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Sam Strong on QUEENSLAND THEATRE'S 2019 Season

Sam Strong on QUEENSLAND THEATRE'S 2019 Season


It's been nearly two weeks since Queensland Theatre released this 2019 season, and it's taken me nearly two weeks to comprehend exactly how colourful and formidable next year is going to be. A few days before the season launch, I had the pleasure of having doing a phone interview with Strong, who had just come from the closing celebrations for the company's successful run of Jasper Jones.

The season has a lot of variety; every show that Strong has chosen is different. As someone who has "always been passionate and interested in the whole audience experience", Strong wants to take is audience on a journey through dramas, comedies, tragedies, musicals, heartwarmers and heartbreakers. When asked what his vision was for the 2019 season, without a second of doubt, Sam said that "it was a season of dreamers; stories that have an urgency and need to be told now, especially with our need for optimism in our present political climate". The 2019 season also speaks to a wider demographic of theatre consumers, with the company tackling a timeless Arthur Miller classic, as well as Australian work Storm Boy.

After telling me that he is very conscious of building relationships between creative teams and audiences, as reflected in the casting and creative team of Merylnn's Tong's contemporary adaptation Antigone, I proceeded to tell him that I'd read his article 10 Things Theatre Companies can provide to artists, to which he re-iterated that "theatre companies have a unique capacity to show ourselves to ourselves; to show us who we are and where we are going [and that] theatre can make you feel something that you may not have felt or thought of feeling before." And I couldn't agree more.

I couldn't help but ask him whether he had other plans for The Longest Minute, which to date is still one of the best works I've seen, to which Sam said he was planning on taking it around Queensland for another tour and that he has something in the works with it for the company's 50th Anniversary Season.

So without further ado; here is the line up for next year. I know I'll be at every performance.


9 Feb to 2 Mar: Death of a Salesman

9 Mar to 6 Apr: Hydra

1 May to 25 May: Barbara and the Camp Dogs

29 Jun to 20 Jul: City of Gold

29 Jul to 17 Aug: Storm Boy

3 Aug to 31 Aug: L'Appartement

7 Sept to 5 Oct: Fangirls

26 Oct to 16 Nov: Antigone

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

9 February to 2 March, 2019 at the Playhouse, QPAC

It's the requiem for the American dream that defined the 20th Century. Arthur Miller's towering classic is a timeless meditation on the human need to feel special, a withering commentary on capitalism, and a tragic portrait of a fallout between father and son. The play won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play and has gone on to win three more Tony Awards for Best Revival on Broadway. Now it comes to Brisbane, directed by stage powerhouse Jason Klarwein.

The Cast includes: Charles Allen (True West, Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story), Kevin Hides (Composing Venus, A Conversation), Peter Kowitz (Janet King, Crownies), Thomas Larkin (The Wider Earth, Macbeth), Jackson McGovern (The Owl and the Pussycat, Rent), Angie Milliken (The Effect, Rake) and Ilai Swindells (Redfern Now, Open Slather) and more.

The Story: As the death-rattle of American optimism echoes through the land of the Free Market, travelling salesman WillyLoman loses himself in the halcyon haze of the past. Once the king of the road, Willy is veering off it. Time was, he could sell anyone anything, and his reward was the whole package: wife, two sons, the car, the white picket fence. But now he's feeling his years. He's behind on the mortgage, he's sidelined by his wet-behind-the-ears boss, and the final straw is when his adult son Biff - once a sporting prodigy, now a directionless disappointment - lands on the doorstep, further loosening Willy's grip on the reality of his broken-down life.

Hydra by Sue Smith

9 March to 6 April, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre

A State Theatre Company of South Australia co-production

Award-winning Sue Smith weaves the original writings of two of Australia's literary icons into a moving relationship drama. She conjures the passion and intensity of the near mythical 'King and Queen of Hydra' as they follow their dream, only to end up in a Greek tragedy of their own making. A co-production with the State Theatre Company of South Australia, Hydra will be directed by Queensland Theatre's Artistic Director, Sam Strong and is a world premiere.

The Cast includes: Anna McGahan (Picnic at Hanging Rock, Underbelly, The Doctor Blake Mysteries), Nathan O'Keefe (Alexandra's Project, Balloon Man), Hugh Parker (Noises Off, The 39 Steps, The Family Law), Bryan Probets (The 39 Steps, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) and more.

The Story: They were writers, dreamers and free spirits. In the 1950s, Australian authors Charmian Clift and George Johnston* fled halfway across the world to the idyllic Greek island of Hydra, determined to carve out a bohemian living as artists. As they revel in their picturesque community, far off the world's literary map, inspiration for the great Australian work strikes. But a many- headed monster of jealousy, infidelity, illness and alcoholism also rises from the crystal blue waters of their sun-kissed island home.

Barbara and the Camp Dogs by Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine

1 to 25 May, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre

A Belvoir production in association with Vicki Gordon Music Productions

Part madcap buddy comedy, part electrifying rock gig, and part clarion call against the taint of inequality, this vibrant play with songs sold out its original season at Sydney's Belvoir, and now it's set to charm the pants off Brisbane! A rock'n'roll family reunion that will break your heart and fill it with song, it is directed by Leticia Cáceres.

The Cast includes: Troy Brady (Black Arm Band), Elaine Crombie (Top of the Lake, An Octoroon), Ursula Yovich (Mother Courage and Her Children, Australia) with musicians Sorsha Aluquerque (Guitar), Jessica Dunn (Musical Director and Bass Guitar), Michelle Vincent (Drums).

