The Canberra Theatre Centre's Collected Works 2018 season will feature 19 shows, five more in than 2017, it was announced at the launch on Monday night.
Programming manager Gill Hugonnet, who's worked to compile the season, said, "For me, an exciting thing is that there are two Australian premieres, one of which is coming from the UK."
The British company Complicite is bringing Bryony Kimmings' A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer in late February. A play with songs, it will begin in Canberra before seasons in Melbourne and Sydney.
"It's tackling a pretty huge subject," Hugonnet said, "urging people to have a conversation about it.
She said the play was "kind of quirky - it makes you feel the full range of emotions".
The other Australian premiere, in June, will be Australian Dance Theatre's The Beginning of Nature, a contemporary dance work exploring the life cycles and themes of metamorphosis and transformation that will be accompanied by the Zephyr Quartet playing electronica and strings and two vocalists singing a libretto in Kauna language, the first language of the Adelaide Plains, home of ADT.
The quartet will also be accompanying, in May, Brink Productions' Patrick White adaptation The Aspirations of Daise Morrow, about two neighbouring Australian families, one of which is preparing to bury a body. That play is followed the same month by another, quite different play about disposing of a corpse, Angus Cerini's Helpmann Award-winning play The Bleeding Tree, dealing with a revenge killing and its aftermath.
Also dealing with murder, but in a more comical way, is Oedipus Schmoedipus (March), in which the members of Post and Intimate Spectacle take the death scenes from dozens of classic plays and mix them all together - with a little help from the audience.
"They need volunteers to rehearse on the day and perform that night," Hugonnet said.
Another comedy is Nakkiah Liu's Black is the New White *March) , which Hugonnet called a twist on the 1967 movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? In this Sydney Theatre Company production, Indigenous lawyer Charlotte Gibson brings her fiance Francis Smith home to her conservative parents for Christmas and he's not at all what they expected - he's unemployed, an experimental composer, and white.
Canberra links are represented too. The season will begin in February with London-based former Canberran Adam Maher directing Amanda Muggleton as opera legend Maria Callas in Terence McNally's Master Class.
In July, Jordan Best will direct Canberra company Pigeonhole Theatre's production of Joanna Murray-Smith's thriller Switzerland. Karen Vickery will play the reclusive Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mr Ripley, and Lachlan Ruffy will play the young editor sent to convince her to write one last Ripley novel. Pigeonhole had a fundraising performance of its well-received production of Playhouse Creatures in the Playhouse earlier this year before presenting the play at an international festival in Monaco.
Opera fans can see an English-language production of Puccini's Madame Butterfly from Opera Australia in September, directed by John Bell, and continuing in the music theatre vein, Hugonnet said, "I can't wait for Calamity Jane with Virginia Gay, a full-on personality from All Saints ... It's a good story about a strong woman."
The musical, based on the 1953 Doris Day movie, with songs such as Secret Love, will be on in August.
There's plenty more to explore, including the return of some favourite companies with new offerings: Bell Shakespeare with Antony & Cleopatra (April), starring Catherine McClements as Cleopatra and featuring former Canberran Lucy Goleby, and Julius Caesar (October); the State Theatre Company of South Australia with an adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility (May-June); Bangarra Dance Theatre with Dark Emu (July); Sydney Dance Company with ab (intra) (August-September); and to end the season with a laugh in November, The Wharf Revue.
For more information on the Canberra Theatre Centre's Collected Works 2018 season visit canberratheatrecentre.com.au.