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Ross Balbuziente as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.
Photo: Dylan Evans
A brooding Bronte classic
Ross Balbuziente, for one, couldn t
have cared less when he was assigned
Wuthering Heights in his high school
English class, like generations of
students before and after.
The artistic director of Shake & Stir
Theatre Company says he was the
usual nonchalant teen when
confronted with Bronte s wall of
I wasn t a fan when I first read it,
purely because I guess I didn t give
myself the time to get around the
various voices in which the novel was
written, he said.
But in the languid days of early
university, he gave it another chance.
It s stuck with him ever since.
The 32-year-old is now set to reprise
the role of Heathcliff for the second
time in his career, in Shake & Stir s
second stage production of the novel
that is set to launch in Canberra on
The co-artistic director of the
company first took on Heathcliff in the
company s 2014 production in
Brisbane but in the intervening two
years, the intensity of the role had
faded somewhat from his mind.
He said even in the intervening two
years, his own life experience has
coloured his perception of the role,
and it s possible that he s, even now,
still coming to grips with what
Heathcliff is all about.
He s misunderstood, the poor
bloke. He s often painted as the
villain, but there s a lot going on, and
there are a lot of reasons why he acts
like he does, he said.
It s nice to pick up where we ve
left off and delve deeper, and
unfortunately delving deeper with this
particular role means you just have to
go blacker and more aggressive and
So how does such a cluttered and
baroque plot make its way to the
stage? Emily Bronte -- young,
reclusive and ill -- had the luxury of
pages and pages to unwind her ornate
fantasies, but Shake & Stir has a
modern theatre and a restless, 21st-
Balbuziente said Nick Skubij, who
is directing the play, has adapted the
work to incorporate the story s
All of the natural elements are on
the stage within the theatre, so you can
feel and smell and hear [them]. Wind,
rain, fire, all appear onstage, he said.
The atmosphere plays that final
role, and the incredibly descriptive
language that Emily Bronte used to
really place her readers on those
And while the play is faithful to the
text in terms of time and place, he s
hoping it will appeal to a large sector
of today s youth who probably haven t
picked up the book yet -- at least, not
And if they haven t read it yet, they
[It s] the genesis of so much of
what culture is nowadays for teens -- so
many television shows, movies and
even novels are based on that love
triangle-slash-revenge and wild
passion, he said.
1 Courtney Barnett is taking
her award winning
independent label, Milk!
Records, on a national tour
and will be playing at the
University of Canberra's
Refectory on Thursday. The
tour has been described as a
"collaborative roadshow" of
the six bands including
Barnett, Jen Cloher and Fraser
A. Gorman. Tickets $34.70 at
2 American rock and folk
veterans Violent Femmes
are returning to Canberra for
the first time in more than 12
years for a show with special
guests at the ANU Union Bar.
The Wisconsin natives will
perform their 1980s and '90s
smash hits such as, Blister in
the Sun and Gone Daddy
Gone on Wednesday. Tickets
$70.60 at tickettek.com.au.
3 Check out Bootleg Rascal
on Friday night from 8pm
at Transit Bar. This Sydney
crew are celebrating their
newest album Asleep in the
Machine with a national tour
before jetting off to the US
supporting long-time mates
4 Lights! Canberra! Action!
is a competition where
filmmakers are given a list of
10 items to include in their
film, with only 10 days to
shoot, edit and produce a
seven minute film themed
Chance. The 12 finalists will
be screened outdoors in the
Senate Rose Garden at the
Museum of Australian
Democracy on March 11.
Entry is free.
5 Relive the story of
Midnight Oil, the iconic
Australian rock band that
challenged social and cultural
issues. The Making of
Midnight Oil Exhibition will
be presented at the
Tuggeranong Arts Centre
from March 11 until March 18
and includes rare stage props,
instruments, protest banners,
costumes and film footage.
Entry is free.
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