Regional voices at the fore of 'Euphoria' show

SHOW: 'Euphoria' will be coming to the Upper Spencer Gulf next months with shows in Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla. Photo: Tim Standing
SHOW: 'Euphoria' will be coming to the Upper Spencer Gulf next months with shows in Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla. Photo: Tim Standing

Award-winning South Australian playwright Emily Steel is bringing her new play Euphoria, commissioned by Country Arts SA, to the Upper Spencer Gulf next month, putting regional voices to the fore in a heart-warming tale of good days, bad days and everything in between.

Euphoria premiered in Renmark in April and has been touring statewide since.

There will be shows next month in Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Euphoria had been in the works since 2017 and was set to tour last year before being cancelled due to COVID-19.

Country Arts SA's arts and health creative producer Alison Howard said the play explored the paradox of life in rural and remote Australia presenting challenges that impact on health and wellbeing while statistics indicated people in country areas were happy.

She said Euphoria was created with regional communities in their mind.

"Over two years, Emily and I met with people in regional communities and also spent time in mental health units meeting with clinical staff and clients to talk about the joys and challenges of country life," she said.

"Across the state conversations turned to water, services and health. Emily has demonstrated the value of deep engagement in regional communities, bringing authenticity, compassion and incredible wit to this fictional tale of country life here in South Australia.

"The result of this extensive consultation and development is Euphoria, a gently moving new work that offers an authentic picture of country South Australia."

Ms Steel said it was an honour to create a script so closely with South Australian regional communities.

"It was a privilege to meet so many people in so many communities, and to hear about their experiences," she said.

"Euphoria is fictional, but I hope that, thanks to all those who helped with the research, its characters and their stories will feel real."

The show visits Port Pirie's Northern Festival Centre on Tuesday, June 1 at 1pm, then two Port Augusta shows at Lea Memorial Theatre on Wednesday, June 2 - 1pm for a schools show and 7pm for the community - before visiting Whyalla's Middleback Arts Centre on Thursday, June 3 at 7pm and Friday, June 4 at 11am.

There will also be post show question and answer sessions.

Port Augusta Presenter Group spokesperson Yolande Morris said she hoped the community would come along to this significant theatre performance in their region.

"It is great to have a play that is based in a regional community and explores some of the challenges and positives of living in a rural community," she said.

"We really hope that the community gets behind this live theatre performance.

"After so many arts shows and events being cancelled last year let's make the most of an opportunity to come to the Lea Theatre and catch up with your friends and enjoy a show that relates to country South Australia."

Country Arts SA chief executive officer Anthony Peluso said the play reinforced their vision to create art that could only be made in the regions, contributing to the strength of the communities and sharing regional stories with sensitivity and aplomb.

"Euphoria is a compassionate, sensitive and witty piece of theatre which we produced with our audiences in mind," he said.

"With extensive community consultations in towns across the state and working with our producing partner State Theatre Co South Australia and some of the best in the industry, we have re-created a slice of regional life that we know rings true."

State Theatre Company South Australia artistic director Mitchell Butel added the development of the play started with Ms Steel heading to pop-up tea rooms across the state to have hundreds of conversations with residents.

"To finally bring this beautiful play back to those towns is a real privilege, and we're thrilled to be co-producing this with Country Arts SA, which plays such an integral role in bringing world-class work to regional audiences," he said.

Country Arts SA has developed a strategy to support audiences attending performance and as part of this, mental health professional Adan Richards will be attached to the tour.

This role will support each post-show Q&A, providing a safe platform for audiences to 'unpick' the work and in doing so; engage in conversation around the themes and issues Euphoria raises about mental health and wellbeing in regional towns.