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Gala Dinner Dance - Saturday 20 August
Final bookings and payments 29 July
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15 July 2016

Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to our July newsletter. We hope we can warm you up with some of our news and activity.

Tomorrow will see the last performance of If I Should Die Before I Wake, directed by Ellis Ebell. This challenging play has provoked lots of discussion - surely a measure of success. We were delighted to be able to host the playwright, Rebecca Lister, at one performance, after which she kindly agreed to a Q and A session with patrons. It's not often we get the playwright sitting in the audience to watch their play!

Robert Harsley will be directing our next production, Sitting Pretty. With a relatively large cast, the audition process enabled Bob to bring together an excellent group of actors. With its combination of the bitter sweet and humour we have a lot to look forward to with this play.

Who didn't know 2016 was our 70th anniversary year? Well, August will be a very significant month to celebrate this major milestone. Our Gala Dinner Dance on Saturday 20 August is our chance to really kick up our heels and mark the occasion. After a quick recovery, we will then have the chance to gather for our Back to Willy barbecue, at the theatre, from 1.30pm the next day, Sunday 21 August. Look out for full details elsewhere in this Cues & News. Don't forget to book for the Gala Dinner Dance and save some money for the fabulous Gala Raffle with its great prize pool.


Looking forward to seeing all our WLT regulars both on stage, back stage and front of stage at one or both of these major 70th anniversary events over the weekend 20/21 August. This is a fabulous reunion opportunity. We remember the fun we had ten years ago with our big 60th anniversary Gala night at the Williamstown Mechanics Institute, former home of WLT.


Click on any of the links below to go straight to the article of your choice.

Sitting Pretty

By Amy Rosenthal
Director: Robert Harsley


 
Following auditions two weeks ago, Director Robert Harsley was able to cast Sitting Pretty and we are delighted to announce the details here. Congratulations to all involved.
 

Nancy - Margie Bainbridge

Nina - Marianne Collopy

Max - David Efron

Philip - Conor O'Neill

Zelda - Dasana Smyth

Josie - Roberta Szekeres

Sylvia - Marilyn Davies

Martin - Ian Tweeddale

Bridget - Andrea Tappe

Luka - Angus Turner-Summerton

 

Update from Production Coordinator
Brian Christopher

 

Cast and crew of Sitting Pretty gathered at the theatre last Monday to hear the first read-through. The cast of ten includes Margie Bainbridge and Marianne Collopy  as sparring sisters, Nancy and Nina; David Efron as the lonely and dateless Max; and Conor O’Neill as the philandering art teacher Philip. Philip’s art class includes Dasana Smyth, Roberta Szekeres, Marilyn Davies, Ian Tweeddale, Andrea Tappè and Angus Turner-Sommerton, who all bring their individuality and agenda to school. At this first read-through we were entertained by what will be a very funny and poignant drama with an ending that may surprise you. Congratulations to everyone. It was great to hear the words voiced and come to life.

Backstage the cast will be the safe hands of Willy stalwarts Ness Harwood (Stage Manager), Patrick Slee (Sound & Light) and Rob Edwards (ASM). Barbara Hughes has put together a great set design with the help of David Dare; Craig Pearcey will be providing his usual luminary magic; Maria Haughey will be sourcing props and Neil Williamson and Patrick will be working on our sound track. The lovely Robyn Legge will be our rehearsal prompt. The production will be under the expert and dedicated guidance of Bob Harsley (Director) and Peta Ripper (Assistant Director). Peta will also have her work cut out as she is also in charge of costumes.

The set for If I Should Die Before I Wake will be struck on Tuesday 19 July (evening, followed by supper – all welcome); and the build of Sitting Pretty will start the following Saturday. Anyone interested in helping please call me on 0458 134 469.

Brian Christopher
Production Coordinator

 

Look out next month, or on the website sooner, for a cast and production crew photo.

The Open Rehearsal for Sitting Pretty will be held at the theatre at 3pm Sunday 21 August, following the Back to Willy barbecue. 

