Media Release


After 10 and a half months off-stage, Melbourne Theatre Company will reopen on 29 January 2021 with Act 1 of its year in two acts, the return of its signature programs and the launch of MTC Digital Theatre.

MTC Artistic Director & CEO Brett Sheehy AO said, ‘Announcing our return to stage is a significant milestone – it marks the end of our longest stretch off-stage in the Company’s history and the beginnings of MTC’s recovery. It also signals our survival of 2020, MTC’s very own annus horribilis and a year that we could not have got through without the support of our audiences and broader community.

‘Act 1 is a celebration of new works – both those in development and those making their production premieres. Our Summer Series will bring artists, audiences and the theatre-making process together in a live setting for the first time in nearly a year. The two terrific productions that follow will mark our long-awaited mainstage return and we couldn’t be more excited to finally see them on stage after their postponement in 2020.’

Act 1 comprises a Summer Series of five special events over five weekends and the first two mainstage productions for the year – a world premiere MTC commission by Joanna Murray-Smith and the Australian premiere of a gripping contemporary play from Canadian writer Hannah Moscovitch.

Act 2 will be announced in March featuring a suite of productions, including the world premiere of a contemporary Aboriginal work, other new Australian plays and international hits.

As well as MTC’s onstage activity, the Company continues its investment in fostering the talents of artists, industry professionals and students through its signature programs.

Major new philanthropic support from The John and Myriam Wylie Foundation sees MTC’s First Peoples Young Artists Program return, while MTC’s other industry-leading initiatives, its Women in Theatre ProgramNEXT STAGE Writers’ Program and Education Program, also continue with philanthropic support.

For the first time, select productions will be available to view online when MTC Digital Theatre launches in 2021.

Bringing stunning theatre productions direct from stage to screen, audiences will be able to stream shows on-demand through the MTC website. Further announcements will be made in early 2021 about which productions will be available through MTC Digital Theatre.

MTC Executive Director & Co-CEO Virginia Lovett said, ‘Our reopening in January will be a truly wonderful moment. MTC is a much loved Melbourne icon and we are ready to help our beloved city bounce back and play an important role in the recovery of Victoria’s cultural life. There is still a long road ahead in our recovery but getting back on stage and having audiences return is the first important step.

‘On top of the fantastic theatre and MTC programs in 2021, we are very pleased to be launching MTC Digital Theatre. It’s an exciting new venture that will continue to break down barriers of access to the arts and see MTC reach new corners of the country.’


Five events over five weekends will bring audiences and artists back to Southbank Theatre for MTC’s Summer Series of semi-staged performances, play readings and sneak-peeks of works in development.

A bespoke staged reading of The Well by Louris van de Geer, adapted from the book of the same name by Elizabeth Jolley will take place on January 29 and 30 starring Heidi Arena, Nicholas Bell, Nadine Garner and Tamala Shelton. Directed by Sarah Goodes, the live reading will feature an aural design by sound artist Camilla Hannan.

Beating the Blues with Finn, Burns and Phillips offers audiences a sneak-peek into a new musical from the award-winning team of Carolyn Burns, Tim Finn and Simon Phillips. Collaborating again for the first time since the smash-hit show Ladies in Black, this stripped-back, early-insight performance will be a tantalising teaser of their yet-to-be-revealed upcoming musical. This special performance on February 5 and 6 will feature Alison Bell, Simon Gleeson and Chris Ryan.

On February 12 and 13, Well, That Happened created by Dean Bryant for Esther Hannaford, Bert LaBonté, Zahra Newman, Christina O’Neill and Eddie Perfect will take to the Sumner stage. Reflecting on the year that was, this special theatre event transforms the 2020 experiences of each performer into a work that is both personal and universal.

MTC’s annual Cybec Electric play readings return on February 19 and 20, supported by the Cybec Foundation. With scripts in hand and assistance from directors and dramaturgs, actors will present excerpts from new works-in-progress by Grace Feng Fang Juan, Margot Morales Tanjutco, Benjamin Nichol, Maurial Spearim, Dylan Van Den Berg and Jamaica Zuanetti. MTC’s NEXT STAGE residents Emme Hoy and Merlynn Tong, will also feature in the line-up, presenting some of their new writing.

