Join MTC Artistic Director for his Last Season at MTC as he invites you to ESCAPE to another world…

For his final season as Artistic Director of the Melbourne Theatre Company, Simon Phillips has assembled a star-filled and nostalgic compendium of exciting new Australian and international works, intertwined with some all-time classic plays.
Recent Broadway hits including Martin McDonagh’s A Behanding in Spokane and Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room or the vibrator play are joined by the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next To Normal. While this year’s smash hit production of Richard III is getting a bookend with the thrilling reunion of star Ewan Leslie and Phillips in the Director’s seat on Hamlet.
Other stars set to light up MTC stages include Robyn Nevin in the British play Apologia, Alison Whyte in American work Clybourne Park and Geoffrey Rush, hilariously cast as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wylde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Australian plays are represented by a highly anticipated new work written for the stage by Tim Winton, Rising Water, Joanna Murray-Smith’s latest comedy, The Gift and most surprising of all, David Williamson’s sequel to his seminal 70’s Australian classic Don’s Party the 2010-set Don Parties On.
Google for more details of what’s in store for the 2011 MTC season – entitled ‘Escape to a New World’ (is this a commentary on Phillips’ departure?) but for now read on…
David Williamson’s
Don Parties On
The Arts Centre Playhouse, 8 January – 12 February 2011
Set on the night of this year’s federal election and starring Garry McDonald, Diane Craig & Frankie J Holden, Williamson is set to show us how much Don and his mates have moved on in the 40 years since Gough’s loss to the Liberals. In the reflective glow of Julia and Tony’s practically hung parliament will Don and his mates really have changed or will alcohol fuelled honesty rule the country once more? The inimitable Robyn Nevin directs.
A Behanding in Spokane
by Martin McDonagh
MTC Sumner Theatre, 5 February – 19 March 2011
From the author of the quite simply brilliant The Pillowman, the ‘Leenane’ trilogy of plays and the excellent film In Bruges, this black comedy earned Christopher Walken a Tony nomination at the 2010 awards. Set in a grungy American hotel that brings together a man with a missing hand and a pair of quarrelsome lovers with a hand to sell, McDonagh’s signature sense of the bizarre will be channelled by director Peter Evans. Bert Labonte and Tyler Coppin star.
by Alexi Kaye Campbell
The Arts Centre Fairfax Studio, 18 February – 2 April 2011
Robin Nevin takes the lead in this British play about an art critic whose birthday party brings to bear the results of neglecting to mention her two sons in the memoir of her life. Jennifer Flowers will direct Nevin in her latest tale of dinner table conflict, after her brilliant performance in August: Osage County.
In the Next Room
or the vibrator play
by Sarah Ruhl
The MTC Sumner Theatre, 7 April to 14 May 2011
Pamela Rabe moves off the stage into the director’s chair for this 2010 Tony award nominated best play and co-production with Sydney Theatre Company. Starring Jacqueline McKenzie, in a welcome return to the Australian stage, this funny and tender tale is set at the dawn of the age of electricity and a physician’s experimental use of vibration in the treatment of hysteria in women.
Next to Normal
Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
The Arts Centre Playhouse, 28 April – 28 May, 2011
A particularly exciting production for Theatre People readers, this Pulitzer Prize winning musical was nominated for the 2009 Tony award for best musical and picked up the best actress, best score and best orchestrations awards. Kate Kendall will take on the leading role of Di Goodman with Matt Hetherington playing her husband and Bert Labonte in support. In his final year, Simon Phillips is handing over the directing reigns (musicals usually being his baby at MTC) to Dean Bryant, with Matthew Frank musically directing.
The Gift
by Joanna Murray-Smith
The MTC Sumner Theatre, 28 May – 2 July 2011
Murray-Smith returns with a razor-sharp comedy starring MTC veteran Richard Piper and promises to explore what it is that gives our lives meaning through a bold and shockingly funny tale of morals. Maria Aitken directs.
