Adolescence isn’t often synonymous with self-confidence… what’s it like, then, to feel like a foreigner in your own country? Developed by Australian Theatre for Young People, Sugarland explores the social landscape of five teenagers with different backgrounds, navigating the ups and downs of their lives in the Northern Territory. Studio Underground, State Theatre of WA, May 27-30.
WAAPA TOP 3
WAAPA support students who are learning the theatrical ropes,
by catching these academy performances.
1. A View from the Bridge
Arthur Miller’s American tragedy is relived again, when
successful Perth-based director and WAAPA graduate Lawrie Cullen-Tait directs third-year students through secrets and betrayal, ultimately questioning the American dream. Roundhouse Theatre, April 29-30, May 2-5.
2. On Things that Matter
Second-year students delve into human existence, inviting
the audience to question their pursuit of happiness, through quantum physics and the everyday. Enright Studio, April 30, May 2-5.
3. I See Red
Third-year students work with Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s artistic director Philip Mitchell in their puppetry unit, and bring an adult work to the stage, inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, May 19-20.
Arielle Gray and Harriet Gordon-Anderson in Picnic at Hanging Rock (photography Rob Frith).
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK
Blurring fact and fiction, Joan Lindsay’s 1967 book Picnic at Hanging Rock is a mystery that requires constant re-telling. The disappearance of four schoolgirls and their teacher from a picnic in 1900 unsettled many, even more so after
Peter Weir’s popular 1975 film adaptation. Now Malthouse Theatre’s artistic director Matthew Lutton returns to his hometown with a new stage version, co-produced with Black Swan State Theatre Company. At its heart, Picnic at Hanging Rock is a colonial story exploring the feeling of being at odds with Australia’s vast land, something of a familiar Australian experience, Matthew explains. “It’s about feeling genuinely alone in the landscape for the first time, and how that can be at once humbling, beautiful, and terrifying,” he says. With so much of the story about what is left unsaid, Matthew has focused on physicality to convey the dream-like and surreal character perceptions on stage. “At first, the story is told in a tangible, real and traditional way. By the end, it’s descended into an inescapable dream.”
Heath Ledger Theatre, until April 17.
Q&A WITH MATT EDGERTON
We chat to Matt Edgerton, artistic director of Barking Gecko Theatre Company, about his love of Shakespeare, and how he’s expressing it through a new series of Living Lectures.
What’s the idea behind your Living Lectures?
The idea grew out of my passion for Shakespeare. I’ve worked on Shakespeare for the last 15 years as a director, actor and designer of educational programs. As a theatre company, Barking Gecko is uniquely placed toexplore dramatic literature. I really wanted to create a program where we were giving secondary students a rich and practical learning experience around great plays.
You’ve chosen Macbeth as your first lecture subject. Why was that?
Shakespeare’s still the greatest writer we’ve produced. His works are endlessly surprising pieces that leap off the stage. They’re wonderful plays to study, and to see in performance. It’s really exciting for a young person to be in the presence of that kind of literature, especially in the hands of an actor. Macbeth is a fun one.
It’s the shortest and bloodiest tragedy, and a lot of students study it, so it’s useful to them.
The Living Lectures aren’t your traditional learning experience…
They’re the furthest thing from a dry lecture. We want to go beyond just putting on a play or giving a lesson. We want a learning experience that supports teachers and students to engage deeply with texts. In order to perform a Shakespeare play, you need to understand every word, every idea, and how they fit together. One of the most exciting elements of this kind of event is hearing about how an actor approached the role, what the challenges were bringing this 400-year-old character to life. This can be a real revelation.
What do you hope the audience will take away?
I hope they leave feeling inspired to read, see, and put on Macbeth. We’re going to cover so much content in three hours, and there’s much more to explore. Hopefully students will feel they have a good handle of the themes of the play and the provocative ideas about characters, and inspired to keep studying themselves. I hope teachers will walk out reinvigorated to share these ideas in the classroom.
