Darlinghurst Theatre Company announces 2022 season and $100K funding for new work from the Australia Council

DTC-Amylia-Harris-photo-by-Clare-HawleyDarlinghurst Theatre Company has unveiled its most ambitious season yet, with work presented on six stages in four states across the nation.

The 2022 program is the first put together by Amylia Harris as sole artistic director and builds on her inclusive vision for the company that has seen it successfully emerge from two consecutive lockdowns. It features productions of varying scale from plays and musicals to genre-defying happenings that combine the best of cabaret, burlesque and fully-fledged festivals, as well as transformative talks and workshops.

The company will also continue to function as an incubator of ground-breaking new writing, for which the company has received $100,000 in funding from the Australia Council for the Arts. In both its programming and delivery, the season is being guided by the principles of its newly released Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement, which was developed with Cessalee Stovall and State A Change.

“2022 is the culmination of two years of growth and exploration. When the going got tough, we got to work. We listened to our community and threw out the rule book of what theatre is and discovered what it can be,” said Amylia Harris.

2022 gets underway with two major Sydney Festival events. Amy Campbell’s new production of A Chorus Line opens on 11 January at Parramatta Riverside Theatre, before transferring to the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House on 11 February. This long-awaited premiere comes nearly two years after the global pandemic scuppered the production following four sold-out previews.

Jasmine Lee-Jones’ smash-hit seven methods of killing kylie jenner also returns due to popular demand. Taking Sydney by storm and receiving nightly standing ovations during its first sold-out season earlier this year, this co-production with Green Door Theatre Company also plays Parramatta Riverside from 6 – 9 February before returning home to the Eternity Playhouse on 12 February. Co-directed by Zindzi Okenyo and Shari Sebbens, this critically acclaimed production starring Moreblessing Maturure and Iolanthe will also tour to Brisbane’s La Boite and Melbourne’s Malthouse.

Moreblessing Maturure’s own play No Pink Dicks was selected for the inaugural cohort of Next In Line – Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s playwright development program last year – and will now be developed through a series of workshops in 2022, for which the Australia Council for the Arts has committed $100,000 in funding.

Head of New Writing, Leila Enright, says, “Next In Line was created to shape the theatre of the future and give this country’s most exciting voices a space to thrive. The fact that the Australia Council has given us this grant after only our first year, is an incredible acknowledgement of how important our work is and a sign of its confidence in the talent of our writers.”

Throughout the year, Darlinghurst Theatre Company will work closely with Stage A Change to implement the company’s Access, Equity and Inclusion Statement released on 9 December, and to support the artists, audiences and allies in the community.

Another central pillar of the 2022 season is The ChangeMaker’s Program, also in partnership with Stage A Change “We are incredibly proud that, as the first cohort of Stage A Change’s The ChangeMakers program, we are programming a series of industry focused workshops developed by Stage A Change that aim to make our sector more anti-racist, accessible, equitable and inclusive,” says Harris.

Harris is walking the talk, with a season that features a number of new works and productions that once again challenge the conventions of what one expects to see in a theatre space, as well as ensuring everyone feels safe and welcome.

Following a hugely successful first outing in 2021, the body positivity festival Big Thick Energy returns bigger and juicier than ever. Curated by Demon Derriere, it will combine skills-sharing workshops with local artisan markets and evenings of high-energy entertainment starring some of Sydney’s most voluptuous burlesque dancers, drag royalty and Vogue goddesses.

Late March sees Darlo present Malthouse Theatre’s production of Aran Thangaratnam’s Stay Woke – its second collaboration with the company for the year. Directed by Bridget Balodis and starring Green Room Award-winning Dushan Phillips (Red Stitch Actors’ Ensemble) alongside newcomer Kaivu Suvarna, this original comedy lays bare the bitter warfare behind brotherly love.

From 3 May, Creative Director Amy Sole and Creative Producer Phoebe Grainer will take up an Artists Residency to present BIG BLAK BANG. This full-venue takeover is an explosion of Blak excellence and storytelling that is deeply connected to the past, while also looking toward the future.

It will feature First Nations market stalls, drag performance, cabaret, poetry and yarning centred around a post-dramatic Blak theatre piece in the auditorium. It promises to be an unforgettable fortnight in which First Nations artists of all forms and experience will have the autonomy to be seen, heard and celebrated.

Following this, Darlinghurst Theatre Company will present the NSW premiere of Benched, written by and starring actor and award-winning playwright Jamila Main. Following three successful seasons in South Australia in 2021 and a season at the 2022 Midsumma Festival, this joyful, conversational and candid piece of immersive theatre invites audiences to join Jamila on the bench for an intimate moment of rumination on athleticism within a body whose access needs subvert the assumed binary of disability.

As part of Sydney Fringe in September, legendary cabaret YUMMY will bring their brand-new show incorporating drag, dance, circus, and burlesque to the Eternity Playhouse. Traversing entertainment and performance art, YUMMY have toured to over 50 festivals winning hearts and minds around the globe. Recent awards include The People’s Choice Award (Melbourne Fringe 2021), Best Cabaret (Fringe World 2019) and Best Production (Green Room Awards 2018) among others.

September also sees Dino Dimitriadis direct the Australian premiere of Overflow by Travis Alabanza (Burgerz). “Club toilets have taught me more about sisterhood than any book,” says the internationally acclaimed writer, who is one of the UK’s most prominent trans voices. Dubbed “a future classic” by the Evening Standard, this is a hilarious and devastating tour of women’s bathrooms, who is allowed in and who is kept out.

Darlo Undergrounda rolling program of intimate performances in the theatre’s New York inspired cabaret lounge is back. Including the hugely popular open-mic night, Thirsty Thursdays, and featuring hidden gems and international festival headliners, no genre is off-limits.

It will be accompanied by Darlo Grandstand – home to the spoken word poetry and live music jams of Revolution Renegade, as well as Queer Table Reads. Darlo Grandstand will see some of Australia’s most exciting artists take over the Darlo main stage in work that is riveting, outlandish, visceral and of-the-moment.

The smash-hit musical ONCE is also returning to the main stage and opens on 24 June after a season in Perth with Black Swan State Theatre Company. Following an extended, sold-out season in 2019, and a return season in 2021 that was cut short by the lockdown, this is the third chance for Sydney audiences to fall in love with Richard Carroll’s award-winning production featuring musical direction by Victoria Falconer and breathtaking dance sequences by Amy Campbell.

On 6 October, the highly anticipated Let the Right One In finally lands at Darlo in a production directed by Alexander Berlage. Based on the best-selling novel and film of the same name, this spine-tingling vampire thriller of mythic proportions has been superbly crafted for the stage by Jack Thorne – the award-winning writer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Originally programmed as part of the 2020 season and postponed due to the lockdown, this will be the last premiere of the season and guaranteed to set audiences’ blood racing.

“Theatre isn’t accessible, but it should be. At Darlo, programming is just one arm of a full company strategy to do and be better. Be welcome at Darlo; we have reimagined and are reignited. This is a space for you. 2022 is a season for everyone,” says Harris.

Tickets for Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s 2022 season are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.darlinghursttheatre.com for details.

Image: Amylia Harris – photo by Clare Hawley