SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert is Bangarra Dance Theatre’s first new full-length work for three years, and in keeping with their unique signature style it combines authentic storytelling, superb technique and a powerfully emotive performance.
The uppermost theme of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard is not merely large-scale change but how to adjust to a change that is already in the process of taking place. Consequently Eamon Flack’s up-dated, thought-provoking and up-beat adaptation and staging of Chekhov’s much-loved play has much of importance to offer to our present, uncertain times.
The declared mission of new company, Fuser Production, is “to stir the human spirit” and incite “awe, challenge and inspiration through original and compelling art” and Intact, its debut performance, is deeply engaging and awe-inspiring.
You could watch TV or Netflix, but if you really wanted a completely absorbing and dynamic 60 minutes of entertainment you could see Tiny Universe, co-presented by Milk Crate Theatre and Shopfront Art Co-Op. Showing for a very short season, Tiny Universe deserves a longer season and a more extensive audience.
Bringing Martin Sherman’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s rich and sprawling novel A Passage to India to the compact stage of the Genesian would have posed many challenges. Apart from a large number of characters and costumes, a diversity of locations, the narrative is in no haste to reach its haunting conclusion.
Dogged offers theatregoers a unique and startling theatre experience. Unflinchingly facing the problematic relationship between black and white people in Australia, it is a brilliantly conceived, powerfully realised and deeply confronting parable.
Monologues work well in an intimate space, and the small King Street Theatre Popupsairs venue works well for Sylvia Marie Keays in Paul Gilchrist’s Live a Little. As Tilly, a young woman who has an uneasy relationship with herself, with others and with the truth, Keays is by turns insouciant, witty and distraught.
In Stop Girl award-winning journalist and foreign correspondent Sally Sara offer us a semi-autobiographical story of grief and guilt, trusting that we will respond with understanding and compassion. Directed with integrity by Anna-Louise Sarks, the play offers a moving validation of the concept of moral injury.
Gratefully, we welcome back Monkey Baa Children’s Theatre to the stage after a year’s absence. Their first 2021 production, an hilarious and imaginative musical adaption of Pete the Sheep, based on a whimsical tale by Jackie French and Bruce Whatly, adapted by Eva Di Cesare, Sandra Eldridge and Tim McGarry, with lyrics by Phil Scott, is dynamic and absorbing entertainment for the 4 to 84 year olds.
The Secret of Chimneys is lovely fun. There’s a body, a stolen letter, a secret code, a hidden black diamond necklace and a missing person along with a gallery of wonderfully exaggerated and beautifully performed characters under the strong direction of Molly Haddon.
ArtsLab: Unreliable Witness is the youth-led Shopfront Arts Co-op’s annual emerging artists’ festival featuring a program of five works exploring the theme of perception and misperception. Each of these diverse works including two outstanding theatre performances is the outcome of a six-month residency at Shopfront in which young artists, selected from many applicants, are given the opportunity to work with an industrial mentor.
John Donnelly’s gripping The Pass asks us to consider the age-old question: how best to live both an authentic and fulfilling life. Recontextualised in the world of 21st-century elite professional football, the question becomes how much the central character, Jason, is prepared to sacrifice for success and more importantly, how is success defined.
Funny, fast-paced and extravagantly joyful, the exuberant and inventive musical Fangirls lovingly celebrates the millions of teenager girls for whom a crush on a pop idol is a real and transformative experience.
This year’s biennial and fifth Yellamundie Festival, a unique platform for the identification, development and presentation of First Peoples stories, opened up submissions to composers and choreographers.
In her illuminating and dynamic stage adaptation of Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career writer Kendall Feaver has included material from further afield than the original, drawing on My Career Goes Bung, Franklin’s childhood memoirs and biographical studies. Consequently, we have a fuller and deeper impression of Sybylla Penelope Melvyn, an appealingly provocative character, created by the 19-year-old Stella Franklin, and which, while located in personal experience, far transcends it.
Ostensibly, Kodie Bedford’s comedy is about the reunion of a dysfunctional family drawn back to Geraldton by their grandmother’s imminent death. However, on the well-tried principle that comedy makes unpalatable truths acceptable, it is an ultimately hopeful interrogation of post-colonial Australia.
Wicked Sisters is an excellent piece of theatrical entertainment. While it encompasses many themes relevant to our times, the dynamics between the four middle-aged women, former friends reunited after several decades, is completely engrossing.
