A brand-new theatre company promises to burst on the scene in 2023 with a protest picket in one hand, and a palmful of biodegradable glitter in the other.
A new beginning is on the horizon for 2023. A year which brings hope for change and forward momentum after the tumult of the years past. From the ashes of wildfires, pandemics and passive politicians comes theatrePUNK co. Headed up by Artistic Director el waddingham and their ensemble of bold performers, playwrights, directors and makers, theatrePUNK co. is a company with a punk-rock attitude to art and performance.
“Emerging artists have something to say, and we’re absolutely itching to make some loud, crash-hot theatre that says “we’re here, we’re the future-listen to us”.
They want to crack the Brisbane theatre scene wide open and make viewing and producing performance accessible and open to new voices. The company is concerned mostly with bringing stories about women and queer people to the stage, as well as diverse artists with unique perspectives on theatre and society. Every work they produce has consciousness of the environment and society at the front of the battle lines. With a full season of seven new works, theatrePUNK co. is rearing and ready to go.
“Nothing is sacred in theatre, and our season-opener LYSISTRATA is certainly no museum piece.” It’s an adaptation of Aristophanes’ ancient Greek comedy about a group of determined women who refuse to have sex with their husbands in exchange for them coming home from a bloody war. Reinvigorated in a new version by el waddingham, LYSISTRATA explores what it means to be a good adult, a good ally and a good friend from the lens of a playwright deeply entrenched in activism and female empowerment. Staged with traditional Greek conventions in the back of their mind, LYSISTRATA will bask in the Brisbane afternoon sun with an outdoor performance season, all whist exchanging the togas for neon mini-dresses, sacred scrolls for Translink fines and eternal flames for a half-used, fruit-flavoured vape.
HOMILY, el waddingham’s drag show exploring their experience growing up queer in the Catholic church, will make its return in 2023. HOMILY will tour across Australia in 2023 kicking off in their hometown at HOTA, with return seasons in Brisbane. “HOMILY is my favourite thing I’ve written thus far, and I cannot wait to take it to audiences across Australia. Our country possess some incredibly ignorant perspectives on religious conditioning and the mistreatment of marginalised communities within the Catholic church and I hope HOMILY can be a safe place for queer people to laugh, scream or cry together, whatever you need to heal yourself.”
Next up, theatrePUNK co’s babyPUNK development program will have it’s first ever performance actualisation in Barriers by Seb Saint. It’s 2100. A mistreated Earth continues to heat up with temperatures and weather events soaring in increasing occurrence and severity, with human civilization mostly ignoring its problems and escaping to the internet. In this apocalyptic world, a scientist is worried about the wellbeing and life of teenagers in this day and age. Barriers follows a class of six teenagers as they enter the school and experience some of the only in person schooling of their generation.
“Seb has such an important perspective on theatre as a young, regionally based artist and his storytelling skills have an incredibly exciting scope and reach to them. I’m so proud to be producing Barriers and telling a story for and about young people.”
Pallas Sister Rising by Grace Wilson takes the stage in July, coming from the Greek myth of Pallas and Athena, childhood best friends who grew up together. After Pallas is murdered in an accident, Athena takes on her name and likeliness to cope with her death. I wanted to spin the moral of this story, of what it means to mourn someone who hurt you, to become a horrible person to cope with. Pallas Sister Rising is small and sharp, it digs into the close familiar and challenges what we know about death, longing, and what it means to be a horrible person.
Written by Grace Wilson, the recent recipient of Queensland Theatre’s Young Playwright Award, Pallas Sister Rising is Grace’s third play to be professionally developed.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a show about queer women, let alone one this brave and raw. Grace is a magic writer, and I’m over-the-moon excited to also be directing this piece”.
How is a god born? Tricky question, but if anyone can answer it, it’s a drag queen. A foray into feminist poetry spliced with drag performance, DEATH OF VENUS, BIRTH OF DIANA by el waddingham brings gods from the past, present and future to their knees. “Women’s bodies have always been subjects of divine inspiration, and in almost every religious mythology are grossly abused to become breeding grounds for masculine power. I reckon if anyone could have a bit of a stern word with Zeus, it’s me”.
When alpha-male influencers like Andrew Tate hit the news earlier this year, most people condemned him to the darkness. However, emerging playwright Harrison Mills saw something else-artistic inspiration. What do you do when Masculine, Feminine, and slight Enby energy are exacerbated in modern society? Exploitive instances of toxic masculinity online? Relationships only lasting a minute? The tragic tale of being an oppressed straight girl in a gay world? PASHUN is a comedically absurdist theatrical exploration exploring all of the above with a little bit of spice. Written by emerging theatre-maker Harrison Mills, PASHUN dares to mix and mash
traditional ideas of love and lust with hedonistic city dwellers. Will they act on their strong,
barely containable emotions or suffer under societal pressures?
PASHUN is the second work produced by the babyPUNK development program in 2022/23.
“PASHUN is hysterical, horrifying and honest wrapped in a bow of absurdity in such a way that only Harrison is capable of. It is unapologetically fresh and entrenched in popular culture, which is exactly what we are missing in theatre at the moment. PASHUN lives for the now”.
Closing out the year with a bang is ‘Flo and Jo Come Out of the Closet’, written by el waddingham and their partner-in-theatrical-crime, Josh Price. Following two childhood best friends who express their place on the queer spectrum very differently, this colourful comedy is born from a generation who grew up on Rupaul’s Drag Race and Lady Gaga, but one where so many queer kids who exist outside the in-your-face mould society forces them to fit in. It explores what it means to be out, proud and loud in your own way.
“Flo and Jo is a comedy with a beating heart covered in sequins and amyl nitrate. Growing out of lived experience, it’s a heartwarming show that I think will be like a mirror for so many queer people.”
theatrePUNK co. is strapping in for an ambitious season, and can’t wait to rock houses across Brisbane, and the rest of Australia. Come and join us for an electrifying year-or eat our dust. See what the next generation of theatre-makers have to say.
Find out more information via their official website.