The Story: Hitting the big time is tough when the only booking your kick-ass band can score is a pub gig. But the boisterous, bolshie Barbara and her rockers the Camp Dogs are in it for the long haul. When a family tragedy beckons, Barbara and her sister (and fellow muso) René set off on a long and winding motorbike adventure from Sydney, through Darwin, and finally to Katherine - where the bickering pair come face to face with some home truths.

City of Gold by Meyne Wyatt

29 June to 20 July, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre

A Griffin Theatre Company co-production

Rising star Meyne Wyatt's debut play is as riveting and unflinchingly honest as his stage presence. Urgent, wryly funny and politically provocative, City of Gold is a call for change that will sound out for years to come, it's a battle cry from the front line of Australian identity. A Griffin Theatre co-production and world premiere, City of Gold will be directed by Queensland Theatre's Resident Dramaturg, Isaac Drandic and stars Meyne Wyatt (The Sapphires, Mystery Road).

The Story: All Breythe ever wanted was to be an actor, but this isn't how he imagined his first big television gig - as a young Aboriginal man, being the face of a disastrous misfire of an advertisement that will get him roasted by his mob. When a messenger bird suddenly brings Breythe tragic tidings from his family, it spurs him on a journey of grief and duty. Returning home to Kalgoorlie, he is thrust headlong into family conflict and the reality of what it means to be an Indigenous youth in today's Australia.

Storm Boy By Colin Thiele Adapted for the stage by Tom Holloway

29 July to 17 August, 2019, at the Playhouse, QPAC

A Melbourne Theatre Company co-production in association with Dead Puppet Society

Set to be a mainstage must-see, this landmark new production of Colin Thiele's cherished yet bittersweet coming- of-age story brings together the creative forces behind Jasper Jones and The Wider Earth. It will touch the hearts of young and old with its masterful puppetry and boundless imagination. A Melbourne Theatre Company co-production in association with the multi-award-winning Dead Puppet Society, Storm Boy will be directed by Sam Strong with David Morton as Associate Director/Puppet Designer.

The Cast includes: John Batchelor (Sea Patrol, Red Dog), Tony Briggs (Black is the New White, The Sapphires) and Emily Burton (The Wider Earth, The Seagull) and more.

The Story: Young Storm Boy lives a simple yet free life on the coastal wilds of the South Australian Coorong, combing the beaches with his reclusive father, Hideaway Tom. During a long summer, he makes two friends who will shepherd him from childhood into adulthood: the jester Fingerbone Bill, who teaches him about his country; and Mr Percival, an orphaned pelican who prepares Storm Boy for the wider world with a poignant lesson about love, loss and letting go.

L'Appartement by Joanna Murray-Smith

3 to 31 August, 2019 at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Razor-sharp and whip-smart, this edgy new comedy marks the directorial debut of one of Australia's most accomplished storytellers, Joanna Murray-Smith. A world premiere, this is a comedy that asks if good intentions are the ultimate crime of the middle class and will be directed by the writer in her directorial debut.

The Cast includes: Pacharo Mzembe (Safe Harbour, The Mountaintop), Melanie Zanetti (Jasper Jones, Romeo and Juliet) and more.

The Story: It's a dream holiday for Aussie couple Meg and Rooster - a decadent getaway in Paris in a swanky Airbnb, with fine wine, lavish food, and best of all, no three-year-old twins in tow - a chance for these parents to look after themselves, kick back and reconnect. But when they pick up the keys from their departing hosts - an achingly cool, overachieving young French couple - all it takes is 15 minutes for the trip to be derailed. And when they crack open a mysterious package that arrives on the doorstep, it throws up the biggest ethical dilemma they've ever faced.

Fangirls by Yve Blake

7 September to 5 October, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre

A Belvoir and Brisbane Festival co-production in association with Australian Theatre for Young People

This world premiere by gifted young comedian, singer and playwright Yve Blake is stacked with insanely catchy numbers that will take you straight back to your first crush and make you feel ALL THE FEELS! A new musical comedy about a poorly understood force of nature and directed by the acclaimed Paige Rattray, Fangirls is a Belvoir and Brisbane Festival co-production in association with the Australian Theatre for Young People and will star the Yve herself (THEN, The Race Was On) among others.

The Story: Meet Edna, she's 14, chronically awkward, and everyone thinks she's a serial liar. But none of this will matter when her REAL life starts. With Harry. There's just one problem, Harry is in True Connection - the world's biggest boyband. When TrueConnection announce a tour stop in Edna's city, she realises that this is her one chance to meet Harry and convince him of their destiny. But just how far is she prepared to go in the name of love? Edna takes her obsession to unforeseen heights in this thrilling and hilarious musical comedy about first love, fan culture, and the danger of underestimating teenage girls.

Antigone - adapted by Merlynn Tong, after Sophocles

26 October to 16 November, 2019 at the Bille Brown Theatre

A formidable and powerful finale to Season 2019 - in this lyrical adaptation of Sophocles' timeless tragedy, award-winning Brisbane playwright Merlynn Tong adds an urgent modern twist, reuniting Christen O'Leary and Jessica Tovey after their triumphant pairing in Twelfth Night under the directorial hand of Travis Dowling.

The Story: A great city has been torn apart by a civil war between two brothers. In the aftermath, both lie dead - one hailed as a hero and lying in state, the other condemned as a traitor and dumped in a carrion pile. From the ashes of their conflict rises a dystopian state under a new leader - a career politician who rose to power by dint of her ruthlessness. Grieving and heartbroken, their sister Antigone challenges the leader for the right to bury and mourn her dead brother with dignity, sparking a furious act of rebellion that will shake the city to its foundations.

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