Being a 20-something queer is hard. Being a 20-something queer living in Sydney is… something else, I guess. Dating apps, capitalist nightmares, a rental market we’re not invited to and a semi-constant state of existential terror – look, we’ve only got 12 years until climate catastrophe, might as well flail around in a spin class and buy a reusable straw.
This Bitter Earth looks at how we fight, bitch, love, confront despair and try to connect, all through the mess and the muck and the might of everyday queer existence. It’s vicious, it’s tender, it hates being touched but it kinda needs a hug. It’s an anthology of millennial crises, from drunken wine nights in dirty hostels to desolate wastelands at the end of time. And it’s gay… Really gay!
Initially developed by the writer as his major work while completing the Masters of Writing for Performance at NIDA in 2018, earlier this year, a workshop performance of selected scenes, directed by Anthony Skuse, was presented as part of PlayList at Seymour Centre during Mardi Gras. Now, New Theatre has given writer Chris Edwards, and director Riley Spadaro, the opportunity to further develop the work into a full-length play, following discussions with Artistic Director Louise Fischer.
Spadaro leads an all-female design team consisting of 2019 NIDA BFA Design for Performance graduate Grace Deacon (set and costumes); lighting designer Phoebe Pilcher who is currently studying a Master of Fine Arts in Design for Performance at NIDA, having previously graduated from WAAPA with a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Production & Design; and sound designer and composer Jessica Dunn, whose recent theatre credits include Associate Sound Designer for the acclaimed Counting and Cracking and Performing Musical Director and bass guitarist for the 2017 and 2019 runs of Barbara and the Camp Dogs.
The cast sees the return to New Theatre of NIDA graduate Ariadne Sgouros, who last year created a memorable ‘Dr Prentice’ in their production of Joe Orton’s What The Butler Saw. She’s joined by five young actors making their New Theatre debuts: fellow NIDA grad Matthew Prendy (Kinky Boots, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) and WAAPA alums Mitchell Bourke (most recently see in ABC TV’s The Heights), Michael Cameron, Elle Mickel and Sasha Simon (who’s following in the footsteps of actor mum, Joy Smithers).
“It’s a collection of six stories focusing on the everyday anxieties and interpersonal relationships of modern Australian queers,” says playwright, Chris Edwards. “It’s an anthology – there’s no overarching plot machinations or recurring characters or events, instead I’m hoping it tackles a specifically millennial set of ruminations and fascinations.”
“I’m trying to look at the ways in which we’re all fighting to connect with someone, anyone, while confronting the newfound existential despair leaking into our general consciousness. I don’t believe that ignoring the darker implications of the modern gay psyche is a viable option any longer, and replacing a critical eye with blind optimism doesn’t actually help the queer youth of today or tomorrow.”
“I want to take stock of our current queer Australian landscape, let my generation actually see itself on stage, and hope that somewhere amongst the understated brutality that we inflict upon ourselves and each other, we can find something honest, or true, or with the ability to give us a brief respite from the apocalypse happening around us… Not much to ask, I guess.”
Director: Riley Spadaro Featuring: Mitchell Bourke, Michael Cameron, Elle Mickel, Matthew Prendy, Ariadne Sgouros, Sasha Simon Set & Costume Designer: Grace Deacon Lighting Designer: Phoebe Pilcher Composer & Sound Designer: Jessica Dunn Production Manager: Jens Radda Stage Manager: Caroline McAllister
This Bitter Earth
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season continues to 27 July 2019
Information and Bookings: www.newtheatre.org.au
Image: This Bitter Earth – photo by Bob Seary