Very few theatre companies under five years old are thinking about succession plans.
The daily grind of continued existence is too consuming. What comes next is beyond the horizon.
No so bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company. The company’s 2019 season for the Kings Cross Theatre, it’s fourth in that venue, is about investing in the next generation.
“This is the first year we can ask what is KXT going to be in five or 10 years time,” says bAKEHOUSE co-artistic director Suzanne Millar. “What and who will it be the home for?”
“A theatre company is like any new business,” adds Millar. “First year you lose money, the second year you maybe break even, the third year you make a little money. If you make it to three years, then there’s some longevity to it.
“We’ve focused on KXT having an identity and a personality. When audiences come here there is an element of surprise, we are offering something different each time. That’s moving along nicely. So we want 2019 to be a snapshot of what things will look like in the not-so-distant future.”
Millar and her programming team worked through more than 150 submissions from companies and artistic teams hoping to present their work on the KXT’s traverse stage.
“It is absolutely heartbreaking what you end up saying no to because most have real value and should be staged somewhere,” Millar says. “But we’re trying to get the balance right between programming established directors and teams and having them help emerging teams and artists to deliver what they wanted to do.
“So, for example, we have Hannah Goodwin directing her first full production in the same season as Anthony Skuse, and first time producers working in the same season as Outhouse Theatre Company, which has a long record. We want to make sure we serve the theatre’s needs, the theatre community’s needs, and our audience’s needs.”
Millar has engaged rising independent company JackRabbit theatre to program part of 2019.
“JackRabbit has a structured anarchy in the way it goes about things,” Millar explains. “It’s like they throw ideas together but then work incredibly hard to make it happen. I remember being quite moved when I saw a preview of [JackRabbit’s] Tonsil and Tweezers and seeing the director, the assistant director, the producer, the set designer and the stage manager on hands and knees, polishing the reflective floor of the set.
“They understand the unsexy side of doing theatre. They are there to serve the work and audiences like that. JackRabbit’s audience has followed them from venue to venue. We thought, ‘imagine if we gave them a home for a few months, what could they do?’
“They reminded me of us back in 2014,” Millar laughs. “But much cooler.”
KXT Season 2019: the summer highlights
Sydney Theatre Award-nominated director Warwick Doddrell (The New Theatre’s Stupid Fucking Bird) makes his KXT debut with the Sydney premiere of Irish writer John O’Donovan’s story of a pair of would-be burglars and maybe lovers trapped on a rooftop while the police investigate below.
Following a series of short season productions for Mardi Gras, JackRabbit takes the reins for three months of programming beginning with Wrath, a rollercoaster satire on the world of business by Liam Maguire, which had a sold-out run in Melbourne in August 2018, courtesy of Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company.
Next up is the world premiere of JackRabbit member Michael McStay’s play Leopardskin. “It’s a heist story written in verse,” says Millar. “It’s very hard to describe but hilarious.”
Third in JackRabbit’s season is an adaptation of the poet Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a co-production with Little Eggs Collective, creators of the highly original Pinocchio, a stand-out show of the 2018 Sydney Fringe Festival.
Then comes the highly anticipated drama A Little Piece of Ash by actor turned playwright Megan Wilding (Eurydice, Tonsils and Tweezers, the STC’s Blackie Blackie Brown), the story of a young woman coming to terms with her mother’s death. “Megan has had an amazing 2018,” Millar says. “This will be our first Indigenous story at KXT and we are really honoured to be hosting it.”
For more on KXT’s 2019 season, head to the KXT website, here.