Melbourne Theatre Company will premiere MTC Audio Lab on Friday 17 July, a new series of audio dramas beginning with a collection of Great Australian Speeches followed by an episodic reading of Henry James’s classic horror novella, The Turn of the Screw.

In launching MTC Audio Lab, MTC Artistic Director & CEO Brett Sheehy AO said, ‘A solely audio project is different to anything we’ve done before but while we’re currently offstage, it is a fantastic way to offer audiences a style of performance that is theatrical, evocative and intimate. It’s exciting – we’re thinking of it as theatre for your ears. It was also a joy to have actors back in the rehearsal room and to bring artists together in the process of creative storytelling.’

Curated by MTC Associate Director Petra Kalive, the collection of Great Australian Speeches herald from the 1800s to today, focusing on times of great change in Australia’s history. The collection captures a cross-section of notable voices including political leaders, First Nations activists and a legendary opera singer.

Ms Kalive said, ‘Speeches are not literature that we read, hear or return to often, but they nevertheless have had a dramatic impact on our cultural conversation. We revisit these particular speeches at a time when there is very little inspirational oratory, which I think highlights their significance even more.’

For the second series, MTC Associate Artistic Director Sarah Goodes chose to direct Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, citing it as one of the most influential Gothic thrillers ever written.

Ms Goodes said, ‘Dark and claustrophobic, The Turn of the Screw is perfectly suited to an audio format. The story’s relentless tension builds slowly and surely through a very clever and precise manipulation of sound and silence. Its ambiguity and suspense has provided endless fascination and been the source of debate between critics, readers and scholars for many years.’

Great Australian Speeches will be available from Friday 17 July and performed by Shareena Clanton, Mark Coles Smith, Marg Downey, Greg Stone, Leonie Whyman, and Izabella Yena.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James will be available from Friday 31 July, read by Laurence Boxhall, Marg Downey, Robert Menzies and Katherine Tonkin.

MTC Audio Lab will be available for free on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Soundcloud, and at mtc.com.au/audiolab

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