A QUINTESSENTIALLY Australian story, mixing drama, humour and home truths, is the latest offering from ARENAarts (note to subs: this is correct formatting) as the play in question celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Written by Michael Gow and directed by Christine Ellis at the Latvian Centre Theatre, Away is the story of three different families who go on their annual Christmas holidays in late 1967, all burdened with their own baggage.
First performed in 1986, it is a winner of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award and has become one of the most widely-produced Australian plays of all time.
Away is also on the high school syllabus in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
“It’s a classic Australian play about three families who go away on different summer vacations and a freak storm brings them all together in the one location,” Ellis said.
“Several secrets are revealed and the families are renewed – it is set in several different locations and moves very quickly.
“The challenge is to have several different sets on stage at one time so the play flows smoothly.
“I also need to bring together a group of experienced and inexperienced actors and mold them into a cohesive team.”
Acting since she was an 11-year-old – for more than 45 years – Ellis has been extensively involved with Stirling Players both on and off the stage for more than a decade.
She has also performed with the Old Mill, Marloo, Garrick and Phoenix Theatres and ARENAarts and has several awards to her credit for productions at Youthfest and the Mandurah One-Act Play Festival, as well as Blak Yak Theatre’s 24-Hour Stage Project.
Ellis also runs weekly drama classes at KADS Theatre where she has directed Murder in Company, Little Women, Cracked and Charitable Intent.
“Away appealed because I love Australian shows and I have seen it done twice before,” she said.
“I thought it would be a great challenge for a theatre group to be able to stage it in a creative way.”
The Latvian Centre Theatre is at 60 Cleaver Terrace, Belmont.
away1: Angry campers (Andrew Smalley, Stewart Mulligan, Phylissa Meagher, Mike Moshos and Sarah Langridge) confront Jim (Don Weaver, seated) and his daughter Meg (Madeleine Shaw, also seated) in Away.
away2: Coral (Steph Locke) is drawn to newlywed Rick (Stewart Mulligan) in the play Away, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
away3: Michael Gow’s Away – featuring Don Weaver, Madeleine Shaw, Valerie Henry, Andrew Smalley and Steph Locke – all begins at a school awards night.
away4: Away director Christine Ellis, right, choreographs a scene with Mike Moshos and Sarah Langridge.
ARENAarts is an independent, West Australian, not-for-profit arts organisation producing and supporting such projects as professional co-op shows and community theatre, as well as theatre-for-schools productions.
Our work includes such things as Wyrd Sisters, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Santa's Space Christmas, Doctor Who: Hellblossom, Northanger Abbey and The Storykeeper.
We aim to provide creative opportunities in the arts to encourage the growth of local, grassroots arts projects and to create works to reach new and existing audiences.
Since 1988, we have produced more than 155 arts projects, which have had more than 4300 performances for an audience in excess of 1 million.
ARENAarts community theatre productions are completely run by volunteers, from the actors to the director, as well as everyone involved behind the scenes. The productions are held at a variety of venues all across the Perth metropolitan area. They are tremendous fun and a great way to learn skills and make friends. Great for those just starting out in the industry as well as seasoned performers.
ARENAarts co-op productions are the perfect opportunity for anyone wishing to put on a professional production but are in need of funding, set and props and/or mentorship.
ARENAarts theatre-for-schools program offers touring educational productions that cater for junior to upper primary children. Productions include the very successful The Storykeeper which has been performed for more than 20 years.
P: 0430 494 924