The Joy of Text
by Robert Reid
The Arts Centre Fairfax, 10 June – 23 July 2011
Making its way to the MTC stage via the Cybec Readings program, this bitingly intelligent comedy about student-teacher relations stars Louise Siverson. Company Associate Director Aidan Fennessy takes the directorial reigns.
by William Shakespeare
The MTC Sumner Theatre, 19 July – 27 August 2011
After the enormous success of this year’s production of Richard III and its recent clean-up of the Helpmann Awards, this reunification of Ewan Leslie in the lead and Phillips in the director’s chair is sure to create the hottest ticket of 2011. Garry McDonald and Pamela Rabe add even more facets to this glittering jewel on the horizon. Book your seats for this one while you can!
Rising Water
by Tim Winton
The Arts Centre Playhouse, 5 August – 10 September 2011
Cherished Australian author Tim Winton writes his first original piece for the stage in this Black Swan Theatre Company production. Set across three boats moored at a marina on Australia Day, this play was to have starred Shane Bourne, but has found John Howard as his last minute replacement. Directed by Kate Cherry and co-starring Alison Whyte.
Clybourne Park
by Bruce Norris
The MTC Sumner Theatre, 17 September – 22 October 2011
Alison Whyte is set for gruelling back-to-back performances after Rising Water with this beautifully structured drama about a 1950’s Chicago community splintering when a black family moves into the neighbourhood. Co-starring Greg Stone and Zahra Newman, the second act of this play fast-forwards to today, when the same neighbourhood is now a largely black community about to be re-gentrified by a white couple. Peter Evans directs.
Return to Earth
by Lally Katz
The Arts Centre Fairfax, 4 November – 17 December 2011
Melbourne playwright and master of the absurd, Lally Katz gets her first main programme appearance with MTC through this tale of a girl who feels lost upon her return home to the sleepy seaside town of Tathra. The delightful Eloise Mignon stars alongside Julie Forsyth and Kim Gyngell.
The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
The MTC Sumner Theatre, 12 November – 30 December 2011
In his swan song with MTC as Artistic Director, Phillips will revive his 1988 production of Wilde’s masterpiece, which featured Jane Menelaus and Geoffrey Rush as Gwendolyn and Jack. This time around Menelaus will play Miss Prism and in a twist of casting genius Rush will play Lady Bracknell to assuredly hysterical affect. Christie Whelan and Toby Schmitz will take over the roles of the handbag-crossed lovers, while Bob Hornery will play both butlers (as originated by Frank Thring) on the late Tony Tripp’s original set design. A sentimental way for Phillips to round off his tenure.
The multi-functional Lawler Studio has a delightful triptych of plays to make up its official 2011 season:
The Dream Life of Butterflies
by Raimondo Cortese
2 March – 2 April 2011
Another offspring of the Cybec Readings, this conversation between two sisters written by Ranters Theatre founding member Raimondo Cortese promises to ruminate on the illusion of memory and the impossibility of retrieving what has been lost. Directed by Heather Bolton this single seamless scene stars Natasha Herbert and Margaret Mills.
The Water Carriers
by Ian Wilding
22 June – 23 July 2011
Anne Browning, director of successful 2009 Lawler Studio production The Colours helms this funny yet deeply moving work about a one-night stand that doesn’t quite go according to plan. One more from the fruitful Cybec Readings program and written by 2010 Patrick White award winner Ian Wilding. Rising talent Sarah Sutherland stars.
Circle Mirror Transformation
by Annie Baker
17 August – 17 September 2011
Aidan Fennessy directs this dramatically comic American play about a small community drama class whose members find themselves in life-transforming territory when they tread the fine line between theatre and reality. Daughter of the late Frank Gallacher, Brigid Gallacher makes her MTC debut.
  The Wharf Revue –
Not Quite Out Of The Woods
Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott
5 January – 29 January 2011
This Sydney Theatre Company production is about to hit the Wharf 2 stage and promises an orgy of pointless recrimination and hilariously ill-informed party-political punditry. The team are sure to present a feast of hilarious and irreverent sketches and songs in the ever popular Revue comedic style.