Malthouse Theatre launches its 2020 season

From the backstreets of Melbourne’s northern suburbs to the depths of Antarctica, a Scottish Shakespearean spectacle to Oscar Wilde’s most famous comedy of lies, Malthouse Theatre brings history, culture, politics, subversion, great odysseys and truth-telling together under one roof.

2020 marks a milestone for the company: 30 years of Melbourne’s most provocative theatre company occupying one of the city’s most iconic buildings. ‘Throughout these 30 years, we have strived to create a community that values the alchemy of artist and audience coming together in the same place and time. Enduring the ups and downs of change and fashion, Malthouse Theatre has remained the home for an ongoing narrative for ideas and theatrical innovations, but most importantly for exhilarating stories,’ said Artistic Director & Co-CEO, Matthew Lutton and Executive Producer & Co-CEO Sarah Neal.

The 2020 season sees Malthouse Theatre collaborate with some of Australia’s leading artists, directors, playwrights and key contributors. The season will also see five world premieres, three Australian new works, three literary adaptations and four stellar new works from the US and the UK.

“We’re all in for 2020,” said Matthew and Sarah, “Our season is a forging of all that we believe in–new voices asking urgent questions, classic stories reinvented and international collaborations alongside hyperlocal legends.”

Today was the season launch for the Malthouse, featuring a stellar lineup of 10 shows in the two major theatre spaces (The Merlyn and The Beckett). The Malthouse will host various other special events in 2020, however these are yet to be announced. The 2020 Season is as follows…


THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST | 8 FEB – 8 MAR 2020

In Oscar Wilde’s most famous comedy of lies, Jack and Algy thrive in double lives (as Ernest) to find the lover they desire (in earnest). When questions of family heritage threaten their romantic desires, the gents question whether style really trumps sincerity.

Here, two multi-award-winning daredevils—David Woods and Jon Haynes— gleefully act out every role, tumbling chaotically through impossible costume changes. The beating heart of Wilde’s humanity exposes itself between these ludicrous theatrics. In 2006, when Woods and Haynes first brought this production to Melbourne, Malthouse Theatre audiences fell out of their seats in laughter. Now, the Ridiculusmus team triumphantly return to double down on the hilarious dishonesty. The company’s Co-Artistic Directors, David Woods and Jon Haynes, who first met in the early 1980s, established the company as a flagship UK performance group touring internationally, with works that achieve the oxymoronic aim of being both serious and funny.


GREY ARIAS | 26 MAR – 19 APR 2020

Le Gateau Chocolat is a multi-award-winning, plus-sized, bearded, drag diva feminist. Adrienne Truscott is a multi-award-winning comedian and provocateur who enjoys chocolate cake, up to a point.

They are dear friends and here, as in everyday life, they perform a multiplicity of identities: perceived, lived and projected. As banter turns personal, political debates intersect, grey areas are exposed and grey arias intoned. In between big show numbers, they spring rhetorical traps designed to catch any who overstep the blurred lines of political correctness and interrogate the meaning and boundaries of allyship. When the faggot meets the feminist they ask, how does one walk the fine line that delineates the operatic scope of marginalised perspectives? In heels, obviously. Crack.

Voted by Time Out London as one of its Top 10 Cabaret Stars, Le Gateau Chocolat is a one-man musical phenomenon, complete with larger-than-life vocal talent all wrapped up in dazzling sequinned lycra. His vocal styles have taken him from the Tate Britain to Miss Ireland competitions, singing for the Queen and touring the globe with the Olivier Award-winning La Soirée. Adrienne Truscott is a choreographer, circus acrobat, dancer, writer, storyteller and comedian. She has been making genre-straddling performances in New York City and abroad for over 20 years and her works have been presented events such as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Malthouse Theatre, and Just For Laughs.


MACBETH (THIS IGNORANT PRESENT) | 9–31 MAY 2020

Far from Scotland, a man tinkering in his cellar has assembled a cage-like contraption from hoarded junk, where something wicked is being stirred up. What started as a hobby evolves into a battle for domestic dominance. The dark core of Shakespeare’s tragedy curls its fingers around the heart of a suburban family.

Two actors and a child conjure the entirety of Shakespeare’s spectacle. New York’s Scott Shepherd (The Young Pope, Elevator Repair Service’s Gatz) stars as Macbeth, turning himself inside out as he devours leader, relative and onlooker. Australian Zahra Newman (Wake in Fright) co-stars as Lady Macbeth forging a new future. A dangerous and adrenaline-fuelling production staged in an electrified set, every gesture made creates a ricochet of sparks.

