Friday, October 15th, 2010
SEXUAL friction, savage humour and verbal pyrotechnics are the catalysts fuelling Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this November at UWA’s Dolphin Theatre.

Presented by the Graduate Dramatic Society and directed by Barry Park, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play is an explosive depiction of a dysfunctional family torn apart by hypocrisy, greed and secret passions.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof first heated up Broadway in 1955, also scoring the Drama Critics’ Circle Award, followed by a 1958 film version with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.

The story follows two brothers vying for their dying father's inheritance, amid a whirlwind of untethered and repressed sexuality.

Williams re-wrote the play several times and, in 1974, a version produced at the American Shakespeare Festival was deemed to be the definitive text – the script Park is using for his production.

“It’s a deeply moving, powerful play with a strong, intriguing narrative and fascinating characters, set in a plantation home in the Mississippi Delta,” Park said.

“Anyone interested in American literature or classic drama should see it and I hope teachers will be interested in bringing their students, particularly those who will be studying it next year.”

Park says he has been a Tennessee Williams fan since he first studied The Glass Menagerie at university.

“His best plays are superbly-crafted and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is one of his finest and most successful,” he said.

“When I read Williams’ third and final version of the script, I was determined to direct it, especially when I heard about the success of the recent Broadway and West End revivals.

“The candid treatment of subjects such as dysfunctional marriage, alcoholism and repressed homosexuality is captivating.

“Williams’ characters are interesting and realistic and his dialogue is engaging, sharp, incisive and lyrical – it’s a brilliant script with roles that actors love to play.”

Acting and directing since the 1970s, Park has directed numerous plays including Death of a Salesman, Blythe Spirit, Lord of the Flies, The Life and Death of Almost Everybody, On Monday Next, The Golden Masque of Agamemnon, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and Agnes of God, among many others.

Several have been nominated for awards, including Death of A Salesman, which scored seven nominations in the National Theatre Festival in Zimbabwe.

As an actor, Park has performed in Harare, Cape Town, Edinburgh, London and Perth.

Park said he is delighted to have assembled a very strong cast for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

“I have had to cut the play carefully, as it’s a very long play and I want to be sure that the audiences are totally engaged throughout,” he said. “These have been difficult decisions to make.

“The actors may find the accents difficult, so we have an accent coach from the region to ensure they are perfect.”

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof plays at 7.30pm, October 30, November 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 and 13 at the Dolphin Theatre – tickets are $25, $20 concession. Bookings through BOCS on (08) 9484 1133 or

The Dolphin Theatre is located within the University of WA with entry from Mounts Bay Road or Hackett Drive. Parking is free. The production is by special arrangement with Dominie Pty Ltd.

More information about the Graduate Dramatic Society is available at

George Gayler (Margaret) and Neal Huxley (Brick) are in the Graduate Dramatic Society’s production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof this November.

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Graduate Dramatic Society

The Graduate Dramatic Society (GRADS) originated in 1953 at the University of Western Australia. The Sunken Garden at UWA, a theatre created from a sandpit, was in 1948 the venue for a season of Oedipus Rex which earned the plaudits of Laurence Olivier and Vivienne Leigh, among others. The subsequent blossoming of dramatic activity suggested to some of the undergraduates they should continue after they graduated. For the next 20 years, the Graduate Dramatic Society was a leading source of good theatre in Western Australia.

Combined productions with the University Dramatic Society were early features of the Festival of Perth. In 1964, the New Fortune Theatre came into use. This unique venue is the only theatre in the southern hemisphere built to the known dimensions of an Elizabethan theatre. The first production was Hamlet, directed by Jeana Bradley and Philip Parsons, and involving GRADS members. Besides the Sunken Garden and the New Fortune Theatre, the society also used the old Dolphin, a weatherboard building. That was demolished after the new Dolphin Theatre came into use in 1976.

Since 1995, annual summer productions of Shakespeare have been a feature of the GRADS calendar and offer excellent opportunities for audiences and actors alike to experience the unique environment of this replica Elizabethan theatre.
Barry Park
P: 0405 006 914


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