THE ANGRY BRIGADE Comes to New Theatre
The Angry Brigade was a small cell of left-wing, anti-elitist urban guerillas in 1970s Britain. They emerged in a society blighted by government cuts, high unemployment, austerity measures and deregulation, at a time of global political and cultural upheaval: riots and revolutions, the black-power and women's lib movements, protests against the war in Vietnam.
Carrying out a series of bombings that targeted property rather than people, they attacked high-profile symbols of the 'class enemy': the Embassies of far-right regimes, the homes of Conservative MPs, banks, police stations - even the BBC's outside broadcast unit covering the Miss World pageant.
Blending fact and fiction, this comedy-thriller focuses on the opposing sides of the conflict. In a basement office at Scotland Yard, four police officers are trying to work out who's blowing up high-profile targets. In a filthy squat in north London, four young anarchists are plotting the revolution. But perspectives shift and change with unexpected outcomes.
This smart and funny look at political activism poses a question that is both topical and relevant: when does one person's freedom fighter become another person's terrorist? And what is the tipping point that turns anger into armed protest?
Neither a history play nor a biopic, it rather sheds light on our contemporary times, with many social, economic and political similarities between the two periods, and investigates with ironic wit and humour the nature of protest, of anger and of political discontent.
For New Theatre's Artistic Director, Louise Fischer, programming The Angry Brigade was a no-brainer, especially given its political chops. "It's a funny, entertaining play about a serious subject, and very cleverly structured - but I can't say more, as that'd be a spoiler!"
"Though set in the 1970s, the characters could just as easily be active today," says Fischer. "These are young, idealistic people from very different backgrounds, who have strong feelings about what they think their society should be like, and take steps to change things.
"it's disturbingly relevant given the way the establishment continues to ignore the voices of the young when making decisions for short term gain that will impact on the future of this world, especially when they won't be around to see the criminal damage they have done. Witness the intense criticism of the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg by 'the powers that be'."
We welcome back Alex Bryant-Smith to direct this Australian premiere production. For New Theatre, Alex most recently was Assistant Director on August: Osage County, and directed Next Lesson as part of our program for Sydney Fringe Festival in 2018. Earlier this year, he was Assistant Director on, the sold-out production of The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Old Fitz.
"I was immediately pulled by James Graham's play" says Alex. "As a millennial, the chance to examine the Boomers at the same stage in life as I find myself has been intriguing. The frustration of having to play by a set of rules not designed to benefit you permeates the world of the play. How ironic that some of those who championed the cause in the late 60s and into the 70s are the ones who now have a property portfolio and healthy super funds, whilst my generation, many with tertiary educations, are stuck in overpriced rental stock, working in the gig economy, pushed ever further out by the march of gentrification. Kind of makes you want to blow it up or burn it down, or at least whinge on Facebook and share anti-Establishment memes on Instagram."
The cast includes returning actors Sonya Kerr (Next Lesson, August: Osage County), Nicholas Papdemetriou (Laughter on the 23rd Floor), and Madeleine Withington (The School for Scandal), plus making their New Theatre debuts Kelly Robinson, recent WAAPA graduates Will Bartolo and Benjamin Russell, and English actor Davey Seagle who trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
James Graham is a 37yo British playwright and screenwriter, who has written 22 plays, his first being Albert's Boy for the Finborough Theatre in London in 2005. His first major play, This House, an investigation of the turbulent politics of 1970s Britain, was commissioned by the Royal National Theatre, where it had a critically and commercially acclaimed production in 2012, being nominated for the Olivier Award for Best New Play, and transferring to the West End. The Angry Brigade (2014) was produced by the touring new-writing company Paines Plough and played throughout the UK. In 2018 Graham won his first Olivier Award, for Labour of Love as best new comedy. His play about Rupert Murdoch, Ink, was also nominated for an Olivier in the same year, and the subsequent transfer to Broadway was nominated for Best Play at the 2019 Tony Awards. He wrote the book for the Broadway musical Finding Neverland, and has also written for film and TV.
Director Alex Bryant-Smith
Set & Costume Designer Sallyanne Facer
Sound Designer Glenn Braithwaite
Visual Designer Andrew Langcake
Voice & Dialect Coach Amanda Stephens Lee
Assistant Director & Production Manager Mark G Nagle
Stage Managers Isabella Milkovitsch, Isabelle Nader
Cast Will Bartolo, Sonya Kerr, Nicholas Papademetriou, Kelly Robinson
Benjamin Russell, Davey Seagle, Madeleine Withington
1 October - 2 November
Previews 1 & 2 October 7:30pm
Opening Night Thu 3 October 7:30pm
Thur - Sat 7:30pm
Final performance Sat 2 November 2pm only
Concessions, Groups (6+) $30
Previews, Thrifty Thursdays $20