Bartleby_The Street TheatreDid you ever want to live in the office? Take your pants off? Show your human side? Pitting humanity against the demands of efficiency, set here in the contemporary Australian office, a brand new stage version of American writer Herman Melville’s classic story, Bartelby will be presented at The Street Theatre in a world premiere season to 3 August.

The enigmatic character, Bartleby, embodies the confounding human problem at the heart of the office workplace. Imagined by Melville in his equally enigmatic and acclaimed 1853 story that bears the character’s name, he asks: how much of another person’s humanity will we bear when it obstructs the flow of our work? What is the meaning of the work we do?

Canberra writer/director Julian Hobba’s adaptation of Melville’s story puts Bartleby in the contemporary Australian office, where the demands of technology and expectations of endless advancement have made the atmosphere permanently schizophrenic. Brilliantly capable, frustratingly unworkable, he forces the wise old lawyer who employs him to choose between the office — that effective system for managing human behaviour — and Bartleby’s being.

Bartleby was developed through The Hive program at The Street Theatre, participated in by Julian while he was Program Manager – Arts and Culture for the Centenary of Canberra celebrations. Deciding to stay permanently in Canberra Julian has formed Aspen Island Theatre Company to create contemporary Australian theatre in Canberra that is intelligent and inventive and engages with the present.

Julian has directed, produced and written three independent works in Melbourne. He wrote and directed Honey Bunny’s Sagittarian Full Moon Finale (2011) and wrote and produced I do, in Caroline Springs (Dir. Peter J Adams, 2005) and Delicacy (Dir. Wesley Enoch, 2006). His play Father Son Rule was shortlisted for the 2008 Griffin Award.

Legendary Australian actor and Street Theatre favourite Max Cullen returns to perform the role of the Old Lawyer, the narrator of the original story. Max plays alongside Dene Kermond (Muriel’s Wedding, Strictly Ballroom, Heart of a Dog) as the relentlessly ambitious young lawyer, and introduced in the title role of Bartleby is ACT improvisation master, Ben Crowley (Chalk Pit, Love Song).

Hobba leads a strong creative team of scenic designer, Christiane Nowak (From a Black Sky, Noplace, Kapture), lighting designer, Gillian Schwab (In Loco Parentis, To Silence, WordPlay, Pea!), and sound designer Kimmo Vennonen (2010 MEAA Green Room Award Winner).

The stage adaptation seeks to capture the humour and poignancy so memorably evoked by Melville, eliciting its ongoing relevance to the way we experience our lives as office workers today.

The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra City west
Season continues to 3 August 2014
Bookings: (02) 6247 1223 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: courtesy of Aspen Island Theatre Company