Ralph Myers’ fifth and final season is a collection of works that celebrates the bold values he has brought to Belvoir: prioritising new Australian plays, a renewed commitment to Indigenous-led theatre and inventive interpretations of the classics.
The 2015 Season includes seven new Australian plays. Much of this is the culmination of the past five years of work from Myers and his team in commissioning and supporting emerging playwrights.
“I have been enormously proud of the burst of creative energy that has accompanied my time here as Artistic Director,” says Myers. “I feel a new generation of artists has really blossomed and that we’ll be seeing the fruits of that labour for many years to come on stages here and around the world.”
The three new works in the Upstairs Theatre have all been written by playwrights who have recently had productions in the Downstairs Theatre. Angela Betzien was commissioned to write Mortido after 2011’s The Dark Room announced her prodigious talent. Mortido is a crime thriller that travels from Sydney’s Western suburbs, to Berlin, through Bolivia, and back to leafy Woollahra, following a trail of cocaine. It stars Colin Friels as a hard-bitten detective looking for one big scalp before his imminent retirement. It will be directed by Betzien’s long-time collaborator Leticia Cáceres (Miss Julie, The Dark Room).
Seventeen by Matthew Whittet (Old Man) is a glorious, whimsical comedy about the last night before a bunch of 17 year olds step out into post-school adulthood, but these teenagers will be played by actors well past their teens, including Peter Carroll, Maggie Dence, Judi Farr, John Gaden and Barry Otto. Resident Director Anne-Louise Sarks directs.
Nakkiah Lui (This Heaven) is a ferocious talent; she will play herself in Kill the Messenger – a funny and shocking play about institutionalised racism directed by Belvoir’s Associate Director – Literary Anthea Williams.
Also Upstairs, our Associate Director – New Projects Eamon Flack directs the inimitable Robyn Nevin in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, as well as the daring Ewen Leslie in Chekov’s Ivanov. Resident Director Adena Jacobs creates a modern fable based on L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, while Anne-Louise Sarks and Jada Alberts (Brothers Wreck) co-write a dramatic reinvention of the House of Atreus in Elektra / Orestes.
And a revival of Louis Nowra’s beautiful classic Radiance, directed by and featuring Leah Purcell with Shari Sebbins and Miranda Tapsell, will kick off the whole season in January.
The Downstairs Theatre is chock full with four new Australian plays in 2015. Nick Coyle’s eccentric, camp space odyssey Blue Wizard is first up, presented in association with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Speaking of camp, queer theatre marvels Sisters Grimm will take Verdi’s La Traviata as a leaping off point for an entirely new operatic extravaganza on the smallest of scales.
Julia-Rose Lewis is a brand new playwright from Queensland. Samson is her first play – a gritty and heartfelt and a little bit magical. Director Kristine Landon-Smith will direct a vibrant young cast including Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries).
Also Downstairs, Ralph Myers will direct a new play that’s actually two plays: The Dog / The Cat – two interlinked romantic comedies about pet ownership and serial monogamy. The Dog is by Brendan Cowell; and The Cat is by Lally Katz.
For more information and full season program, visit: www.belvoir.com.au for details.
Image: Peter Carroll, Maggie Dence, John Gaden and Barry Otto in Seventeen – photo by Ellis Parrinder