Set against a backdrop of BMX bikes, Michael Jackson, Gary Ablett, Donkey Kong and Friday night Kentucky Fried Chicken, Astroman explores the highs and lows of growing up in Geelong, the exhilaration of learning and what it means to be truly courageous.
Step back in time to the ’80s. Gary Ablett has just signed with Geelong. Cyndi Lauper blares through the stereo. Thirteen-year-old Jiembra Djalu and his brother Sonny are the new kids in town, and while Jiembra may be a video game whizz and maths genius, he’s always getting into strife.
A friendship with the owner of the local arcade and a chance at gaming glory could see him change his life forever, but could also mean leaving behind what means most – his brother and adoring mother.
MTC Associate Director Sarah Goodes (A Doll’s House, Part 2) directs this delightfully charming play featuring Elaine Crombie (Black Comedy), Nicholas Denton (Wild) Kamil Ellis (Nowhere Boys), Tahlee Fereday (Fallen), Tony Nikolakopoulos (Wentworth) and Calen Tassone (Red Dog).
“Astroman has become known as one of the best unproduced plays since its huge response when it was read at the 2015 National Play Festival,” said Goodes. “Set in 1984 Geelong, Albert Belz has captured the beginning of our love affair with gaming technology and the young adult culture that fueled the ’80s with films like The Karate Kid.”
“It is unapologetically nostalgic for our shared cultural history, but also tells of an unlikely friendship between an older Greek man and a young indigenous boy, who together give each other the courage to face the outside world. I am delighted to be working together with Tony Briggs as Associate Director to bring this essential coming-of-age story to life.”
Albert Belz is a director, screenwriter, award-winning playwright and lecturer from New Zealand, and has written for television, theatre, print and radio for over a decade. His unique voice has crossed datelines and divides since very early in his career, having has his work performed in London, New York, Lille, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and even Otaki. He has also been Writer in Residence at both Victoria (Wellington) and Waikato Universities in New Zealand.
His other plays include Yours Truly (Chapman Tripp Award for Best New New Zealand Play) and Raising the Titanics (Auckland’s Metro Magazine Award for Best New Zealand Theatre). Albert also won the prestigious Bruce Mason Playwriting Award in 2006. Having returned to New Zealand from Melbourne in 2015, he currently resides in Auckland where he lectures in Writing for Screen and Stage at the Faculty of Creative Arts, Manukau Institute of Technology.
Director: Sarah Goodes Featuring: Elaine Crombie, Nicholas Denton, Kamil Ellis, Tahlee Fereday, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Calen Tassone Associate Director: Tony Briggs Set and Costume Designer: Jonathon Oxlade Lighting Designer: Niklas Pajanti Composer & Sound Designer: Jethro Woodward Associate Sound Designer: Tom Backhaus Video Designer: Jamie Clennett
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 2 November – 8 December 2018 (previews: 27 October – 1 November)
Information and Bookings: www.mtc.com.au
Image: Kamil Ellis and Calen Tassone feature in Astroman – courtesy of MTC