Dissolving the barriers between high art and pop culture and imagines a shatteringly funny post-apocalyptic world where The Simpsons becomes the new global religion, State Theatre Company of South Australia collaborates with Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre on a brand new production of Anne Washburn’s international hit comedy, Mr Burns.
Written by one of the most experimental and stylistically innovative writers of her generation, Washburn’s imaginative dark comedy propels us forward nearly a century to a post-electric America, following a new civilization stumbling into it’s future. With a strong nod to how we use art in times of crisis to keep ourselves alive, Mr Burns journeys through a century of society and how the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology of another.
A group of survivors gather and, to distract themselves from their seemingly hopeless situation, begin to recount the classic Cape Feare episode of The Simpsons. Soon they become the hit theatrical troupe of this dark new world, specialising in The Simpsons recreations.
Directed by Imara Savage (The Comedy Of Errors), Mr Burns will star Helpmann Award winning stars Mitchell Butel (Avenue Q, The Government Inspector) and Esther Hannaford (Little Shop of Horrors, King Kong), who was recently announced to also play the lead of the Australian premiere of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
They will perform alongside Paula Arundell (God of Egypt), Jude Henshall (Pinocchio, The Comedy of Errors), Brent Hill (Chimerica, Little Shops of Horrors) and Jacqy Phillips (Tartuffe). Mr Burns will also surprise with its breathtaking invention and delight with its idiosyncratic set costumes, designed by Helpmann award-winning designer Jonathon Oxlade.
“Mr Burns is a post apocalyptic musical/operetta. It’s a homage to the enduring power of art, stories and theatre in times of crisis. The Simpsons are elevated from cartoon to mythical – almost godlike proportions, over the course of a hundred years of aural tradition,” said director Imara Savage.
“It’s like the Walking Dead meets the The Popular Mechanicals, meets a Robert Wilson opera, to a soundtrack of Britney Spears, Eminem and Gilbert and Sullivan – that embraces stylistically everything from TV naturalism through to music video montage, mystery and morality plays of the medieval era and the Greek chorus.”
With hugely successful seasons in New York and London, Mr Burns is a play about the stories we tell ourselves, about what is lasting, and what is ephemeral. Playwright Anne Washburn said “Since all stories, no matter how fanciful, are in some way constructed from our experiences, real or imagined, all storytelling is a remaking of our past in order to create our future.”
“With grand assurance and artistry, Ms. Washburn makes us appreciate anew the profound value of storytelling in and of itself, and makes a case for theater as the most glorious and durable storyteller of all.” – New York Times
Director: Imara Savage Featuring: Paula Arundell, Mitchell Butel, Esther Hannaford, Jude Henshall, Brent Hill, Ezra Juanta, Jacqy Phillips Musical Director: Carol Young Set and Costume Designer: Jonathon Oxlade Lighting Designer: Chris Petridis Sound Designer: Jeremy Silver Choreographer: Lucas Jervies Dialect Coach: Paige Walker Stage Manager: Natalie Moir Assistant Stage Manager: Vanessa Martin Writer: Anne Washburn Score: Michael Friedman
Space Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: 26 April – 13 May 2017 (previews: 22 – 25 April)
Information and Bookings: www.statetheatrecompany.com.au
Upstairs – Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Season: 20 May – 25 June 2017 (preview: 19 May)
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Image: Mitchell Butel stars in Mr Burns – photo by Dan Boud