Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
OSCAR Wilde’s first play is being brought to life this June, highlighting an abundance of repressed desires including jealousy, envy, love, temptation and deceit.

Directed by Jeff Watkins at the Old Mill Theatre, Lady Windermere’s Fan is a biting satire on the morals of Victorian society and follows a woman who jumps to the wrong conclusion after hearing rumours about her husband and a mysterious lady.

“Torn between her devotion and feelings of betrayal, she even contemplates giving into temptations,” Mr Watkins said.

“But she has to decide whether she will ruin her reputation with another man and what the mysterious woman’s role in the deception is.”

Mr Watkins confesses he had always wanted to direct or act in Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – and given the popular play has been done several times in recent years, his second choice was Lady Windermere’s Fan.

“Oscar Wilde wrote the play to challenge many common conceptions about theatre in the 1890s,” he said.

Lady Windermere's Fan is a classic tale that was ahead of its time and has so many of the familiar Oscar Wilde characters that are always a joy to watch.

“This production will show these well-known characters with a fresh liveliness while remaining faithful to Wilde's vision.”

Involved in 44 productions over the past 18 years, Mr Watkins has a wealth of experience behind him after performing, directing and choreographing for Garrick, Old Mill, Stirling, Hayman, Marloo, Endeavour and Melville Theatres, Omnibus Productions and the University and Graduate Dramatic Societies.

He admits he has a few challenges ahead of him with Lady Windermere’s Fan, including the large cast.

“I’ve had experience with large casts before, after directing the JM Barrie productions Quality Street and The Admirable Crichton,” Mr Watkins said. “The trick is making sure no one, even those with the smallest role, is ignored.

“Being a well-known play, one challenge will be to try and do something a little unexpected while keeping honest to the original script.

“When Oscar Wilde wrote Lady Windermere’s Fan, he played with concepts that most fellow authors of the time tried to avoid.

“Many of these concepts are now quite common place but I still want to keep the spirit of breaking conventions without losing the story.”

Lady Windermere’s Fan plays at 8pm, June 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 30, July 1, 2 and 3 with a 2pm matinee on June 27. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on (08) 9367 8719 or [email protected]

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

Kerri-Anne Head (Lady Windermere), Tim Prosser (Cecil), Cary Hudson (Lord Windermere), Paul Montague (Lord Augustus), George Gayler (Mrs Erlynne), Jeff Watkins (Director)

kerri-anne-cary: Kerri-Anne Head and Cary Hudson in rehearsal for Lady Windermere's Fan at the Old Mill Theatre

kerri-anne-shirley-michelle: Actors Kerri-Anne Head, Shirley Toohey and Michelle Purchase preparing Lady Windermere's Fan at the Old Mill Theatre.

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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. We are therefore celebrating our official 60th birthday party this year.

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 our 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 is wholly self-funded.

The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from our 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.
Jeff Watkins
P: 0408 094 899


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