Octagon Theatre, June 7.
SO LONG SUCKERS
Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company introduces the Three Wise Men, strangers and prisoners whose heads are filled with nothing but boozy memories… for now. Where will they go from here, and what will be their purpose? So Long Suckers explores the effects of alcoholism on Australian communities. Subiaco Arts Centre, May 26-June 4.
BAMBERT'S BOOK OF LOST STORIES
Reinhardt Jung’s novel Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories is an enchanting narrative about a reclusive man mesmerised by his character creations, and the possibilities of sharing them. Adapted by Dan Giovannoni and Luke Kerridge, this play premieres thanks to Barking Gecko Theatre Company. Studio Underground, State Theatre of WA, until April 23.
Attention, musical theatre fans: Cats is back with a re-worked production, including various changes to the musical numbers. Delia Hannah will play the role of Grizabella during the limited season in Perth. Crown Theatre, April 16-May 8.
John Curtin College of the Arts students perform the thrilling Shakespeare tragedy Macbeth, exploring themes through the four elements – air, earth, fire, and water.
Curtin Theatre, May 5-7.
Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, that iconic pottery scene – don’t worry, the love story’s musical reimagining stays loyal to the script of the 90s movie. The production’s ghostly projections are said to be a highlight. Crown Theatre, starts May 21.
SOLO STAGE: THE DEADLY SINS
Enthralling in their way of shedding light on human faults and desires, the seven deadly sins have always been popular launching pads in artistic intent.
WAAPA’s second- year students reimagine the sins in their first solo performance.
Studio Theatre, Subiaco Arts Centre, May 24-25, 27.
ANGELS IN AMERICA
At 24, Black Swan Theatre Company’s artistic director Kate Cherry came across a script that would resonate with her for more than 20 years – Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. “It’s a modern masterpiece,” says Kate, who was at the first reading of the play at UCLA. The 1980s AIDS epidemic was a time of tragedy and confusion, and the seminal play somehow gave audiences a way of understanding a generation’s difficult time. “Those beautiful baby boys, they were only in their twenties, and they were wiped out,” says Kate. “As a mother of a 10-year-old son, I find that heartbreaking. Not only is it deep in my heart because I experienced it intellectually, but it’s now deep in my heart because of how I experience it emotionally.” Drawing comparisons between Angels in America’s context and the cultural climate of today isn’t hard, as Kushner eerily predicted the issues we were going to face. “We’re now looking at issues of healthcare, and asking who takes care of who,” Kate says. “How will we, as a community, come together and rise to the occasion?” In celebration of the 25th anniversary of both the play and the Black Swan Theatre Company, Kate’s team wanted to pay homage at the Heath Ledger Theatre by directing Angels in America in a way that exposed its theatricality, and celebrated the performance space. For Kate, who is stepping down from Black Swan this year, it’s also the perfect time to direct the play she says she’s been waiting to helm “my whole adult life”. Heath Ledger Theatre, May 28-June 19.
What goes on in the mind of an Australian male? FAG/STAG was originally performed at The Blue Room’s Summer Nights, and is returning as part of the Subiaco Theatre Festival. Subiaco Arts Centre, June 9-11.
I (HONESTLY) LOVE YOU
Love can be a crazy and frustrating experience, but what about falling in love when the absolute truth is all you can tell? Award-winning playwright Damon Lockwood sold out venues, receiving rave reviews for this witty production. Subiaco Arts Centre, June 10-18.
BRING IT ON
Those cheesy teen movies are escapist entertainment at their best, but what happens when they’re met with the cheesiness of musicals? Goggle as the cheerleaders take their stunts to the stage in this pop-culture adaptation. The Regal Theatre, June 11, 14-18.
THE LITTLE PRINCE
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella – a magical adult fable that will impress
adults and children alike – is made for the world of puppetry. The audience will
be taken on an adventure filled with life lessons, like seeing with one’s heart,
not with one’s eyes. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, until April 23.