Two of Australia’s most exciting companies have joined forces for the first time in an explosive tale of one of ancient history’s most enduring myths.
Premiering at the Brisbane Festival at the Playhouse from August 29 to September 10, 2022, David Morton’s Holding Achilles brings together visual theater masterminds Dead Puppet Society (Ishmael; The Wider Earth; Laser Beak Man) and leading physical theater company Legacy On The Wall (Man With the Iron Neck; THAW) for an epic retelling of Homer’s Iliad, presented by the Brisbane Festival and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Set against the backdrop of the intense violence of the Trojan War, this genre production blends heightened physics and visual storytelling to weave a legend of mythical proportions.
Writer and director, Dead Puppet Society creative director David Morton says the world premiere production offers a fresh perspective on the radical saga.
“While there have been many adaptations of the Achilles story, in Holding Achilles we examine what is rarely explored – the human cost of this type of conflict,” Morton said.
“In Homer’s Iliad, Achilles describes his childhood friend and wartime companion Patroclus as ‘the man I loved above all other comrades, loved as my own life’, providing our starting point for reexamine the hero’s relationship with his lesser-known lover.
He warned audiences not to expect a traditional Iliad retelling.
“Our adaptation turns the notion of what is ‘heroic’ on its head. In this intimate account of the Trojan War, a bloody war story famous for its violence, the hero is a pacifist queer man.”
Leading the cast are Stephen Madsen and Karl Richmond as lovers Achilles and Patroclus, with Ellen Bailey, John Batchelor, Lauren Jackson, Thomas Larkin, Nic Prior, Christy Tran and Jennifer Vuletic rounding out the ensemble.
ARIA-winning Montaigne will perform live a haunting new score composed with ARIA-nominated record producer Tony Buchen and Chris Bear of Brooklyn-based indie rock band Grizzly Bear.
Holding Achilles co-creator and movement director, Legs On The Wall artistic director Joshua Thomson described the work as “a true queer epic”.
“Traditionally the story of Achilles has been violent, however, Holding Achilles seeks to capture the grace and power of the two central characters as the brutality of the conflict encircles them,” said Mr. Thomson.
“The use of world-class aerial and ground physics elevates this story to its full poetic potential.”
Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said the greatest thrill was bringing together the collective talents of Dead Puppet Society and Legacy On The Wall, combined with the haunting sound of Montaigne.
“The Brisbane Festival has a long and exciting relationship with Dead Puppet Society and Legs On The Wall and we are delighted to bring these two iconic Australian companies together for what I know will be an explosive collaboration,” said Ms Bezzina.
“The work of both companies shares similar characteristics in their exploration of non-verbal languages, their dedication to political and social questioning, their unapologetic ambition, and their unique ability to balance the intimate and the epic.
“I have no doubt that Holding Achilles, part of the 2022 Brisbane Festival, will be one of the most popular tickets in Australian theatre.”
QPAC chief executive John Kotzas said the power of the performing arts has allowed new stories to emerge and new perspectives on history that could be shared and revisited even thousands of years later. .
“The Playhouse will transform into a space reminiscent of an ancient amphitheater, drawing audiences into the centuries-old sacred spectacle of theatrical storytelling that crosses disciplines and forms,” Mr. Kotzas said.
Holding Achilles makes its world premiere at the Brisbane Festival, August 29-September 10 at QPAC’s Playhouse.
Brisbane Festival returns to fill the city with three weeks of wonder, delight and celebration from September 2-24, 2022 with a full program announcement in July.
Tickets for Holding Achilles will go on sale to the general public on Monday, June 6. For more information and tickets visit qpac.com.au