Archive for the 'News' 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

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.”

 

 

19
Jun
19

City of Gold: an urgent play for our time

City of Gold

 

Coming to Queensland Theatre’s Bille Brown Theatre

 

Saturday 29 June – Saturday 20 July 2019

 

 

In a powerful and confronting theatre event that is sure to linger in the minds of audiences long after the (figurative) curtain closes, Queensland Theatre presents the world premiere of City of Gold, written by, and starring, the immensely charismatic  Meyne Wyatt  (The Sapphires, Strangerland, Redfern Now, Neighbours, Black Comedy).

 

With first previews opening from June 29 and the season continuing until July 20, City of Gold is a raw and honest look at the challenges facing some young Indigenous Australians working to carve out a future in modern society whilst striving to maintain their connection to community and Country. It’s a stage story everyone needs to experience.

 

Partially inspired by his own experiences Wyatt has written a wryly funny and sometimes brutal play that will leave audiences questioning their own preconceptions, however well-meaning, about modern Indigenous culture. It’s raw, open, honest story-telling that will resonate with audiences, alternating between shock, inspiration and deeply moving moments. This is a play for people who are interested in being at the cutting edge of the conversation about Indigenous experience in Australia today.

 

Meyne Wyatt said the story had to be told. “Over the past few years things have happened, there has been something in the air, which all came together to make me actually write this,” he said.

 

“My dad passed away in 2015 and 18 months later I found myself really disillusioned with the world, the industry and myself. The roles I was auditioning for and getting, reflected the fact I had lost my passion. At the same time in my hometown of Kalgoorlie, a young 14-year-old Aboriginal boy was killed by a hit-and-run driver, who ended up serving just 15 months. And down south, the Adam Goodes story was playing out on and off the footy field. This series of events prompted me to sit down and write City of Gold.”

 

Meyne said the story has the potential to be divisive.  “There’s absolutely controversial lines, acts and characters in City of Gold. There’s also lots of humour. The story dives into dark and deep territory, with the humour a great release valve. I want audiences to find their own spark from this story; and what they find important, is what’s important.”

 

 

 

The talented Wyatt (he’s been nominated for a Sydney Theatre Award in 2011, Logie award 2014 and AACTA Award 2014) will be joined by a highly acclaimed and experienced cast including Matilda Award-winning actor (for Queensland Theatre’s An OctoroonAnthony Standish, Matilda Award-nominated Jeremy Ambrum (Queensland Theatre’s The Longest Minute, also in Mabo, ClevermanSecret Daughter) and Logie award-winning Shari Sebbens (Queensland Theatre’s An Octoroon, also in Black is the New White, TV Redfern Now, Black Comedy Film Top End Wedding, Thor: Ragnarok, The Sapphires).

 

A number of the cast will be making their Queensland Theatre debut including Performing Arts WA (WAAPA) Award-winning actor, Maitland Schnaars (Black Swan State Theatre’s Let The Right One In, Yirri Yaakin Aboriginal Theatre’s Conversations With The Dead, Film I Met a Girl) and Mathew Cooper(Performing Lines The Season, MTC/Neon Lucky Film, The Marshes, Television Janet KingRedfern Now).

 

Seasoned stage, television and film actor, Christopher Stollery (film Last Cab to Darwin, TV Top of the Lake: China Girl, House of Hanock, Neighbours) will also perform for Queensland Theatre for the first time, fresh from his Sydney Theatre Award nomination for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Ear to the Edge of Time.

 

The creatives behind City of Gold are some of the country’s most acclaimed and award-winning. Australian actor and dramaturg Isaac Drandic will direct (based in Cairns, he has been Queensland Theatre’s Resident Dramaturg since 2017), with Dramaturgy by Paige Rattray. Famed design team Simone Tesorieri and Simona Cosentini will bring the set to life, with Nathalie Ryner Costume Designer, Jason Glenwright Lighting Designer, and Tony Brumpton Composer and Sound Designer.

 

City of Gold: The Story

Breythe is a young actor making his way in Sydney when news of his father’s death calls him home to Kalgoorlie. Being back on Country and stretched between the politics of his feisty sister Carina and his dispirited brother Mateo, Breythe struggles to understand how he fits into his family or his community. His father haunts his dreams and an omen of death follows him. This is an electrifying glimpse into the entanglement of present-day and ‘traditional’ Indigenous culture through the eyes of a young man. The world premiere season of City of Gold will continue after Brisbane at Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney from July 26.

 

 

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.