This dynamic production of The Silver Tunnel, advertised as “a hell of a play in a holy place”, marks the repurposing of the Ashfield Uniting Church as a new Inner West performance space. A brainchild of the Rev. Bill Crews, who has been an advocate for the poor and homeless for over 50 years, this new entertainment space aims at raising awareness and funds for the disadvantaged.
The Genesian Theatre is excited to be reopening on November 6 with Sherlock Holmes and the Death on Thor Bridge. The show was preparing to go into production when the theatre was forced to close owing to Covid-19, but the virus has had a positive side for the Genesian, central Sydney’s oldest operating community theatre.
Chloe Leong’s choreographic debut at Carriageworks is part of New Breed, which features works by four emerging choreographers. It’s also the first time the Sydney Dance Company (SDC) will perform live on stage in 2020.
A delightfully middle-aged Di Adams plays the role of Hester in the Griffin production Wicked Sisters and she is delighted to be back on the stage, and delighted to be in a play by feminist Alma de Groen that feels “even more relevant than ever”.
Riverside Theatres must be congratulated on having ensured that their audiences can stay connected and entertained during the Covid-19 lockdown through Riverside Theatre Digital. Now as theatres re-open, Riverside’s An Enchanted Evening eases the transition back to theatre-going by offering audiences the choice of seeing the show in-theatre or live-streamed into their homes.
Producer Luke Holmes is fully conscious that audiences may have become accustomed to watching theatre from the best seat in their own home. Consequently, he and director Davey Seagles are promising theatregoers 70 minutes of escapist fun in Hotel Bella Luna which opens at the Marrickville’s Flight Path Theatre on October 22.
While it was a joy to be back watching a live theatre performance, we might ask is there need for yet another stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s well-known and loved defence of women’s need for creative freedom. If audience reaction is an indication, then Carissa Licciardello and Tom Wright’s latest adaptation has been completely validated, not by a noisy standing ovation but by something much deeper, a few seconds pause, an intake of breath, the sound of thinking before the clapping begins.
Streamed once and once only, but capable of reaching a global audience, Welcome to the Masque is a welcome relief from the constant barrage of Covid-19 media coverage. The title’s play upon “masque”, a form amateur theatricals and a popular court entertainment in the eighteenth century, wittily references the current command or recommendation to wear a mask.
Bangarra Dance Theatre’s new work, SandSong, telling the stories of the land and the people of the Kimberley country, was set to tour Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne and Bendigo in June to September this year but owing to Covid-19 the tour was postponed until 2021.
Following the success of Lyle Kessel’s Orphans, Red Line Productions (Artistic Director, Andrew Henry), presented a live-streamed reading of Gruesome Playground Injuries by award-winning American playwright, Rajiv Joseph. The reading featured actors Rose Byrne (in New York), Ewan Leslie (in Sydney) with musical accompaniment by guitarist John Butler (in Perth) and stage directions by Anna Houston.
Belvoir St Theatre launched its 2020 season with one of its biggest successes of last year, the compassionate and heart-warming exploration of depression and suicide, Every Brilliant Thing. While the play does not avoid the anguish inherent in its subject, it affirms life by offering ways in which we can talk about suicide, and asking us to consider how we treat those impacted by a loved one’s suicide.
Bangarra Dance Theatre is a precious and fragile national and international treasure. As this year marks the 30th year since its inception and foreshadows a generational change, the immersive installation Knowledge Ground: 30 years of sixty five thousand celebrates the launching of an archival platform which catalogues and curates Bangarra’s history online.
The Strauss operetta The Gypsy Baron, while possessing the usual melodramatic narrative devices of its genre – arranged marriage, mistaken identity and lost treasure, uncharacteristically touches on racist attitudes in waltz time.
Sad, violent and true, The Deadly Run (Season 2: Deadhouse: Tales of Sydney Morgue) is an immersive theatre experience dramatising notorious cases which passed through the Sydney Morgue and Coroner’s Court in The Rocks.
Making a return to magic realism, Paul Gilchrist sets his new short play Simple Souls in an abandoned night club, a venue reflecting the despondent mood of its central character, Marguerite (an impressive Madeleine Withington).
Described as “a piece of theatre that talks to the #MeToo movement … from real Australian women, whose experiences we could learn from and be inspired by”, I’m With Her fulfills its brief with compelling energy and conviction.
Yve Blakes’s Fangirls celebrates the majority of teenage worshippers for whom their idols provide individual comfort in a “cruel and messy world” and through whom they connect with a community who share their personal interests.