Ensemble Theatre Season 2013

Ensemble Theatre Season 2013

Co-Artistic Directors Sandra Bates and Mark Kilmurry announced the Ensemble Theatre’s 2013 season on Tuesday August 28, 2012, launching the season a with video presentation at the harbour-side theatre in Kirribilli, Sydney.

Eight of the ten plays in the season are new to Sydney, including World Premieres of three new plays from David Williamson, Geoffrey Atherden and Gary Baxter, and five Australian Premieres, alongside new productions of Bombshells (with Sharon Millerchip) and The Glass Menagerie.

David Williamson’s new play, Happiness, is about a professor of wellbeing who can't find happiness within his own life. Geoffrey (Mother and Son, Grass Roots) Atherden’s new play is play about sharing private info on public sites, eg. facebook, twitter, google etc then finding yourself under surveillance and being interrogated. Gary Baxter’s new play Camp is about the fun and the horrors of going camping with a bunch of families together

The 2013 program again features three female directors, with Sandra Bates directing three productions, Anna Crawford also directing three main season productions plus the children’s show, and Shannon Murphy directing one. Mark Kilmurry directs three productions (as well as appearing in one with Georgie Parker), including a nude Frankenstein at the Opera House.

The Productions.

Great Falls by Lee Blessing. Australian Premiere. Director: Anna Crawford. From February 2.

A stepfather desperately wants to reconnect with his estranged stepdaughter, but like many teenagers, she’s a closed book with a bad attitude. Their journey across America takes time – but is it enough time to iron out their differences? As the epic landscape sweeps by, tensions bubble to the surface exposing the complexities of the modern family unit. Buckle up for a funny and moving road trip with a dark secret at its heart.

“When I first read this play, I honestly thought it was one of the best plays I’d ever read., “says director Anna Crawford. “If I could have written one play in my life, this would be it. It shows that no matter what you do in your life, the choices you make and the actions you take, for better or worse, affect the people around you. It is so witty, so touching and really hopeful as well.”

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity by Geoffrey Atherden. Director: Shannon Murphy. World Premiere. From Feb 7.

Orlagh O’Connor has never considered herself a threat to national security. So why is she under surveillance and being interrogated? Is it a case of mistaken identity?

Or does the odd young man interviewing her actually have a case?

LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY explores the fine line between our impulse to share information with the world and our right for that information to remain private.

“What Geoffrey does so cleverly is put Australian politics and culture under the microscope - but of course he does this in a very comedic way,” says Shannon Murphy. “LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY raises  so many questions that are very contemporary. It’s the kind of show that’s going to leave people buzzing in the foyer, talking about all the different issues in the play for a long time afterwards.”

Bombshells by Joanna Mussray-Smith. Director: Sandra Bates. From March 13.

Joanna Murray-Smith writes: “Many of us are trying to lead multiple lives: child, mother, wife, lover, star, giving small doses of oxygen to each and imploding under the weight of so many competing roles. The women I have written in BOMBSHELLS struggle – sometimes hilariously, sometimes tragically – to bridge the chasm between the wilderness of their inner worlds and the demands of their outer worlds. And humour, in the end, is our saviour.”

“I’m so looking forward to BOMBSHELLS,” says director Sandra Bates. “I’m blessed with thecasting – Sharon (Millerchip) is a real triple threat, a singer, dancer, actorextraordinaire. She also has another hidden weapon – herchameleon like ability to become different characters entirely.It’ll be great fun doing it, and I know you’ll all love it.”

Frankenstein by Nick Dear. Australian Premiere. Director: Mark Kilmurry.Sydney Opera House from Mar 27 and Ensemble Theatre from April 17.

Cast includes Katie Fitchett, Andrew Henry, Lee Jones, Brian Meegan, Michael Ross and Olivia Stambouliah.

Forced to survive in the real world, a man-made creature soon loses his child-like innocence and transforms into an adult being … an adult with bitterness, lust, vengeance – and deadly reasoning. Mary Shelley’s classic tale is reimagined in a spine–tingling new version by Nick Dear – not for the faint hearted.

“FRANKENSTEIN is an astonishing adaptation and it was a huge hit for the National Theatre in 2011,” says Mark Kilmurry.  “The play gives the Creature a voice – this is a Creature that talks, that can be articulate about the way he feels – and the way he feels is very angry. We’ve got some exciting young talent on stage in this piece – it’s going to be something very scary indeed.”

Happiness by David Williamson. World Premiere. Director: Sandra Bates. From May 9.

Roland Makepeace knows what makes people happy.

Why wouldn’t he? He’s an eminent professor of psychology who has devoted his life to scientifically investigating human well-being. But his theories are sorely tested when his wife meets an old suitor and his daughter threatens to go right off the rails. This sharply observed comedy suggests that theory can sometimes fall well short of reality and that finding happiness is easier said than done.

According to Sandra Bates, “It’s very funny – you’ll laugh and laugh – but you’ll also empathise with the characters. What I love is the irony of this professor of happiness surrounded by unhappiness when he’s done everything right. Only David can bring us this kind of irony, and we are privileged to be able to bring David’s World Premieres to you at Ensemble.”

