La Boite’s latest show Capricorn started its life as a one-person drag show. “It was a strange idea that came to me during a workshop run by Leah Shelton called Bitch Dojo at Backbone Youth Arts,” Butchulla and Kabi Kabi writer and co-director Aidan Rowlingson says. “It was a mixture of lip sync, poetry, dramatic short scenes and film design; a sort of collage performance piece.”

What started as a workshop idea is now gracing the stages at the Roundhouse Theatre at Kelvin Grove, full of Aidan’s personal experiences four years after he first started writing it. 

Aidan says the show audiences are seeing today still has that same fringe spirit—and audiences and critics are loving it. 

Capricorn gives audiences a front row seat to the end of Sam and Ally’s fractured relationship. Fate brings them together again and again but when all the world’s pet fish mysteriously vanish and the world descends into heartbreak, these ill-fated lovers must assess their relationship and their choices to face the truth of what led to their downfall.

Through the lens of this broken relationship, Capricorn explores culture, sexuality, personal growth and grief as well as environmental issues, the importance of protest and the effects of institutional corruption on society.

Set design for Capricorn at La Boite Theatre.
Capricorn at the Roundhouse Theatre Kelvin Grove.

This theatrical journey from heartbreak to healing is tempered with a dash of surrealism and comic relief. Rowlingson is co-directing the world premiere work with Queensland producer, playwright, director and Yuwi woman, Nadine McDonald-Dowd.

“The process has been amazing,” Aidan says. People have asked me if it was difficult to direct something that I also wrote, but it felt like the most natural thing. 

“It gave me the ability to mold a theatrical work like a piece of clay. It was amazing to build something from the ground up and shape it. But of course I had a lot of help from the most incredible team of artists and creatives,” he says.

When opening night finally came around Aidan says it felt like a fantastic fever dream. “To see the audiences response to something we put so much heart into … I’ll never forget the sound of laughter or the moment the tissues came out of people’s pockets. We live in a really deadly city.”

He continues: “Writing this show was about putting a bunch of my baggage on the table, taking a step back, and looking at it from diffrent angles. And that’s what I hope the audiences do— bring their baggage, push it onto these characters and this story, and see it from a different perspective. Laugh at it. Cry because of it. But leave with a fresh perspective.”

One thing he’s really enjoyed through the process of seeing his creation come to life is working with a team of such incredible creatives. “It’s been my absolute pleasure to create with some of the most generous artists in the industry,” Aidan says. “From Peter Keavy’s set design, to Delvene Cockatoo-Collins’ work on the costumes, and Sasha Parlett’s hilarious video design, there are too many deadly artists to mention here, but their work demands your attention.”

Capricorn is playing La Boite, Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove, until August 12, 2023.

Elizabeth Best

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