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Malthouse season 2018: Melancholia, great Australian books & Belarus’s theatre outlaws

Danish director Lars von Trier’s 2011 film Melancholia will be adapted for the stage as part of Malthouse Theatre’s 2018 season, revealed tonight in Melbourne.

Playwright and director Declan Greene will write the adaptation, while Malthouse’s Artistic Director Matthew Lutton will direct Eryn Jean Norvill and Leeanna Walsman in the roles originated by Kristen Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The film famously features two sisters — one of whom has severe depression — preparing for the end of the world as a rogue planet comes hurtling towards earth. It received strong critical praise, but proved particularly divisive (even with Australia’s own Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton — Margaret gave the film five stars, David just two and a half).

But it’s not the only adaptation in the season. Playwright Tom Wright and Lutton’s stage version of Picnic at Hanging Rock returns for a brief season, and the pair will turn their attention to another legendary Australian novel, Peter Carey’s Bliss. 

This isn’t the first time Bliss has been adapted for the stage, with Brett Dean’s operatic version having premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2010. Mark Leonard Winter stars in Malthouse’s staging as Harry Joy, alongside Marco Chiappi, Amber McMahon, Anna Samson, and Mark Coles Smith.

A more recent Australian book, Osamah Sami’s NSW Premier’s Literary Award-winning memoir Good Muslim Boywill also be adapted for the stage.

Playwright and commentator Nakkiah Lui’s new play Blackie Blackie Brown, a “live action feminist blaxploitation super hero comic book”, will have its premiere next year, in a co-production with Sydney Theatre Company. Greene directs his Sisters Grimm partner Ash Flanders, and Megan Wilding, in this Indigenous revenge tale with animations and illustrations by Barkindji, Birri-Gubba illustrator Emily Johnson.

There’s also a brand new play from Michele Lee, Jada Alberts’ hit Brothers Wreck, and Ich Nibber Dibbera fascinating and often hilarious verbatim work from Mish Grigor, Zoë Coombs Marr, Natalie Rose.

In the second half of the year, Malthouse will collaborate with the Belarus Free Theatre on a new work called Trustees. The company, which under the Belarus government has no official registration or premises, usually holds its performances and rehearsals in small, private apartments around Belarus, moving frequently to avoid prosecution.

The company will work with five Australian performers, Gregory Fryer, Sophie Ross, Niharika Senapati, Hazem Shammas and Daniel Schlusser, to interrogate the “Great Australian Silence: a struggle to speak out against atrocities both in our own country and abroad, and the danger of speaking the truth.”

In addition to Trustees, the company will perform a short season of its earlier hit Generation Jeans.


Picnic at Hanging Rock (February 6 to 14)
By Tom Wright, adapted from Joan Lindsay’s novel, directed by Matthew Lutton

Good Muslim Boy (February 9 to March 4)
By Osamah Sami, adapted for the stage by Osamah Sami and Janice Muller, directed by Janice Muller.

A Pacifist’s Guide To The War on Cancer (March 7 to 18)
By Bryony Kimmings and Brian Lobel with Kirsty Housley, directed by Kirsty Housley

Fleabag (March 28 to April 22)
By Phoebe Waller-Bridge, directed by Vicky Jones

Bliss (May 4 to June 2)
By Peter Carey, adapted for the stage by Tom Wright, directed by Matthew Lutton

Going Down (May 10 to June 3)
By Michele Lee, directed by Leticia Caceres

Brothers Wreck (June 8 to 23)
Written and directed by Jada Alberts

Blackie Blackie Brown (July 5 to 29)
By Nakkiah Lui, directed by Declan Greene

Melancholia (July 13 to August 12)
By Lars von Trier, adapted for the stage by Declan Greene, directed by Matthew Lutton

Blasted (August 24 to September 16)
By Sarah Kane, directed by Anne-Louise Sarks

Ich Nibber Dibber (September 5 to 23)
Created and performed by Mish Grigor, Zoë Coombs Marr, Natalie Rose

Generation Jeans (August 9 to 11)
By Nicolai Khalezin with Natalia Kaliada, directed by Nicolai Khalezin

Trustees (September 28 to October 21)
By Natalia Kaliada & Nicolai Khalezin (Directors of Belarus Free Theatre) with Daniel Schlusser, directed by Natalia Kaliada & Nicolai Khalezin


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