Live horror, premium seats in the middle of the stage, sword swallowers and a production inspired by violent crimes including the murder of Wollongong newsreader Ross Warren will be part of Merrigong Theatre Company’s 2018 season.
The not-for-profit Wollongong company launched their program at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday night, with several productions pushing boundaries like never before while popular favourites were also set to make a return.
Merrigong CEO and artistic director Simon Hinton said the 2018 program comes under the banner “You Belong Here” with the aim to embrace the diversity of the Illawarra community and make theatre accessible.
He said they’re bringing to the stage a wide range of voices and stories, and creating a space where difference is both valued and celebrated.
Virginia Gay (Winners and Losers, Cram) steps in the shoes of Doris Day as the lead in Calamity Jane, a comic musical where theatre-goers can choose to purchase premium seating which is in the middle of the stage. The idea is the viewer sits at a table in a saloon watching the action happen all around them.
Another surreal experience will be when a horror movie comes to life on stage, with the Swedish production of Horror. The show will unite illusions, mime, movement and music while there will be lots of blood [WARNING: Video below contains graphic scenes].
“There’s almost no speaking in it whatsoever, there’s all these creepy scenes but not for the faint hearted,” Hinton told the Illawarra Mercury. “It’s pretty creepy.”
Making a triumphant return is the Spiegeltent in April with a similar program structure of comedy, music, family shows complemented by the headline production of Limbo.
It’s a show to whisk audiences into a netherworld of dark and dangerous circus-cabaret with contortionists, acrobatics, fire-breathers and sword swallowers – more “spectacular” that this year’s disco production Velvet said Hinton.
Another big show for Merrigong is the Lost Boys, a commissioned work delving into a malevolent surf culture of homophobia and violence. Its inspiration drew from a series of murders during the 1980s including that of Wollongong newsreader Ross Warren.
Hinton said the play explores how perpetrators go on with their lives and how guilt becomes part of them.
“It also shows how far we’ve come since the ‘80s and yet how far we haven’t,” Hinton said. “Thirty years later not only are the perpetrators of those crimes are in our community having not been brought to justice.”
Families are not forgotten with a stage adaption of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine, children’s comics The Listies return with The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark and an extravagant puppet show called Trash Alchemy are on the program.
Traditionalists will love the return of Madame Butterfly presented by Opera Australia, while political satirists The Wharf Revue will return to poke fun of our leaders.
Taha, the award-winning, lyrical and nuanced story of the life of acclaimed Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali will be performed in English and a special show in Arabic, appealing to many of the Illawarra’s residents from middle eastern backgrounds.
And for those who like seeing something left of field, MerrigongX will bring to life works in development plus innovative and independent productions.
For more visit: www.merrigong.com.au