Belvoir has announced that the Downstairs Theatre is re-opening to independent artists for the first time in seven years. The inaugural 25A season will take over the Downstairs Theatre from April to December with a lineup of independent shows from the brightest new talent in Sydney.
In a bold new initiative aimed at providing support to emerging artists, the Downstairs Theatre will be provided to artists for free, along with rehearsal space and marketing support for the show.
“This brilliant little theatre has been home to the early work of an extraordinary number of extraordinary artists – Kate Mulvany, Toby Schmitz, Simon Stone, Anne-Louise Sarks, Imara Savage, Lee Lewis, Yael Stone, Geordie Brookman, Sam Strong, Brendan Cowell, Wayne Blair… I could go on,” said Belvoir’s Artistic Director Eamon Flack.
“The question now is, who will be the next bunch of great artists? Where will they come from? How will they stretch their wings? That’s what 25A is about”. I made my own first shows down there and I wanted other young artists to have the same chance I had. When I arrived in Sydney in 2004 you knew that you joined your profession by making work at Downstairs Belvoir and the Fitz. Well now Downstairs Belvoir is back”.
“This a new ‘flat-pack’ model of making independent theatre. “We’ve set up a situation where the costs to artists are close to zero. But it’s something of a challenge too, because you’ve got to make your show for less that $1500 – that’s the rule. The focus is on the work and the work alone.”
Flack says the idea came from his own early directing experience. “When I wanted to learn to direct I put on a show in an empty rehearsal room with 15 actors for six nights. We spent $500, mostly on blue tarps and vegetarian sausages. We didn’t have to worry about budgets and producing. All we had to worry about was the work. It was probably the most artistic freedom I’ve ever had.”
Highlights of the 2018 25A season includes:
By Zoe Hogan, directed by Julia Patey
Season: 5 – 21 April 2018
Greater Sunrise takes us behind the closed doors of the biggest government scandal you’ve never heard of; a visiting Foreign Minister, Australia’s aid program, and billions of dollars hidden beneath the sea.
By Scott Smart, directed by Elizabeth Nabben
Season: 5 – 19 May 2018
Based on the real experiences of a broke young man trying to pay the rent in Sydney, this is a story of awkward friendship between lowly paid workers (ironically invisible in Hi-Vis gear) trying to fend for themselves in a dog-eat-dog workforce. And through it all, it’s about the books they read (when they’re not reading meters).
They Divided the Sky
From the novel by Christa Wolf, adapted and directed by Daniel Schlusser
Season: 13 – 30 June 2018
Christa Wolf was one of the most beloved German authors of her generation. Her first full-length novel They Divided the Sky was hailed at the time for its artistic achievement and excoriated for its “decadent” politics. This timely adaptation by Daniel Schlusser has been written for two of our finest young performers, Nikki Shiels and Alexander England.
Yarramadoon The Musical
Written and directed by Hannah and Eliza Reilly
Season: 25 July – 11 August 2018
Welcome to Yarramadoon. A semi-rural town just off the M5, with by far the highest rate of both teen pregnancy and sinkholes in Australia. Set in history’s most awkward decade, the 2000’s, when jean shorts were at their baggiest, there’s nothing for sixteen year old Sharmane to do but wait for the internet to dial up and dream of a bigger life outside her shitty town.
By Jean Genet, directed by Carissa Licciardello
Season: 24 August – 15 September 2018
Darkly compelling, disturbingly resonant, and boldly theatrical, this production propels The Maids directly into our world. In a luxurious bedroom, two maids fantasise about murdering their Mistress, acting out the same elaborate ritual night after night. They can never quite make it to the grisly final scene – but tonight is different. As the boundaries between fantasy and reality begin to blur, a lifetime of oppression and brutality comes to a head in a shocking, unexpected denouement.
Created by Michael, Rosemarie and Constantine Costi, directed by Constantine Costi
Season: 14 November – 1 December 2018
This new musical is the hilarious and heartbreaking tale of an officer worker’s tragic quest for warmth and connection in frantic city streets that pulse at the rhythm of a jazz trio. Nikolai is a clerk in St Petersburg and a social outsider – perpetually uncomfortable in his skin. Following an embarrassing exchange with a colleague, he decides to sell everything he owns in order to buy a brand new overcoat. Upon receiving his coat Nikolai feels elated, valued and worthy of affection. After a work dinner that evening, he crosses a public square and is approached by a gang who rob him of his cherished coat. This loss shatters his spirit and propels him towards a coatless end.
By David Williamson, directed by Tessa Leong
Season: 7 – 22 December 2018
A bold new imagining of David Williamson’s classic 1977 play by all-female theatre company, isthisyours? A football club on the brink of great change. The Club is in crisis – the old guard is being put into question and a new path must be paved. Performed by just three actors, Williamson’s incisive and hilarious dialogue rings true at a time when women’s roles in the club are no longer confined to being merely spectators or supporters of men, but as true champions of an ever evolving and much loved game.
For more information, visit: www.belvoir.com.au for details.
Images: courtesy of Belvoir