Belvoir welcomes a new Artistic Director as it launches its 2011 season*

Belvoir welcomes a new Artistic Director, a new logo, fresh new talent and a new, stripped-back name as it launches its 2011 season.

Launching his inaugural season, Ralph Myers, Belvoir’s incoming Artistic Director, said: “We’ve had a great time putting this season together. We’ve talked with dozens of directors, playwrights, actors and designers about the work they really want to make. From here, we’ve found 13 projects we’re extremely excited about presenting. They will be created by the most extraordinary line-up of directors, actors and creatives, positioning maestros alongside the best of the new blood.

“Belvoir has always had, and will continue to have, a commitment to supporting Australian playwrights because we believe that the world on our stage should engage the world as it exists outside our walls. We strive to support and nourish our playwrights in ways that overseas practitioners have long taken for granted.

“Every generation also rediscovers itself in the classics. This season amongst others we have plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen, Gorky, Chekhov and Lawler. These works, staged here and now by us, become contemporary and become Australian.”

The 2011 Belvoir season comprises:

The Wild Duck

12 February–27 March | Written and Directed by: Simon Stone (after Henrik Ibsen) | With: John Gaden, Anita Hegh, Ewen Leslie, Eloise Mignon, Toby Schmitz.

Belvoir’s new Resident Director Simon Stone has been getting to know playwright Henrik Ibsen pretty well over the last few years. Stone’s reworkings, which include The Only Child (Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre, 2009), have uncovered a radical realist who may still be, a century after his death, the most thrilling dramatist ever of family life.

This is a truly great play. Hjalmar Ekdal’s father was rich until scandal cast the family into poverty. Now he lives in a tiny flat with his father, his wife Gina, his daughter Hedvig and a duck. Ibsen’s plays are brutal and tender tragedies. At the core of his work is the idea that anything less than total honesty and an exhaustive conscience will sow the seeds for future tragedy – which makes Ibsen the ideal dramatist for contemporary Australia.

Jack Charles v The Crown

An Ilbijerri Theatre Company Production | 30 March–17 April | By: Jack Charles and John Romeril | Directed by: Rachel Maza-Long | With: Jack Charles | Indigenous Theatre at Belvoir, supported by The Balnaves Foundation*.

Uncle Jack Charles is an Australian legend: veteran actor, Koori elder, activist, cat-burglar and, until recently, heroin addict. This is a show about his life — told by him. Rachael Maza Long, Artistic Director of Melbourne’s Ilbijerri Theatre Company, reunited Charles with his longtime collaborator playwright John Romeril. Together they have crafted this extraordinary story.


Downstairs | 7 April–1 May | By: Duncan Graham | Director: Sarah John | With: Anita Hegh.

Duncan Graham’s Cut is a theatrical riddle which travels the precarious line between fantasy and reality, thought and action. Graham and director Sarah John are long time collaborators who have developed a series of bold new works. Cut is their next theatrical investigation, created over a number of years and finally brought to life by the fearless Anita Hegh.

The Business

23 April–29 May | Based on: Vassa Zheleznova by Maxim Gorky | Adapted by: Jonathan Gavin with Cristabel Sved | Directed by: Cristabel Sved | With: Russell Kiefel, Sarah Peirse.

In 1909 Maxim Gorky wrote Vassa Zheleznova, a savage comedy about a Russian family at war over money, entitlement and the march of progress. But Vassa Zheleznova also relates to one of the great Australian themes: how we hauled ourselves out of our working class past and set out on the road to a relaxed and comfortable future.

Jonathan Gavin is one of Australian playwrighting’s best-kept secrets. The Business is his transplantation of Gorky’s wonderful monster into the engine room of modern Australia: the small business. Following her charismatic turn in Gethsemane in 2009, Sarah Peirse returns to Belvoir. Cristabel Sved makes her Upstairs directorial debut.

The Kiss

Downstairs | 12 May–5 June | By: Anton Chekhov, Kate Chopin, Peter Goldsworthy and Guy De Maupassant | Director: Susanna Dowling | With: Danielle Cormack, Catherine Davies, Yalin Ozucelik, Steve Rodgers.

What do Peter Goldsworthy, Anton Chekhov, Kate Chopin and Guy de Maupassant have in common? They’re all masters of the art of the short story, and they all wrote a story called The Kiss. Director Susanna Dowling had the inspired idea to put their four stories on stage, word for word. Eschewing the traditional hack-job of literary adaptation by using the complete text of each story, The Kiss steps out into a new form of theatrical storytelling.

The Seagull

4 June–17 July | By: Anton Chekhov | Director: Benedict Andrews | With: Emily Barclay, Gareth Davies, Judy Davis, Maeve Dermody, John Gaden,

The Seagull is Chekhov’s extraordinary gathering of a group of bruised and incandescent dreamers who cannot, no matter how they try, get what they want. It’s also one of the masterpieces of theatre about theatre.

By turns elevated and scrappy, gorgeous and mundane, The Seagull is a vision of humanity enduring in the presence of eternity. Benedict Andrews has been delivering a series of brilliant investigations of the essential human questions in a career spanning Europe and Australia. Now he’s gathering a brilliant ensemble of actors including the great actress Judy Davis as the great actress Arkadina, for Chekhov’s splendid telling of life.

Neighbourhood Watch

23 July–28 August | By: Lally Katz | Director: Simon Stone | With: Charlie Garber, Heather Mitchell, Robyn Nevin.

Neighbourhood Watch is a glorious new comedy about hope, death and pets. Lally Katz wrote it for the great Robyn Nevin. It’s a classic odd-couple story: opposites attract, and from each other they gain a new understanding. But as the domestic crises accumulate, Neighbourhood Watch takes on a sense of enormity in the midst of the ordinary that would make Patrick White proud.

