Queensland Theatre Season 2019 - A Season of Dreamers


Queensland Theatre is set to continue its upward trajectory with the announcement of an exciting 2019 season, featuring no less than five world premieres as well as theatre classics and new takes on old favourites. Titled ‘A Season of Dreamers’, Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Sam Strong said that the collection of works that will roll out over 2019 “are unified by a spirit of optimism. Even if the stories occasionally break our hearts with tragic circumstances, they are all shot through with hope.”

 
The 2019 season also continues Strong’s ‘state of origin’ approach, attracting leading Queensland talents back to Brisbane as well as featuring the best and brightest local talents and, once again, ensuring gender parity of writers and directors on the programme.

Without further ado, the productions of Queensland Theatre’s 2019 season will be (drum roll please):
·        Death of a Salesman
·        Hydra
·        Barbara and the Camp Dogs
·        City of Gold
·        Storm Boy
·        L’Appartement
·        Fangirls
·        Antigone

See below for a more detailed outline of this exciting season!
Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Sam Strong (top)
and Executive Director Amanda Jolly (bottom),
photographed by Tim Jones Photography

Strong said that the 2019 season is defined by the variety of experiences that it gives audiences. “Between the book-ends of two of the greatest plays ever written, we have an exquisitely observed relationship portrait, a rock and roll road trip, a provocative political battle cry, a heart-warming family classic, a wicked social comedy, and even a joyous new musical,” he said. “Theatre-goers can be part of the extreme passion that only teenage years can induce, the disillusion that can accompany the end of a working life, the idealism of young adulthood, the ebbs and flows of a long relationship, and the bittersweet passage from childhood to adulthood.”

2019 also marks the beginning of celebrations for Queensland Theatre’s 50th anniversary season in 2020 and its first full year of programming in its own home theatre. The Bille Brown Studio is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation (read about my visit to the under-construction space here) and will reopen in October as the Bille Brown Theatre, featuring a state-of-the-art corner stage.

Further afield, Queensland Theatre will continue its efforts to spread theatre to all corners with a record 129 interstate performances scheduled for 2019 through co-productions with the state theatre companies in Adelaide and Melbourne.

More exciting announcements - Queensland Theatre have appointed the award-winning all-female independent Brisbane theatre company Belloo Creative as Resident Company. The four women who make up Belloo will become an integral part of Queensland Theatre’s leadership team as well as creating a work for the 2020 season. Queensland Theatre also announced that from 2019, RACQ will become the company’s first Principal Partner. “Such partnerships are only possible when two companies share a profound alignment of purpose,” Strong said. “Both of us are about improving the lives of Queenslanders.”

Season subscriptions are now on sale, and single tickets will go on sale at 9am on December 3, 2018 (Death of a Salesman, Hydra, Barbara and the Camp Dogs and City of Gold) and 9am on April 29, 2019 (Storm Boy, L’Appartement, Fangirls and Antigone). Tickets can be purchased via phone, email, or through the Queensland Theatre website.

Queensland Theatre – Season 2019

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
February 9 – March 2, 2019 at the Playhouse, QPAC

As the death-rattle of American optimism echoes through the land of the Free Market, travelling salesman Willy Loman loses himself in the halcyon haze of the past. Once the king of the road, Willy is veering off it. Time was, he could sell anyone anything, and his reward was the whole package: wife, two sons, the car, the white picket fence. But now he’s feeling his years. He’s behind on the mortgage, he’s sidelined by his wet-behind-the-ears boss, and the final straw is when his adult son Biff – once a sporting prodigy, now a directionless disappointment – lands on the doorstep, further loosening Willy’s grip on the reality of his broken-down life.

Death of a Salesman is the requiem for the American dream that defined the 20th Century. Arthur Miller’s towering classic is a timeless meditation on the human need to feel special, a withering commentary on capitalism, and a tragic portrait of a fallout between father and son. The play won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play and has gone on to win three more Tony Awards for Best Revival on Broadway. Now it comes to Brisbane, directed by stage powerhouse Jason Klarwein.

