Just near Wanaka in New Zealand is a mountain called Roy’s Peak. There’s a track up it that zig zags steeply to a ridge and a summit with spectacular views. Within the first half hour of the walk I knew I was not fit enough to be attempting it, let alone enjoying it. But turning back? Don’t be silly! I love walking. I’d done it before… I could do it again! That was last year.
This is my first week back in the rehearsal room. It feels amazing — like breathing in all that New Zealand fresh air in the first five minutes of the walk. At the end of the first day I got home exhausted. I am so not show-fit! But every part of me is thrilled to be back in that space with two great actors and a creative team making a play for you.
The whole Company is relieved to be slowly and carefully beginning the process of returning to making theatre. The set is being built, the costumes are being sourced, tickets are being sold, and soon you will be able to sit in the Playhouse enjoying Mouthpiece by Kieran Hurley. It is a big step in the direction of bringing back the cultural life of this city.
So bring on the exhaustion I say! We are so lucky in the scheme of the world to have this chance. I am not going to waste a minute of it, even if my legs are killing me, because I know the view from the summit will be amazing.
Surprise! A new show! We are joining forces with all the home companies to bring everyone back to QPAC and celebrate the arts in this shiny city. The dancers will be dancing, arias will be sung, the orchestra will thrill us, the acrobats will be breathtaking, and we will be doing a play. A beautiful, rich, clever, funny play! It’s called Mouthpiece. It’s written by the brilliant Kieran Hurley, a Scottish writer of immense talent and deep heart. It will be performed by the magnificent Christen O’Leary (small confession here — big moment of wish fulfilment getting to work with her for the first time) and the captivating Jayden Popik making his Queensland Theatre debut (he is going to blow you away). And I get to direct it!!!!!!!!!!!
OK so I’m a bit nervous — first play at QPAC and all that. But getting back into the rehearsal room and piecing together this remarkable story for you is a real thrill, in a year that has not had a lot of real thrills.
We are going to be able to perform to audiences of 50 per cent of the house size. Everyone will be spread out, there will be new rules for arriving and leaving, and tickets and drinks and bathrooms and we can’t have parties in the foyer, and there will be so much hand sanitiser. So it’s going to feel a little different but it’s still going to be LIVE THEATRE! As much as I have loved all the screen work from around the world over the last months, there is nothing like seeing real live story played out in front of us by talented actors. It does something to us as humans that I find irresistible.
I want to say a huge thanks to the Queensland Government for working so closely and rigorously with us to make this happen, and to make it happen safely. Bringing all the home companies together with a collective mission of lighting up our nights again at QPAC has been an inspiration to all of us, and we hope will be exciting for you. So don’t just come and see Mouthpiece, grab a ticket to see the awesomeness of circus, the magic of the symphony, the marvels of operatic voice, and the beautifulness of the ballet. Sit back in your seat and wonder at the talents of this city, and the magic that lives in great art. Welcome back!
Writing original stories is hard. Writing a play is nearly impossible. A lot of writers try. They have a few scenes in a drawer. They have probably dug them out in the last six months and tried to work on them in the last six months. A very small number of writers in the world manage to finish a whole play. An even smaller number go on to write a second.
Every time a new play lands on my desk I am thrilled that the playwright has managed to get the play this far. Every time I start reading a new play I am hoping to find the next great Australian play or hear a voice saying something that matters in a way I have not heard before in theatre form.
Reading the plays of young playwrights is especially exciting. Because if you can see evidence of writing talent on the page and they have had the discipline to complete the whole play, to wrestle their ideas into paper form, you start to imagine how far this capacity will take them in their lives. Because if they have managed to find their thing early, the possibilities are huge. We need our young people to be writing their ideas down so that their ideas can reach out to the wider world. We need their young voices and young perspectives to be speaking to us about the futures they will have to lead. And when they can do that with a play? Wow! It is a win for theatre! Not that it’s a competition. Except sometimes it is.
Like the Queensland Theatre Young Playwright’s Award. I would like to introduce you to the joint winners of the 2020 award. Two extraordinary young playwrights who have each created original stories which show distinctive instinct towards theatre storytelling and the craft to capture voices of the world around them in vibrant dialogue.
Milena Barraclough Nesic and Suki Wallace are two young playwrights to watch. Milena’s play is a sophisticated weave of politics and poetry as she explores the power and the fragility of young love in a violent world. The working title is A play about a play and love and war and other stuff . Suki’s work Carnies is a brutal and funny story about the extreme measures one family employs to survive the predatory banking practices exposed by the Royal Commission. Both playwrights will receive dramaturgical support from Queensland Theatre and will hear their plays read by professional actors. Look out world here they come! Not only have they written full plays, but they have done it in the hardest of times. Now if that doesn’t give you a bucket of hope for the future of theatre in this country I don’t know what will!