This weekend Artistic Director, Lee Lewis, and her faithful team at Queensland Theatre unveiled a new line up of stellar plays for the 2021 season. Lee has navigated the stormy waters of 2020 with vision and optimism. The theatre quickly changed to a digital play reading program which delighted audiences worldwide but ….nothing beats a night at the theatre with our actors on stage and audiences responding from their seats. Next year sees the audience at fifty percent but with longer play runs and some bigger casts. There are seven plays and one concert in a program which caters for all tastes.
First up is Lee’s all time favourite play, Our Town, which she will be directing. It’s a play filled with community and will employ a cast of 20 actors. Set in a country town, Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, Our Town will start the year with an epic story about a beautiful group of people who remind us that it’s the small things in life that matter in the face of big tragedy.
The first of four world premieres is the new work by Glace Chase, Triple X, which will be directed by Paige Rattray. Sadly Glace did just two shows early in the year before shutdown. We are so lucky it can now go ahead. Triple X is an hilarious, honest, and an emotionally affecting look at entitlement, hypocrisy and the realities of true love in the 21st century. Glace Chase plays the lead role and describes the play as a modern day rom com based on a true story. When this play opens emotions will be high.
In May, we see Shakespeare’s controversial play, The Taming of the Shrew, which will be directed by Damien Ryan. Lee explains, “ Director, Damien Ryan, rescues this classic love story from the clutches of controversy, by transporting it to 1920’s Italy, when Kate is less of a problem and more of a promise of great women to come.This may not be the Shrew you were expecting, but it will be an irresistible night in the theatre filled with glamour, romance, song and laughter…… And a plane.”
One that I am looking forward to is new work White Pearl by Anchuli Felicia King. This play exposes the toxic corporate culture, racism and the complexity of Pan- Asian relations in the cut throat world of cosmetics. It’s a smart new comedy from one of Australia’s new writers. It will be directed by Priscilla Jackman in the Bille Brown Theatre.
At the opposite end of the scale is Susie Miller’s Prima Facie , a timely tale about harassment and abuse in the legal profession. This is an urgent one woman show which mounts an irresistible call for change through its powerful story of a defence barrister who finds herself on the wrong side of the system.
Finally, finally, finally from August 30, one of the most anticipated events of the year, will be the World premiere of Trent Dalton’s mega successful novel Boy Swallows Universe. This beloved story has been adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry. Sam Strong is back as director and this play promises to bring 1980’s Brisbane back to life.
In exciting news Lee announced that “ The role of Eli will be performed by Joe Klocek. Joe started with the Queensland Theatre in the Young Artist’s Ensemble, was cast in Pirates of the Caribbean and will play this once- in- a -lifetime role at the Playhouse next year. It’s a wonderful reflection of the pathways open to our young artists.”
I know so many people who are hoping to see this one, so get in quick to the only show from Queensland Theatre that will be shown at The Playhouse this year. I predict theatregoers from all over Australia will be heading to Queensland for this phenomenal story.
The last play of the year will see the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winning play, Return to the Dirt by, and starring, Steve Pirie. Set in a funeral home in Toowoomba, the play is an honest and surprisingly uplifting invitation to start conversations we all try to avoid.
Steve says, “It’s not just a play about death, but trying to live. I promise it’s funny.”
The last performance of the year is a concert, The Australian Songbook, a commissioned work designed and performed by Robyn Archer, Australian legend, pioneer and provocateur. Robyn will celebrate the way music has shaped the Australian identity. A trio of artists will join Robyn for this cabaret show. Robyn promises, “ Songs from our First Nations people, political songs, a rude bit…and romance but in Australia’s funny kind of way.”
There is something for everybody to look forward to in 2021! There will be several digital offerings and more investment in education programs. It will be a season of great big stories that fill us with inspiration. Our artists need to be back at work more than ever before. We need to discuss and see plays live, to remember the buzz of the foyer, remember the uniqueness of Australian voices and imaginings. We have all missed live entertainment, connection and that thrill of being swept away along with an audience in the darkened hush of our favourite theatres. The 2021 Queensland Theatre Season is the new adventure we all need.
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!).