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Letter from Lee

A fortnightly letter with love from our Artistic Director.

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Thursday 12 June 2022

Rehearsing Bernhardt/Hamlet is a wild ride on a steeplechase course filled with many Covid-shaped obstacles. We have had some members of the team out completely, some in on Zoom, everyone doing RATs every morning, and actor heroes leaping into the gaps and helping out as they can. There are some things that cannot be done digitally — costume fittings and scenic art do require real live hands to make the magic happen! It is great being in the rehearsal room, but it is a bit nuts!

Add to that we are racing to get the theatre ready to welcome you back after all the repairs, keeping our eyes on the rain forecast this weekend, launching our Flood Appeal, looking forward to the arrival of a few new Queensland Theatre babies, and planning the 2023 Season… you could say the slate is a bit full this week!

But full is great! Looking back over the last couple of years, the awfulness of May 2020 when we didn’t know what the future of theatre would be, and then the tension of May 2021 when the borders were closed with no sign of re-opening… this May is positively easy by comparison.

My days are filled with the challenges of the moment, but they are also filled with the gorgeousness of Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet — so many of which were invented or used for the first time in this play! Fanged, fret, pander, compulsive, unnerved, unpolluted, besmirch, self-slaughter, blastment, chop-fallen, down-gyved, implorator, mobled, pajock, and many, many more.

I am also wrapped in imagining Sarah Bernhardt rehearsing Hamlet. One of the greatest actors ever to have lived. Tilting with the idea of her each day is alternately inspiring and intimidating. She had her own 1700 seat theatre! Her dressing room had a dining room that seated 12 for her post show dinners. She toured the world performing her most famous shows. In her first performance in New York, she was given 27 curtain calls. When she toured to Australia, she came with over 250 pairs of shoes and didn’t make it to Brisbane because she became infatuated with a new lover in Sydney and so decided to stay there longer and enjoy the crazy good sex. During World War 1 she still performed for the troops even after she had a leg amputated! Seriously her Wikipedia entry is huge! Read it! Unbelievable. The stories about her are extraordinary… she is like a theatrical Elon Musk in the body of Kim Kardashian, with the audacity of Madonna, the spirit of Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia, and the political courage of a woman born way ahead of her time. Just what we need to brighten up a chilly night in Brisbane! See… so much better than the last two years!

I can’t wait to see you in the foyer!!!

Love Lee,