Poppy Seed Festival presents it’s most diverse and expansive program from 8 November to 9 December, and includes a choose your own circus adventure; an intelligent and quirky lesbian musical; a female’s perspective of the world from autistic experiences and a politically savvy fantastical retelling of a children’s fable.

Co-director Philip Hayden, explains that the works in the third festival created by over 35 theatre makers are bold, fresh and aching to be seen, “As part of a highly competitive process, an artistic panel comprising some of Melbourne’s leading theatre artists review and curate the most outstanding viable works for the festival program” he said.

“Poppy Seed is growing in recognition, supporting and developing more independent artists and are excited to be increasing our footprint across Melbourne” said Hayden.

The shows will be presented in partnership with four venues across Melbourne, including the Meat Market in North Melbourne, Irene Mitchell Studio in South Yarra, The Butterfly Club in the city and Chapel off Chapel in Prahran.

The festival is one of the last dedicated platforms that showcases and supports independent theatre makers – it was founded and created during a period when the arts sector was seeking creative strategies to champion independent theatre makers and artists.

“Funding for the arts remains in an uncertain and transitional phase. During this continued period of uncertainty, Poppy Seed has offered consistent support and opportunities to our artists, audiences, partners and the creative heart of Melbourne,” explained Hayden.

“We are confident you’ll enjoy this year’s bunch of tall poppies – there’s something for everyone,” said Hayden

This year’s Poppy Seed Festival is set to be a mixed bouquet of beautiful flowers, with shows announced today to include:


  • Alexithymia – Citizen Theatre & A_tistic 
  • Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit – Jean Tong 
  • BREAD CRUMBS – Ruby Johnston & Benjamin Nichol 
  • Lost: 5 by Daniel Keene – Illumi-Nation Theatre 
  • Tandem – Gravity Dolls 


Alexithymia – Citizen Theatre & A_tistic 

World premiere

8 – 19 November 2017

Citizen Theatre and A_tistic have joined forces to create a new theatrical work, Alexithymia, which aims to simulate an autistic experience of the world for audiences.  Alexithymia is a condition that noticeably affects 85% of people diagnosed on the autism spectrum and is defined as an inability to name or describe emotions.

Alexithymia is presented as three short works – Social_function.exe is about an autistic woman who invents an artificial intelligence implant to navigate a job interview; The Curious Case of You is a game show that puts audiences’ emotional intelligence to the test; and Nirvana Syndrome follows a woman who has no desire for anything and is consequently defined by other people’s expectations.

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Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit – Jean Tong 

World premiere

14 – 26  November 2017

Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit takes the star-crossed lovers audiences know and love, and makes them better as star-crossed lesbians. Featuring a Dead Lesbian chorus and some pretty gay songs, Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit is fun, campy, politically irreverent and casually incisive.

The creative team are young, queer and want to party while opening up pathways into shifting the state of representation as it currently stands. As a political satire with a meet-cute, cultural clash, sex, death and a dastardly plan, the show is a whirlwind journey with tropes that have never been seen before, featuring lesbians galore, a spicy score and an even spicier ending.

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BREAD CRUMBS – Ruby Johnston & Benjamin Nichol 

World premiere

21 November – 2 December 2017

A self-devised work created by a team of recent graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts, BREAD CRUMBS is narrative told through the lens of childhood innocence dealing with uncertain circumstances.  BREAD CRUMBS is a warped retelling of the well-known fable Hansel and Gretel – it’s a crass and highly stylised exploration into the link between gender roles, domestic abuse and the scarring impact it has on young people.

Revelling in creating a dark and heightened examination of the Australian zeitgeist, devisors Ruby Johnston and Benjamin Nichol explain that black comedy is an excellent vessel to explore complex taboo issues that may provoke different thoughts and perspectives.

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Lost: 5 by Daniel Keene – Illumi-Nation Theatre 

World premiere

22 November – 3 December 2017

Illumi-Nation Theatre director, Michele McNamara, has brought together five poetic monologues from award-winning Australian playwright, Daniel Keene, that invite audiences to consider the multi-faceted issue of homelessness through the eyes of those who have found themselves, simply, yet despairingly, lost.

Illumi-Nation Theatre is dedicated to illuminating and humanising issues of social justice, and will once again, collaborate with composer and sound design MBYRO (Matt Brown) who will perform on stage with the ensemble; and in addition to his original compositions he will sample organic street sounds and bring forth a sense of multiculturalism through music and spoken word.

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Tandem – Gravity Dolls

World premiere

28 November – 9 December 2017

Inspired by retro video games, board games and the absurdity of Japanese game shows, Melbourne-based circus-duo Gravity Dolls creates a new interactive performance game: Tandem. Bridging the gap between how generations play games, Tandem is fun, spontaneous and interactive – it allows audiences to work together to play a suite of games with a circus twist.

Featuring an assortment of object manipulation, stunning acrobatics, hand balancing and ingenious physical theatre, the games may include giant Jenga with an acrobat perched on top as pieces are removed; Twister where the players wear the twister mat; and ring tossing aimed at toilet plungers that are suctioned to performers heads.