Saturday, July 26th, 2014

IT will literally be a dog’s life for some this August as the world premiere of a new play gives an insight into the canine mind.

Written by Johnny Grim for ARENAarts at Belmont’s Latvian Centre Theatre, Mutts is a funny and touching tale of nine mongrels who end up in the pound together.

They all share the same wish of being rescued before time runs out – but will they all be lucky?

Director Jane Sherwood was sent a copy of the script not long after Grim had finished writing it and immediately loved the piece.

“John writes wonderful dialogue and in this script he has created a series of characters that, despite the fact they’re dogs, are easy to relate to,” she said.

“Their stories have so many parallels to what us humans go through at various stages of our lives.”

Every play has its challenges but Mutts put Sherwood in the unique position of finding nine actors who could play dogs.

“At the same time, they still needed to be able to present interesting characters,” she said.

“Added to that, the story takes place in two cages at the dog pound, which greatly restricts movement.

“As a director, this presents many challenges to ensure it remains interesting for the audiences.”

Sherwood has a wealth of experience behind her, both on and off the stage, in London, Melbourne and Perth, working with the Belvedere Intimate, Phoenix, Old Mill, Black Swan, Stirling, Rag and Bone and Kwinana Theatres, ARENAarts and A lad in sane productions (note to subs: lower case is correct).

In 2009, she directed The Last Waltz which was named best overall production at Dramafest, the annual state drama festival, and scored a similar award at the 2011 South West Drama Festival for The Leftovers.

And in 2010, Sherwood took out the best director gong at the annual Finley Awards for her production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

With Mutts, she has encouraged her cast to spend as much time as possible observing dogs while also having dogs at rehearsals. 

“As a group, we also spend time discussing how our own dogs react in different circumstances,” Sherwood said.

“We’re all having a wonderful time bringing the dogs to life with rehearsals full of barks, tail-chasing and sniffing.”

Mutts plays at 8pm, August 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 with 2pm matinees August 10 and 17. Tickets are $20, $16 concession or $15 each for groups of 10 or more – book on 9497 5140 or at

The Latvian Centre Theatre is at 60 Cleaver Terrace, Belmont.



mutts2: It’s a dog’s life for plenty of pooches when they end up in the pound in the world premiere of Mutts. Picture: Bree Vreedenburgh.

mutts3: The cast of Mutts: Cally Zanik, left, Rachael Maher, Alison Arrowsmith, Reece Darch, Amanda Watson, Jacob Duggar, Graeme Cross, Willy Smeets and Brett Shircore. Picture: Bree Vreedenburgh.

Molly: Rachael Maher plays Molly, one of nine canines who find themselves in the pound in Mutts. Picture: Bree Vreedenburgh.

Measles: Measles (Jacob Duggar) ponders his future behind bars in the world premiere of Mutts. Picture: Bree Vreedenburgh.

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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 is celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year.

Jane Sherwood
P: 0421 974 286


world premiere stage theatre performances Mutt dogs animals ARENAarts Latvian Centre Theatre Belmont Perth WA Western Australia canine pets



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