The July to October Darebin Arts Speakeasy season features a program of premieres and performances bigger than ever before, bursting with some of Australia’s most unique performance makers including Marc Brew, Rawcus ensemble, Arielle Gray, Tim Watts, The Last Great Hunt, Double Water Sign (Rachel Perks and Bridget Balodis), Michele Lee, Ra Chapman, Richard J Frankland and Biddy Connor.

 The season includes projects which were unable to proceed in 2020 and May / June 2021 due to COVID-19 as well as new content developed specifically for the 2021 season. It is a continuation of the February to June season which included a variety of sold-out performances from creatives including Joe Paradise Lui, Elbow Room, Melissa Reeves & Susie Dee, Joel Bray, Riot Stage, Jessie Lloyd and Alisdair Macindoe.

First cab off the rank for the second half of 2021, from 7 to 11 July at Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre (NTHAC), is a new performance work, GLASS, a collaboration between internationally renowned UK based choreographer Marc Brew with the inimitable Rawcus Ensemble.

Delving into dynamics of power, restriction, tenacity and ambition, this new work interrogates invisible edges, boundaries and barriers and features thirteen diverse performers negotiating an evolving performance space supported by the immersive sound of Jethro Woodward.

On 9 and 10 July is NEW OWNER by Arielle Gray and Tim Watts, to be presented at Darebin Arts Centre.  From the creators of international smash hits The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer and It’s Dark Outside, NEW OWNER is a sensitive show for all ages about loss, friendship and new beginnings which combines puppetry, live action and animation.

Bart is a boisterous puppy waiting to be chosen from the animal shelter. Mabel is a lonely widow, trying to fill the hole in her heart. The day they find each other is the beginning of a profound friendship – but Mabel is old, and Bart is young – and suddenly alone.

HYDRA by Double Water Sign is a searing new work of science-fiction, the story of an angry young man and the woman whose job it is to kill him. On at NTHAC from 21 to 31 July, HYDRA was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award and is presented by the producers behind the award-winning Ground Control and Moral Panic.

 Third time’s a charm for the rescheduled premiere of ARCHIMEDES WAR, which has been rescheduled to August 10 – 20 after being postponed twice due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

What happens when our games are about war, and war is played like a game? Playwright Melissa Reeves has teamed up with director Susie Dee for a dark comedy exploring the frightening depersonalisation of modern warfare at NTHAC in this Australian premiere.

Michele Lee’s SECURITY, premiering on 29 September at NTHAC, is set within a security company and is sure to create headlines. Lee’s play Rice won the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, an Australian Writer’s Guild Award and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award in 2018.

Working security is a battle most days. But it’s the female security guards at Thompson Security – Naz, Tribe and Joey – who work on the front-lines to keep it all in line. But the shit hits the fan when they witness the sexual assault of a wealthy female client. So life, and work, goes on. Same day, different gigs. Until everything that isn’t right comes undone.

Writer, musician, filmmaker and a Gunditjmara man Richard J Frankland’s NO MORE SUGAR, NO MORE TEA is a contemporary opera exploring the changes that take place when life is decimated by war: people become fringe dwellers, homeless, impoverished, and cultural authority is smashed to pieces.

On from 26 to 30 October at NTHAC, NO MORE SUGAR, NO MORE TEA is told through letters from First Nations women during the First World War to their husbands and sons on the frontline.

Written and directed by Richard J Frankland, with music by Frankland and Biddy Connor, the performance navigates a time of heightened assimilation policy and the establishment of missions, when First Nations people living under the Aborigines Protection Act were regarded as subhuman in law. When one woman, a mother, writes to the mission manager and the Aboriginal Welfare Board, we see that there is another war going on.

Celebrating its 8th birthday in 2021, Darebin Arts Speakeasy presents a creative and challenging contemporary performing arts program by emerging and established artists across both Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre and Darebin Arts Centre. For further information on the July – October season, please visit www.darebinarts.com.au

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