Malthouse Theatre’s Season 2017 is set to continue their rebellion against ‘the establishment’ while examining our capacity to reach out and offer empathy to others. With the promise of an anarchic season, the program seems sure to confront and challenge perceptions.

“The idea of collaboration is really at the core of Malthouse Theatre,” Artistic Director Matthew Lutton said.

“And not only does the theatre we create come from collaboration in our rehearsal rooms, so to does our season come about from a very collaborative programming process.”

Malthouse Theatre is continuing to innovate and push forward, proudly announcing a revolutionary change to their subscriptions. At the Season 2017 launch, Artistic Director Matthew Lutton announced season passes with no locked-in dates.

“What this means is when you purchase a season pass, all you have to do is nominate five (or more) of the shows you want to see next year, but you don’t have to nominate a date,” he said.

“Then when the show is a fortnight away, we’ll send you a personalised email reminder and then you can nominate which day you want to see the show.”

Malthouse Theatre’s Season 2017 of twelve mainstage productions boasts five new Australian works, two classics and two international works. Despite the potentially creepy slogan – “Join us. Come sit in the dark and feel something” – the season looks to have something to appeal to most theatregoers. There’s plenty of comedy splashed in to mix up the drama, exciting technology inclusions, and challenging perspectives.

Beginning the season is The Encounter running 2-10 February from the UK’s Complicite. It tells the story of a National Geographic photographer venturing into remote areas of Brazil. Each member of the audience will wear a headset, allowing for a 3D soundscape experience, immersing the audience further than usual theatre.

The second play is Little Emperors running 9-26 February written by Lachlan Philpott. Little Emperors explores China’s controversial One Child Policy. It is presented in association with Asia TOPA, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts.

Declan Greene’s The Homosexuals, or Faggots is Malthouse’s third offering for 2017, running 17 February – 12 March. Who gets to decide what is and what is not offensive in contemporary Australia? Green’s comedy takes farce and uses the form to show the hypocrisy of society.

Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster returns 15-26 March. Nicola Gunn’s story is presented as part of Dance Massive and explores the dilemma of intervention through performance and dance.

“As she speaks to the audience, she dances, almost ecstatically, for an hour, without stopping,” Lutton said.

 

“This piece won Best Play at the Helpmann Awards this year and it’s not surprising because the scope of its questions are large, it’s unique, and it’s profoundly funny.”

The fifth Malthouse play in 2017 is Away by Michael Gow is on at Malthouse 3-28 May. This is one of the classics presented in 2017 and is a co-production with STC. Following three families lead by profound mothers, the time is 1960s Australia and allows for an exploration of class and racism.

Not responding to critics has become an art form in itself, and that’s exactly what Wild Bore exposes. Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martines and Adrienne Truscott have created a show full of self-deprecating wit that allows these comic geniuses to respond to the critics. Wild Bore is on 17 May – 4 June.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. by Alice Birch calls for revolution against oppression. The seventh play of Season 2017 runs 16 June – 9 July and stars Belinda McClory, Elizabeth Esguerra, Ming-Zhu Hii and Sophie Ross.

John Harvey’s Heart is a Wasteland runs 29 June – 16 July. This co-production with Brown Cab Productions tells the story of a rising country star, driving north from South Australia to Alice Springs. It recognizes everyone’s worthiness of, and right to, love.

Dubbed the most controversial work of Season 2017, Kim Noble’s You’re Not Alone leads the audience through social experiments and shows them in detail. This black comedy is on 1-13 August and sets out to change the lack of compassion in the world in strange ways.

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Tom Wright’s The Real and Imagined History of The Elephant Man is the story of Joseph Merrick who joined the circus and was offered asylum at the London Hospital in 1879. His unfortunate death speaks volumes of the desire to be normal, as the play explores compassion, hope and hate. The tenth play of Season 2017 runs 4-27 August.

Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs bring Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets to Malthouse during 15 September – 8 October. This co-production musical with Victoria Opera has a cast including Meow Meow, Paul Capsis and Kanen Breen. The part opera, part vaudeville asks a lot of the cast as they explore a pact with the devil.

“This is a production that we could not pull off without an extraordinary ensemble of shapeshifters – performers that can move between cabaret, opera, theatre, vaudeville,” Lutton said.

“So I’m pretty excited to announce that we have a team of performers at the top of their game coming together for Black Rider.

“As Tom Waits would say, this production invites you to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.”

The final mainstage play is Colm Töibin’s The Testament of Mary, running 3-26 November. Pamela Rabe is The Virgin Mary, fighting others creating stories of her dead son. How myths are created and fanaticism are explored while trying to answer who has the right to tell stories like this.

Two special events are in Season 2017: Anti Gravity (17-26 March) and Caravan of Love (dates TBC). Anti Gravity is a collaboration between Anouk van Dijk and Ho Tzu Nyen will be presented as part of Dance Massive and Asia TOPA and explores clouds and their influence. Caravan of Love is written by Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Angus Cerini and Wayne Macauley, starring Susie Dee and Nicci Wilks. Taking over the Malthouse Forecourt, a mother and daughter have lived in a run down caravan for 40 years.

With this season, it’s clearer than ever before that Malthouse Theatre is very proud of pushing boundaries and creating confronting art. It’s also clear just how proud they are of the programs they nurture and deliver through various funds such as the Female Director in Residence, a program Matthew Lutton admits he wishes wasn’t necessary for 2017. Other programs include the Suitcase Series (Malthouse’s education program), Co.Lab Writer and Director Program and the Besen Family Artist Program.

As Matthew Lutton said prior to announcing the season, 2016 has been a successful year for Malthouse Theatre and they hope to build on that in 2017. This controversial and challenging season is set to engage audiences in a new way and hopefully allow the risks Malthouse is taking to pay off.

Malthouse invites audiences to “come sit in the dark and feel something” in 2017 and season passes are on sale now.

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