State Theatre Co of SA gets busy with Frantic

State Theatre Company of South Australia is collaborating with with the UK theatre company, Frantic Assembly, on a new play by Andrew Bovell, Things I Know To Be True.

State Theatre Co of SA gets busy with Frantic

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According to State Theatre Company’s artistic director, Geordie Brookman, it’s been a four-year project that he has loved from start to finish.

The play tells the story of a family and marriage through the eyes of four grown siblings struggling to define themselves beyond their parents’ love and expectations.

Featuring Frantic Assembly’s celebrated physicality, Things I Know To Be True is described as a complex and intense study of the mechanics of a family that is both poetic and brutally frank.

Geordie said it had been a long-term process.

‘I got to know Frantic Assembly just after graduating from university many years ago and sat in on their rehearsals.

‘We kept in touch, and I assistant directed a production of theirs in 2011,Love Song, in London.

‘We resolved to find other possibilities for collaboration.’

An opportunity arose in 2012 when Geordie was talking to playwright Andrew Bovell who mentioned he was interested in doing something that would ‘stretch his approach and challenge his way of working’.

‘I suggested bringing Frantic Assembly on board,’ Geordie said.

Geordie then had a ‘swift and easy’ conversation with Frantic Assembly’s artistic director, Scott Graham, and the project took off.

There were two creative development processes: one in 2014 and one in 2015. So by the time it opens in Adelaide in May, it will have been a four-year process.

Geordie says that, while there are substantial additional costs in working through such a process, the benefits pay off in creating a work that should have a significant life.

He makes the point that the State Theatre Company is investing much more heavily in creative development across the board, in most productions.

'We think of it as investment now for pay-off later.'

He said the company had also set up a donor circle around the project to help fund the collaboration.

When the production tours to the UK in September through to November this year, it will be using a slightly different model.

‘We are creating it in Australia with an Australian cast. Then the physical/technical and creative team components go to the UK, and we remake the show with a new cast over there, it’s much more nimble this way.’

Several of the UK venues are investing in it, contributing to pre-production and taking on part of the risk. The relationship, says Geordie, ends up being much deeper than a simple venue hire relationship.

He said he was hoping other companies and festivals from around Australia would come to see it and pick it up.

‘We would very much like for the production to have another life in 2017.’

Things I Know To Be True plays in Adelaide in May–June, then Canberra later in June, before heading to the UK where it will play at the Lyric Hammersmith, Oxford Playhouse, Warwick Arts Centre, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse (Playhouse Theatre), The Lowry (Quays Theatre) and the Chichester Festival Theatre (Minerva Theatre).

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