A Season of Dreamers- Queensland Theatre 2019

September 4, 2018

Once again Queensland Theatre has gone from strength to strength with a record-breaking season. It is the fastest growing theatre company in Australia, with the greatest gender parity and now a new principal partner – RACQ . Queensland Theatre has also teamed with the all female Belloo Creative to provide more opportunity to move, provoke, challenge and uplift their audience. In 2019 there will be new debut plays with five world premieres as well as some well – loved classics.

All plays next year will be unified by a spirit of optimism and you’ll see many Queensland actors coming home to play for a while. She Society were lucky enough to speak with Queensland actor’s Anna McGahan and Christen O’ Leary. Watch out for their stories in the coming weeks. Next year’s line up has comedy, drama , tragedy, music and even puppets, so without further ado I give you Queensland Theatre’s line up for 2019.

First up is the  Arthur Miller classic ‘Death of a Salesman’ which will be celebrating its 70th year. I have  had the pleasure of watching this on stage before so will look forward to seeing this version. It tells the story of Willy Loman who is lost in the halcyon haze of his past.Time was he could sell anything to anyone but now life has veered off track and he’s feeling his years. The final straw is when his adult son Biff comes home- once a former sporting prodigy – who’s now a directionless disappointment. The play will star Charles Allen, Kevin Hides and Peter Kowitz.

A brand new play is ‘Hydra’ written by Sue Smith.This exciting new work has enticed home actor Anna McGahan. It is based on the true story of Charmian Clift and George Johnson. He is, of course, the writer of the well loved Australian novel ‘ My Brother Jack ‘. It’s 1950’s Australia and these writers, dreamers and free spirits flee halfway across the world to the idyllic Greek Island of Hydra, determined to carve out a bohemian living as artists. In this magical setting inspiration strikes but it is marred by jealousy, infidelity, illness and alcoholism. Following a dream may lead to a Greek tragedy. Starring Anna McGahan, Bryan Probets and Nathan O’ Keefe. As a writer and a huge fan of the ‘My Brother Jack’ novel, I am really looking forward to this work.

On a lighter note is the comedy/musical ‘Barbara and The Camp Dogs’ by Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine. Ursula will also play the lead role. The story revolves around a kick – ass band whose only gig is a pub gig. Yet Barbara and her band are in it for the long haul. When a family tragedy beckons, Barbara and band member/sister Rene set off on a long and winding motorbike adventure from Sydney, through Darwin and on to their hometown of Katherine. Part madcap buddy comedy , part electrifying rock gig and part clarion call against the taint of inequality, this effervescent play has already sold out its original season at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre. It will be interesting to see how they stage a motorcycle ride on stage.

Meyne Wyatt stars in ’City of Gold’. This debut play written by Wyatt promises to be one of the hits of the season. All Breythe wanted was to be an actor, but this is not how he imagined his first ever gig- a misfire of an advertisement that threatens to get him lynched by his mob.When a messenger bird suddenly brings Breythe tragic tidings about his family, it spurs him on a journey of grief and duty. He heads back to Kalgoorlie, and is thrust into family conflict and the reality of what it means to be an indigenous youth in today’s society. This play says Meyne, “ Is about an actor having to sacrifice his integrity, about grief and about the relationship between Australians and indigenous Australians.” The work is ambitious in both scope and scale. One not to miss!

The beloved Australian classic ‘Storm Boy’ is given new life through 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.Tom Holloway has adapted the story for the stage. Storm Boy lives a simple life on the coastal wilds of the South Australian Coorong with his reclusive father, Hideaway Tom. During a long summer he makes two friends who help to shepherd him from childhood to adulthood- Fingerbone Bill teaches him about his country and Mr Percival, an orphaned pelican teaches him lessons in love and letting go. This delightful and moving adaptation will surprise and delight audience of all ages.The cast includes John Batchelor ( Sea Patrol, Red Dog) and Tony Briggs ( Black Is The New White, The Sapphires). Storm Boy will play from 29 July -17 August at the Playhouse, QPAC.

Regular readers know of my love of anything French, so it will be no surprise that the play I am most looking forward to is ‘L’Appartement’, by one of my favourite playwrights Joanna Murray Smith. Joanna wrote this new work after staying in an Airbnb in Paris for three months with her daughter. She found it fascinating to compare her own life to the Paris space she was occupying ; with its prosciutto slicer and dishwasher that opened when you knocked three times. This comedy begins with a dream holiday for Aussie couple Meg and Rooster who leave their three-year old twins behind to pursue their decadent dream holiday in a swanky Airbnb in Paris. But when they pick up their keys from the achingly cool Parisian couple who own the groovy, all white apartment – it takes all of fifteen minutes for the trip to be derailed. When they receive a mysterious parcel the fun really begins. This edgy new comedy is razor-sharp and marks the directorial debut of one of Australia’s most accomplished story- tellers, Joanna Murray Smith.

‘ Fangirls’ heralds the world premiere of this musical comedy by gifted young playwright, comedian and singer- Yve Blake. It tells the story of Edna, who feels destined to be with Harry from the

Boyband – True Connection. When the band announces a tour stop in her city, Edna realises this is her one chance to meet Harry and convince him of their shared destiny. 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. It will take me back to my own fangirl days when Leif Garrett visited Brisbane, staying at the Park Royal and yes, I did get to meet him, but that’s for another story! Fangirls looks to be exciting, fresh and fun!

Another classic marks the end of the season with ‘Antigone’- the Sophocles play which has been adapted by Mervyn Tong. Reuniting Queensland’s own Christen O’ Leary and the talented Jessica Tovey this play promises timeless tragedy and drama with an urgent modern twist. When a ruthless career politician rises from the ashes of conflict, a grieving and heartbroken sister – Antigone asks only for the right to mourn and bury her dead brother with dignity. This request sparks a furious act of rebellion that will shake the city to its core. Two stubborn wills and two strong and fierce warriors clash in this lyrical, urgent adaptation.

So which one will be for you? Talking to members of the audience and fellow writers at the launch we were all excited by so many of the plays- from the energy of Yve Blake, through to the relevance and empathy to be found in Meyne Wyatt’s ‘ City of Gold’ through to the shock of Christen O’ Leary playing the role of Creon in ‘Antigone’. So much to look forward to in this Season of Dreamers.

As artistic director Sam Strong says “ It is a season of variety and diversity. The shows are all tied together by the quality of artistry you’ve come to expect from Queensland Theatre and  are also unified by a spirit of optimism.”

For tickets head to queenslandtheatre.com.au

Michelle Beesley
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.

Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).