Initiated by Sofia Chapman, Alana Hunt and Dr Lara Jakica in 2007, The Burning Deck is an independent theatre company based in Melbourne which aims to provide a healthy environment to foster creative endeavours of artists locally and internationally and to produce multicultural theatre, film and music events.
Burning Deck Theatre is proud to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We support recognition, reconciliation and reparation.
CONTACT: sofiachapman (at) hotmail.com
The Top Secret Violin Case
an absurdist dark comedy by Sofia Chapman featuring the band Vardos and Sasha Čuha.
Audioplay now available, supported by the City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants.
Romania, 1970 something, in the grip of Ceaușescu's oppressive regime.
The Secret Police are gaining a toehold in the domestic sphere, examining every action of civilians and interrogating them to test their loyalties to the communist cause. Brad arrives on the scene, hoping to escape his American closet to roam free in Romania, or so he thinks. To learn Romanian folk music he must negotiate band politics, musicians' egos and the Secret Police who may interrogate him on other issues if they catch him...
The Top Secret Violin Case premiered at La Mama Courthouse, Carlton, Australia, during Midsumma Festival January 2020.
'An extraordinary gleeful exploration of some dark political events that besieged Eastern European countries under communist regimes. This light-hearted approach does not belittle the issues but allows the audience to see how suspicion and paranoia pervaded all aspects of life in countries like Romania... a highly energetic and lively production that is full of unexpected and enchanting moments.' Patricia Di Risio , Stage Whispers
Image by Darren Gill. Performed by Vardos i.e. Alana Hunt, Sofia Chapman, Kirri Büchler, and Sasha Čuha as Brad. Lighting by Teri Steer. Outside eye, Görkem Acaroğlu.
Untitled, or The Seat of Narcissa
Audioplay now available, recorded at Melbourne Theatre Company 2020, supported by Creative Victoria
Script available through Australian Plays, published 2020.
written and directed by Sofia Chapman
UNTITLED, or the Seat of Narcissa is a tale of lesbian love and adoration. Be taken into the world of a beguiling yet narcissistic woman desiring true love while only ever opening herself to moments of lust. Viscountess Narcissa holds court and sway over ladies keen for her attention and affection. The play looks at the behaviour and reactions of people who entertain and enable narcissists to indulge their passions and bigotries. Audiences may be unable to resist her powers of seduction.
Photos by Annabel Warmington
Untitled, or The Seat of Narcissa enjoyed her first successful season at La Mama Theatre, Carlton, 19- 31 Jan 2016 for the Midsumma Festival, performed by Kate Hosking, Penny Larkins, Erica Chestnut and Madeline Hudson.
Musical director - Sofia Chapman.
Lighting Design - Greg Carroll/Annabel Warmington.
Set design - Alana Hunt
Choreography - Kate Hosking.
Lighting operator - Annabel Warmington.
Narcissa returned to a full house at The Dancing Dog, Footscray in April 2016, presented by Pandoras. Command performances for La Mama's 50th birthday celebrations occurred at Carlton Courthouse in July 2017.
Theatre Press review
'Faultlessly funny' By Ross Larkin.
'From the outset, a certain curiosity swells at the prospect of a play with no title, while simultaneously bearing a highly distinct and decided one. This is not coincidental, but rather a sneaky peak into the contrary madness that awaits in writer/director Sofia Chapman’s hilarious new production. Initially a love triangle between three quirky, tenacious women, Untitled, or The Seat of Narcissa quickly evolves to include multiple love-crazed subjects in a chaotic swarm of hysteria while infidelity and passion abound along with music, dancing and poetry. Penny Larkins is the egocentric and deceitful Viscountess Narcissa, who chews up her lovers and spits them out, all the while demanding the utmost respect and attention. Falling under her spell are Erica Chestnut as the sassy Duchess of Dullcote and Kate Hosking as feisty go-getter, Baroness of Inverness, while Narcissa’s seemingly dazed and confused servant, Marcello, played by Madeline Hudson, intersects the melodrama with great intrigue. The humour and wit of Chapman’s writing is immediate and doesn’t stall for a single moment, aided by a strong and energetic cast whose comic timing and delivery had the audience cackling from beginning to end. Chapman is also responsible for the hilariously witty poetry which merges with the play beautifully, as well as the very fitting and engaging music and comical lyrics. Add to the mix some wacky and amusing dancing, gorgeous costumes and a slew of double entendres and clever one-liners and the result is a barrel of non-stop laughs, comparable to the likes of Monty Python, Black Adder and Absolutely Fabulous. This is one Midsumma show for the top of your list!' (22 January 2016)
Todd in Venice
La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St Melbourne for Midsumma Festival 1-5 February 2017.
'- raw, fun, poetic – makes for a very fine watch.'
