Queensland Theatre Company has just uncaged its 2016 season.
And what a lineup! Not only is it the company’s 45th season, but it is the last season Artistic Director Wesley Enoch will programme before he takes the reigns as the director of Sydney Festival in the next few weeks.
Wesley opened the launch with a quip:
“For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the ex-Artistic Director of QTC”, and he promptly unveiled the company’s new logo – the old logo sitting in a gold cage with the door left swinging open.
“Theatre is the canary in the mind. It is at the forefront of change”, Wesley said of the new-look branding, adding “at times we have to get out of our cage, our gilded cage”.
Another exciting cause for celebration in the 2016 season is that for the first time, QTC has gender parity with directors! 5 out of their 10 directors next year are female, and given the recent push for gender equality in the performing arts, this is huge. Let’s hope to see more of this in our arts sector in the future.
But now, on to the shows…
Quartet by Ronald Harwood
(30 January-21 February Playhouse, QPAC)
The story of four retired performers find themselves in the same retirement home. Old grudges are revived, but the four need to work together to rediscover the joy of living through performance. Quartet was made into a film in 2012, and it will see QTC veterans Andrew McFarlane (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf) and Kate Wilson return to the Queensland stage.
The Secret River, adaptation by Andrew Bovell
(25 February-5 March Playhouse, QPAC)
Adapted from Kate Grenville’s novel (also a tv show), this is a story about Australia’s rough, violent colonial beginnings. It’s an epic story, with a cast of 22 actors, including Trevor Jamisen (who appeared in the tv adaptation, and in QTC’S Black Diggers).
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
(23 April-15 May Playhouse, QPAC)
2016 marks 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, so it is fitting to commemorate it with his most popular and accessible comedy. An exploration of love and its machinations, it will be fabulous to see Hugh Parker (The Seagull, The Pitch) and Christen O’Leary (The Seagull, Gloria) verbally spar as the acerbic tongued Benedict and Beatrice in this ultimate rom-com.
Switzerland by Joanna Murray-Smith
(21 May- 26 June Bille Brown Studio)
This is the story of famed thriller writer, Patricia Highsmith’s (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr Ripley) last night on earth. A young man arrives to convince her to write one last novel. By beloved Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith (Bombshells, Ninety, Female of the Species), this theatrical thriller promises to have more twists and turns than Australian politics.
The Wider Earth by David Morton
(9 July- 7 August Bille Brown Studio)
Charles Darwin shook the world when he expounded his theory of evolution in On the Origin of Species in 1859, but his work began decades earlier when he travelled aboard the HMS Beagle as a 22 year-old. Join the young Darwin on his explorations of South America and the Galapagos Islands. This production by Brisbane’s own Dead Puppet Society (Argus, The Harbinger) includes over 30 puppets, from beetles to whales, and promises to be ‘extravagantly beautiful’, says Wesley. The cast includes Margi Brown Ash (Home) and Thomas Larkin (Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet).
St Mary’s in Exile by David Burton
(27 August- 25 September Bille Brown Studio)
In 2009, ‘radical’ Catholic priest Peter Kennedy was removed from St Mary’s Church (in South Brisbane, just around the corner from QTC’s Bille Brown Studio), for his stance on women and same-sex marriage. Hundreds of his loyal parishioners followed him to a council building down the road, and Kennedy was excommunicated. This docu-drama brings in magical realism as it explores the concepts of faith, religion, church and conviction.
Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar
(14 October- 6 November Playhouse, QPAC)
In post 9/11 New York, an inter-faith dinner party goes wrong in a spectacular manner as friendships are torn apart by religion and politics. This Pulitzer Prize winning theatrical debut is both shocking and intelligent, and will leave you gasping. Cast includes Mitchell Butel (Stones in his Pockets).
Tartuffe by Moliere, adapted by Justin Fleming
(12 November- 4 December)
A con man, posing as a spiritual advisor, sets out to strip wealthy Orogon of his house and fortune, much to his family’s dismay. Will they expose Tartuffe in time? Conspiracy, weakness, hypocrisy and delicious immorality- Tartuffe is a 351 year-old romp that remains poignant in our society.
As well as these eight plays in the main season, there are two ‘add-ons’ to the 2016 season:
Bastard Territory by Stephen Carlton
(6-16 April Bille Brown Studio)
Russell had always thought he was adopted, but when he discovers his mother is actually his birth mother, he sets out to find his biological father. His journey for the truth of his identity will take him from Darwin to PNG and delve into both the personal and political.
Motherland by Katherine Lyall-Watson
(20-30 April Bille Brown Studio)
Brisbane writer Katherine Lyall-Watson was stunned when she heard the true story of Nell Tritton, a Brisbane woman who met and married deposed Russian Prime-Minister Alexander Kerensky. Together they escaped from the Nazis. This epic, whirlwind journey spans decades, countries and languages.
So there you have it- QTC’s 2016 season in a nutshell. It promises to be an exciting exploration of moral courage, and has a healthy representation of stories not only from Australia, but more specifically, from Queensland. Wesley Enoch- from those of us at Aussie Theatre who have had the privilege of reviewing the shows you programme- thank you. We will miss your leadership and the platform you give to so many different worldviews and stories. Sydney Festival is lucky to have you, and we look forward to your future contribution to the performing arts and to the future of QTC.
Book for QTC’s 2016 season now: Online at www.queenslandtheatre.com.au
In person at 78 Montague Road, South Brisbane
By phone 1800 355 528
By mailing your completed form (from the 2016 season brochure) to QTC Season Tickets, PO Box 3310, South Brisbane QLD 4101