queensland Theatre Season 2020 – 50 Seasons of Stories

 

Queensland Theatre launches 2020: A celebration of 50 seasons of stories

 

Queensland Theatre marks its half century by becoming the national home of new stories and staging the theatrical event of the year.

 

In front of a capacity crowd of 800, Queensland Theatre launched Season 2020, the Company’s 50th season of stage stories and the final under the artistic directorship of Sam Strong.

“Season 2020 confirms Queensland Theatre as the national home of new stories, with 50 percent of the season being world premieres,” said Strong.

“I’m proud of how we have transformed Queensland Theatre over the last four years, but I am especially proud of our championing of new stories. This is the third successive year in which at least half of our season has been brand new work,” he said.

“In the four years including 2020, we will have staged 15 world premieres, including 10 commissions reaching the stage. That’s a theatre company reflecting contemporary Australia back to itself more than ever before and more than any other. This has included established names and new plays by David Williamson, Joanna Murray Smith, Sue Smith and Melissa Bubnic. It has also included at least seven mainstage debuts, three first nations writers, two Asian-Australian writers, one Islamic-Australian writer and one transgender writer.”

 

 

“However, it wouldn’t be a Queensland Theatre season if we weren’t ambitiously growing. We are celebrating the milestone of our 50th season of stories by reflecting Queensland like never before. This includes more Queensland exclusives and the theatrical event of the year, the stage version of Trent Dalton’s smash hit novel, Boy Swallows Universe.

 

The season showcases a spectacular smorgasbord of talent from Queensland and around Australia, including: mainstage debutants like director Zoe Tuffin through to master playwright David Williamson, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary of working; actors who have become favourites at Queensland Theatre such as Christine Amor, Jimi Bani, Emily Burton, Ray Chong Nee, Jason Klarwein, Angie Milliken, Bryan Probets, and Toni Scanlan;  Australian acting royalty Nadine Garner and Rhys Muldoon; and the hottest young talent in Australia, including Josh McConville, Contessa Treffone and Sheridan Harbridge.  Joining these actors are the best directors and designers in Australia in Sam Strong, Paige Rattray, Lee Lewis, Dale Ferguson, Richard Roberts, Renee Mulder and Steve Francis.

 

 

Fittingly, the 50th anniversary year opens with adopted Queenslander David Williamson’s Emerald City which celebrates the acclaimed playwright’s 50th anniversary. The play uses the hedonistic late-1980s as a canvas to explore bigger – and ever more relevant – concerns about compromising personal ideals. Directed by Sam Strong, Emerald City sees the return of  Rhys Muldoon (House Husbands and Rake) to Queensland Theatre after the success of his turn as Isaac Newton in David Williamson’s Nearer the Gods.

From contemporary New York comes Triple X, by one of Australia’s most prolific and dynamic young writers-turned-New York local in Glace Chase. This world premiere, directed by Paige Rattray, will move audiences as well as make them laugh through its dissection of gender and sexuality in the 2020s.

 

In May, Queensland Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s most intimate tragedy,  Othello. Directed by stage powerhouse Jason Klarwein and starring Jimi Bani, this uniquely Queensland version will give the classic an evocative and effective setting in the Torres Strait during the Second World War.

 

Next up, the world premiere of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award-winning play The Holidaysby David Megarrity, directed by Matilda Award-wining Bridget Boyle. This sensory feast will transport audiences to a quintessentially Queensland beach getaway for a touching meditation on mortality.

 

 

Posing the question, ‘what’s our responsibility to the future’ and set in the wake of a nuclear disaster, The Children is written by one of the UK’s hottest young playwrights in Lucy Kirkwood and will be directed by Zoe Tuffin.

 

Then, one of the most anticipated stage stories of the year – and an Australian coup – the world premiere stage version of Trent Dalton’s wildly successful novel Boy Swallows Universe brings Brisbane unforgettably to life under the direction of Sam Strong. Adapted for stage by Tim McGarry and presented in partnership with Brisbane Festival, the play will see the blockbuster Australian novel burst onto stage.

