Published on November 14th, 2018 | by Admin

Merciless Gods

Fresh from a sold out Sydney season, Arts Centre Melbourne presents Dan Giovannoni’s Green Room Award winning adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas ’ Merciless Gods. The two-hour production is a brutal and tender examination of queer immigrant experiences in Australia, and will take over the Fairfax Studio from 6 – 10 February 2019. This collection of eight vignettes based on Tsiolkas’ work shows how humans are prey to the cruel and capricious Ancient Gods, taking audiences into worlds both strange and familiar.

From migrant camps to gay saunas, pill-popping hipster dinner parties to porn sets and prison cells to the streets of the Cross, Merciless Gods captures haunting slices of our psyche and unveils the hidden faces of ancient deities on mortal ground. Intercutting between families, friends and accidental encounters, this is humanity laid-bare – virtuous and vengeful, domestic and divine. It is Australia today.

Christos Tsiolkas is one of Australia’s prized authors known for works including The Slap and  Barracuda. Of seeing Merciless Gods hit the stage he says the process of theatre and collaboration are what brought his work to light in a new and imaginative way.

“I released Merciless Gods because I was confident these stories said what I wanted to say, or created the mood I wanted to convey, or made sense of an experience. But through the theatre process it’s almost like that multiplies. Just the wildness of Stephen’s ideas [for the adaptation] were really enthralling to me,” Tsiolkas said.

Tsiolkas has entrusted this first ever stage adaptation of Merciless Gods to award winning queer indie masterminds Little Ones Theatre, as well as Helpmann and Green Room Award winning playwright Dan Giovannoni. Giovannoni has written plays for adults and children, including the critical and box office success Cut Snake. More recently, he was announced as one of Melbourne Theatre Company’s inaugural writers-in-residence. Adding Merciless Gods to his repertoire means he is able to share his experiences and reveal the disconnect he felt in society. Even with Tsiolkas 20 years his senior, the two shared very similar stories.

“When Merciless Gods first premiered, I was shocked when people came up to me afterward and said, ‘This is my story’, and ‘I haven’t seen this before’. If people aren’t seeing these stories on stage, what are we missing?” Giovannoni said.

Green Room Award winner and director, Stephen Nicolazzo recounts the day he, Tsiolkas and Giovannoni united together at the pub to discuss the makings of Merciless Gods as a very enriching moment and one he will be forever grateful for.

“Each person who has worked on Merciless Gods  is incredibly passionate about both Christos and his voice.  It feels like a unique moment in the Australian theatrical landscape where like-minded artists from similar walks of life have come together to share their experience of this country on stage – no holding back, raw and true,” Nicolazzo said.

Critically acclaimed in Melbourne and Sydney, and winner of two Green Room Awards (including Best New Writing and Best Performer), Merciless Gods is urgent, dirty, glorious queer theatre. A must-see theatrical event.

★★★★½ “Director Stephen Nicolazzo continues to cement his reputation as one of Melbourne’s – and dare I say, Australia’s – most dynamic and creatively assured theatre makers.” – The Music

★★★★ “Queer theatre outfit Little Ones is a leading light on Melbourne’s indie scene. In adapting Christos Tsiolkas’ short story collection Merciless Gods, they break new theatrical ground. Merciless Gods is compelling, confronting theatre.” – The Age

★★★★ “This is an outsider play made by outsiders… brutal, tender, and unsentimentally queer. It demands your attention” – The Guardian

★★★★ “Nicolazzo and Giovannoni tell these stories with great taste and restraint, and the potential discomfort is usually displaced by surprising feelings of empathy and compassion for the enormous suffering of those on stage.” – Daily Review

“Harrowing, provocative and breathtaking.” – Stage Noise

About Little Ones Theatre
Little Ones Theatre is a queer theatre company formed by director Stephen Nicolazzo and designers Eugyeene Teh, Katie Sfetkidis and Daniel Nixon. Dedicated to investigating gender and queer aesthetics, Little Ones Theatre make
works that are kitsch, camp, sensual, and erotically-charged.

From Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker to Charles Busch and Christos Tsiolkas, Little Ones Theatre’s productions are a theatrical pastiche of cinematic, literary, and cult references that are colourful, wild, fierce, and visually striking. With high production values and a sacred love of camp, Little Ones adapt classic and contemporary texts in a variety of forms. Their primary focus is queer text-based plays or to devise poetic dream-like performances that are inspired by canonical queer writers.

Awards Won
Little Ones Theatre have won five Green Room Awards, including Best Director, Best Set and Costume Design, Best Writing, Best Performer and Best Female Performer. They have been nominated for a total of 20 Green Room Awards and a Sydney Theatre Award. In 2018, Little Ones Theatre was nominated for 14 Green Room Awards, with all three of their 2017 productions, Merciless Gods, The Happy Prince, and The Moors up for the Best Production category.

Creative Team
Director: Stephen Nicolazzo
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Playwright: Dan Giovannoni
Dramaturg: Chris Mead
Set & Costume Designer: Eugyeene Teh
Lighting Design: Katie Sfetkidis
Sound Design: Daniel Nixon
Performers:  Paul Blenheim, Brigid Gallacher, Sapidah Kian, Charles Purcell and Jennifer Vuletic
Producer: Jo Porter
Developed with: Darebin Arts Speakeasy and Griffin Theatre Company


Arts Centre Melbourne presents a Little Ones Theatre Production
Merciless Gods
6 – 10 February 2019

Wednesday – Friday | 7:30pm
Saturday | 2pm* & 7:30pm

Sunday | 5pm

*Auslan interpreter and post show 30-minute Q&A

Warnings: Nudity, sex scenes, violence, coarse language, smoke, haze, smoking on stage
Age Recommendation: 18+
Duration: 100 minutes (20-minute interval)
Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio
Book at or 1300 182 183


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