On Friday 14th September, Belvoir launched their latest season.

UPSTAIRS THEATRE:

PETER PAN (5 Jan – 10 Feb 2013)

Everybody knows Peter Pan. He’s the boy who hasn’t grown up in 113 years. But one night not long ago we sat down and read J. M. Barrie’s original play and we found ourselves in the presence of something faaaaaar stranger, far wilder and far more brilliant than Disney ever let us believe.

This is the story of a strange boy who comes through the window of an ordinary family and takes the children on an adventure to the bush. Well, to Neverland. It is also a mad festival of  bedtime and storytime, of uncatchable girls who have a thing for you and Lost Boys who don’t have a thing for you, of  rip tides, pirates, ticking crocs, growing up, going home, mothers, fathers, dogs, dreams, and that mad pirate fiend and great big grown-up Captain Hook!

It also happens to be more or less impossible to stage at Belvoir, which is precisely why Ralph Myers – dreamer, designer and boy leader himself – is putting it on. For how better to un-grow up than  attempt something that really shouldn’t be attempted? To top it all off, a cast of the country’s most ridiculous actors are along for the ride.

Parents, bring your children. Children, bring your parents. Grandparents, bring everyone!

Cast

Charlie Garber
Geraldine Hakewill
John Leary
Meyne Wyatt

Team

By J.M. Barrie
Director Ralph Myers
Set Designer Robert Cousins
Costume Designer Alice Babidge
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Composer & Sound Designer Stefan Gregory
Assistant Director Isaac Drandic
Dramaturg Tommy Murphy

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (16 Feb – 7 Apr)

BRICK: But how in hell on earth do you imagine that you’re going to have a child by a man that can’t stand you?

MARGARET: That’s a problem that I will have to work out.

Tennessee Williams is one of the giants of twentieth-century drama and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is his Lear. One era is  ending, how does the next begin? It’s a portrait of two generations. One doesn’t want to die, and the other one feels  crowded out, confused, and desperate to inherit whatever it can get before it’s too late.

Big Daddy is a magnate. His son Brick is a closeted ex-footballer cat on a hot tin roof with a drinking problem. Brick’s wife Maggie is a second-rung society girl measuring her success against all the other families and the number of babies they have. Big Daddy is dying and somehow or other Maggie and Brick have to conceive the next generation…

Simon Stone’s Death of a Salesman was the standout hit of Belvoir’s 2012 Season. He continues his brilliant what-now exploration of the American classics with Tennessee Williams’ magnificent family showdown.

The great Jacqui McKenzie returns to Belvoir (finally!) alongside the great Ewen Leslie.

Cast

Ewen Leslie
Jacqueline McKenzie

Team

By Tennessee Williams
Director Simon Stone
Set Designer Robert Cousins
Costume Designer Alice Babidge
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Composer & Sound Designer Stefan Gregory

FORGET ME NOT (20 Apr – 19 May)

Gerry is almost 60, and he is going to meet his mother for the first time since he was three. His daughter Sally has had it up to here with him and his problems. The old lady lives somewhere in the UK. Liverpool, according to the records. So Gerry is going there to find out what made him who he is.

Tom Holloway’s gem of a play started life as a conversation between Belvoir and Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Theatres. Holloway’s task was to tell the story of the 3,000-odd English children who, between 1945 and 1968, were  told they were orphans and sent to Australia on a promise of warmth, fresh air, abundant food and boundless opportunity. Instead they arrived to deprived institutions where neglect and abuse were the norm.

Holloway’s brilliant leap of imagination has been to set this story not at its outset half a century ago, but here and now. He has written a series of raw, often achingly beautiful conversations between members of a scattered family. Drawing the whole thing together is Gerry’s extraordinary, precarious bid to finally learn what it means to love and belong to a family.

Belvoir’s own Anthea Williams (Old Man) directs this exquisite portrait of a man on a journey to meet the mother he never knew.

