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Merrigong Theatre Company Announces 2020 MERRIGONGX Artists’ Program

BY Ashleigh | 11-Feb-2020
Merrigong Theatre Company is excited to announce its 2020 MERRIGONGX Artists’ Program which consists of two shows, two development showings, four Made From Scratch events and an insight into the continued development of works from seven local artists.
Venue: Merrigong Theatre Company
Address: 32 Burelli St, Wollongong NSW 2500
Buy / Ticket: merrigong.com.au/merrigongx
Web: merrigong.com.au/merrigongx
MERRINGONGX
May will bring a development showing from Artisan Collective of The Keeper, the story of the largest elephant to ever walk the Earth: Jumbo. Told through the lens of Jumbo’s lifelong companion and carer, Matthew Scott, The Keeper takes audiences on a journey through Jumbo’s incredible life, including his time as the main attraction of P.T. Barnum’s ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ using puppetry, stunning visuals, theatrical illusion, storytelling, live songs and showmanship.

In June, Ten Tonne Sparrow will present Mount Hopeless, a tragic comedy rock opera based on the story of Burke & Wills. Burke & Wills are often heralded as tragic heroes rather than a warning tale of exactly what not to do. Mount Hopeless tackles real questions of mateship, biting off more than you can chew, and rewriting history to suit your own narrative.

Sydney theatre maker Lily Hayman will bring Fledgling to the stage in August. An adaptation of The Flight of Birds by Wollongong novelist Joshua Lobb, Fledgling explores the generational divide between a parent and their child and questions what we leave behind for our children when our time comes to an end.

And in October, comes a development showing of Storyland, in which five ‘sidekicks’ tell tales of survival and destruction speaking from the near and distant future and moving back in time. The characters – separated by time but connected by water that flows from Mount Kembla and Dapto Creek into Mullet Creek and Lake Illawarra – recount stories about the deep and abiding need humans have to find connection with each other and the land we live on.

Merrigong’s multi-artform performance nights, Made From Scratch, returns in 2020, offering artists space and support to test new ideas in front of a live audience. Happening in March, May, August and December, these events will showcase new works from local artists across performance, film, stand-up comedy, poetry, cabaret, circus and anything in between.

Merrigong will also be supporting local artists and their projects behind the scenes as they develop new works. In 2020 these artists include:
• Crimson Rosella is undertaking a creative development pursuing a unique mode of storytelling for Dead Horse Gap, a dark trippy Western revelling in black humour, odd characters and loosely inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s iconic 1995 film Dead Man.
• Applespiel, a creative collective taking a deep dive into the modern apology – from YouTube apologies to football scandals – in Sorry Sorry Sorry.
• re:group, a performance collective consisting of four multidisciplinary artists working on a new work development exploring the viability of relationships as we age, the sustainability of collective arts practices in Australia, and the next incoming wave of automation in industry.
• Yen Yang, a Australian-Chinese author and director who is developing a semi-autobiographical multi-media stage performance, A Practical Guide To Self-Defence.
• Comedian, musician and writer Malika Reese who is developing a stage play, Six Women, telling the stories of six women from six generations.
• Vibrant director and variety entertainer Neisha Murphy, working on ChaChi, a show that mixes storytelling, gender, contemporary circus feats and daredevil stunts with vaudevillian comedy. It’s a show about growing up and our chosen family.
• Strangeways Ensemble, Merrigong’s permanent company of professional actors, will commence development for their next new work which will be presented in 2023. In 2020, Merrigong is also pleased to announce they are trialling a new ticketing initiative. For all MERRIGONGX shows, there will be no set ticket price. Instead, audience members will be asked to reserve a spot, show up and then pay what they feel the performance was worth afterwards. Following the show, attendees will be sent an email asking how much they would like to pay.

MERRIGONGX focuses on supporting artists to take creative risks, and provides them with financial, technical, marketing and artistic resources.

Simon Hinton, Artistic Director and CEO of Merrigong Theatre Company said “MERRIGONGX is an Artists Program, not a season of works. The focus is on how we can support artists through different stages of development. When engaging an audience with the work will benefit the development, then presentation is included, but our aim is to put the development of our artists and their work at the centre of what we do. In 2020 the range of extraordinary artists that we will support is truly inspiring.”

Leland Kean, Artistic Development Manager at Merrigong Theatre Company said “MERRIGONGX represents one of the most diverse and versatile programs of development for artists from all sectors of the industry. From emerging to mid-career to established artists and forms, spanning duration epics to rock operas to contemporary performance, MERRIGONGX is a shining example of the breadth, depth and diversity of artists in regional Australia.”

MERRIGONGX 2020 SEASON

The Keeper – development showing 23 May

Mount Hopeless 18 – 20 June

Fledgling 13 – 15 August

Storyland – development showing 10 October

Made From Scratch
7 March
30 May
15 August
5 December

Tickets to MERRIGONGX available at merrigong.com.au/merrigongx