A landmark year, 2018 sees The Australian Shakespeare Company celebrating the remarkable 30th Anniversary of their Shakespeare Under The Stars. Growing from a kernel of an idea in 1988, Shakespeare Under The Stars is now an integral part of the cultural fabric of summer in Melbourne.
Being interviewed by The Age in 1988, The Australian Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Glenn Elston said “When I directed an indoor play I thought: “This is crazy. I want to do shows outdoors.” Elston makes it his mission “to get the audience and actors out of a black box and set it on the lawn.”
He says the Melbourne climate offers a great opportunity to develop more outdoor theatre. For Elston there is an added excitement in outdoor plays: “You just can’t predict what it’s going to be like. I thought it would be more fun to play with the environment – trees, bushes, lake. They offer a beautiful setting.”
Drawing on and developing inspiration from this article 30 years ago, no one can dispute that The Australian Shakespeare Company has pioneered an iconic form of theatre in Australia. Performing in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Darwin, and in regional and remote areas ranging from Thursday Island to Beswick Falls (Arnhem Land), these productions have been seen by hundreds of thousands of theatre lovers, often spanning generations.
Celebrating in style, this year The Australian Shakespeare Company is proudly presenting a compelling new production of the Bard’s greatest drama; Macbeth – a tale of one man’s ill-fated journey. After receiving a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland, the heroic General is consumed by ambition and spurred into action by his power-hungry wife.
Macbeth fulfils the forecast by killing the King and then taking the throne. However, wracked with guilt and paranoia both he and his murderous wife’s lives slowly unravel, leaving them to suffer their fate. What’s done cannot be undone…
Starring Nathaniel Dean (The Secret River, STC) as Macbeth and the much-lauded actor Alison Whyte in the infamous role of Lady Macbeth, this summer The Australian Shakespeare Company unleashes a visceral new production of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy in the inspiring surrounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s a potent tale of morality versus power.
The thrilling use of candlelight and the interplay of shadows conjures the plays supernatural tones and evokes the earthy environment of this psychological thriller. An immersion into darkness, the seduction of magical thinking and a world where dynasty equals destiny, Macbeth poses a terrifying question: just how in control of our own fate are we?
Bring a friend or the whole family, arrive early and grab a spot on the grass, then enjoy a dusk stroll through the gorgeous gardens. Unpack a picnic or have gourmet food delivered as you settle in to watch the sunset… and let the intrigue begin.
Southern Cross Lawn – Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Observatory Gate, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra
Season: 21 December 2018 – 23 February 2019
Information and Bookings: www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au
Image: Alison Whyte and Nathaniel Dean star in Macbeth – photo by Nicole Cleary