Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley yesterday announced funding of $50,000 to support the award-winning production’s international premiere next year. The Australia Council also contributed $50,000.Lonely Planet founders,Tony and Maureen Wheeler, as well as other Malthouse supporters are contributing towards the remount and tour.
In London this week, Mr Foley met with the Barbican’s Head of Theatre, Toni Racklin, to discuss the production and future opportunities for Victoria’s arts sector.
The epic Indigenous remake of the King Lear story premiered in 2013 at the Melbourne Festival before touring arts festivals around the country.
Its season of 12 performances at the Barbican from June 22 to July 2 next year is part of a program marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. About 10,000 people are expected to see the show.
The Shadow King was created by actor Tom E. Lewis and director Michael Kantor, who won a Helpmann Award for best direction.
The entire original cast will perform in London: Tom E. Lewis, Jimi Bani (Mabo), Natasha Wanganeen (Rabbit-Proof Fence), Rarriwuy Hick and Jada Alberts (Redfern Now), Frances Djulibing (Ten Canoes), Kamahi Djordon King (aka cabaret artist Constantina Bush), and Djakapurra Munyarryun (Chooky Dancers).
It will be the Malthouse Theatre’s second international tour after it tookThe Good Person of Sichuan to China last year.
Mr Foley said the trip would ‘showcase a Victorian Indigenous production internationally and lay the groundwork for future projects’.
‘The Malthouse is one of Australia’s most innovative and creative theatre companies, producing ambitious, exciting and diverse work,’ he said.
Director Michael Kantor said the idea for the show arose some years ago when he first met with Tom Lewis in his home town of Katherine.
‘He described to me what was happening in his community: arguments over land and who had the right to decide what happens with it; families being torn apart by jealousy and greed over mining royalties; and issues of legitimacy eating into traditional ways.
‘Tom turned to me and said, “It’s a tragedy, just like that King Lear story of yours.”
‘Thus was born an idea that we have both held dear: to tell a white man’s dreamtime story, one of the foundation stories of contemporary western civilisation, but use it to question and probe contemporary Indigenous experience, particularly as it is now in Northern Australia,’ Kantor said.
Executive Producer and co-CEO of Malthouse Theatre Sarah Neal said, ‘The tour is an invaluable opportunity for Malthouse Theatre to showcase our artists to international audiences, and forms part of Malthouse Theatre’s strategy for international engagement.’