Sarah Goodes came to Melbourne Theatre Company off a successful tenure as a resident director at Sydney Theatre Company, and an established reputation for bringing new Australian work to the stage. In her four extraordinary years with us, she has directed many memorable plays – including The Children, which won three Helpmann Awards for the company, including Best Director and Best Production.
Take a trip down memory lane as we celebrate her many achievements with MTC to date.
Home, I’m Darling (2020)
The only 2020 MTC show to run a full season, Home, I'm Darling’s Australian premiere saw Goodes guiding a stellar cast of Nikki Shiels, Toby Truslove, Jane Turner, Peter Paltos, Izabella Yena and Susie Youssef through Laura Wade’s Olivier Award-winning play about one woman’s quest to be the ideal 1950s housewife. Reviewing the show for Stage Whispers, Michael Brindley noted that ‘director Sarah Goodes, as ever skilful in using a big space, sharpens the ironies and contradictions at every point.’
Golden Shield (2019)
The first NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program play to go into production for a mainstage season, Golden Shield was a riveting original work from Anchuli Felicia King that was nominated for seven Green Room awards. Following its MTC premiere, it is now scheduled to debut internationally off-Broadway as part of the 2021-2022 season at New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club. Calling the play a ‘triumph’, reviewer Alison Croggon noted in The Saturday Paper that it was ‘a hugely impressive achievement, rendered with a supple intelligence that’s reflected in Sarah Goodes’ equally impressive production.’
Louis Nowra’s Australia classic felt ‘refreshed and revivified in Sarah Goodes’ production’, said Cameron Woodhead in his review of the Sydney Theatre Company co-production in The Age. In Time Out, Anne-Marie Peard noted that Goodes’s ‘direction mixes farce, realism, social commentary and hints of magical realism [and] shines in her love for the characters.’
Arbus & West (2019)
A fictionalised version of the 1964 meeting between Hollywood bombshell Mae West and legendary photographer Diane Arbus, Stephen Sewell’s Arbus & West starred Diana Glenn and Melita Jurisic in the title roles, with Jurisic collecting a nomination for the Helpmann Award for Best Actor for her performance. ‘Sarah Goodes’s production is sophisticated, thoughtful and convincing,’ Chris Boyd wrote for The Australian.
Albert Belz’s heartwarming coming-of-age tale about gifted arcade gamer Jimmy Djalu was a love letter to 1980s Geelong. ‘There is a lot of fun under the direction of Sarah Goodes,’ wrote Thuy On at ArtsHub. ‘80s hits and breakdancing gyrations are easily exploited for the feel-good factor.’
A Doll’s House, Part 2 (2018)
From US Playwright Lucas Hnath, A Doll’s House, Part 2 provided a contemporary spin to Ibsen’s classic play, continuing heroine Nora Helmer’s story in a fascinating sequel-of-sorts. Goodes directed the Australian premiere of this Broadway smash hit, and it quickly became an audience favourite, selling out an extended season and picking up a raft of rave reviews. ‘Director Sarah Goodes continues to prove herself as one of our most assured theatre markers,’ wrote Maxim Boon in The Music, ‘most especially with work such as this, that exists in a vocabulary of hushed realism that thrums with visceral electricity just beneath the surface.’
The Children (2018)
Sarah Goodes won the Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Play for her work on The Children, British playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s widely acclaimed drama set in the wake of a Fukushima-style nuclear disaster. The production also won the Helpmann Award for Best Play, and scored Pamela Rabe the Helpmann for Best Female Actor in a Play. Writing for The Daily Review, Tobias Manderson-Galvin noted that ‘Goodes has made a name as a go-to for successful, main-stage comedies and she’s in her element in this contained, traditional work ... [she] deftly and gradually uncovers the drama, all the while maintaining the broad and pointed humour.’
Three Little Words (2017)
The sharp social comedy of Three Little Words saw Goodes taking on another Joanna Murray-Smith work, following her hit with Switzerland (see below). In Time Out Melbourne, Tim Byrne noted that ‘Director Sarah Goodes does a terrific job ... She elicits uniformly strong performances ... It means that Murray-Smith’s greatest asset – her savage wit – gets the space it needs, and the night whips along.’
‘Director Sarah Goodes guides a must-see production that revels in the ambiguity, mystery and too-close-for-comfort humour in the writing,’ wrote Anne-Marie Peard for Aussie Theatre. Playwright Annie Baker’s ‘writing is as complex as life but she never wants her audience to forget that they are in a theatre. Goodes’s production lets this conceit pay off again and again, and, as the stories unravel and tangle, we’re reminded how theatre can get inside our minds and stay with us like ghosts.’
Helen Morse and Melita Jurisic received Helpmann Award nominations for their performances in John.
Goodes directed Switzerland for Sydney Theatre Company in 2014, but its MTC season counts as her first show with the Company. Written by Joanna Murray-Smith and nominated for three Helpmann Awards, this fictionalised tale about author Patricia Highsmith featured Sarah Peirse and Eamon Farren; Peirse won a Sydney Theatre award for her performance.
Sarah Goodes directs the upcoming work-in-progress staged reading of The Well as part of MTC 2021 – Act 1, and is working on new projects with Tony Briggs and Virginia Gay for MTC. Goodes will also direct two new Australian works in MTC 2021 – Act 2, the details of which will be revealed in March.
Published on 14 January 2021