Katz is a true original and in Neighbourhood Watch her spirit of curiosity turns optimism into an artform. Nevin needs no introduction. Come July 2011, she’ll be donning Eva’s gold blouse and formidable hairdo for her long-overdue return to Belvoir. Simon Stone directs this epic.

Windmill Baby

Downstairs | 28 July–21 August | By: David Milroy | Director: Kylie Farmer | With: Roxanne McDonald | Indigenous Theatre at Belvoir, supported by The Balnaves Foundation*.

David Milroy’s Windmill Baby is already an Australian classic. First performed in Perth in 2005 it has since played all over the world – but never in Sydney. Now, Kylie Farmer (last seen burning the floor in The Sapphires) makes her directorial debut with a new production Downstairs.

Maymay has come back to the pastoral station she worked on as a domestic half a century ago. As she beavers away around the old washing line, she recalls the season of love and revenge which swept through and turned this dusty collection of bungalows into the scene of an achingly beautiful tragedy.

Human Interest Story

A Lucy Guerin Inc and Malthouse Melbourne Production in association with Perth International Arts Festival | 31 August–18 September | Choreographer: Lucy Guerin | With: Stephanie Lake, Alisdair MacIndoe, Talitha Maslin, Harriet Ritchie, Stuart Shugg, Jessica Wong.

Lucy Guerin is one of Australia’s great choreographers. Like her contemporaries Kate Champion and Gideon Obarzanek, her work has often blurred the line between theatre and dance. This is not a play, but it is theatre.

Through an explosive combination of imagery, gesture and sound, Human Interest Story explores the way we consume the news. With stunning inventiveness, Lucy Guerin confronts the impact of global catastrophe delivered daily to our homes. Guerin takes the media’s distortions of time and space and turns them into a visceral critique of the way we understand our world.

And They Called Him Mr Glamour

Downstairs | A co-production with The Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm | 15 September–9 October | By: Gareth Davies | Director: Thomas Wright | With: Gareth Davies.

The Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm are a Melbourne anti-institution that have never appeared on stage in Sydney. Davies’s brilliant text And They Called Him Mr Glamour is a pathetically hilarious tale of a man, alone on stage, desperately seeking the audience’s attention.

Davies is a true fool: intelligent, relentless, brave, and very, very funny. Mr Glamour is his one-man plea for self-respect, heroism and the right to be a hopeless idiot. The intrepid Thomas Wright makes his Belvoir directing debut.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

24 September–13 November | By: Ray Lawler | Director: Neil Armfield | With: Robin Nevin, Yael Stone, Helen Thomson, Dan Wyllie.

After 17 years as Artistic Director here at Belvoir, Neil Armfield directs the play about how, after 17 years, all good things must come to an end.

Every summer, Barney and Roo have come back from the Queensland canefields to the Carlton house they share with Nancy and Olive for their annual season of leisure. This year though, Nancy’s gone and got married, and Pearl’s taking her place…

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is one of the pillars of our national theatre. With its premiere in 1955, Australian playwriting came of age. But The Doll is also about regeneration: about sloughing off the shell of habit and delusion and finding life anew.

The Dark Room

Downstairs | 3–27 November | By: Angela Betzien | Director: Leticia Caceres | With: Brendan Cowell.

The Dark Room is Angela Betzien’s beautifully formed thriller about the startling idea that, no matter how far apart we are in distance and time, we are all responsible for each other’s lives.

Betzien and director Leticia Cáceres are the founders of Queensland company Real TV. Betzien has a natural understanding of the theatre’s unique ability to tell multiple stories simultaneously – stories of complexity and emotional rawness. Cáceres is a far-reaching thinker about what can be achieved on stage by the simplest means possible.

As You Like It

19 November–24 December | By: William Shakespeare | Director: Eamon Flack | With: Alison Bell, Gareth Davies, Charlie Garber, Shelly Lauman.

As You Like It is breadth of life as only Shakespeare knows how. This is the tale of a mixed bag of ordinary human beings on a tremendous voyage of discovery. At its heart is a heroically foolhardy attempt to begin society all over again, which makes this a perfect end to the first year of the new Belvoir.

Eamon Flack’s triumphantly ridiculous A Midsummer Night’s Dream played in the Downstairs Theatre in 2009. He is assembling a company of Australia’s brightest, shiniest and funniest for an adventure into the realms of this magnificent comedy about the great graceful drift of life.

Season ticket packages for Belvoir’s 2011 season are now on sale. To book tickets or purchase season tickets, contact Belvoir’s Box Office on 02 9699 3444 or www.belvoir.com.au

*Based on media release issued by Belvoir.

The new Belvoir logo

Robyn Nevin stars in Neighbourhood Watch.

Jack Charles stars in his own story ... Jack Charles v The Crown.

*Indigenous Theatre at Belvoir sponsored by The Balnaves Foundation. From 2011 to 2013, The Balnaves Foundation will provide the financial underpinning for Belvoir to present significant Indigenous works in the Belvoir St Upstairs Theatre as well as providing opportunities for the next generation of Indigenous theatremakers to stage their work in the Downstairs Theatre.

The Balnaves Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation that was established in 2006 by Neil Balnaves to provide philanthropic support to charitable enterprises across Australia. The Foundation supports eligible organisations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous communities.