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Old legends, new classics: 2022 a year to reinvigorate the arts as seasons revealed

Culture

Queensland Ballet and Queensland Theatre have announced their ambitious 2022 seasons. Queensland stages will see the return of Mao’s Last Dancer Li Cunxin in Manon, and a remount of Wesley Enoch’s acclaimed 1999 musical The Sunshine Club which will feature alongside world premiere productions.

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After a difficult 2021, the consensus in the arts community going into 2022 is that it is time to rebuild.

Lee Lewis, Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director, said the theatre intends to produce urgent stories that will help the community imagine their future together.

“We are not going to pretend that things will be returned to normal, it will be a year of rebuilding and our ambition is to reach as many people as possible.”

While Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet Li Cunxin announced he would sign on for another three years, programming ambitious projects including his return to the stage.

“In Season 2022, we celebrate Queensland Ballet’s ambitions and bold vision for the future, which is why at the end of these incredible 10 years, it has not been a difficult decision to renew my directorship of this beautiful Company,” Li said.

This ambition includes the expansion of Queensland Ballet to the Gold Coast with Home of the Arts (HOTA) becoming a second home for the company and plans for a production centre to be built at Yatala.

Queensland Ballet’s season is bookended by the classics, beginning with The Sleeping Beauty and rounding off with The Nutcracker. 

Highlights of the season include a performance of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s version of Manon which will feature special guest performances from both Li Cunxin and wife Mary Li.

“It is a real honour to be part of this season on-stage as well as behind the scenes. Monsieur G is one male leading role I haven’t performed in Manon so once again, this is a dream come true and I’m thrilled that Mary and I will be sharing this special experience with our audiences,” said Li.

Brisbane’s first performance will be Giselle, a Romantic ballet of vengeance and love which first premiered in Paris 150 years ago.

“One of the most exciting elements of this season is that it opens in Toowoomba and tours regionally before landing in Brisbane,” said Li.

Meanwhile HOTA audiences will be taken to the swinging ’60’s with contemporary productions of Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and Jack Lister’s B-Sides, which include music from The Rolling Stones and Nina Simone.

Meanwhile, Queensland Theatre’s plans for 2022 intend to cross boundaries and travel across time and space, with three world premieres and a look back at a Brisbane classic.

Lee Lewis said the play at the heart of their 2022 season intends to remember where we have come from in order to move forward.

The Sunshine Club is a story which was imagined in 1999 by a young man with a bright future. He went on to become one of the country’s great leaders in the arts.

“It is a joy to welcome back Wesley Enoch to lead a new generation of talent in this home-grown explosion of song, dance, love, and dreams.”

The season will also include the world premiere of Christopher Johnston’s First Casualty, which he described as an elegy to Australian soldiers set in a remote Afghanistan outpost.

don’t ask what the bird look like is a gothic meditation on identity and belonging by an emerging First Nations playwright Hannah Belanszky.

The third world premiere is tipped by Lewis as “the best production of Othello you will ever see”.

Othello is an adaptation by Jimi Bani and Jason Klarwein set in the Torres Strait during World War II, a tri-lingual production which traces the vital role of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion in protecting the northern tip of Australia.

Among them was Jimi Bani’s grandfather.

Queensland Theatre and Queensland Ballet’s seasons begin in February of 2022. 

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