Wednesday, October 17, 2012

State Theatre Company SA Season 2013

The launch of the State Theatre Company of South Australia program for 2013 was a few weeks back – I was at rehearsal, following the tweets on the #STCSA2013 hashtag – and the hard copy showed up in the mail the following day.

Father and son team Rob and Geordie Brookman – CEO/Producer and Artistic Director respectively – have put together a very impressive collection of shows with a mix of classic and modern works; big cast shows and one-handers; and South Australian, interstate and international artists.

So, like I did for the 2011 season (not sure why I didn't do one for 2012; the timing, most likely), I've written a blog post about my thoughts on each of the shows.

The Kreutzer Sonata

22 February – 17 March, STC Scenic Workshop

"What follows is a story of sexual jealousy, murder – and Beethoven."

This play, directed by Geordie Brookman, is an adaptation by Sue Smith of the novella by Leo Tolstoy, and is a one man show starring Australian stage and screen legend Barry Otto.

The original story was quite controversial in its time, being banned in both Russia and the USA – so it's probably going to be quite interesting.

I do want to see it, but it may come down to timing; it's on during the Fringe/Festival period where I always struggle to get to everything I want to see – I didn't make it to this year's production of The Ham Funeral – so I may leave that decision until the Fringe program and the rest of the Festival is announced.

Hedda Gabler 

26 April - 18 May, Dunstan Playhouse

I've never seen a production of this Henrik Ibsen play before, but I'm very keen to see it; I really enjoyed the Burnside Players production of Ibsen's A Doll's House a few years back, and know how well-regarded Hedda Gabler is.

I can't even begin to summarise the plot in any way that covers it, but the (very) short version is that it's about the title character, who is in a loveless marriage to an academic, and who reacts badly when her lifestyle is threatened.

The title character is considered one of the best roles in theatre, and on this occasion it will be played by one of the country's brightest young stars, Alison Bell. The adaptation, directed by Geordie Brookman, will be a new one by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, who wrote the recently produced The Female of the Species, co-wrote (with Andrew Bovell) Scenes from a Separation, and wrote the stories that went with the amazing Songs for Nobodies, the review of which you can read here.

The cast also includes SA actors Terence Crawford, Cameron Goodall and Nathan O'Keefe - all of whom I've seen do amazing things in the last few years.

So, I'll be doing my darndest to get to this one.

The Comedy of Errors

28 June - 14 July, Dunstan Playhouse

I'm always excited to see a Shakespeare for the first time, particularly when it's a professional production starring one of my favourite local actors, Nathan O'Keefe.

The Comedy of Errors doesn't get done terribly often, possibly because of the fact it requires not only one set of twins (somewhat difficult to achieve given that you need two people who look enough like each other to be believable in the roles) but two.

This will be a co-production with the legendary Bell Shakespeare Company, directed by rising young director Imara Savage.

Really hanging out for this one. It's going to be a Shakespeareiffic couple of months, since the Uni of Adelaide Theatre Guild will be doing a to-be-announced Shakespeare in early August; all things going to plan I'll have gotten myself cast in that.


16 August - 7 September, Space Theatre

"A thumbnail plot might be: a fourteen year-old girl with cancer falls in love with a young junkie and while she’s experiencing the love of her life her family is coming to terms with the fact she is dying, that she is growing up and that life cannot be controlled" (from the Belvoir website)

A play by Rita Kalnejais, first produced earlier this year by Sydney's Belvoir Theatre Company, this will be directed by Chris Drummond (When the Rain Stops Falling, Land and Sea) and star Danielle Catanzariti, who I saw earlier this year in Pinocchio, and who played the title character in the 2008 SA film Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueberger.

Sounds demanding, but I don't mind that from time to time.

Brief Encounter

10 September – 28 September, Dunstan Playhouse

Now this is going to be interesting. State Theatre will be hosting Kneehigh Theatre and their version of the film based on the Noël Coward play Still Life. It's been a hit on Broadway and the West End, and incorporates both the play and the film, as well as some of Coward's songs.

Kneehigh are a company from Cornwall in the UK; I saw their brilliant, dark version of The Red Shoes in February last year (you can read about it here), so I suspect this is going to be something very special indeed.

Vere (Faith)

12 October - 2 November, Dunstan Playhouse

"...will take you on an exhilarating ride through history, maths, physics, religions, archeology and astronomy: and bring you back to a meditation on family, spirituality and human frailty."

A co-production with the Sydney Theatre Company and starring Paul Blackwell (who was in Brink's excellent production of The Hypochondriac I was lucky enough to see a few years back), Vere is a new play by Australian writer, comedian and broadcaster John Doyle, most well known for his radio character 'Rampaging' Roy Slaven, one half of the sporting comedy commentary team of Roy & HG. But he's hardly new to drama; he's had two mini-series Changi and Marking Time screen on the ABC, and in 2008 his play Pig Iron People was produced by the Sydney Theatre Company.

Definitely want to get to this one; it brings to mind one of my favourite plays, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia

Maggie Stone

8 November – 30 November, Space Theatre

"Just what value can you place on another person's life? Would you do the unthinkable to save the people you love most?"

Written by award-winning South Australian playwright Caleb Lewis, and commissioned by State Theatre, Maggie Stone will star legendary Australian actress Kris McQuade as the title character, a loan officer who crosses paths with Amath, an African refugee; Geordie Brookman will direct this one as well.

Other projects

Other shows STCSA are producing outside of the regular season include Random by Olivier award-wining playwright Debbie Tucker Green (27 May - 1 June); a re-staged touring production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), which I saw last year (1 - 3 August); The Dark Room, a co-production with the great Flying Penguin Productions (whose shows Blackbird, True West and Assassins I've seen over the last few years), which'll be on at Holden Street (12 - 28 September).

Final thoughts

As I said earlier, it's quite a lineup, with – to use the cliché – something to suit nearly everyone. While I haven't disliked this season – and I absolutely loved The Glass Menagerie – I haven't exactly been blown away; shows like Pinocchio and Top Girls were both interesting in ways, but not entirely satisfying.

So, here's hoping that it does turn out to be as good as it looks.

Bits and pieces

Check out the State Theatre website here.

For reviews and other theatre things, see the following:
Adelaide Theatre Guide (for whom I write)
Barefoot Review
Australian Stage
No Plain Jane

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