In a thrilling new co-production between Malthouse Theatre and Black Swan State Theatre Company, Picnic at Hanging Rock is a story that defies explanation, a story that proves that horror is a warm, sunny day.
Picnic at Hanging Rock has haunted the Australian psyche for over a century. One summer’s day in 1900, three schoolgirls and a teacher inexplicably vanished, never to be seen again. The trip was supposed to be a Saint Valentine’s Day treat. They were supposed to be home for dinner.
In Tom Wright’s chilling adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s classic novel, five performers struggle to solve the mystery of the missing girls and their teacher. Euphoria and terror will reverberate throughout Appleyard College, as the potential for history to repeat itself becomes nightmarishly real – proving once again that no one can resist the lure of Hanging Rock.
Joan Lindsay was born in Melbourne. She knew and loved the Macedon district from early childhood. In 1922 she married Sir Daryl Lindsay in London. The Lindsays travelled together in Europe and the USA, Daryl with his paints and Joan with her typewriter. Sir Daryl died in 1976. Joan lived at their country home, Mulberry Hill on the Mornington Peninsula until her death in December 1984.
Written over a four-week period, Picnic at Hanging Rock is her best-remembered book and has been often discussed and debated due to its inexorably ambiguous ending. First published in 1967 in Australia by Cheshire Publishing, it was released in paperback by Penguin in 1970. The unsolvable mystery of the disappearances was arguably the key to the success of both the book and the subsequent film.
This aroused enough lasting public interest that in 1980 a book of hypothetical solutions (by Yvonne Rousseau) was published, called The Murders at Hanging Rock. The novel is written in the form of a true story, and even begins and ends with a pseudo-historical prologue and epilogue, adding to the overall feeling of mystery.
The novel was adapted into a critically acclaimed film of the same name in 1975 by director Peter Weir. While the rock formation featured in the story, Hanging Rock is an actual geological formation located in Victoria, and the several towns mentioned are actual places near Mount Macedon – the story is entirely fictitious.
“Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction, my readers must decide for themselves. As the fateful picnic took place in 1900 and all the characters who appear are long since dead, it hardly seems important.” – Joan Lindsay (1967)
Director: Matthew Lutton Featuring: Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Arielle Gray, Amber McMahon, Elizabeth Nabben, Nikki Shiels Set & Costume Design: Zoë Atkinson Lighting Design: Paul Jackson Composition: Ash Gibson Greig Sound Design: J. David Franzke Stage Manager: Tia Clark Assistant Stage Manager: Lyndie Li Wan Po
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Merlyn Theatre – The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season continues to 20 March 2016
Bookings: (03) 9685 5111 or online at: www.malthousetheatre.com.au
Heath Ledger Theatre – State Theatre Centre of WA, William Street, Perth
Season: 2 – 17 April 2016 (preview: 1 April)
Bookings: 1300 795 012 or online at: www.ticketek.com.au
Image: Picnic at Hanging Rock – photo by Pia Johnson