Cast

Colin Moody

Team

By Tom Holloway
Director Anthea Williams

ANGELS IN AMERICA, PARTS ONE AND TWO (28 May – 14 July)

Actually, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is not one play but two. Millennium Approaches and Perestroika were the closing statements of last century – an epic double-comedy of love and hate, heaven and earth, past and future. Now, a generation after Tony Kushner’s masterpiece first appeared, a black President who supports gay marriage is up against a Mormon Republican for the White House, and Angels in America is the perfect guide to the essential questions of our times. Exactly what are the forces that drive the manic history of this new millennium? What does it mean to live in a free society? What might it mean to live in a good society?

Eamon Flack (As You Like It, Babyteeth) directs a stellar cast in the newest classic in the canon.

Part One could be one of those great New York Jewish jokes. It is 1985, Prior Walter is HIV positive, his Jewish boyfriend leaves him for a straight Mormon, and then he gets a hospital visit from an angel who says it is up to him to save humanity. And that is just part one.
 

Part Two: Various forces have gathered in New York: the ex-boyfriend and his Mormon squeeze, the squeeze’s pill-popping wife and Mormon mother, a rabid Republican lawyer, a black nurse and the Angel of America. And Prior Walter has the future of the world in his hands.Note

Angels in America will play in repertory as two separate full-length shows. You can see both parts in sequence on any Saturday or Sunday during the season. We recommend if you intend to book for Part Two that you see Part One first. Read about Part Two here.
 

Cast

Paula Arundell
Mitchell Butel
Luke Mullins
Robyn Nevin
Ashley Zukerman

Team

By Tony Kushner
Director Eamon Flack
Set Designer Michael Hankin
Costume Designer Tess Schofield
Lighting Designer Niklas Pajanti
Composer Alan John

PERSONA (24 July – 18 Aug)

Adena Jacobs’ staging of Ingmar Bergman’s film packed out houses at Melbourne’s Theatre Works in 2012. It was one of the finest pieces of theatre in the country all year.

Elizabeth is an actress. One night, in the middle of Elektra, she falls silent. Nervous breakdown? Spiritual crisis? Illness? Attention seeking? No-one can say. She is sent to the seaside to recover. As Elizabeth’s silence continues, her nurse Alma begins to speak and Bergman’s signature themes kick into life: enigmatic acts of love and kindness, dangerous heights of obsession and need…

Persona pulls off a remarkable feat: it recreates the famous intimacy of the great Bergman’s finest film on a stage. This is a consummate theatrical close-up about our basic human need to be seen and known by another person.

Cast

Meredith Penman
Daniel Schlusser
Karen Sibbing

Team

Conceived by Adena Jacobs, Dayna Morrissey & Danny Pettingill
Based on the film by Ingmar Bergman
Director Adena Jacobs
Translation Keith Bradfield
Production Designer Dayna Morrissey
Lighting Designer Danny Pettingill
Sound Designer Russell Goldsmith

MISS JULIE (24 Aug – 6 Oct)

We love watching plays about couples tearing each other to pieces: George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia  Woolf?, Elyot and Amanda in Private Lives, Jean and Julie in Miss Julie.

The difference, though, is that Julie is still in her teens. She is rich because her father is rich. Jean is not rich – he works for the family, in a lowly way – but he would quite like to be. They have this much in common: they would both like to rule their own lives, they both think they can get that from each other, and they both think sex is the way to do it.

August Strindberg’s masterpiece has been hovering in the wings at Belvoir for a while now, waiting for the right people: Leticia Cáceres and Brendan Cowell both know how to combine tender and brutal to devastating effect. Simon Stone joins them with a rewrite of the play in the fashion of his The Wild Duck.

This is a red-blooded new Miss Julie about men and power, about extreme privilege, about freedom and about how cruel we can be to each other in the interests of self-preservation.

Cast

Brendan Cowell

Team

By Simon Stone after August Strindberg
Director Leticia Cáceres

HAMLET (12 Oct – 1 Dec)

Every generation feels the irresistible compulsion to attempt to stage this, the greatest play by the greatest playwright. Then, when we try, we’re haunted by the ghosts of past Hamlets: Olivier, Gielgud… Roxburgh. Every new production becomes a strange mirror of the play itself: a new Hamlet encounters the ghost of an old Hamlet and puts on a play in order to find out how to really become Hamlet. It takes the perfect combination of director and leading man to tackle this perennial conundrum – to face up to the ghosts and plunge into the thing itself with clear eyes.

