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Two actors bring a regional SA town to life on stage in May

BY State Theatre Company South Australia | 28-Apr-2021
Award-winning South Australian playwright Emily Steel brings regional voices to the fore next month in Euphoria, a tender and sharply funny tale of good days, bad days and everything in between.
Two actors bring a regional SA town to life on stage in May
James Smith and Ashton Malcolm. Photo by Tim Standing.
Presented by State Theatre Company South Australia and Country Arts SA, Euphoria stars James Smith (Jasper Jones) and Ashton Malcolm (Rumpelstiltskin), under the direction of Nescha Jelk (Jasper Jones, RUMPUS). Following its official opening in Renmark at the end of April, Euphoria moves to the Space Theatre for a limited season in May, before heading on an extensive regional tour.

In Euphoria, school teacher Meg (Ashton Malcolm) wants to start a new festival called “Euphoria” to celebrate everything her country town has to offer. Former student Ethan doesn’t think there’s much to celebrate at all, until he meets Annie and hatches a plan for a campervan escape. Meg’s husband Nick wants Meg to slow down, but there’s still so much to do – get grants, make run sheets, hurry to Adelaide to win the support of the Premier. She’s spinning fast. And the rest of the town is noticing.

Originally scheduled for 2020, Euphoria was commissioned by Country Arts SA and developed in consultation with regional SA communities on a development tour, an experience playwright Emily Steel called “an honour”.

“It was a privilege to meet so many people in so many communities, and to hear about their experiences. Euphoria is fictional, but I hope that, thanks to all those who helped with the research, its characters and their stories will feel real.”

State Theatre Company South Australia Artistic Director Mitchell Butel added:

“The development of this play started with playwright Emily Steel heading to pop-up tea rooms across regional SA to have hundreds of conversations with residents. To finally bring this beautiful play back to those towns is a real privilege, and we’re thrilled to be co-producing this with Country Arts SA, which plays such an integral role in bringing world-class work to regional audiences.”

Country Arts SA’s Arts and Health Creative Producer Alison Howard says Euphoria was created with regional communities’ front of mind.

“Over two years, Emily and I met with people in regional communities and also spent time in mental health units meeting with clinical staff and clients to talk about the joys and challenges of country life. Across the state conversations turned to water, services and health. Emily has demonstrated the value of deep engagement in regional communities, bringing authenticity, compassion and incredible wit to this fictional tale of country life here in South Australia.

“The result of this extensive consultation and development is Euphoria, a gently moving new work that offers a genuine picture of country South Australia.”

Country Arts SA Chief Executive Anthony Peluso said Euphoria was a “compassionate, sensitive and witty piece of theatre”.

“With extensive community consultations in towns across the state and working with our producing partner State Theatre Company South Australia and some of the best in the industry, we have re-created a slice of regional life that we know rings true,” he said.

Euphoria premieres in Renmark on Fri, Apr 30 before heading to Space Theatre, Adelaide from May 6-15. It then travels to Mt Gambier, Bordertown, Kingscote, Murray Bridge, Lameroo, Burra, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Port Lincoln, Streaky Bay, Goolwa, Tanunda and Noarlunga.

Space Theatre details: statetheatrecompany.com.au
Regional tour details at countryarts.org.au

Euphoria creative team: Playwright: Emily Steel / Director: Nescha Jelk / Assistant Director: Emma Richardson / Set & Costume Designer: Meg Wilson / Lighting Designer: Nic Mollison / Sound Designer: Andrew Howard / Cast: Ashton Malcolm and James Smith

Warning: Euphoria contains course language and adult themes referencing mental illness and suicide. Suitable for ages 15+

Do you, or does someone you know, need help?

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au