A racy and entertaining epic story of a remarkable woman with ambition and vision and her role in the transformation of modern Australia over three decades from the 1950s, The Street Theatre will present the world premiere of Cold Light, adapted by Alana Valentine from the novel by Frank Moorhouse in a strictly limited season from 4 March 2017.
For the first time, a Frank Moorhouse novel comes to the stage with the iconic literary character of Edith Campbell Berry brought to life in Canberra. Directed by Caroline Stacey, AFI award winner Sonia Todd takes on the role of one of the most complex and intriguing women in Australian fiction.
“It is so exciting to be undertaking the colourful and intriguing journey of Edith Campbell Berry,” says Sonia Todd. “Her life is dynamic, challenging and entirely unconventional. There are not many roles as exhilarating as this.”
In Cold Light, Edith returns to Australia and to its new capital in the 1950’s with her diplomatic lavender husband and with ambition to become the country’s first female ambassador. While the first two novels in the trilogy followed Edith’s contributions to building a new world, Cold Light follows the evolution of a new Australia, as it gradually gains confidence in its own identity and Edith looks for a diplomatic position to match her talents.
“Cold Light is our Canberra blockbuster for 2017 and represents theatrical storytelling on a grand scale spanning decades, major historical events, fictional characters and people who actually lived, social mores, sumptuary laws, the personal and political,” says The Street Artistic Director/CEO Caroline Stacey.
“Hugely rich in its complexity with resonance and relevance to all Australians we are thrilled to be able to bring this contemporary classic and Canberra-themed work to life on our stage with Sonia Todd stepping into Edith’s shoes’.
In 2013, in partnership with the Centenary of Canberra, The Street commissioned award-winning playwright, Alana Valentine, to write a stage adaptation of Moorhouse’s acclaimed, prize-winning novel, Cold Light, the last novel of The Edith Trilogy.
“I am particularly gratified that the play will be performed in the wake of our celebration of the centenary of the establishment of our national capital and produced by The Street, a Canberra-based theatre company with a high reputation in Australia,” says Frank Moorhouse. “I am hugely pleased that Alana has taken on the commission – apart from her great reputation as a playwright, she is renowned for research-based theatre which Cold Light will be.”
Alana Valentine’s previous work with The Street was the box-office busting MP in October 2010. “Cold Light is a portrait of a suffocated visionary, a demanding, contradictory and unique fictional creation and I am thrilled to be working with The Street Theatre… and Frank Moorhouse’s remarkable snapshot of Australian life for the Australian stage,” said Valentine, after accepting the commission.
As the book is, the play will be about how things in the past were, or might have been: but, above all, it will be a work of the dramatic imagination set to have audiences laughing and lamenting with Edith as have millions of readers of The Edith Trilogy since 1993.
Cold Light will charm and provoke while asking timely questions about Australia’s relationship to women of vision and people of difference. This is an opportunity to see, feel and hear Edith and characters that surrounded her in the later years of her life and seriously, a performance not to be missed.
Director: Caroline Stacey Featuring: Craig Alexander, Nick Byrne, Gerard Carroll, Tobias Cole, Kiki Skountzos, Sonia Todd Set Design: Maria T Reginato Costume Design: Imogen Keen Lighting Design: Linda Buck Sound Design: Kimmo Vennonen Movement: Zsuzsi Soboslay
The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra City West
Season: 4 – 18 March 2017
Information and bookings: www.thestreet.org.au
Image: Tobias Cole, Sonia Todd, and Kiki Skountzos feature in Cold Light – photo by Shelly Higgs