Independent Theatre Celebrates 40 Years Of Bringing Theatrical Gems To The Adelaide Stage

The next season opens on 8 April at The Little Theatre (Adelaide University) with The Corn is Green.

From the anguish of a faded southern belle to a comedic romp through Shakespeare's love life, Independent Theatre is bringing theatrical gems to the stage as it celebrates its ruby anniversary.

The look on the face of Independent Theatre's co-founder and producer Rob Croser may not be as exaggerated as that of a panto actor, but it is one of mild shock and disbelief when he talks about the 40-season milestone.

"Who would have thought, back in late 1983 when a group of us first got together and turned our collective dream of starting a new theatre into a reality, that we would still be going strong four decades later," Rob recollects.

"As we head into our fortieth season, I look back on what we have achieved with great pride and humility. It's hard to believe that we've mounted 135 productions - 25 of them world premieres, 39 Australian premieres and 20 premieres in our hometown.

"We've staged adaptions of literary classics, brought five international playwrights to Adelaide and welcomed performers from other countries. We've provided fabulous opportunities for hundreds of actors and technicians, and continued to produce legendary costumes and sets. It's a history to be proud of."

Despite an enviable rollcall of stellar past productions, Independent Theatre refuses to rest on its laurels - announcing a shining new season.

The season opens on 8 April at The Little Theatre (Adelaide University) with The Corn is Green. Emlyn William's evocative story of Miss Lily Moffat and her determination to educate the children in a small Welsh mining town is an uplifting tale that has graced both stage and silver screen. Legends Dame Sybil Thorndike, Ethel Barrymore, Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn have all taken star turns as the visionary Miss Moffat.

In June, the focus moves from one small town in Wales to one in Scandinavia. Shocking audiences when it premiered in 1882 (having been published the year before), Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts is a scathing commentary on 19th century morality. Touching on many taboo subjects including religion, venereal disease, incest and euthanasia, the play was banned in many countries. The intimate Star Theatre 2 is the perfect setting for the 5-person chamber piece.

"When you look at a piece of delicately spun glass you think of two things: how beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken" - the poignant lines from Tennessee William's most vulnerable and semi-autobiographical play The Glass Menagerie are as evocative today as they were when first performed in 1944. Bringing together two Independent Theatre legends for the first time, 6 August sees the one-off performance grace the stage of the Ukaria Cultural Centre. Although Rob Croser has directed the play twice and Pam O'Grady has inhabited the role of the faded southern belle Amanda Wakefield twice before - the pair had never worked on the play together. Now the talents unite to tell the tale of unfilled dreams that launched the brilliant and controversial career of the American playwright.

The plot takes a twist in the staging of the last play of the season. Rather than a play that is turned into a film, it's a movie that comes to life on the stage! With a score of awards to its credit including an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1999, Shakespeare in Love is a rollicking comedy that imagines the struggling young playwright Will Shakespeare being tormented by writer's block before finding his muse, Viola who inspires him to pen the greatest love story of all time. The screenplay written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, has been adapted by Lee Hall (of Billy Elliott fame) and is sure to be an audience favourite when the production hits Star Theatre 1 in November.

"The 2023 season features a selection of 19th and 20th century classics and our historic season finishes up with a great, celebratory modern-day look at the greatest genius of all," Rob enthused.

"We know you'll want to join us!"

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