Director Simon Stone is ruthless and visionary in his pursuit of the essential in a text; Toby Schmitz is one of the great actors of his generation: quick, droll and fiendishly sharp. Hamlet is the natural next step in their theatrical partnership. They’ll be joined by a cast of masters, including the wonderful Robyn Nevin and Emily Barclay.

IT’S TIME.

Cast

Emily Barclay
John Gaden
Robyn Nevin
Toby Schmitz

Team

By William Shakespeare
Director Simon Stone
Set Designer Ralph Myers
Costume Designer Mel Page

CORANDERRK (7 Dec – 5 Jan 2014)

Coranderrk is about what might have been.

In the neglected storehouse of Australian history, this is one of the definitive stories. At a Victorian Parliamentary  Inquiry in 1881, the men and women of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve went head-to-head with the Aboriginal Protection Board. Their goal was both simple and revolutionary: to be allowed to continue the brilliant experiment in self-determination they had pioneered for themselves on the scrap of country left to them.

Coranderrk recreates the Inquiry. This is both great theatre and great history. It revives the voices of all those, black and white, who fought for a better compact between the country’s oldest and newest inhabitants – three dozen of them from 132 years ago, speaking for themselves, directly to us, as though the question at hand remains unanswered today.

This special co-production between Belvoir and ILBIJERRI pays tribute to the resilience and adaptability of a people who rose to the challenge despite the odds, appropriating the power of the written word to make their own voices ring loud and clear.

Cast

Jack Charles
Tom Long
Kelton Pell

Team

By Andrea James & Giordano Nanni
Concept Giordano Nanni
Director Isaac Drandic
Assistant Director Ralph Myers

DOWNSTAIRS THEATRE:

THIS HEAVEN (7 Feb – 3 Mar)

Sometimes you need to push.

Sissy Gordon’s father died in custody at Mount Druitt Police Station. The cops got a fine, Sissy’s family got $9,000 and noone is allowed to speak about it. Sissy is about to become a lawyer but tonight lawyers and the law are beside the point. Tonight the night is dirty and heavy, and the moon is swollen and bright. Everyone knows that on nights like this things happen.

Nakkiah Lui’s This Heaven is about a family who find themselves at a flash point of oppression, loss, love and anger. Lui turns the streets and parks of Mount Druitt into a fierce public forum where the essential matters of what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad are up for grabs. At the centre of it is the question: does doing nothing make you as complicit as the perpetrators?

Lui grew up in the Mount Druitt Aboriginal community. This Heaven is her first play. In the time she wrote it she was an associate playwright at Belvoir, she won the inaugural Dreaming Award and she was finishing her law degree. This Heaven is about balancing worlds.

Cast

Travis Cardona

Team

By Nakkiah Lui
Director Lee Lewis

STORIES I WANT TO TELL YOU IN PERSON (21 Mar – 14 Apr)

On the one hand, Lally Katz has been writing the funniest and most original plays in the country for the last decade – Neighbourhood Watch, for example. On the other hand, Katz, Oscar Wilde-like, has been putting her genius into her life and only her talent into her work. Now the inevitable moment has come when the two must collide.

The thing is – and this is a true story – Katz was supposed to write us a play about a fortune teller. But she spent her commission (and then some) actually going to a fortune teller. In New York. More than once. This is the story of what Katz has been doing instead of writing a play. It features Katz, on her own, as herself, channelling the stories of the many psychics, alchemists and taxi drivers who have tried to show her the way.

Anyone who’s met her will know that the word ‘irrepressible’ has nothing on Katz, even at her quietest. She makes chaos charming and catastrophe positively exuberant. She likes to be laughed at, and her method is to talk first and think later. Anything could happen. Seriously. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN. It’s Lally Katz!

