Griffin Theatre Company will bid a temporary farewell to its iconic home at the SBW Stables Theatre by staging The Lewis Trilogy, an unmissable seven-hour epic set from one of Australia’s most legendary dramatists Louis Nowra, from 9 February – 21 April 2024.
The Lewis Trilogy spans three of Nowra’s most iconic plays, freshly adapted for Griffin’s epic season, shining a light on the SBW Stables Theatre in a way that has never been seen before. Over ten glorious weeks, audiences can choose to watch all three plays on separate nights or enjoy an extraordinary full-day experience.
Staged for the first time back-to-back in the way Nowra intended, Griffin’s landmark production of The Lewis Trilogy will be performed by an ensemble of eight of Sydney’s favourite actors including Paul Capsis (Angela’s Kitchen), Ursula Yovich (The Sapphires) and William Zappa (The Dry).
A semi-autobiographical work, The Lewis Trilogy paints a colourful portrait of a life well lived, with the three plays written between 1992 and 2017.
Summer of the Aliens – not seen on Australian main stages since 1993 – kicks off the theatrical triptych. The play follows a 14-year-old Lewis on the outskirts of working-class Melbourne. Set against the backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis, Summer of the Aliens is a sun-soaked coming-of-age classic about class, closed doors and global catastrophes of galactic proportions.
The Australian classic, Così follows. Known to many as a fixture of the school curriculum and adapted into a film, Così sees Lewis as a fresh university graduate enlisted to direct a Mozart opera with the in-patients at a mental health ward. Outside, Australia’s anti-Vietnam war movement is reaching fever pitch; inside tensions are becoming operatic.
The final play, This Much is True, was written 25 years after its predecessors. The maraschino cherry on the Trilogy is Nowra’s ode to the old timers, motley crews and unknowing raconteurs that commune at the local watering hole.
Now middle-aged and divorced, Lewis is now plonked between social housing and multi-million-dollar apartments in Nowra’s beloved Woolloomooloo. This Much is True is a divine comedy set against a ticking clock, with “last drinks” called for Lewis before life’s big questions are answered.
“I wanted the three plays to be really affectionate towards human beings,” said Louis Nowra. “Another playwright could take the asylum and housing commission and make them into a really dark play.”
“I wanted to say that these people make up my world, they’ve influenced me greatly, they give me so much more than I give them,” said Nowra.
“Louis Nowra’s name is synonymous with the best of Australian playwriting,” said Declan Greene, Griffin’s Artistic Director and director of The Lewis Trilogy. “But it’s also synonymous with King’s Cross – which Louis has historied with the same humour, tenderness, and unflinching candour as you’ll find in his plays.
“I can think of no better way to celebrate the legacy of the SBW Stables Theatre, and its home near the Coke sign, than with a celebration of Louis.”
There are inextricable ties between Nowra, Kings Cross and Griffin Theatre Company, and the work is a fitting way to celebrate the Stables’ Darlinghurst legacy before the theatre undergoes a major redevelopment, closing mid-2024 and re-opening in 2026.
Director: Declan Greene | Featuring: Thomas Campbell, Paul Capsis, Philip Lynch, Masego Pitso, Nikki Viveca, Darius Williams, Ursula Yovich, William Zappa | Set Designer: Jeremy Allen | Costume Designer: Melanie Liertz | Lighting Designer: Kelsey Lee | Composer & Sound Designer: Daniel Herten | Script Consultant, Inclusion, Intimacy & Consent Coordinator: Bayley Turner | Script Consultant, Disability: Christopher Bryant | Stage Managers: Isabella Kerdijk, Tyler Fitzpatrick | Fight Choreographer: Tim Dashwood | Associate Director: Daley Rangi | Costume Assistant: Meg Anderson
The Lewis Trilogy
SBW Stables Theatre
Season: 9 February – 21 April 2024
Information and Bookings: www.griffintheatre.com.au
Image: Paul Capsis stars in The Lewis Trilogy – courtesy of Griffin Theatre Company