By Ian Williams
A group of leading actors and artists are treating South Australian audiences to some bold new theatre-making this year under a special collaborative model designed to inspire innovation and creativity.
For the first time in more than 20 years, the State Theatre Company has formed an ensemble of resident actors and creative specialists with the freedom to explore their own theatrical house style.
Work on their first dramatic works is well underway with a modern interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s literary classic, A Doll’s House, due to premiere on June 30, followed by Macbeth on August 25. The creative team has also been given the go-ahead for a purpose-commissioned piece of new Australian writing to be premiered as part of the 2018 season.
Artistic director Geordie Brookman says the ensemble reinforces the State Theatre Company’s focus on artistic adventure, creative ambition and developing South Australian talent.
“Ensemble theatre making has been something that I’ve wanted to engage in for some time and it’s a testament to the entire team that the company is now in a strong enough position to consider it,” he says.
“It will bring long-term benefit to the company, artists and audiences for years to come.”
The acting team includes Anna Steen, Nathan O’Keefe, Rachel Burke, Dale March, Rashidi Edward and Miranda Daughtry, as well as Elena Carapetis who is also the resident artist. They are joined by designer and composer Andrew Howard and designer Geoff Cobham.
The ensemble has a two-year life, a timeframe which Elena says is unusual in the theatrical world.
“Normally an actor can gain and lose four or five jobs a year and you’re never quite sure what your next gig is going to be,” she says. “It means we can play at the top level and don’t need to go interstate or overseas to eke out a career. The ensemble will allow us to work together and challenge ourselves, and develop and grow as artists.”
Elena’s writing and acting skills have made her a popular choice at the State Theatre Company over the past 10 years.
She will be portraying Lady Macduff, among other parts, in the company’s production of Macbeth and is responsible for adapting A Doll’s House for the ensemble cast.
“One of the benefits of writing for an ensemble is that you know all of the actors and can really play to their different characteristics and strengths,” says Elena. “Relationships and connections are so important in any kind of creative endeavour.”