Dionysus Theatre, the contemporary company housed on the Mornington Peninsula, introduces the theme of the inaugural Arete festival of short plays written specifically to the theme, a company initiative set to become an annual event.
Each year a new theme will be released and writers can submit their short scripts for consideration. Anyone is welcome to submit. Writers can be published, previously performed or virgin wielders of the theatrical pen. Local writers are encouraged – of the seven showcased playwrights in this year’s festival four are from the peninsula, two are from Melbourne and one from interstate. Submissions will also be invited from interested directors, artists who wish to respond to the theme in their own mediums with work to be exhibited at and/or used within the performance itself and Dionysus also welcomes alternate interpretations on the theme. For example, this year includes a self-devised, one-woman performance in a series of interludes.
This theme was chosen from an initial desire to explore the lack of equality for women in our world today. Not only in far off shores, where we are frequently horrified by the laws and brutality that oppress and abuse them, but also right here at home. We see women demeaned in our advertising, workplaces, politics, entertainment and media. Clichés still run rampant and perhaps our society needs to reexamine how woman are treated, and how they’re portrayed. Have we really advanced? Or are we moving slowly and surreptitiously backwards?
Given that Ancient Greece was the birthplace of Western Theatre, the company takes its name from the patron of Drama; the Greek god of wine, pleasure and fertility (suggesting a great night out). Every year in Athens, festivals were held in Dionysus’ honour, including competitions between playwrights as their comic and tragic works were performed, much drinking and debauchery. We at Dionysus Theatre thought we’d do some theatre and serve some wine, but we might just leave it at that for now.
Extending on the Greek theme, allow us to introduce Arete. The word Arete originates in ancient Greece and has many interpretations. While difficult to accurately translate, it is generally understood to mean striving for excellence, being the best that you can be and is also wound up in the notion of moral virtue. Dionysus aims to present a theme each year that not only sparks reflection of our society and its morals but also to provide a platform for artists of all theatrical natures to hone their craft, providing support for excellence and an audience for feedback.
This year’s works explore many and varied interpretations of the theme. The issue of marriage as ownership, the impact of an affair on both women, the ability to control not only gender of an unborn child but also personality and ability, sexism in the media and asks the question, what does it mean to be a feminist?
Dionysus Theatre’s inaugural Arete Festival is proud to showcase the written works of Matt Allen, Lachlan Casey-Roleff, Sarina Cassino, Brett Hicks, Amelia Hunter, Shane Isheev and Emma Workman Bolt. These pieces are to be directed by Beck Benson, Amelia Hunter, Loreta Murphy, John Russell, Riley Spadaro, Emma Sproule and Jesse Thomas. Dionysus also welcomes artists in residence Laura Purcell, whose work on the theme will be exhibited in the theatre foyer, and Michael Van Der Linden whose construction features in all seven of the performed works.
News & Reviews
“Everyone has to start somewhere” is an old adage. On that basis, creative director Emma Sproule – who burst onto the scene in 2012 with an electrifying production of Exit The King – has created the first short play festival for the company, in the hope of it becoming an annual event. – Coral Drouyn
“Areté Alpha” is a very big production. This festival features seven plays, including one in four parts, which are the work of as many separate playwrights. Seven directors are involved. Set, sound, costume and multimedia design is by the directors, with lighting designed by Simon Horsburgh. Each play has its own unique cast, with no actor appearing twice. So, as you can imagine, a very big cast. – Emma Kathryn
Emma Sproule and her Dionysus Theatre introduce the theme of the inaugural Arete festival of short plays written specifically to the theme, a company initiative set to become an annual event. – K.E. Weber