Celebrating the power of theatre and art during a pandemic, Louis Nowra’s COSI will play once more in an ambitious and limited season. Presented by THAT Production Company and Mira Ball Productions, this collaboration sees independent artists unite to tell shine a spotlight on individual and community mental health and wellbeing.
Staged at Booval’s Cambrian Centre, this rendition tells of isolated characters and aims to connect community members with stories close to home. Not only have recent times seen the effects of COVID-19 devastate local businesses and the arts industry, but mental health is on the rise due to lockdowns and isolation.
Co-producer and Director, Timothy Wynn, spoke of the relevance this play holds in society today.
“COSI has all the qualities to make it one of Australia’s most classic plays,” said Wynn.
“There are colourful characters that are a delight for actors, pivotal moments of crisis, challenges, emotional arcs, romance and a strong sense of community. As an audience we cringe, laugh and feel, as we can easily recognise ourselves in those that are shown on stage.
“COSI is about art bringing people together and making a community
in a time when that is what we as a society are craving.”
COSI is a classic Australian tragicomedy with madcap poignancy and where Mozart and madness combine. The story is set in 1971, where Lewis (played by Connor Hawkins) has taken a job in a mental institution, filled with people ostracised from society. As anti-Vietnam protests march on the
streets outside, inside Lewis navigates romance, friendship, and art, with his new motley-crew community.
Nowra’s classic holds a beloved place in the hearts of Australian culture – from its debut in the 70s, an Aussie cultural calling card on the international stage in the 80s, the cult film starring Toni Collette and Barry Otto in the 90s, to its Queensland revival in the 2010s, the memorable ensemble, political backdrop, and optimistic heart continues to resonate with audiences.
Performing from 15-18 October 2020, COSI will play for a strictly limited season as part of Queensland Mental Health Week. The production gives local artists an opportunity to return to the stage, especially when many of them lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Theatre legend, Karen Crone, shared her excitement to return to the beloved text in the gender-swapped role of Roy. Crone has previously played Cherry for two productions and directed the show herself. She spoke of the influence Nowra’s characters can have on audiences.
“Nowra speaks to us all through these characters, and each of us empathises with the situation,” said Crone.
“Roy is a powerhouse of enthusiasm, nothing seems to slow him down, except maybe being confronted with the reality of an audience. He has dreams, and in many ways, I use dreaming to breathe his lived life.
“2020 has been incredibly challenging for everyone. COSI allows us to reflect, consider and laugh. What better therapy than laughter.”
Jackson McGovern, who plays pyromaniac Doug, also shared why COSI is important for today’s audiences.
“COSI is a “now” play for so many reasons. But I think the one that stands out to me most is to ask some important questions about how we treat our most vulnerable. It’s set in the 70s and I find it pretty amazing how little we’ve progressed in terms of how we support people who need it most, and how art can really help with that,” said McGovern.
“No, a couple of plays aren’t ever going to fix all of the problems in the world, but to me, COSI shines a light on the positive impact experiences with theatre can have on literally any human, regardless of race, ability, gender, anything.”
Experience the madness for yourself. COSI performs from 15-18 October 2020 at the Cambrian Centre in Booval.
Cast of COSI
Roy Karen Crone
Lewis Connor Hawkins
Doug Jackson McGovern
Julie Nicole Hoskins
Henry Colin Smith
Cherry Elodie Boal
Ruth Alison Telfer-McDonald
Zac/Justin Stephen Hirst
Nick Abdul Salman
Lucy Emily Carr