They Divided the Sky Launch

Last week I headed up to Sydney to announce a new DSE production, They Divided the Sky. This production will be on at Belvoir in June of this year as part of the 25A intiative.

 It’s a beautiful project that will be created with performers Nikki Shiels and Alexander England, performers I first met ten years ago when they performed in my Peer Gynt. Nikki is a founding member of DSE and created such a memorable Nora for my Dollhouse, as well as being part of the ensemble for our last major project M+M. Nikki of course has been creating beautiful work for some of the best directors in the country in both Melbourne and Sydney in recent years. Alexander has been wowing television audiences – a particular favourite of mine was his role in A Beautiful Lie, the ABCTV adaptation of Anna Karenina – and the soon-to-be released film Little Monsters has got quite a buzz around it -but he’s also a theatre animal of the first order. Since performing in Peer Gynt, Alexander was an integral part of both development processes for M+M and I’ve been looking for a project that would tempt him back to the stage since.  I love working with new artists, of course, but there is also a special pleasure in returning to the room with old comrades, deepening relationships and working from an ever-more dense understanding and appreciation of each other’s craft and world-view.

Joining the creative team will be the incomparable designer Robert Cousins. Together, we are stimulated by the challenges of embracing the “dogme” philosophy that 25A has imposed. Amelia Lever-Davidson is a brilliant young lighting designer who has been winning awards and traveling the globe these past few years, I’m really looking forward to introducing her work to Sydney audiences. And James Paul, who has been a very important member of my core team for a few years now, will be designing sound.

Belvoir’s 25A is a great initiative to re-open the Downstairs Theatre at Belvoir to independent artists, the first season looks great and was enthusiastically received. It looks like a very important addition to our theatre ecology and we all hope it will thrive and evolve.

I’ll write a little more about They Divided the Sky separately, it’s a beautiful novel by Christa Wolf (excellently translated by Luise von Flotow, if you want to dive into it before seeing our show), and the project has a very interesting provenance. More soon but fair warning: it’s a small venue and a short season, so book early if you don’t want to miss it.



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M+M Green Room Awards

M+M was the recipient of Green Room Awards for Ensemble and Sound/Music in the Independent Theatre category on Monday night. The award for Sound/Music was collected by Darrin Verhagen, while Josh Price, Johnny Carr and Emily Tomlins were on hand to accept the Ensemble Award.

The complete list of awards can be found here. DSE was particularly pleased to celebrate the success of Marg Horwell, who picked up a Costume and Set Award for Savages. We were also proud to see our stablemates from MTC’s NEON Festival, The Sovereign Wife, as well as our friends at Theatre Works and Melbourne Festival being handsomely acknowledged; 2013, was an incredible year for theatre here in Melbourne.

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M+M nominated for Green Room Awards

Last night M+M was nominated for four 2013 Green Room Awards in the Independant Theatre section. The nominations are for Production, Ensemble, Set and Costume Design and Sound/Music. In addition, the wonderful Emily Tomlins was nominated in the Female Performer category for her body of work across the year.

The complete list of nominations can be found here.

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M+M Melbourne Festival

Today we began rehearsals for M+M.

Tickets can be bought online at Theatre Works

Or  Melbourne Festival.

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The irrepressible Daniel Clarke, with a galaxy of famous friends, are putting together a fabulous one-off. On Saturday the 27th July, Theatre Works will be hosting a fundraiser, an evening called “Abundance”, to raise funds for three companies: Daniel Schlusser Ensemble, The Rabble and Little Ones Theatre.

You can buy your ticket to abundance here.



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NEON Launched

The Melbourne Theatre Company has launched NEON. NEON is a festival of independent theatre being housed in the Lawler Theatre at the MTC in Southbank between May and July. Daniel Schlusser Ensemble will be creating a new work, Menagerie to kick off the season.

You can view the full digital program.

Or go to the NEON website.

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M and M Design Preview

image by Anna Cordingley

As part of the final development phase of our adaptation of The Master and Margarita, Anna Cordingley has sketched some roughs for the stage design. These beautiful sketches and a collage of some of the inspiration give a sneak preview of what we have been generalising as the “verticality” of the piece. Regular viewers will have noticed in previous productions a commitment to the horizontal frame, Peer Gynt being the best example of this. The physical limitations and political framing of the body inhabiting a wide flat space has been an ongoing strategy. With this production, the viewers are invited to “look up” and although it is ambiguous whether the frames are more or less restrictive for the performers, it does point to an embracing of the magical and escapist elements of the story.

image by Anna Cordingley

The punk-band on the roof is a reference to the Russian activist band Pussy Riot, who are in our minds this week as two of the members of that band are currently in prison facing up to seven years for staging a “punk prayer” in an Orthodox cathedral.

design references compiled by Anna Cordingley

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M and M at Theatre Works


photo by Daisy Noyes

The Master and Margarita development showing was presented at Theatre Works on February 18. After two weeks of mainly nitty-gritty scripting and character-mapping, some solid work on design with Anna Cordingley, fearless experiments with Michael Pulsford playing his demonic percussion and Emma Valente hurling lights around the room, we knuckled down over the final few days to present an”open rehearsal” style presentation.

photo by Daisy Noyes

This, as far as we know, unique way of showing the results of the fortnight was a blast for all; dangerous, alive, unpredictable. Even if it did give the impression that the dominant aesthetic choice was “New York Meat-Packing District, circa 1972” (blame Edwina Wren for the spot-on Patti Smith homage), this form of presentation allowed for fluidity, instant editing and a pretty good way of allowing an audience into the conversation. Aside from the unfortunate incident when we attempted to literalise the phrase “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” and almost gassed the audience, the evening was well received and Daniel Clarke – GM of Theatre Works and our archangel on this project – was well-armed to go forth and seek co-producers. We are optimistic that this production will find a home in 2013.

photo by Daisy Noyes

Go to the production page for The Master and Margarita for more info, press coverage and interview links.

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Der Theatermacher launched

The 2012 Malthouse Theatre season was launched last night including the announcement of Daniel Schlusser’s production of The Histrionic (der Theatermacher).

The details and subscription options can be found at  Malthouse Theatre.

The season is summarised in today’s The Age.

2012 subscriptions are also on sale for the Sydney Theatre Company season.



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The Dollhouse tickets on sale

As of today, tickets for The Dollhouse are on sale from  fortyfivedownstairs.

Book either via the website

or by phone: 03 9662 9966

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