The Australian premiere season of shake n stir’s Tequila Mockingbird opened in Brisbane on Wednesday night. In the lead up to the premiere Aussie Theatre’s Bobbi-Lea Dionysius caught up with Director Michael Futcher to chat about the new work.
From the team well-known for their innovative classic adaptations, shake n stir raise the bar with their latest offering Tequila Mockingbird that has been developed into a new work, inspired by themes, characters and relationships from the classic Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
According to Director Michael Futcher the original Pulitzer Prize novel – which dealt with issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South – was used as a kick-off point for a new Australianised production. The primary plot arc is very similar; an outsider, a foreign doctor of Indian decent, finds himself in court soon after arriving in a small rural town, after an alleged incident with a local girl.
Futcher says, “It’s interesting to explore the modern Australian attitude towards race, to put a microscope on the town, and to see the ripple effect”. The themes in the original work are universal as is illustrated by the fact that racial issues are very much on the agenda just now in Australia and Futcher went on to add that, “Racism in Australia at the moment is more about fear than racial superiority.”
The writer of Tequila Mockingbird and shake & stir’s Co-Artistic Director Nelle Lee, says that Tequila Mockingbird “still deals with racial intolerance but uncovers a more cleverly disguised, almost socially acceptable form of racism lurking just under the surface in Australian society; Racism that is often downgraded and accepted as us being our ocker, larrikin ‘Australian’ selves”.
Futcher hopes that audiences will be provoked into thinking further about their passive acceptance of racism, “We’re really asking Australians to examine what responsibility do we have to take in society for this outrageous behaviour. Do we watch it happen as bystanders or do something about it”.
Along with shake & stir theatre company’s Artistic Directors, Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij, Tequila Mockingbird will also feature some of Queensland’s most respected actors including Bryan Probets, Barbara Lowing, and emerging actor, Shannon Haegler.
The Australian premiere season of Tequila Mockingbird opens at Cremorne Theatre in the Queensland Performing Arts Centre on 21 August and runs until 7 September.
For more information, see QPAC’s website: www.qpac.com.au/event/Tequila_Mockingbird_13.aspx