Written by one of Russia’s most profound writers, activists and Nobel Prize winners, Burning House presents Maxim Gorky’s Summerfolk at St. Kilda’s Theatre Works for four performances only from 23 March 2017.
A large ensemble of friends are on vacation. They are the quintessential Summerfolk. Isolated and shielded from the tumultuous events of an empire in upheaval, these Summer guests are free to enjoy life at leisure in the Russian countryside. In whatever way they choose…
Written in the months leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1905, Summerfolk is heavily influenced by the work of Anton Chekhov. It was written not long after his death, and is set in the same year. Originally intended to run from 8 to 9 hours in length, it’s a powerful piece infused with the anger and energy of a nation dissatisfied with its way of life.
It is not a play of barricades, blood on the streets or backroom political deals. It is an invitation to live and embrace a life of passion, fulfillment, and agency. Featuring a massive 17 strong cast, this ambitious new adaptation by emerging independent company Burning House takes a rarely performed classic work, and transplants it in modern day Australia.
“With a cast of seventeen, we spent a lot of last year building a really strong ensemble,” says director, Robert Johnson. “It’s a huge play for us – not just in size but in range, and it really challenges audiences to look at how they live and embrace life to a large degree. It’s very beautiful.”
With two successful productions to their credit already, Burning House is another welcome, vibrant addition to the wonder that is the Melbourne Independent Arts scene. Summerfolk looks to be their most challenging yet and offers theatre lovers an exciting ‘blink and you miss it’ season of this unique classic.
Maxim Gorky was a Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method and a political activist. He was also a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gorky’s most famous works were The Lower Depths, Twenty-six Men and a Girl, The Song of the Stormy Petrel, The Mother, Summerfolk and Children of the Sun.
Around fifteen years before success as a writer, he frequently changed jobs and roamed across the Russian Empire; these experiences would later influence his writing. He had an association with fellow Russian writers Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov; Gorky would later mention them in his memoirs.
Director: Robert Johnson Featuring: Tom Heath, Kerrie-Anne Baker, Seton Pollock, Alexander Rouse, David Meadows, Amy Bradney-George, Nicholas Rijs, Charlotte Fox, Nicholas Clark, Luke Lennox, James Chris-tensen, Alisha Eddy, Elisa Armstrong, Sarah Nicolazzo, Rhyal Williams, Chenoa Williams
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Season: 23 – 26 March 2017
For more information, visit: www.burninghousetheatre.com for details.
Image: Nick Clark and Sarah Nicolazzo feature in Summerfolk – photo by Jacinta Anderson