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After announcing in July that he would be bowing out of his position of Artistic Director at the end of next year, Ralph Myers’ final season for Belvoir St Theatre is a fitting swan-song marking the end of his five years in the position. 2015 will celebrate many of the values that have underpinned Myers' tenure, namely a commitment to championing new plays and emerging playwrights, an emphasis on Australian and indigenous work, and an interest in levelling the gender balance within the theatre industry with a significant number of female directors and playwrights represented in 2015’s offering.
Ralph Myers, Belvoir St Theatre Artistic Director
Seven new works will form the backbone of next year’s season, representing the culmination of Myers’ five years in the position of Artistic Director, seeking out and nurturing the finest new Australian writing talent. Reflecting on the program for 2015 Myers is clearly proud of the achievements of his team. “I feel a new generation of artists has really blossomed and we’ll be seeing the fruits of that labour for many years to come on stages here and around the world.”
Belvoir’s main venue, The Upstairs Theatre will see three premieres staged in 2015, all by playwrights who have been featured at the Theatre’s studio venue, the Downstairs Theatre. Angela Betzien’s Mortido is an ambitious, international crime thriller, which transports the audience from the Sydney suburbs to South America’s seedy underbelly, following a grippingly dark journey of murder and cocaine.
Seventeen by Matthew Whittet is a coming-of-age story with a twist. Chronicling the experience of a group of 17-year-olds who are about to take their first steps into adulthood, the cast for this nostalgic comedy features a seasoned set of actors who are closer to their twilight years than their teens. Seventeen promises to pose some thought provoking questions about the meaning of experience and hindsight in between the humour, with some entertaining performances (expect the inevitably giggle-inducing ‘generation Z’ colloquialisms) due from Peter Carroll, Maggie Dence, Judi Farr, John Gaden and Barry Otto under the direction of Belvoir Resident Director Anne-Louise Sarks.
Theatrical renaissance women Nakkiah Lui has not only written, but will also star in Kill the Messenger. This shocking but also darkly comic one-woman show explores Lui’s experience of institutionalised racism, including some deeply personal experiences linked to the death of her grandmother. The connection between the playwright’s intention and the pathos of the performance will be palpably linked in what should be a very exciting moment in Belvoir’s 2015 season.
Alongside the new works in the Upstairs Theatre, Belvoir will be presenting some more familiar plays as well as some interesting new takes on well-loved narratives including a reimagined Elektra / Orestes co-written by Anne-Louise Sarks and Jada Alberts and a twist on L. Frank Baum’s iconic modern fable The Wizard of Oz directed by Belvoir Resident Director Adena Jacobs. Associate Director of Belvoir Eamon Flack will direct multi-Helpmann award-winner Ewan Leslie in Chekov’s Ivanov as well as Brecht’s masterpiece Old Mother Courage and Her Children featuring the exceptional talents of Robyn Nevin in what promises to be a highlight of Belvoir’s 2015 season.
Kicking off the season in the Upstairs Theatre is a revival of Louis Nowra’s landmark play Radiance, first premiered at Belvoir in 1993, but which is probably better known in its award-winning film incarnation, made in 1998. The play tells the story of three aboriginal sisters, whose lives have all taken radically different courses, reunited after several years by the death of their mother.
Meanwhile in the Downstairs Theatre Myer’s continues his commitment to championing new Australian work, but with a particularly flamboyant edge. In association with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Nick Coyle’s B-movie inspired Blue Wizard is a camp, kitsch romp through outer space, kicking off the Downstairs season in February. Anyone visiting this play should set phasers to fabulous! Melbourne theatre duo Sisters Grimm, who describe themselves as "loud, opinionated homosexualists" continue this queer theatre theme with their drag reimagining of Verdi’s La Traviata. This promises to be a hysterically irreverent ode to this operatic masterwork. Romantic comedy diptych The Dog / The Cat, directed by Ralph Myers is in fact two plays for the price of one, presenting two charming explorations of romance for animal lovers.
Myers has taken great pride during his time at Belvoir in discovering the best new writing talent in Australian theatre, and so for his final season he is championing the very first play from Queensland playwright Julia-Rose Lewis: Samson. In stark contrast to the silly-fun vibe of the rest of the Downstairs program, this gritty and heartfelt debut play is testament to Belvoir’s ongoing mission to provide a platform for young and immerging theatre artists.
For full details on Belvoir St Theatre’s performance calendar and tickets please visit their website.