“Life is better with theatre” was the opening statement from Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director, Lee Lewis as she launched Queensland Theatre’s 2022 season, promising big stories filled with hope and recovery.
As Lee explained to the COVID safe capacity crowd, theatre does matter, it matters that we can gather in a room together and share a story.
“When we can’t make theatre, we are just not as happy as people. We are not as happy as a community, as a city, as a state, as a country or as a world,” Ms. Lewis said.
“We are lonelier, and our days are emptier and empty nights make no sense to a true theatre person
“Theatre is one of the best tools to stop us feeling all alone in a dark and often confusing world,” she said
Queensland Theatre’s program helps provide hope for our recovery.
After a record-breaking Brisbane Festival season of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry, Queensland Theatre is undertaking big stories, big ideas and great big plays to create excellent and exceptional theatre experience for its 2022 season.
This year’s program will feature significant and exciting First Nations productions, actors, playwrights and directors.
“This season will alter Time and place transporting audiences from Brisbane to Paris, Afghanistan, Far North Queensland, Vietnam and Arkansas. It will carry us across the decades, from the 1890s to the 1940s, to 1975 and 2011, and will bring us back to the moment, reflecting the issues that matter deeply to us now,” Lewis said.
2022 begins with a feisty and fresh version of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Playhouse, QPAC in February. “In so many ways, this play really shouldn’t be funny, but it is,” noted Lewis. “Audiences will delight in the caustic, brutal and spectacularly petty antics of this masterpiece which is set in the here and the now under Margaret Harvey’s captivating direction.”
March sees the world premiere of a compelling new work, First Casualty written by Christopher Johnston, a currently serving member of the Australian Defence Force. Set in a remote outpost in Afghanistan, First Casualty reaches beyond the headlines of this 20-year war. “This play is not a pro-war story and it’s not an anti-war story,” Lewis said. “It is simply a story about our soldiers. It offers us a chance to understand what they experienced.”
The Bille Brown Theatre will then become a more tranquil town, the setting for Hannah Belanszky’s don’t ask what the bird look like. This gentle, almost gothic tale was a finalist in the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2018–19 and now makes its world premiere, directed by Isaac Drandic (City of Gold). “Hannah’s beautiful play invite audiences for a game of Scrabble, to join a search for family, identity and place,” said Lewis.
Teresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet is a treat for lovers of a big theatrical play, for those who adore luscious costumes, the glamour of Paris and a strong woman taking charge of her destiny. “This is the perfect play to entice audiences out on a cooler evening to enjoy some grandeur, some romance, some laughs and some Shakespeare — I can’t wait to direct this gorgeous story,” Lewis said.
July at the Playhouse, QPAC we welcome Wesley Enoch return to Queensland Theatre to direct his acclaimed musical The Sunshine Club, with music by John Rodgers. A ground-breaking work that brought together some of the biggest First Nations talent in 1999, including Wayne Blair, Elaine Crombie, Roxanne McDonald, David Page, Stephen Page and Ursula Yovich. “It is a joy to welcome Wesley home to lead the next generation of talent with a glorious revival of his home-grown hit, a story filled with song, dance, love and dreams,” Lewis said.
Kendall Feaver’s The Almighty Sometimes is a powerful and honest family drama about raising a child with mental illness and their search for independence and will debut at the Bille Brown Theatre in August. “I’m excited to see director Daniel Evans (Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) find the heart, hope and humour in this surprising and warm multi-award-winning play,” said Lewis.
September sees the much-anticipated Brisbane premiere of Shakespeare’s Othello adapted by Jimi Bani (My Name is Jimi, Our Town) and Jason Klarwein (My Name Is Jimi, Death of a Salesman) at the Bille Brown Theatre. This tri-lingual (Kala Lagaw Ya, Yumpla Tok and English) production illuminates the vital role of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion during World War II and brings together two powerful artistic cultures — Shakespeare and Wagadagam. “Delayed by Covid, this unstoppable work is utterly compelling and will absolutely be well worth the wait,” said Lewis.
Audiences will then be whisked from Far North Queensland to America for the wild, road-trip romance of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone. Irreverent, inventive and likely the only production to feature hip hop in Queensland Theatre’s 2022 Season, this story begins at an arrival camp for evacuees from the Vietnam War and sets off through the heartland of the United States. “A story that may, or may not, have led to the birth of this astonishing playwright, Qui will take audiences on a wonderful ride to see out our year of big stories,” said Lewis.
“2022 will be about recovering from the last two years,” said Lewis. “If there is anything we have learned in this time, it is that theatre remains vital. And together, we can celebrate the power of a great story, told by talented artists, to change our night, our year, and sometimes, our lives.”
Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said that for more than five decades Queensland Theatre has shared Queensland stories and connected audiences across the state, partnering with others to showcase a diversity of perspectives and to develop our talented young artists.
“There is no other state on the eastern seaboard of mainland Australia where we can come together, where companies can return to the stage and artists can connect with audiences in full theatres,” Minister Enoch said.
“The story of Queensland Theatre is where we are – every day full of hope and optimism about where we are going next, as a state and as an arts sector.
“I know that this season, the 2022 season, will be an absolute inspiration for all of that, so congratulations.” Ms. Enoch said.
Details for the 2022 Season and to book tickets visit: https://queenslandtheatre.com.au/