Cast

Lally Katz

Team

By Lally Katz
Director Anne-Louise Sarks
Set Designer Ralph Myers

THE BAULKHAM HILLS AFRICAN LADIES TROUPE (15 Aug – 8 Sep)

Yarrie Bangura grew up in a camp in Guinea. She is doing her HSC. Aminata Doumbia is from Sierra Leone. She is an ambassador for the UNHCR. Big Mama Rosemary Kariuki is from Kenya. She is a community leader and she knows how to live. Yordy Haile-Michael grew up in an army. She has four kids and lives in Lalor Park. They are one half of The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe and they would like to welcome you into their worlds.

In August on our Downstairs stage these marvellous women are going to turn their extraordinary stories of survival into a joyous theatre of humanity. But this is not just a show about what’s happened to the ladies. With the help of four other African women – singers and dancers and actors – they are going to take this great opportunity to be who they want, say what they want, and become as amazing as they can. This is how they celebrate a new beginning in a land of refuge.

The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe is a celebration of women, human rights, laughter and resilience. With a bit of sage advice on hair care.

Devisors & Performers

Yarrie Bangura
Aminatah Conteh
Aminata Doumbia
Yordanos Haile-Michael
Rosemary Kariuki
Tariro Mavondo
Effie Nkrumah

Dancers

Tiana Canterbury
Lisa Viola

Team

Writer & Director Ros Horin
Set Designer Dan Potra
Movement Director Lucia Mastrantone
Singer/Songwriter Aminata Doumbia
Musical Director/Sound Designer Basil Hogios
Video Designer Mic Gruchy
Cinematographer Justine Kerrigan
Producer (Racing Pulse Productions) Michelle Kotevski

SMALL AND TIRED (26 Sep – 20 Oct)

Orestes has come back to bury his father. He has been away a long time. His mother is hardened, his sister is strangely ill. He will see them, he will bury his father and then, in all likelihood, he will drift away again. But in a bar one night, slightly drunk, he meets a gentle soul called Pylades…

Kit Brookman’s Small and Tired sets up a brilliant moral challenge for its characters: to love in spite of all the shit. The play springs from the myth of Orestes and the House of Atreus, but Brookman’s completely disarming leap of imagination has been to fully dissolve the myth into the contemporary world.

The result is a small play which echoes large – about restlessness and modern love, about the rootlessness of the times, about the brokenness of our sense of family and humanity. At its heart is the startling idea that love is an ancient thing we have to learn and re-learn from generation to generation.

Brookman is an associate playwright at Belvoir, and his plays have something special going on: gentle, wise, oddly funny, very human and very smart. He wrote Small and Tired specially for Downstairs, and specially for the remarkable Luke Mullins.

It is beautiful.

Cast

Tom Conroy
Luke Mullins

Team

Writer & Director Kit Brookman
Set & Costume Designer Mel Page

THE CAKE MAN (14 Nov – 8 Dec)

Back in the early 1970s a group of pioneering Indigenous theatremakers occupied a dilapidated terrace in Redfern and started the National Black Theatre. The first full-length play they staged was Robert J. Merritt’s The Cake Man. A droll examination of white paternalism from a black point of view, Merritt’s play kicked off a renaissance of art and performance that laid the foundations of contemporary Indigenous theatre.

The Cake Man is at once straightforward and complex. It is about the small details of life in a changing world. Jumping effortlessly from a pre-invasion idyll to the hard scrabble of modern life on a mission in western New South Wales, Merritt’s virtuosic play pings with closely observed portraits of people doing what they have to do to get by. Tucked away inside it is an account of the roots of despair and of the beautiful means of overcoming it.

Kyle J. Morrison is from the new generation of Black theatre. He is the Artistic Director of Perth’s Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. We are teaming up with this great little powerhouse of new and old Indigenous stories to give this forgotten gem its overdue revival.

Robert J. Merritt watched his first opening night under police guard: he was an inmate of Long Bay at the time. The Cake Man is his real testimony.

Cast

Irma Woods

Team

By Robert J. Merritt
Director Kyle J. Morrison

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