Excitement builds for extraordinary 2019 season

Next year promises to be a blockbuster year for theatre as the 2019 programs are released. Here’s an overview of some of what’s on offer.

Excitement builds for extraordinary 2019 season


The season will sparkle with world and Australian premieres. There will be a feast of new Australian works, including seven productions from Malthouse, Belvoir’sPacker & SonsandWinyanboga Yurringa,and the first commission from MTC’s NEXT STAGE writers' program —Golden Shield.

It’s good to see recent Australian works back for a second season. Smash hitBarbara and the Camp Dogs makes a joyous return to Belvoir before embarking on a national tour to be staged by Queensland Theatre and Melbourne Theatre Company. Following sold-out 2018 seasons and back by popular demand, Malthouse will stage Chunky Move’sCommon Ground, as well as Nakkiah Lui’s smash hitBlackie Blackie Brown. Nakkiah Lui’sBlack Is The New White returns, this time in WA, presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company.

Exciting collaborations include the QT and MTC epic co-production of the classic novelStorm Boy, in association with Dead Puppet Society; and Yve Blake’sFangirls, a Belvoir and Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival co-production in association with Australian Theatre for Young People. MTC and STC will co-produceCosì, Louis Nowra’s Australian classic directed by Sarah Goodes.Medea by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks is a new collaboration between BSSTC and WA Youth Theatre Company; BSSTC is also joining with STC to present overlooked Australian classicThe Torrents, starring Helpmann Award-winning comedian Celia Pacquola.Fully Sikh is a world premiere co-production by BSSTC and Barking Gecko Theatre Company. Adelaide-based theatre collective isthisyours? partners with State Theatre Company SA in an all-female reimagining of David Williamson’sThe Club.White Pearl is an exciting new Australian work co-produced by STC and the National Theatre of Parramatta .

Gender parity continues to be a focus for the theatre. Queensland Theatre shows industry leadership here with gender parity of writers and directors, and with four new women in artistic leadership positions, BSSTC Artistic Director Clare Watson is particularly proud that six out of the seven plays in the 2019 season have been written and will also be directed by women. Female directors making their presence felt in the 2019 programs include Sarah Goodes, Priscilla Jackman, Anne-Louise Sarks, Clare Watson, Jessica Arthur Paige Rattray, Imara Savage, Leticia Caceres, Janice Muller, Prue Clark and Tessa Leong.


The world premiere of Counting & Cracking kicks off Belvoir’s 2019 season — a game-changing new theatre work created in conjunction with CuriousWorks comprising theatre, music, dancing and food on a scale not seen before.

Belvoir’s program includes the 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Wolves, direct from a sold-out season at the Old Fitz Theatre; Kate Mulvany starring in the one-woman play,Every Brilliant Thing,Tom Wright’s new adaptation of Brecht’s masterpieceThe Life of Galileo,Tommy Murphy’s new playPacker & Sons, and Neil Armfield will direct Andrew Bovell’sThings I Know to be True. There is exciting new talent on display, with the likes of S. Shakthidharan, Yve Blake.

‘These shows are all about now and with one exception, they’ve all been written in the last five years’, says Belvoir Artistic Director, Eamon Flack. ‘We’ve picked them to give audiences some invigoration, some joy, some damn good human vibes in these perplexing times.’

Sydney Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Kip Williams promises a season that is ‘jam-packed with your favourite artists breathing new life into work by some of the world’s best writers’.

‘Sydney Theatre Company is the only place you can see the phenomenal Hugo Weaving and Pamela Rabe team up inCat on a Hot Tin Roof, whilst Nakkiah Lui follows her recent success with a new comedy that turns politics on its head withHow to Rule the World. The wonderful Caroline Brazier and Helen Thomson go head to head in the royal dramaMary Stuart, and Anita Hegh and Mandy McElhinney make an extraordinary duo in Lucy Kirkwood’s latest hit,Mosquitoes.’

Among the season highlights are Rebel Wilson in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Mia Wasikowska in a new interpretation ofLord of the Flies, while Celia Pacquola and Patrick Jhanur make their STC mainstage debuts alongside Hugo Weaving, Pamela Rabe, Helen Thomson, Caroline Brazier, Michelle Lim Dividson, Zahra Newman, Amber McMahon, Rahel Romahn, Hunter Page-Lochard, Geraldine Hakewill and Toby Schmitz and the world premiere ofBanging Denmark from the pen of Australian playwright and social commentator Van Badham.

Bell Shakespeare kicks off their season in March with Molière’s The Miser, directed by Artistic Director, Peter Evans and starring Bell Shakespeare’s founder John Bell as the stingy, avaricious and obnoxious Harpagon. The company will reveal its 2019 season program bit by bit, so stay tuned for updates.


