It goes without saying that arts organisations the World over have endured one of the most challenging years imaginable in 2020, so it is with great joy and no small amount of relief that fortyfivedownstairs announces the re-opening of its theatre and gallery!
Live performances re-commence in the theatre on Thursday 14 January with a recital by Duo Eclettico – featuring pianist Coady Green and saxophonist Justin Kenealy. An avid supporter of fortyfivedownstairs, Green has been invited to curate a series of five recitals that will be performed over the next four months. The series concludes with Liszt’s Complete Hungarian Rhapsodies for piano four hands, performed by Green and Christopher Smith.
fortyfivedownstairs’ first theatre program for 2021 consists of four productions, starting in January with Human Sacrifice Theatre’s production of Lanford Wilson’s acclaimed play Burn This – directed by multi award-winner Iain Sinclair (MTC’s A View From The Bridge) and featuring Mark Diaco, Jessica Clarke, Dushan Philips and Jacob Collins Levy.
Burn This was originally scheduled to open earlier this year and the team has been working continually over the last six months to mine the play’s depths and complexities for what is sure to be a powerhouse ensemble performance.
In February, fortyfive welcomes back two exceptional performers, Clare Bartholomew and Nicci Wilks, whose production of The Long Pigs (presented at fortyfivedownstairs in 2014, directed by Susie Dee and co-devised by Derek Ives-Plunkett) was a recent finalist for the prestigious International Prize “Il Teatro Nudo” in Milan.
Clare will be performing alongside her Die Roten Punkte co-creator Daniel Tobias in their new play, The Anniversary – a murderously funny farce about the golden wedding anniversary of Jim and Barb, two baby boomers from Balwyn who annoy one another so much, they literally want to kill each other. Peter Houghton (MTC’s The Architect) will direct the award-winning duo.
Following The Anniversary, Nicci Wilks will then collaborate with Director Susie Dee and Playwright Patricia Cornelius on the one-woman play, RUNT – about a small and undernourished woman who has endured enough of being the runt of the litter and determines to take on the World. Following acclaimed collaborations on Savages, SHIT (also featuring Wilks) and LOVE, its always exciting to welcome Dee and Cornelius back to fortyfivedownstairs.
In March, another postponed show closes the first theatre program of 2021, Elizabeth Walley’s The Trauma Project – developed in response to Walley’s experience witnessing a homicide in her suburban street in 2012. What followed was an eruption of emotional and physiological responses, leading to this immersive work that explores perspective and memory.
Centring around Melbourne geographically and thematically, the fortyfivedownstairs gallery program begins in 2021 with a strong series of exhibitions, encompassing painting, photography, ceramics, printmaking and drawing. Traditional media are presented in dynamic forms, visually celebrating the return to the city and our surroundings.
In January 2021, the gallery picks up where it left off in March 2020 with two painting exhibitions by Alison Percy and Cally Lotz. Lotz’s Stiff Upper Lip has taken on new meaning in the intervening months, with her still life painting of everyday objects exploring psychological states such as containment, austerity and isolation.
February introduces a collective of Melbourne ceramic artists. Through the ceramic medium, the group explore the concept of Seasons in relation to their individual life experiences and the shifts that seasonality and change present, playing into the very Melbourne ‘four seasons in one day’.
Photographer Mike Reed’s 3000 Streets will also open in February. Reed had been around the world and back again, and this exhibition and accompanying book reflect his hometown postcode and global excursions, a concept foreign to us all, currently.
“We’re excited to be welcoming audiences and artists back to this wonderfully intimate venue,” says fortyfivedownstairs Artistic Director Mary Lou Jelbart. “In the past year, artists and performers have been among the hardest hit financially, but they have never stopped making work.”
“Similarly, the team at fortyfive has continued working towards this reopening, and as an unfunded organisation, we’re immensely grateful to our supporters for making it possible to present this brilliant program. We’re proud to help bring the arts in Melbourne back to life again.”
For more information on fortyfivedownstairs’ January-March theatre and gallery program, visit: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com for details.
Image: Daniel Tobias and Clare Bartholomew feature in The Anniversary – photo by Andrew Wuttke