Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
SOUTH Perth's Old Mill Theatre is opening its 2011 season this February with one of Shakespeare’s all-time greatest blockbusters.

Directed by the experienced and well-known John Milson, Hamlet has been described as “the greatest play, by the greatest writer who ever lived”.

“Over the centuries, since the play was first published in 1603, very few scholars, critics, actors and audiences have disagreed with that verdict,” Milson said.

The play is set in the kingdom of Denmark and tells the story of Prince Hamlet gaining revenge on his uncle Claudius for murdering the king – Hamlet’s father and Claudius’ brother – after he gains the throne and marries the widowed queen.

Milson describes Hamlet as a “monumental play” full of action and suspense, matched with questions and reflections about the purpose of human existence.

He points to a comment made by author, television presenter and humourist Clive James to sum up its appeal over the past 400 years.

“Hamlet is the human intelligence made universal, so he belongs to all of us,” James said. “We’re all like him.”

For centuries, every great stage actor in the UK, US and Australia has tackled the lead role – everyone from Sir Laurence Olivier, Mel Gibson and Kenneth Branagh through to former Doctor Who David Tennant, Ethan Hawke and Rory Kinnear.

“The role of Hamlet has long been considered the supreme test of an actor’s powers,” Milson said.

“The magnificent language of the play ranges from sublime poetry to rich humour and many of its phrases have passed into everyday use.”

In 2010, Milson celebrated a 40-year career as a director and lecturer, covering drama, opera, musicals and cabaret.

Originally from Sydney, he has been based in Perth since 1986 and was head of musical theatre at the WA Academy of Performing Arts for 12 years, where he worked with a vast array of students who went on to bigger and better things, including actor Lisa McCune, musical theatre performers Lara Mulcahy and Alexander Lewis and opera singer Emma Matthews.

Milson has also received an Order of Australia for his services to the performing arts and WA Equity Guild Awards for best director and lifetime achievement in the arts.

He cast Izaak Lim (*spelling correct) in the title role of Hamlet, after first working with him in a 2009 production of The Talented Mr Ripley where they won accolades for best actor and director at the annual Finley Awards.

“When the Old Mill Theatre approached me to do a production, I immediately suggested Hamlet,” Milson said.

“After seven other Shakespearean plays, I now feel confident enough to tackle this Everest of a play, where so many of the themes and ideas continue to make it as relevant as tomorrow.

“And the Old Mill is an intimate theatre that affords actors much wider vocal range than usual, going from roars to whispers.

“Above all, Izaak is a lead actor of exceptional intelligence, bravery and sensitivity and, at just 21, he is Hamlet’s supposed age.

“All in the cast are a delight to work with and I’m particularly pleased to be re-united with well-known Perth actor Andy King, whom I’ve worked with professionally for more than 35 years.”

Hamlet plays at 7.30pm, February 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18 and 19 with a 2pm matinee on February 13.

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.

Izaak Lim is Hamlet at South Perth's Old Mill Theatre this February.

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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. 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.

John Milson
P: (08) 9381 5432
M: 0437 617 502
W: www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=129939997044003


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