The richness of risk at La Boite

LB launch

For La Boite Theatre Company, 2015 marks its 90th birthday and what a year it is set to be, with new Artistic Director Chris Kohn proclaiming it as “a diverse program that will excite your senses, ignite your imagination, engage your intellect and remind you of the unique power of live theatre”. Is it risky? Perhaps yes. But theatre is a risky business and embracing risk helps encourage artists to extend themselves. And so it is that La Boite promises patrons an eclectic mix of re-envisioned classics, new Australian stories, physical theatre and family favourites.

Half of the directors and writers in the 2015 season are women and over half of the actors appearing onstage are from non-Anglo backgrounds. “Prize Fighter” (which will feature as part of the 2015 Brisbane Festival) comes straight to mind, the story by La Boite Artist in Residence Future D Fidel of a refugee making a new home of asylum, in which Pacharo Mzembe (from QTC’s “The Mountaintop”)  plays a Brisbane boxer facing up to his past as a child soldier in war-torn Africa.  On the female front, playwright Julia-Rose Lewis is making her professional debut with “Samson”, a co-production with Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre. The show tells of four teenage friends in a country Queensland town dealing with the death of a friend and will feature a diverse cast headlined by “Puberty Blues” star Ashleigh Cummings.

The 2015 season also promises exciting adaptations building on classic, canonical works such as Euripides’ “Medea” (which will be Khon’s directorial debut for La Boite) an examination of gender and stereotypes starring the fierce, yet versatile Christen O’Leary, and also a suburban-Australian-set production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which will see Benjamin Schostakowski directing Emily Burton. And Maxine Mellor will adapt the children’s classic “The Wind in the Willows” as a one-man show, to be performed by “Play School” favourite and “Redfern Now” star Luke Carroll (seen recently in QTC’s “Black Diggers”).

The Indie program still features, albeit with less shows in its repertoire. Perhaps carrying on from the ponderings of “Pale Blue Dot”, Elbow Room’s “The Motion of Light in Water” is a sci-fi adventure/exploration of our past and possible future. And, in contrast to earlier dance and surrealist numbers “Maximum” and “Sunnytown”, is the sombre end-of-year work “The Chat”, a play written by former parole officer, James Brennan, as an exploration of notions of justice, forgiveness and truth.

Diversity is a key marker of excellence and one which reflects the nature of our ever-changing society, “a reflection, interrogation and celebration of the world outside its [theatre’s] walls”, as Kohn describes it. And La Boite’s 2015 season promises to be nothing if not diverse. Surely the theatre scene in this city is going to be all the richer for it.

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