Creative solution to classic drama

The cast of Ibsen's A Doll's House. Photo courtesy Andy Rasheed and STC.

An ensemble cast for State Theatre Company’s next two productions will put a new spin on two classics of the Western canon, A Doll’s House and Macbeth.

Distinguished Flinders alumnus, director Geordie Brookman, says the creative ensemble model will give the cast the chance to really work together in a deeper, collaborative and more direct way.

Geordie Brookman in rehearsal for A Doll’s House. Photo courtesy Andy Rasheed and STC.

“Both plays, in different ways, are about how we react to trauma and the creative ensemble is a great vehicle to produce the intensity and explore new ideas to innovate,” he says.

It’s the first time in almost 30 years that the South Australian professional arts company has engaged a resident ensemble of actors.

The group includes NIDA graduate Miranda Daughtry as Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and five other South Australian actors, AC Arts graduate Rashidi Edward, Anna Steen, Nathan O’Keefe, Dale March and another Flinders graduate Rachel Burke.

Other members of the creative ensemble are sound designer and composer, Flinders graduate Andrew Howard, who will be resident sound designer, Geoff Cobham as resident designer and resident artist Elena Carapetis, who will join Peter Carroll and Chris Pitman as guest actors in Macbeth (August-September).

A Doll’s House opens on Friday 30 June and runs until 22 July. Macbeth follows from 25 August to 16 September.

Director Geordie Brookman says Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s greatest dramas, will be staged with a contemporary urban setting.

The famous Scottish play will explore links with the brutality of modern warfare.

“Macbeth is an extraordinary study of what happens when trauma intersects with ambition. But most of all it is about the nightmare that lies before those who take life,” he says.

“Designer Victoria Lamb and I have created a thoroughly contemporary psychological landscape for the Macbeths to inhabit. There are no escape routes in this world and no avoiding the horror of one’s own self.”

The State Theatre Company ensemble lead roles will be Nathan O’Keefe (Things I Know To Be True, Betrayal) and Anna Steen (The Importance of Being Earnest, The 39 Steps) who will be joined by gues artists veteran actor Peter Carroll (Krapp’s Last Tape), Resident Artist Elena Carapetis and Christopher Pitman (Straight White Men, Othello).

The creative ensemble will continue past the next two productions with two more productions next year which is likely to include an original Australian play.

“I haven’t worked in this style before and the company hasn’t had a resident ensemble since the late 1980s,” says Mr Brookman, now in his fifth year as STC artistic director.

Flinders drama graduate Rachel Burke. Photo courtesy Andy Rasheed and STC.

“The overarching idea is that it will allow the plays to speak to each other in a much more direct way with the same cast working together for an extended period.”

The latest productions add to Geordie Brookman’s interest in researching the effects of film and television on stagecraft and acting.

“I am interested in the shift required in actors’ technical approach to acting since the rise of film and television, and how they’re rising to the challenge of meeting the type and level of emotional details audiences are used to in TV and film,” he says.

“It is more intense work on stage. It requires tremendous endurance to maintain that level of emotional naturalism night after night in a way that is more demanding than perhaps it was 30 or 40 years ago.”

STC artistic director Geordie Brookman is a Bachelor of Arts graduate and currently principal research fellow at Flinders Drama Centre.

He is the recipient of a distinguished alumni award from Flinders University and is currently working with fourth-year drama students at the Flinders Drama Centre.

Geordie Brookman is a director, dramaturg and producer who has worked at a long list of theatre companies in Australia, the UK and Asia, including Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, Malthouse Theatre, Griffin Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Brink Productions, Frantic Assembly and Arts Asia Pacific.

Rachel Burke graduated from Flinders in 2015 with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) and a University Medal. Since graduating, she has performed in Tartuffe (State Theatre Company / Brink Productions), Red Sky Morning (STC/Brink), The Young King (Slingsby), Speak Out (ActNow), My Beautiful Radio Station (Expressway Arts) and This Storm (The Unrest Cure) and was assistant director on Love and Information (Flinders Drama Centre).

The State Theatre Company’s new adaptation of Macbeth runs from 25 August to 16 September. 


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