Collected Works 20/20. Canberra Theatre Centre. canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 62752700.
Why has the Canberra Theatre Centre titled next year's season Collected Works 20/20?
Acting head of programming and presenter services Gillian Schwab says it's because the works were chosen "with vision.
"One of the many fantastic things about the arts is that they show us ourselves through lots and lots of different lenses, whether it's a microscope or a funhouse mirror."
Next year's season, she says, is about "showing us contemporary Australia and all its hopes and fears and its larrikin sense of humour".
Next year's season ... is about "showing us contemporary Australia and all its hopes and fears and its larrikin sense of humour."Gillian Schwab
Even when shows are not Australian, watching them, often in Australian productions and always from an Australian perspective, can tell us something about ourselves.
The first show of the season is a musical comedy, Monty Python's Spamalot (February 26 to March 1). It's from One Eyed Man Productions, who brought Calamity Jane to Canberra.
"It contains the same joyful exuberance," Schwab says of the show. It was inspired by the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail., a comic retelling of the legend of King Arthur.
"It's gonna be raucous."
A returning show combining comedy and music is The Wharf Revue (September 15 to 26). Subtitled Good Night and Good Luck, the Sydney Theatre Company institution that satirises politics and society in sketches and songs is now 20 years old. Original trio Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott are reunited and Mandy Bishop is also returning for the 2020 season - which will be the last.
More music comes in a return season of The Choir of Man (March 26 to 28), this time as part of Collected Works rather than an add-on show. The CTC is also presenting Opera Australia's production of the first Aboriginal musical, the coming-of-age story Bran Nue Dae (August 11 to 16) with a score mashing up rock, gospel, country and blues.
And for those more classically inclined, Opera Australia will perform Bizet's Carmen, in French (September 3 to 5). The titular gypsy is a feisty, fickle femme fatale, and Schwab says Collected Works 20/20 has other works with strong female creative teams and female roles.
Bell Shakespeare's two 2020 productions present women in traditionally male lead roles. Peter Evans is directing Harriet-Gordon Anderson in the title role of Hamlet (April 9 to 18). Schwab says this story of a Danish prince is"completely relatable" given it's about a young person who finds out some startling secrets about his family, forcing him to make difficult decisions. And Janine Watson will direct The Comedy of Errors with Julia Billington starring in the story of long-lost twins reunited (October 2 to 10). Schwab says, "It's going to be really joyful and funny."
Original Australian drama is represented by Ensemble Theatre's A Broadcast Coup (May 27 to 30) by Melanie Tait - about a cut-throat journalist out for blood - and Griffin Theatre's Family Values (March 11 to 14), David Williamson's dark comedy about a retired judge whose birthday is disrupted when his activist daughter brings home an asylum seeker on the run for Nauru.
For those who prefer their theatre to be more about action than words, there's the return of Indigenous company Bangarra Dance Theatre with a new work (July 16 to 18) and Circa's Peepshow (April 22 to 24) featuring aerial work and acrobatics in a show that's about "what it's like to be watched and to watch".
Schwab says, "Circa is back again - they've always got really beautiful work."
Adaptations of classic works are also in the season. Shake & stir, whose previous productions have included Dracula, are bringing their version of George Orwell's cautionary tale Animal Farm - last seen at the Q several years ago - to Canberra (August 20 to 22).
Speaking of adaptations, there are two classic Australian novels that have been turned into stage works. Belvoir is presenting Kendall Feaver's adaptation of My Brilliant Career (October 21 to 24) which the 1901 book by Miles Franklin. Directed by Kate Champion, it tells the story of Sybylla Melville, a young woman from a struggling rural family trying to make her mark on the world. Nikki Shiels plays Sybylla. Schwab says is "a Brindabellas story" as that is where Franklin's family lived - they eventually moved to Goulburn.
And as the first production to be announced of the ETCETERA collection of new works, there's Malthouse Theatre's Wake in Fright. Kenneth Cook's novel - an unsettling tale of a stranger stranded in the small outback town of Bundanyabba. It has been adapted into a one-woman show with accompaniment by electronica band friendships.
Although the story was set in the 1960s, Schwab says, "It's still ringing really true ... it's about how people are expected to behave and assimilate."
And there's an add-on show: Applespiel's Escape from Woomera (April 3) in which a video game about an asylum seeker that caused an uproar will be played live with commentary from a panel of artists, activists and former detainees.