November 01, 1989

New Theatre Australia


South Australia

Round Up

Murray Bramwell

A number of Adelaide’s purpose-built companies have been active lately. Junction Theatre Company toured in August and September with their latest production, Wild About Work. Written by Anne Brookman, it traces the working lives of five women- two of them receptionists, one a secretary, the other two in childcare and textile processing. Catherine Fitzgerald made her debut as director with design by Cath Cantlon and music by Sue Ridgeway. Performer Anna Linarello continues to be a Ā strength for Junction and in Wild About Work she was ably accompanied by Rosalind Aylmore and Mary-Jane Pitman both of whom have had credits with the Red Shed Company this year.

Vitalstatistix, a company of women writing and performing a repertoire highlighting feminist issues, have continued their inventive and engaging work , touring revivals of Weighing it Up (on dieting and the tyrannies of body image) and A Touchy Subject, their highly successful discussion piece on sexual harassment. Ever enterprising, the Vitals have just completed a video of the play to keep up with demand. A joint project between the Educational Media Unit of TAFE at the Centre for Applied Learning Systems. CALS director John Gall and producer Gabe Kelly collaborated with Margaret Fischer from the Vitals and Cath Cantlon has reworked her nifty designs for the project. Tantrum Press, founded in 1985, to publish women’s writing in South Australia has recently launched a volume of Vitalstatistix scripts. Meanwhile the company are touringĀ  with a work about domestic violence, Home Sweet Home, and writer Roxxy Bent is at present working on a script for the 1990 Adelaide Festival.

After the success of their Witchplay last year, Adelaide performers Rose Clemente and Christine Totos have again turned to production with Richard Barrett’s The Heartbreak Kid which played to young audiences at Theatre 62. Featuring Christine Totos, Ian Dixon , Nicholas Opolsky and Maurie Annese and directed by Rose Clemente, the producers are hopeful that Theatre 62 will become a regular venue for recent Australian theatre works.

The Magpie Theatre Company’s latest production, Mimini’s Voices (Young Women’s Voices) represents a new departure for State’s young people’s theatre programme. Written by South Australian Aboriginal writer Eva Johnson and directed by Angela Chaplin, Mimini’s Voices introduced Aboriginal performers, Betty Sumner, Christine Sumner and Ellen Stuart, as well as Magpie regular Eileen Darley. After the Adelaide season the company was due to appear at the Miroku-No-Sato International Theatre Festival in Hiroshima.

With present Artistic Director, John Gaden, soon to complete his three year stint, the announcement of the 1990 State Theatre Company season heralds also the arrival of Simon Phillips as the new eminence. With plans to re-establish an ensemble of performers as well as hire a full-time Musical Director, Phillips, formerly from New Zealand and lately of Melbourne, will be making his mark.

Rather than presenting a commissioned Australian work for the Adelaide Festival, Phillips has opted for a revival of Marat/Sade as State’s party piece. Local audiences will be pleased to note that both Geoffrey Rush and Jane Menelaus will be returning to the Playhouse stage. Other productions announced for next year include The Comedy of Errors, State’s own staging of Capricornia as well as Phillips adaption of The Decameron. There will be joint ventures with the Melbourne Theatre Company –The Importance of Being Earnest and the new work, Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, based on Thomas Keneally novel The Playmaker. A special highlight will be Edward Bond’s Restoration. His remarkable work has been too often ignored in this country.

New Theatre Australia, November (?) 1989.

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