Last night, Merrigong Theatre Company revealed its exciting 2018 Season at a special launch event held at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre (IPAC).

Under the banner “You Belong Here”, the program aims to embrace the diversity of our community, bringing to the stage a wide range of voices and stories, and creating a space where difference is both valued and celebrated.

Kicking off the 2018 season will be the smash hit romantic comedy Black is the New White from Sydney Theatre Company. Starring an incredible ensemble including Luke Carroll (Strangerland, TV’s Redfern Now, Home and Away) and Shari Sebbens (The Sapphires, TV‘s Redfern Now). This story of two very different families brought together by love and money is written by one of Australia’s most in-demand writers, Nakkiah Lui.

STC Black is the New White Shari Sebbens by James Green

Shari Sebbens will reprise her role in Black is the New White (Photo by James Green)

In March, Australia’s hot-ticket musical, Calamity Jane, will hit Wollongong starring Virginia Gay (TV’s All Saints, Winners & Losers). The story of Calamity Jane comes to life in this brilliant, madcap, stripped-back live production that shucks off the buckskin and brings a barrelful of dirt and grit to the classic and much-loved musical.

Direct from Edinburgh and Adelaide Festivals, Merrigong will present Taha, the award-winning, lyrical and nuanced story of the life of acclaimed Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali. This powerful and moving piece is a story that parallels the experiences of a million and a half Palestinians who remained in their homeland after 1948. Performed in English (with a special one-off performance in Arabic), Taha powerfully communicates the sorrow, humour, resilience and tender humanity of an extraordinary man and artist.

Virginia Jane as Calamity Jane

Virginia Gay in Calamity Jane

Making a triumphant return to Merrigong in 2018 following its wildly successful inaugural year, will be the Spiegeltent Wollongong season. In April 2018, the season will be headlined by the breath-taking live show, Limbo, which will whisk audiences in to a sensual netherworld of dark and dangerous circus- cabaret. Accompanied by a thrilling live score by New York’s Sxip Shirey, this intoxicating show has been a hit everywhere from London to Munich, Auckland to Adelaide, Bogotá to Brussels. It’s sexy, sassy circus cabaret at its finest.

Furthering Merrigong’s commitment to producing new Australian works, the company has commissioned the brand-new Lost Boys, a fierce and compelling play by award-winning Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott (Silent Disco, The Trouble with Harry). In Lost Boys, Cy and Robert Murphy are teenagers living a life of sun and saltwater, but as the sun sets, a malevolent culture of homophobia and violence surfaces, with consequences that ripple across generations. Inspired by real events and told through the eyes of three generations of the Murphy family, Lost Boys rips into a dark part of our male-dominated culture, asking how perpetrators of violent crimes live with their unspeakable pasts.

June will see the eagerly anticipated return of Merrigong’s Letters to Lindy to the IPAC, as part of a national tour to more than 20 venues across the country. Filled with humour and heartbreak, this stunning work provides insight in to Australia’s relationship with the story of Lindy Chamberlain, one of the most compelling legal and human dramas of our times. This is a great opportunity to see the show that the critics have been raving about.

01_Phillip Hinton, Jeanette Cronin and Jane Phegan. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti for Merrigong Theatre Company

Letters to Lindy returns to IPAC (Photo by Lisa Tomasetti)

In The Event (July 25th-28th), the brilliant Catherine McClements (TV’s Water Rats, Rush) will be joined on stage by a choir from Wollongong’s own local community in an extraordinary blend of theatre and live music. The hit of the 2013 Edinburgh Festival, The Events is award- winning Scottish production written in response to the violence unleashed by a Norwegian white supremacist in 2011. It is a deeply important, poignant and challenging story of hope and healing.

September will have acclaimed Swedish theatre-maker Jakop Ahlbom bring his unique combination of illusion, mime, movement and music to the stage in Horror. A homage to the film genre, the show is a technical tour de force complete with levitations, vanishings, apparitions, dislocations and a healthy dose of humour.

In October, join Merrigong ringside for a rare theatrical combo: engrossing storytelling paired with the visceral thrill and energy of boxing in Prize Fighter. The story of Isa, a young Congolese boxer gearing up for the national title fight, who soon discovers it’s not just his opponents he has to outdo, but the demons from his tortuous past as a boy soldier. Nominated for four Helpmann Awards, this is skilfully realised theatre, full of complexity, energy and surprising delicacy.

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Prize Fighter has wowed audiences and critics in Sydney and Brisbane (Photo by Brett Boardman)

In addition to Merrigong’s mainstage season Merrigong is excited to be launching a brand new series of eclectic events from artists in the Wollongong neighbourhood and around the nation. MERRIGONGX will bring innovative, independent and work still in-development to a wider audience.

Merrigong Theatre Company Artistic Director, Simon Hinton said “In the time of ‘fake news’, divisive plebiscites and savage social media attacks, it’s important to reinforce the ability of the theatre to embrace all in our community, to be a place of inclusion, a space where diversity is valued and difference is celebrated. We are thrilled to be able to present our 2018 season, with a range of voices and stories on our stages that reflect the diverse community that we live in.”

 

Full program and tickets are now available from www.merrigong.com.au/merrigong-season/

 

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