In 2019, Malthouse Theatre Artistic Director Matthew Lutton is taking on one of his largest scale challenges yet, directing the first production of Cloudstreet based on the novel by Tim Winton and adapted for stage by Nick Enright and Justin Monjo. This production of Cloudstreet is a once in a generation opportunity and will be the first to have been seen in Melbourne since 1999.
Cloudstreet is the story of two families, the Lambs and the Pickles, who are forced into a haunted house in Perth in the 1940s. They don’t want to live in this house, there are ghosts in the house trying to expel them, but they have no choice, they have to live here for twenty years. Cloudstreet is a story for the Australia of the 2010s, a parable about how disparate stories can live together, and with the ghosts of their past.
This is a once-in-a-generation presentation of a classic Australian text, that provides students with opportunities to engage in the cross-curriculum priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures; raises interesting issues and challenging ideas while offering an affirming perspective; and is an accessible text for students working at different levels and from different backgrounds.
Extensive “Prompt Pack” resources have been created by curriculum experts and are available for both English and Theatre Studies and Drama students and teachers. These include interviews with cast and creatives, classroom activities and contextual information.
Cloudstreet is the next iteration of Malthouse Theatre’s “Page to Stage” program. Before 2004, Malthouse was known as “Playbox” and concentrated entirely on new Australian work. “Page to Stage”, initiated by Artistic Director Matthew Lutton, continues the company’s investment in Australian stories taking some of Australia’s most significant works of literature, retelling and reconsidering them through a uniquely contemporary lens. Matthew’s vision for these works is to overcome the cultural amnesia of the power and relevance of these important works.
To date Matthew has directed a bold new adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s classic novel Picnic at Hanging Rock 2016), reimagined an epic remount of Michael Gow’s classic Away (2017), and directed a new adaptation of Peter Carey’s Bliss (2018). Later this year Malthouse will premiere Wake in Fright by Kenneth Cooke, directed and adapted by Declan Greene, and staring Zahra Newman (Book of Mormon). Zahra plays every character in this Australian Gothic horror.
So from a haunted house that’s full of heart, to a campfire ghost story and everything in between that comprises the rest of Malthouse’s 2019 Season, teachers and students are spoilt for choice, for opportunities to view and experience a professional production.
Image by Pia Johnson