Billed as a ‘season of dreamers’, next year promises to be Queensland Theatre’s biggest yet with an unprecedented five world premieres. Artistic Director Sam Strong says, ‘We begin with the world premiere ofHydra, award-winning playwright Sue Smith’s portrait of writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston. This is followed by the world premiere of the most provocative play to hit the Australian stage in years,City of Gold by electric young actor Meyne Wyatt. Next, in a coup for Queensland, we will be home to not just the world premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s latest play, but her world directorial debut, with the wickedly funnyL’Appartement. Add to this the world premiere of hilarious new musicalFangirls by the unfairly talented Yve Blake, and the world premiere of award-winning Brisbane writer Merlynn Tong’s adaptation ofAntigone, and you have Queensland Theatre’s most urgent, ambitious, and entertaining season yet.’


Black Swan State Theatre Company’s artistic director Clare Watson continues her daring, imaginative programming, describing the 2019 season as ‘a collection of characters and stories that explore belonging through classic plays and contemporary work, old tales told anew and some of the best, freshest voices in Australian theatre’.

Pulitzer-winning Our Town by Thornton Wilder kicks off the year as part of Perth Festival and staged under the stars in the State Theatre Centre Courtyard with a mixed cast of professional actors and community. Julia Hales’You Know We Belong Together, a co-production with Perth Festival and DADAA, is back by popular demand. Epic Aussie dramaWater is a world premiere work by Jane Bodie and marks Clare Watson’s first commission as Artistic Director.


Malthouse Theatre’s Season 2019 explores ghost stories where history permeates the present. Tim Winton’s award-winningCloudstreet will be brought to life in a rarely performed five-hour staging directed by Matthew Lutton, Artistic Director and Co-CEO of Malthouse Theatre. Lutton also promises claustrophobia and horror in the first on-stage adaptation of Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novelWake in Fright. More fear and fright will follow when Lutton directs David Greig’s adaptation of Stanisław Lem’sSolaris. The show will also tour to Edinburgh to form part of the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company’s 2019/20 season. This world premiere features a stellar international cast, including Eamon Farren (Twin Peaks).

Aussie traditions are unravelled in the world premiere of Zoey Dawson’s comedic satireAustralian Realness; Meow Meow will whip us into a Christmas frenzy in the Australian premiere ofApocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born; while Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard’s provocative comedy,Underground Railroad Gamehas been heralded byThe New York Times as one of the best, most influential plays of the last 25 years.

Another world premiere, The Temple, takes us on a comedic weekend getaway with five misfits. Nicola Gunn, Ash Flanders, Mish Grigor, Aljin Abella and Marcus McKenzie are collectively writingThe Temple with Irish director Gavin Quinn. Modern truth-telling is in the spotlight when a marriage is pulled apart by mistrust, paranoia and violence in Alison Croggon’sMy Dearworthy Darling, directed and designed by THE RABBLE.

Melbourne Theatre Company’s season features ‘challenging, brilliant and entertaining works that speak to our times with great urgency and in ways only possible through theatre’, says Brett Sheehy.

The season opens with Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, starring Miriam Margolyes, directed by Dean Bryant. Melita Jurisic plays the irrepressible Mae West opposite Diana Glenn as Diane Arbus in the world premiere ofArbus & West by Stephen Sewell, directed by MTC Associate Director Sarah Goodes; and Iain Sinclair directs Arthur Miller’s masterpieceA View from the Bridge, featuring Daniela Farinacci and Ivan Donato.

The Violent Outburst That Drew Me to You by Finegan Kruckemeyer and directed by Prue Clark stars Harry Tseng. Kat Stewart and Peter Kowitz take to the stage in Simon Stephens’ latest Broadway and West End hit,Heisenberg, in an Australian premiere production directed by Tom Healey.

Simon Phillips directs an Australian premiere stage adaptation ofShakespeare in Love, featuring a Aljin Abella, Laurence Boxhall and Adam Murphy.

Nakkiah Lui’s hit Black is the New White arrives in Melbourne; Nadine Garner returns to the stage under the direction of Pamela Rabe in the Australian premiere of Anna Ziegler’sPhotograph 51; and the season closes with Kander and Ebb’s Tony Award-winningKiss of the Spider Woman, starring music theatre legend Caroline O’Connor, Adam Jon Fiorentino, Natalie Gamsu and Bert LaBonte directed by Dean Bryant.


State Theatre Company SA’s 2019 season flaunts a mix of comedies, sweeping epics and reimagined Australian classics led by old and new faces both on and off the stage.

‘The 2019 season brings together all the exciting elements that we’ve been working so hard on at State Theatre Company over the last few years’, says outgoing Artistic Director Geordie Brookman. ‘The year bristles with the power and joy of pure storytelling and I hope it transports and delights thousands of South Australians throughout the year to come.’

Brookman will mark the end of his seven-year tenure with a one man adaptation of George Orwell’sAnimal Farm created especially for Renato Musolino.

Bring on 2019!