The National Theatre of Parramatta (NTofP) has just become Australia’s newest theatre company.

Following several years of planning, the exciting announcement was made at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres on November 19. The newly established company says it will offer not only entertaining and innovative programs, but will also champion artist development, educational opportunities and mentoring programs.

It’s a significant coup for the burgeoning arts scene in Western Sydney. It’s the fastest growing region in Australia, and in recognition of its creative capacity, NTofP has received financial investment from Arts NSW, Parramatta City Council, Riverside Theatres, Packer Family Foundation and Crown Resorts Foundation.

Riverside Theatres will be the venue NTofP calls home, and the company will be led by a directorate of four arts professionals, all of whom bring an abundance of creative and cultural experience to the table. Those four directors are S. Shakthidharan (founder and director of CuriousWorks and associate artist at Carriageworks), Annette Shun Wah (executive producer of Performance 4a), Wayne Harrison AM (chief creative officer for Spiegelworld International) and Paula Abood (community cultural development writer and creative producer).

Riverside Theatres (Parramatta)

Riverside Theatres will be the home of the National Theatre of Parramatta (Photo courtesy of Sydney.com)

The directorate is joined by international producer, Joanne Kee (former artistic director for Sydney Improvised Music Association, and business manager for programming at the Sydney Opera House).

In a company statement, Annette Shun Wah said: “National Theatre of Parramatta aspires to create bold, contemporary works that draw their inspiration from the rich diversity and untold stories of Western Sydney and beyond, adding to our cultural landscape a company that truly reflects the nation on stage.”

Stay tuned as Theatre People will be bringing you an interview with a member of NTofP’s directorate in the week ahead.

The NTofP has also wasted no time in announcing its premiere season, which begins in April 2016. The details are below.

 

APRIL – Swallow 

Opening the inaugural NTofP season in April will be the powerful production Swallow, by Olivier award winning playwright Stef Smith. It received rave reviews during its world premiere season at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and NTofP is delighted that Kate Champion, founder and former artistic director of Force Majeure, will direct this Australian premiere. Swallow will fearlessly launch the adventurous and high quality 2016 Season of NTofP.

Simultaneously at the tipping point between self-destruction and self-acceptance, three strangers influence each other’s lives in unforeseeable ways. Shared states of vulnerability and defiance connect their fates and influence each other’s ability to re-enter the outside world. Hard hitting yet humorous, Swallow explores questions of identity, heartbreak and hope with vivid, poetic intensity.

 

JUNE – Stolen

Jane Harrison’s Stolen is a collection of experiences from survivors of the Stolen Generations, it tells the story of five Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families and brought up in a repressive children’s home. It will be directed by one of the nation’s great performance makers, Vicki Van Hout.

Segregated from their community, the children begin their journey ‘home’ after their release. The poignancy, pain, and desire for a different life is seen through the children’s own eyes as they struggle to make sense of a world where they have been told to forget their families, homes and culture.

 

OCTOBER – Telling Tales

In October, NTofP will hold the inaugural storytelling festival, Telling Tales. Using traditional and alternative spaces, Telling Tales will celebrate the glorious complexity and diversity of Western Sydney, sharing the stories of its people with yarns, anecdotes, personal stories and imaginary tales set in a performance context, and with something for all ages.

Telling Tales will include:

  • The Hakawati – Drink coffee and break bread with the master story teller with a thousand stories to tell, the Hakawati. Devised by Wayne Harrison and Paula Abood, and directed by Wayne Harrison.
  • Who Speaks For Me – a multi-lingual, multi-generational storytelling work about language – the hilarious consequences of misunderstanding it, and the nuances that are lost in translating it. Co-directed by master storyteller and photographer William Yang with writer and producer Annette Shun Wah.
  • A History of Maps and Squares – One hundred years ago, red and blue crayons in hand, British diplomat Mark Sykes and French counterpart François Georges-Picot met over a map and set about redrawing borders in very straight lines. The effects of the colonial carve up resonate into the present as history finds meaning in the tradition of theatre of the absurd.
  • An exciting new work by Shakthidharan. More details TBC.

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