 

JOIN THE WAITLIST HERE

 

18
Dec
18

Louise Bezzina to Lead Brisbane Festival as Artistic Director

 

Brisbane Festival announces Louise Bezzina as Artistic Director

 

Brisbane Festival has announced Louise Bezzina as the incoming Artistic Director for a four-year term. Her first festival will be presented in 2020. Bezzina is the creator and inaugural Artistic Director of Bleach* Festival; the Gold Coast’s Festival. Relocating to the Gold Coast from Brisbane in 2011, Bezzina created Bleach* Festival and built it from a pilot project to a major annual event that has reached almost 1million people since inception. 2019 will be her 8th and final Bleach* Festival, having led the organisation through the Commonwealth Games as part of the Creative Lead Team for Festival 2018 and establishing Bleach* as one of Australia’s leading site-specific contemporary arts festivals.

 

 

For Bleach*, Bezzina has commissioned more than 50 new works, from major outdoor spectacles to intimate dance and theatre productions from local, national and international artists. In 2018, four Bleach* Festival commissions were nominated for Helpmann Awards, with TIDE by Gold Coast dance theatre company The Farm winning Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production. Bezzina also co-produced the inaugural Opera on the Beach by Opera Australia and is one of the curators of sitespecific immersive arts experience Hotelling; a groundbreaking cultural tourism initiative of the City of Gold Coast. Bezzina was listed as one of 11 inspiring women of the Commonwealth Games on International Women’s Day in 2018 and has won several awards for her contribution to arts and culture in Queensland. She recently completed the Australia Council for the Arts’ Arts Leaders Program. Prior to Bleach* Festival, Bezzina held a number of high-profile roles in Brisbane, including Program Manager for the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts; Producer at Brisbane Festival, including Producer for the opening of the cultural precinct (GoMA, QPAC and State Library of Queensland); and Director of the Mackay Festival of Arts. Brisbane Festival Chair, Paul Spiro, praised Bezzina’s commitment to the cultural sector in Queensland and said her extensive festival experience and broad international connections made her an ideal candidate for the coveted role.

 

 

“After a competitive international search, the Board of Brisbane Festival is incredibly excited to appoint exemplary cultural leader Louise Bezzina to role of Artistic Director to guide Brisbane Festival future development alongside CEO Charlie Cush,” Mr Spiro said. “Having known and admired Louise as Bleach* Festival’s creator and Artistic Director, I’m delighted that she will be our next Artistic Director.

 

“Louise’s deep understanding of festivals, her curatorial rigour and vision for the future of Brisbane Festival made her an irresistible choice,” Mr Spiro said. “Brisbane Festival celebrates and reinforces Brisbane’s international cultural reputation and I look forward to Louise being part of Brisbane Festival’s ongoing development and change.” Bezzina said she looked forward to returning to the Brisbane Festival team following Bleach* Festival in May 2019. “The combination of Brisbane’s rich history, its contemporary dynamism and future ambitions offers a great thematic foundation for a festival and its artistic program,” Bezzina said. “The responsibility of an Artistic Director is to find the unique gems, welcome all citizens and, most importantly, turn the city ‘on’ during festival season. “Our job is to inspire audiences with new ideas and experiences that leave life-long impressions,” Bezzina said.

 

 

“As Artistic Director, I will showcase what characterises Brisbane, celebrating its wonderful artists, delivering a strong Indigenous program as well as curating a bold international program that makes sense for the city, ensuring it is loved by all of Brisbane.” Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch thanked outgoing artistic director David Berthold for his many achievements and welcomed the appointment of Louise Bezzina. “Louise has done an extraordinary job leading Bleach* Festival, helping to shape the Gold Coast event into one of the state’s leading multi-arts festivals,” Minister Enoch said.

 

“She will bring to the Brisbane Festival her passion for creating unforgettable arts experiences and a commitment to showcasing Queensland artists.” Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said. Bezzina takes over from David Berthold, whose fifth and final festival will take place in September 2019. Brisbane Festival Chair, Paul Spiro, paid tribute to Berthold’s contribution to Brisbane Festival during his tenure as Artistic Director. “Queensland audiences have benefitted from the extraordinary vision of David Berthold,” Mr Spiro said. “Over the past five years, the festivals that he curated have confirmed his status as a truly international festival director, able to connect with audiences of all ages, tastes and sensibilities. “He has brought unseen and unforgettable worlds to Brisbane for which we are deeply grateful,” Mr Spiro said.

 

The Spirit of Churaki

 

The Spirit of Churaki will be seen next at Woodford Folk Festival December 28 & 29

 

08
Dec
18

EDC’s New Artistic Director: Amy Hollingsworth

 

Brisbane’s Expressions Dance Company (EDC) has announced the appointment of Amy Hollingsworth as its new Artistic Director.

