Bell Shakespeare brings The Merchant of Venice to NORPA

Money makes the world go around. Portia has it. Bassanio wants it. Shylock lends it. Antonio owes the value of it. Love also plays a part. Portia offers it. Bassanio wants it. And Antonio may lose a pound of flesh for it.

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NORPA is thrilled to welcome world acclaimed company, Bell Shakespeare, back to the stage of Lismore City Hall with their new production The Merchant of Venice for two evening performances on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 September.

Artistic Director, Peter Evans, said at the announcement earlier this year, “This uncompromising production explores the tense relationship and prejudices between those that have, and those that don’t. The themes of justice and revenge continue to play strongly 400 years after this play was written.”

Featuring three time Helpmann Award winner, Mitchell Butel (Janet King and Rake) as the defiant Shylock, and Jessica Tovey (Wolf Creek and Wonderland) as Portia, the production is directed by Anne-Louise Sarks (Belvoir’s Jasper Jones and Medea), this masterfully envisioned production tackles the prejudices and preconceived notions of one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays.

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Director Anne-Louise Sarks has developed a reputation for being unflinching in tackling difficult subjects.

“This is only the second time since becoming Artistic Director for Bell Shakespeare that we’ve invited a new director to join us in creating new work. Last year we were thrilled to be joined by Lee Lewis in directing The Literati. This year Anne-Louise Sarks takes the helm of our national tour and will get to present her work to 27 venues around Australia,” said Mr Evans.

Dark in its humour and bawdy in its romantic hijinks, The Merchant Of Venice takes audiences on a journey of love, mercy and justice.

"By any measure, this is great theatre. This is an intelligent close reading of the play. Little is overplayed, nothing is dodged. Shylock may be remembered as a career defining role for Mitchell Butel" The Australian

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NORPA announces team of Associate Artists to help shape contemporary theatre from regional Australia

An impressive team of highly skilled theatre makers has joined Northern NSW based theatre company NORPA as Associate Artists to deliver a greatly increased creative program.

Janis Balodis, Jade Dewi, Caroline Dunphy, Darcy Grant, Mitch King, Valley Lipcer, Kate McDowell and Emma Saunders will work alongside Julian Louis (Artistic Director) and Kirk Page (Associate Director) to create new devised works for NORPA; deliver masterclasses, workshops and training programs; host artist residencies; launch a program for children, families and school students; as well as develop their own works and strengthen creative connections into the Northern Rivers community.

Photograph by Kate Holmes

Photograph by Kate Holmes

The company also welcomes producer Jo Porter who will be working across multiple projects for NORPA including Djurra, directed by Kirk Page premiering in November at Artstate NSW, and a new work in development led by Julian Louis, slated for presentation in 2018.  

“This is an exciting time for NORPA – we are forging an adventurous, artist-led company within a creative cultural hub in regional Australia,” said Artistic Director Julian Louis. “All the artists joining us are accomplished makers in their own right and represent the cutting edge of Australian talent across a multitude of forms – dance, acrobatics, acting, writing, music, production. Each artist brings their own ideas, passion and expertise. They connect us with a myriad of communities and inform NORPA’s aesthetic and creative process.”  

“Together we will create bold, new devised works and a far reaching artistic program that is physical, visceral, ambitious, inclusive and occupies a unique place in the national theatre landscape.”  

For more about each Associate Artist, click here.

Immediate opportunities for people to take advantage of the expertise of the new Associate Artists are via masterclass series and a weekly drop-in class. These are a dance-theatre masterclass with Emma Saunders (Dance Theatre Masterclass 31 Aug – 2 Sept) and a physical theatre and acrobatic masterclass with Darcy Grant (Balancing Dynamics 18-22 September), plus a drop-in weekly class exploring improvisation and performance with Jade Dewi (Training Ground 18-22 September). NORPA Artistic Director Julian Louis will also be involved in all classes. NORPA is offering three complimentary places per masterclass series.   For more information about all classes, click here.

Read NORPA's Quarterly Newsletter for more news about NORPA's creative program.


Depends What You Mean By Extremist: John Safran comes to NORPA

John Safran, a Paladin dwarf and an ISIS supporter walk into a Catholic Church. Neo-Nazis are on the same side as the Jews. Pauline Hanson denies she was ever against Asian immigration… Welcome to Australia 2016. If it sounds mad, that’s because it is. And funny. But apparently that’s a dangerous thing now too – as Safran has just found out.