If I Should Die Before I Wake

By Rebecca Lister
Director: Ellis Ebell

Review

 

Williamstown Little Theatre
If I Should Die Before I Wake by Rebecca Lister
Directed by Ellis Ebell

Performance - Thursday 7 July 2016 (middle week)

Reviewer – Jennifer Paragreen

 

With its latest staging, If I Should Die Before I Wake, Williamstown Little Theatre continues its wonderful run of impressive productions and celebrations befitting its seventieth anniversary.

If I Should Die Before I Wake has had only one previous showing in Victoria, a rather spare production at Chapel Off Chapel some years ago, so it provided a fresh theatrical experience for WLT’s audience.

The play’s title comes from a children’s bedtime prayer and its subject matter provides food for thought as a mother faces her own mortality with a cancer diagnosis knowing that there is, still to be resolved, the matter of the ongoing care of her daughter, Gillie, now in her twenties but child-like due to a life-long intellectual disability. Isabelle, her other daughter, adds further dimension to the story with insights into how family dynamics are affected by the presence of someone with a disability.

The playwright, Rebecca Lister, illustrates these ideas clearly so that the audience is made well aware of the unspoken tensions within the family despite their genuine love and concern for the adult child. Her script has the characters interacting with each other but also provides soliloquies which provide greater insight into their thought processes.

Ellis Ebell directed his three consummate actors to elicit all the nuances of the situation.

Rosalin Shafik-Eid imbued Gillie with a combination of naïvety, vulnerability and uninhibited flamboyance. She could be quite mischievous, particularly with her movie camera, absolutely adamant when it came to established routines, ‘beer o’clock’, ‘union rules’ etc, and this contrasted with her terror of change.



The delivery of the line, “If I had a baby, would it be like me?” was quite heartbreaking.

As the widowed mother, Joan, Shirley Sydenham turned in a stellar performance. Her opening monologue was beautifully paced and then we see her interactions with her daughters. Facial expressions spoke volumes about her resigned exasperation at some of Gillie’s behaviour and her anxiety about her daughter’s future. The soliloquy addressed to her late husband was also very expressive.

A couple of plot devices did not quite ring true. Joan gave in far too easily on the timing of the departure for Gillie’s new home and the angry scene between Joan and Isabelle (Sass Pinci) seemed to explode from out of nowhere. The sparks certainly flew and provided a great contrast to the gentle humour we had seen as the two sisters played at being at the hairdresser’s.

Issie’s sensitive exposition of her sessions with her therapist was vital to elucidating the stresses faced in living with a disabled sibling. 

In with all the worry and pain there were however liberal doses of humour to leaven the mix. Every aspect of this production was carefully designed to enhance the overall effect.

The setting was a back yard in suburban Melbourne.  David Dare’s set design featured a swing centre stage but displayed the claustrophobic confines of Gillie’s life with the brick steps leading into the house, a wooden garden shed and also an interior view with Gillie’s bedroom.  Set dressing included gardening paraphernalia and a circular table and chairs outside, teddies and dolls on Gillie’s plush double bed, a movie poster for “Titanic” and photos of Charles and Diana in the bedroom while a copy of Van Gogh’s “Still Life: Vase with Violet Irises Against a Yellow Background” was revealed when the back door was opened, all very symbolic.

Craig Pearcey’s intelligent lighting created a whole extra room on stage with just one spotlighted face representing a psychiatrist’s office.

Costume design by Kylee Armstrong fitted the bill with a new and suitable costume for Joan and Issie on each entrance. Of particular note was Gillie’s ‘going out’ costume, an old fashioned little girl’s dress in blue floral with pink touches and red shoes. It highlighted the fact that her family is in denial of her womanhood.

Gillie’s recurrent singing of the children’s nursery rhyme, The Farmer in the Dell, was symbolic particularly as she always began with the second verse, “The farmer takes a wife”, implying a desire for the possibility of love and marriage even though she has no knowledge of sex beyond kissing. The crescendo of volume and vehemence as she sings the whole song on the swing was a powerful metaphor. 

