If your New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to be more cultural, then look no further: Queensland Theatre Company has a season all lined up to make you giggle, sob, ponder, and discuss.
You remember theatre, right? Like movies, but acted out in real life, in front of you? Like knitting and vinyl, theatre is making a comeback.
“The sense of going back to the analogue because it feels more human, I think it’s a real movement, and theatre is part of that,” says QTC director Wesley Enoch. “Are you bored with television? Rightly so. Get off Facebook; get into face-to-face.”
You heard the man. The 2014 QTC season has been announced and is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet, with more than 60 actors treading the boards and 7 mainstage productions.
“I was looking at themes of leadership in the programme,” explains Enoch. “Going through this federal election recently, and the conversations around leadership and what it is, here is a series of plays that can explore a particular theme but in very different ways as well.
“You want a kind of diverse, balanced meal of ideas and of form and things, so you can see the world through the plays that we're making.”
With such a wide range of productions on offer, which ones would Enoch recommend especially?
“It’s like asking a parent which child they love more,” he laughs. He points out ‘A Tribute Of Sorts’, an award-winning look at the art of theatre itself, and Ben Elton’s satirical comedy, ‘Gasp!’.
“I feel that what he’s trying to say through privatisation of air as the central storyline is something very relevant and interesting for those who are politically-minded and thoughtful and who also like their politics delivered with humour and wit.”
Enoch says ‘Black Diggers’, the untold stories of Aboriginal servicemen in World War I, is likely to pull a crowd interested in exploring another side of history, and British playwright Lucy Prebble’s ‘The Effect’ will be a conversation-starter among the younger generation.
“It’s about depression, basically, and the effect of anti-depressants. I think mental health is so much more an open issue now, and what I love as a theatre company [is] we can say ‘here’s a play that I think is really relevant and interesting; let’s do it; let’s find out a way of talking about it with different people’.
“And I think a younger generation is a lot more open to discussions around mental health than, you know, someone in their mid-40s or older.”
QTC will also tackle Shakespeare classic ‘Macbeth’ — but don’t let a shonky high school reading discourage you from seeing this one.
“I think everyone knows Shakespeare, but very few people get to see it done live and appreciate its strength and what it can offer. Because we do it at high school, we kind of have an opinion that isn’t based on it being done in the theatre as it was meant to be done.
“[‘Macbeth’] says something about power and revenge that’s really quite fascinating to watch.”
Other shows to look out for include season opener ‘Australia Day’—a comedy that probes our national identity—and a behind-the-fame glimpse of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr in the days before his murder in ‘The Mountaintop’.
Enoch says that while theatre audiences are diverse in age and lifestyle, young people in particular are becoming more fervent theatre-goers. That number may even grow larger if QTC can change the perception that theatre is an expensive pastime.
“You can come to the theatre for basically 25 bucks a show if you come to previews, and we have also a cheap night on Tuesdays that people hardly ever use,” says Enoch.
“If you’re interested in a show, check it out, because you can sometimes come very cheaply if you can plan it out and work out when you can go according to what you can afford. Get on the website and check out cheap it can be.”
Enoch says a healthy sense of curiosity — coupled with a bit of trust in the company to deliver an entertaining night out that’s worth the cost — can open the door to an experience that beats watching a film or playing a video game hands down.
“It’s strange, you think you’re sitting in the dark alone, but in fact you’re sitting in a room with, you know, five hundred, eight hundred people, and you’re sharing something together that’s real and not something that’s mediated to you through an electronic device.
“So come and see something that’s truly analogue and very interesting. I actually think, once people come to the theatre and experience something really good that moves them, then you’ve got them for life.”
Pencil in the rest of your life, but start with the 2014 season, which Enoch sums up neatly.
“I think it’s a mix of enjoyment and engagement, a mix of the wonderful entertainment theatre can do with the ideas and a sense of a microscope on our community: so it’s reflecting us and letting us laugh at ourselves and others, but also allowing us to dig down a little deeper and explore what it means to be human.”
QTC Season 2014 tickets are on sale now. queenslandtheatre.com.au