Fourteen, the inspirational true story of growing up gay in central Queensland, has been transformed into a powerful must-see theatre production presented by shake & stir theatre co, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and Brisbane Festival.
The page-to-stage adaptation of Shannon Molloy’s best-selling memoir by the acclaimed shake & stir theatre co. makes its world premiere at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre from 27 August 2022 as part of Brisbane Festival.
Fourteen is an equal-parts uplifting and heart-wrenching account of Shannon’s experience at an all-boys rugby-mad Catholic school in regional Queensland; the bullying, torment and betrayal as well as the moments of resilience, love and hilarity that punctuated his 14th year.
shake & stir Artistic Director Ross Balbuziente said Fourteen struck a delicate balance between trauma and tribulation and the humour and heart that ultimately triumphed.
“We owe it to Shannon – and anybody else whose experiences mirror his – not to shy away from the more triggering moments and challenging themes but we also want to show the absolute power friendship and family can have on a 14-year-old,” Mr Balbuziente said.
“We’re staying true to the era of Fourteen so that means plenty of ‘90s pop culture references and a mixtape of bangers from Shania Twain to The Spice Girls.”
shake & stir’s co-Artistic Directors Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij worked closely with Mr Molloy to reimagine his memoir for the stage with Mr Skubij directing the production.
Mr Molloy said seeing his story come to life on QPAC’s stage felt surreal but also represented “a dream come true.”
“From the moment I started talking to shake & stir, I knew there was no one else I trusted with the task of taking my book and bringing it to theatre audiences,” he said.
“The love, compassion and enthusiasm the team has shown me will make this one hell of a show that can’t be missed.”
“I can’t wait to see how the darkness and the light, the hurt and the hope – and the camp ‘90s nostalgia – are translated to the stage,” said Molloy.
The Brisbane Festival production marks a homecoming for Brisbane-raised actor Conor Leach (Sequin in a Blue Room, MTC’s SLAP. BANG. KISS.) who plays Shannon in the autobiographical work.
Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said she was delighted to work with shake & stir to bring a fresh voice and a compelling Queensland story to the stage.
“This is a story with so much heart and I know that in the expert hands of Ross, Nelle and Nick, Fourteen will resonate not only with young people but with audiences who love exceptional theatre and strong storytelling,” she said.
“This is a beautiful and poignant story about hope, resilience and overcoming incredible adversity,” said Ms Bezzina.
QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said the Centre’s fruitful relationship with shake & stir had seen the presentation of many new acclaimed page-to-stage works from classic novels such as A Christmas Carol, Animal Farm and Jane Eyre.
“This contemporary work based on Shannon Molloy’s brave and heart-warming story will no doubt captivate and move audiences as it is adapted and delivered with shake & stir’s trademark story-telling and sensitivity,” he said.
“The messages within Molloy’s memoir are incredibly relevant today and we know that live performance is a powerful medium for people to experience other viewpoints, develop empathy and heal.
“shake & stir’s first ever presentation with Brisbane Festival, Fourteen, is set to be a highlight of this year’s program and a must see,” said Mr Kotzas.
Brisbane Festival returns to fill the city with three weeks of wonder, delight and celebration from 2 – 24 September 2022 with a full program announcement in July.
Fourteen is recommended for audiences aged 14+ as it contains strong coarse language, mature themes, simulated violence and depictions of sexual abuse.
Fourteen makes it world premiere at the Brisbane Festival from 27 August in QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.qpac.com.au for details.
Image: Conor Leach stars in Fourteen (supplied)