After a hugely successful season to date in 2016, including its recent record-breaking production of The 39 Steps and its first ever international co-production with Things I Know To Be True, State Theatre Company of South Australia has revealed its 2017 season at a launch held at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide.
2017 marks a new direction for the Company with the formation of the State Theatre Company Ensemble, a group of actors and creatives taking residence at the Company to work on a number of productions in 2017 and 2018.
“In 2017, we’ve brought together some of the world’s best theatre-makers to create our most ambitious season yet,” said Artistic Director Geordie Brookman. “The formation of the Ensemble will reintroduce a method of theatre making not seen at the Company since John Gaden’s artistic directorship. Combined with our continuing commitment to new Australian writing and ambitious national and international partnerships 2017 promises to be a year of rich theatrical adventure.”
The year will open with a landmark piece of Australian theatre. The Secret River – Neil Armfield’s award-winning production which has played sold-out seasons at the Sydney and Perth Festivals, and in Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra finally comes to Adelaide, marking Armfield’s first year as Co-Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival. Adapted by Andrew Bovell, The Secret River is Sydney Theatre Company’s stage production of Kate Grenville’s award-winning novel. This theatrical epic will be staged in the magical setting of a quarry at Anstey Hill, as was Peter Brook’s legendary Mahabharata in the 1988 Festival.
After hugely successful seasons in New York and London, State Theatre Company will co-produce with Belvoir Theatre the Australian premiere of Mr Burns – A Post-Electric Play. Written by Anne Washburn, one of the most stylistically innovative writers of her generation, Mr. Burns explores a post-apocalyptic America and the possibility that the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology or even theology of another. Imara Savage (The Comedy Of Errors) will direct Helpmann Award-winning stars Mitchell Butel (Avenue Q) and Esther Hannaford (King Kong, Little Shop of Horrors) in this gloriously quirky take on a future world when The Simpsons might be the next major religion.
The Olivier Award nominated adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984 by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, produced by British theatre innovators Headlong with Almeida Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse, has been a phenomenon, with multiple seasons in the West End and international festival appearances. In 2017, this multimedia depiction of ubiquitous surveillance comes to Adelaide, with a new Australian cast directed by Adelaide director Corey McMahon, as part of a national tour, spearheaded by State Theatre Company South Australia, followed by a season at Sydney Theatre Company.
For the first time in two decades State Theatre Company will have an ensemble, with six actors, resident artist, resident designer and a resident director all committing to extended working periods together. The ensemble will work on two new productions presented back-to-back in both 2017 and 2018. Joining Artistic Director Geordie Brookman, Resident Artist Elena Carapetis and Resident Designer Geoff Cobham will be six of South Australia’s most exciting actors Anna Steen (The 39 Steps), Nathan O’Keefe (Things I Know To Be True), Rachel Burke (Red Sky Morning) and Dale March (War Horse) AC Arts graduate Rashidi Edward and NIDA graduate Miranda Daughtry.
In 2017 the Company’s Ensemble will feature in in two of the greatest dramatic works of the Western canon – A Doll’s House and Macbeth. For the first time in the Company’s history, it will produce A Doll’s House – Ibsen’s great play that has bewitched and divided audiences for more than 100 years, bringing energy, schism and heartbreak to the issue of gender equality in a new adaptation by Elena Carapetis (Gorgon). Shakespeare’s great tragedy Macbeth will be jumpstarted by director Geordie Brookman and the ensemble, with Nathan O’Keefe and Anna Steen as the conjoined, madly beating hearts around which a vengeance-soaked world spins.
Stage and screen legend Sandy Gore (Footfalls) returns to the Company to play one of the literary world’s most divisive and compelling figures – Patricia Highsmith, the brilliant mind behind The Talented Mr Ripley and Strangers on a Train. A hit when it premiered at Sydney Theatre Company in 2015, Joanna Murray Smith’s Switzerland has an enthralling plot that places Highsmith front and centre in a story that may or may not be of her own making.
Closing the curtain on the 2017 Company season is a new Australian work from the AWGIE Award-winning writer of Little Bird, Nicki Bloom. Vale is a dark-as-pitch comedy with a sting in its tail. Like a collision between the wit of Edward Albee and a modern Greek tragedy, Vale explores ideas of inheritance, ambition, and the way family never loosens its chokehold on anyone. After his powerful turn in Betrayal we welcome back Mark Saturno in the title role alongside State Theatre Company Resident Artist Elena Carapetis and James Smith (Volpone, Gorgon).
Our 2017 State Education production is a brand new work, Sista Girl – offering a powerful look at family, grief and the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, via the story of two women who share a father. A commissioned work, Sista Girl is co-written by Elena Carapetis and Alexis West (Echoes …. of Knowing Home) especially for Natasha Wanganeen (Rabbit Proof Fence, The Shadow King) and Nadia Rossi (The Memory of Water). After a strictly limited season in Adelaide Sista Girl will tour throughout regional and remote South Australia performing to schools and to the public.
The 2017 State Umbrella show will see the Company support local artists Emily Steel and Daisy Brown in the production and presentation of a new work – Rabbits. Based on her personal experiences of coming to Australia, playwright Emily Steel (Volpone, Man in a Bag) shrugs off her knee-jerk British niceness and creates this funny, heartfelt and irreverent one-woman show which State Theatre Company is delighted to support.
2017 further develops State Theatre Company’s reputation as a touring company with productions confirmed throughout Australia. Following a hugely successful, and critically acclaimed season in 2015, State Theatre Company’s The Popular Mechanicals is set to run riot across the country as it embarks on an extensive national tour in 2017, with seasons announced in every State and Territory except Queensland, as well as an extensive Regional South Australia tour.
“An exploration of the individual in extremis is stitched through the 2017 season, but ultimately it is a collection of great plays, brilliant actors and compelling stories, all of which come together to push the boundary of just what theatre might be able to do,” said Artistic Director Geordie Brookman.
Subscription packages are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.statetheatrecompany.com.au for details.
Image: Sandy Gore to star in Switzerland (supplied)