Last week, Queensland Theatre unveiled its 2020 Season at the Soleil Pool Bar and Podium Room at Rydges in South Brisbane. In a capacity event, a line up of exciting new shows announced in celebration of next year's milestone 50 years of stories. Queensland theatre continues to lead from Queensland positioning Brisbane as the home of new stories. Sam Strong and his team spearhead a glorious era in Australian theatre that gives every story of us an equal platform to be heard and celebrated. 50% of the shows you will see next year are world premiers.
Eight plays that promise to live up to the calibre of theatre Brisbane has become accustomed to under Queensland Theatre's guiding light, artistic director Sam Strong. After four stellar seasons, Sam leaves Queensland theatre at the end of 2019. His absence will be a noted loss as his vision and ability to champion stories that touch our hearts and open our minds has been inspiring to watch. Strong's association with the company does not end here; he will be back next season to direct the most anticipated show next year. The company will continue to entertain, inform, nourish and celebrate our humanity, through powerful stories. We know this for two reasons; firstly this has been the Queensland Theatre formula as we have seen so far this year with City of Gold, Storm Boy, and Barbara and the Camp Dogs to name a few. Secondly, the new line up contains stories that were written to do just that. With no further ado, Queensland Theatre announced the following shows for Season 2020 - Emerald City, Triple X, Othello, The Holidays, The Children, Boy Swallows Universe, Prima Facie and Phaedra.
Emerald City 8th - 29th February at the Playhouse, QPAC By David Williamson | Directed by Sam Strong
A comedy that asks the question - for the love of money or for the love of art? This co-production with Melbourne Theatre Company was written by the David Williamson, 2020 marks his 50th anniversary as a playwright.
Cast includes: Ray Chong Nee (Hydra, Noises Off), Nadine Garner (The Dr Blake Mysteries, City Homicide), Jason Klarwein (Once in Royal David's City, Macbeth) and Rhys Muldoon (Nearer the Gods)."
Sam Strong says: "We're celebrating David Williamson's 50th anniversary as a playwright by creating a new production of one of his best plays. Emerald City is incredibly funny but it's also a beautifully observed relationship portrait and rich in ideas, using the canvas of 1980s Sydney to explore the compromise of ideals. To unleash the comedy (and complexity) in one of my favourite plays"
Triple X 14th March – 4th April at the Bille Brown Theatre By Glace Chase | Directed by Paige Rattray
People in the know have proclaimed this the funniest show of next year. That is high praise and the only excuse needed to run not walk and buy a ticket to TRIPLE X by Glace Chase. It is a naughty anti-romance directed by Paige Rattray. Triple X promises a hilariously honest look at entitlement, hypocrisy, and the realities of love.
Cast includes: Glace Chase (A Hoax, Dream Queen Tours (NY)), Josh McConville (Top End Wedding, Outlaws), Christen O'Leary (Twelfth Night, Ladies in Black), Contessa Treffone (Harp in the South: Part I & II)
Queensland Theatre Company Premiere | A Sydney Theatre Company co-production.
Sam Strong says: "Triple X is another Queensland Theatre commission and world premiere. This play is part of our desire to reflect contemporary society in all its complexity. This time, we're turning the focus to gender and sexuality in the 2020s. Written by (and starring) Australian writer Glace Chase, Triple X is as wicked, witty and hilarious as writing gets. But for all its shiny exterior, Triple X is ultimately a deeply moving love story. It's always a delight to welcome our former Associate Artistic Director Paige Rattray back to direct at the Company. She's assembled a cast as razor sharp as the play, including Queensland Theatre favourite Christen O'Leary and one of Australia's finest actors, and proud Queenslander, Josh McConville.
Othello 30th May – 27th June at the Bille Brown Theatre By William Shakespeare | Directed by Jason Klarwein
William Shakespeare's classic tale with a twist, set in the Torres Strait in the year 1942 as the Imperial Japanese Navy is heading south. A deadly plot to bring down a military hero is born out of jealousy, betrayal and revenge.
Cast includes: Jimi Bani (My Name is Jimi, Mabo), Richard Bani (My Name is Jimi), Andrew Buchanan (L'Appartement, The Family Law), Emily Burton (Storm Boy, A Tribute of Sorts), Eugene Gilfedder (Macbeth, Sacre Bleu), Kevin Hides (Death of a Salesman, A Conversation), Benjin Maza (Stradbroke Dreamtime, From Darkness), Sarah Ogden (Death of a Salesman, An Octoroon)
Sam Strong says: "400 plus years later, Shakespeare is still at the centre of a theatre company's repertoire. But we always need an urgent case or a compelling vision to propel one of his works onto the stage. With Othello, that vision comes in the form of re-uniting the creative forces behind one of the defining works of Queensland Theatre - My Name is Jimi. This will be a particularly Queensland take on the classic, relocating the action to the Torres Strait during the Second World War. I can't wait to see the combination of Torres Strait culture, Jimi Bani's balance of power and vulnerability, and director Jason Klarwein's Shakespearean expertise."
11th July – 1st August at the Bille Brown Theatre By David Megarrity | Directed by Bridget Boyle
This Queensland Premier's Drama Award-winning play is a for Sons, Fathers and Grandfathers.
Cast includes: Bryan Probets (Hydra, The 39 Steps)
Sam Strong says: "The Holidays was the deserved winner of the prestigious Queensland Premier's Drama Award. David Megarrity's play completely charmed the judges with its beautifully whimsical and deeply recognisable exploration of the relationship between a son, his father and his grandfather. The Holidays continues Queensland Theatre's tradition of programming for families that proved so successful with Storm Boy. Bridget Boyle is the director with the biggest heart in Australia and here she gets to team up with her long-time collaborator David Megarrity as well as Queensland Theatre Royalty, Bryan Probets. With its multi-sensory approach and touching magic, The Holidays promises to be unlike anything we have seen on a Queensland Theatre stage before."
