Joint statement about premiere seasons of new Australian musical The Dismissal

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the Australian arts industry. The 2021 premiere of the new Australian musical, The Dismissal: An Extremely Serious Musical Comedy, a co-production between independent theatre producers Squabbalogic, Sydney Theatre Company and Canberra Theatre Centre will not proceed. A razor-sharp, musical account of Australia’s constitutional crisis of 1975, The Dismissal was due to begin rehearsals in Sydney later this month before opening in October at Canberra Theatre Centre followed by a season at Sydney Opera House.

STC Artistic Director Kip Williams said, “We are devastated to be losing this exceptional production. Staging a musical is a huge undertaking at the best of times but with the current restrictions in Greater Sydney and the inevitability of ongoing capacity limits for NSW venues, it is a particularly difficult time to mount a brand new Australian production. The incredibly talented team at Squabbalogic have put an immense amount of work into creating this hilarious, sharp- witted and nuanced take on Australian politics and this sensational production deserves to perform to full houses”.

The Dismissal: An Extremely Serious Musical Comedy is conceived, co-written and directed by Squabbalogic’s Jay James-Moody with co-writer Blake Erickson and original music and lyrics by Laura Murphy. James-Moody said, “As crushing as it is for The Dismissal to join the long line of theatrical works impacted by COVID and the associated restrictions, the health and safety of our team and audience is paramount. I’m very grateful to everyone at STC and CTC for their passionate support of the show, and in going above and beyond to navigate these circumstances. In the meantime Squabbalogic will — as Gough Whitlam mandated in 1975 — maintain the rage and enthusiasm for The Dismissal until ‘it’s time’..."

Alex Budd, Director of Canberra Theatre Centre said, “We were so excited to be joining with Sydney Theatre Company and Squabbalogic to host the world premiere of The Dismissal at the Canberra Theatre, a stone’s throw from where the story was born in 1975. Having seen audiences return so strongly to our venues in 2021 makes these latest COVID interruptions all the more heartbreaking. Lost employment for artists and arts workers is considerable, and the long-reaching and lasting impact of this pandemic on our industry cannot be overstated. The curtain can’t come down on COVID fast enough.”

Since the introduction of restrictions for Greater Sydney in June, STC has cancelled 224 performances nationally across seven productions: Grand Horizons, Triple X, White Pearl (STC season and 6 performances of Qld tour), The 7 Stages of Grieving (SA tour), The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Dismissal: An Extremely Serious Musical Comedy and the Company’s Rough Draft program.

Squabbalogic, Sydney Theatre Company and Canberra Theatre Centre are encouraging theatre audiences with the means to do so to consider donating to the Actors Benevolent Fund of NSW, an organisation that supports theatre workers — a largely freelance and casual workforce — throughout NSW and ACT in times of need.