Showcasing a work of powerful personal importance for playwright Andrea James and one that explores colonial Victorian ‘history’ through a vital First Nations’ lens, the first draft of The Black Woman of Gippsland will have a presentation on February 26 and 27. Demonstrating the continuing development process that new pieces of writing endure – Saturday’s reading may differ from the first as Andrea James takes on insights and observations from the initial public presentation to make subsequent textual adjustments for the second.


Two thrilling new MTC productions – both of which were amongst the first to be postponed in 2020 – mark the Company’s return to the mainstage.

Dan Spielman (Photograph 51) and Izabella Yena (Home, I’m Darling) star in the Australian premiere of Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes, a whipsmart #MeToo-era take on the archetypal student-teacher romance by award-winning Canadian writer Hannah Moscovitch. Helmed by MTC Associate Director Petra Kalive (Hungry Ghosts), this timely tale about the dangers of desire inverts everything you thought you knew about this burning issue.

Joanna Murray-Smith conjures a riveting world of lust and intrigue in Berlin, an MTC NEXT STAGE commission starring Grace Cummings (Prehistoric) and Michael Wahr (Shakespeare in Love), and directed by Iain Sinclair (A View from the Bridge). Pitting the devastating shadow of history against the dazzling promise of true love, Berlin weaves a universal story of youthful passion into a nail-biting game of philosophical cat and mouse that will keep you guessing to the very end.


Through its range of industry-leading programs, MTC continues its investment in artist development, arts education and career pathways for industry professionals.

MTC’s First Peoples Young Artists Program continues in 2021 thanks to support from a major donation from The John and Myriam Wylie Foundation. Now in its sixth year, the First Peoples Young Artists Program provides opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop their knowledge and experience of the creative industries. In 2021, YIRRAMBOI joins as a program partner along with the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development at VCA who have been a partner since the program’s inception.

MTC’s NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program is one of the most rigorous playwright commissioning and development projects ever seen in Australia. Launched in 2017, the program has so far resulted in 29 commissioned works and welcomed 11 writers-in-residence. In 2021, two NEXT STAGE commissions will continue their development as part of the Summer Series while Berlin makes its world premiere along with other NEXT STAGE premieres to come in Act 2. NEXT STAGE is made possible by the donors, foundations and organisations of MTC’s Playwrights Giving Circle.

MTC’s award-winning Education Program connects young people and teachers across Victoria to Melbourne’s home of theatre through enrichment programs, classroom resources, professional development and partnerships. Innovative learning activities enhance the theatre experience, and our ever-expanding suite of digital content and virtual workshops make MTC Education a world-leading program. 2021 will see MTC’s partnership with Virtual School Victoria continue, enabling the online delivery of Year 8 Drama, VCE Theatre Studies and VCE Drama. MTC Education is supported by the Education Giving Circle with additional programs made possible by individual donors and foundations.

Since 2013, MTC’s Women in Theatre Program has provided invaluable career development for women in our industry through a yearlong program comprising masterclasses and workshops, leadership training, networking opportunities and one-on-one mentoring. Designed to evolve with the needs of the industry, the second half of 2021 will see the program transition to focus on paid opportunities within creative technical design, as well as an investment in ongoing support and engagement for past participants as they navigate their careers in the industry. MTC’s Women in Theatre Program is supported by the Women in Theatre Giving Circle.

Tickets for Summer Series events go on sale today at 10am.

Tickets for Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes go on sale on Thursday 4 February and for Berlin on Thursday 25 February. More information can be found at

Tickets for Act 1 performances are limited due to reduced venue capacities. There are no subscription packages available for Act 1 and limits on tickets per booking may apply.

MTC 2021 – Act 2 will be announced in March 2021.

Download Act 1 images here.  

Download the Act 1 Guide here.

Published on 7 January 2021