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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | November 24, 2020

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Queensland Theatre Unveils Colourful 2021 Season

Queensland Theatre Unveils Colourful 2021 Season
Claire Matthews

Queensland Theatre has announced their 2021 season, will be a vibrant, bold comeback, with seven mainstage productions and a special concert.

Unveiled online, Queensland Theatre’s 2021 season will feature: Our Town, Triple X, Taming of the Shrew, White Pearl, Prima Facie, Boy Swallows Universe, Return to the Dirt and Robyn Archer: An Australian Songbook.

I had the pleasure of attending the Queensland Theatre media briefing via Zoom on Friday. Artistic Director Lee Lewis was quite excited, and gave us an introduction to each of the upcoming productions. She said the half-capacity audience restrictions will continue next year, but they are forging ahead with a full 2021 season.

Opening on January 30, Season 2021 begins with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Our Town by Thornton Wilder, directed by Lee Lewis. This big cast play will get as many artists as possible back on the Bille Brown Stage.

Artistic Director Lee Lewis said Our Town is a fitting play to launch their 2021 season, after the uncertainties of 2020. “We have all been on a wild ride in 2020 and 2021 promises to be challenging in ways we cannot imagine. But imagine we will,” said Lewis. “This year, we have all learned how much we need theatre. Thank you for staying with us through this dark age. We cannot wait turn the lights back on in our theatres in 2021. Let’s go.”

“I think Our Town is the most beautiful play to come back to the theatre with after a long time of darkness. It’s a huge story told very simply, about a beautiful group of people who live in a small country town. It’s an extraordinary reminder that it’s the small things in life that matter in the face of big tragedy.”

Next, comes the first of four world premieres of the season, Triple X, written by Glace Chase and directed by Paige Rattray. Triple X is a confronting yet humorous exploration of entitlement, hypocrisy and love.

In May, Queensland Theatre presents Damien Ryan’s retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, shifted from controversy to 1920s Italy.

Then, there’s Anchuli Felicia King’s new play White Pearl, a portrait of toxic corporate culture in the cosmetics industry.

From July 14 in the Bille Brown Theatre, Prima Facie will grip audiences with its powerful story of a defence barrister calling for change.

Then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the stage production of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, adapted by Tim McGarry. Queensland Theatre’s former artistic director Sam Strong will return to direct this momentous play. Presented in partnership with Brisbane Festival and QPAC from August 30, the play will bring back 1980s Brisbane.

Lee Lewis is excited to cast Joe Klocek as Eli Bell. “Joe started with Queensland Theatre in the Young Artists’ Ensemble, was cast in Pirates of the Caribbean and will now play this once-in-a-lifetime role at the Playhouse next year. It’s a wonderful reflection of the pathways open to our young artists,” she said.

From 16 October, audiences can experience Steve Pirie’s Return to the Dirt, a journey through finding who you are and sparking conversations. Winner of the 2020-21 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, Return to the Dirt is a comedy set in a funeral home, with light and dark moments.

“With respect, wit and a nod to pop-culture, Steve takes us on a journey that celebrates finding your place in the world, the power of personal redemption and humility in the face of the big questions,” said director Lewis.

To round off the 2021 season from November 20 is the world premiere of Robyn Archer’s An Australian Songbook. Commissioned by Queensland Theatre for a limited season in the Bille Brown Theatre, this show is only available for subscribers. Robyn Archer will be joined by piano accordionist George Butrumlis, guitarist Cameron Goodall and keyboardist Enio Pozzebon for a cabaret-style show.

“Robyn’s wealth of musical knowledge is distilled into a fearless, political and personal celebration of the way song has shaped Australian identity,” said Lewis. “It’s a melodic road trip through more than 150 years of ‘other’ Australian song, as she explores the music of her upbringing and the countless rhythms and voices that are woven into the unique sonic fabric of this country.”

Alongside these live productions, Queensland Theatre is partnering with Australian Theatre Live to produce digital versions. Taming of the Shrew, Return to the Dirt and Robyn Archer: An Australian Songbook will be available online for a limited time. Plus, the Play Club digital readings will continue with six live events throughout 2021.

“We are so thrilled to be sharing our 2021 Season with you. We need to see great big stories that fill us with inspiration. We need to have our artists back at work, breathing life into the national imagination. We need to talk to friends about the play we all saw last night and disagree with them about what it really meant. We need Australian voices speaking to us about what matters to us right now. We need the buzz of a foyer. We need our culture to come back to life, and we are making this happen,” said Lewis.

Check out the details below for the up-coming season.

The Details:
QUEENSLAND THEATRE – SEASON 2021
Our Town
By Thornton Wilder
30 Jan — 27 Feb at the Bille Brown Theatre

Triple X
By Glace Chase
6 Mar — 1 Apr at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Sydney Theatre Company co-production

Taming of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare
8 May — 12 Jun at the Bille Brown Theatre
Digital version available 14 to 20 June

White Pearl
By Anchuli Felicia King
17 Jun — 10 Jul at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta production

Prima Facie
By Suzie Miller
14 Jul — 14 Aug at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Griffin Theatre Company production

Trent Dalton’s
Boy Swallows Universe
Adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry
30 Aug — 18 Sep at the Playhouse, QPAC
Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival in association with Queensland Performing Arts Centre

Return to the Dirt
By Steve Pirie
16 Oct — 13 Nov at the Bille Brown Theatre
Digital version available 22 to 28 November
Proudly supported by Queensland Government

Special event
Robyn Archer: An Australian Songbook
Devised and performed by Robyn Archer
20 Nov — 4 Dec at the Bille Brown Theatre
Digital version available 13 to 19 December