The world premiere of Julia, based on Julia Gillard’s now world-famous misogyny speech, is one of the highlights of an exciting program that the Canberra Theatre Centre has planned for 2023. Canberrans will also be among the first to see Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Yuldea, and on March 12 they’ll be able to bid farewell to Irish band Clannad after an exceptional 50-year career.
Other highlights include the Canberra Comedy Festival in late March, a Bell Shakespeare production of Macbeth at The Playhouse from April 14-22, and Twelfth Night from October 13-21, also by Bell Shakespeare. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery, The Mousetrap, will play to Canberra audiences from 11-21 May. And young theatre-goers are not forgotten either, with a great program for the young and young at heart.
Julia promises to be an important and historic piece of Australian theatre, and locals have the opportunity to watch it less than three kilometres from Parliament House where the speech was delivered 10 years ago. Playing from 18-25 March, this co-production between Canberra Theatre Centre and Sydney Theatre Company stars Justine Clarke in the leading role.
Canberra Theatre Centre director, Alex Budd, says the centre is committed to producing new work of world class quality, and the world premiere in Canberra was the embodiment of this. He praised the acerbic wit and dramatic imagination of playwright, Joanna Murray-Smith, who brings the human story behind the speech to the stage.
Murray-Smith has described the play as “less a political judgement and more a forensic psychological investigation (into) who this woman really is beneath the public gaze”. Head of programming, Dan Clarke, is thrilled that Canberra audiences will be the first in Australia to see it.
Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Yuldea has its world premiere at the Sydney Opera House before transferring directly to Canberra from 20-22 July. This is Frances Rings’ first work as artistic director of Bangarra Dance Theatre and it is deeply personal, inspired by her family’s connection to the Aṉangu people of the Great Victorian Desert.
Brought to life in a stunning set design and featuring original music, this powerful work explores the abrupt moment when traditional life collided with industrial ambition. In South Australia’s Yuldea (Ooldea), Yuldi Kapi was a waterhole connecting important trading routes and dreaming stories for thousands of years. It was instrumental in the construction of the trans-Australian railway across the Nullarbor but the pressures placed on it resulted in it running dry in 1917.
Now memories lay scattered, along with the Aṉangu people, who are displaced from their home. Remnants of colonial progress, swallowed by sand. But the Aṉangu endure, determined to keep strong the knowledge systems of land and sky, honouring the eternal bonds of kinship between people and place.
“The story of Yuldea asks us to look beyond the narrative of our nation’s modernisation to reconcile a fraught history, and to affirm a future that no longer hides behind its truths but grows because of them,” says Rings.
Canberra Theatre Centre also has a great program planned for young people and their families, with productions that are spectacular, magical, thought-provoking, and playful. They include Mem Fox’s beloved Possum Magic (21-23 September) and Alison Lester’s delightful picture book-come-to-life, Are We There Yet? (20-22 July).
Air Play, a spectacular production with soaring balloons, swirling snow and umbrellas flying high, expertly balances comedy, sculpture, circus and theatre in a breathtaking homage to the power of air. Thrilling for people of all ages, it is coming up soon, from February 24 to 26.
There’s plenty for teens and tweens, with 360 ALLSTARS bringing street culture to the stage in a supercharged urban circus. Boasting a stellar cast of world champion and world record holding artists and athletes, it runs from 4-8 April.
Kids will also love the international smash hit, The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer (6-8 March) and, from the same creators, New Owner, a sensitive tale of friendship, loss and new beginnings, told through a dog’s eyes (9-11 March).
For tickets and information about the 2023 program, visit the Canberra Theatre Centre website.