The Cast includes: Charles Allen (True West, Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story), Kevin Hides (Composing Venus, A Conversation), Peter Kowitz (Janet King, Crownies), Thomas Larkin (The Wider Earth, Macbeth), Jackson McGovern (The Owl and the Pussycat, Rent), Angie Milliken (The Effect, Rake) and Ilai Swindells (Redfern Now, Open Slather) and more.  

Hydra by Sue Smith
March 9 – April 6, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre
A State Theatre Company of South Australia co-production

They were writers, dreamers and free spirits. In the 1950s, Australian authors Charmian Clift and George Johnston* fled halfway across the world to the idyllic Greek island of Hydra, determined to carve out a bohemian living as artists. As they revel in their picturesque community, far off the world’s literary map, inspiration for the great Australian work strikes. But a many- headed monster of jealousy, infidelity, illness and alcoholism also rises from the crystal blue waters of their sun-kissed island home.

Award-winning Sue Smith weaves the original writings of two of Australia’s literary icons into a moving relationship drama. She conjures the passion and intensity of the near mythical ‘King and Queen of Hydra’ as they follow their dream, only to end up in a Greek tragedy of their own making. A co-production with the State Theatre Company of South Australia, Hydra will be directed by Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sam Strong and is a world premiere.

The Cast includes: Anna McGahan (Picnic at Hanging Rock, Underbelly, The Doctor Blake Mysteries), Nathan O’Keefe (Alexandra’s Project, Balloon Man), Hugh Parker (Noises Off, The 39 Steps, The Family Law), Bryan Probets (The 39 Steps, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) and more.

*While living on Hydra, George Johnston wrote his 1964 Miles Franklin award-winning novel, My Brother Jack.  

Barbara and the Camp Dogs by Ursula Yovich* and Alana Valentine
May 1 – 25, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Belvoir production in association with Vicki Gordon Music Productions

Hitting the big time is tough when the only booking your kick-ass band can score is a pub gig. But the boisterous, bolshie Barbara and her rockers the Camp Dogs are in it for the long haul. When a family tragedy beckons, Barbara and her sister (and fellow muso) René set off on a long and winding motorbike adventure from Sydney, through Darwin, and finally to Katherine – where the bickering pair come face to face with some home truths.

Part madcap buddy comedy, part electrifying rock gig, and part clarion call against the taint of inequality, this vibrant play with songs sold out its original season at Sydney’s Belvoir, and is now set to charm the pants off Brisbane! A rock’n’roll family reunion that will break your heart and fill it with song, directed by Leticia Cáceres.

The Cast includes: Troy Brady (Black Arm Band), Elaine Crombie (Top of the Lake, An Octoroon), Ursula Yovich (Mother Courage and Her Children, Australia) with musicians Sorsha Aluquerque (Guitar), Jessica Dunn (Musical Director and Bass Guitar), Michelle Vincent (Drums).

*Ursula Yovich was recently named as one of the Top 21 most iconic Women of Australian Stage, Page & Screen by The Age.

City of Gold by Meyne Wyatt
June 29 – July 20, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Griffin Theatre Company co-production

All Breythe ever wanted was to be an actor, but this isn’t how he imagined his first big television gig – as a young Aboriginal man, being the face of a disastrous misfire of an advertisement that will get him roasted by his mob. When a messenger bird suddenly brings Breythe tragic tidings from his family, it spurs him on a journey of grief and duty. Returning home to Kalgoorlie, he is thrust headlong into family conflict and the reality of what it means to be an Indigenous youth in today’s Australia.

Rising star Meyne Wyatt’s debut play is as riveting and unflinchingly honest as his stage presence. Urgent, wryly funny and politically provocative, City of Gold is a call for change that will sound out for years to come, a battle cry from the front line of Australian identity. A Griffin Theatre co-production and world premiere, City of Gold will be directed by Queensland Theatre’s Resident Dramaturg, Isaac Drandic and stars Meyne Wyatt (The Sapphires, Mystery Road).

Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, adapted for the stage by Tom Holloway
July 29 – August 17, 2019 at the Playhouse, QPAC
A Melbourne Theatre Company co-production in association with Dead Puppet Society

Young Storm Boy lives a simple yet free life on the coastal wilds of the South Australian Coorong, combing the beaches with his reclusive father, Hideaway Tom. During a long summer, he makes two friends who will shepherd him from childhood into adulthood: the jester Fingerbone Bill, who teaches him about his country; and Mr Percival, an orphaned pelican who prepares Storm Boy for the wider world with a poignant lesson about love, loss and letting go.

Set to be a mainstage must-see, this landmark new production of Colin Thiele’s cherished yet bittersweet coming- of-age story brings together the creative forces behind Jasper Jones and The Wider Earth. It will touch the hearts of young and old with its masterful puppetry and boundless imagination. A Melbourne Theatre Company co-production in association with the multi-award-winning Dead Puppet Society, Storm Boy will be directed by Sam Strong with David Morton as Associate Director/Puppet Designer.

The Cast includes: John Batchelor (Sea Patrol, Red Dog), Tony Briggs (Black is the New White, The Sapphires) and Emily Burton (The Wider Earth, The Seagull) and more.

L’Appartement by Joanna Murray-Smith
August 1 – 31, 2019 at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

It’s a dream holiday for Aussie couple Meg and Rooster – a decadent getaway in Paris in a swanky Airbnb, with fine wine, lavish food, and best of all, no three-year-old twins in tow – a chance for these parents to look after themselves, kick back and reconnect. But when they pick up the keys from their departing hosts – an achingly cool, overachieving young French couple – all it takes is 15 minutes for the trip to be derailed. And when they crack open a mysterious package that arrives on the doorstep, it throws up the biggest ethical dilemma they’ve ever faced.

Razor-sharp and whip-smart, this edgy new comedy marks the directorial debut of one of Australia’s most accomplished storytellers, Joanna Murray-Smith. A world premiere, this is a comedy that asks if good intentions are the ultimate crime of the middle class and will be directed by the writer in her directorial debut.

The Cast includes: Pacharo Mzembe (Safe Harbour, The Mountaintop), Melanie Zanetti (Jasper Jones, Romeo and Juliet) and more.

Fangirls, book, music & lyrics by Yve Blake
September 7 – October 5, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Belvoir and Brisbane Festival co-production in association with Australian Theatre for Young People

Edna is 14, chronically awkward, and everyone thinks she’s a serial liar. But none of this will matter when her REAL life starts. With Harry. There’s just one problem, Harry is in True Connection – the world’s biggest boyband. When True Connection announce a tour stop in Edna’s city, she realises that this is her one chance to meet Harry and convince him of their destiny. But just how far is she prepared to go in the name of love? Edna takes her obsession to unforeseen heights in this thrilling and hilarious musical comedy about first love, fan culture, and the danger of underestimating teenage girls.

This world premiere by gifted young comedian, singer and playwright Yve Blake is stacked with insanely catchy numbers that will take you straight back to your first crush and make you feel ALL THE FEELS! A new musical comedy about a poorly understood force of nature and directed by the acclaimed Paige Rattray, Fangirls is a Belvoir and Brisbane Festival co-production in association with the Australian Theatre for Young People and will star Yve herself (THEN, The Race Was On) among others.   


Antigone, adapted by Merlynn Tong, after Sophocles
October 26 – November 16, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre

A great city has been torn apart by a civil war between two brothers. In the aftermath, both lie dead – one hailed as a hero and lying in state, the other condemned as a traitor and dumped in a carrion pile. From the ashes of their conflict rises a dystopian state under a new leader – a career politician who rose to power by dint of her ruthlessness. Grieving and heartbroken, their sister Antigone challenges the leader for the right to bury and mourn her dead brother with dignity, sparking a furious act of rebellion that will shake the city to its foundations.

In this lyrical adaptation of Sophocles’ timeless tragedy, award-winning Brisbane playwright Merlynn Tong adds an urgent modern twist, reuniting Christen O’Leary and Jessica Tovey after their triumphant pairing in Twelfth Night under the directorial hand of Travis Dowling.