Best on Stage

These six productions span the spectrum of theatrical performance. From dance and musical comedy to ambitious adaptations and opera with a theremin, your 2018 Best On Stage nominees have had to get good at finding their way off stage through a thicket of thrown roses and deafening ovations. It was hell narrowing it down to only six, now it’s over to you.

 

Right Here. Right Now.

With the community at its core, Right Here. Right Now. curated by Urban Theatre Projects and Blacktown Arts, is a site-specific, interactive experience that reveres the contemporary story above all. Exploring the complexities of modern living through three and half hours of vibrant performance, installations, food and music, the event premiers shows like Team Trampoline, The Nightline and Memories of the Past. Providing platforms for artists both emerging and established, Right Here. Right Now. brazenly showcases a collection of work that reflects and redefines a city that refuses to sit still.

Photo via Urban Theatre Projects Facebook

Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death

Provocative, warped and recklessly funny, Nakkiah Lui is a powerhouse of writerly perception and wit, her newest work Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death, a story that mixes satirical poignancy with Tarantino-esque bloodlust. After discovering a mass grave of her indigenous ancestors, Jacqueline Black, a quiet archeologist, is transformed into a new-age superhero and empowered to seek revenge upon and kill the descendents of the white men who perpetrated the massacre. Premiering at Sydney Theatre Company, the production combines striking design with razor sharp performances to yield moments that are gritty yet tender and allow long-stifled voices to speak freely.

Photo via Sydney Theatre Company

Dark Emu

A response to Bruce Pascoe’s illuminating book, Dark Emu by Bangarra Dance Company is an innovative work that reframes attitudes towards and legitimises the traditional land practices of pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians; practices that have historically been dismissed. Artistic Director, Stephen Page’s quest to debunk the colonial myths that were used to justify Indigenous dispossession is a courageous pursuit. It is because of this ambition that the work is such a triumph. The work reveals itself through a  series of choreographed stories; the dazzling movement of the dancers against low light and an undulating soundscape mesmerising audiences. Captivating and raw, Dark Emu questions history and reconstructs it’s meaning.

Photo: Daniel Boud

Yarramadoon: The Musical

Taking us back to the year 2004, Yarramadoon: The Musical, written and directed by Hannah & Eliza Reilly, is a hilariously cringy musical-comedy that vividly captures a time where Australian Idol was prime TV viewing and butterfly clips were fashion-forward. The story follows  a 16 year old girl, Sally, who wishes to leave the confines of her semi-rural existence and start afresh in the big city. Exploring the challenges of teenhood, rural life, women’s rights and of course the school formal, this is a jam-packed hour spectacular at Belvoir Street Theatre that is as daggy as it is loveable.

The Harp in the South

The Harp in the South is acclaimed playwright Kate Mulvany’s 2-part tilt at adapting Ruth Park’s iconic Australian trilogy – Missus, The Harp in the South and Poor Man’s Orange – and didn’t she nail it? Playing to rave reviews across the board, this ambitious production follows the lives of the Darcy family of Plymouth St, Surry Hills over the course of thirty years. Through their moving story we are exposed to all the muck and splendour of early-twentieth century Sydney, a classic brought masterfully to the stage by Mulvany and Director Kip Williams.

Photo via Sydney Theatre Company

The Howling Girls

The Howling Girls is an exploration of the figurative and literal salience of the voice. It was sparked into being by the story of five New York women who believed inhaled debris from the collapsing world trade towers to be lodged in their throats, only to discover upon surgical examination that there was no obstruction at all. The production is driven by the soprano of Jane Sheldon, a chorus of young voices, theremin, keyboards and electroacoustic elements, and through sensory immersion seeks to eschew the cerebral and commune directly with the body.   

Photo: Zan Wimberley