Sydney Theater Company announces Act 1 of its 2022 season
As many performing arts companies enter 2022 in hopes of a new lock-free “normal” and annual schedules, the Sydney Theater Company has decided to stick with the 2021 formula and simply announce the Act. 1, with six productions between January and May.
“This is largely due to the volume of work we produce in any given year, so we decided to have it as risk mitigation. We had to commit to our 2022 program quite a long time ago and at that point that was the best course of action, ”said STC Artistic Director Kip Williams.
The program features STC’s debut of Courtney Act in the Noel Coward film Joyful spirit, the return of Dorian Gray’s photo, and a co-production with Bangarra Dance Theater.
The season starts in January with Triple X of Ice Chase, a co-production with the Queensland Theater, which premiered in Brisbane in March 2021, receiving a five-star review from Spotlight.
The part was commissioned by QT and developed at STC as part of its Rough Draft program. It was originally slated to operate in 2020 for QT and STC, but COVID struck while it premiered in Brisbane in March 2020 and it was postponed for a year. It was then scheduled to come to Sydney in July / August 2021, but this season also had to be canceled due to the lockdown. “Three times lucky,” says Williams.
Chase is an Australian writer based in New York. Triple X, in which she stars, offers a dissection of gender and sexuality in the 2020s. Scotty lives the dream. He has a multi-million dollar loft in downtown Manhattan, a high-flying job on Wall Street, and a rich and perfect bride. But then he meets trans performance artist Dexie and finds out he wants more from life.
“It’s amazing work. It’s hilarious, moving and groundbreaking in what he’s about, and it’s just a superbly crafted piece of writing and design, ”said Williams. “The whole thing is a knockout, so I’m so excited the audience can finally see this.”
The opening in January is also Wudjang: Not the Stept, a co-production between STC and Bangarra Dance Theater, which will be presented as part of the Sydney Festival. This is the first time that the two companies have collaborated. Wudjang is directed and choreographed by Bangarra Artistic Director Stephen Page, and co-written with playwright Alana Valentine.
“Stephen and I have been talking about making a work together for five years now, and those conversations have spanned many projects,” says Williams. “Part of the conversation grew out of a formal investigation Stephen undertook in his work to begin incorporating more spoken words and texts into the plays. The phenomenal success he has had with Bennelong – as a narrative and biographical work – created a formal structure for how he might investigate another narrative and what he achieved is Wudjang, which is a very personal job for him.
“The story takes place in the land of Yagambeh, where his family is from, and centers on the tale of a group of workers who discover Wudjang’s bones while digging for a dam. This remarkable narrative unfolds that examines contemporary experiences and connections to the past, connection to language, connection to storytelling, and the challenge of the First Nations experience in Australia in the 21st century. It’s a remarkable work and an epic work too with 17 dancers and four musicians and five actors so it’s going to be a pretty amazing piece.
In February, gRand Horizons comes back on stage. Jessica Arthur’s production of Bess Wohl’s compassionate comedy, starring Linda Cropper and John Bell as a couple who decide to divorce after 50 years of marriage – to the horror of their family – opened in June 2021 to d ‘excellent reviews but the season has been shortened by Sydney’s Greater COVID Restrictions.
Dorian Gray’s photo, with Eryn Jean Norvill, who was due to return for an encore season after an enthusiastic response when it opened in November 2020, was also affected by the recent restrictions and had to be postponed. He will now play from late March to early May.
“When we originally planned to bring it back this year, it turned out to be one of the best-selling shows in years, so we’re excited to be able to bring it back to audiences,” said Williams.
White pearl by Anchuli Felicia King will also reach the STC scene after delays. Co-produced with Riverside’s National Parramatta Theater, the insanely funny comedy opened in Parramatta in October 2019 and was scheduled as part of STC’s Act 2 season 2021, but had to be postponed.
In March, STC Associate Director Paige Rattray directed the 1941 comedy by Noël Coward Joyful spirit in which socialite and novelist Charles Condomine invites eccentric clairvoyant Madame Arcati to his home for a shoot in the hopes of extracting material for her next book. Instead, he finds himself haunted by his witty, wicked and capricious first wife, Elvira, who returns as a ghost and does all she can to turn his marriage upside down to his new bride Ruth. To make things even more fun, while Charles can see and hear Elvira, she remains invisible to Ruth.
Drag star Courtney Act will make her STC debut as Elvira in a cast that also includes Matt Day, Nancy Denis, Tracy Mann, Megan Wilding and Brigid Zengeni.
Courtney Act rose to prominence in the first season of Australian Idol in 2003. His many credits include season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2014 and Dancing with the stars in Australia in Australia in 2019. She has also given several cabaret shows in Australia, but Joyful spirit marks her acting debut on the main stage.
“It came out of a conversation with the show’s director, Paige Rattray, who had a particular vision of how to direct this production of Joyful spirit that says a lot about the labor camp spirit, ”says Williams. “There are a number of sexist actors in the cast. After Paige came up with the idea, she did a Zoom reading of [the play] with Courtney – and I’ve never seen Paige so horny in my life! So it’s a great match: Courtney and Noël Coward.
For more information visit the Sydney Theater Company website.