Annual Shakespeare extravaganza at Everglades

There’s the kookaburra that interrupted his stellar performance as Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more recently the wicked summer storms that ripped apart the dressing room tents and left Lapstone’s Drew Livingston and other actors scrambling to save the set and props.

But the Mountains performer wouldn’t have it any other way.

Immersive and ambitious Shakespeare’s Rose Riot has two plays adapted from eight Shakespearean productions: Drew Livingston, plays the leader of a rebellion against Queen Henry, Emma Palmer.

Immersive and ambitious Shakespeare’s Rose Riot has two plays adapted from eight Shakespearean productions: Drew Livingston, plays the leader of a rebellion against Queen Henry, Emma Palmer.

“No other audience got that experience, so that was part of the charm,” Livingston told the Gazette of the laughing kookaburras. “And with the storm, luckily it was the dress rehearsal ...we saw it all coming and packed down as best we could.”

Livingston is thrilled to be part of the 10th year of Sport for Jove, playing a rebel in both shows at Leura’s Everglades in The Hollow Crown and The Wars of the Roses. He calls it an epic “greatest hits” adaptation of some of Shakespeare’s bigger historical plays, with some of the best poetic text Shakespeare wrote that is usually unheard.

Livingston said because of the sheer amount of text in the history plays, companies often shied away from producing them for the stage.

The Hollow Crown (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V) and The Wars of the Roses (Henry VI, Richard III) are presented as two distinct but linked productions. Audiences can enjoy either show as a standalone production or experience the full cycle by seeing both.

At Everglades in Leura: Rose Riot - Ensemble. Photo by Seiya Taguchi

At Everglades in Leura: Rose Riot - Ensemble. Photo by Seiya Taguchi

Artistic director Damien Ryan’s incredible adaptation of Shakespeare’s extraordinary history cycle, covers 100 years of humanity and a pantheon of the earth’s most remarkable political thinkers and drinkers, warriors and clowns, villains, heroines and despots. From Richard II to Henry IV, Harry and Kate Percy, Falstaff and Henry V, Joan of Arc, Henry VI, the Queens Margaret and Elizabeth, Richard Plantagenet, the Lady Anne and her lover, “misshapen Dick”.

“It’s not just the extraordinary battles, political factionalism and its revolving door of new kings and queens, it is its sheer humanity that draws me to it,” said Ryan.

“It is extravagant, violent, funny, fierce and very moving. It could be described as history’s greatest leadership spills.”

Livingston said the works are very accessible for the audience, but very physically demanding for the actors, especially with the recent heat.

“But you will truly see some of the best Shakespearean actors in the country performing,” he added.

Livingston clearly has a love of Shakespeare, even composing music to go with Shakespeare’s sonnets with his wife, Naomi in recent years.

“Shakespeare is the ultimate text to work on, the challenges, the joys … you get to really relish the language.”

Livingston met his wife met through the Blue Mountains Musical Society. “We wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing without that Society.”

The shows start on January 12 and finish on January 27. Show times are: Jan 12, 6.30pm, The Hollow Crown, Jan 13, 6.30pm, The Wars of the Roses, Jan 18, 6.30pm, The Hollow Crown, Jan 19, 6.30pm, The Wars of the Roses, Jan 20, 2pm, The Hollow Crown and 6.30pm The Wars of the Roses, Jan 25, 6.30pm, The Hollow Crown, Jan 26, 2pm, The Hollow Crown and 6.30pm, The Wars of the Roses, Jan 27, 2pm, The Hollow Crown and 6.30pm, The Wars of the Roses.

Tickets Adult $42, concession $32, family bundle (two adults, two concession) $120, children nine and under are free. Come once or see both shows and get a 20 per cent discount off tickets on the second performance. Bookings www.sportforjove.com.au.

Livingston is also set to appear in a touring production at the Lyric Theatre of Billy Elliot.