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y separately published work icon Cosi single work   musical theatre   - Three acts
Issue Details: First known date: 1992... 1992 Cosi
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Play with music.

Loosely based on Nowra's own experience at producing a play (Trial by Jury) at Melbourne's Plenty Mental Home, Cosi has become a favourite with theatre companies and audiences alike since it premiered in 1992. Full of theatrical jokes and roles rich with Jonsonian humour, the play's use of a play rehearsal device also provokes images of the not-too dissimilar 'families' that come together in the professional theatre. Indeed, Nowra notes in the premiere season's programme notes that 'like the actual events of those days [the play] is, I hope, full of comedy and affection. Real madness and angst only occurred when I worked with professional actors'.

Set in 1971, Cosi takes an affectionate look at madness and mayhem in a world where institutions can be less limiting than ideology. The narrative is played out two locations, a mental institution and a suburban backyard. , Fresh from university, Lewis (a play on Louis) arrives to direct a play with the inmates, but is persuaded by Roy to stage his favourite opera, Cosi Fan Tutte. Lewis' problems don't end, however, with the fact that the other inmates are neither opera singers nor Italian-speakers. There is Ruth, troubled by the concept of a real illusion ; Zac, who insists on playing Wagner ; Doug, who is committed to the closed ward ; not to mention the sexual advances by Cherry and Julie. Lewis's world is no less complicated at home, where he has to contend with escaping pigs, exploding beer bottles and the pretensions of his politically correct friends.

The music incorporated into the narrative includes: 'Wild Thing' (by The Troggs), various songs from Cosi Fan Tutte, 'Purple Haze' (Jimmy Hendrix) 'Candy Says' (a Velvet Underground song, pre-recorded), and Wagner's 'The Ride Of The Valkyries'.

Exhibitions

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon Cosi Cosi: A Comedy That's Not Quite all There Louis Nowra , ( dir. Mark Joffe ) Sydney : Miramax Films , 1996 Z331261 1996 single work film/TV

Loosely based on Louis Nowra's own experiences as a young theatre practitioner, Cosi follows protagonist Lewis, an unemployed actor who joins a government program to help rehabilitate mentally ill patients in a Sydney institution. Among the patients are psychopathic firebug Doug, pathologically shy Henry, lovesick Cherry, forlorn Ruth, recovering drug-addict Julie, and ever-demanding Roy. Hoping to realise his dream of staging a production of Mozart's Così Fan Tutte, Roy begins takes over the inexperienced Lewis's program, even though oblivious of the fact that none of the other patients can sing opera. As Lewis attempts to keep control of the inmates, his own life begins to spiral out of control. After being dumped by his girlfriend, Lewis finds himself drawn to Julie. He is also sacked by the hospital administrator. Having come so far with their production, however, he and the actors secretly rehearse at night. Errol, the head of nursing, tells his supervisor that the group is preparing a variety show to be performed for the health minister's forthcoming visit. On the night, they instead present their somewhat chaotic version of Cosi.

Teaching Resources

Teaching Resources

This work has teaching resources.

Teachers' notes (Part A) for 2019 production - via Melbourne Theatre Company.

Teaching Resources

This work has teaching resources.

Teachers' notes (Part B) for 2019 production - via Melbourne Theatre Company.

Production Details

  • First produced by Company B at the Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney, beginning 21 April 1992.

    Director: Adam Cook.


    Produced by Melbourne Theatre Company in 1994 (Russell Street Theatre).

    Director: Nadia Tass.

    Presented with reduced production values, using a single set and with the domestic scenes either cut or relocated.


    Revived in 2003 at the Optus Playhouse (QPAC, Brisbane) for La Boite Theatre.

    Director: Adam Cook.


    Produced by La Boite Theatre, 8 February - 8 March 2014.

    Director: David Berthold.

    Designer: Hugh O'Connor.

    Lighting Designer: Ben Hughes.

    Cast: Aaron Davison, Jennifer Flowers, Amy Ingram, Jessica Marais, Benjamin Schostakowski, Anthony Standish, James Stewart, and Trevor Stuart.


    Produced by Melbourne Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company (co-production), 30 April to 8 June 2019 (The Sumner, Southbank Theatre) and 1 November to 14 December 2019 (Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House).

    Director: Sarah Goodes.

    Set Designer: Dale Ferguson.

    Costume Designer: Jonathan Oxlade.

    Cast: Paul Blackwell (Roy), Esther Hannaford (Julie), Hunter Page-Lochard (Lewis), Robert Menzies (Henry), Rahel Romahn (Doug), and Katherine Tonkin (Ruth).


    Presented by Griffin Theatre Company, 9 February - 21 April 2024.

    Director: Declan Greene.

    Associate Director: Daley Rangi.

    Set Designer: Jeremy Allen.

    Costume Designer: Melanie Liertz.

    Lighting Designer: Kelsey Lee.

    Composer & Sound Designer: Daniel Herten.

    Consultant, Disability: Christopher Bryant.

    Consultant, Inclusion: Bayley Turner.

    Cast: Thomas Campbell, Paul Capsis, Philip Lynch, and Nikki Viveca.

Contents

* Contents derived from the Sydney, New South Wales,:Currency Press ,Belvoir Street Theatre , 1992 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
An Australian Showcase, David Stratton , single work criticism (p. 15-17)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Currency Press ; Belvoir Street Theatre , 1994 .
      Extent: xvii, 89p.p.
      Edition info: Revised edition.
      ISBN: 0868194034
      Series: Current Theatre Series Currency Press (publisher), 1983- series - publisher 'Current Theatre Series consists of Australian plays published with the program inserted and sold during theatre seasons. The aim of the series is to promote and encourage new dramatic writing and make it accessible to theatregoers and the public. The text is presented at the first day of rehearsal and does not contain changes which the author may choose to make after the play has commenced its present season - these will be incorporated into any new edition published by Currency.' Currency Press.
    • s.l.,: s.n. , 1994 .
      Extent: 90 leavesp.
      Edition info: Revised edition.
      (Manuscript) assertion
      Note/s:
      • Typescript.

