Visionary director Kate Champion has put her signature spin on the stage adaptation of Tim Winton’s celebrated novel That Eye, The Sky for State Theatre Company which opens tonight.

Written by Winton in 1986, That Eye, The Sky was adapted for the stage by acclaimed actor Richard Roxburgh (Rake, Moulin Rouge) and writer Justin Monjo (Cloudstreet).

State Theatre’s production will be the first professional staging of the play since 1994.

Kate Champion, who founded movement theatre company Force Majeure with Roz Hervey and Geoff Cobham in 2002, has a reputation for being at the forefront of highly visual theatre work in Australia.

Champion will reunite with set and lighting designer Cobham in this production, also his last as State Theatre Company’s resident designer.

“I’ve been wanting to program That Eye, The Sky for years but have been waiting for the perfect team to come together,” artistic director Geordie Brookman said.

“Being able to reunite the visionary director / choreographer Kate Champion, who choregraphed Neil Armfield’s legendary production of Cloudstreet, with designer Geoff Cobham to create a rich landscape for Tim Winton’s beautiful words is tremendously exciting.”

Kate Champion said the adaptation is a timeless, distinctly Australian jewel of a play.

“I’m thrilled to be directing the stage adaptation of one of Tim Winton’s earliest books., a coming-of-age story that questions faith in all its guises, from menacing to hopeful, far-fetched to the deeply personal.,” she said.

“Winton’s charming, unvarnished language inspires a richly visual, poetic and emotionally charged interpretation for the stage.”

Bringing together an all star, all South Australian cast including Tim Overton, Kate Cheel, Michelle Nightingale, Elena Carapetis, Bill Allert, Chris Pitman, Rory Walker and Ezra Juanta, That Eye, The Sky is a grand Australian drama about love, faith and family.

Chris Pitman as Henry Warburton and Tim Overton as Ort Flack Photo by Kate Pardey

Winton’s story of 12-year-old Ort Flack, who is forced to question everything he knows about life and death after a car crash leaves his father in a coma, is a meditation on life, loss, and the redemption that love allows all of us.

Tim Winton said he was pleased the book – which has never gone out of print – has had a rich otherlife in adaptations for stage and screen.

“When Richard Roxburgh and Justin Monjo first staged it with Hugo Weaving and David Wenham in Sydney in 1994, I was too nervous to go and see it, but my brother was living in Sydney at the time, and he raved about it. I guess that emboldened me to show up when the show later came to Perth, and I was glad I did. I’m very happy to hear this adaptation is being remounted after all this time.”

That Eye, The Sky opens at Dunstan Playhouse, 24 Aug – 16 Sep. Grab your tickets here.

Chris Pitman as Henry Warburton and Tim Overton as Ort Flack Photo by Kate Pardey