 

 

In October, the Griffin award-winning Prima Facie, by playwright Suzie Miller presents an urgent, gripping one woman show which mounts an irresistible call for change through its powerful story of a defense barrister who finds herself on the wrong side of the system, directed by Lee Lewis.

 

 

The Season 2020 finale is the world premiere and Queensland exclusive of Phaedrawhich satirically transplants one of drama’s great heroines to a Queensland that has seceded from the rest of Australia. From the minds of Queensland’s own Belloo Creative, written by the acclaimed Katherine Lyall-Watson and directed by Caroline Dunphy, the play sees the return of the much-loved Angie Milliken to Queensland Theatre’s stage.

As the company celebrates 50 seasons of stories, it is especially proud of the success of the immediate past. Under the Artistic Direction of Sam Strong and the executive leadership of Amanda Jolly, Queensland Theatre has made concrete its vision of leading from Queensland – with key achievements including a new name, a new theatre, record audiences and growth, national industry leadership through gender parity of writers and directors for four successive years, more diverse voices, more new stories and world premieres, and the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories. These successes and so much more will be celebrated throughout Season 2020.

Sam Strong paid tribute to Queensland Theatre and audiences as he bids farewell.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Queensland Theatre and am so proud of what we have achieved together over the last four years. I’ve loved living, working and sitting in lots of theatres in Queensland, including the one we built together. Thank you for so generously embracing me and the Company’s work. Brisbane really does have the warmest audiences in Australia.  I can’t wait to return to those audiences as a punter and as a director in 2020.”

 

 

25
May
19

Boy Swallows Universe takes to the stage

 

 

Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival to produce the world premiere season of Trent Dalton’s breakout mega-hit novel

 

In a huge coup, Queensland Theatre has secured the rights for the world premiere of the stage version of Brisbane-born Australian author Trent Dalton’s breakout mega-hit novel, Boy Swallows Universe.

Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director Sam Strong will direct an adaptation by Tim McGarry in a co-production between Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival. The stage version of Boy Swallows Universe will have its world premiere as part of Brisbane Festival in September 2020, in the 50th year of Queensland Theatre, Sam Strong’s final season as Artistic Director and Louise Bezzina’s first season as Artistic Director of Brisbane Festival.

The announcement comes on the back of a record-breaking four-prize win for Dalton at the Australian Book Industry Awards, with the novel officially becoming Australia’s number 1 book overall, and number 1 fiction book, as measured by Nielsen BookScan last week. On Wednesday Dalton was included in the 2019 longlist for the Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious writing accolade.

“We’re thrilled to announce that in 2020, Queensland Theatre in partnership with Brisbane Festival will produce a theatrical version of Trent Dalton’s extraordinary novel, Boy Swallows Universe. The novel is the hottest property in Australian storytelling, deserving every ounce of the praise that has been lavished on it and all of the incredible success it has achieved,” said Strong.

“Moreover, Trent’s book is absolutely ripe for adapting to the stage: featuring larger-than-life characters, an effortless combination of magic realism and crime-thriller, unforgettable set pieces written with a cinematic visual flair, and dialogue that just leaps off the page.

“Boy Swallows Universe has captivated hundreds of thousands of Australians with its arresting portrait of growing up in 80s Brisbane. It has captured the hearts of us all through its story of love’s triumph over the darkest of circumstances. I am more excited about the theatrical version of Boy Swallows Universe than any of the 30 odd shows I have directed for the Australian mainstage. I cannot wait to direct this landmark Brisbane story on a Queensland Theatre stage.”

Trent Dalton said the announcement of Boy Swallows Universe coming to the Queensland Theatre stage was absolutely perfect.

“Everything about this production is perfect. It had to be staged here. This glorious, complex, sweltering city is in my blood and my blood is in that book. It was the people of Brisbane who took that wild, strange book and ran with it first and that book belongs to them now and this production will belong to them, too.”

He said never in a million years did he believe the story would go from the page, to the stage.

