The 2023 season features 12 works that reflect Anne-Louise Sarks’s vision of telling bold stories that change, challenge, influence and entertain. A season for and about contemporary Australia.
The season will showcase the very best in Australian and international writing with five world premieres of new Australian work, a world-first staging of two plays in one evening and three of the most exciting international works making their Australian premieres.
“The 2023 season offers new perspectives – through stories that haven’t been heard before and familiar stories told in new ways,” said Anne-Louise Sarks. “We are boldly engaging in new conversations about theatre, and who we are, like never before.”
Across the 12 productions, the Company will engage over 160 Australian artists, welcoming both new emerging talents and returning favourites. And in a celebration of new Australian work, four productions developed or commissioned through MTC’s NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program will be given a mainstage platform.
“This season is also about collaboration with major theatre companies across Australia, in an ongoing commitment to sharing Australian stories that reflect our broad and diverse nation,” said Sarks. “Creating rich and compelling theatre only comes when you have different voices challenging each other in a creative process.”
“This new season marks so much more than a program of 12 exciting productions, we’re also taking a look at how we make theatre and who we have in the room.”
Leading the commitment to starting new conversations and cementing a new direction for the Company, Tasnim Hossain was recently appointed as Resident Director and Jennifer Medway as Head of New Work.
A further announcement will be made for 12 new Artistic Associates who will work with the Artistic team on shaping the future of Australian theatre.
“These 12 artists will represent a cross-section of disciplines and expertise that are essential for making work,” said Sarks. “Together with our Artistic team, these cultural leaders will transform the future of Australian theatre.”
“This is just the beginning. We have exciting plans underway for artists and audiences that we can’t wait to share,” said Sarks.
“As Melbourne Theatre Company finds its way out of an incredibly challenging chapter, there has never been a more important time to gather, to tell each other stories and to listen,” said Melbourne Theatre Company Chair Jane Hansen AO. “I can’t wait to welcome new and returning audiences to the theatre.”
“There is much to excite in Anne-Louise Sarks’s inaugural 2023 season. The commitment to new work is stronger than ever and is apparent in the productions we present and our investment in industry development programs.”
“I am thrilled to celebrate another year of exceptional theatre, heralding in a new era for Melbourne Theatre Company under a new artistic vision,” said Hansen.
Subscription packages for Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2023 Season are now available. For more information and full season program, visit: www.mtc.com.au for details.
Image: Frankie J. Holden, Vidya Makan and Anne Edmonds feature in Bloom – photo by Jo Duck
Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2023 season
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner: 16 January – 18 February
The 2023 season opens with Sunday by Anthony Weigh – an audacious fantasy inspired by the stories and myths that surround Heide Museum of Modern Art founder Sunday Reed – the muse and mentor to a circle of artists including Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester. Starring Nikki Shiels (The Picture of Dorian Gray), Matt Day (North by Northwest) and Ratidzo Mambo (The Heartbreak Choir), this Melbourne Theatre Company commission is an unforgettable story of a bold and complex woman and the price she paid for living and loving on her own terms. Directed by Sarah Goodes (The Sound Inside). Opening Night: Friday 20 January.
Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio: 8 February – 25 March
In a must-see powerhouse performance, Sheridan Harbridge reprises her award-winning role in Prima Facie. Written by former lawyer Suzie Miller and directed by Lee Lewis, this searing indictment of a legal system that consistently fails women is an Australian play like no other. The original production, produced by Griffin Theatre Company arrives in Melbourne after sell-out seasons in Sydney and Brisbane. Opening Night: Saturday 11 February.
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner: 4 March – 15 April
Anne-Louise Sarks reunites with her long-time collaborator Kate Mulvany for Bernhardt/Hamlet by Theresa Rebeck. This brilliant comedy about a woman ahead of her time offers a timeless exploration of gender and equality. Playing both Sarah Bernhardt and Hamlet, Mulvany leads a cast of 10 in a feisty and funny play about theatre – making it, loving it and watching it. Opening Night: Thursday 9 March.
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner: 1 May – 10 June.
Making her Melbourne Theatre Company debut, Judith Lucy stars in Happy Days directed by Petra Kalive. Hailed as one of the best plays ever written and a 20th-century classic by Samuel Beckett, Happy Days is an absurdist, tragicomic tour-de-force – that just happens to be a pitch-perfect commentary on our times. Opening Night: Friday 5 May.
