Melbourne Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Jacky has been cancelled due to border closures preventing two cast members entering Victoria and the subsequent impact on the production’s ability to proceed.
Strict border closures between Victoria and New South Wales has left the cast members, who have been instrumental in the development of the work, no choice but to withdraw from the production.
These current COVID restrictions have rendered it impossible to make the necessary preparations to stage the production within its planned schedule, forcing MTC to cancel the season that was due to commence on 9 October.
In announcing the production’s cancellation MTC Artistic Director Brett Sheehy AO said:
MTC is committed to producing all First Nations work in a culturally safe way and, in assessing the situation as a whole with the play’s author and director, we have concluded that due to the loss of these two performers at such short notice, we are unable to proceed with the making and staging of Jacky in 2021. The specific requirements of the roles, the loss of and disruption to the artistic and cultural collaboration, and the fragility of the national COVID environment were all key factors in coming to this decision.
Recurring lockdowns along with ongoing and changing government restrictions continue to make staging theatre in 2021 extremely challenging, with unavoidable consequences on rehearsal and production processes. MTC has endeavoured to proceed with our scheduled productions wherever we can but in this instance it has not been possible. We are deeply disappointed to be in this situation. Jacky was to be a highlight of our 2021 program and we are devastated to not be able to see it come to fruition this year. We thank the team for their dedication to the work and the grace with which they have dealt with this heartbreaking reality.
We will be continuing to develop Jacky in the New Year and exploring presentation opportunities for a future date.
Jacky Playwright Declan Furber Gillick and Director Mark Wilson said:
The loss of these two experienced and talented performers who have been part of the production’s development over the last six months has left a gaping hole in the creative team. After much consideration we have come to the conclusion that it would be creatively, professionally and culturally disruptive, and ultimately irresponsible, to rush in a new pair of actors twelve days out from rehearsal. Nobody wants to present a compromised version of this play. As such, it is with a heavy heart and bitter disappointment that we cannot proceed with the 2021 production of Jacky.
We have been working on this project for three years. MTC has been on board for the majority of that time. Throughout this time, we have received much support, encouragement and guidance from friends and colleagues both inside and outside the company. Our thanks to all. Special thanks to the extraordinary cast and creative team, who have contributed love and labour to make this one very special project. We send our thoughts to the many productions across the country that find themselves in similar situations.’