      Holdings

      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Local Id: H2267
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Lewis Trilogy Louis Nowra , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2018 15863021 2018 selected work drama

    'Spanning five decades from 1962 to 2017, The Lewis Trilogy follows Louis Nowra's occasional hero, sometime narrator and perennial misfit, Lewis, as he struggles to find and understand his place in the changing world around him. In Summer of the Aliens, Lewis is a young man on the cusp of adulthood, growing up in a Melbourne housing commission. Set against the backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis, the play is a coming of age story about sex and family, alien invasions, and suburban tragedies played out behind closed doors. In Cosa?, Lewis is fresh out of university and directing Mozart's Cosa? fan tutte with the inmates of a mental institution. As anti Vietnam protests take place in the streets outside, Lewis finds himself stepping off the sidelines to become emotionally involved with his actors' lives. In This Much is True, Lewis is a writer 'between divorces' and temporarily adrift among the outsiders and dropouts of an inner city Sydney pub. Older, and possibly wiser, Lewis is once more drawn into a world of colourful characters, all of them searching for magic in the mundane. Lewis' constant search for connection plays out against the evolving hopes and battles of Australian society -' just like us, only more extraordinary.'  (Publication summary)

    Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2018
Alternative title: コシ
Transliterated title: Koshi
Language: Japanese

Other Formats

  • Also braille, sound recording.

Works about this Work

Australia and China at 50 : The New Wave Theatre and the Drama of Cultural Exchange Anne Pender , 2022 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , vol. 46 no. 4 2022; (p. 482-495)

'2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening up of relations between Australia and the People’s Republic of China. When he became prime minister in 1972, Gough Whitlam sent the first ambassador to China (Dr Stephen Fitzgerald), and in his term of office established support for artists’ exchanges from the Australia Council. The Australian Ballet visited China in 1980, the first major ballet company to tour since the Cultural Revolution. The touring of China by Australian theatre, opera and dance companies has flourished since then, particularly over the last decade, and Australian spoken-word drama has featured in the relationship between the two countries since 1983. Since the 1980s, the work of the New Wave dramatists has captured the interest of Chinese audiences over a sustained period beyond the years of the New Wave itself. The theatre has, in some respects, provided a respite from the rigours of realpolitik and most importantly a means of genuine interaction between ordinary Australians and Chinese citizens who make up the audiences. This article documents the take-up of the New Wave drama in China, and the legacy of the relationships created in this formative period of Australian theatre in its international context.' (Publication abstract)

Menzies Towers in a Flawed Revival Chris Boyd , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 6 May 2019; (p. 14)

— Review of Cosi Louis Nowra , 1992 single work musical theatre

'Cosi is the second in Louis Nowra’s trilogy of fictionalised stage memoirs: “part memory, part imagination — but mostly downright lies”. Nowra appears in all three as his alter ego, Lewis.' (Introduction)

y separately published work icon HSC English Standard Australian Capital Territory : Into English , 2014 7049894 2014 series - publisher criticism
Opera and Madness Make Fine Bedfellows Phil Brown , 2014 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 18 February 2014; (p. 43)

— Review of Cosi Louis Nowra , 1992 single work musical theatre
Director Sets a High Bar Fiona Gruber , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 24 August 2010 2010; (p. 16)
Adam Spreadbury-Maher, an artistic director from Canberra, is currently (2010), leading a revival of London's pub theatre scene.
Crazy Cosi Kicks Theatre Season Off With a Laugh James Harper , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 8 February 2003; (p. 17)

— Review of Cosi Louis Nowra , 1992 single work musical theatre
Laughs Aren't Enough Brett Debritz , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: Brisbane News , 12 - 18 February 2003; (p. 8)

— Review of Cosi Louis Nowra , 1992 single work musical theatre
Comedy Creates Great Affection Alanna Maclean , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 9 August 2003; (p. 10)

— Review of Cosi Louis Nowra , 1992 single work musical theatre
[Review] Cosi Allan Schou , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: Muse , September no. 232 2003; (p. 10)

— Review of Cosi Louis Nowra , 1992 single work musical theatre
Inspired Cosi Hits a High Note Peter Wilkins , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 26 November 2008; (p. 8)

— Review of Cosi Louis Nowra , 1992 single work musical theatre
Staging Otherness in Mainstream Australasian and Canadian Dramaturgies Marc Maufort , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Transgressive Itineraries : Postcolonial Hybridizations of Dramatic Realism 2003; (p. 27-79)
Section III of this chapter is entitled 'Alienating Naturalism : Louis Nowra's Dramatury'.
'Who's the Bigger Dill?' : The Madhouse in Recent Australian Drama Veronica Kelly , 1998 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Body in the Library 1998; (p. 167-184)
y separately published work icon Adaptations : A Guide to Adapting Literature to Film Denise Faithfull , Brian Hannant , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2007 Z1361797 2007 single work criticism Adaptations discusses approaches to adaptations of various forms of literature using a range of Australian texts and films as examples.
y separately published work icon A Study Guide to Louis Nowra's Cosi Richard McRoberts , Ballarat : Wizard Books , 1997 Z1612242 1997 single work criticism
Director Sets a High Bar Fiona Gruber , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 24 August 2010 2010; (p. 16)
Adam Spreadbury-Maher, an artistic director from Canberra, is currently (2010), leading a revival of London's pub theatre scene.
Last amended 23 Oct 2023 15:57:54
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