Red Stitch Actors Theatre started life in 2002 as an ensemble, artist driven organisation playing to a seating capacity of 30 people per night, and 15 years later has become a Melbourne institution, nationally renowned for exceptional new plays from Australia and overseas, touring and playing to sold out crowds, a home to artists and its loyal subscriber base.
Artistic Director, Ella Caldwell today announced its 2016 season and, as with seasons past, the Company will introduce brand new works to local audiences. The selection of eight works includes six Australian premieres and two world premieres, plus two special events. The two world premiere productions are testament to the Ensemble’s increased collaboration with local playwrights.
A continuing relationship with playwright Tom Holloway sees the premiere of his new play, Sunshine, set in Melbourne. And Caleb Lewis’ The Honey Bees was developed through the Company’s successful INK program, following on from 2015’s acclaimed Jurassica by Dan Giovanonni.
The six Australian premieres include: The Village Bike by British playwright Penelope Skinner (directed by ensemble member Ngaire Dawn Fair); Splendour by British writer Abi Morgan, screenwriter of The Iron Lady (directed by Jenny Kemp); Trevor by American writer Nick Jones (writer and co-producer of Orange is the New Black); and The River by British screenwriter and playwright Jez Butterworth (who co-wrote 2015 films Spectre and Black Mass).
You Got Older by American playwright and actor Clare Barron (directed by ensemble member Brett Cousins) and Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov – a new version by Annie Baker, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning The Flick that enjoyed sold out seasons at Red Stitch in 2014 & 2015. Nadia Tass joins the company again to direct Bakers’ work.
Each production features a cast of core ensemble members in collaboration with directors, designers, playwrights and guest actors in a shared commitment to artistic integrity and brave performances, enhanced by the intimacy of the Red Stitch stage.
In a special event, Red Stitch is collaborating with Geelong Performing Arts Centre to co-present the Victorian premiere of Australian playwright Hannie Rayson’s Extinction, directed by Nadia Tass and featuring ensemble members Ngaire Dawn Fair and Brett Cousins. Extinction will have a season at GPAC followed by seasons at Canberra Theatre and Arts Centre Melbourne.
The partnership with GPAC will also include rehearsed readings in Geelong. A crucial part of script development, the readings of Tom Holloway’s Sunshine and Caleb Lewis’ The Honey Bees will give audiences a rare glimpse into these extraordinary new Australian works in progress before they hit the Red Stitch stage.
In 2016 Red Stitch’s annual site-specifc one day only event, PLAYlist is to be held at Melbourne’s iconic Bakehouse. Themed DREAM, PLAYllist will see the Red Stitch ensemble joined by guest artists and musicians for a spectacular immersive theatre experience, roaming throughout this extraordinary historical arts venue. PLAYlist is Red Stitch’s major annual fundraising event.
The Company ends 2015 on a real high, with full houses, critical acclaim and increased new audience attendance, with more people coming to Red Stitch for the first time. In 2015 Red Stitch presented two shows in Sydney – Grounded and Dead Centre/Sea Wall (which also saw the Company touring to Darwin Festival and Brisbane Festival for the first time).
Red Stitch’s creative approach to fundraising – Kindred – has had a significant impact in the last two years, and continues to play a vital role in its growth and ability to nurture artists and develop boldly and sustainably. Kindred are passionate, enquiring theatre-goers who support the ensemble through an annual tax-deductible giving program, and have a close relationship with the ensemble, providing a unique insight into the company.
“Since 2002 Red Stitch has nurtured artists, providing a creative hub and creating work that demands to be seen. We have shared with you some extraordinary nights in our intimate theatre,” said Artistic Director Ella Caldwell.
“2016 at Red Stitch is daring and asks big questions. We offer another year of exceptional new plays, two of which I’m delighted to say are premieres of new Australian work, and we embark on the next 15 years of Red Stitch.”
For more information, visit: www.redstitch.net for details.
Image: Uncle Vanya – courtesy of Red Stitch Actors Theatre