THE SECRET RIVER Opens Adelaide Festival to Rave Reviews

Directed by Neil Armfield, written by Andrew Bovell and designed by Stephen Curtis, THE SECRET RIVER opened the Adelaide Festival to rave reviews last week:

“Neil Armfield’s brilliantly inventive direction adds the theatrical fairy-dust that makes the play soar…Andrew Bovell’s script for this Sydney Theatre Company production produces some incredibly complex characters who speak some remarkably powerful lines.” – In Daily

“The adaptation, the direction, the design elements, the acting: these weave an experience not only more than the sum of its parts, but serving the higher purpose of illuminating an originary moment for the life of this nation.” – The Conversation

“For all its eventual darkness, playwright Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of Kate Grenville’s novel is peppered with many moments of laughter, levity and elation, songs and rhymes, and a driving sense of adventure. Armfield keeps the action flowing like the river itself around the expansive stage, making clever use of the elements — fire, water, wind and dust — as well as integrating live music, song and dance to create a most memorable and moving spectacle.” – The Advertiser

Green Room Awards

Congratulations to all of our clients who are nominated in this year’s GREEN ROOM AWARDS!



Set and Costume Design

  • Marg Horwell (Set & Costume)  Animal (inFlux in association with Theatre Works)



Set Design

  • Gabriela Tylesova – Ladies in Black (Queensland Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company)

Costume Design

  • Gabriella Tylesova – Ladies in Black (Queensland Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company)





  • Neil Armfield – The Ring Cycle (Opera Australia)



Set and Costume Design

  • Stephen Curtis (Set Design) – The Secret River (Sydney Theatre Company presented by The Arts Centre)
  • Marg Horwell (Set & Costume Design) – Lilith: The Jungle Girl (Melbourne Theatre Company, Sisters Grimm)

See the full list of nominees here

CABARET is now showing at the Hayes Theatre, featuring James Browne’s stunning designs!

CABARET is now showing at the Hayes Theatre, featuring James Browne’s stunning designs!

“Production designer James Browne has worked wonders in transforming the tiny footprint of the Hayes Theatre into the dingy surrounds of the less-than salubrious Kit Kat Club.”
– The Daily Telegraph

“James Browne’s set is particularly evocative with its authentic parquet flooring”- Daily Review
“And what a stage – Designed by James Browne and lit by Rob Sowinski it’s one of the cleverest uses of this small space I have seen, and I cannot heap enough accolades on the production team for managing to avoid the obvious and bring a really fresh new look to this production”
– Australian Stage

“James Browne’s witty costumes, and atmospheric setting which includes members of the audience seated at tables, and which transforms seamlessly from decadent cabaret room to run-down boarding house at the blink of an eye.”
– Arts Review

“James Browne’s set and costume design, perfectly complemented by Rob Sowinski’s delicately detailed lighting design, is beautifully observed. The sense of period is palpable, from the battered parquet floor through to the meshed footlights and the peeling 1920s posters adorning the walls. Browne makes the Hayes’ postage stamp somehow bigger than I’ve seen it before, providing Christo with the means to neatly shift gears from cabaret stage to domestic interior.”
– Limelight Magazine

2016 Sydney Theatre Awards

Congratulations to all of our clients who are nominated for the 2016 Sydney Theatre Awards!

Alicia Clements (Hay Fever)
Brian Thomson (Faith Healer)
Gabriela Tylesova (A Flea In Her Ear)

Tim Chappel (Little Shop of Horrors)
Alicia Clements (Hay Fever)
Gabriela Tylesova (A Flea In Her Ear)

Kate Gaul (Good With Maps)

Jasper Jones (Belvoir), Directed by Anne-Louise Sarks

See the full list of nominees here

LADIES IN BLACK at Sydney Festival

The Sydney Morning Herald gives LADIES IN BLACK an outstanding review for its Sydney Festival season. Featuring the work of an all-star HLA team, LADIES IN BLACK is written by Carolyn Burns, directed by Simon Phillips and designed by Gabriela Tylesova.

“Burns’ scenes retain the artless economy of St John’s prose and her faultless ear for the language of the times. Director Simon Phillips and designer Gabriela Tylesova’s production is likewise faithful to the tone of the source, a simple, elegant staging using revolves to sweep characters and bits of furniture on and off.”

Read the full review here


Directed by Simon Phillips and designed by Gabriela Tylesova, Andrew Upton’s adaptation of French farce A FLEA IN HER EAR at Sydney Theatre Company has reviewers in stitches!

