Good news for those into theatre of the irreverent and independent persuasions. Just announced, the program for the third annual instalment of the NEON Festival of Independent Theatre is here— and it's the kind of staged indie gold we’ve come to expect at this time of year from the normally more mainstream-bent Melbourne Theatre Company.
NEON 2015 runs from May 14 to July 25. Like its previous iterations, five independent theatre artists/collaboratives are invited to commandeer the Lawler at Southbank Theatre with a work of their own, for ten days apiece.
Aussie theatre mavericks and champions of new, alternate voices in theatre MKA are first up with Double Feature, a two-for-the-price-of-one, booze-soaked tirade. Tobias Manderson-Galvin's post-punk prison fantasy Lucky is double billed with Morgan Rose’s Lord Willing and The Creek Don't Rise — a "broken kitchen-sink drama of carnivals and cannibals".
Next up, The Zoey Louise Moonbeam Dawson Shakespeare Company presents Calamity. This part musical, part western, part biography tells the story of Calamity Jane in a way that's a lot less Doris Day circa 1953 and a whole lot more gun-slinging, foul-mouthed, alcoholic cowgirl — apparently a much more accurate depiction.
Long-time collaborators Susie Dee and Patricia Cornelius like female characters you don’t often see on stage. Their play SHIT is about Billy, Bobby and Sam — girls who spit, swear, scream, shout, flash, fight with fists and moon pedestrians from cars. SHIT's creators say they wanted to empower their female characters, to give them "the chance to come back at a world which despises them".
If recreations of classics are your thing, check out Dirty Pretty Theatre’s The Lonely Wolf, an anarchic, dance-theatre version of Steppenwolf; or Elbow Room’s We Get It, a retrospective of history's great heroines of the stage.
NEON is all part of MTC's aim to strengthen its ties with the independent theatre landscape and the artists that make it tick. "The previous two NEON Festivals have brought audiences works of great integrity and variety, and the discussion that ensued has been inspiring, saysBrett Sheehy, MTC’s artistic director. "I have no doubt NEON 2015 is going to do the same."
In addition to the five new works comes NEON EXTRA (think masterclasses, workshops and open rehearsals), NEON READINGS (readings of brand new plays) and the special closing night event Pimp My Play, presented by The Last Tuesday Society. It promises to put a pretty raucous end to the festivities, using a simple formula: take boring old play, give collaborators scene each, put pieces back together, and present resulting miscreation to horrified/delighted audience.
Sounds like a suitably Frankensteinian way to end a jam-packed, raucous couple of months.
NEON 2015 runs from May 14 to July 25 at Southbank Theatre. For more info or to book tickets, head over here.