News & Commentary, Opera, Stage, Theatre

Queensland Theatre’s year of inclusion; (Opera Australia, not so much)

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The launch season has begun this month for the country’s performing arts companies as they reveal their 2019 programs.
The first theatre company out of the gate is Queensland Theatre in Brisbane, helmed by artistic director Sam Strong, formerly an associate AD at Melbourne Theatre Company.
His 2019 season (marking the company’s 49th year) raises the bar for the other state theatre companies, given the number of new Australian works included and the number of Indigenous and female voices creating and/ or directing the plays for QT.
In the past six years, state theatre companies have been doing catch up on inclusivity after they were named and shamed by artists for their entrenched favouring of male playwrights and directors over others. Even so, only one of the five state theatre companies in Australia currently has a female artistic director (Perth’s Black Swan).
At least the theatre companies are addressing the imbalance. Last week, Opera Australia revealed its 2019 season and once again was found to rate poorly in the number of female directors and conductors it plans to employ. Time Out Sydney this week reported that “there are more men named David (or Davide) than women directing opera in 2019” at the Sydney Opera House.
“Only 17.5 per cent of creative roles at OA in 2019 will be filled by women. But in the positions of greatest artistic control and influence – director, composer and conductor – it drops to a mere 8.2 per cent,” Time Out reported.
In the 2018 year, only 23 of the 138 creative roles listed in the OA brochures for its Melbourne and Sydney seasons were to be filled by women. That is 16.6% of those roles, a drop from the 2017 figure of 18.2%.

What QUEENSLAND THEATRE says about its 2019 SEASON

“Queensland Theatre will present an unprecedented five world premieres in 2019. We begin with the world premiere of Hydra, award-winning playwright Sue Smith’s portrait of writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston.
This is followed by the world premiere of the most provocative play to hit the Australian stage in years, City of Gold by electric young actor Meyne Wyatt.
Next, in a coup for Queensland, we will be home to not just the world premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s latest play, but her world directorial debut, with the wickedly funny L’Appartement.
Add to this the world premiere of hilarious new musical Fangirls by the unfairly talented Yve Blake, and the world premiere of award-winning Brisbane writer Merlynn Tong’s adaptation of Antigone, and you have Queensland Theatre’s most urgent, ambitious, and entertaining season yet,” said Sam Strong.
The season is rounded out by one of theatre’s biggest classics, Death of A Salesman, performed by an all-star cast of Queenslanders (both resident and returning), the rock’n’roll family reunion Barbara and the Camp Dogs by the brilliant Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine, and a landmark new production of Tom Holloway’s adaptation of Colin Thiele’s cherished story Storm Boy, bringing together the creative forces behind Jasper Jones and The Wider Earth.
Season 2019 features the best local talent like David Morton of Dead Puppet Society, Emily Burton, Ray Chong Nee, Jason Klarwein, Thomas Larkin, Pacharo Mzembe, Christen O’Leary, Hugh Parker, Bryan Probets, and Melanie Zanetti. It also continues Strong’s ‘State of Origin’ approach of attracting leading Queensland talent home, actors like John Batchelor, Peter Kowitz, Angie Milliken and Anna McGahan, and one of Australia’s most in demand directors, Leticia Caceres.”
You can read details of Queensland Theatre’s 2019 season here and Opera Australia’s 2019 season here

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