Malthouse Theatre, home of Melbourne’s most provocative theatre, will debut Because The Night from 23 March 2021, a new landmark immersive theatre show, which takes place across more than 30 custom-built fantasy rooms in the historic Malthouse building in Southbank.
Because The Night draws inspiration from the explosive story of Hamlet. The threads of corruption, love, and revenge are reimagined in a new play, set in a fictional 1980s wood logging town called Elsinore, where the sudden death of the king and an uprising workers’ rights movement threatens the stability of the crown.
Inside the palace are whispers and eruptions, and the ancient forest is holding a secret that will topple everyone as the town prepares for their annual winter solstice carnival.
During the show, audiences can freely explore the detailed world as the performance unfolds around them. As a silent witness to the story, audiences start from one of three entrances and can follow the actors and the main narratives, or venture off the beaten track to uncover hidden rooms and secrets hiding in the palace.
“We are creating an entire fictional world that an audience is empowered to walk around and explore,” says Matthew Lutton, Artistic Director & Co-CEO, Malthouse Theatre. “It invites you to follow your own curiosities – to open doors and follow the stories that entice you – to escape from the outside world and be immersed in an alternative reality.”
“The Hamlet narrative of a murder covered up, regime change, and a son seeking revenge is one narrative unfolding. But we have invented entirely new stories for the other characters we have ripped from the Hamlet myth.”
“We’ve created a country where everything is in flux; the ruling family is cracking, the timber workers are revolting, and the forest is fighting back. To my knowledge, there has never been an immersive show of this scale and nature created in Australia,” says Lutton.
Devised by Malthouse Theatre’s artistic team, including Artistic Director and Co-CEO Matthew Lutton, and Resident Artists Ra Chapman and Kamarra Bell-Wykes, Because The Night was created as a direct response to COVID-19 in order to perform to reduced audience numbers and promote a safe theatre experience for actors and audiences.
The show will be performed by six actors to just 60 audience members in two sessions per night, where the theatre is thoroughly cleaned between performances and actors and audiences can maintain social distancing during the performance.
Because The Night will feature two rotating casts including Keegan Joyce (Cloudstreet, 2019) and Khisraw Jones-Shukoor as Hamlet, Jen Vuletic (My Dearworthy Darling, 2019) and Belinda McClory (Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.) as Gertrude, and Nicole Nabout (Good Muslim Boy, 2018) and Maria Theodorakis as the reimagined queen Claudia.
The cast also features Tahlee Fereday (Blackie Blackie Brown, 2019) and Artemis Ioannides as Ophelia, Harvey Zielinski and Ras-Samuel Welda’abzgi (WEYA Ensemble) as Laertes, and Rodney Afif (Good Muslim Boy, 2018) and Syd Brisbane as Polonius.
“Because The Night was dreamed up during the winter lockdown when Matt and I were despairing of how we could bring artists and audiences back together with the constant hovering spectre of COVID-19,” says Sarah Neal, Executive Producer & Co-CEO, Malthouse Theatre.
“We wanted to do two things that were seemingly contradictory: to create a new work of scale greater than anything we had done before, and for this to have inbuilt flexibility for audience numbers.”
“Logistics have been extremely complicated but the entire Malthouse Theatre team has risen to the challenge to create an unforgettable experience for audiences – to reach beyond expectations by creating a production that will be unlike anything we’ve made before.”
“Audiences deserve a transporting live experience, and our artists and team are itching to create it,” said Neal.
Concept / Direction: Matthew Lutton Featuring: Rodney Afif, Syd Brisbane, Tahlee Fereday, Artemis Ioannides, Khisraw Jones-Shukoor, Keegan Joyce, Belinda McClory, Nicole Nabout, Maria Theodorakis, Jennifer Vuletic, Ras-Samuel Welda’abzgi, Harvey Zielinski Set Design (Architecture): Dale Ferguson Set Design (Interiors): Marg Horwell Associate Set Design (Interiors): Matilda Woodroofe Composition / Sound Design: J. David Franzke Lighting Design: Amelia Lever-Davidson Costume Design: Kat Chan Assistant Direction: Bridget Balodis Text: Kamarra Bell-Wykes, Ra Chapman, Matthew Lutton Dramaturg: Mark Pritchard
Because The Night
Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: from 23 March 2021
Information and Bookings: www.malthousetheatre.com.au
Image: (L-R) Keegan Joyce, Nicole Nabout, Khisraw Jones-Shukoor and Tahlee Fereday – photo by Phoebe Powell