 

Marian Gibney, Chairman of EDC’s Board said, “We are delighted to welcome Amy Hollingsworth to the artistic leadership of EDC. Amy has presented the Board with an exciting vision for the future of the company as we look ahead to the 2020’s. Amy brings to the role her recognised talent, experience within the national and international dance sectors, and a commitment to both excellence in dance and in broadening the reach of the company, within our local community and beyond. ”

With over 20 years’ experience as a dancer, choreographer, director and industry advocate, as well as in film and dancer education, Amy is highly regarded for her passion and leadership within the Australian dance industry.

Taking up the position in January 2019, Amy will replace outgoing Artistic Director, Natalie Weir. Amy said she is honoured to assume the artistic leadership of one of Australia’s most respected contemporary dance companies. “I am deeply committed to building on the legacy created by Natalie and her predecessor, Maggie Sietsma,” she said.

“I cannot wait to step into this role with vigor and passion to deliver a bold fresh new vision. At the heart of my vision for EDC is to lean in to making incredible new work, showcasing the stunning dancers and delighting our audiences, but also to creating an environment for creativity to truly thrive. In this environment, our artists and collaborators will work as a collective, forming a creative tribe where conversations crackle with energy and ideas. We, with the help of our partners, supporters and stakeholders, will make a truly profound contribution to the landscape of dance and more broadly to our community.”

Amy will join EDC following three years as the Creative Associate and Ballet Mistress at Queensland Ballet where her talent as a curator and choreographer was particularly evident through the successful 2017 and 2018 Bespoke seasons.

 

Her vision for EDC includes furthering the company’s respected work in dance education and increasing collaboration opportunities with dancers and other artists to bring exceptional dance to existing audiences and the wider community.

 


Amy Hollingsworth is a multi award winning dancer and director, based in Brisbane and was described by the UK Observer as one of ‘the most compelling and intelligent dancers on the world stage’.

 

Born and raised in Australia and classically trained at The Australian Ballet School, she performed as a leading dancer in companies such as Rambert Dance Company, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Peter Schaufuss Balletten, Bonachela Dance Company, Michael Clark Company, Hofesh Shechter Company, George Piper Dancers and Sydney Dance Company.

With an impressive international performance and creative career spanning large-scale classical ballet to independent contemporary dance, film and pop music, Amy is a highly versatile director of dance with a strong, passionate, musical and emotionally resonant creative voice. Her work in direction and education draws from her background and breadth of experience and is as diverse as the companies that engage her to coach and mentor.

Her achievements outside of her career as a performer are many, but most notably she was a founding member of Bonachela Dance Company and Assistant Director. She then excelled in her roles as Dance Director for Sydney Dance Company and then Rehearsal Director for Expressions Dance Company before joining Queensland Ballet as Ballet Mistress and Creative Associate in 2016. Her skills in the development of choreographers, eye for detail and coaching excellence of dancers has been widely noted and critically acclaimed.

Amy has also choreographed numerous works, has been involved in the production of dance films and worked across commercial industries. In addition to her credits as a performer, coach, director and creative associate, Amy is a sought-after keynote speaker at dance industry events, and is currently the Chair of Brisbane’s Supercell Dance Festival.

25
Aug
18

Queensland Theatre 2019 – A Season of Dreamers

 

Australia’s fastest growing theatre company launches 2019:

a season of dreamers

 

 

A record five world premieres, a record number of interstate performances through co-productions, Queensland exclusives, Australia’s newest theatre – the Bille Brown Theatre – industry leadership via gender parity of writers and directors and four new women in artistic leadership positions, the first Principal Partnership in the Company’s history, and eight unforgettable shows.

 

2019 will be Queensland Theatre’s biggest year yet.

 

Artistic Director Sam Strong has taken Queensland Theatre to unprecedented levels of success and 2019 will be even better.  “In 2017 Queensland Theatre was the fastest growing major theatre company in Australia and the most watched performing arts company in Brisbane. In 2018, we grew our audience again and will open Brisbane and Australia’s newest theatre. And now, in 2019, we will take shows across Australia while also creating Queensland exclusives that will be the envy of the rest of the country,” said Strong.

