Queensland Theatre Company’s 2014 season has officially been launched…
There was excitement all round as the company’s creatives and subscribers were invited to QPAC’s Playhouse for the launch of the 2014 QTC season.
Decked out with AstroTurf, lounge chairs and a barbeque, the theme of the afternoon was very chilled-out and relaxed as the artists drank champagne on stage. There was a strong theme of collaboration and togetherness, and the company subscribers were incorporated in this ‘sharing vibe’ over the hour.
QTC’s Artistic Director Wesley Enoch hosted the event to a near full house of guests. Enoch was very engaging and genuinely thrilled about the upcoming season. His energy was high as he urged that this season would both motivate and surprise audiences, with the host of plays ranging from reinterpreted classics to new productions.
First revealed was Australia Day, a comedy by Jonathan Biggins. Directed by Andrea Moor (Venus in Furs), it’s based on a committee formed in a fictitious town in Australia and raises questions about our National Identity.
The Mountain Top by Katori Hall was next. Directed by Todd McDonald the play is set the night before Martin Luther King Jnr’s assassination, and focuses on the human story of King. Pacharo Mzembe (Underbelly Razor) will portray King. Enoch described the piece as ‘a divine conversation about the world and spirituality’.
Directed by Michael Attenborough (Sir David Attenborough’s nephew), Shakespeare’s famous Macbeth, a psychological thriller of murder, guilt, insomnia and anxiety, is part of the season. Grin and Tonic’s Jason Klarwein stars as Macbeth, further establishing the Brisbane based company’s relationship with QTC. Enoch said, in relation to reinterpreting classics such as Macbeth, ‘Theatre is an oral tradition. We pass it down from actor to actor, from director to director’. Though Attenborough didn’t attend the launch, we saw a clip of him on the big screen expressing his enthusiasm at bringing Macbeth to Queensland. With a fantastic cast and director lined up, this one is sure to be a hit.
A co-production with Sydney Theatre Company, The Effect by Lucy Prebble, was up next. Enoch had asked two of QTC’s subscribers to read the play prior to the event and brought them onstage for a discussion. All three were very enthusiastic about this new piece, describing it as a very intelligent play about depression, ethical challenges in drug trials and ‘staying in contact’.
Gloria is a brand new play by Elaine Acworth and directed by David Bell, both of whom were in the audience. Christen O’Leary who stars as Gloria spoke to Enoch about the play, describing it as being first and foremost a story about the relationship between a mother and her son as she approaches the end of her life. O’Leary spoke very passionately about her belief in the piece and Enoch described seeing a brand new play as ‘a true birthing’. Both The Effect and Gloria will be playing at the Billie Brown Studio
QTC’s own Wesley Enoch is directing Black Diggers, by Tom Wright. This interesting play explores the story of Indigenous Australians who fought in World War I. Drawing on interviews from those families affected, Enoch described being moved as he learned thatr the youngest Indigenous Australian to die at war was a boy of seventeen. This one is clearly close to his heart, and is produced in association with Brisbane Festival and Sydney Festival.
Finally, Ben Elton’s first professional play Gasp is being brought to the stage in 2014. In true Elton style, the play is a dig at capitalism, based on air becoming a commodity marketed for profit. Elton (who we also saw on the big screen) described this piece as a dig against Gina [Rhinehart], Clive [Palmer], and all other owners of natural resources. Enoch added. ‘I will be directing this because I’m witty and charming and funny’. Elton’s fans won’t want to miss this one.
Enoch then surprised the audience by revealing two additional plays, A Tribute of Sorts by Benjamin Schostakowski, and The Magic Hour with Ursula Yovich. Both will play at the Billie Brown Studio.
The event was then wrapped up with the breaking of a large piñata that released decorations and chocolate to mark the launch of the programl.
I was left feeling energised by the creativity around me, and if I were to sum up the important themes embraced by the afternoon, they would be legacy, support, openness and cultural sharing. Enoch reminded the audience of the heritage of Southbank; a flood plain on which traditional landowners often came together in celebration of food and ritual, and likened this to the coming together of all people to celebrate the emerging arts culture in Queensland.
What struck me most about Enoch was his genuine passion for the theatre and how personable he was. The audience loved him, and he clearly appreciates the support of his company’s subscribers. Many seemed to know him well, and those who didn’t were soon won over by his wit and manner. This was especially apparent when Enoch announced that all those who subscribe to the company before the 31st of January would go into the draw to win a day with him, a ‘backstage peek into his world’, including flying to Sydney in the evening for a play and dinner, and accommodation at Quay West (a sponsor of QTC).
Industry professionals and punters alike will be pleased with the variety of entertainment QTC are offering in the coming year. All will be looking forward to an exciting new season of theatre in Queensland.
For full details: Queensland Theatre Company