Let the festivities commence! Queensland Theatre’s 2023 season

It’s time for some fun at Queensland Theatre with the launch of the 2023 Season, a joyful selection of plays designed to bring the community together for some thrilling entertainment. 

Artistic Director Lee Lewis unveiled plans for the year, featuring both new and seasoned playwrights spanning a wide range of stories:

Our 2023 Season promises moments of wild surprise, radical hope, intriguing gentleness, bliss, joy, spiritual wonder, and the warmth of being with a community of people who all love sharing great stories. After the speed bumps of the last two years, we’re putting our foot down on the pedal and are heading towards that light at the end of the tunnel — a huge season of inspiring plays.

To kick things off with a smile, David Williamson’s wickedly funny Family Values will open on January 28. Directed by Lee Lewis with Peter Kowitz (Supernova, Crownies) as the beleaguered patriarch, Williamson’s play tackles controversial issues with the heated tension only family gatherings can provoke. Running through to February 18, it casts a fierce yet comical eye over deeply divisive topics with insight and wit. 

Academy Award nominee Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) brings vulnerability, authenticity, and candour to the stage on June 17 with her adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s New York Times bestselling book Tiny Beautiful Things, which runs through to July 8. Directed here by Lee Lewis with Mandy McElhinny (Love Child, The Glass Menagerie) in the lead role, Tiny Beautiful Things follows the life of Cheryl, a mother, writer and ex-heroin user, who now spends her days offering strangers advice by way of her adopted online identity, Sugar, an anonymous agony aunt. 

“Vardalos manages to capture Cheryl’s raw vulnerability in this beautifully nuanced adaptation” noted Lee Lewis, “We’re thrilled to be bringing this to life at Queensland Theatre and can’t wait for our audiences to experience it.” 

Nathan Maynard’s groundbreaking play At What Cost? comes to Queensland Theatre on May 25, expertly exploring themes of identity and history through the eyes of Tasmania’s First Nations community. Traversing past and present, Maynard’s drama — directed by Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Associate Isaac Drandic — brings the struggles of Tasmania’s First Nations peoples to the fore as they try to protect their culture and land. 

“This ambitious play from Nathan Maynard will keep audiences rapt with its passion and insight, while delving into pertinent issues affecting First Nations communities,” Lee Lewis said. 

Esteemed Shakespearean director, Damian Ryan (Taming of the Shrew) brings a contemporary twist to his adaptation of As You Like It, which runs from April 15 to May 13. Ryan brings this energetic classic to life, injecting a new vigour into a tale of love, lust, villains and foes. 

As You Like It instills an infectious sense of joy in audiences,” Lee Lewis said. 

“This is Shakespeare for our times, injected with music, humour, and vivacity to lure viewers out of their shells for a joyous evening of theatre”. 

After being delayed due to flood damage, Qui Nquyen’s fast-paced romance Vietgone finally opens on November 4, rounding off the season with bucket-loads of action and a good pinch of fun. Directed by Daniel Evans and Ngǫc Phan, Vietgone follows protagonists Quang and Tong who — having met in an Arkansas arrival camp after being evacuated from the Vietnam war — travel through the dusty heart of America. Love blooms, making this a perfect rom-com for Christmas. 

“Ngyuen’s action-packed play epitomises our mood for 2023 –wild, witty, and raucous”, Lee Lewis said. “It’s the perfect way to round off the season on a high.” 

Another casualty of flood damage, Hannah Belanszky’s don’t ask what the bird look like, opens on August 19 after being pushed back a season. Selected as finalist for Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2018-19, Belanszky’s story traverses themes of heritage and reconnection with a subtle humour as it follows city girl Joan’s journey into the remote Australian outback in search of answers about the past. Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Elder Roxanne McDonald and directs this intimate work alongside Lee Lewis. 

Ryan Enniss brings his innovative play Drizzle Boy — winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2022-23 — to the stage from March 11 to March 25. Drizzle Boy depicts life and love through the eyes of our autistic protagonist as he navigates a world that can never truly understand him. Directed by Daniel Evans, this is a story that both challenges and charms as it takes the audience on a journey through the world of neurodiversity. 

Offering both cheer and warm humour is Melanie Tait’s The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race, which runs from October 7 to 28. Tait’s comedy takes audiences straight to the heart of rural Australia, following the lives of local women Dr Penny, Nikki, Barb, and Bev as they prepare for Appleton’s annual Potato Race. Directed by Priscilla Jackman with Rachel Gordon (The Almighty Sometimes, The Real Thing) in the cast, The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race shows that when women are determined and work together, extraordinary things can happen! 

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said Queensland Theatre’s 2023 season would showcase a diverse suite of stories brought to the stage with warmth, laughter and emotion. 

“A stellar line-up of performers, artists and creatives is set to bring Queensland Theatre’s 2023 season to the stage, presenting thought-provoking works including At What Cost, a ground-breaking story of identity, truth and Country, and the world premieres of don’t ask what the bird look like from an exciting new First Nations voice, Hannah Belanszky, as well as Ryan Enniss’ Drizzle Boy, winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2022-23,” Minister Enoch said. 

“Queensland Government investment in Queensland Theatre supports delivery of our ten-year roadmap, Creative Together and realises its priorities of elevating First Nations arts, driving social change, strengthening our communities, sharing our stories and celebrating our storytellers.” 

Looking back on the past year, Lee Lewis touched on the stoic determination of theatre staff and the wider community:

As Queensland Theatre’s 2022 season draws to a close, we reflect on the dynamic, diverse, and authentic drama we’ve provided our audiences — often despite challenges thrown our way with flooding and COVID infections. 2022 has been a wild ride (both onstage and off!) and we can’t wait to leave that behind and delve into the delicious stories we’ve curated for our coming season. We’re bringing space travel, balloons, shepherds, ninjas, great love, cups of tea, ghosts, cowboys, samosas, mysteries, school lunches and deep friendships. These plays are created by directors who love using their theatre magic to ensure you never want to look away… We aim to put many smiles on your faces!

For more information, visit queenslandtheatre.com.au

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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