Directed by Paul Lazar (Big Dance Theater, The Wooster Group) in a collaboration between Malthouse Theatre and ArKtype, Macbeth unites Shakespeare and some of the world’s most inventive theatre-makers to expose how alarmingly possible it is to arrive at an ignorant present. Established in New York in 2005, ArKtype is an advocate of new and experimental work. Their works include projects with Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Centre Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and the Barbican Centre.


K-BOX | 29 MAY – 21 JUN 2020

Malthouse Theatre presents K-Box. Commissioned by Malthouse Theatre through the Living Now program, supported by Australia Council for the Arts and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation.

A 30-something Korean adoptee finds the raucous and riotous side of family in this surreal comedy. Lucy fled her manic Melbourne routine to find calm in the country. But the home of her adoptive white baby-boomer parents ain’t the place for peace and quiet. Enter Kim Han, a charismatic K-pop star making a surprise visit to rural Victoria, who tips Lucy’s crisis into a complete tailspin. But there’s more to this than karaoke. As the evening rockets towards a climax, Lucy will raise the roof with the ones who raised her.

Ra Chapman makes her mainstage debut with this caustic and acutely comical new play. The cast features acclaimed actress and burlesque favourite Maude Davey (Melancholia, The Burlesque Hour and Glory Box) and Susanna Qian (Citizen Jia Li, Red Water Red and Monster of Many Worlds). Creator Ra Chapman (Face to Face, Wentworth and Other People’s Problems) is an actor, theatre-maker and writer. She is an alumni of the 2017 Besen Writers Group and one of Malthouse Theatre’s 2018/19 writers in residence.


IS THIS A ROOM: REALITY WINNER VERBATIM TRANSCRIPTION | 2 – 19 JUL 2020

The true FBI story of Reality Winner: yoga teacher, cat lover, national security threat. June 2017: Arriving home, Reality finds a team of armed federal agents waiting. They’re investigating a leak. Classified information has got out about Russian hacking to influence the U.S. presidential election. Reality lets the agents in. They chat. They reposition. Gradually, it becomes clear: this is an interrogation.

The genuine FBI recording of Reality’s interview so struck Tina Satter that she adopted it, word-for-word, as a readymade script. Without any need for amendment, it plays so fantastically theatrically that it stands as testament to Reality’s real-world wit and complexity. The 2019 premiere season in New York was a sellout. In 2020, the Brooklyn- based ensemble of performers come to Malthouse Theatre to share an urgent, globally relevant message of agency, power and patriotism within the patriarchy.


DO NOT GO GENTLE… | 10 JUL – 2 AUG 2020

‘I am just going outside and may be some time’ said Oates tragically. Then he departed, with no intention to return, so as not to be a burden. Dutiful sacrifice. The mission continues.

Melbourne theatre legends director Susie Dee and playwright Patricia Cornelius (SHIT, LOVE) continue their 30-year collaboration with this epic odyssey packed with drama and emotion. Robert Falcon Scott’s 1912 diary of his Antarctic adventure intertwines with a man in the present who also faces a struggle to survive. Like Scott, he is desperate to give the last leg of his life meaning, as he leads his pitiful party across a treacherous landscape.

The cast includes one of Australia’s most beloved actors Shane Bourne (City Homicide, Prisoner, Thank God You’re Here), Helpmann Award winner Julie Forsyth alongside Brian Lipson, who has worked with nearly all the major theatre companies in Australia over a career spanning more than 40 years. Cornelius was the recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and R.E. Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Award for Do not go gentle… and was also shortlisted for the Griffin Award. She also was awarded the Play Award in the NSW Premiers Literary Awards for Do not go gentle…, followed by the Victorian Premier’s Literary Prize and the 2011 Major AWGIE and AWGIE Award for Stage. Long time collaborator with Cornelius, Susie Dee, has worked extensively in theatre as a performer, director, artistic director and educator in Australia and overseas for the past 30 years.


THE RETURN | 25 AUG – 20 SEP 2020

Once considered ‘exotic’ trophies of antiquity, the bodily remains of Indigenous men, women and children served scientific theories of evolution and were prized objects displayed on mantelpieces. In the cover of darkness, grave robbers would pillage burial grounds, to sell Ancestral remains to the highest bidder. Thousands were sold.
Today, they are still locked away. Some are on display in museums, while others are hidden deep within the bowels of museums, universities and homes. They are reminders of a brutal history we would rather forget. But now it is time to bring our people back to country.

