All posts by Esta Stearnes

Trained as improvisation actor with Lyndal Rowe (MTC) 1968 involved with Melbourne Theatre Co training with Malcolm Robert- son, John Bell, Jennifer Claire, Helmut Baikatis, Alan Hopgood, Maggie Millar, Graeme Blundell , Lyndell Rowe, Peter Hepworth, & others. Assistant to Kristian Fredrikssen, costume & Set Design MTC Lennox St Richmond. 1969-1970 St Martins Theatre South Yarra. Viaduct Theatre Club South Yarra 1978-1986 BA & MA Uni of NSW 1995-1997 Worked as Researcher, Producer, & Interviewer with Shoah Foundation - Universal Studios L.A. Project established & funded by Steven Spielberg after 'Schlindler's List' To Record as much Eye-witness Testimony of Survivors as possible. Have a love of the magic of Theatre.


Production photography by Chris Butel.

In their impressive opening night of UNDER MILKWOOD by Dylan Thomas  the Genesian thespians have intrigued and entertained their audience once again.

This was a wonderful stage adaptation of Dylan Thomas’s radio drama from 1954. Director Yularia Rogers and Assistant Director Michael Heming bring to life in miniature the  goings-on in everyday life in a close-knit, but cliquey Welsh fishing village, in which Thomas with his wry wit  dubbed ‘Liareggub’ – where bugger all (the spelling backwards) happens!

Even before the performance,  in the tiny Genesian foyer, we have an ocean tang of the nautical  events set to unfold on the stage.  Under the opaque lamps,  glass mooring  buoys are strung.

A beautiful mural, etched in ink and subtle  water-color created by one of the actors Tiffany Hoy, hangs near the glass buoys.  Her seascape mural is worthy of close perusal before even entering the theatre.  Framed by twisted rope we are given an introduction to the blind clipper seaman Captain  Cat.

Under a dinghy buoy three mermaids are clasping ropes under water.  Sitting on a jetty we observe a fisherman ‘snag’ a mermaid.  In the village there are headstones of past lives and the village pump the scene of fresh washing billowing in the wind, while children chase hoops near the village pub ‘The Sailor’s Arms’. Then  finally on the left side of the mural jolly friesian cows with brimming  udders.

Hoy’s creative mural serves not only as an extension to the set on stage but gives us an exciting insight into the wide array of characters on stage and their dreams of a less onerous existence.

To portray these Fisher-folk, Yularia Rogers has written in her program notes that her nine crazy actors  managed to juggle  and play some 54 characters! Quite an amazing achievement.

The stage set by Martin Searles and lighting design by Liam O’Keefe is magical with misty midnight blue hurricane lamps glowing from  barnacle ropes – looking like twisted kelp.  

We are drawn into King Neptune’s cavern at forty fathoms. Then we see Blind Captain Cat who is adrift in a dinghy with drowned sailors tugging on ropes willy-nilly bow and stern, trying to pull the Captain in and out of Davey Jones watery Locker. It is then the Captain sees the web footed cockle women.

Through the play Dylan Thomas  is the omniscient  narrator who entices the audience with the allure of his words into the dreams and subconscious thoughts of the Fisher- folk.

“From where you are, you can hear their dreams. Captain Cat, the retired blind sea-Captain, asleep in his bunk in the sea-shelled, ship-in-bottled, shipshape best cabin of Schooner House dreams of.”

Second Voice : “never such seas as any that swamped the decks of his S.S. Kidwelly you- bellying over the bedclothes  and jellyfish – slippery and sucking him down salt-deep into the Davey dark where the fish come biting out and nibble him down to the Wishbone, and the long-drowned nuzzle up to him.”

And love-tragic Captain Cat who hankers for Rosie Provert  whose name is tattooed on his belly. But poor Rosie is long dead and tells Cat she can taste the dirt in her mouth and that she is being taken away in the darkness.

The production’s soundscape featured original music guitar, organ/accordion and saxophone credits by Courtney Hough, Tiffany Hoy, and Tim Quaife. Their music added yet another dimension to the production.

With their costume designs, Pheonuh Callan and Susan Carveth added authenticity and vibrant colour to the characters.

I was saddened by the character of Polly Gartner- a scarlet woman who sings and scrubs in her bloomers of the same colour, much to the chagrin of others in the village. Polly sings and dreams of her past paramours and pines for her dead lover while trysting with countless others.

My recommendation. Book yourself tickets to see this fascinating  show, and give yourself the pleasure of seeing first hand Tiffany Hoy’s wonderful mural and then meeting all 54 characters in Dylan Thomas’ classic tale. The show plays till April 8.





Award winning Australian poet, novelist and playwright Dr Peter Kocan
Award winning Australian poet, novelist and playwright Peter Kocan

Wyong Drama Group (WDG) recently presented an Australian One-Act Play TRIPLE BILL written by the remarkable playwright and author Peter Kocan.

Kocan is a lifetime member of the Company and has for many years challenged and entertained local audiences with his work both as a performer and as a playwright. Continue reading WYONG DRAMA GROUP PRESENTS THREE PETER KOCAN ONE ACT PLAYS @ THE WYONG GROVE THEATRE

The Cemetery Club @ The Wyong Grove Theatre

Cem Club- featured

Whilst we are fortunate enough to be in a loving couple relationship we try to avoid thinking about what life would be like if we lost our trusted companion and lover. That is, losing not only a husband  but a life partner and trying to make a difficult or emotionally fraught transition to being a widow?  In the program notes Margaret Holdom, who plays the widow Ida, wrote a poignant tribute to her late husband Peter.

THE CEMETERY CLUB  written by New Yorker Ivan Menchell examines the way society is centred around coupledom and flounders around the advent of widowhood.  With Menchell’s play Ron Baker has taken on a challenging brief, and has excelled right down to the finer details of the script.

In his program note, Baker acknowledges the depth of research undertaken by every member of the cast to  authentically  recreate the New York characters. Continue reading The Cemetery Club @ The Wyong Grove Theatre