The Secret River

STC The Secret River tour editorialA stirring and ambitious adaptation of Kate Grenville’s award-winning novel, Sydney Theatre Company’s 2013 landmark production, The Secret River returns for an encore season before touring to Brisbane and Melbourne.

Directed by Neil Armfield and adapted by Andrew Bovell (When the Rain Stops Falling, Lantana), The Secret River is a story of two families divided by culture and land. William Thornhill arrives in New South Wales a convict from the slums of London. His family’s new home offers him something he hadn’t dare dream of: a place to call his own. On the banks of the Hawkesbury River, he plants a crop and lays claim to the soil in which it grows.

But the Hawkesbury is already home to another family. A family from the Dharug people. A family whose existence depends on that land. As Thornhill’s attachment to the land deepens, he is driven to a terrible decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Grenville’s story confronts the brutality which ensued with this collision of cultures, and the stage adaptation expands the emphasis to the experiences of both the Dharug people and the European settlers. The staging also gives a voice to the land and the river, demonstrating how human stories are uniquely shaped by their environment.

The Secret River depicts a turning point in the development of Australia; a fork in the road with the chosen path resulting in consequences we all live with today.

Winner of six Helpmann Awards, including Best Play, Best Direction and Best New Australian Work, The Secret River was heralded as “a stunning, shattering piece of theatre that goes to the heart of our history” (The Sunday Telegraph).

“Director Neil Armfield, designer Stephen Curtis and composer Iain Grandage translate the rich detail and drama of Kate Grenville’s novel into a moving and substantial work for the stage.” – Sydney Morning Herald

Director: Neil Armfield  Featuring: Georgia Adamson, Joshua Brennan, Toby Challenor, Shaka Cook, Nathaniel Dean, Frances Djulibing, Jennifer Hagan, Isaac Hayward, Trevor Jamieson, Heath Jelovic, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Madeleine Madden, Colin Moody, Jeremiah Mundine, Wesley Patten, Kelton Pell, Richard Piper, Rory Potter, James Slee, Bruce Spence, Matthew Sunderland

Artistic Associate: Stephen Page  Set Designer: Stephen Curtis  Costume Designer: Tess Schofield  Lighting Designer: Mark Howett  Composer: Iain Grandage  Musical Director: Isaac Hayward  Sound Designer: Steve Francis Tour Director: Kip Williams  Dramaturg: Matthew Whittet  Fight Director: Scott Witt

The Secret River
Roslyn Packer Theatre, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Performances continue to 20 February 2016

Playhouse – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, Southbank (Brisbane)
Performances: 25 February – 5 March 2016

Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performances: 10 – 19 March 2016

Image: The Secret River – photo by James Green