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In November 2008 Ariette Taylor and fortyfivedownstairs presented:

The Lower Depths
By Maxim Gorky

A simple epitaph for The Lower Depths would be: It must be seen.  This is because The Lower Depths is the theatre event of the year.” Nic Velissaris, Australian Stage Online

Ariette Taylor directed an ensemble of sixteen of Australia’s finest actors in Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths, bringing this famous Russian play to Melbourne audiences for the first time.

This production, based on a new translation, was in many ways a companion piece to Taylor’s 2005 presentation of Chekhov’s Ivanov, which sold out its four week season and was described as ‘a superb production with a stellar cast’ (The Age).

Ariette Taylor is one of Australia’s finest directors renowned for the intensity and brilliance of her direction. The Keene/Taylor Theatre Project (1997-2002), in which Ariette directed works by playwright Daniel Keene, created a unique body of work performed by an ensemble of fine actors many of whom featured in Ivanov and went on to  perform in this production.

It is working with the actors that excite me more then anything. To follow on the work we did together before, to get beneath the obvious, to find the human complexities within all these characters. The actual production is of much less importance to me then the way we are able to get to the soul of the work. Not to impress, not to be new or even different, but to communicate directly, to celebrate our fragile humanity in this age of ultimate selfishness and greed.”

Perhaps Gorky’s best known play, The Lower Depths was premiered in 1902 at the Moscow Art Theatre with Stanislavski performing the role of Satin. The production ‘thrilled and stirred the middle-class audience, then swept the world’s capitals with 75,000 copies of the play sold in a year.’ Set in urban Russia, just before the onslaught of the revolution in 1905, the play deals with 12 lone characters – dropouts, beggars, the lowest of the low – living together in a cellar, each renting a small space from the miser landlord living above them with his unloving wife and her beautiful young sister.

The Lower Depths was presented with the support of Arts Victoria, The Australia Council and City of Melbourne.

Ariette Taylor
Design: Adrienne Chisholm
Lighting Design: Emma Valente
Script Assistant: Vanessa Rowell
Performers: Alex Menglet, Genevieve Picot, Greg Stone, Paul English, Heather Bolton, Denis Moore, Syd Brisbane, Natalia Novikova, Marco Chiappi, Bessie Holland, Evan Jureidini, Malcolm Robertson,  Adam Pierzchalski, Chloe Armstrong, Stewart Morritt, Luke Elliot

The Lower Depths ran:
29 October to 29 November 2008
Tues – Sat 8pm (except Wed),
Wed & Sun 6.30pm,
Sat matinee 29 Nov 2.30pm

Photos: Jeff Busby, Graphic Design: Brendan Vella

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