Saturday, October 6th, 2012
AN October production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Old Mill Theatre is being staged to honour the memory of a much-loved member of the theatre community.

Garry Lawrence’s wife Beverley was originally cast in the play two years ago by Sue Hayward – but Hayward was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and died suddenly before the play reached the stage.

“At the time, I thought the play should have run as a dedication to Sue, who had done so much for local theatre,” Lawrence said.

“I read it several times to decide if it was my style and, each time, I discovered more and more subtlety in the intensity of the play’s action and decided to direct it.

“The Old Mill Theatre is a perfect venue and ideal place for this wonderful classic and also offers a great opportunity to remember Susan.”

Written by Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? involves two couples playing games at a party, launching savage verbal attacks against each other.

“The catalyst of alcohol and a late night after-party allow total unbridled honesty to be spoken with all its nails, and potential to hurt, left well and truly intact,” Lawrence, who also plays George, said.

“The contrast between the ages of the two couples provides an additional source of complexity in the interpretation of relationship challenges, fears, naivety, regrets, lost opportunity and misinterpretations in the never-ending game of life.”

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was named best play at the 1963 Tony Awards and 1962-63 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards.

It was also selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama but the award’s advisory board objected to the play's then-controversial use of profanity and sexual themes and no prize was given.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton appeared in the 1966 film adaptation.

“The play has a profound intensity that has not been lost since it was first performed at Broadway’s Billy Rose Theatre in 1962,” Lawrence said.

“The key element of childbirth, children and all the manifestations of fulfillment and emptiness that impact on our lives are as true today as they ever were.

“It is difficult to conceive any greater sadness than family tragedies – we can all relate to this emotional phenomenon.

“The audience needs time out and relief from the depth of frustration and despair which sometimes envelops the theme.”

A theatre leader at school and learning tap dancing and jazz ballet in the 1970s, Lawrence introduced theatre nights to his footy club in the early ’80s and then stepped up to the stage at the Old Mill Theatre in The Sentimental Bloke.

He’s since gone on to play an abundance of lead and support roles and has directed Chinamen, Shirley Valentine, Breaker Morant and The Importance of Being Earnest.

“With Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? my task is to provide entertainment that allows for a story that sometimes makes the hairs on your neck stand on end but also has black humour to provide the folly,” Lawrence said.

“This ensures the interpretation of Edward Albee’s story rings true and leaves the audience enjoying the show – although if they feel a little drained at the end I won’t be disappointed.”

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? plays at 8pm, October 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 with a 2pm matinee October 14.

Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on (08) 9367 8719, [email protected] or online at

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on Mends Street, South Perth, opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post.

vw1: Beverley Lawrence, Robert Ross, Britni Leslie and Garry Lawrence are appearing in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? this October.

vw2: Tensions reach breaking point between George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, played by real-life husband and wife Garry and Beverley Lawrence.

ww3: Nick (Robert Ross) and Honey (Britni Leslie) are subject to savage verbal attacks in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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The Old Mill Theatre

South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics' Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.

The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. In 2009, the theatre celebrated its 60th anniversary.

A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links two backstage dressing rooms and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which was wholly self-funded.

The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from its local council, the City of South Perth. The city undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008 and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
Garry Lawrence
P: 0404 864 146


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