 

“Queensland Theatre will present an unprecedented five world premieres in 2019.  We begin with the world premiere of Hydra, award-winning playwright Sue Smith’s portrait of writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston. This is followed by the world premiere of the most provocative play to hit the Australian stage in years, City of Gold by electric young actor Meyne Wyatt. Next, in a coup for Queensland, we will be home to not just the world premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s latest play, but her world directorial debut, with the wickedly funny L’Appartement. Add to this the world premiere of hilarious new musical Fangirls by the unfairly talented Yve Blake, and the world premiere of award-winning Brisbane writer Merlynn Tong’s adaptation of Antigone, and you have Queensland Theatre’s most urgent, ambitious, and entertaining season yet,” said Strong.

 

The season is rounded out by one of theatre’s biggest classics, Death of A Salesman, performed by an all-star cast of Queenslanders (both resident and returning), the rock’n’roll family reunion Barbara and the Camp Dogs by the brilliant Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine, and a landmark new production of Tom Holloway’s adaptation of Colin Thiele’s cherished story Storm Boy, bringing together the creative forces behind Jasper Jones and The Wider Earth.

 

Season 2019 features the best local talent like David Morton of Dead Puppet Society, Emily Burton, Ray Chong Nee, Jason Klarwein, Thomas Larkin, Pacharo Mzembe, Christen O’Leary, Hugh Parker, Bryan Probets, and Melanie Zanetti. It also continues Strong’s ‘State of Origin’ approach of attracting leading Queensland talent home, actors like John Batchelor, Peter Kowitz, Angie Milliken and Anna McGahan, and one of Australia’s most in demand directors, Leticia Caceres.

 

 

Strong said 2019 was a season defined by the variety of experiences it gives audiences. “Between the book-ends of two of the greatest plays ever written, we have an exquisitely observed relationship portrait, a rock and roll road trip, a provocative political battle cry, a heart-warming family classic, a wicked social comedy, and even a joyous new musical. Theatre-goers can be part of the extreme passion that only teenage years can induce, the disillusion that can accompany the end of a working life, the idealism of young adulthood, the ebbs and flows of a long relationship, and the bittersweet passage from childhood to adulthood.”

 

Strong said it is a “season full of dreamers – of people who confront even the darkest of times with a faith that life can be better. If there is diversity across the eight shows, they are unified by a spirit of optimism. Even if the stories occasionally break our hearts with tragic circumstances, they are all shot through with hope.”

 

In 2019 Queensland Theatre will once again traverse the rest of the country. Through co-productions with the state theatre companies in Adelaide and Melbourne, as well as two companies in Sydney, the work of Queensland Theatre will be seen on interstate stages for a record 129 performances.

 

2019 is a significant year for many reasons. Next year Queensland Theatre will start the celebrations for the company’s 50th anniversary season in 2020, and it will see the first full year of programming in its own home theatre. The Bille Brown Studio is currently undergoing a $5.5million-dollar transformation and in October 2018 will take on a new life as the 351 seat Bille Brown Theatre – a state-of-the-art corner stage, designed to be the perfect place for stories, artists, and most importantly – audiences. “We are tremendously proud of the community effort that has made the dream of our own theatre a reality,” said Executive Director Amanda Jolly. “We set ourselves our most audacious fundraising target ever, and with the help of the Queensland Government’s Arts Infrastructure Fund and our many generous and visionary donors we have succeeded. We thank each and every supporter. We can’t wait to share one of Australia’s best theatres with our audiences.”

 

In a continuation of the Company’s national industry leadership, Queensland Theatre has once again programmed a season that has achieved gender parity of writers and directors. In addition, in 2019, Queensland Theatre will add to its reputation for revolutionising artistic leadership by appointing award winning Brisbane independent company, Belloo Creative, as resident company. All four women who make up Belloo -  Caroline Dunphy (co-artistic director, director and performer); Katherine Lyall-Watson (co-artistic director and writer); Kathryn Kelly (dramaturg), and Danielle Shankey (producer and general manager) – will become an integral part of Queensland Theatre’s leadership team. They will also create a work for the 2020 season. In a final coup for the Company, Queensland Theatre announced that from 2019 RACQ will become Queensland Theatre’s Principal Partner (the first for the Company). According to Strong, “Such partnerships are only possible when two companies share a profound alignment of purpose. Both of us are about improving the lives of Queenslanders.

 

 

QUEENSLAND THEATRE SEASON 2019:

 

9 Feb to 2 Mar:                              Death of a Salesman

9 Mar to 6 Apr:                              Hydra

1 May to 25 May:                           Barbara and the Camp Dogs

29 Jun to 20 Jul:                            City of Gold

29 Jul to 17 Aug:                           Storm Boy

3 Aug to 31 Aug:                           L’Appartement

7 Sept to 5 Oct:                             Fangirls

26 Oct to 16 Nov:                          Antigone