Young At Heart
To the outsider, La Boite Theatre Company can best be described as this: a progressive and whimsical free-spirit that whirls around Brisbane, martini in hand, shocking and thrilling all who cross their path. Perhaps like a tasteful Lady Gaga, or a young Dame Edna. And while doing all of this, La Boite casts a vibrant spotlight over the Brisbane theatre scene.
The unveiling of La Boiteâ€™s 2012 season shows how conspicuously aware and adventurous the company is. Along with the release of the 2012 program, the Artistic Director of La Boite, David Berthold attached a vivacious open letter stating: â€œwe've rhymed some Shakespearean joy with summery Scottish charm, layered a mischievous hoax with a mesmerising puppet, and crowned it with melting verses of tender napalmâ€.
David is refreshingly passionate about theatre; theatre that takes chances, loves, hates, questions and can ignite at an audienceâ€™s feet. â€œI love what this theatre can do. Live theatre produces the most intimate and sensual experiences between actors and audiences that I can imagine.â€
Throughout its life, La Boite has fostered an incredible reputation among Brisbane theatre attendees. The company has been active since 1925, making it one of the oldest theatre companies in Australia. The 2011 season was met with luminous reviews with productions ranging from â€˜The Gruffaloâ€™ to the most recent, â€˜Ruben Guthrieâ€™. But one of the outstanding and inexplicitly complicated talents of La Boite is the ability to convert the attendees to the theatre.
This ability is one of Davidâ€™s most appreciated facets of working for the company. He recalls that after a performance he: â€œspoke to a man who had never attended theatre and he was overjoyed. He was saying how incredible it was, like, â€˜I could see them spit!â€™ For me, that change in people, and the direct experience theatre can provide, that is something I feel so privileged to be involved in.â€
The 2012 line-up of ten productions includes five mainstage productions and five La Boite indie productions. The season opens with Shakespeareâ€™s â€˜As You Like Itâ€™, Helen Howard and Thomas Larkin leading the talented and experienced cast. Shakespeare is the cornerstone of theatrical endeavors and any chance to see an interpretation of his work should be taken. â€œItâ€™s a privilege, Shakespeareâ€™s work provides such a fantastic prism for theatre. He asks questions about politics, family and love. Always love! I love being able to grapple those questions and â€˜As You Like Itâ€™ asks so many questions about love and people,â€ David says of the modern interpretation, which is armed to open the season in February.
April at La Boite will joyfully present the Traverse Theatre's â€˜Midsummer (A Play With Songs)â€™, direct from Edinburgh, Scotland. The Guardianâ€™s review of the production says it best: â€˜You float out laughing as if youâ€™ve just swallowed sunshine on a spoon.â€™ The show is about the great lost weekend we all dream about, while using the intricate architecture of the venue to play with the drama. â€œLa Boiteâ€™s space and the roundstage that we have to work with will be a joy for this production. At La Boite the actors have to act with their backs, they are always being watched from every angle.â€
Although La Boite has the opportunity to showcase international acts, such as â€˜Midsummerâ€™, David is â€œalways watching out for local worksâ€. Later on in the year will see the company exploring the Australian performing arts, as they team up with Sydney's Griffin Theatre Company for the world premiere of â€˜A Hoaxâ€™, directed by Lee Lewis. Following in August is another Australian production, the Dead Puppet Society's â€˜The Harbingerâ€™; an amalgamation of the theatrically surreal, mixed media and elaborate puppetry. â€œI saw the show and I thought, â€˜this show has legs. I want to support this.â€™ So we worked on it, and it is going to be incredible; it will only get bigger and better,â€ David says.
During the Brisbane Festival next September, La Boite will bring the vibrant and whimsical â€˜Tender Napalmâ€™ to the stage. â€œPhilip [Ridley] is undoubtedly one of the world's most sensational playwrights. I've directed two of his plays and see in this, his latest, the most beautiful and acute distillation of his incredible art.â€ The play is about young love growing in an â€œexciting, buoyant and energised wayâ€.
In addition to the main productions, â€˜The Truth About Kookaburrasâ€™, â€˜I Only Came To Use The Phoneâ€™, â€˜Homeâ€™, â€˜A Tribute Of Sortsâ€™ and â€˜Children Of Warâ€™ will feature as part of La Boite Indie. The La Boite Indie venture is an opportunity to showcase the rising talent in the Brisbane performing arts community. The productions are prime examples of the culture thatâ€™s blooming within the city. â€œBrisbane is a young city and thatâ€™s our audience; 15 to 25 year olds. What happens in our productions comes organically, but we encourage the vivacity, energy and playfulness that I see in Brisbane.â€
This sense of playfulness is something that truly sets La Boite apart and is something that leaves the audiences returning again, and again. One of my first experiences with La Boite was during the run of â€˜The Attack Of the Attacking Attackersâ€™, a production that left me ecstatic and my theatre-virgin companion, a convert. Thatâ€™s how La Boite gets you; the productions grab you by the hands and swing you around the room. You have to watch. You have to come back. This is what theatre is meant to do!
â€œPlaying is what itâ€™s all about, we want to do new things, we want our audience to feel energised and invigorated. Itâ€™s not what you expect in theatre. I mean, we let our audiences drink; weâ€™re one of the only places that still lets you do that!â€
To that, La Boite, I say â€œCheersâ€ and â€œCongratulationsâ€ on what is sure to be 2012â€™s example of the cultural extravaganza that is La Boite Theatre Company.
Ticket packages for La Boite 2012 are currently available â€” the new â€˜Flexi-Passâ€™ even allows you to choose plays and dates later; not a hint, but they make great Christmas gifts! laboite.com.au