Subscriptions are out but performances are back on at Malthouse Theatre, with the company shifting to a new model for its 2022 season. Those keenly awaiting the annual season launch are out of luck, with Malthouse moving away from disclosing all its secrets at once in favour of rolling production announcements throughout the year – the first of which have just been revealed.
In 2022, Malthouse presents ten new Australian productions, shepherded in by the company's summer outdoor stage program that's on from now until April. Lockdown-proof, digital productions that have been in the works while theatres were shut in 2021 are also in the works, including a massive, user-friendly and innovative archive of Malthouse's history called M Stories and an incredibly in-depth and interactive digital version of Because the Night that essentially turns the watershed production into a video game that can be played anywhere with an internet connection.
That's before we even get to the indoor, in-real-life productions that are planned, the first of which is comedy Stay Woke (Feb 25-Mar 13) by Aran Thangaratnam. The work revolves around brothers Niv and Sai, who head off on a ski trip hoping to resolve their lifelong rivalry. But the holiday chit-chat turns political, with Sai's girlfriend Kate ending up in the middle of it. Malthouse artistic director, Matthew Lutton, calls Stay Woke an "astonishingly good and addictive comedy", with the work featuring Green Room Award-winning Dushan Phillips alongside newcomer Kaivu Suvarna, plus Rose Adams and Brooke Lee.
After ten years of developing and performing the character, Carly Sheppard's Chase (Mar 8-13) is coming to Malthouse in a performance that will likely offend, in one way or another, every audience member. Kamarra Bell-Wykes directs in this metaphorical train wreck that mows down Australia's colonial shame – no matter what the Frankston-born, YouTube-posting Chase does, it's impossible to look away as she holds an unflattering mirror up to Australia.
And in good news for anyone who was a teen from the early 1990s to early 2000, Melina Marchetta's beloved Australian novel Looking for Alibrandi is being adapted for the stage and will show at Malthouse from July 8 to 24. Comedian Vidya Rajan has adapted the work for stage, with the production to be directed by Stephen Nicolazzo (Loaded, Merciless Gods and more recently, Body Horror at Melbourne Fringe). "We have been developing this adaptation for the last two years," says Lutton. "We love Looking for Alibrandi, and director Stephen Nicolazzo has a vision that offers a new lens whilst bringing it sensually to life."
Prior to the 2022 season kicking off in full, the Malthouse Outdoor Stage will present a diverse program of shows over summer, setting sail with Ash Flanders chaotic ""disaster-movie-allegorical-farce-cabaret", S.S. Metaphor, in December. Comedians Geraldine Hickey and Sam Simmons are also set to perform on the outdoor stage, as are musicians Parvyn (from the Bombay Royale) and Lior and Domini, while Circus Oz is bringing the high wire-excitement of Wunderage to the arena. Midsumma performances will also take place on the outdoor stage.
Tickets to Malthouse Outdoor Stage shows are available now, as are tickets to Stay Woke and Chase for Malthouse muses and mates (public tickets on sale December 1). Tickets for Looking for Alibrandi will go on sale in 2022.