I Wanna Be Yours
Southbank Theatre, The Lawler: 11 – 27 May
The widely acclaimed debut play from London Laureate and poetry slam champion Zia Ahmed, I Wanna Be Yours makes its Australian premiere directed by Melbourne Theatre Company Resident Director Tasnim Hossain. Starring Oz Malik, I Wanna Be Yours is a modern-day romance that asks whether love is really all you need.
Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio: 22 May – 24 June
Award-winning playwright Declan Furber Gillick brings his dynamic, insightful and bold voice to Melbourne Theatre Company’s mainstage for the first time with Jacky starring Guy Simon and Greg Stone. A sharp and witty play about family, community and culture, this ambitious new work examines the personal cost of navigating it all in contemporary Australia. An MTC NEXT STAGE commission directed by Mark Wilson. Opening Night: Saturday 27 May.
Is God Is
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner: 19 June – 15 July
Bold, brash and darkly comic, Is God Is by Aleshea Harris makes its Australian premiere in this co-production with Sydney Theatre Company, taking vengeance to levels that would make Greek tragedians proud. Winner of the Obie Award for Playwriting and the American Playwriting Foundation’s Relentless Award, it’s an electrifying breath of fresh air that examines the insidious, cyclical nature of violence through a contemporary tale as old as time. Featuring Henrietta Amevor and Masego Pitso, Is God Is is co-directed by Zindzi Okenyo and Shari Sebbens, following their previous directorial collaboration seven methods of killing kylie jenner. Opening Night: Friday 23 June.
Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse: 18 July – 19 August
Working Dog’s Tom Gleisner (Have You Been Paying Attention?) turns one of Australia’s most shameful recent failures – aged care – into a vision of hope and possibility in Bloom. Developed through MTC’s NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program and collaborating with singer, actor and composer Katie Weston (Falling Forward), they have crafted a heartwarming, uplifting and joyful musical that reminds us that there is always something to learn, no matter how old we are. Directed by Dean Bryant (Fun Home), Bloom stars comedian Anne Edmonds alongside Frankie J. Holden and Vidya Makan. Opening Night: Saturday 22 July.
Escaped Alone | What If If Only
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner: 7 August – 9 September
In a world-first production, Anne-Louise Sarks directs an evening of two short Caryl Churchill plays – What If If Only, the micro-meditation on grief and possibility starring Alison Bell; and Escaped Alone, a visionary play starring Helen Morse about afternoon tea and apocalypse. Promising to be a profound, surreal, funny and thrilling theatrical experience, these two separate works share some deep thematic parallels and showcase the dazzling alchemy of Churchill’s writing. Opening Night: Friday 11 August.
My Sister Jill
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner: 23 September – 28 October
Multi-award-winning writer Patricia Cornelius delivers a poetic, heart-rending tale in My Sister Jill, set against the backdrop of 1950s and 60s suburban Melbourne in the wake of the Second World War. Adapted from her own novel, My Sister Jill is an MTC NEXT STAGE commission directed by Susie Dee and starring Sophie Ross. This moving family drama that elegantly captures the spirit and struggle of a generation of Australians post-world war. Opening Night: Thursday 28 September.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio: 19 October – 2 December
Zahra Newman stars as the great Billie Holiday in an extraordinary showcase of acting and vocal mastery in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Co-produced by Melbourne Theatre Company with the State Theatre Company of South Australia and Belvoir St Theatre, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill will feature several of Holiday’s most beloved songs amid a personal, spoken-word tour of her life, written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Mitchell Butel. Opening Night: Tuesday 24 October.
A Very Jewish Christmas Carol
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner: 14 November – 16 December
A Very Jewish Christmas Carol closes the season in a clever twist on Charles Dickens’s classic Christmas morality tale, set in Caulfield. Directed by Sarah Giles, this MTC NEXT STAGE commission stars Natalie Gamsu, Evelyn Krape and Bert LaBonté. Written by Elise Esther Hearst and Phillip Kavanagh, A Very Jewish Christmas Carol is a funny and delightful journey of discovering who we are and remembering the things that unite us. Opening Night: Saturday 18 November.