Melbourne Theatre Company Artistic Director Simon Phillips yesterday announced MTC Season 2011, his last for the Company.

Commenting on the season, Simon Phillips said ‘Moving into my final season as MTC Artistic Director after twelve years leading the Company, it may seem to some that I was preoccupied with the exit door when choosing the slogan for this year’s season: ‘Escape to another world’. Well, who knows what subconscious connections were being made? Though, I can say in all honesty that the only ‘escape’ we discussed during deliberations was for our audiences’.

For each of the past eleven seasons, I have followed – undoubtedly in my idiosyncratic fashion – the Company’s Mission Statement handed down from Artistic Director to Artistic Director for fifty-seven years: “To produce classic and contemporary Australian and international theatre with style, passion and world class artistic excellence.”

For my valedictory season, I wanted to go out directing two classic plays close to my heart: Hamlet – because it’s Hamlet (what other reason is there?), and a revival of my 1988 production of The Importance of Being Earnest – because, the high acclaim it received aside, it was a wonderful experience that wedded me emotionally to MTC, and if I can recreate a mere scintilla of that magic, I will leave the Company smiling.

When you have been in a job for a decade, it’s easy to dwell on how much things have changed. But when I give it a second thought, nothing has changed at all. In 2000, I dedicated myself to the task of finding the best, most entertaining, most intriguing, most (forgive the coinage) zeitgeisty works I could and deliver them to the discerning Melbourne public. MTC Season 2011 – as in all the other seasons – is no different.


The world premiere of Don Parties On, the sequel to David Williamson’s most popular work Don’s Party, with Garry McDonald, Diane Craig alongside Frankie J Holden and directed by Robyn Nevin.

The Australian premiere of Martin McDonagh’s A Behanding in Spokane, with Bert LaBonté and Tyler Coppin. Directed by Peter Evans.

The Australian premiere of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s Apologia featuring Robyn Nevin and directed by Jennifer Flowers.

Sarah Ruhl’s latest award-winning production In the Next Room or the vibrator play. An STC production with Jacqueline McKenzie, Mandy McElhinney, Josh McConville, Sara Zwangobani and Helen Thomson, directed by Pamela Rabe.

The Australian premiere of the Broadway smash hit, Next to Normal (Music by Tom Kitt and Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey). Director Dean Bryant, Musical Director Mathew Frank and actors Kate Kendall, Matt Hetherington and Bert LaBonté.

The world premiere Joanna Murray-Smith’s The Gift, featuring Richard Piper.

The world premiere of The Joy of Text by Melbourne playwright Robert Reid, starring Louise Siversen and directed by MTC Associate Director Aidan Fennessy.

A new production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Simon Phillips directs Ewen Leslie alongside, Pamela Rabe and Garry McDonald.

Black Swan State Theatre Company presents Tim Winton’s first ever play, Rising Water. Directed by Kate Cherry with John Howard, Alison Whyte and Claire Lovering.

The Australian premiere of Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park. Peter Evans directs, with Alison Whyte, Greg Stone and Zahra Newman.

The world premiere of Lally Katz’ latest work Return to Earth. Directed by Aidan Fennessy and featuring Julie Forsyth, Eloise Mignon and Kim Gyngell.

A revival of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Simon Phillips in his last MTC production as Artistic Director. With Jane Menelaus, Bob Hornery and Geoffrey Rush (playing Lady Bracknell).


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