Through an epic story spanning 250 years, writer John Harvey (Heart is a Wasteland) draws us in with untold perspectives of macabre true histories and false justifications. In a directorial debut, Jason Tamiru joins forces with our Artistic Director Matthew Lutton for this immersive theatrical event that will give rise to how the repatriation of Ancestors can bring us closer to homecoming and healing. Jason Tamiru is a Yorta Yorta man who works as a producer of theatre and comedy at the Malthouse Theatre. Founder and producer of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Deadly Funny program and associate producer of the inaugural Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival, he was a recipient of the VIPA Uncle Jack Charles Award and the British Council’s National Indigenous Leadership Award. John Harvey is a producer, director and writer across drama and documentary who is passionate about working with ambitious and risk taking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers.


PRIMA FACIE | 16 SEP– 4 OCT 2020

PRIMA FACIE / ˌprʌɪmə ˈfeɪʃi/ Latin origin: primus ‘first’ + facies ‘face’. Law: (1) On the face of it, or at first sight, there is enough evidence for a case to answer; (2) a prima facie case will prevail until contradicted or overcome by other evidence.

Young and whip smart, Tessa is a defence barrister who has mastered the steely facade needed to be a winner. She takes witnesses apart like a hunter carving a kill. Things look good from the top. Working hard makes playing hard a great stress relief. After a few drinks Tessa hooks up with a colleague, yet what might become a hot romance suddenly spirals into a terrifying ordeal. As tables turn, Tessa finds herself cast in a very different role in the legal system. Once unflappable, she now grapples to find her way out from under the same shadow of doubt she herself so frequently cast in the past.

Sheridan Harbridge (Calamity Jane) brings her acclaimed portrayal of Tessa to Malthouse Theatre in this taut and topical one-woman drama. Playwright Suzie Miller injects firsthand legal knowledge as a previously practicing lawyer into this timely invective directed at some shocking norms of Australian courts. Suzie Miller is a scientist who became a lawyer, and then a playwright. She is drawn to complex personal stories often exploring injustice. Over 40 of her plays have been produced around the world.


GO TO HELL | 9 – 25 OCT 2020

From the streets of our city to the realm of the damned, come dance with the devil.
Renowned performer Paul Capsis (Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets) is a hero of perversity. As ten plagues rain down on a cursed city, Paul conjures our angels and demons, desperate with desires and murderous jealousies.
Swamped in startling imagery from award-winning filmmaker Natasha Pincus and accompanied live by guitarist Jethro Woodward, Paul burns through a song cycle of rapturous originals by Megan Washington and others and infatuating classics from Blondie, Bob Dylan and Nina Simone.

The iconically versatile Paul Capsis is one of Australia’s most highly respected performers. His career spans theatre, film, cabaret, TV across Australia as well as sold-out audiences in London, New York, Hong Kong, Vienna and Edinburgh. Theatre and film director Michael Kantor (Lazarus) was the Artistic Director of Malthouse Theatre from 2005 to 2010. This exhilarating live show is part rock concert, part cinema, and part prayer to the wild side. Let go of the halo and be seduced by this euphoric performance of sublime psychosis.


LOADED | 30 OCT – 22 NOV 2020

The 1995 debut novel from Christos Tsiolkas (The Slap, Dead Europe and Barracuda) makes its mainstage premiere 25 years after the fact.
Ari (Roy Joseph, Five Bedrooms) is 19, unemployed and aimless. He doesn’t want to be gay. He doesn’t want to be Greek. He doesn’t want to be anything. He finds an escape, of sorts, via sex, drugs and dance clubs. But, he doesn’t really fit in with the queens at The Peel any better than with family in his theía’s backyard.

This is the story that established Tsiolkas as a provocative master of the written word. Adapted for film in the 1998 underground hit Head On, and now, in close collaboration with playwright Dan Giovannoni, Tsiolkas rewrites Ari’s odyssey for the stage with a 21st century perspective. Directed by Stephen Nicolazzo (Merciless Gods), this queer migrant history comes spilling out across the four corners of Melbourne. Christos Tsiolkas is one of Australia’s most courageous and lauded writers. A playwright, novelist and screen writer, Tsiolkas has written five novels of which most have been adapted for film.


Malthouse Theatre Season Passes for 2020 are on sale now.

For more information, visit malthousetheatre.com.au

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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