“My goal was a simple one: to see that story put into a hard copy book so I could hand just one copy to my mum, who still lives in the outer northern suburbs of Brisbane, and I could say, “This is why I love you so much”. Now I can take that early-60s warrior woman grandma to a play in the city and she can see some incredible performers under lights telling some of her story and I can lean over to her in the theatre and whisper, “This is why I love you so much.”

 

 

He said he saw the theatre as a magical, dark, wondrous place. “I love theatre so much and I love Queensland Theatre,” he said. “Sam Strong is a theatre genius and I’ve told him he has my blessing to go as big and as ambitious and as creative as his big brain can take him. I’ll be Matty Bowen to his Johnathan Thurston, supporting him all the way. But, like any good Queensland fullback, I’ll know exactly when to step out of the way,” he said.

He said he can imagine the opening night feeling already.

“Brisbane will be in full sunshine glory, purple jacarandas will be blowing in spring breezes, the Broncos will be in the finals and I’ll be somewhere in that beautiful theatre with a packet of barbecue Samboys saying, ‘How the hell did I ever get so lucky?’.

“Just to see these so often overlooked Brisbane places that are so dear and connected to me – Bracken Ridge, Darra, old Boggo Road Gaol – put up there on stage is deeply moving to me. There are countless people that I love, heart and soul, out there in those suburbs who might be able to come to that play and say, ‘Yeah, that’s my world, that’s my Brisbane’, and I’ll be right there beside them screaming, ‘Hell yes, ain’t it glorious’.

Sam Strong said adaptor Tim McGarry was the first playwright out of the blocks for the book based on his passion and affinity for the story.

“Tim McGarry brings his impressive experience with creating new Australian stories and especially adaptations of novels to the task of adapting Trent’s book. Tim has already written an incredible adaptation of Trent’s extraordinary novel and I can’t wait to work with them both to bring Boy Swallows Universe to life in the theatre.”

McGarry said he read the book in less than 24 hours while on holidays in far North Queensland.

Boy Swallows Universe is a captivating coming-of-age story set in Brisbane’s violent working-class suburban fringe, inspired by the real-life events of journalist Trent Dalton’s complicated youth. It tells the story of twelve-year-old Eli Bell, who finds comfort in his extraordinary imagination as a means of escaping from his challenging life with a mute brother, a mother in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. Surrounded by chaos and with very little moral guidance from the adults around him, Eli sets out on an ambitious suburban odyssey that sees him meet the father he doesn’t remember, break into Boggo Road Gaol to rescue his mum, come face to face with the criminals who tore his world apart, and fall in love with the girl of his dreams. At its core, Boy Swallows Universe is a story of brotherhood and the spark of young love; it’s also the unlikely true story of the formative friendship Dalton shared with Arthur ‘Slim’ Halliday, the greatest escape artist ever confined to Brisbane’s Boggo Road Gaol.

“I could barely put it down. There were times I could barely breathe. I was completely captivated by Eli Bell, his journey, his charisma, his desperation to try and better understand the dark world he inhabited. I was captivated by the magic and wisdom of August. I found the characters so richly rendered. The complex world Trent created just leapt off the page. Collaborating with Sam Strong and his team on this particular work is mind-blowingly exciting for me.”

Strong said Queensland Theatre was thrilled to be partnering with Brisbane Festival. “Artistic Director Louise Bezzina has a passion for Brisbane stories and working with Brisbane companies, so it makes perfect sense that our two organisations come together to co-produce the most exciting Brisbane story in decades.”

Louise Bezzina said Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe was the quintessential Brisbane story.

“I am thrilled that as part of my first Festival as Artistic Director we will co-present the stage adaptation of this enormously celebrated and popular book in partnership with Queensland Theatre. Brisbane Festival is deeply committed to telling the stories of our great City and this new production will be a wonderful centrepiece of the 2020 program,” she said.

Published in July 2018, Boy Swallows Universe has now sold over 160,000 copies in Australia across all formats and has been awarded several of Australia’s top literary awards, including Book of the Year at both the Australian Book Industry Awards and the Indie Book Awards, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writer and People’s Choice Award, and the MUD Literary Prize. Rights to Boy Swallows Universe have been sold to 34 English language and translation territories.

 

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