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A dark story about memory, isolation and decay.
From internationally acclaimed, multi award winning creators Finucane & Smith comes the haunting and electrifying work, The Flood. Part mystery, part thriller, part whodunit, part psychological drama; The Flood has been hailed as “masterful… An Australia Gothic that defines the genre”. Premiering in 2009 at Melbourne’s iconic intimate La Mama Theatre, The Flood toured Australia in 2014 for 4 months, and in 2016/2017 will be translated and produced internationally, by some of Latin America’s most exciting contemporary theatre creators.
The Flood is Patrick White Playwright Award Winner Jackie’s second full length play. It was written over a 4-year period in between a back to back international touring schedule that saw Smith take her work The Glory Box to 300,000 people around the world, and create new works for major festivals, galleries, theatres and cabarets from Sweden to Tokyo to London to Ljubljana. Written in the snow in Paris, and the heat of Hong Kong, The Flood evokes a world far away from these metropolises, a run-down property in rural NSW, battered by drought and struggle, now threatened by the hundred-year flood.
The year is 1999 and the setting is a disused sheep farm in rural NSW. The farm is dilapidated, the homestead, once magnificent, is now dark and squalid. It sits by the river and now the river is rising. As the sun sets, the flood waters trap three women; a mother and her two daughters, one who takes care of her, one who has been away for 20 years. The screen door bangs open; Catherine has returned home from London, and amidst the claustrophobia, driving rain and decay, the truth about their family begins to float to the surface.
The Flood is an Australian Gothic. The set is a vast moonlit landscape, the black shadows of eucalypt trees against a darkening sky, seen through a veil of flywire. It is surreal and only too real; domestic and epic. Inside, a life of clutter, of memories pasted over, of claustrophobic chaos threatens to drown us. The gothic is often seen as a particularly European quality, but its hallmarks – the romantic, the uncanny and the sense of looming threat – are threaded through many tales, both contemporary and historic written about the Australian bush. When the river rises we spend the night with these three women and see the interface between the monstrous and the mundane.
Bristling with bone dry dark humour and edge-of the seat performances, The Flood plunges audiences into the lives of characters so real you feel you know them, and then reveals their secrets in twist, upon twist, upon twist. It’s a work where the sparks and humour of these very real and lively people draw you in, make you care and won’t let you go.
Director: Moira Finucane
Plundering high art, low art, street life, the natural world, the spiritual and the populist, Finucane creates compelling mesmerising performative worlds; crossing genres from cabaret to installation, drama to literary, underground club to gallery, museum to music hall to create indelible visions of humanity, freedom, power and desire.
Named a ‘national treasure’ in her home country of Australia, her work has been presented in festivals in 15 countries around the world, she has been acclaimed in twelve languages, she has won 15 theatre awards including 6 Green Room Awards, The Australia Council’s coveted Theatre Fellowship, The International Theatre Institute’s CHAMACO Award for Cuban International Presentation of the Year and the once-in-a-lifetime Contribution to Cabaret Award.
Her Provocative Variety work The Glory Box has been see by 300,000 people worldwide, has had hundreds of astonishing reviews in many languages, and was the very first Australian work ever to be invited to Latin America’s most prestigious international theatre festival, the Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires and to the Havana International Theatre Festival.
Her commissions by major international arts festivals to create new work have resulted in extraordinary new forms including The Frankenvariety in a disused military site for Mesto Zenks Festival (2015); the world’s first surreal indoor Carnival that became the smash hit of Melbourne International Arts Festival 2010; her first solo work for the Brisbane Festival that redefined transformative work for a new generation of writers, and her collaboration with cutting edge London visual artists Art2Go for QUN UK.
In 2014 Finucane was invited by China’s leading avant grade theatre director Meng Jinghui to play the lead role in Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechuan, produced by Malthouse and presented at The National Theatre of China and the Shanghai International Arts Festival. Over the last 5 years she has toured with her company to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Slovenia, Colombia, Norway, China and Cuba. In 2016 she directed Patrick White Award winning playwright Jackie Smith’s Australian Gothic The Flood to become the first Australian drama ever to be presented by the Shanghai International Theatre Festival, the largest and longest standing theatre festival in Eastern China.
The Flood is a work that grows out of Jackie’s shy childhood spent in Woomera and Deniliquin, her love of listening – to Australian stories and storytelling, her capacity for minute observation of humanity, and a body of writing that is so particularly Australian, whose language is often so sparse, dry, humorous and disturbing that it has turned heads from the very beginning, resulting in The Patrick White Playwright Award, shortlisting for the Griffin Award, The HQ short story award, The Kit Denton Fellowship and in 2 ABC Radio Awards.
The Flood premiered in December 2009 at the renowned La Mama theatre in Melbourne to a very powerful audience reaction, to a sell-out season, to immense critical acclaim including making it to 3 of “The Best of 2009” theatre lists.
“The Flood is a dark & ingenious piece of Australian gothic”. The Age
“It’s the best new piece of theatre I have seen this year”. Aus. Theatre
“A sense of menace, entrapment and thwarted hope lurk in Jackie Smith’s latest play”. Herald Sun
“Smith’s handling of the gothic form is masterful …You have to see this. It’s Australian theatre that speaks from the heart of the country”. MCV
“Brilliant dialogue that at its best sounds overheard”. The Age
“It’s an Australian Gothic horror that defines the genre”. Aus. Theatre
“Evocative…claustrophobic… and despite the dark themes, often funny…this is a strong new play with a distinctly Australian flavour”. Herald Sun
“The celebrated claustrophobic space of La Mama is electrified by the performances”. MCV
The cast… I am at a loss for words. They never let us see the acting”. Aus. Theatre
“See it. See it. See it.”. Aus. Theatre
“Quietly committed, rare and compelling; mummified in a stifling environment of slow decay and familial secrets. Slow burning…ultimately memorable”. Sunday Age