If I Should Die Before I Wake was beautifully staged by Williamstown Little Theatre with very talented performances on stage and an inspired and astute production team. It gave its audience some serious issues to contemplate and enough laughter to make an evening of rich entertainment.

Jennifer Paragreen









 

With thanks to Roger Forsey for production images.


We invited Rosalin Shafik-Eid who plays Gillian Anderson in the play to write one of our occasional fly-on-the-wall, behind the scenes pieces. Grateful thanks to Ros for this interesting insight into her theatre background and introduction to WLT.

 

Am I good enough?


One might say that my relationship with community theatre is still in its infancy.  This seems particularly so when you join a company for the first time like Williamstown Little Theatre and which is celebrating its 70th year!  Whilst I’ve always had a love affair with theatre (and all things dramatic!), it was only about 7 years ago when I discovered local community theatre and all the wonderful things which go along with it! 

Not having any theatre experience (other than the odd high school drama production), I joined a local theatre company after many years of saying I would (but hadn’t).  Over this time I've become more accustomed to being behind the scenes of plays, being on committees, stage managing, organising props and assisting with publicity, rather than being on stage.  This is quite ironic as it is the stage work that I love most!  When I have ventured on stage I have loved the feeling you get working with directors and fellow actors, developing and getting to know characters and the excitement (and anxiety) of being on stage!  So I decided that I wanted to do more onstage work.  This initially began with small roles in many One Act Plays and pantomimes and culminated last year in what I would consider a more substantive role. 

As with many of us who have been on stage, there is a certain addictive quality to it and you want to do more!  A good friend of mine had been involved with WLT last year and had a wonderful experience with the company and director.  When auditions came up for WLT’s first production of the year, Sweet Road, she forwarded the details on to me and encouraged me to audition.  After reading the play, I signed up to audition with much anxiety!  I think there were a few reasons for this.  Most of the productions I had been involved with had primarily been with the company I worked most with – people know me there.  Venturing to a new company?  Well, I would have to rely solely on what I could bring to an audition!  WLTs reputation as being a one of the premium local theatre companies in Melbourne also didn’t help with my nerves! 

I had seen productions at WLT!  I knew the standard was high! Doubts crept in. Am I good enough?  Can I do this?  What if I get it wrong? Will they like me?  Doubts we all have, I’m sure, in trying anything that is new.  However, it was precisely all that questioning which propelled me to go along - and I’m so glad I did! My experiences this year with WLT have been wonderful!  When I attended auditions there was always a warm, welcoming, friendly face from a committee member helping with the audition (which always helps allay your fears!)  I have now been fortunate enough to work with two wonderful, experienced and talented directors in my time at WLT, wonderful production co-ordinator’s, costumiers, back stage crew and Front of House members.  I have met brilliantly talented people from all walks of life!  It has been like being welcomed into a big extended (theatre) family.  Indeed, I end up seeing more of my theatre family than I do my own at times (they don’t even bother asking if I’m free now – just if I have rehearsals on or not!)  However, at the end of the day, I think that is what community theatre is all about. 

I know for some the exhilaration of being onstage is quite alluring and may be the main motivator to becoming involved with local theatre.  However, for me I think it’s all the other things which make joining a company like WLT, or any local community theatre company for that matter, so much more joyous and exciting!  It’s the shared journey to the end product with a wonderful array of talented people all working together – not because you have to be there or are being paid to do the job, but because you all have a shared goal.  You are creating something bigger and more wonderful than the production you are involved in. You are constantly learning, refining and developing your skill set (for whatever role you have in the show) and you are meeting marvellously talented people!  In a world so full nowadays with more people just looking out for themselves, it’s wonderful to be part of this small community of likeminded souls all working together to create memories of joy, laughter and shared experiences!  Audiences who delight in the work you have all created and who let you know how good (or bad!) they thought it to be!  I think the actor David Soul said it best “One of my beliefs is that there are certain institutions within a community which stand for the spirit and heart of that community, there's the church, the local football team, the local pub and the theatre.”

