New Theatre ends a brilliant 2013 with the promise of an even better 2014.
Several of my favourite theatre experiences in 2013 happened at The New Theatre in Newtown. Top Girls, Jerusalem and The Ham Funeral were all stand out performances, beautifully executed with fine direction and great actors bringing the words of great playwrites to life. Alice Livingstone, undaunted by the complex nuances of Caryl Churchills fabulous Top Girls, directed the play to brilliant life, so that it bounced around inside me for months. I still have a clear vision of Claudia Barrie as Dull Gret announcing her arrival with firm beating against her breast-plate, and Sarah Aubrey not-so-delicately puking her guts up as Pope Joan. I was chilled to the bone when Nicholas Eadie as Rooster Byron in Jerusalem pounded on his drum calling to the giants of history and country, tears falling down my face freely, as every pound-chant-pound reverberated over me. I was swept away by the beauty of Patrick Whites words as Phillip Rouse highlighted the darkly gothic aspects of Australian cultural history in The Ham Funeral and brought a justly superb work into the modern-day. These three plays have forged images for me that will remain forever, something we always hope for from Theatre (because almost nothing can caress you as intimately) but something we can’t always expect.
But you can expect it from The New Theatre.
Because of New Theatre in 2013, I will always think of Enron as an absurdity that went horribly wrong and remember Andy Fastow fighting to keep raptors at bay. Because of New Theatre in 2013 I will forever imagine Edith Bliss to wear an enormously gorgeous floppy blue hat, I now know who Nikolai Erdman is and why I am the better for it. Thanks to Alex Butt and Nick Curnow I will never hassle a reservations clerk again, and thanks to Josh Conkel, I will always see gender as a game we start in childhood. I may have sat mute and enraptured, but these were my experiences just as much as they were the experiences of the cast, the crew, the production team and the playwrite. And like all important moments, they have contributed to who I am.
So, luckily for Sydney, New Theatre is about to enter its eighty-second year of continuous theatre production, and last night they announced their 2014 program, along with the promise of a face lift so that the theatre will have glass doors rather than the don’t-come-hither factory doors that kept a mystery its secrets within.
Forthcoming announced productions are:
Privates on Parade – specifically for Mardi Gras time in Sydney, this play features ten musical numbers, and possibly a little nudity. Written in 1977, this farce by Peter Nichols includes music by Denis King. 11 February – 8 March
To Kill A mockingbird – The famous play adapted by Christopher Sergel is so moving that it is performed annually on the county courthouse grounds of Monroeville Alabama. The townspeople make up the cast, the audience is segregated and the all male jury is chosen at interval from white male attendants. It’s a ritual for the township, a way of never forgetting, becoming never again. 18 March – 19 April.
Maestro – Peter Goldsworthy’s novel here adapted by himself and Anna Goldsworthy brings to theatrical life the central questions of the book such has what price do we pay for excellence, and how we can all throw our lives away. Set in Darwin as if it were drawn as a hopeless backwater town. 29 April – 24 May
Why Torture is Wrong, and the People That Love Them – Christopher Durang won the Tony award for best play in 2013 for Vanya and Sonja and Marsha and Spike so it will be very exciting to see his this important and famous play on the stage. 3 June-28 June
Book of Days – One of Lanford Wilsons last plays, it’s really exciting to have a Pulitzer Winning writer’s work performed. Given Wilsons passion for off-broadway theatres, I think he would very much approve of Book of Days being performed at the New Theatre. 8 July – 9 August.
Wolf Lullaby – The most shocking questions of Hilary Bell’s compelling play, is not “Where did the parents go wrong?” but “how far can a mothers love stretch” and “is this sort of death the natural result of bullying and sadism in children?” These are frightening ideas that shake the foundation of how we relate to children. 19 August – 13 September.
Harvest – Richard Bean finds that the story of a pig farming family can actually be compelling and gripping. 7 October – 8 November.
So many reasons to get along to the 2014 season at New Theatre. You can read more about the plays or subscribe to the 2014 season here.