Productions making their debuts include the stage adaptation of Trent Dalton’s novel Boy Swallows Universe, which was originally scheduled to premiere as part of this year’s Brisbane Festival; Steve Pirie’s 2020-21 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award-winning play Return to the Dirt; and Triple X, written by and starring multi-disciplinary award-winner and self-described “trans queen” Glace Chase.
A Queensland-exclusive Australian Songbook production by acclaimed writer, singer and performer Robyn Archer will also make its world premiere, with other productions including a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew; Anchuli Felicia King’s new play White Pearl; and Suzie Miller’s Griffin Award-winning one-woman show Prima Facie.
The 2021 season will open on January 30 with an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town, which will be helmed by Queensland Theatre’s artistic director Lee Lewis.
She said it was a fitting play to launch next year’s season “after a long time of darkness”.
“It’s a huge story told very simply, about a beautiful group of people who live in a small country town,” Lewis said. “It’s an extraordinary reminder that it’s the small things in life that matter in the face of big tragedy.”
Boy Swallows Universe has been adapted for stage by Tim McGarry and will be directed by former QT artistic director Sam Strong and presented in partnership with Brisbane Festival and QPAC.
“In exciting news, we can announce that the role of Eli will be performed by Joe Klocek,” Lee said. “Joe started with Queensland Theatre in the Young Artists’ Ensemble, was cast in Pirates of the Caribbean and will now play this once-in-a-lifetime role at the Playhouse next year. It’s a wonderful reflection of the pathways open to our young artists.”
Due to having to plan around current COVID-19 restrictions, audiences for the entire 2021 season are currently capped at 50 per cent.
“The Government has given us their approval to do that, which means I’ll be very happy to see for half houses, until we can invite full houses back into the theatre,” she said.
“It’s a bit of an adjustment for performers and for audiences to see a half-full house and go ‘wow, that’s a great success’, but honestly given this last year I will be thrilled to have that many people sitting there and enjoying a live story.”
Despite having to work within current restrictions for next year’s season, Lewis added that “what we’ve learnt is nothing’s set in stone”.
“It could go two ways – we could have to shut down again if it gets worse but New South Wales is talking about 60 per cent capacity, so honestly, given that we’re budgeting at 50, if we get to 60, that’s a lot of upside for me.
“If that happens safely and if there are other gatherings that are happening safely I think it’s to do with government navigating community confidence in being inside and being next to people so I think we’ve just got to stay really in touch with how people are feeling about what they want as an audience.”
Lewis, who was appointed artistic director late last year following the departure of Sam Strong, said she was fortunate to have “come into a company that has been very well managed”.
“It’s been a great year to be an artistic director. Around the world, it’s the first time the whole world of theatre has been able to talk with the same concern and languages, so, the international conversation has been quite amazing, and nationally, we’ve been in so much closer touch with the other companies than we’ve ever been.
“The artistic community up here in Brisbane is one of the reasons I wanted to move up here because my impression as a visiting artist has always been that it’s a great community and I wanted to be a part of that. And what the shutdown has given me is a chance to actually get to know the artists more.”
Lewis said she was excited to be able to announce a season that was full of “great big stories that fill us with inspiration”.
“We need to have our artists back at work, breathing life into the national imagination,” she said. “We need to talk to friends about the play we all saw last night and disagree with them about what it really meant. We need Australian voices speaking to us about what matters to us right now. We need the buzz of a foyer. We need our culture to come back to life, and we are making this happen.”
For more details about the 2021 season, including season tickets, visit queenslandtheatre.com.au
QUEENSLAND THEATRE – SEASON 2021
By Thornton Wilder
30 Jan — 27 Feb at the Bille Brown Theatre
By Glace Chase
6 Mar — 1 Apr at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Sydney Theatre Company co-production
Taming of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare
8 May — 12 Jun at the Bille Brown Theatre
Digital version available 14 to 20 June
By Anchuli Felicia King
17 Jun — 10 Jul at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta production
By Suzie Miller
14 Jul — 14 Aug at the Bille Brown Theatre
A Griffin Theatre Company production
Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe
Adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry
30 Aug — 18 Sep at the Playhouse, QPAC
Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival in association with Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Return to the Dirt
By Steve Pirie
16 Oct — 13 Nov at the Bille Brown Theatre
Digital version available 22 to 28 November
Proudly supported by Queensland Government
Robyn Archer: An Australian Songbook
Devised and performed by Robyn Archer
20 Nov — 4 Dec at the Bille Brown Theatre
Digital version available 13 to 19 December
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