30 March 2023

Goulburn theatre is raising the curtain on 2023 with new production and new artistic director

| Claire Sams
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two male actors rehearsing

Martin Sanders and Harrison Treble are among the cast members set to perform in Hir. Photo: Peter Oliver.

The Lieder Theatre returns this year with an exciting new production and artistic director.

Play director Blake Selmes said the decision was made to stage Taylor Mac’s Hir (pronounced ”here”) because of the strength of the script and characters.

“I knew I wanted to start the year with a really strong show with a really small cast of good, seasoned performers and this one just ticked all those boxes,” he said.

Melissa Chandler, Martin Sanders, Harrison Treble and Emmi Robinson have joined the cast, portraying the dysfunctional Connor family.

In Hir, when veteran Isaac Connor returns home to care for his ill father, he finds a home very different to the one he remembers, with a newly out transgender sibling and a mother freed from domestic labour.

“The play itself deals with some darker issues, but what it does is it takes you to a place where you generally feel a little bit uncomfortable and then finds a way to make you laugh in that space, which is quite powerful,” Mr Selmes said.

“It’s a very powerful piece in that it starts as a comedy but it has a bit of a gut punch at the end, it makes you think.”

Hir also has extra meaning, as it is the first production that Mr Selmes is overseeing as artistic director.

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He succeeded well-loved Chrisjohn Hancock in the position at the start of the year. Mr Hancock retired in 2022 after 30 years in the role and more than 100 productions.

The 2023 season was planned by a committee at Lieder Theatre Company, of which Mr Selmes was a member, while Mr Hancock was on sabbatical, before his appointment to the artistic director role.

From 2024, he will plan what shows will be performed in coming theatre seasons.

However, Mr Selmes will still be hard at work this season, with his duties including building sets and organising light and sound for upcoming productions.

He joined Lieder Theatre Company “seven or eight years ago” as a performer.

“Due to living in Goulburn, I wanted to reach out to see what I could do here, and I was quite encouraged by the professionalism of the operation and, especially, of the output.”

He said a company such as Lieder gave an individual more than a space to be creative as it provided a community.

“It’s a great position because one gets to put out consistent work on a regular basis and have a space to be experimental,” he added.

Mr Selmes said the community’s support for the Lieder Theatre Company, including those coming on board as volunteers, was much appreciated.

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“It’s brilliant that so many people want to give up their time towards these projects – we couldn’t do it without them!”

Lieder’s 2023 season is set to include a youth theatre showcase, as well as productions of The Secret River, Mighty Playwrights and The Witches.

Hir is recommended for audiences aged 16 and older as it features adult themes, coarse language and references to domestic violence and emotional trauma.

The performances will be held at the Lieder Theatre, 52 Goldsmith Street.

Opening night will be on 12 April, with the run ending on 22 April.

Tickets cost between $15 and $30 and can be purchased online.

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