Thank you WLT for welcoming me so openly into your theatre, for believing in me and for the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful community institution!  When you are all celebrating your 100th year, I hope to be able to be in that crowd, looking back fondly and continuing to help celebrate this brilliant community institution!

Rosalin Shafik-Eid






 

 

Playwright joins us!

 

It’s a rare occurrence for the playwright to attend a performance at WLT but last Friday night Rebecca Lister was in the audience.  Pete Newling happened to be working FOH on the same night so it appeared all the planets were aligned.  We decided, after consulting with Rebecca, to have a Q&A after the performance.  Pete welcomed the audience before the show and invited those who would like to stay on after to do so.  We were pleasantly surprised to see that about 50 of the audience remained in their seats to participate. Ellis and Rebecca answered a variety of questions regarding the play and disability.

Rebecca was relaxed and comfortable on stage, having been an actor, so was not fazed by it at all. Perhaps appropriately, she sat in the spot where Isabelle visits her counsellor! She  was charming and gracious, and dealt with all the questions with ease.

It was a real treat to have had this session, being given a rare insight into the very origins and concept of the play you have just seen: and for the actors and production team it was wonderful to meet Rebecca and hear her very positive response to the production.

The audience stayed on afterwards for the ‘pop-up’ supper, part of our 70th anniversary celebrations and further discussion with the cast.  It was a special night for If I Should Die Before I Wake.  

Thanks go to Peta Ripper for organising the pop-up supper.
 

Photos by Peter Newling, words by Shirley Sydenham and Ellis Ebell

Gremlins and a true FOH Hero!

 

Just a normal performance night. Well, that’s what If I Should Die Before I Wake Stage Manager, Emma Hunt, thought on a Saturday night when she unlocked the theatre and turned on the switches. But no… the toilets were in darkness! She reset the switch but it clicked off again repeatedly. Like every good SM, she met the unexpected with calmness and good humour!  She rang our trusty electrician, who diagnosed the problem but couldn’t fix it in the dark and said he’d come along first thing on Sunday morning. 

Just then Neil Williamson (pictured) rocked up for his FOH shift… luckily he always arrives early.  In a flash (hee hee but not electrical!) he had a ladder out and was rigging temporary lights in the loos, with Emma holding a torch and being general assistant. 

All hands to the pumps… Assistant Stage Manager Kerry Drumm did all the set up on her own, actors helped where they could, Shirley set up the FOH supplies (and was caught coming out of the storeroom, in costume and with an armload of toilet rolls by a startled early patron!) and operator Kay Hambling stepped in to FOH to serve the early arrivals.  

Time was ticking on… of all nights for the second FOH person to forget to turn up!

Director Ellis Ebell arrived and assisted Kay with the pre show FOH service, and continued solo when Kay of course had to get back to her backstage duties. 

At interval Neil was behind the bar on his own and trusty Ray Hare, there to see the show, spontaneously joined him to help out. It was a very jolly interval with Ray’s announcements,  ‘Have you bought your raffle tickets…and if not, why not???’ and Neil asking patrons if they’d booked for the Gala. 

Laughter and lots of good humour carried the nightht with jokes about navigating the rigged LEDs to get into the loo. That’s WLT.

Thank you Neil Williamson, a true FOH hero! 

Words by Shirley Sydenham

Auditions - London Suite
by Neil Simon



 
Eager anticipation regarding our final production for our 70th anniversary year - Neil Simon's London Suite to be directed by Gaetano Santo.

London Suite which is in fact four short plays will run from 17 November to 3 December and auditions will be held on 11 and 12 September. Details of the characters and audition requirements are available now on our website. Click the following button to be directed to all this information.
 
London Suite Audition details

Gala Dinner Dance

 

Have you booked your place at the Gala?

 

We’re thrilled to see among the bookings that a number of our patrons have booked and a couple of other theatre companies have tables.

Bookings will close soon so time to get a move on! Due to catering and set up needs, we have to close bookings by the month's end.

If you’ve directed, acted in, worked on a WLT production,  if you’ve been to see our productions….we’d love to see you there to help us celebrate because your involvement has contributed to our success and to the company’s longevity.  It is truly YOUR celebration too.

