For decades now Sydney’s Griffin Theatre Company has been a leading force in the production of new Australian plays, but in 2018 the company’s focus will be on new Australian playwrights.
The company’s four main stage plays all come from “emerging writers”, all of whom are new to Griffin.
“It will be a bit of a wild ride, but it’s what we do — develop those writers so that they can go on to have spectacular hits that buy them houses at other companies,” Griffin Artistic Director Lee Lewis said.
“There’s a new wave of energy in younger writers. It’s the next generation that are angry and not content with the status quo. And they’re brought up on Australian playwrights. They are not seeking to find an Australian voice; they have it. They take it for granted. They’re positively entitled. And they’re using it in really sophisticated, theatrical ways that are distinctively Australian.”
This year sees the company present five plays: four productions at its SBW Stables home and a new version of Moliere’s The Misanthrope at the Sydney Opera House, in association with Bell Shakespeare. Following funding cuts, the company recently reduced its number of main stage plays to four, but the Girgensohn Foundation has made a large philanthropic donation to underwrite a fifth play for the next three years.
In addition to those plays, the company will be home to the Australian Theatre for Young People’s performances over the course of the year, while the company temporarily vacates its Walsh Bay home for renovations.
That means Griffin’s annual independent season will not be going ahead in 2018, but a number of independent artists are presenting work at the theatre as “special events”, and an independent theatre festival is scheduled for April.
See Griffin’s full 2018 line-up below.
KILL CLIMATE DENIERS
By David Finnigan, directed by Lee Lewis (February 23 to April 7)
Kill Climate Deniers is a play that’s been generating controversy for several years now, but is yet to have a full-scale staging.
A Canberra production was initially planned in 2014, with an independent theatre company receiving almost $19,000 from the ACT Government to stage the work. But when information of that grant — and the provocative title of the play — went public, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt objected loudly.
“He kicked up a bit of a storm that got too big for that small team to contend with, and the whole project collapsed,” Lewis said.
Kill Climate Deniers won the 2017 Griffin Award, and while Lewis says the company isn’t looking for controversy, they’re prepared for some potential backlash.
The play follows a “militant cell of eco-activists” who take an audience hostage during a concert at Parliament House. They demand that Australia immediately stop all carbon emissions, or they’ll start executing audience members.
“That’s now the play within the play,” Lewis says, “and there’s a very dominant playwright who makes it clear that it’s satire; it is not real; it’s always meant to be funny.”
“There’s a very clever young political brain working inside this, and ultimately, comedy aside, it speaks to a despair in the young generation about their capacity to bring about change in the most important ways on the planet. The question is: are we being forced to be terrorists in order to get our point across?”
GOOD COOK. FRIENDLY. CLEAN.
By Brooke Robinson, directed by Marion Potts (May 4 to June 16)
Tara Morice (pictured above) stars in this comedy about a woman in her 50s who finds herself suddenly kicked out of her Sydney sharehouse. She finds herself desperately looking for a new place to live as the initially comedic work tackles housing affordability and homelessness.
“It’s about how we’re not taking care of people in the housing crisis in Sydney; in the city and in the country,” Lewis says.
THE ALMIGHTY SOMETIMES
By Kendall Feaver, directed by Lee Lewis (July 27 to September 8)
The Almighty Sometimes will premiere in Manchester, where it won the prestigious Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, before having its Australian premiere in July.
“It’s an extraordinary story about what happens when your daughter is 20, and has been medicated since she was six; what happens when she decides to take herself off her medication because she realises she doesn’t know herself unmedicated?,” Lewis says.
“It’s insightful and it’s clever and has beautiful roles that actors are just falling all over themselves to play. I don’t know how the script has got out, but I have actors calling.”
THE FEATHER IN THE WEB
By Nick Coyle, directed by Ben Winspear (October 5 to November 17)
Lewis says Nick Coyle’s The Feather in the Web is a “weird play”, but it proved popular with audiences as one of the finalists at this year’s Lysicrates Prize.
“This is one of the most beautiful speculations I’ve read about how a young woman finds her voice,” she says.
Nikki Shiels stars as the enigmatic Kimberley, alongside Tina Bursill, Gareth Davies and Michelle Lim Davidson.
Fag/Stag (January 10 to 27)
Hello, Beautiful! (July 9 to 14)
The Orchid and the Crow (July 17 to 21)
The Misanthrope (August 28 to September 28)
Shabbat Dinner (September 10 to 15)
The Smallest Hour (December 5 to 15)
ATYP AT GRIFFIN
Intersection 2018: Chrysalis (January 31 to February 17)
Impending Everyone (June 20 to July 7)
Charlie Pilgrim (November 21 to December 1)