“Gabriela Tylesova’s set is spectacular, on three concentric revolves, but as it magically transforms for the changes, it is revealed to be all flats and fretwork, the pieces of which fall back into place beautifully. Her costumes are outlandish, just that little bit more than even these ridiculous people might want to wear…Simon Phillips directs it with a feeling for the inexorable logic that underlies the absurdity of it all, and a splendidly choreographed cascade of stage business — full of doors, staircases, secret cupboards and pratfalls. We watch the characters’ wily plans, secret desires and outraged reactions all lead to chaos. It is very funny.” – The Australian

“This is production looks gorgeous — Gabriella Tylesova’s rotating set is a jewel box of colour and beauty (there’s even a rotating bed), and her costumes are every bit as intricate and thoughtful as the plotting.” – The Daily Review

“A Flea In Her Ear is an absolute masterpiece of comedic wonderment. It is an absolute delight to watch the chaos happen on stage (the complete and utter chaos) and spend the 2 hours in the theatre raucously laughing to the point of tears- and boy did that happen.” – The AU Review

A Flea In Her Ear the latest production for successful director-designer partnership

Long time collaborators, Simon Phillips and Gabriela Tylesova, talk about their director-designer partnership ahead of the opening night for their latest project, Sydney Theatre Company’s production of the 1907 French farce A FLEA IN HER EAR. Read the full interview here.

Elissa Blake

A Flea In Her Ear the latest production for successful director-designer partnership
“We never think what we are doing is complicated until other people tell us it’s complicated,” says director Simon Phillips of the theatre productions he has created with designer Gabriela Tylesova. “We always think it’s quite simple.”

Phillips and Tylesova are overseeing the installation of the elaborate set for the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of the 1907 French farce A Flea in Her Ear. On the Drama Theatre stage sits an ornate double revolve design in vivid purple. It looks, well, pretty complicated.

“We like to crack a show open and come up with interesting solutions,” Tylesova says. “Simon always challenges what you think is possible. It is never boring.”

Phillips and Tylesova have been working together for 15 years, on and off, creating some of the most visually impressive productions of recent years: the Coney Island gothic of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Love Never Dies; the strange onstage/off stage worlds of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead for the Sydney Theatre Company; the cartoonish settings for the Melbourne production of the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

“We are always trying to find the quintessence of a show, how it should feel,” says Phillips. “Gabriela has a really acute, almost spooky sense of what that is. Sometimes she will put stuff in the model box that is amusing to her, it’s a little crazy. She is a bit crazy. But she has an immensely intelligent instinct for what embodies the show.”

The creative partners have recently worked together on the touring production of Ladies in Black, which has its Sydney premiere in January. Now, as well as finalising A Flea In Her Ear, they are deep into ideas for the world premiere of the musical version of Muriel’s Wedding, which opens in Sydney a year from now.

They clicked the first time they met, in 2001, when Tylesova, a Czech-born NIDA graduate, created the costumes for the Phillips-directed Opera Australia production Elixir of Love. Her work was nominated for a Helpmann Award the following year.

In 2003, they joined forces again for the MTC production The Visit, for which Tylesova received a Green Room Award.

They share an “aesthetic sensibility”, Phillips says, a love of visual opulence that runs against the current fashion for black box stages and minimal detail. “In that sense we are disastrously unfashionable,” laughs Phillips. “Hopelessly stuck in an archaic idiom! Unable to break into the modern era!”

Tylesova is laughing, too. “It’s like anything in life. You meet someone and you get on. You don’t even know why it works,” she says.

Early thinking for A Flea in Her Ear involved updating the look of the play to the 1950s. “Gab and I had just done The Turk in Italy [for Opera Australia] and we set that in the ’50s. It just seemed to make things easy.”

But the more Phillips and Tylesova worked the problem, the more obvious it became that the comedy would be best served by embracing the art nouveau period that spawned it.

“Before the first World War, France was celebrating, people were making big money and having affairs and going to theatres,” Tylesova says. “The play really sits in that time and embraces those virtues and hazards.”

Farce can become “tacky, quite easily”, adds Phillips. “It is very hard to do well. We think there is something about this production being lavishly dressed that lifts the farce into something heightened and makes it more enjoyable.”

The director-designer partnership thrives on a lack of preciousness, Phillips says. “There are no taboo subjects. What I love about Gab is that she is totally open. I don’t have to pussyfoot around her ego and in discussion we are very free with each other.”

They also share a disdain for dull colours – “we both don’t like brown!” they say in unison – and a love of the same cuisine. “We both like the really grisly bits of chicken,” Phillips says. “We love offal and things like that. All the bits other people hate! We both gravitate towards the same style of thing, whether it is art or offal.”


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