We are finally recovering from our massive new show Judith’s Return, that was recently presented in the Theatre Royal, Hobart, as part of MONA FOMA Festival 2021. Two triumphant first shows were performed to a sold out theatre each night in what was an amazing festival.
After 6 years of making the work across continents it was wild to then premiere it during COVID. Interstate travel was blocked keeping our lead performer, renowned soprano Jacqui Dark , stuck in Sydney. We successfully applied for for an Essential Worker Exemption and she was permitted to enter the state in order to perform. Great news for our production to have a performer of Jacqui’s ability, but also how brilliant to have an artist approved as essential! The good news was tempered by some pretty unfortunate COVID safe restrictions – Jacqui only had a week to prepare her performance and was required to mask up during shows. Fortunately for us, the work was set in biblical times and our costume designer Sabio fashioned Jacqui a veil that made it all ok.
Joining Jacqui on stage were local performers Sue Pickard and Shirley Gibson of MADE. The music was performed by an ensemble of local musicians, predominantly from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and led by percussionist and conductor Gary Wain.
The production included the voices of currently incarcerated male prisoners from Białołęka Prison in Warsaw, Poland in 2014 and in Mary Hutchinson Women’s Prison in Hobart in 2020. The recordings were made during voluntary workshops exploring the virtue of courage and the old testament story of Judith.
The mens names are Wojtek, Jacek, Piotr, Zbysziek, Piotrek & Kamil. The women’s names cannot be listed due to Tasmanian Prison Service policy, which aims to protect the identities of those involved while being sensitive to victims living in the community.
Maybe she was mad at God,
and she had the courage to do something against him.
To disturb God’s plan, like in Faust, yeah?
Wojtek, Białołęka Prison, 2014
The performance was filmed by renowned cinematographer Sand Sissel ASC, Takeshi Kondo and video artist Keith Deverell, which will be part of a video work documenting the projects development and presentation.
The team is listed below.
Director: James Brennan
Composers: Szczepan Pospieszalski and James Brennan
Soprano: Jacqueline Dark
Understudy Soprano: Sharon Prero
Performer: Shirley Gibson
Performer: Susan Pickard
Set and Lighting Design: Ben “Bosco” Shaw
Arrangements: James Brennan, Jigsaw Music and Gary Wain
Conductor and Percussionist: Gary Wain
Keyboard: Amanda Hodder
Trombone: Dave Robbins
Bass Trombone: Mitchell Nissen
Trumpet: Yoram Levey
French Horn: Maraika Smit
Stage Manager: Ingrid Rahlen
Production Manager: Barry Brody
Sound System Design and QLab Programming: Tom McKeand
Video Editing: Takeshi Kondo
Movement Director and Dramaturge: Amy Russell
Dramaturge: Willoh Weiland
Live Stream Systems Designer and Operator: Matt Daniels
Sound Operator: Caleb Doherty
Set Construction: Andy Redman
Producers: Insite Arts