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. Director: Mark Kilmurry. Cast includes Tom Stokes. From July 11.

Amanda Wingfield wants what any mother would – a stable career for her wayward son Tom and a suitor for her fragile daughter. Her romantic sensibilities are captured by the idea that Tom’s friend might be the ideal gentleman caller. But is he simply too good to be true?

Widely regarded as one of Tennessee Williams’ most powerful and haunting plays, THE GLASS MENAGERIE is a poignant reflection on the glories of times past, with

echoes of loneliness, fragility and innocent hope.

“It’s one of my favourite pieces of work of all time,” says Mark Kilmurry.

“The characters are so intricate, so intense and yet so real. It has such truth in the writing that it’s still relevant today.

“This is a classic drama which has been revived many times and it’s easy to see why – it’s always different, it’s always the same and it’s always, always Tennessee Williams.”

Seminar by Theresa Rebeck. Australian Premiere. Director: Anna Crawford. Cast includes William Zappa, Felix Gentle and Matthew Zeremes. From August 15.

Calling all writers! You think you have talent? Think you can take rejection and ride out the highs and lows?

Once you’ve met Leonard, you’ll have to think again.

Four aspiring young novelists embark upon a private writing course with Leonard, an abrasive but once-respected literary figure, hoping that some of his greatness will rub off on them. In a headlong rush of wit and verbosity, innocence collides with experience in this provocative, sparkling new comedy.

“What I really liked about SEMINAR was that it reminded me what writers actually do for society - the fact that everything they write comes straight from their heart and they’re serving it up for us to be praised or ripped to shreds. It’s a nice reminder of how brave that is. SEMINAR is a cracker – really funny and very romantic,” says Anna Crawford.

Camp by Gary Baxter. World Premiere. Director: Mark Kilmurray. Cast includes Ben Ager, Michelle Doake, Jamie Oxenbould, Karen Pang and David Terry. From September 19.

This summer, the campground becomes a war zone.

Three couples, a tribe of children, one black snake, and an esky full of beer. What starts out as a relaxing beachside camping trip quickly deteriorates into a series of hilarious encounters. In a battle of friends against the elements … will they survive?

“Firstly, I hate camping,” says Mark Kilmurry. “I lied to my wife that I enjoyed camping, then we went and it was the most awful experience I’ve ever had. Fortunately, all of this is in CAMP, so when I read it, I thought: thank goodness, somebody is saying what I believe! Gary’s writing is superb: he’s captured the essence of camping in Australia. It’s one of those plays that I read out loud and laughed myself silly.”

Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo. Director: Sandra Bates. Cast includes Georgie Parker, Mark Kilmurry, Diane Craig, Di Adams and Chloe Bayliss. Australian Premiere. From October 31.

Catherine, a successful academic with a high flying lifestyle, and Gwen, a dedicated housewife, are living opposite lives – and both are starting to think the grass MUST be greener. Reunited after more than a decade, sparks fly and the age-old question arises: what do women really want? Traversing the experiences of women across the generations, RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN is a hugely entertaining exploration of a new style of feminism, ripe for the 21st century.

“We all read it – we all LOVED it,” says Sandra Bates. “Things get very, very lively indeed – you’re getting three generations of totally opposed ideas. It’s hilarious, and it’s the surprises that happen that make it so delicious. I cared so much about the characters, and I understood where they were all coming from.”

Neighbourhood Watch by Alan Ayckbourn. Australian Premiere. Director: Anna Crawford. Cast includes Alan Dukes, Lizzie Mitchell and Jamie Oxenbould. From December 12.

Bluebell Hill is a nice place to live – the only blight on the landscape is the nearby housing estate and its undesirable inhabitants. When new residents Martin and Hilda band together to form their own neighbourhood watch, their close-knit community begins to unravel as the committee become more threatening than the hoodlums. Alan Ayckbourn’s 75th play is a riotous and often scathing examination of the effects of power in the hands of the masses.

“It’s in everyone’s nature to try and protect yourself and the people you love, but I think taken to the absolute extreme, that can be quite isolating, counterproductive and even dangerous,” says Anna Crawford Ayckbourn has done a brilliant job exploring that theme in an hilarious play. It is so funny and so dry and I think it’s one of his best works.”

A Year with Frog & Toad- Chldren’s Show. Book and lyrics: Willie Reale. Music: Robert Reale. Based on the books by Arnold Lobel.  From September 26.

A musical celebration of friendship, rejoicing in the attributes that make each of us unique. Frog and Toad are best friends! They go kite flying, tobogganing, swimming and indulge in some cookie eating, all the while learning some valuable life lessons. Joined by Mouse, Snail and Turtle, their stories are brought to life with hilarious and heart-warming songs, reminding us that the best thing to have in life is a true friend.

“Interestingly, A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD is the only children’s musical ever to be nominated for a TONY for Best Musical in the Adult Category,” says director Anna Crawford, “and I think that really speaks of how touching this show is for kids but also for adults as well. It’s funny and charming – there’s a lot of singing and dancing and it’s just a really sweet bit of escapism that teaches really good values about friendship and courage.”

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