It will be the first time Larrakia actor and playwright Jada Alberts — a rising star of Indigenous theatre and screen — has directed her own work when her play Brothers Wreck opens first in Melbourne and then Adelaide next month.
Ms Alberts began writing the play, which deals with suicide, in 2011 and it had a run at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney in 2014, directed by Leah Purcell.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Ms Alberts, who has gained more directing experience in the years in between, says she is taking a different approach with the new production for the State Theatre Company in South Australia and Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne.
She says designer Dale Ferguson, who did the original production is back, but the set will look very different.
“The set-up is very different,” she says. “The staging is very different. His set design is quite un-naturalistic and is much more of a psychological space and an internal space than the original.
“That is also setting the play on its head a bit. It is absolutely a new production and a different production.”
The new cast includes Trevor Jamieson (Rabbit Proof Fence and The Secret River), Nelson Baker (The Warriors), Lisa Flanagan (Australian Rules), Leonie Whyman (Dance Academy: The Movie) and Dion Williams (The Time of Our Lives, Gallipoli, Redfern Now).
Ms Alberts wrote Brothers Wreck in the wake of a suicide that deeply affected one of her cousins.
She says it will be the biggest directing role she has stepped into so far.
“I understand these characters because they are all a part of me and based on people I love and they are all different expressions of my own journey over the years,” she says.
“That is something you have to work a lot harder with when the material is not your own.
“I’m really lucky also that there is a bit of difference between when the original was on and now.
“I’m a different writer now and I have this directing experience and what I like seeing in a theatre has changed as well – all of those things have added to the richness of directing rather than taking from it.
“I can have a relationship with the material now and I know that it has been tried, tested and it works and for now it’s just a matter of how do we tell this in a way I’m really interested in with these great people.”
Ms Alberts was associate script producer on the second series of the ABC sci-fi series Cleverman, co-wrote two episodes and also acted in it.
- Brothers Wreck runs in Melbourne from June 8-23 and in Adelaide from June 27 to July 14.