Author Anthony Burgess’ controversial classic A Clockwork Orange is being staged at the Brisbane Arts Theatre next month – with a very interesting twist.
The play was first adapted for the stage by Burgess in 1987 from his own novel, in response to Stanley Kubrick’s cult 1971 film adaptation.
It explores an ultra-violent, disenfranchised youth culture, their concurrent clash with authority, and the complete lack of compassion exhibited by the story’s main characters.
Directors Bronwyn Morrow and Greg Scurr said the play explores “gang culture, masculinity, racism, classism, unemployment and moral decay alongside the equally corrupt state, the failed penal system and the defunct church” through realism and physical theatre, supported by a Beethoven soundtrack performed live.
But in an interesting move, Brisbane Arts Theatre’s production will also include two separate casts: one all-male and one all-female.
“The choice to do this was Artistic Director John Boyce’s,” Scurr explained.
“He wanted to explore our perception of violence as associated with a specific gender.
“We all know there are women who offend and commit violent crimes. Perhaps it is something we either don’t think about or morally can’t accept. Violence is not an exclusively male domain.
“Today, serving women in the military are expected to commit the same type of violence within their roles as their male colleagues. Whilst we know consciously that women can be violent offenders, seeing women perpetuating violence on stage in an intimate theatre may be confronting and divisive.
“We’re challenging the audience to reconsider that, in fact, a violent woman is not an exception to the rule, but a representative of a broader subset of the female gender.”
Both directors urged audience members to see both casts’ performances and observe their own different reactions.
Morrow said A Clockwork Orange also explores individual choice in conflict with government or institutionally imposed will.
“Anthony Burgess explores the notion of ‘choice’ and ‘freewill’ – and what happens when that is taken away,” she said.
“If it is taken away, then human nature – the natural being – no longer exists. What that ‘natural being’ decides to do when given the choice is up to him or her.”
A Clockwork Orange is on at the Brisbane Arts Theatre from January 6 to February 17. For tickets and more information visit the Brisbane Arts Theatre website.