First Gippsland, then Melbourne comedy festival

Classics with a twist: Local theatre group HT&E will present Bogan Shakespeare at the Gippsland Performing Arts Centre later this month. Photo: Supplied


AWARD-winning Gippsland Theatre Company HT&E are hitting the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, but first, they’re doing their show as a special one-off preview for local audiences.

The comedy hit Bogan Shakespeare is gearing up for shows in MICF, but as a regional company, the ensemble will be sharing a performance at Gippsland Performing Arts Centre first.

Writer and director Phillip A Mayer says “Of course we have to do the show in Gippsland first. So much inspiration for the material and hysterical characters comes from our region. That’s not a put down or a negative, it just means we have rich material and wonderful characters to draw on right here on our doorstep. It’s going to be fantastic hitting the city in one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, and presenting some home-grown comedy.”

“William Shakespeare is considered the greatest English playwright, with his plays still hugely popular, being performed around the world, even 400 years after his death. But who actually understands what the heck he was on about? That’s what we’re going to answer and try and fix.

“Modern audiences often find Willy confusing, frustrating, boring, irrelevant, incomprehensible and downright stupid. Bogan Shakespeare changes all that, and brings some of his classic works to life in relatable language, that any Aussie can comprehend”.

After a tour in 2018 which included The Melbourne Fringe Festival and many awards, the show was described as funny, irreverent, dramatic, serious, fast and inappropriate.

“The reviewers said this is the treatment and interpretation that every Aussie has been waiting for, and at the same time, some might be outraged by. With some rewrites and updates, I think it’s accurate. We’ve been waiting a few years to get back to MICF with this show, and it’s getting a lot of attention,” Mt Mayer said.

“We present bogan jokes, clever social commentary, non-stop fun-poking at Shakespeare and at the fact that he was too clever for most of us to understand. We look at classics like Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, but we also extract insults and humour from many of his other plays. It’s all about making it fun and accessible to everyone, regardless of their exposure to Willy’s works”.

The show is born from a love of WS, taking inspiration from his vast catalogue, borrowing from and paying homage to a cross-section of his plays, and mixing in contemporary Aussie comedy, to make it comedy festival style fun.

“It’s inappropriate, bawdy adult comedy, which is what Shakespeare did, and it’s what we do too,” Mr Mayer explained.

“We break down the language, explain it, have a few laughs at what it really means and generally make it less scary, because people use Shakespeare quotes more than you know. This is about bringing ‘The Bard to the backyard'”.

Bogan Shakespeare is showing at Gippsland Performing Arts Centre for one show, Friday, March 31, and then they hit MICF the week after at The Motley Bauhaus in Carlton.

Tickets for the GPAC show can be booked via or at the box office on 5176 3333.

Written and directed by Phillip A Mayer, the cast includes an all-Gippsland ensemble Andrew Hood, Krissi Creighton, John Reisinger, Emily Slade and Luke Witham with Mayer.