We’ve got all the ingredients for a memorable night:  great food and wine, terrific swing band,  gorgeous venue, brilliant raffle…and great company. 

Don’t miss out! Contact Adrienne today! Click the Booking button below.
 


Final bookings for the Gala and payments due by 29 July.
Click button to email your booking.
Gala Dinner Dance Bookings

Gala Raffle


Adding further excitement to our Gala Dinner Dance will be our big fabulous Gala Raffle that we have put together for the event. You can buy raffle tickets tonight and tomorrow night at the theatre - our last two performances of If I Should Die Before I Wake. Then of course we'll be selling tickets at the Gala event.

Details of the over $1300 of prizes follows.
 

Raffle Tickets $5 each or 3 for $10


 

More reunions, more anecdotes, more fun and laughter… it’s Back to Willy on Sunday 21 August

For those who are travelling to Williamstown for the Gala, a chance to extend the celebrations to the following day with a BBQ and open rehearsal. And if you’re not attending the Gala … (and WHY not???) …. you can  still come!

Make a weekend of it!!

 

BBQ at 1.30 pm  - for catering purposes please email Bernadette by clicking the button below.

Open Rehearsal for Sitting Pretty at 3pm

Email Bernadette to confirm your attendance
 

From the Archives


We've been so busy lately we've not had time to rummage through the Archives again but we did manage to post a few items from our last scanning exercise. These can be seen on our Facebook page and WLT website. Click the button below and scroll to the bottom of the screen for the latest images.

This photo is from Come Blow Your Horn in 1969 with L-R Lorraine West, Doug Lindsay, Jill (Williams) Cordell, Lesley Baird and Ellis Ebell.
 

There's lots more to share with you which we will do in coming months. All part of our amazing 70th Anniversary year of 2016.
Click to see the latest Archives photos

Film Fundraiser - Hobsons Bay Refugee Network & West Welcome Wagon

The Hobsons Bay Refugee Network (HBRN) is a small, incorporated community group of volunteers that provides practical assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in the western suburbs.  In our work we often collaborate with West Welcome Wagon (WWW).

The ways in which we help refugee and asylum seeker families and individuals include:

Finding housing:
HBRN helps people to navigate the private rental market and understand leasing processes.  We also help locate, collect and deliver donated furniture, whitegoods and other basic needs to newly established households

Packing and delivering Food Hampers:
Twice a year HBRN joins with WWW to collect and pack food and toiletries into 'hampers' for winter and Christmas.

Attending to Educational Needs:
We help enrol children in school, subsidise the purchase of textbooks and compulsory electronic equipment and also assist school leavers with job-related training opportunities..

Henry Ismailiw

 

WLT was very saddened by the recent passing of long-time member and friend Henry Ismailiw.

Henry’s love of theatre began in High School.  He was a stalwart of Altona City Theatre for many years and appeared in most of their early productions.  

Henry joined Williamstown Little Theatre in the late 70s and, over the next decade, showed his versatility by appearing in plays as diverse as President Wilson in Paris, Rebecca, Trap for a Lonely Man, On Our Selection and The Happy Haven.  But perhaps his most memorable role was as Uncle Mordecai in In Duty Bound (pictured below).  He also directed the thriller I’ll be Back Before Midnight.

Henry will be sadly missed by his many friends.
 

                                                                            With thanks to Barbara Hughes for these words.

For Pete's Sake





 
 


Brrrr. Mid winter in Melbourne. Everything is grey. The weather is grey. The trees are grey. The atmosphere is grey. The grey nomads are migrating north on their annual pilgrimage to warmth.

I was fortunate enough to be at the theatre last Friday night when the author of If I Should Die Before I Wake, Rebecca Lister, joined us at WLT to enjoy the show and provide a Q&A opportunity for audience members. It was a truly special occasion for us.

