March 9 to April 6 – Bille Brown Theatre
Anna McGahan – Tiffany Lyndall-Knight – Bryan Probets – Nathan O’Keefe – Hugh Parker – Ray Chong Nee
And Directed by Sam Strong
In what is expected to be one of the most moving theatrical experiences of the 2019 Season, Queensland Theatre, in partnership with State Theatre Company of South Australia, presents the world premiere of Sue Smith’s Hydra, from March 9 to April 6 in the Bille Brown Theatre. Director Sam Strong has unveiled a cast of the best from Queensland and around the country including two of Queensland’s favourites, Logie Award-nominated Anna McGahan (House Husbands, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Underbelly) and Bryan Probets (Twelfth Night, The 39 Steps) as Clift and Johnston, along with Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (19 Weeks, Red Dog, Battlestar Galactica), Nathan O’Keefe (Betrayal, Macbeth, Sense and Sensibility), Hugh Parker (The 39 Steps, Noises Off) and Ray Chong Nee (Noises Off).
Set from the mid 1940s through to the 1960s, Hydra is the tragic true love story between two of Australia’s most gifted writers, Charmian Clift and her husband George Johnston (author of the Miles Franklin Award-winning novel, My Brother Jack). The couple left Australia to live a bohemian lifestyle on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra. Theirs was a dream of creative freedom; of sea and sun and olives and wine in the afternoons, drenched in sex, fine conversation and booze. Over time, this dream unravelled, culminating in the ultimate tragedy.
“The relationship between George Johnston and Charmian Clift is one of the great untold stories of Australian culture. On Hydra, the husband and wife writers joined a rich expat community, including painter Sidney Nolan and poet/musician Leonard Cohen. They were all in pursuit of a bohemian ideal, as well as the creation of artworks that would define their nation and century,” said Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sam Strong. “While their time on Hydra resulted in Johnston’s seminal novel My Brother Jack, the story behind its creation is as captivating, heartbreaking and significant as anything in that famous book.”
“Award-winning writer Sue Smith has crafted an incredibly moving and deeply recognisable relationship drama out of these historical figures. She has written a major new Australian play and we are so proud that this Queensland Theatre commission will have its world premiere in Brisbane.”
She said Hydra was an actor’s dream and would further consolidate Queensland Theatre and the Bille Brown Theatre as the place to see the finest acting in the country.
Coorparoo native Anna McGahan returns home to Brisbane after a massive few years both professionally and personally. Having recently starred in the TV miniseries re-make of Picnic at Hanging Rock as well as a recurring role as Rose Anderson in the Doctor Blake Mysteries, McGahan is thrilled to be returning to the stage with Queensland Theatre. Gold Matilda award-winning actor, Bryan Probets is a Queensland theatrical institution having starred in recent Queensland Theatre productions including The 39 Steps, Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing. Probets has also demonstrated his amazing pipes with some recent operatic gigs and had a role in the 2018 Netflix series, Tidelands.
Writer Sue Smith is one of Australia’s most acclaimed playwrights and screenwriters, with an impressive career spanning 30 years and screen credits including Saving Mr. Banks, Mabo and Brides of Christ. In 2018, she won the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the most prestigious honours in the industry, in recognition of the enduring mark her work has made on the Australian cultural landscape. In Hydra, Smith’s genius is brilliantly demonstrated in the way her own words are interwoven with those of our main protagonists, taking inspiration and extracts from Clean Straw For Nothing by George Johnston and Peel Me A Lotus by Charmian Clift.
Hydra continues Queensland Theatre’s increased national footprint. Through a co-production with State Theatre Company of South Australia, Hydra will have its world premiere in Brisbane before a season in Adelaide. It is supported by the Legal Chapter, through the Play Commissioning Fund.
Queensland Theatre presents Hydra by Sue Smith
9 March to April 6 in the Bille Brown Theatre
Sam Strong Director
Vilma Mattila Designer
Nigel Levings Lighting Designer
Quentin Grant Composer/Sound Designer
Anna McGahan Charmian Clift
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight Ursula/Lorelei/Musician/Reporter 2
Bryan Probets George Johnston
Nathan O’Keefe Martin
Hugh Parker Vic/Leonard Cohen/Musician/Reporter 1
Ray Chong Nee Jean-Claude/Ensemble
Online at queenslandtheatre.com.au