Charting the painfully crazy, hilarious life of a defiant young poet and sexual rebel as she searches for artistic and personal freedom, New Theatre presents Dorothy Hewett’s iconic masterpiece of Australian theatre, The Chapel Perilous for a limited season from 27 April 2017.
Set against a background of Australia’s changing social landscape, we follow Sally Banner’s coming-of-age as a communist, feminist, bohemian, lover, wife, mother, and writer. At the heart of the play is the conflict between Sally’s journey through adolescence to womanhood and self-discovery, and the constricting attitudes of a conservative society.
Hewett’s semi-autobiographical play is a heady cocktail of drama, comedy, vaudeville, musical theatre and panoramic social realism: ground-breaking, daring, confronting and hugely entertaining.
New Theatre welcomes recent NIDA graduate Carissa Licciardello (MFA in Directing, 2016) to bring this wonderful play to life. “The Chapel Perilous immediately grabbed my attention because of both its subject matter and its epic, hyper-theatrical form,” says Licciardello.
“Though written 45 years’ ago, it is no ‘museum piece’ – what Hewett explores and realizes so poetically here is the same journey, the same series of challenges that today’s young women are faced with, and it resonated strongly with me as a young female (and a young female artist in particular).”
“The vast majority of what Sally encounters during the play are things myself, my friends, so many women I know have encountered and often still do encounter. Feminism is very much still alive and kicking, because there’s still a long way to go in terms of how women are perceived, represented and treated by society at large.”
“This production is an opportunity to direct a play that deals with politics that I feel very passionately about in a way that is really fun, entertaining and touching and I’m really grateful to New Theatre for giving me the opportunity to bring Hewett’s amazing play to Sydney audiences.”
The Chapel Perilous brings together both experienced creatives and those at the start of their careers: Mathilda Robba (costume design) graduated from NIDA in 2016 with a MFA in Design for Performance, while production designer Kyle Jonsson is completing his NIDA training this year whilst gaining practical experience on this production.
Additional members of the creative team include Martin Kinnane, one of Australia’s most accomplished lighting designers, together with Clemence Williams (sound design) and Alexander Lee-Rekers (musical director). The cast includes actors returning to the New and a number of young performers working here for the first time, including 2015 NIDA Acting graduate Julia Christensen taking on one of the great female roles of Australian theatre in ‘Sally Banner’.
Dorothy Hewett’s career as a writer spanned fiction, poetry, plays and articles for which she received numerous awards and fellowships throughout her life. Her contribution to Australian literature was recognised with an Order of Australia medal (AM) in 1986.
Hewett held the position of writer-in-residence at least nine times at Australian universities and once overseas. Her publishing record is vast and includes three novels, a first volume of memoirs, Wild card (the second volume was in process at the time of her death), fifteen plays, anthologies of poetry, radio and screenplays, short stories, musicals, librettos and articles for Australian and overseas journals.
Her plays include: This Old Man Comes Rolling Home, Mrs Porter and the Angel, The Tatty Hollow Story, The Golden Oldies, Golden Valley, The Man From Mukinupin, Song of the Seals, Me and the Man in the Moon, and Nowhere, just to name a few.
Director: Carissa Licciardello Featuring: Courtney Bell, Alison Chambers, Julia Christensen, Meg Clarke, Jasper Garner-Gore, Brett Heath, Madeleine Osborne, Tom Matthews, James Wright Production Designer: Kyle Jonsson Lighting Designer: Martin Kinnane Costume Designer: Mathilde Robba Sound Designer: Clemence Williams Musical Director: Alexander Lee-Rekers Assistant Director: Eve Beck Assistant Production Designer: Ella Butler Stage Manager: Shushannah Anderson
The Chapel Perilous
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season: 27 April – 27 May 2017 (previews: 25 & 26 May)
Information and Bookings: www.newtheatre.org.au
Image: courtesy of New Theatre