This Rough Magic – A Christmas Island Tempest

AAR-The-Street-Theatre-This-Rough-MagicAn exhilarating epic of power reckoning, survival and the cost of pursuing the promise of a better life, award-winning playwright Helen Machalias reimagines Shakespeare’s The Tempest for our time with This Rough Magic in a world premiere season at Canberra’s The Street Theatre this November.

A chaotic storm erupts. A disastrous shipwreck ensues. Refugees Prospero, Miranda and Ariel are washed ashore on Christmas Island seeking asylum in Australia. But this side of the story is yet to be seen.

This Rough Magic merges elements of the plot, dialogue and characters of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with media reports of the Christmas Island detention centre, first-hand accounts of the asylum seeker experience within the Australian system, and Persian storytelling to create an exciting new Australian work made in Canberra.

“This is a production to delight audiences who love Shakespeare, but also extends the boundaries of what people might expect from a Shakespeare adaptation – in This Rough Magic, Iranian culture, Farsi language and Persian myth and poetry are mixed with the Shakespearean text, and the magic held by the characters and the island setting contrasts with the harsh realities of Australian politics on the mainland,” said playwright Helen Machalias.

Machalias’s work with dramaturg Granaz Moussavi, an Academy Award nominee, went beyond the original mega texts to find contemporary relevance and reflect the realities of refugees Moussavi met through her work in detention centres, including Christmas Island.

Grown and developed from 2020 through the pandemic with an inclusive mix of directors, dramaturgs and actors, This Rough Magic also will be published by Currency Press.

Producing this work confirms The Street’s ongoing commitment to the development of ambitious new works for the stage and its position as the leading producer of new work in the ACT.

“This is a bold, thrilling big ideas play that talks to who we are and the world around us in an exhilarating and fantastical fashion. Made by a remarkable creative team we promise infinitely rich theatre of inquiry and imagination,” said The Street’s Artistic Director and CEO, Caroline Stacey OAM.

Acclaimed Director Beng Oh crafts an extraordinary fast-moving spectacle conjuring an island of strange sounds and wondrous sights, enigmatic characters, and surprising relationships.

An excellent acting ensemble featuring George Kanaan, Lainie Hart, Andre Le, Reza Momenzada and Kaitlin Nihill open up the spaces between myth and reality, life and death, freedom and control.

With poetic writing pulsing with energy, This Rough Magic is a rich theatrical conversation with Shakespeare’s The Tempest, new in form, epic in scale and full of mysticism and longing.

Director: Beng Oh | Featuring: George Kanaan, Lainie Hart, Andre Le, Reza Momenzada, Kaitlin Nihill | Design: Imogen Keen | Lighting Design: Gerry Corcoran | Sound Design: Kyle Sheedy | Dramaturgy: Dr Rebecca Clode, Granaz Moussavi

This Rough Magic
The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra City West
Season: 11 – 19 November 2023 (preview: 10 November)
Information and Bookings:

Image: The Street Theatre presents the world premiere of This Rough Magic (supplied)