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So you want to see a SUDS summer show?

Victoria Zerbst talks to the students foolish enough to make theatre over the summer break. Flowchart by Sam Langford.

Victoria Zerbst talks to the students foolish enough to make theatre over the summer break. Flowchart by Sam Langford.


“I want something on the ceiling. Maybe something to do with a lizard.”

Shevvi Barrett-Brown is creating a show. It’s a half-hour show, an extended version of a sketch from Queer Revue, which the 20-year-old performed in earlier this year.

As if to pre-empt critics, they say it is “creative to the point of being over-creative”.

“Nothing happens. People walk out not knowing what the fuck they just saw.”

During the summer break, over 60 University of Sydney students are putting on works in the Cellar Theatre as part of the 2015-16 Summer Season of the Sydney University Dramatic Society – or SUDS.

From stand-up comedy to post-dramatic theatre, plays about robots to interactive interpretations of classics, the season’s 18-strong bill boasts some of the most imaginative and ambitious shows of the year.

It’s a shift from the way SUDS operates during semester. As a democratic student-run society, year-round students pitch to put on shows and the membership vote on which performances they would like to see throughout the year.

“The Summer Season is different because there is no competition for a slot,” SUDS president Sarah Graham says. “Every show is given $250 and a short run in the Cellar.”

Compared to the $500 and 6-week rehearsal period saved for main slots during the year, summer shows have much less money. However, they have much more time to be creative. Scripts are edgier, riskier and often half-finished. There is also an incredible range of shows.

Comedy lovers should try double bill Catgun, which features a theatrical adaptation of Top Gun and a production of Cats the Musical written by people who have never seen Cats the Musical.

“I was kinda bored,” Declan Maher says of his co-creation. “I wanted to put something on that wasn’t good enough for anything else except maybe a fringe festival. And I get $250 dollars to do it, which is good.”

If you want interactive theatre, check out the Cluedo-inspired murder mystery J’accuse!, or The Hamlet Interactive Adventure: To Be or Not to Be? You decide.

For those who want text you can see Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night set in the Northern Beaches, an Ibsen play with a Pan’s Labyrinth aesthetic, a contemporary comedy by Michael Frayn.

If you are interested in experimental movement pieces, following their success at the Sydney Fringe Festival, physical theatre collective Little Eggs are also showing a new work.

Little Eggs formed in the experimental environment of the summer season last year, with a debut piece demonstrating storytelling through movement, dance and clowning.

“For the Fringe Festival this year Little Eggs created a show called Patches, which was about Foster Care in New South Wales,” Little Eggs member Georgia Britt says.

“We took the tools and skills we learnt from the Summer Season and made a piece about something we thought was really important.”

The Summer Season gives an opportunity for students who might not otherwise have a chance to do a SUDS show. It also gives members a chance to branch out, try new things and take risks in front of a forgiving crowd.

“This is for whoever cares enough to turn up,” says long-time SUDS member Hal Conyngham.

“If nobody does, it’s been a fun process. I’ve been doing logic and philosophy all semester and now I have three months where I don’t have to give a fuck about causation and validity.

“Now I just have to think about trolls and guitars.”

Shows kick off on December 19 and continue throughout the break until the first week of Uni. Ticket prices are $3 for SUDS members, $5 for Access, $7 for concession and $10 for adult.

Here’s the bill:

  • 19th-21st December, 7pm – A Night of Comedy (Sex Brain and Extra Virgin)
  • 4th January, 7pm – Summoning Satan
  • 6th-9th January, 6pm – Silver Tongue, 8pm – Closed Doors
  • 13th-16th January, 6pm – Two People on a Stage, 7pm – Catgun
  • 19th-23rd January, 7pm – Alphabetical Order
  • 27th-30th January, 6pm – J’accuse! 8pm – Interactive Hamlet
  • 3rd-6th February, 6pm – Little Eggs presents: lihaa ja verta. (or flesh and blood.) 8pm – Twelfth Night
  • 9th-12th February, 6pm – Weathervane, 8pm – Peer Gynt
  • 16th-19th February, 7pm – Grounded, 8pm – R.U.R
  • 22nd-26th February, 6pm – Trust, a postdramatic work, 8pm – Cordelia Dream
  • 27th February – Closing night party

Still stuck? Follow the flowchart above to see which show is right for you.