Monday 9 December 2019

Theatre Works 2020 Launch

This Bitter Earth. Image credit: Matthew Predny
Theatre Works has launched its 2020 program and it looks set to be an impressive year of theatre. For forty years, Theatre Works has consistently supported and cultivated emerging artists and theatre companies while being particularly encouraging of new Australian works, something it has once again accomplished. "Theatre Work’s history is steeped in hard work, built by the aspirations of countless artists and passionate creators as they continue to deliver what can only be recognised as powerful, relevant and vital performances," General Manager, Dianne Toulson says. "In 2020, we celebrate and uphold the values that Theatre Works is built on with a provoking, playful and proud program." While all 20 productions can be seen on the Theatre Works website, we have a look at a number of the offerings that are on the table.

Kicking off 2020 is Theatre Works' Midsumma season with several shows including This Bitter Earth by Chris Edwards, a very gay collection of six scenes dissecting modern Australian queer crises. Another show in its jam-packed Midsumma schedule is a queer clapback to Eat, Pray, Love with Poorly Drawn Shark by Andrew Sutherland and Vidya Rajan that recalls Sutherland's time in Singapore. Starring Ming Yang Lim and Sutherland, this is a sexually charged examination at being queer in Singapore where once we see beyond the fetishisation and Otherness of a white man in an Asian country, we can come to realise that we are not all that different after all.

The Great Australian Play. Image credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn
Winner of the Patrick White Playwrights' Award, Kim Ho is bringing the great Australian play, aptly titled The Great Australian Play, to audiences. This new satire begins in 1930 during the Great Depression with Harold Bell Lasseter setting off on an expedition to find riches and salvation. Fast forward 90 years to 2020 and Ho persuades Theatre Works that he can create the next great Aussie play around Lasseter's legend. Retracing the footsteps of the original expedition, will Ho succeed or has the nightmare only just begun?

Job interviews are nothing to be afraid of right? In Mish Wittrup's dark humoured The Hitmen, this interview could very well be your last. In this surreal comedy, six unemployed people take part in a group interview to get the job they've been dying for, to become a hitman at one of Australia's largest professional agency of contract killers and assassins. How far would you be willing to go for your dream job?

If anyone missed Salty Theatre's People Suck earlier this year at Theatre Works, the company is back with the Australian premiere of a magical musical comedy that is sure to grab your attention. Voldermort and the Teenage Hogwarts is a Harry Potter parody focusing on He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named when he was simply Tom Riddle, a moody teen who couldn't talk to girls. 

There are also plenty of opportunities for children to join in the theatre fun beginning with Jungle Bungle by Craig Christie, an exhilarating musical safari exploring the theme of fear of the unknown while celebrating friendship, individuality and imagination. Romi Kupfer is premiering her work Singing Swallows, providing an early start to understanding the Holocaust and connecting to young people's lives through voice recordings of survivors and visual storytelling. Out There by Sean and Hollie Bryan sees a routine space mission go wrong and a space ship finding itself hurtling towards an undiscovered planet. An interactive and immersive journey that is bound to be be a blast for all earthlings.
Mara Korper. Image credit: Stu Brown
Sticking with the sci-fi genre, Jayde Kirchert's Mara Korper is a feminist sci-fi encounter where gender is obsolete and the flesh must remain whole. Using experimental sound and technology, this immersive show focuses on themes of extremism, gender and body image in what is guaranteed to be a highly unique experience. 

If history with a twist of absurdity is your thing, then Caligula by Albert Camus will have you covered. Burning House is making a name for delivering high octane edgy adaptations of classic plays and its look at this Roman Empire should not disappoint with a play bursting with poetry, violence, sadness, love, blood and glitter. Yes, glitter.

The always outstanding and bold The Bloomshed return to Theatre Works with an exciting new work based on George Orwell's masterpiece Animal Farm. Putting this text into a contemporary context under a modern political lens will see oppression, extremism, misinformation and goods production come to light in a way that only The Bloomshed can make possible.

Theatre Works has taken a big step in financial barriers preventing people from attending and engaging with theatre in Melbourne by introducing a "2020 for $20" initiative. "We are committed to removing barriers to participation and high-ticket prices prevent audiences from experiencing theatre across the board,” Toulson says. "To break down this barrier and to make Theatre Works’ shows, artists and programs accessible to everyone, we will be offering $20 tickets for each performance of every show for the entire year." With this in mind, there is no excuse for not going out and seeing some original and inspiring works at Theatre Works. Bookings for all 2020 shows are now open.

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