David Collins, Australian Arts Review
The classic 'Death in Venice' reimagined, with Thomas Mann's innocent Tadzio now the gay boy Todd, rampaging around Venice and getting up to mischief. Agnes, in Venice to collect gaudy masks and glassware, yearns after Todd, but is in the process of transitioning. Michael, in Venice to write a musical, also finds Todd irresistible. Will Agnes lose her chance with Todd by becoming female? Or will she lose him anyway to her friend Michael? On top of all this, the water levels in Venice are rising and threatening to sweep them all away on a tide of emotion. From award winning writer Sofia Chapman, this comedy featured up and coming music and theatre stars Joseph Lai as the laconic Michael and Alex Beyer as the young and beautiful Todd, Kate Hosking as the melancholy Agnes (who starred as the Baroness of Inverness in Sofia’s ‘Untitled, or The Seat of Narcissa’ in 2016), James Adler the mysterious Doge of Venice who was supposed to have died in the 18th century, and Terry Cole as resident musician, gondolier and persistent clown (who played the Norse God Woden in Sofia’s award winning The Four Accordionists of the Apocalypse). Todd in Venice featured in the 'Playtime' play reading and script development series at Gasworks in Midsumma 2016. Image by Annabel Warmington, lighting designer for the production.
The Todd in Venice chapbook is available from In Case of Emergency Press, published October 2020.
Weds 21 April 2021 7pm: Online Author's talk presented by Merri-bek City Libraries
Sun 16 May 2021 2pm: Todd in Venice book launch, La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton.
Rehearsed play reading
The Rise and Fall of A to Z
Wednesday 3 May 2017 6.30pm
fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane Melbourne.
The Four Accordionists of the Apocalypse
Soundtrack now available
Accordion scores published by Wirripang 2021
written and composed by Sofia Chapman
Winner of 'Best Emerging Writer' award, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2012
A La Mama/ Burning Deck Theatre co-production directed by Jo Loth
Performed by Zulya Kamalova, Terry Cole, Carl Pannuzzo Isabel Hertaeg, Rama Nicholas, KT Prescott and Emma Louise Pursey
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St Carlton, 26 Sept- 7 Oct 2012
"Writer and composer Sofia Chapman, in collaboration with Brisbane-based director Jo Loth, manages to shed light on current issues in today's society via a musical comedy approach. Life's turmoils and humanity's weaknesses are addressed while adorned with lovely accordion music and wicked humorous zingers, which more than once drew belly busting laughter from the audience. Actress Zulya Kamalova (Frigg, Goddess of Fertility) delivered a very believable 'woman scorned' and 'Goddess diva' interpretation, Terry Cole (Woden, God of Death and master of disguise) was great fun to watch as he moved back and forth from one character to another, including full-on accent flip-flopping, Isabel Hertaeg (Brunhilde Bloch) shook the house with her thunderous vocal skills and Emma Louise Pursey as Candida Nervosa was a delightful nervous wreck throughout the play, delivering a memorable and unexpected rap sequence which had me in tears from laughter. The Four Accordionists of the Apocalypse is an unusual and very funny play, poking fun at the end of the world through Norse Mythology one accordion note at a time; it is well worth catching."
Gordana Andjelic-Davila, Australian Stage
Frigg, Goddess of Fertility, feels she’s no longer worshipped and auditions accordionists for an Apocalypse to regain control, yet fears a ‘Twilight of the Gods’. Should she get Apocalypse insurance?
The Anorexic Chef
A Burning Deck Theatre Production presented by La Mama
La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St Carlton, 19-30 Jan 2011
Performed by Will Tait, Eloise Bowden, Aleksandra Lane, Kirri Büchler, Hilary Fairchild, Ben deCastella and Michael Lane
Written and directed by Sofia Chapman
'With live musical interludes, a snappy set, some talented young actors and short film at their disposal, the creative talent is there.'
Cameron Woodhead, The Age 2011
'Despite the comedy, Bleu carries much pain and Tait brings this out perfectly. His performance is effortless and he has you laughing even as he makes you want to sit down with Bleu so you can slit your wrists together.'
Daniel G Taylor, Stage Whispers
At moments absurd, a fun yet thought-provoking play with live music, headless guests, chocolate sauce wrestling, short film and more!
Gordon Bleu, of French-Canadian and Inuit background, immigrates to Australia to become a chef, and realises his dream of opening a restaurant with the help of Oswald Paternoster, a somewhat patronising patron whose underlying agenda is to get his range of GM foods into circulation.
Feelings of displacement, wanting to take control of his life, personal issues stemming from his relationship with his mother in the arctic circle plus the long and hard hours of working with food lead to Gordon developing an eating disorder, and shortage of money, to him sleeping in the restaurant kitchen.
His complex relationship with food is played out in the way Gordon serves his customers (eg. Badminton with spatchcocks so the guests work off calories while they eat ) and the minimalist dishes he offers (eg rice paper origami with raspberry coulis, pictured).
Will Gordon succumb to Larda, the guest who insists on edible cutlery and wants to eat everything, including the chef, or will he, with the help and advice of his assistant Wanda, finally accept that he himself is human and worthy of being fed?
The Anorexic Chef was developed in 2009 with the assistance of the Merri-bek City Council. The short play is accompanied by two short films Nag Vibes Vex Frozen Nomad and The Albino Bride (which tell of Gordon's life in the arctic circle) featuring original music by VARDOS, Brian May, Kirri Büchler and Sofia.
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