Thrilled beyond measure to report a huge night for Three River Theatre, receiving nominations in the Community Theatre category of the 2019 Tasmanian Theatre Awards. We have a total of 19 nominations across both of our magnificent productions last year, Killer Joe and Our Town.
The full list is below; the complete list of all 2019 nominations is on the Tasmanian Theatre Council's website. Winners announced at the annual awards night, Wrest Point Casino, Hobart, February 23.
Congratulations to all the nominees across all sectors and all regions of Tasmania!
BEST SOUND DESIGN
GEORGIE TODMAN & CHRIS JACKSON for Killer Joe (Three River Theatre)
CALLUM WESTWOOD for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
DARREN WILLMOTT: Lighting Design for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
GRACE ROBERTS: Set Design for Killer Joe (Three River Theatre)
TERRY RYAN: Set Design for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
Cast of KILLER JOE (Three River Theatre)
Cast of OUR TOWN (Three River Theatre)
LEIGH OSWIN for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
GEORGIE TODMAN for Killer Joe (Three River Theatre)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, MALE
JULIUS GODMAN for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
TRAVIS HENNESSY for Killer Joe (Three River Theatre)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, FEMALE
STEPH FRANCIS for Killer Joe (Three River Theatre)
TIA LANDEG for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
GRACE ROBERTS for Killer Joe (Three River Theatre)
BEST PERFORMANCE, MALE
FIONTAN CASSIDY for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
JIMMY HARRISON for Killer Joe (Three River Theatre)
BEST PERFORMANCE, FEMALE
KERRI GAY for Our Town (Three River Theatre)
KILLER JOE (Three River Theatre)
OUR TOWN (Three River Theatre)
The Review is in! A sound endorsement of Leigh Oswin's excellent direction and that of the committed and professional cast and crew. Thanks so much Jeff Hockley.
Three River Theatre, 13 September, 2018
- Jeff Hockley
‘Pretty ordinary town, if you ask me,’ says Mr Webb in Thornton Wilder’s play ‘Our Town’. He couldn’t be further from the truth. In director Leigh Oswin’s capable hands, and given Three River’s production values, ‘Our Town’ transcends the ordinary to become a place of extra-ordinary complexity. Written in 1938 the play has taken an equally extraordinary 80 years to reach us, despite being the most widely performed play in the USA. It’s hard to explain why this Pulitzer Prize winner hasn’t been seen here as Grover’s Corner could just as easily be our home town too. But the theme of the play is universal and Oswin has wisely broken the small-town barrier to give depth to the issues contained within the society of characters in the play.
There’s not much plot to work with though, which puts a lot of pressure on the actors and their ability to make what seems mundane into something memorable. Life in the play is made up of many mundane ordinary moments and we don’t appreciate them until it is too late. Oswin has drilled his cast to catch those moments so the surprise and tragedy which unfolds does not become sentimental but memorable. A single imposed sentence in the play about our own modern time issues jolts us out of historic sentimentality.
Acting as a kind of tour guide throughout is Kerri Gay. Wilder suggests a dryness of tone for this character simply called ‘Stage Manager’. There is no way that Ms Gay is ever going to do that and it is just as well – she clearly loves the town and its people. She laughs and cries with them, shares jokes with them and cares deeply about their lives. It is she alone who stops the play descending into a saccharine fairy tale with narrator, and she works the script and stage brilliantly. Her mountain top speech in Act 3 is acting and story telling at its very best and it alone is worth the price of admission.
Debbie Parish, too, shares in the acting credits, and her ‘goodbye’ speech, also in Act 3, is beautifully studied and the crowning point of her acting/character journey through the play. ‘Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every, every minute?’ she says, encapsulating the play in just one perfectly spoken line.
The rest of the cast, too many to name, form a strong cohesive ensemble with an assured ability to present Wilder’s strong poetic passages. They mostly reveal the soul of their parts even if there is sometimes not a lot of deep feeling. Most are graduates or current performing arts students of UTAS which says a lot about their studies and their role in community theatre.
The other production elements are equally good, with perfectly executed costumes and hairstyles, a naturalistic soundscape, and atmospheric lighting to complement the staging.
At the end of the play one has to say that the experience of seeing it was strangely exhilarating. Not bad for a play which explores the commonplace, and ordinary.
Friends - a special "Our Town" edition of the Three River newsletter... here.
Opens this week! Don't miss it!
After three Tasmanian Theatre Council 'Errol' nominations for the highly successful The Season at Sarsaparilla last night, Three River Theatre are ‘dying’ to announce the cast for their upcoming production of Killer Joe, by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Tracy Letts.
Coming to the Annexe Theatre in June this year, Killer Joe is a dark comedy and will be directed by Georgie Todman. ‘Here we have a group of mostly despicable people living shabby, dead-end lives and yet managing to drive their existence even further into the ground…’
We are thrilled to announce the following cast.
Chris Smith – Jimmy Harrison
Sharla Smith – Grace Roberts
Ansel Smith – Travis Hennessy
Dottie Smith – Steph Francis
Joe Cooper – Mitchell Langley
More on Killer Joe here.
There's lots on around the Launceston theatre scene... read on!
Well - that was quite the night! A massive thank you to the audience members in the (very nearly) packed house, who joined us for opening. A terrific, epic show.
We asked University of Tasmania senior lecturer, Dr Deb Malor, to come along the student preview night and share her reflections on The Season.
It is a real treat to have had Deb write for us, and we are so lucky to receive a traditional long-form theatrical review. It's a rarity. Read below!
We look forward to seeing you at the show! Book!