One of the topics of conversation that night really resonated with me – and that was a discussion around the ending of the play. Rebecca confided in the audience that the end of the play has changed on a couple of occasions. In one interpretation of the play, an additional scene was added at the end showing both girls alive and well and playing on the swing, In the other version, we’re left wondering whether both daughters survived the events of the end of the play. I found this really interesting!

I know a lot of people who really love having the play they’re watching wrap up in a neat bundle with clear conclusions for each of the characters and an unambiguous resolution to the issues in the play. But equally, I know a lot of people who love it when a play lets the audience make up its own mind about the likely future for the characters and remains non-committal about what might’ve happened next.  

Which do you prefer?

I wonder if it depends on the individual’s need for order and tidiness? Or their patience in coming to the conclusion. Are you the type that reads the last page of a mystery first because you can’t help cutting to the chase? Do you find yourself wishing for a sequel – or a third act – to find out what happens next? Or are you happy to ‘choose your own ending’ by not having it spelled out for you?

One thing’s for sure – a more ambiguous ending certainly leads to more discussion (maybe arguments?) in the foyer afterward and in the car going home! And if a piece of theatre can stay with you for a while making you think or wonder or debate, that can’t be a bad thing.

So how about you – do you prefer the black and white or are you comfortable with some wintery shades of grey?

See you in the foyer.

Peter  

Upgrade existing storage facilities



 

As part of a program to improve our production facilities here at WLT, we are looking to consolidate our storage of furniture and other large items off site possibly by locating a shipping container on some unused land in a nearby location. If you can give us any suggestions or leads to pursue of a suitable site or storage facility at no or low cost we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Tony Tartaro on 0419448156 or email him by clicking the button below.

Email Tony













 
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Members & Friends



We've mentioned this before but have to repeat the fact that our fabulous Stage Manager for If I Should Die Before I Wake, Emma Hunt, is well known for the wonderful 'stop you in your tracks' shoes she wears. She never disappoints. As was the case the other night. Here's Emma in the WLT Foyer in some green shoes she tells us she bought online! 






Emma was recently in Bendigo at the Marilyn Monroe exhibition where she was picked out in the crowd because of her distinctive shoes by well known actor Angelo De Cata. Angelo was last seen at WLT in Compleat Female Stage Beauty. Angelo appeared recently to great critical acclaim as Bert in Babirra's Mary Poppins and has just commenced shooting House Husbands Series 5. Here's Angelo on Day 1 of the shoot playing a well dressed guy at a high stakes poker game!













 
--oooOOOooo--
 
Wishing Trevor Hanna (pictured below) all the best for knee replacement surgery. He is about to undergo, this, after extensive heart surgery last year. How can we forget Trevor's wonderful Cordell Award nominated performance as Mr Green in Visiting Mr Green last year.















 
--oooOOOooo--

Cues & News Editor Frank Page spent several weeks celebrating his 70th birthday in late June. Indeed he made a feast of it with a party, some fine dining, a family lunch and a few days in Hobart, with all its wonderful food and hospitality, including a trip to the incredible Mona! Here he is with Ellis Ebell at the Glass House, the hop-on pier for the Mona Ferry.


 
--oooOOOooo--

Who knew that WLT was a PokeStop on Pokémon? Melanie Rowe reports that one of the audience members, a few nights ago, was showing his phone with the WLT logo and front door in the middle of a circle - apparently signifying that we (WLT) were a 'stop'. He was VERY excited and headed out again at interval to refresh and get some more stuff. You can read all about this phenomenon by CLICKING HERE. We noticed this cryptic comment on the Prince Albert Hotel's (Michael Sneddon) Facebook page: "You should legit give a free jug to people who drop lures at the Little Theatre Pokèstop â€ª#gatherthepack‬" Even Margaret Hammon alerted Ellis Ebell to the fact that WLT was a Pokémon site! Still doesn't make a lot of sense to us, but must to others and maybe you. Go figure...

Enquiries: wltsec@tpg.com.au
Website: http://wlt.org.au

Editor: Frank Page  M. 0417 010 817  E. frank@pagebell.com

Copyright © 2016 Williamstown Little Theatre, All rights reserved.


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