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west end play EMLIA makes Australian debut at Art Center Melbourne | News

west end play EMLIA makes Australian debut at Art Center Melbourne | News

From the West End to Australia, the ground-breaking triple Olivier Award-winning stage show EMILIA will make its Australian debut at Arts Centre Melbourne from 10–27 November.

Inspired by 17th century poet and revolutionist Emilia Bassano – the supposed ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets this highly lauded show, written by British playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, features a team entirely made up of women and non-binary creatives from diverse cultural backgrounds.

This powerful historical drama – one that unapologetically champions all women – sees Manali Datar, Cessalee Stovall and Lisa Maza – each take on the role of Emilia.

It’s 1609. Emilia Bassano is a writer, wife, lover, mother and muse. All she wanted was her voice to be heard. Could she have been the ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets? What about her own poems? Why was her story erased from history?

Emilia and her sisters reach out to audiences across the centuries with passion, fury, laughter and song as they inspire and unite to celebrate women’s voices through the story of this trailblazing, forgotten woman.Over 400 years later, women are still faced with sexism, inequality and harassment. In recent times where the MeToo movement and Roe vs Wade have been most prevalent, it seems that we are not evolving fast enough.

This theatre piece shows that we are Emilia, that we must stand up alongside her and be counted. Fierce and provocative, EMILIA is the perfect mix of comedy and fury; a rollicking ride that takes audiences on an exuberant and moving journey though love, loss, identity, ambition, power, rebellion and what it is to be a woman in a man’s world.

In 2020, EMILIA won three Olivier Awards including Best Entertainment or Comedy Play, Best Costume Design and Best Sound Design.

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, EMILIA playwright:

“I am so thrilled EMILIA is coming to Australia! This show was an absolute joy to make and perform but it also opened up important conversations about whose stories we tell and how we tell them. It was created in the midst of Me Too and the bravery of all the women speaking out fuelled us. I wish I could say things have changed for the better since then, but it honestly feels like things have been getting even worse. So perhaps we need this show, and others like it, even more. It will mean all sorts of new things now and the Australian production will have very different resonance to the UK one, and this is exactly what the team who created it hoped for. As Emilia says: ‘Take the fire as your own… we want you to, we need you to.

Edwina Lunn, Director of Programming, Arts Centre Melbourne:

We are beside ourselves at Arts Centre Melbourne to be premiering the West End hit and triple Olivier Award-winning rollicking play EMILIA. We are proud as could be to partner with local theatre company Essential Theatre and grabbing this moment in time to herald the voice and life of Shakespeare’s mysterious ‘Dark Lady’. With a team entirely made up of women and non-binary creatives, this mock historical play by the astonishingly sharp Morgan Lloyd Malcom, shows just how vivid and charmingly powerful EMILIA is. EMILIA is elevated to the epitome of a feminist wrecking ball – a commanding voice and a modern hero for our times. She is every one of us. I am Emilia. We are all Emilia. Brace yourselves Melbourne – we know you are ready for the fire and fury, the funnies and the post show foyer fisticuffs.

Amanda LaBonté and Sophie Lampel, Essential Theatre Producers:

We’ll never forget hearing the final speech from EMILIA on a podcast and knowing in our bones we had to bring this extraordinary production to Australia. We had been looking for that special something to mark the milestone of our 20th anniversary and couldn’t believe how beautifully this play aligned with us; being a female-led company and having spent the last 20 years exploring Shakespeare through a female lens. We knew we had to present this in Australia. We were immediately inspired and invested so we contacted the playwright, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, within 24 hours. Over several Tweets she quickly learned of our enthusiasm and shared our dreams. We joined forces with Darylin Ramondo and Sonya Suares, and that’s when the real pitching started with her UK agent. Several months later, we were beside ourselves when we learned we had secured the Aussie rights to EMILIA. Then, COVID. But two-and-a-half years later


we are now poised to deliver EMILIA and we cannot be more excited.

The Times:

A firecracker production

A glorious blaze of passion and fury… richly funny


Season Details

Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne


Date: 10–27 Nov 2022

For more information click HERE

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