Three River Theatre, The Season at Sarsparilla, by Patrick White
Earl Arts. Performance viewed 19 September 2017 (Schools preview)
With The Season at Sarsaparilla, Nobel Prize-winning Australian author, Patrick White, encounters his homeland after a lengthy period spent in Europe after service in World War 2, during which he wrote his first performed play, The Ham Funeral, set in a decrepit London boarding house. The Ham Funeral was the first public evidence of the establishment, grazier-class, Cambridge-educated White's taste for 'slumming it', through a voyeur's fascination for communities not his own.
Like The Ham Funeral, The Season at Sarsaparilla was first performed in Adelaide: indeed in the following year, 1962. The play has had a number of outings, most notably for me the 1976 Sydney production for the Old Tote Theatre Company, directed by Jim Sharman, in enfant terrible mode and bringing new power to the play's final impossible injunction to spread the 'razzle dazzle' to Mildred Street, Sarsaparilla. In a way, you had to be living in Sydney to admire White's rather cynical demand to break the bubble of suburbia, subjected as we had been to the onslaught of David Williamson's gentrifying inner city 'trendies' in plays such as Don's Party; although, as the director, Leigh Oswin, writes in his excellent notes, there is much in this play that is recognisable in the world of 2017.
For Oswin, with his interest in meta-theatre, this play must have seemed a gift, with its layered and often self-conscious actions, moments when characters form of chorus in mime and word and the occasional interpolations of a single character, Roy Child (Rhys Pitstock) who dreams and rants beyond the picket fence. Throughout it is the effective and consistent use of mime that underline the monotony of life through repeated actions that allow us to tune in to White's intersecting dialogues.
The play is an ensemble piece, concentrating on the residents of three adjacent houses: the Knotts, the Pogsons and the Boyles. Into these families are inserted, with varied intent and much élan: an amoral politician, Mr Erbage, played by a suitably sweaty Antony Butchart; an old war-time mate in Aaron Beck's damaged and dangerous Rowley Masson; a romantic and gauche suitor, Ron Suddards, breathlessly realised by Robbie Bleakley; a vivacious yet fragile woman - Fran Suitor as Julia Sheen; and a pair of ambulance men - the big boys of the Launceston stage, Cameron Hindrum and Callum Westwood).
Among sustained scenes of deep intensity and superficial manners, there are many comedic moments. Some have not aged well: what may have encouraged pub laughter in the 1960s brought some gasps of shock/horror from a much younger audience with a lifetime protection from non-pc language and ideas. Happily Jan Gluszyk (as Clive Pogson) and Aaron Beck navigate the area seamlessly, both avoiding caricature and remaining totally engaging if not always likeable.
Relationships between couples are beautifully drawn, without exception: Clive and Girlie Pogson (Gluszyk and Fiona Reilly); Harry and Mavis Knott (Kieran Phillips and Katie Hill); Ernie and Nola Boyle (Troy Ridgway and Bindy Stephens) all have some hook that keeps them together, even if that is the suppressing of irritations, the forgetting of fragilities, the acceptance of 'What more could anyone expect?', as Girlie and Clive agree. The Pogson children, Judy (Jane Forrest) and Pippy (Charlotte Edwards) provide markers of life stages where decisions must be made and new facades adopted, demonstrated by Judy's acceptance of the 'kindness', derided by Roy Child, that she recognises in youthful romantic Ron Suddards; and Pippy's changing attitudes to her neighbours and to her friend, Deedree, played straight while channelling a junior Magda Szubanski by Delia Muddle. Roy (resident in the Knott household) is the one person who attempts to exist on both sides of the facade, inside and outside the charade of suburbia but in the end it just may be possible that the courageous and curious Pippy will be the one to not acquiesce to the expectations of a gender-defined adulthood.
Design has been the province of Leigh Oswin, Stan Gottschalk, Flocky Bock and Nick Cummings and is almost without fault. The set plays to the idea of charade in its open 'facadery', the delineation of spaces by varied levels and surfaces that are, in turn, supported by mimed actions of the opening and closing of doors and gates. Entering the theatre is to be drawn immediately into its bright simplicity space. The design is integral to the narrative. Under the frames of identical hipped roofs, a welter of Laminex, some incipient Marimekko, back porches with dark spaces underneath, narrow side walkways not used by strangers, eat-in kitchens with sinks under the window, the back lane as a merging or connecting space. It is a very full set, taking the full depth of the available space. This slightly detracts from the ability of Roy to clearly 'step outside' to declaim against the insularity of each ticky-tacky house, but that is slight criticism. Costume design is slick, from Dior copy ( a great entrance from Fran Suitor) to beige via pastels and polished cottons (although I was longing for an I Love Lucy house coat or two).
White's text can be difficult, not the least because knowledge of the irascible character of the author can get in the way. But White is no Woody Allen: his text must be both serious and ridiculous, preferably simultaneously, and he is not into public psychoanalysis. This is just how it is, in Mildred Street, Sarsaparilla. There can be no suggestion that White understands the motivations of the people he has placed on the stage before us: like us, he watches from his kitchen window, listens at the backdoor, bound by rules.
Three River Theatre's production of The Season at Sarsaparilla is a brave undertaking with an extremely satisfying outcome. Iit is very good entertainment indeed. Somewhere in Mildred Street you will find someone to love or to despise, to weep for or to laugh with. If you're not happy in one house, move on to the next; there will always be something reassuring, quiet, intense, well-behaved, contained within its bubble. Perhaps go along more than once, just to make sure you catch everything that's going on behind the facades of Sarsaparilla.
Thanks to The Examiner for running a terrific interview with Sarsaparilla director, Leigh Oswin. If you haven't seen it already, here it is!
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