As the crowd dispersed from Theatre Works latest offering, the Hamlet Apocalypse, there was a definite buzz in the air. Theatre goers, representatives from local companies and passerbys on the street all were brought together to witness the unveiling of “Chapter One”, Theatre Work’s offerings for the start of 2019. From the outset we were promised playful, provoking and powerful theatre and Artistic Director Bryce Ives presented a palette of works that embody just that.

The themes of community and diversity are at the centre of Theatre Work’s productions for 2019, with a bevy of new Australian writing, international successes and innovative engagement techniques. Kicking off the event was Matt Doll; lead singer of the Mavis’s, a 90’s electro-pop band that I was too young to know of during their heyday, but delighted all those who were already fans and created new fans at the same time (myself included). With Matt singing out “Wicked Game” the evening was on, as disparate theatre groups reunited and discussed their previous and upcoming productions; no doubt many future collaborations came to life last night as imaginations were set loose on the streets of St Kilda. This is appropriate as the goal of Theatre Works 2019 season is to create a strong theatre community in Melbourne and engage personally and individually with groups from all walks of life with unique stories to tell.

As well as announcing their theatrical offerings, Theatre Works also announced their “Pay It Forward” event for women to come and learn new skills in rap/hip-hop and dance and feel welcomed into the community. If you’re interested in trying your hand at rap, then Pay It Forward” would be a great place to meet new people and learn in a reassuring fun environment. This is an excellent initiative from Theatre Works and an ideology of community integration that should be supported and adopted by all theatre communities.

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GIVE A FUCK CABARET, JAN 18 – 27

Give a Fuck Cabaret” promises to be an incredibly politically charged piece about what we as a society care about. Attention is currency in a market place of ideas and “Give a Fuck Cabaret” deserves your attention. Theatre Works kicks off their year with a show that hits all demographics with its no holds barred approach. You should give a fuck.

Fucks don’t grow on trees… Fucks have to be earned and then invested wisely. Fucks are cultivated like a beautiful fucking garden, where if you fuck shit up and the fucks get fucked, then you’ve fucking fucked your fucks all the fuck up” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck

TRULY MADLY BRITNEY, JAN 19 – FEB 9

Truly Madly Britney” is a new production written by Alberto Di Troia, who spoke at the launch about his excitement for the show. New Australian writing should always be encouraged and Theatre Works commitment to bringing interesting voices to their stages is a vital part of Melbourne theatre scene. Truly Madly Britney should be on the list for Britney fans and romantic comedy aficionados.

“As they draw closer to Britney’s shiny façade, Adam and Steve must find a way to love each other again if they are to escape the dark heart of American pop culture”

THE BUTCH MONOLOGUES, JAN 27 – FEB 3

If you’re after something more personal, then The Butch Monologuesmay be the show for you. The pitch is something akin to the vagina monologues for butch-identifying women, an hour of storytelling from some fascinating voices. An intriguing premise, presented through a collaboration between Theatre Works, Hotpencil Press and Vital Xposure.

“Hear powerful and often humorous secret stories exploring sexuality, vulnerability and desire taken from interviews with butches, masculine women, gender rebels and transmen living across the world in The Butch Monologues

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CAKE DADDY, Jan 27 – Feb 3

This production has me hooked, the artwork is hilarious and the premise sounds too good to be true. “Cake Daddy” is quite clear in its tone to the audience. Like cake? Like daddy’s? Come this way!

“A delicious new interactive banquet, Cake Daddy will plunge you belly deep inside the experience of fat/ness, exploring the fabulosity and fortitude required to step into the world as a fat person today. Fat is a verb. Come and gorge on Daddy’s slice o’ vinyl disco heaven!”

BIN LADEN: THE ONE MAN SHOW, March 18 – 24

Once again not shying away from the political come “Bin Laden which should already conjure up the sort of theatre piece this will be. Intelligent, insightful and incendiary. Theatre Works is committed to bringing new ideas to Melbourne and I’m enthralled at the idea of what this production will be. Sounds like a production for those interested in global events.

“My name is Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Aboud bin Laden al Qatani and tonight, ladies and gentleman, I am going to show you how to change the world”

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ROBOT SONG, March 25 – April 13

The introduction for Robot Song was the reading of a letter penned to a child which read “Hey Robot, this is an official petition that you are a total freak”. The “Robot” in question was a young girl with autism. The letter is cruel, but unsurprising in a world where the different are so often ostracised. It is perhaps apt that we can create theatre about these experiences, as theatre is what gets so many of us through the day. Robot Song sounds like a innocent romp through these troubling ideas, but presented with childlike wonder and imagination. A great show for parents or anyone who is a bit different.

“After exhausting all other avenues her parents resort to the only thing they have left, a giant singing robot”

SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, April 22 – May 5

A collaboration between Theatre Works and Monash Uni Student Theatre, “Slaughterhouse Five” seek to retell Vonnegut’s story in all its glory. I saw another staged version of SH5 in 2011, but there is so much to work within this story, that I would be interested to see where Fleur takes it. With the non-naturalistic non-linear storytelling style, the possibilities are almost endless for how it could be staged and with great young minds working on it something spectacular is bound to emerge.

“This all happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. The aliens, spaceships, human zoo and assassination, perhaps less so”

The last presentation for Chapter One was aimed for a younger crowd. Helmed by Holly Austin “Alphabet Soup” – April 6 – 18 – is an exploration of how we play as children and interact with the world around us. Holly enthralled the audience with her surprise beat-boxing skills, which is appropriate to be squealing with delight over if you’re 8 but less so if you’re 25. I was, however, squealing with delight. There are a lot of serious theatre pieces on offer in Chapter One. Theatre that makes you think. Theatre that makes you cry. Theatre that opens your heart and your mind. That said, I want to go to the show where the lady pretends to be a dinosaur. And that’s ok.

www.theatreworks.org.au

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