Ten Years of Red Stitch
Red Stitch Actors Theatre celebrates its 10th anniversary season in 2011 as one of
Australia‘s most successful independent theatre companies. It is unique in its ensemble structure, managed and staffed largely by the actors, with a core team of dedicated technical and design crew.
The ensemble came together in late 2001, principally to create work for actors who weren’t getting opportunities elsewhere, and to produce exciting contemporary scripts that weren’t being performed on Australian stages. In the ten years since, the ensemble has been able to broaden its scope to include the development and presentation of new Australian plays equal to the very best of the work presented from overseas.
Red Stitch Artistic Director, David Whiteleysaid: “It’s a privilege to have spent a decade working with some of the very best and brightest in the business. Red Stitch is still packing houses ten years later and that is great cause for celebration.”
The 10th anniversary year opens with the Victorian premiere of Brendan Cowell’s Ruben Guthrie, a witty and insightful portrait of dependency in a prodigious talent. Brendan Cowell will also direct the production. Ruben is a precocious player at the top of the high stakes advertising industry with an innate wit and charm fuelled by endless parties and high-octane benders. But does his talent lie exclusively at the bottom of a bottle? This becomes the crucial question when a major relationship breakdown forces him to assess his future and face up to his addictive personality. Cowell’s sensitive, engaging script brilliantly constructs the hard edges in the world of going straight.
One of the most successful plays from Red Stitch’s first season in 2002 returns as the 2nd offering: Mark O’Rowe’s Howie the Rookie, with an all new cast working alongside original director, Greg Carroll. A campaign of revenge against the cocksure Rookie Lee over a severe case of scabies leads The Howie Lee to stumble upon a powerful gang leader seeking more serious reprisals of his own. Howie finds an unlikely ally in his former foe as a series of freak accidents swell toward a magnificent and outlandish climax of almost mythic proportions.
The third production for the year is the ‘sequel’ to perhaps the most produced play of the last decade, Tectonic Theater’s The Laramie Project. In 1998, a young gay student, Matthew Shepard, was brutally beaten and left to die on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. The crime sent shockwaves through the town and reverberated through the USA and the world. The play’s Epilogue (The Laramie Project – 10 Years Later), previewed by the Red Stitch ensemble as part of a synchronised worldwide public reading in October 2009, is every bit as provocative and affecting as the original.
Rounding off the first season is the first Australian production of Austrian-born playwright and Nobel Prize winner, Elfriede Jelinek – a collection of her highly original and provocative Princess Dramas. Jelinek presents a radical dissection of iconic romantic fairytales. A self-described ‘author of the axe’ rather than of suggestion or discretion, Jelinek’s extraordinary linguistic zeal reveals the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power.
Due to the sell out success of the 2010 season, Red Stitch will be adding four extra shows to each season with the inclusion of Saturday matinees.