State Theatre Company and ActNow Theatre have teamed up to present a series of isolation-inspired stories with over 30 of South Australia’s finest established and emerging artists.

The online project, Decameron 2.0, is based on the concept of the original The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, and will comprise of ten South Australian playwrights, performed by 10 or more actors in an online broadcast over ten weeks.

The Decameron’s original themes of fortune, fate, love and virtue will loosely inspire the various themes nominated by the artistic staff from ActNow and STCSA, the core writing team — Sally Hardy, Alex Vickery-Howe, Alexis West, Emily Steel and Ben Brooker — and a rotating roster of contributing writers — Manal Younus, Kyron Weetra, Sarah Peters, and Kiara Milera.

Three groups from ActNow, featuring First Nations, queer and CALD emerging artists, will also receive mentoring from the writers along the way.

State Theatre Company South Australia Artistic Director, Mitchell Butel, describes the collaboration as a great adventure.

“I’m delighted that in the midst of COVID-19 absences from our normal theatres, [STCSA] is collaborating with ActNow Theatre, one of the most innovative inclusive and dynamic companies in Australia,” Mitchell says.

ActNow Theatre Artistic Director, Edwin Kemp Attrill, shares Mitchell’s excitement, explaining the collaboration is uniting local independent artists with the state’s flagship theatre company.

“We want to envisage what a “new normal” could look like in theatre and storytelling, and this an extraordinary project to find that out,” Edwin says. “It’s an amazing opportunity for a range of diverse artists to create work under the support and guidance of ActNow Theatre and [STCSA].”

The funding for the production comes from the state government’s COVID-19 Arts Grant Support program which will allow actors and writers who were suddenly without work in COVID-19, to be employed over the next few months.

For artists, the state government’s grant is a bittersweet contribution, made prior to the Federal Government’s tertiary education overhaul this week which recognised employment in the arts as ‘non-essential’, consequently doubling arts education’s fees.

The first video from the Decameron 2.0 project will be available online from July, while both companies look forward to the day they can bring their beloved project to the stage.

By @anastasiamonaghan