A number of the plays are female-centric or have female protagonists 

We are a theatre with a big heart

The New Theatre launched its 2017 season on Monday 5 December to a theatre packed with actors, directors, sponsors, donors, volunteers and supporters.

“I would like to thank the management committee, Artistic Director, Louise Fischer, and our wonderful team of play assessors who put together a consistent and cohesive program that reflect our values,” said Rosane McNamara, President of the theatre.

Seven extraordinary plays were presented for the 2017 season, spanning comedy and drama, revivals and premiers; showcasing the themes of love, rebellion, sexuality and obsession, Hollywood double standards, rock stardom and small town politics, in what is set to be an exciting, entertaining and diverse season celebrating the best of Australian and international writing.

“A number of the plays are female-centric or have female protagonists,” said Louise Fischer, Artistic Director. “We are a theatre with a big heart” she added. “We are passionate about giving our emerging and established artists a chance to display their work, and have their talents seen and appreciated,” she added.

The 2017 season commences with The Little Dog Laughed (7 February – 4 March) by Douglas Carter Beane, directed by Alice Livingstone. ‘A play with a message’, this modern comedy of manners is a scathing attack on Hollywood stereotypes and double standards, and will be shown during the Mardi Gras Festival.

This theatre has been a proud participant of Mardi Gras for many years,” said Alice. “This is a play I have wanted to do for a number of years,” she added.

The first play of the season, with roles for two men and two women, auditions will be held in the coming weeks, said Alice. See the website for details of the audition notice.

The second play of the season, Consensual (14 March – 15 April) by Evan Placey, directed by Johann Walraven, is an Australian premier and a controversial, thought provoking story about sex and consent from one of Britain’s most talented writers. “It’s bound to divide opinion,” said Louise.

“There’s compassion for both the victim and the perpetrator,” said Johann. “As a teacher, you do develop a rapport with your students beyond just academic learning. A relationship can develop and the lines can become very tricky,” he said.

Semiautobiographical, The Chapel Perilous (25 April – 27 May), by Dorothy Hewett, is a play with a touch of vaudeville. Directed by Carissa Licciardello, fresh from the Directors’ Showcase at NIDA, The Chapel Perilous is a coming of age piece, and an iconic Australian work. “It’s a gutsy, entertaining, energetic, fun and exciting production,” said Carissa. “It feels so fresh to me and so relevant. It really resonates with me,” she added.

The Sydney premier of The Clean House (6 June – 8 July) by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Fiona Hallenan-Barker brings forth a dark comedy about love, sex, death and cleaning. “I wanted to create something beautiful,” said Fiona. “And this passes the Bechdel test of more than one woman on stage, they talk to each other, and not about men.” she added.

After The Dance (8 August – 9 September) by Terence Rattigan, directed by Giles Gartnell–Mills, of Sweeney Todd fame, is the story of a young idealist coming to terms with the reality of growing up and leaving a self-destructive lifestyle behind. Premiering in 1939 and experiencing a recent revival both in the UK and Australia, this piece stands the test of time. “These are some of the most beautifully layered and detailed characters,” said Giles. “It’s an incredibly structured play. That’s why it can be revived,” he added.

A second Sydney premier of the season, Birdland (3 October – 4 November) by Simon Stephens, directed by Anthony Skuse, is a sexy and revealing exploration of fame. The lead character is a rock star, everyone knows his face and his name. He can have anything he wants, do anything, go anywhere. But soon the fame and stardom starts messing with his head and the pressure starts to get to him. “Birdland is an investigation of celebrity, art and art making. I am excited to be working on a Simon Stephens play,” said Anthony, who previously directed Punk Rock, also written by Simon Stephens.

The final offering is an Aussie tale aptly titled Australia Day (14 November – 16 December) by Jonathan Biggins, directed by Louise Fischer. Exploring themes of self-censorship and racism, and with a cast of only six, Australia Day is set in a fictional town where preparations are under way for the annual Australia Day celebrations, and the organising committee are disagreeing over politics, patriotism and progress. “It’s subversively funny and there are many twists. It’s just delicious,” said Louise. “I’m really excited to be doing this. We look for great Australian work each year and it’s something we are very proud of.”

With something for everyone, it looks to be a stellar year in 2017 at the New Theatre.

Season tickets and tickets for all plays are available now from the New Theatre. www.newtheatre.org.au