Kiss of the Spider Woman was La Boite’s first production under its new status as a fully professional company. Artistic Director Sue Rider’s program note draws attention to the significance of this moment in the organisation's history. She wrote:
It is with enormous excitement that I welcome you to La Boite's first production of 1993. La Boite is both the oldest and the newest theatre organisation in Brisbane. The oldest because, as Brisbane Repertory Theatre, it has been the place for theatre since the earliest amateur days. The newest because 1993 sees the company's first full year of professional activity.
La Boite has often been at the forefront of the performing arts. When professional theatre was in its infancy, La Boite was spawning directors, actors and designers who have since gone on to make their mark in this State, nationally and even overseas. As La Boite now becomes fully professional, let us celebrate this new stage in our development with the satisfaction of knowing that La Boite would not be where it is today without the support, work and love of all of you, past and present, young and old, who have given of yourselves to make theatre in this endearing place.
No theatre can exist alone. La Boite, in particular, has always been a theatre of the people. Our new status does not mean an abandonment of our traditional base. Far from it. Now, more than ever, we wish to harness those energies within the community that gave rise to the theatre's beginning and made possible its continuation through the years.
La Boite is your theatre. Support it, tell us what you think, what you would like to see, to do. We can't expect to please everyone, but I hope that we can listen. And find ways of working together.
And now, enjoy our first offering of 1993, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN. Our production, in happy association with Orford Productions International Pty Ltd, draws together a number of artists who have worked at La Boite both recently and in the past. Jennifer Flowers, Donald Hall, Joss McWilliam and David Walters were all part of the team which made THE IDIOT such a success last year, while Rick Billinghurst is a former Artistic Director of La Boite and Bille Brown acted here 21 years ago before gaining his awesome reputation in Australia and overseas.
Passion, energy and entertainment are our catchwords in 1993. Welcome to the Energy Explosion!
As La Boite’s opening play of its first fully professional year, Kiss of the Spider Woman was very well received by audiences and critics alike. Written by Argentinean novelist Manuel Puig and adapted for the stage by Allan Baker, it was directed by Jennifer Flowers and featured Bille Brown – in his first La Boite production since his starring role in A Refined Look at Existence in 1972 - and well-known Brisbane actor Joss McWilliam. Critic Mary Nemeth in Time Off (10 February 1993) called it her kind of theatre piece. She wrote: “ The quality of the writing and the precise economy of the performance elements – the latter masterminded by director Jennifer Flowers – are such that an extraordinary power emanates up through the floor and takes possession of stage and audience”. Critic Veronica Kelly also applauded the choice of opening play:
Brisbane’s theatre season gets off to a remarkable start with Jennifer Flowers’ fine production of this challenging two-hander. Displayed against Rick Billinghurst’s sparse, gravel-floored set and David Walters’ austere lighting, the performances develop an almost interiorised transparency … The intimacy of this venue is ideal for a production which initiates the audience into the inner beings of the protagonists, revealing their fantasies, terrors and growing trust.[i]
At the time a risky play to some extent because of the homosexual thematic content, critic Alison Cotes called it “shocking” not because of several sexually explicit scenes but “because it questions our most deeply-held beliefs about love, loyalty and self-preservation”.[ii]
Writer: Christine Comans