 A Feature Event presented by Byron Writers Festival and NORPA,  Safran reveals his alarming adventures in a weird world of misfits whose extremist views (and behaviour) have helped propel the rise of the alt-right. Welcome to a place in time where blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys grow-up aspiring to be ISIS freedom fighters, an Islamic preacher quotes Monty Python and newly arrived immigrants oppose multiculturalism. Yep, that’s right. It all depends what you mean by extremist…
John Safran will be in conversation with arts journalist, provocative performance artist and producer Bec Mac discussing Safran’s latest book Depends What You Mean By Extremist.
It’s Melbourne, 2015. John Safran (who’s always been interested in racists) rocked up to observe the second ‘Reclaim Australia’ versus ‘No Room for Racism’ rally. It turned out to be a multicultural anti-multicultural rally. Confused? So was John. And even more confusing, each of the opposing sides had appropriated the swastika for their banners. Intrigued – and somewhat alarmed, John began digging a little deeper.
“So it turns out I wasn’t the only Jew at the rally. There were two and a half more. Not protesting against the United Patriot Front, but supporting them? That clinches it. Skinheads side by side with Jews; immigrants against immigrants; Shermon’s promise of a far-right hajj – this is a case for John Safran, Jew Detective.
In the process he invariably finds himself in precarious and funny situations; slamming down tequila shots with Neo-Nazis, threatened with arrest by the Australian Liberty Alliance, praying with evangelical Christians, and arguing over scripture with an Iman, an Islamic preacher and a Paladin Dwarf.
He crosses the country and turns up where he’s not wanted; from the lawns of Parliament House in Perth, to a fascists rally for Golden Dawn in Brisbane, and the highly anticipated 10th anniversary of the Cronulla Riots in Sydney. Along the way he finds himself chastised by anarchists, outwitted by Jews, set-up by white nationalists, stood-up by Hanson and warned-off by Satan.
With an eye on what’s happening in his own community; escalating violence against Rabbis, increased security at synagogues, anti-Semitic propaganda in the mail, Safran takes up Israeli martial arts and starts carrying a knife. Then with sudden clarity he realises that it’s exactly these incremental changes that make way for a new way of living, of thinking, of being; that become the small stepping stones to radicalization. Just how rogue will Safran go?
Inevitably as Safran engages with the opposing factions the more compromised he becomes; privy to their secrets, he is acutely aware of his potential power to play the puppetmaster and change the course of events. Ultimately his uncanny knack for inserting himself into the action reveals an alarming common thread of ‘magical thinking’ among these outliers, that is, their conviction that there are no coincidences and a sense the end times are coming.
‘"I think about all the people I’ve been hanging with over the year, Pastor Daniel, Hamza, and the rest... It’s hard to cut a deal with people who think that what they’re doing will bring on the Messiah."
In Depends What You Mean by Extremist Safran unravels the complex tangles of race, religion, ethnicity and nationalism at play in Australia today. He calls out the contradictory and illogical arguments proffered by the extremists in our own backyard, while reminding us (with a raised eyebrow to the reader), of the vital and often dangerous role that humour and satire can play in tackling a seemingly global rise in hate, racism and extremism.

Depends What You Mean By Extremist:
John Safran in conversation with Bec Mac

Presented by Byron Writers Festival and NORPA
NORPA at Lismore City Hall
Cost: $30
Tickets here


NORPA gifts performance tickets to flood affected families

 NORPA and Circus Oz are donating 100 tickets to the company's upcoming show to flood affected families and individuals via Lismore Helping Hands community group.
The internationally acclaimed company's brand new show Model Citizens is currently touring nationally and will be performed at NORPA at Lismore City Hall on Friday 12 & Saturday 13 May.

Circus Oz is the first show NORPA has been able to present since the flood inundated the entire bottom floor of Lismore City Hall causing extensive damage to the Box Office, administration office, kitchen and dance studio.
Circus Oz and NORPA have also conducted free workshops this week for a number of schools in the region affected by the flood.
Lismore Helping Hands community group, with the help of other local agencies will distribute the free tickets to flood affected families and individuals.
“This is our way of saying thank you to the community of Lismore who have helped us so much at NORPA and Lismore City Hall in our time of need,” said NORPA’s General Manager Patrick Healey. “We know how exhausting and heartbreaking the clean up is and that there are families and individuals in our community who could do with a bit of time out to enjoy a fabulous show thanks to Circus Oz. Lismore Helping Hands have been at the coalface of helping people in our community and are well positioned to distribute the tickets to those who are having a tough time.”
Councillor Elly Bird from Lismore Helping Hands said "This generous offer from NORPA and Circus Oz will be greatly appreciated by families who have been impacted by the floods, who we have been helping over the last four weeks. Helping Hands will work closely with NORPA and other agencies to get these tickets to those families so they can have a great night out at the circus.”
Matt Hughes, Programming Director of Circus Oz, completed his university studies in Lismore, living with his grandparents. “I understand the heartache, anguish and trauma the flood-water brings, the hard work commences after the water recedes.”
“I also witnessed the resilience and spirit that demonstrated the strength of a community and how the people of Lismore support each other in times of need. As a company, Circus Oz celebrates diversity and human kindness, offering creativity and inspiration in the form of world class Contemporary Circus. When NORPA suggested we work with them and assist Lismore Helping Hands we were only too pleased to agree to such a worthy cause.”
About Model Citizens by Circus Oz
Stunningly lit and driven by a sensational live music soundtrack, Model Citizens seamlessly blends the risk and beauty of breathtaking physical improbability with no shortage of theatricality, choreography and, of course, absurdity!
The action unfolds within the cleverly designed model kit world that challenges perspective, scale and normality. Oversized everyday objects become an intriguing new playground of possibilities for the all-human ensemble, offering a new life as unexpected circus equipment. Imagine scaling a 6m safety pin, backflipping off a giant vertical clothes peg, getting tangled in an oversized cotton reel, or flying high in an enormous pair of aerial undies...
Audiences will be taken on a visually and emotionally charged journey by the multi- talented Circus Oz ensemble, exploring what it really means to be a model citizen in today's model kit society.
Circus Oz last performed at NORPA in 2014 to sell-out audiences. Tickets for Model Citizens are still available but are going fast.
Friday 12 May, 7:30pm
Saturday 13 May, 1pm & 7:30pm
NORPA at Lismore City Hall
$25 - $55
Bookings: or 1300 066 772