It is amazing how quickly we humans adapt to new situations. I really thought my theatre- going days were over for a while. When I think back to all the amazing plays I’ve been to in the past few years I feel so grateful. Was it only last year that I was interviewing the wonderful directors Paige Rattray and Katherine Lyall Watson at the Soleil Pool Bar? Only last year where I’d joked and laughed with writers Trent Dalton, Tim McGarry and David Megarrity? Was it just last year that Sam Strong was passing the reins to new Artistic Director, Lee Lewis and regaling us with a stellar line up of plays for 2020? Today it feels like a lifetime ago.
Thankfully I managed to see David Williamson’s stellar play Emerald City starring Jason Klarwein, Nadine Garner and Rhys Muldoon. I caught up with friends, fellow writers and bloggers at the wonderful after party at Soleil Pool Bar. Then in the week where I was looking forward to seeing Glacé Chase’s Triple X our world decided to hold its breath ……for just a while. Only a hundred lucky guests were treated to a preview of Opening Night of this new work. Suddenly performers across society no longer had rehearsals, set designers had no sets to create, costumes designers had no clothes to make and the plays we were longing to see were cancelled.
What to do? Lee and her team unveiled a new idea. It was called PLAYCLUB and its aim was to take theatre online and live. It was a way to still spend quality time with Queensland Theatre and some of our favourite actors whilst staying at home and staying safe.
Lee explained, “We believe theatres should be open, even if closed and so Queensland Theatre is going digital. We are inviting our supporters to join us behind the curtain for play readings with some of our favourite actors, conversations with creatives, practical production tutorials and a celebration of 50 seasons of stories. Together, let’s share our love of theatre by shifting our conversations from crowded foyers into our homes.”
The first- ever Queensland Theatre Play Club was a live play reading. Queensland Theatre stage stars Bryan Probets and Elise Greig led by Lee Lewis read through Van Badham’s romantic comedy – The Bull, The Moon and the Coronet of Stars. I signed up via my Zoom account, popped on my makeup and a nice outfit , even put on some shoes, and waited for the show to begin at 8pm. I really had no idea what to expect. What the lucky three hundred of us watching received was far beyond any expectations we could have imagined.
This was a beautiful story. It was contemporary but based on Greek mythology. For a romance tragic like myself it was pure bliss. It even had elements that I use in my own writing with lavender, honey and baking to show love. The actors conveyed so much emotion and were so believable in their roles. Elise kept you mesmerised with her silky voice and the skilled acting from Bryan reminded us why he has always been one of our Queensland Theatre favourites. The story unfolded tenderly in three acts as suggested by the title and the ending was just magical. I know I was probably not the only one enthralled whilst sipping my wine in the dark.
There are plans for many more events and this reading was the perfect way to start, approaching 2020 in a different way. As Sam Strong said at the launch of the season, “ Even if we are telling classic stories from previous generations, we are always reflecting who we are right now, and more often than not, we are imagining the future as well.” There is no denying the prescience in this statement.
In Queensland Theatre’s 50 years the company has achieved so much, developing the finest new stories and talent, telling the most indigenous stories and leading the way in innovation. This 50th year is extraordinary and extraordinary times bring out extraordinary innovations. Queensland Theatre is still leading from Queensland but in a different way. Watch out for more great events in the future. Bravo!
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!).