Friday, July 30th, 2010
A QUINTESSENTIALLY Australian story, mixing drama, humour and home truths, is the latest offering from the Old Mill Theatre this August.

Written by Michael Gow and directed by Vanessa Jensen, Away is the story of three different families who go on their annual Christmas holidays in late 1967, all burdened with their own baggage.

“It’s a beautiful Australian play with wonderfully-written characters,” Jensen said. “The language, setting and story are undeniably Australian.

“During the course of the story, a storm ends up bringing the families together, helping them to unload some of their baggage.”

Attracted to the play for its simplicity, Jensen said Away also has a lot of depth and is easily accessible with a moving story.

“I saw a professional production at the Hole in Wall Theatre in the late 1980s, which was excellent, but most people have only seen school productions of Away,” she said.

“While these are often very good, a lot of the depth of character and story are lost when all roles are played by 16-year-olds – I wanted to see it again with adults in the adult roles!”

Jensen has a wealth of theatre experience behind her, after first appearing on stage as an eight-year-old and directing her first show at 14.

She wrote, directed, stage managed and acted in various shows at Curtin University’s Hayman Theatre over a four-year period and has staged several successful productions at the Old Mill and Melville Theatres, including The Venetian Twins, Three Tall Women, Pride and Prejudice and her own award-winning script Jamie’s Chooks.

One of the main challenges Jensen faces with Away is the fact that many people have already studied the script at school.

“While this can mean full houses for the show, it can also mean pre-conceived ideas about how it should be staged,” she said.

“The play comes across as sounding deceptively simple but it’s actually a complex and richly-textured story with many layers and meanings.

“One of the things I love about Away is its use of, and parallels with, Shakespeare, which helps to make it unique.

“That shouldn’t put people off, however, because the play is extremely accessible – it’s just one of the many layers Michael Gow has used in his script.”

Away plays at 8pm, August 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20 and 21 with a 2pm matinee on August 15. Tickets are $20, $15 concession and $15 each for group bookings of 10 or more – call 9367 8719 or [email protected]

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

away-peter-jayma-sarah5: Peter Bloor is Jim, Jayma Knudson is Gwen and Sarah Lumsden is Meg in Away this August.

away-laila-joel-phil2: Laila Gampfer, Joel Horwood and Phil Lord play one of the three families in the Old Mill Theatre's production of Away this August.

away-director.jpeg: Director Vanessa Jensen, far left, with the cast of Away: Maree Grayden, Jeff Hansen, Ed Hartley, Lyn Hartley, Michelle Diston, Willielmina Verschoof, Joel Horwood, Laila Gampfer and Phil Lord.

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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.
Vanessa Jensen
P: 0413 079 146


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