Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre has revealed Matthew Lutton’s first season as Artistic Director, inviting audiences to ‘think again’ about what is happening politically and personally in the world around us, and to rethink stories we might assume are familiar.
“Next year we’re presenting theatre that is provocative in its ideas, inventive in form, and created collaboratively; and doing this in entertaining ways,” says Lutton. “It’s a season that will ignite heated debate about sex, death and revolution, and bring a wide range of communities together through new works created by independent and international artists.”
The year kicks off with post-modern diva Meow Meow making a celebrated return to the company for Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid. A sexy spectacle, with just a little bit of punk, this decidedly un-Disney cabaret is a modern rethink of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. This world premiere marks the second instalment of the ‘Little’ trilogy, which began with Malthouse Theatre’s 2011 work Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl.
In another world premiere, Joan Lindsay’s haunting Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock will be adapted by Tom Wright for its first ever professional staging. “This novel has embedded itself in our national psyche, and still speaks to us about what it means to live in this country and be Australian today. This is Malthouse Theatre’s 2016 vision of Lindsay’s nightmare,” said Lutton – who will direct the work.
Lutton will also direct Anthony Weigh’s new play, a radical take on Christopher Marlowe’s historic play, Edward II – which drops the Elizabethan language for a contemporary escapade of narcissism, addiction and revolution.
Eamon Flack’s critically acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie – starring Pamela Rabe (Wentworth) as Amanda Wingfield, comes to Melbourne, fresh from receiving the Best Play accolade at the Helpmann Awards, and a sell-out season at Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre.
Demonstrating a commitment to international partnerships, Malthouse Theatre collaborates with the world’s most notorious theatre collective, Berlin’s Gob Squad, in a new production that tackles a 19th century icon of literature in the international premiere of War and Peace (Around a Kitchen Table).
“Gob Squad are theatrical rebels,” said Lutton. “They have the guts to take on Tolstoy’s epic, and will fearlessly break down the fourth wall, taking Malthouse Theatre out onto the streets. No one else could do what Gob Squad do.”
Nakkiah Lui (Blak Cabaret, ABC’s Black Comedy) brings her incredible wit and provocative politics to a satire of 90s dance films in Blaque Showgirls – the story of a white-skinned ‘blaque’ girl who dreams of becoming the best Aboriginal dancer in Brisvegas.
The Fiery Maze will reimagine the format of intimate concert, bringing together for the first time the incredible talents of legendary musician Tim Finn and the late-great poet Dorothy Porter in a series of distinctly Australian songs that bust open our notions of love and lust.
In the spirit of 2016’s invitation to ‘think again’, the season will also collaborate with communities in unexpected ways. Malthouse Theatre partners with Belvoir to produce the Australian premiere of The Events from celebrated playwright David Greig; a chilling exploration of the aftermath of a massacre, featuring Catherine McClements and a different community choir from Melbourne performing every night.
Continuing the trend of collaborations, Malthouse Theatre and St Martins present a jaw-dropping expose on teenage boys’ relationship with internet porn in Gonzo, giving voice to a community who has been unheard in the conversation until now – the teenagers themselves. “No other company could wrestle with the subject of teenage boys and pornography with more sophistication and insight than St Martins,” said Lutton of the work – which promises to be one of the most talked about shows of 2016.
UK comedian Jonny Donahoe makes the trip to Melbourne in 2016 to perform his heart-warming and internationally acclaimed one man show, Every Brilliant Thing – a reminder for audiences and communities to take stock of all the little things that make life worth living.
Local independent outfit Ranters Theatre will remind Melbourne why they are the masters of voyeuristic theatre, when they present their new production, Come Away with Me to the End of the World – written by Raimondo Cortese and brought to life through the ingenious designs of acclaimed visual artist Callum Morton.
“Malthouse Theatre is committed to Melbourne’s independent companies – not just those newly emerged, but also those who have made a lasting impression locally and internationally, such as Ranters,” said Lutton.
Rounding out the season will be a series of Artist Curated Events, including a new work from Malthouse Theatre’s 2015 Female Director in Residence Samara Hersch, and independent artists Daniel Schlusser, The Rabble and Felix Ching Ching Ho, as well as a series of events featuring playwrights Hannie Rayson and Ross Mueller.
Season 2016 subscription packages are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.malthousetheatre.com.au for details.
Image: Matthew Lutton – photo by Andrew Gough