MTC’s Artistic Director makes ambitious claims and bold promises to all Victorians.

2016 marks the fourth season in the post for Melbourne Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Brett Sheehy AO. And whilst alluding to the joys as well as the challenges that the role entails, he was full of great promise for what next year will offer MTC’s audiences.

“I believe we have found a perfect mix of works – a suite of plays which can speak with great meaning to any of the six million citizens of our State. The combination of exciting Australian premieres of the best new international plays, world premieres of fresh Australian works, and new productions of much-loved classics guarantees there is something on offer that will entertain, challenge and enlighten all our lives, and enable us to see the world in original and enriching ways,” Sheehy said.

The year looks set to be a busy one. Sheehy’s “perfect mix” includes 11 mainstage plays, a family production, NEON NEXT, an extensive Education Program, the Cybec Electric play reading series, a Women in Theatre program, regional and interstate touring, MTC CONNECT and a range of other artist development initiatives too.

The vast catalogue of work is peppered with a host of celebrated actors, Shaun Micallef, Colin Friels and Ash Flanders amongst the pack; a who’s who of Australia’s top directors including Kip Williams and Simon Phillips; and a catalogue of some of the hottest writers from Australia and overseas, ranging from Joanna Murray-Smith to August Strindberg.

However, despite all the earnest intentions, a big build-up and the well-crafted packaging, MTC’s 2016 offering looks unlikely to push theatrical boundaries, break moulds or open new doors. It starts with a musical and includes many good plays, although not necessarily landmark ones, as well as many that have been seen before. And disappointingly for the Company, one of its big draws, Disgraced, has just been announced as part of STC’s Season a few days ago.  

Last year, Sheehy claimed to be looking for more diversity and reportedly said he was breaking the Company open, “to more of this city’s artists and its audiences”. This year he has set the bar even higher. Unfortunately, however, in trying to speak to so many, he risks speaking to none of them at all.

It’s not that it looks bad; it looks fine, with some solid offerings from many talented artists and it will undoubtedly get bums on seats. Sadly, however they’re likely to be the regular punters, not the masses that are yet to discover the pleasures of a night out at the theatre.

Explore the full MTC 2016 season

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