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

Published in Theatre
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 15:33

Design For Living: Theatre In Preview

Bringing Noel Coward's classic to life, the Queensland Theatre Company will perform 'Design For Living' this October.

Star of this romantic and hilarious play, Kellie Lazarus says the performance stays true to Coward's 1932 original.

“The film was very different from the original play,” she says. “I think there's only one line from the whole film that was in the play!”

'Design For Living' follows one woman, her effect on two swooning men and the misadventures that follow. Playing the beautiful and outspoken Gilda, Lazarus is joined on stage by her counterparts Tama Matheson, playing Leo and Jason Klarwein (Lazarus' real life partner) playing Otto.

Lazarus says  it’s been a wonderful experience acting alongside Klarwein in an intimate role. “It has been absolutely fabulous.”

Even though the play hit broadway in the '30s, it still appeals to audiences today through its “funny and outrageous” style, Lazarus says. For her, the effort was taken out of over analysing the characters, as the script was excellent.

“All of the work is there on the page, there's very little research needed.”

Lazarus believes it is “a once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to be a part of one of Coward's plays. Apart from Coward, she says she regards Shakespeare highly — her favourite performance so far being 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' for a charity event. “Shakespeare is one of my favourites,” she enthuses.

Her theatre company, Grin and Tonic is rumoured to join forces with QTC next year in celebration of the company's 40 year anniversary with a performance of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'.

Her hopes for the future involve promoting theatre and the arts and helping other young, budding actors. “I want to play a part in supporting actors in Brisbane by investing in the youth of the area.”

Like a true master of improvisation, Lazarus explains the thing she loves most about theatre: “The fact that you can walk out on stage and anything can happen and anything can go wrong.”

QTC's 'Design For Living' is at the Playhouse, QPAC, from Oct 19 - Nov 10.

Published in Theatre
Friday, 11 October 2013 16:20

Design For Living Tickets

Queensland Theatre Company's next production is Noel Coward’s famous and scandalously risqué play 'Design for Living'.

Kellie Lazarus as Gilda (‘Road To the She Devils Salon’), Tama Matheson as Leo (‘The Tempest’) and Jason Klarwein as Otto (‘A Streetcar Named Desire’) take the lead roles to form Noel Coward’s intricately woven threesome based on the sexy, boundary pushing 1930s play set in Paris.

To win one of ten doubles to the exclusive VIP preview on Monday October 21, 6:30pm, at the Playhouse QPAC This competition has closed.
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Published in Competition
Monday, 17 September 2012 10:18

Kelly: Actor Interview

At the ripe young age of four, Leon Cain initially threw tantrums upon joining the Fame Theatre Company, protesting “that’s what girls do”.

However, Leon grew to relish acting and made his on-stage debut with the Queensland Theatre Company at the age of ten.

“My first job with the Queensland Theatre Company was in 1994 or 1995 when I was ten years old and I played Prince Mamillius in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’,” Leon explains.

“But it wasn’t until when I thought ‘what am I going to do with my life?’ in high school where I realised it was something I cannot not do. It’s interesting because there was a large cast in [‘The Winter’s Tale’] and most [of] the cast in that play I’ve now worked with professionally.”

From playing the Sicilian prince in ‘The Winter’s Tale’ to his Matilda award-winning role as Johnny in ‘I Love You, Bro’, Leon enjoys acting because every performance offers a new challenge.

“I definitely would prefer that my career would cover a diverse range of roles – that’s the fun thing about acting and one of the reasons I like doing it. Even though the financial security is rubbish, the good thing is you don’t get bored because when you do get jobs, every job is likely to be completely different. I don’t have the looks to do the same character over and over.”

Leon plays Dan Kelly – brother of Ned – in playwright Matthew Ryan’s controversial interpretation of Australian history entitled 'Kelly', which premieres this weekend.

“There’s three different guys [who claimed to be Dan Kelly] and the one which we based our story on, James Ryan, was a man based in Ipswich. In our story, Dan escapes and goes north but because of guilt, he feels like he needs to get Ned’s blessing before he's executed. Dan disguises himself as a priest and goes in to talk to Ned the night before his execution, and that’s where the play begins.”

‘Kelly’ runs from until October 20 at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC.
Published in Theatre
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 15:29

Sacré Bleu!

Theatre in Preview

They say all good comedy has within it an element of truth, and in 'Sacré Bleu!' that truth is well and truly in the eye of the beholder.

The latest and the 2011 season-opening production from the Queensland Theatre Company, 'Sacré Bleu!' is a double bill featuring farces translated from their French origins - and they are being performed in English for the first time.

The first of the plays, 'The Coal Seller Affair' begins when two old schoolmates wake up in bed together, covered in soot and hungover, as well as missing a number of personal items.In their attempt to retrace their steps from the night before, their day goes from bad to worse as their belongings are found at the scene of a crime.The second play of the double bill is 'A Murderous Affair', which sees the main character Plumard, his wife Pepita and her lover entangled in a love triangle which becomes all the more complicated when a third man comes into the picture.  And to make matters worse, he seems to match the description of a wanted murderer.

Actor Neridah Waters - who plays an uptight and straight-laced wife in the first of the pieces and the more extroverted and vibrant Pepita in the second - says both plays have their foundations in comic misunderstandings, where the characters confuse just what is the truth of the matter. â€œBoth the plays involve a murder, but it is all a misunderstanding,” Waters says of the plotlines for both stories. “In one of the plays, the characters wake up from a night of drinking and find a 20-year-old newspaper and read about particular objects that were used in a crime; which also happens to be objects they are missing … so it is like the worst kind of hangover!

But they are both absurd comedies about misunderstandings … and the plays were written about French bourgeois society, and a lot of those people were bored shitless,” Waters laughs. “The characters make a drama out of nothing!”

While both plays were originally written as separate stories, penned by French dramatists Eugène Labiche and Georges Feydeau (who were born more than a century ago), for this production not only have they have been translated by director Morgan Dowsett - they have also been reworked into a modern setting by Matthew Ryan.

For his adaptations, Ryan has also taken a few creative liberties with the narrative and has woven plotlines between the two plays so they fit well together for the production. â€œEven though it is a double bill, with two separate plays written by two separate playwrights, Matthew has threaded lines throughout the two farces,” Waters explains. “We wanted there to be a reason why these two plays were being done together, and not have them completely separate from each other. Morgan, who speaks French, did the translation and Matthew rewrote them so they were up-to-date and obviously some of the play-on-words didn't work when they were translated from the French.”

While the first of the performances is on track to open on schedule, pre-production for the show has not been without its problems. Like most of the city, the devastating Brisbane floods have affected the people involved with the production, and they even put a stop to rehearsals for a week.

The Queensland Theatre Company's home venue, the Billie Brown Studio (located in South Brisbane) was damaged by the floods, prompting the cast and crew to relocate to safer and drier grounds at the Gardens Theatre. QPAC's Cremorne Theatre, where the play is set to be performed has also been affected.

But the spirit of the performing arts community in this city is strong, and the QTC will be putting on an advanced showing of the plays for those in the area affected by the floods, as a show of support. â€œThe QTC have invited people involved with the theatre and from the West End area to come to see the play for free,” Waters said. “And all the proceeds from the first show on February 7 will also go towards the relief effort that is happening in flood areas.

So I think that the Queensland Theatre Company is thinking thank goodness the first show is a comedy! I don't think people would want to see anything too heavy or dark at the moment, especially with all the damage that is going on right now so it will be good to have a laugh.”

'Sacré Bleu! (The Coal Seller Affair and A Murderous Affair)' will play at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC from February 7 to March 12.

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