One question has been at the forefront of Queensland Theatre’s 2024 programming: “Have you ever, ever felt like this?” It’s also a line borrowed from the theme song to one of three scheduled world premieres announced at the company’s 2024 launch at QPAC this week.
Of course, fans of beloved home-grown television series Round the Twist will know that. But they’ll have to wait until November next year to see the new musical adaptation of the 1990-2001 series based on Paul Jennings’ books about a quirky lighthouse family and strange goings-on.
QT artistic director Lee Lewis introduced the musical’s creator Paul Hodge to a packed auditorium as “our greatest silver lining of COVID”. When Hodge Zoomed Lewis in 2020 declaring, “Have I got a show for you!”, he was bluffing that it was ready to go with acclaimed director Simon Phillips at the helm.
Still, Lewis and co-producer QPAC believed in Hodge’s vision and the musical will become a reality when the magic, mystery and charm of Round The Twist The Musical is world premiered at QPAC’s Playhouse in November 2024.
Two First Nations works examining race and identity in modern Australia will be QT’s other world-debuting productions. Artistic associate and Noongar man Isaac Drandic will direct both works.
Taking its name from the jersey number of AFL legend Adam Goodes, 37 is a footy comedy with bite, set during Goodes’ playing era and drawing on the incident that sparked one of the biggest controversies in Australian sport – and beyond it. Written by Nathan Maynard and featuring a 10-strong ensemble, 37 will play QT’s Bille Brown Theatre, April 11-May 4.
Physicality is also central to Brisbane Festival production Dear Brother, a deep dive into what it means to be a young Aboriginal man in 2024. Co-produced with Blak Dance, this two-hander written and performed by Djabuganjdji man Lenny Donahue and Girramay and Kalkadoon man Tibian Wyles uses movement, music and poetry to explore the tension between pursuing mainstream urban opportunities while honouring ancestral roots.
Speaking at the 2024 season launch, Drandic said, “We want to touch on mental health and toxic masculinity but also medicinal masculinity. How do we as young indigenous men try to heal ourselves from inter-generational trauma?” Dear Brother will be staged at the Bille Brown Theatre, September 7-28.
Two other paradigm-challenging contemporary plays are set for Australian premieres in QT’s 2024 line-up. Featuring disabled and non-disabled characters, Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cost of Living deftly demonstrates how the need to care and be cared for is universal.
Lending further international clout is theatrical icon Philip Quast in the role of an unemployed truck driver desperate to reconcile with his ex-wife, who has become a wheelchair-user after an accident. She’ll be played by disabled actor Kate Hood, who spoke at the launch about how the work “plumbs the depth of the human condition”.
“It’s not a play about disabilities. It simply uses this disability to talk about the boundaries that we put on relationships and on love, on sex and intellectual relationships as well. There is no character with a disability in this play who is pictured as ‘less than’. It will inspire people to think about disability differently.”
Co-produced with Sydney Theatre Company, Cost of Living will run June 15-July 13 at the Bille Brown.
In a different vein comes a Tony Award-nominated satire inspired by Donald Trump, POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive. Speaking via video, playwright Selina Fillinger told the audience that while the catalyst was Trump’s infamous comment about grabbing women by their genitals, the play is actually about what underpins such attitudes.
“It’s about patriarchy, power structures and oppression and the ways in which we are complicit in our own subjugation and the subjugation of others,” Fillinger said.
Despite those very serious topics, she added: “It’s very, very funny. It should be a rowdy event.” With Amy Ingram spearheading the all-female ensemble, POTUS will be in residence at Bille Brown, July 27-August 24.
A pair of classic psychological dramas featuring female protagonists completes the line-up. QT’s 2024 will start with a fresh adaptation of Patrick Hamilton classic Gaslight by Johnna Wright and Patty Jamieson.
It’s faithful to the era of the 1938 play but told through the lens of women’s awareness that we have to rescue ourselves from the scary moments in life, says Lee Lewis, who will direct. It will run at QPAC Playhouse February 20-March 3 before embarking on a national tour.
Greek tragedy Medea undergoes a radical update in Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks’ modern reworking, telling it from the perspective of Medea’s two young sons. Taking on the titular role, Helen Cassidy said that being a mother enabled her to play the role to its full capacity.
“There’s a depth that you need to comprehend the incomprehensible act and sacrifice that Medea makes,” said Cassidy. “I can step into this role with excitement, where I feel that I’m able to embody her mythic nature and the terrible and beautiful being that she is.”
Directed by Daniel Evans, Medea will be staged at Bille Brown Theatre May 11-June 8.
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