Picnic at Hanging Rock, the iconic piece of Australiana by Joan Lindsay, has been enjoying a renaissance of late.
The book was voted by readers as one of the top ten Aussie books to read before you die in December last year. Now, it is being brought back to life by the cast and crew of the Brisbane Arts Theatre.
Industry veteran Carol Burns has taken on the daunting task of both adapting and directing a new stage production of the much-loved gothic mystery. In a rare treat for locals, Brisbane audiences will be the first to experience the results when the play has its Australian premier tonight.
Those close to the production say that the choice to revisit the classic tale was an obvious one.
â€œWe really try and do shows that we think will bring in people, without losing that artistic bent,â€ explains Laraine Griffiths, the theatreâ€™s senior stage manager.
Although an original production, the latest re-imagining remains ever faithful to its source material.
â€œWe did it in conjunction with the Joan Lindsay estate,â€ says Griffiths. â€œThe estate says â€˜yesâ€™ or â€˜noâ€™ to things and has final approvalâ€.
The play looks certain to introduce an entirely new generation to the mysterious Picnic at Hanging Rock; those already familiar with Lindsayâ€™s novel will also relish the rare opportunity to see the work performed live on the stage.
The involvement of Burns is another drawcard and a considerable coup for the amateur theatre company. The actress began her career with the Brisbane Arts Theatre in the 1960s. She went on to become a founding member of the Queensland Theatre Company and later won a Logie for her role on Prisoner.
It was a profile that proved valuable when it came to casting the showâ€™s 28 roles.
â€œCarol Burnsâ€¦ is very well known Australia wide and internationally,â€ says Griffiths, â€œshe could pick and choose who she wantedâ€.
When open auditions were held in November 2012, over 70 actors applied to be part of the production.
Also adding gravitas is Burnsâ€™ husband, Alan Lawrence. An internationally recognised composer, Lawrence wrote the playâ€™s score.
Griffiths readily acknowledges that it is â€œquite a feat for Brisbane to have the two of them on board togetherâ€.
That observation is difficult to dispute. The marriage of such talent, combined with the strength of Lindsayâ€™s original work, seemingly guarantees the productionâ€™s success.
With a limited three week season, audiences will have to move quickly if they are to secure their place for this very special Picnic at Hanging Rock.
When? Friday 22nd February 2013 â€“ Saturday 16th March 2013 (Thursday â€“ Saturdays @ 8:00pm; Sundays @ 6:30pm)
Where? Brisbane Arts Theatre, 210 Petrie Terrace, Petrie Terrace
Bookings? visit www.artstheatre.com.au