When director Heidi Gledhill was given the opportunity to lead PIP Theatre’s next production, one playwright was at the top of her list.

Gledhill had previously directed Van Badham’s The Bull, The Moon and The Coronet of Stars at Metro Arts and was beguiled by the writer’s treatment of modern gender politics through the prism of Greek mythology.

Banging Denmark, which opens on March 7 at PIP Theatre in Milton and runs until March 23, explores how desire, power and politics intersect in the age of the Internet.

The set-up is classic Badham – a feminist academic is engaged by a pickup artist to help him seduce a whip-smart Danish librarian.

“The rom-com is a dangerous space because it can serve to perpetrate certain representations of men and women and their relationships,” Gledhill says.

“And because it’s so frothy and easy, you can just slide into it and think, ‘oh, that’s normal that men and women treat each other like this’. But Van Badham plays with it. So, it’s a way of engaging and having conversations without preaching.”

In a world where the misogynistic teachings of Andrew Tate are followed by millions of people on social media, such commentary is essential.

PIP Theatre was founded in 2021 by actor and businesswoman Deidre Grace to champion relevant and timely stories (the acronym stands for “purpose in performance”).

Its 100-seat theatre is tucked away in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of Milton and aims to be a space for local creatives and audiences to meet. Banging Denmark is Gledhill’s second production with the company.

“We’re independent,” she says. “We don’t really have an agenda except to do really good quality theatre and open up the doors to all these actors and directors and creatives in Brisbane, so they don’t just piss off to the southern states or London,” Gledhill says matter-of-factly.

Gledhill’s own journey to making theatre in Brisbane comprises several acts. She completed an honours degree in theatre studies in Sydney in the early ‘90s and then honed her craft in Europe.

After returning to Australia and commencing a masters in arts management, she was awarded an Australian Government scholarship and moved to Italy, working closely with the late Nobel laureate Dario Fo, and helping to translate his works into English.

After several years abroad, Gledhill came home to Sydney and joined a commedia dell’arte troupe, before relocating to Brisbane 12 years ago.

Today, Gledhill runs her own youth acting school, Room to Play. She also specialises in intimacy direction, which informed several key scenes in Banging Denmark.

“When I first went into intimacy direction I thought, ‘Well,  this is a bit awkward. Isn’t the magic taken away?’ But the opposite happens. People start feeling so comfortable and supported and safe that they can then explode into themselves.

“You start with the mechanics, and so you’re doing a little dance. And slowly, as their story starts to slip into their bodies, they feel safe to really start to connect in new ways.”

Banging Denmark plays PIP Theatre, Milton, March 7-23. 


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