Right: Sam Strong launches the 2017 program.
More of Deanne Scott’s photos follow the launch story.
The Queensland Theatre Company will now be known as Queensland Theatre in a surprise name change inspired by Artistic Director Sam Strong, and in his inaugural season the company will present nine shows, opening with the encore of the smash-hit Helpmann Award-winning Ladies in Black and closing with Joanna Murray-Smith’s adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman classic Scenes from a Marriage starring real-life couple Marta Dusseldorp and Ben Winspear.
Offstage the company has undergone a transformation, evolving into Queensland Theatre with a new vision from Strong to lead from Queensland.
“Queensland Theatre Company was founded nearly 50 years ago. Now, it’s time for the next chapter in our story. The new name and identity reflects our commitment to the health of the state’s whole creative culture; we aim to support it, enliven it and nurture it in any way we can. In short, we aim to lead from Queensland,” he said.
In announcing the 2017 Season, Strong said Queensland Theatre would have a national reach like never before.
“The journey across our nine shows in 2017 is deliberately varied, but unified by our desire to share the very best with Brisbane. Audiences can see urgent new Australian stories, the finest international plays, the hottest next generation of talent and the country’s most outstanding artists,” he said. “Conversely, we’re also taking the best of Brisbane to the rest of the state and country. We will world premiere a show in Cairns, tour 10 Queensland venues, take two shows to Melbourne, two to Sydney, one to Perth and another to Canberra. This is an unprecedented presence around the country for Queensland Theatre.”
Strong also announced Queensland Theatre’s new Associate Artistic Director in Paige Rattray (Switzerland), saying: “I’m thrilled that Paige Rattray will be joining us at Queensland Theatre from 2017. Paige is one of Australia’s most dynamic directors and she will undoubtedly lead her own company in the future. Paige will join our ground-breaking National Artistic Team who will remain part of the artistic leadership, not just of the company, but of the country.”
The season officially opens on January 28 with the encore season of Ladies in Black. This stylish story of fashion, friendship and 1950s Australia won the Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work and features more than 20 original songs written by singer songwriter, Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House) and a range of 30 custom-designed and created dresses and suits.
From the adaptation of Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, The Women in Black, this production has been brought to life by Australian screenwriter Carolyn Burns together with Finn and director Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical; Love Never Dies) and a stand-out cast.
The Flick, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a play that’s been the talk of New York and London will open at the Cremorne Theatre from February 10. This production, by Melbourne ensemble Red Stitch Actors Theatre, is directed by the Nadia Tass (Disgraced) and has been described as an exquisitely observed meditation on love and change.
After sold-out seasons in New York and London, from March 9 next year it’s Queensland’s turn to be see Constellations, a quirky romance by young British writer, Nick Payne (who, when Constellations was named Best Play at the 2012 Evening Standard Theatre Awards, became the youngest ever winner). Directed by Kat Henry and starring Lucas Stibbard (Boy Girl Wall) and Jessica Tovey (Wonderland, Home and Away).
In April Artistic Director Sam Strong marks his Queensland Theatre directorial debut with the latest work by playwright and former Artistic Director Michael Gow. Once In Royal David’s City is a life-affirming story about family, loss, purpose, politics, and the endless possibilities of art and stars Jason Klarwein (Macbeth).
Described as ‘pure comedy gold’ by The Guardian and ‘a richly detailed tapestry of catastrophe’ by Time Out London, Queensland Theatre’s mid-season production Noises Off is set to bring the house down with laughter. Playwright Michael Frayn’s classic farce has been playing all over the world since its 1982 premiere. Now, Artistic Director Sam Strong marshals an ensemble of the country’s top comics including Simon Burke (Devil’s Playground), Ray Chong Nee (Othello), Libby Munro (Venus in Fur), Hugh Parker (Much Ado about Nothing), Louise Siversen (House Husbands) and Nicki Wendt (Mother and Son). A wickedly funny night is guaranteed.
Brimming with sharp observations on globalisation, power, politics and migration as well as humour, Rice won Michele Lee the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2016-2017, and will be directed by Griffin Theatre’s Helpmann Award-winning director Lee Lewis. The World Premiere season opens at the Bille Brown Studio on June 24.
In July Queensland Theatre will break new ground, staging the World Premiere of My Name is Jimi at the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Cairns before opening it in Brisbane. In this story by Dimple and Jimi Bani and co-created with Jason Klarwein (who also directs), Jimi Bani (Mabo, The Straits, Redfern Now) tells tales of his island. Four generations of one family will take the stage, as Jimi’s grandmother, mother, son and brothers help share stories of totems, traditions and childhood memories.
The satirical comedy An Octoroon sees African-American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins tearing apart a 19th century stage melodrama by crowd-pleasing Irish impresario Dion Boucicault. Now, leading Aboriginal artist and commentator Nakkiah Lui (Black Comedy) makes her directorial debut with a version that uncovers and skewer Australia’s history of slavery. this is a Queensland exclusive featuring Miranda Tapsell (The Sapphires, Love Child, Mabo), co-produced with Brisbane Festival.
Closing Season 2017 is performed by Marta Dusseldorp (Janet King, Jack Irish, A Place to Call Home) and Ben Winspear (The Babadook). This comic battle, Joanna Murray-Smith’s adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman classic, sees the playwright reunite with new Associate Artistic Director Paige Rattray.
Strong said each of the plays in Season 2017 achieves what theatre does best. “Each puts human experience under the microscope. We can see ourselves reeling with chaos in the workplace, enraptured in new romance, navigating the parent-child relationship, celebrating with family and wrestling with a failing marriage,” he said.
Season tickets on sale 6pm September 12 at queenslandtheatre.com.au or by calling 1800 355 528.
Single tickets on SALE Monday 14 November
Queensland Theatre in 2017: Nine Key Commitments
In addition to the nine shows in Sam Strong’s inaugural season, Queensland Theatre will make concrete its vision of leading from Queensland in 9 ways:
Touring 10 Queensland venues and world premiering in Cairns.
Showcasing Queensland artists and their work at 15 interstate theatres in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Canberra.
Bringing the best of the rest to Queensland, including acclaimed international plays and
Creating Queensland exclusives such as Marta Dusseldorp and Ben Winspear in and Nakkiah Lui’s directorial debut with .
Bringing audiences the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander talent such as Jimi Bani, Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell.
Creating career pathways by supporting Brisbane independent artist residencies and reviving acclaimed small to medium productions from around the country.
Achieving gender parity. Of the 18 writers and directors, nine are female and nine male.
A commitment to diverse casting with a third of confirmed actors from diverse backgrounds.
Changing the company’s name to Queensland Theatre to reflect its commitment to its whole home state and whole country's creative culture.
Some of the stars who will appear on stage next year.
Right: Kat Henry and Lucas Stibbard.
Below: Jimi Bani with Jason Klarwein.
Below: It was nice to meet up with one of my favourites Libby Munro who will appear in Noises Off