1st – 29th August at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC By Lucy Kirkwood | Directed by Zoe Tuffin
Chernobyl. Fukushima. Three Mile Island. What's our responsibility to the future? The Children follows two retired nuclear scientists trying to live their lives with the daily fear of each click of the Geiger counter. An intense, slow-burning drama by Lucy Kirkwood.
Cast includes: Christine Amor (Quartet, The School of Arts), Toni Scanlan (Once in Royal David's City, Crownies)
Sam Strong says: "English writer Lucy Kirkwood's play has been a hit in London, Sydney, Melbourne and everywhere else it has played. That's no surprise as it combines the 'best of British' playwriting – the atmospheric comedy of Pinter with the state of the nation politics of David Hare. The Children is also a wonderful vehicle for established actors and I'm thrilled to welcome Christine Amor and Toni Scanlan back to the company. I'm also delighted that we are producing Zoe Tuffin's mainstage directorial debut. Zoe has impressed with her combination of theatrical flair and forensic attention to detail and I can't wait to see what she does with this slow burn thriller of ideas."
Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe
29th August – 19th September at the Playhouse, QPAC Adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry | Directed by Sam Strong
The blockbuster Australian novel BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE by Author Trent Dalton will be adapted for the stage and premiere at the Brisbane Festival in 2020.
Eli Bell's childhood in the outer Brisbane suburbs is far from ideal. His life is beyond complicated but he wants to be a good man. Can love win when your whole world is shrouded in darkness? A story about brotherhood, love and friendship.
Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival Premiere. Made possible by the generous support of the Visionaries Landmark Productions Fund
Sam Strong says: "This is the theatrical event of 2020. Boy Swallows Universe needs no introduction since Trent Dalton's quintessential Brisbane coming of age novel swept Australia like a tidal wave. Working closely with myself and Trent Dalton, playwright Tim McGarry has done an extraordinary job of adapting Boy Swallows Universe for the stage – retaining the rough poetry of Trent's language, capturing his flair for unforgettable set pieces, and maintaining the incredible velocity of the story. I can't wait to bring this magnificent story to life in a way that only the theatre can."
8th -31st October at the Bille Brown Theatre By Suzie Miller | Directed by Lee Lewis
PRIMA FACIE adjective & adverb - Law Meaning:Based on the first impression or to be accepted as correct until proved otherwise.
Criminal lawyer Tessa see's the law is a thrilling game that she loves to win. It is unfailingly simple, black and white, the law is the law, no room for personal opinions, feelings or emotions. She has fought every step of the way for her position, and she's the best there is. But when Tessa finds herself in the victim's chair the cracks in the system become clear. They scream injustice in a Post-#MeToo world, now is the time to change the rules.
Playwright Suzie Miller's Prima Facie won the 2018 Griffin Award, for an outstanding play or performance text , before she became a playwright, Suzie Miller worked as a human rights lawyer specialising in children's rights, Indigenous rights and in public interest law.
Cast includes: Sheridan Harbridge (Calamity Jane, Muriel's Wedding the Musical)
A Griffin Theatre Company Production
Sam Strong says: "Prima Facie is classic new playwriting – an urgent examination of an issue that screams loudly for change. But as important as it is, this is also riveting theatre. Not only that, but it's a vehicle for one of the most incredible performances you will see all year. Triple-threat performer Sheridan Harbridge brings her dramatic monologue A-game to the performance of her career. Sheridan completely inhabits lawyer Tessa – relishing her wit, unleashing her ambition, and diving deep into her pain. Suzie Miller's writing is well known to Brisbane audiences from her work at La Boite and as a finalist in the Queensland Premier's Drama Award. Brisbane is also no stranger to the award-winning direction of Lee Lewis, who last joined us for the 2017 QPDA winner: Rice. Prima Facie has already conquered Sydney. In 2020 it will conquer Brisbane and the rest of Australia."
14th November – 5th December at the Bille Brown Theatre By Katherine Lyall-Watson | Directed by Caroline Dunphy
Trivia: In Greek mythology, Phaedra was the daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae of Crete. She was the wife of Theseus, but she fell in love with her husband's son, Hippolytus.
Set in the not too distant future when Queensland has broken away our fist lady Phaedra and President Theseus are building a mighty wall along Queensland's southern border to keep the 'filthy' Newies away. When Hip, her stepson arrives with his mother in tow, our state changes from beautiful one day to tragic the next. This classic Greek tragedy turns into a sidesplitting farce in Queensland.
Cast includes: Angie Milliken (Death of a Salesman, MDA)
Sam Strong says: "This time last year we announced that our resident company in 2019 and 2020 would be Brisbane's own Feminist Collective: Belloo Creative. Since then, they have been working away on multiple projects. Now, we get to announce what they will bring to the Queensland Mainstage in 2020: Phaedra. Phaedra is one of those genuinely timeless classics, beginning in Ancient Greece and finding expression is pretty much every era since, from the French Neo-Classical Tragedy of Racine to Helen Mirren launching NT Live in the 21st Century. Now, this ancient tale gets a very contemporary Queensland spin. Not only is it set in an imagined Brisbane of the future, but Belloo have twisted this classic tragedy into an urgent farce. Fierce and funny, Phaedra is the story Queensland needs right now."